Israeli Troops Shoot Dead Palestinian in West Bank

A Palestinian man was shot and killed on Monday during clashes with Israeli forces in the south of the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry and medics said.

Palestinian medical sources identified the man as 22-year-old Omar al-Badawi, who was hit in the chest with live fire before being taken to Ahali hospital in the nearby city of Hebron, where he was pronounced dead.

The Israeli army did not immediately comment on the incident at Al Arroub refugee camp.

The clashes came as Palestinians in the West Bank marked the 15th anniversary of the death of former president Yasser Arafat.

Medics also reported Israeli use of live fire in clashes at Fawwar, south of Hebron.

(Source / 11.11.2019) 

Israeli Study Suggests Accommodation with Hamas Rather than Escalation

Palestinians run as smoke rises following what police said was an Israeli air strike on a Hamas post, in the northern Gaza Strip

An Israeli study published by Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) suggested there are three scenarios for Israel to deal the Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip, with the best option lying in accommodating with it.

According to the study prepared by the two Israeli researchers, Kobi Michael and Yohanan Tzoreff, the first scenario is the continuation of the status quo with neither escalation nor calm and with escalation followed by calm.

The second scenario, they said, is a gradual military escalation against Hamas, leading to comprehensive war. While the third is a broader and longer-term accommodation with Hamas.

The study concluded that the chances of understanding and settlement between Israel and Hamas are the most likely, pointing out that Israel faces a serious dilemma regarding the situation in the Gaza Strip, especially the behavior it is supposed to adopt towards Hamas.

“Although it (Israel) seeks to provide calm in the Strip by reaching a settlement with Hamas in return for easing the siege there, this settlement requires that Hamas retain the ability to govern and restrain factions seeking to foil prospects for calm,” the study noted.

Practically, Israel does not seek to end Hamas’ rule in Gaza, but wants it to continue since this prolongs the division with the West Bank and Fatah. However, the problem lies in the movement’s ongoing development of its military capabilities.

“These indicators raise the following question: Does the weakening of Hamas serve Israel as a prelude to the Palestinian Authority’s return to Gaza Strip?” asked Tzoreff.

It is doubtful the PA will try to regain control of the Strip as long as there is no political breakthrough in relations with Israel and since such a move would be perceived as enabled by Israeli aggression, he remarked.

The PA had previously rejected such proposals “to overthrow Hamas and return to the Strip.”

Hamas in turn, is facing its own dilemma in regards to fulfilling the civic responsibilities of governance in Gaza and in combating Israel.

It has sought to open channels of communication with regional and international countries to explain its contradictory stance that refuses to recognize Israel and is yet not opposed to striking agreements with it.

(Source / 10.11.2019) 

Series of Israeli Raids Against Gaza in Response to Rockets Launched From Strip

Relatives of Palestinian youth Ahmed al-Shehri, who was killed in the Israeli raids on Saturday, November 2, 2019

Israel has launched a series of raids targeting various locations in the Gaza Strip. The attacks came in response to a rocket barrage fired earlier from the Strip into Israeli towns and settlements.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health said Ahmed al-Shehri, 27, was killed during pre-dawn attacks on areas west of Khan Younis on Saturday.

Two other Palestinians sustained moderate or serious shrapnel wounds from one of the strikes, according to the ministry.

The rockets and raids were launched one day after new clashes erupted as part of the “March of Return” demonstrations near the Strip’s border with Israel.

They resulted in wounding more than 90 Palestinians on Friday, including 50 with bullets, according to the Hamas-led Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip.

“Israeli warplanes attacked a wide array of targets, including a military compound belonging to the naval forces of Hamas group, a military compound belonging to the organization’s air defense system, a missile simulator, training facilities, an arms manufacturing site, and a military compound used as a weapons storehouse,” the army said in a statement.

Ten rockets were fired into Israel in two separate barrages on Friday night, the army noted, adding that one projectile slammed into a house in the town of Sderot, while the Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted eight other rockets.

This was the second night in a row that rockets were fired from the Strip into Israeli territory, following a six-week truce.

The videos released by the army showed the moment of bombing sites in the Strip in open lands.

The Israeli army held Hamas accountable for the rocket fire from Gaza, while Hamas responded that the Israeli bombardment was a serious escalation against innocent civilians and would retaliate against the occupation.

Israel routinely holds Gaza’s Hamas rulers responsible for any violence emanating from the Strip.

(Source / 03.11.2019) 

Record Number of Demolitions of Palestinian Homes in Jerusalem

Fawzia stands on the ruins of her house, after her Palestinian ex-husband demolished the dwelling to not face the prospect of Israeli settlers moving in after he lost a land ownership case in Israeli courts, in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina, July 19, 2018

Israeli authorities have demolished at least 140 Palestinian homes in east Jerusalem this year, rights group B’Tselem said Thursday, the highest annual number since it began keeping records in 2004.

B’Tselem said 238 Palestinians have lost their homes this year, including 127 minors. The second highest number of demolitions on record was in 2016, when 92 homes were demolished.

Last month another Israeli rights group, Peace Now, obtained official figures on building permits in east Jerusalem going back to 1991 that provided strong evidence of systematic discrimination against Palestinian residents.

While Palestinians make up more than 60 percent of the population of east Jerusalem, they had received just 30 percent of permits.

The Israeli military said Thursday that it demolished a partially-built structure in a refugee camp in the West Bank city of Ramallah overnight.

It said the structure was being built on the site of the family home of a Palestinian who had killed an Israeli officer during an operation in May 2018.

It said the residence was demolished in December of that year, and that troops returned after they noticed that new construction was underway.

Israel says demolishing the family homes of alleged militants deters violence, while the Palestinians see it as a form of collective punishment.

(Source / 24.10.2019) 

Rohingya Refugees Agree Move to Bangladesh Island

Rohingya refugee girls carry metal pitchers with water at Balukhali makeshift refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, September 13, 2017

Thousands of Rohingya living in Bangladesh refugee camps have agreed to move to an island in the Bay of Bengal, officials said Sunday, despite fears the site is prone to flooding.

Dhaka has long wanted to move 100,000 refugees to the muddy silt islet, saying it would take pressure off the overcrowded border camps where almost a million Rohingya live.

Some 740,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar in August 2017 in the face of a military crackdown, joining 200,000 refugees already in makeshift tent settlements at Cox’s Bazar.

Bangladesh’s refugee commissioner, Mahbub Alam, said officials overseeing the relocation would be posted to Bhashan Char island in the next few days.

“Approximately 6,000-7,000 refugees have already expressed their willingness to be relocated to Bhashan Char,” Alam told AFP from Cox’s Bazar, adding that “the number is rising”.

He did not say when the refugees would be moved, but a senior Navy officer involved in building facilities on the island said it could start by December, with some 500 refugees sent daily.

Bangladesh had been planning since last year to relocate Rohingya to the desolate flood-prone site, which is an hour by boat from the mainland.

Rights groups have warned the island, which emerged from the sea only about two decades ago, might not be able to withstand violent storms during the annual monsoon season.

In the past half a century, powerful cyclones have killed hundreds of thousands of people in the Meghna river estuary where the island is located.

Rohingya leaders would be taken to Bhashan Char to view the facilities and living conditions, Alam said.

Safety facilities built on the island include a nine-feet (three-meter) high embankment along its perimeter to keep out tidal surges during cyclones, and a warehouse to store months-worth of rations, he added.

Rohingya father-of-four Nur Hossain, 50, said he and his family agreed to relocate to Bhashan Char after they were shown video footage of the shelters.

“I have agreed to go. The camp here (at Leda) is very overcrowded. There are food and housing problems,” the 50-year-old told AFP.

There was no immediate comment from the UN, although Bangladeshi officials said they expect a delegation would visit the island in the next few weeks.

(Source / 20.10.2019) 

Settlers Conduct ‘Provocative Tours’ in Aqsa Mosque

More than 250 settlers stormed the yards of Al-Aqsa Mosque on Tuesday, under strict security measures by the Israeli occupation forces. The raid came in response to calls by Jewish organizations to intensify “visits” to the place in celebration of the Jewish Throne Day.

The Jerusalem Islamic Waqf said that the settlers entered through the Mughrabi Gate and carried out “provocative tours” in the mosque, while listening to explanations about the “alleged temple” which the Jews say was built there.

The number of settlers entering the mosque is expected to increase in the coming days. Israeli ministers and officials participated in some of these incursions, creating further tension with the Palestinians.

The large-scale raid on Tuesday came a day after Palestine and Jordan warned against dragging the region into a “religious war” if Aqsa continued to be targeted.

In this context, Ramallah and Amman condemned the statements of the Israeli Minister of Public Security, Gilad Ardan, who called for the Jews to be allowed to pray freely in the Aqsa Mosque.

The Mosque is run by hundreds of Jordanian employees of the Jordanian Islamic Waqf, but Israel allows Jews to visit the place contrary to the Waqf’s will.

Member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Head of the Jerusalem Affairs Department Adnan al-Husseini warned of the repercussions of the “fierce attacks carried out by the settlers, under the protection of the Israeli occupation authorities, on the Aqsa Mosque.”

Husseini said in a press statement that developments at the Aqsa “call for more resolve and presence to protect the place, and preserve its sanctity.”

Jordan’s Parliament Speaker Atef Tarawneh said on Tuesday that the Israeli occupation violated all principles of international law and resolutions of international legitimacy.

Addressing the 141st meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union held in Belgrade, he said: “We in Jordan, where we are bound by a peace treaty with the Israeli occupation government, today see that this peace is under threat, in light of the blatant violation of its provisions, especially with the issue of Jerusalem.”

(Source / 16.10.2019) 

Palestine: Israeli Forces Conduct Manhunt for Ramallah Attackers

Israeli security forces search vehicles west of Ramallah

The Israeli army arrested two Palestinians as part of a large-scale manhunt for the attack that killed an Israeli woman and wounded two others in the West Bank.

The army arrested Ribhi Abu al-Safa and Mohammed Nayef Abu al-Safa from the village of Ein Arik after raiding and ransacking their homes. They also arrested former prisoner Israr Maarouf, who is a student at Birzeit University, from Ein Qinya. 

Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper said the Ramallah operation was very disturbing to Israeli security as this type of attack was rare and unusual.

Israeli security sources said that five similar attacks were thwarted since the beginning of the year. 

The arrest came hours after chief of Israeli army Aviv Kochavi announced that security services were at an advanced stage of the search. Kochavi said significant efforts were being made in the intelligence field to quickly arrest the perpetrators.

Rina Shnerb, 17, was killed and her father and brother were seriously injured in a bombing at a natural spring outside the central West Bank settlement 

Israel Forces Spokesperson Ronen Manelis said the army considered the blast to be a “serious terror attack,” noting that the device may have been planted at night by Palestinians who knew the area well, detonated it remotely and then fled the scene.

Israeli forces sealed off main roads leading to the western Ramallah in the West Bank, deployed troops, and blocked major roads 

The youths were arrested after Israeli soldiers seized tapes from the street surveillance cameras installed by shop and homeowners in these villages.

The new operation reinforced Israeli fears of a gradual security deterioration leading to a possible popular uprising soon ahead of next month’s Israeli elections.

Israeli military officials have warned in recent weeks of an increase in attacks in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as Israeli elections approach. 

Hamas praised the perpetrators of a bombing in the West Bank, saying it was a “proof of the vitality and bravery of the Palestinian people, and of the fact that it will not surrender to the crimes and terrorism of the occupation.” 

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh called it “a heroic attack,” though he claimed he was not aware as to who was responsible.

But it “shows that the default state in the West Bank is one of resistance, despite what our residents suffer there. The West Bank has strong people who are no less faithful and steadfast than their brethren in Gaza,” he said. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to arrest the perpetrators and intensify settlement activity in the West Bank in response to the attack. Meanwhile, the United States has called on the Palestinian Authority to explicitly condemn the attack.

US special envoy to the Mideast Jason Greenblatt described the attack as “savage” which killed an Israeli teenager who was with her family.

“This isn’t the path to peace, just endless suffering,” he tweeted. 

Greenblatt called on the Palestinian Authority (PA) to “unequivocally condemn this attack,” adding that “if they don’t, donor countries should demand the PA answer for why their donor funds continue to be used to reward attacks.”

The PA usually does not condemn any operations against Israeli soldiers or settlers inside the West Bank given that it is an occupied territory, but condemns operations in Israel. 

(Source / 25.08.2019) 

Abbas Hopes for Dialogue with New Israeli Government

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets members of the Democratic Camp, including Noa Rothman, granddaughter of late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has expressed his hope to resume dialogue with the new government that will be formed in Israel after the next elections.

Abbas, in a secret meeting with members of the Democratic Camp, including Noa Rothman – the granddaughter of late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin – accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of refusing to meet with him several times in Moscow, referring to the invitation made by Russian President Vladimir Putin to both leaders.

Abbas strongly attacked Netanyahu, saying he had “repeatedly opposed the formation of a unity government with Hamas and the establishment of Palestinian internal reconciliation, but he immediately paid millions of dollars to Hamas.”

The meeting, which took place on Tuesday, was not published by the Palestinian official news agency, but was revealed by the Israeli channel 13, which broadcast images of Abbas receiving the Israeli delegation.

The meeting with Abbas was secretly organized, with the sole knowledge of the party chairman Ehud Barak, who supported the initiative to meet with the Palestinian Authority president.

Rothman asked Abbas to take steps to free Israeli citizen of Ethiopian origin Avera Mengistu, who is being held by Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian president promised to help.

Hamas immediately described the meeting as “suspicious” and said it was a form of normalization with Israel and disregard for Palestinian sacrifices.

The Democratic Camp seeks to attract voters from the Blue and White or Labor parties.

Relations between Netanyahu and Abbas are currently at their worst with Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh accusing the Israeli government of waging an open war on the Palestinian people.

Israel’s general elections are set for September 17.

(Source / 15.08.2019) 

Abbas Says Palestine For Canaanites…Outsiders Will Leave

PA President Mahmoud Abbas inspects Jalazone camp on Saturday, August 10, 2019 

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday that outsiders will be deported from the Palestinian land to the “dustbin of history” because this land is for the Canaanites.

“We are the Canaanites,” he stressed.

Addressing the crown in Jalazone refugee camp in Ramallah, Abbas said the Palestinians will remain “steadfast, patient and resilient.”

“We will remain in our homeland, and the outsiders on this land has no right in this country. The land is for its inhabitants, this land is for the Canaanites who were here 5,000 years ago, and we are the Canaanites.”

Abbas’s rhetoric was sharp compared to his usual diplomatic speeches. He congratulated the masses on Eid al-Adha, hoping victory to be achieved by next year.

He praised the Palestinian people’s honorable stance and patience, especially as they haven’t received their full salaries for a quiet period of time now.

Abbas was referring to the deduction of half the salaries of civil servants for nearly six months now after Israel deducted money from Palestinian tax revenues as punishment for the PA for continuing to pay the martyrs and wounded.

The PA refused to receive deducted money and rejected any compromises.

“We won’t accept that our martyrs be labeled as terrorists,” Abbas noted, adding that they are martyrs of the homeland and ‘we will not accept the deduction of a penny from their money.”

He reiterated the Palestinian political position rejecting the US “Deal of the Century,” affirming that no meetings are accepted or attended without the Palestinians’ consent.

Abbass added that Jerusalem will remain Palestine’s capital, stressing that all Palestinians and Islamic and Christian Arab nation will visit this capital one day.

He urged Palestinians in Gaza Strip to end the division that only serves the enemy, adding that Hamas and its leaderships are working for the enemy, not for Palestine.

Palestinian unity should include Gaza, Jerusalem and the West Bank for the State of Palestine to have East Jerusalem as its eternal capital, Abbas further noted.

Abbas has earlier arrived in Jalazone camp and was briefed with the refugees’ conditions and needs. He visited the camp’s institutions and met its residents.

(Source / 11.08.2019) 

Gazans Too Poor to Afford Sheep for Eid Sacrifice

A Palestinian herding sheep against the backdrop of a Jewish settlement near Jerusalem

Ali usually marks the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha with his family in the Gaza Strip by sacrificing a sheep, a customary annual ritual for those who can spare the cost.

But this year the 49-year-old police officer says he cannot afford to buy an animal for the “feast of the sacrifice” holiday, which begins next week, after the Palestinian Authority halved his salary five months ago.

“I have slaughtered a sheep every year … but this year there is no way I can. I am ashamed,” the father of five, who declined to give his last name, told Reuters.

Gaza has suffered under years of Israeli blockade. Nearly 80 percent of the enclave’s 2 million residents rely on some form of aid and over half are unemployed.

Ali said that in March, the PA cut his monthly salary in half, leaving him with 1,500 shekels ($431). A sheep costs around $500.

The PA, which exercises limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, still has some 25,000 Gazan civil servants on payroll despite a decade-long feud with rival Hamas which has left the group in control of the coastal territory.

Many PA employees across Gaza and the West Bank had their salaries slashed in March amid a dispute with Israel over payments it makes to the families of Palestinians in Israeli jails.

Israel says the payments fan Palestinian violence, and in February it removed the portion the PA designates for prisoners’ families from taxes it transfers monthly to the body under interim peace accords.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has refused to accept partial transfers, saying the PA is entitled to the entire sum of around 700 million ($197 million) shekels, over half its budget. The mounting fiscal pressures have squeezed the Palestinians’ $13 billion economy.

The cuts have put a particular strain on Gaza, where civil servants had already been hit by earlier salary cuts Abbas imposed in 2017 to isolate Hamas.

“I used to offer a sacrifice every year but this year there is no money,” said Hassan An-Najjar, an unemployed father of six. He says the cost of a sheep would run out the $500 in welfare he receives quarterly from the PA.

“I am looking for someone who can sell me a sheep and divide the cost into three or four payments,” An-Najjar, 58, told Reuters.

The median monthly wage in the Strip is around $330, according to the Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute.

The territory’s livestock breeders and farmers say they are desperate for customers ahead of the eid.

“This year I brought only 40 cows and so far I haven’t even sold half of them,” said Gaza farmer Mohammad Al-Balawi. He says he normally sells 500 each year to people who may also split the animal’s 9,000 ($2,600) shekel price.

“I have not seen a year as bad as this in my life,” he said.

(Source / 09.08.2019)