Studies show that US coverage is Israeli-centric. The main bureaus for CNN, Associated Press, Time, etc. are located in Israel and often staffed by Israelis. The son of the NY Times bureau chief is in the Israeli army;"pundit" Jeffrey Goldberg served in the IDF; Wolf Blitzer worked for AIPAC. Because the U.S. gives Israel over $8 million/day - more than to any other nation - we feel it is essential that we be fully informed on this region. Below are news reports to augment mainstream coverage.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

An in depth analysis of Israeli economic warfare, when did the Israeli blockade of Gaza begin?

Ma'an -- The flotilla was intended to challenge the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, a closure that has been decried as a violation of international law. While Israel prevented the boats from reaching the Gaza Strip, the initiative was successful in bring media attention to the closure.

But Israel remains victorious on one crucial front. A tremendous majority of those talking about the blockade -- from the mainstream media to critics and activists -- use 2007 as the start-date, unintentionally lending legitimacy to Israel’s cause and effect explanation, an argument that pegs the closure to political events.

According to the Israeli government, the blockade was a response to the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip. The stated goals of the closure are to weaken Hamas, to stop rocket fire and to free Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who has been held in Gaza since 2006.

But the blockade -- which the Israeli government has openly called “economic warfare” -- did not begin in 2007. Nor did it start in 2006, with Israel’s economic sanctions against Gaza. The hermetic closure of Gaza is the culmination of a process that began 20 years ago.

It is important to note, first, the groundwork that made this process so devastating.

In her definitive piece on the economic de-development of the Gaza Strip, published in 1987, Dr Sara Roy uses data from the years of 1967 to 1985 to illustrate how the Israelis turned the Gaza Strip into a captive market and made Palestinian residents a labor pool dependent on Israel.

This was achieved, in part, by limiting Gaza’s exports and commercial production. These early restrictions (or economic warfare to use the Israeli term) predate Hamas.

When freedom of movement was limited during the First Intifada, Gaza was already pinched.

Sari Bashi is the founder and director of Gisha, an Israeli NGO that advocates for Palestinian freedom of movement. In an interview, Bashi remarked that the gradual closure of Gaza began in 1991, when Israel canceled the general exit permit that allowed most Palestinians to move freely through Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. It was then that non-Jewish residents of Gaza and the West Bank were required to obtain individual permits.

This was during the First Intifada. While the mere mention of the word invokes the image of suicide bombers in the Western imagination, it’s important to bear in mind that the First Intifada began as a non-violent uprising comprised of civil disobedience, strikes, and boycotts of Israeli goods.

So, that the general exit permit was canceled during this time suggests that this early hit on Palestinian freedom of movement was not rooted in security concerns. It seems, rather, a retributive act, intended to punish Palestinians for daring to resist the Israeli occupation.

Israeli Soldiers Kidnap Non-Violent Palestinian and Israeli Activists in Al-Walaja

Danny Johnes, IMEMC News -- Two Palestinian and four Israeli activists were kidnapped outside Al-Walaja village Wednesday morning while protesting the bulldozing of an olive tree grove. The Israeli army blocked everyone from access to the olive grove which is being uprooted.

International, Israeli and Palestinian activists have been protesting Israeli attempts to uproot olive trees outside of Al-Walaja village.

The Israeli army prevented activists and media from accessing the olive grove. They also prevented Israeli and International activist from leaving Al-Walaja.
Among those kidnapped are Al-Walaja resident Shireen al-Araj and human rights activist Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh.

Dr. Qumsiyeh told IMEMC over the phone, that troops rushed at him, pushed him on the floor, handcuffed and blindfolded and took him away. He showed no resistance to the arrest.

On Tuesday two Palestinians were kidnapped, one of which was released a few hours later. On Wednesday two more Palestinian and five International activists were kidnapped during a non-violent protest.

The Israeli army is uprooting the olive trees to clear space for the construction of the wall.

Of particular concern to the villagers is a 3,000 year old olive tree in the grove. Residents believe the Israeli army intends to uproot it.

Israeli forces detain 5 in Jenin area of Palesrine

Ma'an -- Israeli forces detained four Palestinians in Arraba village and one in Illar early Thursday.

Palestinian security officials told Ma'an Malik Abu Salah, Jawaad Abu A’baid, Yusuf A’rda, and Jihad A’rda were taken from Arraba, southwest of Jenin, in the raid.

Israeli forces issued detention notices for four others, officials said, naming them as Qasam A’rda, Fadi A’rda, Yusuf Abu Jalbush, and Abid An-Nasir Zuhair.

Secretary of State Clinton warns Congress on proposed aid restrictions to Middle East

Ma'an -- A US Congress bill restricting foreign spending to Arab states was slammed by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton on Tuesday.

The House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Committee spending plan "would be debilitating to my efforts to carry out a considered foreign policy and diplomacy, and to use foreign assistance strategically to that end," Clinton wrote to the committee head Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

The bill would bar defense aid to Egypt, Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority and Yemen if Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah and Hamas are part of the government.

The House panel also voted to force the United States to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Foreign representations to Israel are currently housed in Tel Aviv out of respect for the disputed future of Jerusalem's status, which both Israelis and Palestinians claim as their capital.

Clinton charged that the bill had "crippling restrictions on security assistance where maximum flexibility is needed," writing to Ros-Lehtinen, "Should this bill be presented to the president, I will recommend personally that he veto the bill."

Israeli forces fire gas canisters, cause fire in Palestinian village

Ma’an -- Israeli soldiers fired gas canisters in the village of Qatana, northwest of Jerusalem, on Wednesday, causing fires which damaged fields in the village.

Qatana village spokesman Ashraf Shamasneh said that Israeli soldiers arrived in an area of the village nearby the separation wall and fired gas canisters at a home.

Fires erupted, causing damage to citrus trees and agricultural lands.

Some women and children from the village attempted to extinguish the blaze but soldiers pointed their guns at them and fired gas canisters in their direction, Shamasneh said.

This is the fourth consecutive week that soldiers have caused fires in Qatana, Shamasneh noted.

Two weeks ago Israeli soldiers fired gas canisters in the village setting fire to large areas of olive trees and fig groves.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Israeli supermarket in West Bank to segregate Jewish workers from Muslims

PNN – An Israeli grocery store built in Area C outside of Gush Etzion settlement has decided to separate the Palestinian and Jewish workers.

According to a report in Israeli daily Haaretz, baggers are no longer working most days at the supermarket, except on their busiest nights when there is little time for socializing between Jews and Palestinians.

The change in policy came following uproar in the Gush Etzion settlement when its residents heard that a Jewish girl from the settlement who works at the market became involved in a romantic relationship with a Palestinian bagger.

An influential rabbi that lives in Gush Etzion brought concerns to the owner of the grocery chain, Rami Levi, who eventually decided he would change the store's policy regarding the mixing of Jews and non-Jews.

Levi, who claims he is “against assimilation,” denied that the Palestinian bagger involved in the romance was fired.

Opinion poll shows majority of Palestinians support UN bid

Ma'an -- A public opinion poll released Tuesday has found that a majority of Palestinians support going to the United Nations in September to ask for recognition of a state.

The results of the poll showed that 65.4 percent of people supported going to the UN in September to obtain recognition for a Palestinian State.

The poll also found that 50.3 percent of the Palestinian public would choose Salam Fayyad to head the next interim government over independent candidates at 27.1 percent and Hamas candidate Jamal Khodary at 11.6 percent.

Tragedy in Norway sparks some right-wingers to blame Muslims

Al-Jazeera, D. Parvaz -- With at least 92 people dead and several injured, the brutality of Friday's attacks in Norway left the country reeling.

But who to blame for the bomb blast that tore through Oslo's government district and the shooting spree that left scores of teenagers dead at a youth summer camp in nearby Utoya?

Moments after the explosion that, as of Saturday night, left seven dead, pundits and analysts alike had assigned blame to al-Qaeda or an al-Qaeda-like group (a close approximation will do, one can suppose).

There were also reports of a group calling the Helpers of the Global Jihad either claiming responsibility for the attack or lending it support to whoever carried it out. The group retracted its rather vague statement on Saturday.

Norwegian police, meanwhile, concluded fairly early on that the attacks weren't the work of a foreign terrorist group. They have 32-year-old Anders Behring Breivik in custody - he is believed to be the gunman who opened fire on the teenagers attending a youth camp organised by the Labour Party.

It's also been reported that Breivik bought six tonnes of fertiliser in May from a farm supply firm, which seems to take a page right out of another non-Muslim terrorist's handbook: Timothy McVeigh, who along with Terry Nichols, blew up the Alfred P Murrah Building in Oklahoma City in 1995 with a truckload of fertiliser, killing 168 and injuring 450.

Still, despite the initial lack of evidence shortly after the attack - and a growing stack of evidence pointing to the contrary later - some continued to look for a "jihadist" connection in the Norway attacks. Some looked for a link between the attacks and the anger that erupted after a Danish newspaper published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in 2005.

Local Muslims: 'Deep sorrow'

This hits the Muslim community in Norway in two different ways - first, their sense of security is threatened as much as any other Norwegian. On top of that, they are automatically blamed for arguably the darkest days in Norway's recent history.

The local Muslim community was quick to respond.

The Islamic Council of Norway immediately issued a statement of condemnation, saying that any attack on Norway was an attack on the homeland of its members, while imams and other Muslim community members visited with various Christian groups and church leaders in an effort to not only offer condolences, but to improve lines of communication.

"We are in deep sorrow with the Norwegian community," Muhammed Tayyib, the coordinator of The Islamic Cultural Centre Norway, told Al Jazeera.

A wry Tweet responding to Breivik's far-right connection
Tayyib said that even though most of the Muslim community are immigrants, that they are "part of the democratic system and support the freedom of expression. We are reacting [to the attacks] as Norwegians, not as outsiders".

Tayyib said that the mosque at the cultural centre, which is in the heart of Oslo and not far from the bomb blast, remained open to all on Saturday.

He said many non-Muslims had come in on Saturday to talk about the attacks or just to get to know the Muslim community better.

Rizwan Ahmad, the general secretary at the cultural centre, said that reports of backlash against Muslims in Oslo left the younger members of the cultural centre feeling vulnerable. Two women wearing hijabs, he said, were harassed on the street while a Pakistani man was beaten on a bus.

But Ahmad said that the Muslim community remains in solidarity with the greater Norwegian community.

"We don't say anything about (the attacker) being Muslim or not Muslim. It's still a tragedy," he said of the attacks.

Dleen Dhoski, coordinator of the Muslim Student Association at the University of Oslo in Blindern, said that the concern wasn't about who was to blame.

"Our main concern wasn't [whether] it was a specific group that performed this horrible action, but we were shocked and concerned about the wellbeing of those who got affected by the attack," said Dhoski, who said she felt that Norwegian media was fairly neutral in its reporting.

"And [we were] even more shocked that something like this could be happening in our safe homeland ... This was an attack on peace and democracy in Norway, so I don't believe it has an effect only on the Muslim communities, but the entire nation," said Dhoski.

She said the Muslim community was focused on helping those most affected: "So the main priority right now for us all is showing our support towards the victims, and just try to contribute as much we can to make sure that Norway stays as it always has been."

The group continues its public outreach, she said, attending debates and dialogues with non-Muslim groups while keeping an open line with the media.

Far-right connection

Of course, it wasn't just the pundits and security analysts who were looking no further than the Muslim world to blame for the attacks.

The far-right - which has shown itself to be focused on with blaming Muslims for all European ills - was doing the same. Notably, the Nordisk group (a nationalistic, anti-immigration activist group described as having "Nazi-like beliefs) was busy blaming Muslims for the attacks on its forum.

Posters complained that the "uncontrolled immigration from Muslim countries" was to blame and that the attacks were "expected" and that, "terror will not decrease when the desert rats surge across Europe".

The group did not respond to an interview request on Saturday.

While Nordisk is certainly a somewhat fringe element, Norway, like many other European countires, where anti-immigrant groups have gained significant ground in recent elections, is swinging further to the right. Its Progress Party has been getting stronger, with some elements in the party seeking tougher immigration laws. In 2009, it called for the deportation of parents whose children wear the hijab to school.

The posters on the forum seemed unaware that Breivik is reportedly a member of their group. Norway's police confirmed that Breivik identified himself as a "Christian fundamentalist", while local media reported that he had posted anti-Muslim rhetoric online on several occasions.

Indeed, Breivik, it has been reported, was also rather taken with at least one member of the far right, Pamela Geller, a noted anti-Islam activist who fought against the construction of an Islamic community centre near the site of the former World Trade Center towers in New York.

Geller, who in May blogged that Muslims were responsible for "all rapes in the past five years" in Norway linked Friday's attacks to a "jihad".

Ali Esbati, an economist at the Manifest Center for Social Analysis, says the negative perception of Muslims in Europe has become a "convergence point" among right-wing groups, who spread the viewpoint of Muslims as an "occupying force and threat to Western society".

"The wider problem is that it's not even radical Islam that's seen as a threat - it's the idea that all of Islam or Muslims are a threat," said Esbati.

"So these (right-wing) radicals find a wider acceptance in mainstream politics."

He's not surprised by the knee-jerk response of Muslims being blamed for the attacks, as he says, discourse is not driven by facts or statistics. Rather, it is driven by perception - and right now, terrorism's face isn't of the radical right or of separatist groups in Europe (which, together, constitute the greatest terorrism threat to Europe) . This has lead to the proliferation of what Esbati calls fundamentally "racist" ideas towards Muslims.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

UN issues report, increasing displacement of Palestinians by Israeli occupation

Ma'an -- The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs released a report Thursday documenting alarming trends in the forced displacement of Palestinians in Area C.

The OCHA report found that more demolitions have taken place so far in 2011 than in all of 2009 and 2010 combined.

The Khan Al-Ahmar village near Jerusalem received four stop work orders last week, the report said, and there are ongoing demolition orders against another two hundred and fifty structures in surrounding communities.

Around twenty Bedouin communities with a population of 2,353 people live in the Jerusalem periphery with over 80 percent of them at risk of displacement due to the expansion of the Maale Adumin settlement and the separation wall.

Israeli forces detain 7 people in Palestinian city of Hebron

Ma’an -- Israeli forces detained seven people from Al-Thahriyeh village south of Hebron on Wednesday night after raiding their houses.

Israeli forces entered the village and broke into the home of Muhammad Al-Batat detaining him and his two sons Haitham and Adham, local witnesses said.

Israeli forces also detained Rateb Samara, Mutab Wridat, Rasem Al-Tal and Ashraf Wriday and took them to an unknown destination.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said that five people had been detained overnight in Hebron but was unaware of the reason for the arrests.

Spain tells Palestinian President Abbas it backs efforts for Palestinian state

AFP -- Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez told visiting President Mahmoud Abbas Tuesday that Madrid backs efforts to create an independent Palestinian state, the government said.

Abbas met with Jimenez and Spain's King Juan Carlos at the start of a two-day visit to the country aimed at drumming up support for United Nations recognition of a Palestinian state.

"The minister expressed the desire to continue the work which has been carried out over the past years to strengthen ties and support efforts by the Palestinian National Authority to build a future Palestinian state," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Jimenez also told Abbas that the bid for UN recognition of a Palestinian state was "legitimate" and said Madrid would determine its position "based on the proposals that arise, in a constructive spirit".

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Israeli general says Israeli settlers' 'terror' threatens Palestinians and creates conflict

Ma'an -- A senior Israeli army commander has warned that unchecked settler "terror" against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank threatens to plunge the territory into conflict, reports said Tuesday.

Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrahi said a yeshiva, or religious seminary, in the illegal settlement of Yitzhar, one of the most radical strongholds in the West Bank, should be closed, calling it a source of terror against Palestinians.

"What's happening in the field is terrorism," he told Channel 2, according to the Independent newspaper, and it "needs to be dealt with." The army fears "terrorism against Palestinians is likely to ignite the territories."

The remarks come amid a string of violent events in the occupied Palestinian territories.

A group of Israeli settlers attacked three Palestinian shepherds near Jerusalem on Monday, police said, and on Friday, Yizhar resident set fire to Palestinian land near the village of Burin, south of Nablus.

Israeli settlers attack international observers in West Bank

Ma'an -- Three Settlers from the illegal Havat Maon settlement south of Hebron attacked a group of internationals on Monday in the Meshakna valley.

"Around 6.35 p.m. three settlers attacked two members of Operation Dove and one member of the Christian Peacemaker Teams [CPT] with clubs and stones in the Meshakha valley outside of At-Tuwani in the South Hebron Hills," a statement from the CPT said.

"The settlers were observed coming out of the outpost of Havat Maon covering their faces with scarves then running with clubs in their hands toward two Palestinian shepherds who were grazing their sheep in a valley nearby.

"The masked settlers could not catch the shepherds who were alerted of the approaching danger. The attackers then turned and ran toward the internationals who entered the valley to intervene and document the attack.

"Three young masked settlers armed with clubs made threats and then attempted to strike the internationals as they filmed their actions. As the internationals retreated the settlers begin throwing stones narrowly missing their targets. No internationals were injured at the end."

This is the fifth case of settler violence from the outpost of Havat Maon against internationals and Palestinians in the last 30 days, the statement added.

Operation Dove and Christian Peacemaker Teams have maintained an international presence in At-Tuwani and the South Hebron Hills since 2004.

According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Hague Regulations, the International Court of Justice, and several United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements and outposts in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal.

Havat Maon is also considered illegal under Israeli law, as are several outposts in the West Bank.

A report by the Palestinian Authority found that settler violence increased "dramatically" in June 2011, documenting 139 attacks in the West Bank and the destruction of over 3,600 olive trees and vineyards.

Palestinian bid for UN recognition moves forward, Norway endorses Palestinian pursuit of statehood

IMEMC and Agencies -- Public endorsements from Norway and Syria are the most recent gains in the Palestinian pursuit of statehood recognition through the UN, while Israel claims lobbying efforts are slowing its momentum.

Syria has officially recognized a Palestinian state, effective immediately. Norway has affirmed the legitimacy of the plan to take Palestinian statehood to the UN. Both countries have elevated the rank of Palestinian Authority diplomats in their countries.

Syria recognizes Palestinian state

AFP -- The Syrian foreign ministry said Monday that Damascus recognizes a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital within the borders in effect prior to the 1967 Six-Day War.

"Syria recognizes a Palestinian state within the June 4, 1967 borders and east Jerusalem as its capital, and on the basis of the preservation of Palestinian legitimate rights," a statement said.

Syria "will treat the Damascus office of the PLO as an embassy upon the publication of this statement," the ministry added.

The PLO plans to ask the UN General Assembly to recognize a Palestinian state when the world body gathers in September, a move opposed by Israel and the United States which say progress can only be made through peace negotiations.

The application for UN membership will be submitted by the Arab League, the head of the pan-Arab organization, Nabil al-Arabi, said on Thursday in Qatar.

Israeli navy intercepts and boards Gaza-bound French humanitarian boat

Ma'an -- The Israeli navy intercepted and boarded the French-flagged Dignite Al-Karame boat on Tuesday as it approached the Gaza Strip.

At least three Israeli military ships had surrounded the yacht as it neared Gaza, seeking to breach Israel's blockade on the territory, an organizer told AFP on Tuesday.

The Israeli navy said it had "exhausted" all diplomatic channels but the vessel had ignored the calls. The navy then took control of the ship and are taking it to the port of Ashdod.

Following the seizure, the passengers' health was examined and they were offered food and beverages, an army statement said.

The passengers will face questioning upon arrival at the Israeli port and will be referred to immigration authorities.

The Israeli army had released a statement earlier saying that 'contact' had been made with the boat.

"The boat is surrounded by at least three Israeli ships and since 9:06 am all the communications have been jammed. We can't get in touch with them by phone or by Internet," one of the organizers Julien Rivoire said by phone from Paris.

"We call on the French government to take its responsibilities and to protect the passengers, and to call on Israel not resort to violence."

The boat set sail for Gaza after a night anchored at sea, despite Israeli warnings that it would intercept the vessel -- the only boat remaining from a flotilla of 10 ships that had planned to breach Israel's blockade this summer.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Picasso painting comes to Palestine

Al Jazeera, Sandy Tolan-- After an odyssey that underscored the realities of Israeli occupation, Picasso's 'Buste de Femme' arrives in Ramallah. It seemed a ridiculous and impossible idea: Bringing a US $7.1 million Picasso into occupied Palestine.

But the two-year odyssey of Picasso's "Buste de Femme", from the prominent Dutch Van Abbemuseum to the tiny International Academy of Art-Palestine in Ramallah, marks the first time a European masterpiece has been seen publicly in the West Bank. It will be on view until July 20.

The story of the journey of a single 105cm by 86cm Picasso goes far beyond the art itself: it's about protocols, "peace" agreements, ports and checkpoints. And it demonstrates how art can play a role in the nationalist vision of an occupied people struggling for some normality while forging the nascent institutions of a state.

"The idea started like a joke: I was asking, 'Why shouldn't a Picasso go to Palestine?'" said Khaled Hourani, artistic director of the Palestinian academy, founded in 2007 in a former gallery space that was once shut down by the Israeli army. "Why wouldn't Palestine be like any other country that Picasso would visit?"

Picasso was the academy's choice not only for his iconic status, but his political consciousness. "Picasso was engaged in politics, war, peace, and conflict," Hourani said. Yet Buste de Femme is "not like Guernica; it's a portrait of a woman."

Hourani and his students, who voted between three Picassos at the Van Abbemuseum, liked the idea of bringing something "normal".

Because of the occupation and inherent limitations on Palestinian sovereignty, what is ordinarily a straightforward loan from one museum to another suddenly took on a political, diplomatic, and military character.

"We acted like we were bringing Picasso normally, as if we were a state." Hourani understood that the project would "not only be about Picasso and the name; it will be about the journey and the way."

Because of the occupation and inherent limitations on Palestinian sovereignty, what is ordinarily a straightforward loan from one museum to another suddenly took on a political, diplomatic and military character. Every step in the journey was tinged with Palestinian statelessness and the determination of a scrappy art academy to overcome the obstacles.

Among the first was insurance. Frequent clashes and Israeli incursions into West Bank cities represented inherent dangers to insurers. How could the masterpiece be protected? One insurance company wanted no part of it. But a second, Reaal of the Netherlands, agreed to consider it. They were more experienced with insuring tuna fish in the Sea of Malta, so they sent representative Ruud Ijmker for a visit.

Israeli fighter jets fire missiles into Gaza Strip, two Palestinians injured

Ma’an – Two Palestinians were injured, one of them critically, as Israeli warplanes targeted the southern Gaza Strip for the fifth day in row, onlookers said.

A Ma’an reporter said fighter jets fired missiles at the town of Khuza’a east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.

Two men were injured and were evacuated to Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, where medics said one of the victims sustained critical wounds.

Israeli settlers stab three innocent Palestinian farmers

Ma’an -- A group of Israeli settlers attacked three Palestinian shepherds near Jerusalem on Monday, police said.

The shepherds were tending to their sheep on a hillside near Mikhmas east of Jerusalem when they came under a "brutal" attack by the ultra-Orthodox settlers who beat and stabbed them, Palestinian police said in a statement.

They were evacuated to hospital where medics said two victims sustained serious wounds, police said. The statement did not elaborate on their identities or say at which hospital they received treatment.

The alleged attack follows a string of violent events in the occupied Palestinian territories.

A report by the Palestinian Authority found that settler violence increased "dramatically" in June 2011, documenting 139 attacks in the West Bank and the destruction of over 3,600 olive trees and vineyards.

Israeli forces raid Palestinian village near Nablus

Ma’an – Israeli forces raided the northern West Bank village of Qaryut south of Nablus on Sunday firing gunshots into the air as well as stun grenades and tear gas canisters.

The village was under curfew until late into the night.

Eyewitnesses told Ma’an that the invading troops shouted through loudspeakers using foul language and threatening to continue raiding the village for three days.

“Israeli forces ransacked several homes beating its residents. A woman and a disabled man sustained bruises,” a local said. A minor, Ubada Mahmoud Hussein, 13, was detained after he was beaten by the soldiers.

Israeli authorities have recently confiscated about 200,000 square meters of the village’s agricultural land to expand an illegal settlement outpost in the area.

Rights of Palestinian minors severely violated by Israeli authorities

Ma'an -- The rights of Palestinian minors who are suspected of stone-throwing in the West Bank are violated severely throughout the criminal justice process, an Israeli rights group said Monday.

A report released Monday by the B'Tselem organization said that of the 835 Palestinian minors who were tried in military courts in the West Bank on charges of stone-throwing from 2005-2010, only one was acquitted.

"The infringement of the minors’ rights begins from the time of arrest," B'Tselem says.

They are often arrested in the middle of the night and taken to interrogation alone, without being allowed to consult with an attorney or even their parents, and without a parent being allowed at the questioning.

B'Tselem is urging amendments to military laws to correspond to Israeli law concerning children. For instance the age of adulthood, defined as 16 for Palestinians, should be changed to 18 like in Israel, the group says.

The report released Monday, "No Minor Matter", brings together official data on Palestinian minors tried for stone-throwing in the past six years based on interviews with 50 minors who had been arrested and others.

Among the findings are that Palestinian children are eligible for jail time at younger ages than Israeli civilians, while the rate of convictions and plea deals is extremely higher than for those convicted in Israel.

In Israel, about half of criminal cases are resolved in a plea bargain, while in the West Bank, some 97 percent of convictions for stone-throwing were the result of a deal before trial, according to the report.

The report also says Palestinian children frequently face jail while Israeli civilians do not.

In Israel, it is forbidden to impose any prison sentence on a child under 14, B'Tselem says, but under the military law in the West Bank, 19 minors aged 12 and 13 were jailed for stone-throwing from 2005-2010.

Israeli military links settlement school to Jewish terrorist organizing efforts

IMEMC News --The Od Yosef Chai yeshiva religious school in the settlement of Yitzhar, near Nablus, faces a possible closure, after the Israeli military commander found it to harbor a number of 'Jewish terrorists' and promote ideas that are not 'consistent with democracy'.

The head of the military's Central Command, Avi Mizrahi, made the statement on Israel's Channel Two television, while at the same time carefully differentiating between the extreme right-wing of the settler movement, which Mizrahi said were a small minority, and the rest of the Israeli settlers, which now number over 500,000 people living in violation of international law in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Rabbis Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elitzur, both residents of Yitzhar settlement, published the controversial book 'Torat Hamelech' in November of 2009, which advocates the killing of non-Jews, including babies, whose presence is deemed to be a threat to the state of Israel.

Arab member of Israeli parliament, Hanin Zuabi, stripped of right to speak in parliament

(Hanin Zuabi speaks in parliament, file photo)
PNN - The Knesset ethics committee voted on Monday to strip Arab member of parliament Hanin Zuabi of her rights to address parliament and vote in committees.

Hanin Zuabi speaks in parliament

The decision comes one year after Zuabi had other parliamentary rights taken away from her, including her diplomatic passport, financial help for legal assistance and the right to travel to countries Israel does not have official ties with.

The stripping of these rights came after Zuabi sailed on the Turkish ship the Mavi Marmara during last year's Gaza flotilla.

Zuabi was first elected in 2009 as a member of Balad. The 42-year-old Palestinian from Nazareth is one of Israel's 1.5 million Arab citizens.

When some of her parliamentary rights were revoked last year, Zuabi went to the High Court of Justice to get the privileges back, but they were ultimately stripped by a Knesset vote of 34-16.

MK Zuabi said on Monday that 'this is the first time that the ethics committee of the Israeli parliament have punished parliamentarians for their behavior outside of parliament', adding that MKs had been punished before but for conduct inside of parliament.

Zuabi continued, saying that the committee’s decision contradicts the rules of conduct for the committee and reflects a profound desire for a political vendetta, reflected by a hysteric racist right-wing majority that doesn’t differentiate between its right-wing positions and political legitimacy.

Zuabi stated ‘the political majority in Israel is not the source of legitimacy instead it should be the law, therefore the question is whether I did something against the law or not. I did not do anything contradictory to law, unless in this case the right-wing groups control the Israeli courts, creating a judicial system that reflects a right-wing majority.’

Zuabi also affirmed that the political immunity that is given to Knesset members is specifically granted to protect them from the oppression of the majority, so as to protect them from sanctions that might be imposed on them. Therefore the decision by the ethics committee conflicts with the immunity which should provide protection for MKs during such cases.

Zuabi has been a vocal critic of some of Israel's policies both inside and outside the Knesset. Last week she was taken out of the Knesset hall by security officers after interrupting a speech by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the recently-passed anti-boycott law.

Activists say Israel navy tried to sink Gaza boat

Ma’an -- A boat crewed by solidarity activists came under fire Saturday as it attempted to sail further than three miles off Gaza's coast, breaking a sea blockade.

The Olivia boat's purpose is to try and defend Palestinian fishermen in Gazan waters.

A European woman onboard the boat told Ma'an that when she informed sailors that she was helping fishermen, one of them said, “Even if the whole EU comes here, they will not pass, neither can they defy Israeli decisions. The decisions say each boat that tries to break the sea blockade will be sunk."

Israeli soldiers detonate explosives in West Bank, Palestinian fields burn, six hospitalized

Ma’an -- A fire broke out in the northern West Bank on Sunday after Israeli soldiers detonated explosive charges in the area, a Palestinian Authority official said.

Ghasan Doughlas, who monitors settlements in the area, said the fire burned fields near the Zawata village west of Nablus "after soldiers ignited an explosive charge near the scene."

He said the Israeli army barred firefighters from reaching the area until after carrying out standard coordination so "it took firefighting crews three hours to put out the fire."

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman wrongfully calls NGOs terrorists

AFP -- An Israeli rights group on Sunday accused Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman of "incitement and hate" after he referred to a number of leftist NGOs as "terror organisations."

Lieberman spoke to reporters as arrived for a cabinet meeting ahead of a vote in parliament this week on his campaign for a probe into leftist rights groups he says undermine Israel's legitimacy and help foreign efforts to charge its soldiers with war crimes.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he will oppose the initiative.

"We're not talking here about leftist organisations and not about human rights groups, we're talking about terror organisations," Lieberman said.

He mentioned by name groups that lobby for Palestinian legal rights and encourage soldiers to blow the whistle on comrades who they believe committed abuses.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel lashed back with a harshly worded statement.

"It's a shame that Lieberman is not familiar with the official documents, among them foreign ministry reports boasting of the important actions of human rights organisations in Israel," it said.

"The truly dangerous thing is politicians who lead by using incitement and hate in order to appeal to populism."

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Analysis: US Neocons pushing war with Iran, using anti-Iran terrorist group MEK

Truthout, Ali Fatemi and Karim Pakravan,"War With Iran? US Neocons Aim to Repeat Chalabi-Style Swindle"

Former United States Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, DC. Appearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on June 24, Bolton reiterated his calls for military action against Iran and openly expressed his support for the MEK, a radical Islamic terrorist group. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

In 1991, Iraqi exiles set up the Iraq National Congress (INC) with funding from the CIA. Under the leadership of Ahmad Chalabi, and flush with tens of millions dollars in US government funding, the INC allied itself with the neoconservatives in Washington and unceasingly beat the drums of war, presenting itself as the popular democratic alternative to Saddam Hussein and feeding faulty intelligence to an eager media and Bush administration. Eventually, they succeeded in dragging the United States into disastrous war that cost Americans and Iraqis their lives and caused incalculable damage to American prestige and power.

Now, history may be repeating itself.

Militant groups fire rockets at Israel in response to Israeli violence; no damage; Gaza police tried to stop them

Ma'an – Two militant groups in Gaza, Al-Tawid (Unity) and Al-Jihad, claimed responsibility Friday for firing three missiles at the city of Sderot and the area of Shaar Hanegev, both in southern Israel.

"At 09:00 O’clock on Friday morning, our fighters fired a missile towards the west of the Negev. Despite the heavy presence of the Gaza police in the region which tried to prevent firing the missiles, fighters were successful again in shooting another missile at the same region.

"At 3:30 p.m, our heroes were able to launch another missile towards the town of Sderot and then returned to their home safely,” the Al-Tawid group told Ma'an.

The group said that the projectiles were in response to Israeli crimes against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and stated its willingness to continue firing missiles as a way to resist the Israeli occupation.

Two missiles fell in the western Negev region of Eshkol without causing any causalities or damage, Israeli sources said.

Israeli forces bombard Gaza, injure resident

IMEMC – Israeli soldiers bombarded, after midnight Friday night, an area in Beit Hanoun, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip; damage was reported, one resident was injured.

The injured youth is in his twenties; he was moved to Kamal Odwan Hospital in Beit Lahia suffering moderate injuries. Damage to nearby buildings and property was reported.

Local sources reported that the Israeli Air Force fired one missile into a civilian area, where several residents were gathering.

Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike hospitlized, begins strike after daughter died; patients shackled to beds

IMEMC – The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) reported Friday that detainee Yousef Skafi, who has been on hunger strike since 34 days, was moved to Al Ramla prison hospital; he is currently in a serious condition. He went on strike after the death of his daughter who suffered nervous breakdown after being prevented from visiting him.

File - Image by Palestinian Prisoners Society
File - Image by Palestinian Prisoners Society

Skafi went on hunger strike after the death of his daughter, Abeer, who came to visit him with her mother, but the Israeli soldiers kept her waiting under the sun for an extended period, and eventually prevented her from visiting him.

After being forced back home without being allowed to visit her detained father, Abeer suffered a nervous breakdown that developed to paralysis before she passed away.

Skafi is suffering from kidney issues, while his health condition is gradually deteriorating; he currently cannot stand or walk and is constantly dizzy.

He needs urgent specialized medical attention that cannot be found at the prison hospital that lacks the basic medical equipment and medications.

Ailing detainees at the Al Ramla Prison Hospital are confined to their beds while shackled despite the fact that they suffer from chronic diseases, serious illnesses such as cancer, and some of them are paralyzed while others had open-heart surgeries.

Detainee Ala’ Hassouna, kidnapped by the army on October 18 2004, and sentenced to eight years, underwent an open-heart surgery in 2006, yet, he is still chained to his bed at the prison hospital while.

In addition, detainee Zayed Shamasna, who was kidnapped on June 7 2011, is chained to his hospital bed despite the fact that he is paralyzed, cannot feel or move his lower body.

There are 201 detainees, who died in Israeli prisons and interrogation facilities due to medical negligence, extreme torture during interrogation, or after being shot dead after the army kidnapped them. Some of them were shot and killed, by the soldiers, inside a number of prison compounds.

Heavily armed Israeli settlers torch Palestinian olive orchards, Israeli soldiers block fire fighters from extinguishing blaze

IMEMC – A group of fundamentalist Israeli settlers torched on Friday Palestinian olive orchards in Jabal Suleiman area, near Burin village, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

Eyewitnesses reported that at least twenty heavily armed extremist settlers burnt at least 80 Dunams of farmlands, including dozens of olive trees.

Israeli soldiers arrived at the scene but did not attempt to remove the settlers, or even stop them, and also obstructed the work of Palestinian firefighters.

The settlers also attacked several Palestinian homes in Burin and in the nearby Huwwara village, and hurled stones at the homes and the residents; damage was reported, no injuries.

The attack is part of a series of escalated violations carried out by the settlers against local Palestinian farmers, and their orchards.

Poll: Obama ratings in Arab world even lower than Bush's; Palestinian issue ties for top cause of negative views

IMEMC – A new poll by the Arab American Institute shows that attitudes to the US in the Arab world have plummeted following Obama’s favorable ratings in the wake of his Cairo speech two years ago in which he outlined a new approach to American relations with the Middle East. In many countries the poll shows US favorable ratings to be lower than that of George Bush at the end of his term as US President.

Citing a failure to remedy the Palestinian Israeli conflict amongst other issues poll respondents in the latest Arab American Institute poll of attitudes in the Middle East has shown a strong downturn in favorable attitudes to the US.

Strong majorities in every country polled expressed disagreement with the statement that US President Barrack Obama had lived up to expectations following his Cairo speech two years ago. The poll showed Obama’s role in the Israeli Palestinian conflict and his engagement with the Muslim world as being the most contributory factors to his negative ratings, the two issues Obama sought to address most urgently in his Cairo speech.

Israeli militarys says investigating killing of 21-year-old college student

IMEMC – The Israeli military will be investigating the killing of twenty-one year old Ibrahim Omae Sarhan on Wednesday July 13, 2011, for alleged wrongdoings. Israeli military sources said that an investigation does not mean the Israeli military were violating the operations rules of engagement, according to the Jerusalem Post.
According to the Jerusalem Post, an Israeli Military spokesman stressed that the soldiers acted “appropriately” since the young “man jumped out of a window during an arrest raid and tried to flee.”

The twenty-one year old Ibrahim was on his way to mosque when Israeli forces raided his residence at Al-Faraa refugee camp at 3:30 AM July 13, 2011. The college student ran once he saw the Israeli forces enter his camp and was shot in both legs while doing so.

After being shot in both legs, Ibrahim managed to flee to a nearby house, whose residents called an ambulance.

The Israeli military followed Ibrahim’s blood trail to the house he was residing at and detained him until he bled to death according to the Palestinian Solidarity Organization.

Israeli commander warns of possible armed clashes with Israeli settlers whose beliefs call for killing of children

IMEMC – Commander of the so-called “Judea and Samria” Israeli army brigade, operating in the occupied West Bank, Nitzan Alon, stated during closed military and security sessions that armed clashes between Israeli soldiers and settlers is a possible scenario, adding that the real danger is what lies in books like “Torat Hamelech”.

According to Israeli paper, Maariv, Alon said that there is a possibility that some settlers would open fire at Israeli soldiers during the upcoming evacuation of Mitzpe Yitzhar illegal settlement, later this year.

Alon added that the real danger lies in Jewish settlers who strongly believe in the “Torat Hamelech” book that incites violence and calls for killing non-Jews, even infants and children.

He further stated that extremist settler groups are already attacking Palestinian areas, torching mosques and farmlands, and that further escalation, under “price tag” policy used bu the settlers, could lead to clashes with Israeli soldiers and policemen for demolishing and evacuating illegal settlement outposts.

Nitzan, who headed the (Sayeret Mitkal) advanced military intelligence unit, said that “the minority of extremist settlers” could attract support from thousands of settlers, especially since Israel is lenient in dealing with them and their constant attacks.

Nitzan also led an army unit during the 2006 Israeli offensive against Lebanon. He became the target for extremist right-wing leaders and officials for his role in the evacuation of illegal Israel settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank.

Extremist settlers repeatedly protested in front of his home, and also attacked his car near a settlement in the northern part of the West Bank.

Israeli political leaders have repeatedly warned that armed clashes could talk place with the armed Israeli settler population in the occupied West Bank, and pointed to the possibility that soldiers and commanders who live in Jewish settlements could mutiny and refuse to evacuate settlements.

Israeli air forces strike Gaza, wound residents, including 2 children

IMEMC – The Israeli Air Force carried out a series of airstrikes targeting several areas in the Gaza Strip leading to damages and four injuries among the civilian population, two of the wounded are children.

Adham Abu Salmiyya, spokesperson of the Higher Committee of Emergency Services in Gaza, reported that the two children were injured when the army bombarded land, where they played, near a residential building in Gaza city.

Two more residents were wounded when the army bombarded an area in the central Gaza, and were moved to the Al Aqsa Hospital.

Furthermore, Israeli F-16 Fighter Jets fired at least one missile into the Bader base, used as a training center for the Al Qassam Brigades of Hamas, south of Gaza City.

An Apache chopper also fired at least one missile into the Al Qadisiyya base, used as a training center for the Popular Resistance Committee, west of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

Later on, an Israeli chopper fired one missile targeting another training center for the Popular Resistance Committee, north of Gaza City.

Local sources reported that several Israeli choppers remained hovering over the Gaza Strip, an issue that could translate into further offensives against the Gaza Strip.

The latest attack is part of an ongoing, and escalating, offensive against the Gaza Strip that led to the death of two Palestinians in the last ten days. Several injuries among the civilian population were reported.

At least five Palestinians were wounded, On Wednesday at night, when the army bombarded a number of areas in the Gaza Strip.

On Wednesday at dawn, the army bombarded a blacksmith workshop in Gaza City causing excessive damage to the workshop and nearby homes. The army bombarded the same area, again, several hours after the initial attack.

Weekly Report: Israeli forces killed a civilian; injured a woman and child; conducted 47 raids into Palestinian communities; abducted 12, including a child; demolished, damaged structures & homes; uprooted 600 trees

Brick factory damaged by Israeli bomb (PCHR photo)
Brick factory damaged by Israeli bomb
IMEMC – In its Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory for the week of 07– 13 July 2011, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights found that a Palestinian civilian was killed by Israeli forces in the north of the West Bank.

Also this week, a Palestinian woman was wounded by Israeli forces the northern Gaza Strip. Israeli forces continued to use force against peaceful protests in the West Bank, wounding a Palestinian child.

Israeli warplanes attacked a number of civilian facilities in the Gaza Strip. Two industrial workshops and a warehouse of fodders were destroyed and a number of civilian facilities and houses were damaged. A Palestinian woman was injured.

Also this week, Israeli gunboats opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli attacks in the West Bank:

Israeli forces conducted 47 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, during which they abducted 12 Palestinian civilians, including a child.

In addition, Israeli forces abducted 4 Palestinian civilians at military checkpoints in the West Bank.

Israeli forces demolished a workshop, an animal farm and a garage in al-Jeeb village near Jerusalem.

Israeli forces uprooted and confiscated 600 olive trees in Deir Estia village in the north of the West Bank.

There are approximately 585 permanent roadblocks, and manned and unmanned checkpoints across the West Bank.

At least 65% of the main roads that lead to 18 Palestinian communities in the West Bank are closed or fully controlled by Israeli forces.

There are approximately 500 kilometers of restricted roads across the West Bank. In addition, approximately one third of the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem, is inaccessible to Palestinians without permits issued by Israeli forces. Such permits are extremely difficult to obtain.

Israeli settlement activities:

Israeli forces have continued settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.

On 11 July 2011, Israeli forces, accompanied by a bulldozer, moved into al-Khalaila area in al-Jeeb village, northwest of Jerusalem. They demolished a grocery shop, a sheep farm, a fence and a garage, claiming that these structures were built with licenses. It is worth noting that these facilities are located between “Givat Ze’ev” and “Giv’on” settlements.

Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip:

On 9 June 2011, at approximately 19:30, Israeli soldiers stationed on observation towards at the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northwest of the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia fired at Tamam Salah Abu Mtair, 31, from al-Shati refugee camp west of Gaza City, when she got close to the border. As a result, she was wounded by a bullet to the right leg. According to her sister, she suffers from a psychological disorder. She had been missing since 16:00 on the same day. Medical crews found her only 5 meters away from the border.

During the reporting period, Israeli gunboats opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats in the Gaza Strip in two separate incidents. In one of these attacks, a Palestinian fishing boat was damaged.

Israeli warplanes launched a series of air strikes against Palestinian civilian facilities in the Gaza Strip, as a result of which two industrial workshops and a warehouse of fodders were destroyed and a number of civilian facilities and houses were damaged. Additionally, a Palestinian woman was injured by glass fragments.

Israel has continuously closed all border crossings to the Gaza Strip for over three years. The illegal Israeli-imposed closure of the Gaza Strip, which has steadily tightened since June 2007, has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli forces have tightened the closure of the Gaza Strip and practically made Karm Abu Salem crossing as the sole commercial crossing of the Gaza Strip although it is not proper for commercial purposes in terms of its distance and operational capacity.

Israeli forces have continued to prolong the implementation of their decision to allow 60 cars into Gaza weekly although more than 11 months have passed since they announced this decision after three years of ban imposed on the delivery of cars to Gaza. As a result, the prices of cars in Gaza have been on the rise and local markets experience serious shortage in spare parts.

For approximately four consecutive years, Israeli forces have continued to ban the delivery of construction materials to Gaza. During the reporting period, Israeli forces approved the delivery of limited quantities of construction materials for a number of international organizations.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Israeli forces attack journalist, attempted firebombing of Gaza news office

(File Photo)
PNN - Ramallah - The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms said this week that there had been several attacks on journalists this week in the West Bank and Gaza.

MADA said Hazem Bader, a photographer for the Associated Press, suffered burns on his legs and arms after an Israeli soldier threw a concussion grenade between his legs.

Bader was in the southern West Bank village of Altoana reporting on an event where local Palestinian, international and Israeli activists worked land that was under threat of confiscation from the Israeli army.

Another journalist, Mustafa Sabri, was stopped from going to Jordan through the Al Karama border terminal, said the same report. After waiting three hours, Israeli soldiers told Sabri he would not be allowed to leave because he was a security threat.

Border guards offered no more explanation to Sabri, who said, "I will not be silenced and I will continue to defend my right to travel."

Israeli navy attacks international boat in Gaza

Ma'an -- Israeli naval forces attacked an international third party monitor on Wednesday in Gazan territorial waters.

Civil Peace Service Gaza works as part of a non-violent initiative to monitor human rights abuses in Gaza.

Israeli forces fired at the CPS Gaza monitoring boat, the Oliva, with water cannons on Wednesday at 12.05 p.m local time, a statement by the organization said.

There were four people aboard at the time, two CPS Gaza members, the captain and a journalist.

"We were fewer than two miles away from the Gaza coast when they fired at us. We saw them firing water at some fishing boats so we headed to the area. When we got close, the warships left the fishing boats, and turned on us.

"They attacked us for about ten minutes, following us as we tried to head to shore and eventually lagged when we reached about one mile off the Gaza coast," British human rights worker Ruqaya Al-Samarrai said.

A fishing boat was also fired at and damaged with live rounds.

Palestinians call on US to support Palestinian UN bid

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat gestures has said that the
Palestinians have called on the United States to reverse course and
support their United Nations membership bid. [AFP/File Abbas Momani]
AFP -- The Palestinians have called on the United States to reverse course and support their United Nations membership bid, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said on Wednesday.

Erekat, speaking at a news conference in Ramallah, said the Palestinians had been in touch with Washington after a meeting of the Middle East peacemaking Quartet this week that failed to produce a final joint statement.

"In the aftermath of the Quartet meeting, yesterday we urged the United States administration to revisit, reassess, re-evaluate its position vis-a-vis our attempt to gain Palestine admittance to the UN," he said.

The Quartet meeting on Monday, which brought together representatives from the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia, was intended to discuss potential peace initiatives that could head off the Palestinian UN bid.

But the talks ended with no joint statement and no action plan, a sign the grouping remains divided on how to move forward.

The Palestinians say they will not return to the negotiating table without a freeze on settlement construction and clear parameters for new talks, including that any borders will be based on the lines that existed before the 1967 Six Day War, with mutually agreed land swaps.

Arab League convenes to discuss Palestinian UN bid, peace process

Ma’an -- Arab League officials will convene in Doha, Qatar on Thursday to discuss the next steps before September, the Palestinian president's spokesman said.

Nabil Abu Rdeina said Wednesday that the body's peace process follow-up committee would discuss supporting the Palestinian bid for recognition of an independent state at the UN General Assembly.

Future challenges in light of the impasse the peace process has reached and the Middle East Quartet’s failure to relaunch negotiations will also be on the meeting’s agenda, Abu Rdeina said in a statement.

The Arab League announced Tuesday that its ministerial committee on the Arab Peace Initiative would hold a meeting Thursday at the request Sheikh Hamad Ben Jasim, prime minister and foreign minister of Qatar, who chairs the committee.

Deputy secretary-general of the Arab League Ahmad Ben Hilli told reporters that President Mahmoud Abbas would attend the meeting.

Abbas, he added, will present a comprehensive report about the PLO's future plans on the UN bid and the peace process in light of the latest Quartet meeting.

Arab League secretary-general Nabil Al-Arabi will also present an evaluative report.

Sheikh Hamad Ben Jasim will give an update and the committee will recommend what future moves could be taken in light of the political, financial and diplomatic developments.

Israeli army bombards southern Gaza, five Palestinians injured, one missing, nearby homes damaged

(File Photo)
IMEMC & Agencies -- The Israeli Air Force carried out on Wednesday at night an air strike targeting the border area, between Gaza and Egypt, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, and a shed in Gaza City.

Palestinian medical sources reported that five residents were injured, and one remained missing, likely buried under the rubble, after the Israeli Air Force bombarded a tunnel at the Gaza-Egypt border, in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

The sources said that five residents were moved to Abu Yousef Al Najjar Hospital in Rafah, while a tunnel worker remained missing under the rubble. His fate remains unknown.

The Israeli Air Force fire one missile into the tunnel, allocated for smuggling construction materials into the besieged Gaza strip, destroying it causing damages to nearby tunnels.

PLO officials urge diplomatic Middle East Quartet to adopt clear position on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations

Ma’an -- PLO official Hanan Ashrawi urged the Middle East Quartet on Tuesday to adopt clear positions on negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

“The failure of the Quartet to come up with a clear and decisive position on negotiations and the requirements of peace is a direct result of the refusal of its members to bring Israel to compliance with international law, including a cessation of all settlement activities and acceptance of the 1967 border,” Dr Ashrawi said in a statement Tuesday.

She also condemned the Quartet for its indecision and vague language.

"Of course there are gaps between Palestinians and Israelis: Israel is an occupying power that acts unilaterally and refuses to comply with international law.

"If there were no gaps between us, there would be no need for negotiations. Rather, the question is what is the position of the Quartet, and what is its plan for positive engagement?”

"The Quartet needs to articulate a position consistent with international law and to act on that position.”

“The Quartet’s inability to engage makes it more imperative to address the UN and its institutions and agencies directly,” Ashrawi concluded.

Israeli military forces raid Palestinian West Bank town, detain 3 Palestinians, beat mother

Ma’an -- Israeli forces detained three Palestinian men on Wednesday from the southern West Bank town of Beit Ummar north of Hebron after ransacking their homes.

Popular committees spokesman Muhammad Awad said soldiers ransacked the home of Ali Ayyad Awad, beating him and his wife Amina before detaining their son Ahmad, 18.

Ahmad suffers from thalassemia, a blood disorder, Ayad noted.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Israel approves building museum on site of Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem

Wafa– The Planning and Construction Committee of the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem approved Wednesday the building of the Museum of Tolerance on the site of a historic Muslim cemetery in occupied Jerusalem.

The municipality announced that it moved the remains of hundreds of bodies from the cemetery to undisclosed locations during six years of continuous excavation and dredging on the land of the cemetery.

The new plan includes the building of a museum, square, stadium, show rooms and other facilities which will wipe out all features of the cemetery, an important landmark of the Arab identity of the area and city. Read more

Jewish teenage settlers attack Palestinian shepherds on Palestinian land

Wafa- Three teenaged settlers from Havat Ma'on outpost near Tuwani, a village south of Hebron, Wednesday threw stones and shouted insults at two Palestinian shepherds, driving them off of Palestinian land, according to a press release.

The press release said that Kamel Muhammeri and his 12 year-old nephew, were herding Muhammeri's flock on Meshaha hill when the settlers emerged from the trees surrounding the outpost; the shepherds immediately left the area with the sheep, but the youth pursued them and threw stones.

Two international observers from Christian Peacemaker Teams witnessed the attack, said the press release.

Israeli police arrests 11 Palestinian teenagers in Silwan

Wafa– Israeli police Wednesday arrested 11 Palestinian teenagers, 14-17, in Silwan, a town East of Jerusalem, under the pretext of 'stoning Beit Yonatan settlement' in the town.

The Israeli police claimed that the Palestinian youth threw fireworks and Molotov bottles at the outpost.

Forces from the Israeli police minority unit raided the teenagers’ houses and arrested them. An Israeli police spokesman said that indictments will be filed against them within days. Read more

EU provides assistance for Palestinians affected by water restrictions

Wafa- The European Commission has allocated €4 million to address water scarcity which is affecting people in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT).

Rainfall in the area is 59% down from the rainy season average and the drought is testing the resilience of many Palestinian communities with water and fodder shortages.

'The rainfall deficit by itself puts at risk the livelihoods of many Palestinians, for instance those who make a living by herding,' said Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response.

'But the drought is particularly painful when it hits people whose access to water is already very limited by the occupation in the West Bank and by the Gaza Strip blockade. While many wells and other water sources are drying out, the occupation prevents Palestinian herders and their livestock from accessing some water points which have not been as badly affected. The problem is particularly acute for the Bedouin communities in Area C which I visited in May,' the Commissioner explained.

French vessel is only boat from Freedom Flotilla II able to sail to Gaza yet

IPS - Begoña Astigarraga- The French vessel Dignité-Al Karama is the only boat from the Freedom Flotilla II actually sailing for Gaza in an attempt to break the Israeli blockade imposed in 2006. At the same time, six Spanish members of the humanitarian aid mission went on hunger strike in the Greek capital.

The hunger strikers, who have occupied the Spanish embassy in Athens since Jul. 5, were travelling on the Spanish ship Gernika (Guernica) that was part of the flotilla carrying 500 activists from 45 different countries, and 5,000 tonnes of aid, bound for the Gaza Strip.

Nearly all the ships have been confined to port in Greece for the last 10 days, except for the Dignité-Al Karama which sailed from the French island of Corsica Jun. 25, evaded the Greek blockade on more than one occasion and remains the only vessel of the flotilla still sailing freely.

With 10 representatives of several delegations of the humanitarian coalition on board, the Dignité received permission Jul. 9 to sail for the island of Rhodes, Manolis Plionis, a member of the Greek delegation of the Freedom Flotilla II - "Stay Human", confirmed to IPS.

From on board the Dignité, French Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Nicole Kiil-Nielsen told IPS that after having been stopped last week in Ormos Kouremenos, in Crete, they were taken to Sitia by the Greek coast guard and eventually allowed to sail from there.

"We had to stop in Crete to refuel, as we did not have enough fuel to reach Gaza," Kiil-Nielsen said. "Now, the Dignité is free and we are organising another group of passengers, probably international, to go on to Gaza."

Israel battles Gaza Flotilla on two fronts

The second front where Israel is fighting against the Gaza Flotilla is in its constant struggle to maintain control over the American corporate media.

Uprooted Palestinians - James M. Wall- The two columns were standard Israeli hasbara (Hebrew for explanation or propaganda) declarations. Think Fox News or the Tea Party in this use of a single perspective to push an ideology, and you realize just how far American journalism has fallen in recent decades.

A year ago, the Israeli Defense Forces handed Israel one of its worst media defeats in modern history.

Israeli commandos, filled with their government’s propaganda that Israel’s security was at stake, landed on the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, ready for battle and determined to keep the ship from breaking Israel’s control over Gaza’s shores.

Nine Turkish citizens were killed, one of whom was a Turkish-American.

This year Israel took the job of boarding flotilla ships away from the IDF and gave it to the Greek Coast Guard. On the fourth of July, as Americans celebrated their Independence Day, Israel expanded its Gaza blockade to the Aegean Sea.

What led to Greece’s decision to become Israel’s Aegean Sea outpost? Deep Throat could have told you this was coming: “Follow the money”, specifically the $17 billion which Israel and the US knew Greece needed to escape from a monumental economic collapse.

One way diplomacy works is through negotiations. Another way, when one side is facing default, is to transfer money from the more powerful nation to the economically-strapped nation, which agrees to give up some of its freedom to let the powerful nation have control over segments of its domestic and foreign policy decisions.

Greek forces point guns at Flotilla participants, indication of Israeli pressure on national sovereignty

Eleftherotypia- The American activist Ann Wright: "Greeks pointed guns at us as if they were Israeli commandos.” By Georgia Dama Thirty-six Americans are aboard the ship participating in Freedom Fleet II with destination Gaza. The youngest is 22 and the oldest 87. [caption]"I’m sorry for the Greek people that the government was forced to take such a stance. This happens when a country loses its national sovereignty," says 65-year-old American activist (right in photo) Ann Wright (photo Ass. Press) Among the passengers on the American ship are a former analyst at the CIA, five veterans of the U.S. armed forces, a former Israeli soldier, senior citizens, artists, teachers, professors and 87-year-old writer Eddie Epstein, whose family was murdered during the Holocaust. One third of the passengers are Jewish. Most are members of peace organizations.

Delegation of women feminists visit occupied Palestine

Justice for Palestine: A Call to Action from Indigenous and Women of Color Feminists

Between June 14 and June 23, 2011, a delegation of 11 scholars, activists, and artists visited occupied Palestine. As indigenous and women of color feminists involved in multiple social justice struggles, we sought to affirm our association with the growing international movement for a free Palestine. We wanted to see for ourselves the conditions under which Palestinian people live and struggle against what we can now confidently name as the Israeli project of apartheid and ethnic cleansing. Each and every one of us—including those members of our delegation who grew up in the Jim Crow South, in apartheid South Africa, and on Indian reservations in the U.S.—was shocked by what we saw. In this statement we describe some of our experiences and issue an urgent call to others who share our commitment to racial justice, equality, and freedom.

During our short stay in Palestine, we met with academics, students, youth, leaders of civic organizations, elected officials, trade unionists, political leaders, artists, and civil society activists, as well as residents of refugee camps and villages that have been recently attacked by Israeli soldiers and settlers. Everyone we encountered—in Nablus, Awarta, Balata, Jerusalem, Hebron, Dheisheh, Bethlehem, Birzeit, Ramallah, Um el-Fahem, and Haifa—asked us to tell the truth about life under occupation and about their unwavering commitment to a free Palestine. We were deeply impressed by people’s insistence on the linkages between the movement for a free Palestine and struggles for justice throughout the world; as Martin Luther King, Jr. insisted throughout his life, “Justice is indivisible. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Traveling by bus throughout the country, we saw vast numbers of Israeli settlements ominously perched in the hills, bearing witness to the systematic confiscation of Palestinian land in flagrant violation of international law and United Nations resolutions. We met with refugees across the country whose families had been evicted from their homes by Zionist forces, their land confiscated, their villages and olive groves razed. As a consequence of this ongoing displacement, Palestinians comprise the largest refugee population in the world (over five million), the majority living within 100 kilometers of their natal homes, villages, and farmlands. In defiance of United Nations Resolution 194, Israel has an active policy of opposing the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their ancestral homes and lands on the grounds that they are not entitled to exercise the Israeli Law of Return, which is reserved for Jews.

In Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood in eastern occupied Jerusalem, we met an 88-year-old woman who was forcibly evicted in the middle of the night; she watched as the Israeli military moved settlers into her house a mere two hours later. Now living in the small back rooms of what was once her large family residence, she defiantly asserted that neither Israel’s courts nor its military could ever force her from her home. In the city of Hebron, we were stunned by the conspicuous presence of Israeli soldiers, who maintain veritable conditions of apartheid for the city’s Palestinian population of almost 200,000, as against its 700 Jewish settlers. We crossed several Israeli checkpoints designed to control Palestinian movement on West Bank roads and along the Green Line. Throughout our stay, we met Palestinians who, because of Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem and plans to remove its native population, have been denied entry to the Holy City. We spoke to a man who lives ten minutes away from Jerusalem but who has not been able to enter the city for twenty-seven years. The Israeli government thus continues to wage a demographic war for Jewish dominance over the Palestinian population.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Zionist organizations hold conference to discuss strengthening Israel's control of West Bank

PIC- Zionist organizations are gearing to help stage a conference to study options for strengthening Israeli control of the West Bank.

The development comes as Zionist figures have begun to discuss plans to extend the boundaries of Israel's Jerusalem municipality to the east.

The conference, organized by Women for Israel's Tomorrow (Women in Green), aims at exploring “practical steps of asserting Israeli sovereignty, including Jewish, Zionist, political, diplomatic, economic, and legal ramifications,” the Israel National News has reported

Slated for 21 July in a center seized by Jewish settlers near the Ibrahimi Mosque in Al-Khalil, the conference will be attended by Knesset member Tzipi Hotovely, Caroline Glick, Yoram Ettinger, Professor Rafi Yisraeli, Eran Bar-Tal, Att. Elyakim Haetzni, and Gabi Avital.

Meanwhile, MK Hotovely has recently toured Jerusalem and discussed the plan she intends to bring to the Knesset on the expansion of Jerusalem's municipal borders to the east.

Former Israeli governments have tried to execute similar projects amid claims that the West Bank has particular importance in terms of security.
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2,500 US Jews aim to fill gaps in northern occupied territories

PIC- An Israeli organization has announced plans to bring more than 2,500 Jews from North America to the occupied Palestinian territories this summer, as it seeks to resettle the regiment in areas with high Palestinian populations.

The organization, Nefesh B'nefesh, which encourages the migration of Jews from North America and the United Kingdom to the Palestinian territories, said it would cooperate with the Jewish Agency for Israel and Israel's migration ministry to bring 2,500 Jews from the United State and Canada during the summer, according the organization's website.

The first batch of 245 immigrants should land on Tuesday 12 July at the Ben-Gurion airport, the organization said.

Nefesh B'nefesh recently launched a project encouraging resettling the immigrants in the northern region of the territories occupied in 1948, where there is a high concentration of Palestinians, a step observers say is an attempt to change the demographic features of the area.

The project, dubbed “go north”, has cost a total of 10 million US dollars. It aims at settling 1,500 Jews in neighborhoods in the Triangle, Galilee, Marj Ben Amir, as well as Tabariya and Golan.

The formerly Arab city of Haifa and vicinity, which have a Jewish majority, were excluded from the project. Read more

Israeli army invades Al Esawiyya town, clashes reported

IMEMC- Israeli troops invaded, on Sunday evening, the Al Esawiyya town, in occupied Easy Jerusalem, and clashed with local youths who hurled stones and empty bottles at them.

The army also used its under-cover forces in attacking the residents, and controlling the town.

Soldiers fired gas bombs and rubber-coated metal bullets leading to several injuries, medical sources in Jerusalem reported.

Also, troops broke into Biddo Club, northwest of Jerusalem, and confiscated several computers after destroying furniture and property.

Head of the club, Khaled Mansour, reported that this is not the first attack against the club, and that soldiers repeatedly searched it and destroyed its property.

The club contains sports equipment and tools with pictures of local youths, killed by the army, hanged on its inner walls. Read more

Israeli Authorities uproot, confiscate 450 olive trees in Salfit

Wafa– Israeli authorities Monday uprooted and confiscated 450 olive trees in Wadi Qana, an area west of Deir Estia near Salfit in the northern West Bank, according to Nazmi Salman, mayor of Deir Estia.

Israeli soldiers prevented Palestinian farmers from reaching their land in Wadi Qana under the pretext of it being classified as a closed military area, said Salman.

He added that an Israeli bulldozer accompanied by officers in the civil administration and soldiers uprooted 450 olive trees and destroyed land that belongs to a Palestinian resident in Deir Estia.

He said that Israeli forces confiscated the olive trees and the fence that surrounds the lands. It is believed that they took the trees to the nearby settlements of Karnei Shomron, Yakir and Nofim.

The mayor condemned the continuous Israeli attacks against Palestinians, targeting the area of Wadi Qana, uprooting olive trees and destroying land reclamation projects in the area without any justification.

He pointed out that these measures are for the benefit of settlements and settlers who aim to control the water-rich area of Wadi Qana.

Salman stressed that Wadi Qana is witnessing an unprecedented campaign of occupation to make its residents' lives difficult in order to pressure them to leave the area, as a prelude for Israel to judaize it.

He said these measures are taken on grounds of protecting nature and said, ‘Does uprooting trees protect nature?’

Israeli authorities had uprooted and confiscated 300 olive trees in the same area in late June. Read more

Israel demolishes 6 structures, destroying livelihood of Palestinian refugee families

AIC- Today, 11 July 2011, six structures were demolished in Al Khalayla, a dislocated community of Area C on the Jerusalem side of the Barrier. The demolished structures were used for livelihood purposes by six families, of whom at least two families are refugees.

Givon Hadasha, the Israeli colony near the Palestinian village of al Khalayla, where Israel demolished six structures today

Background on al-Khalayleh

Al Khalayla is inhabited by some 700 Palestinians, including 250 West Bank ID holders, and is entirely located in Area C on the Jerusalem side of the Barrier near Giv’on Hadashah settlement (Giva’at Ze’ev settlement bloc). It is built on lands that are historically part of the nearby Al Jib village. Approximately half of the West Bank ID holders are UNRWA registered refugees.

Following construction of the Barrier in 2005, Al Khalayla residents were cut-off from the remainder of the West Bank and could only enter the West Bank through Al Jib checkpoint (on foot) or via Ramot and Beit Iksa checkpoints (vehicle). Residents’ names (both West Bank and Jerusalem IDs) are on a list at Al Jib checkpoint so that they can to reach service centers such as Bir Nabala and Biddu enclaves. Residents, including children, must always carry their identification documents to cross.

There are no schools, clinics, mosques or a cemetery in Al Khalayla and access by visitors or relatives is only possible for those who are able to obtain permits. There is a Palestinian-plated bus (with one driver) to transport students to Al Jib, Beit Iksa and Biddu that can cross through Al Jib. Residents can only bring in a limited amount of food item through the checkpoints and there are often problems and coordination requirements regarding the entry of meat, dairy products, gas and construction materials.

Israeli army endorses new road in Silwan, serves demolition notice in same village

PIC- The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) authorized the construction of a new four-meter wide road in Silwan town, south of the Aqsa Mosque, on Sunday to serve settlement outposts in occupied Jerusalem.

The IOA-controlled Jerusalem municipality approved the construction of the road starting from Ras Al-Amud suburb to Al-Bustan street.

The new road, which would be completed by the end of the year, passes through densely populated neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, the municipality served a new demolition notice to an old woman in the same town of Silwan on Sunday.

Khadija Abdul Razek lives in the 110 square meters house with her ten-member family and grand children. Her son Hamouda Siyam said that municipality staffers glued the order on the house and told them to report to the municipality’s inspection sector. Read more

Rachel Corrie’s family says Israeli military withheld vital video evidence about her death in Gaza in 2003

The Guardian, ISM -- The family of Rachel Corrie, the US activist killed in Gaza while protesting against house demolitions in 2003, on Monday claimed the Israeli military authorities withheld video evidence during the Corries’ civil lawsuit and misled US officials on crucial details.

Craig Corrie, Rachel’s father, told a press conference in Jerusalem that the footage from a surveillance camera near the scene of his daughter’s death submitted to the court was “incomplete”. Additional video material obtained by the family showed Rachel’s body in a different spot to the place identified by some military commanders, he said.

He also alleged that the Israeli military had misled US officials on the position of Rachel’s body when she was killed.

Rachel, from Olympia, Washington state, was killed while attempting to protect the home of a Palestinian family in the Rafah area of Gaza from being demolished by Israeli troops in March 2003. Her family and other activists who witnessed the incident say she was crushed by an Israeli army bulldozer.

Israeli forces disperse peaceful Palestinian rally in Hebron

Ma'an -- Israeli forces dispersed on Tuesday a non-violent rally against settlement construction and closure of shops in the center of the southern West Bank city of HebronIsraeli soldiers fired stun grenades and tear-gas canisters at the protestors, hurting many of them as they inhaled tear gas. Troops also closed the area of Ash-Shallalah street and the old Hebron building municipality. The area was announced a closed military zone, and Palestinian presence was considered a violation of military orders.

Soldiers destroy wells, water pumps in the Jordan valley of Palestine

Ma'an -- The villages of Al-Nasaryah, Al-Akrabanyah and Beit Hassan, all situated in the Jordan Valley, had water pumps and engines confiscated.

The equipment was used by farmers in the villages.

Nabil Jawda, Muhammad Wahdan, and Najih Zaid all had property destroyed, Ziad told Ma'an.

The coordinator for the Save the Valley Campaign, Fathi Khuderat, said the villages were located in Area A of the Jordan Valley, which according to the Oslo agreements should be under full Palestinian civil and security control.

Hamas organizes summer trips for poor Palestinians living in refugee camps in Gaza

Ma’an -- The Hamas movement has initiated a campaign to boost the spirits of poor people in Gaza this summer.

The Islamist movement says it is spending some $30,000 to arrange boat trips for about 1,000 families from the Jabaliya refugee camp area.

The free trips would include transportation costs, a fancy dinner, a stay in a tent inside a park, and even a gift for each participating child.

Hamas leader Ibrahim Salah said “the start of the campaign aims to decrease the suffering and depression of the Palestinian people under difficult circumstances, particularly due to the blockade.”

Israeli soldiers shoot young Palestinian man at checkpoint

Ma'an -- Israeli soldiers shot and injured a young Palestinian man Monday in the occupied West Bank, medics said.

Bassam Abdel Hamid Nofal sustained a gunshot wound to the right leg while crossing a checkpoint in the Hebron area, Red Crescent officials said. Medics at Al-Ahli Hospital described his injuries as moderate.

Medics said Nofal was on his way to work in Jerusalem when troops at Daharia checkpoint opened fire.

Israeli forces arrest Palestinian teen, village faces continuous raids

Ma’an -- Israeli forces detained two people, including a minor, from Husan village east of Bethlehem on Monday.

Israeli troops entered the village, ransacking a number of homes, before detaining Montaser Mohammed Za'ul, 20, and Ahmed Ali Hamamra, 15, witnesses told Ma'an.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Israel lawmakers consider bill to outlaw boycotts

Ma'an- Israel's parliament is to vote Monday on a bill aimed at outlawing boycotts of the country and its activities in the occupied territories, Israeli media reported.

The "boycott bill" is aimed against anyone who declares an academic, economic, or artistic boycott on Israeli organizations including settlements, the Ynet news site reported.

The bill will be put through its second and third reading Monday, Ynet said.

Under the proposed new law, boycotters would be susceptible to demands for compensation that "far outweigh" the damage done to those boycotted, according to the report.

Critics of the bill say it violates free speech guarantees.

Peace Now, a left-wing Israeli organization, held a protest against the bill in front of the Israeli high court in Jerusalem. About 50 protesters attended the event, Ynet said. Read more

Israeli forces bulldoze house near Bethlehem, displacing 11 people

Ma'an- Israeli forces last Tuesday demolished a Palestinian home south of Bethlehem, the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Agriculture said.

Ministry spokesman Awad Abu Sway said Israeli officers bulldozed the home of Muhammad Khalil Saed from Artas, in Khirbet Zakariya near the illegal Kfar Etzion settlement.

Abu Sway said the one-storey building was home to 11 people. Read more

Study: Israel's wall segregates 13 percent of West Bank

Ma'an- Israel's separation wall will annex 773 sq. km. of Palestinian land, a study by the Applied Research Institute in Jerusalem said on the anniversary of a judicial ruling which called on Israelis to stop building.

Just 6.5 percent of the wall is constructed along the pre-1967 armistice lines internationally recognized as the basis of an independent Palestinian state, ARIJ said Saturday in the report marking the International Court of Justice advisory opinion.

The wall, 473 km. of which has been constructed, 54 km. under construction, and 247 km. planned for building, separates Palestinians from 13 percent of the total area of the West Bank, ARIJ said in its survey of the June 2011 status of the wall.

This area includes 348 sq. km. of agricultural land, 250 sq. km. of forest areas and 25 sq. km. of Palestinian built-up areas, the study noted, as well as 110 sq. km. where Israeli settlements and military bases are built.

There are 107 Jewish-only settlements in this zone, where 582, 000 Israeli settlers live, over 80 percent of their total number in the West Bank, the ARIJ report added. Read more

Israeli forces detain teen in Jenin refugee camp

Ma'an- Israeli forces detained a teenager early Monday in Jenin refugee camp, after entering a number of homes and questioning residents.

Palestinian security officials told Ma'an that Israeli military personnel raided several homes in the northern West Bank camp, and a number were questioned. Najeeb Mustafa Abu An-Nasr, 19, was blindfolded and detained by Israeli soldiers, and taken from the camp, they said.

An Israeli army spokesperson said An-Nasr had been detained, but could not confirm the circumstances behind the detention. Questioning of Jenin camp residents was "routine security activity," he said. Read more

Israeli forces declare Palestinian farmers' valley a closed military zone

Ma'an- Israeli forces declared a valley south of Nablus a closed military zone on Monday, while olive trees were uprooted from the area.

Ma'an correspondent said Israeli forces blocked residents from entering and exiting the Wadi Qana area.

A number of villagers from nearby Deir Istiya, including village mayor Nazmi Sulaiman, were briefly detained by Israeli forces on Monday, Sulaiman told Ma'an.

An Israeli army spokesperson said he had no information about the closed military zone or detentions.

Palestinians in the northern West Bank region depend on rich agricultural lands like Wadi Qana for their livelihoods, with farmers regularly blocked from their fields by the activities of nearby Jewish-only settlements, which surround the wadi on all sides.

Neighboring Deir Istiya, just edging into the Salfit district, is a farming community surrounded by large Israeli settlements including Ariel, Immanuel and Qarne Shomron. Read more

Protesters try to break through Israeli checkpoint in Bethlehem

Ma’an- Palestinians and international activists in Bethlehem on Sunday tried to force their way through a checkpoint separating the West Bank city from Jerusalem.

Among the protesters were activists who were onboard the so-called "flytilla" that arrived Friday at Ben Gurion International Airport.

Israeli soldiers prevented protesters from accessing the area and threatening to shoot anyone who approached the checkpoint, one of the main terminals connecting the occupied West Bank with Jerusalem.

Lawmaker Mustafa Barghouthi demanded the release of the more than 100 activists still held by Israel over their involvement in the "flytilla."

"Israel has widened its circle of repression to include not only the Palestinians but [their] international supporters" as well, Barghouthi said. Read more