Ma’an News – Around 100 Palestinian Bedouins could be homeless by the end of the week after Israeli authorities issued eviction orders to 20 families in northeast Jerusalem, their lawyer said Wednesday.
An Israeli court initially ordered the families, from the al-Arara tribe, to leave their land in Jaba within three days, but the lawyer managed to delay the order for 15 days, which will run out this week, he told a news conference in Jerusalem.
Jaba borders Adam, an illegal Jewish settlement, which the families say Israel plans to expand onto their land.
IMEMC – Palestinian medical sources reported that dozens of nonviolent activists have been injured after Israeli soldiers attacked nonviolent protesters who established “Al-Manatheer.”
Dozens of nonviolent activists installed the protest camp on lands that belong to Palestinian villagers of Burin, in a move meant at protecting Palestinian lands and property, and to express rejection to Israel’s illegal settlement activities.
Dozens of soldiers and extremist Israeli settlers attacked the nonviolent protesters, and tried to remove them by force, eyewitnesses reported.
Medical sources said that at least twenty persons, including children, have been treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation, and due to being pepper-sprayed by the soldiers, while several residents have been injured by live rounds and rubber-coated metal bullets fired by the army, and were moved to local hospitals in Nablus.
Israeli media sources reported that two Israeli soldiers were mildly injured by stones thrown by some Palestinian youths during clashes that erupted with the army after the army attacked the nonviolent protesters.
Several families and their children were in the area visiting with family members and expressing solidarity with the nonviolent activists who installed their tents and established the new neighborhood on privately-owned Palestinians lands.
It is worth mentioning that the army was extensively deployed in the area, especially around Burin village, and installed roadblocks to prevent the residents from reaching the protest camp.
Activists said that this new neighborhood was established on Palestinian lands, in the occupied West Bank, as part of ongoing nonviolent activities against Israel’s illegal settlement activities in the West Bank, including in occupied Jerusalem.
In related news, Israeli soldiers violently attacked a nonviolent procession that was held in Kufur Qaddoum village, near the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia.
The residents marched to express solidarity with “Al-Manatheer Neighborhood” after the army attacked it, leading to several injuries.
Morad Eshtewy, media coordinator of the Nonviolent Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Qalqilia, stated that the soldiers fired gas bombs at the protesters leading to several injuries, adding that a child was hit in the leg by a gas bomb fired by the soldiers, and was moved to a local hospital
Eshtewy added that the escalating Israeli attacks against the nonviolent protesters are a clear indication that these nonviolent activities are effective in exposing Israel’s crimes and violations.
Ma’an News – Fluctuating prices, poverty and border restrictions mean growing numbers of Palestinians are facing food insecurity this year — one of the key priorities in the humanitarian community’s annual appeal for the occupied Palestinian territory.
This year’s Consolidated Appeal Process is for $401.6 million, a slight decrease on last year’s $416.7 million, only 68 percent of which was financed.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which helped coordinate the CAP, estimates that 1.3 million Palestinians do not have enough food.
The latest figures show the number of households without sufficient access to food has risen by 7 percent since 2011, a trend which — if continued — would have left an estimated 41 percent of Palestinians without the necessary resources to get sufficient, safe and nutritious food at the end of 2012.
“Palestinian wages have not kept pace with inflation … Many poor Palestinians have exhausted their coping mechanisms (taking on loans, cutting back consumption) and are now much more vulnerable to small price increases than they were,” said a recent World Food Program bulletin.
According to the CAP, the situation is further worsened by restrictions on the movement of people and goods, which have resulted in higher prices of basic food commodities and reduced the purchasing power of many vulnerable families.
Humanitarian agencies hope to carry out 157 projects in 2013 — 58 implemented by UN agencies, 82 by international NGOs and 17 by local NGOs.
But doing this type of work is becoming increasingly difficult, according to aid workers who say getting access to vulnerable communities became tougher in 2012 because of lengthy Israeli planning procedures and restrictions on mobility and authorization.
In 2011, UN reconstruction projects had to wait an average of eight months for approval from Israel’s Coordination of Government Activities in Territories, a unit in the Israeli Ministry of Defense that engages in coordinating civilian issues between the government of Israel, the army, international organizations, diplomats, and the Palestinian Authority). By the end of 2012, the average waiting time more than doubled to 20 months, according to the CAP report.
In addition, aid workers lost some 1,959 working hours due to 535 access incidents while attempting to pass Israeli checkpoints in 2012, Maria José Torres, OCHA deputy head of office in OPT, told IRIN.
This trend is expected to worsen once the Israeli Crossing Points Administration, a civilian department linked to the Defense Ministry, begins to operate all checkpoints.
The CPA requires regular searches of UN vehicles, unless the driver is an international staff member, and national UN staff are subject to body searches and required to walk through the crossings the CPA operates. It remains unclear, however, when exactly CPA will take over.
Impact of recent political events
The recent escalation in violence in Gaza at the end of 2012 only increased humanitarian needs and added an extra $26 million to the CAP as communities try to rebuild: this year’s appeal has a tighter focus on strictly humanitarian projects that would immediately tackle suffering, said Torres.
The indebted Palestinian government in the West Bank is also struggling to provide basic services due to a shortfall in revenue provoked by declining donor support, and also the holding back of tax revenues by Israel, which objected to the State of Palestine being given the status of a non-member observer state at the UN.
A man-made crisis?
These incidents highlight the close correlation between politics and humanitarian needs in oPt.
At the CAP presentation in Ramallah, several speakers on the podium criticized Israel for provoking what they said was a man-made humanitarian crisis in oPt.
“The UN has repeatedly called upon the State of Israel to meet its obligations as an occupying power, including halting demolitions and addressing humanitarian needs. Unfortunately, these have not been met,” said the resident humanitarian coordinator in oPt, James Rawley.
“The international community tries to fill the gap, and this humanitarian action is essential. But it is no substitute to political action.”
Many of the Palestinian officials and humanitarian staff present told IRIN they had become frustrated by the man-made and largely unchanged humanitarian crisis in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
“After 20 years of a useless peace process with Israel, the situation on the ground continues to deteriorate. The status quo is not working,” said Estephan Salameh, an adviser to the Palestinian Ministry of Planning in the West Bank.
IMEMC – Sunday at night – January 27, Israeli soldiers broke into a mosque in the Al-Ezariyya town, in occupied East Jerusalem, searched it and detained dozens of worshipers.
Local sources reported that the army invaded the Al-Morabetean mosque after surrounding it, and prevented the worshipers from leaving for a few hours.
Later on, the soldiers also inspected the ID cards of the worshipers , and also searched them after forcing them to stand against the wall outside of the mosque.
The army said that the soldiers conducted a search campaign in the area after an Israeli settlers bus came under fire leading to damages but no injuries.
The army claimed that the attack took place near Hizma Palestinian village, northeast of occupied Jerusalem, and added that two rounds have been fired at the bus; no arrests were made until the time of this report.
Ma’an News – Israeli forces demolished at least four buildings and a sewage network in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan early Monday, locals said.
Bulldozers leveled land and uprooted olive trees in order to access the demolition sites, closing all the surrounding roads, witnesses told Ma’an.
The raid, shortly after the dawn prayer, prompted clashes with local residents. Witnesses said several youth were detained by Israeli police, including Khalid al-Zeir and Firas Awad. An Israeli police spokesman could not be reached for comment.
Silwan resident Abdul-Munim Shuweiki said forces demolished a fence and uprooted 10-year-old olive trees to access his land.
The bulldozers razed his garage and a steel building, damaging an external staircase, he told Silwan’s Wadi Hilweh Information Center.
Ahmad Simrin, who owns land in the area, said Israeli bulldozers leveled parts of his land and demolished a sewage network.
He told the Wadi Hilweh Center that he showed an Israeli commander a title deed dating back to 1892, which proves that the land was owned by his grandfather Awad Simrin. Israel does not recognize that deed and insists the area is a national park, he said.
Israeli bulldozers also demolished a tin-roofed room in the neighborhood, which was built in 1956, according to owner Faraj Shukeir.
The demolition also damaged an older room and the front yard of the house.
Israeli forces then demolished a newer house, built eleven years ago and inhabited by a family of four, belonging to Silwan resident Ayman Shukeir.
Silwan — adjacent to the Old City’s Dome of the Rock compound and Western Wall — is a populated by a number of settler homes under heavy Israeli guard, and the site of frequent clashes with forces on arrest raids targeting the Palestinian population.
Israel insists that Jerusalem is its “eternal and indivisible” capital, and annexed the city’s eastern sector after a 1967 war in a move never recognized by the international community.
For Palestinians, East Jerusalem is the capital of their promised state.
Gaza’s children affirmed their place at the forefront of creativity and innovation last week, as a 14-year-old girl from Jabalia refugee camp, northern Gaza, took first place in an international math competition featuring the best young brains from all around the world.
In recent years in Gaza, creativity and achievement has grown and flourished against extraordinary odds; a blockade and the rubble of many conflicts, the last of which was eight-day war on Gaza in November 2012.
14-year-old Palestine refugee Areej El Madhoun, a student at UNRWA’s school in Jabalia camp received the first prize in this year’s Intelligent Mental-Arithmetic Competition, held in Malaysia every two years.
The Intelligent Mental-Arithmetic program, which targets children between the ages of 4 and 12, works on developing the mental capacity and performance of children by adopting a technique called the “Both-Hand Abacus Mental-Arithmetic” teaching method. Using the fingers of the left and right hands to compute simultaneously, the program works to create stimulation in both the left and right sides of the brain. This enables children to solve various mathematical questions with speed, accuracy and skill, in addition to improving their thinking abilities.
Ninth-grader Areej outmatched 2,500 other participants from ten countries by solving 182 complicated mathematical questions within an eight-minute period.
Areej sees her success as the greatest gift she can offer to the children of Gaza after the recent eight-day war, which saw houses and infrastructure destroyed, and incidences of psychological trauma rise.
“Winning the first prize is a victory for Palestine. I was very proud to carry my country’s flag”, said a delighted Areej.
“When I was announced as the winner, I felt overwhelmed and cried so hard”.
The recent memory of war made her victory particularly poignant, Areej added
“I went through some difficult times before the competition. The most recent conflict in Gaza had just ended two weeks before the competition began.”
In the end, the fear and anxiety brought on by the conflict did not subdue her overwhelming joy at winning first prize, she said.
In addition to Areej, four other young Palestinians received advanced places in the international competition; proving once again that the talent of Palestinian youth is remarkable, when given the opportunity to be.
(UNRWA – http://www.unrwa.org)
Health Minister director general instructs all gynecologists in Israel’s four health maintenance organizations not to inject women with long-acting contraceptive Depo-Provera if they do not understand ramifications of treatment.
A government official has for the first time acknowledged the practice of injecting women of Ethiopian origin with the long-acting contraceptive Depo-Provera.
Health Ministry Director General Prof. Ron Gamzu has instructed the four health maintenance organizations to stop the practice as a matter of course.
The ministry and other state agencies had previously denied knowledge or responsibility for the practice, which was first reported five years ago.
Gamzu’s letter instructs all gynecologists in the HMOs “not to renew prescriptions for Depo-Provera for women of Ethiopian origin if for any reason there is concern that they might not understand the ramifications of the treatment.”
He also instructed physicians to avail themselves of translators if need be.
Gamzu’s letter came in response to a letter from Sharona Eliahu-Chai of the Association of Civil Rights in Israel, representing several women’s rights and Ethiopian immigrants’ groups. The letter demanded the injections cease immediately and that an investigation be launched into the practice.
About six weeks ago, on an Educational Television program journalist Gal Gabbay revealed the results of interviews with 35 Ethiopian immigrants. The women’s testimony could help explain the almost 50-percent decline over the past 10 years in the birth rate of Israel’s Ethiopian community. According to the program, while the women were still in transit camps in Ethiopia they were sometimes intimidated or threatened into taking the injection. “They told us they are inoculations,” said one of the women interviewed. “They told us people who frequently give birth suffer. We took it every three months. We said we didn’t want to.”
At least five young unarmed people shot by soldiers despite rules permitting live fire only in extreme circumstances
At least five unarmed young Palestinians, including a 21-year-old woman, have been shot dead by Israeli soldiers in 13 days since the start of the year, prompting mounting concern about the unwarranted use of live fire. A sixth was killed on his 17th birthday last month, and a seventh death this month is disputed by the Israeli military.
The commander of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) in the West Bank, Brigadier-General Hagai Mordechai has ordered all commanders to reiterate to all soldiers the rules of engagement, a military spokesman told the Guardian.
The use of live fire is permitted only in extreme circumstances, and shooting to kill only in a life-threatening situation. “None of [the dead] posed a threat that justifies the use of lethal force,” said Sarit Michaeli, of the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem and the author of a report published on Monday which analyses the IDF’s use of crowd control weapons in the West Bank. “Swift action by the army is required to transmit a clear message to soldiers that the lives of Palestinians have equal value and that firing live ammunition in non-life threatening situations is illegal.”
The youngest to be killed was 15-year-old Salah Amarin, who died last Wednesday, five days after being shot in the head during clashes near Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem. According to the IDF, he had been launching stones from a slingshot.
The same day as Amarin died, Lubna al-Hanash, 22, was shot in the face while walking on a college campus south of Bethlehem. According to the IDF, a routine patrol in the area had opened fire in self-defence after being “confronted by Palestinians with Molotov cocktails”. But Suad Jaara, a friend who was injured in the shooting, told the Palestinian news agency Ma’an: “An Israeli soldier was shooting from his rifle while a white car was parked on the roadside. There was no one in the area except Lubna and I.”
Sixteen-year-old Samir Awad was shot on 15 January after crossing a fence that forms part of the security barrier near his home in the village of Budrus. He had just completed school exam before a midterm break from school when he was grabbed by soldiers, broke free and ran away. Soldiers opened fire, hitting him from behind in the back and the head. The IDF said Awad was “attempting to infiltrate into Israel”.
Three days earlier, Uday Darwish, 21, was also shot in the back while running away from soldiers after attempting to cross the separation barrier south of Hebron, according to Palestinian sources. The IDF said “soldiers at the scene fired towards his legs”.
Last month, Mohammed al-Salaymeh was killed by a female soldier at a checkpoint in Hebron while en route to buy a cake to celebrate his 17th birthday. The IDF said he had brandished a toy gun. Grainy video footage of the incident appears to show the youth struggling with a soldier, and then being shot three times. The third and final shot is fired as Salaymeh is leaving the scene.
In Gaza, Anwar al-Mamlouk, 19, was shot in the abdomen 50 metres from the border fence on 11 January by Israeli soldiers, according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.
Three days later, a 21-year-old farmer, Mustafa Abu Jarad died after being shot in the head. The IDF denied it was responsible.
According to B’Tselem, IDF regulations say live fire is permissible “in a case of violent rioting by the separation barrier, when there appears to be a real threat of damage to, or breaching of, the barrier, and when less severe methods have proved to be ineffective, the commander of the force may, as a last resort, authorise the firing of single shots of live ammunition at the legs of those people identified as central agitators”.
At least 46 Palestinians have been killed since 2005 by live ammunition fired by soldiers at stone-throwers, says its report, Israel’s Use of Crowd Control Weapons in the West Bank. The most common crowd control weapons are tear gas, rubber-coated bullets, stun grenades and “skunk” – the use of foul-smelling liquid in water cannon.
“Live ammunition is the most lethal means used by security forces at West Bank demonstrations,” says the report. “The Israeli military’s standing orders explicitly state that live ammunition may not be fired at stone-throwers.”
The IDF said the report relied on “a biased narrative” and “specific incidents … are exceptions to IDF policy rather than the rule”. It added: “Every soldier who is expected to contend with these situations regularly trains with riot dispersal means and is carefully taught the rules of engagement.”
The Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad called for “strong condemnation from the international community” of the recent spate of deaths from live fire, and urged “immediate intervention to compel Israel to desist from these serious attacks on our people”.
The UN special co-ordinator for the Middle East peace process, Robert Serry, has also raised concerns about the use of live fire by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank.
In an editorial published before the most recent two deaths, the liberal daily Haaretz said the “basic problem emerging from these cases … is in soldiers and commanders’ overly-free interpretation regarding the circumstances permitting killing Palestinian civilians who only approach the fence, or even try to cross it, without endangering the lives of Israeli soldiers or civilians.”
It added: “The consecutive incidents in which Palestinians were killed in recent days give the feeling that Palestinian blood may be shed with impunity.”
IMEMC – Last Sunday, and following the end of a normal school day in Jerusalem, a number of Arab Palestinian schoolchildren from Jerusalem (around age 12) boarded an Israeli bus while heading home; a number of adult Israeli extremists started insulting the children, and one of them spit a gum he was chewing on a child’s face.
Israeli paper, Haaretz, reported that after the Palestinian children boarded the bus, two settlers “noticed” that the children were speaking in Arabic, and started cursing at them, insulting them and one of the settlers even spit a gum, he was chewing, in the face of one of the children.
The Arab children study at a Jerusalem school attended by both Arab and Jewish students.
After the two settlers left the bus, a settler woman started harassing the children, cursing at them and uttered a number of racist statements against the Arabs and Palestinians.
The settler woman did not only use words to show her racist nature against the Palestinians, but even physically attacked one of the children by grabbing her hair and pulling it.
The bus driver then stopped his bus, and demanded the settler woman to leave, and when she refused he called the police who detained her.
Haaretz said that “Ayyoub”, the father of the child, said that his daughter goes to school through Jewish neighborhoods every single school day, and that she is repeatedly subject to verbal insults, but this time extremists decided to move to physical assault.
The father added that, in the latest bus incident, only one Israeli man stood up for the children, and prevented a more serious attack against them.
Ma’an News – Dozens of Palestinian activists entered a demolished protest village in northwest Jerusalem on Friday, starting to rebuild the al-Karamah (Dignity) encampment.
The tent village was established last Friday to protest Israel’s land confiscation and settlement building in the area of Beit Iksa.
On Monday, Israeli troops demolished all the tents and evacuated all the activists in the camp.
Activists entered the village on Friday and performed the weekly prayer, before re-erecting tents and planting olive trees, witnesses said.
Beit Iksa, surrounded by Israeli settlements, is set to be entirely encircled by Israel’s separation wall, cutting it off from Jerusalem.
When completed, the wall will annex 96 percent of Beit Iksa’s land, according to a study by the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem.
The Al-Karamah village was the second protest village set up, and torn down, this month.
Earlier, activists established the Bab al-Shams village near East Jerusalem, in a protest against Israel’s plans to build the “E1” settlement on the land, severing the West Bank from Jerusalem.
IMEMC – The Israeli Supreme Court delayed, Thursday, deliberation in an appeal filed on behalf of a Palestinian child from Gaza who was paralyzed by an Israeli missile that also killed several family members in Gaza.
Maria Aamen is now 11, but when she was only three years old, an Israeli missile struck a civilian vehicle in Gaza leading to the death of her mother, grandmother and her 7-year old brother.
Maria did not die in the attack but was seriously injured when the explosion threw her body out of the car causing Quadriplegia; seven Palestinians were injured in the attack.
Maria now lives in Um Al-Fahem, north of the country, receiving medical attention at a specialized Israeli medical center.
Following her serious injury, the Israeli Supreme Court made a rare decision in favor of Maria allowing her to receive the needed medical treatment.
But the Israeli Defense Ministry did not want to pay the expenses for Maria’s treatment, and in 2007, Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, decided to stop the funding for her treatment.
Since then, the family of Maria has been in legal battles with Israel, trying to ensure continued treatment in Israeli medical centers.
Defense Attorney, Adi Lustigman, stated that the Supreme Court decided to delay the deliberations until next week in order to study Maria’s medical file.
Lustigman presented the court with a detailed medical report outlining the health condition of the child, and informing the court that Maria constantly needs respirators, thorough medical attention, and is always dependent on her power chair.
Maria told the Bokra News Agency that she wants her “old life back”, and that she wants to be like other children, without her power chair, and without all of those machines.
“I want to live like other children do, I want to live without a power chair, without respirators”, she said, “As a child, I was robbed of my basic rights to live in peace, the Israeli missile killed my dear mother, my brother, my grandmother, and my uncle, and left me in this condition”.
“Today am fighting for my life in this court, trying to convince Israel to continue to pay for my much needed medical expenses”, Maria added, “Am still alive because of the extensive medical attention am receiving here, and my respirator, am moving around on my power chair, I can’t move any part of my body, I can only move my head”.
Najib Razak crossed into Gaza via its land border with Egypt for what he describes as a humanitarian visit.
Malaysia’s prime minister has defied Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip to visit the Palestinian enclave, a move that has earned the ire of West Bank leaders, despite Najib’s pledge of solidarity with the Palestinian people.
Najib Razak, along with a group of Malaysian ministers, crossed into Gaza on Tuesday via its land border with Egypt for what he described as a humanitarian visit.
He told a joint news conference in Gaza City with Hamas leader Ismail Haniya that he came “to express my solidarity with the Palestinian people.”
“This is a humanitarian visit to express our deep concerns for what happens to the Palestinian people in Gaza and to express our opposition to the aggression on Gaza,” he added.
But the visit drew criticism from the office of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, who also heads the Fatah movement.
“The Palestinian presidency announces its rejection and condemnation of the Malaysian prime minister’s visit to Gaza,” a statement carried on the official WAFA news agency said.
“It undermines Palestinian representation and reinforces the division and does not serve Palestinian interests,” it continued, saying Abbas’ bureau would ask Kuala Lumpur “for clarification.”
Call for reconciliation
Najib said his visit was intended “to show solidarity” and called for renewed reconciliation efforts between the Hamas and the rival Fatah party, including attempts to form a consensus government to pave the way for new elections.
“We believe in this unity government and we pray to Allah that the talks will be successful and a united government will become a reality in the near future,” Najib said.
Najib visited a Gaza university and government offices, as well as the family of top Hamas military chief Ahmed Al-Jaabari, whose assassination by Israel in November started an eight-day war in which more than 160 Palestinians and six Israelis died.
Before leaving for Egypt, he laid the first stone at a Malaysian-funded school.
Najib was the second world leader in recent months to defy the five-year blockade and accept an invitation from Hamas, which Western states regard as a terrorist group.
Qatar’s emir, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, made a brief visit to Gaza in October and promised $400 million in aid for infrastructure.
On February 9, Moncef Marzouki, Tunisian president, is scheduled to make his first trip to the coastal strip, according to Hamas officials.
The visits have been made possible in part by Egypt’s decision to loosen some of the restrictions on travel through its Rafah border crossing with Gaza, the only entry point to bypass Israel.
Army removes encampment in the occupied West Bank saying the tents and building were on land owned by Israel.
The Israeli army has removed a Palestinian protest encampment of four tents and a building under construction near a village in the occupied West Bank, military sources said.
In addition to demolishing the structures near Beit Iksa, on the northwestern outskirts of Jerusalem, early on Monday “20 Palestinians at the site were evicted without incident,” the sources said.
On Sunday night, the army issued “invasion removal orders” to the encampment, saying three of the tents and the building were on land owned by Israel, and the fourth tent was on the route of a planned separation barrier.
Activists on Friday set up the encampment to protest against Israel’s intention to confiscate at least 124 acres of land near the village, naming the camp Bab al-Karama, Arabic for Gate of Dignity.
Bab al-Karama was inspired by a separate Palestinian protest camp of 24 tents set up on a disputed piece of land on the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem that was dismantled by police last week.
Activists had established that camp, which they dubbed Bab al-Shams, or Gate of the Sun in Arabic, in a bid to draw attention to Israeli plans to build in the area, known as E1.
Ma’an News – “I saw an Israeli soldier on the main road firing gunshots haphazardly, so I put my left hand on Lubna’s back, and grabbed her to try and run backward. A gunshot hit my hand, and I shouted as I ran.
“I thought Lubna was running behind me until I reached the security guards of Al-Arrub College who took me to a clinic in the camp before an ambulance arrived and took me to hospital.”
This, says Suad Jaara, 28, is what she witnessed Wednesday afternoon when Israeli officers near al-Arrub refugee camp shot her and her friend Lubna al-Hanash. Lubna, 22, died hours later.
Speaking to Ma’an, Jaara said Thursday that she and Lubna were walking on the campus of Al-Arrub College about 100 meters from the main road when they came under fire.
“An Israeli soldier was shooting from his rifle while a white car was parked on the roadside. There was nobody in the area except Lubna and I. He was a criminal … yes, a criminal who opened fired at us in cold blood killing Lubna and injuring me.”
Jaara’s testimony contradicts claims by the Israeli army’s chief of central command on Channel 10 Wednesday evening that the woman was trying to hurl a Molotov cocktail at an Israeli vehicle.
An army spokeswoman also told Ma’an on Wednesday that “soldiers were attacked by Palestinians who hurled multiple firebombs at them while they were traveling near al-Arrub. Soldiers returned fire and the circumstances of the incident are currently being reviewed.”
But Jaara says she and her late friend were the only ones in the area, walking around and enjoying the scenery.
“Lubna arrived two days ago to visit her sister, who is married to my brother. She had heard about Al-Arrub College and she wanted to visit it. I accompanied her to campus and she admired the area because it’s in a charming natural landscape. When we decided to leave campus, a criminal fired at us and Lubna died a martyr.”
Jaara is an employee at the Ministry of Prisoners Affairs. Her brother Jihad was a gunman in Fatah’s al-Aqsa Brigades in the Bethlehem area. He was deported to Ireland after the Nativity Church siege in 2002.
IMEMC – The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) reported, Monday evening, that a former Palestinian political prisoner from Hebron, died at a hospital in Jerusalem after falling into a coma 50 days ago due to a serious health condition resulting from his imprisonment by Israel, and the lack of medical treated while in prison.
The PPS said that Ashraf Abu Thra’, 27, from Beit Awwa village, west of the southern West Bank city of Jenin, was hospitalized at the Augusta Victoria hospital in Jerusalem where he fell into a 50-day coma until his death.
Nasser Qous, director of the PPS in Jerusalem, stated that Abu Thra’ spent six years in the Al-Ramla prison clinic that lacks basic supplies and specialized physicians; he was wheelchair bound, and suffered numerous health complication that were left untreated.
He was released on November 15, 2012 after a serious deterioration in his health condition, and was hospitalized in Jerusalem on the day of his release.
Issa Qaraqe’, Palestinian Minister of Detainees, held Israel responsible for the death of Abu Thra’, and stated that Israel deprived him from the urgently needed medications, physical therapy sessions, and the urgently needed specialized medical attention, an issue that caused serious complications.
He added that three Palestinians detainees died within two years of their release due to serious complications resulting from the lack of adequate and specialized medical attention in prison.
Dozens of detainees died in Israeli prisons due to similar health complications.
The two detainees who died with the last two years, shortly after their release, have been identified as Zakariyya Issa and Zuheir Labbada.
There are currently more than 4500 Palestinians who are still imprisoned by Israel, including 198 children, eight women, and several elected legislators and officials.
79 detainees have died in prison since the beginning of the Al-Aqsa Intifada (In late September 2000) due to torture, medical neglect, excessive use of force by the soldiers and interrogators, in addition to several detainees who were executed by the arresting officers, former Political Prisoner, Palestinian Researcher, former political prisoner, Abdul-Nasser Farawna said.
A total of 202 detainees died or were killed in Israeli prisons since 1967; dozens of detainees also died after they were released due to diseases they encountered in prison or due to complications resulting from extreme torture and bad conditions in prisons.
IMEMC – Monday January 21, The Al-Aqsa Foundation for Waqf and Heritage reported that Israeli bulldozers removed and bulldozed large areas of the lands of the Mananullah historic Islamic graveyard, in occupied Jerusalem, as part of Israel’s plan to build the so-called “Museum Of Tolerance”.
The foundation said that the bulldozer dug the land as deep as 15 meters (49.21 feet) in preparation for the construction of the museum, a coffee shop and a warehouse on 25 Dunams (6.17 Acres).
In a press release, the foundation said that the work is being conducted by the Israeli government and an American organization called the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
The foundation added that several Israeli companies are part of the work that also includes building a coffee shop on another section of the graveyard.
A section of the graveyard is now being used as a warehouse for storing construction materials and tools. Several graves and gravestones have been already destroyed and removed.
Engineer Zakki Ighbariyya, head of the Al-Aqsa Foundation, called on the international community to act and stop the Israeli violation, especially since Israel is destroying the ancient historic Islamic site in order to build the “Museum of Tolerance”.
Several historic Islamic figures, Muslim residents of Jerusalem and mullahs have been buried in the Mamanullah graveyard starting around 1400 years ago.
The Al-Aqsa foundation said that the Israeli destruction of the historic graveyard is part of ongoing serious Israeli violations, and crimes, against the Palestinians, their history and heritage in the land of Palestine.
The violations against the graveyard started after Israel was established in the historic land of Palestine in 1948, the foundation added.
It is worth mentioning that Israel has already destroyed most of the ancient graves, and that the original size of the graveyard used to be around 200 Dunams.
The graves have been replaced with coffee shops, a public yard, and Israel also installed sewage pipelines, electricity and water systems, and roads.
On June 25 2012, Israeli bulldozers removed and destroyed several graves in the cemetery as part of the Israeli plan to build the Museum.
On July 13 2012, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported that Israel approved the building on top of a Muslim burial site. The plan was the subject of a lengthy legal battle brought by Palestinians, some of whom have family buried in the proposed site.
The Israeli Interior Ministry has given the go ahead for construction of “Museum Of Tolerance” on the site of the ancient Muslim burial ground.
The path to starting the construction had been cleared following a 2008 Israeli court decision that the site was: “No longer a burial ground.”
RT – Israel is encouraging and financing a new form of patriotism by offering bonuses to high school teachers who succeed in motivating students to do their army service. The move has sparked a wave of criticism of the Ministry of Education.
The initiative by the Ministry of Education that circulated in schools last year outlined the new policy of granting end of year bonuses to full-time teachers in Israel’s schools based on “achievements in learning”, ”social achievements”, and“achievements in values”.
The top 40 per cent of schools with a “high rate of enlistment for military, national or civil service” will receive funds to award their teachers with bonuses, according to the circular obtained by the Christian Science Monitor.
Those ranked among top ten percent will receive funds to grant bonuses in the amount of $2,160, while an equivalent of $1,620 will be paid for the next 10 per cent.
Critics of the move by the ministry say the militarization of the education system infringes on the future generation’s ability to participate in Middle East peace-making. Supporters say recuitment must remain high to ensure the security of the nation, citing army complaints that the percentage of young people taking up military service has dropped in recent years.
Those who oppose the pay scheme say that military propaganda comes at the cost of student education.
“Educating to prepare for the army and to encourage enlistment comes at the expense of regular education, which is meant to educate for democracy and citizenship,” Sharaf Hassan, educational director for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel told the Monitor.
Such an approach can also result in xenophobia, argues the former education minister Yossi Sarid.
“The ministry of education is taking Israel in a more militaristic, more nationalistic, more xenophobic, and more chauvinistic direction. It’s not education, it’s a sort of indoctrination,” Sarid said.
The education ministry claims that the bonus program is “designed to develop excellence among teachers and pupils.”
To survive, surrounded by enemies and threats, says a spokesman for former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Raanan Gissin, “everyone has to take part in defense and that means three years of military service.”
A Palestinian schoolboy killed by Israeli gunfire near the West Bank separation barrier had been reacting to insults shouted by soldiers with loudhailers before he was shot, eyewitnesses have said.
The claim contradicts an account given by the Israeli army, which says 16-year-old Samir Awad was shot after cutting through a section of the security fence as he tried “infiltrate into Israel”.
The teenager died on Tuesday after being shot three times. He was hit from behind as he was running away from Israeli troops in the village of Boudrous, according to his family. Doctors at Ramallah Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, said he had suffered gunshot wounds to his neck, leg and torso.
An Israeli Defence Forces spokesman said the shooting happened after soldiers initiated “standard rules of engagement”, which include live fire, to respond to such incidents.
That was challenged on Wednesday by Samir Awad’s family, teachers and school friends, who said he had approached the fence only after being incited by Israeli troops, who had used loudspeakers to provoke pupils at Boudrous Secondary School, which sits 200 yards away, into a confrontation.
“They were shouting, ‘Come dogs, Come to the wall,” 10-year-old Khaled Shaheen told The Daily Telegraph. “They were also calling us sons-of-bitches and saying your mothers are dogs and adulteresses. They were shouting on the loudspeakers before Samir left his class.
“When he came out of class, he and four friends told us younger children to stay inside the schoolyard while they approached the soldiers at the fence.”
His description was confirmed by several older pupils at the school, who said the soldiers uttered other obscenities they were reluctant to repeat.
An Arab language teacher, Nader Shalash, 37, said shouted insults from the army patrols were a daily occurrence.
“They went to say to the pupils, ‘We are here. Come and get a bit of trouble’,” said Mr Shalash, who described the teenager as intelligent and a
good student. “Some of the soldiers are Druze and some are Jewish. They also play loud music. We built a wall and fence around the school and also erected three gates which we keep locked during school hours because we don’t want any provocations. However, they happen.”
Family and friends say Samir was running away from the security barrier after soldiers fired tear gas. As he tried to head towards the school, he was intercepted by two other soldiers who had been hiding in a trench dug by the Jordanian army during the 1967 Six-Day War.
While his friends managed to get away, Samir’s escape route was cut off, forcing him to run back towards the barrier. It was at that point he was shot, witnesses say.
The incident happened shortly before 10am on Tuesday just after the teenager had finished a midterm science exam.
The Israeli human rights group, B’tselem, say the Israeli soldiers called for an ambulance but apparently did not administer treatment. They left the scene when villagers, including Samir’s brother, Jibril, arrived and carried him away.
Last night the IDF said it could not comment on the allegations of incitement as an investigation was underway into the shooting which is beign carried out by the military police.
On Wednesday, as the Awad family observed three days of mourning, The Daily Telegraph witnessed further confrontations in the area between the school and the security barrier. Israeli soldiers fired rounds of tear gas after several Palestinian youths approached the barrier, which consists entirely of fencing in the region around Boudrous.
The village achieved fame after being the first West Bank village to organise regular protests against the barrier, eventually succeeding in getting its route changed. The Awad family say they lost five acres of land to the barrier’s construction and that four of Samir’s brothers have been wounded in clashes with Israeli soldiers.
IMEMC – Late on Wednesday at night, Israeli soldiers, accompanied by military bulldozers, attacked and demolished the Bab Al-Shams Palestinian village established by nonviolent activists on Palestinian lands Israel considers as “E1” area, and wants to build Jewish settlements on it.
The soldiers removed the tents after sealing the area and declaring it a closed military zone.
Palestinian nonviolent activist, Ali Obeidat, told the Maan News Agency, that a large number of soldiers were deployed in the area, Wednesday, and sealed it and declaring it a closed military zone.
Obeidat said that the soldiers placed cement blocks on main roads, and by evening hours Wednesday, several military bulldozers were on the scene.
Activist Mahmoud Zawahra stated that the Palestinians will rebuild Bab Al-Shams, and added that “Israel will soon be surprised to see each removed tent reinstalled”, and stated that the Palestinians are practicing their legitimate right in their own land.
The army demolished the village after the Israeli High Court removed an injunction that prevented the army from demolishing and removing the tents installed by the Palestinians, and issue that granted the army a green light to act against the village and remove it instead of just removing the activists.
On Sunday at dawn, January 13, thousands of Israeli soldiers and policemen attacked the Bab Al-Shams Palestinian village, and forcibly removed dozens of activists loading them onto buses; several injuries were reported. The detained activists were released later on.
Two days ago, Palestinian medical sources reported that at least 11 nonviolent peace activists, and 7 reporters, have been injured when Israeli soldiers attacked a group of activists trying to reach the Bab Al-Shams, several activists have been kidnapped.
Bab Al-Shams was established in response to the illegitimate Israeli decision to build thousands of units for Jewish settlers in the “E1” area in occupied East Jerusalem, by illegally confiscating thousands of Dunams of Palestinian lands.
IMEMC – Palestinian detainees, held at the Israeli Eshil prison, declared hunger strike in protest to the transfer of 27 detainees into solitary confinement, and to the ongoing violations carried out by the soldiers against them.
The Palestinian Ministry of Detainees issued a press release stating that the detainees started their hunger strike one day ago after the Israeli Prison Authority forced 27 detainees into solitary confinement.
The detainees said that the army is escalating its attacks against them, while the prison administration decided to deny family visits for one month.
Approximately two weeks ago, undercover soldiers of the Israeli Prison Administration broke into section 15 of the Ofer Israel Prison, and attacked several detainees.
The detainees said that dozens of soldiers broke into section 15, and forced them to stand under the rain for an extended period, before violently kicking several detainees and hitting them with batons.
Four of the attacked and wounded detainees have been identified as Khalil Al-Kharouf, Ibrahim Abu Al-Asal, Mohammad Ibrewish, and Shaher Al-Heeh. Soldiers also transferred several detainees from Ofer to the Hadarim prison.
Israeli soldiers carry out repeated and similar attacks against the detainees in different Israeli prisons, detention camps, interrogation and detention centers.
There are currently more than 4500 Palestinians who are still imprisoned by Israel, including 198 children, eight women, and several elected legislators and officials.
79 detainees have died in prison since the beginning of the Al-Aqsa Intifada (In late September 2000) due to torture, medical neglect, excessive use of force by the soldiers and interrogators, in addition to several detainees who were executed by the arresting officers, former Political Prisoner, Palestinian Researcher, Abdul-Nasser Farawna said.
A total of 202 detainees died or were killed in Israeli prisons since 1967; dozens of detainees also died after they were released due to diseases they encountered in prison or due to complications resulting from extreme torture and bad conditions in prisons.
IMEMC – Wednesday January 16; the Israeli District Court in Jerusalem denied an appeal filed by the defense attorney of hunger striking detainee, Samer Al-Eesawy, requesting the court to void its deliberation in his case as he is being tried on the same charges at the Ofer Military Court.
The District Court also ruled that Al-Eesawy will have to attend a court hearing on February 5, 2013.
Al-Eesawy, from Jerusalem, was one of more than a thousand Palestinian detainees who were released as part of the prisoner swap deal that secured the release of Israeli corporal Gilad Shalit on October 18, 2011 who was captured by the resistance in Gaza in 2006.
476 Palestinian detainees, including Al-Eesawy were released on the first phase of the agreement the same day Shalit was released.
But the Israeli army rearrested Al-Eesawy after claiming that he “violated the terms of his release” by heading to the occupied West Bank.
The Ofer Israeli Military Court and the Jerusalem District Court are now trying him on the same charges.
His lawyer is arguing that the District Court in Jerusalem cannot look into a case that involves what Israel described as “a military order violation”.
The District Court rejected the appeal, and decided to hold a session on February 5 to grant the prosecution more time to present its case.
Al-Eesawy is ongoing with his hunger strike that he started more than 176 days ago. His family said that he is determined to continue his strike until his release despite his sharply deteriorating health conditions and complications.
Ma’an News – Israel’s housing ministry released government tenders for the construction of 198 new settlement units in the occupied West Bank, Israeli media reported Wednesday.
Noting the timing before national elections, Israel’s Ynet news site reported that the announcement invited developers to bid on two projects in Efrat and Kiryat Arba.
Both settlements are in the Hebron area of the occupied Palestinian West Bank and considered illegal under international law.
The announcement came two weeks ahead of an Israeli election the incumbent prime minister’s joint party list is expected to win. Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly promised to hold on to settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and expanded them during his term.
A centrist challenger, former Foreign Minister and peace negotiator Tzipi Livni, has made Israel’s international isolation under Netanyahu the focus of her campaign.
Israeli anti-settlement group Peace Now said meanwhile that approval for construction in 2012 far exceeded by a “record level” the counts for the previous two years.
Israeli authorities issued 3,148 such tenders in 2012 – the highest single-year figure in a decade – compared with 1,321 in 2011 and 663 in 2011, Peace Now said.
Netanyahu’s settlement policies, Peace Now said, “disclose a clear intention to use settlements to systematically undermine and render impossible a realistic, viable two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”.
Almost 40 percent of the new building sites were in what Peace Now called “isolated settlements”, and not the more built-up blocs which the government says Israel will keep in any deal with the Palestinians.
Also Wednesday, Netanyahu’s office declined comment on an un-sourced column by US writer Jeffrey Goldberg, which described Obama as frustrated at West Bank settlement building.
“Obama said privately and repeatedly, ‘Israel doesn’t know what its own best interests are’,” Goldberg wrote in the column published Tuesday by Bloomberg.
The president “seems to view the prime minister as a political coward, an essentially unchallenged leader who nevertheless is unwilling to lead or spend political capital to advance the cause of compromise”, added Goldberg.
Some Israeli commentators saw the column as payback for Netanyahu’s perceived back-room lobbying on behalf of Republican Mitt Romney in his failed run against Obama in November’s US election. Netanyahu has denied any such meddling.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Reuters – E1, West Bank (Reuters) – Israeli police, using stun grenades, blocked about 50 Palestinian activists who tried on Tuesday to reoccupy tents they pitched last week on a patch of West Bank land which Israel wants for Jewish settlements.
Israel has drawn strong international criticism over plans to build settler homes in the area, known as “E1”, which connects the two parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank outside Arab suburbs of East Jerusalem.
On Sunday, hundreds of police officers evicted the protesters, who had claimed the area in the name of a future Palestinian state. The large, steel-framed tents remained standing at the site pending the outcome of Israeli Supreme Court hearings on Israel’s intention to remove them.
Protesters who tried to return to the tents on Tuesday were confronted by police officers who told them the site had been designated off-limits by the army.
One activist wore a white bridal gown and their cars were decked out in bright ribbons, making the protest look like a traditional Palestinian wedding.
“The protesters continued to make their way up. Police pushed the protesters back down the hill,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. “Two stun grenades were used to disperse the protesters and prevent attempts to climb back up.”
Twenty Palestinians were detained for questioning, he said.
For years Israel froze building in E1, which houses only a police headquarters, after coming under pressure from former U.S. President George W. Bush to keep the plans on hold.
But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans late last year to expand settlements after the Palestinians won de-facto statehood recognition at the United Nations General Assembly in November.
Many countries view Jewish settlement building in areas captured by Israel in a 1967 war as illegal and echo Palestinians concern such construction could deny them a viable and contiguous state.
E1 covers some 4.6 sq miles (12 sq km) and is seen as particularly important because it not only juts into the narrow “waist” of the West Bank, but also backs onto East Jerusalem, where Palestinians want to establish their capital.
About 500,000 Israelis and 2.5 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in 2010 over the issue of Israel’s continued settlement building.
IMEMC – A revised petition of a legal opinion that was submitted to the Israeli High Court of Justice, against the eviction of twelve Palestinians villages from their home so that the army can conduct military training, stated that the Palestinians could have legal grounds to sue Israel at the International Criminal Court, Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported.
The petition states that by declaring around 30.000 Dunams in the Southern Hebron Hills as an Israeli live-fire training zone, removing the Palestinian residents from their property, there will be legal grounds for suing Israel.
In the early 1980’s, Israel declared the 30.000 Dunams of Palestinian lands as a live-fire zone, Haaretz, said, while in 1999, the Israeli Army issued orders displacing the Palestinians who live in the area, and even used force to evict some of them.
The Israeli High Court received two petitions against the eviction of the Palestinians, and issued a temporary injunction allowing them to return to their homes, but did not void the army’s illegal decision declaring the area as a live-fire zone.
Haaretz further reported in July of last year, Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, submitted the Ministry’s official decision to the court declaring that Palestinians living in eight of the twelve villages need to be evicted “as they are in the live-fire zone”, and claimed that this area is “crucial for Israeli military drills.”
Barak alleged that the Palestinians who live in these villages “are not permanent residents” as they are mainly Bedouin tribes and shepherds, and added that “the army can remove them as they have no legal status”.
On Wednesday, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, submitted a revised petition on behalf of the residents, as suggested by the court.
Haaretz reported that the revised petition stated that the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits the forcible transfer of protected populations from occupied territories, and that even countries that are not signatories to the Convention are even bound by it.
Israel is one of the signatories of the Convention, and even without signing it, the Convention should supersede orders issued by military commanders.
Haaretz added that Professors Eyal Benvenisti, Yuval Shany, and David Kremcher, whose legal opinions were included in the petition, argued that the prohibition on the forcible removal of protected civilian populations living in occupied territories, as stated in the Geneva Convention, became a customary law.
The legal experts also stated that the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court “explicitly grants jurisdiction to the court to look into these cases.”
They said that there are no exceptions, as this prohibition is clear and does not depend on the residency status of the residents, and added that the absoluteness that this prohibition stems from what largely took place during World War II, when massive deportations were widely carried out under different claims.
Furthermore, the Fourth Geneva Convention allows the temporary transfer of civilian populations due to temporary military needs, due to war of or armed conflict, but it does not apply to this case as Israel is not in war, but is creating a military training area.
What Israel is doing is the forcible transfer of a civilian population, even if the army did not need to resort to military force, therefore its action is illegal.