Israeli forces sealed off the Ibrahimi Mosque in front of Muslim worshipers, on Monday, in preparation for Israeli settlers raid for the third day of the Jewish holiday of Passover, Ma’an Agency reports.
Israeli forces were heavily deployed around the holy site.
The mosque, believed to be the burial place of the prophet Abraham, is sacred to both Muslims and Jews and has been the site of oft-violent tensions for decades.
The holy site was split into a synagogue — known to Jews as the Cave of Patriarchs — and a mosque after US-born Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Palestinians inside the mosque in 1994.
Since the split, Muslim worshipers have been denied access to the site during Jewish holidays and vice versa in an effort to prevent violence from erupting at the holy site.
Located in the centre of Hebron — one of the largest cities in the occupied West Bank — the Old City was also divided into Palestinian and Israeli-controlled areas at the time, known as H1 and H2.
Some 800 notoriously aggressive settlers now live under the protection of the Israeli military in the Old City, surrounded by more than 30,000 Palestinians.
The Palestinian Prisoners Center for Studies reported that Israeli military courts have imposed fines, against Palestinian minor detainees, amount to 170.000 NIS during the first quarter of this year.
The spokesperson for the center, Reyad Al-Ashqar, said that Israeli courts impose heavy fines on most detained children , in addition to the actual prison terms.
He added that the fines constitute a heavy burden on the detainees’ families and an arbitrary punishment exercised, by the courts of occupation, against them, with the aim of terrorizing and preventing them from participating in resistance actions.
He explained that the total amount of fines that Ofra prison imposed against child detainees, during the first three months of this year, adds up to 170.000 NIS.
Al-Ashqar noted that this policy is a clear and political theft aimed at looting money from the families of the children, in order to pressure and blackmail them.
He pointed out, according to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency, that Israeli military courts impose heavy fines for trivial reasons.
Al-Ashqar called on human rights institutions to intervene, in protecting child detainees from Israeli violations.
The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers abducted, Monday, at least eleven Palestinians, including three children, from their homes in several parts of the occupied West Bank.
The PPS office in Bethlehem, south of occupied Jerusalem, said the soldiers stormed and ransacked several homes, and abducted four Palestinians, identified as Anan Ahmad Abd-Rabbo, 18, Yazan Khaled ‘Ayesh, 16, Firas Omar al-Jo’eidi, 28, from Beit Jala city, in addition to Moath Hasan ‘Oweina, from Battir town.
Furthermore, the soldiers abducted a young man, identified as Qassam Faisal Abu Seriyya, from his home in Jenin refugee camp, in the northern West Bank governorate of Jenin.
In Tulkarem, also in northern West Bank, the soldiers abducted Morad Fathi Mousa, 40, from Shoufa village, east of the city.
In Qalqilia, in northern West Bank, the soldiers abducted Abdul-Qader Thiab, after storming his home and assaulting him along with his family, in addition to illegally confiscating cash from the property. His brother, Sa’id, 30, is a political prisoner who is serving a term of 30 years in Israeli prisons.
In addition, the soldiers abducted Ashraf Abdul-‘Al Qattawi, from Balata refugee camp in Nablus, in northern West Bank, after the army invaded and under-construction home, where he worked, in Rojeeb village, east of Nablus.
In Kobar town, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, the soldiers abducted Nawras Mohammad Abu Khattab, 18.
In occupied Jerusalem, the soldiers abducted two children from Shu’fat refugee camp, identified as Malek Nasr Houshiyya, 15, and Saleh Sharqawi, 15.
Updated From: Army Abducts Six Palestinians In West Bank Published on: Apr 22, 2019 @ 09:03
Israeli soldiers abducted, on Monday at dawn, at least six Palestinians from their homes, in several parts of the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.
The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported that the soldiers invaded Shu’fat refugee camp, and Anata town, in Jerusalem governorate, searched and ransacked several homes and abducted two children, identified as Saleh Sharqawi and Malek Nasr Houshiyya.
The soldiers also invaded Teqoua’ town, and Beit Jala city, in the West Bank governorate of Bethlehem, searched homes and abducted Anan Ahmad Hameeda.
Furthermore, the soldiers abducted Abdul-Qader Thiab, and confiscated money from his home, in Qalqilia city, in northern West Bank.
In addition, the soldiers abducted a former political prisoner, Morad Fathi Mousa, 40, from his home in Shoufa village, southeast of Tulkarem, in northern West Bank.
On Friday April 19th Israel’s occupation forces wounded up to 100 people in its attacks against participants of the Great Return March in the besieged Gaza Strip.
Among those wounded were up to 23 children, 5 women, 4-5 paramedics and 4 journalists. 42 people suffered injuries after being hit with tear-gas canisters, 33 people were shot with live ammunition and 13 were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets.
One person, a child, suffered head injuries described as “critical” from being hit by Israeli occupation forces’ tear-gas canister. These are launched at high velocity from batteries mounted on vehicles.
An ambulance was hit and damaged by Israeli occupation troops.
Earlier in the day Israel had attacked three observation posts belonging to Hamas armed wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, without causing injuries. Both artillery and air-strikes were used in the bombing. Israeli occupation claimed that ‘shots were fired’ towards ethnically cleansed Palestine 1948 before IDF / IOF started its own attacks.
Scores of Israeli settlers on Monday morning defiled al-Aqsa Mosque in Occupied Jerusalem under police guard.
Local sources said that the Israeli police in the early morning hours opened al-Maghareba Gate, which has been under Israeli control since 1967, and allowed dozens of settlers to enter the site.
According to the Islamic Awqaf, Israel’s Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel, accompanied by nearly 200 settlers, broke into al-Aqsa Mosque and performed Talmudic rituals there.
Extremist settler groups have called on Israelis to flock in large numbers to al-Aqsa Mosque and pressured the Israeli police to empty the holy site of Palestinian worshipers to celebrate the Passover holiday.
On their Hebron doorstep, one Palestinian family fears their home – like many others – could be taken from them by settlers
By Akram Al-Waara
After the Israeli occupation Jewish settlers had decided to take over a Palestinian family’s house in Al-Khalil (Hebron), Israeli occupation forces did their best to clear it.
The traces of a black eye are still visible on Abdel Qader Abu Srour’s face as he takes his medication with his morning coffee.
The father of two is tired. After four days in custody, he has just been released from an Israeli prison. “They kept me in solitary confinement for the first two days in a freezing cell with no blankets, nothing hot to drink, and no medical care,” he tells Middle East Eye.
Abu Srour, 27, was arrested on 7 February after being badly beaten by Israeli soldiers outside his family home in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron. They were escorting a group of Israeli settlers who claimed Abu Srour’s home was, in fact, their own.
“One of the settlers, the leader of the group, said that our house belonged to them and that we had to leave,” Abu Srour, who said more than ten soldiers and three heavily armed settlers had arrived at his home.
“When I told him that this house is ours and we have the papers to prove it, he started threatening me, saying we had 10 days to leave the house and if we didn’t he would destroy it while we were still inside.
“More than five soldiers beat, kicked me, and hit me with their rifles, all while the settlers egged them on,” he said. The soldiers also threw sound bombs and tear gas canisters at his mother and fired pepper spray at him at point blank range.
“All of this because the settlers told them to,” he says. “They want our house, so now they will do anything to get it.”
The Abu Srour family now find themselves embroiled in a dispute they fear they will lose, despite having papers proving ownership of their house. Theirs is one of many cases of individual settlers and their organisations falsely staking claims to property – and using forged documents, state backing and intimidation to ensure they are successful.
Evidence of the success of such attempts can be found just metres from the Abu Srour family’s home where Beit al-Baraka, a former church, now stands. The church compound once served as a tuberculosis hospital. Three years ago, it became part of the nearby Israeli settlement bloc, Gush Etzion.
There were several steps to the compound being transferred into settler hands. Its first owners, a Presbyterian church group, fell into financial difficulties and sold it in 2010 to a Swedish company called Scandinavian Seamen Holy Land Enterprises.
The firm claimed it planned to restore the church and return it to its original operations. But, unknown to the sellers, the man behind the newly founded firm was a Norwegian Christian by the name of Gro Faye-Hansen Wenske, a supporter of Israeli settlements.
When Scandinavian Seamen Holy Land Enterprises announced it was going out of business in 2012, it sold the property to an American organisation controlled by pro-settler US businessman Irving Moskowitz. By 2016, the compound was officially registered as part of the Israeli settlement bloc, Gush Etzion.
The Abu Srour home was built by the same missionaries that built the compound, and was home to the head of the hospital. While the Abu Srour family bought the house in 1990 – and have Palestinian, Israeli and American documents to prove it – they now fear that settlers may use backdoor methods or even forgery to claim the home, just as they “deceived” their way to Beit Baraka years ago.
The settlers claiming the Abu Srour family home have not yet presented any documents supporting their case.
Fake companies, fraudulent documents
Intimidation, falsified documents, and backdoor methods are standard practice in land deals in the occupied territory, according to reports in recent years. A 2016 investigation by Israel’s Channel 10 found that 14 out of 15 land acquisitions from Palestinians by the pro-settler Amana firm were forged.
A Haaretz follow-up to the investigation detailed the processes that settler firms used to acquire land. Whenever the state sought to evacuate illegal outposts in the Ramallah area, representatives from Al-Watan – a company run by pro-settlement activist Ze’ev Hever and owned by Amana – would announce they had purchased the local lands from their Palestinian owners.
In fact, Palestinians acting on behalf of Al-Watan had used forged documents, claiming to be the real landowners, and bought the properties, then transferred them to Amana, Haaretz reported. Hever is a convicted terrorist.
Abdel Rahman Saleh, 71, the former mayor of the Ramallah-area village of Silwad, told MEE that companies like Al-Watan and the Holy Land Company, which he regards as fake firms run by Palestinians, Jordanians and Israelis, pay up to 60,000 Jordanian Dinars ($84,626) for each dunam of land, compared to the market rate of around 2,000 Dinars ($2,820).
“These companies deny buying property for the settlers, but they have a history of purchasing land in East Jerusalem through the same means,” he said.
According to Saleh, settler organisations work hand in hand with Israel’s Shin Bet to forge documents used in land purchases.
“The settlers go to the Israeli intelligence, which helps them collect data on the land, its owners, their ID numbers, details to the deeds,” Saleh said. “So they take all of these details and make fake papers using our information to make it look as if we sold the land to them.”
Saleh has decades of experience under his belt in dealing with Israeli settlers and false land purchases. During his tenure as Silwad’s mayor, he fought a lengthy legal battle on behalf of residents whose lands were purchased using forged documents, and transferred to settlers from the illegal Amona outpost.
“In 1996, through the Holy Land company, settlers from Amona used forged documents to confiscate more than 2,000 dunums of land privately owned by residents of Silwad, Ein Yabrud, and Taybeh,” Saleh said. “We filed a case in court and finally in 2014, the state ruled to kick out the settlers on the basis that the documents were forged.”
Yesh Din, an Israeli NGO that assisted the residents of Silwad in their legal battle, said that behind Amona’s illegal construction was “an entire mechanism dedicated to expelling Palestinians from their land, with the help of local councils, the Amana organisation, the IDF, the Yesha Council, the Settlement Division, politicians and government ministries”.
In 2017, Amona was evacuated, which was “a huge victory for Silwad and the surrounding villages, who also got some of their land back,” Saleh said.
Representatives of Amana and Al-Watan could not be reached for comment.
While the evacuation of Amona was an unusual victory, the fight is far from over.
In December 2018, settlers returned to the land of their former outpost and erected two prefab homes, claiming they had just bought the land from its Palestinian owners.
Haaretz reported that Israel’s Civil Administration had not examined the alleged proof of purchase before the homes were erected, and one source said the administration hadn’t even confirmed that the lot the homes were built on was the same one ostensibly purchased.
Still, the Palestinians who own the land continue to be prevented from cultivating it and, in addition to fighting for access to it, also face suspicion from their community over the Israeli claim to their lands.
“These cases cause so much discord within the communities, because people start to doubt their neighbours and wonder: ‘Did they really sell their land, sell our homeland, to the settlers?’” Saleh said.
“It can take years, decades as you have seen, to set the record straight. And in the meantime, people can get ostracised and excommunicated if the community thinks that they sold their lands to the Israelis.”
‘They have the whole system on their side’
Just south of Gush Etzion, Abu Srour and his family fear they could be facing a similarly drawn-out battle to remain on their land. While settlers and soldiers are now using intimidation and violence to stake their claim, he worries that backdoor routes and fraud used to purchase other property could be put to use in the attempt to takeover his house.
“We know that we were meticulous in our purchase of this house, and made sure to leave no loopholes for something like this to happen,” he said.
“But these are settlers. They have the occupation soldiers, courts, and politicians in their pockets. They have the whole system on their side.”
Five months before the settlers arrived with the soldiers in February, he said that the man he regards as the head of the group of settlers – who he thinks is a former intelligence officer – called him to say he wanted to buy the house.
He said he would pay anything for it. Abu Srour refused the offer.
“There was some fear at the time that if the settlers managed to deceive their way into buying Beit al-Baraka, they could forge some documents and try to claim our house along with it,” Abu Srour says.
“When they want something, they will exhaust every means – legal and illegal – to take the land from the Palestinians.”