Israeli gunshots are causing ‘unusually severe damage’ to legs, exit wounds as big as a fist — human rights group


Palestine: MSF teams in Gaza observe unusually severe and devastating gunshot injuries
MSF (Doctors without Borders) 19 Apr — Since 1 April, MSF [Medecins Sans Frontieres] teams in Gaza, Palestine, have provided post-operative care to more than 500 people injured by gunshots during the March of Return demonstrations. The number of patients treated in our clinics over the last three weeks is more than the number we treated throughout all of 2014, when Israel’s military Operation Protective Edge was launched over the Gaza strip. MSF medical staff report receiving patients with devastating injuries of an unusual severity, which are extremely complex to treat. The injuries sustained by patients will leave most with serious, long-term physical disabilities. Medical teams in Gaza’s hospitals prepare to face a possible new influx of wounded this Friday in the latest of the March of Return demonstrations. MSF surgeons in Gaza report devastating gunshot wounds among hundreds of people injured during the protests over recent weeks. The huge majority of patients – mainly young men, but also some women and children – have unusually severe wounds to the lower extremities. MSF medical teams note the injuries include an extreme level of destruction to bones and soft tissue, and large exit wounds that can be the size of a fist. “Half of the more than 500 patients we have admitted in our clinics have injuries where the bullet has literally destroyed tissue after having pulverized the bone”, said Marie-Elisabeth Ingres, Head of Mission of MSF in Palestine. “These patients will need to have very complex surgical operations and most of them will have disabilities for life.” Managing these injuries is very difficult. Apart from regular nursing care, patients will often need additional surgery, and undergo a very long process of physiotherapy and rehabilitation. A lot of patients will keep functional deficiencies for the rest of their life. Some patients may yet need amputation if not provided with sufficient care in Gaza and if they don’t manage to get the necessary authorisation to be treated outside of the strip….

Israeli soldiers killed four Palestinians, including a child, injured 729, in Gaza on Friday
IMEMC 21 Apr — The Palestinian Health Ministry has confirmed that Israeli soldiers shot and killed, Friday, four Palestinians, including one child, and injured more than 729, including 24 children and twelve women, after the army resorted to the excessive use of force against protesters, on their lands, near the border fence, in the besieged Gaza Strip. The Ministry said the soldiers killed a child, identified as Mohammad Ibrahim Ayyoub, 15, from Jabalia in northern Gaza, after shooting him with an expanding bullet in the head. It added that the soldiers also killed Ahmad Rashad al-Athamna, 24, from Beit Hanoun, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, after shooting him with a live round in his neck, east of nearby Jabalia. The soldiers also killed Ahmad Nabil Aqel, 25, after shooting him with an expanding bullet in the head, east of Jabalia, in northern Gaza. He was first shot in his leg, received the needed treatment, and returned to the protests, before being killed by Israeli army fire. In addition, the soldiers killed Sa‘ad Abdul-Majid Abu Taha, 29, from al-Qarara town, northeast of the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, after shooting him with a live round in his neck.
The Health Ministry also stated that the soldiers shot more than 729 Palestinians, including 174 who were rushed to local hospitals, and at least three who suffered life-threatening wounds, and 271 who received treatment in make-shift field clinics. 156 of the wounded were shot with live fire. One of the wounded is a medic, who suffered a very serious injury, in addition to two journalists. Ninety Palestinians suffered moderate wounds. The Ministry stated that eighteen of the wounded Palestinians were shot in the neck and head, 26 in the chest and back, twelve in the pelvis and abdomen, and 154 were shot in their legs. Furthermore, eighty-six Palestinians suffered the effects of teargas inhalation; 29 were injured by shrapnel; five were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets and 29 sustained cuts and bruises.
Riyad Mansour, the Permanent Palestinian Observer at the United Nations, sent three identical letters to the United Nations Secretary General, the head of the Security Council and the head of the General Assembly, informing them of the latest Israeli violations and the excessive use of force against unarmed Palestinian civilians….

VIDEO: Interview with Abderahman Nofal, 12 years old, shot in leg which has now been amputated
from  Interview with Abderahman Nofal and with his mother.

Ramallah hospital amputates leg of injured Gaza child
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 19 Apr — A Ramallah hospital amputated, on Thursday, the left leg of Gaza child Abdul Rahman Noufal [or Abderahman Nofal], aged 13, from Nuseirat refugee camp, who was shot in the leg with an explosive bullet that ruptured his bones during protests at the Gaza border with Israel, according to family members. Noufal underwent surgery at a Gaza hospital, following his injury, where doctors mulled over the possibility of amputating his leg but decided to wait and see if there were other options. Noufal’s father, Yamen, appealed with PA president Mahmoud Abbas to intervene to get his son to receive medical treatment in Ramallah, to save his leg, because Gaza hospitals were not capable of it. Abbas called on Civil Affairs head Hussein al-Sheikh to immediately get in contact with the Israeli authorities to get a permit for Noufal to leave Gaza and travel to Ramallah for medical treatment. Israel agreed. on Wednesday, to allow Noufal to leave Gaza for medical treatment in Ramallah, according to the Civil Affairs Authority. It said in a statement that, following intervention with the Israeli authorities on behalf of Abdul Rahman Noufal, Israel has agreed to grant the child a permit to leave Gaza, to receive medical treatment at a Ramallah hospital. Noufal arrived at Ramallah’s Istishari Hospital on Wednesday evening. He was accompanied by his grandmother. However, after doctors realized that keeping his leg would endanger his life, they decided to amputate it, according to Noufal’s parents.

Wounded Gaza cyclist to miss Asian Games after amputation
GAZA (Reuters) 18 April by Nidal al-Mughrabi — A Gaza cyclist’s dream of waving the Palestinian flag at the Asian Games has been shattered by an Israeli bullet that caused him to lose his leg after he joined a Gaza border protest. Alaa Al-Daly, 21, had his right leg amputated after he attended the first day of what has been called “The Great March of Return,” a six-week demonstration at the frontier fence between the Islamist-ruled Gaza Strip and Israel. Daly said that he and three friends cycled towards a border protest area on March 30, then walked to what they expected to be a non-violent demonstration. “I only went because it was a peaceful rally, I did not expect any harm to come to me.” Daly said he was 150-200 metres (500-660 feet) from the fence, and not involved in any belligerent action against Israeli troops, when he was struck by gunfire. He said his family asked that he be evacuated from Gaza to receive better treatment in the West Bank or in Israel, but Palestinian authorities told him that Israeli officials refused to let him exit Gaza. The Israeli military said that senior commanders had ruled that apart from “exceptional humanitarian cases,” medical treatment would not be given to Palestinians who participated in the border protests … Daly, who trained for more than six hours a day for months to compete at the Asian Games in Indonesia, now accepts that his “dream of waving the flag of Palestine in Jakarta” is over. He is learning to walk with the help of crutches, and intends to compete in the future as an amputee.

Palestinian journalist shot in head by Israeli forces transferred to West Bank hospital
IMEMC 18 Apr — A Palestinian journalist from Gaza, one of the over 2,000 Palestinians wounded in the past 18 days by Israeli forces, arrived in a coma at Ramallah General Hospital Monday, after repeated delays of his transfer by Israeli authorities and the denial of treatment by Israeli hospitals. Ahmad Abu Hussein, a photojournalist from Gaza, was shot in the head on Friday April 13th by Israeli snipers stationed at the border between Gaza and Israel. He was hit with an exploding bullet, a banned type of live fire that explodes on impact, causing severe internal injuries. The head of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, Nassar Abu Bakr, criticized the delay in the transfer of the patient, telling reporters from the Ma‘an News Agency, “The Israeli authorities committed two crimes against Abu Hussein, one when injuring him with an explosive bullet in the head and another when delaying his transfer from Gaza hospitals to Ramallah, as if the occupation insists on killing him.” Abu Bakr said that specialized Israeli hospitals were better equipped to treat the severely wounded journalist, but none would accept to have him transferred. So he was sent to Ramallah General Hospital in the West Bank. He added that only through ‘strenuous efforts’ by a number of Palestinian officials was this transfer made possible….

Military fired teargas at family tents far from fence during Gaza protests, injuring hundreds
B’Tselem 20 Apr — Since 30 March 2018, Palestinians in Gaza have protested every Friday along the fence with Israel, with thousands to tens of thousands in attendance. Throughout the rest of the week, smaller protests have been held in the same locations, attended by tens to hundreds of protestors. During the Friday protests, some of the demonstrators who went near the fence threw stones at soldiers stationed on or near dirt mounds on the other side of it. The soldiers fired live rounds, rubber coated metal bullets and teargas canisters at them. According to the military, some demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails and explosives and tried to sabotage the fence.
However, most of the demonstrators – including older adults, women and children – congregated in encampments set up specifically for the demonstrations at a distance of 400 to 600 meters from the fence. The encampments had field clinics, food vendors and various activities for children and adults, such as clown shows, poetry readings, live music shows and soccer matches. Many families gathered inside tents where they ate and talked.
An investigation conducted by B’Tselem revealed that over the course of the demonstrations, soldiers on the other side of the fence fired teargas at the encampments, despite the distance from the fence and the peaceful nature of the protest there. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, more than 1,800 Palestinians were hurt by the teargas. The ministry’s statistics do not mention where the persons hurt were at the time the gas was sprayed, but B’Tselem’s investigation found that hundreds were hurt far from the fence. Most were treated in the field clinics, but some were more severely hurt and taken to hospital.
This use of crowd dispersal measures is unlawful and unjustified. Israel has no right to disperse demonstrations inside the Gaza Strip or to direct Gazans as to where they may and may not congregate. It is most certainly prohibited from firing teargas at demonstrators located hundreds of meters away from the border, minding their own business and posing no threat to anyone.
B’Tselem field researchers Khaled al-‘Azayzeh and Olfat al-Kurd collected testimonies from Gaza residents who took part in demonstrations near the town of Khuza‘a, east of Khan Yunis: [testimonies follow]

PHOTOS: Life inside Gaza’s Return March protest camp
Activestills 11 Apr  Photos by Mohammed Zaanoun (, text by Mohammed Zaanoun and +972 Magazine Staff  — This is what happens at the protest camp when the IDF isn’t shooting — and when the world isn’t looking — On Fridays, the Gaza tent encampment near the Israeli border fence is a deadly zone. Israel snipers have opened fire on Palestinian demonstrators for two consecutive weeks, killing more than 30 people and wounding over 1,000. But during the middle of the week, the protest camp, part of the Great Return March, is something entirely different — a peaceful, colorful staging ground for a range different activities that draws entire families, located a mere 400 meters from the Israeli border. Mohammed Zaanoun, an Activestills photographer, visited the protest camp east of Shujaiya, a neighborhood devastated by Israeli bombing during the 2014 war. Several hundred people were there to participate in the activities, from dancing and children’s games to cooking and even pop-up barbershops. At night, the women go home while some of the men remain in the tents….

Palestinian activists move tents 50 meters closer to security fence in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 Apr — …The committee in charge of the “Great March of Return” announced [Thursday] that they had moved the “tents of return” 50 meters closer towards the border “as a message of persistence from our people to the world that we are moving forwards towards our rightful goals.” The activists added that the tents had been set up between 500-700 meters away from the border line. Thursday marked the 20th day of protests since the “Great March of Return” began in the besieged Gaza Strip, as hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees demanded their collective right of return to their homelands in was is present-day Israel.

Ahead of border protests, IDF drops leaflets warning Gazans: ‘Hamas endangers your lives’
Haaretz 20 Apr by Yaniv Kubovich — The leaflet, signed by the “IDF headquarters,” is addressed to Gaza residents. “You are participating in violent disturbances. Hamas is taking advantage of you to carry out terrorist attacks. The IDF is prepared for any scenario. Stay away from the fence and do not attempt to damage it,” said the leaflets scattered by Israeli aircraft in the early morning in areas along the border … “Avoid using weapons and carrying out violent acts against Israeli security forces and Israeli civilians. Keep away from terrorist elements and groups pushing riots and violence. The IDF will take action against any attempt to damage the barrier and its components and any other military equipment. Hamas is using you to advance the interests of its movement. Don’t follow Hamas orders that endanger your lives. It is possible [to act differently] – your future is in your hands,” state the leaflets….

Israeli military strikes Hamas post in southern Gaza after shots fired at soldiers
Haaretz 17 Apr by Jack Khoury & Yaniv Kubovich — Israeli Defense Forces attacked a Hamas outpost Tuesday in response to shots fired at soldiers near the Gaza border fence. The shots were fired at a force patrolling near the southern part of the Strip from an area near which protests take place every Friday. The Israeli army reported no wounded in the incident. In response, tanks opened fire at a Hamas observation outpost. The Palestinian Healthy Ministry reports no casualties in the strike.

Israeli forces shell southern Gaza, injuring 5 Palestinians
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — Five Palestinians were injured after Israeli forces shelled areas in the eastern Khan Younis district in the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday around dawn. The Gaza Ministry of Health said in a statement that several shells were fired towards a site belonging to the al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad movement. The ministry added that shots were fired from the site towards the border with Israel. Three Palestinians were injured with live ammunition while two others were injured by the shelling, the ministry said. The statement added that Israeli forces opened fire at an ambulance attempting to transfer the injured to the hospital. Several Israeli military vehicles raided the area following the shelling, leveling lands along the border as Israeli drones flew over head. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that “overnight IDF troops identified five suspects, at least one of which was armed, approaching the security fence in the southern Gaza strip and in response, troops fired towards the suspects.” The spokesperson did not comment on the allegations that Israeli forces opened fire on ambulances evacuating the injured.

Israeli criticism of journalists on Gaza border conflicts with video
JERUSALEM (AFP) 20 Apr by Mike Smith — Israel’s military has suggested that a photo it has distributed shows journalists are willingly being used as human shields by Palestinian militants during recent protests, but video and a witness account of the incident tell a different story. The military has made a photo from April 13 protests and clashes on the Gaza Strip border part of its public relations effort, with one army spokesman using it in a tweet to suggest bias and recklessness by journalists covering recent demonstrations. Those suggestions conflict with video footage of the incident shown in the photograph filmed by an AFP journalist and the reporter’s description of what happened. The distribution of the photo comes as Israel comes under scrutiny over its use of live fire during protests and clashes on the Gaza border. Thirty-four Palestinians have been killed and hundreds wounded by Israeli forces since the protests began on March 30, according to Gaza’s health ministry. The dead include a Palestinian journalist who witnesses said was wearing a press vest when he was shot. Israel accuses Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip and with whom it has fought three wars since 2008, of using the protests as cover to carry out violence and says it has only opened fire when necessary. There have been no Israeli casualties, and Palestinians say protesters are being shot while posing no threat to troops.
‘Terror purposes’? – When first distributing the photo on April 13, Israel’s military said the main person in it was “a terrorist wielding an item suspected of being an explosive device used for terror purposes while journalists and a handicapped person stand closely behind him.” … The AFP journalist recorded video of the incident shown in the photograph during protests east of Gaza City. Footage shows a man wearing a keffiyeh scarf attempting and failing to light what seems to be a standard firework while lying on the ground amid black smoke from burning tyres. He was at least 100 metres from Israeli forces at the time, the journalist said, and later gave up and left the area. The journalist, who has extensive experience in conflict zones, had positioned himself and his camera there in part because he believed he was far enough from the border fence to avoid unnecessary risk….

Fiery kites adopted as new tactic by Gaza protesters
AFP 20 Apr — Palestinians protesting along the Gaza border have begun attaching Molotov cocktails to kites to fly over the fence into Israel in a new tactic as demonstrations enter their fourth week. For protests set for Friday, Gazans were hoping to send dozens of kites over the fence, including some carrying notes telling Israelis “there is no place for you in Palestine.” On the eve of Friday’s protests, a group of young people worked with coloured paper and empty coke bottles under a tree in an olive orchard hundreds of metres from the Israeli border east of Gaza City. Some carefully created 60-centimetre-long kites in the colours of the Palestinian flag. When completed, a metal wire was attached at the bottom linked to a liquid-filled bottle. As AFP watched, three young men carried one kite dozens of metres towards the border before stopping to set the bottle alight. With the flame lit, they sent it into the air and cut the thread — watching as it floated over the border and crashed, causing a small fire. “We use the kites to send a message that we are capable of bothering the occupation,” said 16-year-old Abdullah … There have been no Israeli casualties, and Palestinians say protesters are being shot while posing no threat to soldiers on the other side of the heavily guarded fence. Israel has pledged to stop damage to the fence, infiltrations and attacks, and alleges there have been attempts at all three….

An IDF general in the crosshairs: Islamic Jihad releases menacing video ahead of Friday’s Gaza protest
Haaretz 19 Apr by Jack Khoury — Islamic Jihad published a video Thursday threatening Israeli soldiers ahead of the weekly demonstration along the Israel-Gaza border this Friday. The clip shows the group’s operatives looking through the scope of a rifle at Israeli military figures, including Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories. The video ends with a slide reading, “You’re killing our people in cold blood and think that you’re protected, but our snipers’ sights are on your top commanders.”  See video here

Palestinians are reminding us that they exist
+972 blog 17 Apr by Hagai El-Ad — Reality is stronger than any propaganda campaign. It will ultimately break through and penetrate public awareness — …Here’s a question for Israelis: What would you do after living for more than a decade under blockade, on a small strip of land roughly half the size of New York City, in conditions of severe overcrowding with no seaport, airport or any other avenue by which to leave? With no jobs, no hope, no future for you or your children, dependent on humanitarian aid that may well stop coming, with only a few hours a day of electricity, and water that’s polluted? The Israeli propaganda machine dupes Israelis into thinking that the two million people living in the besieged Gaza Strip are not human beings. Instead, we are told, each and every one of them is actually a murderous terrorist. Here they come, hell-bent on destroying us. They are armed with stones and equipped with onions as shields. They’re a deadly, primeval swarm. Nothing but live gunfire every Friday and bombing and shelling every few years can keep them in check and ensure they toe the line in the prison we’ve confined them to. But what happens after the propaganda? How many more Fridays (scores of dead, hundreds of wounded), or rounds of air strikes (thousands of dead) will keep Gaza contained? Is this Israel’s vision? Is this a strategy? Is this the future? As far as Israelis are concerned, the residents of Gaza simply woke up one Friday and decided to swarm the fence. And even if they do have any grievances, they shouldn’t address them to us. It’s all the handiwork of Hamas. After all, we left. They’ve been managing their own affairs for years; it has nothing to do with us. But it turns out you can’t just walk out and shut the gate behind you on a small, crowded piece of land you ruled for 40 years, especially not when you’re still calling the shots on how many trucks can come in and out, or how much water and electricity is supplied to the people living in the enclosure you wanted to erase from your mind. Gaza and its two million residents cannot be made to disappear, not literally and not figuratively.
Reality is stronger than any propaganda campaign. It will ultimately break through and penetrate public awareness. Even the inmates in the Gaza prison managed to remind us they exist – and on the first night of Passover at that. Even after 50 days of bombing them in the summer of 2014, we had forgotten they exist. Even though we killed 547 children back then, lo and behold, they’re still there. The great March of Return hasn’t gotten one Gazan past the fence, but it has returned Gaza to the public eye….

Are Israeli Jews beginning to accept the right of return?
+972 blog 18 Apr by Eléonore Bronstein and Eitan Bronstein Aparicio — A number of new surveys shows that at least a fifth of Israel’s Jewish citizens are open to the idea of Palestinian refugees returning to their homes. So how do we reconcile this with the violence being meted out to Palestinians on the Gaza border? — What is it about Gaza’s “Great Return March” that so threatens Israelis? What is it that Israelis are so actively preventing? The Gaza fence symbolizes the essence of the Jewish state, which was founded through the dispossession of the Palestinians, expelling the majority of them beyond its borders. Walls and fences were built — above and below ground — to prevent the return of those refugees. Today, as in the 1950s, they are considered dangerous “infiltrators.” Not much has changed when it comes to colonial thinking and practice. Unfortunately, we must also admit that even when the atrocities become too much to bear, the violent Israeli response is not surprising. It almost goes without saying; perhaps the fact that there is nothing surprising in this kind of behavior is the real atrocity. That the emergency in Gaza has become a trivial matter.
That is why it was so surprising to discover the results of a new survey, conducted by the Geocartography Knowledge Group among 500 Jewish Israelis, for our book, Nakba in Hebrew. The survey shows that quite a few Israeli Jews, or at least many more than one would think, support the right of return of the Palestinian refugees….

Palestinians want independent probe of Israeli Gaza killings
UNITED NATIONS (AP) 20 Apr — The Palestinians said Friday they want the U.N. Human Rights Council to establish a commission to carry out an independent investigation of the Israeli military’s killing and wounding of Palestinians during protests in Gaza. Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. ambassador, said his counterpart in Geneva will start the process early next week with initial consultations that will hopefully culminate in an emergency meeting of the rights council and approval of a resolution authorizing a body “to investigate these crimes.” “It seems that the Israeli occupying forces are not restraining themselves, they’re not listening to anyone and they are continuing with this massacre,” Mansour told reporters. For a fourth week, several thousand people in Gaza staged protests on the border with Israel to protest its blockade of the Hamas-ruled territory and press for a “right of return” of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to what is now Israel. Israeli soldiers firing from across a border fence killed four Palestinians Friday, bringing the number killed since the protest marches started in late March to 32, and the number wounded by live rounds to more than 1,600, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Israel says it’s defending its border, and alleges Hamas uses protests as cover for attacks. The Palestinians say the rising casualty toll signals that Israel’s military is sticking to its open-fire rules against the protesters despite international criticism of the use of lethal force against unarmed demonstrators … The U.N. Security Council has not commented on the protests because the United States, Israel’s closest ally, has blocked proposed statements supported by most members critical of the high death toll and Israel’s use of force against protesters. With Security Council action blocked, the Palestinians are turning to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council where there are no vetoes. Mansour noted that in the past, the Palestinians were successful in getting the rights council to authorize three different fact-finding missions and commissions. He said the Palestinians will not accept an investigation announced by Israel into its military actions in Gaza because “it cannot be credible.”….

Israeli naval forces open fire at Gaza fishermen
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 Apr — Israeli naval forces opened fire on Palestinian fishermen as they sailed off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday morning. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli naval boats chased down Palestinian fishing boats, forcing them back to shore. No injuries were reported.

Japan donates $500,000 to UN women to support vulnerable women in Gaza
GAZA (WAFA) 19 Apr – The Government of Japan donated half a million US dollars to UN Women Palestine Office for a one-year project to improve the situations of women in Gaza, a UN Women press release said on Thursday. The project, with a special focus on vulnerable women suffering from displacement and disability, as well as elderly women, will provide specialized protection services and economic empowerment activities for almost 1,700 direct beneficiaries until April next year. Following the 2014 conflict in Gaza which created massive displacement, women in Gaza have been disproportionately affected by the humanitarian conditions which systemically create gender-based vulnerabilities, said the UN Women….

Facebook becomes fundraising tool for Gaza’s poor
EI 13 Apr by Amjad Ayman Yaghi — Osama al-Kahlout receives requests for help every day. There are so many that he cannot promote all of them. The most urgent cases have to be prioritized. He is among a number of people living in Gaza who use Facebook as a tool to raise money for the poor. Through posting photographs and information on the social media website, he has found a donor who financed the construction of a five-story home for an extended family in Deir al-Balah refugee camp. Comprising 40 people, the extended family had previously been living in the same small house. The donations came from Qatar and were arranged by cooperating with a Qatari organization already active in Gaza. Al-Kahlout is a journalist, writing about social issues for Donia Al-Watan, a Palestinian website. This work “makes me close to people who are in need,” he said. Al-Kahlout regularly posts appeals for money on his Facebook page. Generally, these appeals are for families requiring food, medicine or accommodation. One such appeal was for five families living in a cemetery. Their homes were badly built, lacking proper windows. The appeal raised enough for renovations to be carried out on their homes and to give them food and clothes. “I wish I could help everyone who is in need,” said al-Kahlout. But he is unable to do so. Some of the requests he receives are not deemed suitable for Facebook appeals as they require intervention from the official authorities. He also has to bear in mind that hardship is widespread in Gaza. For that reason, he has to concentrate on cases where the problems are particularly acute….

Gaza restaurant offers food to poor families
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 18 Apr by Huda Baroud — In the Gaza Strip, where 80% of the residents rely on humanitarian assistance to survive, various civil initiatives help the poor by providing them with food and medical treatment or writing off their debts. One of the initiatives that has been running for four years now is “Faker Bghayrak” (“Think of Others”), a youth initiative that provides food and medical treatment to the sick. A more recent campaign — “Sameh, Toujar” — encourages merchants to drop the debts of Gazans who cannot pay. A recent campaign by the Abdallah Restaurant chain offers Gazans a free breakfast and dinner every day. The chain’s three restaurants — in Rimal neighborhood, west of Gaza City; in Sabra neighborhood, central Gaza; and al-Zaytun neighborhood, south of Gaza City — are part of the initiative designed to feed 100 poor families daily….

Photos: Honey collected at farm in Gaza Strip city of Rafah
Xinhua 20 Apr — Palestinian beekeepers collect honey from beehives at a farm in the southern Gaza Strip City of Rafah, on April 19, 2018. (Xinhua/Khaled Omar)

Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem

Soldiers injure a child with live fire near Nablus
IMEMC 20 Apr — Israeli soldiers shot, Friday, a Palestinian child with live fire, and caused many to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation, in the al-Lubban ash-Sharqiya village, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus. The soldiers assaulted the Palestinians who marched in their village, protesting the ongoing illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine, and the escalating violations against them, their property and holy sites. Medical sources said the soldiers shot the child, 16, with a live round in his leg, before he was rushed to Salfit governmental hospital. The soldiers also fired many gas bombs and concussion grenades, causing many Palestinians to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation.

Palestinian elderly man injured, two minors detained in Jerusalem raid
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 20 Apr – Israeli police late Thursday night injured a Palestinian elderly man and detained two minors in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, said WAFA correspondent and a local watchdog. Israeli police conducted a raid into Silwan after erecting barriers at the neighborhood entrances. Wadi Hilweh Information Center, a Silwan-based watchdog, said that troops raided the family home of a 65-year-old Palestinian man, assaulting him and his family members, violently ransacking the property and detaining his 14-year-old child. The center added that troops fired a concussion grenade at the elderly man, striking him in his lower extremities and causing cuts and bruises. He was rushed to the hospital for treatment. Troops also stormed and thoroughly searched several other homes in Silwan, where they indiscriminately fired concussion grenades at residents and detained a 17-year-old minor.

Israeli army protects armed settlers during raid west of Ramallah
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 19 Apr – More than 150 Israeli settlers Thursday raided the village of Al-Mazra‘a ash-Sharqiya west of Ramallah, said witnesses. Villagers present at the scene told WAFA that more than 150 heavily armed settlers raided the area of Harasha under heavy Israeli army protection. The army responded with teargas to the villagers who tried to force the settlers out of the area.

Israeli settlers attack Palestinian students in Hebron on way home from school
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Apr — Israeli settlers on Wednesday reportedly attacked Palestinian students as they were walking home from school in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron, according to the official Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency. Wafa reported that Israeli settlers physically attacked students and “used foul language against them,” as the students were leaving school in the al-Salaymeh neighborhood in the Old City of Hebron. No injuries were reported.

Palestinians assaulted by Israeli settlers south of Bethlehem
IMEMC/Agencies 20 Apr — Israeli settlers, overnight, assaulted five Palestinians to the south of Bethlehem, in the southern West Bank, said security sources. A group of settlers from Bat Ayin settlement, which is a part of the cluster of Israeli settlements making up the Gush Etzion bloc, intercepted five Palestinian chess referees and hurled stones at their vehicle, forcing them to flee their vehicle. According to WAFA, the referees were on their way from the northern West Bank to Nahhalin town, west of Bethlehem, to participate in a chess match. They reportedly lodged a complaint at a nearby Israeli police station. Settler violence against Palestinians and their property is routine in the West Bank and is rarely prosecuted by Israeli authorities.

Settlers chop down 100 olive trees south of Nablus
NABLUS (WAFA) 20 Apr – Israeli settlers Friday chopped down 100 fruitful olive trees belonging to Burin village, south of Nablus, said a local activist. Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activities in the northern West Bank, said that Israeli settlers from Yitzhar settlement chopped down 100 olive trees, some of which were estimated to be 60 years old, besides to almond trees. He added that settlers spray-painted racist graffiti on rocks before they fled the scene. Meanwhile, mayor of Burin Yahya Qadoos described the settlers’ attack as a “massacre”, noting that it was not the first time that settlers attacked this village. He added that the landowner, identified as Muhammad Raja, had ploughed his plot of land, which was deemed as his sole source of livelihood, just few days ago before he found out that his trees were chopped down.

Right-wing extremists filmed slashing tires in Palestinian village
Ynet 20 Apr by Elior Levy et al. — Graffiti also sprayed on vehicles and homes calling for expulsion and death for ‘terror supporters’ in the Palestinian village of Burqa; attack comes as Shin Bet warns of spike in number of hate crimes carried out by Israeli extremists in West Bank — Police are investigating a possible hate crime that took place overnight Thursday after several suspicious individuals entered a Palestinian village east of Ramallah and punctured car tires and sprayed hateful slogans on dozens of vehicles and homes.  Two suspects were caught on CCTV cameras slashing the tires of vans in the village of Burqa.  “God is the king,” “Stop the administrative orders” and “Here live terror supporters to be expelled and killed” were the slogans that were scrawled on the homes and cars. Israeli security forces were called to the scene and launched an investigation into the matter. The IDF and police have issued repeated warnings in recent weeks against acts of violence and vandalism carried out by Israeli right-wing extremists, which risks sparking an escalation in violence in the West Bank as Israel faces a volatile Gaza border. A string of hate-related incidents have aroused the IDF’s attention in the West Bank in recent weeks. Two assailants were captured on security camera overnight last Friday setting fire to the front door of a mosque near Nablus … According to the Shin Bet, 63 administrative restriction orders were issued last year against extremist right-wing activists, while 13 have been issued so far in 2018 … Security forces said that the arson attack in Kfar Aqraba constituted an escalation in the severity of the nature of the attacks, since it was launched not merely against private property, but against a place of worship—the first since June 2015 when the Church of Loaves and Fishes on the shores of the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel was set alight….,7340,L-5235830,00.html

Israeli soldiers abduct 13 Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 17 Apr — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Tuesday at dawn, thirteen Palestinians, including a senior political leader of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), during extensive and violent searches of homes in several parts of the occupied West Bank. The soldiers also distributed leaflets in the al-Am‘ari refugee camp, in the central West Bank city of Ramallah, warning “further restrictions and ongoing invasions,” if the Palestinians continue their protests. In addition, the army said some of its military jeeps were attacked with stones and Molotov cocktails in the al-Khader town, south of Bethlehem, and claimed to locate a pistol during searches in the West Bank. Furthermore, the soldiers summoned for interrogation several young men, after invading their homes in Qarawat Bani Hassan village, in Salfit in central West Bank.
The soldiers also started bulldozing and uprooting Palestinian lands in Immatain town, east of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, to expand the illegal Emanuel colony, which was built on private lands. It is worth mentioning that the army started bulldozing the lands, 15 dunams, a month ago, but the owner, Fawzi Nasser Ghanayem, managed to obtain an order from the Israeli High Court, stopping the destruction on his property, but the army resumed the war despite the injunction….

Israel finds bomb at West Bank checkpoint
JERUSALEM (Xinhua) 18 Apr — A “powerful” explosive device was found in a Palestinian truck at a West Bank checkpoint on Wednesday, the Israeli Defense Ministry said. The bomb was found after the driver was stopped for a routine check at the Rehian crossing between the northern West Bank and Israel. The driver was arrested, the ministry said in a statement. The vehicle also carried goods to Israeli settlements in the area, according to the ministry. The incident came as Israeli security forces were on full alert ahead of the mass celebrations for the country’s 70th anniversary of its founding on Wednesday night. On Tuesday, Israel closed all exits from the West Bank for two days, citing security concerns.

Prisoners / Court actions

Demonstrators gather in West Bank, Gaza to mark Palestinian Prisoners Day
MEE/Agencies 17 Apr — Palestinians held vigils and protests in Gaza and across the West Bank on Tuesday to remember the thousands of prisoners held in Israeli jails. The demonstrations took place amid heightened tensions following weekly mobilisations for the Great March for Return, which is due to continue until 15 May, demanding the right of return for Palestinian refugees. Several thousand amassed in the Gaza Strip while sporadic gatherings took place across the West Bank. Around 6,500 Palestinians are currently held in Israeli prisons, 500 of whom detained under administrative detention, a practice used by Israel against Palestinians to imprison people without charge or trial for indefinite periods according to the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS).  Palestinians who attended the demonstrations, as part of the annual Palestinian Prisoners Day marches, held up portraits of relatives currently held in Israeli prisons. PPS estimates that around one million Palestinians have been detained by Israel since the country was founded in 1948, adding that Israel has held 48 Palestinians for more than 20 years. The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, meanwhile, stated that some 1,800 Palestinian prisoners were in dire need of medical care. Palestinians have long denounced the ill-treatment of prisoners, accusing Israel of torture, medical neglect, and of flouting international law. According to PPS, 215 Palestinians have died in Israeli prisons since 1967, including 72 who died from torture, and 61 who died due to medical negligence….

Gaza hosts wheelchair race to show solidarity with Palestinian prisoners
PC 16 Apr — Dozens of wheelchair users participated in a race in Gaza City yesterday to show solidarity with sick or wounded Palestinians in prison, the Palestinian Information Centre reported. Organized by the Wa’ed Society for Detainees and Ex-Detainees and Al-Salam Sports Club for People with Disability, the race was dubbed “Marathon 1,500”, in recognition of the number of imprisoned Palestinians suffering from an illness or disability. . Of the 6,500 Palestinians held inside 22 Israeli jails, about 400 have medical conditions which need treatment. The majority of sick Palestinians are being held in the Al-Ramla Prison, which is overcrowded, and according to the group, most do not receive the necessary healthcare and treatment to deal with their condition. Similarly, disabled prisoners are not given due assistance and so are unable to use toilets and facilities without the help of other inmates….

Two Jerusalemites remanded in custody for writing on Facebook
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 19 Apr – The Israeli authorities extended on Thursday the detention of Wafa Abu Jomaa and Amir Dibs from Jerusalem until Sunday for allegedly writing incitement on Facebook. Israeli forces detained Abu Jomaa on Monday after raiding her home in al-Tur neighborhood and Dibs, a freed prisoner, detained after raiding his home in Shu‘fat refugee camp. According to the Detainees Commission, Israel has detained 340 Palestinians since October 2015 for alleged incitement on Facebook and for posting or sharing photos of Palestinian prisoners or those killed by Israel.

Israel issues 41 administrative orders to Palestinian prisoners since April 1
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — Israeli authorities have issued administrative detention orders to 41 Palestinians since the beginning of April, according to a statement on Wednesday from the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). According to PPS, nine of the 41 orders were issued against Palestinians who were recently detained for the first time or recently re-detained. Israel uses administrative detention almost exclusively against Palestinians. The widely condemned Israeli policy allows for a detainee to be sentenced for up to six-month renewable intervals based on undisclosed evidence … According to prisoners rights group Addameer, there were 6,050 Palestinians in Israeli prisons as of March, with 427 being held in administrative detention.

Israel arrests four settlers over posters accusing colonel of ‘shooting Jews’
Haaretz 19 Apr by Yotam Berger — Israeli police arrested four people, one of them a minor, on Wednesday night on the suspicion of hanging posters accusing a military commander of “shooting Jews,” apparently in reference to the recent evacuation of an unauthorized outpost in the West Bank. One poster featured an image of Shomron Brigade chief Col. Gilad Amit and alleged that he was “responsible for a series of attacks on new settlement points in the Samaria region.” Last week, three people, including a minor, were arrested during the attempted evacuation by soldiers led by Col. Amit of the outpost known as Rosh Yosef, which is near the settlement of Itamar in  northern West Bank. The outposts’ residents pelted the troops with stones, the military said. The soldiers responded by firing tear gas and shooting into the air. The posters found on Wednesday claimed that the soldiers made “massive use of tear gas” and used live fire against residents….

The Nakba and Israel Independence Day

Palestinians uncover hidden history of the Nakba, even as Israel cuts them off from their sources
Haaretz Magazine 20 Apr by Dina Kraft — When Salim Tamari was researching his book on Arab neighborhoods in the Jerusalem area that were destroyed or conquered during the 1948 war, he had to ask Jewish-Israeli colleagues to go to the Israel State Archives to retrieve material for him. As a Palestinian, he did not have a permit to travel to the city, just 33 kilometers (20 miles) from his office in the West Bank. He was seeking family papers, photos and diaries – precisely the kind of primary source material vital to piecing together any period in history. However, this material is often out of reach for Palestinian historians of the Nakba (the Palestinian term for the formation of Israel, which means “Catastrophe” in Arabic). While Israelis will celebrate 70 years of the Jewish state this week, it is remembered as a national trauma by the Palestinians. Over 700,000 lost their homes in wake of the War of Independence and millions of their descendants live in refugee camps scattered throughout the Middle East. Telling the social history of this period from a Palestinian perspective is a challenge. When Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes – the matter has long been the subject of fierce debate – the contents were often looted or confiscated, among them the letters, books and photo albums needed to help tell the history of that period and the life that preceded it. The limited material that remained was collected and cataloged by the nascent Israeli authorities and stored in archives. In the case of some 30,000 books collected and housed by the National Library of Israel, for example, the belongings were labeled “absentee property” and, like other materials, placed out of reach of the majority of Palestinians. … [article is behind a paywall]

Independence Day signs vandalized in Arab towns
Ynet 16 Apr by Yishai Porat & Hassan Shaalan — Notices for 70th anniversary of Israel found spray painted in Arab localities; residents wonder: ‘What is Israel proud of, the expulsion of our families?’ Rahat Mayor: ‘These acts have no place;’ 3 East Jerusalem men arrested for burning flags — … “In the past few days, Arab media sources have been harshly criticized for publishing ads for the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence,” said Jafar Farah, the Director of the Mossawa Center … He further noted that critics claimed that the publication of such ads in the Arab media was meant to hurt those who lost families and homes. “This is chutzpah (impudent) and abuse of the victims of the Nakba. The Jews are celebrating while we visit our villages that were destroyed. There is something defiant and painful about forcing the victors’ celebrations on the Palestinian people, who lost their families and their homeland,” according to the critics. ….,7340,L-5232446,00.html

Mourning Arabs fly Palestinian flags as Israel marks Independence Day
[with photos] ATLIT, Israel/BEIRUT (Reuters) 17 Apr by Stephen Farrell & Ayat Basma — Waving Palestinian flags and wearing T-shirts proclaiming Jerusalem to be “the eternal capital of Palestine,” thousands of Israel’s Arab minority turned out on Thursday for a rally to commemorate a war lost 70 years ago. In a field south of Haifa, near an Arab village that was depopulated and abandoned in 1948, children read the lyrics of nationalist anthems from their iPhones, while their elders sat beneath awnings, listening to dignitarites and musicians. The gathering was something of an anomaly: the same day that Israelis celebrate the 70th anniversary of their Independence Day, Palestinians lament the Nakba, or “Catastrophe”, when they lost their homeland in the conflict that surrounded the birth of the modern Jewish state. This year the gathering was near Atlit, a small coastal village south of Haifa from which, the rally organizers said, 170 people were driven out in 1948, and fled to other towns or into neighboring countries such as Lebanon, where they and their descendants remain refugees today. “I never miss any event related to the Nakba,” said Sami Salman, 83, a carpenter originally from Nazareth who attended the rally. “Many people left for Lebanon back then, but fortunately for us we did not have enough money to go. I am very glad about that now.” Unable to attend but watching the event on television was Khaled Ali Hassan, a Palestinian refugee who lives in the Shatila refugee camp in Beirut, 80 miles up the coast of the Mediterranean in Lebanon. His father came from the village of Ijzim, near Atlit, but was never able to go back after he fled the conflict in 1948. Lebanon has around 450,000 Palestinian refugees registered with the United Nations refugee agency, many living in the country’s 12 refugee camps. “When he used to speak of Palestine, he would stop when the tears came to his eyes,” said Hassan, 53. He noted the irony that the Israeli celebrations and Palestinian mourning are intertwined. “The two of us are on opposite ends. Our day of tragedy, our day of misery, is their day of joy,” he said….

For Arab Israeli students, Independence Day is Nakba Day
Ynet 18 Apr by Adir Yanko — Most Arab schools ignore Independence Day, with school administrators citing lack of connection Arab citizens feel towards the event; some Arab schools do however broach the topic, especially among Bedouins. —  Principals of Arab schools in Israel don’t plan to ignore the country’s 70th Independence Day, but they’re also not going to toe the line with the way the holiday is marked in Jewish schools. There are 388,000 students from the Arab sector in the Israeli education system in nearly 4,000 different educational institutions, and they too will have no studies on Independence Day.  According to the 2016 Democracy Index conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute, the Israeli identity of Israeli Arabs is only second to their religious identity, parallel to their Arab identity and ahead of their Palestinian identity. 55 percent stated that they were proud to be Israelis while 38 percent said that it gave them no pride. Dozens of school principals, heads of education departments in the Arab sector and even academics refused to be interviewed for this story and talk about how and if they mark Independence Day in Arab schools. Those who did agree to be interviewed admitted there is an intentional silence observed around the holiday. “For the children, it’s just another day off,” one of them said. “They don’t even know what Independence Day is. This situation is convenient to all.” …  “I live in this country and respect it, but I have no connection to this day,” says the director of the education department in one of the Arab municipalities. “The principals in the Arab sector do not feel a connection to this day, and rightly so. “The state has not done enough to connect us and we do not feel that this day is relevant to us,” he continued. “We have to think about how to connect the citizens to the country, but we are different and we are in a situation that is unnatural.”  For them, he explained, Independence Day represents a dark chapter in their history. “This day is our Nakba (catastrophe) Day, that is the truth. Perhaps if we were to receive recognition, the feeling will change, but as long as that is not the case, how can we identify?” However, the administrator pointed out that among the Bedouin sector, the situation is slightly different from that in the Arab sector. “Because of militay service, some schools in the Bedouin sector certainly mark Independence Day.” Muhammad Khalil, a principal of a high school in Bi‘ina, is among the few who do mark Independence Day….,7340,L-5233235,00.html

Palestinian refugees – Syria

Refugees in Syria short of food and medicine amid shelling – UN
BEIRUT (Reuters) 18 Apr by Heba Kanso — Thousands of Palestinian refugees near the Syrian capital are trapped in “rapidly deteriorating” conditions without running water or doctors and little food, the United Nations said on Wednesday, as the Syrian army prepared to capture the area. The U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which provides aid to Palestinian refugees, reported overnight shelling on Tuesday as Syrian forces prepared for an assault on the last area outside their control near Damascus. “The humanitarian situation in Yarmouk and surrounding areas has long been very harsh and is rapidly deteriorating,” UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said, referring to Syria’s biggest camp for Palestinian refugees since the mid-20th century.
“Supplies of food and medicine are running low. There is no running water and very little electricity. Healthcare options are limited and there are no doctors remaining in the area.”  Recovering Yarmouk camp, which has been under the control of Islamic militants for several years, and neighbouring areas south of the city would give President Bashar al-Assad complete control over Damascus, further consolidating his grip on power. Many residents have fled the area, which has been besieged by pro-government forces since the early days of the seven-year-old civil war that has killed more than 500,000 people and driven more than half of Syrians from their homes. UNRWA said refugees in Yarmouk camp make up about half of some 12,000 civilians trapped in the area. Checkpoints into the camp have been closed for most of the last month, cutting off its lifeline, Gunness said….

Last Damascus rebels bombarded as Assad presses advantage in Syria
The Guardian 20 Apr by Andrew Roth in Moscow — The Syrian army has bombarded jihadis and other rebels in the last area outside government control near Damascus, as President Bashar al-Assad moved to strengthen his position around the capital after the defeat of rebels in eastern Ghouta earlier this month. The bombing came as inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) remained stranded in Damascus almost two weeks after a chemical attack on a town in Ghouta that precipitated the rebel collapse. Airstrikes and shelling hit the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp and al-Hajar al-Aswad area, part of a small enclave divided between warring jihadis and other rebels south of the capital. Live state television footage of the area showed a plume of smoke billowing across one district as guns boomed in the distance. The US, British and French missile strikes designed to punish Assad for the use of chemical weapons have done nothing to slow the advance of his forces, now in their strongest position since the early months of the seven-year war….

Land theft / Ethnic cleansing

Israeli forces hand out demolition notices in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 20 Apr – Israeli police and authorities on Friday handed out notices for the intended demolition of a number of residential and commercial structures in the neighborhood of Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem.  Staff from the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem accompanied by police handed out notices for demolition of a number of homes and structures in the area, citing construction without a permit as a pretext. Using the pretext of illegal building, Israel demolishes houses on a regular basis to restrict Palestinian expansion in occupied Jerusalem. At the same time, the municipality and government build tens of thousands of housing units in illegal settlements in East Jerusalem for Jews.

UN calls on Israel to stop expelling Jerusalem’s Bedouins
MEMO 19 Apr — The United Nations yesterday warned Israel of the dangers of deporting Palestinian Bedouins from occupied East Jerusalem. In a report issued following a visit by the UN Humanitarian Coordinator Jamie McGoldrick and UNRWA’s Director of Operations in the West Bank Scott Anderson to Khan Al-Ahmar, the UN said: “Nearly all of the Khan Al-Ahmar community’s structures risk demolition by the Israeli authorities, including the school, initially built with donor support that serves some 170 students from the community and four surrounding ones.” “The humanitarian impact of home demolition is severe and long lasting. It is well documented in previous instances that the transfer of Bedouin communities into urban settings is socially and economically non-viable. The Khan al Ahmar-Abu al Helu community has repeatedly called for the provision of suitable planning solutions and services in its current location,” Anderson warned. “We are monitoring the situation in Khan Al-Ahmar closely and are deeply concerned by what we see here and in the scores of other vulnerable Bedouin communities,” Jamie McGoldrick said….


Listen: How Durham activists led city to ban police training in Israel
EI 19 Apr by Nora Barrows-Friedman — In a unanimous vote by its city council on 16 April, Durham, North Carolina, became the first city in the US to ban training programs between its police department and foreign militaries, including Israel’s. The city council’s action was the result of steady grassroots campaigning led by 10 local civil and human rights groups that make up the Demilitarize! Durham2Palestine coalition, supported by nearly 1,400 residents and dozens of multi-faith leaders. The coalition is an affiliate of Jewish Voice for Peace’s Deadly Exchange Campaign, which seeks to formally abolish police exchange partnerships between US police departments and Israel’s army and police forces. The Durham ban on police exchanges “sets an example for other cities” to end these programs, MJ Edery, a leader of the New York City chapter of the Deadly Exchange campaign, told The Electronic Intifada on Tuesday….

Other news

Key faction says will boycott rare Palestinian parliament session
GAZA (Reuters) 19 Apr by Nidal al-Mughrabi — A Palestinian Liberation Organisation faction said on Thursday it would not attend a meeting of the most important Palestinian political congress in years, because it wants more factions to be included. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) said it will boycott the rare Palestinian National Council (PNC) session, after a delay to allow such factions as Hamas and the Islamic Jihad to attend was not been granted, the group said in a statement issued in Cairo on Thursday. The PFLP is the second-largest PLO faction after Fatah, the group headed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who also heads the PLO. Its absence would be a blow to his efforts to win a broad consensus on resolutions. “The PFLP’s decision will lead to weakening the legitimacy of the PNC meeting and the legitimacy of decisions it may take,” said Hani Habeeb, a Gaza political analyst. The 700-member council session will convene in the West Bank town of Ramallah on April 30 to discuss U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a U.S. policy change that has outraged the Palestinians …  In Ramallah, Fatah spokesman Osama Al-Qawasmi said the PNC session would be held as planned.

Palestinian security forces arrest journalist in West Bank
Beirut (CPJ) 18 Apr — The Committee to Protect Journalists today expressed concern about the arrest of Hazem Naser, a Palestinian cameraperson and video editor for An-Najah Broadcasting Channel (NBC). Palestinian Preventive Security Forces today at approximately 12:30 a.m. arrested Naser at home in the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem, according to news reports and Naser’s sister, Sahar Naser, who lives with Naser at the family home. “They had a search warrant, so they searched the house, but didn’t seize anything. When the search was complete, they arrested my brother Hazem without mentioning any charge of any reason for his arrest,” Sahar Naser told CPJ. CPJ was unable to determine Hazem Naser’s whereabouts or if he had been charged. “We are concerned about the arrest of our colleague Hazem Naser given the Palestinian Authority’s record on respecting the rights of independent journalists,” said CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney from New York City. “The authorities must explain immediately on what grounds they snatched this journalist away from his home in the middle of the night.”….

Hamas leader says open to Israel prisoner deal
AFP 17 Apr — The head of Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas said Tuesday it was ready to negotiate with Israel to trade two Israeli captives and the bodies of two soldiers it is holding. “We in Hamas are ready to start negotiations to achieve a deal through a third party mediator,” Ismail Haniya said in a speech marking the Palestinians’ annual Prisoners’ Day. The movement has previously suggested it is willing to reach a deal similar to the 2011 one that saw Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit freed in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails. But Haniya’s comments were his most direct yet. Two Israeli soldiers, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, are believed to have been killed in the 2014 war in Gaza and their remains held by Hamas. Two Israeli civilians, both said to be mentally unstable, are also believed to have entered Gaza and to be held by Hamas. They are Avera Mengistu, an Israeli Jew of Ethiopian descent, and a Muslim Bedouin, Hisham Al-Sayed. Talks about a potential deal have long been rumoured, but little public progress has been made. Around 6,500 Palestinians are currently in Israeli jails, according to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club.

Ashrawi condemns Israeli closure of youth organization in Jerusalem
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 19 Apr – PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi Thursday condemned Israel’s closure of the Elia for Media youth organization in occupied Jerusalem. She said in a press release, “We strongly condemn Israel’s closure of the youth organization “Elia for Media” in occupied Jerusalem which works closely with young Palestinians to offer them courses in media, journalism, photography, and videography, produce films about Jerusalem and to provide information services to institutions in Jerusalem.” The closure was authorized on Tuesday by Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Ashrawi said the closure is part of Israel’s ongoing policy that targets and closes Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem, including the Orient House, the official address of the PLO and the headquarters of the Palestinian negotiation team, the Arab Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society, the Department of Social Services, and the Office for National Institutions. “These acts are in direct violation of Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres’ promise to Norwegian Foreign Minister Johan Holst in October 1993 that he will “not hamper” the activities of the Palestinian institutions … She added that the closure of “Elia for Media” is in grave breach of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which calls for the protection of the fundamental rights of freedom of expression and freedom of the press….

PLO official condemns Israel’s decision to close media group in Jerusalem
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 19 Apr – Secretary-General of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Executive Committee Saeb Erekat Thursday condemned in a press statement Israel’s decision to close Elia Association for Youth Media in East Jerusalem, stressing that Israel seeks to cancel the Palestinian presence in Jerusalem, in clear violation of international law/ understandings related to the preservation of Palestinian institutions in the city. Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman signed an order closing Elia media center located in East Jerusalem’s main business street, designating it as a “terrorist” organization affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Israeli police posted a note at the door to Elia office of the closure decision. “Israel has become aware that video documentation of its violations and illegal practices constitutes a threat to its false claims that it is a democratic state by exposing its systematic repressive policies against our people,” said Erekat in a statement.

Presidency to approach UN SC for international protection
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 20 Apr – Nabil Abu Rudeinah, spokesman for President Mahmoud Abbas, said on Friday the leadership will approach the United Nations Security Council again to demand international protection to the people of Palestine under Israeli occupation. “At a time when the [Israeli] occupation is continuing its violations on the Palestinian people, including: the killing of protesters in Gaza, Judaization of Jerusalem, [daily] arrests, confiscation of lands, attacks by settlers in the West Bank, the arson of worship places and the drawing of racist graffiti; the Palestinian political action in the period to come will focus on requesting intentional protection,” said Abu Rudeinah in a press statement. He called on the international community to have a say to put an end to the Israeli aggression on the Palestinian people, saying: “These Israeli actions pose a threat not only to the Palestinian people, but also to international law which Israel violates every day.”

Palestinian lecturer killed in Malaysia, Israel blamed
KUALA LUMPUR (WAFA) 21 Apr – Palestinian lecturer Fadi Mohammad al-Batsh, 35, was shot dead near his house in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the Malaysian police said on Saturday. His family accused the Israeli Mossad of being behind what it said was an assassination. Malaysian police chief in Gombak district, Mazlan Lazim, said that two gunmen on a motorcycle fired more than 14 bullets at Batsh as he was leaving his house to attend al-Fajr (dawn) prayer at a nearby mosque. One bullet hit him in the head and the rest hit his body killing him immediately. He said police has opened an investigation. Batsh was an inventor and a private university lecturer. He hails from the town of Jabalya in the Gaza Strip. Batsh had won a prestigious scholarship in Malaysia, the Khazanah Scholarship, and was awarded the Best Academic Achievement award given by the scholarship administration. Batsh’s family has confirmed his assassination, accusing the Israeli Mossad of responsibility for it. It told WAFA that it has demanded from the Malaysian authorities to begin urgent investigation into the killing of its son in order to catch the culprits before they leave the country, adding that Batsh was supposed to travel to Turkey on Sunday to chair an international scientific conference on energy. The family demanded that his body be returned to Jabalya to be buried there.

EU Parliament passes law against Palestinian incitement
Ynet 19 Apr by Itamar Eichner — PEGASE, the Palestinian Authority’s main source of funding, will halt the transfer of aid money if it is used for education to hatred; ‘The Palestinian children receive intentional and systematic encouragement to sacrifice themselves and their lives,’ says Israeli researcher who helped formulate law — The European parliament in Brussels adopted on Wednesday legislation preventing the transfer of funds from the European Union’s PEGASE to the Palestinian Authority, if those funds are to be used for education to hatred. THE EU Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control approved the change in March and this week it received the final approval. PEGASE, which is described as a mechanism “to channel EU and international assistance as a contribution to the building of the Palestinian State,” is the PA’s main source of funding. The new legislation determines that classes and instruction program funded using EU funds must reflect shared values such as peace, liberty, tolerance and non-discrimination in the education system. The Israeli research institute IMPACT-SE at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which studies and analyzes official text books around the world, aided the European Union in formulating the legislation.,7340,L-5234844,00.html

US State Department drops term ‘occupied territories’ from its annual human rights report
WASHINGTON (WAFA) 21 Apr – The US State Department dropped from its annual human rights report released on Friday the term “Occupied Territories” when making reference to the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza, according to the Washington-based Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU), which it said is seen as a major shift in US foreign policy towards Israel and the Palestinians. IMEU said that US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, a staunch supporter of Israel’s illegal settlement policy in the occupied territories, had asked the State Department in December to stop referring to the occupied territories as “occupied.” Yousef Munayyer, political analyst at the Arab Center of Washington, DC, executive director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, described the State Department’s omission of the term ‘occupied territories’ in their human rights report covering the West Bank and Gaza as “a new low.” “How is it possible to even understand the human rights obligations of actors on the ground when the framework of occupation, for which international humanitarian law clearly delineates rights and responsibilities, is discarded?” he said. “Perhaps, however, this is a clarifying moment. If the territories are not occupied, what will the State Department tell us their status is? Are they prepared to acknowledge the Apartheid reality that Israel has established on the ground? They may have just unintentionally done so.”….

First Palestinian-themed museum in the US to open doors on Sunday
NEW HAVEN (WAFA) 21 Apr – A museum dedicated to Palestinian art and culture is set to open its doors on Sunday, April 22, becoming the first-ever of its kind to open in the United States. The “Palestinian Museum U.S.” will include artworks, films and other work of art made by Palestinian artists all over the world, in celebration of Palestinian diversity, culture and history. Faisal Saleh, executive director of Palestine Museum U.S., told reporters that he believes the museum will offer a fuller and more intricate picture of the Palestinian land and people than Americans see in mainstream media. “There are so many Palestinian artists in Palestine, the West Bank and Gaza, and they have little avenues for exhibiting their work,” said Saleh. “This museum will provide a channel for them to get their work out so people can see it and appreciate it.” Saleh, who hails from al-Bireh city in the occupied West Bank, had earlier said that while there are similar Palestinian museums elsewhere, including in Birzeit in the West Bank and Bristol in England, this museum will be the first of its kind in the United States…. (listserv)

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