Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Video: Hebron settlers steal furniture from Palestinian home for Lag BaOmer bonfire

A group of right-wing Israeli settlers broke into an uninhabited Palestinian house in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron on Tuesday and stole wooden furniture, presumably to be burned during bonfire celebrations for the Jewish holiday of Lag BaOmer.

A spokesperson for Hebron-based activist group Youth Against Settlement, Issa Amro, told Ma’an that the houses belonged to the the Al-Sayyid Ahmad and Tahboub families, who have been banned from accessing their homes in Hebron’s Old City since Israeli forces sealed the area around al-Shuhada Street in 1994.

The holiday of Lag BaOmer, which will take place on Wednesday evening, commemorates the death of second-century Jewish mystic Simeon bar Yochai, and is traditionally celebrated with bonfires It is not uncommon for young Israelis celebrating Lag BaOmer to steal wood from construction sites and other locations ahead of the holiday.

Local Palestinian house and shop owners in Hebron’s Old City have been banned from accessing their homes and shops after a US-born Israeli settler, Baruch Goldstein, massacred 29 Palestinians inside the Ibrahimi Mosque that year. In the aftermath of the massacre, Hebron was divided into area H1, under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, and area H2 which includes the Old City and surrounding areas under full Israeli military control. more

Monday, 23 May 2016

Palestinians in Gaza pour scorn on Lieberman threats

In February 2015, Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's new defence minister, who was serving as a foreign minister at the time, declared that; "a fourth operation in the Gaza Strip is inevitable, just as a third Lebanon war is inevitable."

As the second anniversary of Israel's war on Gaza, dubbed Operation Protective edge, approaches, Palestinians in the besieged coastal enclave say that Lieberman's appointment as the Israel's defence minister brings him a step closer to achieving his unsettling prophecy.

"We should not be fooled by Zionists who hate the Lieberman-Netanyahu unity," wrote Refaat Alareer, a Palestinian writer and activists, "they, too, want Palestinians killed, but with [silk] scarves, not bombs!"

Lieberman, a staunch opponent of peace with Palestinians who heads of the extreme right wing party Yisrael Beiteinu, has served two terms as foreign minister and has little significant military experience.

Over the past few years, Gaza in particular bore the brunt of Lieberman's bravado. During the 2014 war on Gaza, Lieberman publicly criticized Netanyahu accusing him of "not cracking down hard enough on Gaza". more

Shake-up in Israeli politics prompts 'seeds of fascism' warning

A military affairs commentator interrupts his broadcast to deliver a monologue: I'm alarmed by what's happening in Israel, he says, I think my children should leave.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak warns of "the seeds of fascism". Moshe Arens, who served as defense minister three times, sees it as a turning point in Israeli politics and expects it to cause a "political earthquake".

The past five days have produced tumult in Israeli politics, since conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unexpectedly turned his back on a deal to bring the center-left into his coalition and instead joined hands with far-right nationalist Avigdor Lieberman, one of his most virulent critics.

Lieberman, a West Bank settler, wants to be defense minister. So on Friday, Netanyahu's former ally and confidant, Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon, resigned and quit Netanyahu's Likud party in disgust.

After a weekend to digest the developments, which are expected to be finalised in an agreement between Netanyahu and Lieberman on Monday to form the most right-wing government in Israel's 68-year-old history, commentators have tried to put it in perspective and found themselves alarmed.

Arens, who has served as defense minister, foreign minister and ambassador to the United States, and is one of Netanyahu's early political mentors, said the machinations would have far-reaching repercussions.

"Yaalon's ouster is likely to be a turning point in Israel's political history," he wrote in the left-leaning Haaretz newspaper. "A political earthquake is in the offing. It may take a little time, but it is coming. The law of unforeseen consequences is at work."

The decision to jettison Yaalon in favor of Lieberman was all too much for Roni Daniel, a veteran military affairs commentator on Channel 2.

"I cannot urge my children to stay here, because it is a place that is not nice to be in," he said in his monologue, going on to name a number of far-right politicians. more

Newly appointed far-right Knesset member tours Al-Aqsa Mosque

Israeli right-winger Yehuda Glick was escorted under armed protection into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Monday morning, days after it was announced that he would be sworn in as the newest member to Israel’s Knesset.

Firas al-Dibs, a spokesperson for the Islamic Endowment that controls the compound, told Ma’an that a group of right-wing Israelis including the “far-right extremist Yehuda Glick” entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound through the Moroccan gate escorted by Israeli forces, toured the compound, and left through the Chain gate.

After Moshe Yaalon announced his resignation as defense minister on Friday following Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to offer the position to the ultranationalist Avigdor Lieberman, it was revealed that Glick would fill Yaalon’s seat as MK, as he was next in line on the Likud party’s list of candidates to replace a sitting Knesset member.

Under current agreements, Glick’s visit to Al-Aqsa on Monday would be his last legal opportunity to do so, as Netanyahu issued a ban in October on all Israeli Knesset members and governmental ministers -- including Palestinians and Muslims -- from entering the compound, in an attempt to ease tensions at the site. more

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Israeli forces open fire on Palestinian fishermen, detain 10 in northern Gaza

Israeli naval forces on Sunday morning opened fire on Palestinian fishermen, before detaining 10 fishermen and seizing five boats in a separate incident in the northern Gaza Strip.

Locals told Ma’an that Israeli forces opened fire on fishermen sailing off the coast of al-Wahah near the northern Gaza coast, with no injuries reported.

Meanwhile, 10 fishermen were detained by Israeli naval forces nearby and taken to an unknown location, as five of their boats were confiscated.

Spokesperson for the Union of Agricultural Work Committees Zakariyya Bakir identified the detained as Rasim Ishaq Zayid, Muhammad Ishaq Zayid, Saqir Yunis Zayid, Ayman Yunis Zayid, Asad Muhammad al-Sultan, Khalid Mahmoud Zayid, Muhammad Mahmud Sultan, Ayman Mahmoud Sultan, Ahmad Muhammad Zayid, and Ibrahim Zayid.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an they were looking into reports.more

Friday, 20 May 2016

Friday marks the 26th anniversary of the Oyoun Qara massacre

Friday marked the 26th anniversary of the Oyoun Qara massacre, which left 19 Palestinians dead after an Israeli soldier gunned down a group of Palestinians working in Israel.

At 6:15 am on May 20, 1990, 20 Palestinian workers from the Gaza Strip waited for their employers to pick them up from the Oyoun Qara (Rishon Lezion) bus stop, when a discharged Israeli soldier arrived and demanded that the workers show him their IDs.

The soldier, Ami Popper, checked the workers' IDs, and after ensuring they were all Palestinian, ordered them to line up in three lines and kneel down, then opened fire on the workers with an M16, killing seven and badly injuring 10 others. Popper then drove his vehicle away from the scene.

When Israeli police arrived they proceeded to severely beat the Palestinians who had survived the ordeal.

Protests erupted across the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip following the killings, as the Israeli army imposed a siege on several districts in the Gaza Strip.

Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces on the same day of the massacre left an additional six Palestinians killed, including a 14-year-old boy. After seven days of clashes, a total of 19 Palestinians across the occupied territory were killed, while hundreds more were injured.

The Oyoun Qara tragedy is one among several massacres carried out by Israeli forces and settlers that resulted in a violent Israeli offensive on Palestinian communities. more

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Israel delivers demolition notices for EU-funded water tanks in Hebron

Israeli authorities delivered four demolition notices on Wednesday ordering several Palestinians to remove water tanks being used for irrigation in the northern and eastern areas of the town of Beit Ummar in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, locals said.

The water tanks are used to irrigate lands in the areas of Beir Zaata, al-Furdeis and Thaghret al-Shabak, with an overall area of more than 30 dunams (7.4 acres) dependent on the tanks for irrigation, according to Muhammad Awad, a spokesperson for a local popular committee.

The tanks were set up earlier in 2016 under a UN-funded water development program, Awad said.

After Israeli authorities deliver a demolition order, the owners of the properties have seven days to remove the structures. If not, Israeli forces demolish the structures at the financial expense of the owners of the property.

Awad told Ma’an that the tanks belonged to Wahdi Hamdi Zamel Abu Maria, Jamil Muhammad Amer Abu Maria, Ghassan Muhammad Abed al-Aziz Brighith, and Khalid Youssef Abed al-Majd Brighith.

It remains unclear what legal pretext Israeli authorities used to issue the demolition orders. more

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Israeli navy detain 2 Gaza fishermen as 2 others remain in custody

Israeli naval forces detained two Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning, a spokesperson for the union of Gaza fishermen told Ma’an.

Nizar Ayyash said that Israeli gunboats obstructed a fishing boat off the coast from the town of Beit Lahiya, and detained Samih Zayid and his brother Ibrahim.

Israeli forces also confiscated the Zayid brothers’ boat, which was taken to the port of Ashdod in southern Israel.

An Israeli army spokesperson said she was looking into the report.

Israeli naval forces detained 10 Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday evening. Two were still in custody as of Tuesday.

Israeli forces regularly detain Palestinian fisherman off the coast of Gaza working within the fishing zone, generally for alleged security reasons. more

Monday, 16 May 2016

Palestinian injured by Israeli bullet to the head while trying to cross separation wall

Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian east of Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank as he tried to reach Jerusalem through Israel’s separation wall on Sunday evening.

Local sources said 32-year-old Ahmad Abu Omar from Bethlehem was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet to the head. He was trying to pass the separation wall from the outskirts of the village of Dar Salah east of Bethlehem to work in Jerusalem.

Abu Omar was evacuated to al-Hussein public hospital in Beit Jala. The hospital could not be reached for comment regarding his medical condition. An Israeli army spokesperson said they were looking into the reports.

On May 8, another Palestinian was shot and injured in the leg by Israeli forces as he attempted to cross over the separation wall in Dar Salah to work in Jerusalem.

A local council member for the village said at the time that nine Palestinian workers had been shot and injured in the village over the span of a few days while trying to pass the separation wall, and that Israeli soldiers fired gunshots and tear gas canisters every morning at the village’s houses as they chased workers attempting to enter Jerusalem.


Sunday, 15 May 2016

US, EU collude at Israel’s travel ban on BDS co-founder

Human Rights Watch wasted no time in condemning Israel’s imposition of an effective travel ban on Omar Barghouti, the co-founder of the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa division, told The Electronic Intifada on Tuesday that “Israel’s refusal to renew Barghouti’s travel document appears to be an effort to punish him for exercising his right to engage in peaceful, political activism, using its arsenal of bureaucratic control over Palestinian lives.”

Previously, in light of direct threats against Barghouti by Israeli ministers, Amnesty International had expressed its concern for the “safety and liberty” of Barghouti, amid what it called “an escalation of acts of intimidation” by the Israeli government against human rights defenders.

Activists are urging thousands of people to contact the US State Department to protest the Israeli move.

EU passivity But given opportunities to speak out in defense of human rights, the Obama administration and the EU have decided to give Israel a wink – amounting to tacit support for its crackdown on Barghouti’s freedom of speech and association.

“The EU Delegation in Israel and the European Union Office for the West Bank and Gaza Strip are closely following the case of Mr. Omar Barghouti, who lives with his family in Acre in Israel,” the spokesperson for EU foreign affairs and security policy told The Electronic Intifada in an email. more

‘The Nakba continues': Israeli forces conduct multiple raids across West Bank

Israeli forces raided multiple neighborhoods across the occupied West Bank overnight Saturday, detaining at least three Palestinians, launching tear gas canisters and stun grenades, and setting fire to olive trees, as Palestinians around the world commemorated the 68th anniversary of the Nakba.

In the northern district of Qalqiliya, dozens of Palestinians suffered from tear gas inhalation, and several trees caught fire when clashes erupted between local youths and Israeli forces in the village of Kafr Qaddum.

Coordinator for a popular resistance committee in the village Murad Shtewi said the Israeli army "turned Kafr Qaddum's sky into a cloud of poisonous gas" after firing tear gas heavily and randomly. Dozens of olive trees in the area caught fire from Israeli forces-fired tear gas and stun grenades.

Shtewi added that civil defense vehicles were prevented from reaching the fire because Israeli forces had closed the roads with dirt berms, forcing firefighters to walk up a hill to control the fire.

To the south in the occupied West Bank district of Hebron, Israeli forces raided the downtown, al-Khila, and al-Thahir areas of the village of Beit Ummar, detaining one Palestinian. more

Friday, 13 May 2016

Annual 'March of Return' draws thousands of Palestinians to the Negev

Thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel participated in the annual "March of Return" on Thursday afternoon near Bedouin towns in the Negev (Naqab) in southern Israel, commemorating the 1948 Nakba, amid the conclusion of Israeli independence day celebrations.

Demonstrators waved Palestinian flags and held banners emblazoned with support for the right to return for Palestinian refugees abroad and Palestinians internally displaced from their villages in Israel, as they made their way across the Negev in the dry afternoon heat.

The March of Return is usually held on Israel’s independence day to commemorate the Nakba -- or the ‘catastrophe’ -- referring to the mass expulsion of Palestinians from their homes and villages during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war that wrought the state of Israel. The official commemoration of the Nakba is held on May 15 and is observed by millions of Palestinians and rights activists around the world.

The aim of the march was to highlight the internationally-recognized right of Palestinians who remain refugees or internally displaced to return to their homes and villages in Israel, a right which has been enshrined in international law following the adoption of United Nations Resolution 194.

Local Palestinians, activists, rights leaders, Knesset members, and leaders of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, participated in the 19th year of the annual march, launched each year from a site of a Palestinian village destroyed by Israeli forces in 1948. more

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Egypt reopens Rafah crossing for second day

Egyptian authorities reopened the Rafah crossing with the besieged Gaza Strip for the second day in a row on Thursday, after an 85-day closure.

The Gaza crossings committee said that 443 Palestinians were able to enter Egypt on Wednesday, while an untold number of Palestinians stuck abroad were able to re-enter the Gaza Strip. Seven buses and several ambulances were also admitted through the crossing during the day, according to the committee.

Priority was given to Egyptian passport holders, humanitarian cases, students and Palestinians with foreign residency.

Egyptian authorities also allowed cement trucks to enter the Palestinian side via the crossing.

The Gaza Ministry of Interior said on Wednesday that the two-day opening was too short a time to process the more than 30,000 passengers registered to cross and waiting for their turn, including humanitarian cases, students who attend schools abroad, patients in need of treatment outside of Gaza, and visa holders who live and work abroad. more

Israeli forces open fire at Gaza farmers, fishermen

Israeli forces opened fire at Palestinian farmers in lands near the border fence in the southern Gaza Strip early on Thursday morning.

Witnesses told Ma'an that Israeli forces deployed in military towers at the border fence in Khuzaa, east of Khan Yunis, opened fire at farmers who were harvesting their wheat.

Meanwhile, Israeli navy forces opened fire at fishermen off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip, Gaza City and the southern Gaza Strip. No injuries were reported.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an they were looking into the reports. more