Israel extends administrative detention for Palestinian circus performer

Detention of Palestinian circus performer extended despite international outcry
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 June — Israeli authorities on Monday decided to extend the administrative detention of a 23-year-old Palestinian circus performer, in spite of widespread outcry from activists and rights groups around the world demanding his release. Israeli authorities ruled to extend Muhammad Faisal Abu Sakha’s remand for another six months from June 13 until Dec. 12, in addition to the six months he has already served in administrative detention — Israel’s controversial policy of internment without trial or charge. According to prisoner’s rights group Addameer, a confirmation hearing for the ruling is scheduled for June 15, during which a military judge may confirm, limit, or cancel the administrative detention order. In a statement released by the Palestinian Circus School, where Abu Sakha worked, they said that neither they, nor Abu Sakha’s family or lawyer have received any reason or information regarding his detention — as is customary for administrative detainees that are held by Israel under undisclosed evidence for indefinitely renewable periods of three or six months. Their statement referred to the Israeli occupation as “a system that knows no humanity,” whose only goal is “to break the spirit of an entire nation.” “You (the Israeli occupation) only make our resistance stronger. And the resistance of the Palestinian Circus School has always been and will continue to be injecting hope, love, and happiness in the hearts and minds of all Palestinians and all people that cross our path worldwide.”….

Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem

Israeli forces injure 2 Palestinian youths, detain 2 in overnight ‘Aida camp raid
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 June — Two Palestinian youths were injured and two others were detained in the predawn hours Thursday morning when Israeli forces raided ‘Aida refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem. Clashes erupted between local Palestinian youth and Israeli forces after Israeli forces stormed the camp, raiding several houses. Witnesses reported that Israeli soldiers opened heavy fire and launched stun grenades and tear gas canisters after youths surrounded them.  Two unidentified youths were injured with live fire to the legs, locals said, with one critically injured and the other sustaining moderate injuries. Locals told Ma‘an Israeli forces detained former prisoners Anas Nabhan al-Umour, 24, and Muhammad Ahmad al-Amir, 27, after raiding their houses, and briefly held Mustafa and Ibrahim Muhammad Abu Srour … Al-Umour and al-Amir join some 7,000 Palestinians currently held in Israeli jails, many of whom were detained during the near-daily raids carried out by Israeli military forces on Palestinian towns, villages, and refugee camps. Such raids are often carried out in areas under full Palestinian jurisdiction, such as the ‘Aida camp, and frequently lead to clashes between Palestinian residents and military forces.

Teenage bystander critically injured during clashes between PA forces, gunmen near Jerusalem
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 15 June — A Palestinian teenage boy was hit by a bullet to the head on Wednesday as Palestinian security officers clashed with masked gunmen in the village of Kafr ‘Aqab in the occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem. Hamza  al-Wahsh, 15, was in front of his family home at dawn when a stray bullet hit him in the head, according to Palestinian security sources. Al-Wahsh was evacuated to the Ramallah Medical Center, where doctors said he was in critical condition. Clashes broke out also in the nearby Qalandiya refugee camp and the neighborhood of Semiramis. Palestinian security forces began a crackdown overnight Tuesday in north Jerusalem neighborhoods after masked gunmen stopped Palestinian Authority Minister of Social Development Ibrahim al-Shaer at gunpoint near Qalandiya refugee camp earlier that day and hijacked his car. A Palestinian security official told Ma‘an at the time that the assailants were not specifically targeting al-Shaer, but “only wanted to attack any Palestinian government vehicle.” Several stores sustained damages during the dawn clashes on Wednesday, which lasted a few hours on the main road between Qalandiya, Kafr Aqab and Semiramis.

Israeli settlers throw stones at Palestinian vehicle, injure 2 Palestinians
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 14 June — Two Palestinian security officers sustained injuries on Monday evening after Israeli settlers hurled stones at their vehicle as they traveled near the illegal Yitzhar settlement south of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that a group of Israeli settlers ambushed a Palestinian vehicle and showered it with stones. Palestinian security officers Imad Salih and Majd Salih, who were in the vehicle, sustained moderate to minor wounds. An Israeli ambulance and several military vehicles arrived to give first aid treatment to the victims. A spokesperson for Israel’s emergency service Magen David Adom could not immediately confirm the incident.
Earlier on Monday, Israeli forces closed the Huwwara checkpoint south of Nablus to traffic after an Israeli settler claimed that his car was pelted with stones on the main road near Huwwara village, the Palestinian security sources added. Israeli soldiers reportedly stopped Palestinian youths who were walking near the main road and questioned them.

Tulkarem farmers try to control boar population, blame settlers
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 15 June — Palestinian farmers in the village of Bala‘a east of Tulkarem in the northern occupied West Bank said they were reportedly dealing with an ongoing wild boar problem which they blamed on Israelis living in nearby illegal settlements. The farmers told Ma‘an that after years of injuries and damages to agricultural lands caused by wild boars, which they claim have been repeatedly released in the area by extremist settlers, the residents of Bala‘a had “succeeded in poisoning” 25 wild boars in an agricultural area. Tariq Abu Hilweh, who owns a poultry farm in the Umm al-Toot area, said that herds of wild boars had been causing serious damage to farms, especially poultry farms. “Since the beginning of summer, farmers have been trying to annihilate wild boars who attack farms and cause heavy damages,” he said. Hilweh also highlighted that farmers were not allowed to possess rifles to shoot wild boars when they attack farms and people. Thus, poison was the best way, he said. Palestinian farmers, in particular in the Salfit and Tulkarem districts, have repeatedly reported wild boar attacks on farms, claiming that Israeli settlers have brought boars and released them near Palestinian areas….

Israel agrees to return 7 detained bodies of Palestinians slain during recent unrest
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 13 June — The Israeli minister of public security and the Israeli general prosecution agreed on Monday to return seven detained bodies of Palestinians to their families, but have yet to confirm a deadline for their release. Lawyer Muhammad Mahmoud, who works with the prisoners’ rights group Addameer, told Ma‘an that he received a “positive answer” to a petition he submitted to an Israeli court asking for the return of bodies of Palestinians who were killed while allegedly committing or attempting to commit attacks. Mahmoud stressed that the answer he received from Israeli prosecution did not set a deadline for returning the bodies, “which have been kept in morgues for several months.” This ambiguity in the answer, he said, is meant to “mislead the court.” Six of the Palestinians were from occupied East Jerusalem and the seventh, Abd al-Hamid Abu Srour, was from ‘Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank. According to Mahmoud, the answer stated that after examining the situation, the Israeli minister of public security agreed to return the bodies included in the petition to their families in accordance with the terms set by Israeli police. The terms include, among others, that a limited number of people join the funeral, families deposit an amount of money to guarantee that they will adhere with police stipulations, and that the burial must be at night and immediately after the family receives the body. Mahmoud highlighted the Israeli authorities’ recent decision that Israeli police have the right to determine which cemetery the body will be buried in, and where the funeral will take place. Israeli police claimed that the new term was added to enable police to contain alleged “incitement” at Palestinian funerals held for alleged attackers … The news of the impending return of the seven bodies comes amidst a constant back and forth in recent weeks, regarding decisions to hold bodies of suspected Palestinian attackers…..

Knesset passes sweeping anti-terrorism law
Haaretz 15 June by Jonathan Lis — New law, which was backed by most parties, expands both the state’s counterterrorism powers and its definitions of terrorist organizations and terrorist acts. Law is ‘draconian and unacceptable,’ Arab parties say. — The new law – which applies only inside Israel, not in the West Bank – is an omnibus that combines most provisions of existing counterterrorism law, thereby finally replacing numerous defense regulations enacted by the British Mandate more than 70 years ago. The legislation, which was promoted by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, stiffens the penalty for terrorist activity and for assisting in the commission of terrorist acts. For example, it provides for imprisonment for up to seven years for threatening to commit an act that, if it had been carried out, would have been punishable by a life sentence. The law also creates new terrorist offenses, including identifying with a terrorist organization, incitement to terrorism and failure to prevent a terrorist actFor the first time, the legislation also enshrines the use of various means to combat terrorism into law rather than through emergency regulations, including administrative detention and orders barring individuals from leaving the country. The new law authorizes law enforcement officials to hold suspects for 48 hours before being brought before a judge for the first time and before they can consult a lawyerMeretz Chairwoman Zahava Gal-On, whose party opposed the bill, said she supports the battle against terror, but this battle must be waged “effectively and morally,” without violating fundamental rights. The best way to fight terror, she argued, is to end the 49-year-old occupation, “which is the fuel and the motivation for terror.”

Quiet please – there’s a burial of a terror victim in progress / Yossi Klein
Haaretz 16 June —Does anyone really believe that the next attack won’t happen because of “determined action that will be taken,” according to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, or “a series of steps we’ll take,” according to Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman? Determined steps my foot. Bibi and Lieberman know that we know they have no clue regarding what “determined action” would consist of and of what “series of steps” should be taken. Everyone, including them, knows that this is just prattle. Such chatter is now customary on days when such attacks take placeEveryone knows that another attack is only a question of time and everyone accepts this with understanding. It will be unrelated to any steps or determined action. It will come because nothing will be done in order to prevent it. After 50 years of these attacks there is no one who doesn’t understand that we must talk to the Palestinians and confront the settlers …  You don’t need to be the head of the Shin Bet to know that one needs to treat the disease before treating the symptoms. You don’t need to be the head of a security service to understand that demolishing a house in Yatta will not stop terrorists in Tel Aviv. Neither will road closures or imposing the death penalty.

Breaking the Silence: ‘I’d rather not know’
IMEMC 13 June — A former soldier relates his experience with regard to the destruction of Palestinian olive trees while on patrol with the Israeli army — testimony catalog number: 314970 rank: Sergeant First Class unit: Reserves 455 Armored Corps area: Hebron area period: 2013 — There’s this term called ‘price tag.’ (A settler strategy of committing violent acts against Palestinians – usually against property – whose stated objective is dissuading Israeli authorities from interfering with settlement expansion.) There was one incident where already the night prior, they said a ‘price tag’ action was going to be carried out. It was known. And, the next morning, a whole grove of olive trees was discovered chopped down – 65 trees chopped down. Now, chopping down a tree is an affair that takes a good half hour – it’s not as simple as it looks. Chopping down one tree costs approximately 5,000 shekels (around $1,300). You need equipment, special saws. The trees can collapse, so you chop them down in stages. To chop down 60 trees you’d need something like eight hours of work and three saws. There were lots of people there, with lots of equipment, who’d need a supply of water – it’s not a simple operation. I don’t believe that the military, with all its observation points, on an olive grove located on the main road, didn’t see something like that taking place. The observation posts are efficient to the degree where you can identify any vehicle that stops for a moment on some route – it’s impossible 60 trees were chopped down and no one noticed. No way. So, they brought over the military [Bedouin?] tracker to figure out where the footsteps had come from. The tracker looks right and left for a bit. Now, a tracker, he can tell you based on just one footstep, which direction they came from, which way they left, where they paused, and where exactly they are now. So, he looked around and said, “I don’t know where they came from.” Now, this was a no-brainer, it was right in front of the settlement – in front of Carmel. I saw the trails left by the vehicles and the quad bikes myself. So, he said to me, “I’d rather not know.” It was taken to the deputy battalion commander, and he asked me, “Do you really want to start a fight with the entire sector now? I can’t do anything, it’s at the brigade level.” The next day, a protest tent was set up, a canopy with a few Bedouin women sitting under it in black dresses to mourn their olive trees that’d been chopped down. We called in the Border Police straight away and dispersed them, arrested them, took apart their canopy. The next day, because of that, all the left-wingers came, and more busses and more Arabs and more settlers, and there was another little demonstration, which of course we also scattered.’ How did you scatter them? ‘Arrests. “Disperse, please,” a few Border Police guys, a few clubs – but there’s a directive not to shoot, and it’s very strict. A few days after that, the settlers chopped down one more tree, just to show [the Palestinians] that the fact that they’d set up a tent wasn’t scaring anybody.’ This testimony can also be read in Hebrew.

How Israel is inciting Palestinian violence
Politico 14 June by Ben Ehrenreich — An Israeli soldier acknowledges the deliberate policy of incitement, sickened by what he was ordered to do — The news was familiar but no less alarming for the ugly déjà vu: four Israelis killed on Wednesday night by Palestinian gunmen in the heart of Tel Aviv. Israel’s government, the most right-wing in the country’s history, responded with measures that the UN promptly warned might count as collective punishment: flooding the West Bank with troops, sealing off the West Bank and Gaza, and revoking entry permits that had allowed 83,000 Palestinians to cross into Israel for work, worship and medical care. On Thursday, the day after the shootings, Tel Aviv’s Mayor Ron Huldai found the courage to state the obvious — that violence will persist until the occupation ends. Israel “is perhaps the only country in the world holding another nation under occupation without civil rights,” Huldai said. Such frankness counts as bravery these days, but even Huldai was understating the truth. It’s not the mere fact of a military occupation, of Israeli troops on Palestinian territory, that provokes such attacks. It can be difficult to comprehend from across the Atlantic, or even from usually tranquil Tel Aviv, but the occupation, as I have observed while reporting from the West Bank since 2011, functions as a massive mechanism for the creation of uncertainty, dispossession and systematic humiliation. It is not just soldiers and guns, but a far-reaching structure that affects all aspects of Palestinian life —  complex web of checkpoints, travel restrictions, permits, walls and fences, courts and prisons, endless constraints on economic possibilities, home demolitions, land appropriations, expropriation of natural resources, and, too often, lethal force. No amount of preventive repression or collective punishment will bring an end to the bloodletting in Tel Aviv or elsewhere. As long as this oppressive system stands, and the United States continues to support it with billions of dollars a year in military aid, despair will spread, and with it death.

Injuries, arrests in predawn West Bank sweep by IOF
WEST BANK (PIC) 14 June — Several Palestinians were injured and others were arrested at dawn Tuesday in a mass abduction sweep launched by the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) across the West Bank. According to a PIC news correspondent, the IOF kidnapped two Palestinian youths from Jenin shortly after they rolled into Fakoua‘ town and wreaked havoc on the family homes of Ayman Khadour, 25, and Muhammad Aram, 26. The IOF further stormed the nearby Beit Kad and Deir Abu Da‘if towns and pitched a military checkpoint near the main road to the city’s eastern corners. The IOF also rolled into Nablus city and kidnapped 60-year-old Atef Malek moments after they ravaged his family home in ‘Akraba town, to the east. Another Palestinian citizen was summoned for interrogation in the assault. The IOF further rummaged into Palestinian civilian homes in Beit Furik town. Meanwhile, several Palestinians choked on teargas in violent clashes with the IOF in the area. Two Palestinians reportedly sustained glass shrapnel wounds in southern Nablus after Israeli extremist settlers hurled stones at their vehicles. Red Cross ambulance crews rushed to the scene and evacuated the casualties to the Rafidia hospital for urgent treatment.

Israeli forces detain 17 Palestinians in overnight raids across occupied West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 June – Israeli forces detained at least 17 Palestinians in predawn military raids across the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, Palestinian and Israeli security sources said. In the northern occupied West Bank city of Qalqiliya, seven detentions were reported by Palestinian sources … Three others were detained in the Ramallah area, identified by Palestinian sources as Muhammad Salih al-Zeinat from the Jalazun refugee camp, and Jaser Hamid, and Ahmad Warda from the village of Silwad.In the Nablus governorate of the northern occupied West Bank, Israelif orces reportedly detained Younis Sabri al-Qinni from Kafr Qalil village south of Nablus, and Muntasir Sbeih from the ‘Askar refugee camp. The southern occupied West Bank was the site of numerous raids, as local sources said that Israeli troops detained Ahmad Ali Taqatqa from Beit Fajjar south of Bethlehem, while Muhammad Arif Jabir, his brother Amir, Abd al-Rahim Muhammad Mahmoud, and Abd al-Aziz Adel al-Yamani were detained in Yatta south of Hebron. The town of Yatta south of Hebron has been a target of increased Israeli military raids following the revelation that the suspected shooters from a deadly Tel Aviv shooting last week were relatives from Yatta. According to local sources, during the Israeli army’s raid in Yatta Wednesday morning, Israeli forces blockaded the homes of the suspected Tel Aviv shooters, and fired stun grenades while carrying out house-to-house inspections, reportedly injuring a teenage boy. The Israeli army has largely withheld information related to its activities in Yatta in the wake of the deadly attack in Tel Aviv that left four Israelis dead on June 8.

Prisoners / Court actions

Why has Israel jailed ailing Gaza mother?
GAZA CITY 14 June by Hamza Abu Eltarabesh — The family of Nisreen Hassan is being denied contact with her. In October last, Hassan was arrested at Erez, the military checkpoint between Gaza and present-day Israel. She has been imprisoned by Israel since then. Hassan, a 41-year-old Palestinian citizen of Israel, has been diagnosed with lymphoma, according to her family. She had been undergoing chemotherapy in Gaza before her arrest and had responded well to treatment. Although her family have been assured by Hassan’s lawyer that she is receiving adequate medical care, they are not able to speak with her. The last time Hassan was allowed to phone Hazem Abu Kmail, her husband, was in February. “She told me that she was fine and sent her love to the kids,” Abu Kmail said. Hassan has been accused of photographing Israeli military sites in order to benefit Palestinian armed groups. She has rejected the accusation. When her case went before an Israeli court in March, she refused to stand before the judge as she insisted that the charge against her is baseless. According to her husband, she has not been involved in politics and had never been previously arrested. On the day of her arrest, Hassan had been told to visit the Erez crossing by the Israeli authorities. Her understanding was that she was going there because she had applied for Israeli-issued identity and travel documents for her family. “After one hour, I received a call telling me that my wife had been arrested,” Abu Kmail said.

Life sentence for three times against Palestinian prisoner
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 14 June — Israeli military court of Ofer sentenced on Monday the Palestinian prisoner Shadi Mutawe, 28 years old, to life imprisonment for three times after “convicting” him of killing two settlers in southern al-Khalil last December. The PIC reporter revealed that Israeli forces arrested Mutawe on December, 14, 2015 after carrying out a shooting attack at the settlers’ car. He underwent a long-term investigation and waged a 25-day hunger strike due to the maltreatment he was subjected to during interrogation.

Prisoner receives 6 months detention after completing a 14-year sentence, declares hunger strike
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 14 June — Palestinian prisoner Bilal Kayid declared an open hunger strike Tuesday in protest of being placed under administrative detention — internment without charge or trial — for six months following the completion of his 14-year sentence in Israeli prisons, according to the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs. The committee condemned Israel’s policy of administrative detention against Palestinian prisoners, which allows for Israeli authorities to sentence Palestinians in maximum six-month long renewable intervals based on undisclosed evidence, calling the actions of Israeli authorities “dangerous and critical,” while demanding action on Kayid’s case … Kayid, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), is from the town of Asira al-Shamaliya in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus and was originally detained in 2001 for alleged involvement in the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades — the armed wing of the PFLP. He was transferred between several prisons during his sentence and was frequently placed into solitary confinement, the last of which left him in solitary for more than a year after Israeli authorities learned of his leadership activities between Palestinians inside Israeli prisons. The committee stated that fellow PFLP prisoners in several prisons in Israel would join Kayid in his hunger strike for two days. In response, Israeli forces raided Israel’s Eshel prison, assaulting Palestinian prisoners that have announced their intent to join Kayid’s hunger strike, and closing their section in the prison after confiscating electrical appliances and imposing a number of punishments on the group, according to the committee. The PFLP prisoners addressed personnel of Israel’s prison service during the raid, saying that unless Kayid’s detention was overturned and his immediate release secured, they would be escalating their hunger strikes to include Palestinians in all of Israel’s prisons.

Israel puts Palestinian prisoner advocate in administrative detention
+972 mag 13 June by Edo Konrad — Israeli authorities placed a Palestinian prisoners’ rights activist under administrative detention for six months beginning last Friday, 40 days after he was first detained and taken in for interrogation. Hasan Safadi, who works as media coordinator for Addameer, an NGO that supports Palestinian prisoners in both Israeli and Palestinian prisons, was set to be released from detention on June 10 by order of Jerusalem’s Magistrate’s Court, after paying NIS 2,500 in bail and obtaining third-party guarantees. Later the same day, however, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman signed an administrative detention order against Safadi, effectively overriding the court’s decision … Safadi was first arrested on May 1, 2016 as he was crossing Allenby Bridge from Jordan into the West Bank on his way home from an Arab Youth Conference in Tunisia … During his trial, the military prosecution allegedly claimed that Safadi was affiliated with an illegal organization and has visited an enemy state (Lebanon) more than one time. It further claimed that he has conducted illegal activities without specifying exactly what those activities are, and argued that he is affiliated with other Palestinian detainees without identifying the names of said detainees….

Palestinian inmate badly wounded in northern Israel prison fire
JPost 14 June by Ben Hartman — A Palestinian inmate was badly injured during a fire that was set by his cellmates in Shateh prison in northern Israel overnight Monday. The fire was first noticed around midnight by prison guards who rushed to the scene and evacuated the inmates from the cell and put the fire out before it could spread further in the facility. The investigation into the fire has just started, but the IPS said Tuesday they have ruled out the possibility that the fire spun out of control after two of the inmates attempted to torch the badly wounded cellmate.  Asaf Libertine, spokesman for the IPS, said that the three were protesting their conditions – including a recent search of their cell – and that “this protest almost cost them their lives.” All three men are Palestinians from the West Bank serving sentences of between 4 to 8 years for property crimes and robbery, the IPS said.

Punitive demolitions

IOF to demolish two slain Palestinians’ homes
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 14 June — The Israeli Supreme Court decided Tuesday to demolish two slain Palestinians’ homes in Qalandia refugee camp north of occupied Jerusalem. The Israeli radio said that the Israeli court issued a demolition order against the homes of the two slain Palestinians Anan Abu Habssa and Issa Assaf. According to Quds Press, the Israeli court gave the two families five days to evacuate their houses. Abu Habssa and Assaf were killed by Israeli gunfire on December 23, 2015 for allegedly carrying out a stabbing attack east of occupied Jerusalem.

Israeli occupation forces demolish home of Palestinian teen accused of killing settler
Albawaba 12 June — Israeli forces early Saturday raided the village of Beit ‘Amra in the municipality of Yatta and destroyed the family home of a 16-year-old Palestinian accused of stabbing and killing an Israeli settler in January, amid an ongoing Israeli blockade imposed in central Yatta. Popular resistance coordinator in the village Ratib Jbour told Ma‘an that after a large number of Israeli forces at 2 a.m. raided Beit ‘Amra west of Yatta in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, Israeli bulldozers razed the two-storey house belonging to Mourad Badir Adais‘s family to the ground. The building housed ten people. Israeli forces also raided several other homes and a medical lab in the village, and briefly detained 15-year-old Moataz Jamal Abu Arram, according to Jbour.

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements

Jerusalem okays Jewish housing in flashpoint Palestinian neighborhood
Haaretz 15 June by Nir Hasson — The Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee has approved a construction permit for a three-unit building intended for Jews in the largely Palestinian Silwan neighborhood. The Ateret Cohanim nonprofit group is behind the plan, one of its latest efforts to expand the Jewish presence in the East Jerusalem neighborhood. The new building will go up near Beit Yonatan, where Ateret Cohanim began settling Jewish families in 2004. The land for the new building was sold to Ateret Cohanim by the Justice Ministry’s administrator general. The Prime Minister’s Office had put heavy pressure on the city not to approve the plan out of fears it would heighten tensions and damage Israel’s image, say sources involved in the matter. Two weeks ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat to prevent approval. In return, Barkat asked Netanyahu to endorse a stop-work order on construction by the Islamic Waqf religious trust in the Temple Mount area. At the time, the Jerusalem municipal spokesman denied any linkage between the building permit and any stop-work order. Later the planning committee took the building permit off its agenda, but on Wednesday the matter was brought up for a vote and passed….

The settlement industry
Jacobin 11 June by Jonah Walters — For Israeli settlements in the West Bank, exploiting Palestinian life is a billion dollar industry — Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank are becoming a liability. Even officials in the United States have started to question Israeli settlement activity, inviting backlash from Zionists in Israel and the United States. Earlier this year, US ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro, hardly an anti-Zionist, touched a nerve when he pointed out the obvious — Israeli settlements in illegally occupied Palestine have expanded; Israeli vigilantes murder Palestinians without fear of investigation or reprisal; and, in the occupied areas, Israelis enjoy civilian legal protections while Palestinians live under military rule. The response from Israeli state officials was swift and forceful. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Shapiro’s comments unacceptable; the Israeli minister of defense demanded that he recant his statement; and a former Netanyahu aide referred to the ambassador using a Hebrew slur — and right-wing buzzword — popular among Israeli Zionists who regard their American counterparts as weak or unprincipled. But there was nothing outrageous about Shapiro’s comments, even by diplomatic standards … In his remarks about the West Bank, Shapiro posed a simple question to Israeli administrators: “Why?” Recalling Israel’s supposed commitment to a “two-state solution” — and pointing out that the settlements interfere with that goal — he asked, “What is Israel’s strategy?” Israel’s strategy is clear: it’s not about securing the conditions for peace — it’s about extracting profits and preventing the emergence of a Palestinian state. –Money To Be Made–  Occupation is big business for Israel, as a recent Human Rights Watch (HRW) report makes clear. The Israeli establishment characterizes the settlements as harmless residential enclaves, suburban oases embedded in an otherwise-unoccupied desert, where young Jewish couples can raise families away from expensive and overcrowded city centers. But this is more propaganda than truth. While residential settlements proliferate in the West Bank, encroaching on Palestinian land and violating international law, this is only part of the story. Far more essential to the settlement project are the “settlement industrial zones” — business districts where Israeli factories and farming enterprises exploit Palestinian land and labor to produce billions of dollars of goods each year. Israel operates about twenty such zones in the occupied West Bank. Officially called “industrial zones under Israeli administration,” these areas encompass 1,365 hectares in Area C, a vitally important stretch of land. The World Bank calls Area C “the key to economic cohesion” in Palestine because it contains most of the area’s arable land, water, and other resources … In addition to the 1,365 hectares containing factories — which manufacture everything from metal to plastics to textiles — there are an additional 9,300 hectares for farming conglomerates. The land controlled by industrial and agricultural enterprises is almost double that occupied by settler residences, which account for only 6,000 hectares….

WATCH: What life looks like in an unrecognized Bedouin village
Israeli Social TV 14 June — Approximately 90,000 Bedouin live in “unrecognized villages” spread across Israel’s Negev Desert. Because the Israeli government refuses to recognize them, they receive no municipal services, such as connection to the electrical grid, water mains or trash pickup, and are constantly at risk of demolition. Maryam Tarabin, the head of Umm al-Hiran‘s Women’s Committee, speaks about the discrimination facing Israel’s Bedouin population on a daily basis.

Israeli army bulldozes well and animal shelter in Yatta town
AL-KHALIL, (PIC) 14 June — Israeli bulldozers at dawn Tuesday demolished, under military protection, a water well and a cattle shelter in Yatta town, south of al-Khalil, at the pretext of unlicensed construction. Anti-settlement activist Rateb al-Jabour said that the demolished structures belonged to Odeh Abul-Zait and Mahmoud Noa’man. Jabour told Quds Press that the Israeli army also notified Mohamed Rab‘iee of its intention to demolish his water well in al-Rafa‘iya area to the east of Yatta. In another context, the Israeli army prevented dozens of Yatta workmen who hold work permits from going to their workplaces, according to the activist. Jabour accused the Israeli army of pursuing a mass punishment policy against the Palestinians in Yatta following the recent Tel Aviv attack that was carried out by two local young men.


Israeli navy releases 8 of the 10 fishermen detained off the coast of Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 15 June — Israeli authorities have released eight Palestinian fishermen after detaining ten earlier on Wednesday off the coast of the Gaza Strip, according to the coordinator of the fisherman committees. Zakariya Bakr told Ma‘an that Israeli authorities released the men after they were detained six miles off the coast of al-Sheikh Ajlin. Bakr identified those released as Zayid Zaki Tarrush, Ismail Zaki Tarrush, Fadi Hashem Dabo, Abed al-Latif Zaki Taroush, Ahmad Abed al-Rahman Zaqqut, Fahd Ziyad Bakr, Eid Muhsen Bakr and Bayan Khamis Bakr. Israeli authorities also confiscated two fishing boats from the men which are reportedly still being held.

Limited Israeli incursion east of Rafah
GAZA (PIC) 15 June — Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) on Wednesday advanced into Palestinian lands to the east of Rafah, in southern Israeli-besieged Gaza Strip, and leveled lands amid hovering of army choppers. Local sources told Quds Press that four Israeli military bulldozers advanced into lands to the east of Rafah for a limited distance estimated at 70 meters. Four Israeli military vehicles were stationed at the military gate north of Rafah while two bulldozers and a huge military digger advanced into the border line near al-Farahein area amid hovering of army choppers, the sources added. The Israeli army moved a number of diggers, which were working inside the security fence in 1948 Occupied Palestine, to eastern Rafah where digging works are taking place inside the fence, a field observer told Quds press. The Israeli incursions at the Gaza border areas are conducted on a semi-daily basis leading to casualties and big losses among locals.

Egyptian power lines resume electricity supply to southern Gaza Strip
GAZA (Ma²an) 13 June — Egyptian electricity lines that feed the southern Gaza Strip are working again after being disconnected for several hours. An official at the Electricity Company in Gaza told Ma‘an that the Egyptian lines, which power the district of Rafah and parts of Khan Yunis in the south, are operational again after maintenance works in al-Arish power plant in Egypt were completed. Egyptian power lines to the besieged Gaza Strip were also out of order earlier this month, causing electricity blackouts in the districts of Rafah and parts of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip. A sudden complication at the al-Arish power station caused the power connection to cut, an official at Gaza’s electricity company told Ma‘an.

Turkish electric company to be established in Gaza
IMEMC/Agencies 15 June — According to Israeli daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth (Ynet), new agreements between Turkey and Israel included the allowance of Ankara, by Israel, to establish a new electricity company in the Gaza Strip. Ynet, on Tuesday morning, said that both parties have reached a new settlement in which Israel finally refrained from its request to expel Hamas from Turkey. The aim is to prevent Hamas from attacking Israel. Turkey also refrained from its demand to lift the siege completely after Israel agreed to allow the establishment of a new electricity company, and to supply the Gaza Strip with goods. The paper added, according to Al Ray, that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu persuaded Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman not to oppose the agreement with Turkey … Ynet added that a meeting between the two parties to complete the agreement is to be expected before an official announcement is made.

Construction of EU-funded seawater desalination plant nearing completion in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 June — Top officials from the United Nations and the European Union traveled to the Gaza Strip on Tuesday to visit a seawater desalination plant under construction in the besieged coastal enclave. EU Commissioner of European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn visited the EU-funded plant located in the central Gaza Strip district of Deir al-Balah. The plant is to be the largest of its kind in the Gaza Strip. UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nikolay Mladenov also reportedly visited the plant during a two-day visit to the Palestinian territory. According to an EU press release, the EU has invested 10 million euros in the current phase of the plant that is nearing completion, and is to invest 10 million euros further toward the second phase, which is expected to be completed within 36 months. When fully operational the desalination facility will produce 6,000 cubic meters of potable water a day for over 75,000 Palestinians — approximately 35,000 people Khan Younis and 40,000 people in Rafah, according to the EU…. [note that there are about 1.9 million people in the Gaza Strip]

Video: Gazans with special needs liberated from economic dependency by local project
MEMO 13 June — In a multi-storey building, close to the Islamic University in Gaza, there are many groups of crafters specialising in various crafts. They form somewhat of a beehive, forming a strong-willed project for those with special needs. Manal Hassna is a media officer for a project helping Gazans with special needs to integrate socially and economically in society by providing them with rehabilitation and professional training. Launched in 2012, the project has trained over 700 individuals with special needs in various academic and skilled fields, 400 of whom have been employed. It has also supported the establishment of nine technical workshops for people with special needs, allowing them to liberate themselves from their economic dependency.  Speaking to MEMO, Manal said that the project provides a number of specialisations, including carpentry, painting, upholstery, gift-wrapping, glass painting, engraving, computer use, producing aluminium products, embroidery, and mobile phone maintenance. She also noted that the project has recently begun to welcome those with mental disorders and those who are deaf.  One of the inspiring stories coming from this project is the story of 47-year-old Majeda Murad. She told MEMO her story, saying that she lost both of her legs during the Gaza war in 2008….

Video: A musical note from Gaza to the UK
MEMO 14 June by Jehan Alfarra — On the morning of Friday 3 June, four young Palestinian musicians left the Gaza Strip for the first time in their lives, heading for Brighton to perform classical and contemporary Middle Eastern music. The group consists of Najlaa Humaid, the band’s singer, guitarist Mohammed Shoman, oud player Mohannad Abu Safia and Farouk Abu Ramadan playing the qanun, an ancient Arab instrument similar to a zither. Accompanied by their teacher, Ismail Dawoud, the four children arrived in the United Kingdom on Saturday, only a couple of hours ahead of their planned concert in Brighton … “Even though they had not slept since they left Gaza on Friday morning, their performance on Saturday earned them a standing ovation,” Agnes Baetens, the visit’s coordinator from Brighton and Palestinian Artists Together, told MEMO.

How the cover was blown on Palestinian hackers spying against Israel
Haaretz 13 June by Oded Yaron — Israeli cybersecurity company traced Gazan malware designer after he forgot to erase the properties on a Word document — A group of Palestinian hackers uncovered in January resumed their work against Israel in April, an Israeli security firm has announced. ClearSky Cyber Security also revealed the main activist behind the group. This was the second report on the group by ClearSky, which published in January that the group has operated since 2012 against Israel. The group is believed to be connected to what has been referred to as the “Benny Gantz virus,” which targeted several government offices in 2012 by using the name of the then-IDF chief of staff. ClearSky representatives stressed then that the group was working against the Israeli defense industry, embassies, journalists, banks and financial organizations, public organizations and program developers. The new operation is very similar, including emails sent to officials in the Egyptian foreign ministry, an official in the Palestinian Authority government, a senior official at Birzeit University and banks and security companies in Israel … Its main weapon is the DustySky malware sent via email to hundreds of targets weekly.

Senior Hamas member reportedly defects to Israel
Haaretz 14 June by Jack Khoury — Websites affiliated with Fatah have reported over the past two days that a senior member of the Hamas military wing, Bassam Mahmoud Baraka, from Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip, has fled to Israel, and is in possession of a great deal of information about Gaza tunnel operations. According to the reports, Baraka, who is the son of a Muslim religious judge affiliated with Hamas, told his family that he was going on errands, and hasn’t been seen by them since. Baraka reportedly went to the border fence and gave himself up to soldiers who were waiting for him. According to the reports, he was carrying a laptop. It was also reported that the Red Cross had informed his family in Gaza that he was in Israeli custody. In their reports, the Fatah-affiliated websites lambasted Hamas for its men surrendering to Israel, noting that this was not the first time that senior members of the organization, particularly those involved in the Gaza tunnel operations, ended up in Israeli custody. Last month it was reported that a 17-year-old Hamas member who was captured by Israel after infiltrating the country gave investigators information about the group’s tunnel activities. The youth told his investigators about the work of Hamas in digging tunnels to allow its fighters to infiltrate Israel, about the routes of tunnels intended for use in case of emergency by members of its elite Nachba unit and information about the location of many tunnel shafts….

Analysis: Israel on thin ice with the ICC
JPost 16 June by Yonah Jeremy Bob — The IDF legal division’s decision to clear Lt.-Col. Neria Yeshurun of criminal charges of illegally ordering the revenge shelling of a pharmacy in Gaza during the 2014 war, without having filed an indictment, puts Israel on thin ice with the International Criminal Court. Military Advocate-General Brig.-Gen. Sharon Afek decided to clear Yeshurun late Tuesday, despite his being recorded in July 2014 telling his soldiers on the radio that they were shelling the pharmacy (or residential building, according to recent information received by The Jerusalem Post) as revenge for the killing of one of their comrades the day before. That is no easy decision to explain to the world….

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements

Israeli settler group received approval for construction of 4-story building in East Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 June — Israeli authorities Wednesday approved a building permit for a pro-settlement organization to construct a 4-story building in the area of Batan al-Hawa in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem, according to a statement by Israeli human rights group Ir Amim. Israel’s Local Planning and Building Committee approved the permit for the building that will expand the control of the controversial settler group Ateret Cohanim further into the heart of the Silwan neighborhood — a Palestinian area targeted by settler groups due to its close proximity to the the Al-Aqsa Mosque, referred to as the Temple Mount by Jews and revered as the holiest site in Judaism. Ateret Cohanim is an Israeli pro-settlement nonprofit organization — receiving tax-deductible donations from the United States through their financial intermediary American Friends of Ateret Cohanim — which focuses on “Judaizing” East Jerusalem through a Jewish reclamation project working to expand illegal settlements and facilitate Jewish takeover of Palestinian properties across the “Green Line” into Palestinian territory. Batan al-Hawa neighborhood is one of the most densely populated areas in East Jerusalem, where hundreds of Palestinians reside….

Settler group files lawsuit against EU over projects in the West Bank
MEMO 13 June — Settler group Regavim has filed a lawsuit against the European Union with the Israeli High Court, calling on the court to issue a verdict demanding the EU provide full reports on its construction activities in Area C and halt future projects for the Palestinians living in this area. The group described the EU-funded structures in Area C as “against the law.” However, the petition was rejected by the court, prompting the settler group to file another one against the Israeli army’s civil administration. The organisation has recently began preparing another petition against new construction projects being carried out by the EU in a Palestinian area east of Bethlehem, near Mishor Adumim settlement. According to the site, the group’s new petition will demand the court order foreign and European diplomats in Israel to respect their host country and refrain from interfering in its affairs. The court has given all parties to the case a chance until next August to submit their legal papers on the petition. A new report by Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor found that 120 buildings financed by EU donors had been demolished during the first quarter of 2016.

Video: Painting in a refugee camp, dreaming of the sea
EI 13 June by Linda Paganelli — “The project was about symbolizing the refugees living in the camp as fish,” artist Alaa Albaba says of a recent series of paintings. Albaba takes up the Palestinian who lived on the coast before the Nakba — the ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Zionist militias ahead of the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 — and wound up in a refugee camp, cut off and forbidden from accessing the sea. The fish that thrashes after being removed from the water serves as a metaphor for life in overcrowded refugee camps. Sardines packed in tins — like those distributed to refugees by relief agencies after 1948 — are another potent symbol. Albaba lives in al-Amari refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah. He was born there in 1984 — “the third generation of the family after the Nakba.” His family was expelled from Lydd, now in present-day Israel.


‘Ramadan Tov’: How to stop funding Israel’s occupation
Occupied West Bank (Al Jazeera) 16 June by Zena Tahhan — A new BDS campaign to encourage Palestinians to boycott Israeli goods in Ramadan and afterwards — “Do not let the occupation make your iftar”, reads a poster from the latest boycott campaign launched across the occupied West Bank. Entitled “Ramadan Tov” – meaning “Happy Ramadan” in Hebrew – the campaign has brought together a majority of the local Palestinian boycott movements for the first time under the umbrella of the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) group. It aims to encourage Palestinians to boycott Israeli products, food items in particular, during Ramadan, and afterwards. The targets are the biggest Israeli food companies including Jafora, Tnuva, Strauss and Osem. The face of the campaign is an Israeli soldier in his distinguishable green uniform serving a tray of popular Israeli food products regularly consumed by Palestinians during the holy month. “We are working on raising awareness about the negative impact of Israeli products on the local market. We try to show the connection between these products and tangible Israeli violations against the rights of Palestinians, represented through the army and the settlers,” Hazem Abu Helal, a member of the local BDS committee, told Al Jazeera.

A defeated sanctions vote in the US should worry Israel
Al Jazeera 16 June by Rami G. Khouri — Mainstream US civil society institutions now routinely debate Israeli oppressive policies towards Palestine — Sometimes a slim defeat is also a step on the road to victory. This may be the case with the razor-thin defeat last week of an American Anthropological Association motion to sanction and boycott Israeli academic institutions that subjugate or exploit Palestinians. While the motion to boycott complicit Israeli institutions lost by a vote of 2,423 to 2,384, in the larger struggle for Palestinian rights this probably marks a turning point, according to discussions I have held in the United States this week with some AAA members. The AAA vote and the three-year process that preceded it included a detailed study by an appointed task force of its members that concluded: “We find that the policies and practices of the Israeli government place significant limitations on academic freedom and have led to substantial deprivations in the health and welfare of Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, as well as within Israel itself.” It recommended a range of possible actions, including sanctions, reflecting the continuing historic shift in global responses to Israel’s occupation policies….

Irish support of boycott welcomed by human rights campaigners
IMEMC 14 June — In an open letter, published in today’s Irish Times and Irish Independent, thirteen of Ireland’s best-known musicians, writers, artists and sports stars have called on the Irish government to join them in supporting the growing worldwide boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. The statement has been welcomed by Palestinian and Irish human rights campaigners. According to the PNN, the letter’s signatories are Christy Moore, Mary Coughlan, Robert Ballagh, Donal Lunny, Frances Black, Trevor Hogan, Dervla Murphy, Seamus Deane, Felim Egan, Margaretta D’Arcy, Jim Fitzpatrick, Honor Heffernan and Gavin Kostick. The letter welcomes Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan’s support for BDS as a legitimate political standpoint, but also outlines their disappointment that the Irish government does not go further and support the BDS movement, unfavourably contrasting this current stance to that taken in 1987 when the government of the day banned produce from apartheid South Africa….

Palestinian refugees – Syria

UNRWA statement regarding attack in Sayyida Zainabh
DAMASCUS 14 June (IMEMC/Agencies)  The UNITED NATIONS WORKS AND RELIEF AGENCY (UNRWA) strongly condemns the parties responsible for two explosions in the vicinity of Qabr Essit camp in the town of Sayyida Zeinab on 11 June 2016. One explosion claimed the lives of 14 civilians and injured over a hundred. This is the fourth such attack in Sayyida Zeinab since January this year. A pattern has emerged of the deliberate targeting of civilians in this area. The perpetrators of these outrageous acts deserve the strongest denunciation. UNRWA staff express their sincere condolences to the bereaved Syrian and Palestinian families. At approximately 10.30 hrs on 11 June, an explosion was triggered approximately 200 meters from the entrance of Qabr Essitcamp, killing at least 14 civilians including five Palestine refugees. Of those injured, many remain in a critical condition. Minutes after the first explosion, a second device was detonated on the road between Sayyida Zeinab and the nearby town of Husseiniyeh. At this stage, no casualties have been reported from the second blast. The Palestine refugees killed were five year-old Younes Awadallah al-Najjar and his 12 year-old brother Imad Awadallah al-Najjar, 18 year-old Taha Ahmed Sharqi, 45 year-old Mohammed Abd al-Ghaffar Abu al-Haijeh, and 44 year-old Mahmoud Hassan Tayym. Fourteen Palestine refugees with ages ranging from 10 months to 60 years are among the wounded. On 31 January 2016, three coordinated explosions in Sayyida Zeinab resulted in the death of 35 civilians and injured 150. On 24 February, another attack took the lives of 134 people, including 31 Palestine refugees. A third bombing took place on 25 April and killed at least seven civilians, and wounded dozens.

Other news

Israel denies cutting water supplies to West Bank
Al Jazeera 16 June — Israel’s national water company has denied cutting crucial water supplies to large parts of the occupied West Bank during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, saying there was only broad reduction in water supply to the Palestinian territory. “As a result of the shortage of water supply in the West Bank …, we have made a broad reduction of the supply to all residents in the area,” utility company Mekorot told Al Jazeera late on Wednesday. “All the facilities are working and the capability to supply is less than the rate of consumption. The water authority recently approved a master plan for the water sector and accordingly we will build the systems that will meet the West Bank’s required consumption,” the company added … On Tuesday, the executive director of the Palestinian Hydrology Group, an NGO focusing on water and sanitation issues, told Al Jazeera that water was totally siphoned off in some Palestinian areas before and during Ramadan days. “Some areas had not received any water for more than 40 days,” Ayman Rabi said….

Fatah, Hamas meet in Doha for reconciliation talks
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 15 June — A third round of talks between Fatah and Hamas began on Wednesday in the Qatari capital of Doha, focused on continuing discussions on strategies for implementing a reconciliation agreement, members of Fatah told Ma‘an. Spokesperson of the Fatah movement, Fayiz Abu Aita, said the meeting in Doha would be a continuation of previous talks between the two movements, adding that the talks are expected to end on Thursday. Member of Fatah’s central committee, Azzam al-Ahmad, Sakhr Bseiso, Jibril al-Rujoub, and Muhammad Ishtayyeh, make up part of the Fatah delegation and would reportedly be focusing on listening to Hamas’ stance on forming a national unity government and implementing legislative and presidential elections, Abu Aita said. Abu Aita stressed that the Fatah movement and President Mahmoud Abbas are determined to end Palestinian political divisions and achieve national unity. The Fatah delegation reportedly arrived in Doha for talks with Hamas following talks with Egyptian officials in Cairo on Tuesday.

Palestine hopes to join Interpol this fall
Al-Monitor 14 June by Daoud Kuttab — Palestine is hoping to upgrade its observer status to a full membership in Interpol this fall. The international police organization’s 85th General Assembly is set to take place in November in Bali, Indonesia. It was reported that European police officials are working with the Palestinians to prepare them for the upcoming discussion. Joeri Van Nuffel, the former chief inspector of security at Brussels’ Zaventem airport, has been coaching Palestinian officials. Van Nuffel joined Interpol in 2012 and has been working with the EU Coordinating Office for Palestinian Police Support. The latter declined to comment as it is a technical office … The Palestinian push for membership follows years of preparation and a marked increase in the number of countries around the world that recognize Palestine — making it more likely for Interpol’s General Assembly to approve its addition….

‘Mabrook’ to PA President Abbas’ son Tareq
Al Jazeera 16 June by Clayton Swisher — The son of the Palestinian Authority president, Tareq Abbas, is already said to own villas in Amman, Jordan and a rooftop pad in Beirut, Lebanon. Now, according to a review of official British Land Registry records from 2012, the world can know Tareq registered – under his legal name – the purchase of a US$1.5m luxury two-bedroom flat in Merchant Square East, one of London’s many high-end developments … Tareq failed to respond to Al Jazeera’s questions about his finances or how he came to own the place. No doubt he is aware that most Palestinians, with an average yearly gross national income of $3,060, couldn’t afford to rent the London apartment of their president’s son for even a single month. Nor is Tareq the only multi-millionaire in the Abbas family. The president’s eldest living son, Yasser, made his fortunes from, among other things, the monopoly sale of US-made cigarettes in the occupied territories, offering Lucky Strikes and other carcinogens to Palestine’s tobacco-addicted. Which must leave Palestinians wondering: are their financial blessings merely the result of being “Grade A businessmen,” as Yasser once famously remarked?

Israel revokes VIP permit of Palestinian liaison
JERUSALEM (AP) 15 June — Israel’s defense minister revoked on Wednesday the VIP entry permit of the Palestinian Authority’s outreach liaison to Israeli society on Wednesday, on charges that he committed “subversive political activities.” The Defense Ministry says Avigdor Lieberman revoked the permit of Mohammed Al-Madani because he tried to create a political party that included Arab citizens of Israel and Mizrahi Jews, or those of Middle Eastern descent. The VIP permit allowed Al-Madani to enter Israeli territory without long waits at checkpoints. Al-Madani said he met with hundreds of Israelis across the political spectrum in an attempt to reactivate the moribund peace process and reach a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He denied he was starting a party. In an announcement issued in Hebrew, Al-Madani said the cancellation of his permit exposes the “racist character … Lieberman brought to the Israeli defense ministry.”

Arab League rejects Israeli presidency of UN Counter-Terrorism Committee
CAIRO (PIC) 12 June — The Arab League rejected the nomination of Israel to take the presidency of the UN General Assembly Sixth Counter-Terrorism Committee, which is concerned with combating terrorism. The Arab League’s Secretary General, Nabil al-Arabi, notified the envoys and representatives of Arab states with the Arab position. Al-Arabi said, in a statement on Sunday, that Israel carries out illegal actions including the establishment of the Separation Wall, violation of Palestinians’ rights, and arresting civilians. He called the nomination of Israel for the presidency of the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee a “big disaster for the UN”. According to the protocol, the UN Committee’s presidency is usually taken by alternation among groups and this year is the turn of the group of Western Europe which agreed on nominating Israel.

Arab League Secretary General cancels visit to Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 13 June — Nabil al-Arabi, secretary general of the Arab League, has canceled his scheduled visit to Ramallah. Al-Arabi’s visit was scheduled on Tuesday to meet with President Mahmoud Abbas in order to discuss the ongoing French-led peace initiative between Israel and the Palestinians.. Al-Arabi said in a short press statement that the cancelation is due to a conflict in scheduling. The visit would have come one week after al-Arabi stated that the Arab League would reject any amendments to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative (API), a willingness that representatives of the Arab States conveyed to Israel amidst renewing peace negotiations with the Palestinians. Israel has continued to reiterate its rejection to the French-led peace initiative, and support for Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi’s initiative for direct talks between Israel and Palestinian leadership. Newly appointed Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman and Netanyahu recently issued a joint statement in support of reviving the API for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations….

A look around Rawabi, Palestine’s new city in West Bank
The National, UAE (14 June)  After years of setbacks, Palestinians are proudly starting to move into their first planned city being built in the West Bank — a move that is not just about real estate but also a symbol of their quest for statehood after nearly 50 years of Israeli military occupation. All photos by Nasser Nasser / AP Photo—in-pictures#1

Obama opposes additional missile defense aid to Israel
Ynet 15 June by Orly Azulay — The White House announced that it is against giving Israel an additional $455 million in anti-missile defense aid on Tuesday. The declaration came in a letter to congress dealing with an Israeli request to increase funding for anti-missile defense systems in the Jewish state. The letter to congress was six pages long and was sent following a congressional decision to increase Israeli military aid, and against the backdrop of tensions between the Obama administration and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a new and multi-year aid package. The letter said that Obama’s advisors may recommend that the president use his veto power if Congress passes the aid package increase.  In the section dealing specifically with Israel, the White House said that ” furthermore, the Administration opposes the addition of $455 million above the FY 2017 Budget request for Israeli missile defense procurement and cooperative development programs ”,7340,L-4816005,00.html

US signals accommodation of Israeli terms on defence aid
WASHINGTON/HERZLIYA, Israel (Reuters) 15 June — The Obama administration is prepared to incorporate missile defence funds in a new long-term agreement on military aid for Israel, a U.S. official said on Wednesday, accommodating in principle a key request by its ally in the yet-unresolved talks.  Disputes over the scope and fine print of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) have clouded already difficult ties between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama during the latter’s final months in office. The current MOU, signed in 2007 and due to expire in 2018, gave Israel around $30 billion in so-called foreign military financing. Israel has been seeking around $10 billion more for the next decade and that money be earmarked for missile defence projects that were hitherto funded ad hoc by the U.S. Congress …”This commitment, which would amount to billions of dollars over 10 years, would be the first long-term pledge on missile defence support to Israel, affording Israel robust support for its missile defence, as well as predictability and facilitating long-term planning.” ….

Israel culture minister probes troupes that shun settlements
JERUSALEM (AP) 15 June — Israel’s polarizing culture minister has dispatched a contested questionnaire to theaters and dance troupes to find out whether they are performing in Jewish settlements in the West Bank, a first step toward changing regulations that will allow her to penalize cultural institutions that refuse to perform there. Miri Regev’s office said Wednesday she is proud to lead a “revolution” that shuns boycotts and makes culture accessible to all Israeli citizens. Critics, however, say it’s politicizing the art world and impinging artistic freedom. Regev has had a fraught relationship with the cultural community since her appointment last year and has been accused of attempting to bring Israeli artists in line with her hawkish political ideology.

New trial date set for Rasmea Odeh
EI 13 June by Charlotte Silver — At a hearing in his chambers in Detroit on Monday, US District Judge Gershwin Drain scheduled a new trial for Rasmea Odeh to begin in January. The trial would not go ahead if the expert witness she wants to call is disqualified at a preliminary hearing set for November. Outside the US courthouse, Odeh’s supporters, many of whom had traveled from Chicago and other cities, cheered the announcement. Odeh thanked them for their support. In November 2014, Odeh, 68, was found guilty of immigration fraud for failing to disclose that she had been arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned by Israel’s military in 1969. She faced 18 months in prison, revocation of her US citizenship and deportation to Jordan. But in February, a US court of appeals vacated her conviction, returning the case to Judge Drain to reconsider his decision to bar Odeh from calling Mary Fabri, an expert on torture. Fabri had examined Odeh and submitted an affidavit saying that Odeh suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of being tortured by Israeli soldiers, forcing her to sign a confession….

Details emerge about nightclub shooter’s wife
RODEO, California (AP) 15 June — She was a sweet, pretty California girl with Palestinian roots who left an arranged marriage only to find love with a man who committed the worst mass shooting in modern U.S history. Little by little, details have begun to emerge about 30-year-old Noor Zahi Salman, who grew up in the small suburb of Rodeo, California, tucked in the dry hills near the oil refineries 25 miles northeast of San Francisco. Her romance with Omar Mateen — security guard, bodybuilder and Muslim — began online, according to a neighbor, and they were married on Sept. 29, 2011, near her hometown, according to public records. The couple has a 3-year-old son … According to marriage documents on file in the Contra Costa County Recorder’s office, Salman was born in the United States while her parents’ birthplaces were listed as “Palestine.”  It’s unclear when her parents, who served as witnesses for the wedding, came to the United States, but their naturalization papers allowing them to stay in the country were approved in 1984 … Salman’s marriage to Mateen was her second, said Chahal. Mateen had previously been married as well.  Her first marriage had been arranged in the Palestinian Territories by her parents, said Chahal, adding that the union did not work out. “He was in Chicago and they were living there, but they were not married long,” Chahal said. “They had cultural differences since she grew up here and was American.” (listserv) (archive)

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