Settler violence against Palestinians nearly doubled from 2016 to 2017
Increase in settler violence during the first half of 2017
UN OCHA 5 Aug — Despite preventive measures by the Israeli authorities concerns remain about lack of accountability — Settler violence and poor law enforcement by the Israeli authorities have been longstanding concerns. They have undermined the physical security and agricultural livelihoods of tens of thousands of Palestinians in some areas of the West Bank and generated the need for assistance and protection by humanitarian actors, especially for vulnerable groups such as children and women…
After a three-year decline, settler violence has been on the rise during the first half of 2017. During this period, OCHA [UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs] documented 89 incidents attributed to Israeli settlers resulting in Palestinian casualties (33 incidents) or in damage to Palestinian property (56 incidents). On a monthly average, this represents an increase of 88 per cent compared with 2016. These incidents led to three Palestinian fatalities and 48 Palestinian injuries, including seven children, as well as damage to over 2,700 trees and 52 vehicles, amongst other consequences. These figures exclude incidents involving threat and intimidation, trespass on private property or access restrictions imposed by Israeli settlers which did not result in casualties or damage. Although such incidents are more frequent, they are difficult to monitor systematically. This trend has also been noted by the Israeli Security Agency (ISA or Shabak), which, according to Israeli media reports, has been calling on the government to adopt urgent measures to prevent further deterioration.
The increase in settler violence against Palestinians occurred alongside a major rise in Palestinian attacks against Israelis. During the first half of 2017, OCHA recorded 172 incidents resulting in injuries or damage to property of Israeli settlers. On a monthly average, this constitutes a more than three-fold increase compared with 2016 (112 incidents). Some 95% of these incidents consisted of stone-throwing at vehicles traveling in the West Bank, and the remainder involved the throwing of Molotov cocktails and shootings (four incidents each). As a result, 49 Israeli settlers were injured and dozens of cars were damaged…. [long article with charts, maps]
2 Palestinians, Israeli soldier injured during al-Duheisha refugee camp raid
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) 9 Aug — Two Palestinians were shot and injured during a predawn raid on Wednesday by Israeli forces on the al-Duheisha refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem. Locals identified the two injured as Raed al-Salhiand Aziz Arafeh, adding that al-Salhi was critically injured while Arafeh was injured in the leg and in stable condition. The two were detained by Israeli forces and taken to the Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem for treatment.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that during a raid to detain two Palestinians, “the suspects attempted to flee the area,” at which point Israeli army soldiers began a foot pursuit after the Palestinians. “During the pursuit, soldiers opened fire towards the suspects, injuring them. They were treated at the scene and then evacuated to a hospital for further medical treatment,” the spokesperson said. The spokesperson added that an Israeli soldier was “accidentally shot and injured” during the pursuit. Hebrew-language media reported that the injured Israeli soldier sustained moderate wounds, and was transferred to a hospital for treatment. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided several houses in the camp, adding that clashes erupted during the raid, during which Israeli forces fired live bullets and tear gas at youths who threw rocks.
Last month, 18-year-old Baraa Hamamda, a resident of al-Duheisha, succumbed to wounds sustained in his upper body during an Israeli army raid in the camp….
15 Palestinians injured, 5 detained during Israeli raid on Kobar
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 9 Aug — Fifteen Palestinians were injured with live and rubber-coated steel bullets while tens of others suffered from severe tear gas inhalation during clashes with Israeli forces that erupted before dawn on Wednesday in the village of Kobar,northeast of Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank. Israeli forces raided Kobar and closed the two main entrances to the village with dirt mounds and rocks, and installed flying checkpoints, preventing Palestinians from leaving or entering the village, according to locals. Clashes erupted between Israeli forces and Palestinian youth who attempted to prevent Israeli soldiers from raiding the house of Palestinian prisoner Omar al-Abed, 19, who was detained last month after he stabbed and killed three Israeli settlersfrom the nearby illegal Halamish settlement. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces “assaulted the youths,” raided and ransacked al-Abed’s house, damaged the furniture, and detained the teenager’s father and uncle. Witnesses added that Israeli forces heavily fired live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets, sound bombs and tear gas at youths who threw rocks at soldiers. Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances transferred the injured Palestinian youths to Ramallah-area hospitals through a road of the neighboring village of Burham. During the clashes, Israeli forces detained three Palestinians, identified by locals as Yasser al-Abed, Basil al-Fahed, and Muhannad Shalash. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces have been imposing near-constant closures on the village ever since al-Abed carried out the stabbing attack last month.
Israeli forces raid PA offices in Hebron’s Old City, interrogate employees
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 10 Aug — Israeli forces raided Palestinian Authority (PA) offices and two homes in Hebron’s Old City on Thursday in the southern occupied West Bank. Local and Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided the offices of the ministry of interior, the security committee, and the ministry of foreign affairs, and interrogated employees about their jobs. The Israeli soldiers also took pictures of the offices, according to sources. At the same time, Israeli forces raided two homes belonging to Abu Omar and al-Batsh al-Husseini in the Old City. According to locals, the Israeli forces searched their homes and damaged furniture. However, the sources did not mention any detentions.
Israeli settlers torch cars, vandalize property during attack on Ramallah-area village
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 Aug — Israeli settlers set fire to two Palestinian-owned vehicles on Wednesday in the village of Umm Safa in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah in an alleged revenge attack for three Israeli settlers who were killed by a Palestinian in the nearby Halamish settlement last month. Palestinian news agency Wafa received testimony from Marwan Sabah, the village council head, who said that Israeli settlers had set fire to the vehicles around 2:30 a.m. While Israeli soldiers were reportedly stationed at the entrance of the village at night, the settlers attacked homes on the outskirts of the village after the soldiers had left, Sabah said. However, Israeli soldiers are rarely able to control Israeli settlers, and reports often emerge of Israeli soldiers watching settler attacks on Palestinians without intervening. If any action is taken by Israeli soldiers, it is typically in the form of shooting “crowd control measures,” such as tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets, and often live ammunition, at Palestinians.
The settlers had also reportedly graffitied hate slogans on walls in the village, calling for revenge attacks on Palestinians in response to a deadly attack last month when a Palestinian from the Ramallah-area village of Kobar entered the Halamish settlement and stabbed three Israeli settlers to death. According to the Israeli army, the incident would be under the jurisdiction of the Israeli police. However, an Israeli police spokesperson was not immediately available to comment.
Israeli forces detain 32 Palestinians in West Bank, Jerusalem
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 9 Aug – Israeli forces detained overnight [Tues-Wed] at least 32 Palestinians during raids across the occupied West Bank districts and East Jerusalem, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said on Wednesday. PPS said Israeli forces arrested 10 Palestinians in Qalqilia district, some of them teenagers, five from Hebron area, including the director of the Hebron old city police station, seven from Bethlehem, including two shot and injured during clashes in Dheisheh refugee camp, three from Tulkarm, two former prisoners from the Nablus area, three from the Ramallah area village of Kobar and four from East Jerusalem; three of them aged 10 and 12 years old from al-Thouri who were released hours later.
Israeli forces detain 19 Palestinians in West Bank, East Jerusalem raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) 10 Aug — Israeli forces detained at least 19 Palestinians across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, during army raids carried out between Wednesday and Thursday, according to Israeli and Palestinian sources.
In the northern West Bank, locals told Ma‘an that Raja Zayit was detained from the Nur Shams refugee camp in the Tulkarem district. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the detention in Nur Shams, and said that the Palestinian was detained for allegedly being a Hamas operative. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that Israeli forces had detained three other Palestinians in the northern West Bank, including one Palestinian in the village of Sir in Jenin, one in Jenin city, and another Palestinian in the Far‘un village in Tulkarem.
In the central West Bank, locals told Ma‘an that Omar Jumaa Hammad was detained in the village of Silwad in Ramallah. An Israeli army spokesperson did not mention a detention in Silwad, but told Ma‘an two Palestinians were detained in the village of Deir Istiya in Salfit and another in the Ramallah-area ‘Abud village.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces raided the Qalandiya refugee camp in the Ramallah district and the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Kafr ‘Aqab. Local sources said that Israeli forces detained Bassel Hammad …
Meanwhile, Israeli forces raided the offices of the Al-Quds News media outlet and the Independent Media Center in al-Eizariya in the Jerusalem district, with locals reporting that Israeli forces had seized computers, memory cards, damaged various items in the office, and confiscated the mobile phone of Rami Alariya, the center’s head photojournalist….
Israeli forces ban Palestinian citizens of Israel from entering Old City of Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 9 Aug — Israeli forces prevented dozens of Palestinian citizens of Israel from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem on Tuesday afternoon, claiming that they had been subjected to bans from “higher orders.” Sources told Ma‘an that Israeli forces were deployed at the entrances to the Old City and Al-Aqsa ahead of the ‘Asr afternoon prayers, examining the IDs of people entering the Old City, and preventing Palestinians whose ID cards said they resided in Palestinian-majority towns in Israel from entering. Witnesses said that Israeli forces chased after some people who tried to pass through Damascus Gate into the Old City despite having been told they were not allowed in, and escorted them out. The witnesses added that Israeli forces had forced some buses carrying worshipers to leave Jerusalem. A worshiper from the town of Umm al-Fahm said that some eight buses coming from Palestinian-majority municipalities such as Umm al-Fahm, Mashhad, and Baqa al-Gharbiya had been stopped by Israeli security forces upon arriving at the Old City of Jerusalem. He added that while some passengers were prevented from exiting the buses, those who did pass through the first security check were eventually rebuffed at the entrances of the Old City. The ban affected all Palestinian citizens of Israel, including women, children, and the elderly, the worshiper said.
Israeli forces also reportedly assaulted and detained a local sheikh, identified as Nour al-Rajabi, at Al-Aqsa’s Lions’ Gate.
Jerusalem’s African community stands with Al-Aqsa
RAMALLAH (Al-Monitor) 9 Aug by Aziza Nofal — As Jerusalemites protested at the gates of Al-Aqsa Mosque in July, in rejection of the Israeli decision to install metal detectors at the holy site, members of the city’s African community offered protesters water and food. They also welcomed worshippers into their homes during the protests, as the hub of this community is located near Al-Aqsa, around the Council Gate (Bab al-Majlis). Jerusalem’s African community is relatively small and consists of nearly 50 families living in the Bab al-Majlis neighborhood of the Old City. The majority of the community comes from countries such as Chad, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan. Their ancestors came to Jerusalem in successive periods, beginning in the Ottoman era and continuing into the British Mandate. Moussa Qaws, a co-founder of the African Community Society in Bab al-Majlis, told Al-Monitor that Africans “immigrated to Palestine for two main reasons: the first is religious and consists of the hajj [to Al-Aqsa Mosque, which often follows the pilgrimage to Mecca]. In fact, Africans who used to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem were rewarded a privileged social status. The second reason is jihad and the [religious] bond [formed] in Jerusalem.”….
Religious, not political leaders guided Jerusalem through Aqsa crisis
RAMALLAH (Al-Monitor) 8 Aug by Ahmad Melhem — When Al-Aqsa Mosque was closedfrom July 14 until July 27 amid protests against Israel installing metal detectors and security cameras at the Lion’s Gate and several entrances, one group emerged to lead the demonstrations and organize prayers in nearby streets and squares. Israel tightened security measures at Al-Aqsa following an armed clash inside the mosque on July 14 between three Palestinian youths and Israeli police, resulting in the death of all three along with two Israeli policemen. The organizing circle includes the head of the Supreme Islamic Council, Akrama Sabri; the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Hussein; the director of the Islamic Waqf Council, Azim Salhab; and Judge Wasif al-Bakri, all of whom are religious leaders who enjoy the respect and trust of Jerusalemites. The group called on the Mourabitoun, the holy site’s self-appointed monitors and defenders, to refuse to pass through the metal detectors before entering Al-Aqsa, and the Mourabitoun complied. The leadership also formed a technical committee to assess the situation inside and outside Al-Aqsa Mosque and identify any changes made by the Israeli authorities there in a report to the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, which is responsible for the administration of Al-Aqsa Mosque….
Prisoners / Court actions
Israeli Supreme Court rules to reduce 12-year sentence of Ahmad Manasra
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Aug — The Israeli Supreme Court reduced the sentence of 15-year-old Palestinian Ahmad Manasra, who was involved in a stabbing attack in 2015, from 12 years to nine-and-a-half on Thursday, after his family had appealed the lengthy prison sentence. Manasra and his 15-year-old cousin Hassan Khalid Manasra stabbed and critically wounded two Israelis, aged 13 and 21, near the illegal Israeli settlement of Pisgat Zeev in the Beit Hanina neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem on Oct. 12, 2015. At the time of the attack, Manasra was just 13. During the attack, Hassan was shot dead at the scene by Israeli forces, while Ahmad was knocked over by a car and seriously wounded. A video of Ahmad lying injured and bloody on the ground after being hit by the car was uploaded to social media and went viral. In the footage, an Israeli onlooker can clearly be heard saying: “Die, son of a wh***! Die!” while another tells the police officer to shoot him.
Israeli soldier begins manslaughter prison term
RISHON LEZION, Israel (AFP) by Joe Dyke 9 Aug — An Israeli soldier convicted of manslaughter for shooting dead a prone Palestinian assailant in a trial that deeply divided the country arrived alongside motorcycle-riding supporters Wednesday to begin his 18-month prison term. Elor Azaria, 21, entered the Tserifin military base near the city of Rishon LeZion to begin serving his sentence, his car driven by his father festooned with photographs of him and Israeli flags. A few dozen supporters waved Israeli flags and chanted Azaria’s name as the car pulled up. Journalists surrounded him and his arrival was broadcast live on television. Along the route from his home in nearby Ramla, several supporters on motorcycles rode alongside his car, including some wearing leather vests with “God Bless Israel” on the back, A smiling Azaria briefly exited the car outside the base but did not speak. His father spoke briefly, saying: “Thank you to the Israeli people,” before driving inside the base’s gates….
Punitive demolitions, collective punishment
Israeli forces blow up homes of alleged assailants near Ramallah
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 10 Aug – In a measure seen as punitive and collective punishment, the Israeli army Thursday blew up three homes and sealed shut a fourth in two West Bank villages belonging to the families of Palestinians who were allegedly engaged in deadly attacks against Israelis this year. Israeli forces broke into the village of Deir Abu Meshal, to the northwest of Ramallah, and demolished the family homes of Bara Saleh and Osama Ata, who were shot dead by Israeli police after carrying out an attack against Israeli police in Jerusalem at the end of June, killing one officer. The forces also blocked with cement the home of Adel Ankoush in Deir Abu Meshal, who was also shot dead after being engaged in the same Jerusalem attack, after they were unable to blow it up for being too close to other homes and residential buildings.
Clashes erupted in the village between the forces and local residents during which two Palestinians were injured. Others also suffocated from teargas inhalation after they were attacked by teargas canisters fired by the Israeli forces. Family members of the alleged assailants had also their Israeli work permits revoked, including 50 who were dependent on work inside Israel. Some 250,000 Palestinians who had received family visitation permits to enter Jerusalem and Israel during Ramadan also saw their permits revoked following the attack.
Meanwhile, an army force stormed the village of Silwad, north of Ramallah, and blew up the home of Malek Hamed, currently in Israeli jail, who allegedly carried out an attack on Israeli soldiers near Ofra settlement last April killing a soldier. Israel has come under harsh condemnation over the past several years for its response to attacks committed by Palestinians on Israelis – including punitive home demolitions affecting the relatives of slain Palestinians – which rights groups have said amounts to collective punishment and represents a clear violation of international law.
Israeli state vengeance against Palestinian village continues
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 9 Aug – Israeli state vengeance against the Palestinian village of Kobar, northwest of Ramallah, continued on Wednesday with another army raid of the village, arrest of people and destruction of infrastructure. Local sources told WAFA that soldiers raided the village in the early hours, specifically the homes of relatives of Omar el-Abed, who last month attacked and killed three Israeli settlers in the illegal settlement of Halamish. El-Abed was shot and injured and is currently in Israeli custody. They said the soldiers arrested el-Abed’s father, Abdul Jalil, and his uncle Ibrahim el-Abed. The soldiers also re-blocked the main road into the village with dirt mounds and cement blocks and destroyed the street to prevent residents from reopening or using it. The army has been conducting almost daily raids into the afflicted village, terrorizing and harassing its 6000 Palestinian population and causing serious damage to raided homes.
Israeli airstrikes injure 4 Palestinians in Gaza
GAZA STRIP (Ma‘an) 9 Aug — Four Palestinians were injured by Israeli airstrikes in the besieged Gaza Strip on Tuesday night. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an on Wednesday that the Israeli air force had targeted “two Hamas posts” in the northern Gaza Strip, after an unidentified projectile — which they said was fired from Gaza — landed in an open area in southern Israel on Tuesday evening, causing no injuries. Ayman al-Sahbani, the head of the Emergency and Ambulance department at the al-Shifa Medical Center in Gaza City, said that four Palestinians suffered from light to critical injuries during the airstrikes. One of the injured was identified as a 26-year-old man who was hit by shrapnel in the head and was reported to be in moderate condition. A Ma‘an reporter at the scene of one of the airstrikes said that the windows of dozens of houses had been shattered by the blast. “It is forbidden for Gaza to remain an experimental ground for the Israeli occupation’s weapons,” the Hamas movement said in a statement on Wednesday. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said that “Israel’s deliberate arbitrary airstrikes on Gaza resistance sites are a dangerous move that Israel should be held accountable for.” An Israeli army spokesperson had initially denied to Ma‘an on Tuesday that Israel had shelled Gaza.
…Israeli authorities hold Hamas responsible for all attacks against Israeli targets coming from the Gaza Strip. However, Hamas has not claimed responsibility for any rocket attacks since a ceasefire was declared after Israel’s devastating war in Gaza in 2014, and the movement has attempted to clamp down on armed activity by smaller political groups that do launch rockets from the territory.
After 5 months of closure, Egypt to open Rafah crossing for Hajj pilgrims in Gaza
GAZA (Ma‘an) 9 Aug — Egyptian authorities have decided to open the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the besieged Gaza Strip from Monday until Thursday next week to allow the passage of Muslim pilgrims traveling to Saudi Arabia for Hajj, Palestinian sources reported on Wednesday. Spokesperson of the borders committee in Gaza Hisham Adwan said that Egyptian authorities had decided to open the crossing for four days next week in order to allow 2,500 Palestinians to leave Gaza for Egypt in order to take a flight to Saudi Arabia for Hajj — an annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. Next week’s opening of the Rafah crossing will mark the first time the crossing has been opened for more than five months, according to Israeli NGO Gisha, which has been the longest time the crossing has been closed since the start of the year.
Gisha reported that some 30,000 Palestinians in Gaza approved for travel have been waiting for the crossing’s opening, including students, those waiting to meet relatives outside of the territory, and those needing medical treatment outside of Gaza. This continued closure of Rafah also contradicts Egyptian claims made back in March, with sources stating that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi himself ordered Rafah to be opened twice a month in order to lessen the siege on Gaza. Since the Rafah crossing has been sealed shut for five months — while its openings are infrequent as is — many Palestinians in Gaza must depend on the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing. However, permits for the exit of Palestinians in Gaza through Erez has dropped “dramatically,” Gisha noted, with the number of permits given monthly by Israel dropping to just half the amount issued in 2016….
Israel confirms laptop (and sandwich) ban at Gaza crossing
i14NEWS 7 Aug by Jacob Atkins — The Shin Bet did not say what prompted the sudden change in regulations — Israel’s internal security service confirmed on Monday reports of a ban on laptops, other large electronic devices, luggage and even snacks for some users of the Erez checkpoint between Gaza and Israel. The Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) revealed the new regulations in a July 19 email to aid organizations, seen by i24NEWS, that detailed varying requirements for different categories of people using the crossing: foreigners, local NGO staff, humanitarian cases, Israeli ID holders, merchants and Palestinians traveling to and from the Israeli-Jordanian border. The small number of Gaza residents who receive permits to travel to Jordan or further abroad – face the most stringent restrictions, with prohibitions on “reinforced suitcases, electric items … food stuff or toiletries”… It is unclear what exactly was meant by the inclusion of ‘reinforced suitcases’ in the ban, although evidence from the ground seems to indicate it means commonly-sold suitcases that have a hard plastic, instead of fabric, cover. “We heard from some of our clients that they had to leave their hard-side suitcase behind and transfer their belongings to plastic bags to be able to pass through the crossing,” Gisha spokesperson Shai Grunberg said on Monday. “They also had to throw away personal items such as toothpaste … and also perfumes and deodorants. We heard from a client who tried to pass through Erez with two mobile phones (one for work purposes, the other – personal) that he had to leave one of them behind.” “They don’t appreciate that students and businesspeople from Gaza also need to travel with laptops like anyone else in the world,” Gisha wrote last week after initially publicizing COGAT’s rules. “It can happen because Israel doesn’t pay a price for inconveniencing Gaza residents, and just like that, from one day to the next, not even a sandwich can get through Erez Crossing,” the NGO said. The regulations apply to those both exiting and entering Gaza. An Associated Press journalist was prohibited from bringing a laptop from Israel into Gaza on Sunday, the news agency reported…
Palestinian Authority slashes financial support for Gazans seeking medical care: WHO
JERUSALEM (AFP) 9 Aug — The Palestinian Authority has dramatically reduced financial support for Gazans seeking medical care outside the blockaded Gaza Strip, WHO figures showed today, as president Mahmud Abbas seeks to squeeze the Hamas-run enclave. The number of financial approvals from June, the most recent number available, was 80 percent lower than the monthly average for 2016, the World Health Organization said in a statement. Just 477 Gazans were given financial approval to travel for treatment during the month, down from 1,883 in June the previous year. The Palestinian Authority has officially denied any change in policy, but Abbas has been seeking to squeeze Gaza’s rulers Hamas through a series of measures including reducing electricity payments. “We will continue the gradual stopping of financial allocations to the Gaza Strip until Hamas commits to reconciliation,” he said at the weekend. In a statement to AFP, health ministry official in Gaza Medhat Muhesan condemned the “punitive measures”. “We need international organisations to pressure Abbas’s government to stop the punitive measures against Gaza,” he said….
Israel warns Hamas not to foil its anti-tunnel Gaza wall
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 10 Aug by Dan Williams — Israel warned Gaza’s Hamas rulers on Thursday not to try to foil its construction of a border wall designed to stop tunnels between the two sides. It said it had mapped militant emplacements hidden under civilian sites in the Palestinian enclave that may be attacked in any new war. The unusually detailed threat followed a rocket launch on Tuesday which caused no damage in Israel and went unclaimed by Gazan groups. Israel responded with an air strike on a Hamas facility on Wednesday that medics said wounded seven people. Such flare-ups have been relatively rare since the last Gaza war, in 2014, with Hamas mostly holding fire and reining in smaller militant factions. But with Gaza’s poverty and political drift deepening, both sides worry another conflict could erupt. In September, Israel went public with a sensor-equipped underground wall being planted on its side of the 37 mile- (60 km) long border, a counter-measure developed after Hamas fighters used tunnels to blindside its troops during the war. Israeli media published new disclosures by the military on Thursday about the project, costing $1.1 billion and to be completed within two years under an accelerated schedule …
Israeli media said on Thursday that the military also planned to build an underwater barrier in the Mediterranean to prevent infiltration from Gaza by sea.
29 tonnes of explosive materials destroyed in Gaza since Cast Lead attack by Israel
MEMO 10 Aug — The representative of Japan to the Palestinian Authority, Ambassador Takeshi Okubo, and the Director of the United Nations Mine Action Service in Palestine have concluded a Japanese-funded project to remove explosive remnants form the 2014 war in Gaza Strip. According to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), stated in a press release on Wednesday that the project was effectively carried out in Gaza City, and included an awareness campaign on the dangers of explosive remnants and a photos exhibition. According to the statement, Japan enabled the United Nations Mine Action Service to clear up the last known and accessible unexploded bomb in Gaza, through its support of a multi-donor project in April 2017. Since the last Israeli attack on Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014, the United Nations Mine Action Service has cleared and destroyed 29 tonnes of explosive material from 149 unexploded aerial bombs in Gaza….
IDF reveals images of residential buildings built atop Hamas tunnels
i24NEWS 9 Aug by Shai Ben-Ari — The Israeli army has revealed aerial imagery of what it says are civilian buildings built on top of tunnels where hostile Hamas military activity is underway in the northern Gaza Strip.In a conversation with reporters Wednesday, the head of IDF Southern Command, Major General Eyal Zamir, said that the images prove Hamas continues to operate in residential areas with the intent of taking advantage of a civilian environment to protect its forces. The general added “They are preparing their infrastructure for the next conflict within a civilian space. Their goal, of course, is to make things difficult for us…if we choose to operate then they will naturally seek to delegitimize the State of Israel for operating in a civilian area to protect itself.” One of the structures highlighted in the images is a 6 story residential building. Zamir said that during its construction Hamas took the opportunity to build tunnel infrastructure underneath the building. The other building is a family home that houses 6 children among others according to the general. Zamir stated that from his perspective, both buildings are legitimate military targets – “Those present are endangering themselves and their families”. The head of Southern Command added that there were other similar structures throughout the Gaza strip, but that the two buildings highlighted in the images serve as representative examples.
There were no indications that the tunnels under the buildings reach into Israeli territory. The vast majority of Hamas tunnels run underneath Gaza itself, and are generally referred to by the IDF as “defensive tunnel infrastructure”….
6 Palestinians from Gaza detained for illegally staying in Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 Aug — Israeli police detained seven Palestinians, six of whom are from the Gaza Strip, on Monday for being in Israel without permits. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said that six Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, all in their fifties and sixties, were detained in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon for staying in Israel illegally. She added that a 42-year-old Palestinian from the southern occupied West Bank village of Idhna was meanwhile detained in the town of Kiryat Gat for being in the possession of a forged entry permit to Israel.
Israel to permit Jerusalem Palestinians to visit Gaza
Al-Monitor 8 Aug — Israel will allow Palestinian business executives from Jerusalem to visit the Gaza Strip for the first time in years, a defence ministry body said Tuesday. COGAT, the Israeli agency that oversees civilian affairs in the occupied Palestinian territories, said it would allow in small numbers of businesspeople from annexed east Jerusalem looking to invest in the coastal territory. Israel controls most access into and out of the Gaza Strip and has imposed a blockade on the Palestinian enclave for a decade. But in an Arabic-language Facebook post late Monday, COGAT said it would allow in “businessmen and others who want to improve and strengthen the economy, infrastructure and humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip”. It said up to 150 people would be permitted to enter at a time….
Trapped between Israel and Hamas, Gaza’s wasted generation is going nowhere
Washington Post 6 Aug by William Booth & Hazem Balousha — They are the Hamas generation, raised under the firm hand of an Islamist militant movement. They are the survivors of three wars with Israel and a siege who find themselves as young adults going absolutely nowhere. In many circles in Gaza, it is hard to find anyone in their 20s with real employment, with a monthly salary. They call themselves a wasted generation … Young people say they are bored out of their minds. They worry that too many of their friends are gobbling drugs, not drugs to experience ecstasy but pills used to tranquilize animals, smuggled across Sinai. They dose on Tramadol and smoke hashish. They numb … He and his friends get by with odd jobs, a few hours here and there. They worked at cafes during the busy evenings of Ramadan in June. They will help an uncle in his shoe shop as the school year approaches in August. They make $10 a day at these kinds of jobs, a few coins for coffee and cigarettes. “We are the generation that waits,” Abusalah said. Reporters asked a 25-year-old college graduate, who got his degree in public relations, what he did for a living. He answered, “I stare into space.” … Gaza’s young people describe their lives as a kind of sick experiment. The literacy rate in Gaza is 96.8 percent, higher than in the West Bank. The “Palestinian engineer” was once the gold standard in the Middle East. In the past, immigration was the door to life. That door has slammed shut. Few get out of Gaza these days. Yet the universities of Gaza are still pumping out graduates by the thousands, even though the least likely person to find work in Gaza today is a college graduate, especially a woman….
How long can Gaza survive with no water?
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 6 Aug by Rasha Abou Jalal — The water crisis caused by ongoing power outages of more than 20 hours a day has pushed Gaza Strip residents to dig unlicensed wells, disregarding the ensuing serious threats to the already scarce aquifer water stock. At the request of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Israel reduced its power supply to Gaza on June 19 from 120 megawatts to 48 megawatts, causing the current water crises. Omar Hamid, the head of a family of nine, told Al-Monitor, “The municipality is delivering water to the citizens’ homes for only two hours every two or three days. This is not sufficient to meet a household’s minimum basic water needs.” He said, “There’s no electricity to operate the water pumps and fill our water tanks. Gaza has been living with barely four hours of power supply a day. This scarce supply of electricity often does not coincide with the supply hours of water pumped from the various municipality wells to the citizens’ homes.” Like other citizens, Hamid is forced to buy water at a very high price from private local stations to fill his house tank … In order to have access to water, citizens, especially owners of residential buildings, started digging unlicensed wells to pump out water from the already stressed aquifer, Mazen al-Banna, the vice president of the Palestinian Water Authority in the Gaza Strip, told Al-Monitor. “Gaza’s aquifer is overpumped by about 150 million cubic meters [122,000 acre feet] a year, Banna said. Around 220 million cubic meters are drawn each year, but the annual replenishment from rainwater is only 70 million cubic meters, he said. Banna said there are around 10,000 wells across the Gaza Strip, including 300 municipal wells, 2,700 agricultural wells and 7,000 unlicensed wells….
Photos: Demonstrations in support of Al Jazeera in Gaza
GAZA CITY, GAZA (AA) 8 Aug — Head of Gaza office of Al Jazeera Vail ed-Dehduh (2nd R) makes a speech as demonstrations including press members from Government Information Office gather to protest the closure demand of the pan-Arab Al Jazeera television in front of Al Jazeera’s building in Gaza City, Gaza on August 08, 2017. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to shut down the Jerusalem office of the Al-Jazeera’s news network with an unfair accusation of it promotes violence over Temple Mount.
Feature film to mark new beginnings for Gaza cinema
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 8 Aug by Ali Dolah — “Ten Years,” the first feature film produced by a local production company in the Gaza Strip, is expected to breathe new life into the dormant cinema industry in Gaza. The film, which is about the life and challenges of a family between 1999 and 2009, depicts social issues such as unemployment, corruption and women’s rights. The film crew worked on the feature film for 10 months, between October 2016 and July 2017. In cooperation with the Gaza Ministry of Culture, movie theaters that have been closed since 1987 are set to reopen, with the first screenings scheduled for early September, during Eid al-Adha. Alaa al-Aloul, a film producer and director at Continue Production Films, which produced “Ten Years,” told Al-Monitor that the company received no external funding. The Gaza company used its own financial means to produce the film that cost more than $100,000 … Aloul said that the film, unlike most films about Gaza, does not focus on the political situation and the blockade, because Palestinian audiences in Gaza have become bored with those themes. Instead, he aimed to develop an original story line in regard to social and family issues and steer clear of stereotypes. He also wanted to highlight the role of women and make a stand against male domination in Palestinian society in Gaza. The main character in the film is a woman, played by 30-year-old Aya Sultan. This in itself is a novelty, as most films produced in and about Gaza feature strong male leads….
Video: Encouraging reading culture in Gaza
GAZA STRIP (EI) 7 Aug — Gaza’s 41 libraries tend to be lonely places. But there are young people working to change that. The Glow and Thought initiative aims to “invest in education and build resilience,” according to Fida al-Sharif, a trainer with the project. Glow and Thought established a library in one of Gaza’s secondary schools that didn’t have one previously. Books are displayed in recycled containers hung on walls decorated with murals reflecting themes from nature. Students can sit at colorful desks or lower to the ground on seats made out of recycled tires, arranged around a painted shipping palette that serves as a table – an environment designed to be inviting. “Honestly, many institutions just aren’t attractive,” says high school student Marah Abu Sbeih. “Rows and shelves and chairs that make it seem like they’re only for certain kinds of people.” Students who visit are encouraged to leave notes about the books they read to help others discover what might interest them….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements / Apartheid
Israel: Jerusalem Palestinians stripped of status
JERUSALEM (Human Rights Watch) 8 Aug — Israel’s revocations of the residency status of thousands of Palestinians from East Jerusalem over the years illustrates the two-tiered system Israel maintains in the city, Human Rights Watch said today. The residency system imposes onerous requirements on Palestinians to maintain their status, with significant consequences for those who don’t. Between the start of Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967 and the end of 2016, Israel revoked the status of at least 14,595 Palestinians from East Jerusalem, according to the Interior Ministry. Authorities have justified most revocations based on a failure to prove a “center of life” in Jerusalem but, in recent years, they have also revoked status to punish Palestinians accused of attacking Israelis and as collective punishment against relatives of suspected assailants. The discriminatory system pushes many Palestinians to leave their home city in what amounts to forcible transfers, a serious violation of international law. “Israel claims to treat Jerusalem as a unified city, but the reality is effectively one set of rules for Jews and another for Palestinians,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Entrenched discrimination against Palestinians in Jerusalem, including residency policies that imperil their legal status, feeds the alienation of the city’s residents.” Human Rights Watch interviewed eight families in Jerusalem whose residency has been revoked between March and July 2017….
Ignoring court case, Israel seizes solar panels powering Bedouin school in West Bank
Haaretz 10 Aug by Yotam Berger — The Israeli Civil Administration in the West Bank seized solar panels that powered a Bedouin school and a preschool outside Jerusalem on Wednesday, even though it knew a petition against the seizure was being filed to the High Court of Justice. Indeed, the court issued a restraining order against the confiscation – an hour after the panels were carted off. By taking the panels, the military authorities violated the established procedure of waiting until the High Court makes an interim decision on a petition before acting. The panels stood in the Bedouin village of Abu Nuwar, located in the E1 area between Jerusalem and the large settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim. Local resident Daoud Basimat sent a letter to the prosecution through attorney Alaa Mahagna, stressing that there was going to be a petition filed against the seizure of the solar panels. The prosecution acknowledged the notice and said it was being passed to the relevant officials. Nevertheless, the state hastened to take action and confiscated the solar panels on Wednesday at about 2:30 P.M. An hour later, unaware that the panels had already been hauled away, Justice Neal Hendel issued a temporary order against any enforcement action, “Including forbidding their use, demolishing or confiscating the solar panels that are the subject of this petition unless there is a pressing security need requiring this.”….
Israeli settlers launch march to Abu Rajab family home in Hebron’s Old City
[with video] HEBRON (Ma‘an) 9 Aug — Hundreds of Israeli settlers originating from France launched a march on Wednesday afternoon toward the Abu Rajab home in Hebron’s Old City, which was forcibly taken over by settlers some two weeks ago, to reportedly show solidarity with the settlers. The march was set off from an illegal settlement post on al-Shuhada Street and the Tel Rumeida neighborhood in the Old City, and stormed to the Abu Rajab family home, as the settlers waved Israeli flags. Locals told Ma‘an that the march was a way for the Israeli settlers to “confirm their control” over the building, despite even the Israeli Civil Administration deciding that the settlers’ alleged purchase of the property was in fact invalid.
Residents of the Abu Rajab house have been embroiled in a legal battle with Israeli settlers for years, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared his intention to encourage the establishment of a new illegal Israeli settlement there to be named Beit Hamachpela. However, Israeli authorities have not granted permission to establish the settlement on the grounds that the settlers have failed to prove their alleged purchase of the Palestinian house, as the Palestinians have accused the settlers of forging the documents.
Meanwhile, Hebrew media reported that the march was organized by a right-wing organization called “Israel forever,” which focuses on showing French solidarity with the Israeli settlers residing illegally in Hebron. The march in Hebron’s Old City came just a day following reports that the family had filed a petition with the Israeli Supreme Court to evacuate the settlers from their home. According to Israeli daily Haaretz, the petition is aimed at urging Israeli authorities to force the settlers out, which the family was successfully able to do when settlers also took over their home in 2012 after alleging that they had purchased the property.
Israeli forces seize lands in Bethlehem area to build military training site
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 Aug — The Israeli army confiscated 70 dunams (17.3 acres) of Palestinian lands in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem on Tuesday, allegedly to build a military training site. The move reportedly affected the villages of al-Jabaa and Surif. Al-Jabaa village council head Thiyab Meshaala told Ma‘an that the Israeli army escorted bulldozers to al-Khur, an area in western al-Jabaa, and razed some 10 dunams of lands belonging to the Abu Latifa, Hamdan, Abu Luha, and al-Tus families. When residents of al-Jabaa went to the site in protest, Meshaala said, Israeli soldiers told them that “the army declared this area a closed military zone to be used for military trainings,” adding that Palestinians were forbidden from entering or approaching the area. Meshaala said that Israeli forces had also razed lands in western al-Jabaa near an existing Israeli military checkpoint a week earlier.
Silwad mayor denies involvement of Jordanian companies in selling land to settlers
MEMO 10 Aug — A Palestinian official denied involvement in a land appropriation scandal involving fake Jordanian-based companies trying to buy the Palestinian land and sell it to the illegal Israeli settlement of Amona. The mayor of the Palestinian town of Silwad, Abd Al-Rahman Saleh, said in a telephone interview with the Jordanian Media Credibility Monitor (AKEED) that the report published by an Arab news website [Al-Araby Al-Jadeed] “provided false or inaccurate information about two things: first, about the fake companies based in Jordan that are trying to take of Palestinian Lands and sell them to Israelis, and second that one of them is a member of the Jordanian parliament.” He pointed out that the companies listed in the news report are not based in Jordan. Indeed, the Wahib Company is based in Jerusalem and as for the other two companies, the Holy Land and Watan, the Israeli High Court of Justice refused to reveal their locations.
New Israeli town built on ruins of Bedouin village trying to bar non-Jews
Haaretz 8 Aug by Jack Khoury & Almog Ben Zikri — Homes in the new town of Hiran, which is slated to be built on the ruins of the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev, will be marketed to Jews only, judging by the bylaws of the Hiran cooperative association. The bylaws, a copy of which was obtained by Adalah – the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, state that a person can be accepted as a member of the association only if he is “approved by the admissions committee and meets all the requirements listed below: a Jewish Israeli citizen or permanent resident who observes the Torah and the commandments according to the values of Orthodox Judaism.” Based on legal precedent, it seems unlikely that the association’s bylaws will actually dictate the acceptance procedures for Hiran. In 2013, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel petitioned the High Court of Justice over a similar case involving the new town of Carmit, which was also governed by a cooperative association that said members must be “Jewish Israeli citizens or permanent residents who uphold the values of Judaism.” In that case, the state sided unequivocally with the petitioners, saying membership in the association could not be a condition for obtaining land in Carmit.”….
Palestinian Journalists Syndicate demands PA release journalists from jail
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 Aug — The Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS) released a statement on Wednesday demanding the release of five Palestinian journalists who were detained by Palestinian security forces on Tuesday night, and called their arrests a “dangerous assault against freedom of expression.” According to Palestinian news agency Wafa, the five Palestinian journalists — identified as Mamdouh Hamamreh, Tareq Abu Zeid, Amer Abu Arafeh, Ahmad Halaiqa, and Qutaybeh Salem — were detained by Palestinian security forces for leaking “sensitive information to hostile parties.” In their statement, PJS condemned the arrests, saying that the move was “an organized attack against the freedom of journalism,” and a “dangerous assault against freedom of expression and opinion.”….
Palestinian kickboxer refuses to compete against Israeli at World Youth Championship
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 Aug — A Palestinian kickboxer reportedly refused to compete against an Israeli opponent during the World Youth Championship in Thailand. The head of the Palestinian Association of Kickboxing and Muay Thai, Muhammad Ahmad Zeidani, told Ma‘an on Tuesday that Sultan Abu al-Hajj, a resident of the Ramallah district of the occupied West Bank, was one of five athletes from the Palestinian delegation attending the championship. Abu al-Hajj was set to spar against an Israeli opponent in the final rounds of the competition, but refused to do so, “as there has not yet been an official Palestinian decision over whether to face Israeli athletes in any sporting event.” Israeli news outlet Ynet reported on Wednesday that the Israeli kickboxer, Amit Madah, won a bronze medal after Abu al-Hajj forfeited. Many Palestinians have come out in opposition of “normalization” with Israelis, saying that agreeing to participate in events alongside Israelis — whether cultural or athletic — contributed to minimizing the harm caused by decades of Israeli violations of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory.
Israel, West Bank, and Gaza make it to UN WTO’s 2017 top 10 tourist destinations
i24NEWS 9 Aug — Israel made it into the top ten tourist destinations for the first part of 2017 according to a “world tourism barometer” used by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). According to a report published by The Telegraph on the data, tourism to Israel is up by 25%, a percentage rate that if it would hold, will bring 3.7 million visitors to Israel for all of 2017. Also noteworthy is that the West Bank finished in first place, experiencing a 57.8% increase in tourism, while Israel found itself in the top ten’s final slot. The report also notes what appears to be a mutually beneficial relationship between Israel and the Palestinians in the tourism industry, largely due to Israel being a conveyer belt for tourists seeking to visit the West Bank. Next-door Egypt also witnessed a boom in tourism for the beginning of 2017, making it to the number two spot in the UNWTO rankings….
Opinion: The cluster-bomb nation / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 10 Aug — The cluster bombs are aimed mainly at densely populated areas. There they can kill most effectively. That’s why the Israeli army wants them — Israel wants to kill as many innocent people as possible. Under no circumstances does it want to belong to the community of enlightened nations. There is no other way to understand Gili Cohen’s chilling report (Monday’s Haaretz) that the defense establishment decided to prefer an Israeli-made cannon that has yet to be completed to a German one, merely to sidestep the international ban on cluster bombs. More than 100 states signed the international treaty banning the use of cluster bombs; Israel, as usual, isn’t one of them. What has Israel to do with international treaties, international law, international organizations – it’s all one big unnecessary nuisance. Israel’s fellow rejectionists are, as usual, Russia, Pakistan, China, India and of course the United States, the world’s greatest spiller of blood since World War II. This is the company Israel wants to keep, the club it belongs to. Cluster bombs are an especially barbarous weapon, a bomb that turns into countless bomblets, spreading over a wide area, killing and wounding indiscriminately. They sometimes explode years after were fired. The world was appalled and disgusted by such a weapon of mass destruction, and for good reason. The world – but not Israel. We’re a special case, as is commonly known. We’re allowed to do anything. Why? Because we can. This has been proved. We used cluster bombs in the Second Lebanon War and the world was silent. We also use flechettes, unmercifully. In 2002 I saw a soccer field in Gaza hit by IDF flechette shells, which spray thousands of potentially lethal metal darts. All the children playing on it had been hit….