Gush Etzion junction is site of another Palestinian execution

Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem

Palestinian killed after alleged stab attempt at Gush Etzion
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Mar — A Palestinian man was shot dead after allegedly attempting to carry out a stabbing attack at the Gush Etzion junction, shortly after two Palestinians were detained on suspicions of planning an attack in the illegal Shaare Benjamin settlement. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that an “assailant armed with a knife exited his vehicle and charged at soldiers” at the Gush Etzion junction southwest of Bethlehem, with soldiers opening fire, killing the man and “foiling” the alleged attack. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli forces opened fire on and killed a Palestinian man in his 20s while he was driving near the junction. One witness said the Palestinian had been driving alongside an Israeli settler who stopped his car at the junction in order to speak to soldiers there and pointed to the Palestinian’s car. The witness said the Palestinian also stopped his car and had just stepped out — “not holding anything in his hands” — when Israeli forces opened fire, killing him on the spot. No Israeli injuries were reported. Hisham Abu Shaqra, a reporter for the Turkish Anadolu News Agency, was detained by Israeli forces after taking footage of the incident. The Palestinian was identified as Mahmud Ahmad Abu Fanunah, 21, from the Hebron district.
Shortly afterward, Israeli police said they detained two Palestinian minors near the entrance of the industrial zone of the illegal settlement of Shaare Binyamin northeast of Jerusalem for allegedly carrying knives. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said Israeli troops spotted two youths exiting a car with Palestinian plates in the area. The youths raised the suspicions of the forces, who searched them and found two knives in their possession, al-Samri said, adding that “initial investigations” indicated they had been planning to carry out a stabbing attack. The Palestinian youths were taken into custody, and Israeli forces were searching for the individual who drove them to Shaare Binyamin, al-Samri said.

Palestinian teenager killed near Hebron after alleged stab attack
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Mar — A Palestinian teenager was killed by Israeli forces near an illegal settlement in the southern occupied West Bank on Saturday after he allegedly stabbed a soldier, Israeli security sources said. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said Israeli border police at the Abu al-Rish checkpoint near the Kiryat Arba settlement on the outskirts of Hebron noticed a “suspicious” young Palestinian. When asked to show his identity card, the Palestinian reportedly “pulled out a knife” and stabbed a soldier [border policeman], lightly injuring him in the head, al-Samri added. Other soldiers fired at the teenager, killing him. Al-Samri said initial investigations revealed the Palestinian youth was a 17-year-old from the city of Hebron. Witnesses told Ma‘an that the soldiers “showered” the teenager with bullets, adding that Israeli forces had closed all entrances to the Ibrahimi mosque in the old city of Hebron.

Update: Israeli soldiers kill two Palestinians in the northern West Bank
IMEMC/Agencies 17 Mar — Israeli soldiers shot and killed, Thursday, two Palestinians near the Ariel Israeli colony, illegally built on Palestinian lands, near Salfit in the central West Bank. The army said they reportedly stabbed an Israeli soldier, causing moderate wounds. The head of Beit Fajjar Municipality, south of Bethlehem, said the two Palestinians have been identified as Ali Jamal Mohammad Taqatqa, 19, and Ali Abdul-Rahman al-Kar Thawabta, 20 [both unidentified at the time of the 15 Mar newslist]. He said the army surrounded the town, after identifying the two Palestinians, and installed roadblocks, preventing the residents from entering or leaving it . . . Eyewitnesses said the soldiers fired dozens of live rounds on the two Palestinians, injuring them in various parts of their bodies. Head of the Emergency Unit in Qalqilia Monther Nazzal said the soldiers prevented Palestinian Red Crescent medics from even approaching the two Palestinians and forced them away while cocking their guns, and threatening to shoot them. Israeli daily Haaretz said David Adom paramedics provided treatment to the wounded Israeli soldier, in her twenties, after she suffered a stab wound to the upper body. Haaretz added that the wounded woman, in her twenties, suffered moderate-to-serious injuries, and was moved to the Beilinson Hospital.

VIDEO: Palestinians bleed to death as soldier gets treatment
EI 17 Mar by Maureen Clare Murphy — Warning: this article includes very graphic videoVideo has emerged showing two badly injured Palestinians lying on motionless on the ground, receiving no medical attention, as Israelis in military uniform tend to a soldier who was stabbed and wounded. A man is heard in the video cursing the two Palestinians in Hebrew and a kitchen knife is seen near the hand of one of the felled youths. The incident took place near the Ariel settlement in the northern occupied West Bank on Thursday. The two Palestinians, Ali Jamal Muhammad Taqatqa, 19, and Ali Abd al-Rahman al-Kar Thawabta, 20, died of their wounds. Palestinian emergency paramedics were prevented by Israeli forces from approaching the youths and forced to turn back, the Ma‘an News Agency reported. The Israeli soldier was evacuated to a nearby hospital in “moderate to severe condition,” Ma’an added, citing an Israeli emergency medical service spokesperson.

Israeli forces blockade Bethlehem-area town for 2nd day
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Mar — Israeli forces closed the entrances to the town of Beit Fajjar in the central occupied West Bank for the second day in a row on Friday, after two youths from the town were killed for allegedly carrying out a stabbing attack on an Israeli soldier. Beit Fajjar Mayor Akram Taqatqa told Ma‘an that Israeli forces closed all the entrances of the town south of Bethlehem on Thursday and prevented people from going in or out. Israeli forces also detained at least one resident of the town, identified as Abed Youssef Muhammad Taqatqa. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an they were not planning on lifting the restrictions on movement in Beit Fajjar “before Sunday morning.” She added that the army could not confirm any detentions in the town at the moment. Bethlehem district governor Jibril al-Bakri condemned Israeli sanctions against Beit Fajjar, noting that such actions qualify as “collective punishment” of the village’s over 10,000 residents in violation of international law. “Israeli authorities informed the Palestinian liaison that the town would be completely closed in a punitive procedure which the Palestinian side refuses clearly as it is considered collective punishment,” al-Bakri said. The Beit Fajjar mayor also said the Palestinian liaison was in contact with Israeli authorities to obtain the return of the bodies of Ali Jamal Muhammad Taqatqa, 19, and Ali Abed al-Rahman al-Kar Thawabta, 20.

VIDEO: 11-year-old shot in Kafr Qaddum demonstration
KAFR QADDUM, Occupied Palestine 15 Mar by ISM, al-Khalil Team — On Friday the 4th of March, Palestinians and international activists alike joined together to march against Israel’s illegal occupation in Kafr Qaddum. During this march, the boy identified as Khaled [Ishtawy], 11 years of age, was shot with live ammunition and suffered complicated fractures to the bones in his right thigh which have since needed titanium plates to assist in recovery. The march began as usual and had progressed about 200 meters without seeing any soldiers. Since not being able to see any soldiers the children felt safe and decided to walk in front of the rest of the group. Shortly after the children had progressed to the front of the march there was the sudden sound of live ammunition being fired. Khaled was hit almost immediately and fell to the ground whilst waving for help. During the time that Khaled was on the ground the Israeli forces repeatedly threw sound bombs on the ground near him to deter Palestinians from helping whist they tried to arrest him. A Palestinian man who saw Khaled in trouble ran to the young boy’s aid through the heavy shooting of live ammunition. Whilst he was pulling Khaled away an Israeli sniper shot him in his thigh also. However he managed to continue and successfully pull Khaled to a safer point where two other Palestinians were then able to help. From here Khaled was taken by the red crescent ambulance service to RAFIDIA Hospital in Nablus. An x-ray scan showed that Khaled had suffered a complete fracture in his right thigh which would require surgery. Khaled was hospitalised for the following seven days. What is important to note in the case of Khaled is that there were no immediate clashes when the snipers fired on him, he was shot from a strategic ambush by the occupying forces. What danger did these soldiers or snipers face from an 11-year-old boy? Why did they throw sound bombs around an already injured and scared Khaled? Why did they shoot the man who also helped Khaled? Khaled is the first in his class in the 5th grade and now faces an uncertain future through this school year as he is unable to walk for 6 weeks from the injuries that he has sustained plus ongoing rehabilitation after this period.

Many injured after Israeli soldiers attack Bil‘in’s weekly nonviolent protest
IMEMC 18 Mar — Israeli soldiers attacked, Friday, the weekly nonviolent protest against the Annexation Wall and colonies in Bil‘in village, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, causing dozens to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation. The procession started from the center of the village, with the participation of Israeli and international peace activists, carrying Palestinian flags, and chanting against the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine, and the ongoing violations. The protesters also marched carrying posters of American peace activist Rachel Corrie, marking the 13th anniversary of her murder on the hands of Israeli soldiers in Rafah, in the southern parts of the Gaza Strip, and pictures of Tristan Anderson, the American peace activist that was seriously injured after a high-velocity Israeli gas bomb struck him in the forehead, on March 13 2009, causing cognitive impairment and physical disability.  The army fired dozens of gas bombs, and many rubber-coated steel bullets, on the protesters, causing many to suffer severe effects of tear gas inhalation.  It is worth mentioning that a Norwegian delegation visited the village, and listened to the history of this persistent nonviolent struggle against Israel’s violations, its Wall and illegal colonies built on Palestinian lands, and participated in the procession. Also on Friday, the soldiers assaulted the weekly nonviolent protest against the Annexation Wall and colonies, in Ni‘lin village, west of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, causing dozens to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation.

‘You can never know what weapons police are using in Israel’
+972 Mag 17 Mar by Natasha Roth — A worldwide consortium of civil liberties groups just published a new report, ‘Lethal in Disguise,’ on the health consequences of crowd control weapons, in which Israel features prominently. +972 Magazine speaks to one of the editors about how Israel fares compared to the rest of the world — . . . When researching the report, did you get a sense of how Israel compares to the rest of the world in its use of crowd control weapons? After the initial research done by Physicians for Human Rights, when we looked at the chart with the list of different kinds of weapons (kinetic impact projectiles, chemical irritants, water cannons, acoustic weapons and disorientation devices – nr), the first thing we saw is that Israel is using all the weapons mentioned in the report and many others. There is quite a flourishing industry of crowd control weapons here, and it’s very important to mention it’s not just the West Bank — they’re used by the police for any demonstration, including the Ethiopian-Israeli ones last year where they used skunk (a powerful water jet with a foul-smelling liquid added – nr), water cannons, tear gas and shock grenades. What about accountability for the use of all these weapons? How is it regulated in Israel-Palestine? You can never know what the police are using, how they’re using it. According to their internal procedures, every time these weapons are used the police need to make a report of how, why, and what weapons were used by whom. ACRI always asks for the reports and never gets them. According to the police’s own procedures, the use of force for crowd control is actually heavily regulated, but they are not following these regulations. (Continued)

14 Palestinian female journalists injured by IOF since October
GAZA (PIC) 16 Mar — The Islamic Radio Stations and Televisions’ Union said on Tuesday that Israeli occupation forces (IOF) had attacked and injured at least 14 Palestinian female journalists since the start of the anti-occupation uprising in October until the month of February. The union said in a report marking the Arab Female Journalist’s Day that three of the journalists were from Occupied Jerusalem, four from Ramallah, four from al-Khalil, two from Bethlehem, and one from the blockaded Gaza Strip. Each of the 14 journalists were either hit with live or rubber-coated steel bullets, or other Israeli crowd dispersal means such as teargas canisters and stun grenades. A number of female journalists sustained critical injuries in their heads, stomachs, and faces while others were used as human shields. News correspondent Faten Aref Ulwan, working for the al-Hurra TV Channel, was reportedly used as a human shield by the Israeli occupation soldiers while she was covering clashes in al-Bireh city. 31-year-old reporter Sayraa Ghassen Sarhan, working for the Filastin al-Yawm TV Channel, was also used as a human shield for three hours and was hit with teargas grenades while she was covering a rally in Ramallah.

Israel uproots Palestinian assailant’s family, laws be damned
Haaretz 18 Mar by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — This is what happened over the course of two days last week to Maisa Abu Rajab Tamimi, a Palestinian woman of 40, innocent of any crime, born in the Old City of Jerusalem and until last week the mother of nine children. Ten days ago, her firstborn, Fuad, shot and seriously wounded two Israeli policemen in East Jerusalem and was himself killed; his body was confiscated by Israel and has not been returned, so she cannot arrange for his burial; her husband was arrested on suspicion that he knew of Fuad’s intentions in advance, and remains in custody; the oldest four of her eight surviving children were expelled to the West Bank from their home in the village of ‘Isawiyah, in East Jerusalem; and she herself, of course, had no choice but to accompany them into exile with her remaining children, and abandon the family’s home, virtually without warning. Last Thursday, they were driven in a police vehicle to the Qalandiyah checkpoint, and since then the older children have not been able to return to school or to their home, situated near the Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where they have lived in recent years. Legislation that would allow the deportation of the families of terrorists has not yet been enacted, this form of collective punishment is not yet authorized, but Israel apparently can’t wait. The occupation authorities found a way to expel four children – effectively an entire family – even in the absence of such a law.  On Sunday, after the days of mourning for the unburied Fuad, which they spent at the home of the family of the imprisoned father in Bir Naballah, north of Jerusalem, Maisa and seven of the children moved to Kafr Aqab, outside Ramallah. Until her husband, Al-Kasaf Abu Rajab Tamimi, is released – and no one knows when that will be – his wife and children will live there, in the three-room apartment of Maisa’s mother, Yusra Hirbawi, 65. (Continued)

Group appeals [to] court for return of 13 bodies of Jerusalem Palestinians
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 17 Mar — Palestinian prisoners’ rights organization Addameer appealed to the Israeli High Court for the return of 13 bodies of Jerusalem Palestinians still being held by the Israeli authorities. Addameer lawyer Muhammad Mahmoud submitted an appeal demanding the court to request a return date from Israeli police for the bodies of Palestinian residents of Jerusalem killed after allegedly carrying out attacks on Israelis. Mahmoud said the longest-held body was that of Thaer Abu Ghazaleh, held since he was killed on Oct. 8, 2015. The Palestinians were residents of the occupied East Jerusalem areas of the Old City, Jabal al-Mukabbir, Beit Hanina, al-‘Issawiya, Kafr Aqab, and Umm Tuba. Israel began holding bodies of Palestinians killed while carrying out attacks or attempting to carry out attacks when unrest increased in October, but began reversing the policy in November following uproar from Palestinian families and communities. While the majority of bodies have been returned to families in the occupied West Bank, a number of bodies of Palestinian residents of Jerusalem continue to be held (Continued)

Photos: The occupation continues to detain the bodies of 13 Jerusalemite Martyrs inside refrigerators
Silwanic 16 Mar — The Israeli authorities continue to detain the bodies of 13 Jerusalemite Martyrs part of a collective punishment policy imposed on their families since the first moments of the Martyrdom of their sons. Martyrs whose bodies are still detained by the occupation authorities are: 1. Thaer Abdel Salam Abu Ghazaleh, 19, passed away on 8/10/2015, Old City of Jerusalem 2. Hasan Khaled Manasra, 15, passed away on 12/10/2015, Beit Hanina 3. Baha’ Mohammad Alayan, 22, passed away on 13/10/2015, Jabal Al-Mukabber  (Continued)

Sur Baher: The occupation authorities suspend the social security allowance of three Jerusalemite prisoners
[with photos] Silwanic 17 Mar — The occupation authorities suspended the social security allowance of three Jerusalemite prisoners from the village of Sur Baher after accusing them of causing the killing of an Israeli settler after throwing stones towards his vehicle last September. Wadi Hilweh Information Center was informed by the families of three Jerusalemite prisoners that the social security organization sent them letters informing them about suspending the social security allowance of their children; Mohammad Salah Abu Kaf (18), Walid Firas Al-Atrash (19) and Abed Mahmoud Dwayyat (20). The Israeli Minister of Interior had decided last January to suspend the “residency” (IDs) of the three Jerusalemite prisoners . . . The families denounced the Israeli harassment for them and their children before even issuing the final sentence against the prisoners.

Israeli forces detain at least 15 Palestinians during overnight raids
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 17 Mar — Israeli forces detained at least 15 Palestinians across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem overnight Wednesday, a spokesperson from the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society said. The spokesperson said six Palestinians, including two minors, were detained in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus. The six were identified as Muhammad Fateh Qadus, 15, Yazid Ayish Qadus, 15, Muhammad Yahiya Suleiman, Abi Hamadneh, Abd al-Majid Swalmeh, and Asem Jamal Yassin. In the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, Israeli forces detained one Palestinian identified as Muhammad al-Mimi. In the village of Beit Duqqu, just north of Jerusalem in the central occupied West Bank, Israeli forces detained at least four Palestinians who were identified as Amin Yassin Rayyan, Youssef Masoud Rayyan, Muhammad Shaher Marrar, and Sayil Salah Rayyan. In the occupied East Jerusalem towns of Beit Hanina and al-‘Issawiya, Israeli forces detained two Palestinians identified as Sameh Najib and Salameh Obeid. To the south, in the Hebron district, Israeli forces detained two Palestinians identified as Khalil Walid al-Qeimari and Farid Jaber. Jaber is the father of Qassem Jaber, who was killed by Israeli forces on Monday after carrying out an attack near Hebron.

Israeli forces detain 9 Palestinians in overnight raids across West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Mar — Israeli forces detained nine Palestinians from across the occupied West Bank Friday, an Israeli army spokesman said. The spokesperson told Ma‘an that two Palestinians were detained in the village of Silat al-Thahr near Jenin. In the village of Habla in the northern district of Qalqiliya one Palestinian was detained. Israeli forces also detained one in al-Jalazun refugee camp in the central West Bank district of Ramallah. To the south, in the Hebron district, Israeli forces detained five Palestinians, all suspected “Hamas operatives.” The spokesperson told Ma‘an all were detained for suspected illegal activity or alleged involvement with Hamas.The detainees were transferred for interrogation.

5-year-old Duma attack survivor meets Real Madrid idol
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Mar — A Palestinian child whose family was killed in an arson attack committed by Israeli settlers last year was welcomed by major Spanish football club Real Madrid on Thursday. Ahmad Dawabsha, 5, arrived at the Real Madrid club headquarters in Madrid accompanied by his grandfather, where he met a number of players including his idol Cristiano Ronaldo. Ahmad was the sole survivor of a deadly arson attack carried out by extremist Israeli settlers on his family home in the northern West Bank village of Duma on July 30 last year. The child lost both his parents, Saad and Riham, as well as his 18-month-old brother, Ali. Federation president Jibril Rajoub said in a statement prior to the child’s visit that Real Madrid “sympathized with Dawabsha after a photo of him wearing the team’s uniform in his hospital bed went viral,” prompting the club to extend an invitation. Rajoub said the team’s gesture was “appreciated, and would have humanitarian dimensions.”. . . Real Madrid posted a VIDEO [below] of the child meeting the team on social media.


Israeli forces shoot, wound 5 Palestinians in Gaza clashes
GAZA (Ma‘an) 18 Mar — Israeli forces shot and wounded at least five Palestinians with live rounds in clashes along the beleaguered Gaza Strip’s borderline on Friday, medical sources said. One Palestinian, identified as 18-year-old Wasim al-Amour, was shot in the foot during clashes east of Khan Younis, local doctors said. The Gazan Ministry of Health, meanwhile, said that another three Palestinians were shot with live fire east of Gaza City and one east of the coastal enclave’s central district. Two others reportedly suffered excessive tear gas inhalation in the central district, along with three more near the Beit Hanoun crossing. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed that Israeli troops opened fire on Palestinian protesters along the border, saying that “dozens of Palestinians” had rolled burning tires and thrown stones toward Israeli troops.

Israeli forces open fire at Palestinian farmers, shepherds in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 Mar — Israeli forces opened fire on a group of Palestinian farmers and shepherds in eastern Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on Saturday, according to eyewitnesses. Witnesses told Ma’an that Israeli forces deployed at the border fence opened fire on Palestinians who were in nearby agricultural lands, with no injuries reported. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an they had no information regarding shots being fired in Khan Yunis.

Gazans unable to travel for Umrah for the second year
GAZA (PIC) 16 Mar — Inhabitants of Gaza are unable to travel to Saudi Arabia for Umrah for the second year due to the continuous closure of Rafah border crossing with Egypt. Awad Abu Mathkour, the head of a group of Haj and Umrah companies, said in a press conference held in Gaza on Tuesday that the closure of Rafah crossing prevented travel agents from arranging Umrah journeys for two years. He pointed out that the loss of 79 Haj and Umrah firms in Gaza due to the closure is increasing and the annual losses are estimated at one million American dollars. As a result of the crossing closure, 237 Palestinian workers in those companies have been deprived of work. Each worker is responsible for four family members in average, he added. Regarding the idea of using Beit Hanoun (Erez crossing) in order to travel to Saudi Arabia, Abu Mathkour said it is a semi-impossible risky mission and entails double costs. Palestinian activists and officials in human rights organizations demanded the UN human rights committee to put pressure on the Egyptian authorities to guarantee the right of travel for Gazan people so that they can travel to Makkah to perform Haj and Umrah. They also called for forming a committee to supervise the travel of Gazan people via Rafah crossing.

VIDEO: Fishing for a living in Gaza
MEMO 17 Mar by Jehan Alfarra — Palestine Remix is an interactive tool that allows users to view or use parts of various Al Jazeera documentary films on Palestine to create their own productions. As part of a blog series MEMO will be remixing one video every week, highlighting an aspect of life in Palestine or an issue related to the Palestine-Israel conflict. Our third Palestine Remix video takes a quick look at Gaza’s fishing industry and what the sea means to Gaza’s residents . . . Owing to its position on the Mediterranean, Gaza has historically been reliant on the bounties of the sea. Its residents have always made a living from fishing, and the port was used to both import and export goods. Even local cuisine owes many of its dishes to the various fish which have traditionally swam along its shores, these include “zibdiyit gambari” a dish of shrimp stew. As a result, Gaza’s cultural and economic fabric has been cut as a result of the siege. Israel’s policy “violates international laws requiring an occupying power to ensure the way of life and the rights of occupied peoples are not disrupted, and it further violates the Oslo Accords, which stipulate that Gaza fishermen be granted access to a zone of the sea expanding 20 nautical miles from the shore,” Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights stressed. Gaza’s seaport is itself changing; water levels are decreasing owing to sand, mud and fishing sediments, and the lack of dredging equipment. As a result, fishermen in Gaza are in constant fear that it may shut down, preventing them from docking their boats and providing for their families.

#Hamas: The Islamist group cracks down on social media activistss
Montana Public Radio 17 Mar by Emily Harris — For Ayman Al-Aloul, the first night in prison was the worst. “I was cold. I was sick,” the now-free head of Al Arab Now news agency, said in an interview in his Gaza City office. “I was thinking of all the things I’ve done in my life, but I couldn’t blame myself because I didn’t know why I was there.” Aloul, 44, was arrested Jan. 3, taken from his home by some half-dozen Hamas police officers, who confiscated two laptops and his phone. He was held for eight days, and tells of being forced to hold still for long periods in uncomfortable positions and of being struck during interrogations. Aloul says investigators wanted to know just one thing: Who was paying him to criticize Hamas on social media? “I finally figured out my interrogator didn’t know what a hashtag was,” Aloul says now with a laugh. “Because he asked as if it was something you buy.” Activists in Gaza say social media campaigns critical of Hamas have gotten the attention of the armed Islamist group that has ruled Gaza for nearly a decade now. Ramzy Herzalla, 27, an activist who was arrested the same week as Aloul, says one campaign rallied against Hamas plans to charge a fee to enter a public park . . .  What landed Aloul and Herzalla in prison was an issue important to every Gazan: a way in and out of the Gaza Strip. There are two border crossings for travelers. One, called Erez, in the north, goes into Israel. Entry requires a permit from the Israeli military . . . The other, near the town of Rafah on the southern edge of the Gaza Strip, goes into Egypt. When this is open, it’s a much easier crossing for Gazans, who travel to Cairo for health care, to fly to Europe or the U.S. for college, or to meet family who cannot enter the Gaza Strip . . . A January social media campaign called on Hamas to “hand over Rafah” – meaning hand control on the Gaza side to security forces from the Palestinian Authority, which has little power in Gaza right now. The idea, long under discussion internationally, is that PA guards would be more acceptable to Egypt, and the Egyptians would open up the now mostly-closed border. But those guards are under the command of Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority president and head of Hamas’ rival Palestinian party, Fatah. Hamas and Fatah have not reconciled since bloody battles in 2007, a year after Hamas won the last Palestinian parliamentary elections, in 2006. So for as long as this idea has been proposed, Hamas has balked. In January, the social media campaign took off. Gazans say it seemed that many people shed fear of criticizing Hamas using their own names. Herzalla, one of the leaders, said activists had a plan to steadily pressure Hamas. “We start on Facebook. We get a big number of people seeing and following us. Then the next move was supposed to be street demonstrations. But they arrested us right before the street part.” (Continued)

UNRWA to build 4 new schools in Gaza
MEMO 17 Mar — The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has announced plans to build four new schools in the Gaza Strip funded by the UAE Red Crescent, Quds Press reported yesterday. In a statement, UNRWA said that this is the second phase of a project to build 12 new schools. The first phase included building eight schools with $8 million, they were ready in 2015. UNRWA has 251,000 Palestine refugee students in 257 schools across the Gaza Strip; 76 of these schools work a two shift system. “Building new schools helps students advance and develop their abilities and helps solving the problem of congestion in classrooms,” the UNRWA statement said. Dozens of government and UNRWA schools were targeted during Israeli offensives on Gaza, where thousands of Palestinian civilians were killed and wounded.

Analysis: How the IDF helps Hamas
Ynet 15 Mar by Alex Fishman — Israel’s predictable model of retaliatory air strikes hours after a rocket attack actually helps the Gaza rulers preserve their image of a militant organization at the forefront of the fight against Israel – even if it wasn’t behind the rockets — The deaths of two children from Beit Lahia, who were injured by the Air Force’s bombing on Friday night, is not just a human tragedy that we should regret and apologize for. The killing of children in what is called in military jargon “collateral damage” calls into question the policy behind Israel’s retaliation to the rocket fire from Gaza since Operation Protective Edge.  At the end of the operation, the political leadership committed to not tolerate any violation of the ceasefire. Indeed, less than a month later, the Air Force attacked targets in the Gaza Strip in response to rockets at Sderot and Ashkelon. Slowly, from attack to attack and retaliation to retaliation, a stereotypical and predictable modus operandi began to take shape, which is far from what is known in warfare as surprise, deception, concentration of effort or original thought. It starts when rockets are fired from Gaza into Israeli communities or at IDF forces near the border fence – which Hamas, including last Friday, is not directly responsible for. This does not prevent anyone in the top security echelons to declare that Hamas is responsible for everything that is done in the Gaza Strip, and therefore should be punished. A few hours pass and the Air Force attacks targets, which according to the IDF Spokesperson are Hamas’ infrastructure and facilities. In short, “real estate targets.” Most of the attacks end without casualties to Hamas, it threatens to respond, and another round ends. Since Operation Protective Edge, there have been more than 30 such instances.   (Continued),7340,L-4778908,00.html

‘Gaza sewage crisis is a ticking timebomb for Israel’
JPost 17 Mar by Michelle Malka Grossman — Gaza could be a ticking time bomb of disease for the region if a serious sewage issue is not fixed, an Israeli environmental group warned on Thursday. Gidon Bromberg, founder and Israel director of EcoPeace, told The Jerusalem Post that although there is a sewage treatment plant in the Gaza Strip, it does not have enough electricity to run. This means some 90 million liters of raw sewage are flowing into the Mediterranean Sea on a daily basis, as well as into underground aquifers. This has serious implications for Israel and Egypt, especially for residents who live closest to Gaza and would be most affected if diseases such as cholera or typhoid were to break out and then enter the region’s drinking water. “This becomes a ticking time bomb,” he said . . . Another way the sewage problem in Gaza literally spills over to Israel is when sewage flows northward to Israel’s coast, polluting the water and causing desalination plants to shut down . . . Bromberg says the solutions rest on the Israeli government, including the Environmental Protection Ministry, the Energy, Water and Infrastructures Ministry and COGAT. He called on the government to approve the increased sale of water and electricity to Gaza. In terms of water, he said the amount would need to go from 5 million cubic meters to 10 mcm, noting that the current water pipeline has the capacity for up to 20 mcm. Meanwhile, the sewage treatment plant needs 3.5 megawatts of electricity initially and would eventually need up to 11 MW, he said. The respective government ministries involved have declared their intentions to move forward but so far, no concrete steps have begun.

Prisoners / Court actions

Israeli soldier and settler threaten to kill Al-Qeq
MEMO 16 Mar — An Israeli soldier and settler have broken into the hospital room of former hunger striker Mohamed al-Qeq at Al-Afula Hospital and threatened to kill him, Al-Resalah newspaper reported on Tuesday. According to Al-Qeq’s wife, Fayhaa Shalash, the two Israelis told him, “You must die. You deserve only death.” Shalash noted that the two Israelis made their threat while the Israeli security officer at the door of her husband’s room was away from his post. She accused the two “extremist” Israelis of arranging the raid with the officer. The two fled when Al-Qeq called out for the security guard. His wife laid the blame on the government of Israel for any attack on the journalist while he is in an Israeli hospital. The Israeli authorities agreed to leave Al-Qeq in hospital for treatment of the damage done to his body by his 94-day hunger strike, which ended last month. He was protesting at being held by Israel with neither charge nor trial under administrative detention rules. The journalist was arrested at his home in Ramallah on 21 November last year. The Israelis have pledged not to renew his detention when the original six-month period ends in May.

Palestinian prisoner continues hunger strike for 30th day
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 17 Mar — A Palestinian prisoner continued his hunger strike for the 30th consecutive day in protest of his administrative detention by Israel, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said Thursday. Palestinian prisoner Yazan Mahmoud Nasrallah Hanani, 24, from the occupied West Bank village of Beit Furik near Nablus, is currently held at Israel’s Ktziot prison in the Negev in solitary confinement. Yazan’s brother Hanafi said Yazan was detained five months ago when Israeli forces raided and searched a number of houses in Beit Furik. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights reported Yazan was detained in the predawn hours of Oct. 28, 2015. Hanafi added that his brother’s health was deteriorating . . . The detainee’s mother visited him in prison earlier this month before Israel’s prison service revoked his visitation rights and allowance for the prison canteen.

Israel sentences anti-occupation youth to 17 years in jail
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 16 Mar — The Jerusalem District court on Wednesday sentenced a Palestinian injured detainee to 17 years in jail for carrying out an anti-occupation stabbing last June. According to an Israeli broadcast, the court ruled for sentencing 20-year-old Yasser Tarweh, from al-Khalil, to 17 years in jail for stabbing an Israeli occupation soldier in Occupied Jerusalem last year. In addition, the court ruled that he will pay the occupation soldier 40,000 shekels (amounting to 11,000 U.S. dollars) in compensation. Prisoner Tarweh, a second year student at the Polytechnic University in al-Khalil, was arrested after he was hit with multiple gunshots by the occupation troops.

IOA releases female captive after three-month imprisonment
NABLUS (PIC) 18 Mar — Israeli Occupation Authority released the Palestinian female captive Asma al-Qadah, 21 years old, from Nablus city, after being detained for three months. The family of Qadah told the PIC reporter that the release decision followed an appeal filed with the Israeli Supreme Court not to renew the order of administrative detention against her. The family said that their daughter was held under bad detention conditions in Hasharon jail after Ofer military court issued an administrative detention order against her in absentia. Qadah was arrested at Zaatara military checkpoint to the south of the city while she was going to Birziet University on December, 09, 2015. She is the secretary of the cultural committee in the university’s students union. Abdulkarim al-Qadah, the father of the ex-detainee Asma, is detained in Israeli jails and sentenced to five months.

Five Jews indicted for beating Arab cleaner in Jerusalem
JPost 17 Mar by Yonah Jeremy Bob — Five Jews, including four minors, were indicted in the Jerusalem District Court on Thursday for aggravated assault and causing physical harm. According to the indictment, Netanel Goldenberg, 19, and four 17-year-old youths whose names are under gag order, followed a man who appeared to be an Arab on March 11 in order to confront and attack him. At 7 a.m., the group arrived at Liberty Bell Park and started calling out “Death to Arabs.” Next, they saw two municipal sanitation workers, one of who appeared to be Arab. They cursed him, saying “You Arab son-of-a-bitch, your Muhammad was a pig,” and when he did not respond, they continued to curse him. Eventually, the sanitation worker responded, “What did I do to you? Why do you curse?” One of the defendants responded, “Now I’ll show you, son-of-a-bitch,” and screamed, “Death to Muhammad.” The defendants then shoved the man to the ground, punching and kicking him in the face, back and stomach for several minutes, scratching his face, chest and knees, and causing pain throughout his body. The second municipal worker tried to separate the defendants from the man they were beating, yelling that he and the victim were city employees, and cameras were recording the attack. One of the defendants is alleged to have stolen the victim’s cellphone, removed the SIM card, and deleted all traces of the victim so that he could use the phone for himself. The prosecution requested to keep Goldenberg in police custody until the end of the trial.

Israel jails Jewish extremist who wrote handbook for violence
AFP 18 Mar — An Israeli judge has jailed for two years the Jewish extremist author of an instruction manual for acts of violence against Palestinians, in a case linked to a deadly firebombing, judicial authorities said. Prosecutors said the digital document entitled “Kingdom of Evil” contained among other things instructions for arson attacks on houses, a transcript released by the Israel Courts Administration said. “It is in its entirety incitement to criminal activity and clear directions for the commission of violence against the property and persons of the Arab community,” said the judgment, seen by AFP on Friday. Moshe Orbach, an ultra-Orthodox Jew, was arrested in July and charged with sedition, possession of material inciting violence and of racist material. He was convicted on all counts in February. The prosecution linked the “Kingdom of Evil” document with the July arson attack on a house in the West Bank village of Duma that killed 18-month-old Palestinian Ali Saad Dawabsheh and his parents. Two Israelis have been charged with the firebombing. “The murder in Duma, carried out days after charges were filed, was carried out in a way similar to that described in the document,” the court transcript quoted the prosecution as saying, without accusing Orbach of direct involvement.,7340,L-4780192,00.html

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing

Criticism mounts over massive Israeli ‘land grab’ in West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Mar by Killian Redden — Palestinian and international leaders joined a growing chorus of criticism this week over Israel’s recent seizure of hundreds of acres of land in the southern occupied West Bank, saying it was proof Israel is “not interested in peace.” In the latest condemnation, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said Thursday that the “systematic land grab” constituted “a flagrant violation of international law.” “The Israeli government is not interested in peace,” Hamdallah said, according to a statement issued by his office. “It rather implement(s) a policy designed to prevent the formation of a contiguous Palestinian state.” The land in question — 2,342 dunams (580 acres) of land to the south of Jericho — was declared “state land” by Israel earlier this month, in a decision that far surpassed the 1,500 dunams (370 acres) initially approved for takeover by Israel’s Minister of Defense in January. Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now said that the land confiscation would pave the way for the construction of 358 housing units in the illegal settlement of Almog . . . A growing number of international states have also slammed the decision, with French officials saying they were “extremely concerned” by the move, and the German foreign ministry reportedly saying the timing was particularly bad, coming amid efforts to restart peace talks. On Thursday, Japan also said it “deplored” the decision, which it said “clearly contradicts the ongoing efforts by the international community toward a two-state solution.” This followed yet another condemnation by the US State Department (Continued)

IOF embarks on placing blocks of the Separation Wall on Ya‘bad’s land
JENIN (PIC) 18 Mar — Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Thursday evening embarked on placing blocks of the Separation Wall on the land of Ya‘bad town in southern Jenin. President of Ya‘bad municipality, Samer Abu Baker, said in a statement that Israeli forces started separating the lands of the town by a two-meter-long wall along the main road of the town. The inhabitants of Ya‘bad are worried about the Israeli intention to confiscate their land plots and prevent them from accessing their fields especially those located near Mabo Dothan settlement which is established by force over their lands, Abu Baker pointed out.

Israeli forces demolish 6 shops in Nablus-area village
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 17 Mar — Israeli forces demolished six stores in the Beita village market in southern Nablus overnight Wednesday, due to the structures reportedly lacking proper licenses. Imad Hilal, owner of one of the demolished stores, said that Israeli bulldozers raided the market around 12 a.m. escorted by several military jeeps and demolished six fruit and vegetable shops, as well as a washroom near the western and southern areas of the market. Meanwhile, in the nearby Salfit district, Palestinian activist Khalid Maali said Israeli forces demolished a steel structure in the village of Kafl Hares. Maali said the structure belonged to a Palestinian identified as Hassan Masoud Abu Yaqoub.
Last month the Coordinator for Humanitarian and UN Development Activities for the occupied Palestinian territory, Robert Piper, called for “an immediate halt to the destruction of Palestinian-owned property in the occupied West Bank.” “Most of the demolitions in the West Bank take place on the spurious legal grounds that Palestinians do not possess building permits,” Piper said in a press release. “But, in Area C, official Israeli figures indicate only 1.5 per cent of Palestinian permit applications are approved in any case. So what legal options are left for a law-abiding Palestinian?”

Other news

Rights groups file complaints against Israeli closure of Arab charities at UNHRC
MEMO 16 Mar — Three human rights groups yesterday filed a complaint at the UN Human Rights Commission against Israel’s ban on the Islamic Movement and Arab charities, Quds Press reported. Mizan, the Arab Organisation and Geneva International Justice Centre said they filed a complaint against Israel regarding its treatment of Arab organisations in Israel. In the statement, the organisations said that the complaint came in the wake of 20 active charities being banned by the Israeli security minister. The complaint included details of Israeli harassment of Arab NGOs and charities, which serve Arab Israelis and how the Israeli security minister announced them “illegal organisations” and banned their activities. More than half a million Arab Israelis benefited from these charities and organisations, the complaint said. The group explained how the Palestinians are being subjected to “marginalisation and discrimination policies” regarding the budgets, resources and rights, adding that the Israeli measures against the Islamic Movement and charities are an “announcement of war on the Arab community”. On November 16, 2015, the Israeli government banned the Islamic Movement in Israel and dismantled more than 20 charities and other service organisations run by its members.

East Jerusalem closed for marathon
IMEMC/Agencies 18 Mar — Israeli authorities, early Friday, shut down the streets of annexed East Jerusalem and detained four Palestinians, in preparation for the annual Jerusalem marathon, locals said. A number of roads were blocked by iron barricades and buses, as thousands of runners joined in the marathon for the sixth year in a row. Streets began to reopen shortly before noon, PNN reports. Four Palestinian residents of the al-Eesawiyya neighborhood were detained by Israeli forces, just prior to the marathon. Two of them, identified by locals as Fadi Matwar and Jad al-Ghoul, were reportedly warned against being in Jerusalem during the marathon. According to Jerusalem city spokeswoman Brachie Sprung, about 25,000 Israeli athletes and a record of 2,500 foreign visitors took part in the marathon. Kenyan runner Kipkosgei Shadrack, aged 25, finished the race with a time of 2:16:33. Jerusalem’s marathon comes just weeks before the Right to Movement marathon, which is expected to be held in Bethlehem. This year will mark the fourth consecutive “Right to Movement” marathon, which is comprised of two 11 kilometer loops as race organizers were unable to find a contiguous stretch of 42 kilometers, due to Israeli restrictions on Palestinian movement.

Bodies from pilgrim bus accident arrive in West Bank
[with photos] RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 Mar — The bodies of 16 Palestinian pilgrims who were killed in a bus accident in Jordan arrived in the occupied West Bank on Thursday evening. Sixteen Palestinians were killed and at least 34 injured, when a bus carrying Muslim pilgrims along the Jordanian side of the border with Saudi Arabia flipped when the bus driver lost control overnight Wednesday. The bus was traveling near the Mudawara area of the border near the city of Maan to cross into Saudi Arabia for the Muslim pilgrimage known as Umrah. Red Crescent ambulances escorted by Palestinian police and national security vehicles transferred the bodies from Jordanian hospitals to the Palestinian districts of Ramallah and al-Bireh, Hebron, Tulkarem and Jenin. The bodies were received by the families of the victims, PLO Executive committee secretary Saeb Erekat, district officials and security services leaders. Funerals were set to take place on Friday.

Watchdog: Israeli press violations reached ‘new peak’ in 2015
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Mar — A Palestinian press freedoms watchdog on Thursday said 2015 had seen an “unprecedented” increase in Israeli violations against Palestinian journalists across the occupied Palestinian territory. The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms, known as MADA, recorded a total of 599 violations against media freedoms throughout the year, in what the group’s general director, Moussa Rimawi, said was the “highest ever to be monitored in Palestine since (the watchdog) started monitoring violations against media freedoms around a decade ago.” The report said 2015 had seen 134 more violations against Palestinian journalists than the year before, an increase of 29 percent, although it noted that that 2014 had witnessed the “worst and widest violations,” including the deaths of 17 journalists during the 50-day Gaza war. The majority of 2015’s violations — 407 incidents — were committed by Israeli forces, MADA said, while the other 192 violations were committed by “various Palestinian bodies.” Almost half the violations committed by Israeli forces — 42 percent — were physical assaults, although the watchdog also monitored cases of soldiers denying media coverage, targeting journalists through gas canisters, stun grenades, and rubber-coated steel bullets, the confiscation of equipment, deleting recorded material, and closing media outlets. The report found that half the Israeli violations were concentrated in the final three months of 2015, after a wave of unrest swept across the occupied Palestinian territory . . .
The watchdog also pointed to a “step backward” in the legal environment for media freedoms in the occupied Palestinian territory, highlighting in particular the approval of the Higher Media Council law by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in December. The report said the law, which expands the Palestinian Authority’s control over local media, was “unacceptable by all standards and measures,” and its approval had appeared rushed.

Three Palestinian football players arrested by Israel
EI 18 Mar by Ryan Rodrick Beiler — Latest arrests provide additional reasons why Israel should be kicked out of sporting competitions — At least three Palestinian football players have been arrested since the beginning of this month, the Gaza-based Al Mezan Center for Human Rights has stated. The arrests provide the latest examples of how Israel is harassing Palestinians involved in sports. On 3 March, Fadi Nimr al-Sharif, 28, a player with the al-Hilal Football Club of Gaza City was arrested at the Erez crossing separating Gaza from present-day Israel. Al-Sharif had suffered a torn ligament during a match and had been given a permit by Israeli occupation authorities to receive treatment at al-Makassed hospital in occupied East Jerusalem. After five days in Jerusalem, al-Sharif and his father tried to return to Gaza. Al-Sharif was arrested by Israeli authorities, while his father was allowed to return.
On 6 March, Israeli forces raided the home of Sami Fadil al-Daour, 27, in Hebron, a city in the occupied West Bank. Al-Daour is a member of al-Samou Youth Football Club. Al-Daour was arrested and his laptop was confiscated during the raid. He was then taken to Ashkelon prison inside present-day Israel. Moving Palestinians out of the occupied West Bank and detaining them inside Israel violates the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Another al-Samou player, Jerusalem resident Muhammad Abu Khwais, 25, was arrested on 4 March. Al Mezan staff have not yet been able unable to confirm whether these athletes will be charged with any crime or instead be held under administrative detention. Israel uses that practice to hold Palestinians without charge or trial for terms that can be renewed indefinitely. -Sports boycott kicking off?- Meanwhile, a recent commentary in The Nation magazine predicts that 2016 may be the year when a sporting boycott of Israel will make an impact. (Continued)

Israeli PM: Breaking the Silence ‘crossed a red line’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Mar — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said rights group Breaking the Silence had “crossed a red line” following allegations that the group collected classified information from members of the Israeli military. The PM launched the allegation shortly after Israel’s Channel 2 aired an investigative report based on video footage obtained by undercover members of right-wing NGO Ad-Khan that reportedly documented Breaking the Silence questioning members of the military on operational activities. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon meanwhile called for a criminal investigation against Breaking the Silence on accusations the group collected sensitive classified information. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely on social media accused Breaking the Silence of “blackening the face of Israel to the world” and potentially damaging state security. Breaking the Silence told Channel 2 in response to the allegations said the organization works “carefully to publish only materials approved by the military censor.” The group charged the right-wing government with attempting to silence Israeli citizens and members of the military who opposed the ongoing military occupation, pointing to the PM’s response as a cause for concern regarding the future of democracy in Israel. The incident marks ongoing targeting by right-wingers of Breaking the Silence, which collects testimonies from Israeli veterans in effort to document every day life in occupied Palestinian territory and expose Israeli war crimes. (Continued)

Israel retracts statement, keeps Brazil ambassador nominee
(AP) 17 Mar — The Israeli Foreign Ministry has retracted an announcement that it is withdrawing the nomination of a settler leader as ambassador to Brazil.  Spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon says the earlier announcement “was an unfortunate administrative bureaucratic mistake.” Danny Dayan, a former chairman of a West Bank settler council, was nominated in August. Brazil opposes West Bank settlements and has delayed accrediting Dayan.,7340,L-4779810,00.html

Jewish vigilantes jailed over Paris attack on Gaza fundraising event
PARIS 18 Mar 2016 by Peter Allen — Six Jewish vigilantes were jailed in Paris on Friday over a “savage gang attack” targeting attendees at a fundraising event for Gaza in 2009. The defendants used iron bars, baseball bats and bike chains in the onslaught, in which they deliberately targeted anybody who looked like a Muslim. Among their victims was a 22-year-old singer who suffered a “lynching” by the 20-strong mob who chanted ‘Death to Arabs’ and ‘Long live Israel!’ All were leading members of the Jewish Defence League (JDL), a notorious vigilante group that is outlawed in both America and Israel because of its links with terrorism. Despite this, the JDL is allowed to demonstrate openly in France, and its yellow and black clenched fist flags are regularly seen at events across the country. A court in the French capital heard how all six had beaten up Hatem Essabbak and Mustapha Belkhir outside a Paris theatre in April 2009. The case is considered one of the most sensitive in recent legal history, because of the way it illustrates how the Israel-Palestine conflict has been exported to the streets of major French cities. No less than five examining judges were involved in the Paris enquiry, with four resigning one after the other because of the intense pressure. The six men found guilty of carrying out aggravated violent assaults were Jason Tibi, Rudy Lalou, Azar Cohen, Maxime Schaffier, Yoia Bensimou, and Yoni Sulman. Other JDL gang members are said to have fled to Israel to avoid prosecution, while Tibi has admitted serving in the Israeli army while waiting for his case to come to court. At least two of those convicted today have since fled to Israel … Tibi and and Sulman received two-year sentences, while the others were handed sentences of between nine months and a year. (Continued) (listserv) (archive)

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