A look at the news and views from around the web! ~ Friday, 24 July 2015 ~
Violence / Raids / Suppression of protests / Detentions / Expulsions -- West Bank & Jerusalem
Israeli forces kill 53-year-old Palestinian near Hebron, injure sons
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 23 July -- Israeli forces shot and killed a 53-year-old Palestinian and injured his two sons during an arrest raid in the town of Beit Ummar in northern Hebron early Thursday, witnesses said. Falah Hammad Abu Maria is the 17th Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces this year, three of whom have been killed since the beginning of this month. A spokesperson for a local popular committee, Muhammad Ayyad Awad, told Ma‘an that Israeli forces and undercover forces had raided Falah’s house and opened live fire inside the home.
Other accounts of this killing:
Israel troops shoot dead Palestinian in West Bank raid
HEBRON (AFP) 23 July by Samih Shaheen -- Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian during an arrest raid in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, a hospital official said, with heavy clashes breaking out after the funeral. It was the second killing in 24 hours of a Palestinian during an arrest operation, and came amid weeks of low-level violence. Falah Abu Maria, 50, was shot in the chest at his home in Beit Omar village near the southern city of Hebron, neighbours said. He had run to the upstairs balcony to call for an ambulance after his son Mohammed was wounded while being arrested by the army, wife Fayqa told AFP. Troops then "killed him in cold blood, and without him having given any resistance," she said. "
Israel kills dad as he tries to help wounded son
EI 24 July by Patrick Strickland -- Israeli forces have killed two Palestinians in the occupied West Bank since Wednesday.Falah Abu Maria, 52, was fatally shot during a house raid in Beit Ommar, a Hebron-area village in the southern West Bank, at dawn on Thursday. After breaking into the family home, a large squad of Israeli soldiers forced Ahmad, Falah’s eldest son, to identify his siblings for them. Upon saying his 22-year-old brother Muhammad’s name, a soldier shot Muhammad in the pelvis, according to an Arabic-language report at the news website Quds. Alarmed at seeing Muhammad shot, Ahmad and his father tried to defend him from the soldiers who began firing indiscriminately. “One of the soldiers pointed his rifle at the martyr Falah and shot him four times directly” in the neck and chest as he attempted to help his son, Falah’s brother, also called Muhammad, told Quds. The soldiers pulled out after the shooting, leaving the horror they had caused behind, Muhammad said. It was left to the family to seek help, but by the time ambulances arrived it was too late for Falah. Falah’s son Muhammad underwent surgery and is in stable condition. Falah’s wife told the Jordanian TV station Roya that Israeli forces had raided the family home repeatedly. Beit Ommar is a frequent target of army attacks because of regular protests villagers hold against the theft of their land for nearby Israeli settlements. “We are the ones who are dead, my father, and you are alive with your Lord,” Haidar Abu Maria, another of Falah’s sons, told Roya reflecting the family’s anguish.
Israeli forces wound 8 at funeral of 53-year-old killed Thursday
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 23 July -- Israeli forces injured eight Palestinians in the occupied West Bank town of Beit Ummar Thursday as clashes erupted after the funeral of Falah Abu Maria, who was shot dead in his home at dawn during an Israeli arrest raid, witnesses said. Spokesman for a popular committee in the Hebron-area town, Mohammad Ayyad Awad, said that Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas at funeral attendees. The mourners received light to medium injuries, and three were transferred to hospitals in Hebron for treatment, he said. One of the ambulances on site was hit by rubber-coated steel bullets fired by Israeli forces as it left the scene, shattering the rear window, Awad added. Israeli forces had reportedly closed the entrances leading into Beit Ummar during the funeral procession, which was attended by hundreds of town residents. Participants chanted slogans condemning the killing of Abu Maria by Israeli forces and demanding a response to the "crimes of the occupation against the Palestinian people."
Israeli forces 'ambush' demonstrators, injuring 2 with live fire
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 24 July -- Two Palestinians were shot and injured by Israeli forces Friday during a weekly demonstration in the occupied West Bank town of Nabi Saleh, witnesses said. Israeli forces had reportedly set an "ambush" near the path where demonstrators planned to walk, opening live fire as the marchers headed towards land confiscated by the neighboringHalamish settlement. During the incident, forces shot a 17-year-old with two live bullets. Witnesses say a bullet passed through one thigh, entering and settling in the teen's other thigh, while a second bullet hit him in the back. A 27-year-old was also shot in the leg. The injured demonstrators were taken to a hospital in Ramallah for treatment. Israeli soldiers attempted to prevent the ambulance carrying those injured from leaving the scene for a short period of time, witnesses added.
Two Palestinians injured in Bethlehem
IMEMC/Agencies 24 July -- A large Israeli military force invaded, on Friday at dawn, the Deheishe refugee camp in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, and clashed with scores of local youths, wounding two in the head and arm. Media sources said the soldiers surrounded the camp before invading it, and fired rounds of live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets and gas bombs. One Palestinian was shot with a rubber-coated metal bullet in the head and leg, and another resident was shot in his arm. In addition, soldiers stormed and searched several homes in the camp, causing property damage, and withdrew later.
Two youths injured in Ramallah hit-and-run by Israeli settler
RAMALLAH (PIC) 23 July -- An Israeli vehicle driving at high speed at noontime Wednesday rammed into two Palestinian youths near Ramallah’s town of Ni’lin, in the central West Bank. Local sources said the 19-year-old youths Mohamed Nael Abu Fkheida and Bilal Said Sobh sustained wounds after an Israeli vehicle driving near the Ni‘lin checkpoint,separating the West Bank and the 1948 occupied territories, hit them. One of the casualties was rushed to the Tel Hashomer hospital inside the Green Line to be urgently treated for the inflicted wounds and bruises. The other youngster received field treatment. Eyewitnesses said the vehicle deliberately ran over the two young men. The youngsters’ families said the Israeli police claimed, in a phone call, they had captured the driver responsible for the accident pending further investigation into the attack.
Twilight Zone: The human cost of the IDF's 'non-lethal' ammunition
Haaretz 23 July by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac -- Security forces entered a refugee camp to make arrests and fired a sponge bullet at short range at Nafez Demiri, who is deaf and mute, blinding him in one eye -- Now the man who has never heard anything and never uttered a spoken sound is also half blind: His right eye was shattered and had to be removed. Border Police troops fired a No. 4557 black sponge bullet at him, supposedly nonlethal ammunition that a year earlier killed a boy in Jerusalem. For Jerusalem police, these black bullets are now used in place of the blue ones – which were lighter and less deadly. According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, 18 Palestinian civilians were seriously wounded in the city over the past year by sponge bullets. In addition to the boy who was killed, others who were shot with these bullets lost their vision, suffered fractures in the eye socket and jaw, or cranial bleeding and rupture of the spleen. Many of the victims are children and adolescents.
But Nafez Demiri’s story is especially wrenching. He’s 55 and has been deaf since birth, exactly like his sister. A resident of the Ras Hamid neighborhood in the Sho‘afat refugee camp in “unified” Jerusalem, he never went to school, as there was no suitable institution for him at the time. To this day he cannot read or write. Nevertheless, he has a charming family – his wife Rada and Alam, their only child, now 15 – and has provided for them over the years. According to his brother, Demiri works as a cobbler in a Jaffa workshop whose address no one in the family knows. The bearer of a blue ID card (permanent Israeli residency), he gets a ride to Jaffa every morning and returns to his home in the camp every evening. Until two weeks ago, he led a relatively good life, despite his serious handicaps. The only way to communicate with Demiri is with sign language, and the conversation with him is conducted through his wife and son. They lead him slowly into the living room of the apartment in Ramallah where we meet, step by measured step. He leans on his wife and son, his gait faltering. His empty eye socket is bandaged, wounds and bruises cover his face and neck, and his suffering, pain and depression are plain to see. Since he was wounded, he has been tormented by powerful headaches and constant dizzy spells. He has to be supported at every step, for fear he will stumble and fall. Nafez Demiri is a broken man...
Note that reports of arrests given in this newslist are rarely complete; detentions happen almost constantly, in all regions.
Israeli police detain, release 8-year-old Palestinian
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 23 July -- The Israeli forces detained and interrogated an eight-year-old Palestinian boy late Wednesday for allegedly throwing rocks in an occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood, a local center said. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center said that Israeli border guards detained Abdullah Imad Idkeik while he was with a group of children meters away from his house in the Ras al-Amud neighborhood of Silwan. Idkeik was interrogated alone for an hour and a half after his mother was prevented from accompanying him in the police’s vehicle to the interrogation center. “Children gathered in the neighborhood as Israeli forces held a youth that was walking his dog. During this Israeli border guards detained Abdullah," Idkeik’s mother said. "Some youths that were there attempted to prevent them but the forces pushed them away from the area and hit some of them with batons." The eight-year-old's mother and uncle were barred from entering the police station where he was held, and reportedly waited outside for an hour and a half before the mother was allowed to enter the interrogation room with her son. She said that an Israeli detective attempted to provoke her by telling her that her “son is impolite and should [have] behaved right, you are like ISIS.” She added that the police released her son under the condition that she sign a paper stating her son was not assaulted, and that her son was held alone in the interrogation room for only 10 minutes. Idkeik's brief interrogation is common for Palestinian minors living under Israeli occupation, with around 700 Palestinian children prosecuted every year through Israeli military courts, according to prisoners' rights group Addameer.
Israeli forces detain 2 Palestinians for stone-throwing in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 22 July -- Israeli forces detained two Palestinians near Damascus Gate in East Jerusalem on Tuesday evening for allegedly throwing rocks at the city's light rail. Witnesses told Ma‘an that one of the Palestinians was disabled. He was reportedly taken in his wheelchair to a police center for interrogation. The detention comes just one day after Israel's parliament, the Knesset, passed into law a bill enabling harsher prison sentences for stone-throwing. The new law makes cases of stone-throwing punishable by 10 years behind bars without having to prove intent to harm or cause damage. The amendment has been lambasted by Palestinian Knesset Members.
Young man, two children kidnapped in Silwan
IMEMC 23 July -- Israeli soldiers kidnapped, on Thursday, a young Palestinian man and two children in Silwan town, south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in occupied East Jerusalem. Eyewitnesses said the soldiers kidnapped a young man, identified as Ayyoub al-Ghazzawi, and two children from the same family, identified as Ibrahim al-Ghazzawi and ‘Atiyya al-Ghazzawi, in the ath-Thoury neighborhood in Silwan. The three Palestinians were moved to an interrogation center in the city. On Wednesday, soldiers detained and interrogated a child, eight years of age, from the Zeitoun neighborhood, allegedly for throwing stones at army vehicles in Silwan. Earlier on Thursday, soldiers kidnapped six Palestinians, including a father and his two sons, in the southern West Bank district of Hebron, and one in the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem.
Israel detains 9 Palestinians as right-wingers call to raid Al-Aqsa
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 24 July -- Israeli forces detained nine Palestinians from Jerusalem after raiding their homes in the Old City and delivered interrogation summons for others on Friday ... Head of the Jerusalem Prisoners’ Families Committee Amjad Abu Asab told Ma‘an the detentions were carried out as groups of settlers called for access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Sunday for the Jewish holiday of Tisha B’Av. Right-wing Jewish organizations have presented an appeal to the Israeli PM signed by 1000 Israelis demanding to open the Al-Aqsa Mosque for Jews via the Moroccan Gate starting Sunday July 26 until the end of the week. The organizations demanded that Al-Aqsa be entirely closed to Muslims starting Saturday evening and all day Sunday. They also requested the holy site to be closed to Muslims during proposed Israeli visitation hours from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. from Monday to Thursday next week. The organizations also demanded that Jews entering the mosque’s compound on Sunday would be allowed to pray freely inside, and that groups entering the compound from Monday to Thursday would be allowed to enter the Qabali and Marwani mosques inside of the Al-Aqsa compound.
Israeli forces detain 1 at Allenby crossing, 2 in Qalqiliya
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 23 July -- Israeli forces detained three Palestinians from the occupied West Bank cities of Nablus and Qalqiliya on Thursday, a prisoners' rights group said. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said that Israeli forces detained Nablus resident Amid Nasser Shalabi while he was leaving the country to travel abroad through the Allenby Bridge border crossing between the West Bank and Jordan. Shalabi is a former prisoner who had spent three and a half years in Israeli jails. He is one of over 50 Palestinians to be rearrested after being freed in the 2011 Shalit deal, where 1,000 prisoners were freed in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. The two detained in Qalqilya were identified as Amin Jamal Hindi and Nasr Beida, both 20 years of age. PPS added that Amin is the son of Jamal Hindi who is currently serving a 22-year sentence in Israeli jails.
Israeli forces detain 120 Palestinian workers near Qalqiliya village
QALQILIYA (WAFA) 22 July – Israeli forces detained Wednesday 120 Palestinian workers near Oranit settlement near ‘Azzun ‘Atma village to the southwest of Qalqiliya as they were heading to work in Israel without permits, reported Israeli media. Israeli Channel 7, also known as Arutz Sheva, reported that Israeli border police conducted extensive search operations in the area near Oranit settlement following a warning of impending ‘infiltration’ by illegal workers into Israel. The police found and detained 120 Palestinian workers who did not have permits hiding in a trench and seeking to cross into Israel. They were taken to a nearby Israeli interrogation center. A 2013 working paper prepared by MIFTAH exploring the issue of Palestinian laborers in Israel revealed that around 40,000 Palestinians annually cross over to Israel to work; about half of this number does so illegally.
Israel rules to expel family of Jerusalem attacker
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 23 July -- The Israeli Supreme Court on Wednesday gave the Palestinian family of a man involved in an attack in Jerusalem until the beginning of October to leave for the occupied West Bank. Ghassan Abu Jamal, 32, was killed by Israeli forces on Nov. 18, 2014, after he and his cousin, Uday, killed four rabbis and a policeman in a synagogue in West Jerusalem. The Jerusalem residency of Ghassan’s wife, Nadiya, was revoked by Israeli authorities in May and she was ordered to move back to the West Bank where her family resides. The Hamoked Center for the Defense of the Individual had then presented an appeal to the Minister of Interior and the Supreme Court to allow Nadiya to stay in Jerusalem with her three children on the grounds that the three had no relation to the attack. The court refused the appeal and instead ruled that the children would be sent to the West Bank as well, ruling that the mother gained custody after the death of her husband. Ghassan’s brother Muawiya said that the appeal had stressed the importance of keeping the family's children, Walid, 6, Salma, 4, and Muhammad, 3, with their mother in Jerusalem. Forcing the children and their mother to leave Jerusalem means separating the children from their home, family and the village they grew up in, he said. Nadiya is from the town of al-Sawahra al-Sharqiya south east of Jerusalem and holds a West Bank ID card. She married Ghassan in 2002 and applied for a reunion paper but was rejected until she received the approval for “residency and permit” in 2009 that enabled her to live in Jerusalem, as long as the permit was renewed every year. Israeli policies make it near-impossible for Palestinians to obtain residency status in Jerusalem, and difficult for those who have it to retain it. The residency status of 107 Palestinian residents in East Jerusalem was revoked in 2014, adding to the 14,309 Palestinians who have lost residency since 1967 despite being from the area. Such revocations are part of Israeli policy in East Jerusalem which aims to maintain a 70 percent Jewish majority in the city, according to Israeli rights group B'Tselem.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israel advances 1,065 settlement housing units
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 July -- Israel's Civil Administration advanced plans for the development of 1,065 housing units in eight different settlements throughout occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, a settlement watchdog announced Thursday. The civil administration -- Israel's governing body for the occupied West Bank -- approved 15 plans for various planning stages in the settlements at hand, Peace Now said. Approved plans included legalizing 228 already existing housing units that have been completed in settlements, as well as 541 new housing units yet to be constructed. An infrastructure plan connecting 296 housing units was also given the go-ahead. One of the plans passed by the administration will begin construction of 24 housing units, in two new buildings, at the Beit El settlement near the West Bank town of Ramallah. Commonly known as the "Dreinoff buildings," the two new buildings will join others built on private Palestinian lands that are supposed to be demolished by the end of this month after a ruling by the Supreme Court, Peace Now said. "Following yesterday's approval of the plan, the State is expected to request the Supreme Court to reverse its ruling," the group added ...
The Israeli government provides separate system of infrastructure for those living in the Jewish-only settlements, connecting over 500,000 settlers to roads, electricity, water, and sewage systems that remain inaccessible to neighboring Palestinians. Last week's plans passed by the Civil Administration also included the legalization of 179 housing units in the settlement Beit Arie, 24 housing units in Psagot, and 22 housing units at Givon HaHadasha. Last week Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon approved the construction of two new roads that will bypass Hawara, a Palestinian town south of Nablus, and El-‘Aroub, a Palestinian refugee camp south of Bethlehem, the group added. While settler groups "lobbied furiously" last year for the two roads, then-Minister of Finance Yair Lapid reportedly rejected the demands on the grounds that their construction would be too expensive. "Now, with the new government at place, the approval for the roads has been granted," Peace Now said.
Bedouin homes in the Negev demolished by Israeli authorities
BEERSHEBA (Ma‘an) 22 July -- Bulldozers under the armed guard of Israeli forces demolished two homes in the Bedouin villages of Hura and Khashem Zanna in the Negev on Wednesday, local sources said. The Israeli Land Authority did not immediately respond for comment. The demolitions come amid ongoing efforts to push local Bedouin Palestinian communities from the area. Earlier this month, members of the Knesset -- the Israeli parliament -- began discussing a plan shelved in 2013 that would forcibly relocate tens-of-thousands of Bedouin Palestinians. The Prawer Plan was approved by the Israeli government in 2011 but frozen in 2013 amid widespread protest among Palestinians within Israel and international condemnation. Israeli minister of agriculture Uri Ariel of the Habayit Hayehudi party (Jewish Home) has since reintroduced the plan. His party conditioned joining Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu's government coalition in March on reinstating the Prawer Plan.
Israeli forces notice family of evacuating house in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 24 July -- The Israeli authorities delivered a verbal notice to evacuate a house in the Old City of Hebron in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, a family said. Muntasser Ali Abu Rajab, 23, said that Israeli forces informed his father the family needed to permanently leave the home, which is located near the Ibrahimi School in Hebron's Old City, giving them until Wednesday evening to leave before Israeli forces would "use force to evacuate it.” Abu Rajab pointed out that they are a family of eight living in the house, and that this is just the latest attempt of many by illegal Israeli settlers to take over the house. Illegal Israeli settlers already live on the upper two floors of the building, and are now attempting to take over the remaining two floors, he added.
Israel delivers 5 demolition orders in Qalqiliya
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 22 July -- The Israeli Civil Administration on Wednesday delivered five home demolition orders to the town of Jit in eastern Qalqiliya, claiming the buildings were built without the necessary permission. Locals said that Israeli forces accompanied the Civil Administration officers into the town to deliver the notices. Four of the five houses were identified as belonging to Majdi Lutfi Yamin, Iyad Hamdan Sakhen, Muhammad Ahmad Yamin and Malik Maher Yamin. According to the Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem, Jit has been subjected to "numerous Israeli confiscations" for the construction of Israeli settlements and the Israeli separation wall, both considered illegal under international law ... Since the Oslo Accords were signed, Israel has issued more than 14,600 demolition orders, according to Israeli planning rights watchdog Bimkom. Bimkom architect Alon Cohen Lifschitz estimates there are an average of two structures per order, meaning that over the past two decades, Israel has issued demolition notices for nearly 30,000 Palestinian-owned structures.
Israel delivers four stop-work orders in Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 July -- Israeli forces delivered four stop-work notices to Palestinians from the village of Za‘tara in eastern Bethlehem on Wednesday, claiming the buildings were not licensed, locals said. Muheisen Abu Amriyeh, a local resident, told Ma‘an that Israeli military vehicles escorted by Israeli Civil Administration officers raided the area and delivered stop-work notices to houses belonging to the Hassan Muheisin family. A total of eight houses belonging to the family are now threatened with demolition, as Israel delivered another four notices to the same family 10 days ago, Abu Amriyeh said. Five of the houses are at an early stage of construction while the other three are already inhabited.
Israeli forces destroy 450 olive trees, Roman-era well in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 22 July -- Israeli forces on Wednesday destroyed 450 olive trees, leveled land, and demolished a Roman-era water well in the village of Beit Ula in northwestern Hebron, after claiming the Palestinian land belonged to Israel, locals said. Issa al-Imla, the coordinator of a local popular committee in Beit Ula, told Ma‘an that the olive trees were more than 10 years old and belonged to a local farmer, Farid Abd al-Latif al-Imla. Al-Imla said that Israeli forces also leveled lands belonging to Abd al-Qader al-Imla and demolished the village water well that dated from the Roman era. Al-Imla said that Israeli forces, officials from the Israeli Civil Administration, and three bulldozers also raided the Attus and al-Mekheh areas in western Beit Ula and destroyed crops. On January 27, an Israeli court issued an order to confiscate hundreds of dunams of land in western Beit Ula. Al-Imla said that Palestinian landowners followed up the case in Israeli courts, but added that Israeli courts generally assist settlers in confiscating Palestinian land. He called on the Palestinian Minister of Agriculture and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to help farmers re-plant trees.
Israel ... orders soccer field construction in Bethlehem to stop
HEBRON (WAFA) 22 July -- ... Meanwhile, the Israeli authorities ordered to stop the construction work on a soccer field in the village of Wadi Fukin to the west of Bethlehem. Head of Wadi Fukin village council, Ahmad Sokar, told WAFA locals found a notice at the field, which is located adjacent to the illegal Israeli settlement of Bitar Elit in Area C, which is under full Israeli military control, ordering the construction work on the field to stop under the pretext of being built without permit. The notice gave those in charge of the field up to three weeks to file a petition against the decision. According to Alternative News, “Already surrounded by Tsur Hadassah and the settlements of Beitar Illit and Hadar Beitar and with new plans to build a further settlement to the west, Wadi Fukin residents fear being completely surrounded by settlements. And as 60 percent of the community’s population relies on agriculture for their livelihood, the land grab will have disastrous effects on their economy.”
Knesset advances bill to resume funding of honey pot for settlements
Haaretz 23 July by Jonathan Lis -- The Knesset gave preliminary approval on Wednesday to a bill enabling the government to resume funneling money to the World Zionist Organization’s Settlement Division, an unsupervised pipeline for funds to West Bank settlements. This, despite Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber’s stated opinion last February that the state was forbidden from funding the Settlements Division, as it was operating without oversight or public transparency. The bill, sponsored by MK Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi), passed its initial vote 65 to 41.
Israel exploits Syrian chaos to plan looting of Golan oil
EI 25 July by Paul Fallon -- According to Geoff Rochwarger, CEO of Afek, energy independence is the new Zionism. The Afek oil and gas exploration company has almost completed its second drilling test in the Golan Heights, a part of Syria which Israel has occupied since 1967 and annexed in violation of international law. The test is part of a three-year program to see if hydrocarbons in the area could lead to oil or gas for Israel. Israel is fuel-poor and its domestic energy woes could be eased in the interim if the government progresses on deals in relation to the Tamar and Leviathan gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea. In addition, Israel is now taking advantage of the chaos in Syria to look for precious resources to extract from the occupied Golan Heights ... Afek claims on its website that Syria’s occupied Golan Heights is part of the “State of Israel.” The company was granted a petroleum exploration license by the northern regional planning and building committee, in direct violation of international law by completely ignoring the Annex to the Fourth Geneva Convention -- which applies to the occupied territory.
Prisoners / Court actions
Palestinian prisoner held in solitary confinement for over 4 years
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 22 July -- Palestinian prisoner Dirar Abu Sisi is still being held by Israeli authorities in solitary confinement since his detention began over four years ago, a prisoners' rights groups reported. The Palestinian Prisoners' Society said Wednesday that Abu Sisi told his lawyer that Israeli authorities are imposing several sanctions on him, including preventing him from receiving family visits in the Nafha jail where he is currently detained. PPS added that an Israeli court had recently sentenced Abu Sisi to 21 years of jail. In March, a Beersheva District Court reportedly convicted Abu Sisi in a plea bargain arrangement wherein the prosecution was set to ask the court for the 21-year sentence after several initial charges were dropped. PPS head Qadura Fares could not give further information regarding the recent sentence. Abu Sisi, 42, was an engineer and former technical director at Gaza's sole electricity plant. He reportedly disappeared from a train in Ukraine in February 2011, and Israel later announced he was being held by Israeli authorities. According to a summary of charges given by Israel, Abu Sisi was on trial for "activity in a terrorist organization, hundreds of counts of attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and arms production offenses" as a member of Hamas. His Israeli lawyer, Smadar Ben-Natan, said following his detention that her client had made confessions "under very heavy duress which I would characterize as torture." Israeli media reported at the time that Abu Sisi admitted to assisting the Hamas movement in improving its rocket capabilities. Hamas has denied that Abu Sisi had any connection to the organization.
Khader Adnan rushed to hospital again
JENIN (PIC) 24 July -- Muhjat al-Quds Foundation for Prisoners and Martyrs reported on Thursday that the ex-detainee Khader Adnan, 37, was taken to hospital in Nablus city on Thursday following health complications. The foundation said Adnan has been complaining, since he was released, of sharp abdominal pain, a blockage in his small intestine, in addition to excess stomach acid due to a 55-day hunger strike he underwent in Israeli jails. No improvement has been noticed on his health condition and his weigh has not been increased except for half a kilo gram only. The foundation pointed out that doctors informed Adnan that he is suffering from gallbladder in addition to bowel problems that need surgery. Sheikh Adnan left al-Makased Hospital in East Jerusalem, on Wednesday after ending his treatment period which lasted for a week. His health condition deteriorated again on Wednesday evening after which he was transferred to hospital in Nablus. Then he was hospitalized again on Thursday morning.
Israeli forces detain 2 women visiting family in prison
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 23 July -- Israeli forces detained two women who were visiting family members in Israeli prisons this week, a prisoners' rights groups said. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society in Hebron (PPS) said Hanan Sadeq Hassan al-Akhdar, 51, was detained while visiting her brother in prison on Thursday. Al-Akhdar's brother, Imad Sadeq Nayroukh, has been serving a life sentence since 2002. He is currently held in Ramon Prison located in the Negev and reportedly suffers from several health problems, PPS director Amjad Najjar said. According to Najjar, al-Akhdar was taken to the Beersheba police station and put in solitary confinement. No further information on her status is known at this time.
Separately, Amina al-Amudi was detained when she was visiting her son Muhammad al-Amudi in the Galbou Prison on Tuesday.The PPS said the Israeli Central Court in Nazareth sentenced Amina to three days of house arrest and a fine of 5,000 shekels ($784), as well as a third party bail of 10,000 shekels ($2600) ... Over the last 45 years, an estimated 10,000 Palestinian women have been arrested and/or detained under Israeli military orders.Israel has consistently deprived thousands Palestinian prisoners the right to family visits, which is protected under international law, and relatives often face difficulty with Israeli authorities when granted a visit.
Jerusalem bilingual school arsonists given heavy sentences
Haaretz 22 July by Nir Hasson -- Nahman and Shlomo Twito sentenced to 30 and 24 months in prison, 25,000 shekels in fines; brothers say crime was 'worth the price,' burst into song after court session -- Two brothers convicted of torching the Hebrew-Arabic bilingual school in Jerusalem last November were given heavy sentences on Wednesday, after they confessed to the charges as part of a plea bargain ... The trial of the third suspect, Yitzhak Gabbay, is still underway ... "The 'normal' severity of the charge of arson is exacerbated by the accused's ideological motive… the accused's decision to torch the school was due to the fact that Jews and Arabs study there together, and as part of the accused's activity against coexistence between Jews and Arabs," Judge Zvi Segal of the Jerusalem District Court wrote in his verdict. "Their actions were perpetrated against the backdrop of attacks in the city of Jerusalem, when the ground was burning, and out of the intention to create a media impact… the torching and the defacement of the school against said background show, in addition to the damage to the values of the public peace and security, its private and public property, also harm to the values of human dignity, equality and tolerance," the judge added.
PA releases detainee held two years past his sentence
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 22 July -- The Palestinian Authority on Tuesday released a Palestinian detainee held for two years past his three-year prison term, sources told Ma‘an. Islam Hamed, 30, who also holds Brazilian citizenship, started an open-ended hunger strike in April to protest his detention. He was charged in September 2010 with opposing the PA and possessing an unlicensed gun after he reportedly opened fire on a car carrying Israeli settlers. Palestinian security services refused to release Hamed at the end of his three-year term, claiming that keeping him inside the prison was the only way to protect him from Israeli security forces. According to Adnan Dmeiri, a spokesperson for the Palestinian security forces, Hamed's situation was "dangerous" and his "life was at stake." ... The PA claimed that it only agreed to release Hamed after his family assured the security forces that they were not responsible for Hamed outside of prison. The PA intelligence also reportedly made an agreement with the Brazilian embassy.Hamed was received by his family and the Brazilian embassy after his release.
Limited Israeli incursion into Gaza Strip
GAZA (PIC) 23 July -- Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) advanced a limited distance in Palestinian lands to the east of Khan Younis City in southern Gaza on Thursday. Local sources told the PIC reporter that several Israeli military vehicles advanced into lands to the southeastern outskirts of the city in al-Umour district and started leveling land. The Israeli forces opened machinegun fires at random and leveled lands during the incursion. No casualties have been reported.
On Wednesday, Israeli soldiers opened intensive machinegun fire at Palestinian farmers and fishermen whereas Israeli military vehicles advanced limited area into northern Gaza Strip. The forces stationed at Central Gaza also fired their machineguns at Palestinian farmers forcing them to leave their farms, a field monitor revealed. Israeli gunboats as well started shooting at Gazan fishing boats with no casualties reported. Besides, four Israeli bulldozers advanced a 50-meter distance in northern Beit Lahia in the northern blockaded enclave.
Israeli forces fire on Gaza farmers, no injuries
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 25 July – Israeli forces on Saturday morning opened fire in Palestinian agricultural lands near the Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, eyewitnesses said. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces stationed in watchtowers near the Gaza-Israel border opened fire at Palestinian farmers who had arrived to tend their crops. No injuries have been reported.
Palestinians lay first brick for Gaza reconstruction
GAZA CITY (AFP) 22 July -- Palestinian housing minister Mufid al-Hasayneh laid a brick Wednesday for the first Gaza home to be rebuilt since the Israel-Hamas war a year ago, as frustration mounts over the slow pace of reconstruction. The 50-day war in July-August 2014 killed 2,200 Palestinians, 73 on the Israeli side, and destroyed or damaged tens of thousands of homes in the besieged Gaza Strip. Until now the only repairs have been to homes which were partially damaged, while 18,000 totally destroyed houses remain in ruins. Israel's ongoing blockade of Gaza, now in its ninth year, has been blamed for the slow progress as well as a lack of international donor support for the territory, ruled by the Islamist movement Hamas. Hasayneh laid the brick at the Harara family's home in Shejaiya, an area east of Gaza City that was one of the worst hit by Israeli shelling during the war. "The march towards real reconstruction of the Gaza Strip has begun, and nothing will stop it," Hasayneh said ... "We will see a lot of movement on the reconstruction front in the coming days. We will rebuild all homes destroyed by Israel," he said, thanking several Arab countries including Qatar and Saudi Arabia for their donations towards Gaza's reconstruction. But the process is expected to take years in the war-torn coastal enclave, whose 1.8 million residents have seen three wars in six years between Israel and Palestinian militants. Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA has said that so far it only received enough money for 200 out of the 7,000 houses it is tasked with rebuilding. Donations pledged at an international conference in Cairo in October have been slow to arrive, and the blockade that has choked Gaza for years is still in place.
Israeli Arab Gaza ban: Israel's army proposes laws to keep country's Arabs out of Palestine region
IBTimes 24 July by Eben Blake -- The Israeli army's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) has suggested new rules that would bar Israeli Arabs from visiting the Gaza Strip. After two Israelis went missing in Gaza in the past year and were being held by Hamas, COGAT proposed plans on Thursday to enforce even stricter border security. While Jews were forbidden by law from entering Gaza, Israeli Arabs currently can enter the region only to see first-degree relatives after being approved by COGAT. Only 762 Israelis have been allowed entry into Gaza so far this year, reported Haaretz. Sami Turgeman, a member of Israel's Southern Command, a regional arm of the Israel Defense Forces, has approved the new rules that were proposed by COGAT director Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai. The rules would only allow entry for humanitarian reasons after an intensive security check. "Hamas is liable to exploit Israeli Arabs' ties to Gaza," according to a COGAT press statement released Thursday, Haaretz reported. "It is even holding two innocent Israeli civilians against their will, one of them a Bedouin. Thus, at the present moment, the entry of Arab Israelis into the Strip has security implications." The laws came amidst a growing fear in Israel about the radicalization of Israeli Arabs, who have been marginalized in the state.
Israelis lack compassion for Gazans' suffering
Al-Monitor 24 July by Yuval Avivi -- Following the single screening of the documentary “Shivering in Gaza” at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque July 8, the film's director, Geert van Kesteren, was asked by viewers whether the treatment of trauma victims in Gaza depicted in the film could also be applied to Israelis traumatized by war. “Shivering in Gaza” documents the visit of Dutch trauma expert Jan Andreae to Gaza following Operation Protective Edge, conducted July-August 2014, and his treatment of Palestinian trauma victims there. The audience reckoned that the same treatment used to relieve the pain of Palestinians might help Israelis cope with their war trauma as well. According to van Kesteren, this was indeed his intention when he sought to screen “Shivering in Gaza” in the southern town of Sderot, near the Gaza border, whose residents have been living with almost constant shelling from Gaza for the last decade. He wanted to tweak their interest in the treatment offered to the Gazans, and thus, hopefully, help them as well. Instead, the scheduled screening at the Sderot Cinematheque was canceled under pressure from right-wing activists, as was a subsequent planned screening in the southern city of Beersheba. In both cases, the local municipality blocked the screening. “[Andreae] blatantly comes out against the State of Israel and lays on it the entire blame for the situation of the children and residents of Gaza,” Sderot mayor Alon Davidi wrote on his Facebook page. “This is an anti-Zionist and an anti-Israeli film, biased and one-sided." The account by Davidi, who apparently has not bothered to watch the film, is totally incorrect. The word ‘Israel’ is never mentioned in the film, and there are no anti-Zionist or anti-Israeli messages. “They [the Palestinians] are not playing the game of guilt,” van Kesteren told Al-Monitor. “They are not talking about Israel as the one responsible for their situation. They are just talking about what they have gone through. The film is not about the war [waged on the battlefield], but rather about the war going on in people's head once the firing has stopped.”
Flechette shells ... death shrapnel striking Gazans (report)
PIC 21 July -- Human rights and field investigations indicated that Israel targeted many civilian communities with the internationally banned flechette shells during the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip in 2014. Atef Abu Rock, from Khuza‘a town in southern Gaza, said: "On July 17, 2014, I woke up to the sound of a loud explosion and I felt something warm coming out from my belly, then I felt pain and I realized that I was wounded." When Atef, 53, checked his house he noticed scores of darts spread everywhere. According to experts, the flechette shells are generally fired from a tank and they release thousands of metal darts that disperse very quickly and cause severe injuries. Ahmad, a Palestinian youth, said that the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) fired two flechette shells at Al-Taqwa Mosque which is close to his house and he was wounded while he was sleeping. He explained that the Israeli forces used this internationally banned weapon in order to force the residents to leave the area.
Gaza disengagement recalled in a tearful exhibit that is divorced from reality
Haaretz 23 July by Uri Misgav -- Perhaps the most surprising thing about the Israeli center that commemorates the Gush Katif settlements is that it is funded and run by the government -- The Gush Katif and Northern Samaria Commemoration Center enjoyed the limelight this week, in honor of the 10th anniversary of the disengagement from Gaza. President Reuven Rivlin, who lit Hanukkah candles there in the past, will host the staff of the museum at the President’s Residence this week ... Not surprisingly, the center provides a single narrative and only one, whitewashed version of history. The map of “Greater Israel,” without the Green Line of course, stood out for me. The Gaza Strip was presented as a collection of settlements, strewn among them and marked very modestly -- Gaza City, Rafah, Khan Yunis. They are marked as being the same size as the settlements. Nowhere in the museum did I find a mention of the true proportions: 8,000 Jews living in the heart of a population of 1.5 million Arabs. The entire attitude toward the Palestinians -- their existence, their presence, their lives -- is referred to only in passing. A good metaphor for settlement in the Strip and for the unilateral way it ended.
Palestinian refugees - Syria
Yarmouk camp no longer besieged, UN rules
BEIRUT (IRIN) 24 July -- The United Nations has quietly removed a major Palestinian camp from its list of besieged areas in Syria, despite not being able to deliver aid there for four months, and to the shock of residents. The Yarmouk camp, a sprawling residential area on the outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus, was home to over 200,000 Palestinians before the country’s civil war began in 2011. The vast majority of the population has since fled, but around 18,000 people have remained trapped inside by a government siege for more than two years. Earlier this year, militants from the self-declared Islamic State (ISIS) briefly infiltrated Yarmouk and seized a large part of it. Control of the camp is still disputed but government forces maintain checkpoints around the area preventing people from coming and going. The UN continues to have no direct access, but has been able, with partners, to deliver aid to three nearby suburbs. Consequently, in his latest report to the UN Security Council, Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon reclassified the camp. Ahmed*, a Yarmouk resident, said that people were still denied entry and exit and that no support had been received for more than a month. When told that the UN no longer considered the camp besieged, he called the organisation “liars.” The UN stopped its support more than 50 days ago,” he told IRIN. Chris Gunness, a spokesperson for UNWRA – the UN’s agency for Palestinians and the leading UN body concerned with Yarmouk – confirmed that no aid had been allowed in for months. “Access to Yarmouk in the context of the last few years has been appalling,” he said. “We have not managed to have the access that we need and certainly we have not been in the camp since March 28, just a few days before ISIS moved in.” The final decision on the status of the camp, however, is made not by UNRWA but by the UN secretary-general (UNSG) on the advice of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which oversees all the UN’s emergency aid programmes.
Other news and opinion
Palestinian-funded TV channel for Israeli Arabs challenged
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 23 July by Karin Laub & Mohammed Daraghmeh -- Now broadcasting live from a West Bank parking lot, a new Palestinian-funded satellite television channel for Israel's Arab citizens already found its studio closed before it could even fill its airtime. The flap over Palestine 48 -- named for the year of Israel's creation and Palestinian displacement -- reflects strained relations between Israel's government and the Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas at a time when a resumption of talks on Palestinian statehood is unlikely. It also illustrates the complex ties between Palestinian communities separated by the Israeli-Arab conflict and the unique circumstances of Israel's 1.7 million Arabs -- descendants of Palestinians who stayed put in the 1948 war over Israel's creation and now make up one-fifth of the country's population. "We are all one people and need to communicate with each other," said Riad Hassan, head of the West Bank-based Palestinian Broadcasting Corp., which operates the new channel. Israel closed the channel's studio in the Israeli Arab town of Nazareth within days of its June launch because it is funded by non-Israelis -- the Palestinian self-rule government in the West Bank. Since the closure, the channel has set up a makeshift studio in the parking lot of a hotel in a Palestinian-run part of the West Bank, from where they broadcast to Israel and the Arab world. Its on-air hosts are taking the move in stride. "There are no borders when you have your own satellite," said morning show host Doraid Liddawi, an Israeli Arab actor who easily switches between Hebrew, Arabic and English ... Israel seems to fear Palestine 48 is part of an attempt by Abbas to influence Israel's largest minority. In shutting down the production site last month, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said he won't allow "Israel's sovereignty to be harmed" and for the Palestinian Authority to gain a "foothold."
El Al excluding Arab citizens from new at-home check-in service, NGO charges
Haaretz 24 July by Zohar Blumenkrantz -- Airline doesn’t deny charge about arrangement, which includes security inspection -- El Al is excluding Israeli Arabs from its new at-home check-in service, which includes at-home security inspections, according to the civil rights organization Yedid. Yedid’s deputy director general, Ran Melamed, told Haaretz on Thursday that he askedEl Al for information as to “whether the new security check and check-in service was available in Arab communities, such as Kafr Qasem, Abu Ghosh and Jaljulya, and whether the service was available in other languages, for example, Arabic.” Melamed said the answer he received was that all details on the subject of pre-flight service, including the geographical range for provision of the service, are in the new link to the service. However, Melamed said that this link stated as of Wednesday, “In this preliminary period the service will be given between Hadera in the north, Gedera in the south and Jerusalem in the east." Melamed said, “As I suspected, this is a bluff by the Israeli airline. A real answer would have been an answer that directly presents the names of the communities mentioned in my question. A real answer would have simply been to say yes. I have no doubt that the company does not intend to provide the service to Arab communities within the area it defined in its answer.”
Tourism to Israel down 25% in 2015
Globes 22 July by Sapir Peretz-Zilberman -- The incoming tourism crisis is getting worse in the wake of Operation Protective Edge last summer. Tourist overnights were down 20% in June, and tourist overnights in January-June totaled 4.1 million, 25% less than in the first six months of 2014, according to figures published today by the Israel Hotel Association economic department. No end to the tourism crisis is in sight. According to the Hotel Association, the drop was steepest in Eilat, where overnights totaled 303,000, 46% fewer than in the corresponding period last year ... Israelis are making up somewhat for the decline in incoming tourism. Overnights by Israelis totaled 5.9 million in January-June, 8% more than in the corresponding period last year. The catastrophe, as the hoteliers refer to it, is also reflected in the national room occupancy rate, which was 59% in the first six months of the year, down 9%, compared with the first half of 2014. According to the Hotel Association, the drop in occupancy rates extended to all areas.
Israeli army eats up land, air and radio frequencies, says special panel
Haaretz 22 July by Arik Mirovsky & Amitai Ziv -- The Locker committee report on defense spending takes the military to task for using too much of Israel’s land resources and radio frequencies. The panel found that the Defense Ministry has direct control over 40% of the country’s land. It also has a direct influence on planning for another 40% because it has the power to place restrictions on civilian use of land in areas it judges to have national security implications. In some areas next to defense firms and army bases, residential construction is prohibited entirely ... “The Defense Ministry is even represented in government planning bodies and influences their decisions,” the Locker committee said in the report, which was released Tuesday ... Meanwhile, the panel said the army’s use of radio frequencies was inefficient and hurt the civilian sector as well as the telecommunications and media industries. One example cited is Bluetooth, short-range radio technology, which arrived in Israel years after it was available elsewhere in the world. Likewise, tenders for fourth-generation cellphone service were long delayed and Israel has not been able to fully exploit WiFi technology, the committee said. With the army using so much of the band itself, often needlessly, mobile companies, broadcasters and other security arms like the police are crowded into fewer frequencies, it said.
Report: ICAO looking into Jordan complaint against Israeli airport
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 July – The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is investigating a complaint submitted by Jordan against Israel's construction of an airport near Aqaba, a minister said Saturday. Jordanian minister of transportation Lina Shabib told Jordan’s daily newspaper al-Ghad that the ICAO planned to vote on Jordan's submission. The new Israeli airport, to be called Timna, argued Shabib, is too close to Jordan’s King Hussein international airport -- located in the large coastal city of Aqaba -- possibly affecting aerial frequencies of the regional hub and leading to accidents. Israel, she added, continues to build the Timna airport despite Jordan’s vocal opposition to the project.
Saudi downplays Hamas pilgrimage visit
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AFP) 23 July -- Saudi Arabia on Thursday played down the significance of a visit by Hamas leaders, saying it was only a religious pilgrimage and Riyadh's position on the Palestinian Islamist movement was unchanged. "There was no (political) visit by Hamas to the kingdom," Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said at a joint news conference with his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry. The official Saudi Press Agency reported last Saturday on the rare Hamas visit. "A group from Hamas, including (politburo chief) Khaled Meshaal... visited Mecca for umra (the lesser pilgrimage). They performed the Eid (holiday) prayers there and offered Eid greetings to the king," Jubeir said. "There were no meetings." Saudi Arabia is a strong supporter of the Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank, and of Egypt's government, both of which are at odds with the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip.
New Illinois law does not make BDS illegal
EI 24 July by Nora Barrows-Friedman -- On Thursday, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law a measure that will seek to punish international companies that boycott Israel. The law, SB 1761, was approved by the state legislature earlier this year. In a press release, attorneys with Palestine Legal say that the new law “will set up a blacklist of companies that boycott Israel and require the state’s pension funds to divest from those companies. The law specifies that its intent is to only punish companies that are not based in the United States.” ... - Boycott is a constitutional right - Though it says the Illinois law is “troubling,” Palestine Legal points out, importantly, that it does not make Israel boycott activism, advocacy or engagement illegal. Rahul Saksena, staff attorney with Palestine Legal, told The Electronic Intifada today that “boycotting Israel is a constitutionally protected right that cannot be taken away by state law.” “While we should oppose any government action against BDS [the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions movement], we want to emphasize that the new Illinois law does not prohibit anyone, including students, from boycotting Israel or advocating for BDS,” Saksena said.
Outcry forces Univ. of California to drop Israel lobby's 'anti-Semitism' definition
EI Lobby Watch 22 July by Ali Abunimah -- Students at the University of California (UC) are celebrating victory against the latest attempt to stifle advocacy for Palestinian rights under the banner of fighting “anti-Semitism.” The university’s governing body, the Board of Regents, had been due to consider at its meeting this week whether to adopt as official policy the US State Department’s definition of “anti-Semitism.” That definition “brands critics of Israel and advocates for Palestinian human rights as anti-Semitic by blurring the important distinction between criticism of Israel as a nation-state and anti-Semitism,” according to civil rights group Palestine Legal. In an interview on WBUR radio in May, UC President Janet Napolitano had publicly declared her support for the State Department definition and insisted that UC Regents would vote on it this month. But faced with a growing public outcry, Napolitano backed down and the definition was taken off the agenda. Instead, in September the UC Regents will consider “a statement of principles against intolerance, including, but not limited to anti-Semitism and other types of intolerance,” according to a university statement. This is a major setback to efforts by pro-Israel activists to control speech on campus
Deputy FM warns European governments against funding Israeli left-wing NGOs
Haaretz 21 July by Barak Ravid -- Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) plans to instruct the Foreign Ministry to work against funding provided by European government to left-wing organizations in Israel. A senior Israeli official noted that in a meeting that took place Tuesday with a delegation from the European parliament and with the Dutch ambassador to Israel, Hotovely warned that should EU governments be unwilling to cooperate with the Israel in overseeing the funds' allocation, the government would put forward legislation on the issue. Hotovely also raised the issue with members of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee who had come to a meeting at the Foreign Ministry Tuesday. "Under the guise of safeguarding human rights, these organizations actually work to undermine Israel's right of existence," Hotovely said, adding that in the past years, over 100 million euros have been donated to left wing Israeli organizations ... Hotovely noted during the meetings that she requests that government funding not be given to organizations who support a boycott of Israel, the right of return for Palestinian refugees or conduct activities that slander IDF soldiers or advance legal procedures against them.
EU think-tank requests financial pressure on illegal settlement policy
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 July -- A European think-tank released a report on Wednesday urging the European Union (EU) to curb its relations with Israeli banks and other financial institutions. The European Council on Foreign Relations' report stressed the importance of differentiating between business with "Israel proper" and its illegal settlements. The report argued that the EU is breaching its own laws by not going far enough in making sure business is not done with the Israeli settlements, which the EU has long condemned, and international law deems illegal. The policy purposed by the think-tank would delve into many sectors of Israel's financial institutions, from banking, loans and mortgages, qualifications earned in settlement institutions and the tax-exempt status of European charities that deal with Israeli settlements, according to Reuters. The EU is Israel's largest trading partner. After the report was released, the stocks of four of Israel's largest banks dipped significantly, leading many Israeli media outlets to link the drop to the report's release.
Stifling freedom of expression in UK schools
LONDON (Al Jazeera) 23 July by Simon Hooper -- Schoolchildren in the UK who express support for Palestine face being questioned by police and referred to a counter-radicalisation programme for youngsters deemed at risk of being drawn into terrorism under new laws requiring teachers to monitor students for extremism. One schoolboy told Al Jazeera he was accused of holding "terrorist-like" views by a police officer who questioned him for taking leaflets into school promoting a boycott of Israel. The case reflects concerns raised about the expansion of the government's Prevent counter-extremism strategy into schools, with critics complaining that teachers are being expected to act as the "eyes and ears of the state." Since the beginning of July, teachers have had a statutory duty to monitor and report children who they believe may be susceptible to radicalisation, although Prevent engagement officers, who are usually also police officers, have long been active in schools in areas with significant Muslim populations. - Child suspects - The boy, who was then 15 and attending school in a southern English town, said he was also told that "Free Palestine" badges that he wore were "extremist." Al Jazeera is not naming the student or the school to protect his identity. "He asked me what I thought of the leaflet," the boy said, describing how a police officer told him he had been brought into the school to "deal with this sort of extremism." "I explained to him my views about freedom and justice and that I supported Palestine. I said I thought Israel should have tough sanctions put upon it and he said these could be radical beliefs," the boy said. "He said these are terrorist-like beliefs that you have. He explicitly said you cannot speak about this conflict at school with your friends," the boy said.
The international community must do more to safeguard Palestinians rights / Mustafa Barghouti
Haaretz 22 July -- At a moment when Palestine is calling upon the world to stop the demolition of the village of Sussia, near Hebron, it is important to remind the international community of its responsibility under international law. Eleven years ago, the International Court of Justice issued an opinion on Israel’s annexation wall that clarified the role that states should play in ending Israeli violations of Palestinian rights, including the right to self-determination. Palestine went to the ICJ at the time, asking that court to rule on the illegality and consequences of the wall, which was then a new development. The court's conclusions were clear: The wall is designed to annex Palestinian land, its route is unnecessary for Israel’s security and Israel has the obligation to dismantle the wall and compensate the Palestinians affected by it. Yet 11 years later, the Israeli annexation wall has expanded. In the meanwhile, it has brought devastating social, economic and political consequences for the Palestinian people. Some 85% of the wall is not built along the Green Line, the designated border between Israel and the West Bank, but on occupied Palestinian land, going as deep as 22 kilometers inside the occupied West Bank. Its goal is to turn occupation into annexation, including the areas in and around Occupied East Jerusalem. Regarding the role of the international community, the ICJ concluded that all states are obliged not to recognize the illegal status quo resulting from the construction of the wall. Additionally they must assist in preventing this crime. But what has been the international response? Unfortunately, the wall and the illegal situation it maintains persist: Building and expansion of settlements continues with impunity, and several companies operate inside occupied Palestinian territory that Israel aims to annex via the wall. The PLO’s current strategy of turning to international forums, including joining the Geneva Convention and the International Criminal Court, is an attempt to achieve overdue inalienable Palestinian rights by ending Israel’s culture of impunity....
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