“How was it that a man could not walk onto his own property, visit the grave of his wife, eat the fruits of forty generations of his ancestors’ toil, without mortal consequence?”
― Susan Abulhawa (Palestinian-American witer and political commentator)
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 – 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 – 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.
The Wadi Hilweh Information Center, in Silwan, in occupied East Jerusalem, reported that Israeli soldiers violently attacked and arrested several Palestinians playing with snow, which has been blanketing much of Palestine for some time now.
The clashes occured when extremist Israeli settlers began to throw rocks at the local Palestinian youths who were playing in the snow. The settlers were also shouting and cursing at the youths as well as chanting anti-Arab, anti-Palestinian, and anti-Muslim slogans.
The Wadi Hilweh Information Center said that the current situation in the area is tensed as dozens of settlers and soldiers are still in the streets, and that the Palestinians were forcibly removed.
The center also added that several members of the Israeli Internal Security were also deployed in the area ordering the local Palestinians to leave; the extremist Israeli settlers were not ordered to leave.
This sort of behavior is nothing new to Silwan, which is frequently directly impacted by Israel’s illegal settlement activites. There has been multiple incidents of Israeli soldiers attacking and kidnapping residents, including children. Extremist settlers are also responsible for dozens of attacks against the residents, their homes and property.
The Wadi Hilweh Center recently reported that Israeli soldiers and policemen kidnapped in the last 6 months more than 350 Palestinians in Jerusalem, including dozens of youth and children, and 13 women.
Filmmaker: Ashraf Mashharawi
Life in Gaza is not easy amid constant power outages caused by limited electricity supplies and fuel shortages.
Gaza is in the midst of an acute power crisis, with blackouts lasting for up to 12 hours and a shortage of generator fuel.
Abdul Aziz Abu Safiea, who works for the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company, says: “It’s a strange job that only exists in Gaza. I cut the power off and reconnect it according to a set timetable.
“I cut off the power to every home in Gaza for at least eight hours every day. Every second, one-third of Gaza’s population is without electricity.”
The frequent power shortage puts at risk the lives of cardiac and dialysis patients and babies in incubators, and increases the daily hardship among the general population.
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are a people under siege. Israel occupied Gaza and the West Bank back in 1967. Although Israeli forces withdrew from Gaza in 2005, they have maintained a blockade on the territory.
As a result, over 1.5 million Palestinians suffer to this day from high levels of poverty and dependence on aid.
The blockade has prevented the reconstruction of Gaza’s infrastructure – badly damaged during Israel’s successive military assaults on Gaza in recent years.
Living without dignity
Gaza’s electricity sector remains deficient. Israel refuses to allow in the spare parts needed to rebuild the broken-down infrastructure. Limited amounts of fuel reach Gaza from Israel and Egypt – well below the bare minimum required.
Fathi Barakat, a Palestinian, says: “When it’s hot, we can’t tolerate the heat inside these houses. We stay outside. The fans and fridge broke down because of the heat. We live without dignity.”
His wife Sabah adds: “We always have to check the electricity schedule. To know what time the power cuts [are] and for how long. We live our life around power cuts.”
Power cuts also mean that children experience prolonged periods of darkness at a time when they have to study. Often there is no option but to do their homework by gas lamps or candlelight.
Gaza: Left in the Dark portrays the many obstacles and complications of life in Gaza caused by the shortage of electricity.
Factors such as Israel’s continued sanctions, Egypt’s crackdown on smuggling, and the fallout from the long Fatah-Hamas enmity all contribute to the dire situation in that part of the world.
When the regular blackouts occur, the people of Gaza must find a way to continue life off the grid.
IMEMC – Israeli bulldozers of the Jerusalem City Council demolished, on Tuesday morning, a Palestinian home in Sweij neighborhood, in Silwan, in occupied East Jerusalem, under the pretext that the home was built without a construction permit.
Fakhri Abu Thiab of the Committee for the Defense of Silwan reported that the demolished home was still under construction, and was a three-story building overlooking at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Old city of occupied Jerusalem.
Abu Thiab added that the timing of this act “is an indication of the cruelty and the ugly face of the occupation that does not have mercy”, especially amidst the current cold weather and the pouring rain.
“Israel has no mercy on the Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem”, he added, “It tries, at all costs, to displace the indigenous Palestinians from their city so that Israel can hand it to the settlers”.
According to data collected by the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions (ICAHD) and was published a few months ago, Israel’s demolition of Palestinian homes is a systematic policy that aims at forcing the Palestinians to leave Jerusalem in order to maintain Jewish majority.
ICHAD estimates that Israel demolished at least 24.145 homes in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip since 1967.