Saturday, 22 November 2014

HRW: Punitive Israeli house demolitions a 'war crime'

"Israel should impose an immediate moratorium on its policy of demolishing the family homes of Palestinians suspected of carrying out attacks on Israelis," the New York-based group said, as the fate of three houses slated for demolition awaits a court ruling.

"The policy, which Israeli officials claim is a deterrent, deliberately and unlawfully punishes people not accused of any wrongdoing. When carried out in occupied territory, including East Jerusalem, it amounts to collective punishment, a war crime."

The East Jerusalem families of Mutaz Hijazi, and of cousins Uday and Ghassan Abu Jamal, killed by police after two separate attacks, have been served demolition orders on their homes but have appealed.

Their lawyer, Mohammed Mahmud, said in a statement that an Israeli military court would hear their petition on Sunday morning.

Hijazi was accused of shooting and critically wounding a far-right Jewish activist on October 29. Police shot him dead during a raid on his home in Abu Tur the following morning.

The Abu Jamals, from Jabal al-Mukabbir, were shot dead Tuesday after they attacked a synagogue with meat cleavers and a pistol, killing four rabbis at prayer and a policeman who responded.

On Wednesday, Israeli forces razed the East Jerusalem home of a Palestinian who killed two Israelis after running them over with his car last month.

That was the first punitive demolition in Jerusalem since 2009. It came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed a harsh response to the synagogue attack, Jerusalem's bloodiest in years.

Home demolitions have long been used as a deterrent punishment in the occupied West Bank, but this is the first time they have been adopted as a matter of policy in occupied East Jerusalem. more

Minister: Construction material will enter Gaza next week

Palestinian Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh has announced that next week will see the second round of construction material and equipment entering the beleaguered Gaza Strip.

The announcement comes only days after UN authorities in the besieged coastal enclave said that nearly 30,000 Palestinians were still living in temporary shelters in Gaza, even as days of rain was causing flooding and further hardship for thousands of families displaced by Israel's summer assault.

Al-Sheikh said in a statement posted on his Facebook page that the Palestinian authorities planned to ensure the import of heavy equipment such as bulldozers and buses into Gaza, and he called upon private businesses in Gaza submit their requests for access through official government agencies.

Al-Sheikh said that the second phase of construction materials would be the biggest, and that materials would reach 24,000 families. more

Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian on Gaza border

A Palestinian was shot and injured by Israeli forces on Friday evening east of Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip.

Ibrahim al-Nimnim, 22, was shot in the right foot in the vicinity of al-Shuhada graveyard east of Jabaliya.

He was taken to Kamal Adwan Hospital for treatment, where he was said to be in moderate condition.

Al-Nimnim was shot aftern he and a group of others approached the border and set tires on fire and threw rocks toward the border. more

Friday, 21 November 2014

Israeli forces open fire on Palestinian protests across West Bank

Israeli forces opened fire and injured dozens of Palestinians across the West Bank on Friday, as hundreds marched in a number of cities and villages in protest against the Israeli occupation and recent Israeli violence in occupied East Jerusalem.

Israeli soldiers opened fire on rallies in Nabi Saleh, central Hebron, at Qalandia checkpoint and in al-Bireh near Ramallah, in Kafr Qaddum, al-Masara, Jalazun refugee camp, Aida refugee camp, and in other villages across the West Bank, injuring dozens.

Two Israeli soldiers were also reported injured in clashes that erupted following the protests.

The protests came after a night of violence in Jerusalem, where two different hate attacks were reported against Palestinians on the basis of their ethnicity, in addition to two other such incidents inside Israel.

On Friday afternoon, meanwhile, a Palestinian woman was run over by a Jewish settler near Shufat in East Jerusalem, and later in the evening a brawl erupted as a group of Jewish settlers passed through the Palestinian neighborhood of al-Tur, resulting in the stabbing and light injuring of two Jews.

The violence follows escalating tensions in the holy city, where the long-term dispossession and discrimination by Israeli authorities who have occupied the city since 1967 has combined in recent months with a series of heavy-handed security operations and right-wing politicians' religious provocations to form a combustible mix. more

Anti-Palestinian racist attacks spreading in Jerusalem, northern Israel

A spate of anti-Palestinian hate attacks have been reported since late Thursday in Jerusalem and northern Israel, police and Israeli media said.

In Jerusalem, four Israeli girls attacked a Palestinian taxi driver with pepper spray in King George Street late Thursday, Israeli police said.

Another Palestinian claimed he was also attacked by a group of Israeli girls in the center of the city.

Police said they arrested four girls, settlers from the occupied West Bank, and a court ordered that they be banned from Jerusalem for 15 days.

In northern Israel, unknown assailants threw acid on the car of an Imam in Acre late Thursday. An Israeli police spokesman said they are looking into the background of the incident.

Israeli news site Ynet reported that a 53-year-old man was arrested near Haifa after threatening Palestinian workers with a knife. The man was disarmed by one of the workers at the restaurant and police arrested the suspect.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported Friday that Palestinian taxi drivers in Jerusalem have stopped working at night due to verbal and physical assaults. more

380 Palestinians arrested by Israeli forces in last 20 days

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces have detained at least 380 Palestinians in raids across the West Bank and East Jerusalem over the last three weeks, including 21 early Thursday alone.

The Palestinian Prisoner's Society said in a statement on Thursday that Israeli authorities have engaged in a wide-ranging crackdown on Palestinians that has led to the arrests of nearly 200 in East Jerusalem since the beginning of November.

The startling figures come amid growing instability in Jerusalem, while daily protest marches by Palestinians have been held across the city and Israeli authorities have been accused of "collective punishment" in their response to a series of attacks by individual Jerusalem Palestinians on Israelis.

In addition to the 190 Palestinians detained in East Jerusalem, the PPS said that 70 were from Hebron, 32 from Ramallah, 24 from Bethlehem, 18 from Jenin, 14 from Tulkarem, 14 from Nablus, nine from Tubas, five from Salfit, and four from Qalqiliya.

The arrests add to the more than 5,000 Palestinians who are already being held in Israeli prisons, including hundreds without charge or trial under a procedure known as "administrative detention."

On Thursday morning, Israeli forces reportedly detains dozens more across East Jerusalem and the West Bank, which have both been under military occupation since 1967. more

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Ministry: 36,000 Palestinians stranded amid month-long Rafah closure

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Gaza Ministry of Internal Affairs said on Thursday that tens of thousands of Palestinians are currently unable to cross the Rafah crossing with Egypt despite an urgent need, as a closure of the border by Egyptian authorities enters its fifth week.

Ministry spokesman Iyad al-Buzm said during a press conference in Gaza City that 6,000 Palestinians are stuck on the Egyptian side of the crossing unable to return home, while 30,000 humanitarian cases -- including sick people seeking treatment abroad, students, and foreign-passport holders -- are stuck on the Gaza side, unable to leave.

Al-Buzm called the closure of the Rafah crossing for four weeks a "humanitarian disaster" for the Gaza Strip, adding that Egyptian authorities are currently closing the crossing "for no logical reason."

Al-Buzm pointed out that the Rafah crossing has been closed for 208 days this year so far, severely limiting the movement of people and goods.

He requested the Egyptian authorities to open the crossing to traffic in both ways, noting that the crossing "has never been a burden on Egyptian security and there had never been any security violations on the crossing."

Al-Buzm said that the closure of the crossing has prevented many supplies and aid shipments from entering the Gaza Strip following the 51-day Israeli offensive that left nearly 2,200 Palestinians dead and around 108,000 homeless.

According to the United Nations, nearly 30,000 Palestinians are still staying shelters across the Gaza Strip, as Israel and Egypt have jointly prevented construction supplies from entering, hindering reconstruction. more

Costly pro-Israel PR campaign fails to stop UCLA divestment

On Tuesday night, the University of California at Los Angeles became the sixth of nine undergraduate campuses in the UC system within the last two years to pass a resolution calling for divestment from firms that profit from the Israeli occupation. The resolution was passed despite expensive efforts by anti-Palestinian groups to thwart such a victory.

In a landslide victory — with eight student senators voting in favor, two voting against and two abstaining — UCLA’s resolution formally calls on the University of California to “withdraw investments in securities, endowments, mutual funds, and other monetary instruments with holdings” in eleven US-based companies linked to the occupation.

More than thirty student groups representing a wide spectrum of causes supported the divestment resolution.

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at UCLA stated in a press release following the vote that members of the UCLA student council “from a variety of political affiliations voted in favor of the resolution.”

SJP at UCLA adds that “Before the vote, council members expressed their admiration and respect for the coalition building, education, and outreach by SJP-UCLA during our campaign.”

In October 2013, UCLA’s undergraduate student body voted down a resolution that would have threatened the ability of students to pursue divestment from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation. more

Settlers attack village near Nablus; residents briefly detained two

A number of extremist Israeli settlers invaded, Thursday, the village of Qusra, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and attacked property before local villagers chased them, and briefly detained two.

Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official in charge of Israeli Settlements file in northern West Bank, said the settlers came from Yesh Kodesh illegal settlement, south of the village.

Daghlas added that local youths surrounded the invading settlers, and held two of them for more than 30 minutes, before the Palestinian District Coordination office intervened, and handed them to the Israeli side. more

Israeli forces storm Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem

Israeli forces on Wednesday night broke into the mourners’ tents of the family of Ghassan and Udayy Abu Jamal from Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood who were shot dead after they attacked a synagogue and killed five in west Jerusalem on Tuesday.

Witnesses told Ma’an that the soldiers broke into both the men and women tents as well as the home of Mahmoud Abu al-Jamal and removed all posters of Ghassan and Udayy.

Meanwhile, clashes broke in the Jabal al-Mukabbir, Sur Bahir and al-Tur neighborhoods in protest against Israel’s refusal to deliver the bodies of Ghassan and Udayy Abu Jamal to their families for burial.

Medical sources said 12 young men were injured by rubber-coated bullets including one seriously injured in Sur Bahir after he was hit in the head. Dozens of others were hurt by tear-gas inhalation.

An official in the Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance service in Jerusalem Dr Amin Abu Ghazala said four out of the 12 injured in Sur Bahir and Jabal al-Mukabbir needed hospitalization because they were hit in the head and face.

Local sources in Sur Bahir told Ma’an that undercover Israeli forces raided the homes of the Nimir and Hammad families and detained three young men after assaulting them and other family members.

Ahmad Khader Nimir said Israeli forces broke into his home with police dogs and attacked all his family members including his blind 52-year-old wife causing bruises in her head and arm. She was evacuated to hospital. The soldiers also attacked a young man who suffers from cancer before they detained Tariq Ahmad Khadir Nimir, 30, and his brother Rashid, 24.

Israeli forces also ransacked the home of Munir Mousa Hamamd, 33, in Zaquqa neighborhood of Sur Bahir and detained him after beating him.

In al-Tur, young Palestinian men hurled four fire bombs at an Israeli military jeep during clashes near al-Maqasid hospital. Witnesses said Israeli troops stationed themselves on rooftops and showered the area with tear gas.

Clashes were also reported in the Silwan and al-Isawiya neighborhoods. Residents of Wadi Qaddum area in Silwan told Ma’an that special Israeli forces carried out a sudden raid in the area firing rubber-coated bullets. As a result, a young man was hit in the abdomen and another in the foot. more

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Palestinian drivers' strike in Jerusalem over lynching of colleague enters 2nd day

Disruptions to public transportation in Jerusalem are expected again Wednesday, as Palestinian drivers working for the Israeli bus company "Egged" begin their second day of strike in protest of the death of fellow-driver Yousuf Hasan al-Ramouni.

Although an Israeli autopsy report and police investigation concluded that the 32 year old father of two died of suicide, Palestinians claim he was murdered by Israelis.

Egged noted in a statement that “Following the sad death of an Egged driver who ended his life and committed suicide, there are disruptions in Jerusalem's urban bus routes. These disruptions are caused by the absence of drivers...from East Jerusalem”.

Egged is bringing drivers to Jerusalem from other cities to minimise disruptions to service.

An anonymous medical expert told the Palestinian news agency Ma'an that al-Ramouni died of “hanging and strangulation” and that preliminary tests suggest he was victime of “an organised murder”. The victim's brother, Osama al-Ramouni said the family did not accept the verdict of suicide, saying his body "had bruises on it," suggesting he had been "tortured" before his death. more

Gunshots fired near Erez crossing in north Gaza

Gunshots were fired near Erez crossing between Israel and the northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday, Israeli media and the Israeli army said.

Israeli Channel 7 reported that gunshots were fired at Israeli forces at the crossing, without causing injuries.

An Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma'an "fire was opened" at Israeli forces near the separation barrier in the area.

Israeli forces responded by using a "harmless" smoke screen and left the area, she said. more

Israeli forces destroy home of East Jerusalem car attack suspect

JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces on Wednesday demolished the family home of the suspect in a Jerusalem car-ramming attack last month, witnesses said.

Dozens of Israeli troops raided the al-Bustan area of the Silwan neighborhood in East Jerusalem and proceeded to explode the home of Abd al-Rahman al-Shaludi.

The forces entered the area after midnight, surrounded the five-story building where the al-Shaludi family lives, and forced residents out of the building without allowing them to bring any of their possessions with them, witnesses said.

Troops also evacuated three houses near the building and held residents in a tent for over four hours.

They told residents to remove their cars from the area, before planting explosives in the al-Shaludi home and destroying it at around 3:45 a.m.

Locals of the al-Bustan neighborhood said that the whole building was damaged in addition to nearby houses. more

UNRWA: Egypt's buffer zone will turn Gaza into a big jail

AMMAN, (PIC)-- Director of the UNRWA operations Robert Turner said the buffer zone, which Egypt is creating on the border of Gaza, would lead the Palestinian population to feel like being in a big prison, describing the blockade as "unjust and deadly".

Turner added that Egypt's buffer zone would have a psychological impact on the population in Gaza, although it would not affect the humanitarian services provided by the UNRWA.

Turner made his remarks in a news conference on the sidelines of the meeting of the UNRWA advisory commission that was held on Monday in Jordan's Dead Sea area.

For his part, UNRWA commissioner-general Pierre Krahenbuhl highlighted during the commission's meeting the tragic living conditions of the population in Gaza.

Krahenbuhl criticized the reconstruction efforts as "much too slow and largely ineffective", and called on the Palestinian government to speed up these efforts and Israel to allow the needed building materials into Gaza. more