Gaza under blockade

Israeli missile kills two Palestinians in Gaza

IMEMC Tues 4 Mar by Saed Bannoura — An Israeli fighter jet reportedly dropped a missile, Monday night, near Beit Hanoun, in northern Gaza, killing two Palestinians and wounding three others, including a child. The two men killed in the attack were identified as Musab Moussa al-Zaneen, 21, and Sharif Nasser, 31. The two men wounded in the Israeli airstrike have not been identified. Medical sources in Beit Hanoun said that they received three wounded Palestinians, including a female child. Although an Israeli military spokesperson claimed that the airstrike targeted Palestinian fighters who were attempting to launch a homemade shell towards Israel. No Palestinian groups have claimed that the men were fighters with any armed resistance group. The area where the missile struck was a piece of farmland near the town of Beit Hanoun. This is the fourth Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip in three days….

Hundreds lay Gaza men to rest

GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 4 Mar — Hundreds in Gaza on Tuesday attended the funerals of two men who were killed by an Israeli airstrike the night before, a Ma‘an reporter said. In Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, Palestinians marched and carried the bodies of Musab Moussa al-Zaaneen and Sharif Nasser, raising Palestinian flags and calling for continued resistance against the Israeli occupation. The two men were buried in Beit Hanoun cemetery after noon prayers. Nasser’s family told Ma‘an he was expecting be killed, and had received threats from Israel two weeks before the airstrike, without providing further details. AFP reported that Nasser was 31 years old and that al-Zaaneen was in his early 20s.

Gaza public workers say Hamas not paying salaries

GAZA (AP) 3 Mar — Palestinian civil servants on Monday called on the Gaza Strip’s Hamas government to pay them full salaries, the clearest sign yet that Egypt’s blockade of the territory is making it increasingly difficult for the Islamic militants to govern. The civil servants are considered Hamas sympathisers and their public complaints about not getting paid in full over the past four months reflect growing discontent in Gaza. Still, there were no signs of open revolt against Hamas … The closure of the tunnels has meant losses of millions of dollars in tax income for the Hamas government. At the same time, Brotherhood sympathisers in the Arab world who used to send donations to Gaza have largely rerouted their money to other flashpoints, mainly the civil war in Syria. In a third financial setback, Hamas fell out with long-time patron and financial supporter Iran in late 2011, after the Palestinian group refused to back Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, an Iran ally, in his battle against rebels, many of them with ties to the Brotherhood. In a news conference on Monday, the civil servants’ labour union said the Hamas government has only paid partial salaries to its 46,000 workers over the past four months … The Gaza finance minister, Ziad Al Zaza, said the government needs $45 million (Dh165 million) each month to pay wages and operating expenses but currently only has $31 million available. …

Gaza border residents live under constant Israeli fire

KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip (Al-Monitor) 27 Feb by Rasha Abou Jalal — Iyad Kodeih lives 400 meters away from the border overlooking the town of Abasan, east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. He looks with suspicion toward a group of Israeli military jeeps driving a few meters away from the border fence, hoping that calm will continue to prevail. Kodeih looks worriedly at his watch and warns this Al-Monitor correspondent, “It is 4 p.m. You have only one hour to finish your report and get out of this place.” At 5 p.m., he said, Israeli soldiers start shooting sporadically at the houses in Gaza. On a dirt hill adjacent to his house, which looks like “a sponge full of holes,” Kodeih talked about living along the border. “Life here is hell on earth. With nightfall, people flee their houses and go to their neighbors’ who live a little behind, a strategy they adopt to escape death,” he said. Kodeih shared that Palestinian social life in the area is almost paralyzed and that visitors dare not come to the area because they fear for their lives. Meanwhile, the local residents live in a state of ongoing terror, hoping to avoid the bullets stopped by the walls of their homes. “My wife’s family did not want us to continue living in such danger, so they offered us a piece of land to live on. My wife sold her gold jewelry so we could afford to build a new house, which was targeted by Israeli shelling that reduced it to rubble,” Kodeih confided. This bitter reality is also suffered by farmers, shepherds and gravel collectors, who risk being shot by Israeli forces as they go about their business. Their only fault is that they refuse to leave their homes and lands.

Egyptian court bans Hamas, orders assets seized

CAIRO (AFP) 4 Mar — An Egyptian court on Tuesday banned the activities of the Palestinian militant Hamas group that rules the neighbouring Gaza Strip and ordered its assets seized, a judicial source said. Hamas denounced the move, which it said “serves the (Israeli) occupation.” Egyptian officials have accused Hamas of plotting with deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood movement to carry out “terror attacks” in the country. Several Hamas militants have been named among scores of defendants on trial with Morsi for organising jailbreaks and attacking police stations during the 2011 revolt that toppled strongman Hosni Mubarak. In a separate espionage trial, Morsi and 35 other defendants are accused of conspiring with foreign powers, including Sunni Hamas and Shiite Iran, to destabilise Egypt. Ties between Cairo and Hamas, the Palestinian affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood, flourished during Morsi’s year in power but have deteriorated since the military overthrew him on July 3. Cairo’s new military-installed authorities were furious after Hamas officials openly criticised their decision to outlaw the Muslim Brotherhood, the target of a deadly crackdown since Morsi’s ouster.

Hamas uses backchannel to Tel Aviv

GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 28 Feb by Hazem Balousha — Hamas’ leadership quickly denied to Al-Monitor on Feb. 24 that Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh had sent a letter to the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding the confrontations on the Gaza-Israel front. Hamas issued the denial to avoid being accused of hypocrisy, given Hamas regularly criticizes its rival Fatah for communicating with Israel. Despite Hamas’ official denial about the existence of any direct communication channels with Israel, a source in Hamas asserted that the organization has sent a verbal message to the Israeli side — from the deputy foreign minister in the Hamas government Ghazi Hamad to Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin — without explicitly asking Baskin to forward the message to Netanyahu’s office.

The Qatar channel between Gaza and Israel

Al-Monitor 3 Mar by Shlomi Eldar — Qatar, which has taken upon itself major construction projects in the Gaza Strip, has become an indirect communication channel between Israel and Hamas — Hamas has already come to terms with the fact that its southern border with Egypt — including its only gate to the outside world, the Rafah crossing — will not open up in the near future. After the initial shock and anxiety over the anti-Hamas mood prevalent among the new Egyptian regime, the time has come for the movement’s leadership to recognize and accept this. In the absence of any other option, vital communication channels with the Israeli side were developed to ensure that life goes on as normally as possible in the Gaza Strip.

Cement shortage in Gaza leaves thousands jobless

GAZA CITY 3 Mar by Rasha Abou Jalan — “You must be by the Bahloul station west of Gaza City at precisely 10:30 p.m. Bring a truck to transport the merchandise. Do not forget to come alone, and make sure that no one sees us!” Such were the instructions received by Qassem via a telephone call from one of Gaza City’s dealers. At first glance, it might seem that the merchandise to be delivered might be drugs or hashish, but in reality the 22-year-old man only sought to purchase bags of cement, to complete construction on his marital home. This is a scene indicative of the extent of suffering that has permeated Palestinian society as a result of the worsening crisis engendered by a lack of construction material. Israel ceased exporting cement to the Gaza Strip in October 2013, following the discovery of the Ein Hashlosha tunnel built by Hamas east of Khan Yunis, in the south of the Gaza Strip. Qassem desperately wants to finish building his house, otherwise his marriage will remain on hold until cement is once more allowed into the Gaza Strip.

Female solidarity delegation to visit Gaza next week

GAZA (PIC) 2 Mar — A solidarity delegation, comprising 80 women from Arab and foreign countries, is expected to visit Gaza Strip early next week in order to mark the International Women’s Day with Palestinian women in the besieged Strip. Ghazi Hamad, undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that his ministry is working to facilitate the delegation’s access to Gaza. Hamad pointed out that the Algerian revolution icon Jamila Bouhired is among the delegation’s members, saying that the visit came in response to Gazan women organizations’ invitation. It has not yet been decided whether the delegation will have access to the besieged Strip via the Rafah crossing or the Beit Hanoun crossing, he added.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/

VIDEO: In their own words: Gaza’s farmers and fishers speak out

Grassroots 4 Mar by Mina Remy — In this remarkable video, the Gaza branch of Grassroots International partner the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, documents the plight of fishers and farmers in the Gaza Strip. This video is a testament to Palestinians’ commitment to their land and livelihoods despite overwhelming Israeli military pressure to give up. Palestinian farmers and fishers continuously risk their lives by pursuing their craft amidst the Israeli blockade of Gaza. For them giving up their way of life, and a means to sustain their families, is not an option.

Bahaa runs for Palestine

[with photos] GAZA (ISM) 4 Mar by Rosa Schiano — In the shadow of the bleachers of Yarmouk stadium in Gaza City, still damaged by Israeli bombing, 400-meter Olympic runner Bahaa Al Farra trains. Bahaa took part in the London Olympics, along with three other Palestinian athletes, in 2012. “I started racing at the age of 14,” he said. “We used to compete mostly among students. The coaches attended the competitions and selected the best players.” That’s how he met his current coach, Ibrahim Abu Hasira, seven years ago. ”In 2005 I had the opportunity to compete in a competition in Egypt, but due to the closure of the crossing I could not attend it,” Bahaa said. “Whenever we have opportunities, we face problems related to the siege and military aggression. Several times I stopped the sport due to depression or a bad mood.

Gaza-based newspaper launches Braille edition

Al-Akhbar 3 Mar — A Palestinian newspaper published in Gaza has launched a Braille edition, becoming the first of its kind in the besieged strip to provide access to the visually impaired. Palestine newspaper released its first copy for blind readers on Saturday, its website said. … “There is nothing wrong with an eye that does not see, or a leg that cannot walk or an ear that cannot hear,” the paper wrote on cover page of the Braille edition in an homage to its readers.

Creative Gazans develop new crafts to cope with siege

GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 4 Mar by Asmaa al-Ghoul — In times of crises and hopelessness, people search for the smallest things to make life livable. Mohammed al-Zomar, Hassan Saad and Ahmed al-Arouqi each took an idea and defeated despair using light, water and colors. Mohammed al-Zomar’s tale of colors In his small open-air studio in the rear courtyard of his house, Zomar, 32, takes pride in ammunition left over from the 2008-2009 war. This is not because he is a former soldier or a member of the resistance, but because he paints and writes on the old ammunition … All of the elements he places on the ammunition — plants, colors, lines of poetry and colorful ribbons — contradict with death and transform the work into a synthetic art “installation.” “I transformed death into life. I had always wondered why people keep these criminal instruments that killed their loved ones. I discovered that they think of them as they would a deceased person’s shirt or bag. In one way or another, it reminds them of the person they have lost,” said Zomar. According to Zomar, each bomb fired by the Israeli army has a story. One bomb in his studio had killed his neighbors in the nearby popular market, while another had hit a house and killed the inhabitants.
Hassan Saad and lights Sometimes you only need 30 seconds to decide to carry out an idea that previously seemed crazy. This is what Saad did, when he saw that the street outside his home in the Shajaia neighborhood of eastern Gaza City was shrouded in darkness. Saad, 39, realized that the street was not illuminated most of the time, not only because of the electricity cuts that lasted more than eight hours a day but also because there were no streetlights in the first place. Thus, he decided spontaneously to light the place without electricity. “I started implementing the idea last December, when I saw an electrician transform an old car battery into an electric generator. So I lit my home with car lights that each use less than one watt,” said Saad. Saad collected 11 old batteries that were not suitable for cars, through donations and purchases made at the scrap yard. He lit 800 lida, or car lights, along the entire street that stretches 550 meters (180.5 feet) in length, making it the only street in the region that is illuminated during electricity cuts … “For the first two months after launching the project, I couldn’t sleep due to happiness and constantly welcoming well-wishers. Everyone was overjoyed with this project, especially after the tunnels were destroyed and fuel prices increased. People no longer could use generators [due to the difficulty of obtaining fuel], so residents — particularly the poor — began asking if they could light their homes in a similar manner. I lit 50 homes without taking anything in return,” Saad added.

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing

Israel doubles West Bank outpost construction

Al Jazeera 3 Mar — The number of Israeli settlements being started in the West Bank more than doubled during 2013, the Israel central bureau of statistics has said. The bureau said work began on 2,534 new housing units in the settlements in 2013, compared to 1,133 in 2012. Monday’s announcement comes just hours before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to meet with President Barack Obama in Washington. The two have long been at odds over Israel’s settlement policies, with Obama previously saying the continued building of settlements did not “advance the cause of peace.” “We have seen more aggressive settlement construction over the last couple years than we’ve seen in a very long time,” Obama said in an interview with Bloomberg View columnist Jeffrey Goldberg published on Sunday…. Earlier this month, aid agencies highlighted the growing number of Israeli demolitions of Palestinian properties in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, despite renewed US-backed peace negotiations. The number of demolitions increased by almost half, the displacement of Palestinians by nearly three-quarters, between July 2013, when the talks began, and the end of the year, compared to the same period in 2012, a statement released by 25 aid organisations on February 7 said.

Israeli outposts critical of settler leadership targeted for demolition

Haaretz 3 Mar by Chaim Levinson — Figures for the razing of illegal constructions in West Bank outposts between 2011 and 2012 show that places where residents are close to the settler political leadership are immune to demolition visits by the Civil Administration, with demolitions confined to smaller outposts that have shown opposition to the Yesha Council of settlements. Demolition in smaller outposts allows the Civil Administration to falsely show enforcement, using the smaller settlements to cover the immunity it gives to larger settlements. The figures reveal that demolitions were carried out in only 19 of some 100 outposts over the two years … In some cases, only a few hundred meters separate sites where the Civil Administration is enforcing the law in one place and not another.

PHOTOS, VIDEO: Hebron Hills committee prevents Israel from halting kindergarten construction

Alternative Info Ctr 3 Mar Written by Operation Dove — On Sunday afternoon, while Palestinians were building the structure for a new kindergarten in the South Hebron Hills village of At-Tuwani, officials from the Israeli District Coordinating Office (DCO) and the Israeli Army came to confiscate the building materials. Palestinian men, women and children, coordinated by the South Hebron Hills Popular Committee, successfully prevented the Israeli forces from taking away most of the materials through nonviolent resistance. After some three hours of confrontation, Israeli officials confiscated a cement mixer and a cart. No official confiscation order was delivered in advance … Capturing the action on film, an Israeli activist, international volunteers and B’Tselem staff members were present throughout.

Galilee: Demonstration against displacing Ramya villagers

IMEMC 3 Mar by Chris Carlson — Scores of Ramya villagers and political activists organized, on Monday, in Galilee, a demonstration in front of the ‘Israel Lands Administration’ office in ‘Natzeret Illit’, protesting their displacement from Ramya village. Dozens of villagers from Ramya and political activists organized a demonstration in front of the ‘Israel Lands Administration’ office protesting their displacement from Ramya, a village which has become part of the ever-expanding Karmiel, a city which was originally established on lands seized from Ramya villagers. WAFA reports that among the participants were the former Mayor of Nazareth, Ramez Jaraisy, Israeli MP Haneen Zoabi, and various heads of the Local Arab Authorities in Israel, who raised signs denouncing the Israeli government policy of displacement.

Families ordered out of homes as army prepares for training

IMEMC/Agencies — [Tuesday Evening, March 4, 2014] Israeli soldiers handed military orders to 21 families in the Wad Ebzeeq area, in the Northern Plains of the occupied West Bank, ordering them to leave as the army prepares for training. The army ordered the residents to stay away from the area on Wednesday, as the soldiers will be conducting training using live ammunition and shells. Imad Hroub, representative of the Wad Ebzeeq village council, stated dozens of soldiers invaded the area and handed the orders to the residents. He said all residents were ordered to leave their homes and dwellings, and to stay away until four in the afternoon the same day. Israeli soldiers frequently displace the Palestinians, especially Bedouin tribes, from their dwellings in the Jordan valley as the army uses those areas for military training, using live ammunition.

Settler destroys Palestinian-owned building near Bethlehem

Alternative Info Ctr 4 Mar — An Israeli settler demolished a Palestinian-owned building in the town of Kisan, located east of Bethlehem. Yacoub Ali Awdeh Ghazal, owner of the building, told the Palestinian News Network that a settler from one of the settlements to the east of Bethlehem invaded his land and destroyed a building and barracks that were only recently built. Ghazal noted that the buildings, constructed with the assistance of local organizations including the YMCA, cost NIS 20,000 to erect. He added that Israeli authorities and settlers in particular are targeting the 200 dunums of land located on the outskirts of Kisan in order to expand local settlements. In a related context, Israeli authorities handed Fouad Jum’a Jadal Abu Mahameed, a Palestinian living near Kisan, a notice to stop construction of his home. Abu Mahameed’s previous home was demolished by Israel in 2001. Abu Mahameed said that several days ago Israeli authorities issued a new demolition notice for his home under construction and set a court date for 17 March.

UN report: 300,000 Palestinians live in Area C of West Bank

Haaretz 5 Mar by Amira Hass — New figure is double than 2008 estimate; quarter of Palestinians living in areas under full Israeli control reside in Jerusalem district — Some 300,000 Palestinians live in Area C, the part of the West Bank under full Israeli control, according to new data published Tuesday by a UN body … The new estimate, published by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in occupied Palestinian territory (OCHA), concludes that there are 297,000 residents living in 532 residential areas in Area C, which is under full Israeli civil and security control, and which comprises just over 60 percent of the West Bank. There are 67,016 Palestinians living in 241 communities and villages which are entirely in Area C. Of these 51 are villages and cities with most of their built-up area in Area C , with the rest in Areas A (under Palestinian control) and B (under shared Israeli-Palestinian control); 240 residential areas are cities and villages with less than half of their land in C. The Palestinian population in Area C is considered to be especially vulnerable and in need of international assistance because of limited access to educational and health-care institutions, harassment by settlers, proximity to firing zones and insufficient connection to water and electricity infrastructure … The artificial administrative division into Areas A, B and C was set in the 1995 interim agreement, part of the Oslo Accords, and was supposed to be terminated after about five years. Until 2000 the size of the areas has changed several times.

Restriction of movement / Discrimination

Arab MKs to ‘educate’ airport officials on humiliation in security checks

Haaretz 4 Mar by Jonathan Lis — Airport Authority’s legal adviser claims Arabs treated no differently than Jews — Arab MKs will educate Israel Airports Authority officials, including those leading security training courses, about the humiliation suffered by Arabs forced to undergo invasive security checks at Ben-Gurion International Airport, the Knesset Public Petitions Committee decided on Monday. Committee chairwoman MK Adi Kol (Yesh Atid) also recommended that airport authority officials meet people who have gone through such an ordeal. The decision came after a public outcry over the treatment of an Israeli Arab teacher, Ezies Elias Shehadeh, who was strip-searched at Eilat Airport before flying with her Jewish students returning from a school trip to the resort city last month – an incident that MK Masud Ganaim (United Arab List-Ta’al) said was “shocking,” but hardly a first. “The possibility of meeting a person who has undergone the process is likely to engender basic sensitivity that would prevent such incidents in the future,” Kol told the airport authority’s legal adviser, Aryeh Shaham.

Violence / Raids / Clashes / Illegal arrests

Worker kidnapped, another suffers a broken leg after soldiers attack them

IMEMC/Agencies — Israeli soldiers stationed at a roadblock near Hebron attacked on Tuesday [March 4, 2014] two Palestinian workers heading to work, causing one worker to suffer a broken leg, while kidnapping his friend. Eyewitnesses said that several soldiers, stationed at the ath-Thaheriyya roadblock, south of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, stopped and assaulted Ahmad Ali Najajra, 19, from Nahhalin village west of Bethlehem. Najajra was moved to the Arab Society Hospital in Beit Jala, suffering a fracture in his leg, along with various cuts and bruises. The soldiers also stopped another worker, identified as Ahmad Fayeq Najajra, 20, at the same roadblock, and kidnapped him before moving him to an unknown destination.

VIDEO: The killing of 16-year-old Samir Awad

BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 3 Mar  — Amnesty International on Monday released a video documenting the 2013 killing of a Palestinian teenager by Israeli forces in the Ramallah village of Budrus. Samir Awad, 16, was shot three times in the back of the head, leg and shoulder as he fled Israeli soldiers in January 2013. Amnesty said Samir’s killing may amount to an extrajudicial execution, or willful killing, which is considered a war crime under international law. The video was released to accompany a report published last week which documented the routine use “unnecessary, arbitrary and brutal force” by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank.

Israeli soldier’s needless killing of Palestinian activist: punishable by death?

Haaretz 3 Mar by Amira Hass — An elite unit shot a Palestinian activist at point-blank range dozens of times. He had received a summons and failed to appear. What should be the penalty? — If the order was to escalate, the takeover of the village of Bir Zeit last Thursday by the Yamam counterterrorism unit and the Nahal infantry brigade was surely a step in the right direction. Israeli forces killed Muataz Washaha, a 24-year-old activist in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. His funeral Friday was boiling, bubbling lava, striving to burst out of a crack. If the order was to embarrass the Palestinian Authority’s leaders and increase the hostility toward them, the attack – by 200 soldiers, a Shin Bet security service officer named Alon, dozens of jeeps and two bulldozers – was incredibly successful. Senior PA officials were wise to avoid the mass funeral, where Palestinian security personnel led cries of: “No more traitors,” “no more negotiations,” “no more security cooperation.” These were some of the more polite chants … If the anonymous genius behind the attack wanted to prove that the Palestinians – Muslims and Christians, religious and secular – are all one people under the Israeli boot, he succeeded. The Washaha family is one of the six original families of Bir Zeit. It’s one of the two founding Muslim families; the other four are Christian. At the funeral procession, which passed by mosques and churches, there was no way to tell who was who … If the brilliant strategist behind the operation meant to destroy, in five hours, the life’s savings of a Palestinian workers’ family, accumulated over 30 or 40 years, he should be up for a special commendation …The light anti-tank rocket fired by the heroic Israeli troops hit the apartment of Tha’er Washaha, Muataz’s brother. It destroyed everything inside. The apartment was on a floor recently added to the small house that the family built decades ago … When the Yamam, Nahal and Shin Bet forces left, family members ran into the house. The neighborhood was now filled with piercing cries. The elite police unit had shot Washaha at point-blank range dozens of times, according to the pieces of brain that covered the room, not to mention his legs, arms and fingers that were nearly severed from his body. He had received a summons from the Shin Bet and failed to appear. A grave crime punishable by death? [Also available here]

Israeli forces detain 2 students south of Nablus

NABLUS (Ma‘an) Mon 3 Mar — Israeli forces raided al-Sawiya high school south of Nablus on Monday and detained two students, a Palestinian Authority official said. Ghassan Daghlas told Ma‘an that Israeli forces surrounded the school and fired tear gas canisters and stun grenades at students. Obada Muhammad Izzat was identified as one of the students arrested.

Israeli forces arrest 3 Palestinian boys in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 4 Mar — Israeli police on Tuesday arrested three Palestinian boys in the Old City of Jerusalem, a Ma‘an reporter said. The three were identified as Murad al-Tarhouni, Muhammad Abu Sneineh, and Ahmad Abu Gharbieh, all between the ages of 13 and 14. Police took the boys to al-Wad police station, then transferred them to al-Qashla station.

Israeli forces arrest woman en route to visit jailed husband

HEBRON (Ma‘an) 3 Mar– Israeli forces on Monday arrested a woman who was on her way to visit her jailed husband, her family said. Maysoon Abd al-Jaleel Muhammad al-Sweiti, 34, was arrested at the al-Thahiriyya checkpoint near Hebron, her brother told Ma‘an. He said al-Sweity was on her way to visit her husband, who was transferred to al-Ramla prison clinic on Sunday because he was experiencing neurological complications after he was given the wrong medication. This is the second time al-Sweity has been arrested, her brother said.

Israeli forces raid Nablus village, clashes erupt

NABLUS (Ma‘an) 4 Mar — Israeli forces on Tuesday raided Burqa village northwest of Nablus firing tear gas and stun grenades. A Palestinian official who monitors settler activity in the northern West Bank told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided the village, assaulted a number of people, and fired dozens of tear-gas canisters under the pretext that a firebomb was thrown at an Israeli military jeep at the village’s junction. Ghassan Daghlas added that Palestinians responded by throwing stones, and clashes broke out.

Nine Palestinians kidnapped from West Bank area, one from Al-Aqsa Mosque

IMEMC Mon 3 Mar by Chris Carlson — Four Palestinians from Hebron and two others from Tulkarem were taken, while another in Ein Yabrud village, north of Ramallah, was abducted by Israeli forces, according to a PNN report. Israeli troops also took one Palestinian from al-Jalzoun refugee camp, north of Ramallah. The occupation claims that the detainees are “wanted” by the Israeli authorities, adding that they were all taken to Israeli interrogation centers. Additionally, WAFA reports that one worshipper was taken from Al Aqsa mosque, in Jerusalem.

Israeli forces arrest 23 Palestinians from the West Bank

PNN Tues 4 Mar — IOF forces arrested on Tuesday 23 Palestinian residents during raids carried out on various areas in the West Bank. Israeli army declared that eight Palestinians were arrested from Yatta village, south of Hebron. Local sources in Yatta said that the detainees are from the Murr family, adding that among these detainees were the brothers of the martyr Mohammed Murr, who was convicted by Israel few years ago of killing an official in the Israeli army in Ya’ir. IOF forces broke into several houses in the as-Salam Street in the village, while the Israeli forces arrested another Palestinian from Halhoul village. Security sources said that the IOF forces arrested the 16-year-old Obaida Mahmoud Adawi, in front of al-Aroub refugee camp, after he was severely beaten. In TulKarem, IOF forces arrested two Palestinians from al-Shweika and ‘Anabta villages. IOF forces also arrested a Palestinian from ‘Azzoun village, near Qalqiliya, another from Silwad, northeast of Ramallah, and a third from Beitunia, west of Ramallah. In Bethlehem, IOF troops stormed several houses in Battir village. In a related context, Israeli forces arrested two Palestinians from ‘Asira and Orta [‘Awarta] village in TulKarem and arrested another from Beit Dajan village. Three leaders in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine were arrested Tuesday night. The residents said that Israeli patrols raided ‘Asira village and arrested the leader Esmat al-Shuli, 65, after destroying his house contents. He was taken to an unknown location.Israeli forces raided Kafr Qallil and arrested the leader Issam al-Amer, a released prisoner who spent 10 years in Israeli jails.

Israeli forces arrest ‘Qassam leader’ in Hebron

HEBRON (Ma‘an) Tues 4 Mar– An Israeli special forces unit on Tuesday arrested an alleged al-Qassam Brigades leader from his house in the al-Jamaa neighborhood of Hebron, onlookers said.  Ayub al-Qawasmi had been wanted by the Israeli army for years.  An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed the arrest and said al-Qawasmi was detained in a joint operation with the Israel Security Agency.  She said he was transferred to police for questioning.

Ministry: Israeli forces arrested 31 youths in second half of February

RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 3 Mar — Israeli forces arrested 31 Palestinian children during the second half of February, in addition to injuring several others, according to the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Information. In a report, the ministry recorded the details of the arrests of 31 Palestinians between the ages of 13 and 18 in the Palestinian territories between Feb. 16 and Feb 26. The following is a list of the arrests, according to the report … According to the PA Ministry of Prisoners’ affairs, there are 187 Palestinians under the age of 18 currently held in Israeli jails.

Detainees / Court actions

Ministry of Prisoners: Lives of hunger-striking prisoners at risk

Alternative Info Ctr 4 Mar — The lives of several of the seven hunger striking Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons are at stake, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners. Hanan Al-Khateeb, an attorney with the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Prisoners, told local media that the prisoners face life-threatening conditions: almost all of them vomit blood, suffer severe pains throughout their bodies, have heart conditions while both their hearing and vision are impaired. Some of the prisoners have suffered detrimental weight loss. Addameer: Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, reports that the conditions of incarceration of the hunger striking prisoners continue to worsen as the Israeli prison authorities take punitive measures against them for their strikes. Three of the prisoners are currently held in administrative detention, i.e. detention without trial or charges. Addameer notes that the seven prisoners are the highest number of hunger strikers since September 2013.

Israel’s plan to force-feed hunger-striking prisoners up for public critique

Haaretz 3 Mar by Ido Efrati — Israeli Medical Association says forcing hunger-strikers to eat is tantamount to torture — The Home Front Defense Ministry published on Sunday the memorandum of a law on “treatment for hunger strikers.” The memo represents a revision to an existing prison protocol, which allows for force feeding of hunger-striking prisoners. The bill picked up steam in response to the prolonged hunger strikes among security detainees in 2012. Some prisoners’ lives were in danger due to the prolonged hunger strikes to protest their arrests or administrative detention without trial or indictment. The hunger strikes of that year garnered a great deal of public and media attention, as well as negativity toward Israeli political leaders and prison officials. The memorandum has been issued for public critique … The two methods for force feeding that would be approved are intravenous, in cases where the prisoner is unable to swallow, or the use of a feeding tube. According to the bill, in its decisions the court would also need to consider the intrusiveness of the suggested procedure, and how it would affect the prisoner’s honor.

Israeli court jails Islamic Movement leader

AFP/A-Akhbar 4 Mar — An Israeli court sentenced firebrand Islamic preacher Sheikh Raed Salah Tuesday to eight months in prison for inciting Muslims to violence over Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque. Salah, leader of the radical northern wing of the Islamic Movement in occupied Palestine, was convicted in November of inciting “all Muslims and Arabs” in 2007 to “start an intifada (uprising) to support holy Jerusalem and the blessed al-Aqsa mosque.” In addition to the eight-month sentence, Salah will serve a further eight months if he repeats the same felony within three years, according to a court document. Salah, who was born in the northern city Umm al-Fahm in 1958, is no stranger to run-ins with the authorities. In 2011, he was arrested at the Allenby border crossing between the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Jordan after allegedly striking a member of the security forces who wanted to question his wife. The previous year, he spent five months behind bars for spitting at an Israeli policeman. The Islamic Movement is tolerated in Israel but is under constant surveillance because of its perceived links with the militant Hamas movement that controls the Gaza Strip, as well as with other Islamist groups worldwide.

Palestinian refugees in Syria

Fighting halts food aid to Damascus camp

DAMASCUS (National/ AP/AFP) 3 Mar — Food deliveries to thousands of people living in a blockaded area in southern Damascus ground to a halt after a truce collapsed and clashes broke out between Syrian rebels and forces loyal to the government. The clashes, which erupted on Sunday afternoon and lasted until Monday morning, were the most serious violence in weeks in the Palestinian-dominated district of Yarmouk and seriously undermined a tentative truce struck there in early January. A UN spokesman in Damascus, Chris Gunness, urged all parties to “immediately allow” the resumption of aid to the area, where malnutrition is rife … The latest clashes also sparked concerns for future aid deliveries. “It will be like it was before. We are back to zero,” said a Yarmouk-based activist who uses the name Abu Akram. The truce, which took months to negotiate, collapsed after rebel gunmen returned to Yarmouk on Sunday. They had withdrawn from the area about a month ago as part of the truce, replaced by a patrol of Palestinian gunmen, keeping out both rebels and fighters loyal to President Bashar Al Assad. The rebels accused pro-Assad fighters of violating the truce, said Abu Akram. An activist group, “Palestinians of Syria” voiced similar accusations.


Norwegian YMCA supports BDS

Alternative Info Ctr 3 Mar — Norway’s Young Men and Women’s Christian Association (YMCA) has called for support of the Palestinian-led movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until the latter ends the occupation and fulfills international law. The following statement was issued on its website (translation by the AIC):  Just Peace in Palestine and Israel  The Norwegian YMCA -YWCA encourages broad economic boycott of goods and services from Israel and Israeli settlements to pressure the Israeli government to follow UN resolutions and end the illegal occupation of Palestine….

Revenge may drive Haredi settlement boycott

The Forward 2 Mar by Nathan Jeffay — A boycott of West Bank settlements is a favorite subject for discussion among Palestinian activists and Western liberals alike. Surprisingly, it’s getting some ultra-Orthodox Israelis talking too. In fact, a Haredi lawmaker has revealed that he’s coming under “tremendous pressure” to initiate a boycott of settlement enterprises. Meir Porush of United Torah Judaism is “preventing it” for the moment but said that he doesn’t know if he can keep a lid on it. “I do not know if this matter will remain under control,” he said. Porush made the comments on the religious Kol Berama radio station and they were reported by the pro-settler news service Arutz Sheva. So what’s the rationale behind this Haredi boycott mindset? It’s not motivated by the fact that settlements are illegal under international law, but rather by the simple fact that the strongly pro-settlement religious-Zionist camp is supporting legislation to force Haredi men to serve in the army, which would prevent them from studying in religious academies instead … In short, a revenge boycott. Now, Porush may be wildly exaggerating the pressure for a boycott in order to make a political point, but it’s still notable that the boycott discourse has become such a looming threat in the Israeli mindset that Israelis are prepared to use it as a stick to beat each other with — even if they’re not ideologically behind it.

Anti-divestment UCLA rep went on ADL Israel junket

Electronic Intifada 27 Feb by Rania Khalek — On Wednesday morning, following nearly ten hours of impassioned public statements, the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) undergraduate student government voted 7 to 5 against a resolution to divest student tuition funds from a handful of US companies that profit from Israel’s brutal occupation in Palestine. Though the ballot was secret to protect the safety of Undergraduate Students Association Council  (USAC) members concerned about threats from those who disagree with them, two straw polls taken earlier in the night reveal who voted which way. And much like the nation’s warped political system, it appears the Israel lobby helped influence at least one vote, that of USAC general representative Sunny Singh. Last summer, Singh was one of 15 university student leaders from across the country to travel on an all-expenses paid trip to Israel, courtesy of the anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

Political, other news

Obama to Netanyahu: ‘Tough’ decisions needed on peace

WASHINGTON (AFP) 3 Mar — Israel needs to make some tough decisions in order to find peace with the Palestinians, US President Barack Obama warned Benjamin Netanyahu in talks at the White House on Monday. But the prime minister insisted that Israel had already done its part for peace, while the Palestinians had not.

Palestinians: Netanyahu declared unilateral end to talks

RAMALLAH (AFP) Tues 4 Mar — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to pro-Israel lobbyists in Washington on Tuesday amounted to “an official announcement of a unilateral end to negotiations,” a top Palestinian official told AFP. Fatah central committee member Nabil Shaath said Netanyahu’s repeated demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state and his rejection of Palestinian demands on refugees and international peacekeepers were “totally rejected”.

Good news: Obama gives the Palestinians an insurance policy

972mag 4 Mar by Larry Derfner — Obama’s interview with the Bloomberg news agency on Sunday, in which he basically blamed Netanyahu and exonerated Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas for the intractability of the occupation, is a very important event, and very good news. With Netanyahu and Abbas jockeying to avoid the blame for the likely impending failure of Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace initiative, the Obama interview with Jeffrey Goldberg will make it very hard for the administration to do Israel’s bidding, as is its habit, by pointing the finger at the Palestinians if and when the talks, whose allotted time runs out on April 29, run aground. At stake in the blame game is momentum: if Washington finds against the Palestinians, Abbas’ plans to take Israel to The Hague would stall, as would the “mainstreaming” of the BDS movement. If Washington finds against Israel, the effect would be the opposite.

Poll: Americans would favor one state if two-state solution fails

Haaretz 3 Mar — As Prime Minister Netanyahu gears up to meet President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry in Washington ahead of his closing speech at the annual AIPAC confab, a new poll shows that if U.S. efforts toward a two-state solution collapse, most Americans would opt for a one-state solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The survey, commissioned by well-known pollster Shibley Telhami, found that U.S. public support for a two-state solution is lukewarm. Less than four out of 10 respondents – some 39 percent – said they preferred a solution to the conflict that includes an Israeli and a Palestinian state side-by-side. Meanwhile, 24 percent said the U.S. should support a “one-state solution with equal citizenship,” 14 percent preferred “annexation without equal citizenship,” and 10 percent preferred Israel maintaining “occupation indefinitely” as solutions to the conflict. If a two-state solution were not on the table, however, some two-thirds of respondents would support the creation of one state with equal rights for Jews and Arabs, the poll found. Some 9 percent would choose the annexation option, while 25 percent opted for maintaining the occupation indefinitely … When asked whether maintenance of Israel’s Jewishness or democracy were more important, two-thirds of respondents chose democracy over Jewishness.

Abbas hosts Israeli politician in Ramallah

RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 3 Mar — President Mahmoud Abbas met with Israeli Member of the Knesset Zahava Gal-On in Ramallah, the official Wafa news agency reported. PLO Central Committee Member Muhammad al-Madani said in a news conference that the meeting focused on peace negotiations and possible repercussions in talks failed, the Wafa report said. Al-Madani said that the PA was hopeful for upcoming meetings between Abbas and US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. “We fully trust Israeli parties that support peace,” he said. However, if negotiations fail, “we will go into the unknown.” Speaking at the news conference, Gal-On reiterated her support for the two-state solution, praising efforts exerted by both sides to overcome obstacles and reach a framework agreement. Zahava is the leading member of Meretz, a left-wing Israeli Zionist political party.

Agriculture ministry signs $4.1 million deal with Saudi foundation

RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 4 Mar — The Palestinian Authority Ministry of Agriculture on Tuesday signed a $4.1 million agreement with the charity foundation of Saudi prince al-Waleed Bin Talal to support agricultural projects. Minister of Agriculture Walid Assaf and the secretary-general of the foundation, Abeer Kaaki, signed the agreement in the presence of President Mahmoud Abbas. The agreement will support a program for the reduction of poverty and the establishment of small agricultural businesses.

Palestinian government may soon have transparency law

Al-Monitor 3 Mar by Daoud Kuttab — The Palestinian government in Ramallah is signalling its intent to pass a transparency law, making it potentially the fourth Arab state to do so — The possibility that Palestine will soon have an access-to-information law is looking promising. Concrete steps by the Palestinian government and a public advocacy campaign are being taken to prepare for such a decision. Despite the Palestinian Legislative Council being dormant for seven years due to the internal Palestinian split, Ramallah is poised to pass a much improved access-to-information law, a draft of which has recently been circulating in public forums. The 41-article draft law has received a positive evaluation from the international nongovernmental organization Article 19

Could Indonesian pilgrims save Palestine’s tourism sector?

Al-Monitor 3 Mar by Danny Rubenstein — Over the last weekend [of Feb. 28], Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdullah paid an official visit to Indonesia, in the course of which he signed a number of economic agreements. The most important of these was an agreement to promote tourism from Indonesia — the largest Muslim nation in the world — to the holy sites in Israel. Already these days, groups of Indonesian tourists may be seen in Jerusalem. However, Indonesia’s tourism potential is enormous, and Palestinian Authority economists believe that the tourism sector should play a central role in the local economy. The Palestinians report that about 20% of the Palestinian labor force (including in East Jerusalem) is employed in various tourist se

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