Report: PA to resume medical referrals for Gaza patients to leave territory
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 June — After reports emerged that the occupied West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA) had been preventing patients in the besieged Gaza Strip from exiting the territory for urgent medical treatment, the PA has reportedly agreed to resume their issuance of medical referrals needed for Gaza’s residents to receive Israeli-issued permits, Israeli media reported on Friday. Despite consistently denying allegations that PA policies have exacerbated the medical crisis in Gaza, the PA and Israel have reportedly “reached a consensus” for the Palestinian ministry of health to “lift restrictions on financial commitments for Gazans’ medical treatment” as of Sunday, Haaretz reported on Friday. Palestinians in Gaza had provided testimonies to Haaretz reporting “unexplained delays” in receiving referrals from the PA for medical treatment in Israel, Jordan, and the West Bank….
Israel denies PA claim it’s responsible for deaths of 3 Gaza infants
Times of Israel 28 June by Dov Lieber — After Hamas blamed Abbas, Ramallah said Israel refused family of babies entry permits; Israel says no applications received — Israel on Wednesday denied responsibility for the deaths of three babies in the Gaza Strip, saying it never received applications to bring them to Israel for medical care. Earlier in the week three children under the age of 1, all suffering from heart disease, died in Gaza hospitals. Gaza’s Hamas rulers on Tuesday blamed the Palestinian Authority for the deaths, saying that Ramallah had refused to give medical referrals for the babies to be treated in the West Bank. The PA then blamed Israel. Dr. Bassam al-Badri, who heads the Palestinian Authority department responsible for authorizing treatment for Gazans outside of the Strip, claimed Israel had refused to grant exit permits to guardians of the children. But the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Defense Ministry branch that deals with Palestinian civilian affairs, said no such request had been made. The statement emphasized that in cases which “the Palestinian Authority sends requests, especially those defined as urgent, the Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration coordinates the crossing of patients immediately during every hour of the day in order to save lives.” … To leave Gaza and travel to Israel for medical treatment, or to receive treatment in the West Bank or abroad, Gazans must first get confirmation from the PA that it will pay for the treatments. The PA pays for nearly all medical treatment of Gazans when they leave the Strip….
Europeans call for saving Gaza patients
MEMO 28 June — The European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza has expressed its deep concern about the deaths of two Palestinian children after they were prevented by Israel from leaving the enclave to receive treatment in the occupied West Bank, Quds Press has reported. After hearing that infants Mosaab Al-Ar’eer and Bilal Ghebin had died, the campaign group called for the lives of seriously ill patients in the Gaza Strip to be saved … The European campaign called on the World Health Organisation, the UN and the Palestinian Authority to secure a humanitarian corridor for patients and people with basic needs to move freely in order to access proper treatment in specialist hospitals, wherever they are located. The group’s statement said that it has contacted several parties in the EU regarding this issue….
Gaza’s children suffer as Hamas, PA continue conflict
Al-Monitor 29 June by Shlomi Eldar — Five Israeli doctors discuss their recent visit to Gaza, where disease is rampant, medication is disappearing and medical patients have given up hope — Dr. Ra’ad Haj Yehia, a member of the Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHRI) organization, returned June 26 from the Gaza Strip. He says he still hasn’t recovered from the scenes he saw in the hospitals there. Yehia was summoned to Gaza by medical teams in the Strip who asked the PHRI organization “to come and save lives.” In an interview with Al-Monitor, Yehia says he has not been able to get back into his routine since his return from Gaza after four intensive days of treating patients. “I simply could not bear it; I’m going [home] sick. I saw innocent children who died for no reason, through no fault of their own. The situation is unbearable.” Yehia lives in Neve Shalom, a collective village near Latrun in which Jewish and Arab families live together.
Yehia says that although the trip to Gaza from his house takes only 45 minutes, as soon as he stepped foot in the Strip he felt that he was in a different world. “It is worse than harsh places I had seen in Africa. From the moment you enter [Gaza], your senses are hit with a terrible stench of sewage. Death is in the air,” he says. Yehia, who ordinarily works as a pediatrician in Israel’s Meuchedet HMO, could barely face the mothers of children and infants who begged him to take them to Israel for treatment. “They think that we can take them out,” he says, adding, “There are parents who are so desperate that they told us, ‘Better that our children die — we can’t do anything for them anymore.’” Yehia says that when he wrote prescriptions for sick children, there were parents who told him not to bother because they have no money to buy the medications. “They don’t even have money to buy milk,” he noted. The patients who broke his heart more than anything else were those children with cancer. “They are not being treated; they are not diagnosed. All are sick with all kinds of complications,” he says. “The depressing thing is that the parents themselves have given up; they have lost all hope to save their children. It’s terrible.”
Four additional Arab-Israeli physicians went to the Gaza Strip together with Yehia, including a surgeon, an orthopedic surgeon, a neurologist and a psychologist. They were shocked that Gaza hospitals lack even basic meds….
Hamas unveils buffer zone at Egyptian border amid growing ties with Cairo
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 28 June — The Hamas-run Interior Ministry in the Gaza Strip has announced new measures to “increase control and enhance security” at the territory’s southern borders with Egypt, including the establishment of a 100-meter-wide “buffer zone” there. Gaza’s Interior Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that the first phase of the new measures also includes paving the 12-kilometer long road along the borderline, where surveillance cameras, watchtowers, and lights will be installed.
Bulldozers were also reportedly expected to demolish a series of homes and structures along the border. Deputy Interior Minister Tawfiq Abu Naim, who made a preliminary visit to the border area amid preparations for the plans earlier this month, confirmed that the procedures came as a result of a recent visit by a Hamas delegation to Cairo. Abu Naim said that the buffer zone being constructed inside Palestinian lands will become “a closed military zone,” in order to facilitate the surveillance and preventing drug smuggling and the infiltration of “wanted men” — presumably referring to fugitives wanted by Egypt. The deputy minister pointed out that these procedures would continue until “complete control” was achieved over the southern border. “Egyptian national security is Palestinian national security. No threat to the stability of security conditions on our southern borders would be allowed,” the ministry’s statement quoted Abu Naim as saying. The announcement came as Hamas has increased efforts to improve ties with Cairo, which has long accused the de facto Gaza ruling party of aiding an insurgency in the northern Sinai Peninsula, which has been met with a harsh ‘counterterrorism’ crackdown by Egyptian authorities….
Egyptians in Gaza: ‘We escaped from certain death’
RAFAH, Gaza (Al Jazeera) 30 June by Isra Namey — Hundreds of refugees fleeing the Sinai conflict have settled in Gaza, where they have been subsisting on handouts — Surviving in a dirty tent in southern Gaza, Salman Shigan cannot return home across the border to neighbouring Egypt – because his home no longer exists. “We escaped from the unbearable persecution and almost certain death carried out by the Egyptian army, during what they called the counterterrorism operations against jihadist groups in Sinai,” the 71-year-old told Al Jazeera. Shigan’s family home in northern Sinai was demolished by the Egyptian army in 2015, as soldiers worked to clear areas where armed fighters were alleged to be hiding. The incident prompted him to suffer a heart attack. After partially recovering, he and his family – including 24 children and grandchildren – fled to Gaza through a tunnel used by smugglers … Egypt’s Sinai province has been rocked by violence and instability since armed groups stepped up attacks against the army after the 2013 overthrow of Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president. In response, the Egyptian army launched a massive military campaign, which involved the demolition of hundreds of homes. Caught in the crossfire, hundreds of Bedouin tribespeople have fled the region for Gaza. The flow of refugees from the Sinai has continued into this year, with many telling of how their homes were demolished, their loved ones persecuted and their lives destroyed. But they are not finding much comfort in the Gaza Strip, where a crippling Israeli-Egyptian siege has made life unbearable for many of the territory’s two million residents….
Israeli-born Palestinian crosses border into Gaza, Israeli army says
Haaretz 30 June by Gili Cohen — A 20-year-old man crossed the border into Gaza on Friday. According to the Israeli army, the man was born in Israel to a Gazan father and an Israeli mother. The family has been living in Gaza and he has divided his time between Israel and the Strip over past years as part of a family reunification program which allows Palestinians to live with their immediate relatives in Israel. The military first received a warning at 12:20 P.M. of activity at the border fence, close to the Erez crossing. However, once forces arrived to the location the man was already in Gazan territory. The army confirmed that the man was picked up by Hamas security forces. According to the officer, no one from Hamas had been waiting in expectation of his arrival. “The IDF has no way of preventing someone who has decided to cross into Gaza from doing so,” a senior officer said. The Shin Bet security service have opened an investigation into the matter, and are expected to question the man’s family in the coming hours.
Israel shrinks Palestinian fishing zone in Gaza
MEMO 28 June — The Israeli authorities have decided to reduce the Palestinian fishing zone in the besieged Gaza Strip from 9 nautical miles to 6 nautical miles, the chief of the Palestinian Fishermen’s Union announced today. Nizar Ayash told Quds Press that the decision included the fishing area off the central and southern portions of the enclave’s coast. He noted that the message was conveyed by the Israeli agriculture ministry. In May, Israel extended the zone from 6 nautical miles to 9 nautical miles, allowing fishing in areas that had been off limits for a decade. Despite the two-month extension, the Palestinian fishermen did not benefit from it, as a result of the frequent shootings and arrests carried out by the Israeli navy against Gaza fishermen, Ayesh stressed. Israeli forces frequently fire upon Gaza fishermen, even while within the fishing zone imposed by Israel. The Palestinian official demanded the Israeli authorities to re-extend Gaza fishing zone from 6 to 20 nautical miles, according to the Oslo Accords that were signed with Tel Aviv in 1993, under which Palestinians are allowed to exercise their full rights within the fishing zone.
Video: Israeli navy vessel fires at Gaza fishermen, killing one as his boat fled
B’Tselem 22 June — At about 8:30 A.M. on Monday, 15 May 2017, soldiers from an Israeli navy vessel shot and killed Muhammad Baker, 25, a married father of two from a-Shati Refugee Camp in the Gaza Strip. The soldiers opened fire while their vessel was pursuing Baker’s fishing boat. B’Tselem’s investigation found that at the time of the shooting, Baker and his relatives were fishing three nautical miles off the coast, within the zone in which the military permits Gazans to fish. They began to flee after the navy vessel opened fire at them. That morning, at about 6:00 A.M., two flatboard fishing boats sailed out of Gaza port, each carrying four fishermen. The boats sailed northwest toward the area opposite Beit Lahiya and stopped about three nautical miles off the coast, approximately one kilometer from the northern border of the zone in which Israel permits fishing. The fishermen cast their rods. At about 8:20 A.M., they saw two Israeli navy boats approaching them from the north. One vessel stopped at the border of the zone and the other continued at high-speed toward the fishermen. The soldiers on board opened fire at the fishing boat, shooting rubber-coated and live bullets. The fishing boats fled south and the navy vessel pursued them….
Israel ‘playing with fire’ on Hamas prisoner issue
Al-Monitor 30 June by Shlomi Eldar — The Hamas government in the Gaza Strip announced June 29 that Israel was denying family visits to Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. A press release by the spokesman from Hamas’ prisoners department said, “The aim of this decision is to exert pressure on the Hamas leadership regarding the missing and [captive Israelis in] Gaza and is a surrender to the pressure of the [Israeli] soldiers’ families, who called for the [Hamas] prisoners to be punished.” Leaders of the jailed Hamas prisoners also issued a statement to the media, calling the decision a declaration of war. “We will not allow this decision to stand, whatever the price may be,” the group warned. The Israel Prison Service has refused to respond to the reports out of the Gaza Strip, but an Israeli security source confirmed that on orders from the political echelon, families from Gaza are no longer allowed to visit their relatives in Israeli jails. The family of Oron Shaul, an Israeli soldier killed in Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014, welcomed the decision, saying it was the right way to free their son as soon as possible. Since the end of the 2014 fighting, the Shaul family and that of another soldier killed in action in Gaza, Hadar Goldin, have been demanding that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu make any dealings with Hamas conditional upon the return of the bodies of their sons, including prohibiting family visits. The two Israeli families met on June 23 with Jason Greenblatt, President Donald Trump’s envoy to the Middle East, for the second time in recent weeks. Following the meeting, the Americans issued a statement of support for the families. Meanwhile, the families said in a statement of their own that the sides had discussed making any humanitarian actions by the international community toward Hamas in Gaza conditional upon the return of the soldiers. The decision suspending family visits followed a week later. According to data provided by the Hamas prisoners department, the decision affects some 350 prisoners from all the Palestinian factions who are Gaza residents, including 150 Hamas inmates. So far, it remains unclear whether Israel intends to deny visits to Hamas prisoners from the West Bank. An Israeli security source speaking to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity said he had not ruled out such a move and called the current decision an “initial step” designed to say to Hamas, “There are no free meals.”
Israel suspends family visits for detainees from Gaza
MEMO 30 June — Israel has officially informed the International Committee of the Red Cross that there will be no family visits to a number of detainees from the Gaza Strip, without specifying their names. ICRC spokeswoman in Gaza, Suheir Zaqout, told Quds Press that the organisation is in constant contact with Israeli authorities to remind them of their obligations to facilitate family visits to all Palestinian detainees. “Family visits are a right enshrined in Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. This right can only be disabled on security grounds and for individual cases. It is highly humanitarian, not only for the detainee but also for their family,” she said. Zaqout pointed out that the Red Cross is “concerned” about the Israeli decision and understands the concern and frustration of the detainees’ families….
Israel to build pipeline to absorb sewage from Gaza
Ynet 1 July by Matan Tzuri — Due to the reduction of electricity to Gaza, the wastewater facility in the Gaza Strip has been shut down, causing overflow into Israel; Israel’s Water Authority instructs Sderot and the Sha’ar Hanegev to absorb the sewage of Beit Lahiya and Beit Hanun — Israel will build a pipeline to absorb sewage from neighborhoods in the northern Gaza Strip after the sewage treatment facility there was shut down due to the electricity crisis. The Sderot Municipality and the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council in the Gaza vicinity were asked this week to implement the decision of the Water Authority and to receive the wastewater from Beit Lahiya and Beit Hanun in the Gaza Strip through its sewage treatment facility. Currently, the sewage from the Gaza Strip flows through Nahal Hanun, is stored in the sands of Moshav Netiv Ha’asara and pollutes the area and the groundwater. Once every few days, Israeli trucks come and draw the sewage.The new sewage pipe is to be built in the Erez Crossing area. From there, the absorbed sewage will be transferred to the sewage storage facilities of Kibbutz Erez and then to Sha’ar Hanegev and Sderot’s sewage treatment facilities … The Water Authority said in response: “The Authority is treating the matter as an emergency event, to stop the massive flow of sewage from the Gaza Strip into the territory of the State of Israel (via Nahal Hanun.) The Water Authority is working to reduce the expected damage from Palestinian wastewater overflows and to protect the wells of the area. The flow of sewage from the Gaza Strip toward the State of Israel began long before and without any connection to the electricity problems in Gaza, and we expect the cooperation of and with all the regional bodies in the region.”
UN sends envoy in effort to bridge gap between Hamas and PA over power crisis
Ynet 30 June by Elior Levy — UN Envoy to the Middle East, Nickolay Mladenov, meets with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in attempt to get Hamas and Palestinian Authority to cooperate over electricity; Mladenov proposes EU will pay the excise tax on diesel fuel entering Gaza Strip, if both sides agree to it — An effort to find a solution to the electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip. The UN envoy to the Middle East Nickolay Mladenov met with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and a number of senior officials in the Gaza Strip on Thursday to try to bridge the gap between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. Mladenov specifically spoke with Haniyeh and a number of senior Hamas officials to work out a way out of the crisis between Gaza has been in, with the PA’s suspension of Gaza’s electricity payments, the PA’s demand that Hamas pay it for the services the PA provides to Gaza and the amount paid by Hamas for patients leaving Gaza for treatment in Israel or the West Bank. The Al-Hayat newspaper reported Friday that Mladenov had suggested to Hamas’s leadership that the European Union pay the excise tax on diesel fuel entering the Gaza Strip to operate its power plant, which Hamas and the Palestinian Authority refuse to pay. In return, the EU will be allowed to erect an oversight body in Gaza. It was also reported that Mladenov is working to find a solution for the payment of electricity lines to the Gaza Strip from Israel….
VIDEO – Gaza Island: A salvation made in Israel?
Reuters 29 June — Reuters has been taking a look at a plan to build an island off Gaza. The proposal has been suggested by an Israeli minister and aims to alleviate some of the territories economic woes.
Turning up the volume in Gaza
Electronic Intifada 28 June by Osama Najjar — From the outside, the occupied Gaza Strip appears a place of misery. Three all-out Israeli military assaults since December 2008 have caused untold destruction, left thousands dead, more than 15,000 wounded, more than 75,000 homeless and half a million displaced. A decade-old Israeli siege, meanwhile, has left Palestinians in the coastal strip on the brink of disaster with an infrastructure in tatters.
But Gaza is also a place of unyielding spirit, of occasional joy and of music and performance. In spite of the odds, young people have formed bands to convey some of the reality of Gaza. Here is a look at a few of the better-known ones.
–Sol Band– It was the eight-day offensive on Gaza in November 2012 that motivated this group to form. The group’s aim was raise the spirits of Gaza’s people following that attack. Majd Antar, 22, is the band’s coordinator. “When we first created the band, turnout was pretty low,” Antar said. “We were young and we were not that good. But we worked hard and played plenty of venues free to get to where we are.” Sol Band, so-called after the fifth note of a sung musical scale, focuses on modern and traditional Arabic music and now plays functions, cafes and halls across the Gaza Strip, according to Antar, if they can get the necessary permits from Gaza’s authorities, not always a given … “Gaza is full of war and destruction,” said Antar. “We want to sing for life and give some hope to people here.” The band comprises six members and includes Reem Anbar, 26, the band’s oud player, oldest member and only woman….
Gaza kids prepare for Irish trip amid energy disaster and Israeli assault
GAZA (PNN) 27 June — … Twenty children from Gaza will get a chance to visit Ireland and play football this summer. As a way to show solidarity with the people of Gaza and to raise awareness in Ireland about the siege, Gaza Action Ireland (GAI) brought a group of children from the Al Helal Football Academy to Ireland last summer, when they played wonderful football and charmed everyone who met them, including President Michael D. Higgins. “As the trip was such an uplifting, joyous experience, we are doing it all again this year,” GAI coordinator Zoë Lawlor said. Starting in late July, the children from Al Helal, in Gaza City, will visit and play football in Dublin, Leitrim, Kinvara, Cork and Limerick. As part of the large effort to raise funds for the trip, a performance of Katie O’Kelly’s acclaimed play about Palestine, The Olive Tree, will take place in Liberty Hall, Dublin, tomorrow [[THURS]] evening at 8pm. Artist and activist Robert Ballagh will introduce the one-woman show and there will be music afterwards in the Liberty Hall bar. The tickets are just €10, and further information is available on Facebook. Contributions to fund the children’s visit to Ireland can also be made online: http://gazaactionireland.ie/
Opinion: Israel’s Gold Star family / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 25 June — The Goldins want their dead son’s body returned by Hamas at any price, and they want to extract that price from the Gaza Strip’s 2 million cursed inhabitants — The blood of 1st Lt. Hadar Goldin is particularly precious. Dozens of people – most of them civilians, including women and children – paid with their lives for his killing and the abduction of his body during the 2014 Gaza war. The Israeli army fired more than 1,000 artillery shells at homes in Rafah, and the air force bombed 20 additional “targets” that were probably also residences. The operation that was meant to avert Goldin’s abduction on “Black Friday,” August 1, 2014, turned into a completely unchecked reprisal action (“You shoot like retards,” the commander of the brigade shouted to his soldiers over the radio), which Amnesty International declared to be a war crime. Few are the soldiers whose abduction or killing has led to such bloodletting … For the Goldin family – they often issue statements as a family – the terrible blood price paid by Gazans because Hamas militants dared to kill a soldier and snatch his body after the Israeli army invaded their territory is not enough. The Goldins want their son’s body at any price, and they want to extract that price from the Gaza Strip’s 2 million cursed inhabitants … And the incitement: Hamas-affiliated Palestinian prisoners in Israel “scandalously” receive family visits. “The terrorists continue to live in a summer camp”; “their deluxe conditions are beyond the imagination.” Have Dr. Leah and Prof. Simha Goldin ever been to an Israeli prison? Do they know how many Gazans can visit their relatives who are imprisoned in one? But even that wasn’t enough for them. They want all Gazans to be cold in winter and to have no electricity in the summer. As far as they’re concerned, let the preemies die, let the hospital patients suffer – just as long as Hadar’s remains are returned. Last winter, the Goldins protested that Israel allowed Qatar and Turkey to supply diesel fuel to Gaza, and now they are against providing power. To them, preventing millions of people accessing electricity is a “pressure tactic.”….
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Palestinians hold funeral for Hebron man shot in the head and killed during Israeli raid
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 29 June — Amid a tense atmosphere of anger, Palestinians laid to rest 23-year-old Iyad Munir Arafat Ghaith on Thursday, hours after the young Palestinian man was shot in the head and killed by Israeli forces during a night raid in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron. According to an Israeli army spokesperson, undercover Israeli forces encountered Ghaith on Wednesday night while they were carrying out a raid searching for weapons in Hebron. Israeli forces said that Ghaith shot towards the soldiers, who fired back, killing him. The spokesperson told Ma‘an on Wednesday that no Israelis were harmed during the incident. Meanwhile, the head of Palestinian public prosecution, Ashraf Meshaal, said that an autopsy showed that Ghaith was shot in the head twice at short range, fracturing his skull and causing his immediate death. The funeral march began from the Hebron governmental hospital, where doctors carried out Ghaith’s autopsy, towards his family home in southern Hebron city, where his relatives bid their final farewells. Ghaith’s body was then taken to a local mosque for a funeral prayer, before being buried in the al-Shuhada [‘Martyrs’] cemetery …
According to Ma‘an documentation, Ghaith is the 35th Palestinian to have been killed by an Israeli in 2017, three quarters of whom were 25 years old or younger. Eight Israelis have been killed by Palestinians during the same time frame.
Army injures two children, one seriously, near Jenin
IMEMC 30 June — Israeli soldiers invaded, earlier Friday, the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and clashed with many Palestinians, before shooting two children, including one who suffered a life-threatening injury. The soldiers also abducted two Palestinians near Jenin. Media sources in Jenin said dozens of soldiers invaded the city, and destroyed a monument commemorating Khaled Nazzal, who was assassinated by undercover Israeli soldiers along with another Palestinian identified as Adel Abu al-Reesh, on October 17, 2006. The attack led to clashes, at the western entrance of Jenin, between the soldiers and many local youths, who hurled stones at the invading armored vehicles, while the army fired live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets and gas bombs. Medical sources in Jenin said the soldiers shot Ahmad Abdul-Hadi Saffouri, 14, with a live round in the chest, causing a life-threatening injury, and another child, identified as Mohammad Amin Mer‘ey, with a live round in the thigh. Many Palestinians suffered the severe effects of teargas inhalation.
Israeli forces shoot, injure 3 Palestinian youths in West Bank clashes
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 29 June — Israeli forces shot and injured at least three young Palestinians with rubber-coated steel bullets during dawn raids in two separate occupied West Bank villages on Thursday. Local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awwad said that Israeli forces escorted army rabbis into the village of Beit Ummar in the West Bank district of Hebron before dawn and broke into the village’s main mosque, which hosts the tomb of Nabi Matta, also known as Matthew’s Tomb. Awwad added that the two rabbis performed prayers inside the tomb, photographed the mosque and took measurements of tombs inside the house of worship for more than three hours.
Meanwhile, Awwad said, soldiers raided several old homes in Beit Ummar, and fired a tear gas canister at a house belonging to Omar Ahmad Awwad, igniting a fire in an old washing machine placed just outside the house, which Beit Ummar residents put out before the flames reached inside the home. After the fire erupted, clashes broke out between Israeli forces and Palestinian youth. Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets at the Palestinians, hitting 15-year-old Malik Ayish Abu Hashem and fracturing his arm, Awwad said, adding that dozens more suffered from tear gas inhalation. Israeli forces reportedly detained Muhammad Khalil Abd al-Fattah Sabarneh, 32, Shihada Yousif Shihada Adi, 30, and Moussa Khalid Ayyad Awwad, 17, during the clashes, and transferred them to the Etzion military base north of Beit Ummar.
Meanwhile, official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that an Israeli army raid in the Ramallah-area village of Bi‘lin on Thursday morning also led to clashes, in which two Palestinians were injured.
Israeli forces detain 14 Palestinians, including PLC member, in West Bank raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 June — Israeli forces detained at least 14 Palestinians in overnight raids across the occupied West Bank before dawn Wednesday, including a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), who joined 11 other Palestinian parliamentarians in Israeli custody. Locals in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron said that Israeli forces detained Hamas-affiliated PLC member Muhammad Maher Badr, as well as former prisoner Sheikh Maher Qafisheh, Shadi Abd al-Hakim al-Atrash, and Muhannad Asaad al-Tawil. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the four detentions in Hebron city, and claimed two of the detainees were “Hamas operatives,” presumably referring to Badr and one of the others.
Following the release of member of the Hamas-affiliated Change and Reform Bloc Muhammad Abu Tir from Israeli prison last month, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies reported that the number of “abducted Palestinian legislators” dropped to 11. Israel considers the majority of Palestinian political parties to be “terrorist organizations.” As a result, most Palestinians who participate in the political arena in the occupied Palestinian territory risk being imprisoned by Israeli authorities.
Meanwhile, in the town of ‘Idhna east of Hebron city, Israeli forces detained former prisoner Hamza Jibril al-Jiawi, which was confirmed by the Israeli army.
Israeli forces also raided the al-Duheisha refugee camp in the southern Bethlehem district, a day after a violent military raid there resulted in the injury of eight locals, including six who were shot by soldiers in the legs with live ammunition. Israeli troops returned to al-Duheisha early Wednesday morning, raided several shops in the camp, and confiscated recordings from surveillance cameras, sparking clashes between locals and soldiers, locals told Ma‘an. No one was reported to be detained.
Israeli forces detain father of slain Palestinian during army raids in West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 June — Israeli forces detained 11 Palestinians during army raids carried out between Wednesday and Thursday across various districts in the occupied West Bank, including the father of an 18-year-old slain Palestinian, while a raid in the Hebron district turned deadly, as a 23-year-old Palestinian was shot in the head and killed by Israeli forces.
In the northern West Bank, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) reported that Israeli forces detained 38-year-old Ahmad Ali Issa from the Jenin district. While PPS did not state the exact village where Ali Issa was detained from, an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that a Palestinian was detained in the village of Mirka.
PPS noted that Nidal Sufian Zarab, 21, from the Qalqiliya district was detained, while an Israeli army spokesperson said that another Palestinian was detained in Balata refugee camp in the district of Nablus.
In the village of Deir Abu Mashaal in the Ramallah district, Israeli forces detained Hassan Ankoush, the father of slain Palestinian Adel Ankoush, who was shot dead by Israeli forces earlier this month after allegedly carrying out an attack near Damascus Gate outside occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City, which resulted in the death of an Israeli police officer … Israeli forces had also detained the mother of 18-year-old Ankoush on June 21, in a continuation of policies implemented on the family, including the impending demolition of the family’s home, that rights group have deemed “collective punishment.” PPS said that in total four Palestinians were detained from the Ramallah district, but did not provide further details on the additional detentions. An Israeli army spokesperson, however, told Ma‘an that two Palestinians were detained in the village of Qibya and another was detained in Deir Ammar.
Israeli forces detain 5 Palestinians, assault teen girl, in overnight West Bank raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 June — Israeli forces detained at least five Palestinians during overnight raids across the occupied West Bank between Thursday and Friday, as a teenaged Palestinian girl was reported to have been beaten by soldiers in Hebron.
In the southern West Bank district of Hebron, an Israeli army spokesperson reported that one Palestinian was detained in the village of Tarqumiya, while another, whom locals identified as Ahmad Abu Omar, was detained in Hebron city. While Hebrew-language media reported that a Palestinian was detained in the Old City of Hebron late on Thursday for allegedly being in possession of a knife, the army spokesperson told Ma‘an that they could not confirm that information.
Meanwhile, official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that soldiers physically assaulted a 17-year-old Palestinian girl in Hebron on Thursday evening while she was playing with a laser pointer with friends, adding that she was taken to the hospital after suffering from bruises across her body …
In the northern occupied West Bank district of Jenin, the Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that Israeli forces detained one Palestinian in the village of Kafr Raa‘i, one in ‘Ajja, and another in al-Fandaqumiya. Wafa reported that the Palestinian detained in Fandaqumiya was a police officer.
Meanwhile, an armed Palestinian opened fire on Israeli forces in Jenin city as the soldiers were carrying out a raid to remove a memorial stone commemorating Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) leader Khalid Nazzal on Thursday night. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that the assailant did not cause any injuries, and fled the scene after dropping his weapon.
Wafa said that Israeli forces also raided the village of Kafr Qalil in the Nablus district overnight, where they ransacked several homes, although no detentions were reported.
Israeli soldiers injure a Palestinian in Kufur Qaddoum
IMEMC 30 June — Israeli soldiers attacked, Friday, the weekly procession against the Annexation Wall and colonies, in Kufur Qaddoum town, and shot a young man in his abdomen. The weekly procession was held by many locals, accompanied by Israeli and international peace activists, demanding Israel to reopen the main road which was blockaded more than 14 years ago to enable easy access to the Israeli colonists, driving to and from Kedumim illegal colony, built on Palestinian lands. Morad Eshteiwy, the media coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Colonies in Kufur Qaddoum, said the soldiers shot Anas Amer, 22, with a rubber-coated steel bullet in his abdomen. Local medics provided the young man with the needed treatment, without the need for hospitalization.
VIDEO: Mob of Jewish extremists beat Palestinians in Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 June — A video was released on Thursday showing dozens of far-right Israelis attacking three Palestinians in Jerusalem a week earlier, as Israeli police reportedly failed to respond and prevent the assault. Israeli daily Haaretz obtained the video, in which some 30 members of the Jewish extremist group Lehava are shown purportedly assaulting three Palestinians during a march organized by the group in downtown Jerusalem last Thursday [22 June]. At one point in the shaky video, the Palestinians, who are reportedly all residents of occupied East Jerusalem, run into an Israeli police officer, who blocked the group of Israelis from approaching the Palestinians, and told the Jewish youths to leave. The youths refused and continued to hurl insults at the Palestinians. The video then cuts to the Jewish youths chasing the Palestinians down a street in Jerusalem.
Haaretz reported that a witness said that the police officer eventually stopped trying to deter the assault, leaving the Palestinians to fend for themselves. “The officer asked for our ID cards, but he didn’t help us or do anything, they continued to beat us right next to the cop. So we fled,” Majdi Abu Taya, 19, from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, told Haaretz. Other witnesses told Haaretz that the police did not even attempt to prevent the assault, and refused to call in backup. When the Palestinians fled the scene, the mob of Jewish youths followed them. Abu Taya was beaten by the Israelis when attempting to flee, according to Haaretz, while the two others were able to hide in a construction site and pelt rocks at the Jewish youths in an attempt to push them out of the area. Haaretz also reported that while Israeli police had said they would open up an investigation into the incident, when a high school student who had witnessed the assault attempted to file a complaint, he was told that they had no record of such an incident occurring. Another anonymous witness told Haaretz that it was not the first time he had seen Israeli extremists assaulting Palestinians, saying that “It’s systematic. They engage in provocations to get the victims to react, and then they’ll say it’s self-defense.”….
Israeli border police detain Palestinian in Hebron for alleged knife possession
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 29 June — Israeli forces detained a Palestinian in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron on Thursday for allegedly being in possession of a knife. According to Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri, Israeli border police patrolling Hebron detained a man, said to be in his thirties, at a crossroads after seeing him throw away a knife that he had hidden in his sock. Al-Samri added that the border police officers detained the Palestinian “without using force and without causing injuries.”The spokeswoman shared a photograph of a curved serrated knife allegedly in the man’s possession.
IDF’s two-front war in West Bank with Jews and Palestinians
Ynet 28 June by Yoav Zitun — Army records a surge in number of clashes between Jewish and Palestinian rioters in Yitzhar, with both sides pitted against troops; reservists explain their dilemma; ‘We never learn how to deal with a Jewish teen throwing stones so by standing there we give them legitimacy’; residents claim clashes start from Palestinian arson attacks — A stark rise in the number of skirmishes between Jewish teenagers and Israel’s security forces and Palestinians has become a conspicuous characteristic in the settlement of Yitzhar over the last few weeks. Attacks launched by the ideologically driven youths have included rock throwing, vandalism to military vehicles, price tag attacks, shock grenades and even violence directly committed against an IDF officer. The violence reached its peak two nights ago after the demolition of an illegal hut during which residents in the community claimed that the security forces employed unnecessary violence against them while they passively protested.
However, security forces are becoming increasingly disgruntled with frequent occurrences in which they are required to separate clashes between hostile Israeli and Palestinian rioters, both of whom are hostile to them in direct confrontations. Ynet obtained a clip of one such skirmish from a WhatsApp group comprised of military reservists. In the recording, the reservists can be seen imploring the masked Jewish rioters to distance themselves from the area in their attempts to calm tensions. At certain times, the two sides can be seen shoving each other before one soldier simply gives up and stands there as the Jewish extremists throw rocks at him. At one moment, a Palestinian shepherd is seen bleeding from his face, a wound which he said was the result of being struck by a rock. The soldiers tended to the injured Palestinian at the scene even as he screamed at them in Arabic…
One officer who was responsible for the area a few months ago told Ynet that relations [with Yitzhar] had indeed warmed, with conversations often ending in eating meals together. “We feel safe here and happy with the guys at Yitzhar. There is no fear for the soldiers to operate 24/7 in the community or its vicinity. And if there are problems we know how to solve them in a cooperative manner,” he assured Ynet. Nevertheless, statements made by reservists paint a significantly different picture, who decry the futility of their efforts to restore order. “We felt totally helpless,” said the soldiers who experienced the clashes during the last month. “After months of training about how to fight and shoot and on the rules of engagement, no one taught us how to deal with a few 15-year-old Jewish children coming to throw stones at Arabs.”….
Dozens of olive trees burned in suspected hate crime
Ynet 28 June by Elisha Ben Kimon — Hours after Ynet reveals IDF fighter testimonies on confrontations near Yitzhar, another possible act of violence takes place; Palestinians say it was settlers who set fire to the grove — A fire broke out on Wednesday in an olive grove near the Palestinian village of Burin in the Samaria region. Local Palestinians accused settlers of setting the fire and then running to Yitzhar, as dozens of trees went up in flames. IDF forces, fire and rescue teams and the Israeli Civil Administration arrived on the scene to investigate and offer assistance. An IDF lookout station reported picking up on unidentified figures in the area who were later seen fleeing. Fire and rescue teams have since then managed to overtake the fire. Human rights organization Yesh Din issued a response to the incident, saying, “For the past two months we have witnessed a wave of violence against the residents of Palestinian villages near Yitzar. If this was indeed arson, it is further proof that Israeli law enforcement agencies are not properly doing their job in the West Bank. The violence will not calm down if there is not a true deterrence, (created—ed) through the protection of Palestinians, effective investigating, prosecuting felons and delivering substantial punishments.”
Israeli forces attempt to detain 10-year-old, deliver demolition orders in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 30 June — Israeli forces detained a 15-year-old Palestinian and attempted to detain a 10-year-old on Friday during a police raid in the area of Kroum al-Qamar in the Silwan neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, while Israeli forces handed out demolition orders to two Palestinian families in the Wadi Hilweh area of Silwan.
The Silwan-based Wadi Hilweh Information Center said that Israeli forces raided the house of Muhammad al-Abasi in Silwan and attempted to detain his two sons: Nasir, 15, and Hamza, 10 for allegedly throwing rocks at Israeli forces. The center said that Hamza was released from Israeli custody after the family had intervened as he was being dragged into an Israeli police vehicle. However, the 10-year-old was issued an order to appear for interrogations at the Israeli police station on Salah al-Din street in East Jerusalem. Nasir, meanwhile, was detained by Israeli forces. The family told the center that Israeli forces had attempted to detain the two brothers when they were swimming in a pool, and had prevented Hamza from dressing …
Meanwhile, the center said that Israeli forces and Jerusalem municipality crews had also entered the Wadi Hilweh area of Silwan, and raided the homes of Firas Samarin and Muhammad Faraj Diam, whom they presented with demolition orders for allegedly building their homes without Israeli-issued building permits….
Israeli police restrict entry of Muslims to Al-Aqsa Mosque
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 29 June – Israeli police restricted Thursday entry of Muslim worshippers into Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City while it allowed Jewish fanatics accompanied by the chief of police in Jerusalem to continue with their provocative tours of the Muslim holy compound, Palestinian officials said. They said police first held identity cards of Palestinians entering the compound before it closed it completely to Muslim worshippers less than 40 years of age as the chief of police Yuram Levi toured the mosque with a group of Jewish extremists marking the anniversary for the killing of a Jewish settler. Israel’s Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel, an extreme right winger, has called on his followers to be present at the mosque in large numbers to commemorate the death of the settler. The police ended its closure of the mosque following the departure of the police chief and settlers. Israeli Jewish extremists are seeking to hold worship at the Al-Aqsa Mosque despite strong Muslim opposition and warnings that any change in the status que at the holy compound could lead to endless religious strife.
Restriction of movement / Closures
Military disrupting life in Deir Abu Mash‘al for 2 weeks, since 3 residents killed Border Police officer
B’Tselem 29 June — The Palestinian village of Deir Abu Mash‘al lies some 25 kilometers northwest of Ramallah. It has a population of about 5,000, many of whom work in Ramallah. About 150 of the residents work in Israel and have to cross the Ni‘lin checkpoint on their commute every day. On the evening of Friday, 16 June 2017, three residents of the village carried out an attack near Damascus Gate in East Jerusalem, killing Border Police Officer Hadas Malka, 23, and wounding four other people. The three assailants, Baraa Saleh, 18, ‘Adel ‘Ankush, 18, and Ousama ‘Ata, 19, were shot to death by Israeli security forces over the course of the attack. Ever since then, Israel has been disrupting the lives of all residents of the village, although they were not involved in the attack and have not been accused of any wrongdoing. Following the attack, Border Police officers and soldiers entered the village and imposed several restrictive measures. On the night of the attack itself, Israeli security forces installed an iron gate at the main entrance to the village and refused to let anyone cross it in either direction, neither on foot nor by car. The military also blocked off the three dirt roads leading to the village with stones and piles of earth. The next day, village residents removed some of the blockage from two roads, enough to enable only a four-wheel drive to get through. This recurred over the following days, with the military blocking the roads and residents removing the obstacles … In addition to the restrictions on movement, which have affected the entire population of the village, security forces confiscated some 50 vehicles from residents for ostensibly lacking licenses. In addition, 50 village residents who work in Israel – all from the assailants’ extended families – had their work permits revoked. The permits were revoked when they reached the checkpoint on their way to work, without prior notice and with no opportunity to challenge the decision….
Israeli security forces punish town of Silwad, near Ramallah, for car-ramming attack by local resident
B’Tselem 25 June — On 6 April 2017, Malek Hamed – a resident of the Palestinian town of Silwad – carried out a car-ramming attack at a hitchhiking station at the intersection near the settlement of Ofra, Ramallah District, killing Elhai Teharlev, a 20-year-old soldier, and wounding another soldier. Hamed was arrested at the scene. For a period of about two months following the attack, Israeli security forces imposed collective punishment on the town’s 10,000 residents. The punitive measures included blocking off roads – a measure that remained in force until the end of May; nightly raids into homes; confiscation of funds and vehicles from town residents; and voiding Israeli work permits. A military official quoted on news website NRG explained the measures were implemented “with a view to putting pressure on the whole village, so residents understand it’s in their best interests to change their ways”….
Israeli settlers block off Nablus-area road
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 29 June — Hundreds of Israeli settlers reportedly blocked a road in the northern occupied West Bank on Thursday, Palestinian media reported. According to official Palestinian news agency Wafa, between 500 and 600 Israelis escorted by Israeli army and police forces gathered on the main road linking the Palestinian cities of Nablus and Ramallah near the Zaatara military checkpoint in the Nablus district early on Thursday, blocking traffic in the area. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that they were looking into the reports. While details about the incident remained unclear, the Zaatara checkpoint is located near at least half a dozen Israeli settlements, built in contravention of international law. One of these settlements, Yitzhar, is particularly known for its extremist residents who are notorious for carrying out attacks against Palestinians, as well as Israeli forces.
Group calls for Muhammad Allan’s release on 20th day of hunger strike
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 28 June — As Muhammad Allan entered his 20th day on hunger strike in Israeli custody on Wednesday, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies called on Palestinians and international groups to do more to support the Palestinian prisoner. The head of the center, Rafaat Hamdouna, called for humanitarian organizations, Palestinian factions, and media to increase pressure on Israel to obtain Allan’s release. Allan, a lawyer from the Nablus-area village of Einabus in the northern occupied West Bank, had been released from prison in November 2015 after a year-long stint in administrative detention — Israel’s widely condemned policy of internment without charge or trial — during which time he carried out a grueling 66-day hunger strike in protest of his detention. However, Allan was redetained by Israeli forces on June 8 and began his hunger strike that same day. He was reportedly placed in solitary confinement 10 days into his strike. An Israeli military court charged Allan with “incitement” on social media, prompting his father to say at the time that Israeli forces “have been after his son to detain him and take revenge on him since the day he was released last year from administrative detention.”….
Palestinian women detainees under attack in Damon prison
IMEMC/Agencies 30 June — Palestinian women detainees in Damon prison are being subject to harsh sanctions, deprived of family visits and thrown in solitary confinement, reported prisoners and advocates. They are also being denied access to the “canteen” (prison store) and subjected to financial fines. Taghreed Jahshan, lawyer with the Women’s Organization for Political Prisoners, visited the women and reported that they have been subject to sanctions for one week, since 22 June, amid a media blackout. One of the most prominent detainees held under solitary confinement is Shireen Issawi, 39, a Palestinian lawyer serving a prison term of four years, accused of helping her client’s families support them financially in prison. She is also the sister of long-term hunger striker and re-arrested Palestinian releasee, Samer Issawi, and was the public spokesperson for his campaign during his strike. Dalal Abu Hawa, 39, serving a 1-year prison sentence, is also being held in solitary confinement. Both were transferred from Damon prison to the Jalameh/Ketziot interrogation center, reportedly due to the lack of isolation rooms in Damon prison. In addition, Haifa Abu Sbeih, former prisoner, reported that Sabah Faraoun, whose administrative detention – imprisonment without charge or trial – was just extended for another four months, is also being held in solitary confinement. Abu Sbeih told Wattan TV that the detainees were facing a number of sanctions, including fines and denial of family visits. Some detainees were fined 700, 500 and 200 shekels while others had electronic items confiscated. She noted that Ansam Shawahneh, 20, has been denied all family visits for over four months and will now face even longer periods of time.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israel tackles environmental hazards in West Bank, in violation of Oslo Accords
Haaretz 28 June by Yotam Berger — Israel’s governing body in the West Bank has begun taking action against environmental hazards in Area B, the territory under Palestinian civil control but joint security control, in violation of the Oslo Accords. The Israeli army’s Civil Administration – which carries out all bureaucratic functions within the occupied territories – has acted against a waste disposal site near the town of ‘Awarta, in the northern West Bank, as well as Palestinian charcoal producers and construction waste sites. This is the first time in years the Israel Defense Forces has taken enforcement actions in Area B, Israeli officials told Haaretz. The actions come in addition to a recent report in Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom that the Civil Administration was taking action against a quarry near the Dragot stream, also situated in Area B. These actions are in violation of the 1993 Oslo Accords, which gave the Palestinian Authority supervision over all civilian matters in Area B, which comprises some 22 percent of the West Bank … .“The environmental justification of the Civil Administration to take enforcement action against Palestinians, without authority, in Area B is extremely worrying, in light of the fact that the Civil Administration does not enforce the deep environmental harm by the settlements, the military and the rest of the Israeli bodies in the West Bank,” said Alon Cohen-Lifshitz, an architect from Bimkon – Planners for Planning Rights….
Soldiers uproot Palestinian lands in Jenin
IMEMC 30 June — Dozens of Israeli soldiers, accompanied by military bulldozers, invaded Thaher al-Maleh village, north of Ya‘bad town, in the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and uprooted 20 dunams of olive orchards, in addition to lands planted with tobacco. Omar al-Khatib, the head of Thaher al-Maleh Village Council, said the uprooted lands belong to Abdullah Fahmi al-Kilani, from Ya‘bad, and Fathi Zeid, from Nazlet Sheikh Zeid village. He added that Israel is planning to pave a new road extending from Shakid illegal Israeli colony, to Hananit and Tal Menashe illegal colonies, built on privately owned Palestinian lands, in addition to building a new section of the Annexation Wall. Resident Hasan Khatib told WAFA Palestinian News Agency that the Palestinians are left without any path to their lands and orchards in the northern area of the village, and added that the army is even trying to bulldoze the village’s graveyard. The soldiers also placed some construction materials in a land, owned by Abdullah Fahmi Zeid, to be used for the construction of the Wall. Khatib stated that, once the new section of the Annexation Wall is built on Palestinian lands, near Shakid colony, it will lead to the illegal confiscation of more than 1000 dunams of lands, owned by Palestinians from Ya‘bad and Nazlet Sheikh.
Israeli forces deliver stop-work order against Hebron-area Palestinian home
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 29 June — Israeli forces delivered a stop-work order in the village of ‘Idhna in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, locals told Ma‘an on Thursday. Israeli authorities delivered the notice to Sharif al-Jiawi for a one-story home in the al-Ras area of western ‘Idhna in which six family members are currently residing. While the warrant was dated June 22, al-Jiawi told Ma‘an that he had not seen the document until Wednesday, a week later. ‘Idhna mayor Muammar al-Tmeizi said the warrant was part of a broader Israeli policy to displace Palestinians from the area, despite residents having lived in al-Ras for years. A spokesperson for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), which is responsible for implementing the Israeli government’s policies in the occupied West Bank, told Ma‘an that the structure was established “without the authorities’ approval and illegally in Area C that is under the planning jurisdiction of the Civil Administration.”
Army confiscates solar panels east of Bethlehem
IMEMC 18 June — Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded, Wednesday, the village of Job Al-Theeb, east of Bethlehem city, in the occupied West Bank, and confiscated one hundred solar panels, used for providing electricity to the residents. The soldiers also abducted a Palestinian near Jenin, in northern West Bank. Hasan Brejiyya, the coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Annexation Wall and Colonies, in Bethlehem, said a large military force, accompanied by personnel of the “Civil Administration Office,” run by the army in the occupied West Bank, invaded the village, removed and confiscated 100 solar panels. The army claimed that the panels were installed without a permit from the Civil Administration Office, and that the area is under full Israeli control. The project was completed nearly six months ago, to provide the villagers with electricity. Brejiyya added that the soldiers briefly detained several members of the Local Committee against the Annexation Wall and Colonies, in addition to journalists working for Awdah Satellite TV station, and prevented them from entering the village.
Orthodox Church in Jerusalem sells land to Israel
MEMO 28 June — The Eastern Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem has sold around 500 dunams of land to Israel, leading Israeli financial newspaper Calcalist revealed on Tuesday. According to the Israeli newspaper the land which the Orthodox Church sold is for Jewish investors and businessmen. Quds Net News, a local Palestinian news agency, noted that this is the second time the church has sold Israel large amounts of land in recent years. About two years ago the Orthodox Church sold some 1,000 dunams to an Israeli enterprise, the agency said. The secret deal came to light after the Church filed a complaint against the Israeli municipality in Jerusalem, seeking documents to prove that transferring ownership of the land to the municipality would mean they stopped paying taxes. It also revealed that two years ago the Church sold 200 dunams in Al-Talibiyeh neighbourhood in Jerusalem to a group of unidentified investors, noting that Palestinian residents that owned the land feared that the investors would force them out of their homes after they completed the 30-year lease. On why they kept the deal secret, the Church told the Calcalist: “There are certain sides inside and outside the country, some of them are enemies, have worked and are working to undermine this deal.” The Church continued: “Therefore, for the interest of Jerusalem’s residents and for the interest of Israel, it is very necessary to carry out the deal and its details secretly.” According to the Calcalist, the land was sold for NIS 38 million ($10.7 million), in addition to NIS 76million ($21.5 million) paid by a company supervised by an Israeli lawyer in 2011. Quds Net News said that the same Church sold the Franciscan Monastery, estimated to be 1,000 dunams, to an Israeli firm. The Church said that it sold the monastery because it needed the funds.
Israeli drone falls from the sky in Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 June – An Israeli-operated unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone, fell from the sky in the Bethlehem area of the southern occupied West Bank on Thursday. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed to Ma‘an that the drone had fallen near Bethlehem, and that Israeli forces had retrieved it. She added that the incident was under review. Drones are a typical sight in the occupied West Bank, as Israeli forces use the technology to surveil the Palestinian territory for various reasons, including during Palestinian protests.
Palestinian goes to the beach for the first time in decades, gets $200 fine from Israeli fashion police
Haaretz 29 June by Roy Arad — The Palestinian factory worker is afraid he’ll never get to see the sea again because he doesn’t have money to pay the fine — This isn’t a story about a boy who lost an eye or about a wrecked home. It’s about a minor matter, but still, it tugs at the heartstrings. Hakam Habash, a 36-year-old man who works in a Nablus factory that manufactures jeans for companies in Israel, hadn’t seen the sea for 20 years. When he received a permit to be in Israel in the daylight hours during the month of Ramadan, which just ended this week – he decided to go to the seashore. But his foray to Herzl Beach in Netanya ended in bitter disappointment. While he was enjoying himself on the seashore with three friends, he says, a municipal inspector asked to see their entry permits. Even though their permits were valid, he fined each of them 730 shekels ($207). The fine was for violation of an unusual regulation: wearing underpants (albeit of a dark color) instead of bathing suits. According to Habash, the Israelis who were on the beach in underpants were not fined.. .Whether it’s a consequence of racism or of an inspector with a highly developed fashion consciousness – a fine of 730 shekels is a blow to anyone. Habash, a Palestinian with four children, makes about 950 shekels a month in his work at a textile plant. Thus, for him the fine is like the equivalent of 3,000 shekels for someone earning the minimum wage in Israel… Institutional racism or not, Netanya’s beaches are apparently not very welcoming to Arabs. In 2015, two Arab women were attacked at Sironit Beach as they were waiting for their families in their car, and last year two young residents of Kalansua, an Arab town in central Israel, were attacked on a Netanya beach with sticks and stones by a group of Jewish teenagers….
UN secretary-general says ending Israeli occupation is the ‘only way’ to achieve peace
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 June — On the occasion of a United Nations forum, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Thursday for an end to the half-century Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the Golan Heights as the “only way to achieve the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.” In a statement transmitted during the two-day forum entitled “Ending the occupation: The path to independence, justice, and peace for Palestine,” Guterres called for direct negotiations to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in accordance with international law. Highlighting the severe humanitarian toll the occupation has taken on Palestinians, Guterres lamented the fact that “generations of Palestinians have grown up in crowded refugee camps, many in abject poverty, and with little or no prospect of a better life for their children.”
UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Muhammad, who attended the forum, also denounced the impact of the international community’s inaction on Palestinians. “I understand the deep sense of despair of the Palestinian people,” she said. “For far too long, the international community has failed to find a just and lasting solution to their displacement.” “The lives of generations of Palestinians and Israelis have been confined by a conflict that has shaped the physical and human landscape with (Israeli) concrete walls, checkpoints, and watchtowers, all under a heavy atmosphere of fear, mutual distrust and despair,” Muhammad added. “Some think that the situation can be managed. They are all wrong. It must be resolved,” she stressed, reiterating the UN’s position that only a two-state solution could successfully end the conflict….
Opinion: Now American Jews are angry / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 29 June — When it comes to the Western Wall, suddenly U.S. Jews are liberals, criticizing Israel. Did they ever fight for the right of Palestinians to worship freely? — American Jews are hurt. They’re furious. They say that Jewish unity is imperiled, that the entire Zionist vision is about to implode. In urgent nighttime cables, Israel’s consuls in the United States were instructed to prepare for the growing protest and to address it “with an obliging spirit.” Never before have American Jews expressed such anger and protest against Israel. What is causing American Jews to be so furious at Israel, the apple of their eye and a source of pride until now? Is it the antidemocratic legislation passed here in recent years, which shames Israel and casts doubt on its democracy? The witch hunt against left-wing civil society organizations? Its shameful treatment of African asylum seekers? Its withholding of electricity from two million people who’ve been caged up for 10 years? The massacre of civilians during Operation Protective Edge? The massacre of civilians in Operation Cast Lead? The executions of knife-wielding girls? The 50 years of occupation? None of these has ever provoked any real anger from American Jews. Now they are furious at last. Over what? Over all-important issues: the worship arrangements at the Western Wall, which will remain as strict as ever, and over conversion in Israel, which will remain Orthodox. These are serious issues that should not be taken lightly, but after forgiving Israel for everything, this is what they’re so worked up about?….
24 House Dems condemn Israeli charges against Issa Amro — follower of civil rights movement and Gandhi
Mondoweiss 28 June by Philip Weiss — In yet another sign that the Democratic left is determined to stand up for Palestinian human rights, 34 congresspeople have signed letters supportive of Issa Amro, the courageous and non-violent leader of protest actions in occupied Hebron who has been accused by Israel of 18 charges going back to 2010, including “insulting a soldier,” “assault” and demonstrating without a permit. Two letters have gone out in recent days to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urging him to press Israel to drop the trumped-up charges aimed at shutting down/imprisoning the globally-recognized activist. The stronger letter cites Israel’s farcical conviction rate for Palestinians in occupation: over 99 percent. The milder of the two letters says Amro studied Gandhi and the U.S. civil rights movement. Here’s the stronger letter, signed by 32 Congresspeople, all Democrats, at the Institute for Middle East Understanding website: “Dear Secretary Tillerson: We write to request that you urgently pursue all diplomatic tools at your disposal to encourage the appropriate Israeli authorities to reconsider the charges against Issa Amro, a community leader, nonviolent activist and previous recipient of the United Nations’ “Human Rights Defender of the Year in Palestine” award. He faces charges described by Amnesty International as “baseless” and “politically motivated” within Israel’s military court system, which could result in years of imprisonment. United Nations human rights experts expressed concern that Mr. Amro is “being unfairly targeted due to his legitimate and peaceful human rights work…”
German lawmakers block Israeli drone deal after discovering they’re armed
Haaretz’ Gili Cohen & Reuters 29 June — A deal for Germany to lease Israeli drones has been blocked by the former’s Social Democratic Party because the unmanned vehicles can carry weapons, according to Die Welt newspaper. The SPD blocked the deal to lease the Israeli-made remotely piloted Heron TP vehicles (known locally as the Eitan) from the Israel Aerospace Industries in the Bundestag’s budget committee, the German newspaper reported on Wednesday evening. The drone deal was estimated at 580 million euros for the leasing of three to five remotely piloted vehicles. Despite the report, Israel is still hoping the deal will go ahead, even if not under the current German parliament. When the deal was announced last year, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said that the drones were chosen because they can be armed, adding that “it is important for the protection of soldiers.” But this ability to carry weapons was also the main reason for the SPD’s objections to the deal … In Israel, the battle over the leasing of the drones was not only a political matter but was also preceded by a legal struggle with American weapons maker General Atomics. The company petitioned the German courts to cancel the Israeli deal, but the petition was rejected in May….
Sarcastic tweet sparks spat between Saudi scholars over terrorist claims
MEMO 28 June — As the number of people and organisations being placed on the list of “terrorists” by the anti-Qatar Saudi-led alliance continues to grow, a Saudi scholar has tweeted sarcastically that, “Supplication [Du‘a] for the people of Gaza may soon be classified as terrorism”. The sheikh used the hashtag #Gaza_under_attack on Twitter. His tweet has sparked a spat between Islamic scholars in the kingdom following the demand by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir that Qatar should stop its support for Hamas in Gaza. Those opposing the message from Sheikh Adel Al-Kalbani accuse people who pray for Gaza of being pro-Muslim Brotherhood and of opposing the Saudi regime. Sheikh Hassan Al-Qarni, for example, commented: “Stand with your country and do not whisper or speak against it. Your Brotherhood tendencies might get you in trouble.” Al-Kalbani responded by saying, “You will need to prove my Brotherhood tendencies before the Supreme Judge, Allah.” Other messages against the Saudi move to target the Palestinian resistance movement have been both sectarian and racist in nature, revealing the depth of feeling that the issue has caused and exposing the dangers of social media as a tool for hurling unacceptable abuse and insults. Writing from Gaza itself, however, one Twitter user said, “God bless these tweets and those writing them.” Another prayed, “May Allah help our brothers in Gaza and may Allah be with those who are afraid of praying for them.” Yet another said, “Now whoever stands with his brothers against the Israelis, even through prayer, is a pro-Brotherhood political opponent. All that’s left now is to say that whoever says Shahada [the Islamic proclamation of faith] is not a Muslim. God help us.”