Israeli court suspends eviction of Shamasna family in East Jerusalem

Shamasna family

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — An Israeli magistrate court suspended the eviction of the Shamasna family in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem on Thursday, after the family refused to leave their home of 53 years amid claims that it was the property of Israeli settlers.

During a court session to consider an appeal presented by the family’s lawyer Said Ghaliyeh, the court ruled to suspend the eviction order, after challenges were presented by Ghaliyeh on the lack of documentation of the plots of lands in the neighborhood on the municipal level. In order for the eviction order to be enforced, the courts must determine exactly which land was owned by Jews before 1948 based on land documentation records.
According to Israeli law, Jewish Israelis are permitted to claim ownership over property believed to have been owned by Jews before 1948 during Ottoman or British rule. However, such a law does not exist for the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees who were displaced from their lands and homes during and after the establishment of the state of Israel.
Israelis have claimed that Sheikh Jarrah was once the site of a 19th century Jewish community. Many families in the neighborhood have been embroiled in legal disputes for decades, as various Israeli settlers have attempted to claim ownership over their homes.
In addition, the appeal is based on the health of 84-year-old Ayoub Shamasna, who has lived in the home since 1964, and suffers from several illnesses. According to the appeal, the eviction could adversely affect the health of Ayoub and his 75-year-old wife.
An official from the Fatah movement in Jerusalem Hatem Abd al-Qader said that the Israeli judge had transferred lawyers for the family and the settlers to the execution department of Israel’s Enforcement and Collection Authority to begin procedures of marking the land to determine how much of the home was built on so-called Jewish property.
However, the Israeli settlers have rejected the order, instead demanding that the court issue an immediate decision on the family’s appeal, Abd al-Qader said.
The judge had suspended the eviction and postponed working on the case “until further notice,” Abd al-Qader told Ma’an.
He said that he hoped the suspension of the eviction order would allow Ghaliyeh to collect more documents and information that could prevent or postpone the eviction for a longer period of time. Israeli authorities had previously given the family until Aug. 9 to voluntarily leave the house; however, the family refused.
Abd al-Qader pointed out that while the eviction order has been temporarily suspended, it was not for the benefit of the family. “Israeli courts have supported the settlers’ claims since the beginning of the case and rejected all documents presented by the family,” he added.
Spokesperson for United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Chris Gunness said in a statement on Tuesday condemning the eviction threat.  “It is a matter of deep concern that Palestine refugees who have already endured multiple displacements should be subject to the humiliation of the kind inflicted by forced evictions,” Gunness said.
Before 1967, the Shamasna family had rented the property from the Jordanian government.
Some of the properties that had once been owned by Jews — thousands of whom fled East Jerusalem during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war — were repurposed by the Jordanian government, who took control over the territory following the war, to house some of the approximately 750,000 Palestinians who were forced from homes that were consumed by the new Israeli state.
The Shamasna family were displaced from the village of Qatanna, located in the West Bank close to Israeli territory, in 1948 as Israel tightened controls over its newly established borders.
When Israel took control over the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza after the Six-Day War in 1967, the Jordanian-controlled properties were transferred to Israel’s general custodian.
In 2009, when a wave of Israeli settler ownership claims targeted the neighborhood, the building’s custodian refused to renew the Shamasnas’ lease, stating that the heirs of the Jewish homeowner had filed a lawsuit.
If the eviction plans are carried out, it would be the first eviction in the neighborhood since 2009, when the Um Kamel al-Kurd, Ghawi, and Hanoun families were evicted from their homes by Israeli settlers under similar ownership claims.
The 2009 evictions sparked widespread protests in Sheikh Jarrah. At the same time, a group of Israeli settlers took over the front section of the al-Kurd family home claiming that their ancestors had once owned the plot of land; eight years later, the family has continued to live side-by-side with the Jewish extremists.
Israeli rights group Ir Amim has noted that Israeli settler plans have focused on taking control of the entire neighborhood and then demolishing it to establish a massive Jewish settlement, called Shimon HaTzadik — named after the tomb of the biblical figure Simeon the Just, which is believed by Jews to be located in the neighborhood.

(Source / 18.08.2017)

Egypt closes Rafah crossing once again

Palestinians wait for at the Rafah Border crossing after the gate temporarily reopened by Egyptian authorities in Rafah, Gaza on January 31 2017 [Ali Jadallah - Anadolu Agency]

Palestinians wait for at the Rafah Border crossing after the gate temporarily reopened by Egyptian authorities in Rafah, Gaza on January 31 2017

Egyptian authorities closed the Rafah border crossing today after opening it on “exceptional” grounds since Monday to allow pilgrims and humanitarian cases in and out of the besieged Gaza Strip.

The Egyptian authorities closed the crossing at 15:00 local time after 1,500 returnees were allowed back into Gaza, the General Administration of Crossings said.

On the fourth day, 13 buses of humanitarian travellers left, including nine buses registered in the Ministry of the Interior’s records and four buses which were travelling under Egyptian coordination and heading to Egypt.

Rafah was opened on Monday to allow pilgrim out to head to Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj as well as to allow humanitarian cases out of the Strip to seek treatment either in Egypt or further afield. Palestinians stranded in Egypt were also allowed to return to the Gaza Strip.

The Rafah crossing, Gaza’s only lifeline to the outside world, has been closed almost entirely since the military coup in Egypt ousted the country’s first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi.

Photo story: Egypt opens Rafah crossing for Gaza’s pilgrims

(Source / 18.08.2017)

Israel stops construction of school in Bethlehem

Israeli forces take security measures after a Palestinian, who allegedly attempted was carrying a knife, was killed by Israeli soldiers in in West Bank on 20 July 2017 [Mamoun Wazwaz/Anadolu Agency]

Israeli forces seen after a Palestinian is killed by Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank on 20 July 2017

Israeli authorities forcibly halted the construction of a school in Jubbet Ad-Dib village in the eastern part of Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank yesterday, despite Palestinians receiving an Israeli-issued building permit for the project.

A representative of a popular resistance committee in Bethlehem, Hadan Brejiyeh, told Ma’anthat Israeli occupation forces, escorted by employees of the Israeli civil administration “raided the village” and stopped construction at the school.

Read: Israel plans new settlement in Jordan Valley

Vehicles belonging to an Italian NGO were also confiscated. The residents said they had received a difficult-to-obtain Israeli-issued building permit for the project.

A spokesperson for the Israeli civil administration was not immediately available to comment on the incident.

Palestinians living in Area C – the more than 60 per cent of the West Bank under full Israeli military control – must apply for construction permits with the Israeli civil administration for any kind of development on their lands. These requests are often denied and the application process can be lengthy and expensive.

ZERO building permits were issued by Israel in 2015 !

Israel tightens #Palestinian construction in Area C – #OccupiedPalestine

MEMO infographic by QUAD Business House

(Source / 18.08.2017)

US judge orders deportation of Palestinian activist


Seventy-year-old Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh has had her US citizenship revoked yesterday after failing to disclose convictions for bombings in Jerusalem decades ago.

US District Judge Gershwin Drain yesterday sentenced Odeh to time served, given the 33 days she spent in jail in 2014, a fine of $1,000 and a deportation order to Jordan.

Odeh, who is known for her work with Arab women in the Chicago area, denied that she was a terrorist and condemned the continued occupation of Palestine and the numerous Israeli violations of international law, which she said legitimised Palestinian resistance movements.

“I’m standing today to raise my voice on behalf of myself as a Palestinian woman and on behalf of all Palestinians whether in refugee camps or scattered across the world,” she stated.

The associate director of the Arab American Action Network also recounted her treatment while in prison for ten years in Israel.

They tortured me, they raped me, they destroyed my house

she told the court.

Over 100 of Odeh’s supporters gathered outside the Detroit court to support her at end of her four year legal battle. Some 1,200 people also attended an event bidding her farewell, including representatives from over 50 community organisations.

Read: 400 children held in Israel’s prisons

Odeh was initially charged with immigration fraud for failing to reveal her convictions of terrorism handed down in 1970 by an Israeli military court. However the prosecution later expanded the list of offenses to include membership of a “terrorist” group. Odeh denies all charges and claims she was tortured into confessing by Israeli soldiers.

Odeh’s attorney Michael Deutsch said that whilst the defence had failed to keep her in the country, they had succeeded in raising awareness of the Palestinian cause.

Despite heavy rain Rasmea Odeh’s supporters making noise outside court in Detroit. She’ll be formally sentenced today. 

“We were able to bring out in the federal court and the public that the Israeli government systematically tortures political people, and that Rasmea was tortured and suffers from post-traumatic stress as a result of that torture.”

“We were also able to show that the sham [Israeli] military tribunals that convict 99.4 per cent of the Palestinians that go before them is a sham and is illegal under international law,” he added.

(Source / 18.08.2017)

Tens suffer from severe tear gas inhalation as Israeli forces suppress weekly Bilin march

Clashes Bilin march

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Tens of Palestinians suffered from severe tear gas inhalation during clashes with Israeli soldiers in the village of Bilin, located in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah.

Palestinians in Bilin gathered following Friday prayers and headed towards Israel’s illegal separation wall, built on the lands of Bilin.The protesters, who have been staging weekly marches in the village every Friday for 12 years, carried Palestinian flags and signs condemning Israeli aggressions against Palestinians.
Locals also held signs expressing solidarity with victims of a vehicular attack in Barcelona on Thursday that left 13 people dead and dozens injured.
A local activist told Ma’an that the residents of Bilin were expressing their rejection of “ terrorism against innocent people in all places.”Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters and sound bombs at protesters.
An Israeli army spokesperson said they were looking into reports.
Bilin is one of the most active Palestinian villages in peaceful organized opposition against Israeli policies, and as a result, residents are often met with tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets, and stun grenades from Israeli forces.
(Source / 18.08.2017)

Israeli forces suppress weekly march in Kafr Qaddum

Clashes weekly march Kafr Qaddum

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Clashes erupted on Friday afternoon in the village of Kafr Qaddum in the northern occupied West Bank district of Qalqiliya on Friday afternoon, as Israeli forces suppressed the village’s weekly march held in protest of settlement activity and the closure of the village’s southern road.

Coordinator of Kafr Qaddum’s popular resistance Murad Shteiwi told Ma’an that Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition at protesters, while Israeli soldiers raided several homes in the village stationed themselves on the rooftops of buildings.
No injuries were reported, according to Shteiwi, who added that while Israeli forces attempted to ambush many Palestinian protesters and detain them, no one was arrested.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that “earlier this afternoon a violent riot erupted as tens of Palestinians rolled burning tires and hurled rocks at Israeli forces. In order to stop the escalation of violence, soldiers responded with riot dispersal means, and the riot was dispersed.

Israeli forces shot .22 bullets selectively at main instigators.”

Residents of Kafr Qaddum began staging weekly protests in 2011 against land confiscations, as well as the closure of the village’s southern road by Israeli forces.
The road, which has been closed for 14 years, is the main route to the nearby city of Nablus, the nearest economic center.
The Israeli army blocked off the road after expanding the illegal Israeli settlement of Kedumim in 2003, forcing village residents to take a bypass road in order to travel to Nablus, which has extended the travel time to Nablus from 15 minutes to 40 minutes, according to Israeli rights group B’Tselem.
Hundreds of Palestinians have been detained during the demonstrations since their start in 2011, and at least one protester was killed, while 84 have been injured by live fire, including 12 children, Shteiwi told Ma’an during a similar protest last year.

(Source / 18.08.2017)

Syrian Coalition: Fadwa Suleiman’s Death a ‘Loss to Syrian Revolution’ as She Was a Model of National Unity

The Syrian Coalition mourned the death of Syrian actress Fadwa Suleiman who passed away today (Thursday, August 17) after a struggle with disease.

Fadwa became known for her outspoken support for the Syrian revolution against the Assad regime since day one. She also led protests and sit-ins demanding the downfall of the Assad regime and chanting for freedom and dignity.

After she was forced to leave Syria, Fadwa co-organized and participated in many events around the world to publicize the Syrian revolution and its goals against dictatorship and tyranny.

The Coalition extended its heartfelt condolences to the family of Fadwa, her friends, and the youth of the Syrian revolution and its activists “who lost one of the symbols of the Syrian revolution.”

“In addition to becoming one of the most recognized faces of the revolution, Fadwa provided an excellent model of national unity and for the free actress,” said the Coalition in a press release issued on Thursday.

Born in 1970, Fadwa pursued an acting career after she graduated from the Higher Institute of Theatrical Arts in Damascus. She performed in numerous plays, TV dramas, films, radio programs, and dubbing roles prior to the start of the Syrian revolution.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department / 18.08.2017)

Israel Suspends Contentious Settlement Law as it Demolishes Homes in Naqab


An Israeli soldier stands guard as an Israeli army bulldozer demolishes a Palestinian home in January 2015

Israel froze on Friday a controversial settlement law that legalizes dozens of Jewish settlements built on private Palestinian land, which the UN labeled a “thick red line”.

Supreme Court documents seen by AFP show that Judge Neal Hendel issued Thursday an open-ended restraining order suspending a bill passed by parliament that would retroactively legalize a number of outposts across the occupied West Bank.

The decision was in response to a petition brought by 17 Palestinian local councils on whose land the settlements are built. Israeli and Palestinian rights groups were also parties to the petition.

The development has not however hindered Israeli authorities from demolishing Arab houses throughout the territories.

Hendel wrote in his decision that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit had asked him to grant the order.

It did not specify a time limit but demanded that Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, deliver its response by September 10 and that Mandelblit submit an opinion by October 16.

The act, known as the “legalization law”, was passed in February and brought immediate condemnation from around the world.

International law considers all settlements to be illegal, but Israel distinguishes between those it sanctions and those it does not — so-called outposts.

Mandelblit himself warned the government the law could be unconstitutional and risked exposing Israel to international prosecution for war crimes.

UN envoy for the Middle East peace process Nickolay Mladenov said following the February Knesset vote the bill set a “very dangerous precedent.”

“This is the first time the Israeli Knesset legislates in the occupied Palestinian lands and particularly on property issues,” he told AFP at the time.

“That crosses a very thick red line.”

The act allows Israel to appropriate Palestinian private land on which settlers built without knowing it was private property or because the state allowed them to do so. Palestinian landowners whose property was taken for settlers would be compensated with cash or given alternative plots.

Palestinians said the law was a means to “legalize theft” and France called it a “new attack on the two-state solution.”

Some members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government advocate the annexation of much of the West Bank, a move that would end any hope of an independent Palestinian state.

Mladenov said that the “legalization law” could be a prelude to that.

“It opens the potential for the full annexation of the West Bank and therefore undermines substantially the two-state solution,” he said after its passing.

On Thursday, Israeli authorities demolished four houses belonging to Arab residents in al-Naqab.

The authorities had since Tuesday tasked bulldozers, protected by hundreds of policemen, with destroying the residences of Arabs in the region, claiming that they were illegal.

The razing of the houses is primarily aimed at forcing Arab residents in al-Naqab to despair and eventually leave their homes and properties.

In Umm al-Hayran, which Israel does not recognize, clashes broke out between the police and residents after Israeli bulldozers entered the village.

Head of the popular committee in Umm al-Hayran, Raed Abou al-Qaayan said: “The clashes erupted after the vehicles and police came into our town in order to uproot us from our homes and land.”

He accused the authorities of seeking to establish the Jewish settlement of Hayran on the ruins of the Arab village.

(Source / 18.08.2017)

Two initiatives revive hopes for Palestinian reconciliation

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas (R) welcomes senior Hamas official, Ahmed Haj Ali (2nd-L) during the opening ceremony of the 7th Fatah Congress, Ramallah, West Bank, Nov. 29, 2016

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Within the span of some 12 hours on Aug. 3, Hamas in Gaza and the Patriots to End the Split and Restore the National Unity in the West Bank independently launched two initiatives to end the political and administrative division between Gaza and the West Bank resulting from the Hamas-Fatah feud.

Salah al-Bardawil from Hamas’ political bureau announced his movement’s initiative in a press statement. The proposal includes seven key points, most notably the movement’s readiness to dissolve the administrative committee, set up in March by Hamas to manage Gaza affairs after the movement concluded that the government of national unity would not take responsibility for Gaza’s administration. Hamas also stressed the need for President Mahmoud Abbas to reverse measures imposed against Gaza since mid-April to force the movement to dissolve the committee. Abbas ordered cuts in electricity being supplied to Gaza by Israel, forced early retirement of government employees in Gaza, implemented cuts in social allowances and other measures.

Hamas wants the consensus government agreed to in 2014 to fulfill its obligations toward Gaza and for all the Palestinian factions, not just Fatah and itself, to come together to reach agreement on forming a true government of national unity. It also called for reconvening the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), which has been suspended since 2007 due to the political division. In addition, the initiative renewed a call to prepare for legislative, presidential and Palestinian National Council (PNC) elections and to hold a meeting of the Temporary Leadership Framework of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) — established in 2011 by the 2005 Cairo agreement, but never activated — so all the factions, including Hamas, can participate in making decisions on such issues as political negotiations and security cooperation with Israel.

A few hours after Bardawil’s announcement, the Patriots to End the Split launched its own initiative, the Jerusalem Appeal, at a press conference in Ramallah. The group was formed in 2016 by independent Palestinians as well as some from civil society and women’s institutions to pressure Hamas and Fatah into reconcilingSome 200 figures signed its proposal, including factional leaders from the Palestinian People’s Party, the Palestinian National Initiative, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, members of the PLC (including from Hamas and Fatah), and civil society and women’s organizations.

The Patriots’ initiatives includes calling on Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to act in a way that results in the immediate dissolution of the administrative committee in Gaza and demanding that Abbas reverse the recent measures he took against Gaza. The other items are for Abbas to swiftly begin forming another national unity government, prepare for presidential, legislative and PNC elections, and work to strengthen the steadfastness of the Palestinian people, lift the siege of Gaza and allow PA government institutions to resume operations in Gaza.

Mustafa Barghouti, secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative, helped prepare the Patriots’ proposal. He told Al-Monitor that the goal behind the initiative is to take advantage of the popular unity generated in the recent controversy involving Al-Aqsa Mosque and East Jerusalem.

He revealed that copies of the initiative’s text had been delivered to Abbas and PNC Speaker Salim al-Zanoun as well as Fatah and Hamas for review and comments. Barghouti had hoped they would receive a quick response, in light of the deteriorating situation, but neither Hamas nor Fatah has yet replied.

Jamal Muheisen, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee and a close associate of Abbas, told Al-Monitor, “We welcome any initiative aimed at ending the division. The president had put forward an initiative called Al-Aqsa Appeal on July 21 during a speech he gave following the escalation of the Jerusalem events. However, it was not widely covered in the media as more heated developments were taking place back then. Abbas’ initiative is based on dissolving the administrative committee in Gaza, enabling a government of national consensus to work in Gaza, holding legislative and presidential elections, and reversing the measures he took against the Strip. This was the initiative proposed on our part for reconciliation.”

Muheisen said that the Hamas leadership in Gaza has not been receptive of the president’s proposal, charging that the movement is promoting its readiness to dissolve the administrative committee, but it is only for show. He asserted that a Hamas delegation that visited Abbas on Aug. 1 also stressed the need to dissolve the administrative committee if the president agrees to revoke all measures taken against Gaza, but he emphasized that promises need to be implemented.

Arab and Palestinian initiatives to end the division actually began in 2007, but the rival Palestinian parties have yet to find a way to implement any of them. The most important initiatives include the Mecca Agreement of 2007, the Egyptian Document of 2009, the Doha Declaration of 2012, the Cairo Agreement of 2013 and the Refugee Beach Camp Agreement of 2014.

Akram Atallah, a political analyst who writes for the Palestinian daily al-Ayyam, said that the recent initiatives were made after the Palestinian factions finally felt the depth of the crisis under which the Palestinian people were suffering and realized the urgent need to end the division, especially given the unity shown by Palestinians against Israeli actions at Al-Aqsa Mosque in July. Attallah emphasized to Al-Monitor that both Hamas and Fatah accepting these initiatives remains a wish yet to be realized. Each party continues to make press statements holding the other responsible for the division persisting.

Mukhaimer Abu Saada, a professor of political science at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, said that the distrust between Fatah and Hamas and their questioning of the other’s intentions when it comes to a reconciliation is the main reason why they have not yet reached a final agreement, reconciled, or implemented previous agreements. He believes the real issue is not the content of the initiatives put forward so far, but the rival parties’ true intentions. Abu Saada told Al-Monitor that each party has tried and continues to try to propose an initiative to end the division but with the goal that the other party simply accepts it. He believes a successful reconciliation is highly unlikely in the near future, and the conflict will continue with the possibility of Abbas ordering even more punitive measures against Gaza.

Although the majority of the Palestinian factions welcomed the most recent initiatives, their relatively weak positions render them unable to mount the pressure needed to push Fatah and Hamas to end the division.

(Source / 18.08.2017)

Israeli forces ban Palestinian journalist from Jerusalem after hours of detention

Sabrin Diab journalist

Palestinian journalist Sabrin Diab

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli police on Friday released journalist Sabrin Diab, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, under the condition that she observe a one-month ban on entering Jerusalem city, after she was detained on Thursday afternoon at the Damascus Gate entrance to the Old City as she was en route to Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem.

Diab, a resident of the northern Israeli city of Haifa, told Ma’an that Israeli forces had searched and kept her under the scorching sun for hours on Thursday, without providing a reason. She was then detained and transferred to interrogations at an Israeli police station in Jerusalem.
She was released on bail the following day under the condition that she not enter Jerusalem city for one month.
Diab told Ma’an that on Thursday when she had arrived at the entrance of the Old City at Damascus Gate “Israeli soldiers surrounded me and demanded that I stand to the side.”
“They then took my bag and searched it and I was led toward a female soldier who searched me as well. They kept me standing under the sun for hours before transferring me for interrogations,” Diab said.
Diab said that the interrogations lasted for seven consecutive hours.
She also noted that the interrogations were focused on her activities as a journalist and her writings for the Lebanese newspaper al-Binaa.
An Israeli police spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.
Israeli authorities have often been the target of criticism for their longstanding crackdown on Palestinians’ freedoms of expression, which has led to the detention of scores of Palestinian journalists.
(Source / 18.08.2017)