87% of Bethlehem lands under Israeli control

BETHLEHEM, PALESTINOW.COM — Bethlehem mayor Anton Salman on Monday said that the Israeli occupation authorities have seized about 22,000 dunums of Bethlehem lands, which constitute 87% of the province’s area.

Salman said, in an exclusive interview with the PIC, that Bethlehem is inhabited by 29,000 Palestinians, most of whom are constantly targeted with house demolition, especially those living in Area C, which is exclusively controlled by Israel.

Salman added that Bethlehem is surrounded by 23 Israeli settlements inhabited by 168,000 settlers.

According to Salman, 65% of Bethlehem lands are located in Area C, 17.3% in Area A, and 1.6% in Area B. Only 13.4% of Bethlehem’s area is administered by the Palestinian Authority, and the remaining 22% is a natural reserve controlled by Israel.

“87% of Bethlehem lands are completely under Israeli control, 7.3% are controlled by the Palestinian Authority, and 6.1% are administered by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority,” he explained.

Land confiscation
Salman said that Bethlehem lands have been repeatedly targeted with confiscation even before the Oslo Accords in 1993.

The first land theft witnessed in the province, he added, followed the Israeli Knesset’s decision to annex East Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. All lands located north of the Green Line in Bethlehem were considered part of Jerusalem under the pretext that their owners are absent.

Christian community
In response to a question about the decrease in the number of Christians in Palestine, Anton attributed this to three reasons. The first is the social and political instability caused by the Israeli occupation.

The second reason is Israel’s settlement activity and confiscation of Palestinian-owned lands, while the third is that most Christians have relatives abroad who encourage them to emigrate.

Salman pointed out that Israel has deported a large number of Christians outside the Palestinian territories since the 1948 war. He continued to say that there are only 12,000 Christians in Jerusalem now out of 31,000 who were in the holy city in 1948.

Netanyahu statements
Commenting on the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statements last week, Salman said that Netanyahu’s goal is to undermine the national unity between Christians and Muslims which has existed for thousands of years in Palestine.

“If Netanyahu really cares about Palestinian Christians, especially in Bethlehem, he should return the 22,000 dunums that were illegally annexed to Israel to expand the settlements,” Bethlehem mayor stressed.

Netanyahu in press statements last week claimed that Israel is the only democratic state in the Middle East and that it protects the rights of Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

(Source / 23.10.2018)

Gazan child drown to death as immigrants’ boat capsizes

TURKEY, PALESTINOW.COM — A boat, filled with immigrants capsized off the coast of Bodrum resort town, northwest of Turkey, leading to the death two children, including a Palestinian child from Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

The Turkish Coast Guard has confirmed that the boat capsized near Bodrum, leading to the death of two children.

One of the slain children, identified as Malak Rabah Abu Jazar, only four years of age, is from Rafah city, while several members of her family were injured in the incident.

A second child, a seven-year-old girl,  was also killed in the incident.

The Daily Sabah Newspaper said two children were killed, and eighteen migrants were rescued when the boat, “carrying illegal migrants sank off the Coast of Bodrum, a resort town in southwestern Turkey located near the Greek island of Kos.”

The capsized boat was carrying 34 migrants from various nationalities that were still being verified at the time of this report, while fourteen of them managed to safely swim to the shore.

The migrants boarded the 9-meter-long fiber glass boat just minutes before it started sinking off the beach of Gümbet beach in Bodrum.

The Daily Sabah said locals heard the screams of the migrants and called the police, before Coastal Guards rushed to the area and initiated a rescue campaign.

In a Facebook post, the Abu Jazar family has confirmed Malak’s death, and said that Rabah Abul-Ghani Abu Jazar, and Aa’ed Abdullah Abu Jazar, along with their families, were rescued.

The Turkish coastal police launched an investigation and reportedly detained four suspects, whose identities were not revealed, but are believed to be smugglers helping the migrants sneak out of Turkey and into Greece, Daily Sabah has reported.

It added that the capsized boat had the capacity to carry ten persons, but was instead carrying 34.

The Turkish coastguard is searching for potential survivors, especially since the accounts about the number of people aboard the boat are conflicting.

The Daily Sabah said the fourteen migrants from Somalia, and Palestine, were located in the area, and told the police that they were supposed to be on board the capsized boats, but couldn’t do so because it was already overcrowded before it sailed.

(Source / 23.10.2018)

‘A cruel choice’: Why Israel targets Palestinian schools

By Ramzy Baroud

Several Palestinian students, along with teachers and officials, were wounded in the Israeli army attack on a school south of Nablus in the West Bank on 15 October.

The students of Al- Sawiya Al-Lebban Mixed School were challenging an Israeli military order to shut down their school based on the ever-versatile accusation of the school being a “site of popular terror and rioting”.

“Popular terror” is an Israeli army code for protests. The students, of course, have every right to protest, not just the Israeli military occupation but also the encroaching colonisation of the settlements of Alie and Ma’ale Levona. These two illegal Jewish settlements have unlawfully confiscated thousands of dunams of land belonging to the villages of As-Sawiya and Al-Lebban.

“The Israeli citizens” that the occupation army is set to protect by shutting down the school, are, in fact, the very armed Jewish settlers who have been terrorising this West Bank region for years.

According to a 2016 study commissioned by the United Nations, at least 2,500 Palestinian students from 35 West Bank communities must cross through Israeli military checkpoints to reach their schools every day. About half of these students have reported army harassment and violence for merely attempting to get to their classes or back home.

However, this is only half of the story, as violent Jewish settlers are always on the lookout for Palestinian kids. These settlers, who “also set up their own checkpoints”, engage in regular violence as well, by “throwing stones” at children, or “physically pushing (Palestinian children) around.”

“UNICEF’s protective presence teams have reported that their volunteers have been subjected to physical attacks, harassment, arrest and detention, and death threats,” according to the same UN report.

In other words, even the “protectors” themselves often fall victim to the army and Jewish settler terror tactics.

Add to this that Area C – a major part of the West Bank that is under full Israeli military control – represents the pinnacle of Palestinian suffering. An estimated 50,000 children face numerous hurdles, including the lack of facilities, access, violence, closure and unjustified demolition orders.

The school of Al-Sawiya Al-Lebban located in Area C is, therefore, under the total mercy of the Israeli military, which has no tolerance for any form of resistance, including non-violent popular protests by school children.

What is truly uplifting, however, is that, despite the Israeli military occupation and ongoing restrictions on Palestinian freedom, the Palestinian population remains one of the most educated in the Middle East.

According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the literacy rate in Palestine (estimated at 96.3 per cent) is one of the highest in the Middle East and the illiteracy rate (3.7 per cent among individuals over the age of 15) is one of the lowest in the world.

If these statistics are not heartening enough, bearing in mind the ongoing Israeli war on Palestinian school and curricula, consider this: the besieged and war-stricken Gaza Strip has an even higher literacy rate than the West Bank, as they both stand at 96.6 per cent and 96 per cent respectively.

In truth, this should not come as a total surprise. The first wave of Palestinian refugees that were ethnically-cleansed from historic Palestine was so keen on ensuring their children strive to continue their education, they established school tents, operated by volunteer teachers as early as 1948.

Palestinians understand well that education is their greatest weapon to obtain their long-denied freedom. Israel, too, is aware of this dichotomy, knowing that an empowered Palestinian population is far more capable of challenging Israeli dominance than a subdued one, thus the relentless and systematic targeting of the Palestinian educational system.

Israel’s strategy in destroying the infrastructure of Palestinian schooling system is centered on the allegation of “terror”: that is, Palestinians teach “terror” in their schools; Palestinian school books celebrate “terrorists”; schools are sites for “popular terror” and various other accusations that, per Israeli logic, compels the army to seal off schools, demolish facilities, arrest and shoot students.

Take for example the recent comments made by the Israeli Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, who is now leading a government campaign aimed at shutting down operations by the UN organisation that caters for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA.

“It is time to remove UNRWA from Jerusalem,” Barkat announced early October. Without any evidence whatsoever, Barkat claimed that “UNRWA is strengthening terror,” and that “the children of Jerusalem are taught under their auspices, terror, and this must be stopped.”

Of course, Barkat is being dishonest. The jibe at UNRWA in Jerusalem is part of a larger Israeli-US campaign aimed at shutting down an organisationthat proved central to the status and welfare of Palestinian refugees.

According to this skewed thinking, without UNRWA, Palestinian refugees would have no legal platform, thus closing down UNRWA is closing down the chapter of Palestinian refugees and their Right of Return altogether.

The link between the shutting down of Al-Sawiya Al-Lebban, the targeting of UNRWA by Israel and the US, the numerous checkpoints separating students from their schools in the West Bank and more, have more in common than Israel’s false allegation of “terror”.

Israeli writer, Orly Noy, summed up the Israeli logic in one sentence: “By destroying schools in Palestinian villages in Area C and elsewhere, Israel is forcing Palestinians to make a cruel choice — between their land and their children’s futures.”

It is this brutal logic that has guided the Israeli government strategy regarding Palestinian education for 70 years. It is a war that cannot be discussed or understood outside the larger war on Palestinian identity, freedom, and, in fact, the very existence of the Palestinian people.

The students’ fight for their right to education in Al-Sawiya Al-Lebban Mixed School is by no means an isolated skirmish involving Palestinian school kids and trigger-happy Israeli soldiers. Rather, it is at the heart of the Palestinian people’s fight for their freedom.

 (Source / 23.10.2018)

IPS impose restrictions on women prisoners in Hasharon prison

Hasharon prison

The Palestinian Prisoner’s Club on Tuesday said that the administration of “Hasharon” prison has imposed a number of sanctions and restrictions on Palestinian women prisoners, who are refusing to go out for 48 days in a row to protest the surveillance cameras installed by the prison administration on 5 September.

After the visit of the club lawyer to the prisoners, the administration denied that some of the women prisoners were allowed to visit some of their family members, saying that the hot water was cut off from the section, in addition to blocking Arab channels.

The prisoners also complained from the ill treatment of the clinic doctor about two weeks ago.

The prisoners ‘club pointed out that the cameras were covered several years ago upon protest of the prisoners at the time. However, the administration resumed use of cameras after the visit of the “Committee for the Withdrawal of Prisoners’ Achievements,” which was set up by Israeli Internal Security Minister Gilad Arad, which included confiscating thousands of books from prisoner cells and evaded their provacy.

It is noteworthy that 31 prisoners are held in the detention center “Hasharon”, in addition to (20) in the detention camp, “Damon”.

(Source / 23.10.2018)

IOF dismantle school caravans north of Tubas

School Tubas

On Tuesday morning, Israeli occupation forces dismantled caravans belonging to the school of the Late Marwan Majali, AKA “Tahadi (10)”, located in Khirbat “Ibiziq” area north of Tubas, northern West Bank.

The Director of Education Tubas Sa’ed Qabha told WAFA that the occupation dismantled two caravans as they detain the educational staff, ministry of education and students, while preventing students from entering the school.

The Ministry of Education and Higher Education condemned the acts of destroying and confiscating the school caravans and detaining teaching staff.

The ministry said in a statement that the destruction of the school is a war crime added to the series of crimes of the occupation escalating the right to education and its institutions.

The ministry also said that the occupation aggression and its continuing violations against the schools in the targeted and remote areas will not discourage the family members from continuing education, but rather ensures their insistence to receiving their right to secure education.

The Ministry renewed its call to all international and legal institutions and organizations to take their responsibilities regarding exposing violations against the right to education and raising them in all fields and forums.

Residents of the area have repeatedly been evicted by IOF for operating Israeli military drills, while the separation wall was erected on its lands.

(Source / 23.10.2018)

Revealed: Israel backed body gave loans to build illegal settlements

A general view of the Jewish settlement in the West Bank on 27 August 2018 [Shadi Hatem/Apaimages]

A general view of a Jewish settlement in the West Bank on 27 August 2018

The World Zionist Organisation (WZO) gave dozens of loans to aid the establishment of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, a new investigation has revealed.

The investigation, conducted by Israeli newspaper Haaretz, uncovered documents which “show a pattern in which settlers have established farms and unauthorised outposts over the past 20 years with loans from the [World Zionist Organisation’s] Settlement Division — financed entirely through taxpayers’ money and frequently secured by liens on agricultural equipment or livestock”.

Haaretz obtained “dozens of documents relating to mortgages pertaining to 26 outposts across the West Bank” including Amona, which Israel evacuated in 2017 after deeming it had been established illegally on Palestinian land. The illegal settlers were then relocated to Amichai, the first brand new settlement to be built since the Oslo Accords. Although Israel differentiates between settlements and outposts – which do not have official government recognition – both are deemed illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention which prohibits the transferring of civilian populations into occupied territory.

The investigation then cross-referenced maps with the names of those who obtained mortgages, their place of residence and the year in which the loan was granted. In doing so, it found that the WZO “repeatedly gave loans to people who were establishing unauthorided outpost, and did so during the period when the outposts were being set up”.

READ: Israel: $6m to build new illegal settlement in Hebron

The first of these loans dates back to the mid-1990s, one of which was given to extremist Avri Ran – the founder of the notorious “hilltop youth” movement – who established a number of illegal outposts at Gva’ot Olam, south east of Nablus in the occupied West Bank. This policy of providing financial assistance to illegal settlements has continued up to the present day, with the WZO granting a loan to the Yitzhar settlement in 2014, even though it was subject to three demolition orders.

Haaretz adds that “mortgage financing was also provided for illegal structures in [Israeli government] authorised settlements such as Yitzhar,” located south of Nablus. Finance was also provided for the “Havat Har Sinai, Einot Kedem and Shkedim farms,” also scattered across the West Bank.

#LandGrab

Significantly, Haaretz explains that though the World Zionist Organisation operates without the Israeli government’s direct authority, “all of its funding comes from the Israeli taxpayer”. The WZO in fact pre-dates the state of Israel, having been founded by the ideological-father of Zionism, Theodor Herzl, in the 19th century as an organisation dedicated to the promotion of Jewish settlement in Palestine.

Since Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967, it has consistently pursued a policy of illegal settlement. Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem states that, as of the end of 2015, there were 127 Israeli government-sanctioned settlements in the West Bank (not including occupied East Jerusalem and Hebron). This was in addition to 100 non-recognised outposts and 15 Israeli neighbourhoods inside the Jerusalem Municipality.

READ: Israel rules settlement construction can continue

#Israel has been escalating its #settlement activities in the #WestBankdisregarding the displacement of Palestinians as well as the Arab and international condemnation

MEMO Infographic by The White Canvas

READ: ow.ly/hemh30eaMFN

(Source / 23.10.2018)

Committee bans visits to Palestinian prisoners in Israel jails

Palestinians gather in front of the UNESCO office during a demonstration in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israel jails in Gaza City, Gaza on 9 May 2017 [Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency]

Palestinians gather in front of the UNESCO office during a demonstration in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israel jails in Gaza City, Gaza on 9 May 2017

Israel’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation this weekend approved a bill that would prevent family and Red Cross visits to Palestinian prisoners detained in Israeli jails.

The bill was sponsored by extremist MK Oron Hazan from the ruling-Likud party, who said that it helps fight “terror”. Last year, Hazan boarded a bus transporting families of Palestinian prisoners and insulted them, vowing to put an end to the visits.

Israeli ministers who support the bill have claimed the move is retaliation for Hamas’ prevention of visits to Israeli soldiers captured in the besieged Gaza Strip, Haaretz said on Monday. Haaretz added that such a bill had previously been introduced by Israel’s Minister of Internal Security, Gilad Erdan.

READ: Palestinian prisoner begins hunger strike against administrative detention

Reporting on the revelations, Quds Press also revealed that Erdan had ordered the formation of a special committee to study the circumstances of Palestinian security prisoners, in order to tighten restrictions on them. The committee also intends to give Palestinian prisoners the least-possible services allowed under Israel’s basic law.

If it becomes law, the bill would be enforced on all security prisoners held inside Israeli jails if the organisations with which they are affiliated capture Israeli soldiers.

In May, Erdan asked the commissioner of the Israeli Prison Services to prevent Palestinian prisoners affiliated with Hamas from watching World Cup matches.

READ: Israel punishes Palestinian prisoner for publishing a novel

Since #Israel‘s six-day war in 1967 and it’s occupation of #Jerusalem#WestBank & #Gaza – it has issued 50,000 administrative detentions to #Palestinians

(Source / 23.10.2018)

Grand Imam of Al-Azhar: Muslims Are Actual Terrorism Victims

Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam Dr. Ahmed al-Tayeb gives an interview to Agence France Presse on June 9, 2015 in Florence

Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam Dr. Ahmed al-Tayeb said Monday that despite Muslims being described “by brutality and violence….they are only victims of terrorism,” explaining that the reasons behind terrorism are not Islam or any other religion, but global regimes that trade religions, and morals for power.

During his speech in the opening of the Al-Azhar’s international symposium under the theme “Islam and the West: Diversity and Integration,” Tayeb added that the eastern civilization respects religion and science regardless of their source.

Tayeb continued that the terrible silence on terrorism enabled armed political movements to link Islam to other terrorist crimes.

In his speech before the attendees, Belgian former Prime Minister Yves Leterme said that the West knows that Islam is devoted to democracy and equality, stressing the importance of dialogue to achieve its goals.

Former president of Montenegro Filip Vujanovic stated that the Islamic culture is based on rejecting violence and on respecting others. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said that believers will work devotedly to lay a common ground through which risks can be faced and peace attained.

The three-day seminar, held at Al-Azhar Conference Center, will discuss a number of topics related to Islam and Europe, including tension between Muslims and others in Europe.

(Source / 23.10.2018)

20 wounded in Gaza sea protest

Palestinians gather to support the 'maritime demonstration' to break the Gaza blockade by sea with more than 20 vessels of various sizes in Gaza City, Gaza on 8 October 2018 [Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency]

Palestinians gather to support the ‘maritime demonstration’ to break the Gaza blockade by sea with more than 20 vessels of various sizes in Gaza City, Gaza on 8 October 2018

At least 20 Palestinian protesters were shot and wounded by Israeli occupation forces yesterday the 13th maritime protest in Gaza, Palestinian medical sources said.

Spokesman of the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza Ashraf Al-Qidra said the demonstrators were taking part in civil action as part of the “Great March of Return”.

Thousands of Palestinians gather on the beach in the northeastern Gaza city of Beit Lahiya to protest against the 11-year-old Israeli siege and to reinforce their right of refugee to homes their families were forced out of to make way for the creation of the state of Israel.

Scores of Palestinian boats took part in the protest calling for a sea passage to be established. Palestinians are only allowed access to between six to nine nautical miles of waterway from their shores and cannot access international waters. Israeli naval forces regularly shoot at fisherman who approach the “sea barrier” set by the occupation.

Since the start of the “Great March of Return”, Israel has killed 205 protesters and wounded more than 22,000 others, the Palestinian ministry of health said.

Read: Will the intensity of the return marches decline?

#Israel kills witnesses to its crimes and doesn’t want us to know

READ: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180725-israel-kills-wi…/

MEMO #Infographic by QUAD Business House

(Source / 23.10.2018)

Incendiary balloons spark 3 fires near Gaza

Balloons fire

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Three fires broke out, on Monday evening, in Israeli communities surrounding the besieged Gaza Strip as incendiary balloons landed in the area.

Hebrew-language news outlets reported that three fires broke out and spread to greenhouses in the Ashkelon area due to incendiary balloons launched from Gaza.Firefighting crews arrived to the area that caught fire and managed to control the flames; no injuries were reported.
Palestinians in Gaza view the incendiary kites as a form of protest against Israel’s nearly 12-year blockade of Gaza and for Palestinian refugees right of return to their homes and lands which are now known as Israel.
(Source / 23.10.2018)