Israeli army closes off Palestinian thoroughfare north of Ramallah

Road Ramallah closed

The Israeli occupation forces overnight Saturday closed off a main road north of Ramallah province on account of the soaring clashes rocking nearby towns and villages.

Palestinian activist Rola Hasnein said the Israeli forces sealed off an access road connecting Ramallah to northern West Bank provinces.

The activist added that residents of the nearby al-Jalazon refugee camp removed the cement roadblocks on Saturday shortly before heavily-armed Israeli patrols showed up in the area at daybreak and completely closed the thoroughfare.

The measure makes part of an Israeli scheme aiming to dismember the Palestinian communities in the northern and central West Bank. It further aims to detach al-Jalazon camp, home to 15,000 Palestinians.

(Source / 30.07.2017)

15 W. Bankers detained in IOF dawn campaigns

15 Palestinians kidnapped WB

The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) at dawn Sunday kidnapped 15 Palestinian citizens during raids on homes in different areas of the West Bank.

The Israeli army claimed in a statement that all those detainees were wanted over their involvement in activities against Israeli military and civilians targets.

According to its statement, two of the detainees are from Jenin refugee camp, three from Nablus city and the towns of Yasid and Asira ash-Shamaliya, three from the cities of Bireh, Beitunia and Ramallah, two from Husan, one from al-Dawha town in Bethlehem, and four from al-Khalil city and ad-Dhahiriya town.

The Israeli army also claimed that its forces opened fire at Palestinian young men after they were attacked with 10 explosive devices during their campaign in Jenin camp.

The IOF also stormed Kobar town, north of Ramallah, patrolled its streets and blocked one of its entrances that leads to the nearby village of Abu Shukhaydam.

In Ramallah city, violent clashes broke out between local young men and soldiers during an IOF dawn campaign, according to local sources.

The IOF also closed the military checkpoint near Beit El settlement, east of al-Bireh city, and obstructed the movement of Palestinian vehicles.

(Source / 30.07.2017)

Israel to strip Amnesty International of tax benefits over support for BDS

Amnesty International [file photo]

Israel’s Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon has reportedly taken steps to strip Amnesty International of its tax benefits in Israel, barring Israeli donors from receiving tax deductions from their donations to the international human rights organization owing to its calls to boycott Israel’s illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian territory, Israeli media reported on Saturday.

According to Israeli media, Miki Zohar, a member of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, from the right-wing Likud party wrote a letter to Kahlon in which he accused Amnesty International of working to “persecute and slander IDF soldiers.” He reportedly wrote:

Amnesty supports illegal infiltrators and draft refusers, and works with all its might to harm the State of Israel

He then went on to request that the finance minister use the anti-Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) bill passed in March, which banned foreigners who have openly expressed support for BDS from entering the country, in order to “immediately revoke Israel’s recognition of donations to Amnesty, since it is an organisation which encourages others to boycott all or part of Israel.”

In June, Amnesty International announced that it was launching a campaign to convince the international community to implement a full boycott of illegal Israeli settlements across the occupied Palestinian territory.

Slamming Israel’s “virtually total impunity” for its war crimes and crimes against humanity committed since 1967, Amnesty International Secretary-General Salil Shetty called on foreign states to impose an “international ban on settlement products, a comprehensive arms embargo on Israel and Palestinian armed groups,” as well as full investigations by the International Criminal Court into crimes committed as part of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Nasim Ahmed: Israel is an apartheid state; let’s not pretend otherwise

“By banning settlement goods and putting in place laws and regulations that stop companies from operating in Israeli settlements, governments worldwide have an opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of millions of Palestinians who have endured decades of injustice, indignity and discrimination” Shetty said at the time.

Amnesty International reportedly reacted to the calls for stripping the group from receiving tax benefits in Israel, which could greatly affect the amount of donations they receive in the country, by refusing to respond to “politicians’ populist initiatives.”

“When there is a need, we will reply officially to the authorised bodies, such as the Finance Ministry, and discuss the topics.”

The BDS movement was founded in 2005 by a swath of Palestinian civil society as a peaceful movement to restore Palestinian rights in accordance with international law through strategies of boycotting Israeli products and cultural institutions, divesting from companies complicit in violations against Palestinians, and implementing state sanctions against the Israeli government.

(Source / 30.07.2017)

Israel raids PalMedia headquarters in Ramallah

Israeli soldiers launch raid houses of the three Palestinians who were killed after they had allegedly attempted to attack the Israeli soldiers, in Deir Abu Mash'al village, Ramallah, West Bank on June 17, 2017 [Issam Rimawi / Anadolu Agency]

Israeli soldiers launch raid houses of the three Palestinians who were killed after they had allegedly attempted to attack the Israeli soldiers, in Deir Abu Mash’al village, Ramallah, West Bank on June 17, 2017

Israeli forces raided the headquarters of PalMedia, a media production company, and searched several offices belonging to Arab and international news outlets in Ramallah city in the central occupied West Bank during dawn hours on Saturday, seizing equipment and documents from at least one of the offices, over accusations of alleged “incitement.”

Media sources told Ma’an News Agency that Israeli forces raided the headquarters, which provides broadcast services to several media outlets, including Russia Todayal-Mayadeenal-Manar, and al-Quds news. Israeli forces searched and damaged properties in these offices, according to the sources.

A reporter from RT, which also has an office in the building, said that Israeli forces had destroyed some of the doors to the media outlets’ offices in order to get inside. However, no equipment was confiscated from RT’s office during the raid.

Witnesses told Ma’an that 10 Israeli army vehicles had surrounded the building in Ramallah city before raiding and searching the offices.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that Israeli forces had “seized media equipment and documents used for incitement” from a media office in Ramallah. However, the spokesperson could not specify which office the items had been confiscated from.

Read: 310 cases of Israeli violations against journalists

She added that the raid was part of “ongoing efforts against incitement” in the West Bank. Although the spokesperson was unable to provide details on what equipment was seized, she noted that the documents confiscated included “inciting pictures.”

Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that hard disks were among the equipment seized by Israeli forces during the raid.

Clashes also broke out between Israeli forces and Palestinians following the raid, Wafareported, with Palestinians “showering” the Israeli army vehicles with rocks as they left the area.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Ministry of Information released a statement condemning the raid, saying that the targeting of media “proves Israel’s intentions to prevent the guardians of truth from continuing their media, national, and ethical role of transferring the message of our people’s desired freedom.”

Israeli authorities have long restricted Palestinian freedom of expression through censoring social media activity and imprisoning journalists, activists, poets, and novelists.

Saturday’s raid was not the first time PalMedia has been raided by Israeli forces for alleged “incitement.” In 2014, Israeli forces raided the headquarters and shut down the “Good Morning Jerusalem” broadcast as it was being filmed live in a PalMedia studio.

Following the raid three years ago, Reporters Without Borders said that the raid had “joined the long list of violations of Palestinian news media rights by the Israeli security forces, with never-ending threats, arrests and military operations.”

Read: Netanyahu vows to ‘remove Al Jazeera from Israel’

(Source / 30.07.2017)

Israeli court upholds manslaughter conviction, 18-month sentence against Elor Azarya

Azarya terrorist

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — An Israel court upheld the manslaughter conviction and the 18-month sentence levied against former Israeli soldier Elor Azarya on Sunday for the execution-style shooting of 21-year-old Palestinian Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif in 2016.

Azarya was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to a year and a half in prison for shooting and killing al-Sharif as the disarmed Palestinian lay severely wounded on the ground after allegedly committing a stabbing attack in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron in March 2016.
Azarya’s defense team appealed both the manslaughter conviction and the 18-month jail sentence for being too harsh, while the Israeli military prosecution had submitted an appeal to increase the sentence.
According to The Times of Israel, the appeal court judges ruled to maintain the manslaughter conviction, calling Azarya’s act “forbidden, severe, immoral” and claiming that “ethics are fundamental for an army’s resilience both externally and internally.”
The judges voted three to two in favor of upholding the sentence.“The punishment is on the lower edge of appropriate sentencing,” the judges noted, while lamenting that “such an excelling soldier committed such a terrible error.”
The court highlighted that Azarya, who was transferred to house arrest earlier this month to wait out the appeals process, had “never expressed remorse or questioned his actions” as one of the main reasons for not lowering his sentence.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz said that Azarya, who has only served nine days behind bars and has spent most of his detention confined to a military base, was expected to be transferred to military prison if the sentence was upheld.
However, Haaretz reported that Azarya’s legal team could take a number of further steps to seek to evade the sentencing.
Azarya’s lawyers could take the case to the Israeli Supreme Court to request that the former soldier’s sentence be postponed for a second time, seek a sentence reduction from the Israeli army chief of staff — a move which would only be available if Azarya publicly took responsibility for his actions, or request a pardon from Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.
The prosecution had also appealed the verdict claiming that Azarya’s sentence was not congruent with the ruling of the judges, who had given a detailed refutation of nearly every claim made by the defense team when they convicted him, and accepted the prosecution’s argument that the soldier committed an unjustified revenge killing.
However, the defense had argued that Azarya has been unfairly targeted and that his sentencing represents a “selective enforcement of the law,” according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).
“Indeed, Human Rights Watch has repeatedly documented the fact that the problem is not the conduct of a single soldier, but an atmosphere of immunity from punishment for illegally killing Palestinians,” the rights group said in June.
“Responsibility for upholding ethical and legal norms doesn’t rest solely on the shoulders of a single 20-year-old soldier, but also on the senior officials who sent him — and too many others — the wrong message regarding the use of deadly force.”
Al-Sharif was shot and seriously wounded after allegedly stabbing another Israeli soldier, and after he was left bleeding on the ground for some ten minutes, Azarya shot him in the head, with a number of witnesses quoting him as saying “This dog is still alive,” and “This terrorist deserves to die” before he pulled the trigger.
Prior to the sentencing, the case had already been denounced as a “show trial” for focusing on the case to distract from a wider culture of impunity for Israeli forces, as Azarya was charged with manslaughter for what was termed by rights groups as an “extrajudicial execution” and by the victim’s family as “cold-blooded murder.”
Following the initial announcement of the 18-month sentence, the al-Sharif family had said that they were “not surprised” by the lenient sentence — noting that the soldier received less prison time than a Palestinian child would for throwing stones.
Azarya was the only member of Israeli forces to be charged with killing a Palestinian in 2016 — when at least 109 Palestinians were shot and killed by Israeli forces and settlers — according to Human Rights Watch.
According to rights group Yesh Din, of the 186 criminal investigations opened by the Israeli army into suspected offenses against Palestinians in 2015, just four yielded indictments.

(Source / 30.07.2017)

Israeli settlers throw rocks at Palestinians in South Hebron Hills village

Settlers throw stones

HEBRON (Ma’an) — A number of Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian locals from Khirbet Umm al-Kheir east of Yatta in the southern occupied West Bank by throwing rocks at them Saturday night, according to a local activist.Ratib al-Jabour, coordinator of a local committee that resists settlement activity, said that a group of Israeli settlers hurled rocks and empty bottles at Palestinians, noting that no one was injured in the incident.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an they were looking into the case.
The South Hebron Hills, known locally as Masafer Yatta, lie almost entirely in Area C, the 62 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli civil and security control since the 1993 Oslo Accords.
Around 3,000 Israeli settlers live in illegal Jewish-only settlements in the Yatta region, according to the Applied Research Institute Jerusalem.

The Umm al-Kheir community has faced ongoing threats of displacement since the Karmel settlement was illegally established in 1981, and has since expanded onto villagers’ lands.

While the hundreds of thousands of Israelis living in Jewish-only settlements across occupied the West Bank in violation of international law are permitted to carry guns, and are rarely held accountable for stone throwing or similar attacks, Palestinians face up to 20 years in prison for throwing stones where intent to harm could be proven, and 10 years where it could not.
Israeli authorities served indictments in only 8.2 percent of cases of Israeli settlers committing anti-Palestinian crimes in the occupied West Bank in the past three years, according to Israeli NGO Yesh Din.

(Source / 30.07.2017)

Israeli military court to indict Palestinian teen for throwing Molotov cocktail

Refugee camp Aida

An Israeli military watchtower near the Palestinian refugee camp of Aida on Nov. 30, 2016

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — An Israeli military court is preparing to indict a 17-year-old Palestinian suspected of throwing a Molotov cocktail at Rachel’s Tomb, adjacent to Aida refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank.

Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri wrote in a statement Sunday morning that the investigation on the case was almost finished, regarding a teenage suspect from the town of Beit Sahour next to Bethlehem city.
The youth allegedly threw a Molotov cocktail at the base of Rachel’s Tomb, which is located next to an Israeli military base at the edge of Aida refugee camp, on July 25. The police statement made no mention any casualties resulting from the incident.
Al-Samri said Israeli forces were able to detain the suspect “quickly,” and that at least one court session was held at the Ofer military court near Ramallah, which decided to indict the teen, to file the charges “soon.”
Since late 2016, locals in Aida refugee camp reported escalated military procedures, creating what some residents called a perpetual “atmosphere of fear.”
Meanwhile, right groups have widely documented the abuse of Palestinian children by Israeli forces and the harsh interrogation practices used to force their confessions, which has long been the target of criticism by the international community. According to Human Rights Watch, there is a 99.74 percent conviction rate for Palestinians tried in Israeli military courts.
Ofer detention center is one of the most common sites used by Israel for the interrogation of Palestinian children. Last October, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs reported that the “overwhelming majority” of Palestinian minors held in Israel’s Megiddo and Ofer prisons were tortured during their detention and interrogation.
Defense for Children International – Palestine has said their research showed that almost two-thirds of Palestinian children detained in the occupied West Bank by Israeli forces had endured physical violence after their arrest.
Palestinian stone throwers face harsh penalties by Israeli authorities, with Israel passing a laws in 2015 allowing for up to 20 years in prison if charged with throwing stones at vehicles and a minimum of three years for the act of throwing a stone at an Israeli — legislation rights groups say was designed specifically to target Palestinians, as Israelis and settlers are rarely prosecuted under the same standards of the law.

(Source / 30.07.2017)

Voting closes in 14 West Bank municipalities that did not vote in May

Voting WB

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Voting closed Saturday night for “complimentary elections” held at polling stations in occupied West Bank municipalities that did not take part in regular elections held in May.

Elections were held in 14 municipalities, which had not presented electoral lists in time for the May elections.
The Palestinian Central Elections Commission (CEC) released a statement Saturday evening after polls closed at 7 p.m., saying that voter turnout reached 63.6 percent, as 27,255 out of 42,844 registered eligible voters participated.
The CEC said that “the voting process proceeded smoothly without any challenges nor recorded violations that would affect the elections results.”
Preliminary election results will be announced Sunday, to include the number of votes and seats obtained by each list, in addition to the names of winning candidates.According to the CEC, 51 nominated lists comprised of 411 candidates competed for a total of 142 designated council seats.The May 13 elections only took place in the West Bank, as Hamas, the de facto ruling party of the besieged Gaza Strip, rejected the legitimacy of the election, saying that elections should only be held after the more than decade-long rivalry between Hamas and Fatah came to an end and reconciliation was achieved.
When the timeline of the coming supplementary elections was announced on May 31, official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that voting in the Gaza Strip would take place on Oct. 10, after complimentary elections in the West Bank.
Recent CEC statements have made no mention of coming elections in Gaza, while the political crisis between Fatah and Hamas has continued to escalate in recent months.
The Fatah-led PA has been accused of deliberately sending the impoverished Gaza Strip further into a humanitarian catastrophe in order to wrestle control of the territory from Hamas, by slashing funding for Israeli fuel, medicine, and salaries for civil servants and former prisoners.
Hamas authorities have also been accused of withholding funds collected in Gaza from the PA, as well as targeting Fatah officials in Gaza through detentions and restricting their freedom of movement.
(Source / 30.07.2017)

Army Abducts A Palestinian In Jerusalem

30 JUL
11:49 AM

Israeli soldiers abducted, Sunday, a Palestinian who works with the Construction Committee of the Waqf and Endowment Department, in Al-Aqsa Mosque, in occupied Jerusalem, and issued an order barring a child from entering the holy site for two months.

The WAFA Palestinian News agency has reported that the soldiers abducted Raed Zghayyar, from his work in Al-Aqsa mosque, and moved him to a detention and interrogation center.

WAFA added that the Israeli Authorities also decided to prevent Anas al-Metwer, only fifteen years of age, from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque for two months.

The child was abducted and detained by the police a week ago, after the soldiers stopped him near the Gate of the Tribes.

In related news, the police prevented a Palestinian man, his wife and children, from Umm al-Fahem Arab town, in Haifa District, from entering Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Furthermore, soldiers and officers, deployed at all gates leading to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, are still stopping, searching and examining the ID cards of all Palestinians, who are trying to hold prayers in Al-Aqsa and its courtyards.

In addition, several Israeli military jeeps and bulldozers invaded Palestinian lands in Kharsa area, south of Doura, in the southern West Bank governorate of Hebron, and started bulldozing them to install a military tower.

Also in Hebron, the soldiers invaded the towns of Surif and ath-Thaheriyya, and abducted two Palestinians.

Furthermore, the soldiers invaded Jenin refugee camp, in the northern West Bank city Jenin, before storming and searching homes, abducted two Palestinians, and injured two others.

It is worth mentioning that the soldiers have abducted sixteen Palestinians overnight, in Nablus, Jenin, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron, and Jerusalem, in the West Bank.

(Source / 30.07.2017)

Army Starts Installation Of New Military Tower In Hebron

30 JUL
10:59 AM

Several Israeli military jeeps and bulldozers invaded, Sunday, Palestinian lands in Kharsa area, south of Doura, in the southern West Bank governorate of Hebron, and started bulldozing them to install a military tower.

No’man Amro, the head of Doura Town Council, said the soldiers are bulldozing lands close to a local school for girls, in an area that is also overpopulated, adding that this tower would place the residents’ lives at risk.

Abdul-Hadi Hantash, an expert maps and Israel’s colonies files, said the targeted area links between all villages, east of Doura, in addition to the ath-Thaheriyya town and all western roads.

Also in Hebron, the soldiers invaded the towns of Surif and ath-Thaheriyya, and abducted two Palestinians.

Furthermore, the soldiers invaded Jenin refugee camp, in the northern West Bank city Jenin, before storming and searching homes, abducted two Palestinians, and injured two others.

(Source / 30.07.2017)