Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem

A pogrom shakes a Palestinian village strangled by Israeli settlements

Haaretz 11 Nov by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — It was a pogrom. The survivors are five congenial Palestinian farmers who speak broken Hebrew and work in construction in Israel, with valid entry permits. On weekends they cultivate what is left of their lands, most of which were plundered for the benefit of the settlements that choke their village, Janiya, outside Ramallah. They are convinced that they survived last Saturday’s attack only by a miracle. “Pogrom” really is the only word that describes what they endured. “We will kill you!” the assailants shouted, as they beat the men over the head and on their bodies with clubs and iron pipes, and brandished serrated knives. The only “crime” of the Palestinians, who were in the midst of harvesting their olives when the settlers swooped down on them, was that they were Palestinians who had the temerity to work their land. Olive harvest time is a traditional season for pogroms in the West Bank, but this was one of the most violent. No Israeli official condemned the assault, no one got upset. One victim needed 20 stitches in his head, another suffered a broken arm and shoulder, a third is limping, a fourth lost his front teeth. Only one managed to get away from the attackers, but he was also hobbled, when he injured his leg on the rocky terrain as he fled. The farmers, who days later were still in shock from the experience, were evacuated by fellow villagers; the olives remain scattered on the ground. Now they are afraid to go back to the groves. This weekend, they promised themselves, they will send young people from Janiya to collect what was harvested and to complete the work. They themselves, their bodies and spirits battered, say they are incapable of doing anything.

The assailants, about a dozen masked settlers, are seen in a video taken by a local resident, Ahmed al-Mazlim, as they – apparently flushed with the excitement of their act – made their way back to their huts, which are scattered below the settlement of Neria, also known as North Talmon, between Modi’in and Ramallah. This was their “oneg Shabbat,” their Sabbath joy: descending into the valley and beating up people who were working their land, as innocent as they were helpless – possibly even with intent to kill. A peaceful weekend … I’ve never before seen criminals leaving the scene of the crime with such indifference. Maybe they were exhausted from their labors – thrashing Arabs – tired but happy….

Palestinian youth throw Molotov cocktails at settlement; house burns to the ground

RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 11 Nov — An Israeli home in the illegal settlement of Beit El, located in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah and al-Bireh, was burned to the ground late Thursday night after a group of Palestinian youth threw Molotov cocktails into the settlement, according to Palestinian sources. According to locals, several youths threw Molotov cocktails at the house, which was located on the outskirts of the settlement. The house then caught on fire and burned to the ground. Israeli forces, firemen, and ambulances rushed to the area to put out the fire, while Israeli forces immediately began searching the area for suspects. No injuries were reported … Beit El was established on private Palestinian land in 1977 and has since attracted some 6,000 Israeli settlers, according to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.

Clashes in Kufur Qaddoum after Israeli soldiers attack the weekly procession

IMEMC 12 Nov — Israeli soldiers attacked, Friday, dozens of protesters in Kufur Qaddoum town, in the northern West Bank district of Qalqilia, as dozens marched during the weekly procession against the illegal Annexation Wall and colonies and the continued closure of the town’s main road for the 14th consecutive year. The protesters marched while waving Palestinian flags and carrying posters of late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, commemorating the twelfth anniversary of his death, before the soldiers assaulted the procession, leading to clashes. Many youngsters burnt tires, hurled stones and empty bottles at the invading forces, while the soldiers fired live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets and gas bombs, causing scores of residents to suffer the severe effects of tear has inhalation. Kufur Qaddoum holds weekly processions against Israeli’s illegal colonies and the Annexation Wall, in addition to protesting the ongoing closure of its main road for the fourteenth consecutive year, to enable easy access to colonists driving to and from Kedumim colony, illegally built on Palestinian lands.

Building a ‘culture of resistance’ in Nabi Saleh

PM 12 Nov –The Nabi Saleh Cultural Committee held its first conference this weekend under the title “Occupation, the enemy of religions and humanity.” The two-day event attracted locals as well as international and Israeli supporters as both audience and speakers. Many of them were familiar faces. The village of 550, located some 20km north of Ramallah, has been at the heart of the Palestinian non-violent protest movement since it began demonstrating against land annexation by the nearby Israeli settlement of Halamish in December 2009. The weekly demonstrations, held in at least six other villages across the West Bank, brought international and Israeli anti-occupation activists to protest alongside Palestinians against the separation wall and settlements, although numbers gradually waned over the years. Last summer, the Nabi Saleh Popular Struggle Committee, which had been organising the protests, decided to discontinue the weekly marches. Known for the regular participation of women and children, they invariably ended in sometimes lethal confrontations between stone-throwing youth and the Israeli army, indiscriminately firing tear gas and rubber bullets and live fire into the crowd. One of the protest leaders, Bassem Tamimi, 50, estimates that 350 people from this tiny village were injured and 50 were left physically disabled over the years, while two members of his family were killed. Last year, 22 youth from Nabi Saleh were arrested. Some of them are facing long sentences or hefty fines for their release from Israeli military jail.  But Tamimi, a leader during the First Intifada, has not given up on the idea of non-violent resistance. “We are now trying to build a culture of resistance,” Tamimi told Palestine Monitor, adding that he intends for this to be the first in a series of conferences and other cultural events to take place in the village. Next August, he hopes to resurrect the Nabi Saleh traditional arts festival….

Families of slain Palestinians still held by Israel protest in Hebron

HEBRON (Ma‘an) 13 Nov — Family members of slain Palestinians organized a sit-in in Hebron on Sunday demanding that Israeli authorities release the bodies of Palestinians still being held by Israel. Demonstrators held posters commemorating their relatives, waving Palestinian flags, and called on international and local human rights organizations to pressure Israel to release the bodies.  The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs filed an appeal to an Israeli court earlier this month to obtain the release of the bodies of 11 Palestinians that have been withheld by Israel. Israeli authorities dramatically escalated a policy of withholding Palestinian bodies killed by Israeli forces following the emergence of a wave of unrest across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel in October 2015, having repeatedly claimed that funerals of Palestinians had provided grounds for “incitement” against the Israeli state. However, following an uproar of protest among Palestinians over the policy, Israeli authorities began scaling down the practice, although a number of bodies still remain withheld….

Palestinian taxi driver to receive recognition as ‘victim of enemy hostilities’

Ynet 13 Nov by Yael Freidson — After being beaten by Jewish youths in a nationalistically motivated attack, Palestinian taxi driver to receive status of ‘victim of enemy hostilities’ by national health insurance; now eligible for more state benefits — Ishaq abu-Jibne — a Palestinian taxi driver who was attacked by Jews in downtown Jerusalem – has been recognized by the police as “the victim of enemy hostilities.” The incident happened in August when five Jewish youths approached the taxi driver, and yelled “this is our country – go work in Gaza.” As abu-Jibne began trying to back away from them, the youths pulled out mace and sprayed him, threw rocks at him, then beat him. Although the police did arrive on the scene and order the Palestinian taxi driver an ambulance, they never went to the hospital to receive a statement from him. Abu-Jibne has to go to the police station himself to file a complaint, but by that time the security camera footage had already been erased. His case was closed due to lack of evidence. Because his file was closed, he wasn’t able to be recognized by the national health insurance as a victim of enemy hostilities – a designation which would have made him eligible for a variety of state benefits. After abu-Jibne’s case was published in Yediot Ahronot, the case was reopened, and the police ruled that the injuries abu-Jibne sustained were in fact the result of a nationalistic attack, and is now on the way to being recognized by the national health insurance as a “victim of enemy hostilities.”

PPS: ‘Israeli soldiers kidnap ten Palestinians in different parts of the occupied West Bank’

IMEMC 13 Nov — The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers kidnapped, on Sunday at dawn, at least ten Palestinians, including six children, in different parts of the occupied West Bank, including in occupied East Jerusalem.  The Bethlehem office of the PPS said several army vehicles invaded Deheishe refugee camp, south of the city, and kidnapped two Palestinians, identified as Bassel Waleed Da’amsa, 20, and Mohammad Sami Shahin, 20. The soldiers also summoned five Palestinians from the refugee camp, and one from Beit Fajjar, south of Bethlehem, for interrogation at the Etzion military base and security center …The soldiers also invaded Silwad town, northeast of Ramallah, searched and ransacked many homes, and kidnapped two Palestinians, identified as Abdul-Rahman Hamed, 16, and Mohammad Ahmad Hamed. In Jerusalem, the soldiers invaded and searched many homes, and kidnapped Zayed Edkeidik, his son Ahmad, 13, and four siblings, identified as Ayham, 13, Omar, 14, and Ahmad Za’anin, 16, and Bahjat ar-Razem, 13.  The PPS said the soldiers have kidnapped 16 Palestinians, including a young woman, from Jerusalem over the last two days.

PA police briefly detain 4 Israelis for unauthorized visit to Joseph’s Tomb

BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 Nov — Palestinian Authority (PA) police briefly detained four right-wing Jewish Israelis on Saturday night for attempting to visit Joseph’s Tomb in the occupied West Bank district of Nablus without coordinating with Israeli and Palestinian officials. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement on Sunday that PA security forces transferred the four Israelis to the Israeli army, which then took them into Israeli police custody. The four Israelis, al-Samri added, were suspected of entering an area whose access is prohibited to Israeli citizens, “endangering their lives and endangering the lives of Israeli soldiers.” Joseph’s Tomb is located in Area A, the 18 percent of the West Bank officially under full PA control.  However, Israeli forces regularly carry out military activities in Area A, in breach of the Oslo Accords. Al-Samri went on to say that an appeal would be made within the day to a court in the Israeli city of Petah Tikva to obtain the four’s release pending “appropriate restrictions.” She did not specify what these restrictions might entail.

Punitive demolition

Israeli forces raid Palestinian prisoner’s home in Yatta, seal bedroom with concrete

HEBRON (Ma‘an) 11 Nov – Israeli forces Thursday raided the home of Palestinian prisoner Yunis Ayesh Zein in the city of Yatta in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, and sealed his bedroom with concrete. Sources told Ma‘an that incident was carried out in accordance with an Israeli military order to seal Zein’s room in Yatta. Zein was imprisoned in Israel after being convicted of planning a shooting attack in Sarona market in Tel Aviv in June carried out by Palestinians Muhammad and Khaled Makhamreh, who have since been detained. The attack resulted in the deaths of four Israelis and injuries of at least 16 more.  According to Ma‘an documentation, 238 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis since the beginning of a wave of unrest across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel in October 2015, the vast majority of whom were shot dead by Israeli forces. During the same time period, 34 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians.

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

12 Palestinians left homeless as family forced to demolish their homes in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 13 Nov — A Palestinian family from the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir was forced to demolish two of their own apartments on Sunday in accordance with an Israeli court order. Israel’s central Jerusalem district court ordered in August that the family of Muhammad Khalil Abd al-Latif Jaabis demolish the two apartments, which the court said were constructed without the proper permits. According to Jaabis, the Jerusalem municipality threatened the family, saying that if they didn’t destroy the apartments themselves, the municipality would send demolition crews and then impose a demolition fee — a customary practice for Israeli authorities regarding home demolitions in the Jerusalem district. Jaabis told Ma‘an on Sunday that his family had rented a bulldozer and began demolishing the two apartments — one belonging to him and one to his father and brother — which were built more than 10 years ago. He added that 12 individuals, including six children, lived in the two apartments, and that the families had been attempting to get permits for the homes for years, paying nearly 50,000 shekels ($13,035) in fines in the process.

Israeli forces deliver demolition order to occupied East Jerusalem home

JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 12 Nov — Israeli forces raided the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan on Saturday, where they delivered a demolition notice to the home of a local resident. Local activist Jamal Amr told Ma‘an that armed Israeli forces accompanied authorities from Israel’s Jerusalem municipality Saturday morning, and gave him a summons notice to meet with the municipality as well as a demolition order on his home.  Amr said that the house was built in 1954, and was legally licensed in 1993 after receiving a “renovating license” from the municipality. It remained unclear for what reason Amr was given a demolition order on Saturday.  Amr highlighted that Israeli forces had previously banned his wife Zeina from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of East Jerusalem several times for unknown reasons. A Jerusalem municipality spokesperson told Ma‘an that “during routine inspections around the city, municipal workers noticed a construction offense on the roof of a home in Silwan. The Municipality opened an investigation into the matter, and invited the owner to come to the Municipality to discuss the structure in question. No demolition order was issued for the structure.”

Freedom march: Stop demolishing of Palestinian homes

IMEMC 11 Nov by Ghassan Bannoura — At least 250 Palestinian and Israeli activists from Combatants for Peace and other peace groups marched on Friday at the freedom march demanding  the halt of Israeli occupation policy of destroying Palestinian homes in the West Bank. The march was in coordination with Standing To gather Coalition and other Palestinian and Israeli peace groups. The march started from the entrance of Hussan village to the south of Bethlehem city. People marched towards settler road 60 and walked all the way to the tunnel checkpoint separating Bethlehem area from Jerusalem. During the march activists and members of CFP used hand-made puppets to close the settler road and then used it during the protest as they chanted anti occupation slogans and demanded the end of occupation and the establishment of peace. At the checkpoint the theater group of CFP presented a short play about the effects of Israel’s home demolishing policy on the Palestinian communities in the West Bank. CFP believes that the conflict cannot be resolved, through military means, by either of the parties, but only through joint action, can we break the cycle of violence and put an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.

UN condemns demolition and seizure of donor-funded structures in Palestinian communities

JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 11 Nov — The United Nations Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities, Robert Piper, condemned on Thursday Israeli activities in the occupied Palestinian territory that have obstructed the UN from assisting Palestinian communities, calling the policies “illegal” with the intention of “creating an entirely new reality on the ground.”  According to the statement, the Israeli Civil Administration and the Israeli army on Nov. 7 “seized nine donor-funded tents (two of which were not yet erected)” in the Palestinian Bedouin community of Khirbet Tell al-Himma in the northeastern part of the occupied West Bank. The materials were provided to the community as humanitarian aid in response to earlier demolitions carried out by Israeli forces on Sept. 27, which left several Palestinian families without shelter. “Targeting the most vulnerable of the vulnerable and preventing them from receiving relief — especially as winter sets in — is unacceptable and runs counter to Israel’s obligations as an occupying power,” Piper said in the statement, adding that “sadly, we are seeing more and more of this.”

The statement highlighted that Israeli settlers had recently established a new settlement outpost — considered illegal under international and Israeli law — next to the already established Israeli Givat Salit settlement — illegal under international law — near the village of Khirbet Tell al-Himma, while settlers have impeded access of Palestinian herders to their traditional grazing lands.  “Through a combination of law, policy and practice, Israel is building an increasingly coercive environment in Area C of the West Bank. This is both illegal and creating an entirely new reality on the ground,” added Piper. The statement also underscored the “dramatic rise” in Israeli demolitions of humanitarian assistance structures, pointing out that 286 such structures have been demolished since the start of 2016, marking a 165 percent increase from 2015. The Palestinian Bedouin communities residing within or nearby the contentious E1 corridor, slated for a large Israeli settlement expansion project that would divide the West Bank and make the creation a contiguous Palestinian state almost impossible, were targeted with about one quarter of the demolitions….

Israeli ministers approve draft bill to legalise settlement outposts

AFP 13 Nov — Israel’s ministerial committee for legislation on Sunday approved a controversial draft bill aimed at legalising wildcat Jewish settlements built on private Palestinian land, parliamentary sources said. The bill must now pass through three readings in parliament and also be ratified by the supreme court before it can become law. Sunday’s vote was rushed through the ministerial committee in an attempt to prevent the evacuation of the Jewish wildcat outpost of Amona in the Israeli-occupied West Bank by the end of the year. The supreme court has ordered the evacuation of settlers from Amona and the demolition of their homes by December 25. Amona, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, is home to about 40 families and was built on land privately owned by Palestinians who had petitioned the court for the outpost to be removed … The bill approved unanimously on Sunday stipulates that the government could order the confiscation of privately owned Palestinian land in exchange for compensation … The anti-settlement Peace Now movement denounced the vote. “It is a shame: the government is backing a law that will allow the confiscation of privately owned Palestinian land in order to build settlements,” said Hagit Ofran, one of the watchdog’s leaders. According to Ofran, around 2,000 homes have been built on land owned by Palestinians in the West Bank, and therefore the draft bill could retroactively legalise these dwellings. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit warned the ministers that he would be unable to defend the bill before the supreme court….

After Trump win, officials seek Jerusalem building spree

Times of Israel 11 Nov — Jerusalem City Hall will authorize the construction of thousands of new housing units in neighborhoods over the Green Line in the wake of Donald Trump’s election, officials said. Some 7,000 housing units have been frozen due to political pressure from the government fearful of antagonizing Washington, said Meir Turgeman, the head of the Jerusalem Municipality Planning and Construction Committee. Some 3,000 units are ready for approval in Gilo, 2,600 in Givat Hamatos and 1,500 in Givat Shlomo. “We kept getting calls. The director general of the Prime Minister’s Office would always call the mayor and say don’t discuss these now, don’t authorize, it’s a sensitive time,” Turgeman told Israel Radio. While much of the international community considers these neighborhoods as settlements, Israel considers them neighborhoods of annexed East Jerusalem and argues that it will be part of Israel in any negotiated peace agreement. The US has been vehemently opposed to Israeli construction in areas Israel captured after the 1967 Six Day War, saying it undermines the prospects of a two-state solution. Now that Trump, who has indicated he will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy there, has been elected, Turgeman expects to be able to approve the new housing unhindered….


Israel consolidates grip on Golan under cover of Syria’s chaos

EI 11 Nov by Matt Broomfield — …As fighting tears its once stable if hostile northern neighbor apart, Israel is using the specter of the Islamic State group and Islamist militancy to seek international recognition for its annexation of the area, occupied since 1967. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, thus chose last year to declare that the Golan Heights will “forever remain in Israeli hands,” taking full advantage of the chaos in Syria to openly challenge international law. “The time has come, after 40 years, for the international community to finally recognize that the Golan Heights will remain forever under Israeli sovereignty,” he said.  Naftali Bennett, Israel’s education minister, also made a play for the annexation of the Golan to be internationally recognized, specifically citing the threat of Islamic State. The Golan, he said, was the only thing preventing Islamic State fighters from “swimming in the Galilee.” –Consolidating the occupation–  Such words have been followed by specific policies to consolidate Israel’s grip on the territory: a planned fivefold increase in the number of settlers, a $108 million cash injection into 750 new Israeli agricultural projects, and a significant military expansion along the boundary between Syria and the territory under Israeli control. As recently as 26 October, the Israeli government gave the go-ahead for the construction of 1,600 new homes in the settlement of Katzrin. The town’s 8,000 settlers live on ground once home to Syrian villagers, their property razed during the 1967 war. To Faisal, a farmer in the Golan whose vineyard adjoins the United Nations- patrolled demilitarized zone and who spoke on condition that his full name would not be used, the issue is not the border. These days, he observed, “everybody lives near a border.” Faisal is more concerned with Israeli policies allowing settlers access to up to five times more water than the Golan’s indigenous Syrian Druze, a minority religious group, and harsh restrictions on building projects….

Trash towns: how Palestinian communities become Israeli rubbish dumps

Palestine Monitor 8 Nov by Matt Broomfield — The claustrophobic alleyways of Shu‘afat refugee camp are thick with a scum of decaying produce, charred packaging, and spent rubber bullets fired by invading Israeli soldiers. “When my family from Nablus come to visit, I’m ashamed,” said housewife and camp resident Samara, 39, gesturing up an alley clogged with broken pallets and rotting refrigerator foam. “It’s miserable, it’s dirty, and there’s sewage flooding the streets.”  –“Area X” – Wholly encircled by the Israeli apartheid wall, Shu‘afat has the dubious distinction of being the only Palestinian refugee camp in Israeli-administered territory. “The camp is under Israeli control in name only – without any control,” Mohammed Muhareq, a project manager in a Shu‘afat community centre, told Palestine Monitor. “This is not area A, B or C, it’s area X,” he said referring to the system which carves up the West Bank under different degrees of Israeli occupation. In practice, this means the Palestinian Authority can’t work to improve the quality of life in Shu‘afat, and the Israelis won’t. “Most of the people here pay tax to Israel, and what do they get back?” Mohammed asked. “Zero. Look around you – could you live here?”

Israeli forces order evacuation of 9 families in Jordan Valley for military exercises

TUBAS (Ma‘an) 12 Nov — Israeli forces Saturday ordered nine families in the Khirbet al-Ras al-Ahmar area in the occupied West Bank district of Tubas in the Jordan Valley to evacuate their homes Sunday and Monday for the Israeli army to carry out military drills in the area. Arif Daraghmah, a researcher on Israeli violations and settlements, said that Israeli forces informed the nine families they needed to leave their homes on Sunday from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m., and on Monday from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Those ordered from their homes were identified as the families of Ali Khadir Bani Odeh, Ali Izzat Bani Odeh, Abed Hussein Bisharat, Jamil Bani Odeh, Sulayman Bani Odeh, Rashid Bisharat, Thaer Bisharat, Saqir Bani Odeh, and Afu Badi Odeh. Less than two weeks ago, many of the same families were issued temporary evacuation notices for the same purpose, and were forced by Israeli soldiers to leave their homes for more than 24 hours. Palestinian residents of the Jordan Valley regularly face evacuations and interruption due to Israeli military exercises on or near their land. The district of Tubas is one of the occupied West Bank’s most important agricultural centers.

Israel PM backs bill to limit noise from mosques

JERUSALEM (AFP) 13 Nov — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he backed a bill limiting the volume of calls to prayer from mosques, a proposal government watchdogs have called a threat to religious freedom. Netanyahu, speaking before a ministerial committee adopted the draft bill, said he would support such a move that some have labeled unnecessarily divisive. The bill now faces three readings in parliament before becoming law. Israeli media reported that the bill would stop the use of public address systems for calls to prayer. “I cannot count the times — they are simply too numerous — that citizens have turned to me from all parts of Israeli society, from all religions, with complaints about the noise and suffering caused them by the excessive noise coming to them from the public address systems of houses of prayer,” Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting. While the draft bill applies to all houses of worship, it is seen as specifically targeting mosques. Israel’s population is roughly 17.5 percent Arab, most of them Muslim, and they accuse the Jewish majority of badly discriminating against them. East Jerusalem is also mainly Palestinian and traditional calls to prayer by muezzins through PA systems can be heard in the city. The Israel Democracy Institute, a non-partisan think tank, has spoken out against the proposal. On Sunday, one of the watchdog’s officials accused Israel’s right-wing politicians of dangerously using the issue to gain political points under the guise of improving quality of life.


Israel to establish weather station in the West Bank to serve settlers

MEMO 14 Nov — Israeli authorities have recently started construction work for establishing the first weather station in the occupied West Bank to provide services for Israeli settlers, Israeli television’s Channel 7 reported. The weather station will be established in the city of Hebron (south of Jerusalem) by Ben-Gurion University in collaboration with the Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Israel already has 40 weather stations located in on the land occupied in 1948. The new station will be the first in the West Bank. Channel 7 added that the station will serve Israeli settlers working in the agricultural sector, proving them with accurate information about the weather and rain in the area. Other services that the station will offer to settlers include soil testing and providing information on groundwater, Channel 7 reported, adding that most settler farmers in the area cultivate grapes that get exported to international markets….

Who’s in charge in Hebron: Israeli security forces or settlers?

Haaretz 14 Nov by Amira Hass — A settler orders soldiers to block foreigners from walking down a Hebron main street because they are wearing kaffiyehs. Why did they even have to check whether there really is a rule to that effect?  — One woman, about 60, another around 30 and a man, about 70, are walking down Shuhada Street, Hebron. They are speaking English. The three are volunteers for the International Solidarity Movement and just finished their first task of the morning: walking preschool teachers and children afraid of harassment by settlers and Israelis in uniform to school in the old city. The street is empty. The stores on it have long been closed. The three walk towards the Hashoter checkpoint on their way out of the old city. They run into an Israeli settler. They do not yet know that her name is Anat Cohen. She speaks to them in Hebrew but they don’t understand. She switches to broken English and they discover, to their surprise, that she’s stopping them from proceeding. Here is a truncated transcript of a video clip that lasts about eight minutes. Anat Cohen says, in Hebrew, to anybody listening: “The Foreign Ministry says that they are going to deport [the international volunteers], right?” The volunteers say they just want to proceed. Cohen says in Hebrew spiced with English: “Not with that, not on our street. You can’t pass with this on our street. Go back. Get away from here.”  To the astonishment of one of the volunteers, Cohen pulls a kaffiyeh off her neck and throws it to the ground….

Prisoners / Court actions

20-year-old Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike at risk of ‘sudden paralysis’

BETHLEHEM 12 Nov — A 20-year-old Palestinian hunger-striking prisoner suffered from memory loss and a high risk of “sudden paralysis,” as he entered his 49th day of strike on Saturday, according to the Palestinian Committee of Prisoner’s Affairs. The committee released a statement detailing the severe medical condition of prisoner Anas Ibrahim Shadid, who was detained on Aug. 2 and sentenced to administrative detention — Israel’s widely condemned policy of internment without trial or charge based on undisclosed evidence —  at Israel’s Ofer prison. Shadid recently lost the ability to walk, move, and talk “unless with great difficulty,” according to the statement. “He is suffering from constant headaches and dizziness, weakness in his heart, asthma, vision difficulties, and severe pains in the eyes, chest, and stomach.” Shadid, a resident of the southern occupied West Bank village of Dura, near Hebron, is currently being treated at the Assaf HaRofeh Hospital in Tel Aviv, Israel. The committee added that Shadid’s critical condition forced the Israeli Supreme Court to schedule an emergency session to decide the fate of his prison term on Monday, Nov. 14. The committee demanded that the court release Shadid immediately.

Israel releases a wounded young woman after four months in detention

IMEMC 12 Nov — The Israeli authorities released, Friday, Raghad Nasrallah Sho‘ani, 18, after holding her captive for four months, following an Israeli court ruling sentencing her to a six-month sentence suspended for three years, and ordering her to pay a 2000 Israeli Shekels fine. Sho‘ani was released at Jabara military roadblock, near Tulkarem, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank, where her family and dozens of Palestinians waited to welcome her back home. Raghad was shot and injured by Israeli army fire prior to her abduction four months ago, after the soldiers alleged that she intended to carry out a stabbing attack against then at the Qalandia military terminal, north of Jerusalem. After being shot with two live rounds in the thigh, the soldiers abducted her without providing her medical treatment, interrogated her, and later took her to a hospital. Raghad is from Kafr Aqab neighborhood, north of occupied East Jerusalem.


Injured 14-year-old Palestinian prisoner prevented from attending court session

RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 13 Nov — The Israel Prison Service (IPS) prevented an injured 14-year-old Palestinian prisoner from attending his court session at the Ofer military court on Sunday, under the pretext that there were no ambulances to transfer him from the Ramla prison hospital where he is being held, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS).  Usama Murad Jamil Marie Zeidat was shot and injured by Israeli forces after he allegedly attempted to carry out a stabbing attack near the illegal settlement of Kiryat Arba in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron on Sep. 23. No Israelis were injured. He spent three weeks in Israel’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center and underwent foot surgery. Israeli media reported at the time of the incident that the teen had been shot in the stomach. The teen’s family, who are from the village of Bani Na‘im, have not been allowed to visit Usama since his detention, according to Akram Samara, a lawyer from PPS. Samara said in a statement that during that during Sunday’s court session he filed an appeal against Israel’s decision to extend Usama’s detention until all legal procedures were completed. He said that the court’s decision on the appeal will be issued in the coming week. Samara highlighted that Usama is supposed to attend court sessions.

Three detained siblings hold hunger strike

IMEMC 11 Nov —  Three detained brothers from Beit Amin village, south of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, have been holding hunger strikes for 10 days, demanding removing one of them from solitary confinement, where he has been held for more than three consecutive years. Two of the detained siblings, Abdul-Salam and Nidal Ahmad Omar, were taken prisoner three years ago, and were sentenced to life-terms and additional twenty years each. They were convicted of abducting and killing an Israeli soldier, reportedly to hold a prisoner swap agreement to secure the release of their brother Noureddin Omar, who was taken prisoner 14 years ago, and was sentenced to 55 years.

Islamic Movement leader launches hunger strike in solitary confinement

JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 13 Nov — Leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel Sheikh Raed Salah launched an open hunger-strike on Sunday against his solitary confinement and mistreatment by Israeli prison authorities, according to his lawyer Mohammad Aghbariya. Salah was detained in May and sentenced to nine months in prison for “inciting violence and terrorism,” and placed in isolation shortly after. The Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights has appealed to end his solitary confinement, which was rejected by an Israeli court on Oct. 25, according to the Palestinian prisoner solidarity network Samidoun. Samidoun has also reported that Salah has been denied access to books given to him by visiting family members, and denied visits by prominent personalities, including Knesset member and leader of the Balad party Jamal Zahalka. In October, Israeli forces raided and closed several institutions in northern Israel for allegedly being affiliated with the Islamic Movement….

Two soldiers get 60 days for arson in Nablus woodshed

Haaretz 13 Nov by Gili Cohen — Two Israeli soldiers who admitted having set fire to a Palestinian-owned lumber warehouse in the West Bank city of Nablus in September were sentenced on Thursday in a military court to two months in prison in a plea bargain. The soldiers, from the 932nd Battalion of the Nahal Infantry Brigade, were also ordered to pay 10,000 shekels ($2,600) in damages to the warehouse owner. The soldiers, whose names were not released for publication, expressed remorse for their actions, saying they were committed out of “boredom, as a joke, in a moment of stupidity.” The soldiers were part of a force guarding Jewish worshipers at Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus. They were assigned to erect a roadblock after dark, and instructed to light a fire for illumination. They told the court they decided to use their remaining fuel to burn a pile of wood nearby. After lighting the fire in the warehouse, they gazed at the flames briefly and left the scene without trying to extinguish the fire. They were filmed by a security camera as they set the storeroom on fire. They did not report the incident after returning to their base. The fire, which was put out by Palestinian firefighters, destroyed a palm tree, a security camera and seven stacks of lumber. The value of the burned wood was assessed at 56,000 shekels. The verdict noted not only “the danger of the arson and the damage to property” but also the damage done by the incident to the army’s image and relations with local residents….


Israeli soldiers injure three Palestinians in Gaza

IMEMC 12 Nov — Israeli soldiers shot and injured, Friday, three Palestinians with live fire, and caused many others to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation near the border fence, during protests that took place in different parts of the Gaza Strip. Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, the spokesperson of the Health Ministry in Gaza, said that three Palestinians suffered moderate wounds after the soldiers shot them with live fire, near the Nahal Oz military base, east of Gaza city. Clashes also took place in several areas close to the border fence, in different parts of the coastal region, after the soldiers, stationed across the border fence, opened fire on dozens of protesters.

Israeli forces fire mortar shells at ‘suspicious targets’ in Gaza Strip

BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Nov — Israeli forces Friday morning fired several mortar shells at targets near Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, according to Israeli media. Israeli media reported that Israeli forces fired five to six mortar shells at several “suspicious” targets near Khan Yunis in southern Gaza. No injuries or damages were reported.

Army fires at homes, lands in southern Gaza

IMEMC 13 Nov — Israeli soldiers opened fire, on Saturday evening, at several Palestinian homes, and agricultural lands, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the coastal region. Media sources said the attack causing damage, while several Palestinians, especially children, suffered anxiety attacks. The sources added that the soldiers fired many live rounds at the homes, and nearby lands, especially close to the border fence, in southern Gaza.


Egypt to open Rafah crossing for 4 days in both directions

GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 13 Nov — Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi gave orders on Sunday to open the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the besieged Gaza strip for four days starting Monday until Friday, according to Egyptian state-run media. The crossing would be open in both directions to allow passage of humanitarian cases, including students, medical patients, and visa holders. Some 20,000 Palestinians inside the Gaza Strip were said to be on waiting lists managed by the Hamas-run Ministry of Interior in Gaza. Egyptian security sources told Ma‘an that Egypt is considering opening the crossing twice a month regularly. Egyptian authorities were also considering the creation of a duty-free zone at the Rafah crossing, the sources added.  The crossing was opened Saturday to allow entry of more than 100 Palestinian businessmen and dignitaries into the Gaza Strip after they partook in a conference in Egypt’s Ein Sokhna resort. Last month, 5,000 Palestinians, the majority of whom were students, patients, and expatriates — left Gaza en route to other countries through Egypt during seven days of opening over the course of two weeks….


Number of goods going in and out of Israeli-blockaded Gaza falls in October

MEMO 11 Nov — The number of goods entering and exiting the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip fell in October, according to figures published by the United Nations. Only 114 truckloads of goods exited the Gaza Strip during October, a 30 per cent decrease compared to the monthly average since the beginning of 2016, and just 15 per cent of 2005 levels. Meanwhile, the number of truckloads entering Gaza dropped by 24 per cent compared to 2016’s monthly average, the second lowest monthly total of the year. At the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing, the overall number of journeys was 45 per cent below the monthly average recorded since the beginning of 2016 and the lowest since December 2014. Israeli authorities approved 309 out of 455 permit applications for business people, including permit renewals, while the denial rate for national UN staff from Gaza stood at 52 per cent in October. In addition, according to the World Health Organisation, the approval rate for medical referrals in October stood at 44 per cent, the lowest such rate since April 2009.


Palestinian farmers, Israeli civil administration hold meeting on strawberry production in Gaza

RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 10 Nov — A meeting was held on Thursday between Palestinian strawberry farmers from the Gaza Strip and officials from the Israeli Civil Administration to discuss plans for planting strawberries in the Bisan valley of the besieged enclave.  In a statement released by the Israeli Civil Administration, an Israeli official said that the administration had initiated a project to facilitate the planting of strawberries by Palestinian farmers in collaboration with Agriculture Affairs Coordinator Samir Madi, Head of the Liaisons and Coordination Department Raim Falah, and USAID. The project started on an area of 12 dunams of land (about four acres), which has generated a profit of some 33,000 shekels ($8,599). The statement added that after the proven success of the project, additional Palestinian farmers took part in it and extended the planted area to 61 dunams (15 acres). The project has so far produced some 425 tons of strawberries, and has generated an income of some 5 million shekels ($1,302,999) for Palestinian farmers participating in the project. The statement also added that the civil administration would initiate a seminar on the project, with the expected participation of 30 Palestinian farmers, in cooperation with the Israeli-based company Bio Bee.

UNRWA employees union in Gaza announce 1-day strike

GAZA (Ma‘an) 13 Nov — The union for local employees of UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for providing services for some five million Palestinian refugees in the Middle East, announced Sunday a day-long strike would be held Monday in several UNRWA facilities in Gaza City, after the UN administration failed to address their demands, according to secretary of the Local Staff Union Yousef Hamdouna. Hamdouna said a protest is also expected to be held Monday in front of the UNRWA headquarters in Gaza City. He added that UN facilities in Jenin and Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank were also going to participate in the strike. He also demanded that UNRWA fill the some 450 job vacancies in the agency’s education sector … UNRWA’s director of operations in the Gaza Strip, Bo Schack denied on Oct. 17 that UNRWA had reduced any services to Palestinian refugees despite the severe funding shortage. “UNRWA is exerting huge efforts in Gaza and there have been no reductions in services at all,” Schack said during a news conference at UNRWA’s headquarters in Gaza City, when he claimed that the total number of UNRWA employees had in fact increased….

Palestinian athletes face Israeli hurdles

GAZA CITY (EI) 10 Nov by Mousa Tawfiq — He went, said Sami al-Daour, from living the dream to negotiating a nightmare. “My life turned upside down,” the 28-year-old soccer player said as he was walking around the facilities of his new club in Gaza. Al-Daour, now a midfielder with al-Ahli in Gaza City, is playing the game he loves. But a budding professional career has run head first into Israel’s regime of restrictions on Palestinian movement and his progress in the game has stalled. “In August 2014, I moved to the West Bank and played for Shabab al-Khalil in Hebron. But I didn’t have a full permit from the Israeli authorities to move freely between the West Bank cities and villages.” Al-Daour had come to Hebron on a short-term medical permit, but after a couple of months he switched teams and signed to play for al-Samoor. The club obtained a full permit for him and he played there for 18 months, he said. “Signing for al-Samoor was a turning point. I got a permit, a good salary and had a promising future ahead of me.” Then in March, Israeli soldiers broke into his house in the center of Hebron. He was arrested and taken to Ashkelon prison in the south of present-day Israel. Two other Palestinian soccer players were also arrested that month. “My family had sent me my laptop from Gaza so I could play video games during my free time,” al-Daour recalled. “Then one day, 50 soldiers stormed my house. I was playing a soccer game on the computer at the time. They took my laptop and arrested me.” Al-Daour spent three days under interrogation and seven days in Ashkelon prison, he said, before he was sent back to Gaza. “The Israelis accused me of having information on my laptop that threatened the security of the State of Israel. Although they found nothing, I was expelled to Gaza, and I have been trying to get back [to Hebron] since.”….


Gaza Strip produces 28 thousand tonnes of citrus fruits

Fresh Plaza 11 Nov — The Ministry of Agriculture has officially confirmed that the Gaza Strip was able to reach a state of sufficiency in citrus crops of 65%, after having reached a cultivated area of 18 thousand acres, yielding a production of up to 28 thousand tonnes of various items. The director of the tree horticulture department of the Ministry of Agriculture, Mohammad Abu Odeh, said in an interview to the newspaper Palestine that the sector has also managed to achieve self-sufficiency in some crops and exports the surplus to the West Bank and neighbouring countries. He explained that citrus is one of the pillars of the agricultural economy, and that his ministry considers it very important to reach full self-sufficiency.Abu Odeh said that citrus cultivation in the area reached its peak in the seventies and early eighties of the last century, “when there were 72 thousand acres in the Gaza Strip planted with citrus, yielding a production of more than 200 thousand tonnes.”….

How Gaza’s female filmmakers rebel against reality

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (Al-Monitor) 11 Nov by Mohammed Othman — For the second year in a row, the Women’s Affairs Center in the Gaza Strip organized on Nov. 3 a women’s film festival headlined “Women for Change” in which several drama films produced by the center and tackling bold topics were shown. Hanin Kullab, 32, produced a short film called “Lailat Farah” (“A Joyful Night”), which was shown at the festival held inside Rashad al-Shawwa hall in Gaza City. The film talks about early marriage for men and women, which is a rampant phenomenon in the Gaza Strip. Kullab told Al-Monitor, “The 13-minute film tells the story of Farah and Firas, who barely reached 15 years of age and got married based on a decision from their parents. They were faced with a reality they did not choose. The wedding night was not a typical one for them. They talked about their dreams, their usage of social media platforms like Facebook and their love for songs. They decided to rebel against their reality by standing in the Unknown Soldier Square in Gaza City holding banners that read, ‘We are still kids.'” She realized that the storyline was not new, but she made sure to tackle the topic from a bolder angle that differs from local productions. She focused on the marriage of minors by delving into the details of their wedding night, which is daring in Gaza’s traditional society. Producer Rima Mahmoud, 28, tackled a less-explored topic on camera. Her film, which was screened during the festival, reflects the five minutes that Israel grants families to evacuate their houses before shelling them during war. The families are thus torn between running for their lives or staying with their memories hanging on the walls. The film is called “Arwah Alika” (“Souls in Limbo”) … Nine films participated in the festival, and they were produced by the Women’s Affairs Center in the Gaza Strip, which specializes in women’s affairs, achievements and problems, and focuses on developing their skills in all fields. All films talk about women’s affairs and highlight their problems, whether social or political, an

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