Suspended due to US pressure, East Jerusalem construction plan may be revived

Haaretz 21 Nov by Nir Hasson — Jerusalem’s zoning board is set to discuss a plan on Wednesday to build 500 homes in Ramat Shlomo, a Jewish neighborhood located over the Green Line in East Jerusalem. The plan was approved two years ago by the Jerusalem Planning and Building Committee, but was later suspended due to pressure from the U.S. In anticipation of the inauguration of Donald Trump as U.S. president in January, city officials have begun to “thaw” building projects in the capital that had been “frozen.” The envisioned project is to be built on a 76-dunam (19-acre) lot between the existing Ramat Shlomo neighborhood and the Palestinian neighborhood of Shoafat. The land for the apartment buildings themselves is owned by Jews, but private Palestinian land would be expropriated for the new residential area’s roads and public parks. During a zoning board meeting two years ago, a researcher for a Jerusalem civil-society organization claimed that Jewish developers were profiting at the expense of the Palestinian landowners. Aviv Tatarsky argued that instead of allowing all of the owners of the land for the project, both Jewish and Palestinian, to profit in accordance with their share of the total amount of land, the project was designed so that all of the residential and commercial buildings would be on Jewish-owned land, while the unprofitable roads and public spaces would be built on Palestinian-owned land….

Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem

Price of protest: Rubber bullet lands Palestinian boy in vegetative state

Haaretz 19 Nov by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — Fares Bayed’s father doesn’t know what happened to his son at the entrance to the Jalazun refugee camp, near Ramallah, but he’s positive that Israeli soldiers should not have shot him in the head — Tubes are stuck into his mouth and other parts of his body, which rises and falls at the behest of the mechanical ventilator on which his life now depends. Ashen face, a dead gaze fixed on the ceiling. He’s in a vegetative state and his chances of survival are poor. Mortal damage to his brain. He’s a boy of 15 and this is the intensive care unit on the second floor of the Government Hospital in Ramallah. There’s lots of hustle and bustle in the crowded yard outside and in the corridors: injured people, sick patients, family members and legions of armed Palestinian policemen. Fares Bayed, the critically wounded teen, is alone. No one sits by his bedside nonstop; afternoon visiting hours begin at 4 P.M., which is when we arrived on Monday. The waiting room outside the ICU is packed with dozens of relatives of patients, among them Ziad, the father of Fares, a 44-year-old day laborer. For the past month, he and his wife, Ayman, have been sitting there day and night, taking turns, not far from their dying son’s room. Shock is written all over Ziad’s face; he doesn’t know what happened to his son, what exactly transpired a month ago, on Oct. 15, at the entrance to the Jalazun refugee camp, near Ramallah, where the family lives. He didn’t ask the other children who were nearby at the time of the incident, but he’s positive that Israel Defense Forces soldiers should not have shot Fares in the head. “They could have shot him in the arm, the leg, but why the head? They wanted to kill him. They shot to kill,” says Ziad….

Palestinians in Ramallah stage sit-in demanding return of slain Palestinian’s body

RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 19 Nov — Dozens of Palestinians organized a sit-in at the al-Manara square in the heart of Ramallah city in the central occupied West Bank on Saturday, demanding the release of the body of Maen Abu Qaraa and other slain Palestinians still being held by Israeli authorities. Deputy Secretary General of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DLP) Qais Abd al-Karim said during the sit-in that holding the body of Abu Qaraa was “evidence of the brutality and inhumanity of the Israeli occupation, which is still holding dozens of bodies of killed Palestinians.” Abd al-Karim stressed that more protests of this “brutality” would continue, adding that “Israel not only kills our children unjustly but also holds their bodies in a clear violation to all international laws.” Abu Qaraa, 23, was killed by Israeli forces on Nov. 3 after allegedly attempting to carry out a stabbing attack near the illegal Israeli Ofra settlement, between the Ramallah-area villages of Silwad and Deir Jarir….

Israeli forces raid al-Quds University, damage contents of book fair for the needy

[with photos] JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 19 Nov — Israeli forces stormed the campus of al-Quds University in the Jerusalem district village of Abu Dis on Saturday morning, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Education. The ministry said in a statement on Saturday that “large numbers of heavily armed” Israeli troops stormed the university campus at dawn and damaged the “contents of a book fair,” which students had been organizing to help their fellow students in need. “All books, magazines, and stationery which are being sold to needy students at low prices have been either stolen or damaged [by Israeli forces],” the statement said. The statement added that after raiding several buildings, including the main administration building, Israeli forces left the campus after three hours.

The ministry highlighted that Israeli forces had also violently raided Palestine Technical University – Kadoorie in the northern occupied West Bank of Tulkarem on Thursday. Israeli troops broke open the main doors of a computer center at the university and damaged several computers. “In an obvious burglary that lasted more than an hour, Israeli soldiers stole electronic material and archival database off the university’s security cameras,” the statement said. The statement added that Israeli forces have raided the campus 85 times in the past two years, “endangering thousands of students.” “Some students were shot with live ammunition and several others were hit with rubber-coated (steel) bullets or hurt as a result of inhaling tear gas during past Israeli incursions into campus,” the statement concluded.

3 Israeli soldiers lightly injured in rock-throwing incident

BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 Nov — Three Israeli soldiers were lightly injured when stones were thrown at their bus south of occupied East Jerusalem on Sunday evening, the Israeli army reported. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that “suspects” threw rocks at a bus near the illegal Israeli settlement of Geva Benyamin, breaking the windshield and several windows. They added that all three soldiers were lightly wounded in the incident, confirming that one of them was taken to a hospital for further treatment. Stones were also reportedly thrown at another Israeli bus near Beit Ummar in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, causing damage to the bus but no injuries, Hebrew-language media reported. Israel detains hundreds of Palestinians for alleged stone-throwing every year, and Israeli rights group B’Tselem reported that from 2005 to 2010, “93 percent of the minors convicted of stone throwing were given a prison sentence, its length ranging from a few days to 20 months.” Palestinian stone throwers face harsh penalties by Israeli authorities, with Israel passing a law last year mandating 20 years in prison if charged with throwing stones at vehicles and a minimum prison sentence of three years for throwing a stone at an Israeli….

Israeli police: Gunshots fired at police vehicle in occupied East Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 19 Nov — Gunshots were fired at an Israeli police vehicle near a checkpoint in the Jabal al-Zaytoun — also known as Mount of Olives — neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem on Saturday morning, according to Israeli police. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement that the gunshots “came from the direction of the Jerusalem district town of al-Eizariya.” Al-Samri added that “a number of shots” hit the vehicle, though no injuries were reported. Israeli police and army forces were investigating the incident, the statement added.

Israeli police detains 2 Jerusalem teens, charges 1 for ‘social media incitement’

BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 Nov — Israel charged one Palestinian minor with “incitement” for posts on social media, Israeli police said on Sunday. Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said in a statement that two young residents of occupied East Jerusalem had been detained for maintaining a Facebook page called “Bahaa Elayyan News,” named after a Palestinian who was killed by Israeli forces last year after carrying out a shooting and stabbing attack, for the past two weeks. One of the two youths, who al-Samri said was 15 years old, was charged with incitement to violence and terrorism. The other minor was still being interrogated, al-Samri added, stating that a 32-year-old Palestinian resident of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir had also been detained in the case. In the past year, Israel has detained scores of Palestinians, including journalists, for social media activity, alleging that a wave of unrest that swept the occupied Palestinian territory since October 2015 was encouraged largely by “incitement.”

Israeli forces detain Palestinian man in East Jerusalem on his wedding day

JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 19 Nov — Israeli forces raided villages in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem early Saturday morning, detaining at least one Palestinian in the Old City of Jerusalem.Head of the Jerusalem Detainees’ Committee Amjad Abu Asab told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided the al-Fakhouri family home in the neighborhood of Bab al-Huttah in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem during the early morning hours and detained Abd al-Fattah al-Fakhouri, 31, before transferring him to interrogation with Israeli intelligence. According to Abu Asab, al-Fakhouri was set to get married on Saturday, and had a pre-wedding party on Friday, just hours before he was detained. Immediately following the pre-wedding party, the wedding photographer and his assistant were also detained at Herod’s Gate in the Old City. Abu Asab said that al-Fakhouri was being interrogated by Israeli forces on Saturday at al-Qishla police station in the Old City about Friday night’s pre-wedding party. On Sunday, Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement that a Palestinian groom had been detained because Hamas flags had been waved during the wedding festivities.

Meanwhile, in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, Israeli forces raided several houses in the early morning in the village of Beit Ummar, and summoned two former prisoners for interrogation. Local media activist Muhammad Ayyad Awad told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided his home and gave an interrogation summons to his son Ahmad, 19, adding that they had also summoned Khalid Khalil Abd al-Fattah Sabarnah, 22, for interrogations at the Etzion center on Sunday. Awad added that both his son and Sabarnah were former prisoners released just three months ago.

Israeli army abducts ten Palestinians, including children, in the West Bank [and East Jerusalem]

IMEMC 20 Nov — The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers have kidnapped overnight and at dawn Sunday, at least ten Palestinians, including children, in different parts of the occupied West Bank. The PPS stated that the soldiers violently invaded and searched homes in occupied East Jerusalem, and kidnapped seven Palestinians. They have been identified as Ahmad Mohammad Khalil, 20, his brother Mohammad, 17, Rawhi al-Jamal, 23, his brother Hamdi, 15, Faisal Shabana, 17, Mahmoud Omar Gharib, and Mohammad al-Hidra, 15. In Bethlehem, the soldiers invaded Beit Fajjar town, south of Bethlehem, and Husan village, west of Bethlehem, searched homes and abducted two Palestinians, in addition to summoning two others for interrogation. The Bethlehem office of the PPS said the soldiers abducted Nabil Ahmad Taqatqa, 40, from his home in Beit Fajjar, and Daoud Mazen Shousha, 19, was abducted from his home in from Husan village. In addition, the soldiers invaded the Saff Street, in the center of Bethlehem city, searched a few homes, and summoned Ali Mohammad Hassan, 30, and Moath Mohammad Suman, 27, for interrogation in Etzion military base, south of Bethlehem.  The Hebron office of the PPS, in the southern part of the West Bank, said the soldiers invaded Ja’far Yosri Skafi, 22, from his home in the city.


Army dismisses officer for fleeing deadly Jerusalem attack while armed

Haaretz 20 Nov by Gili Cohen — A combat officer has been dismissed from the Israeli army after it was discovered he fled the scene of a shooting attack in Jerusalem in October, despite being armed. This is thought to be the first time since the recent terror wave erupted in October 2015 that the Israel Defense Forces has dismissed a soldier who chose not to confront an assailant, and instead ran from the scene of the attack. Brig. Gen. Amir Abulafia, the commander of the 162nd Division, was behind the decision.

The assailant in the attack, Masabah Abu Sabih, opened fire on commuters at the Ammunition Hill light rail station on October 9. Levana Malihi, 60, of Jerusalem was killed in the shooting. The attacker fled the scene and continued to target people elsewhere: he shot at another woman who was in her car, and at policemen who followed him to Sheikh Jarrah. During this exchange, police officer Yossi Kirma was shot and fatally wounded. After Abu Sabih had fled from Ammunition Hill, several civilians and unarmed soldiers had chased after him. The investigation into the attack revealed that a soldier had fled the scene despite being armed, and failed to offer assistance or help in the chase … This is not the first time IDF soldiers have fled from the scene of an attack. In a shooting attack at the Central Bus Station in Be’er Sheva in October 2015, soldiers were documented fleeing from the scene.


Funeral held in Gaza for Palestinian shot dead by Israeli forces

GAZA (Ma‘an) 19 Nov — A 26-year-old Palestinian who was shot dead on Friday by Israeli forces during clashes east of al-Bureij refugee camp in the besieged Gaza Strip was laid to rest on Saturday morning. The funeral procession for slain Palestinian Muhammad Abu Saada took off in front of his home in al-Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, where his mourning family bid him farewell. His body was then buried at al-Nuseirat’s cemetery. Abu Saada was killed just a day earlier during clashes after he was shot in the chest by Israeli forces deployed near the eastern border of Gaza.

Israeli forces open fire at fishing boats off Gaza coast

GAZA (Ma‘an) 20 Nov — Israeli naval forces opened fire at Palestinian fishermen boats off the coast of the southern and northern Gaza Strip on Sunday. Witnesses said Israeli naval boats opened fire at fishing boats off the coast of Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza Strip, and chased boats near Rafah in the south. No injuries were reported in either incident.

Egypt closes the Rafah border crossing with Gaza after 5-day opening

GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 Nov — Egyptian authorities closed the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip on Saturday morning after it operated for five consecutive days, allowing “humanitarian cases” to pass through in both directions. Gaza’s borders and crossings committee said in a statement on Sunday that 2,664 passengers, the majority of whom were humanitarian cases, were able to leave the besieged Gaza Strip to Egypt during the five day opening. In addition to approved humanitarian cases, holders of Egyptian passports were among the passengers who left from Gaza for Egypt. The statement added that 1,443 passengers traveled to the Gaza Strip from Egypt. Meanwhile, Egyptian authorities denied 362 passengers entry to the Gaza Strip without providing explanation. The statement highlighted that the crossing has operated for a total of 32 days in 2016.

Haifa District Court okays state confiscation of Gaza-bound flotilla vessel

TPS 20 Nov by Ilana Messika — The Haifa District Court agreed on Sunday to the government’s request to confiscate the Gaza-bound flotilla ship Marianne which tried to break the naval blockade around the Gaza Strip in June, 2015. The activists on the ship were arrested by the Israeli Navy and deported. The confiscation is the first time an Israeli court has approved a confiscation request based on the 1864 Naval Prize Act, a British law regulating confiscation of pirate ships and bounty distribution. After examining the legality of the Israeli blockade, the legality of the seizure of the ship by the navy and the grounds for confiscation, Justice Ron Sokol ruled, “The State of Israel fulfilled all its humanitarian obligations as required by the laws of war applicable at sea… The situation of the Gaza population does not justify annulling the naval blockade.” “The Marianne sailed to Israel with the explicit intent of breaking the blockade, the owners (of the boat) knew about that goal and they knew the ship could be confiscated. And since this was the clear aim of the journey, there is indeed ground for confiscation,” Sokol concluded. The Court also fined the respondents NIS 25,000 as compensation to the State of Israel. The Marianne ship, which sailed from Greece with Arab Joint List MK Basel Ghattas on board, was part of the Swedish organization “Ship to Gaza” protest flotilla.


Gaza: Will the next war be the last?

Al Jazeera 19 Nov by Ben White — It is clear that Israel is not prepared to tolerate another drawn-out conflict come the next war — In a recent, controversial interview with Al-Quds newspaper, Israeli defence minister Avigdor Lieberman vowed that the next war on the Gaza Strip would be the last. Was this just bluster, or does it represent a shift in Israeli strategy towards Gaza and Hamas? Analysts are divided. “No one has a clear-cut answer about this,” Adnan Abu-Amer, political commentator and Dean of the Faculty of Arts at Gaza’s Al-Ummah University, told Al Jazeera. But if there is a war, he continued, “it will be fiercer than ever, and Israel won’t let it last 51 days.” Lieberman made the same promise in June, before his latest ministerial appointment, and was criticised by those Israeli military analysts who believe talk of a knockout blow to be “a deep misunderstanding of the Hamas-Israel confrontation”. In August, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri dismissed “the consecutive Israeli threats against Gaza claiming that the upcoming war will be the last” as “mere media propaganda and factional biddings between the government and the [parliamentary] opposition in Israel.” Writing after the Al-Quds interview, however, former Israeli military intelligence officer Yossi Alpher claimed that Lieberman’s rhetoric “must be understood as a major update of Israel’s Gaza strategy: No more periodic ‘mowing the lawn’ and grabbing at the first offer of a ceasefire.”….

In Gaza, we aren’t mourning Clinton’s loss / Yasmeen Elkhoudary

Al Jazeera 20 Nov — Bill Clinton, George Bush, Barack Obama, none of them tried to allay Palestine’s misery. Hillary wouldn’t have either — …As a woman, I’m deeply offended by Trump’s victory. As a Palestinian, however, particularly after watching  Trump’s speech to the AIPAC , I couldn’t care less who won. In truth, I stopped caring about American elections once Obama slapped us in the face with staggering indifference to Palestine, which in fact made our lives a living hell. Hereby, I dedicate Trump’s victory to every democracy-loving American senator, congressman/woman, and campaigner, who gambled with our lives and futures in order to win more AIPAC votes. In particular, I dedicate it to Hillary Clinton and her establishment, and to everyone who was distraught by the outcome of the democratic elections that led to Trump’s victory. Will Clinton call for boycotting her own people for “making the wrong democratic choice”, will she impose collective punishment on them like she encouraged Israel to do with us? Will she justify the misery that American people will face under Trump like she justified the people of Gaza’s suffering under the 2014 Israeli assault by  saying , “they’re trapped by their leadership, unfortunately”?



Israeli police detain 5 Israelis attempting to pray at Al-Aqsa compound

JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 20 Nov — Dozens of Israelis raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem on Sunday afternoon, according to the Islamic Endowment (Waqf), the organization in charge of managing the compound. Rami al-Khatib, a spokesperson for the Waqf, said that 64 ultra-Orthodox Israelis entered the Muslim holy site and attempted to perform Jewish prayers. Al-Khatib added that Israeli forces evacuated five Israelis who attempted to pray at the compound. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement that police officers stopped five Jewish suspects for questioning after they “breached the rules” in effect during Jewish visits to Al-Aqsa … While Jewish visitation is permitted to the compound, non-Muslim worship is prohibited according to an agreement signed between Israel and the Jordanian government after Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967.Despite this agreement, the Israeli authorities regularly allow Jewish visitors to enter the site — often under armed guard. Such visits are typically made by right-wingers attempting to unsettle the status quo at the site, and coincide with restrictions on Palestinian access, including bans on entrance and detentions.


Israeli court orders release of wounded Palestinian youth

RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 20 Nov — An Israeli court issued a second order to release an injured Palestinian youth from Israeli custody, Palestinian Prisoner’s Society lawyer Munther Abu Ahmad said on Sunday. Anas Zaid, 15, a resident of al-Jalazun refugee camp in the occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, was injured earlier this month when Israeli soldiers opened fire at protesters near the Attara checkpoint, north of Ramallah, following a series of checkpoint and road closures across the district. Zaid was shot and injured in his right leg and left arm and underwent surgery, with his health improving earlier this week. According to the Palestinian Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs, Zaid has said that he wasn’t involved in the protests or clashes near the checkpoint, but was merely trying to stop a taxi in order to go visit his relatives nearby when Israeli forces shot at him “without any reason.” Abu Ahmad said that the Israeli military court in Ofer had ordered Zaid’s release on Monday, but that the prosecution had presented charges against the Palestinian youth and demanded that the court extend his detention until all procedures completed. After the second court order, Ziad will be released on a bail of $1,544. Abu Ahmad said that the Palestinian Ministry of Health had arranged for Zaid to be transferred to a hospital in Ramallah on Sunday.

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements / Judaization

How Israel abuses national parks to seize Palestinian land

PM 18 Nov by Matt Broomfield — The Israeli settlement of Nofim derives its name from the Hebrew word for panorama, נוֹפִים. And the views around the illegal West Bank enclave are stunning: gold stone and green scrub tumble down to the fertile basin of Wadi Qana, where fifteen springs feed the land.  So in 1983, the Nature Reserves and National Parks Unit of the Israeli Civil Administration declared a 1400-acre Qana River Reserve running through the valley, purportedly to protect the wadi. Draining the wadi  “The land used to be rich,” Kifar Abu Fateh Zidan, a Palestinian goatherd who tends a flock of 350 animals in the shadow of Nofim, told the Palestine Monitor. “It floated on a sea of groundwater. There were plants, crops, wheat. Life used to be easier.” At 24, Kifar has lived his whole life in land surrounded by settlements. The first illegal colony was established in 1976, and there are now ten Israeli communities drawing water from the wadi. Its waters run lower each year, and only one spring still pumps fresh to the surface. “Now no-one can plant anything, and we’re not allowed to build anything here,” Kifar continued. He sleeps in a drystone shack with “no electricity, no water, and no bathroom.” To keep them from the rats, carrier bags of food are suspended from the low ceiling, twirling over a dank mattress. “If I was allowed to build a small house with electricity, things would be much better,” he said. His herd swirled around him, nipping at his trousers. He was sheltering from the mid-November sun in a cave whose floor was thick with dung, and said that in the fierce heat of summer armed guards from the settlements had forced him to abandon even this meager shelter…
13 per cent of the West Bank has been zoned as nature reserves by the Israeli government. Considered unacceptable eyesores, Palestinian crops, water-ways and homes in these conservation areas are destroyed. Israeli waste, infrastructure and far larger building projects are not. Palestinian farmers are displaced; their livelihoods are wrecked; and tourist shekels, water and fecund land are expropriated by illegal settlers. The majority of these reserves are in the sparsely-populated Jordan Valley. As fortified, isolated and jarringly wealthy as feudal keeps, Israeli settlements in the Valley are oases of green among the barren lands left to Bedouin and other impoverished Palestinian farmers. “The nature reserves are just to make [life] hard for farmers and their families,” explained Rashid, an activist with the Jordan Valley Solidarity Campaign. He pointed out an area in the desert scrub off-limits to Palestinians grazing livestock, but otherwise indistinguishable from the arid land around it. “They’re not to protect natural resources in the area.”….

Army confiscates a tractor near Tubas

IMEMC 20 Nov — Dozens of soldiers invaded, on Sunday morning, the ar-Ras al-Ahmar area, southeast of Tubas in the West Bank, and confiscated an agricultural tractor belonging to a local farmer. ‘Aref Daraghma, a Palestinian expert in colonies’ affairs and Israeli violations in the occupied territories, said the soldiers confiscated a tractor belonging to Sa’ir Yousef Bisharat, and took it to a nearby military base. Daraghma added that the soldiers had confiscated seven tractors from several Palestinians in the same area since the beginning of this month. The army constantly tries to prevent the Palestinians from working on their lands in the area, under various claims, including being close to Israel’s illegal colonies and military bases.


The different ways Israel treats Jewish, Palestinian outposts in the West Bank

[with video] +972 mag 19 Nov by Haggai Matar — Dozens of Palestinian activists erected an “outpost” in the Jordan Valley Thursday, in protest of recent Israeli army demolitions of Palestinian homes in the area, a marked contrast to a de facto military decision to allow the establishment of two new Jewish settlement outposts nearby. The Israeli army has not demolished either of the two Jewish outposts despite the fact that itself says they were illegally built. It only took a few hours before significant numbers of Israeli troops arrived at the new Palestinian outpost on Thursday, forcefully removing the protesters. Six Palestinian activists were wounded and required medical treatment at a hospital. The security forces also arrested two Israeli activists and were filmed striking press cameramen. The two Israelis were released within 24 hours. The outpost, named after Yasser Arafat in order to mark Palestinian independence day, was demolished by the army. The two nearby Jewish outposts are still standing. “The army has demolished homes in Khirbet al-Hama many times over the past few months, and at the same time settlers erected new outposts in the area,” said Abdullah Abu Rahme, an activist with the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, which organized the nonviolent action … Haaretz’s Amira Hass has reported in recent weeks on the existence of the two new Jewish settlement outposts, and how despite knowing of their existence, the Israeli army has done nothing to remove them. The Israeli army has not, however, stopped demolishing West Bank structures it considers illegal. Over this past year, 2016, Israeli authorities have demolished more Palestinian homes and structures than any other year in the past decade….

Bill to ban mosques’ prayer calls gets new life after Shabbat loophole eases ultra-Orthodox concerns

Haaretz 20 Nov by Jonathan Lis — A provision is likely to be added making an exception for the siren that some communities use at the start of the Jewish sabbath — A bill to ban mosques from broadcasting the call to prayer over loudspeakers is likely to come up for a preliminary reading in the Knesset on Wednesday, after Health Minister Yaakov Litzman has reportedly agreed to withdraw his appeal against the governing coalition’s decision to support the bill. Litzman, of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party, objected to the bill because he feared it would be used to ban the use of sirens to mark the start of Shabbat, a common practice in Jewish communities. Though the bill was submitted mainly to stop the use of loudspeakers at mosques, as currently written it would ban the use of loudspeakers by any religious institution. Now, however, Litzman has reportedly agreed to withdraw his appeal if a provision is added making an exception for the siren at the start of Shabbat. MK Ahmad Tibi said Friday that if the law passes, he and his colleagues from the Arab parties’ Joint List will petition the High Court of Justice against it on the grounds that it discriminates against Muslims and infringes on their freedom of religion … Over the past few days, Muslim religious leaders in Pakistan, Turkey and Lebanon have contacted Tibi to voice concerns about the bill, he said. His Joint List colleague MK Basel Ghattas said that “if mosques are silenced, we will make sure that the muezzin will be heard in churches, in Nazareth, in Haifa, in Jaffa and in Jerusalem.”….

Silencing our mosques is the next stage in our dispossession

Haokets 18 Nov by Abed Abu Shehadeh — Moti Yogev’s ‘muezzin law’ is yet another step toward creating a public atmosphere that could lead to expelling Arabs from Israel — …this law could not have even been proposed in the first place had it not received widespread public support, as part of a continuing attempt by Jewish Israeli society to mold the public sphere in its image. Or as Yogev put it: for the sake of “the quality of life of the state’s citizens” (as a military man, Yogev must know that should the bill pass, there would be massive demonstrations across the country that could actually harm the public’s “quality of life”). Therefore, it is clear to all that the main impetus for such a law is the feeling of supremacy of Israel’s Jewish citizens, such that the only their religious symbols are acceptable. What is astounding to Arab society about this public discussion is not that we were caught off guard, but rather that the entire is issue is foreign to us: in Jaffa, especially in the Arab neighborhoods, there exists an Arab social fabric that includes both Christians and Muslims. Never did we imagine Jaffa without the muezzin or church bells. In our view, calls to prayer and church bells are apolitical — they are an integral part of our identity and the identity of our city. The first time this ever became an issue was when wealthier Israeli Jews began moving into Arab neighborhoods. That was when we were shocked to discover that our new neighbors, who passed by the mosques and churches — the ones who knew to pay lip service to coexistence and multiculturalism — are full of complaints about these houses of worship, all while entirely ignoring the religious sensibilities of its older residents. Jewish Israelis view the gentrification of these neighborhoods as a positive development, without understanding how invasive the process actually is….

Palestinian refugees – Lebanon

Lebanon constructing ‘security wall’ around Palestinian refugee camp

MEMO 20 Nov — The Lebanese authorities have begun constructing an isolation wall around one of the country’s largest Palestinian refugee camps, as they begin a process of securitising refugees who have been living in Lebanon since the State of Israel forced them out of their homes in 1948. According to the Almodon Online website, Palestinian refugees living in the Ain Al-Hilweh camp have to submit themselves to Lebanese security forces daily for inspections whenever they want to leave the camp. Citing security sources, Almodon said that Lebanese authorities had begun construction of a wall of “racist segregation” that is planned to be four to five metres high and that will surround the entire perimeter of the camp, and should be completed within the next 15 months. The security measures are also said to include watchtowers placed around the camp in order to keep the Palestinian refugees under constant surveillance. Lebanon claims that Palestinians living in the camps have been involved in violent militancy, yet campaigners argue that such measures amount to collective punishment for the actions of a few. Army officials also claim that militants have sought refuge in the camp from authorities. Part of the security wall will be built a mere three metres away from the homes of some of the camps inhabitants, causing anger and frustration amongst Palestinians in Ain Al-Hilweh near the Lebanese city of Sidon, according to the New Arab. Angry Palestinians took to social media to slam the Lebanese authorities, branding the isolation wall a “wall of shame” and saying that it was similar to the policies of the Israeli government. Ain Al-Hilweh is home to 70,000 registered Palestinian refugees who have been joined by thousands more in recent years due to the ongoing Syrian civil war.

Other news

Poll: Palestinians pessimistic about peace talks, national reconciliation, general future

BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 Nov — The majority of Palestinians, to various degrees, remain pessimistic regarding peace talks with Israel and reconciliation between the Fatah and Hamas movements, according to a recent public opinion poll. The poll, conducted by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion (PCPO), was released on Wednesday and covered a random sample of 1,000 Palestinian respondents ages 18 and above, living in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip. According to the poll, 53.5 percent of the Palestinian public oppose the return to the direct negotiations with Israel after Israel’s denial of the French initiative, which called for a multilateral international peace conference between Israel and the Palestinians … Despite the seeming disappointment with Israel’s refusal to accept the French peace talks, the poll showed that a majority of Palestinians did not believe the French initiative would prove to be fruitful for Palestinians. When asked “in your view, would the French initiative meet the Palestinian requirements in the peace process?,” only 35.2 percent said “yes,” while 41 percent said “no,” and 23.8 percent said “I don’t know.” Kukali further concluded that the Palestinian public was deeply pessimistic about the prospect of achieving a reconciliation between the Fatah and Hamas movements, with 51.1 percent saying they were pessimistic, 29.2 percent saying they were optimistic, and 19.7 percent saying they were unsure …  When asked if they were optimistic or pessimistic about the general future given the current economic and political situation of Palestine, 59.2 percent said they were pessimistic, 25.1 percent said they were optimistic and 15.7 said they were unsure.

France reportedly backing out of Mideast peace summit following Trump’s election

Ynet 20 Nov by Elior Levy — France has reportedly decided to back out of a planned international Israeli-Palestinian peace summit in light of the election of Donald Trump as the president of the United States, western diplomatic sources told Arab media. A western official told Ynet that French President Francois Hollande has said in different forums last week that Paris would have a hard time convening the summit in light of the administration change in the US. However, the official could not confirm whether the summit, planned to be held by the end of 2016 in the French capital, has indeed been canceled. he reports of the summit’s cancelation come amid other reports over the weekend that France has decided to freeze its peace initiative due to heavy pressure from the international community at large and from Israel in particular. Western diplomats were quoted as saying that the lack of interest from the outgoing American administration and Israel’s decision not to participate in the summit have also contributed to the decision to put a pin in Paris’s plans.  One of the diplomats was quoted as saying that “officials in the US State Department told the special French envoy Pierre Vimont in a meeting in Washington last week that they were not enthusiastic about the idea of the summit and that they believed nothing would come out of it due to its nature and Israel’s refusal to attend it.”  The diplomats added that it is possible France prefers to clear the way for other initiatives — from Egypt and Russia — that would likely have better chances of success due to the close ties between Israel and Egyptian President Abed Fatah al-Sisi as well as Jerusalem’s strong ties with Moscow.

In new blow to Israeli claims, ICC affirms occupied status of Gaza, East Jerusalem

Palestine Chronicle 19 Nov — The Office of the Prosecutor (Office) at the International Criminal Court (ICC) has affirmed the occupied status of the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, in a blow to Israel’s claims to the contrary. A new report on preliminary examination activities, published on November 14, includes an update on the Office’s activities in relation to Palestine. As part of providing context, the Office notes Israel’s position regarding the Gaza Strip since its unilateral redeployment of settlers and armed forces in 2005 (so-called ‘disengagement’), namely that “it is no longer an occupying power in Gaza.” The Office continues: “By contrast, it may be argued that Israel nonetheless remains an occupying power as a result of the scope and degree of control that Israel has retained over the territory of Gaza – a position that the Office has previously taken in the context of the preliminary examination of the situation referred by the Government of the Union of Comoros.” The Office of the ICC also refers to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and in the case of the latter, notes how “Israel adopted laws and orders effectively extending Israeli law, jurisdiction and administration over East Jerusalem.” In 1980, the Knesset “passed a ‘Basic Law’ by which it established the city of Jerusalem ‘complete and united’ as the capital of Israel.”…


Palestinian Statistics Bureau: Approximately 1/2 the population comprised of children

IMEMC/Agencies 20 Nov — The estimated number of children less than 18 years old mid-2016 is about 2,207,535 in Palestine, representing about 45.8% of the population, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) said on Sunday. It said that among those children there are 1,127,283 males and 1,080,252 females, adding that the number of male children in the West Bank totaled 650,709 and the number of female children totaled 624,320. Meanwhile, in the Gaza Strip, the number of males totaled about 476,574 while the number of females amounted to 455,932. PCBS said, according to WAFA, that whereas children constituted 49.6% of the population of the Gaza Strip, they represented 43.4% of the total population of the West Bank. 400 children are still in Israeli jails According to the Defense for Children International Palestine (DCIP), data indicated that 2,634 children were detained during the year 2015, in addition to 1,260 children being detained during the first four months of the year 2016. 400 children, other than those who entered the youth stage during their stay in Israeli jails, are still in prison… About four thousand orphaned children only are covered by social sponsorship in the West Bank The number of the sponsored children by the UAE Red Crescent in the occupied West Bank reached 3,967 children, and the highest number of sponsored children was in the Hebron governorate, as it reached 1,095….


Dozens protest in Ramallah, urge PA to fight medical negligence

[with photos] RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 19 Nov — Dozens of Palestinians protested on Saturday in the center of Ramallah city in the central occupied West Bank, urging the Palestinian Authority (PA) to exert serious efforts to fight medical negligence, which protesters claimed have recently seen an increase in Palestinian hospitals. The rally was organized at al-Manara Square as part of a campaign which emerged recently after a number of Palestinians died while others suffered serious health problems as a result of suspected medical negligence or errors. The organizers called their campaign the Popular Campaign Against Medical Errors. Ghassan Nimrouti, a spokesman of the campaign, told Ma‘an that Saturday’s rally was the campaign’s first activity. “The protest is meant to urge officials to bring to justice those involved in medical errors” and to urge courts to reach decisions in legal suits brought against people involved in medical errors and negligence, Nimrouti said … When asked to comment on some criticism against the campaign by a number of doctors, Nimrouti said “Doctors are not angels of mercy and we are not devils.”

Ministry of Education calls for protection of Palestinian minors on Children’s Day

RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 20 Nov — The Palestinian Ministry of Education called on all human rights organizations to protect Palestinian children from Israeli violations on the occasion of Universal Children’s Day on Sunday. In a statement, the ministry reiterated its determination to defend all children and to guarantee their access to educational institutions without facing any dangers or threats. The ministry also condemned the sentencing by an Israeli court of Palestinian minor Ahmad Manasra to 12 years in prison. The ministry said that it would launch a campaign to pressure Israel to release all Palestinian children from Israeli prisons and provide them with protection, safety and education. According to prisoners rights group Addameer, 400 Palestinian minors were detained by Israel as of October, many of whom the group said were beaten, threatened, sexually assaulted, and placed in solitary confinement during their interrogation and detention. The ministry added that Israeli procedures against Palestinian children were clear violations of international law, and demanded that the international community uphold its political, moral and legal responsibilities toward Palestinian children and form an urgent committee to investigate Israel’s field executions of Palestinian children.

Infighting clouds upcoming Palestinian leadership gathering

BALATA REFUGEE CAMP, West Bank (AP) 20 Nov by Mohammed Daraghmeh — Hatem Abu Riziq used to prowl the narrow alleyways of the West Bank’s largest refugee camp battling the Israeli army. But these days he is turning his gun’s barrel toward the Palestinian leadership. With the long-ruling Palestinian Fatah faction torn by rivalries, fierce shootouts between Palestinian security forces and Fatah-aligned gunmen have erupted in recent months, plunging the Balata camp into unrest and lawlessness. The violence, much of it directed at a Fatah leadership seen as corrupt and out of touch, comes as the movement prepares to hold an overdue leadership conference at the end of the month and reflects a combustible power struggle between the faction’s aging leader, President Mahmoud Abbas, and exiled rival Mohammed Dahlan, a former top aide who has the backing of some gunmen and disaffected Fatah activists … The violence has left about a dozen people dead this year. Observers warn it could spiral out of control the longer that Fatah remains divided. Abbas, 82, is pushing for leadership elections in his Fatah movement and the Palestine Liberation Organization, an umbrella movement dominated by Fatah, before the end of the year, as part of what officials say is largely an elaborate attempt to cement his power and block Dahlan’s return….

Palestine Book Awards 2016: winners announced

MEMO 19 Nov — The fifth annual Palestine Book Awards celebrated this year’s publications on Palestine yesterday evening. Leading figures from the political, academic and literary communities joined in the celebration and unveiling of the winners of 2016 Palestine Book Awards. MEMO’s flagship event is the culmination of months of hard work. Nominations start in January with submissions being made by national and international publishers. Seven books are then then shortlisted from three categories: academic, memoir and creative, by an expert panel of judges. All books entered into the running for consideration this year were published between June 2015 and June 2016 …

And the 2016 winners are:

Academic Award (joint winners): Lorenzo Kamel – Imperial Perceptions of Palestine (I.B. Taurus) and

Anaheed Al-Hardan – Palestinians in Syria (Columbia University Press)

Memoir Award: Yasir Suleiman – Being Palestinian (Edinburgh University Press)

Creative Award: Ramzy Baroud, Samah Sabawi & Jehan Bseiso – I Remember My Name (Novum Publishing)

Arabs in Israel often find the best way to fight crime is to do it themselves

Haaretz 20 Nov by Yaniv Kubovich — Since the police often fall short or ignore problems, local people are turning to traditional ways to solve disputes — Last month Tira residents discovered that the town had been plastered in posters. “Tira will no longer be a safe place for you and your street dogs,” the posters said. “We’re declaring war on anyone who wants to sow fear and corruption among the residents.” The posters were aimed at the Hariri gang, an Arab organized crime ring active in Tira and many other Arab towns. Having despaired of the police, local people have banded together to try to drive the gang out by themselves. According to the posters, anyone who asks the gang to resolve disputes will be subject to “social punishment” and his business will suffer. But the posters worried many Tira residents – not just because they feared vigilante score settling, but because of rumors that some people seeking to drive out the Hariris were buying illegal weapons. Illegal gun sales in Tira are on the rise, residents said last week. Last year, police Maj. Gen. Jamal Hakrush was appointed to head a new unit charged with improving policing in Arab towns and villages, in part by opening new police stations and increasing the number of policemen in these communities. But residents are skeptical, and many towns are now taking matters into their own hands. In Umm al-Fahm, for instance, residents have gone back to using a sulha, a traditional Arab method of dispute resolution, to solve problems. And in Lod, women collect evidence against abusive husbands and bring it to the police – though even this doesn’t always help….

Palestinian freed to Mauritania after serving 20 years in US, 9 in Greek prison

BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Nov — A Palestinian man was released from custody in the United States on Friday after he had served 20 years, in addition to nine years he served in Greece, on “charges of resisting the Israeli occupation outside Palestinian soil,” the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said. PPS said in a statement released Saturday that 76-year-old Rashid Hammad Zghari from al-Duheisha refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem, was released from US custody after serving 20 years. The statement added that Zghari, who is married with two children, had been jailed for nine years in Greece before he was moved to US prison. He was arrested in Greece in 1987. Zghari was deported to Mauritania immediately after he was released. In Mauritania, he was welcomed by the Palestinian ambassador Thiab al-Louh and the director of the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) intelligence office in Mauritania, Raed Ramadan. The statement added that chief of the Palestinian Authority’s general intelligence Majid Faraj was involved in negotiations with US officials for three years before they agreed to release Zghari.

An ode to the cuisine of Palestine

LONDON 18 Nov by Raya Al Jadir — Chef Joudie Kalla speaks with Al Jazeera about her new book, Palestine on a Plate — … Al Jazeera: Why did you decide to write this book, and what does it mean to you? Joudie Kalla: I put a lot of thought and effort into keeping its focus on Palestine, but not something political – to show the positive side of it, to keep my family history alive and to bring me closer to my home. This book came about because I noticed that many of our cultural foods were being labeled incorrectly and being used as national dishes of other countries, and I think there has to be a line drawn. Of course we can’t take away the fact that Palestinians live in the same country as Israelis and influences are passed on, but there has to be a moment when someone says, “Actually, this is food from a time before 1948, and it has meaning to millions of people.”

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