Archive for April 14, 2017

April 14, 2017

Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem

Israeli forces injure four Palestinians with live fire in Tubas
IMEMC 14 Apr — Israeli soldiers invaded, Friday, Tubas city, in the northeastern part of the occupied West Bank, and clashed with local youths before shooting four with live fire, and causing many to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation. Medical sources in Tubas said four young men suffered moderate wounds, after being shot with live fire, and were moved to the Tubas Turkish Governmental Hospital. The sources added that many Palestinians received treatment for the severe effects of teargas inhalation, without the need for further medical treatment.
http://imemc.org/article/israeli-soldiers-injure-two-palestinians-with-live-fire-in-tubas/

Israeli forces injure 3 Palestinian children, shoot another with live fire during Friday marches
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Apr [photos by Mohammed Yasin] — Israeli forces injured three Palestinians, reported as children, with rubber-coated steel bullets and another with live ammunition during weekly Friday marches in Kafr Qaddum, Ni‘lin, and Bil‘in villages. In the village of Kafr Qaddum in the northern West Bank district of Qalqiliya, Israeli forces injured three Palestinian “children” with rubber-coated steel bullets, according to the village’s popular resistance coordinator Murad Shteiwi. Shteiwi said that a large number of Israeli soldiers, escorted by Israeli military vehicles, raided the village and fired large amounts of tear gas canisters and rubber bullets into the crowd of protesters, causing the injury of three Palestinian “children” — however their specific ages were not provided. The injured children were all provided with medical care on the scene by the Palestinian Red Crescent, Shteiwi said …  During a weekly march in the village of Ni‘lin in the central West Bank district of Ramallah, Israeli forces shot Muhammad Abed al-Qader Omera with live ammunition, causing him to sustain injuries, before detaining him and transferring him to an unknown location.  Omera was reported as a “youth.” However, his exact age remained unknown. The severity of Omera’s injuries remained unknown as of Friday. Meanwhile, Palestinians and foreign supporters participated in the Bil‘in village’s weekly march in Ramallah.  The march was launched to commemorate slain Palestinian Bassem Abu Rahma who was killed in April 2009 after Israeli forces shot a high velocity-tear gas canister at him during a similar march. According to Al Jazeera, the canister was shot directly at Abu Rahma’s chest from 40 meters away. He died before he reached the hospital….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776442

‘Mentally unstable’ Palestinian detained after stabbing, killing British student in Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Apr — A “mentally unstable” Palestinian man was detained Friday after committing a stabbing inside the Jerusalem Light Rail, leaving one British woman in her twenties dead, according to official Israeli sources. Though Israeli media initially reported that an Israeli woman in her twenties was seriously injured, it was later reported that the woman, a British national studying in Israel, had succumbed to her wounds at the hospital. While Israeli media initially reported that the Palestinian was “neutralized” — a term often used by Israeli authorities and media in instances of such attacks to refer to the attacker being killed, injured, or detained — Haaretz later reported that the Palestinian man, who was recently released from a psychiatric hospital, was detained. Commander Yoram Halevy, in charge of the Israel police’s Jerusalem district said that the Palestinian man who conducted the stabbing is a “mentally unstable” 57 year-old Jerusalemite, and has a prior criminal police record for domestic violence. Israeli sources later defined the man as Jamil al-Tamimi. According to Haaretz, al-Tamimi was a resident of the Ras al-Amud neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, located just outside of the Damascus Gate area of the Old City. Israeli media added that while one woman in her twenties was injured with a knife, two other Israelis, including a pregnant woman in her thirties and a man in his fifties, were indirectly injured when the train came to a sudden stop in the midst of the attack. The seriously injured woman was reportedly taken to the Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem.  The Jerusalem post reported that the attack took place while the light rail was on Jaffa Street across from the Old City’s Jaffa Gate. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces imposed a siege on the entrances of Jerusalem’s Old City following the incident….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=77643

Israel forces detain Palestinian in Ramallah district over alleged knife possession
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Apr — Israeli forces reportedly detained a 30-year-old Palestinian from the village of al-Nabi Salih in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah for alleged knife possession on Friday morning. Hebrew-language sites reported that Israeli forces stopped the man’s vehicle at an Israeli military checkpoint at the entrance of the village. Israeli forces claimed that after searching the man and his car, they found a knife in the man’s coat, and subsequently detained him.
https://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776432

Israeli forces use Palestinian family home as temporary military post
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 13 Apr — Israeli forces raided a Palestinian home in the southern occupied West Bank village of Khursa on Thursday morning, expelling its residents and setting up a temporary military post there. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers raided Khalid al-Shahatit’s home and forced out his family, informing them that they would occupy the house until 4 p.m. The troops also hung an Israeli flag outside of the building. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that they were looking into the reports. Israeli forces used Palestinian homes as temporary military outposts in a number of instances in 2016. Although the common factor in each of the cases was the proximity of the Palestinian homes to illegal Israeli settlements, Khursa is not located near either settlements or military bases, according to the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ).
https://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776415

Israeli soldiers remove memorial stone for slain Palestinian girl in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli soldiers removed a stone plaque which memorialized a Palestinian girl who was shot dead by Israeli forces in 2015 after she allegedly stabbed an Israeli police officer near the illegal Kiryat Arba settlement, in the Wadi al-Ghurus area of Hebron city in the southern occupied West Bank on Sunday night. Witnesses said they saw Israeli soldiers smashing the monument, a marble plaque etched with a Qur’an verse, which stated that the street was renamed after 17-year-old Bayan al-Esseili. In response to a request for comment, an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that “as part of ongoing efforts against incitement, security forces in Hebron removed [a] monument commemorating and celebrating the death of an attacker who stabbed security forces in the area,” adding that “multiple incitement materials” were also seized during the raid. At the time, the Israeli army justified fatally shooting the teenage girl — on a day two other Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli forces in Hebron — by saying that a border policewoman sustained light injuries to her hand from the alleged attack …
Locals in Hebron have also noted that at the entrance to the illegal Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba, just a short distance away from where Bayan’s memorial stood, settlers continue to visit a gravestone and memorial for Baruch Goldstein, an American born Israeli settler who massacred 29 Palestinians inside Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque in 1994.
https://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776361

Israeli soldiers attack students in Al-Quds University, wound twenty-four
IMEMC 13 Apr — Israeli soldiers attacked, Thursday, dozens of Palestinian students protesting near the campus of Al-Quds University in Abu Dis town, southeast of occupied East Jerusalem, and wounded six with rubber-coated steel bullets, in addition to causing eighteen others to suffer the severe effects of teargas inhalation … The Palestinian Red Crescent confirmed its medics rushed to the area, and provided the needed treatment to all wounded students, without the need to hospitalize any of them.
In addition, several Israeli army jeeps invaded Fahma village, south of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, broke into the home of Ahmad Shafiq Sa‘abna, and interrogated him before illegally confiscating his car. The soldiers also invaded Beit Qad and Deir Abu Da‘if villages, northeast of Jenin, and drove through their neighborhoods and alleys in a provocative manager before withdrawing.
Earlier Thursday, the soldiers abducted a young Palestinians man, after stopping him at a sudden military roadblock near Jenin, and violently searched the home of a political prisoner in Jenin refugee camp, while interrogating the family.
The soldiers also abducted one Palestinian in Hebron, and three others in Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank.
http://imemc.org/article/israeli-soldiers-attack-students-in-al-quds-university-wound-twenty-four/

Israeli police in West Bank close cases of offenses against Palestinians without investigating
Haaretz 13 Apr by Yotam Berger — The cameras weren’t checked, the file wasn’t opened, the testimonies were shelved – that’s how the police investigate Palestinian complaints — The Israel Police force in the West Bank closes investigations into complaints by Palestinians of violence committed against them by Israelis, even in the face of solid evidence. A review of case files shows that the police often invest only minimal effort in the investigations, resulting in a failure to prosecute even violent offenses. In one case examined by the human rights organization Yesh Din, the Judea and Samaria District Police closed an investigation of an attack by Jewish settlers on a Palestinian home, even though Israeli soldiers witnessed the incident and it was recorded on video. In another instance, the police closed an investigation into the attempted kidnapping of a Palestinian child without checking security cameras at the scene. Another time, the police closed a case against Israeli teens who sprayed a Palestinian with pepper spray, even though the teens’ claim of self-defense was contradicted by statements by soldiers who were witnesses as well as a physical examination of the victim. In August 2014, stones were thrown at the home of Bilal Eid, a Palestinian resident of Burin. The house stands apart from other homes in the village, and is about 900 meters from the Givat Ronen outpost. Three Jewish minors smashed flood lights near the home and, according to Eid’s police complaint, tried to break in. Video obtained by Yesh Din showed the lights being broken, the faces of the attackers and a number of soldiers standing near the perpetrators. Nevertheless, the investigation was closed; the police never watched the video … In March, Haaretz reported that of 89 assault complaints filed by Palestinians against Israelis in 2015, only four, or 4.5 percent, resulted in indictments.
http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.783180

Gideon Levy // An Israeli soldier shot a Palestinian mother in front of her kids. Where’s her compensation?
Haaretz 14 Apr by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — A mother of 10 has been incapacitated since Israeli soldiers shot her 13 years ago, as she stood in her living room. Neither she nor any of thousands of other noncombatants hurt by the army is eligible for compensation — For three months, Dia Mansur was certain his mother was dead. He was 15 years old when he saw her collapse in the living room of their home, felled by a bullet fired by a Israel Defense Forces soldier that sliced into her face, tearing it apart. He saw his mother lying on the floor, blood oozing from her mouth and streaming toward the kitchen. Dia fled in a panic to the home of his father, who lived next door with his second wife, his brother’s widow. Shortly afterward, Israeli forces, both mistaravim (members of an undercover counter-terrorist unit) and uniformed troops, arrived and arrested Dia and his father. Dia spent the next three months in the interrogation rooms of the Shin Bet security services in Petah Tikva. His captors told him his mother was dead. Dia mourned in the alien surroundings. It was not until the questioning ended and Dia was transferred to Megiddo Prison that he learned, during a phone call with an uncle, that his mother was in a Nablus hospital – alive. That was 13 years ago. Dia served 28 months in prison; his father, three years. Dia is now a taxi driver and the father of three; his father, Raad, is a Palestinian Authority policeman; and his mother, Basama, is a disabled, broken woman who has difficulty walking and speaking. She is supported on both sides as she enters the same living room where, on February 12, 2004, a bullet altered the trajectory of her life … When she was wounded and her husband was arrested, their offspring were left without parental care. But even when she returned home, after six months of hospitalization, she was unable to look after the children; they were raised by relatives and neighbors.
Last month, B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, published a report (in Hebrew and English) on this subject. It reveals that, from the start of the second intifada, in September 2000, to the end of February 2017, Israel killed 4,868 noncombatant Palestinian civilians, more than one-third of them (1,793) were children and adolescents below the age of 18. Thousands of others, who were also not involved in fighting, have been wounded and permanently incapacitated. Next to none have received their due: compensation from the state that caused their condition….
http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.783329

Al-Aqsa

Jordan condemns Israel over ‘extremist raids’ on Al-Aqsa during Passover holiday
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Apr — The Jordanian government condemned the Israeli government on Friday for recent actions at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem over the past week, which has seen hundreds of right-wing Israelis under armed protection touring and praying at the compound for the Jewish holiday of Passover. Government spokesperson and Minister of State for Media Affairs Muhammad al-Momani said in a statement on Friday that Jordan “vehemently rejects these provocative behaviors that offend the holiness of the sacred place and provoke the feelings of Muslims all around the world,” demanding that Israeli authorities immediately stop what he called the “raids” on the holy site. Al-Momani called on the international community “to uphold its responsibilities towards East Jerusalem, including making Israel commit to all regulations in accordance to international law.” “Jordan rejects and condemns these behaviors that disrespects all efforts conducted to relaunch serious negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis to achieve a two-state solution that has gained international support as the best solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” al-Momani said. Al-Momani confirmed that Jordan “would conduct all efforts to defend the identity and holiness of Jerusalem through its guardianship on Islamic and Christian sites in East Jerusalem.” Both Thursday and Wednesday saw hundreds of right-wing Israeli touring and praying at the Al-Aqsa compound under armed protection from Israeli forces….
https://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776431

Restriction of movement / Closures

Israel bans British-Palestinian professor, citing new BDS law
EI 12 Apr by Asa Winstanley — Israel has banned British-Palestinian professor and boycott campaigner Kamel Hawwash from visiting relatives in Jerusalem. Hawwash told The Electronic Intifada he was “devastated.” Israeli authorities divided his family after they had flown into Tel Aviv on Friday. An Israeli officer took him aside and told him, “we have a problem with you,” Hawwash said. The officer cited Hawwash’s support for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, and a new Israeli law against the BDS movement. The officer asked Hawwash, “Do you know about the BDS law?” The new law gives Israel the ability to bar entry to anyone who speaks in favor of boycotts of Israel. It applies even to limited boycotts of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, all of which are illegal under international law. Hawwash’s wife and five-year-old son were allowed to enter, but he was denied entry and put on a plane to Brussels a few hours later. Hawwash had flown from Birmingham to Tel Aviv, via Brussels. His passport was confiscated and given to the pilot. “I went and told my wife I wasn’t going to be admitted, and she obviously broke down. My son was completely bewildered as to what was happening,” Hawwash said. The family had been headed for Jerusalem for their annual holiday in Palestine, a tradition that now seems to be at a forcible end. Hawwash says he does not engage in political work during his trips to the family’s homeland. While Hawwash’s wife Lina holds only the Israeli identification card issued to Palestinians in Jerusalem, Hawwash holds a British passport. “I was never going to deny her the chance to see her family, so she went in,” Hawwash said. “My mother-in-law – immediately when she heard – said to my wife, ‘oh my God, that means I’m never going to see Kamel before I die,’” said Hawwash. “And I have uncles who are in their seventies who could pass away any moment.” Hawwash has long been a leading figure in the UK-based Palestine Solidarity Campaign and is a member of its executive committee. He is also an engineering professor at the University of Birmingham. This was the first time has been denied entry, despite years of family visits… “Really what hurts is seeing people who’ve taken our land stopping us from going back to it,” Hawwash told The Electronic Intifada. “The colonizer saying that you can’t come to your homeland.”…
Richard Burden
, a lawmaker representing Birmingham, is demanding the UK government speak out against the anti-boycott law, according to a statement issued by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Burden said that it is “utterly shocking” Hawwash may never see his family in Palestine again due to the anti-BDS law. “The relaxed attitude our ministers are showing to Israel’s actions is scandalous,” he added. [See also Kamel Hawwah’s own long and infuriating article As Britain pledges to celebrate Balfour, Israel denied my Easter homecoming to Palestine on his experience and the British government’s bias toward Israel, now as in the past]
https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/asa-winstanley/israel-bans-british-palestinian-professor-citing-new-bds-law

Israeli forces close roads, set up checkpoints across Hebron district
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 12 Apr — Israeli forces set up military checkpoints and sealed off a number village entrances in the occupied West Bank district of Hebron on Wednesday afternoon, causing heavy traffic as troops deployed heavily in the area to protect Israeli settlers celebrating the Jewish holiday of Passover. Locals told Maan that Israeli forces closed the entrances to the villages of al-Dhahiriya, al-Samu‘, and Yatta. Meanwhile, Israeli troops set up military checkpoints at roads in northern Hebron city, as well as in the villages of Sair and Bani Naim … Witnesses also told Ma‘an that large numbers of Israeli troops deployed on rooftops of Palestinian buildings on the northern outskirts of Yatta while a group of settlers swam in an ancient pool in the area. Earlier in the week, similar measures were implemented in the city of Hebron. Severe restrictions on movement for Palestinians are typically implemented by Israeli authorities during Jewish holidays for alleged security purposes.
https://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776410

Gaza crisis

Hamas holds meeting with political factions in Gaza to discuss burgeoning political crisis
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 Apr — Several Palestinian political parties held a meeting in the besieged Gaza Strip on Wednesday to discuss the latest developments in the coastal enclave and to prepare for the upcoming arrival of a delegation from the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) ruling Fatah party to Gaza, as tensions between the Hamas and Fatah movements remained high following drastic pay cuts to PA employees’ salaries in Gaza. Hamas politburo member in Gaza Salah al-Bardwil told Ma‘an that Hamas leaders met with “several Palestinian factions in order to inform them of past meetings between Fatah and Hamas,” though it remained clear exactly how many parties were in attendance. Al-Bardwil said that Hamas “preferred that all national factions participate in any meetings with the Fatah delegation from Ramallah that is expected to visit the besieged Gaza Strip in the next few days in an attempt to resolve the political crisis.” He added that the administrative committee formed in the besieged enclave tasked with administering the Gaza Strip, a move which has been strongly condemned by the PA, was a temporary solution aimed at coordinating between ministries in the absence of the PA. He added that the committee was not formed to replace the PA government, saying that if the Palestinian unity government began operating in Gaza, the committee would be shut down….
https://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776406

Abbas to ‘punish’ Hamas for intransigence
RAMALLAH (Gulf News) 13 Apr by Nasouh Nazzal — After ten years of division between Fatah and Hamas, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has vowed to take unprecedented steps in the coming days to end the political and geographical division with the Gaza Strip and to reassume Palestinian National Authority (PNA) control there. Currently Hamas is part of a unity government with Fatah, but it recently formed its own administrative committee to rule Gaza, angering the Palestinian Authority.  “We are in a dangerous situation, which requires decisive action, which we will soon take,” he told Palestinian ambassadors in the Bahraini capital of Manama on Wednesday. Analysts speaking to Gulf News say that Abbas will likely pile economic pressure on Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007, in order to weaken its grip there. The Palestinian unity government could cut off all financial assistance to Gaza — it has already slashed the salaries of government employees in Gaza by one-third. The PNA also plans to cut off 670 Gazan families from benefits, Talal Okal, a Gaza-based analyst told Gulf News. “The list has already been prepared.” He warned that the “unprecedented measures” could come as early as Saturday. “Gaza will face a huge humanitarian crisis,” he warned. “The transfer of medicines and health equipment will be suspended which may lead to many preventable deaths,” Okal said. But many Palestinians are sceptical that Abbas will be able to force Hamas to surrender. They say any punitive moves taken will only deepen the economic sufferings of Gazans. But Hamas isn’t helping. Recently, it formed its own committee to administer Gaza in a move that infuriated the PNA and deepened political divisions between Gaza and the Occupied West Bank. “As a result, the PNA decided it was time to cut finances to Gaza since Hamas was the ‘real ruler,” Fatah sources told Gulf News. A PNA delegation is expected to arrive in Gaza “soon” to negotiate with Hamas to hand back control to PNA. If the negotiations fail, the PNA may take more punitive steps, senior Palestinian security sources told Gulf News. “Gulf states are backing Abbas. They blame Hamas for failure in achieving reconciliation,” the sources added. Hamas supporters dismiss Abbas’ threat saying he is only trying to show the US president that he is “tough on Hamas” ahead of an upcoming meeting with Trump….
http://gulfnews.com/news/mena/palestine/abbas-to-punish-hamas-for-intransigence-1.2011094

Gaza’s power authority temporarily cuts off electricity to all districts amid deepening crisis
GAZA (Ma‘an) 14 Apr  – Gaza’s power authority on Friday has temporarily cut off electricity to all districts of the besieged Gaza Strip in protest of “unfair measures” imposed on the coastal enclave, as Hamas and the Fatah-ruled Palestinian Authority (PA) have continued to blame each other for a deepening crisis in the small Palestinian territory. The authority said in a statement earlier on Friday that the decision was in response to “popular events” that have been organized lately to protest recent measures imposed on Gaza, notably the drastic cut of salaries of PA employees in the besieged territory and renewed conflict over the taxes on electricity levied on Gaza amid a deepening electricity crisis. Electricity will be cut off completely in Gaza from 7 p.m. until 11 p.m. on Friday, the statement said.
The PA responded to the decision, holding Hamas responsible for the statement released by Gaza’s power authority, adding that it was “part of Hamas’ attempt at creating a new crisis in the Gaza Strip.”  PA spokesperson Youssef al-Mahmoud said that the PA was committed to covering the costs of Gaza’s electricity originating from Israel and Egypt. The PA has paid 40 million shekels ($10,931,732) a month for Israeli electricity and seven million shekels ($1,913,053) for Egyptian, he said.  Al-Mahmoud added that if the power authority carries out the electricity cuts, then “it must be ordered by Hamas who controls the electricity company and power authority.”  Al-Mahmoud noted that over the last three months the power authority was supplied with Qatari-funded fuel — the last shipment of which arrived in Gaza on Friday and is expected to completely run out by Sunday. The “Hamas’ electricity company” has collected 100 million shekels ($27,329,329) worth of electricity fees from residents of Gaza while not paying anything to receive the electricity [Al-Mahmoud said?] The Gaza power authority warned on Thursday that Gaza’s sole power plant would stop operating on Sunday, when the Qatari-funded fuel is expected to run out. The authority added that the primary reason for the potential shutdown was the PA decision to continue imposing taxes on fuel. If taxes were abolished, the authority would be capable of buying fuel from the PA to guarantee that the electricity plant keeps operating, the statement said.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776436

Gazans stare into the abyss after West Bank imposes pay cuts
GAZA CITY (MEE) 14 Apr by Mousa Tawfiq — Moshtaha Mosallem remembers the shock of opening his last pay packet. “When I went to the bank to get my salary for March, I found minus seven shekels,” said the 48-year-old Gazan health worker. The 48-year-old health worker’s 3,600 shekel a month salary, the equivalent of $980, had been cut by almost half with almost no warning, leaving him in arrears and with no money to feed his five children. Last Saturday, he joined tens of thousands of employees of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, to protest against the decision to cut the salaries of 58,000 people by up to 30 percent. West Bank employees, however, were unaffected. Mosallem said even the 30 percent figure was wrong. “I took a loan last year to help my son in his marriage. After cutting 42 percent of my salary, and paying electricity bills and loan payments, I found nothing in my bank account,” he said. “They didn’t warn us. They took the decision a day before the salaries were sent to banks. We couldn’t prepare.” Yousif al-Mahmoud, the spokesman of the Palestinian government, said the decision was taken after the EU reduced its foreign aid contributions. Mosallam is having none of that. “There is no justification for cutting the salaries of those employees in Gaza and leaving the salaries of their peers in the West Bank. It’s just discrimination,” he told Middle East Eye. “The decision is unfair. Those employees obeyed the orders of the president Mahmoud Abbas in 2007, when he told them to stay at their homes after Hamas had taken control over Gaza. And now they are being punished for that?”…
The response in Gaza was an outpouring of anger. Protesters gathered in al-Saraya square in Gaza City last week, calling on the PA’s prime minister, Rami Hamdallah, and his finance minister Shukri Bishara to resign: “Leave! Leave, Hamdallah! Don’t fight us with the food of our children.” “We lost our sons in the first intifada. We stayed at home and obeyed after the division. If it’s an economic crisis, why are we the only victims?” Protests were not limited to men, as thousands of women and children participated and called for their rights … The pay cuts have already had visible knock-on effects, as a short walk through any market in the Gaza Strip shows … Ameen al-Jerjawy, 29, a butcher, says the first days of the month are often they busiest as people spend their pay. “We wait eagerly for this time of the month,” he says. “But as you see, even after reducing the prices of the meat, it isn’t sold. “Four families live from this shop. Our destiny is unknown.”….
http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/gazans-stare-abyss-after-west-bank-cuts-state-pay-1250347914

Analysis // Gaza pay crisis: Abbas risks widening rift between West Bank and Hamas-run Gaza
Haaretz 13 Apr by Amira Hass — The recent decision to slash salaries for the Palestinian Authority’s employees in the Gaza Strip highlights one of the biggest political failures of Mahmoud Abbas’ government. Instead of fighting the separation of Gaza from the West Bank – which Israel has imposed since 1991, and especially since 2007 – Abbas has helped widen it. The Hamas government in Gaza also played a major role in worsening this separation. Both rival governments have been entrenching themselves in their fiefs, and their power struggles directly hurt both Gazans and the ability to fight the occupation. But it’s the government in Ramallah that draws the fire – sometimes justified, sometimes not – as the party mainly at fault for the rift and the one abandoning 2 million Gazans. Regarding the salary cuts, the finger of blame is rightly pointed at Ramallah. The original sin was Abbas’ order in July 2007 that most civil servants in Gaza, both civilians and members of the security forces, must refuse to come to work if they want to keep getting paid. His erroneous assumption, or that of his advisers, was that if the public sector were shut down, the Hamas government would collapse. This decision reflected the degree to which the leaders of Abbas’ Fatah party underestimated Hamas’ strength, roots in Gaza and resourcefulness. Hamas quickly filled the vacancies with clerks, managers, judges, prosecutors and policemen drawn from its supporters, creating two parallel systems of civil servants: those who got their salaries on condition they didn’t work, and those who worked. Hamas – which won the 2006 parliamentary elections and was a key component of the unity government established in March 2007 – accused the Fatah-controlled security services of planning a coup against it that summer. After a short but painful civil war, it gained control over all the security services in Gaza. Abbas then dismantled the unity government. Ismail Haniyeh became prime minister of Gaza and Salam Fayyad became prime minister of the West Bank. In 2013, when the Gaza economy, which was based on smuggling tunnels, collapsed, Hamas entered a long financial crisis that prevented it from paying salaries for months; it then cut them permanently. This made the absurdity even starker: Alongside the employees who were paid on condition they didn’t work, thousands of employees worked but didn’t get paid…. [long article illuminating a very confusing situation]
http://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/palestinians/1.783207

Other Gaza news

Israeli soldiers open fire on farmers and fishers in Gaza
IMEMC 14 Apr — Israeli soldiers opened fire, on Friday morning, on farmers and fishers, in Palestinian agricultural lands and territorial waters, in several parts of the besieged and impoverished coastal region. The WAFA Palestinian News Agency said the soldiers, stationed on a number of military towers across the border fence east of Khan Younis in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, fired many live rounds at Palestinian farmers, working on their lands, close to the border fence. It added that a similar attack targeted farmers and their lands, in Johr ed-Deek area, in central Gaza, forcing the Palestinians away.
In related news, Israeli navy ships opened fire on Palestinian fishing boats in Gaza waters, in the northern part of the coastal region.
On Thursday evening, the soldiers abducted a young Palestinian man who reportedly crossed the border fence in northern Gaza, and took him to an unknown destination.
http://imemc.org/article/israeli-soldiers-open-fire-on-farmers-and-fishers-in-gaza/

Israel to open Kerem Shalom crossing on Friday to allow fuel into Gaza
GAZA (Ma‘an) 13 Apr — Israeli authorities announced on Thursday that the Karam Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing between Israel and the besieged Gaza Strip would be opened for Friday in order to allow fuel to enter the small Palestinian territory. Gaza’s borders committee reported that Israeli authorities had said that the crossing would be opened to allow the entry of a limited quantity of fuel as an exception to the crossing’s usual closures on Friday, which falls during the weekend for both Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. The opening also comes amid a more than week-long closure of Gaza and the occupied West Bank for the Jewish holiday of Passover. However, following Friday, the closure will resume until Monday for Passover. The committee said that the last shipment of Qatari-funded fuel entered the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, and included 550 liters of diesel. The Gaza power authority also said on Thursday that the power plant would stop operating on Sunday, when the Qatari-funded fuel is expected to run out.
https://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776420

Gaza Ministry of Interior to begin hiring female security officers
GAZA (Ma‘an) 13 Apr — The Ministry of Interior in Gaza released a statement on Thursday, saying that it has begun accepting applications from female Palestinians for positions inside Gaza’s security forces, for the first time since the establishment of the Palestinian Unity Government in June 2014. The ministry imposed a number of conditions onto female applicants, stipulating that applicants must be under the age of 30, must not have any academic certificates past high school, and must not have any family members working for public or government sectors, or for UNRWA. It remained unclear what the minimum age for the application was. Additionally, if accepted, the women would remain under a period of “probation” for six months at which time she would have to prove “good behavior” in order to remain enlisted in the security forces. The ministry noted in its statement that since the beginning of 2017, the ministry has hired 500 male security officers in different departments and areas across the Gaza Strip.
https://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776423

Palestinian union demands Hamas release Palestine TV journalist from detention
GAZA (Ma‘an) 14 Apr — The Palestinian journalists’ union condemned the Hamas movement on Friday for the detention of a Palestinian female journalist from Palestine TV, who has been held by the group for the second consecutive day. The union demanded in the statement for human rights organizations to intervene to immediately release Taghrid Abu Tharifa from Hamas detention. Gaza’s security forces detained Tharifa from her home in the town of Absan in the southern Khan Younis district on Thursday for unknown reasons.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776438

Life under siege: Open air prison
PCHR 10 Apr — …Moreover, thousands of Gaza’s students are still being denied their right to choose a field and place of study, as no student from Gaza is allowed to study in the West Bank. The ongoing closure and its consequences for the freedom of movement also affect the education that six trainee lawyers at PCHR are supposed to receive. PCHR currently employs six young law graduates in cooperation with the Bertha Foundation, which hosts an annual conference for all fellows, this year to be held in South Africa. Until now, all six lawyers have been denied to leave Gaza through the Erez crossing to attend the meeting, preventing them from enjoying their right to education and free movement. The idea of the meeting is for young lawyers from different national, cultural and educational backgrounds to meet, exchange knowledge and learn more about international humanitarian law, international criminal law and accountability. For most of PCHR’s Bertha fellows, it would also mean the first time they ever leave the Gaza Strip, which has not been possible due to the ongoing Israeli closure. “We cannot see fellow lawyers in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, neither in the rest of the world. We are desperately hoping to be able to leave Gaza for the conference, as it would be hard to take yet another disappointment. But either way, we will keep hopeful and fighting for justice by defending the real victims of the closure”, trainee lawyer Maram Shatat describes. The work of NGOs, civil society and human rights organizations based in Gaza is severely affected by the siege, as their staff cannot attend meetings, conferences and trainings outside of Gaza, which are vital to strengthen contacts with international organizations and effectively advocate for human rights. “It is of utmost importance for us to raise the philosophy of international humanitarian law in the Gaza Strip and to learn how to build legal files based on it. Of the 3000 lawyers in the Gaza Strip, only very few have the ability to form legal files based on international humanitarian law and to use investigation mechanisms relevant to advocate in front of the ICC, and I am lucky to be part of this specialized group of lawyers”, trainee lawyer at PCHR, Wade Al Arabed, explains. “We are the ones who will take action and advocate for universal jurisdiction. This aspect is missing in our university education, but PCHR is adding a huge value by educating and training us on it”, trainee lawyer, Mahmoud Ahmad, adds….
http://pchrgaza.org/en/?p=9007

HRW demands information on four Palestinians missing in Egypt
alaraby 14 Apr — Human Rights Watch is urging Egyptian authorities to disclose information relating to the whereabouts of four Palestinian men affiliated with neighbouring Gaza’s governing authority Hamas. The Palestinians were “taken away by armed men” after crossing the borders from the besieged Gaza enclave to Egypt nearly 20 months ago, HRW said. “Egyptian authorities should come clean and reveal whether these four disappeared Palestinian men from Gaza are in their custody,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s Middle East director. “Twenty months without contact with the missing men inflicts incalculable anguish and suffering on their families and friends.” Families of the missing men believe they are in Egyptian custody, based on media reports, including photos purporting to show two of the men in a Cairo detention facility, HRW said. However, with Egyptian authorities denying knowledge of the detention or refusing to reveal their whereabouts, the Palestinians’ detention would constitute an enforced disappearance….
https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2017/4/14/hrw-demands-information-on-four-palestinians-missing-in-egypt


Once upon a time, Palestine had its own int’l airport … but it was short-lived
[with photos, video] Stepfeed 12 Apr by Sarah Ahmed Shawky — Yasser Arafat International Airport, formerly Gaza International Airport, is located in the Gaza Strip, in between Rafah and Dahaniya, close to the Egyptian border. The airport –which was in service for only a short period of time– is owned, and was operated by the State of Palestine and served as the domestic airport for Palestinian Airlines. At one point, it had a handling capacity of 700,000 passengers per year and operated 24 hours, 364 days a year. It gave the people of the Gaza strip better access to the world outside their narrow, densely populated confines. The airport was built with funding from Japan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Spain, and Germany and designed by Moroccan architects and engineers dispatched by Morocco’s King Hassan II. The total cost was $86 million. After a year of construction, it opened on November 24 1998. Attendees at the inauguration ceremony included the late President of the Palestinian National Authority Yasser Arafat and then-U.S. President Bill Clinton. The long awaited airport didn’t last long though; it ceased operations during the Second Intifada on October 8, 2000. The radar station and control tower were destroyed by the Israeli Air Force on December 4 2001. The airport closed in 2001 after sustaining heavy damages by the Israeli army. Shortly thereafter, Israeli bulldozers destroyed the runway on January 10 2002. The only Palestinian owned aerial way out for the people of Gaza was no more….
http://stepfeed.com/once-upon-a-time-palestine-had-its-own-int-l-airport-but-it-was-short-lived-1105

What it’s like to use Facebook from inside a Gaza prison
GAZA CITY 12 Apr by Ali Dolah — A number of Palestinian inmates at Gaza Central Prison in western Gaza City were allowed to connect March 21, via Facebook video calls, with family members residing outside the Gaza Strip and with whom they had not been in touch for years. In cooperation with the Gaza Central Prison, the Interior Ministry and the General Administration of Prisons launched a campaign allowing 10 inmates serving long prison sentences to make video calls and check on family members who have been unable to visit for years. The contacting of family members outside Gaza via Facebook is part of a process introduced by the Interior Ministry and the General Administration of Prisons to help alleviate the suffering of inmates unable to see their children, wives and parents. The programs introduced also include sports and social activities … Tears of sadness rolled down the cheeks of a 50-year-old prisoner — who was sentenced 25 years to life in prison for taking part in a murder and who had not seen his wife and children in 10 years — when he saw his children via computer. “After I was sentenced, my wife, who is Egyptian, traveled to Egypt with my children to stay with her family. I had not seen or spoken to them since then, but I have always wanted to contact them. My dream came true with the Interior Ministry and the prison administration allowing us to talk with our families via Facebook.” He added, “I have five children — four daughters and a son. I could not recognize them after all these years. He was a 5-year-old [back then] and he is a young man now.” He said that at first his wife and children did not believe that he was talking to them online from prison. “I don’t think social media for inmates exists everywhere in the world; it allowed us to live our lives as if we were free,” he said….
http://al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/04/gaza-central-prison-inmates-communicate-family-outside-gaza.html

Meet Gaza’s only female bus driver
GAZA (Gulf News) 14 Apr by Ahmed Alnaouq — In one of the most conservative and patriarchal societies in the world, many women are deprived of a basic human need — the ability to earn an independent living — not only because of the crippling Israeli blockade but also because of male hegemony. However, some women are defying the odds by doing jobs normally only held by men. Salwa Srour, 63, who runs her own private school for children in Gaza City, is one of these women. She is Gaza’s first and only female bus driver. Each day at 6:30am, she drivers through the city streets, picking up students who attend the kindergarten she owns with her sister. Not accustomed to seeing a woman driving a bus, the kids called her ‘Uncle Salwa’ at first. “It didn’t bother me, I was amused,” she told Gulf News. “I am happy being a woman who does a job only men do.” According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, women make up only 17.3 per cent of the Gaza workforce. However, that is up from 13.8 per cent in 2001. There are more than 30,000 public transport drivers working in Gaza — Srour is the only female.“I am single, and unlike most Gazan women, I earn my own living,” she says proudly … Srour has a bachelor’s degree in public relations and her first job had been in a government department. Karama Srour, Salwa’s niece, believes her aunt’s family, unlike many Gazans, is open-minded and gives her the space to accomplish her dreams. Karama says she is very proud of her aunt and aspires to follow in her footsteps. “When my aunt feels something inside, she acts on it. She continues to inspire me.” The family’s reaction to Srour’s decision to drive the bus was positive and encouraging. It’s been five years since Srour started driving the kindergarten bus.“People’s reaction is now completely different than in the beginning,” Srour says. “Now they are used to seeing me, and the parents of schoolchildren are also happy now. They were uneasy about men driving their children to school before.”….
http://gulfnews.com/news/mena/palestine/meet-gaza-s-only-female-bus-driver-1.2005316

Israel moves forward with barrier to block Gaza tunnels
Al-Monitor 12 Apr by Afnan Abu Amer — The Israeli state comptroller report issued Feb. 28 harshly criticized the government and military for not being prepared to confront the danger of the tunnels dug by Hamas on the eastern border of Gaza through which the movement’s fighters carried out several military operations against army positions during the summer 2014 war. In response, Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, told Knesset members on March 22 that the army had made numerous efforts since the 2014 Gaza war to counter Hamas’ tunnels in eastern Gaza and is currently building a barrier to prevent Hamas from using the tunnels in any future military confrontation with Israel. On April 5, Yedioth Ahronoth published pictures of a cement factory north of the Gaza Strip that will reportedly be involved in constructing the barrier. The structure will cost $1 billion; it will be 65 kilometers long and constructed in segments above ground and underground along the border in northern and eastern Gaza to be able to detect the tunnels’ location. The paper quoted an anonymous source from the Israeli Defense Ministry as saying that engineering equipment and vehicles will be operating in 40 posts in the upcoming weeks, along with 2,000 workers and large military contingents to protect them.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum told Al-Monitor, “Hamas is closely monitoring Israel’s field efforts to thwart the movement’s military capabilities, mainly by building a barrier to prevent it from using its tunnels to defend Gaza. However, Hamas is constantly evaluating Israel’s efforts to prevent it from achieving its objectives, without entering a wide-scale war. [Hamas] evaluates each step it takes in any event.” Barhoum did not indicate whether Hamas continues to dig tunnels. In an April 1 article in Maariv, Israeli military expert Alon Ben-David said that building a barrier could result in a new war with Hamas. According to him, Hamas will likely try to stop construction of the barrier, even at the expense of another round of military conflict. He said there are doubts about Hamas’ ability to restrain itself, watching in silence as Israel deprives it of its strategic treasures. Wasef Erekat, a retired Palestinian military officer, told Al-Monitor, “Israel is really serious about fighting the tunnels, and as it starts to build the barrier, Hamas must publicly declare its opposition to this project and hold Israel responsible for any complications that may ensue. At the same time, Hamas fighters have begun picking fights with the Israeli forces guarding the engineering equipment, whether by sniper bullets or roadside bombs, in an attempt to keep Israel busy without provoking an open military confrontation.”….http://al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/04/gaza-hamas-tunnels-israel-build-wall.html

Bottling hope for Gaza farmers
ENCINITAS, Calif. (San Diego Union-Tribune) 13 Apr by Pam Kragen —  As the American-born daughter of Palestinian immigrants, Jenny Farhat remembers the stories her father and grandparents would tell her about life underneath their ancient olive trees in the West Bank. To escape the summer heat, farming families would eat, drink, sleep and even marry in the shade of of their expansive groves. But today many of those trees, including those once farmed by her own family, are gone as the result of the decades-long conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians. Farhat, 32, hopes to sow some seeds of hope for those dwindling farms with a new import business she launched last month. Harvest Peace, an e-commerce business headquartered in Encinitas, sells organic, fair-trade extra virgin olive oil made from olives grown and hand-pressed on a few hundred farms around the Palestinian cities of Ramallah and Jenin in the West Bank. The olive oil is sold online at harvestpeace.com at $25 for a 16-ounce bottle. Under an agreement with Canaan Fair Trade and the Palestine Fair Trade Association, Farhat said the farmers receive a guaranteed minimum price for their oil that is more than double what they were earning five years ago. Also, a portion of proceeds from each bottle sold goes to Trees for Life, which is replanting olive trees in the region to help supplement the farmers’ income. “Although my family’s groves have been destroyed in the region’s longstanding conflict, there remains a great and vibrant optimism among the many families whose groves still stand today,” Farhat said … For more than 300 years, Farhat’s ancestors farmed olives in the hills around Ramallah. The region is known for its old-growth trees, many more than 1,000 years old, that have grown deep roots to weather the dry, harsh conditions in the West Bank. The trees have continuously produced olives for centuries without imported water or fertilizer. Farhat said the olive crop represents 45 percent of the cultivated land in the Palestinian territories, but since 1967, more than 1 million olive trees have been lost due to war and disputes over land ownership….
http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/communities/north-county/sd-no-harvest-peace-20170411-story.html

Remembering three International Solidarity Movement martyrs

Let’s not forget this activist who died rescuing a Palestinian child
Stepfeed 11 Apr by Sarah Ahmed Shaw — Thomas “Tom” Hurndall (27 November 1981 – 13 January 2004) was a British photography student, a volunteer for the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), and an activist against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. He was shot in the head by an Israeli soldier on April 11, 2003 while attempting to rescue a child who had been trapped by gunfire. He died nine months later in hospital in London. He was 22. Today we remember his inspirational journey. Aged 21, Tom Hurndall took a working break from his degree course at Manchester Metropolitan University in photographic journalism to join the “human shields” in Iraq before the 2003 Iraq War. As the volunteers ran out of money and war became inevitable, he moved to Jordan and donated £500 for medical supplies for refugees from Iraq. It was there that he encountered the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), and decided to go to Gaza. He arrived in the town of Rafah, in southern Gaza Strip, on April 6 2003 and began emailing images of the Israeli military and the Palestinians back to his family. His obituary in The Guardian states that the tone of his journals changed dramatically. “No one could say I wasn’t seeing what needs to be seen now,” he wrote … Dressed in a fluorescent orange ISM vest, Tom was at the end of a Rafah street observing an earthen mound where a score of children were playing. As Israeli army rifle fire hit the mound, the children fled. But three, aged between four and seven, were paralyzed by fear, right in the line of fire, and Tom rushed to help them. After successfully taking a boy to safety, Tom returned for the girls. Rushing to rescue them, he bent down to put his arm round one of the two when an Israeli soldier in the tower took his aim, firing a large caliber sniper bullet directly into Tom’s head. After a two-hour delay on the border, Tom was rushed to a specialist hospital in Be’ersheva. After nearly two months by his hospital bedside in Israel, Tom’s family were allowed to bring him back to the UK. The brain injury left him in a vegetative state, until he died on January 13 2004….
http://stepfeed.com/let-s-not-forget-this-activist-who-died-rescuing-a-palestinian-child-2082

14 years on, Palestinians still mourn slain US activist
Palestine Chronicle 12 Apr — Fourteen years ago Thursday [March 16], 23-year-old American peace activist Rachel Corrie was killed by an Israeli bulldozer that was preparing to demolish a Palestinian home in the Gaza Strip. Corrie has since become an icon of global solidarity with the people of Palestine. Born on April 10, 1979 in Olympia, Washington, Corrie dedicated her life to defending Palestinian rights. In 2003, she went to the Gaza Strip as a member of the International Solidarity Movement. She was known for her love of peace and for defending the Palestinian people’s right to a state of their own, frequently broadcasting photo essays exposing Israeli rights violations in the occupied territories. On March 16, 2003 in the Salam district of the Gaza Strip’s southern city of Rafah, Corrie stood before an Israeli bulldozer in hopes of stopping it from demolishing the home of a local Palestinian family. Corrie believed that her foreign features and blonde hair would deter the bulldozer – but she was wrong. She was crushed to death when the bulldozer driver ran her over repeatedly, according to witnesses. The people of Gaza received news of her murder with grief and horror, describing her as a “martyr” and staging a massive funeral for the slain American activist.
http://www.palestinechronicle.com/14-years-on-palestinians-still-mourn-slain-us-activist/

Five (now six) year anniversary of the death of Vittorio Arrigoni
GAZA 18 Apr 2016 by ISM al-Khalil Team — Last Thursday 14th April marked [six] years since the disappearance of Vittorio Arrigoni in Gaza, under the Israeli blockade. According to subsequent statements and investigations carried out by Hamas, ISM activist Vittorio’s body was discovered the following day, having been kidnapped and executed by the previously unheard-of “Brigade of the Gallant Companion of the Prophet Mohammed bin Muslima,” a Salafist splinter-group. His alleged murderers were eventually arrested and sentenced to life-imprisonment (reduced to fifteen years on appeal). Before his death Vittorio was a committed, passionate ISM activist who spent the best part of three years of his life in Gaza between 2008 and 2011, working in solidarity with the Palestinian people suffering from the Israeli blockade. He first went to Gaza as part of the Free Gaza flotilla that broke the blockade in August 2008. Vittorio worked in solidarity with farmers and fishermen, attended demonstrations and documented, for both ISM and other media outlets, the countless examples of Israeli human rights abuses that he witnessed. This was none more evident than in his work during Operation Cast Lead, in which hundreds of civilians were massacred. Despite the difficulties he encountered in his work Vittorio was an incredibly positive, happy and optimistic person. He described the breaking of the blockade in 2008 as the happiest moment of his life, stating that, “it became clear, not only to the world but Palestinians also, that there are people who are willing to spend their lives to come and hug their brothers here in Gaza.” … A book of Vittorio’s daily dispatches to Italian media – “Gaza: Stay Human” – was first published in 2010 with an introduction by Ilan Pappe.” [WATCH a Gazan musical tribute to Vittorio including Gazan citizens: Vittorio Arrigoni, Onadekom (Calling You) DARG Team official video]
https://palsolidarity.org/tag/vittorio-arrigoni/

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements

Life under occupation: Suffering behind the annexation wall
PCHR 13 Apr —  Hani Amer is a 59-year old father of four sons and two daughters, whose family is deeply rooted in Kafr Qasim, which is located on the western side of the annexation wall that is separating Palestine from Israel. When Kafr Qasim was declared state land of Israel in 1948, the entire Amer family was expelled, lost their land and moved to Mas’ha, which is part of the Salfit governorate and located on the eastern side of the wall. “The catastrophe of my family started already in 1948 and not only with the construction of the wall in 2003. The wall is the last and not the first problem”, Hani Amer emphasizes as he starts to tell his story.  The house where Hani Amer is currently living with his family was built by Hani himself in the early 1970s. At the time, there were no settlements in the area and Hani’s dream was to build a house on his own land where he can create a family and provide them with a good life. Only three years after his family had moved into their new home, Israel claimed the area next to Hani’s land for security reasons and slowly started to build an illegal settlement. Despite the fact that settlements constitute a violation of international law, Israel has since the late 1960s claimed Palestinian land under the pretext of military use and security reasons, while eventually transferring Israeli citizens to the land and turning it into settlements. While the Amer family lived a fairly peaceful life until 2003, the situation started to change significantly with the construction of the annexation wall in 2003. Either, the wall will be built exactly in the place of my house and I will have to move to the other side of the wall, or they will make our life miserable and we will have to suffer”, Hani describes. Not willing to give up their home, the Amer family decided to stay and has been paying a high price for their decision since then. The wall was built right in front of Hani’s house, severely reducing his land, while the back of the house faces the Israeli settlement of Elkana. Hani’s land was thereby physically incorporated into the settlement, even though it is separated from it by a large barb wire fence, creating a unique case of suffering. Not only the Israeli occupation forces tried to move the family from their home, but the Israeli residents of Elkana did their utmost to make their Palestinian neighbors’ life as miserable as possible. “Between 2003 and 2010, I barely slept and stayed awake during most nights to be prepared when settlers would attack us. They attacked our house and my family, they showed up in my garden and threw stones, screamed at us and harassed us frequently”, Hani explains….
http://pchrgaza.org/en/?p=9022

Israel confiscates Palestinian land to expand a checkpoint
MEMO 10 Apr — Israeli forces leveled Palestinian land in the occupied city of Tulkarm yesterday in a effort to expand a military checkpoint, Quds Press reported. According to the reports, Israeli bulldozers razed the Palestinian-owned lands near the Jabara military checkpoint to the south of Tulkarm. The checkpoint separates the city from Israel. The actions raised concerns among Palestinians over new plans to confiscate areas for further Israeli settlement expansion. Hundreds of acres of Palestinian-owned lands in the south of the Tulkarm governorate have been confiscated by Israeli authorities with the aim of building the Jabara military checkpoint and the illegal Separation Wall, which hinders Palestinians from accessing their agricultural lands and homes.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170412-palestinian-lands-confiscation-in-occupied-west-bank-continues/

50 years after war, settlements blur future borders
JERUSALEM (AP) by Josef Federman & Karin Laub [This is the first of several stories marking the 50 years since Israel took over the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 1967.] — For many Israelis, Har Homa is another neighborhood in Jerusalem, served by city bus lines and schools. Its quiet streets are lined with apartment buildings, pizza shops, supermarkets and pharmacies. But for Palestinians and much of the world, this unassuming neighborhood is far more. It is an illegal settlement in east Jerusalem, and in some ways, the most damaging.  Har Homa lies on one of the last spaces of land linking the Palestinian areas of the West Bank to their hoped-for capital in east Jerusalem. If city planners have their way, Har Homa will soon become one of Jerusalem’s largest Jewish neighborhoods, expanding a presence that many believe has already dealt a devastating blow to the Palestinian dream of independence. “It’s a feeling of helplessness,” said Aziz Abu Teir, the mukhtar, or community leader, of Umm Tuba, a neighboring Palestinian village, as he stared from his balcony at the sprawling rows of apartment buildings across a ravine. “You can do nothing.” … Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, under American pressure to curb some settlement construction in the West Bank, says east Jerusalem will not be included in any understanding with the U.S. In fact, he has vowed to step up settlement activity in east Jerusalem neighborhoods like Har Homa. “This is our homeland,” said Herzl Yechezkel, one of the founding fathers of Har Homa. “And we have to build it up.” … The Palestinians lost more than 150 acres of land to Har Homa. Abu Teir, a 55-year-old British-educated civil engineer, said his village’s lands were passed down from generation to generation, and ownership is difficult to document, making it impossible to stop development. “You feel gutted, and sorrow overwhelms you when you see something like that,” he said, as he pointed at apartment buildings he claimed were built on his family’s land. “The land that used to belong to my forefathers suddenly became a settlement specifically for Jewish people. It’s not a fair thing.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/50-years-after-war-settlements-blur-future-borders/2017/04/13/4d2566f8-2011-11e7-bb59-a74ccaf1d02f_story.html

Turmus Aya’s Palestinians threatened by settlement plan
TURMUS AYA, Occupied West Bank (Al Jazeera) 14 Apr by Lizzie Porter — At the entrance of the Palestinian village Turmus Aya, a large sign written in Hebrew, Arabic and English warns visitors that “this road leads to Palestinian areas [sic]. It is dangerous for Israeli citizens to enter”. Contrary to the sign’s warning, it is the Palestinian residents of this seemingly tranquil area who are more nervous, specifically about the recent encroachment from the Israeli settlements that surround their village. Turmus Aya, home to around 4,000 people, lies in the shadow of a string of such settlers’ communities, which are illegal under international law. On a bump in the land directly to the north sits Shilo, a well-developed example, built in 1979 and home to around 3,000 illegal settlers. Last week, tensions rose in the area, after the Israeli government confirmed that Shilo and other nearby Israeli communities would be joined by the construction of the first official settlement in the occupied West Bank in nearly 20 years. Geulat Zion will be built on a hilltop east of Shilo, to house around 50 settler families removed from Amona, an unauthorised settlement dismantled after Israel’s Supreme Court ruled it had been built on private Palestinian land. The fertile area is known as “Emek Shilo” – Shilo Valley – and is home to dozens of Palestinian villages and towns. “The settlers and the poor economic situation here are the reason why Turmus Aya is empty,” said Rabie, a Chicago-based Palestinian who hails from the village, where many of the elegant villas appear uninhabited. “People are scared of the settlers and the army.” Now Rabie, who gave only his first name, only visits his Palestinian home for four to six weeks at a time before returning to the United States. “The Israeli army bothers us every day. They come to my house and ask what I’m doing there. ‘What am I doing here? I’m in my house’.” He said villagers already experienced intimidation from settlers in Shilo, and more moving to the area would make things worse….
http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/04/turmus-aya-palestinians-threatened-settlement-plan-170409121652131.html

Not content with wiping Palestine off the map, Israel has done the same to part of Syria too
MEMO 31 Mar by Asa Winstanley —  For several years, throughout the height of Israel’s anti-Iran war-mongering and propaganda, we were told that a nuclear Iran threatened to wipe the Zionist state “off the map”. In fact, this claim was based on a mistranslated statement by the then Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. What he had actually called for was for Israel’s political regime to “vanish from the page of time” in a similar fashion to the Soviet Union or the South African apartheid regime. As with so much Israeli propaganda, this was yet another case of a psychological phenomenon known as projection. This is where an aggressor projects onto their victim the aggressor’s own crimes … The historical record shows beyond doubt that it is Israel which has, in reality, wiped an entire country off the map: Palestine. And it is Israel which pushed Palestinian refugees into the sea during the 1947-48 Nakba, the appalling ethnic cleansing before, during and after the establishment of the state of Israel on Palestinian land. This was done, quite literally, as Ilan Pappé recounts in his seminal book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine; Palestinian refugees were actually pushed into the sea while fleeing for their lives. Some escaped by boat to Lebanon, hoping to return when the fighting died down …. there is a less well known ethnic cleansing for which Israel is responsible, one that came in the wake of its 1967 war of aggression against surrounding Arab countries. Not content with wiping Palestine off the map, Israel has done the same to that part of south-western Syria known as the Golan Heights. Following Israel’s illegal conquest and occupation of that territory in 1967, more than 125,000 native Syrians were either forcibly removed from their homes, or compelled to flee by the threat of war. Israel then set about to systematically destroy hundreds of Syrian villages to make the prospect of those Syrians returning to their land highly unlikely. Israeli settlements built for its Jewish colonists have been built on the ruins of the destroyed villages. Sometimes these were cynically named after the village that had been literally wiped off the map, and given Hebraic names … New research released by Syrian Golan human rights group Al-Marsad shows that the number of villages destroyed by Israel in this way was greater than originally thought. Up until this month, it was believed that Israel had destroyed between 240 and 260, but the new research shows that the true number was much higher, with 340 villages and farms wiped off the map. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it, but this is no propagandist rhetoric. This has happened, and Israel has done it … A new map published by Al-Marsad provides a stark illustration of how extensive Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Golan Heights has been….
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170331-not-content-with-wiping-palestine-off-the-map-israel-has-done-the-same-to-part-of-syria-too/

The curious case of the Palestinian holding onto his land inside an Israeli settlement
Palestine Monitor 8 Apr — In the Salfit District of the West Bank, Palestine Monitor spoke with Hani Amer, known commonly as Abu-Nidal, a Palestinian man living within the illegal settlement Elkana, in Mas’ha Village. His home is surrounded by barbed wire and is just steps away from the separation wall and the rest of his village. Sitting outside on the porch swing with his 2-year-old grandson, Abu-Nidal spoke about his life living and resisting within the illegal settlement. Abu-Nidal is a native of Kufr Qasim, a city 6 kilometers east of the Green Line. After 1948, approximately 70% of the town was annexed by Israel, with Palestinians having to take refuge in Mas’ha. Following the shooting of his grandfather by Israeli forces, Abu-Nidal’s family also relocated to Mas’ha. In 1973 Abu-Nidal bought property in Mas’ha and built a home for him and his family. Abu-Nidal is father to four boys and two girls and continues to live in this house with his wife, Monira.
In 1975 the illegal settlement of Elkana was built, attracting settlers to the area. Like most settlements, Elkana began as a small outpost. Abu-Nidal recalls how the settlers were very kind to him and his family in the beginning; “they were great, like angels”.  However, as the settlement grew and obtained power within the region the settlers became aggressive and violent towards him and his family. He and his family felt that the environment became increasingly unsafe as settlers would threaten and intimidate them with rifles whilst often attacking the home with stones. Abu-Nidal did not own a key to enter the settlement, but instead had to rely on Israeli forces to open the door for him. Twice a day they would let him in and out: once in the morning while he left to work, and again when he returned. This procedure became increasingly dangerous as the settlement grew. He and his children were often harassed whilst waiting for the gate to be opened for them –especially for his children coming in and out from school. As the situation worsened, many organizations put pressure on the council of Elkana to give Abu-Nidal his own key, which he finally received after many years of dependence on the Israeli military….
http://www.palestinemonitor.org/details.php?id=ulo6wia15386yo8fxuq2s9

Israeli settlers ‘raid’ Palestinian town near Hebron for Passover celebrations
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 13 Apr — Dozens of Israeli settlers entered the northern part of the town of Dura in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron on Thursday in order to carry out Passover celebrations on the Palestinian town’s land. The southern Hebron directorate of agriculture told Ma‘an that dozens of Israeli settlers, under the protection of armed Israeli forces, “raided the area,” which is revered by locals as an important historical site. The settlers reportedly set up pergolas in the area to celebrate Passover. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an they were unaware of the incident [although a photo shows that soldiers were there]. Dura is surround by four illegal Israeli settlements — the Hagia settlement to the east, Adora settlement from the south, Negohot settlement to the southwest and Otnel settlement to the south east — leaving residents subjected to frequent Israeli incursions that exacerbate fears among local Palestinians who routinely face violence by Israeli settlers.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776428

Palestinian refugees – Lebanon

Forces deploy in Palestinian camp in Lebanon after clashes
AFP 13 Apr — A local security force deployed across southern Lebanon’s Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp on Thursday, a commander said, ending a week of sporadic clashes with an extremist group. The fighting, which left nine dead and more than 50 wounded, had prompted many to flee their homes and forced schools and shops in and around the camp to close. The commander, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the local security force, which includes 100 fighters from several Palestinian factions, was able to deploy throughout the camp after a ceasefire late Wednesday night. Lebanon’s army does not enter the camp by long-standing convention. “Security forces deployed in the Al-Tiri neighbourhood, which had been the focal point of the clashes,” the commander said. He added that “extremist Islamist groups” had withdrawn from some areas to avoid further clashes. Fighting erupted late Friday after Palestinian factions deployed throughout Ain al-Hilweh as part of an operation aimed at combating the influence of a local Islamist group linked to Bilal Badr, a wanted militant. The commander said Badr had refused to give himself up to Palestinian security forces to be handed over to the Lebanese authorities. Badr is wanted on suspicion of “terrorism”, firearms offences and belonging to an armed group, according to a Lebanese security official. An AFP correspondent said the camp had suffered major damage and that some residents had been trapped inside their homes throughout the fighting. Local activist Asef Moussa told AFP that “dozens of young people will volunteer on Friday to clean the streets and clear up the damage and rubble left by the fighting”. The United Nations Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA said it welcomed the return to calm. “UNRWA… is working to restore its services in the camp as quickly as possible,” said its local affairs director Claudio Cordone, adding that UNRWA would resume its activities on Friday morning.
http://al-monitor.com/pulse/afp/2017/04/lebanon-conflict-palestinians-clashes.html


BDS

BDS activists defy US moves to curb Palestine advocacy
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Al Jazeera) 12 Apr by Dalia Hatuqa — As more states pass bills targeting the movement to boycott Israel, analysts believe such measures could backfire — In the United States, far away from Israel, there is a related storm a-brewing. In recent months, state legislatures have been passing bills that target supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) that seeks to pressure Israel into ending its occupation of Palestinian and Arab territories, and to grant its own Palestinian citizens full rights. At least 26 such bills have been introduced nationwide in 2017, according to Palestine Legal, a group that provides legal advice to US-based pro-Palestine civil rights activists. The bills would financially punish organisations and companies that boycott Israel, for example by limiting their possibilities to get public contracts. “We’re seeing an increase in efforts to stifle Palestine advocacy work,” said Rahul Saksena, staff lawyer at Palestine Legal. “One of the more recent trends is a shift towards state lawmakers to introduce and pass bills that aim to suppress or punish activism.” Over the years, as hopes for a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict diminished, support for BDS rose among artists, companies, even churches. Israel has slammed those who boycott or divest from it as anti-Semites, and said that the real aims of the BDS movement are to undermine its right to exist. BDS supporters here are pushing back. Using legal means and grassroots activism, they are educating politicians about the movement, and challenging anti-BDS bills by invoking First Amendment rights. “We are focusing on fighting these new bills, to tell the public and lawmakers that BDS is a constitutionally-protected right,” Saksena said. “It’s important for lawmakers to know that, especially in this climate in the Trump era, where our right to dissent is increasingly necessary and valuable.”
http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/04/bds-united-states-170412005811306.html

Under pressure over Israel, Portland divests from all corporations
EI 13 Apr by Charlotte Silver —  Portland, Oregon has voted to divest all city funds from corporations, in a move that is being greeted with a mixture of praise and disappointment from activists who have been pushing for a socially responsible investment policy for years.  The 5 April city council vote came after the city worked for more than two years to create a mechanism to ensure that it does not invest in corporations that are complicit in a range of abuses. The grassroots divestment push began four years ago, when a coalition of activists came together to campaign against city investments in Wells Fargo bank and Caterpillar, corporations involved in the private prison industry and human rights abuses of Palestinians. In December 2014, the city created the Socially Responsible Investments Committee, which was tasked with devising a “do not buy” list of corporations.  Last September, the committee published its first report, naming nine companies whose practices violate environmental, health, labor, business or human rights standards.  The report specifically cited Caterpillar’s “practice of selling custom weaponized military equipment and its involvement in human rights controversies, including direct maintenance and support of Israeli military bulldozers during attacks on Palestinian residences, orchards and other property.”  But what began as a rigorous process to determine which corporations should be placed on a “do not buy” list, ended last week with a blanket prohibition on investing in any company. Last week’s vote overcame top city officials’ attempts to continue investing in companies they see as crucial revenue streams for the city. “This is a win,” Hyung Nam, a member of the Socially Responsible Investments Committee, told media. “The city is actually willing to lose money to their budget because they want to get out of these big corporate nightmares.” But others regret that by imposing a blanket ban on corporate investments, the city avoids rebuking the most egregious bad actors….
https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/charlotte-silver/under-pressure-over-israel-portland-divests-all-corporations

Other news

Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (6-12 April)
PCHR 13 Apr — A Palestinian young man from al-Jalazoun refugee camp succumbed to his wounds. Israeli forces continued to target the Gaza Strip border areas, but no casualties were reported. Israeli forces conducted 49 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 10 ones in Jerusalem. 71 civilians, including 11 children, were arrested; 33 of whom, including 5 children, were in Jerusalem. Among the arrested were Ahmed Atoun, PLC member representing Hamas movement, and the spokesperson of Hamas movement in Ramallah and al-Bireh. 10 cars in Silwad and equipment in a metal workshop were damaged and confiscated. Israeli forces continued their efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem. 3 families in Silwan village were notified to vacate their houses because of cracks resulting from digging works beneath. Settlement activities continued in the West Bank. Settlers raided a number of areas under the protection of Israeli forces to celebrate their Passover holiday. Israeli forces turned the West Bank into cantons and continued to impose the illegal closure on the Gaza Strip for the 9th year Due to the Jewish Passover holiday, the Israeli authorities imposed a security closure on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. 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, including a child, were arrested at military checkpoints. [Details follow]
http://pchrgaza.org/en/?p=9026

AP Photos: Christians from around the world observe Good Friday in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (AP) 13 Apr — Christians from around the world are in Jerusalem commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ by following the path in the Old City where, according to tradition, he walked on the way to the cross. Pilgrims, some carrying large wooden crosses on their backs, packed the narrow cobblestone alleyways of the Old City Friday, chanting prayers. The Good Friday procession passes along the Way of the Cross, or Via Dolorosa, with 14 stations, each marking an event that befell Jesus on his final journey. Rituals center on the ancient Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where Christian tradition says Jesus was crucified and buried before his resurrection on Easter Sunday.
http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/ap-photos-christians-celebrate-good-friday-in-jerusalem/

Palestinian Christians celebrate Holy Saturday in West Bank, East Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Apr — Palestinian Christians from all church denominations along with international pilgrims marked Holy Saturday in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, a day before the Easter holiday.  The largest celebrations took place in the southern cities of the West Bank, most notably Bethlehem, Beit Sahour, and Beit Jala where the majority of Palestinian Christians live.  A large procession of Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem also gathered to receive the holy fire at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City.  The celebration marks the day following Good Friday, when Christians believe Jesus Christ was crucified in Jerusalem, and the day before Easter, which marks his resurrection from the grave. Palestinian Christians as well as Eastern Orthodox Christians from around the world believe that on the Saturday between these two holidays, a divine fire from heaven appears above his tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  Believers hold that this fire ignites candles held by the Greek Orthodox patriarch, in an annual rite dating back to the 4th century that symbolizes the resurrection of Christ.  Every year, thousands gather in Jerusalem’s Old City to welcome the fire, which is subsequently brought to churches in Palestinian towns and villages throughout the Holy Land. Large numbers of Israeli police and forces were deployed in Jerusalem, particularly around the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Meanwhile, in Bethlehem, Palestinian police were deployed in large numbers all over the city to organize traffic and help worshipers and marching bands reach the churches to receive the holy fire….
https://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776445


Palestinians told to boycott online Israeli work permits
DUBAI (Gulf News) 10 Apr — The Palestinian Labour Ministry has asked its citizens to boycott buying illegal Israeli work permits online peddled by money-hungry swindlers hoping to make a quick buck. The West Bank suffers from high unemployment — around 43 per cent of its residents aged 20-24 are jobless. As a result, around 110,000 Palestinians legally work in 1948 areas and around 40,000 work in Israeli colonies. But the stifling situation forces thousands of Palestinians unable to obtain a work permit legally, to buy expensive illegal work permits. They often end up doing high-risk odd jobs mostly as labourers which opens them up to exploitation as they have no legal rights. The labour ministry says the swindlers are a “highly organised” group which has enormously profited from the desperate situation of their fellow Palestinians. A one month work permit sells anywhere from between 3,000 to 6,000 shekels which customers have to pay up front.
http://gulfnews.com/news/mena/palestine/palestinians-told-to-boycott-online-israeli-work-permits-1.2008770

China urges correcting ‘historical injustice’ to allow Palestinian state
BEIJING (Reuters) 13 Apr — Palestinians must be allowed to build an independent state, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Thursday after meeting Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, who pushed Beijing to do more in the Middle East peace process. Chinese envoys occasionally visit Israel and the Palestinian Territories, though China has traditionally played little role in Middle East conflicts or diplomacy, despite its reliance on the region for oil.Wang told a joint press briefing with Maliki that 70 years after a U.N. resolution was passed on a plan for a Jewish state, Palestinians are still being prevented from having their own independent country. “This is unfair. This kind of historical injustice must be corrected. It cannot continue,” Wang said. It was time to overcome inertia and restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, he said. Maliki said Palestinians appreciated and welcomed China’s efforts to facilitate peace….
http://af.reuters.com/article/commoditiesNews/idAFL3N1HL3VK


Petition urging UK government to apologize for Balfour Declaration exceeding 11,000 signatures
IMEMC/Agencies 12 Apr — More than 11,000 [12,713 as of this writing] people have signed a petition calling on the British government to apologize for the Balfour Declaration, when, one century, ago then Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour promised a homeland for the Jews, in Palestine, at the expense of its indigenous Arab population, the London-based Palestinian Return Center (PRC) said, on Wednesday. “We call on Her Majesty’s Government to openly apologise to the Palestinian people for issuing the Balfour Declaration. The colonial policy of Britain between 1917-1948 led to mass displacement of the Palestinian nation,” read the petition, according to WAFA correspondence. “HMG should recognize its role during the Mandate and now must lead attempts to reach a solution that ensures justice for the Palestinian people,” it added. According to petition rules, the British government is obliged to issue a formal response within a period of three days explaining its position on the petition if the number of signatures reaches 10,000. However, according to the petition planners, five days have so far passed without an official British government response … The organizers are aiming at 100,000 signatures, which mean the petition will be considered for debate in the parliament….
http://imemc.org/article/petition-urging-uk-government-to-apologize-for-balfour-declaration-exceeding-10000-signatures/


‘I’m the only trip-hop artist in Palestine!’: the musicians shaking up the occupied territories
The Guardian 11 Apr by Tom Horan — Refugee rappers, ska stars from the Golan Heights, the Kraftwerk of the Levant … meet the acts redefining Palestine in the shadow of the wall and the watchtowers — Guests arriving at international music conferences are usually welcomed with a bit of a meet-and-greet by the pool, an ice-cool daiquiri and canapes, perhaps. They are not normally whisked off to sites of forced evictions and killings. But when the host city is the Palestinian capital, Ramallah, normal rules – as with most of life in the occupied territories – do not apply. The hilly West Bank town has just hosted PMX, the first ever Palestine Music Expo. Dreamed up by three locals – a rapper, a composer and a journalist – and a British record label boss, PMX showcased a blossoming of musical talent among a people whose voices have struggled to be heard. What emerged after three memorable days of talks, tours and live performances could form the blueprint for a whole new music industry – and even the re-branding of a nation. Martin Goldschmidt set up his label, Cooking Vinyl, in the 1980s and has worked with Billy Bragg, Marilyn Manson and the Prodigy, among many others. He came to a music-biz conference in Tel Aviv two years ago and decided to venture out into Palestine. There he met rapper Mahmood Jrere from Palestinian crew DAM, composer Abed Hathout and journalist Rami Younis from progressive news site 972mag.com, and they introduced him to several local acts. The place was alive with talent – but lacked a music industry of its own. “We knew we could provide delegates with an experience, an insight into the place,” says Goldschmidt as he recalls hatching the plan for PMX. “Once you visit Palestine, it gets under your skin. It messes with your head in quite a shocking way. It really makes you think.” Jrere agrees: “We wanted to give delegates a different perspective from the one they get from the news.” And so, at 10am, a bus takes us to a refugee camp at nearby Qalandia….
https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/apr/11/palestine-music-expo-pmx-musicians-shaking-up-the-occupied-territories

West Bank cafe transports customers to Damascus
RAMALLAH 12 Apr by Ahmad Melhem — The Demashq cafe in the West Bank city of Jenin mimics the architecture and atmosphere of a traditional Damascus cafe, taking customers back to the days of a peaceful Syria — At the entrance of the city of Jenin in the northern West Bank, a sign with the name “Demashq” (Damascus) [see photos on its website] is placed atop an abandoned house dating back to 1929. Palestinian artist Ghassan al-Sadi from the city of Jenin started renovating the house in February 2015 and has turned it into a Damascus-style cafe. Sadi told Al-Monitor that he supervised the hiring of all the staff before opening the cafe on March 28, 2015, which has now become a replica of an ancient house and cafe in Damascus. The cafe is mostly known for its courtyard, which has a Damascus-style fountain, surrounded by dozens of small trees and ornamental plants, roses hanging from the walls and arches designed by Sadi to mimic the architectural design of a cafe in Damascus.  Today, Sadi is working on opening a new section inside the Damascus cafe for women and families only. He named it Halab (Aleppo) cafe and it is expected to open by the end of April. The new cafe was built above the original one, so customers sitting on the balcony can see the courtyard and the fountain. Sadi’s new cafe creates the atmosphere of an old house in Aleppo through its window designs, arches and the colors of the tile and paint. It will be divided into different sections with an area for old musical instruments and another area with pictures of revolutionary men such as late writer Ghassan Kanafani and Argentine-Cuban Revolutionary Che Guevara….
http://al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/04/palestine-west-bank-damascus-cafe-syria-art-culture.html

Hopeful story of the week
 Jerusalem residents transform hate into hope
JPost 13 Apr by Daniel K. Eisenbud — Less than three hours after anti-Arab graffiti was spray-painted on a wall in Mekor Chaim Park, a beloved community oasis located at the intersection of the Katamon, Beit Safafa and Baka neighborhoods, Jewish residents of the area sought to demonstrate that tolerance remains a powerful force in the capital. Shortly after 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Ilana Nelson, 39, a mother of three, whose children attend the nearby Max Rayne Hand in Hand School for Arab and Jewish children, said she was horrified at the sight of hateful Hebrew words. “Death to Arabs,” “Arabs go home,” “We want revenge,” “Kahane was right” and a Star of David were scrawled by the entrance to the scenic park, adjacent to boarded-over railroad tracks in the residential area. “My neighbor was walking by in the morning and saw the graffiti and posted it on Facebook, and wrote: ‘Who wants to paint?’ to cover it up,” said Nelson on Thursday. “By the time we were ready to paint over it, the municipality already power-washed the graffiti off the wall, which was great, but we decided to show that as residents of the neighborhood we don’t agree with those kinds of racist remarks.” Noting the pride the community members take in the inclusive nature of the park, Nelson said she and her children nonetheless took two green tarps from their nearby home and decided to paint “We love our neighbors” and “Love is the whole story” in colorful Hebrew letters. “My nine-year-old son, who has studied at the bilingual school since fourth grade, also wrote it in Arabic below the Hebrew for our Arab neighbors,” said Nelson with clear pride.
“We came out to do the painting at 10:30 a.m. to hang it over the spot where the graffiti was removed, but my friend then called me and said there was more anti-Arab graffiti in another nearby park with the remark ‘Death to Arabs,’ so we took one of the tarps there to cover that up.” Despite their good will, later on Wednesday night, Nelson said a neighbor witnessed a young male ultra-Orthodox man riding an electric bike down the boarded train tracks adjacent to the park tear the tarp off the wall. When confronted, the unidentified man told the neighbor that he wanted to avenge his brother, who was recently beaten by Arabs. “So, when he left, she just hung it up again,” Nelson said. “The beauty of this park is that it intersects where a Jewish and Arab neighborhood meet, and is a natural meeting place where people of all backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses gather,” she said. “It’s normal to see kids playing around, speaking in Arabic, and women wearing hijabs going for power walks, and it’s a little oasis in a city where there is a lot of tension and alienation between groups. So, this is our opportunity to have a normal life, and [a place] where it’s OK for people of all backgrounds to just share some space.” Nelson added: “We all have a right to live equally in the city, which belongs to all of us, and we have to learn how to share it with respect, understanding and friendship.”
http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Jerusalem-residents-transform-hate-into-hope-486974

Jordan demands Israel freeze Oslo-era agreement ensuring Israeli control over Palestinian economy
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Apr — The Jordanian government demanded that Israel freeze the Paris Protocol on Economic Relations, part of the Oslo agreements in the 1990s that has severely restricted the Palestinian economy, in order to increase Jordanian exports into Palestinian markets, the Jordanian Industry, Trade and Supply Minister Yarub Qudah reportedly said on Thursday.  The 1994 protocol was expected to be a five-year interim agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) that gave Israel nearly complete control over the occupied Palestinian territory’s economy, including the control of all borders into the territory, the collection of import taxes and V.A.T. on all products entering the territory, enforcing the sole use of the Israeli shekel in the Palestinian economy, subjecting all Palestinian products, even those headed to a third country, to Israeli supervision and regulations, among a long list of other control mechanisms that incorporate the economy of the occupied territory into the larger Israeli economy.  The Arabic-language Alghad Newspaper reported on Thursday that during discussions on Monday with Jordanian businessmen, Qudah had said that Jordan’s Industry and Trade Ministry has started to focus on the Palestinian markets in order to increase Jordanian products exported to Palestine. Qudah said that the Israeli authorities demanded to go through trilateral negotiations between the Palestinians, Jordanians, and Israelis. However, the Jordanian government has continued to insist on freezing the protocol altogether before starting any trade negotiations. Qudah noted that Israeli exports to Palestinian markets have exceeded $3.8 billion, while Jordanian exports to the territory are estimated to be less than $100 million….
https://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776413

groups.yahoo.com/group/f_shadi (listserv)