Settler Impunity: Israeli Defense Minister says there is not enough evidence to detain or prosecute Dawabshe killers

Ya’alon: Not enough evidence to try Douma terrorists
IMEMC/Agencies 15 Dec — The Israeli Minister of Defense, Moshe Ya’alon, on Tuesday said that the terrorists who burned the home of the Dawabsha family, killing a baby and his parents, were identified, except that the court evidence against them is “not enough.” Ya’alon, speaking to army radio, admitted that the attack was “clearly a Jewish terror attack” which “he is ashamed of,” adding that “Israel does not have enough evidence against the defendants to keep them detained or prosecute them.” The revelation follows a similar admission from Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) two weeks ago that there is no evidence to try the suspects, PNN reports. On Thursday, one of the suspects in the fatal arson attack on the Dawabsha family in July was released to house arrest.

On July 31, the village of Douma was awakened to an arson executed by extremist Israeli settlers who attacked and burned the family house while they were all asleep. The terrorist attack lead to the immediate death of Ali Dawabsha (18 months), while the father, Sa’ad, succumbed to wounds a week after, and the mother, Riham died one month later. Only Ahmad Dawabsha (4) survived the attack, and is still recovering in the ICU for over four months now.

Violence / Detentions — West Bank, Jerusalem

Soldiers kill two Palestinians, injure four others in Qalandia refugee camp
IMEMC/Agencies 16 Dec — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Wednesday at dawn, the Qalandia refugee camp, north of occupied Jerusalem, shot and killed two Palestinians, and wounded at least four others; the army claimed three soldiers were injured in a ramming incident. The slain Palestinians have been identified as Ahmad Hajahja [Ma‘an: Jahajha], 21, from the Qalandia refugee camp, and Hekmat Hamdan, from al-Biereh city, were killed in the refugee camp, and at least four Palestinians were shot with live fire. Hajahja was a second-year journalism student at the Modern University College, in Ramallah, in addition to being active with the Qalandia Media Center. He was also related to Younis Jahjouh, 22, who was killed by the Israeli army, along with Rubin Ziad, 32, and Jihad Aslan, 19, in a similar invasion two years ago. Medical sources said one of the wounded Palestinians was shot in the abdomen, and was instantly moved to surgery; his condition remains critical. The Israeli army said Hajahja rammed his car into the soldiers, wounding three. After being shot, Hajahja was left to bleed to death, before the soldiers took his body to an unknown destination. Eyewitnesses said an Israeli ambulance, and a helicopter, took the injured soldiers to Israeli hospitals.

Palestinian shot dead, 11 injured in Jerusalem car ramming attack
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 — A Palestinian was shot and killed, and 11 people were wounded in a car ramming attack at an entrance of Jerusalem on Monday, Israel’s army and media said. Mickey Rosenfeld initially said eight people were injured when a “terrorist ran into a bus stop,” adding that the Palestinian attacker was shot and critically injured during the attack; however later an Israeli army spokesperson said 11 had been injured.  Israeli media later reported that the Palestinian had succumbed to his wounds, identifying him as Abdel-Muhsen Hassuneh, 21, from occupied East Jerusalem’s Beit Hanina neighborhood. Of the eight ramming victims confirmed by Rosenfeld, one was in moderate condition and seven were lightly wounded. All are being treated at a hospital in Jerusalem. The condition of the other three reportedly injured is unknown.

Netanyahu instructs to fortify bus stops in Jerusalem
Ynet 14 Dec by Itamar Eichner — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday decided to fortify 300 bus stations in Jerusalem after a terrorist from East Jerusalem rammed his car into people waiting at a bus stop at the western entrance to the capital, wounding 11 people. The prime minister held a consultation with Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat in the wake of the attack, in which he instructed them to place concrete barriers in front of hundreds of Jerusalem bus stations. This is not the first time concrete barriers are placed in front of public transportation stations. Amid a wave of vehicular attacks in late 2014, such barriers were placed in front of bus stops and light rail stations in Jerusalem, and bus stops and hitchhiking stations in the West Bank have also been fortified with such measures, which proved to be efficient in stopping attacks.,7340,L-4739283,00.html

Why won’t Israel return the body of a 14-year-old girl?
EI 14 Dec by Budour Youssef Hassan — It is hard to believe that Hadil Awwad’s room has been abandoned for more than two weeks. It is clean, tidy and smells beautiful. Teddy bears of many colors are scattered on the two sides of her bed. Hadil received them as a gift from one of her brothers when he returned from China. Even as she turned 14 she continued to keep those teddy bears in her room. Her new jacket that she had bought recently and only wore once is hanging in the wardrobe. She will never have a chance to wear it again. Hadil Awwad was shot dead by Israeli forces on 23 November. She was executed after allegedly trying to stab an Israeli man with scissors on Jaffa Street in Jerusalem  Her 16-year-old cousin Nurhan was also injured and has subsequently been charged with attempted murder. Hadil’s mother, Maliha, does not accept Israel’s version of events. Maliha said that the scissors found on her daughter were the ones Hadeel had used in art class. The scissors were not sharp enough to be considered a lethal weapon, she said. “No one believes that she could have hurt anyone,” Maliha added. “They killed her when she posed no danger at all.” Security video of the incident shows Hadil and her cousin being knocked to the ground and shot at close range before any attempt was made to arrest them . . . .

Video: Israeli settlers blast ‘Muhammad is dead’ song at Palestinians
EI 14 Dec by Ali Abunimah — This article has been updated with a second video since initial publication. This video shows a group of Israelis from the Kiryat Arba settlement “playing hate songs through a loud speaker to residents of the Hebron neighborhood of Jabal Johar,” according to Israel’s B’Tselem human rights group, which published it last month. The song heard in the video, filmed by Mai Dana on 11 October, includes the repeated refrain “Muhammad is dead” – disparaging the prophet. Its lyrics say: He is no prophet / Just another Arab / He has a moustache with fleas / And he eats goat cheese / He is a construction laborer / Even when he’s fasting on Ramadan / And he has an orange ID card / Muhammad is gay and the son of a prostitute. The video shows many settlers, including young children, laughing, singing and pumping their fists as the music blasts . . . “These antics continued in the presence of a soldier and police officers who took no action to stop them,” B’Tselem adds. “During the incident, settlers threw rocks at the neighborhood.” The “Muhammad is dead” song is regularly chanted by Israelis during frequent “Death to the Arabs” marches. Another video filmed by Dana on 17 November shows a settler shouting “whores” and other vulgarities at Palestinian women, and lobbing stones at them as Israeli soldiers look on and do nothing.

Three Palestinian boys kidnapped by settlers return home
JENIN (PIC) 15 Dec — Three Palestinian young minors were released by their Jewish captors Monday evening hours after they were kidnapped from an area in Amriha village, south of Jenin city. Palestinian security sources said the boys who were kidnapped by settlers earlier during the day returned to their homes. Earlier, local sources told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that a horde of settlers had entered cultivated plots of land belonging to Palestinians from Ya‘bad town near Mevo Dotan settlement and physically assaulted three boys there before abducting them. The sources added that the boys were taken by the settlers to Mevo Dotan settlement. The abductees were brothers Anwar and Tawfiq Abu Abed, and their cousin Mohamed Abu Abed. All of them are under age 17.

Soldiers assault, kidnap three siblings near Ramallah
IMEMC/Agencies 16 Dec — Israeli soldiers kidnapped, on Tuesday evening, three siblings, after assaulting them on a military roadblock installed on the western entrance of Silwad town, east of the central West Bank city of Ramallah. Eyewitnesses said the soldiers stopped Ibrahim Bassem Hamed, 30, along with his brothers, Mustafa, 24, and Mahmoud, 20, and repeatedly beat them, before moving them to the Benyamin military base. They added that the soldiers detained the three for more than an hour on the roadblock, while frequently beating them, after initially opening fire on the car that was transporting them, causing property damage. The army also placed Ibrahim under their military vehicle, and repeatedly hit him on the head.
In related news, a number of Israeli colonizers hurled stones at Palestinian cars driving near Ya‘bad town, southwest of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, causing damage. Also on Tuesday evening, several military vehicles invaded Ya‘bad town, before the soldiers broke into and searched many homes after forcing the families out in the cold.

Clashes erupt as Israelis visit Joseph’s Tomb
NABLUS (Ma‘an) – Israeli forces shot and injured a teenage Palestinian boy with a rubber-coated bullet early Monday during clashes with Palestinian youth at Joseph’s Tomb, east of Nablus, Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an. Security sources said clashes broke out after hundreds of right-wing Jews escorted by Israeli forces visited Joseph’s Tomb after midnight and into the early morning.  An Israeli army spokesperson said “dozens of rioters attacked forces hurling rocks and rolling burning tires at them” . . . From Joseph’s Tomb, the clashes spread to nearby Amman street, as young Palestinians hurled stones and empty bottles at Israeli military vehicles, Palestinian security sources said.Israeli soldiers fired tear gas and rubber-coated bullets in response, and hit 18-year-old Issa Hashash in the thigh. Hashash was evacuated to Rafedia Hospital in Nablus.

Israeli forces raid Nablus-area village, chase school students
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 14 Dec — Israeli forces raided the al-Sawiya village in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus on Monday and chased school students claiming they were throwing rocks at soldiers, locals said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers deliberately threw stun grenades at students and chased them across the village. No detentions were reported. According to the Defense for Children International – Palestine, more than 1,500 Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank were injured by “weapons other than live ammunition” between January 2011 and December 2013. “The Israeli military’s use of ‘non-lethal riot dispersal’ methods often seriously injures or even kills Palestinian children,” the organization added.

Israeli forces detain child, 8, in occupied East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 15 Dec — Israeli forces on Tuesday detained an 8-year-old Palestinian in occupied East Jerusalem, witnesses told Ma‘an. Witnesses said Israeli forces detained the child, who was about to enter a market near the Flowers Gate of the Old City, and took him to a nearby Israeli police station. An Israeli police spokesperson could not be contacted, and the reason for the detention is unknown.

Israeli forces detain 16 across West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Dec — Israeli forces on Monday detained at least 16 Palestinians across the occupied West Bank during pre-dawn raids, local sources told Ma‘an. Sources said Israeli forces raided Qaryut village in the northern occupied West Bank’s Nablus district, where they ransacked homes and detained at least eight Palestinians. The detainees were identified as Musleh Badawi and his son Mutasem, Muhamad Majli Issa and his son Islam, Abed Anwar Azem and his nephew Tawfeeq Khaldoun Azem, Muhannad Hisham, and a minor identified as Qased Muhammad Mousa. An Israeli army spokesperson could not confirm the detentions. In the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, Israeli forces detained another eight Palestinians during pre-dawn raids throughout the district. In Beit Awwa, west of Hebron city, Israeli forces detained Wael Hassan Abdul-Nabi Masalmah, 35, Ahmad Awni Abdul-Hadi al-Sweti, and Bari Ismail Abdul-Qader al-Shalash, after ransacking their homes.In al-‘Arrub refugee camp, Israeli forces detained Saed Ibrahim Nimer Badawi and Haitham Yousef abu Ghazi. During raids in Yatta, Israeli forces detained Isaac Issa Hushiya, and ransacked the home of the Fatah Secretary-General in Yatta, Kamal Makhamrah. In Hebron city, Israeli forces detained Haifa Maqroum Abu Rmeila and Haitham Issam al-Juba. An Israeli army spokesperson only confirmed two detentions in Hebron, one of which the spokesperson said was for “illegal activity,” while the other was detained for being a “Hamas operative.”

Army kidnaps four Palestinians in Ramallah, one in Beit Jala
IMEMC/Agencies 15 Dec — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Tuesday at dawn, the town of Silwad, east of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and kidnapped four Palestinians, including the father of Anas Hammad, who was killed by army fire on Friday, December 4. Several military vehicles invaded the town, before breaking into and searching a number of homes, and kidnapped former political prisoner Bassam Hammad, 49, the father of Anas Hammad, who was shot dead on December 4, after the army claimed he rammed soldiers with his car. The soldiers also kidnapped Mohammad Abdul-Majid Hammad, Othman Ayman Sarraj and Mohammad Ahmad Sarraj . . . The soldiers also invaded, on Tuesday at dawn, Beit Jala city, in the West Bank district of Bethlehem, searched homes and kidnapped Ali Taha Allan, 30, from his home in the al-Jadayel area.

Soldiers kidnap four Palestinians in Hebron
IMEMC/Agencies 15 Dec — Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded, on Tuesday at dawn, the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and several nearby towns, searched and ransacked many homes, and kidnapped four Palestinians, including a former political prisoner. Media sources in Hebron said the soldiers invaded the family home of former political prisoner, Mohammad Rahim Abu Shamsiyya, 20, and kidnapped him. The soldiers also invaded Hebron’s old city, searched homes, and kidnapped a teenager, identified as Karam Saleh Shahin, 18 years of age. In addition, the army invaded Beit Ummar town, north of Hebron, kidnapped Mohammad Yousef Awad, 20, after searching and ransacking his family’s home, and confiscated two mobile phones from the property. The army also invaded the town of Sammoa‘ [or Samu‘], south of Hebron, and kidnapped Mohammad Yosri al-Hawamda, 40, after searching his home. In related news, the soldiers invaded the home of a wounded Palestinian detainee, identified as Mos’ab Eghneimat, in Surif town, northwest of Hebron, and searched it. The soldiers also installed roadblocks on the main entrances of Sa‘ir, Halhoul, and ath-Thaheriyya towns, and Hebron’s northern road, stopped and searched dozens of cars, and inspected the ID cards of the passengers while interrogating many of them. Many Palestinian areas in Hebron, including the main entrance of the al-Fawwar refugee camp and Doura town, remained blockaded with iron gates.

Israeli forces detain Palestinian girl carrying screwdriver
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Dec — Israeli forces on Tuesday detained a Palestinian girl in Jerusalem for allegedly carrying a screwdriver with the intention of carrying out a stabbing attack, Hebrew media reported. The girl was reportedly detained after Israeli forces searched her and found the screwdriver. The forces then took the girl in for questioning. Since Oct. 1, 119 Palestinians have been shot dead by Israeli military and civilians, many of which were killed after alleged, attempted or actual attacks against Israelis, and 19 Israelis have been killed by Palestinian attackers.

Court actions / Prisoners

MP Jarrar: ‘My detention has been political since the beginning’
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 14 Dec — Palestinian lawmaker Khalida Jarrar on Monday said — through her lawyer — that her imprisonment by Israel is a political move by the Israeli judicial system, which seeks to silence anyone who exposes Israeli crimes. During a meeting with Hanan al-Khatib, Jarrar’s lawyer from the Palestinian Prisoners and Former Prisoners’ Affairs Committee, Jarrar said that her defense had presented an immunity appeal to the court in accordance with international law’s immunity allowance for elected officials, but the appeal was refused. Jarrar accused the Israeli military prosecution of working to keep her in jail as long as possible. The lawmaker added that “I did not expect anything from military courts. They are a joke, it’s like a big theater, I do not trust them and my detention has been political since the beginning.” Jarrar also said that she refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the court, adding that all charges pressed against her are “ridiculous” and related to completely legal activities, including social and political work as a member of parliament . . . Jarrar said she and other prisoners were being kept in inhumane conditions. On her court date last week, where Jarrar was sentenced to 15 months in jail, she said Israeli authorities picked up prisoners from al-Ramla jail where she was being held at 2 a.m. and they were kept inside a bus, where it was very cold, until 7 a.m. Once moved inside the Ofer court building, Jarrar said she and others awaiting trial were kept in a concrete room with no heating. “It was freezing like a refrigerator where we were kept, under very difficult conditions,” Jarrar said. “The seats were concrete and toilet was overflowing, flooding the room.” After Jarrar was sentenced, she was moved to Damon jail in Haifa along with criminal Israeli offenders. Jarrar said criminal offenders verbally assaulted the Palestinian political prisoners on the bus, calling them terrorists and various other insults. Because of the inhumane conditions prisoners suffer through while being transferred from jails to court sessions, Jarrar said several prisoners had waived their right to appear in court. (Continued)

East Jerusalem Palestinian behind ‘Stab a Zionist’ Facebook post charged with incitement
Haaretz 16 Dec by Nir Hasson — An East Jerusalem resident has been accused of incitement to violence and terror due to clips he has posted on Facebook. The Jerusalem District Prosecutor’s Office filed an indictment on Sunday against Muhamad Abu-Kaif, 21, of Sur Baher, a village on the southeastern outskirts of the city. The indictment was served with the approval of Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, which is required in every case in which someone is suspected of incitement. The office also submitted a request for detention of Abu-Kaif until the end of the proceedings. In the past months there has been an increase in the number of investigations and indictments related to apparent crimes of incitement – the vast majority of them against Arabs. According to the charge sheet, Abu-Kaif posted direct calls on Facebook for acts of violence and terror, and also praised terrorists. He disseminated a video clip entitled “Stab a Zionist to support the third intifada,” in which he wrote: “You’ll die, leave our land, because we are the history here, and we are the emissaries of hell for you, the sons of Zion.” (Continued)

21 Palestinian detainees in Huwwara continue hunger strike
IMEMC 14 Dec — The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported, Sunday, that around 21 detainees held by Israel in the Huwwara prison near the northern West Bank city of Nablus are ongoing with the hunger strike they started on December 9. The PPS said the detainees are protesting the ongoing strip searches, repeatedly enforced on them in Huwwara, and the continued violations and abuse. It added that the detainees started their strike on December 9 after the soldiers invaded their rooms at night, and forced them out before strip-searching them. The PPS also said, similar to their repeated strikes, the detainees are demanding the Israeli authorities to improve their living conditions, including the quantity and quality of food, in addition to a sufficient amount of bed covers and blankets, fixing the toilets and shower rooms, proper medical attention, and various other essentials. There are more than 6500 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel, including close to 1000 Palestinians who were kidnapped in November, in addition to dozens taken prisoner this month.

Hungry warrior: The untold story of Hana Shalabi
Palestine Chronicle 15 Dec by Ramzy Baroud — Throughout her hunger strike, that of exactly 47 days, Hana Shalabi never slept consistently for a number of hours. In the first few days of her strike, she would doze off only to wake up with the sudden fear that someone was trying to hurt her. But after the first week of the hunger strike, having nothing but a few sips of water a day, her body simply ceased to function in any normal way. So, instead of sleeping, she would fall into a state of delirium, overtaken by frenzied hallucination where memories and persisting future fears coalesced into a sonata of night terror. I interviewed Hana recently, through a series of discussions that extended for hours, trying to understand what compelled her to risk her life to obtain conditional freedom in Gaza, and to present her story as a showcase for the phenomena of hunger strikes as a form of political struggle inside Israeli prisons.

Punitive demolitions

Youth raise 1 million shekel for victims of punitive home demolitions
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 14 Dec — Palestinian youth in Nablus have raised one million shekels ($259,000) in donations for Palestinian families whose homes were demolished following recent alleged and attempted attacks on Israelis, the head of the fundraiser told Ma’an. Mazin al-Danbak said a local youth initiative in Nablus started to raise the money one week ago. The donations totaled 800,000 shekels ($207,300) in cash and 200,000 shekels ($51,800) in items like construction materials, land, furniture and electronics. Al-Danbak said the funds were deposited with a popular committee in Nablus until distribution of the donations can be organized. Al-Danbak added that Israeli authorities are not allowing the families of accused attackers to rebuild their homes, so most of the funds will be used to buy and rent apartments . . . Punitive home demolitions were expedited at the request of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mid-October, and several have been carried out since.

Israeli forces to use permit laws to dodge court ruling, demolish home
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 15 Dec — Israeli forces in occupied East Jerusalem issued on Tuesday a demolition order for the home of a Palestinian who carried out an attack on an Israeli bus in October, the family told Ma‘an. The family said that Israeli forces issued the demolition order to the family of Bahaa Elayyan for the entire building under the pretext of not having obtained a building permit from Israeli authorities before constructing the home. The building, in East Jerusalem’s Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood, houses 25 people on three floors. The family was originally given a demolition notice on Nov. 12 for only the second floor of the building, where Elayyan lived, however the Israeli courts reportedly ruled against the punitive demolition. The family told Ma‘an that using permit laws to order the demolition of the home is just a way to get around the court ruling.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expedited punitive home demolitions the day after Bahaa carried out the attack alongside Bilal Abu-Ghanem, 23, also a Jabal al-Mukabbir resident.


Israeli soldiers open fire on farmers in central Gaza
IMEMC/Agencies 15 Dec — Israeli soldiers opened fire, on Tuesday morning, on several Palestinian farmers in their lands, east of Deir al-Balah city, in central Gaza. The soldiers, stationed near the Kissufim military base, across the border fence, southeast of Deir al-Balah, fired several live rounds on the farmers, forcing them to leave their own lands, fearing additional escalation.

Israeli air force carries out two strikes in Gaza
IMEMC/Agencies 14 Dec — The Israeli Air Force carried out, on Monday at dawn, two air strikes targeting a training camp for the Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, and the Palestinian Naval Police, in the besieged and impoverished Gaza Strip. Eyewitnesses said the army bombarded a Qassam training center, south of the Zeitoun neighborhood, southeast of Gaza city, causing excessive damage; no casualties were reported. The Israeli Air Force also fired missiles into a Palestinian Naval Police station, in the Sudaniyya area, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. On Sunday evening, the Israeli Radio said a shell, allegedly fired from Gaza, detonated in an open area in the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council of settlements, causing no damage or casualties.

Red Crescent medic detained at Erez Crossing
GAZA (Ma‘an) 14 Dec — Israeli forces on Sunday detained a Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) medic at the Erez crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel, sources in the Palestinian liaison office told Ma‘an. Sources said Israeli forces detained Muhamamd Abu Jumaiza, who works for the Red Crescent, despite the fact that the man had a permit to enter Israel for three months. A spokesperson for the PRCS could not be reached for comment.

UN Middle East peace envoy arrives in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 Dec — The UN’s Middle East peace envoy, Nikolay Mladenov, arrived in the Gaza Strip via the Erez crossing on Monday to assess the situation in the Strip, sources at the Palestinian liaison office told Ma‘an. Sources said Mladenov was escorted by various international officials, and will meet with ministers of the Palestinian unity government, as well as UNRWA and UN officials based in the Gaza Strip. This is the UN’s Middle East peace envoy’s fourth visit to the Gaza Strip since taking office in February.

Are toxins from Israeli bombs making Gaza babies ill?
GAZA STRIP (EI) 14 Dec by Charlotte Silver — Rola Fayez Wehedy has lost three babies, each dying after one of Israel’s recent large-scale assaults on Gaza. After losing the third, she decided not to try again. She told The Electronic Intifada that the pain of watching the last newborn baby gasping for breath, the pink draining from her delicate cheeks before they turned blue, was too unbearable to risk suffering through again. “The last day was the hardest,” her husband, Wesam, said. “We watched her bleeding from the nose and mouth before she stopped breathing altogether.” Sitting in his home in Gaza City, his three young children vying for his attention, Wesam slowly recounted the three wars he and his wife survived — and their babies who didn’t. Two babies, one born soon after the winter 2008-2009 war and the other after the summer 2014 war, died before they were two weeks old. Both were diagnosed with what Wesam and Rola believed to be a rare congenital heart disease. A third was stillborn in 2013 following Israel’s attack on Gaza in November 2012. The couple’s surviving daughters were born before 2008 and Younes, the youngest, was born in late 2010. It was not until Wesam and Rola met with Dr. Shireen Abed, head of the neonatal intensive care unit at al-Naser hospital in Gaza, that they learned their babies’ heart condition is not so rare in Gaza after all. In October, Abed released a study analyzing the trends of congenital heart disease among newborn babies admitted to al-Naser hospital. Abed, along with three co-authors, conducted the survey after observing an uptick in the number of babies born with anomalies being admitted to their ICU after wars on Gaza. The study showed that there was a statistically significant spike in the incidence of congenital heart disease in babies born directly after a war. “This could be attributed to the environmental toxins they are exposed to during the wars,” Abed told The Electronic Intifada. “All of us here are exposed to toxins that are carcinogenic,” Abed said, “but babies are particularly vulnerable in the first three months of gestation.” Abed emphasized that there must be further analytical studies done to determine whether the wars’ environmental toxins are responsible for the increase in congenital heart disease among newborns. Wesam recalled his and Rola’s baby who died at only 12 days old in April 2009. Rola was five months pregnant with that child when Israel bombed a mosque close to their home with white phosphorus. (Continued)

Gazans explore Sufism
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 13 Dec by Fadi Shafei — Every Friday afternoon people flock to a small mosque in one of the alleys in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in Gaza City. They are there not only to perform the five daily prayers, but to chant hymns in what is known as al-Hadrat among Sufis. This is what sets this mosque apart from the rest of the mosques in the Gaza Strip, not to mention the sign hung on its mihrab (prayer niche) indicating that it is affiliated with the Shadhiliyya Alawiyya order of Sufism. Sufism is a Muslim school of thought that spread in the Muslim world in the third century Hijri (Islamic calendar) as an individual call for asceticism. Those movements evolved into distinctive and well-known practices, which some consider mere delusions and superstitions. The Sufi movement in Palestine has been active as part of popular religiosity. Notable Sufi Palestinian families include the al-Jabari family of Hebron, al-Saafin and al-Khalidi families in the Gaza Strip, and al-Makdisi family in Jerusalem. The Sufi movement maintained its character as an educational movement that calls for self-improvement and shunning worldly matters, including politics. . . As opinions vary about Sufism in the Gaza Strip, it remains part of society, with zawiyas in most Palestinian cities. The zawiyas have followers and murids who find refuge in them and turn to prayers to escape from politics that weigh heavily on them.

A day in the life of a ‘caravan lady’
MEMO 13 Dec by Sarah Algerbhawi — EXCLUSIVE IMAGES — . . . Over a year has passed since that third merciless assault and I now believe that war has more dimensions to it than the bombing, the death tolls, the lists of those injured and the number of homes destroyed. The war in Gaza was something much bigger and deeper than statistics. The war in Gaza is endless. It’s not fair to write about life in Gaza without remembering those who suffer in every single, tiny detail of their daily routine. Let’s remember those who lost their homes and now live in caravans, the so-called “caravans of death”. Let’s remember “Iman”, who has to get through the trials of the winter with four children in conditions that experts have called “crazy”. “Iman Abu Halema” has been married for six years and is in her early twenties. Before Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” in the summer of 2014, she lived with her husband’s family in a beautiful, big home which was home to more than thirty people in Al-Shujayia neighbourhood of the Gaza Strip. On the day of “Al-Fajr Massacre”, when the Israeli bombs started to fall the family risked trying to get away from the death and destruction. Like many of their neighbours, they expected to return to their home as soon as it was safe to do so. When they did, all they found was, in Iman’s words, “a pile of ash”. “We had a life there, with memories, joys and sorrows; all were buried under the rubble,” she recalls. “Everything was gone. Many stories are now meaningless; many feelings won’t be felt again; and many smells will be missed forever. It takes time, health and wealth to build a home; it takes so long to create the tiny details, and to make every solid piece beat with life.” Despite all of that pain, it now seems insignificant compared to her current life in a white caravan, what people in the West would probably call a converted container, or mobile hut. Her husband is now unemployed, like so many others in Gaza and the caravan holds death inside. Appearances are deceptive. The caravan doesn’t look too bad but in the summer it is like an oven and in the winter it’s like a fridge. Daily life is an ordeal, from getting eldest son Haitham ready for school to completing what would ordinarily be simple tasks. Haitham is in class two in primary school and his grades have fallen since the family found refuge in the caravan. He longs for the return of his cosy room, where he can do his homework in peace and quiet. The newest member of the family is baby Shaher, who was born in the summer heat and has been plagued by mosquito bites and heat rash ever since; so have his older brother and two sisters. With no steady income, the family is unable to afford medicines. If she is able to find any clean water, Iman will wash the children and the caravan; a meal is often just bread and jam or tomatoes. Iman may have survived the war along with her whole family, but she didn’t escape the pain of losing something special, nor the misery of loneliness. Her husband can’t stand life in the caravan and spends all of his time outside; he only returns in order to sleep. The children also need to get fresh air so they go out until it is too dark to play. Iman, meanwhile, is indoors all day with Shaher. (Continued)

Demand rises for traditional Gazan bread
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 15 Dec by Rasha Abou Jalal —  A number of passersby stopped outside Skafi Bakery in central Gaza City, where Mohsen Skafi, 19, was creating large, thin circular shapes by quickly tossing and flipping dough before baking them on a saj oven. “Saj” bread, cooked on a convex metal plate heated over a fire, is part of Palestinian heritage. This type of bread is also known as “markouk” or “shrak” in the Gaza Strip. Skafi explained how saj bread is made. “The dough is made of a mixture of flour, salt and lukewarm water. The ingredients are mixed and kneaded until they turn into a soft and sticky dough. The dough is divided into several portions, forming a small ball with each. Some flour is sprinkled on top of the dough to prevent the small balls from sticking to the baker’s hands while dividing it. Then each ball is flattened using a rolling pin. The baker further flattens the dough by repeatedly and quickly flipping and tossing it until it is much larger. It is then transferred to the convex metal plate using a small cushion. Once on the metal plate, the flattened dough only needs a few seconds before it’s ready,” he said . . . Gazans’ demand for bread is not limited to saj bread with its traditional character. The ancient taboon bread is another type in high demand. Murad Qayed, 22, makes it every morning and sells it in his small bakery located in the popular Firas market in central Gaza City. Passersby smell the freshly baked bread from hundreds of feet away and are drawn to the bakery. Qayed makes small balls of dough and flattens them with his hands. He places them on a cushion and sticks them to the interior wall of the oven. Once baked, he takes the loaves out and serves them fresh to his customers.The taboon oven is made of a mixture of clay and straw in the shape of a box with a circular opening on top . . . He said taboon bread is different from saj bread in that it is a medium-sized flatbread baked in a special oven for 50-70 seconds. Saj bread is baked for only a few seconds.

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing

Two Jerusalem families [to be] evicted from Silwan homes
IMEMC/Agencies 13 Dec — Israeli authorities, on Sunday, notified two families living in the Silwan neighborhood of annexed East Jerusalem of intentions to evict, under claims they are owned by non-governmental Jewish organizations. WAFA correspondence said that Israeli police served a member of the Rajabi and Basbous families, from Jerusalem, a notification ordering them to leave their two homes, both of which are located in Silwan. Local activists claim that about 80 real estates in Silwan are expected to be taken over by Jewish groups. This is not the first time Israeli authorities have asked Palestinians from East Jerusalem to leave their homes under such a pretext. On August 5 of 2015, Israeli police asked two East Jerusalem Palestinian families, Sabri and Abdullah Abu-Nab, to leave their homes under the pretext of absentee ownership.


A harder olive harvest than usual in Hebron
HEBRON (The National) 15 Dec by Kate Shuttleworth — Idris Zahadi hoisted a sack of olives weighing more than 20 kilos over his shoulder and began the trek along steep hillsides to a lorry waiting to take the freshly harvested fruit for pressing. The caretaker of more than 100 Palestinian-owned olive trees, Mr Zahadi, 65, has his job made harder because the grove and his home are in the Israeli military-controlled part of Hebron in which Jewish settlers live, known as H2. Palestinian vehicles are not allowed on any of the streets nearby, which is why he has to carry the olives for one kilometre despite having an injured back. This year he made the trip 25 times. This harvest season was delayed by three weeks, starting only at the end of October, as an escalation in Israeli-Palestinian violence shifted from Jerusalem to Hebron that month. In all, more than 110 Palestinians were killed, many of them by security forces who accused them of trying to attack Israelis, while 19 Israelis also died. With tensions high in the city, Palestinians in Hebron were scared to move around freely in case they were mistaken for an attacker, including to harvest their olives. “Because a lot of Palestinians have died here in the past six weeks – one was killed by a settler – Palestinians are too afraid to harvest their olives,” Mr Zahadi told The National as he gathered the last of his olives in late November. He said Israeli forces and settlers had also tried to prevent the harvest, but it eventually began with the help of foreign volunteers. “It’s really dangerous – even when we have a lot of internationals helping us, the soldiers demand that they leave.” To produce the best oil, olives must be harvested at the right time using proper techniques and immediately taken to the presses. A delay can result in oil of poor quality. Mr Zahadi pointed to burn marks on the trunks of five of the olive trees in the grove, some of which are more than 1,000 years old. He said settlers had tried repeatedly to burn down the trees over the past three years but he had put out the fires with buckets of water from a nearby well . . . .

Israeli forces seal off Ramallah village for 12 days
RAMALLAH, December 15, 2015 (WAFA) – Israeli forces continued to close the main eastern entrance of Aboud village, northwest of Ramallah, for the 12th consecutive day, said a municipal source. WAFA reported on Head of Aboud Local Council Youssef Mass‘ad saying Israeli forces have been closing the main entrance of the village for 12 days in a row. Mass‘ad denounced the ongoing closure of the village entrance and said it is “part of the Israeli occupation authorities’ policy of collective punishment against the villagers”, who are forced to take difficult alternative detours in order to reach their universities, colleges and work in Ramallah.  Last Saturday, Israeli forces suppressed a rally organized by hundreds of Aboud villagers to protest the prolonged closure of the main entrance. Israeli soldiers fired tear gas canisters at protestors to disperse them, causing several to suffer from excessive tear gas inhalation. Protesters held placards reading ‘No to the policy of collective punishment’, ‘We have the right to free movement as other people’ and ‘Christmas means peace, not closure.’  Protesters raised the flag of Palestine and chanted ‘free Palestine.” Massʻad said the village has become a big prison that is closed from all sides . . . Aboud is one of the Palestinian villages, with a balanced Muslim and Christian population who live in harmony. The village is renowned for its many churches and monasteries, including the Orthodox Church dating back to the Byzantine era.

Israel closes major Hebron road with barbed wire
HEBRON, December 15, 2015 (WAFA) – Israeli troops Tuesday placed barbed wire and closed a major road in Hebron, according to local sources. WAFA correspondent said Israeli troops closed a number of entrances which lead to Tal Rumeideh neighborhood and al-Shuhadaa Street in Hebron, under the pretext of ongoing rehabilitation of a military checkpoint in the area. Shuhada Street was closed for Palestinians then reopened under a peace agreement in 1997. In 1999 under the Hebron Accords, the city was officially divided in two parts by barricades and checkpoints, and the road was closed again.

Increase in hostility toward the Israeli left

WATCH: Incitement against the Israeli left just got a lot scarier
+972 mag 15 Dec by Mairav Zonszein — Four Israelis who work for leading human rights organizations woke up to a new, frightening reality after a video accused each one of them of being a foreign agent working to defend Palestinian terrorists — A new video entitled “Foreign Agents – Revealed!” was released on Tuesday by Im Tirtzu, a neo-Mccarthyite, extreme right-wing group notorious for its public attacks against left-wing academics and organizations. In 2013 an Israeli court ruled that the group bears similarities to a fascist movement. Its leadership enjoys ties with Likud and Yisrael Beitenu politicians. The video plasters the faces of the heads of four Israeli human rights organizations — The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem and Hamoked: The Center for the Defense of the Individual — directly accusing them of being “planted” by different European entities (Holland, Germany, Norway and the European Union, respectively) to aid and abet terrorists. I wonder whether any of these European entities has a problem with being accused of planting operatives in an “enemy” country. In response to the video, B’Tselem head Hagai El-Ad, who was targeted in the video, told +972: “The government has no idea what it is doing, so its emissaries are busy dealing in incitement. We will continue to document and expose the occupation and its injustices, and resist Israel’s half century-long military control over millions of Palestinians.”

It’s not easy to stand there every week. Doesn’t help much either. So it seems.
Women in Black 11 Dec by Hadas Gertman — Let`s begin with an event. An event that took place today, early afternoon, at Gan Shmuel Junction. At a routine vigil of `Women in Black`, between 1 and 2 p.m., myself among them. Three very young men drive by us, hurling strings of curses at us, to which we are quite accustomed. Some minutes later they come back from the opposite direction, turn left into the shopping compound behind us, yelling at us again and wishing us dead. A moment later they show up on pavement where we stand, one with an Israeli flag, the other filming. The one with the flag gets down into the road and dances in front of us, risking his life in the traffic, hopping and jumping, waving his flag and roaring `the people of Israel lives!` trying to approach us up close. When I retreat, he advances even more, nearly touching me. Around us cars stand at the stoplight. At best, drivers ignore the scene. More commonly they honk, clap, cheer and yell that we deserve it, making obscene gestures. One lady, out of the ordinary, rolls down her window and says to the young man `but no violence!` His buddy films the scene and they both scream at us that we are to blame for all the stabbings and run-overs and murders and why don`t we demonstrate against THAT and wish us dead… I simply lose it. Out of my wits. Shocked . . . At every escalation, in time, the situation is reflected at the junction. The curses get louder, anger at us seethes – as if we, by our very standing there, are the cause of terrorist attacks, violence. As if we are not citizens of this state. As if our own children are not in the same school system that sends them into the army. People wish us harmed, our families injured. Then we`ll know…!

Yaalon declares war on rights group Breaking the Silence
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Dec — Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said on Tuesday that he had banned Israeli veteran group Breaking the Silence from participating in any official activities with Israeli forces, Israeli media reported. Yaalon’s statement was made on social media, where he called the left-wing veteran group hypocrites spreading “false propaganda” against Israeli forces and the state of Israel in attempt to “delegitimize” them. Breaking the Silence responded to the comment on social media, saying the group has been under attack for the past several months, “through a pre-meditated campaign, in which members of the extreme right-wing, including Israeli parliamentarians and elected officials, along with public figures and right-wing organizations, are trying to silence both us and every debate related to the 48-year-long occupation. “Breaking the Silence is an organization comprised of Israeli veterans who served in combat “and have taken it upon themselves to expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territor(y).” The group produces videos, collects testimonies and gives lectures — mostly within Israel, but sometimes abroad — on war crimes committed by Israeli leadership through its military since 1967.

Education minister Bennett bars Breaking the Silence from schools
Haaretz 15 Dec by Or Kashti — Education Minister Naftali Bennett said on Tuesday that he would not allow the non-profit organization Breaking the Silence into the Israeli school system. The group, which was founded by veterans of the Israel Defense Force, is involved in exposing claims of army misconduct in the territories. Bennett directed Education Ministry Director General Michal Cohen and other ministry officials to change the directive involving what is known as “educational debate” to specifically exclude “organizations that incite against Israel Defense Forces soldiers, such as Breaking the Silence,” from entering the country’s schools. In explaining his move, Bennett said “lies and incitement against the IDF” would not be allowed in the school system . . . Bennett’s step followed similar action on Monday by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who banned Breaking the Silence activists from engaging in activity in the army.

Other news

Erekat meets with US Middle East Coordinator
NEW YORK (Ma‘an) 14 Dec – Secretary-general of the Executive Committee of the PLO Saeb Erekat met on Sunday with US Middle East Coordinator Rob Malley, Palestinian sources told Ma‘an. Erekat reportedly told Malley, the US’ new front-man in the fight against the Islamic State, that “fighting extremism and terrorism in the Middle East requires dehydration of the quagmire of the Israeli occupation, and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, based on the pre-June 4, 1967 borders.” Early last month, Malley announced that the White House did not expect to find a solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict by the end of US President Barack Obama’s term.

PA swears in 3 new ministers
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 14 Dec — Three new ministers in the Palestinian cabinet were sworn in on Monday evening at the President’s headquarters in Ramallah at the request of President Mahmoud Abbas, government sources told Ma‘an. The new ministers were appointed as follows: Ali Mahmoud Abdullah Abu Diyak replaced former minister Saleem Al-Saqqa as the Minister of Justice, Ehab Yasir Aref Bseiso replaced Ziad Abu Amr as the Minister of Culture, and Mahmoud Rashid al-Shaer replaced Shawqi al-Aissa as the Minister of Social Affairs. Many PA ministers hold multiple appointments within the cabinet. Diyak, the new Minister of Justice, also serves as the Secretary-General of the Cabinet, while Amr, the former Minister of Culture still serves as the Deputy Prime Minister, and al-Aissa, the former Minister of Social Affairs still serves as the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs, according to the latest data released by the PA. The new Minister of Culture, Bseiso, was formerly a Ramallah-based PA spokesperson.

Hamas uses captive Israeli soldiers as Shalit-prisoner bargaining chip
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 Dec – A senior Hamas leader said Monday that his movement won’t disclose any information about the two Israeli soldiers being held captive in Gaza before Israel frees all of the 2011 Gilad Shalit-deal prisoners who have been re-detained. Speaking at a Hamas festival commemorating the movement’s 28th anniversary, Mahmoud Zahhar said that “we won’t say a single word about the destiny of [the captured] Israeli soldiers before Israel frees all prisoners rearrested after they were freed as part of the Shalit deal.”  Zahhar added that Hamas would “set the terms of any future prisoner swap deal.” A Palestinian Bedouin citizen of Israel is believed to have been held in Gaza since April, and a Jewish Israeli of Ethiopian descent has reportedly been held in Gaza since September 2014, although details of their exact whereabouts remain vague. In June, a Hamas leader made a similar statement, announcing that that talks would only take place with Israel regarding an exchange deal after Israel releases Palestinians who have been rearrested despite being released in past prisoner swaps. On Dec. 3, Israel’s High Court rejected an appeal against the re-sentencing of seven Palestinian prisoners previously released in the 2011 Galit Shalit prisoner exchange deal to free Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was being held captive in Gaza. In 2011, a group of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners were freed by Israel under the terms of the deal. Israel exiled 163 of the prisoners to the Gaza Strip and 40 more to other countries in the region in the swap deal to free Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was being held captive in Gaza. More than 70 of those released have been re-detained since the start of Israel’s military offensive on the Gaza Strip in 2014.

66 per cent of Palestinians support armed uprising
MEMO 15 Dec — Some 67 per cent of Palestinians back the use of knives against Israelis, while 66 per cent support an armed uprising saying “if the current confrontations develop into an armed intifada, such a development would serve Palestinian national interests in ways that negotiations could not”, a new survey has revealed. The poll by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) also found that nearly three-quarters of respondents are opposed to the involvement of “young schoolgirls” in any stabbings. The current spate of near daily clashes with Israeli soldiers has led to the death of over 120 Palestinian, 17 Israelis, an American and an Eritrean since the beginning of October. A large number of the Palestinians killed have been young, including teenagers, either executed for allegedly carrying out stabbing attacks or shot dead by Israeli security forces during clashes. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas described the events of the last three months as a “justified popular uprising” and said that young Palestinian demonstrators were “driven by despair [at the fact] that a two-state solution is not coming”. Two-thirds of respondents, however, said that Israel’s expansion of settlements has made a two-state solution no longer viable, and the same number also want Abbas, whose mandate expired in 2009, to resign. Some 1,270 people took part in the poll in 127 randomly selected locations. Of them, 90 per cent said they believe Israel does not abide by the Oslo agreement and 68 per cent support abandoning it.

WATCH: IDF soldiers disrupt Palestinian news report
Times of Israel 14 Dec by Lee Gancman — Israeli soldiers who disrupted a Palestinian journalist as she reported to camera have been criticized by the army for their behavior. A video of the incident, which is currently making the rounds online, shows reporter Sara Al-Azra apparently finishing an item on what she calls “Israel’s racist policy of collective punishment,” while three IDF soldiers stand behind her making hand gestures, calling “Allahu Akbar,” and saying she’s a liar. According to reports in the Hebrew media, the incident took place next to the West Bank village of Abud, close to Ramallah . . . The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in response that the video “depicts combat soldiers behaving in a way unbecoming of IDF soldiers. In light of this incident, the rules of conduct regarding media outlets have been reviewed. The IDF will continue to allow freedom of the press in the West Bank.”

Israeli companies giving millions of shekels to illegal West Bank settlements
MEMO 15 Dec — Israeli companies are donating millions of shekels to illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), an investigation published in Ha’aretz newspaper has revealed. According to the paper, in Israel, “whether you are buying milk or chocolate spread, talking on the phone or using banking services, you may be unknowingly making a small contribution to Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.” Documents analysed by Ha’aretz show that private and publicly-held Israeli companies donated to settlements to the tune of “millions of shekels over the last decade.” Donors have “ranged from corporate giants like the dairy conglomerate Tnuva, cellular carrier Cellcom and Bank Hapoalim to smaller companies like chocolate manufacturer Hashachar Ha’ole and Leo Shachter diamonds.” Recipients of such donations have included Itamar settlement, near Nablus, as well as Ateret Yerushalayim Yeshiva, established in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. The latter received 20,000 shekels from the publicly-owned Israel Petrochemical Enterprises in 2011. (Continued)

Palestinian worker falls, dies in Israeli construction site
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Dec — A Palestinian worker died Monday morning in a construction site in al-Hadera city near Haifa in northern Israel, Israeli sources told Ma‘an. Sources identified the victim as Younis Mahmoud al-Haroush, 34, from the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron. He died after falling 20 meters at the site. Israeli medics attempted to save the man’s life, but were unable to. Israeli police are investigating the incident. According to the Israeli workers’ rights group Kav LaOved, the rate of work accidents in construction sites in Israel increases every year, mostly due to falling from great heights, adding that “after these accidents, Palestinian workers are left to pay for hospital bills and are given no benefits or compensation.” On Tuesday, the Labor, Welfare and Health Committee of the Israeli Knesset is scheduled to discuss work accidents on construction sites. In 2014 the number of West Bank Palestinians working in Israel doubled in the last four years to about 92,000, according to Israeli news source Haaretz. Over 30 percent of those working in Israel work without a permit, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, and are often subject to harsh working conditions with few protections. [See Haaretz article “No One Cares About Israel’s Marginalized Construction Workers”]

Lapid: Israelis must fight BDS when abroad
Ynet 15 Dec by Itay Blumenthal — MK Yair Lapid, the head of Yesh Atid, turned up at the main terminal of Ben Gurion Airport on Tuesday morning and distributed booklets to Israelis flying abroad, as part of the battle against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. The booklets contain a list of arguments designed to be used in response to common accusations from the BDS movement. “We need to tell the truth in the face of all the lies being spread,” Lapid told travelers. “Israel is under constant attack from lies and mudslinging across the world,” he continued. “We are launching a campaign today to protect the state and recruit its good citizens who are flying abroad. . . The booklets, which were given to passengers just before they dropped their luggage at airline check-in desks, are a type of instruction manual teaching Israelis how to refute the claims and lies of BDS activists. The booklet, which was put together by a team of advocacy experts, features the central claims put forward by BDS activists and direct responses to refute them. Some of the claims addressed include the idea that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is responsible for global terrorism; that Israelis don’t recognize the Palestinians’ right to a state and that Israel is an apartheid state with a separation fence.,7340,L-4739559,00.html

Egyptian warplanes using Israeli airspace
Ynet 15 Dec by Yoav Zitun — Egyptian Air Force planes have in recent months crossed into Israeli airspace as part of Egypt’s military campaign against the local Sinai affiliate of the Islamic State terror group, Ynet learned on Tuesday. The unprecedented flights, apparently conducted in coordination with the IDF, were conducted mostly in the triangular border area between Israeli territory, Egyptian land, and the southern Gaza Strip. The flights are believed to be the first time that Egyptian warplanes entered Israeli airspace since the Yom Kippur War in 1973. The Egyptian aircraft bombed IS targets mere kilometers away from the Israeli border, in the vicinity of El Arish and Sheikh Zuweid in the northern Sinai. Entry into Israeli airspace did not result in any clashes with Israeli planes, presumably because of prior coordination . . .  About four years ago, with Islamist forces becoming much more active against the Egyptian military in the Sinai, Israel put the military clause of its peace accords with Egypt into action, allowing the entry of tanks and fighter planes into the Sinai, including the easternmost point near Israel. The Egyptian forces have taken advantage of this permission, and since then there have been dozens of strikes by their fighter planes and helicopters against terrorist targets in the area.,7340,L-4739912,00.html

57 Congress reps taken to Israel — who do they really represent? / Paul Larudee
Dissident Voice 14 Dec — In August, 2015, 57 brand new members of the U.S. House of Representatives bowed their heads and promised to obey their Israeli overlords. They allowed themselves to be taken to Israel, plied with good food and propaganda. They then returned home to do Israel’s bidding in the Congressional seats that Israel helped them win. Sixty were invited, but only three decided not to go, for unknown reasons. But isn’t there a more innocent explanation? Perhaps they just wanted to learn more about the issue and would equally have accepted an invitation to visit Palestine and see it from a Palestinian point of view. Nothing wrong with giving equal opportunity to both sides. The Free Palestine Movement tested this theory and found it wanting. We sent a personalized invitation to exactly the same members of Congress to come to Palestine at our expense. Not a single one accepted. Although we sent a followup to those who did not respond the first time, the vast majority never responded at all. A few said that they could not make time in their schedule, not even when we suggested that they could wait as long as their next term. Only one, Brad Ashford of Nebraska, said that he was working with some of his constituents to visit Palestine. (We have been able to find no evidence of such an initiative.) Israel, through its US Lobby, has of course been doing this for more than half a century. There are hardly any members of Congress that have not accepted an invitation at least one time during their career, often more. Can you name any other country with such a devoted following in the U.S. Congress? The reason, of course, is that the Israel Lobby has a reputation of making or breaking congressional careers (listserv) (archive)

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