Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem

Palestinian gunman shot dead after killing 2, injuring several in Jerusalem attack

[with VIDEO] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 Oct — An Israeli police officer and an Israeli woman were shot dead and at least five others were injured in a drive-by shooting near the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah Sunday morning. The gunman, a native of occupied East Jerusalem, was shot and killed by Israeli police at the scene. The shooting attack came a day after the gunman told Ma‘an that he intended to turn himself in to serve a prison sentence, after he was charged with assaulting an Israeli police officer in 2013. According to a statement by Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri, the gunman first opened fire across from the regional Israeli police headquarters while he sped towards the Ammunition Hill light rail station, critically injuring a 60-year-old woman, identified by Israeli media as Levanah Malichi, who later succumbed to her injuries after receiving treatment in a hospital. A man was also moderately injured at the same site. The gunman then continued toward a junction on the other side of the police station, where he opened fire at a woman driving in her car, moderately to seriously injuring her, al-Samri added. The assailant then fled toward Sheikh Jarrah as Israeli police special forces chased him, and he opened fire at them, critically injuring one policeman and lightly injuring another. The critically injured policeman, identified in Israeli media as First Sergeant Yosef Kirme, succumbed to his wounds in the hospital later in the day. Border police officers then arrived at the scene, shooting and killing the assailant. Israeli media also reported that three other victims were moderately wounded, while a further three were lightly wounded by shrapnel or suffered from shock…

[L]ocal sources in Jerusalem identified the shooter as 39-year-old Misbah Abu Sbeih from Silwan … The 39-year-old gunman was the 232nd Palestinian to be killed by Israelis amid the violence, while 34 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians.

Hamas says Jerusalem shooter was affiliated to the movement

GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 9 Oct — Hamas said Sunday afternoon that Misbah Abu Sbeih, shot dead earlier in the day by Israeli police after he carried out a shooting attack in occupied East Jerusalem that left two Israelis dead and several others injured, was a member of its Islamic resistance moment. In a statement, the Hamas movement in the occupied West Bank “proudly announced” that its “son” — meaning their member — and “Mujahid” (struggler), Misbah Abu Sbeih, “died a martyr.” The statement applauded Abu Sbeih, describing him as one of the “great figures of Jerusalem, and one of the city’s best people, who sacrificed his soul and his money defending Jerusalem.” The statement highlighted that Abu Sbeih carried out the shooting attack a day after the anniversary of Al-Aqsa Mosque massacre in 1990 during the third year of the First Intifada, which resulted in the death of over 20 Palestinians, with more than 150 injured. “This is evidence that the Palestinian people will never forget or ignore any crime committed against the holy city,” the statement said. The 39-year-old Jerusalemite told Ma‘an a day prior to carrying out the shooting that he had decided to turn himself in to Israeli authorities to face charges over allegedly assaulting an Israeli police officer at the mosque in 2013. Abu Sbeih had formerly been imprisoned by Israel over charges of “incitement” for Facebook posts that included statements such as: “We sacrifice our souls and our blood for you Al-Aqsa,” and, “we sacrifice our children for Al-Aqsa.”

Israeli forces invade home of alleged gunman, clash with stone-throwing Palestinian youth

IMEMC 9 Oct by Celine Hagbard — On Sunday afternoon, a squadron of Israeli soldiers invaded the village of al-Ram, east of Jerusalem, to raid the home of 39-year old Misbah Abu Sbeih, who was killed Sunday morning after allegedly shooting an Israeli officer and civilian. The soldiers clashed with local youth, injuring seven teens and young adults. The soldiers entered Abu Sbeih’s home and interrogated all of his family members, then ransacked the home while searching it. His three children were abducted by the soldiers and taken to an interrogation center. While the soldiers were invading the home, a number of local youth gathered outside and shouted at the soldiers to end the occupation. Some of the youth threw stones, and the Israeli soldiers fired rubber-coated steel bullets toward the crowd. Seven young men and boys were injured by the rubber-coated steel bullets, and the Israeli military reported that two soldiers, one male and one female, were injured by stones thrown by the youth.

After detaining her grandfather and two uncles, army arrests Abu Sbeih’s daughter, 14

IMEMC 10 Oct — Israeli soldiers and police officers invaded on Monday at dawn, the ar-Ram town, north of occupied East Jerusalem, and broke into the home of Misbah Abu Sbeih, who was killed Sunday after carrying out a deadly shooting attack in Jerusalem, and detained his daughter, Eman, only 14 years of age. The invasion into the property was the second in a few hours. The family said the soldiers violently searched the property, before taking Eman to the al-Maskobiyya detention and interrogation center. The invasion led to clashes between the soldiers and dozens of local youngsters, who hurled stones on the military vehicles, while the soldiers fired gas bombs and concussion grenades.

Eman was taken prisoner after publishing a personal video on her Facebook page in which she said “she was proud of her father, who died a martyr.” She said that she prayed with her father, on Sunday at dawn, before he left home in order to serve a four-month prison sentence, for “trying to prevent soldiers and settlers from invading the courtyards of the al-Aqsa Mosque.” [According to Ma‘an: According to sources in East Jerusalem, Abu Sbeih was a prominent local activist and known to some as “the Lion of Jerusalem” for being on the “front lines” in “defending” the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Old City]

The daughter added that she and her family said goodbye to him at dawn, believing he was going to prison for four months. He was killed after fatally shooting an Israeli officer and a woman. She also stated that she asked her father whether she should visit him while in prison, but he said that she, her sister and brothers, should take care of their studies, and do well in school. “We are proud of our father; I always prayed with him, including on Sunday at dawn in our home,” she said, “He also said goodbye to my sister, and asked my brothers and me to study well, and to do good, while he serves his prisoner sentence…”

It is worth mentioning that the soldiers invaded the family home and took measurements of the property in preparation for demolishing it. The soldiers also invaded and searched many homes belong to relatives of Abu Sbeih.


Israeli army detains 5 Palestinians in Jerusalem, 21 since Jerusalem shooting

IMEMC 10 Oct — The Israeli army and police detained, on Sunday at night, five Palestinians from Jerusalem for capturing the Jerusalem shooting attack on film, while allegedly showing support for the attack by “shouting Allahu Akbar.” The Police have so far detained 21 Palestinians since the attack took place. In a statement, the Israeli police said that the Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan has instructed the police and the army to act against any activity, including statements, that show any sort of support for the shooting, or praise the shooter, Misbah Abu Sbeih, 39. Abu Sbeih was killed after shooting to death an Israeli police officer, identified as First Sgt. Yosef Kirme, 30, and a woman identified as Levanah Malichi, 60. According to the Police, several Palestinians were arrested after distributing sweets to the public, celebrating the death of the two Israelis. The Israeli police also arrested those who demanded that store owners shut down in mourning for the Palestinian. Lawyer Mofeed al-Hajj, of the Jerusalem office of the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) said the police and army abducted five Palestinians who managed to film the attack, or parts of it, and published the videos on social media outlets. Two of those arrested shut down their stores in mourning for the Palestinian who was killed after carrying out the shooting attack. [List of those detained follows]


AP photographer wounded by Israeli fire while covering clash

AP 19 Oct —  An Associated Press photographer has been shot and lightly wounded by a rubber bullet fired by Israeli security forces during clashes in the West Bank. Photographer Majdi Mohammed says he was covering an arrest raid in the village of al-Ram on Sunday when residents began throwing stones at Israeli forces. The forces responded with tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd. Mohammed says that during the unrest, one of the Israelis cursed him and ordered him to leave. He said that as he turned around, he was shot from close range in the back of his shoulder, an area that was not covered by his protective vest. Israeli authorities say they are investigating.

52 Palestinians injured during clashes with Israeli forces near al-Quds University

JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 8 Oct — Israeli forces injured more than 50 Palestinians during clashes Sunday evening outside al-Quds University in the village of Abu Dis in the occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem. The ambulance service of the Palestinian Red Crescent told Ma‘an that their medics treated 52 people who were either hit by rubber-coated steel bullets or suffered from severe tear gas inhalation. One victim was evacuated to the hospital after sustaining a fracture in the hand from a rubber-coated bullet. Al-Quds University spokesman Muhammad Abu al-Zeit told Ma‘an that although the clashes took place outside the campus, some tear gas canisters and rubber-coated bullets fired by Israeli forces landed inside the university grounds.

Israeli forces detain 12 in overnight raids across West Bank

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Israeli forces detained at least 12 Palestinians and summoned several others for interrogation during overnight raids across the occupied West Bank Sunday, according to local Palestinian and Israeli army sources. In the northern West Bank, local sources reported that Iyad al-Nabulsi was detained from Nablus, Muhammad Mahfuth Miri and Ali Abdullah Zahran Asi were detained in Salfit, while Salah Najih Kamil was detained from Jenin. Also in the northern city of Tulkarem, Israeli forces summoned five youths for interrogation from the village of Attil, locals said. In the southern West Bank, Israeli forces detained relatives Nur al-Din, Bahaa, and Ahmad Izzat from Bethlehem. In the city of Hebron, locals said, Israeli forces raided several homes and handed summonses for several former prisoners, including Mahmoud Yusri al-Uwaiwi, Faris al-Qawasmah, Muhammad Fawzi al-Khatib, Fahd al-Qawasmah, Obadah Hashlamun, Luay Zughayir, Anas Zughayir, and Fuad Obeido. Israeli forces also detained reportedly detained Thaer Awad Salih from Ramallah in the central West Bank. According to Palestinian sources, two others were detained, though they remained unidentified.

Prisoners / Court actions

‘Journalism is a dangerous job for Palestinians’

RAMALLAH, Occupied West Bank (Al Jazeera) by Sheren Khalel — It took 10 young Palestinian journalists several bank loans, months of hard work and a big leap of faith to get Sanabel Radio up and running. But three years after the Hebron-based station’s launch, half of its cofounders were arrested and imprisoned by Israeli forces in late August, while the radio station itself was shut down. These five are among more than two dozen Palestinian journalists currently imprisoned by Israeli forces, according to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society. All 26 Palestinian journalists being held are members of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, a journalists’ union with the International Federation of Journalists. Last week, the five journalists from Sanabel Radio – Hamed al-Namoura, 25; Ahmad Darwish, 23; Muntaser Nassar, 23; Nidal Omar, 23; and Mohammad Omran, 23, were all placed under administrative detention after being held for nearly a month without charges.”

Almost all of the 26 journalists are being held under administrative detention, without any charges or trial,” Khalid al-Araj, who manages the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society’s Bethlehem branch, told Al Jazeera. “The tactic is used because they want to silence the journalists, but they don’t have any real charges to levy against them.” Araj said that when his team of lawyers asks for information on such cases, they are most often told that the journalists were arrested for “incitement against Israel” … Alexandra el-Khazen, who heads the Reporters Without Borders Middle East desk, told Al Jazeera that Israel’s use of administrative detention makes it difficult for the media watchdog to defend such cases. “We only defend journalists persecuted because of their work, or in link with their journalistic activities,” Khazen explained. “Israeli authorities, like many, usually do not accuse journalists of charges with links to their journalistic work, which makes our work more difficult.” Khazen said that accusations of incitement can often be “unfounded and used arbitrarily to silence journalists”. “Israeli authorities often use this accusation of ‘incitement against Israel’ against Palestinian media outlets and journalists,” she said. “This accusation has been used a lot since last year to shut down media outlets.” The other five cofounders of Sanabel, all women, were not detained, but the doors to the station were welded shut by Israeli forces, and all of the equipment inside confiscated, preventing them from relaunching the station….

Committee: 150 children in Ofer prison fined a total of $12,300 in September

RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 9 Oct — Israeli courts imposed several fines amounting to a total of 47,000 shekels ($12,335) on imprisoned Palestinian minors in one prison during the month of September alone, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said in a statement released on Sunday. The committee specifically focused on Palestinian minors held in Israel’s Ofer prison, stating that the number of Palestinians under the age of 18 detained in the prison as of September reached 152, with 30 detained in September alone. According to the committee, 17 of the imprisoned minors were serving various sentences, ranging from one to 13 months, and were facing monetary fines, though it remained unclear what they were being fined for. Citing testimonies of the detained, the committee added that the minors had been assaulted and beaten during detention and interrogation, and that some of them were ill and not receiving proper medical treatment….

Israel sentences Palestinian astrophysicist to 7 months in prison for ‘incitement’

RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) – Israeli authorities sentenced Palestinian astrophysicist Imad Barghouthi to seven months in prison on Sunday, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society. The group said in a statement that the Israeli military court in Ofer had announced its sentencing of the 54-year-old resident of Beit Rima to seven months in prison, starting from the date of his detention in late April. The court also issued Barghouthi a fine of 2,000 shekels ($527). A professor of theoretical space plasma physics at al-Quds University in occupied East Jerusalem, Barghouthi had been detained in 2014 before his detention in April, when he was placed under administrative detention — Israel’s policy of internment without charge or trial. An Israeli court ordered Barghouthi’s release at the end of May due to a lack of evidence, but he was indicted on incitement charges just days later. Sunday’s announcement regarding Barghouthi’s sentence came approximately one month before he is set to be released.  At the time of Barghouthi’s detention in 2014, his lawyer said he was being targeted due to his stance on the devastating Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip earlier that year, which killed more than 2,000 Palestinians. He was held in administrative detention for a month and a half amid uproar from the international scientific community, before being released in early 2015. Sunday’s sentencing came in the wake of an increasing crackdown on Palestinian activists, intellectuals, and citizens for “incitement” over social media….

4 Palestinian prisoners continue hunger strike in Israeli prison

RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 8 Oct — Four Palestinian prisoners continued their hunger strikes in Israeli prisons on Saturday, in protest of being placed in solitary confinement and under administrative detention — Israel’s policy of internment without charge or trial, according to the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs.

The committee said in a statement that Maher Moussa Ibayyat, from the occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem, continued his strike, launched on Sept. 23, for the 15th day in protest of his solitary confinement in Ayala prison in southern Israel. Ibayyat, who has been serving a 25-year sentence since 2004, has been transferred between the Israeli prisons of Eshel, Nafha, and Ramla, then to solitary confinement in Ashkelon, before being transferred to a solitary confinement cell in Ayala. According to a statement released last week, Ibayyat has suffered from stomach pains and has stopped taking pain medication since he declared his strike

On the same day Ibayyat declared his strike, Ahmad Muhammad Abu Farah, 29, also launched an open hunger strike in protest of being placed under administrative detention, a widely condemned Israeli policy allowing the detention of Palestinians for up to three to six month renewable intervals based on undisclosed evidence.

Meanwhile, Anas Ibrahim Shadid, 20, declared a hunger strike the following day on Sep. 24 after being placed under administrative detention. Both Abu Farah, from the village of Surif in Hebron, and Shadid, from the village of Dura in Hebron, were detained on Aug. 1. They have also both been transferred to Israel’s Ramla prison hospital after their health conditions worsened during their strikes.

Jawad Jawarish, from Bethlehem, also joined the other three prisoners on Sep. 27, after launching a hunger strike in protest of Israeli prison authorities’ use of torture and tactical transfer of prisoners from one detention facility to another. Jawarish is serving a life sentence in Israeli prison. The head of the Association for Freed Prisoners in Bethlehem, Muhammad Hamida, told Ma’an last month that Jawarish, a 40-year-old father of two girls, had been detained since 2002 for his involvement in the Fatah movement’s military wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.


IOF bars Madama farmers from olive harvest

NABLUS (PIC) 9 Oct — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Saturday prevented the Palestinian farmers in Madama village, south of Nablus, from going to their fields to harvest olives, claiming that they had no prior permission. Local farmers told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that Israeli soldiers prohibited their entry to their olive groves, which are located north of the village. They added that the soldiers demanded them to obtain prior permits from the Israeli army before accessing their fields. During the olive harvest season, the farmers in the West Bank are [often] either denied access by the army to their lands to pick olives or attacked by extremist Jewish settlers under military protection.

IOF prevents Palestinian farmers’ access to their lands

NABLUS (PIC) 8 Oct — The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) prevented Saturday morning Palestinian farmers from Salem village east of Nablus from accessing their agricultural lands for the second consecutive day. Local sources affirmed that Israeli forces accompanied by guards of Alon Moreh settlement chased local farmers and prevented them from harvesting their olive crops. The farmers expressed fear of Israeli settlers’ intention to steal or damage their olive harvest.

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements

Israel demolishes homes, water pipes, and agricultural structures in Jordan Valley

TUBAS (Ma‘an) 9 Oct — Israeli forces destroyed residences, agricultural structures, solar panels, and water pipes in the occupied West Bank district of Tubas, in the Jordan Valley, on Sunday morning. Bashar Bani Odeh, the head of Khirbet Atuf village council, told Ma‘an that four Israeli bulldozers accompanied by 12 Israeli military jeeps raided the area of al-Ras al-Ahmar and destroyed nine structures, including structures used to care for cattle. It also destroyed the main water pipeline used by residents of the area, and destroyed several solar panels which generate power to the local residents. According to Amnesty International, nearly 200,000 Palestinians in the West Bank do not have access to running water … Israeli human rights group B’Tselem reported that 24 people, including five minors, were left homeless by the al-Ras al-Ahmar demolitions on Sunday. Bani Odeh added that Israeli forces carried out the demolitions under the pretext that they were built in a closed military zone, and hadn’t received building permits from the Israeli Civil Administration. A spokesperson for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in Palestinian territory, told Ma‘an that “enforcement measures” were carried out against “nine residential tents, seven iron and wood construction sites and six animal pens.”

COGAT claimed that the demolitions were carried out because the structures were built near a military firing zone, “endangering the lives of the residents who were present at the structures.” Nearly 20 percent of the occupied West Bank has been declared “firing zones” since the 1970s, but according to the UN, recent research shows that nearly 80 percent of these areas are not in fact used for military training. Rights groups have accused Israel of declaring some parts of the West Bank as firing zones as an attempt to annex these areas….

Israeli forces demolish multiple homes belonging to the same family in Bedouin village

NEGEV (Ma‘an) 9 Oct — Israeli forces demolished multiple homes belonging to the same family in the Bedouin village of Bir Hadaj in the Negev desert of southern Israel on Sunday afternoon, according to locals. Village resident Ayish Abu al-Asa told Ma‘an that armed Israeli police forces arrived to the village in large numbers, surrounded and cordoned off the area for demolition, before allowing bulldozers to go in and demolish the homes. Said al-Kharumi, secretary of the Higher Guidance Committee of Arab Residents in the Negev, a local committee dedicated to fighting Israeli government demolitions of Bedouin homes, told Ma‘an that Sunday’s events represented ” a violent and racist campaign” on the part of the Israeli government in the Negev. “The campaign targeting the houses of the Abu Murayhil family west of Bir Hadaj [was carried out] in order to expel them from the area.” … “This racist, unjust policy to subdue our people in Bir Haddaj will fail, as prior attempts did. The houses will be built again and our people will continue to live with dignity on their land,” al-Kharumi said. It remained unclear what reason was provided, if at all, to the residents for the demolitions. It also remained unclear exactly how many structures were demolished, and how many members of the Abu Murayhil family were left homeless.

Israel to expand illegal settlement in Salfit at expense of Palestinians

SALFIT (PIC) 9 Oct — Israeli bulldozers on Sunday morning leveled Palestinian lands in western Salfit province to expand the illegal Rafafa settlement. A PIC news correspondent said Israeli bulldozers and jackhammers razed Palestinian lands on the outskirts of the Rafafa settlement to pave the way for the construction of more residential apartments for Israeli settlers. Researcher Khaled Maali said the Rafafa settlement was built in 1991 at the expense of Palestinian lands in western Salfit. According to Maali, Rafafa is one among 25 Israeli illegal settlements built on Palestinian lands in Salfit.

West Bank: Israel issues construction tender for promenade

i24NEWS 8 Oct by Ellie Hochenburg — …Israel issued a tender for the construction of a public promenade in the settlement of Beit El, the Walla News website reported Saturday. The bid is for construction work worth some 500,000 NIS that includes building a promenade at an archeological site in the settlement, near what used to be the Givat Ulpana settlement that was evacuated in 2012. However, the report adds, the Peace Now NGO claims this site is on Palestinian land. Israeli governing body in the West Bank, Civil Administration, denied knowledge of the project.



Shrapnel spills over Egyptian border, hitting Gaza home

GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 8 Oct — Shrapnel spilled over the Egyptian border from the Northern Sinai peninsula on Saturday, hitting the rooftop of a Palestinian house in the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Witnesses told Ma‘an that shrapnel from an Egyptian shell fell onto the central Rafah home, which belongs to the Amer family, and is located some 100 meters away from the Gazan border with Egypt. No one was inside the home when it was hit and no injuries were reported. Witnesses added that sounds of clashes were heard from the Egyptian side of the border. Egypt’s Northern Sinai Peninsula has been the site of deadly violence in recent years, characterized by attacks targeting Egyptian military and police, which increased since Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi took power from democratically elected Muhammad Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013….

IOF targets small flying object on Gaza borders

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 8 Oct — Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) targeted Saturday afternoon a small flying object with a camera after crossing the eastern borders of Gaza, Israeli media sources claimed. The sources said that Israeli forces sighted a suspicious object in the air that crossed the border from the Gaza Strip into Israel on Saturday. IOF forces fired from a distance after which “militants” on the Gazan side pulled back the object into their vehicle and fled the scene, according to Channel 2. The IOF force that spotted the flying object fired into the air from a distance after which its operators fled the scene, the sources added. According to the IOF, the flying object was used to photograph the area close to the border.

Israeli forces fire toward Gaza farmers
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 9 Oct — Israeli forces opened fire towards Palestinian farmers in the central Gaza Strip on Sunday afternoon, locals told Ma‘an. Eyewitnesses said that gunshots came from the direction of an Israeli military post east of the al-Maghazi refugee camp. No injuries were reported.

Hamas calls ICC visit to Palestine ‘useless’ as delegation skips Gaza

BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 8 Oct — The Hamas movement called a visit by an International Criminal Court (ICC) delegation to the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel this weekend “pointless and useless” on Monday, after the delegation declined to include the Gaza Strip in their visit. “It is regrettable that the ICC delegation yielded to the demands of the Israeli occupation to exclude the Gaza Strip from the delegation’s schedule, despite the fact that the Gaza Strip was the main site of Israeli crimes in 2014,” a statement released on the movement’s website said. Various human rights groups have charged Israel with international war crimes and submitted several cases to the ICC related to Israel’s devastating 51-day assault on the Gaza Strip in 2014 that culminated in the deaths of more than 1,000 civilians. Meanwhile, critics have questioned the ICC’s ability to bring justice on issues related to Palestine in the face of Israel’s refusal to cooperate with the court, and have even faulted the ICC itself with playing a key role in the slow process of holding Israel accountable  “As a result, Hamas considers the delegation’s visit pointless and useless. The visit has caused more pain and suffering for the families of victims who counted on the ICC to bring justice to them and bring the Israeli killers before the court.” The fierce condemnation by Hamas, the de facto rulers of the blockaded Gaza Strip, came as the Palestinian Authority (PA)-governed occupied West Bank welcomed the delegation of the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) to the city of Ramallah on Saturday….

Palestinian refugees in Gaza call for sacking UNRWA chiefs

GAZA (PIC) 9  Oct — The Coordinating Commission for the Nakba Anniversary has called for removing Pierre Krähenbühl, commissioner-general of the UNRWA, and his deputy Sandra Mitchell from their posts, saying the agency’s services have declined notably after their appointment. A spokesman for the commission told a news conference held in Gaza City on Saturday that the UNRWA’s services have been seeing a dramatic decline at all levels since Krähenbühl took office in March 2014. “The number of the agency’s Arab employees has fallen from 30,718 in 2014 to 29,825 in 2016 despite the increasing numbers of refugees and unemployed graduates,” the spokesman stated. “In contrast, the number of international employees [at the agency], who receive high salaries, has increased from 150 in 2014 to 182 in 2016, while the employment process at the agency has stopped in different programs and in all areas of its operations in compliance with a decision issued by commissioner Krähenbühl in May 2015,” he added.

Sea of support for Gaza activist

Weekend Argus 8 Oct by Sheree Bega — WAVING a Free Palestine flag, Dr Kelly Gillespie kept looking anxiously for her partner Leigh-Ann Naidoo as she waited in the arrivals terminal at OR Tambo International Airport [South Africa]. Although she was surrounded by a sea of supporters, chanting “Free Palestine” and “Down with Israel”, all her concern was for Naidoo, who had spent a night in detention in Israel’s Givon Prison with 12 other international activists … A few minutes later, a tired-looking Naidoo emerged to ululation, cheers and Gillespie’s embrace. She picked up a Palestine flag and shouted “Free Palestine”. The campaign’s vessel was 65km from Gaza’s shores when it was intercepted on Thursday. “We made it so close, we were counting down,” said Naidoo. “Then we saw these four huge military ships on the horizon and our satellite communication was cut. They (Israeli forces) were watching us the whole time, there’s no doubt. We had these young kids, 20-year-olds, female and male soldiers, board us with this Robocop equipment. They were so scared of us when they came on board, as if they thought we were going to hurt them.” All the group saw of Gaza, she said, in its “absolute darkness”, was the haze from its generators. “There’s a part of me that failed because we didn’t reach Gaza and the people waiting for us. Naidoo, who is doing a PhD in education and is a leader of the #FeesMustFall movement at Wits, did not want to elaborate on her prison ordeal. “You have rooms of six with bunk beds, toilet and shower… I was woken up and put to sleep so many times – I think we spent 36 hours on land… “In being part of this campaign, everyone kept asking me, ‘where do you connect to Palestine, why do I feel so strongly about it?’ But Israeli apartheid was taken from the handbook of apartheid in South Africa. There are so many similarities. It’s basically apartheid on speed in the sense the possibility to be brutal is amplified so much because of the amount of money and the military technology that exists over there. “But the basic ways that one dehumanises people, it’s about insisting people believe they are different to one another… forcing people to expose themselves physically through strip searches. They dehumanise you in ways that don’t require a lot of money. “The thing that was confusing for me was that the oppressor looked like the oppressed….

‘Gaza’s Shark Tank’ graduates another group of tech hopefuls

RH 8 Oct — Gaza Sky Geeks (GSG), the Gaza Strip’s first startup accelerator, has chosen its latest batch of entrepreneurs at an event many have dubbed the embattled region’s very own Shark Tank. Last month 46 hopeful entrepreneurs entered the group’s competition in Gaza City. 13 emerged victorious. They will now enter a five-month incubation period GSG’s leadership hopes can stimulate the tech sector in one of the most difficult places on earth. Last year companies that went through GSG’s acceleration program won investments ranging from $20,000 to $65,000. That may not seem much. But in a territory whose roads are rarely paved, and buildings shattered by ordnance, it can make a vital difference … Almost 150 participants joined the competition — 56% of whom had never before taken part — who enjoyed advice from 30 local and eight international mentors, from Silicon Valley, Germany, the UK and Italy. 34% of participants were women, and four of the 13 chosen teams were female-led. Following the competition GSG ran a kidpreneur ‘Fikra Camp’ where kids pitched their ideas. Four 12- to 14-year-olds won the event, and are now taking part in a pre-incubation bootcamp. A week later the group welcomed 500 Startups founder Dave McClure to meet Gazan entrepreneurs from GSG and Startup Grind Gaza … The need for tech in Gaza is huge. Youth employment, at 60%, is the world’s highest. Since a 2014 conflict with neighboring Israel, which left 2,200 dead and a million displaced, Gaza’s economy has fallen by 15.2% … The Gaza Strip boasts the highest literacy rate in the Arab world….

Japan contributes $4M to support food assistance for Palestinian refugees in Gaza

JERUSALEM (WAFA) 9 Oct — The Government of Japan contributed $4 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), said a press statement issued by the Representative Office of Japan to the PA. Ambassador for Palestinian Affairs and Representative of Japan to the Palestinian Authority, Takeshi Okubo, and UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl signed an agreement for a JPY 420 million (approximately US$ 4 million) contribution from Japan to support the Agency’s Gaza food assistance programme for the fifth year in a row. “Given the ongoing blockade, now in its tenth year, and the overall dire socioeconomic conditions in the coastal enclave, food insecurity remains a critical issue in Gaza, and many Palestine refugee families face difficulties in meeting their minimum food needs” This latest contribution will benefit nearly 100,000 Palestine refugees in Gaza by allowing for food distributions in 2017 and 2018 that will provide families with basic necessities, such as wheat flour, pulses and sunflower oil, it noted.


UN official demands ‘black list’ of Israeli businesses

Ynet 9 Oct by Itamar Eichner — The UN High Commissioner on Human Rights—Jordanian Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein — called on the UN deputy secretary-general to prepare to publish “the Black List” of Israeli businesses and international corporations which have ties with the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights to facilitate the launching of boycotts. Ties which can qualify a business for the Black List include those with any branches in the territories. These include, for example, banks which could be boycotted by the UN under the criteria set out by Al-Hussein even if its main operation centers are not situated in the West Bank or the Golan Heights.”It is reasonable to assume that the UN has ties with businesses which are expected to be included on the list, and therefore the UN must stop these illegitimate links.” Al-Hussain wrote to the UN deputy secretary-general, the Swedish Jan Eliasson. He urged the issue to be highlighted as soon as possible and be brought to the attention of the UN Procurement Division which managed regular contacts with Israeli companies and only recently reported that the volume of procurement from Israel has doubled twice in the last two years.  It was also pointed out that according to previous declarations by the secretary-general and UN reports, the world body is obligated to act in accordance with the resolutions taken by the Human Rights Commission … Officials from the Israeli Foreign Ministry have said that the implementation of the resolution could result in an economic disaster for the State of Israel since Israeli businesses operating outside Israel will be threatened with consumer boycotts. Furthermore, international corporations operating in Israel will be forced to choose between having their products labeled by the UN or activity in large parts of Israel.

Israel Social TV faces loss of State funding over alleged BDS support

JPost 9 Oct by Lidar Gravé-Lazi — The anti-BDS group Reservists on Duty has called on the state to halt funding for Israel Social Television, aired on Channel 98, after it released a report alleging the organization supports a boycott against Israel. Amit Deri, chairman and founder of Reservists on Duty told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that it is “absurd that organizations acting against Israel, promoting BDS, like Social TV, receive funding from the State.” … According to the Reservists on Duty report, “an in-depth examination of Social TV’s website reveals an online TV channel with a patently anti-Zionist perspective, which advocates the cessation of Israel’s existence as a Jewish and democratic state.”  The organization further accused Social TV of serving “as a platform for Israeli BDS activists and various boycott initiatives, which it likewise supports and encourages, particularly by uploading essays and petitions calling for increased international pressure on Israel.” The findings indicated that Social TV received some $1.1 million in funding between 2008-2014, including nearly $670,000 from European sources and almost $250,000 from the New Israel Fund. The report lists numerous examples to back its allegations, citing news segments, interviews, petitions, and calls run by Social TV to support participation in the boycott against Israel, to promote the Arab “right of return,” encourage draft dodging, as well as delegitimizing the IDF and calling for the prosecution of soldiers….

The Israeli gov’t must stop threatening to defund media outlets

+972 blog 9 Oct —  +972 Magazine stands in solidarity with our colleagues at Israel Social TV, who are being targeted for political reasons by two government ministries —  Israel’s Communications Ministry appears to have its crosshairs on “Israel Social TV,” one of a very small number of independent media outlets providing on-the-ground coverage of social and political struggles in Israel and Palestine. Communications Ministry Director-General Shlomo Filber said he plans to cut public funding to Social TV, accusing it of “subverting the foundations of the state, and providing a platform for the delegitimization of IDF soldiers.” Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Uri Ariel followed with a threat of his own — to revoke four national service positions allotted to the organization. According to several reports, the two government ministries took aim at Social TV following a campaign by a group of right-wing IDF reservists that accused it of providing favorable news coverage to nonviolent actions against the occupation, including the all-female flotilla intercepted by the Israeli Navy last week, conscientious objectors, and the BDS movement. Israel Social TV was launched as an independent media outlet in 2006 and is largely sustained by support from private and public foundations (it is reportedly one of 27 non-profits in Israel that will be singled out by the new NGO law). Only 8 percent of the organization’s budget comes from the Israeli Communications Ministry. It is also one of fewer than 40 percent of outlets that broadcast on Channel 98 (“The Community Channel”) that meets the criteria for public funding. Israel Social TV responded by saying that if the Communications Ministry believes it has broken any laws with its broadcasts, that it should take action through the appropriate legal channels. The director-general’s lack of enthusiasm for the content of their programming, however, does not form a basis to cut its funding. These threats against Social TV must be seen as part of a sustained campaign by the government against the media in Israel, especially since the last elections.

Other news

Opinion: Palestinians make a small step forward / Joseph Dana

The National 9 Oct — …Palestinian state institutions were a critical ingredient for the success of the Oslo Accords. Without a functioning state architecture, how was the PA, a governing body created by Oslo, supposed to transform into a functioning state? Aside from the security services, which were trained by Israel and the US in Jordan, Palestinian businessmen invested significant amounts of money in the West Bank and Gaza during the 1990s in the hopes that statehood was on the horizon. Munib Al Masri, a businessman from Nablus, is an example of those who made a fortune in telecoms, construction, tourism, energy, banking and agriculture. During this brief “peace” period in the 1990s, the Palestine Stock Exchange (PSE) was founded in the northern West Bank city of Nablus. After initial investments from Palestinians, Jordanians and Saudis, the PSE was hit by the Second Intifada. To cope with the closures and curfews that were common in Nablus during the fighting, the PSE moved to an all-electronic trading model. Today the stock exchange has a market value of $3.3 billion and trades 15 stocks that include industrial and real estate holding companies, banks, telecoms and drugmakers. Palestine Telecommunications and the Bank of Palestine are the two largest companies traded. Unlike most crumbling institutions in Palestine, the PSE was just incorporated into the FTSE Russell index of 27 frontier markets in September. And although Palestine is synonymous with risk for most in the West, Bloomberg has reported that the PSE index has risen 10 per cent over the past year. This is incredible given that the Palestinian economy is hamstrung by a lack of water resources, national sovereignty, open borders and air and seaports. The inclusion of the PSE to the FTSE frontier index could bring more capital into the market that would enable Palestinian companies on the index to be given frontier status. Independent investment into the economy, as opposed to state-sponsored investment and foreign aid, brings with it the real promise of transformation. A large part of Oslo’s failure was leaving Palestinian institutions at the mercy of international aid …  The prospect of direct investment, free from the constraints of Tel Aviv and Washington’s whims, has the potential to transform the power imbalance on the ground. The more Palestinians are able to wean themselves off international aid and donor support, the better positioned they are to take aggressive action against Israel in world bodies such as the UN. Few are under an illusion that the Palestine Stock Exchange will be the only vehicle for achieving Palestinian independence, but it is a start.

PM to Kerry: New West Bank homes only if no other solution for outpost evacuation

Times of Israel 8 Oct by Raphael Ahren, staff — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told US Secretary of State John Kerry Saturday that planned new Israeli construction in the West Bank that has come under American criticism is intended for families evacuated from a nearby illegal outpost, and will go ahead only “if no other solution were found.” Government sources said Netanyahu spoke with Kerry on the phone to discuss various regional matters …  Israel recently approved the construction of new West Bank housing units for the homeowners of the illegal outpost of Amona ahead of its court-ordered evacuation. The plan calls for two phases of construction, with a further 200 units to be approved after a first round of 98 homes is completed. The US sharply criticized the announcement and, according to a Channel 2 report Thursday, was particularly infuriated that it came so soon after the Obama administration agreed to a record-breaking 10-year military assistance package for Israel, and right after Obama came to Israel, in a show of respect and solidarity, for the funeral of former president Shimon Peres last Friday. Israeli government members have been worried that Obama, before leaving office in January but after a successor is chosen in November, may seek to impose or advance a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or at least set out parameters for how it should be solved, including through the UN Security Council by not using the US veto for any anti-Israel resolutions … On Thursday, an Israeli official deepened the latest dispute by charging that “disproportionate criticism” from Washington over the latest construction plans is “an alibi” to cover plans by Obama to take anti-Israel actions in the final weeks of his presidency….


US funding ‘Israeli state terrorism’ in military deal

Al Jazeera 9 Oct by Zena Tahhan — Al Jazeera speaks to three Palestinian victims of US military aid to Israel, as a record $38bn deal was signed —  Last month, the United States signed a $38bn record military aid deal with Israel, described as the “largest single pledge of military assistance in US history to any country”. Traditionally, US military aid is provided to Israel on the provision that the bulk of the money is spent on United States war machinery and weapons. As such, many of the warplanes, rifles and bullets that Israel uses against Palestinians, often in ways that may amount to human rights violations, are manufactured and supplied by the US. While US domestic law under the Foreign Assistance Act states that “no security assistance may be provided to any country the government of which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognised human rights”, no US administration since 2000 has held Israel accountable. The US has continued providing unprecedented amounts of military aid to Israel, the largest recipient of US foreign aid, in violation of its own domestic laws and international human rights laws. Al Jazeera speaks to three Palestinians whose lives have been impacted by the US decision to turn a blind eye to Israel’s misuse of US-manufactured and supplied tear gas, bulldozers and munitions to commit human rights violations against Palestinians.
Ahmed Abu Rahmah, Bil‘in, Occupied West Bank: Abu Rahmah lost two of his younger siblings in 2009 and 2011 to tear gas grenades thrown by Israeli soldiers at unarmed protesters. A Pennsylvania-based company, Combined Systems Inc, has for years supplied Israel with tear gas, a non-lethal means for crowd dispersal and control. Israel, however, has repeatedly used tear gas in close range of unarmed protesters who posed no threat to the soldiers, often injuring and even killing them. Here is Abu Rahmah’s story:….

Renewed clashes overnight with PA forces in Nablus

NABLUS (PIC) 9 Oct — Renewed clashes broke out between citizens and Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces on Saturday night in different areas of Nablus city just a few hours after the latter attacked a march demanding the release of detainees. Local sources told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that the confrontations happened mainly on the streets of Granada and Tal’at el-Fatimiya as well as in Ras al-Ein area and around the Western Cemetery. Torched tires were seen on the street of Granada, while sporadic gunfire sounds were also heard in the city, without knowing its source. Earlier in the afternoon, PA security forces in Nablus city attacked with tear gas and stun grenades a march demanding the release of detainees from the family of Halawa. At the behest of the Nablus mayor, the PA security authorities refuse to comply with court verdicts ordering the release of seven citizens from the family of Halawa on allegations of their involvement in illegal acts.

World’s largest flag on tallest pole planned in Palestine

RAMALLAH (Gulf News) 10 Oct — Flag on 65-metre-high pole will be visible to Israelis living in 1948 areas in a move that is sure to irk them — The West Bank city of Tulkarem will soon boast the world’s largest flag on the world’s tallest flagpole. At 65 metres high, the pole and the Palestinian flag will be visible to the entire Israeli-occupied West Bank and even outer space. But perhaps more importantly, it will be visible to Israelis as the city of Tulkaram is situated just a few kilometres from 1948 areas. It will immediately be entered into the Guinness World Records. Palestinians involved in the project say it gives them hope that one day they will have their own state. The move is sure to irk Israel. Both the flagpole and the flag were made in Turkey, and were donated by a Palestinian expatriate businessman named Abdul Qader Mattar from the Askar Refugee Camp near Nablus. “We are currently digging and working on the flagpole’s cement foundations that are sponsored by the Tulkarem Municipality at a total cost of 100,000 Shekels,” said Abdul Khaleq Jbara of the Tulkarem Municipality. “This is a major project that will end up being a key landmark and will give a new face to the entire city.”The flag will be erected on the Courts Roundabout and is expected to attract visitors from all across the Palestinian territories … Before the creation of the Palestinian National Authority in 1994, the Palestinian flag was strictly banned, and raising it anywhere in the West Bank could result in harsh imprisonment.

Israel extends ban on 2 Palestinian dairy companies

RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 9 Oct — Israel decided on Sunday to extend its ban on dairy products produced by two Palestinian companies from entering Israel until further notice for allegedly not adhering to Israeli specifications. The Israeli civil administration sent letters to the Hamoda and Pinar food production companies to extend a ban which ended on Oct. 6. In mid-March, Israeli authorities ruled to deny entry into Israel and occupied East Jerusalem to goods from five Palestinian food production companies, including Hamoda, in a move which was branded by Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah as an “oppressive political” decision breaching all commercial agreements and protocols regulating Palestinian and Israeli economic relations. It remained unclear on Sunday evening when the ban on Pinar was instated. Israeli authorities justified the ban on Palestinian food products at the time over alleged concerns regarding quality. However, Hamdallah called the decision a “racist” attempt to “wipe out our national economy and suppress its development.” In response to the Israeli ban, the Palestinian Authority halted imports from five major Israeli food companies in March….
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