Israeli army seizes land in Jab’a village to build training outpost

Stealing land Jab'a

The Israeli occupation army on Monday seized a vast tract of agricultural land in Jab’a village, southwest of Bethlehem in the West Bank, and embarked on bulldozing it.

According to local sources, Israeli bulldozers started to raze plots of land belonging to Palestinian citizens from the family of Masha’lah in the village.

The annexed land is located near the fence that separates the village from the 1948 occupied lands.

The Israeli army recently notified villagers of its intent to take over dozens of dunums of land belonging to them, saying it would establish a training camp for its forces in the area.

(Source / 22.08.2017)

Israeli military court extends detention of Halamish attacker’s family

5 relatives Omar al-Abed

The Israeli military court of Ofer has decided to extend the detention of five relatives of prisoner Omar al-Abed, who carried out a stabbing attack in the illegal settlement of Halamish last July, until next Sunday.

A lawyer from the Palestinian Commission of Detainees’ and Ex-Detainees’ Affairs said that he filed a petition with the court asking for the release of Abed’s parents, two brothers and uncle, but the judge decided to postpone the session until all legal proceedings are completed.

Last Wednesday, Israeli bulldozers demolished the house of Abed’s family in Kobar town near Ramallah in the context of the mass punishment policy pursued against relatives of attackers.

The Shin Bet, Israel’s internal intelligence service, accused the detained members of the family of having prior knowledge of Abed’s intention to carry out the attack without moving to report him to the competent Palestinian or Israeli authorities.

19-year-old Palestinian Omar al-Abed infiltrated into a house in the illegal settlement of Halamish in the West Bank on July 21 night and stabbed to death three Jewish settlers from the same family in retaliation to Israeli measures at the Aqsa Mosque.

(Source / 22.08.2017)

UN to release blacklist of firms operating in Israeli settlements

Boycott blacklist

The Trump administration is urging the United Nations not to publish a blacklist of international firms that do business in Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land, the Washington Post reported on Monday.

According to the Washington Post, the U.N. Human Rights Council voted to approve the database of companies last year, despite objections from the United States and Israel that described the list as a prelude to anti-Israel boycotts.

American companies on the list drawn up by the Geneva-based council include Caterpillar, TripAdvisor,, Airbnb and others, according to people familiar with it. It is not clear whether the list has been finalized.

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, has told U.S. officials he plans to publish the list by the end of the year and has asked for comments by Sept. 1 from countries where affected firms are headquartered, the same source added.

Zeid, a Jordanian diplomat who was his country’s ambassador to the United States, had agreed to one postponement this year, partly in response to a U.S. request. He has indicated he plans to move ahead now, arguing that the list is a resource for consumers and travelers.

In a statement Monday, Israel’s U.N. ambassador, Danny Danon, called the council’s moves toward publication of the list “an expression of modern anti-Semitism.”

In June, Zeid told the council that the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 violates international law and “has denied the Palestinians many of their most fundamental freedoms, and has often been brutal.”

(Source / 22.08.2017)

Arrests, interrogation writs as Israeli army rolls into al-Khalil

Confiscate bus

The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) at daybreak Tuesday stormed the southern West Bank province of al-Khalil and kidnapped a Palestinian young man.

Reporting from the city, a PIC news correspondent said the IOF soldiers rolled into Wadi al-Hirya and Abu Rizq neighborhood and wreaked havoc on civilian homes before they summoned a number of youngsters to questioning.

The IOF soldiers also stormed Sa’ir and al-Shoyoukh towns, east of al-Khalil, and ravaged Palestinian homes.

The assault culminated in the abduction of Jaber al-Shalaldeh on claims that a Carlo submachine gun was spotted at his home.

At the same time, the occupation troops broke into Dura, west of al-Khalil, and rummaged into civilian homes before they handed over interrogation writs to three ex-prisoners—Ali al-Rajoub, Hasan al-Sherha, and Khaled Amr.

(Source / 22.08.2017)

IOF storms Qalqilya, clashes with youths at dawn

IOF Qaqilya clashed

The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) at dawn Tuesday stormed Qalqilya city in the northern West Bank and clashed with local young men.

Local sources told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that Israeli soldiers entered some neighborhoods in the city and engaged in skirmishes with local youths, who threw stones at them.

The soldiers, in turn, responded by firing tear gas at them to disperse them, while officers detained several citizens and interrogated them on site before letting them go.

Meanwhile, another Israeli military force set up a makeshift checkpoint on the road between Azzun and Kafr Thulth towns in Qalqilya and embarked on intercepting passing vehicles for search.

(Source / 22.08.2017)

Health ministry slams PA’s measures against Gaza

Health Gaza

The Palestinian health ministry in the Gaza Strip has strongly denounced the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership in Ramallah for persistently depriving the population in the impoverished enclave of obtaining medicines and referrals for treatment abroad, describing its punitive measures as “antinational and criminal.”

A spokesman for the health ministry said that the PA’s decision to punish Gaza through depriving its population of their medical needs “came as a blow to the national interests and consorted with Israel’s racist policies.”

The PA took lately several measures that targeted Gaza’s health sector in particular and affected the health conditions of patients some of whom, including children, died after their requests for medical treatment abroad were turned down.

Ironically, president Mahmoud Abbas, who claims his steps against Gaza is aimed at Hamas, sent shipments of medical aid to Venezuela.

Last Sunday, PA foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki and PA health minister Jawad Awwad announced they were sending, at the behest of Abbas, three truckloads of medical supplies to Venezuela, including antibiotics, drugs for the treatment of chronic diseases and everything necessary for emergencies.

The shipments already traveled from the Israeli port of Ashdod to Venezuela.

(Source / 22.08.2017)

Abu Asnainah’s home in Silwan razed anew

House Abu Asainah demolished

The Israeli municipal authority in Occupied Jerusalem demolished on Tuesday morning the house of Abu Asnainah family in Silwan district, south of the Aqsa Mosque, for the second consecutive time.

Local sources told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that Israeli bulldozers knocked down the house of Abdul-Karim Abu Asnainah in Silwan once again after he had to build it partially following its demolition last week.

Bulldozers escorted by police troops demolished last Tuesday the house, but later the owner with help from pro-Aqsa activists and local residents managed to rebuild it in order to accommodate his family.

The house is located in al-Bustan neighborhood of Silwan, where 88 Palestinian homes are threatened with demolition. The Israeli municipality says it wants to build a park for Jewish settlers in place of those homes.

Israel pursues a systematic demolition policy against Palestinian homes in east Jerusalem, especially in the Old City and its vicinity, as part of its plan to Judaize its neighborhoods and bring more Jews to live there.

(Source / 22.08.2017)

Village demolition based on Israel’s ‘racist’ plan

Israel has been terrorising Palestinians in Umm al-Hiran in an effort to accelerate demolition plans, residents say

The writer exposes Israeli racist plans adopted to expel Palestinians from their homes in order to replace them with Jews.

Umm al-Hiran and some 40 other “unrecognised” Bedouin villages in southern Israel consequently live under an existential threat

By Farah Najjar

The writer exposes Israeli racist plans adopted to expel Palestinians from their homes in order to replace them with Jews.

In the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran, residents say the closing of an investigation into the killing of Yacoub Abu al-Qiyan is evidence of a wider strategy to drive residents out of the rural community.

Israeli forces fatally shot Yacoub, a 50-year-old Palestinian citizen of Israel, in January during a pre-dawn raid to bulldoze his home. The demolition was part of the state’s plan to raze Umm al-Hiran, transfer its residents elsewhere and build in its place a new town, which Palestinians believe is being designed exclusively for Israeli Jews.

Last week, Israeli media reported that police had ended their investigation into Yacoub’s case without laying charges. Israeli police have not made a formal announcement and did not respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment on the matter.

The news has incensed local residents, who cite a broader pattern of police impunity for the killings of Palestinians – but they remain resolute in their opposition to the state’s plans for Umm al-Hiran.

“We absolutely refuse to be transferred,” Raed Abu al-Qiyan, the village’s 40-year-old leader and Yacoub’s nephew, told Al Jazeera.

According to a 2015 Supreme Court order, which asserted that the land belongs to the state, the state is permitted to forcibly transfer residents of the village. The decision urged the state to provide residents with alternatives, but did not obligate it to do so.

The state has since offered to move the village’s 450 residents temporarily to neighbouring Hura, 8km south of Umm al-Hiran. Although the village’s residents do not approve of the proposed offer, legally, their refusal cannot stop the eviction process.

A 1956 military order displaced residents of the town from their original village of Khirbet Zubaleh and required them to relocate to Umm al-Hiran. The order also applied to numerous other Bedouin communities.

According to Maysanna Morany, a lawyer at Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, several governments in the years to follow refused to recognise the village, denying it access to advanced infrastructure and rendering it, along with dozens other villages in the Negev, as illegal.

Residents of the village, who have inhabited the land for 61 years, were never granted legal ownership of the area. In 2003, the state rendered them “trespassers”, triggering a legal battle. The high court’s 2015 ruling stipulated that the residents were not, in fact, trespassers, but had no legal ownership of the land.

Israeli authorities regularly carry out demolition orders in the Negev on the basis that these villages lack building permits, but residents say it is impossible to obtain a permit to build legally. Umm al-Hiran and some 40 other “unrecognised” Bedouin villages in southern Israel consequently live under an existential threat.

To date, at least 11 out of 36 villages are officially planned to be demolished and replaced with Israeli towns, according to a statement from the Umm al-Hiran council on Thursday.

Raed said that construction on the new town in his area began more than two years ago, and to date, at least two of the village’s 150 homes have been destroyed. Israel’s National Planning and Building Council has told villagers that their transfer to Hura would be for a period of seven years, after which “solutions can be found or discussed”, he said.

“We want to be an Arab agricultural village; we don’t want to be shoved in an urban residential area.”

Over the past two weeks, Raed said Israeli police arrested four village residents for allegedly “inciting violence” – an accusation he describes as false. The arrests, he said, are tactics used by Israeli authorities to pressure and “terrorise” residents into accepting a transfer.

According to Raed, Israeli police are currently pursuing several other residents in the village, calling for their immediate arrest.

The new town being built in place of Umm al-Hiran, which would be called Hiran, would house only Orthodox Jews, according to a clause in a set of bylaws issued by the Hiran Cooperative Association and obtained by Adalah. The association, a legally authorised residents’ committee, has the power to market state lands and to determine prerequisites for residency in the new town.

Adalah lawyer Suhad Bishara, who represents the residents of Umm al-Hiran, told Al Jazeera that the bylaws could be challenged in court.

“Our legal position is that this, of course, violates equality … Such bylaws cannot be valid legally because of the racist, discriminatory nature of it against whomever is not Jewish in Israel,” she said.

According to Israeli law, Morany said, an admissions committee’s requirements for residence cannot discriminate based on “religion, race or nationality”, rendering the Hiran council’s requirements as “unlawful”.

Prior to the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling, residents of Umm al-Hiran had been fighting a legal battle against their eviction for 13 years.

In a letter sent to Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit earlier this month, Adalah requested that he “take actions to ensure that Umm al-Hiran residents – who have been there for the past 60 years – are included in the master planning of the new town, are not forcefully transferred, and are offered a solution without eviction”, Bishara said.

Adalah is now waiting for a response from the attorney general, a process they say could take months. The responses would determine how Adalah would tackle the legality of the bylaws in court.

“We call for a halt to the incitement against the Arab population of the Negev,” Raed said. “We want to live in a country that respects and acknowledge all of our demands, and to respect our desired way of life.”

(Source / 22.08.2017)

From Greece, message in bottle reaches besieged Gaza

The Gaza fisherman has previously sent a message in a bottle through the Mediterranean included: “End the siege on Gaza!” He has received no response

A message in bottle travelled about 500 miles across Mediterranean Sea to reach hands of Palestinian fisherman as first ever mail he had.

“I want them to know that Gazans are nice people and wish to have a nice life like theirs. We wish to be able to travel and do such romantic things,” Soltan said

A message in bottle travelled about 500 miles across Mediterranean Sea to reach hands of Palestinian fisherman as first ever mail he had.

“Hello! Thank you for picking up this bottle!” began the letter in neat black handwriting. “We are currently on holiday in Rhodes and would love to know how far this bottle got – even if it’s just the next beach!”

The bottle floated much farther than the next beach. It traveled nearly 500 miles across the Mediterranean Sea, from the Greek island of Rhodes, past Turkey and Cyprus to the Palestinian seaside enclave of Gaza — and into the fishing net of Jihad al-Soltan, a 54-year-old Palestinian fisherman and father of seven.

He said it was the first piece of personal mail he had ever received.

Gaza is an isolated place. For the past decade, ever since the Palestinian militant group Hamas took control of this strip of land, its neighbors Israel and Egypt have imposed a blockade on the territory.

Few people can go in, and few can go out. Mail sent to Gaza must first pass through Israeli security at the border.

The message Soltan found included an email address, and the letter was signed, “Faithfully, Zac and Beth.”

Word of the note reached NPR, and an email to that address led to the back story.

Beth is Bethany Wright, a 22-year-old university student from Lichfield, England. She said she had always dreamed of casting a message in a bottle into the ocean to see whether anyone would write back.

On the last day of their Greek island vacation, her boyfriend Zac Marriner, 25 and a newly qualified medical doctor, surprised her with a bottle he had brought from England. (He knew about her message-in-a-bottle dream). They composed their note on a piece of parchment.

They stuffed the rolled-up note and some small flowers inside, sealed it with a cork and watched it float away. That was July 4.

On August 15, Soltan was fishing when he noticed a bottle bobbing in the sea with a note inside. He captured the bottle with his fishing net and took it home.

He broke the bottle open and had his son-in-law, Wael al-Soltan, an English teacher, translate what was written on the somewhat water-damaged parchment inside.

The bottle had reached a kindred spirit: Three years ago, Soltan himself had done the very same thing. He scribbled the words “End the siege” — the blockade on Gaza — in Arabic on a piece of paper, stuffed it inside a bottle and threw it into the sea, he said.

He never got a response. But he asked his son-in-law to email his reply to the British couple.

“I want them to know that Gazans are nice people and wish to have a nice life like theirs. We wish to be able to travel and do such romantic things,” Soltan said.

His son-in-law, Wael, emailed a short reply that the bottle had been found in Gaza. Wael showed the message in the bottle to his friend Mahmoud, who was inspired to email the British couple a note of his own:

“Hi from Palestine, Gaza. Hi for you Zac and Beth. My friend found your bottle. The best thing is this life is love and feeling happy when you find people love each other like Zac and Beth. Wish you all the best.”

Zac replied to Mahmoud: “It was certainly incredible that our bottle was found at all, let alone on a beach in Gaza.”

He added: “So tragic the situation there means people are so cut off, but the bottle reaching there illustrates greatly how we are just all one world, all connected by one ocean and loved by one God.”

(Source / 22.08.2017)