Violence / Raids / Clashes / Suppression of protests / Arrests
Police seize weapons from extremist Jewish settlement in the West Bank
i24news 4 Feb — Israeli police seized weapons and other gear from the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar on Tuesday. Yitzhar has been a flash point for violence over the years and is home to some of the so-called “hilltop youth” responsible for vandalism of Palestinian property. The Israeli news site Times of Israel reported that among other things found during the raid, police found knives, saws, flammable liquids, tear gas canisters, face masks. The police believe that the arms would have been used against Palestinians as well as Israeli security forces. Israel Radio reported that Ahiad Liebman, 17, a minor from the settlement was barred from entering the West Bank for a time period of four months. The restraining order was signed by IDF Major General Nitzan Alon. HaKol HaYehudi, a website based out of Yitzhar quoted Liebman of being happy about the restraining order, “when the bad guys are fighting against you, you can know you’re on the right path.” Yitzhar is a bastion of Jewish extremists in the northern West Bank where there is a seminary run by Yitzhak Ginsburg, an American-born rabbi known for [recommending] a book condoning the killing of non-Jews. Others are sympathizers of the late Meir Kahane, whose virulently anti-Arab Kach movement was outlawed for incitement to racial hatred after one of his followers, Baruch Goldstein, massacred 29 Muslim worshippers at a Hebron mosque in 1994. Last April, the Israel army noted that there was a “security necessity to have a constant (military) presence in the settlement,” and the IDF, attempting to rout recent far-right Jewish settlers’ violence in the West Bank, stationed a guard of Border Police soldiers in Yitzhar, following a prior attack on a military post near the settlement. Israeli public radio said young men linked with the learning center were suspected of taking part in “price tag” attacks — hate crimes by Jewish extremists that mostly target Palestinian and Arab property, but have also included attacks on other non-Jews as well as left-wing Israelis and security forces.
Two children wounded near Jenin, Palestinian injured and kidnapped in Hebron
IMEMC/Agencies 6 Feb — Palestinian medical sources have reported that two children were injured, on Thursday evening, after several Israeli military vehicles invaded Ya‘bad town, southwest of Jenin city, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank. Soldiers also kidnapped a child, and a wounded young man, in Hebron. Head of the Ya‘bad Local Council, Samer Abu Bakr, said the soldiers invaded the town, and drove around in its street, before clashing with local youths who hurled stones and empty bottles at the invading forces. Medical sources said Mahmoud Bassam Hamarsha, 14 years of age, was shot by a live round to his leg, and Abdul-Rahman Khader Mer’ey, 16, was shot by a dumdum expanding live round. Many residents received treatment for the effects of tear gas inhalation. The WAFA Palestinian News Agency said the soldiers also invaded a coffee shop, near the schools’ area in the town, and attacked a number of local youths.
Also on Thursday evening, soldiers kidnapped Sa‘ad Mohammad al-Haddad, 21, after shooting him in the leg, near an army roadblock in the Old City of Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank. The soldiers moved the wounded man to a military base, before transferring him to an undisclosed location.
Palestinian shot in Hebron after grabbing soldier’s gun
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Feb — Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian man in Hebron on Thursday evening after he attempted to grab a soldier’s gun, Israel’s army said. An Israeli army spokeswoman said the man was shot in the lower extremities after trying to grab a soldier’s gun near the illegal settlement of Kiryat Arba. Israeli media said the unidentified man was treated at the scene for moderate injuries and taken to the Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem.
Israeli soldiers raid, shut down Palestinian school at gunpoint
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 4 Feb– Israeli forces raided a Palestinian high school in the northern West Bank on Wednesday morning, storming the facility and forcing students to leave at gunpoint while detaining school administrators. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors Israeli settlement-related activities, told Ma‘an that the incident occurred near the villages of al-Lubban and al-Sawiya south of Nablus, both of which are served by the school. Daghlas said that several Israeli military vehicles stormed the high school and forced the students to flee as they detained the school principal and his assistant. Daghlas said that the soldiers interrogated the two school administrators and claimed that students from the school had hurled stones at vehicles driven by Israeli settlers on the main road between Nablus and Ramallah … The villages of al-Lubban and al-Sawiya are located directly alongside the main road and are almost completed surrounded by a ring of Jewish-only settlements built on land confiscated from local villages. The villages are frequently targeted by settlers and the Israeli soldiers that guard them, and the attacks are rarely stopped or punished by authorities.
Soldiers kidnap two Palestinian children in Hebron after assaulting them
IMEMC/Agencies 6 Feb — Israeli soldiers attacked, on Friday, two Palestinian children in Masafer Yatta, south of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, causing various injuries, and kidnapped them. Coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in Hebron, Rateb Jabour, said the two children have been identified as Qusai ‘Ayed ash-Shawaheen, 12, and Hamza Ahmad Ash-Shawaheen, 12. They were herding the family sheep in the Khirbet al-Jaway nearby area, close to the Ma’on illegal Israeli colony, built on Palestinian lands in Masafer Yatta.
Israeli settlers open fire at protesters near Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 6 Feb — Israeli settlers opened fire at Palestinians participating in a peaceful protest near Beit Ummar late Friday, a local official said. Muhammad Muheisen, the coordinator of the popular resistance committees in southern Hebron, said settlers from the illegal settlement outpost of Karmei Tsur shot live fire directly at participants in the protests. No injuries were reported. The protesters were raising Palestinian flags and holding signs calling for the end of the Israeli occupation and settlements.
Israeli forces threaten to destroy Abu Dis protest camp for 3rd time
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 6 Feb — Israeli soldiers on Friday raided a protest camp east of Jerusalem and issued activists a 24-hour eviction notice, a local popular committee leader said. Bawwabat al-Quds (the Gate to Jerusalem) was first set up in Abu Dis on Tuesday evening and Israeli forces destroyed it on Wednesday morning. Activists rebuilt the camp and Israeli forces destroyed it again early Thursday. Earlier Friday, dozens of Palestinians prayed in the camp, located in the Khilet al-Rahib area of Abu Dis, committee leader Bassam Bahar said. After prayers, participants started building a cement block room at the camp, and planted olive trees in the area. Bahar said that more activities with Bedouin communities will be done in the coming few days. Jerusalem Affairs Minister Adnan al-Husseini, his deputy Abdullah Siyam, the head of another local popular committee, Jamil al-Barghouthi, and Jerusalem Fatah leader Shadi Mtour participated in the rebuilding of the protest camp. Al-Husseini said in statement that the activists at the camp needed equipment in addition to mattresses and blankets for those sleeping in the camp. The “Gate to Jerusalem” was set up near the main Ramallah-Bethlehem road in protest against Israeli settler encroachment on Palestinian lands east of Jerusalem. The protesters were outraged at an Israeli plan revealed last year which called for the forced expulsion of tens of thousands of Palestinian Bedouins from their lands across the central West Bank area known as “E1,” where Israeli authorities have repeatedly expressed their desire to build Jewish-only settlements that would definitively split the northern and southern West Bank.
2 Hebron-area boys hurt in traffic accidents
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 5 Feb – A 5-year-old boy was seriously injured Thursday morning after he was hit by a Palestinian vehicle in the village of Beit Kahil near Hebron in the southern West Bank, Palestinian medical sources said. The sources told Ma‘an in Hebron that Hamza al-Haymouni was evacuated to al-Ahli Hospital where he was receiveing intensive care treatment. Palestinian police said the driver was detained for questioning.
Separately, another 5-year-old boy, Jamil al-Jaabari, sustained minor wounds after he was hit by a settler’s vehicle in southern Hebron city. Witnesses said the settler fled the scene.
Israeli forces detain Palestinian child, youth
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 4 Feb — Israeli forces on Wednesday arrested a Palestinian child in Jerusalem and a Palestinian youth at the Allenby Bridge. Israeli police arrested Mahmoud Dawuod Abu al-Hawa, 10, from in front of his home in the al-Tur area of East Jerusalem. A police officer reportedly told his mother to bring 750 shekels and to follow them to the police station in order to secure his release.
Amjad Abu Asab, the head of the families of Jerusalem Detainees Committee, said Israeli forces also detained Islam Bkeirat at the Allenby Bridge crossing from Jordan. Bkeirat was reportedly taken to the Neve Yaakov police station.
Soldiers kidnap four Palestinians in Jericho
IMEMC/Agencies 5 Feb — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Wednesday, the West Bank city of Jericho, and kidnapped four Palestinians, including a teenager who was kidnapped from a residence belonging to the YMCA in Aqbat Jaber refugee camp. The Jericho Office of the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) said dozens of soldiers invaded the refugee camp, broke into and searched a number of homes, and kidnapped three Palestinians. The three kidnapped residents have been identified as Ra‘fat Atallah, 30, Mohammad ‘Eid Ka‘abna, 20, and Mohammad Khamis Baraqa, 25. The PPS added that the soldiers also invaded a residence belonging to the Young Men Christian Association (YMCA) in the camp, and kidnapped a student identified Dia’ Mahmoud Bani Odeh, 18.
Police who killed Rahat man last month to be questioned
Haaretz 6 Feb by Shirly Seidler — Police officers who killed a young man during a drug raid last month in the Bedouin town Rahat, which set off violent protests, will be summoned for police questioning in the coming days, police investigators told Haaretz on Thursday. Sources in the Police Investigation Unit said that suspicions are mounting that the January 15 shooting of Sami al-Jaar violated police regulations … Southern District Commander Maj. Gen. Yoram Halevi said at the time that Jaar, 22, was arrested while in the car of one of the drug dealers and that his father arrived on the scene wielding metal bars and began attacking the policemen … Khaled al-Jaar, father of the deceased and a retired Israeli policeman, denied that his son was involved in drug dealing. He said his son had complained several times about drug deals taking place at the school, where the fatal raid took place, close to his home. He said his son heard shouting and ran out to see what was happening, at which point the young man was attacked by policemen. “I only ask for one thing, that all those policemen be investigated, including their weapons. I refer to small and large weapons, as well as to undercover policemen. If Israel is a law-abiding country, if there is justice here, whoever killed my son should be brought to trial,” said Khaled al-Jaar.
Civil Rights Association: Police used anti-riot weapons before establishing regulations
Jerusalem Post 6 Feb by Ben Hartman — Police deployed new, more dangerous anti-riot weapons months before establishing guidelines for their use, according to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. In a letter sent to Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein earlier this week, ACRI says that black foam-tipped bullets were used by police in riot dispersal in east Jerusalem back in September, even though guidelines on their use were only published by the Police Operations Branch in January. The ACRI letter quotes an autopsy by Palestinian doctors which determined that a 16-year-old Palestinian boy [Mohammed Sunuqrut] died after he was hit in the head by one of the black foam-tipped bullets during a riot on September 7. The report also cites testimony from four Palestinian youths who suffered partial vision loss after they were shot by the bullets. The bullets are heavier and are known to cause more damage than the blue sponge-tipped bullets which have been in use by police for years. The ACRI letter says that on October 27, 2014 it wrote to the Jerusalem District Police about riot control methods in east Jerusalem, and in November was told by the district’s legal counsel, Attorney Michael Frankenberg, that “in response to the severe public disturbances police have to deal with and the threats to human life and property they pose, in recent months police used black rubber bullets. The use of such bullets was done after they received the required approval in keeping with Israel Police regulations.” Police later sent to the ACRI a copy of their regulations on the use of the new black bullets, which was dated January 1, 2015. The regulations specify that only officers of the Border Police’s special operations unit who have gone through the requisite training can fire the new rounds, and that all others must get special approval from the head of the Operations Branch. It also notes that the black foam-tipped bullets are only used in the course of the most severe disturbances, and must only be fired at the lower body and may not be used against minors, the elderly or pregnant women. Police have stated in response to the letter that the regulations issued on January 1 were merely an update version of the original ones. [See Mairav Zonszein’s article in +972 about the death of Mohammed Sunuqrut in the so-called ‘riot’]
PA security officers injured in Nablus clashes with gunmen
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 5 Feb — Three Palestinian security officers were injured in armed clashes on Thursday morning between Palestinian security officers and gunmen in Balata refugee camp east of Nablus in the northern West Bank, security sources said. The sources said security officers came under fire as they entered the camp, which is the biggest in the West Bank, in an attempt to arrest a number of fugitives. The Palestinian security described the gunmen who fired at the security officers as “outlaws.” Locals in the camp said several vehicles were damaged as a result of crossfire. They said that gunmen from Balata completely closed the main street near the camp to traffic. Schools were also closed in the camp.
Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Judaization
Settlers create outpost near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 5 Feb — A group of Israeli settlers stormed an outskirt of the northern West Bank village of Beita south of Nablus on Thursday and set up a new illegal settlement outpost, a Palestinian Authority official said. Ghassan Daghlas told Ma’an that several settler vehicles arrived at the Jabal Subeih area and set up movable houses and water tanks. The settlers, he added, surrounded the area with a fence. Settlers tried to take control of the area in the past. Now they have arrived with their families for the first time, which means they want to settle down and create a new illegal outpost, he added. The Palestinian Authority’s liaison department has asked its Israeli counterpart for an explanation.
Israeli authorities plan to destroy wells serving Silwad farmers
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 4 Feb — Israeli forces on Wednesday delivered demolition orders for several water wells in the Palestinian village of Silwad north of Ramallah. Deputy Head of the Silwad Cooperative Association council Abd al-Rahman Hammad told Ma’an that Israeli forces put the demolition notices on top of agricultural wells belonging to Nasser Issa, Yasser Salim, Bassel al-Tawil, and Muhammad Saleh. Hammad added that the farmers were also summoned to attend a court session at the local Israeli military court of Beit El on Feb. 12.
Activists raise Palestinian flags on annexed land near Bethlehem
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 4 Feb — Palestinian activists on Wednesday raised Palestinian flags and pictures of the late PA minister Ziad Abu Ein on land confiscated by Israel south of Bethlehem. A local committee coordinator, Muhammad Muheisen, said that the activity is a “natural response” to Israel’s land annexation policies. The land where the protest took place belongs to farmers from Beit Ummar, but has been confiscated and incorporated into the Gush Etzion settlement bloc. Abu Ein, 55, was assaulted by Israeli forces during a protest march in December and lost consciousness. He was pronounced dead in Ramallah shortly afterwards.
Right-wing organization says EU trying to establish ‘facts on the ground”; EU says it is providing ‘humanitarian assistance’
Jerusalem Post 5 Feb by Herb Keinon, Tovah Lazaroff — The EU is building hundreds of illegal structures in the West Bank, which the government has not removed in order to avoid a diplomatic tangle with the Europeans, according to a report released Friday by the NGO, Regavim. The structures are being built near Ma’aleh Adumim and its E1 area. This report is just one of a number the group – a right-wing organization which describes itself as a “research-backed, legal advocacy organization focused on land ownership issues” – has released in recent months. According to Regavim, European Union support for the Palestinians has in recent years moved from “passive diplomatic and financial assistance to a situation of active cooperation in illegal building which the Palestinian Authority has been advancing unilaterally since 2000, as part of its strategic plan to create a Palestinian state de facto, while avoiding the need for negotiations with Israel.” This week, prior to the release of its latest report, Regavim took journalists to look at a number of Beduin encampments straddling E1 as well as the Jerusalem-Jericho road. They are not temporary tent encampments as they were in years past, but rather clusters that – in addition to tents and tin shacks – also include modular structures with cement floors bearing the EU logo. According to Ari Briggs, Regavim’s international relations director, the EU logo is placed on the structures in the belief that this will prevent Israel from demolishing them. Israel is not likely to take down a building with an EU logo, due to concerns over both public relations damage and the harm it could cause to relations with the EU, he said … Regavim claims EU support for these structures is part of a Palestinian plan to gradually take control of large parts of Area C, the 60 percent of the West Bank that, according to the Oslo Accords, is under full Israeli control. The EU has for years increasingly focused on shoring up Palestinian development in this area, believing it vital to the viability of a future Palestinian state.
Netanyahu orders demolition of facilities set up by EU in J’lem
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 7 Feb — Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netnyahu has ordered the demolition of Palestinian facilities in occupied Jerusalem and area C which is under full Israeli control. Netanyahu has issued instructions to his war minister Moshe Ya’alon to immediately implement the demolition orders. Netanyahu’s instructions came shortly after Israeli Channel 2 published a televised report saying that the European Union (EU) has financed the construction of Palestinian buildings in Isawiya town and area E1. The Israeli civil administration has declared that those buildings would be soon demolished “for being illegally built.” In this matter, an EU official said that the buildings were set up to meet the Palestinians’ needs, strongly condemning Israel’s E1 settlement plan that would “hinder the future establishment of a Palestinian state.”
Police tractors vandalizing Negev Bedouin fields cause massive fatal accident, 8 Bedouin women killed
Tikun Olam 4 Feb by Richard Silverstein — Today, there was a massive, tragic accident in the Israeli Negev. Eight Bedouin women were killed in a bus crash with oversized agricultural vehicles. They had been returning from a pilgrimage to the Al Aqsa mosque. Unfortunately, Israeli mainstream media has concealed the most important, and shocking aspects of this tragedy. There is an Israeli police unit (Yoav) whose mission is to expel Negev Bedouin from their native villages. The ultimate goal is, as in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, to Judaize the thinly settled Negev with new Jewish communities modeled after settlements. Part of their responsibility is to raze villages whose residents return after they’ve been expelled. Another aspect is to destroy the ability for the Bedouin to earn a livelihood from their traditional grazing of livestock on open land. The police do this by plowing under such fields which Bedouin have planted with grain, with huge excavators … Two such excavators were traveling on a road for which they had no permit (because they were oversized). In doing so, they struck the bus and sliced it completely down one side, killed eight riders and injuring 20 more. This is a micro-tragedy due to the deaths of these women, but a macro-tragedy in the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Bedouin from their ancestral lands. The Hadash Party posted today on its Facebook page that they’ve long complained to transportation officials about the extreme danger of this road, on which there have been 37 deaths and 1,400 injuries in the past few years. The government has dragged its feet and this tragedy is the result. Why would authorities want to spend money on a highway largely serving “Arabs” and the “periphery” (the Israeli term for “the sticks”)?
Son of bus crash victim: We’re people too, and deserve good roads
Ynet 4 Feb by Hassan Shaalan — Relatives of Bedouin woman killed in crash blame negligence, say reaction would be different if Jews had been killed, as thousands pay respects at funerals — Wednesday was declared a day of mourning in the Bedouin town of Hura following the bus accident a day earlier in which eight women were killed and 29 were injured, as thousands of mourners turned out to pay their respects at the funerals of the deceased. Families of the victims said the roads they use are subpar and require immediate work. “We have called these roads ‘the roads of death’ for years,” said Ahmed Abu Shahita, who lost his 71-year-old mother, Naama, in the crash. “If the situation stays the same, the next catastrophe will not be far from now,” he said … Mattab Abu Elkian, who lost his 81-year old mother, Fatma, said he hoped the accident would alert those in charge of the roads that change must occur. “We hope they learn a lesson and understand once and for all that we are also human beings, and we deserve good roads that can save our lives and our children’s lives,” he said. “We are trying to deal with the current situation. We all miss mother, who was the heart of the family.”
Israel’s deadliest roads
Al-Monitor 5 Feb by Shlomi Eldar — Despite well-documented fatalities on roads in the Negev, successive Israeli governments have turned a blind eye, choosing instead to allocate funds to build and expand settlement infrastructure.– …A detailed report published by Peace Now eight years ago, in 2007, warned of the large investments being made by the state in settlement infrastructure. One of the examples cited was the Za’atara bypass road (dubbed the Liberman Road, after Avigdor Liberman, at the time serving as minister of infrastructure). It served four settlements that had 483 vehicles and 2,570 residents. Israel’s National Roads Company, formerly called Ma’atz, estimated the construction cost at 142.5 million shekels (approximately $36 million). The four-lane project included three bridges. Another example is the Shim’a-Meitar road, between the Meitar roadblock and the settlements in the south Mount Hebron area that was expanded to serve eight settlements (home to roughly 10,000 residents) at a cost of NIS 80 million (approximately $20 million). The Shim’a-Meitar road is only 3 kilometers (2 miles) from the deadly road where the worshipers from Hura were killed and produces hundreds of casualties each year.
Demolitions in Qusra
QUSRA, Occupied Palestine 3 Feb by ISM, Nablus Team — In the early morning of February 2nd, 2015, Israeli forces demolished a two-room structure, a water well, and damaged a stone wall in Qusra, Occupied West Bank. All of the destroyed property was on land belonging to brothers Anwar and Akram Tayseer. Israeli forces, at approximately 5:00am, destroyed the property with bulldozers. When farmers went out into their fields at 5:00am, five Israeli military jeeps were still present at the site, loitering around the recently destroyed infrastructure. The occupying forces refused to speak with anyone. The water well and small concrete structure were built with money donated by the French Consulate, to facilitate agricultural development in the vulnerable region. Located in Area C, Qusra is subject to common attacks from nearby illegal Israeli settlements, mainly the Esh Kodesh outpost. Settlers living in the illegal outpost Esh Kodesh have been implicated in various ´price tag´ attacks throughout the West Bank (acts of violence against Palestinians by settlers). Settlers come after every time local Palestinians work their land, in day or night, sometimes armed with iron bars; families often wake up to destroyed trees, structures, or crops. Israeli soldiers are often present at these incidents, intervening only to protect settlers … This is not the first time the Tayseer family’s land has been attacked by settlers. On one occasion two years ago, Akram Tayseer was taken by the settlers, and severely beaten. He sustained injuries which put him in the hospital for two months, in his head, face, and arm. He was unable to leave his home for one year. Since this incident, residents recount that they have not seen him smile, and perceive that he is broken inside. The family has documents indicating their ownership of the land and the property which once stood on it. The cost of agricultural structure demolished is approximately 5000 NIS (~$1275USD). The water well served as a collection site, and an important reservoir to nourish the fields. Enclosing the plots of land, around 500 meters of a traditional Palestinian stone wall was dismantled. The fields are the main source of income for the family.
Israel’s road signs policy ‘erases memory of place’
RAMALLAH, West Bank (Al Jazeera) 4 Feb by Rania Zabaneh, Dalia Hatuqa — Just outside of Ramallah, on the edge of the main West Bank north-south artery known as Road 60, a large green road sign is hard to miss. It indicates that the Israeli settlements of Kokhav Yaakov and Geva Binyamin are nine kilometres to the south, while Pesagot is another 13km away. Just south are the Palestinian villages of Deir Dibwan, Burqa, Mikhmas and Jaba – but they are not mentioned on any of the major signs on the highway. This is a situation replicated across the West Bank, where approximately 150 settlements peppering the higher elevations are connected by a network of roads. A United Nations report said this network is “primarily for Israeli use that specifically link West Bank settlements to each other and to Israel … Palestinian access on to this network is restricted by a closure regime consisting of … checkpoints, roadblocks and a permit system for Palestinian vehicles.” Israeli authorities have long banned the Palestinian Authority (PA) from putting up its own road signs that refer to Palestinian towns and villages. This is true mostly for population centres in Area C, the more than 60 percent of the West Bank under Israeli administrative and security control … On an intersection on a two-lane highway in the northern West Bank, cars, lorries and taxis whiz by, travelling to various destinations. But it is difficult for Palestinian travelers here to pinpoint where they are; street signs only indicate where the nearest Israeli settlements are. “We normally know this street as the ‘Yitzhar line’,” said one truck driver, referring to the settlement thrust in the heart of three Palestinian villages; Burin, Madama and Asira al-Qibliyeh. “We are between Qalqiliya and Huwara. There isn’t anything to indicate where Nablus or Qalqiliya are except Yitzhar.” Not only are the proper names of Palestinian locales – in either Arabic, English or Hebrew – often absent from street signs, but in some cases, even the Arabic spelling of Hebrew names has been painted over or erased.
Ahihud to turn cemetery into cattle barn in Acre
RAMALLAH (PIC) 5 Feb – The management of the Cooperative Village, Ahihud, established on the ruins of al-Barweh displaced village in Acre, desecrated the Islamic and Christian cemetery of the village. Ahihud covered the cemetery’s ground with soil in a preparatory step to turn it into a cattle barn. The Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage warned, in a statement on Thursday, of this dangerous step, describing it as brutally breaching the sacredness of the dead. Abdulmajid Eghbariyeh, official at the Foundation, strongly denounced turning the cemetery into a cattle barn. The Cooperative village has been violating the Islamic and Christian holy places in al-Barweh Palestinian village for establishing such projects. Many stockades and barns have been constructed on the remains of dead Muslims and Christians, he said.
Photos: Third annual million tree campaign kicks off in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 4 Feb — An annual campaign to plant one million trees on land facing annexation in the occupied West Bank kicked off Tuesday in Hebron. Dozens of Palestinian activists planted olive trees near the Qurtuba school in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Hebron. The campaign was organized by the Arab Group for the Protection of Nature, in partnership with the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees and the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development. Several Palestinian institutions such as Al-Quds University, the Palestine Polytechnic University, and the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee, are taking part in the activities. Maysara Salah, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Voluntary Work Committee, said that the campaign would move to other districts in the West Bank on a weekly basis. The next locations will be in Sa‘ir, Yatta and the south Hebron hills before moving to the central and northern West Bank. The first two campaigns cultivated over 90,000 dunams of land owned by around 17,000 Palestinian farmers, supporting roughly 122,000 people. The initiative intends to help farmers maintain ownership of agricultural land threatened by Israeli annexation and replant tree seedlings on damaged land. The olive industry supports the livelihoods of roughly 80,000 families in the occupied West Bank. Since 1967, approximately 800,000 olive trees have been uprooted in the occupied West Bank, according to a joint report by the Palestinian Authority and the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem.
Olive tree planting in Kafr ad Dik
KAFR AD DIK, Occupied Palestine 7 Feb by ISM, Nablus Team — On the morning of February 5, ISM volunteers traveled with around 50 Palestinian activists from the Salfit area to the village of Kafr ad Dik to take part in an olive tree planting action organised by the Joint Council of Salfit (a newly formed coalition which includes a group of municipal councils in the Salfit area and the Palestinian Youth Union). The mood in the coach travelling over was upbeat and defiant. Local youth and women, who together formed the majority of participants, sang and discussed the importance of the tree-planting. Ninety per cent of the village land of Kafr ad Dik lies in Area C of the West Bank; buildings erected (post-1967) or trees planted are liable to demolition and destruction by Israeli Forces at any time, in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention. In an area where the majority of the population are dependent upon agriculture for their livelihood, these illegal acts of destruction and the constant threat of future destruction have a devastating effect on the people´s economic and psychological wellbeing. The people of Kafr ad Dik also have to contend, as do other villages throughout the Salfit area, with the presence of the illegal Israeli settlements. The Salfit region has a Palestinian population of 60,000, distributed among the 19 villages and one major town, but the aggressive expansion of the illegal settlements in the area means that the indigenous population is now outnumbered by the settlers – one settlement alone, Ariel, has a population of 40,000. The mayor of Kafr ad Dik told ISM that Salfit is a target for aggressive settlement expansion because of the area´s water resources: it contains the second largest aquifer in historical Palestine. However, the villages have to pay for water to be imported from Israel as they are not allowed to drill wells. The strategic location of Salfit is another factor – the continued expansion of settlements in the region could divide the West Bank, completely isolating the north from the south.
Why sahlab (and hummus) still aren’t Israeli
EI 6 Feb by Ali Abunimah — Yesterday, the The Jewish Daily Forward published a blog post by Michael Kaminer that generated a great amount of online mockery, including from myself. The post headlined “Israel’s Answer to Hot Chocolate Hits New York” claimed that sahlab, the hot milky drink or pudding made with orchid flower (or rose water), traditionally consumed during Ramadan, is “Israeli.” The motive of the mockery is that this effort to rebrand sahlab as “Israeli” – and erase its Arab, Palestinian, Turkish and Ottoman history (it is called salep in Turkish) – falls into a long line of efforts to repackage indigenous cultures of the region as authentically those of the European Zionist settler-colony. Typically, these appropriation efforts have targeted hummus, falafel, olive oil and knafeh. Even peasant dancing, or dabke, has been marketed as “Israeli folk dancing.” … For more than a century, the Zionist movement has colonized Palestine, and since 1948, Israel has engaged in the systematic physical destruction of Palestine, ethnic cleansing of Palestinian communities and the erasure of Palestinian folkways. This has included the systematic renaming of places with Hebrew and pseudo-biblical names, again, as part of a process of erasure and replacement. At the same time, Israel recodes indigenous peoples’ cultures as its own and Palestinians correctly see this as an attempt to complete the erasure: the Palestinians were never there, but the ancient traditions of the land were there and were always Jewish or Israeli. Therefore, resisting Israeli cultural appropriation and ensuring that things are correctly named is part of the process of resisting the ongoing Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine.
UNRWA 2015 Gaza food assistance in distribution
IMEMC/Agencies 5 Feb — UNRWA announced, Thursday, that it had begun distributing its 2015 emergency food assistance to needy refugee families in the Gaza Strip. According to WAFA Palestinian News & Info Agency, UNRWA revealed, in a recent press release, that the move comes as part of a wider framework to mantain its support of Palestinian refugee families in Gaza who are unable to meet their basic food security needs. According to UNRWA the food assistance will include about 868 thousand refugees in Gaza, while keeping into consideration the size of the family and their poverty level … UNRWA categorizes families whose income is no more than $1 a day as living “under extreme poverty”, while families whose income is no more than $3 as living “under the poverty line”. UNRWA is responsible for providing food assistance, shelter and protection to more than 4.7 million Palestinian refugees in general. They are distributed in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip. According to Robert Turner, UNRWA’s Director of Operations in the Gaza Strip, 70% of Gaza’s population has refugee status, with more than 1.2 million under UNRWA’s care
UN and Arab League ‘urgently’ appeal to Gaza donors
AFP 6 Feb — The leaders of the United Nations and the Arab League made an urgent appeal to international donors Friday to expedite aid promised to the people of Gaza, following last year’s devastating war. In a joint statement, Ban Ki-moon and Nabil al-Arabi expressed their “deep concern” over limited resources to improve the situation in Gaza. They “urgently appeal to donors to honor and disburse as soon as possible their financial commitments made at the October 2014 Cairo Conference,” the statement said. Those funds include money for UN agencies in Gaza to “prevent a further deterioration in the already dire humanitarian situation.” The international community promised $5.4 billion to the Palestinians, half of which is to help rebuild Gaza after devastating Israeli bombing aimed at stopping Hamas rocket attacks in July last year. The two leaders pointed out reconstruction has been slow in Gaza and aid is necessary to ensure stability for the people. Short on money, the UN announced in January they had suspended housing financial aid to tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza. The Unit in Gaza. Qatar made the largest aid promise, a billion dollars, during the Cairo conference. Washington announced $212 million additional aid and the European Union pledged about 450 million euros at the conference.
Innovative housing project puts roofs over the heads of some of Gaza’s displaced
UNRWA 5 Feb — Eight-year-old Aseel Al Ashqar fiddles quietly with a worn, pink blanket she has laid on the floor of the empty new bedroom in downtown Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip; the room she now shares with her four siblings. The holes in the blanket, she explains, are a consequence of a bomb that also wiped out her family home during the 50-day summer conflict last year. She found the blanket buried in the rubble. According to UNRWA assessments, at least 100,000 Palestine refugee family homes were damaged or destroyed during last summer’s conflict. Finding adequate shelter amidst a crippling housing shortage in the Gaza Strip has put enormous stress on refugee families such as Aseel’s. During the war, Aseel and her family took refuge at the UNRWA Abu Husein school in Jabalia, in the north of Gaza. They stayed there for several days before renting a cramped flat far away from their home, in the unfamiliar al-Saftawi area of Gaza City. The movement of Aseel and her family into a new home on January 21 represents hope for many. They are one of 10 families benefitting from an innovative UNRWA pilot housing project that encourages landowners to complete partially-finished dwellings to increase the stock of housing units in Gaza. Under the project, landowners with unfinished buildings receive financial support to complete construction, so the new buildings can house internally-displaced families.
Israeli forces continue to fire on Gaza farmers
IMEMC/Agencies 4 Feb — Israeli forces Wednesday opened gunfire at Palestinian farmers as they were farming their borderline farmlands to the east of Khan Younes, according to WAFA correspondence. Soldiers, stationed in military watchtowers and deployed along the border, indiscriminately opened fire on Palestinian farmers as they were plowing their farmlands, forcing them to leave. No casualties were reported in this new cross-border attack
Gazans protest against Egypt ‘terror’ ruling
GAZA CITY (AFP) 6 Feb — Hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated outside Egypt’s diplomatic mission in Gaza City Friday, to protest a Cairo court ruling designating Hamas’s armed wing as a terrorist group. They waved green Hamas flags and chanted in support of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades: “Qassam are the pride of the nation, not terrorists!” In a sign of worsening relations between the Islamist movement and the Egyptian government, the Egyptian court banned the Brigades Saturday and declared it a terrorist group. Egypt accuses Hamas of supporting jihadists in the Sinai Peninsula, which borders the Gaza Strip, after the killing of scores of security forces in a wave of attacks. “We call on the Egyptian authorities to overturn this oppressive ruling,” senior Hamas figure Salah al-Bardawil told journalists at the rally. “Those who seek to undermine Egypt’s security in Sinai are its enemies, and not Hamas or Qassam,” he said. “The weapons of the Palestinian resistance remain pointed towards the Zionist enemy (Israel), and we will not dirty our hands with Arab blood.”
Gaza’s fishermen confront multiple dangers
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 3 Feb by Rasha Abou Jalal — Not only are fishermen from Gaza subject to being shot by Israeli sailors, they also struggle against potentially fatal weather conditions – Mohammad al-Kurd felt he had no option but to sell his boat and fishing net and bid farewell to the fishing business he had inherited from his father and had worked in since he was a child. He ultimately came to see fishing as “a waste of time and effort.” It also put his life in danger along with the lives of his children who assisted him. Kurd, who lives in the Shati refugee camp, told Al-Monitor, “I had been working as a fisherman with my father since I was 8 years old. He gave me his net and boat. After all this time, I found out that selling them is the best solution to avoid being arrested or shot by Israeli soldiers at sea.” … According to the Israeli-Palestinian truce, the fishing zone in Gaza was to be increased to 6 nautical miles and then gradually to 12 nautical miles. Nizar Ayyash, head of Gaza’s Palestinian Fishermen’s Union, denied claims that Israel had implemented the terms of the truce agreement. He told Al-Monitor that it had kept the fishing zone at less than 6 nautical miles. “There are around 3,700 fishermen who are regularly shot at in Gaza and whose boats are destroyed while fishing, under the pretext that they are going beyond the specified fishing range,” Ayyash said. Since the signing of the truce, two fishermen have been injured, one of them shot in the head and the other in the foot, Ayyash said. Forty fishermen were arrested and released days later, except for three who remain detained. Five boats were destroyed and about 20 confiscated. He said that fishermen are shot at every day. Ayyash said the Israeli navy had deployed “No Trespassing” warnings less than5 nautical miles from the Gaza beach. The navy destroys or shoots at any boat that exceeds this limit, he said … Rami Abdo, director of the Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights in Gaza, asserted that the Israeli authorities are deliberately preventing Gaza’s fishermen from working freely and safely. “This prohibition is coupled with insulting measures, including forcing the fishermen to strip completely or dive in the sea under harsh weather conditions. Their possessions, which they need to fish, are confiscated, and they are arbitrarily detained and grilled for long hours, not to mention forced by Israeli intelligence to cooperate,” he told Al-Monitor … Israeli attacks are not the only dangerous aspects of being in the fishing profession in Gaza. Fishermen must also defy high waves and bad weather, which bring fish closer to shore but also increase the risk of death by drowning. Mufid Abu Riyala, a fisherman, told Al-Monitor: “Due to the poor living conditions in Gaza, fishermen have to carry on to provide for their families without taking into consideration the various risks that they might face due to the strong winds and high waves.” He said numerous fishermen have drowned in high seas while others have had heart attacks because of the cold. Two fishermen, Ahmad Laham and Haitham al-Akraa drowned in mid-January. Medical sources cited heart failure from the freezing cold as contributing to their deaths.
Israeli army to charge soldiers with looting homes during Gaza operation
Haaretz 4 Feb by Gili Cohen — Combat fighters to be indicted for five incidents investigated by military police — The Israeli army’ is planning to indict several soldiers who fought in Gaza last summer on charges of looting. The military police is investigating five incidents of suspected looting by Israeli troops during Operation Protective Edge. Four of the incidents took place in the southern Gaza towns of Khuza’a and in Khan Yunis, where Palestinians complained that Israeli troops had stolen their possessions when they fled their homes due to the fighting. The fifth case, which took place in the Shujaiyeh neighborhood of Gaza City and was reported while the military operation was still underway, concluded with the arrest in August of a Golani Brigade combat soldier for allegedly stealing cash from a home … Since looting is a crime that carries a sentence of up to 10 years’ imprisonment, a hearing will be held before the indictments are handed down. The soldiers’ defense attorneys recently received letters informing them of the Military Advocate General’s intent to indict the soldiers and will be given a chance to defend the them during the hearing. Officials of the Military Advocate General’s office – which enforces law in the Israel Defense Forces – view looting as a serious offense because it “harms the Israeli army’s morality,” and because of its impact on the army’s international legitimacy. IDF officials believe that looting also compromises the troops’ operational preparedness because a soldier who is on the lookout for cash or other valuable items is not fighting as he should be.
Israel contorts law to ‘excuse’ attacks on Gaza’s civilians
EI 6 Feb by Charlotte Silver — On the first day of Israel’s massive assault on Gaza last summer, the army fired a missile into a three-story apartment building, completely destroying the complex and killing nine members of the Kaware family. Among the dead were children, and the atrocity — or “error” as the Israeli military would later call it — portended what would become one of the deadliest tactics of the fifty-day assault: destroying Palestinians’ homes. A new report by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem examines how Israel came to permit the widespread targeting of homes last summer. The report concludes that Israel violated international law but suggests it may not have violated its own policies. In fact, the office of Danny Efroni, Israel’s military advocate general (MAG), determined that the strike on the Kaware family home complied with Israeli domestic law as well as requirements of international law. It has opened only one criminal investigation into a strike on a private residence … as early as 2008 the Israeli army’s legal department introduced new guidelines that permit the kind of warfare Israel has conducted in the last three major attacks on Gaza. The International Law Division (ILD), a branch of the military advocate general’s office, began authorizing systematic airstrikes against civilian infrastructure during Operation Cast Lead — Israel’s three week assault on Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009 — under the rationale that all of it was operated by Hamas. In 2009, an ILD officer told the Tel Aviv daily Haaretz, “Our goal is not to fetter the army, but to give it tools to win in a lawful manner.”
Farmers forced to stop growing strawberries in Gaza
BEIT LAHIYA (EI) 3 Feb by Rami Almeghari — With its soft sandy soil, plentiful sunshine and an adequate supply of water, northern Gaza has the right conditions for growing strawberries. To be more precise, it would have the right conditions if farmers were allowed to work in safety — and without restrictive export policies imposed by Israel. Last summer, Hidaya and Moayad Warshagha had to mostly stay away their small farm in the Beit Lahiya area during a vital time for their crop. Because Israel bombed Gaza for more than six weeks in July and August, tending to their strawberries would have put the couple’s lives in danger. When they managed to reach their farm during a supposed three-day ceasefire, “the area looked like a red hell,” Hidaya said. Because the Israeli military was not respecting the ceasefire, “we had to abandon our crop,” she added. “All of the strawberries were destroyed.” The couple lost $6,000 as a result. The horrific events of last summer were part of a series of problems that have beset the couple. Gaza farmers used to export strawberries to the occupied West Bank, present-day Israel, and Europe. But the siege which Israel imposed on Gaza in 2007 has prevented them from doing so. The amount of Gaza’s land devoted to growing strawberries has reportedly fallen from 2,300 dunams in 2007 to just 600 dunams this year. A dunam is the equivalent of 1,000 square meters.
The ugly truth about Israeli’s actions in Gaza / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 5 Feb — Getting the head of the UN panel fired won’t change the outcome of its probe into possible war crimes committed in Gaza — unless his replacement is either a racist or a liar — What a huge diplomatic achievement: Israel has succeeded in getting the Canadian law professor William Schabas to resign from his post as head of a UN inquiry panel into potential war crimes in Gaza. Through persistent surveillance, Israel’s intelligence and propaganda branches revealed that Schabas had once received a $1,300 fee from the PLO. Conclusion: he sold his soul to the devil. The ref sucks. Q.E.D. One needs a great deal of chutzpah and arrogance to dig anew into the pasts of Israel’s critics in an effort to assassinate their character, as in the case of Richard Goldstone, merely because they dared to criticize the state. As far as Israel is concerned, the fate of anyone who criticizes the country is sealed. He’s an anti-Semite, anti-Israeli, greedy or driven by ulterior motives. In Israel’s eyes there’s no such thing as conscientious individuals who are genuinely and truly shocked by its acts, even without being paid $1,300 from the PLO. As far as Israel is concerned, there are no justice-seeking people of law, or simply decent ordinary people, who were aghast at what it did in the Gaza Strip last summer. If they were shaken – they’re either anti-Semites, or receive money from the PLO. There’s no other possibility. But the truth is just the opposite. Those who weren’t shocked deserve to be condemned, have their character assassinated and their past scrutinized. They either live in blindness, denial and repression, or their moral standards are fundamentally distorted and flawed. It was impossible not to be appalled by what the Israel Defense Forces did in Gaza last summer — unless you’re a propagandist, a liar or a racist. In any case, it’s impossible to support Israel in view of what it is doing to the Palestinians. Nor is there a way to be an international law expert and sympathize with what Israel is doing. Schabas’ sin is that he doesn’t. He should be proud of it.
Hamas: Palestinian Authority provided targets to Israel during Gaza war
i24News 6 Feb — Israel received intelligence from Palestinian intelligence agencies loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on an estimated 30 percent of targets in Gaza during this past summer’s war, claimed a Hamas official Thursday. According to Hamas daily al-Resalah, Hamas official Salah Bardawil said that hundreds of Palestinians died in airstrikes due to information given to Israel by the Palestinian General Intelligence Agency. “We have verified information … that documents, photos and coordinates were handed over to the Zionist enemy by the General Intelligence and used for [Israel’s] target bank,” said Bardawil. “Dozens of targets were bombarded, killing many Palestinians from Hamas and Fatah, since the airplane cannot distinguish between a child and his brother.”
More Gazans undergoing cosmetic surgery
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 4 Feb by Mohammed Othman — Despite and because of the social, economic and political problems in Gaza, more residents are having cosmetic surgery in the hope of living better lives — Pregnancies significantly changed Safa Ahmad’s physical appearance, which began to affect her marriage and cause her psychological problems. About five months ago, Safa, a 28-year-old living in Gaza City, had breast implants in the hope they would help her feel better psychologically and improve things at home. “My husband wanted to marry someone else because of the changes in my looks after I gave birth to three sons,” she told Al-Monitor. “But by coincidence, I heard about cosmetic surgeries in Gaza, and I suggested to my husband that I have one. He immediately agreed, so I got silicone breast implants, and they drastically changed my looks as well as my marital and family life. My husband then let go of the idea of marrying someone else.” It’s not only women in Gaza getting cosmetic surgery. Men are also having it. Ahmad Hassan, 32, felt stuck in life after a number of girls rejected his proposals of marriage because wrinkles on his face made him look like a man in his 50s. “I had cosmetic surgery to remove the wrinkles covering my face so I could have a normal life and find a girl who accepts me. Dozens of girls rejected me before I had the wrinkles removed,” he told Al-Monitor. “About two weeks after the operation, I was in a relationship.” … [Dr.] Zaanin said that the fees for cosmetic surgeries in the Gaza Strip are the lowest in the world and that they depend on the materials used in a procedure. “Cosmetic surgeries range in price from $1,000 to $2,000, while nonsurgical [silicone injections] cost up to $300,” Zaanin said. “Therefore, all social classes are resorting to cosmetic surgery…”
Anemic 14-year-old awaits trial for alleged stone throwing, public order crimes
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 5 Feb by Malak Hasan — Khaled al-Sheikh, a 14 year old Palestinian child suffering from severe anemia [thalassemia, perhaps?], was detained by Israeli army forces in his town Beit Anan, northwest of Jerusalem on December 24, 2014, and is currently awaiting trial on charges of throwing stones and attempted public order disturbance. Hussam al-Sheikh, Khaled’s father told WAFA that his youngest child, who has been in detention for over 40 days, has lost so much weight and is visibly exhausted, but is courageously facing the harsh conditions in prison despite of his poor health and weak body. He explained that Khaled has a critical anemia condition with the latest blood tests showing the amount of red blood cells has dropped to 7 g/dL. Hussam expressed grave concern and said “I am mostly worried that Khaled will not receive the necessary medical care in prison or be denied proper food to keep him strong.” Khaled was detained at around 3pm from Beit Anan and taken to the so-called “Binyamin” police center in the Jerusalem area. Hussam saw him after being detained around 1am the next day; Khaled was in a dreadful condition. “He was definitely beaten up. I could see bruises and blood,” said his father. Khaled is not the only child to have been assaulted by Israeli soldiers during detention.
Jailed schoolgirl becomes Palestinian symbol
BEITIN, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 3 Feb by Hossam Ezzedine — A 14-year-old schoolgirl jailed for trying to attack Israeli soldiers has become a symbol of Palestinian anger over the arrests of children in the occupied territories. The two-month sentence for Malak al-Khatib, who was accused of stone-throwing and possession of a knife, has unleashed a wave of solidarity and support among Palestinians. “My heart broke when I saw her in court, cuffed and shackled,” her mother Khawla al-Khatib told AFP from her home in the town of Beitin near Ramallah. “I brought in a coat for her to wear because it was cold, but the judge refused to let her have it,” the distressed 50-year-old said. Israeli forces arrest about 1,000 children every year in the occupied West Bank, often on charges of stone-throwing, according to rights group Defence for Children International Palestine (DCI Palestine). But the case of Malak has brought countless media organisations flocking to her family’s door and attracted more public attention than most. The difference — she is a girl. The Palestinian Prisoners’ Club estimates that 200 Palestinian minors are held in Israeli prisons, but only four are girls, and Malak is the youngest.
Palestinian refugees from Syria
Helping vulnerable Palestinian refugees from Syria meet their essential needs
UNRWA 5 Feb — “If someone told me that my house in Yarmouk had even one pillar still standing, I would go back home,” says Dana.* She fled the conflict in Syria 18 months ago with her husband and their four children; 7-year-old twin girls, an 11-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl. Their home in Syria was bombed, forcing them to seek safety in Amman, Jordan, where the family live in a cramped one-bedroom house. “The space is so little but house rent in this city is very expensive. That is what we can afford,” Dana explains. With just one modest income to support them, life in exile in Amman is difficult. The family struggles to meet their most basic needs, such as ensuring their children have enough to eat. Placing even more pressure on the family, one of their daughters suffers a neurological disorder that requires costly medication … Amina is living with a relative in Jordan, and works as a housemaid for her neighbours. With the little income she earns, she supports her ailing husband and daughter in Egypt. This is a far cry from the good life Amina and her family lived in Syria, where she worked as a teacher and her husband worked in a hospital. “We lived a fine life as a family. Now we live like beggars,” she says. Unfortunately, Dana and Amina’s stories are not unique. Almost 15,000 Palestine refugees from Syria are being assisted by UNRWA humanitarian relief, health and education services in Jordan. The regular cash assistance UNRWA distributes is critical to ensure the most vulnerable families can meet their minimum essential needs in very difficult circumstances. Without this support, their situation would be even more precarious. Many families would be forced to turn to negative coping mechanisms, such as taking children out of school or skipping meals, with potentially long-lasting effects.
The month in pictures: January 2015
Electronic Intifada 5 Feb — During the month of January Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank shot at and attempted to abduct Palestinian children and in the Tulkarem-area village of Shufa, ran over a five-year-old boy. A “security coordinator” in the Kiryat Arba settlement in the city of Hebron opened fire on Palestinian children on 4 January. Six days later, another Israeli “security coordinator” for Beit Haggai settlement near Hebron shot at Palestinian children playing with snow, injuring a fourteen-year-old boy with live ammunition, according to the United Nations monitoring group OCHA. A Palestinian man was shot by an Israeli settler while cultivating his land near the Bethlehem-area village of Khirbet al-Nahla on 24 January and Israeli settlers kidnapped and physically assaulted a Palestinian man northeast of Hebron the same day, OCHA reported. The following day settlers broke into the vehicle of a Palestinian man near Jenin and attempted to stab him, injuring his hand. Palestinian media also reported two separate incidents of Israelis attempting to kidnap Palestinian children in Jerusalem, targeting a fourteen-year-old boy as well as an eighteen-month-old…
Israel likely to withhold additional $100m in Palestinian tax funds
The Media Line 5 Feb — Palestinians believe that Israel will not pass tax and custom revenues collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority until after March elections in move likely to damage Palestinian economy — …The tax and customs revenues provide about 60 percent of the Palestinian Authorities monthly budget, used mostly for salaries for tens of thousands of civil servants in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including teachers, nurses and policemen. “The whole economy feels it when the salaries are not paid in full,” Said Haifa, the chairman of the department of economics at Bir Zeit University told The Media Line. “People are not able to meet their commitments and cover their expenses. ”Many civil servants have taken mortgages, he said, a relatively new phenomenon for Palestinians. While the banks may be forgiving for a month or two, understanding that their clients have not been paid, it will soon affect the banks’ liquidity, he said.
Furtive finance of settlements a top Israeli election issue
JERUSALEM (AP) 5 Feb by Daniel Estrin — Israeli taxpayer support for an organization fueling investment in West Bank settlements rose by more than $100 million last year, making it a top recipient of money being furtively channeled into politicians’ pet projects, according to an Associated Press analysis. The AP examination of national budget figures found that the settlement building unit of the World Zionist Organization received a bigger funding boost last year than nearly any other government-backed project. The figures provide a rare glimpse behind the smoke screen of bureaucracy that finances one of Israel’s most widely condemned practices. More than 350,000 Israelis live in the West Bank and 200,000 more in east Jerusalem today. The Palestinians want both areas – captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war – included in their future state, and the international community regularly denounces Israeli expansion of settlements in occupied lands as illegal or illegitimate. For nearly half a century, the World Zionist Organization’s Settlement Division has played a key role in managing land and infrastructure in these settlements. Although its funding comes entirely from the government, how it spends that money is largely kept secret. According to 2014 budget figures, public funding for the division increased more than eightfold last year, including a last-minute spending spree advanced by pro-settlement lawmakers just days after the collapse of Israel’s previous government. “Once the country allows this corruption with our public funds, it has no end,” said Stav Shaffir, an opposition Labor Party lawmaker who has led a campaign to expose the division’s finances….
Jordanians inscribed bombs used to strike Islamic State targets
Ynet 5 Feb by Roi Kais — State television releases footage of Jordanians inscribing messages to radical Islamists on bombs before warplanes take off — …Footage of the operation which was named after Mouath al-Kasaesbeh – the pilot burned to death by ISIS – and shows Jordanians inscribing bombs with messages to the Islamist radicals. “Dedicated from the flight officers to the dogs of Daesh,” one wrote on a bomb, referring to the Arabic name for ISIS.The warplanes are then seeing taking off for the operation to bomb the militants … A military statement, read on state TV, was entitled, “This is the beginning and you will get to know the Jordanians” – an apparent warning to ISIS. It said the strikes will continue “until we eliminate them.”
In Photos: Bethlehem mourns Jordanian pilot slain by IS
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Feb — The brutal killing of Jordanian pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh by the Islamic State group has triggered widespread horror and outrage across Palestine, and hundreds have taken part in rallies denouncing the act and in solidarity with the Jordanian people. In many towns banners have been erected denouncing IS and praising the young man who was burned alive after his place crashed in Syria during an air raid against the group. In Bethlehem, a crowd of around 250 people gathered to hold a vigil in al-Kassasbeh’s memory on Friday night in Manger Square beside the Church of the Nativity, remembering his sacrifice and calling for justice. Mourners held signs reading “Jordan and Palestine: one people, one blood” and held candles aloft in memory of the pilot. Other signs called him a “hero” in the fight against the Islamic State group, which has overrun nearly one-third of Iraq and Syria in the last year and a half and displaced hundreds of thousands with its ruthless tactics.
Killing by another means / Charlotte Silver
Al Jazeera 3 Feb — Israeli policies and unhealthy environment to blame for premature mortality of Palestinians – A new report published by Physicians for Human Rights in Israel (PHR) finds stark disparities between the health of Palestinians and Israelis. Looking at the grim findings in the report we learn that infant mortality among Palestinian children is five times higher than that of Israeli children; Palestinian life expectancy is, on average, 10 years less than Israelis (a gap that appears to be growing); and Palestinian women die in childbirth – in cases that are nearly all preventable – at a rate that is four times greater than Israeli women. The premature mortality of Palestinians, revealed in statistics, is not only the result of the outright violence they suffer by Israeli soldiers’ and snipers’ bullets or even bombing campaigns. It is the result of a ubiquitous, accretive, and noxiously unhealthy environment, born of and sustained by the insidious control Israel exercises over Palestinians. For example, the report tells us that today, the leading cause of death among Palestinians is from cardiac diseases. Technological advances in this field have made most of these diseases highly treatable, dramatically reducing fatalities. Access denied However, because of Israel’s embargo on travel permits, Palestinian doctors are routinely denied access to education in these developments in techniques and equipment. Furthermore, while Israel’s control over movement and travel has made it nearly impossible for Palestinian doctors to specialise in areas in dire need of practitioners, or even work in hospitals that serve Palestinians, the Palestinian Authority is responsible for paying for Palestinians’ treatment abroad. As a result, 30 percent of the Palestine’s Ministry of Health’s budget is devoted to sending Palestinians elsewhere for adequate care. While Israel, the occupying power, abdicated responsibility for Palestinian healthcare in 1994, it has maintained control over all determining factors for their health prospects – whether that is access to a specialist, the latest medical technology, clean water, or a nutritious diet. But some of the most stunning findings in this new report are in fact not new. For example, 20 years ago, in June 1995, PHR in Israel asked why children in Gaza were dying from heart defects that were operable. It is easy to fixate on individual life choices as causal factors for life expectancy, but as the report’s dismal findings make very clear, the general health of a population is the consequence of environmental and social factors that lie far beyond individuals’ control. For Palestinians, their control is limited by a hermetically sealed border, a beleaguered budget out of their control, checkpoints, blocked roads, disconnected water pipes, and old hospitals with outdated equipment and few medicines.
UNESCO dismisses reports that Palestinian poster collection nixed due to anti-Semitism
Jerusalem Post 6 Feb by Tovah Lazaroff — A collection of Palestinian posters remains under consideration for inscription in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Program, a representative for the organization said in dismissal of media reports that the nomination had been dropped for fear that it fueled anti-Semitism. “The nomination has not been rejected. The nominator is requested to revise it,” a representative of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization said. “It is absolutely normal for the committee to ask for revisions and improvements of the nominations to make them meet the program’s selection criteria,” the representative added. The collection of 1,600 posters, many of which focus on Palestinian armed struggle against Israel, were submitted to UNESCO by American art curator Dan Walsh, and is now part of over 80 nominations of cultural documentary collections under consideration for inscription in the Memory of the World Program in 2015. Some of the images in Walsh’s submission titled, “Liberation Graphics Collection of Palestine Posters,” depict pastoral, peaceful scenes. But many others advocate armed resistance as the road to Palestinian independence. One PLO poster from 1984 states “Zionism = Racism.” It shows three blue Stars of David, one of which has blood dripping through it. On the bottom are the words, “Expansion, Oppression, Occupation.” … According to media reports in The Algemeiner Journal and The Times Of Israel, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova wrote a letter to World Jewish Congress CEO Robert Singer stating her objection to the inscription of the Palestine poster collection. “It is my conviction that UNESCO should not associate itself with such documents whose inscription could fuel hatred and anti-Semitic perceptions,” she said.
No voice: hopes for Israeli elections from those who cannot vote
+972blog 6 Feb by Bassam Almohor — Over 200,000 people with no legal status live in Israel today. There are another 4 million in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. All of these people are directly affected by Israeli elections but they have not right to vote. This is what they have to say — about the Right and the Left, the ‘demographic threat,’ peace, war, democracy and dictatorship.
Ashrawi: Canada engaged in political blackmail against Palestinian civil institutions
PNN/IMEMC/Agencies 5 Feb — PLO Executive Committee member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, in response to the Canadian government’s recent decision to terminate a contribution agreement it had between MIFTAH and the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, says that Canada is indulging in political blackmail at the expense of Palestinian civil institutions. The project was terminated shortly following Dr. Ashrawi’s response to Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird’s insistence that the Palestinians are making a “huge mistake” by going to the ICC by asserting that acceptance of such a notion is allowing Israel to persist in its violations and war crimes. “Israel is enabled by apologists like John Baird to persist with the support of self-appointed advocates who become complicit in these war crimes,” Dr. Ashrawi said. The Representative Office of Canada had requested that Dr. Ashrawi accompany the Canadian Representative on a visit to the project and, later, she was asked to write a letter expressing gratitude for this specific Canadian project.
Deported by US to Turkey, Palestinian activist Dr. Sami Al-Arian speaks out
EI 7 Feb by Maureeen Clare Murphy — More than six months after the US government finally dropped all charges against Dr. Sami Al-Arian, the stateless Palestinian academic and activist was deported yesterday to Turkey. During his appearance on Democracy Now! today, Dr. Al-Arian expressed relief that his twelve-year-long persecution in the US, where he lived for forty years, had finally come to an end. “It feels like I’m free, finally really feeling freedom for the first time in twelve years,” Dr. Al-Arian said. His daughter, journalist Laila Al-Arian, also appeared on the show. “I think what people should take away from what has been a nightmare for our family is the fact that in the United States of America there’s no room for political prisoners, there’s no room for politically motivated prosecutions,” she said … The underhanded and unprecedented tactics used by government prosecutors against Al-Arian were wielded against other Palestinian activists. Humanitarians were sentenced to decades in prison in the Holy Land Five case as material support for terror convictions became the domestic front of the endless US wars and occupations abroad. The era of political repression is not over, as shown by the recent moves to criminalize Palestine solidarity work, including at US campuses, and the recent conviction of Palestinian American community leader Rasmea Odeh. “I’ve heard a lot from Obama, but it’s all rhetoric … after six years, I haven’t really seen much change,” Dr. Al-Arian said from Turkey today. But he expressed happiness towards protests and whistleblowing regarding “the excesses of the surveillance and police state.” [see links after the article to other posts about this case]
Off-topic story of the day:
Living in a minefield: the wolves of the Golan Heights
The Guardian 6 Feb by Arian D. Wallach — In the Golan Heights, a dangerous minefield provides an unlikely wildlife reserve where wolves are thriving — Sitting in the cold of an open jeep, we are waiting for dawn. The thick snow provides some reflective light and we strain our eyes, hoping to catch a glimpse of the wolf pack as they return home from their night’s hunt. This family of wolves holds one of the safest territories a large predator could possibly hope for: a minefield in the Golan Heights, near the Israel-Syria border. One step outside the barbed-wire fence, however, and the wolves must be very careful. Although wolves are provided with substantial legal protection from the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) – enabling one of the greatest wolf recoveries in the world – they are hunted, culled and poached across the region.