Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing

Israel to confiscate vast area of Bethlehem village land

BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Apr – Israeli authorities on Thursday morning announced a decision to confiscate about 1,000 dunams (250 acres) of private Palestinian land in the town of al-Khader south of Bethlehem. Deputy mayor of al-Khader Ismail Issa told Ma’an that high-level Israeli military commanders and Civil Administration officers along with a group of settlers toured private Palestinian fields in areas known locally as Khallat al-Fahm, al-Zaytouna and al-Absiyya. They left yellow posters reading “State properties! No entry,” he said. Issa added that the Israeli officers dropped copies of a statement which explained that 984 dunams of private land was slated for confiscation. Palestinian farmers who wish to contest the decision can object within 45 days, according to the statement. The Palestinian liaison department has been notified of the Israeli decision, added Issa.

Separately, Israeli forces escorted a large bulldozer which leveled private Palestinian lands in the al-Nahla Hill area south of Bethlehem.

Israeli army razes agricultural land to expand checkpoint

JENIN (WAFA) 9 Apr – Israeli army forces on Wednesday razed an agricultural area in the village of al-Jalamah, to the north of Jenin, to expand the nearby al-Jalamah checkpoint, according to Khaled Abu Farha, head of the village’s council. He said army bulldozers proceeded to raze an area belonging to local villagers to expand the checkpoint, established on the village’s land, adding that the Israeli authorities, a year ago, seized an eight-dunum area near the checkpoint for the same purpose

Israeli forces raze land to west of Hebron

HEBRON (WAFA) 9 Apr — Israeli forces razed Wednesday morning Palestinian-owned land in the Abu al-Zuluf area to the west of Hebron, according to an activist. Forces, backed with bulldozers and heavy machinery, razed land belonging to residents of Tarqumiyah, a town located to the northwest of Hebron, said Head of Taffuh Local Council Mahmoud Zreiqat. The land is located in Abu al-Zuluf area between Adora, an illegal Israeli settlement built on Palestinian-owned land belonging to residents of Tarqumiyah, and ‘Ayn Farʻa, an area that has many springs and belong to residents of Dura, noted Zreiqat. He said that settlers from Adora and Telem, another illegal Israeli settlement, installed steel poles and wires in the land in order to seize it as a prelude for expanding the two settlements and connect them together. Residents were able to remove some of the poles and wires, said Mayor of Tarqumiyah Sami Fatafta.

Twilight Zone — They came, they razed, they left: A visit to a destroyed Palestinian village

Haaretz 10 Apr by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — Israel is continuing to destroy systematically the villages of shepherds who live in the Jordan Rift. Last week, the Civil Administration demolished Homsa, another tiny Palestinian village. In January, 160 residents of the valley were made homeless; last year, twice as many were left homeless as in the year before. Again the same unconscionable sights: heaps of debris, bare metal pegs lunging out of the earth, crushed fences, destroyed animal pens and squashed tin huts; remnants of personal property strewn all over; sheep wandering about looking in vain for shade; chickens pecking about; despondent shepherds; wretched sheep dogs; runny-nosed children curled up in Grandmother’s lap and merciless sun beating down. Another Palestinian shepherd community trampled into the ground. Not the first, nor the last to meet such a fate in this hard, battered valley, whose Palestinian inhabitants Israel has set itself the goal of cleansing itself of, far from the public’s eye. Step by step, devastating act after devastating act, community after community – there are hundreds whose lives and property have been laid waste recently by the Civil Administration … Not a word about this appeared in the Israeli media. I couldn’t find any mention of it this time even on websites of Israel and Palestinian human rights groups that generally report on such events. Who cares? More Palestinian rubble in the Jordan valley? Boring, routine.

Israeli forces tear down tents housing displaced families near Nablus

NABLUS (Ma‘an) 10 Apr — Israeli forces on Thursday tore down and confiscated several tents that the Palestinian Red Crescent had erected east of Nablus in order to house families whose houses were demolished by Israeli forces a few days before, a Palestinian official said. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian Authority official who monitors settlement-related activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that several Israeli military vehicles raided the al-Jawana area between the villages of Tana and Beit Furik Thursday morning and pulled down four tents.

Israeli bulldozers demolish Bedouin homes across Negev

[with photos] BEERSHEBA (Ma‘an) 9 Apr — Israeli bulldozers on Wednesday demolished several Palestinian Bedouin houses in the Negev desert, locals said. Police vehicles escorted bulldozers across the Negev as they demolished a number of structures in villages not recognized by Israeli authorities. In the village of al-Zaarura, bulldozers demolished two houses belonging to the Abu Judah family, witnesses said. Locals in the village of Kseifa said that bulldozers demolished houses and tore down trees. Demolitions across the Negev are still ongoing, residents told Ma‘an Wednesday afternoon.

Israel delivers demolition orders to Bedouin families near Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 9 Apr — Israeli forces and civil administration officers handed demolition and eviction orders to Palestinian families in East Jerusalem on Wednesday. Popular committee spokesman Hani Halabiya told Ma‘an that civil administration officers delivered the orders to families in the Jabal al-Baba neighborhood east of al-Ezariya. Bedouins from the Jahalin tribe live in homes made of steel, wood and tin boards as well as tents in Jabal al-Baba hill, Halabiya said. He highlighted that civil administration officers with Israeli troops ordered the families to demolish 18 dwellings measuring 80 square meters each. Families were also notified that they must stop construction of four more steel structures.

Israeli forces, added Halabiya, demolished seven structures in Jabal al-Baba a week ago. Four structures were used as dwellings and three were cattle farms. The Israelis cited construction without license as pretext for demolition. Israel is trying to displace the community of Jabal al-Baba to expand the nearby settlement of Maale Adumim. In the 1950s, the al-Jahalin community was forcibly displaced from its ancestral home in the Negev desert and resettled east of Jerusalem.

Israel digs new tunnel beneath al-Aqsa Mosque

JERUSALEM (WAFA) 9 Apr — The Al-Aqsa Foundation revealed that the Israeli authorities recently started to dig a new tunnel beneath al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, to be connected to a previously opened network of tunnels, a statement on Wednesday by Al-Aqsa Foundation said. The foundation, which has recently noticed more tunnel tracks being excavated beneath the mosque, said its field staff had detected that the excavations have reached beneath the foundations of the mosque building. Excavations beneath Al-Aqsa Mosque and the old city of Jerusalem pose a grave peril to the sustainability of the mosque building which is liable to collapse at any point of time due to the excavations. [not to mention that this is an earthquake area – Al-Aqsa was badly hit in 1927 and 1937]

UNESCO plans to send fact-finding mission to Jerusalem

IMEMC 11 Apr by Chris Carlson — Palestine and Jordan submitted a resolution to the UNESCO Executive Board to send a fact-finding commission to investigate the situation of heritage sites in Jerusalem and in other Palestinian towns and to submit its detailed report to the World Heritage Committee that will be held in Doha, Qatar at the end of June. The decision came during the meeting of the UNESCO Executive Board which took place in Paris, on Thursday, the Palestinian News Network (PNN) reports.

New supportive attitudes from European countries such as England, France, Italy, Austria and Spain were expressed in the meeting, excepting the United States, which rejected the decision.

7 Palestinians banned from al-Aqsa

JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 11 Apr — Israeli police on Thursday banned seven Palestinians from entering the al-Aqsa mosque for 17 days. Dar al-Aytam school principal Alaa Abu Shkeidem, Mousa al-Hallaq, Abdullah al-Singalawi, Wisam Hamoudeh, Mohammad Dawuood Tiryaqi, Ziyad Abu Hadwan, and Hamza Mhalles were banned. They were also briefly detained Thursday morning.

Settlers assault female students in al-Aqsa Mosque

JERUSALEM (WAFA) 9 Apr – Israeli settlers Wednesday entered al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem in a provocative visit, assaulting and harassing outdoor female students under police protection, according to witnesses. They said that police allowed the entrance of settlers in small groups during the early morning hours, provoking worshipers and students who chanted religious slogans protesting against the entrance of the extremists to the holy site. Settlers, under police protection, attacked the students and worshipers, spit at them while using foul language against them.

2 US lawmakers tour Aqsa with right-wing Jews

JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 10 Apr — Two members of the US Congress joined right-wing Jews who toured the al-Aqsa Mosque compound escorted by Israeli police officers in February, a Jerusalem-based Fatah official said. Dimitri Daliani told Ma‘an on Thursday that Republicans Bill Johnson of Ohio and David McKinley of Virginia entered the compound with the “extremist” Chaim Richman, director of the rightist Temple Institute. Daliani said the “congressmen’s participation in such criminal incursions into the al-Aqsa Mosque without being questioned by their own government indicates collusion with settler gangs whose aim is to hurt the al-Aqsa Mosque.”

More than 1200 settlers entered al-Aqsa in March: NGO

RAMALLAH (Turkish Press) 9 Apr by Alaa Rimawi — A total of about 1250 Jewish settlers forced their way into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem) over the course of last month, according to a report by a Palestinian NGO. Many of those who forced their way into the holy site – usually backed by Israeli police – performed Jewish rituals in the Al-Aqsa courtyards, triggering clashes with Palestinian guards and Muslim students, the report, issued by the ‪Wadi Hilweh Information Center, which documents Israeli violations in the holy city, stated. Among those who made controversial visits to the site last month were Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel, Knesset Member Moshe Feiglin and extremist Jewish rabbi Yehuda Glick, the statement noted.

PHOTOS: Publicly remembering the Deir Yassin massacre

Activestills 11 Apr Text and photos by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler – Activists walk through a West Jerusalem neighborhood carrying the names of some 100 men, women and children massacred 66 years ago by Zionist militias in the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin. They are met with curiosity, indifference and open hostility – Jewish Israeli, Palestinian, and international activists carried three black panels bearing some 100 names through the streets of what is now the Givat Shaul neighborhood of West Jerusalem on Thursday. They marched to commemorate the massacre and displacement of the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin by Zionist militias 66 years ago on April 9, 1948. Organized by the Israeli organization Zochrot, whose name means “remembering,” the event memorialized those killed and recounted the village’s history to Israeli passers-by, who were at times curious, indifferent and hostile. A woman passing the procession as it assembled on Kanfey Nesharim Street complained to her companion, “Oh, it must be that Deir Yassin crap.” A young worker in a sandwich shop asked, “What is this?” and snapped a photo with his iPhone. Just three days prior, vandals had spray-painted “Death to Arabs” on grave markers in Deir Yassin’s cemetery. As the participants carried the names along what was once the main street of a thriving Palestinian village, it was most often children who stopped to listen to Zochrot’s Umar Al-Ghubari recount the significance of a particular location along the way, or to read the names of the dead.

Restrictions on movement

Archbishop condemns Israeli restrictions on Easter pilgrims

JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 10 Apr — Orthodox Archbishop Atallah Hanna condemned Israeli authorities on Thursday for imposing obstacles on Christians wishing to enter the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem to celebrate the upcoming Christian holiday of Easter. “It is the right of every Christian to reach the Church of the Holy Sepulchre without facing any obstacles, or impediments,” Hanna said in a statement. “The Israeli security pretexts are unacceptable in every way,” he added, calling on Orthodox and Christian institutions to facilitate the entrance of Christians to the holy sites. “We call on our sons, churches and followers to head to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and hold on to this religious and national right and refuse the status quo imposed by the occupation authorities,” the archbishop said.

Gaza artists blocked from travelling to Ireland, Pat Kenny radio show hears

An Phoblacht (Ireland) 11 Apr – TWO PALESTINIAN artists have been blocked by Israeli and Egyptian authorities from travelling to Dublin for an exhibition of their own work, the show’s curator told Pat Kenny of NewsTalk radio today. The artists were trying to travel from their homes in Gaza, the territory that, under Israel’s blockade, has often been called “the world’s largest open-air prison”. Felim Egan, curator of the Windows Into Gaza exhibition, told Kenny: “Two of the artists were meant to be here today. They have their papers, their Irish visas, letters, everything.” Painter and photographer Shareef Sarhan was prevented from leaving Gaza at the Erez border crossing with Israel. “Shareef was stopped three days ago and every day since by the Israelis and told he wasn’t going to leave Gaza,” Egan said. Sarhan was not given security clearance to cross Israeli land en route to Amman, Jordan, where he has worked teaching in an art school and is legally entitled to visit. He planned to fly from Amman to Dublin … Painter Mohammed Al Hawajwi had no chance of travelling via Israel. He hoped to travel through Egypt, crossing out of Gaza at Rafah at the southern end of the “strip”. However, the frequent closures and tight restrictions imposed by Egypt’s military government have made getting out via Rafah nearly impossible for Palestinians in recent months.

VIDEO: Gaza runner, Israeli hurdles

NYTimes 10 Apr By Erica Berenstein and Reem Makhoul –The Palestinian Olympic athlete Nader al-Masri has been denied permission by Israel to cross from Gaza to participate in this year’s Palestine Marathon in Bethlehem.

Mideast tensions sideline a Gazan marathon runner

BEIT HANOUN, Gaza Strip (NY Times) 10 Apr by Jodi Rudoren — As a boy growing up in this town close to the border with Israel, Nader al-Masri was the neighborhood champion of Catch Me if You Can. “No one could catch me,” he recalled. After soccer matches, young Nader would do laps around the empty field. Mr. Masri took up distance running as a teenager, and in 1999, his fleet feet took him on his first airplane: to Belfast, Northern Ireland, where he was shocked by the snowy cold and finished near the back of the pack in an eight-kilometer race. He has since competed internationally more than 40 times across Europe, Asia and the Arab world, and he carried the Palestinian flag at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where he ran 5,000 meters in 14 minutes, 41 seconds. Back home, he has won the only two marathons that have been held in Gaza, on a course that stretched from tip to toe of this crowded coastal enclave. But Mr. Masri seems to have run into a roadblock: The Israeli government refused to let him travel through Israel to Bethlehem, in the West Bank, to compete in the Palestine Marathon on Friday. The Israeli Supreme Court affirmed the decision this week. “We are still under occupation, and they close all the gates,” he said of Israel in an interview here … Mr. Masri is among about two dozen Gazans who were blocked from competing in the Bethlehem race in 2013, when it made its debut, and again this year. The marathon, titled Right to Movement, was mapped to highlight the restrictions that Palestinians face daily: The course is two laps around the city of Jesus’ birth, past two refugee camps and the concrete barrier that separates Israel from most of the West Bank, with a turnaround at an Israeli military checkpoint.“It illustrates the whole concept,” said Lise Ring, one of the two Danish women who founded the Palestine Marathon, which is expected to draw 3,000 runners this year, half from the West Bank.

Haniyeh’s Israeli sisters convicted of visiting Gaza without a permit

Jerusalem Post 9 Apr by Yonah Jeremy Bob — The Beersheba Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday convicted two sisters of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh for illegally crossing into Gaza to visit him as part of a plea bargain. The two – Tzav’ah [Sabah] Bat Abud Elsalem Haniyeh and Leila Bat Abud Elsalem Abu Rakik – had previously requested permission to cross into Gaza for the visit and Israel had denied their request. According to the prosecution, the two women entered Gaza via Egypt to circumvent the ban on their traveling to the Strip. The sisters became Israeli citizens after marrying Israelis. They were indicted in July 2013, but agreed to an amended indictment as part of the deal. Their sentencing was scheduled for June 25 with no agreement between the parties on that issue.

WATCH: Bringing Israelis face to face with Gaza closure

972blog 10 Apr by Tania Hary — Although the Gaza Strip is only about 50 kilometers from the city of Hebron in the West Bank, few people are given permission to travel this short distance. One Israeli filmmaker decided to bring Gaza’s separation policy to the heart of the Israeli mainstream — Any illusions that Israel’s policy on Gaza is only about security surely should have been dispelled by the events of this week. Israel’s highest court struck down the petition of Gaza’s only Olympian runner, Nader al-Masri, who had asked to be able to travel to Bethlehem to race in the second annual Palestine Marathon. Ironically enough, the marathon is meant to be a celebration of freedom of movement … A new short film by Israeli filmmaker Itamar Rose, in cooperation with Israeli NGO Gisha , brings the Gaza policy to the streets of Tel Aviv and Bat Yam. Rose asks average Israelis to play the role of a soldier at Erez Crossing who has to decide whether to allow a young girl out of Gaza to visit her sick grandmother in Ramallah. In reality, decisions like this aren’t made by individual soldiers but rather in the high offices of Israel’s defense ministry, far from the reach or oversight of Israeli citizens, let alone the people impacted by them most – Palestinian residents of the occupied territory. If there’s any glimmer of hope for Gaza, it’s in the realization of the people in Rose’s film who struggle to defend the criteria they are fictitiously handed.

Violence / Raids / Attacks / Clashes / Suppression of protests / Illegal arrests

Soldiers stand by as Israeli settlers attack Palestinian schoolgirls

HEBRON (Ma‘an) 9 Apr — Israeli settlers on Wednesday assaulted Palestinian school children in the southern West Bank, a school official said. A school principal told Ma‘an that a group of extremist Israeli settlers hurled stones at school girls in the village of al-Tuwani, leaving them bruised. Israeli soldiers stood by and watched without taking action as the settlers threw rocks, the principal said. The girls who sustained injuries were identified as Kifah Omar Abu Jundiyya and Dalal Awad Zein, both seventh graders. In al-Tuwani and other areas in the southern Hebron district, school children on a daily basis wait at checkpoints for Israeli soldiers to let them through locked gates. Regardless of Israeli military presence, settler attacks on children en route to and from school remain commonplace, the principal said.

Settlers and soldiers attack elderly [woman] near Hebron

HEBRON (WAFA) 9 Apr — A Palestinian elderly [woman] was severely attacked and injured Wednesday by Israeli settlers and soldiers in al-Tawani and Um al-Kahir to the east of Yatta in Hebron district, according to an activist. Forces severely beat up 55-year-old Khadra al-Hathalin, causing her to lose consciousness and sustain bruises. She was transferred to hospital for treatment, said Coordinator of the Anti-wall and Settlement Popular Committee Rateb Jubur.

VIDEO: Police caught on tape brutally beating two Palestinians

Haaretz 10 Apr  by Nir Hasson — Video shows police officers repeatedly slamming car door into Palestinian, who suffered broken arm, ribs — A mobile-phone video posted online on Wednesday shows police brutally beating two Palestinian men in the Shoafat neighborhood of East Jerusalem. The beating continued after the men were taken to a police station, one of the men, Ali Talhami, told Israel Radio on Wednesday. Talhami, 27, told the station that a municipal inspector accompanied by a police officer came to his store and said he was fining him 500 shekels for taking a refrigerator into the street. “I explained the refrigerator was outside because we were returning it to the company, but the inspector started swearing at me,” Talhami said. Then the police officer attacked him, he said. Other police officers quickly arrived on the scene and joined in on the beating, Talhami said.The footage, published by Israel Radio, shows police officers brutally beating Talhami and slamming a police van’s door on him several times. One officer hits him with the butt of his rifle and hurls the other man at the vehicle, Israel Radio reported. “After we reached the police station, they continued beating me,” said Talhami, who said he suffered a broken arm and ribs.

Vehicle pelted with settlers’ stones, child wounded near Bethlehem

BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 9 Apr – A Palestinian child sustained Wednesday wounds in his hand when his father’s vehicle was pelted with stones by Israeli settlers near ‘Beitar Illit’ illegal settlement, according to local sources. Settlers from the illegal Israeli settlement of Beitar Illit threw stones at Palestinian vehicles driving by, causing a 4-year-old child to sustain wounds, said Head of Nahalin Local Council Ibrahim Shakarneh.  Shakarneh added that the child was admitted into Beit Jala hospital to receive treatment.

Remember Tom

OCCUPIED PALESTINE (ISM) 11 Apr — The International Solidarity Movement today remembers Tom Hurndall, an ISM volunteer who was shot in the head by an Israeli sniper in Gaza. This terrible injury left Tom in a coma for nine months and he died January 13th 2004, at the age of 22. 11 years ago today, the Israeli army were invading the city of Rafah, in the Gaza Strip when Tom and other ISM volunteers saw a group of children in a street where snipers were firing. Witnesses say that bullets were being shot around the children, who were paralysed by fear and unable to move. Tom succeeded in pulling one child to safety, but when he returned for another, he was shot in the head by a sniper. Today we pay tribute to Tom Hurndall, and to his family who lost their brother and son. We must remember that Gaza still experiences injustice and oppression, and we will continue to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Israeli forces detain 4 at protest against new Hebron settlement

HEBRON (Ma‘an) 11 Apr — Israeli forces detained four Israeli and international protesters and “beat” several others on Friday while violently dispersing a protest against the confiscation of a Palestinian building in Hebron in order to re-establish a Jewish settlement on the site, activists said. The protest in the flashpoint southern West Bank city began on Friday after noon prayers as protesters marched towards the building owned by the Rajabi family in the al-Ras area in the center of Hebron. Demonstrators raised Palestinian flags and chanted slogans in Arabic, English and Hebrew rejecting a recent Israeli court decision to confiscate the building and hand it to Jewish settlers. Israeli forces fired stun grenades and held protesters away from the building. Organizers said that Israeli forces detained two international and Israeli activists and tried to detain Palestinians as well but were prevented by demonstrators from doing so.

Israeli forces disperse West Bank protests, detaining 7

RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 11 Apr — A number of Palestinians were injured and at least seven were detained on Friday as Israeli forces violently dispersed weekly protests in a number of cities across the West Bank. Protests against the Israeli occupation and continued settlement expansion on expropriated Palestinian lands took place in Kafr Qaddum, Nabi Saleh, Qaryut, Salim, and al-Ma‘sara. [details of the various protests follow]

Israeli forces detain Palestinian school principal in East Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 10 Apr – Israeli forces detained the principal of a Palestinian high school in East Jerusalem on Thursday morning, a Palestinian Authority official said. The director of the Jerusalem office of the Ministry of Education told Ma‘an that Israeli troops surrounded the Muslim orphanage high school and prepared to storm the school and detain the principal. However, principal Alaa Abu Shkheidim went to the forces himself and they detained him at the main gate, the official, Samir Jibreel, said. Abu Shkheidim was taken to an interrogation center in the Old City.

Israeli soldiers ‘raid university campus in Salfit, fire tear gas’

SALFIT (Ma‘an) 9 Apr — Israeli forces early Wednesday fired tear gas at a university campus in the central West Bank, administrators said. Officials at the Salfit branch of al-Quds Open University told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers raided the campus and showered students with tear gas. “Campus workers collected some 70 empty tear gas canisters,” the officials said, adding that the gas prevented students from attending classes. “The Israeli occupation’s procedures targeting students and faculty of al-Quds Open University will never discourage the university from moving forward as planned,” the administrators added.

Israeli forces detain young Palestinian in Bethlehem area village

BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Apr — Israeli forces stormed a Bedouin village east of Bethlehem and detained a young man after ransacking several houses early Thursday morning, a village councilor told Ma‘an. The head of the local council of al-Rashayda, Fawwaz Rashayda, said that Israeli troops detained Ayman Muhammad Rashayda and confiscated the family’s computers and cell phones.

Detainees / Court actions

Young Palestinian dad died from Israeli torture, forensic expert says

Electronic Intifada 11 Apr by Ali Abunimah — An internationally renowned expert on torture says that evidence confirms that a young Palestinian died of injuries he sustained in Israeli custody due to torture. Arafat Jaradat, a 33-year-old father of two, died on February 23, 2013, in Israel’s Megiddo Prison, where he was being interrogated by the Shin Bet secret police, according to the Electronic Intifada. As Haaretz reported, Jaradat was arrested on the night of February 18, 2013, on the suspicion that he had thrown stones and a Molotov cocktail at Israeli occupation forces: “It was a bit after midnight and everyone in the house – he himself, his wife Dalal, his four-year-old daughter Yaara and two-year-old son Mohammed – was sleeping, as was his brother Mohammed, who lives in the same building. The soldiers, ten or 12 of them, burst into the home and behaved with rare courtesy. They asked for identity cards and when Arafat gave them his, they told him to say goodbye to his family and come with them for detention. His small children, Yaara and Mohammed, clung to his legs but the soldiers promised them their father would be home soon.”  He never did come home. Israel claimed that Jaradat died of “natural” causes, but human rights groups and family members said the horrific injuries on his body indicated he had been severely beaten, a finding supported by the autopsy carried out by Dr. Saber al-Aloul, a forensic medicine specialist and director of the Palestinian Medico-Legal Institute, along with two Israeli pathologists. Al-Aloul’s autopsy report concluded that Jaradat died due to “nervous shock as a result of extreme pain from the intensity of the injuries … which resulted from multiple direct and extensive acts of torture.” Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups jointly condemned Jaradat’s death and urged an international investigation. “Blunt trauma” Now, in an 8 April joint statement, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) and Al-Haq have released the findings of Dr. Sebnem Korur Fincanci, a forensic medicine specialist with three decades of experience.

Video: Victim recounts torture in Palestinian Authority prison

Electronic Intifada 10 Apr by Maureen Clare Murphy — In a short video produced by the human rights organization Al-Haq, 28-year-old Osamah Nayef al-Shawamreh describes in harrowing detail the torture he endured for three days in a Palestinian Authority prison in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron earlier this year. “I wish I could be as I was before, to walk on the street without fear,” a tearful al-Shawamreh states. Al-Shawamreh says he has lost control of his body, including feeling in one of his hands, and describes what seem to be symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the repeated beatings and other forms of physical torture. Al-Shawamreh’s ordeal began with a phone call on 1 February from the Palestinian Investigations Unit in Hebron, summoning him for questioning regarding a hacked Facebook account. The beating began straight away, according to al-Shawamreh’s testimony. Shawamreh describes repeatedly losing consciousness during the physical abuse. “You will die here” “I felt I would die when he strangled me,” al-Shawamreh says of one of his torturers. “You will die here,” al-Shawamreh recalls one of them saying as he begged for a sip of water.

Senior Hamas member freed after years of detention by Israel and PA

Haaretz 10 Apr by Amira Hass — Ayoub Kawasme, a Hebron resident described by Israeli security agencies as a senior Hamas member, was recently released from detention after five weeks of questioning in Israel. Kawasme, who is in his 50s and has been wanted by Israel since 1998, was arrested by the Israel Defense Forces anti-terrorism Duvdevan unit on March 4. Kawasme was responsible for several terror attacks, according to Israeli media reports. Before his detention in Israel, where he was questioned by the Shin Bet security service, Kawasme was imprisoned by the Palestinian Authority for 38 months. His attorney, Fadi Kawasme, said the PA held him in solitary confinement but never once questioned him. The Shit Bet questioned Kawasme in the interrogation wing of the Shikma Prison in Ashkelon. Fadi Kawasme said the case against his client was closed on Monday for lack of evidence and that he was released unconditionally from prison. Officials of Hamas and Palestinian human rights organizations say that the PA is arresting members of opposition groups on false security grounds in order to silence the opposition and enforce submission. They say that Israel exploits arrests made by the PA as a pretext to arrest the detainees after their release. Sometimes the process goes in the other direction, with Palestinians being arrested by PA security service forces and being held for long periods of time after Israel releases them.

Israeli court extends detention of 3 Jerusalemite prisoners

JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 10 Apr — An Israeli court on Thursday evening extended the detention of three people from Jerusalem until April 29, including two prominent siblings of famed Palestinian hunger striking prisoner Samer Issawi. A lawyer for the Palestinian Prisoner’s society Mufeed al-Hajj said that the detentions of lawyers Amjad al-Safadi and Shireen Issawi, as well as Medhat Issawi, were extended after the court listened to the arguments of the prosecution. Al-Hajj said that the detentions were extended in order to allow time for their statements of defense. Israeli forces detained Shireen and Medhat Issawi in March, only months after their brother was released from prison. [Samer] Issawi was released from Israeli jail in December as part of an agreement in which he ended a 266-day hunger strike, during which time he became an international cause célèbre who focused attention on the plight of the thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons. Issawi’s hunger strike was one of the longest in history, and brought him close to death.

Settlers vs. Israeli forces

Israeli army occupies W. Bank Jewish seminary after clashes

YITZHAR, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 11 Apr — Israel’s military on Friday occupied a Jewish seminary in an extremist West Bank settlement after a series of clashes between settlers and security forces there. “Following the recent increase in violence towards security forces, and in order to address ongoing security concerns, (the army) positioned a company of border police in the Yitzhar yeshiva building,” it said in a statement. “The structure was chosen based on security needs to prevent violence and vandalism targeting security personnel and the adjacent villages, originating from the area of the yeshiva,” the army said.  The seizure order was valid until June 15. The measure comes after 15 Yitzhar residents were arrested for allegedly stoning security forces and demolishing a military post in the northern West Bank settlement. Israel’s security establishment reacted by vowing to take severe measures. The Yitzhar settlement called the seminary move “hysterical and historic.” “Turning a yeshiva into a military base is crossing a red line,” a statement said, charging that a nearby mosque with a pending demolition order still stood and calling on the government to “leave the yeshiva immediately.” A statement from the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva itself condemned what it called the “desecration” of the holy place’s sanctity. An AFP correspondent said the army has closed off the entrance to Yitzhar, setting up roadblocks and limiting access to residents only.

Israel arrests settlers after attacks on security forces

JERUSALEM (AFP) 10 Apr — Israeli police said Thursday they arrested five people suspected of demolishing a military base in an extremist settlement in the West Bank, the latest attack against security forces by hardliners. The suspects, all males aged 16-29, were arrested for involvement in Tuesday’s vandalism in the northern West Bank settlement of Yitzhar, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP. Another three suspects were in custody, two for the same attack and a third minor for throwing stones at soldiers patrolling the settlement, Rosenfeld said… Also on Thursday, the army said it would not allow a march to the site of an evacuated settlement go ahead as planned next week.  “Following an assessment of the IDF’s (Israel Defence Forces) ability to allocate the required forces necessary to provide security, the decision was made not to approve the march to Homesh,” a statement from the military said. But settlers accused the army of punishing Yitzhar residents for the actions of a few wayward individuals. ”The army told us it was cancelling Homesh following the Yitzhar incidents,” a spokeswoman for the Samaria regional council, which covers northern West Bank settlements including Yitzhar, told AFP.  “It is inconceivable that the Samaria council and the entire settler populace has to pay a price over the deeds of a few outlaws, who should be arrested by police.”

Gaza under double blockade

Israeli forces injure 4 Palestinians in shootings near Gaza border

GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 Apr — Four Palestinians were injured across the Gaza Strip on Thursday as Israeli forces opened fire in two incidents and fired a tank shell into the besieged Palestinian enclave, medical sources said. A young Palestinian was shot and injured by Israeli forces east of Jabaliya refugee camp north of Gaza on Thursday afternoon. Spokesman for the Gaza Strip ministry of heath Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma‘an that a 24-year-old was shot in the foot near the eastern cemetery. He was taken to Kamal Adwan Hospital with moderate injuries, al-Qidra added…

The shooting follows an incident in the morning when three Palestinian men were shot and injured by Israeli fire near the Erez/Beit Hanoun crossing in the northern Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical and security sources said. The sources said Israeli troops stationed on monitor towers opened fire at workers collecting small stones from fields to be used for making concrete, injuring three workers seriously. Palestinian ambulances evacuated the victims to Kamal Udwan hospital.

Israeli forces injure 5 medics after ‘targeting’ Gaza ambulance

GAZA (Ma‘an) 11 Apr — Five Palestinian medics suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation after Israeli forces fired a tear gas canister at their ambulance in the northern Gaza Strip, a medical official said. Spokesman for the Gaza Strip ministry of health Ashraf al-Qidra said that Israeli forces had “targeted” three military ambulances near the Eastern Cemetery east of Jabaliya.  The five medics were treated on the scene, he added. The circumstances of the reported attack were not immediately clear.

Gaza govt scraps tunnels agency over Egypt crackdown

GAZA CITY 9 Apr by Ola Atallah — The Gaza government has scrapped the agency responsible for managing the underground tunnels linking the Palestinian territory to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. “The tunnels agency no longer exists after Egyptian authorities closed all the tunnels,” Gaza Interior Minister spokesman Iyad al-Bazm said in a Wednesday press statement. The agency had been established by the Gaza government to monitor, regulate and tax cross-border movement and trade.

Israeli siege disrupts projects worth $19m

IMEMC 11 Apr by Chris Carlson — Minister of Local Government Mohammed al-Farra said that the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip since 2007 disrupted 21 projects in the fields of water and sanitation. The projects were negatively affected due to the closure of the crossings with Gaza and the ban on entry of construction materials which are necessary to fulfill several halted projects, al-Farra clarified Thursday, according to Al Ray. He pointed out that the costs of the stalled water projects reached about $15m. The most important ones are the desalination of sea water project in Dair al-Balah, south of the Gaza Strip, costing $12m, and the construction of a water tank and a pumping station project in Deir al- Balah, costing $1m. The lack of raw materials stopped the completion of the second phase of rainwater collection projects in al-Jenina neighborhood, in Rafah, costing $271.1m, Al-Farra added, pointing out that several projects were delayed due to the closure of the crossings, and especially the projects of establishing water wells in al-Qarrara, Bait-Lahia, and al-Salqa valley….

Gaza resident builds plant that returns plastic to fuel

Middle East Monitor 9 Apr — EXCLUSIVE IMAGES — A Gaza resident has built a high-tech plant from basic equipment to turn used plastic remains to its origin; fuel. It took Ibrahim Soboh, 55, from the Nusairat refugee camp in the centre of the Gaza Strip, seven months to build and perfect the plant. Israel’s siege on the Gaza Strip lead to many essential goods running out, pushing the residents to Gaza to invent new machines with basic equipment to try to find alternatives. Soboh refused to disclose the secret of his invention but said the idea came to his mind as he knows that plastic is made of fuel and plastic remains, which used to be exported to Egypt through tunnels, are accumulating in huge amounts. In his plant, Soboh melts plastic by heating it until it becomes vapour. The vapour is condensed in the same machine and becomes fuel. According to Soboh, every 1.5 kilogrammes of ground plastic gives one litre of fuel. The new fuel is used to run electricity generators, cars and other machines which operate on oil.

Cash-strapped Hamas turns to e-bullets

[with photos] GAZA CITY (AP) 10 Apr by Ibrahim Barzak — In a long hallway that looks more like a videogame arcade than a military base, Hamas security forces are holding target practice using assault rifles fitted with lasers — all without firing a bullet. For the cash-strapped Hamas government, the system is a much-needed money saver that eliminates the need to train with live ammunition, which is in short supply in Gaza. Hamas also says the quiet, indoor facility is less likely to attract the attention of the Israeli military than the open-air firing ranges that are frequently targeted in airstrikes. “Our training centers are targeted all the time by the occupation, so we have a closed-door shooting range that is hidden from the occupation,” said Abdallah Karmot, the deputy director of training at Hamas’ Interior Ministry, which oversees security in the seaside strip of land. “We also save money and the time it takes to move officers to training camps for live shooting.”

Gaza conflict film spares no detail

BDlive (South Africa) 10 Apr by Peter Aspden — UNDER a bright blue sky, a young Arab man in a black bomber jacket is tending to gruesome business. He is gathering the remains of a human body. They belong to Ahmed Jabari, head of the al-Qassam brigade, the military wing of the Palestinian organisation Hamas, who has just been killed in an Israeli air strike. The aftermath of the bombing, which took place in November 2012, is infernal. The streets and nearby buildings are sprayed with blood. Amid the chaos, the young man burrows into the wreckage of the car in which Jabari was travelling, and solemnly puts some unrecognisable items into a small cloth bag. “I’m collecting the pieces of the corpse,” he explains dispassionately to the camera.Devilish details, rarely seen in the plethora of news reports that come out of the various conflicts of the Middle East, which batter us into indifference almost daily. Is it a matter of taste? If we received the fuller, more brutal picture, would we be persuaded to care a little more? Or would we shrink away still further? The harrowing scenes come from a short documentary film, Gaza: Chronicles of a Conflict, which has picked up a host of international awards and this week will feature at the American Documentary Film Festival in California.

Islamic Jihad imam ‘beaten’ by al-Qassam members

GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 Apr — An imam affiliated with Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad accused members of the the military wing of Hamas of assaulting him and firing shots near the Ibrahim Khalil mosque in the northern Gaza Strip. Mureed al-Qanoo said that the incident was related to a conflict at his mosque, adding that the ministry of Islamic endowments in the northern Gaza Strip had previously dismissed him from his position at the nearby Bint al-Baz mosque in al-Safa area. Al-Qanoo claimed that his dismissal and the attack by members of al-Qassam brigades were carried out because the mosque he worked at had come under Islamic Jihad control, adding that the decision was “arbitrary.” Spokesman for the Gaza police Ayub Abu Shaar said there was problem in the area where the shots were fired, but that police were in the area working to solve the issue.

Palestinian refugees from Syria

Palestinians who fled Syria seek refugee status in Thailand

DPA 10 Apr — A year after about 300 Palestinians fled Syria for Thailand, the UN has yet to grant status — Dozens of Palestinians stranded in Thailand after fleeing war-torn Syria a year ago on Thursday petitioned the United Nations to speed up the process of granting them refugee status. The Palestinian petitioners, most of them children, gathered outside the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Bangkok in a bid to draw attention to their increasingly desperate plight in the kingdom. “We need recognition as a special case with no homeland to return to,” said Tamman Tamim, 37, a spokesman for the Palestinians from Syria. An estimated 300 Palestinians have fled fighting in Syria for Thailand over the past year, after being granted visas by the Thai embassy in Damascus. “We were like visitors in Syria,” Tamim said. “We didn’t take sides so when the war broke out we decided to run away.”  Even though they did not have passports, Thailand granted them visas to travel to Bangkok, where they immediately sought refugee status from the UNHCR. But a year later, the UNHCR has yet to process their cases to make them eligible for resettlement or renew their visas in Thailand. “Now there are 25 Palestinians in jail because they don’t have visas,” Tamim said. Lacking passports and visas, the Palestinians are at constant risk of arrest by Thai authorities.

Political, other news

Israel limits contact with Palestinians as talks falter

Jerusalem (AFP) 9 Apr by Daphne Rousseau – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered ministers to limit contact with their Palestinian counterparts as the Arab League blamed his government Wednesday for the “dangerous stalemate” in US-brokered peace talks. The moves came a day after US Secretary of State John Kerry, who kick-started the talks in July after a nearly three-year hiatus, blamed Israel for derailing the process by announcing new settlement construction. “In response to the Palestinian violation of their commitments under peace talks… Israel government ministers have been told to refrain from meeting their Palestinian counterparts,” an Israeli official told AFP. Palestinian labour minister Ahmad Majdalani downplayed the significance of the move. “There are no (regular) meetings organised between Palestinian and Israeli ministers, apart from the finance ministers,” he told AFP

Israel sanctions Palestinians in new blow to peace talks

Jerusalem (AFP) 10 Apr by Daphne Rousseau with Jo Biddle in Washington — Israeli and Palestinian officials held fresh US-mediated talks Thursday, but the crisis-hit peace process was dealt a new blow as Israel unveiled sanctions against the Palestinians. Israel, which collects about 80 million euros ($111 million) in taxes on behalf of the Palestinian Authority — two-thirds of its revenues — has decided to freeze the transfer of that money, an official told AFP. Israel was also suspending its participation with the Palestinians in developing a gas field off the Gaza Strip and putting a cap on Palestinian deposits in its banks, the Israeli official said, asking not to be named. However, the official said “discussions under the aegis of the United States to overcome the talks crisis will continue.” Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat lashed out at the move, calling it an act of “Israeli hijacking and the theft of the Palestinian people’s money.”

Fatah leader: Israeli sanctions will lead to collapse of PA

RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 9 Apr — Fatah central committee member Azzam al-Ahmad warned on Wednesday that Israeli sanctions will lead to the dismantling of the Palestinian Authority. Al-Ahmad told Ma‘an that the PA will not announce its dismantling outright, but stressed that Israeli actions will “lead to its collapse.”

Bennett calls on PM to annex 60 percent of the West Bank

Jerusalem Post 10 Apr by Gil Hoffman — Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett urged Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday to annex some 60 percent of the West Bank in response to the Palestinians’ stopping talks with Israel and turning to the UN. All 350,000 of the Jews in Judea and Samaria live in Area C, some 60% of the area. Of the Palestinians in the West Bank, 97% live in Area A, which is under full Palestinian control, and Area B, which is under Palestinian civil control and Israeli military control … Bennett launched a public relations initiative Wednesday for his “Settlement Blocs First” plan, which calls for annexing blocs such as Ariel, Gush Etzion, Ma’aleh Adumim, Beit El-Ofra and communities that overlook Ben-Gurion Airport. He explained his plan on CNN Wednesday night and intends to push it to the international community. A Hebrew video with subtitles in multiple languages that the Jerusalem and Diaspora affairs minister released explained why the plan could be practical. It says that the international community does not recognize Israel’s annexation of eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, so annexing part of the West Bank would just add another thing for the world to complain about.

Report: Abbas ready to extend peace talks

BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Apr – President Mahmoud Abbas says he is ready to extend peace talks based on principles and terms of reference that lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. Abbas told the London-based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat daily newspaper Thursday that his move to join 15 international conventions an

Show more