Israeli boys, 14 and 16, arrested for assaulting Palestinian bus drivers inside Jews-only settlement

Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem / Israel

Settler teens arrested for assaulting Arab bus drivers
Times of Israel 17 Aug by Jacob Magid with Stuart Winer — Right-wing legal aid group representing the pair says sting operation that led to their arrest was a ‘provocation’ — Police on Wednesday arrested a pair of teens from a settlement south of Jerusalem who are suspected of assaulting Israeli-Arab bus drivers over the past several months. The suspects were caught in the middle of another assault, while attempting to spray a driver with pepper spray, police said in a statement Thursday. While police requested to have the remands of the 14- and 16-year-old extended for an additional five days, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ruled that they be released to house arrest, in the Etzion bloc settlement of Bat Ayin. Still, the judge allowed police to hold them for another day so they could appeal the decision at the district court. A statement from Honenu, a right-wing legal aid organization defending the suspects, referred to the sting operation that led to their arrests as a “provocation.” “Instead of eradicating terrorism on the roads of Judea and Samaria, the police are busy with provocations,” the statement said, referring to the West Bank by its biblical name. Honenu said that three Israeli buses had been parked in the middle of the settlement for an extended period of time in an attempt to draw out the suspects while detectives sat inside, dressed in civilian clothing. The statement did not explain why the presence of the buses caused the teens to pepper spray one of the drivers. Bat Ayin is home to a staunchly nationalistic community that, as a policy, does not allow Arabs through its gates. Residents have been involved in a number of attacks on Palestinians and their property in the past.

Palestinian shot during Israeli raid on al-Duheisha camp remains in critical condition
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 17 Aug — An injured Palestinian detainee who was shot and detained by Israeli forces during a predawn raid last week in the al-Duheisha refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank, remained in critical condition as of Thursday in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at an Israeli hospital, according to the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs. Committee lawyer Karim Ajweh released a statement Thursday following a visit he paid to the injured detainee, Raed al-Salhi, at the Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem. According to Ajweh, al-Salhi has undergone several surgeries since he was shot and detained on August 7th. Ajweh added that al-Salhi was shot seven times in the abdomen and thigh, severely damaging his kidneys, and has received several blood transfusions to treat his kidney injuries. Abd al-Aziz Arafeh, who was detained along with al-Salhi after being shot in his left leg, is in stable condition, according to Ajweh, who noted that Arafeh is set to undergo another surgery in the coming days.  A court session is scheduled to take place on Thursday at the Ofer military court regarding Arafeh and al-Salhi’s detentions, though the two will not be present due to their conditions….

Updated: ‘Army injures three Palestinians, abducts three in Jenin’
IMEMC 19 Aug — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Saturday at dawn, Jenin refugee camp, in the northern West Bank governorate of Jenin, injured three Palestinians with live fire, abducted three others and summoned two siblings for interrogation. The soldiers also summoned several Palestinians from Bethlehem for interrogation. Media sources in Jenin said dozens of soldiers invaded Jenin refugee camp, and clashed with many youngsters, who hurled stones and empty bottles on the military jeeps. The soldiers shot three young men, identified as Mustafa Akram Qombo’, Abu Ali al-Kastouni, and Wi’am Eyad Hannoun, with live fire, before local medics moved them to Khalil Suleiman governmental hospital in Jenin. Furthermore, the soldiers abducted Mohammad Ahmad Abu al-Haija, Mohammad Ararawi, and Kamal Mohammad Awad. The army also detonated doors of several homes, before invading and violently searching them….

Israeli forces suppress weekly march in Kafr Qaddum
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Aug — Clashes erupted on Friday afternoon in the village of Kafr Qaddum in the northern occupied West Bank district of Qalqiliya on Friday afternoon, as Israeli forces suppressed the village’s weekly march held in protest of settlement activity and the closure of the village’s southern road. Coordinator of Kafr Qaddum’s popular resistance Murad Shteiwi told Ma‘an that Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition at protesters, while Israeli soldiers raided several homes in the village stationed themselves on the rooftops of buildings. No injuries were reported, according to Shteiwi, who added that while Israeli forces attempted to ambush many Palestinian protesters and detain them, no one was arrested….

Israeli forces ‘viciously beat’ and detain Palestinian in Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 17 Aug — Israeli forces “viciously beat” and detained a Palestinian on Thursday afternoon after raiding a store in the al-Sharayet neighborhood in the Ramallah district of the central occupied West Bank, according to locals. Locals told Ma’an that Israeli forces “viciously beat” the Palestinian — who they referred to as a “youth” but did not provide an exact age for — with batons, before dragging him from the store to the street and detaining him….

Israeli colonists hurl stones at Palestinian homes in Hebron
IMEMC 19 Aug — A group of fanatic Israeli colonists hurled stones on Friday evening at several Palestinian homes adjacent to Kiryat Arba illegal colony, north of the southern West Bank city of Hebron. Resident Jamal Es‘eifan said the soldiers hurled stones at his home, in addition to the homes of Jamil Es‘eifan, Abdul-Hai Es‘eifan and Jamil Da‘na. He added that the latest assault is part of a series of attacks which have recently witnessed a serious escalation, largely in Jaber area, Wadi an-Nassara, and Salayma neighborhood, especially on Fridays and Saturdays. He also stated that most of these attacks happen in front of Israeli soldiers and police officers, who fail to intervene, let along attempt to stop them.

Opinion: I’m an Israeli Arab whose bike was stolen. Guess what happened when I called the police / Michael Mansour
Haaretz 18 Aug — You never know how an evening might turn out that begins with an intimate dinner along the Israeli sea. The Manta Ray restaurant, located where Tel Aviv and Jaffa meet, was full on that Sunday evening three weeks ago, as it always is, with the elegant, international clientele that frequents it. The fish that I ordered was delicious and the atmosphere was serene. There was no hint I would end the evening wallowing in my own blood, humiliated and in restraints. Because I had drunk a little over dinner and the sun had not yet set, I decided to take a walk on the seafront promenade and leave my motorcycle at the restaurant, which I had driven there. A short time later I got a call from a friend who works there. “Michael, listen,” he said. “Your motorcycle isn’t here. I think it’s been stolen.” Because I was no longer near the restaurant, I called my brother, Peter, and asked him to go to Manta Ray  …  I called the [alarm] company to notify them of the theft, but a short time later I was pleased to be informed that Peter had already found it — thrown on a sidewalk. My helmet was missing. I grabbed a cab and called the police to let them know that the motorcycle had been found, and I asked that they come to take fingerprints. It was already dark when I saw three men in civilian clothes approach me. The three men came closer and one of them started rushing at me. With great force, he knocked me to the ground, turned me over and handcuffed me. He identified himself as a policeman and started punching me in the back. Three or four other men showed up suddenly behind my brother, who was standing closer to the motorcycle. They pounced on him, handcuffed him and started hitting him. One of the men also called for reinforcements. “You’re suspected of stealing a motorcycle,” one of the men told me as he beat me. Every time I tried to explain that I was the owner of the bike and that I was the one who had called the police, he would say, “Shut your mouth. I’ll screw you. Not a word!” As he continued to hit me, referring to me constantly as “Mohammed,” two other men began kicking me from the sidelines … The incident left me with red marks and bruises on my arms and neck, cuts on my legs and scratches on my head. For a long time it was hard to move my head from side to side and my back still hurts….

Jerusalemite attempts to smuggle Palestinian from West Bank into Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Aug — Two Palestinians were detained on Thursday night at al-Zaim checkpoint east of Jerusalem after a Palestinian from occupied East Jerusalem attempted to smuggle a Palestinian from the occupied West Bank into Israeli-controlled Jerusalem. Israeli spokesperson Luba al-Samri said that the Palestinian Jerusalemite was hiding a Palestinian in his twenties from the West Bank district of Hebron in the trunk of his car, in an attempt to smuggle the Palestinian into East Jerusalem without an Israeli-issued permit. Al-Samri said that the driver was a 35-year-old Palestinian from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya. Both Palestinians were detained and transferred to interrogations with Israeli authorities, she said.

Israeli police detain Palestinian in Jerusalem over alleged knife possession
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Aug — A Palestinian from Shu‘fat refugee camp in occupied East Jerusalem was detained on Thursday for allegedly being in possession of a knife, according to the Israeli police. Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said in a statement that a Jerusalemite Palestinian in his 20s from Shu‘fat refugee camp was detained after Israeli police found a knife in his possession. According to al-Samri, a woman from the refugee camp had called the Israeli police after seeing a young Palestinian man boarding a bus carrying “suspicious objects.” Israeli police had tracked the bus, stopped it, and searched the man, when they found a knife hidden in a bag of cotton, al-Samri said. The Palestinian was detained and transferred for interrogations, she added.

PPS: ‘Israeli soldiers abduct eighteen Palestinians in the West Bank’
IMEMC 18 Aug — The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers have abducted, overnight and during the day Thursday, eighteen Palestinians from different parts of the occupied West Bank, during extensive and violent military searches of homes. The Ramallah office of the PPS said the soldiers have abducted seven Palestinians from the governorate, and identified them as Jom‘a Yousef Barghouthi, Ramzi Nasser Hammad, Fadi Rateb Deek, Mohammad al-‘Ouri, Abdul-Aziz  al-Yassini, Abdullah Samir al-Yassini and Hamada al-Yassini. In occupied Jerusalem, the soldiers abducted four Palestinians, identified as Ahmad Ibrahim Abu Teir, Mohammad Abu al-Hamam, 19, Odai Abu Tayeh, 19, and Abdul-Rahman Abbas, 33. In Nablus governorate, in northern West Bank, the soldiers abducted two Palestinians, identified as Ra‘ef Fathi Yahia al-Ghoul and Mo‘taz Fathi Abu Daghash. In Tulkarem, also in northern West Bank, the soldiers abducted one Palestinian, identified as Shafea‘ Abu Zibda. In Jenin, in northern West Bank, the soldiers abducted Abdullah Fahim Sadaqa, while resident Monther Mohammad Jobran while taken prisoner from Bethlehem.

In the wild West Bank, traffic laws are mere recommendations
Times of Israel 17 Aug by Jacob Magid — With car crash fatalities beyond the Green Line soaring, Palestinians and Israelis set out to change the driving culture and save lives — Since the June 27 West Bank car crash that took the lives of all five of his children and his ex-wife, Hassan Dabash has barely left his home. Save for visits to their graves at the local cemetery in his Sur Baher neighborhood of East Jerusalem, he is a “walking ghost,” and rarely seen outside, his friends sayDabash wasn’t in the minibus taxi that had been en route to his ex-wife’s home in Bethlehem on that sweltering afternoon. While the police have not completed their probe into the incident, Dabash said the driver had gotten impatient in the two-lane, shoulderless Route 60 and attempted to pass the vehicle in front of him. After veering into oncoming traffic, the minibus picked up speed in order to merge back into the right side. Unwilling to be cut off, the driver of the vehicle it had passed also sped up, forcing the minibus into a collision with a rapidly approaching coach bus. The two vehicles collided head-on at speeds of above 75 miles per hour, according to Dabash … The crash was the second deadly incident in under a week on the same stretch of road on the West Bank’s main north-south artery. Four days earlier, three people had been killed and five injured in a horrific collision between an Israeli vehicle and a Palestinian vehicle on Route 60 … Fatalities in the 2017 calendar year are well on pace to reach an all-time high, with 31 people dead as of the end of July.
It was against that backdrop that Samaria Regional Council chairman Yossi Dagan convened a meeting with local Palestinian leaders last month to launch a new civil society organization to combat traffic deaths in the West Bank. “This is a matter that extends beyond political disagreements. Car accidents are the number one cause of death in the West Bank,” Dagan told The Times of Israel. Raising awareness in Israeli and Palestinian communities about the importance of responsible driving should be a top priority of this government, he said. The group’s first project has been a billboard campaign throughout the West Bank using the slogan “Jews and Arabs want to return home safely,” written in Hebrew and Arabic….


Israeli court extends detention of Palestinian assailant’s family members
JENIN (Ma‘an) 17 Aug — An Israeli military court extended the detention of imprisoned Palestinian Omar al-Abed’s family members for five more days on Thursday, after reports emerged that the detained relatives would be charged with “failing to prevent a crime” after al-Abed stabbed three Israeli settlers to death last month. The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said in a statement that an Israeli military court in Israel’s Ofer detention center had decided to extend the detentions of al-Abed’s family members — including his father Abd al-Jalil, his mother Ibtisam, his brothers Munir and Khalid, and his uncle Ibrahim. The committee also noted that the Israeli court had decided to postpone the trials for al-Abed’s relatives until Monday in order for them to finish interrogations…  On Wednesday, Israeli daily Haaretz reported that al-Abed’s detained relatives would be charged with “failing to prevent a crime.” Sources told Haaretz that the family members had been aware that al-Abed was planning the attack, and did not intervene to stop it …
Some Israeli ministers and a relative of the three slain Israelis have demanded that al-Abed be executed for the killings, despite Israel having only officially carried out the death penalty once since the state was established almost 70 years ago. The man executed at the time was Adolf Eichmann, a Nazi war criminal who played a major role in organizing the Holocaust.

Punitive demolitions

Israeli forces demolish Palestinian attacker’s home in Kobar, shoot and injure journalist
[with VIDEO] RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 16 Aug — Israeli forces demolished on Wednesday morning a home in the central occupied West Bank village of Kobar belonging to the family of a Palestinian accused of killing three Israeli settlers in July. Omar al-Abed, 19, is currently imprisoned by Israel after breaking into the illegal Israeli settlement of Halamish on July 21 and carrying out a deadly stabbing attack. He was shot and moderately wounded by a neighbor of the victims and subsequently detained following the attack, although Israeli media has reported that he has not yet been charged. Locals told Ma‘an that large numbers of Israeli troops stormed Kobar, which has been sealed by Israeli forces since the attack, early on Wednesday and surrounded the al-Abed’s home as excavators tore the building down. The second floor in the building was completely destroyed, while the first floor was partially torn down.
Violent clashes broke out between Palestinian youth and Israeli forces during the demolition, when Israeli soldiers posted leaflets in the streets of Kobar threatening residents with similar punishment should they attempt to carry out attacks against Israelis.
Palestinian Red Crescent medics told Ma‘an that 12 Palestinians, including Palestine TV photojournalist Muhammad Radi, were hit with rubber-coated steel bullets during the clashes.  Official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that Radi was shot in the face at close range.

Israeli forces blow up home of slain Palestinian in Ramallah-area village
[with VIDEO] RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 17 Aug  — In a raid Thursday morning on the Ramallah-area village of Deir Abu Mashaal in the central occupied West Bank, Israeli forces blew up the home of slain Palestinian Adel Hassan Ahmad Ankoush, who was killed by Israeli forces in June along with two other Palestinians after the three carried out a deadly shooting and stabbing attack in occupied East Jerusalem that left an Israeli border police officer dead. Locals told Ma‘an that the Israeli army raided Ankoush’s family home and set up explosives around the house, as other forces surrounded Deir Abu Mashaal and deployed across all entrances to the village, while drones hovered overhead. According to locals, a fire erupted after the army set off the explosives, after which time Palestinian Civil Defense firefighters arrived on the scene to put out the fire…
Ankoush’s home was sealed by Israeli forces last week, while the homes of Baraa Ibrahim Saleh, 18, and Osama Ahmad Atta, 19, who allegedly committed the attack along with Ankoush, were demolished … According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, a total of 22 people, the three men’s family members, have been left homeless by the punitive demolitions in spite of not having been charged with any wrongdoing. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fast-tracked punitive home demolitions in an effort to “deter” attacks carried out by Palestinian individuals since an increase in violence erupted across the occupied Palestinian territory in late 2015. The demolitions were carried out despite past recommendations by an Israeli military committee that the practice did not deter attacks….


Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian in the chest with live ammunition in Gaza
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Aug — A unidentified Palestinian “youth” was shot in the chest by Israeli forces with live ammunition near the Israeli-Gaza border on Friday, according to local sources. According to locals in Gaza, Israeli forces stationed at military watchtowers on the border line east of Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip opened fire at a group of Palestinian youths “as they approached the border fence,” causing the injury of one youth in his chest with a live bullet. The injured youth was transferred to the Indonesian hospital in Beit Lahiya, where he was reportedly stabilized. Sources added that Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters at the youths as well.
Clashes also erupted in several other areas of the Gaza Strip, with locals reporting clashes near the Nahal Oz military post near northern Gaza, east of al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza, and east of Khan Yunis and Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.
Israeli forces fired live ammunition and tear gas canisters at Palestinians in all locations, according to locals….

Hamas guard killed in suicide bombing in southern Gaza
GAZA (Al Jazeera) 16 Aug — A Hamas security man and a member of a rival group were killed on Thursday in a confrontation in the southern Gaza Strip near the Palestinian enclave’s border with Egypt, security sources said. “A security force stopped two persons who approached the border. One of them blew himself up and was killed. The other was wounded,” the Hamas-run Interior Ministry said in a statement. It said several Hamas security men were hurt, and hospital officials told reporters that one of them died of his wounds. Sources named the security man as Nidal al-Jaafari, 28, reported AFP news agency. Security sources said the assailant in the blast was a member of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS). It would be the first time a suicide attack has targeted Hamas forces in Gaza, security sources said….

Gaza heightens security near Egyptian border following deadly suicide bombing
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Aug — Gaza’s forces have tightened security in the besieged enclave on Thursday after a suicide bombing targeted Palestinian security forces near the Egyptian border earlier in the day, killing two, including the attacker, and injuring four others. The attacker’s family, meanwhile, has refused to hold a funeral for their son, saying that his actions were against their religion and beliefs. Gaza security forces and the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, were heavily deployed in areas in southern Gaza, near the Egyptian border. Locals told Ma‘an that a number of army checkpoints were erected in the cities of Rafah and Khan Younis near Gaza’s borders with Egypt. Members of al-Qassam Brigades told Ma‘an that the group would “not hesitate to confront all threats and defend Gaza’s people and lands from foreign attacks.” Meanwhile, Hamas, the de facto leaders of the Gaza Strip, said that it was strengthening security measures near the borders to prevent extremist members of the Salafi movement — an ultra conservative branch of Islam — from sneaking into Egypt from Gaza to join Ansar Bait al-Maqdis — now known as the Sinai Province, an extremist militant movement affiliated with the so-called Islamic State.
The family of the assailant also released a statement following the attack, in which they refused to hold a funeral or burial service for the suicide bomber, identified as Mustafa Jamal Kalab, and expressed their condolences to al-Qassam Brigades member Nidal al-Jafaari, who was killed in the attack.
Meanwhile, Hamas members said that the movement has “tightened its grip on the Jihadist Salafis” in the besieged Gaza Strip. The crackdown has also grown following “understandings” made with Egypt, which the members said has caused “more aggressive reactions” by Salafi members in Gaza. The suicide attack on Hamas officials represented the group’s disapproval and anger over Hamas’ policies targeting the movement….

Egypt re-closes border with Gaza after brief opening
GAZA CITY, Palestine (AA) 18 Aug by Muhammed Macid — Egypt re-closed its border with the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on Friday after having opened it to Palestinian pilgrims for the last four days, according to Gaza’s border authority. On Monday, the Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah border crossing — which links the blockaded strip to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula — to allow Gazan pilgrims into Egypt from where they might travel to Saudi Arabia. The annual Hajj pilgrimage is set to begin later this month in the Saudi cities of Mecca and Medina, where more than two million Muslim pilgrims are expected to take part in the ritual this year.
In a related development, a Palestinian NGO said Friday that the Egyptian authorities had stopped an Algerian humanitarian-aid convoy from crossing into the Gaza Strip from Sinai. “Egypt’s decision to block the entry of the aid convoy is very unfortunate and does not reflect the positive spirit that has recently characterized Gaza-Egypt relations,” the National Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza said in a press statement. Neither the Egyptian government nor Hamas, the latter of which has governed the strip since 2007, has yet to comment on the NGO’s assertions regarding the convoy.

More Gazans now allowed to travel abroad via Israel, but there’s a catch
Times of Israel 17 Aug by Dov Lieber — Residents of the Strip must commit to not return for at least a year; some made to sign form after already crossing into Israel — Tens of Gazans crossed into Israel on Tuesday, July 25, travel permits in hand. As they prepared to board the weekly bus from the Erez Crossing to Amman, they were presented with an ultimatum: sign a form saying you won’t return home via Israel for at least year, or head back into Gaza. With the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt closed for most of the year, the only way out for residents of the Strip is usually through Israel. Palestinians generally fly out of Amman to their desired destinations, since they are forbidden from flying out of Tel Aviv and there are no Palestinian airports. The Israeli group Gisha, which deals with Palestinian freedom-of-movement issues, described the events of July 25 in a report published some two weeks later. Israel acknowledged the truth of the report, saying employees at the crossing were following official procedure … The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Defense Ministry body that administers the crossings from Gaza, in emails to The Times of Israel for the first time publicly explained its rationale for obligating Gazans traveling abroad via Israel to stay away for a year or more. COGAT argued that it went above and beyond its obligation toward Gaza by allowing Gazans to travel via Israel, but that the security risk inherent in the new policy required limitations. “Free movement between the Gaza Strip into Israel is not enabled, including to travel abroad,” because Hamas, which COGAT called a “murderous terror organization,” “takes advantage of the entry of the Gaza Strip’s residents into Israel to carry out terror acts” … Despite the new policy, the past year has seen a massive reduction in the number of exit permits granted to Gazans by Israel….

IDF detains 2 Palestinians who entered Israel from Gaza
Times of Israel 16 Aug — The Israel Defense Forces arrested two Palestinians who crossed into Israel from the Gaza Strip on Wednesday. The army said that the two were taken for questioning after being captured by IDF soldiers, who spotted them crossing the border fence in southern Gaza. Sources said that the two were not carrying weapons at the time they were caught. There was no immediate comment from the IDF on why the men crossed into Israel. The border fence contains a bevy of sensors and cameras to support the large number of soldiers who regularly patrol the area. Infiltrators are typically caught within moments. Residents of Gaza occasionally cross the border into Israel, and are generally unarmed….

IOF target Gaza fishing boats, again
GAZA (PNN) 16 Aug — Israeli naval forces on Wednesday morning have opened fire towards Palestinian fishing boats near the coast of Beit Lahia, northern Gaza Strip. The attack did not lead to casualties, abductions or property damage, but forced the fishermen back to shore without being able to fish and provide for their families.

UAE to fund $15 million monthly to Gaza: official
AFP 17 Aug — The United Arab Emirates will provide $15 million a month to Gaza, a Palestinian politician said Thursday, as its rulers Hamas move closer to a UAE-based rival to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas. Mohammed Dahlan has been based in exile in the UAE since falling out with Abbas and being expelled from his Fatah movement. He has been improving relations with Islamist Hamas to the chagrin of the West Bank-based Abbas. “Fifteen million dollars will be pumped monthly from the beginning of next month to the Palestinian Joint Liability Committee in support of relief, humanitarian and development projects in the Gaza Strip to alleviate their suffering,” Samir Al-Mashharawi, an ally of Dahlan, said in a statement. The committee was established in the wake of agreements made between Dahlan and Hamas in early July in Cairo. Hamas, considered a terrorist organisation by the United States, European Union and Israel, could benefit from increased international legitimacy if it were to formally share control with Dahlan. On Friday, Hamas leaders and Dahlan allies again met in Cairo to discuss easing the blockade of Gaza with Egyptian officials….

Video: Gaza’s first all-female radio station calls for equality
vocativ 16 Aug by Andrew Caringi — Hawa [‘Eve’] Radio is Gaza’s first station by women, for women. Launched on Aug. 8, the station’s staff is exclusively made up of women, and is dedicated solely to discussing female issues. “The programs that we present focus on the Palestinian woman because we are living in a community, that is, so to speak, a masculine community, which thinks a woman’s role is to grow up, get married, raise a family and take care of the children,” said Bara Ali, one of the station’s hosts. The station broadcasts from the Bureij refugee camp, which, like much of Gaza, experiences power outages and doesn’t have a functioning sewage system. But the challenge for women here goes far beyond the camp. With these women wanting a bigger say in society, Hawa may give them the voice they need to break through.

Gaza marks Palestinian victory
[with photos] MEMO 17 Aug by Mohammed Asad — Palestinians in Gaza today held a race to mark the victory over occupation forces at Al-Aqsa Mosque last month. The Boycott Campaign – Palestine, in cooperation with the Artists’ Association and the Palestine Athletics Federation, organised the event, which started at a barrier which had been set up to resembled the Israeli obstructions which had been placed at the door of Al-Aqsa Mosque last month and which led to widespread protests in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) attended the race which saw scores of men take part. On 16 July Israeli occupation forces set up metal detectors, high tech surveillance systems and increased the military presence at Al-Aqsa Mosque. Refusing the change to the status quo, Muslim worshippers held sit-ins at the doors of the mosque and did not pass through the new measures. Seven Palestinians were killed due to Israel’s excessive use of force in breaking up protests, but weeks later the new measures were removed and the status quo maintained.

Siege leads Gaza’s Qurbani market to crash
MEMO 17 Aug — In contrast to past years, there are almost no donations for Qurbani in the Gaza Strip this year due to the economic conditions and severe humanitarian crises in the besieged Strip. A cattle dealer and a government official told the Anadolu Agency that livestock markets are experiencing very low demands in spite of their being large numbers of animals available for slaughter. The power crisis has also reduced people’s abilities to store meat as refrigerators are unable to work. During Eid Al-Adha, which falls at the start of September this year, Muslims will sacrifice an animal and distribute its meat to those less fortunate and share it amongst friends and family. At a cattle breeding farm in Beit Hanoun, north of Gaza, Amjad Abu Ajina expressed disappointment at the reduced purchasing power in the enclave which is home to more than two million people. “I am waiting for the Qurbani season to sell cattle. This is the only source of income for my family and I,” he said. “The difficult economic situation in which Gazans live has stopped locals from buying sacrificial animals,” he added … PA staff member, Mohammed Ahmed, said he was unable to buy for Qurbani this year because of the poor economic conditions in Gaza, in addition to the large reduction in his salary. “Every year I have to split with six of my relatives a share in a cow, where the individual pays about $400, but this year it is very difficult although the price is lower than in previous years.”

Gaza takes flight
[with photos] MEMO 18 Aug by Mohammed Asad — The first competition of carrier pigeons was held in the occupied Gaza Strip yesterday. Some 50 carrier pigeons took part in the race heading from Gaza City to Rafah, a distance of approximately 32 kilometres. Held by the Palestinian Federation for Carrier-Pigeons, the event highlighted the historical importance of the birds which were used to deliver message between tribes and people, especially during times of war. Mohammed Jendia, a carrier-pigeon breeder, said carrier-pigeons are considered the smartest types of pigeons. They are raised and trained in the same place and are left to fly around and they return to their cages, he explained. They are then slowly taken further away from their cages and they fly back. He explained that they can find their way home from hundreds of kilometres away. The speed at which the carrier-pigeons deliver messages depends on their age, feather length, intelligence and individual abilities. Some 45 breeders signed up to the competition. Hisham Al-Jarrar’s bird won the competition beating the flock by reaching Rafah in 26 minutes.

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements

Israeli court suspends eviction of Shamasna family in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 18 Aug — An Israeli magistrate court suspended the eviction of the Shamasna family in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem on Thursday, after the family refused to leave their home of 53 years amid claims that it was the property of Israeli settlers. During a court session to consider an appeal presented by the family’s lawyer Said Ghaliyeh, the court ruled to suspend the eviction order, after challenges were presented by Ghaliyeh on the lack of documentation of the plots of lands in the neighborhood on the municipal level. In order for the eviction order to be enforced, the courts must determine exactly which land was owned by Jews before 1948 based on land documentation records.
According to Israeli law, Jewish Israelis are permitted to claim ownership over property believed to have been owned by Jews before 1948 during Ottoman or British rule. However, such a law does not exist for the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees who were displaced from their lands and homes during and after the establishment of the state of Israel.
Israelis have claimed that Sheikh Jarrah was once the site of a 19th century Jewish community. Many families in the neighborhood have been embroiled in legal disputes for decades, as various Israeli settlers have attempted to claim ownership over their homes.
In addition, the appeal is based on the health of 84-year-old Ayoub Shamasna, who has lived in the home since 1964, and suffers from several illnesses. According to the appeal, the eviction could adversely affect the health of Ayoub and his 75-year-old wife….If the eviction plans are carried out, it would be the first eviction in the neighborhood since 2009, when the Um Kamel al-Kurd, Ghawi, and Hanoun families were evicted from their homes by Israeli settlers under similar ownership claims … Israeli rights group Ir Amim has noted that Israeli settler plans have focused on taking control of the entire neighborhood and then demolishing it to establish a massive Jewish settlement, called Shimon HaTzadik — named after the tomb of the biblical figure Simeon the Just, which is believed by Jews to be located in the neighborhood.

Israeli Supreme Court freezes controversial law legalizing some West Bank outposts
JERUSALEM (JTA) 17 Aug — The Israeli Supreme Court froze a controversial law that legalizes certain wildcat West Bank outposts built on private Palestinian land. The court’s interim order issued Thursday postponed for two months implementation of the Regulation Law, which several Palestinian authorities had challenged. The government has until the end of the freeze to respond. The law allows the government to expropriate private Palestinian land on which illegal outpost homes have been built. However, the outpost must have been built in good faith or have government support. Palestinian landowners are to be compensated financially or with other land. Widely condemned by Israeli and foreign activists, the law could allow the government to retroactively legalize some 4,000 illegally built Israeli homes. Ahead of the final Knesset votes on the measure in February, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit warned it violated Israeli and international law. After the bill passed, Mandelblit officially notified the Supreme Court that he would not defend the legislation if it were challenged. A private attorney, Harel Arnon, replaced Mandelblit to represent the state on Supreme Court petitions against the law, which was meant originally to save the since-razed outpost of Amona.

Israel PM seeks huge budget hike for relocation of West Bank settlement
Haaretz 18 Aug by Yotam Berger — If request approved, cost of moving 40 settler families will come to nearly $70 million — The Prime Minister’s Office is seeking to increase by tens of millions of shekels the budget for evacuating and resettling residents of the illegal West Bank outpost of Amona. It asked the Finance Ministry this week for a further 30-70 million shekels ($8.25-$19.25 million) on top of what is already allocated to develop Amichai, the new settlement for those being moved from Amona. Haaretz has learned that if the requested increase is paid fully, the state will have invested close to a quarter of a billion shekels to evacuate and resettle 40 families who had built homes without permits and against the law in Amona. A spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office denied this report, but four sources familiar with the matter have confirmed it.

Video: Who’s afraid of the Green Line?
Israeli Social TV 18 Aug — The Green Line, the boundary between Israel and the Palestinian territories recognized by most of the world, has been all but erased by the Israeli education system. Rami Younis, also of +972 Magazine, talks to educators about how it happened, and what it means.

Israeli forces confiscate 47 dunams of land from Hebron-area village
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 16 Aug — Israeli authorities confiscated at least 47 dunams (12 acres) of lands in al-Thahiryeh village, south of Hebron city, in the southern occupied West Bank for alleged military purposes, locals told Ma‘an on Wednesday. Al-Thahiryeh mayor Ratib al-Sabber told Ma‘an that locals were surprised last Sunday when an Israeli confiscation order was put up on the entrance of the Mitar checkpoint in the southern part of al-Thahiryeh, close to the lands that were confiscated. The order stated that the land would be used for Israeli army purposes. The lands, he added, belonged to the Abu Allah family, who are residents of al-Thahiryeh. Al-Sabber told Ma‘an that a verbal agreement had been previously made between Palestinians and Israeli officials that the confiscated lands would be used as a parking lot for Palestinians who cross the checkpoint into the Israeli city of Beersheba for work. However, the agreement was never implemented, he said. The Abu Allah family had filed an appeal against the confiscation order, al-Sabber added.

Israeli forces demolish homes in Bedouin villages in southern Israel
NEGEV (Ma‘an) 17 Aug — Israeli authorities demolished three Palestinian homes on Thursday morning in several Bedouin villages in the Negev of southern Israel for allegedly being built without Israeli-issued building permits, locals told Ma‘an. According to locals, Israeli authorities demolished a house belonging to Salman Abu Sabileh in the Umm Qabu village, while two other homes were demolished in the al-Atrash and al-Sayyid villages.
Meanwhile, locals in the Umm al-Hiran village in the Negev told Ma‘an that clashes had erupted between Palestinian residents and Israeli police forces after they raided the village to carry out demolitions. However, there were no reports of demolitions being carried out.

Israel halts construction of school in Bethlehem, despite residents receiving permit
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Aug — Israeli authorities forcibly halted the construction of a school in Jubbet Al-Dhib village in the eastern part of Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank on Thursday, despite Palestinians receiving an Israeli-issued building permit for the project. A representative of a popular resistance committee in Bethlehem Hadan Brejiyeh told Ma‘an that Israeli forces, escorted by employees of the Israeli civil administration had “raided the village,” and shut down the construction at the school. Israeli forces had put a stop to the construction, which consisted of eight mobile structures, and confiscated vehicles belonging to an Italian NGO. The residents said they had received a difficult-to-obtain Israeli-issued building permit for the project.
However, a spokesperson for the Israeli civil administration told Ma‘an that the structures had not received the necessary permits, and that the construction was “illegal.”

Israeli settlers install caravans west of Bethlehem, central West Bank
BETHLEHEM (PNN) 17 Aug — Israeli settlers on Wednesday had installed caravans near the village of Nahalin, west of Bethlehem, central West Bank. Head of Nahalin village council Sobhi Zeidan told WAFA that a group of settlers from the nearby illegal settlement of Beitar Illit installed 10 caravans near the fence separating the settlement from Nahalin. He said that, with this act, the settlers aim to eventually push the fence further into Nahalin, in order to expand the area of their settlement at the expense of the village.

West Bank village celebrates completion of Japanese-funded electricity project
NABLUS (WAFA) 16 Aug – The Nablus area village of Yatma celebrated this week the completion of an electricity project funded by Japan. Ambassador for the Palestinian Affairs and Representative of Japan to Palestine, Takeshi Okubo, visited Yatma to celebrate the completion of the project funded by the Government of Japan through Japan’s Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP). The grant of $83,260 went to replace a total of eight kilometers of the existing electricity cables with underground cable with a goal to improve the electricity provision and the residential environment. Upon the completion of this project, around 3,462 residents (625 households) will benefit from the safe and improved electrical network …
Since 1993 the Government of Japan has extended its official development assistance to the Palestinians to approximately $1.8 billion.

Palestinian refugees – Lebanon

Clashes kill two in Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon
BEIRUT (Reuters) 18 Aug — Clashes between Palestinian security forces and Sunni Islamists in Ain el-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon left two people dead, a Reuters witness said. The fighting began on Thursday after a leader of an armed faction sympathetic to the Islamist Badr group fired at the headquarters of a joint security force comprising the main Palestinian factions. In April seven people were killed in clashes in the camp between the Badr group and the joint security force after it deployed there. The son of the armed group’s leader was killed in Thursday’s clashes and a member of the security forces died from wounds on Friday morning, the Lebanese National News Agency (NNA) said, another eight people were wounded. The Palestinian security force commander called a ceasefire on Thursday night, but an explosion, accompanied by gunfire, was heard in the camp on Friday afternoon, the witness said. The joint security force includes Fatah, led by the West Bank-based Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas….

Other news

Fatah: Hamas invited to PNC if it ends its control over Gaza
MEMO 16 Aug — Hamas must dissolve its administrative committee and end its control over Gaza before it can join the Palestinian National Council (PNC) meeting, Fatah spokesperson Osama Al-Qawasmi has announced. Al-Qawasmi said that the Palestinian Authority (PA) seeks to strengthen the Palestinian representation and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) ahead of its participation in the United Nations General Assembly convention. Fatah, he noted, supports the holding of the PNC meeting in Ramallah. A video link will be available for those who will be unable to attend due to restrictions imposed by the Israeli occupation authorities. Al-Qawasmi stressed that the PLO is the only internationally recognised representative of all the national factions.He urged Hamas to participate in the next PNC meeting, stressing that it must “give up its control over the Gaza Strip, dissolve the administrative committee, and enable the national unity government to operate in Gaza freely” in order to be allowed to attend the meeting

Israel tightens restrictions on freedom of Arab citizens
JERUSALEM (PNN) 16 Aug — An Arab member of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, revealed on Monday that the Israeli authorities have decided to impose fines on institutions which rent space for events organized by non-Jewish citizens which the state regards as illegal, Quds Press has reported. “The Israeli measure is against the simplest basics of democracy and free speech,” explained Jamal Zahalka MK. “It is racist because it targets Arab citizens and their institutions.” On Sunday, the Israeli Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev and Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit met and agreed on how to implement the so-called “Nakba Law” which was enacted in 2011. This stipulates that any institution in receipt of government funds will be fined up to three times of the said funds if it rejects Israel as a “Jewish and democratic” state; incites racism, violence or terrorism; supports armed resistance or terrorist acts against Israel; or commemorates Israel’s “independence day” as Palestinian Nakba Day. Israel Hayom said that Regev asked for the meeting after reports about an event hosted by a Jaffa theatre in honour of former Joint Arab List MK Basel Ghattas, who was indicted of smuggling telephones to Palestinian security prisoners. Regev and Mendelblit, reported the newspaper, agreed that complaints about alleged violations of the Nakba Law by public institutions would be passed on to the finance ministry, which would have a week to respond on whether a given incident in fact violates the law.

Israel set to revoke Al Jazeera journalist’s press permit
Haaretz 16 Aug by Barak Ravid & Itay Stern — An Israeli Al Jazeera correspondent is set to have his press accreditation revoked by Israel after comments he made on another TV network last year. Elias Karram’s state-issued press card will be canceled subject to a hearing, said Government Press Office head Nitzan Chen on Wednesday. The GPO cited an interview Karram gave on a TV network identified with the Muslim Brotherhood, in which he said his journalistic work is part of his contribution to Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation. The Union of Journalists in Israel blasted the GOP’s intention to revoke Karram’s press permit, calling it an “intolerable move in a democracy.” Karram, who has Israeli citizenship and lives in Nazareth, has held a press card since 2011. The decision to cancel it is part of various sanctions the Israeli government is trying to institute against Al Jazeera – the Qatar-based station that has a local office in Jerusalem….

NGO: Palestinian territory facing ‘worsening child protection crisis’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Aug — Ahead of World Humanitarian Day, to be marked on August 19th, as the United Nations (UN) prepares a global awareness campaign on the impact of conflict on humanitarian aid workers and the broader civil society, including children and families, the occupied Palestinian territory is facing a “worsening child protection crisis” brought on by 50 years of Israel’s military occupation, according to Jennifer Moorehead, director of Save the Children – Palestine. “Today, there are more than 2 million Palestinian children who face increasing violations of their rights: displacement and forcible transfer, the demolition and destruction of homes and schools, arbitrary arrest and detention, harassment at checkpoints, and frequent violence and intimidation when they are simply trying to reach school, as well as when they are at school,” Moorehead said in a statement Thursday.
Moorehead highlighted the increasing erosion of children’s “basic right to education” in the occupied Palestinian territory, noting that there are more than 50 schools in the West Bank that have pending demolition orders or stop-work orders from the Israeli authorities. “Just this week the kindergarten and elementary school in the Bedouin community of Abu Nuwar had their solar panels and batteries removed by the Israeli civil administration, limiting the school’s ability to function and denying children their basic rights,” the statement said. According to Save the Children, in 2016 alone, there were “256 education-related violations” documented by UNICEF and Save the Children, affecting the education of 29,230 Palestinian students. Between January and March 2017, the group documented 24 cases of “direct attacks” against Palestinian schools; many Palestinian students often come under fire from tear gas canisters and sound bombs on their way to school….

How a West Bank skate park offers Palestinian youth a safe haven from occupation
[photos] Haaretz 17 Aug by Shakked Auerback — The heroes of the nascent Palestinian skateboarding community aren’t yet the kids; they’re the organizers, both locals and foreigners, and the families cheering them on —Four boys of various heights and hues converge on the small wooden ramp in the West Bank city of Qalqilyah, armed with brightly colored skateboards. They line up and slide down the ramp in formation, squealing as they try not to bump into one another – and amid the applause and laughter for anyone who winds up on his bottom. Dense heat rises from the ground and three of the boys – Aboud, Murad and Afif – go to drink some water from a metal spigot sticking out of a corner of a stone wall. In their absence, a visitor uses English to address 12-year-old Hamoudi from the village of Jayyus. Hamoudi, the youngest and most skillful of the group, calls out to his friends in anxious Arabic: “Come here. Don’t leave me alone with the foreign woman.” The ramp is located inside a closed area in the center of the Qalqilyah Zoo. From time to time, shrieks and laughter emanate from a playground, along with the sound of water burbling in the nearby kiddy pool … The man behind the skateboarding project is Mohammed Othman, a well-known political activist in the area. On a sweltering morning in the garden of his home in Jayyus, he explains how for the past 10 nights he hasn’t slept well. “I have to obtain funding for the skateboarders’ summer camp,” he says. “It’s terrible. I know that I need to take care of myself better, but there’s so much to do.”….

The miraculous tale of the West Bank’s first university hospital and its ‘very Israeli’ CEO
Haaretz 19 Aug by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — This is the quietest hospital I’ve ever been in, probably also the cleanest and shiniest. Visiting hours ended at midday, and silence now prevails in the corridors. Posters about obligatory washing of hands appear on every wall, with almost obsessive regularity. There is only one patient in the cardiac intensive care unit, who, as a child, had gone to school with Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah, who is now calling to ask how the man is doing, after hearing reports that he may have died. It was also Hamdallah, as chairman of the hospital’s board of directors, who recruited the institution’s CEO, Saleem Haj-Yahia. Prof. Haj-Yahia’s story, and that of An-Najah National University Hospital, the first university hospital in the territories, is a marvelous, almost miraculous tale, and it’s occurring in Nablus, on the summit of Mount Ebal. When the hospital was dedicated, three-and-a-half years ago, it had 217 beds and a staff of about 100 physicians. Now the bulldozers are at work on stage 4, a 15-story tower that will cost some $100 million. When it opens, hopefully within five years, the facility will have 800 beds. Currently the An-Najah hospital boasts state-of-the-art medical equipment, from MRI scanners to artificial hearts. The only essential equipment missing is a PET/CT scanner, used in cancer diagnosis and treatment. The funds for its purchase have been raised, but Israel is barring its import. “The Israelis think that we are so talented that we will use it to build an atomic bomb,” Haj-Yahia quips with an ironic smile….

Tulkarm aims to renovate century-old Ottoman train tunnel
TULKARM, West Bank (Al-Monitor) 15 Aug by Ibrahim Abdelhadi — Under a slope near the Palestinian village of Balaa, in the hills 9 kilometers (5.6 miles) east of Tulkarm, lies a 19th century train tunnel, a remnant of Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II’s ambitions to tie the empire’s capital, Constantinople, to the holy shrines of Islam. Today, only the arched walls and internal chambers where passengers waited for trains remain, as the rails have been looted several times over by thieves. Yet the tunnel, called Al-Kharq (The Breach), continues to attract visitors. “The Ottoman train tunnel was built in the time of Sultan Abdulhamid II on the ruins of a Roman and Byzantine village, between 1876 and 1908,” Mofeed Salah, the head of the Tulkarm Tourism and Archaeology Office, told Al-Monitor. “It is an Ottoman archaeological treasure and an important historical monument, 240 meters long, 6 meters wide and 12 meters tall [787 by 19½ by 39 feet]. It went out of use during World War I after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.” Salah said, “But after that, the railway resumed its operation during the British Mandate over Palestine in 1923, and was used to move troops and equipment. After the British withdrew from Palestine, it was last used in 1948 by Israeli gangs to expel and force Palestinians out of their lands.” During the earlier days, the railway was used to transport pilgrims to Medina and Mecca….


Rasmea Odeh’s silenced statement to Detroit Federal Court and hearing report from Rasmea Defense Committee
Samidoun 18 Aug — On Thursday, August 17th, Judge Gershwin Drain again violated the rights of Palestinian-American icon Rasmea Odeh, this time by not allowing her to read her entire statement to the court. Close to 150 supporters joined Rasmea in Detroit for what was supposed to be a routine sentencing hearing. The defense, prosecution, and judge had already agreed to a plea agreement  finalized in April, and Rasmea was looking forward to finally being able to tell her entire story, but Drain interrupted her three separate times, the last with a threat to jail her for contempt of court. Prior to Rasmea’s statement, her lead attorney, Michael Deutsch, chastised the prosecution for bringing the indictment in the first place. Although the Rasmea Defense Committee has insisted for almost four years that the immigration case brought against her in October of 2013 was nothing but a pretext to attack the Palestine support movement in the U.S., Drain tried to protect Israel and the U.S. government from Rasmea’s brutal description of their crimes against her, her family, and the Palestinian people as a whole. Forced to stop reading her statement, Rasmea ad-libbed: “I’m not a terrorist and my people are not terrorists. [The Israeli military] tortured me. They raped me. They destroyed my house…I will raise my voice to say this: we have the right to struggle for our country.”  And at a post-hearing press conference, she added, “Really, I feel angry because the judge didn’t allow me to [tell] my story…but we will continue to struggle for our cause. We will liberate our Palestine, all [of] Palestine.”….

Beautiful photos of farewell event for Rasmea Odeh
by sarah-ji  169 photos  Album description: I had the honor of documenting the farewell event for Rasmea Odeh this past Saturday, featuring performances by Rebel Diaz, Shadia Mansour, KoStar, and a keynote address by Dr. Angela Y. Davis. Rasmea’s impact on the radical organizing community is immeasurable and will continue to bear fruit well into the future. We love you, Rasmea! [stripped of her American citizenship, Rasmea is soon to be deported to Jordan]

Gaza students arrive in US for a year of study in American high schools
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 17 Aug – Eleven Palestinian students from Gaza arrived on Tuesday in the United States and three more will be arriving in the coming days to start a year of study at American high schools under the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Program (YES), according to a US consulate press release. “The YES program aims to promote cross-cultural understanding to break down cultural barriers, misperceptions, and stereotypes between Palestinians and Americans,” said the press release. Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s Special Representative for International Negotiations, was personally involved to ensure that the students were able to depart on time to participate in and benefit from the program, said the statement. Departure of Gazans is usually an ordeal with the Israeli blockade imposed on Gaza since 2007 and constant closure of the Rafah border with Egypt. Gazans seeking to leave the strip through Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing with Israel have to get an Israeli permit, which is rarely granted except in special cases. The Gaza students are among the approximately 300 Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza that the United States government supports every year on professional and student exchange programs. The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program for high school students was established by Congress in October, 2002…. (listserv) (archive)

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