Shufa Village Threatened as Israeli Forces Begin to Excavate Palestinian Land

On the 22nd of December, Israeli forces started excavating land belonging to the Palestinian village of Shufa. Residents fear the possibility of settlement expansion will threaten the future of their village.


Bulldozer excavating the hillside. In the back sits the illegal Avne Hefez settlement

Shufa village is very close to Avne Hefez, an illegal Israeli settlement that was established in 1987, which originally comprised 44 dunums of land. The settlement has continued expanding ever since and currently covers 3.000 dunums of land, all belonging to Palestinian villagers from the area.

At the center, constructions site. Right sie: the first house of Shufa and at the far left, the first building of the Avne Hefez settlement. the road in the middle is for exclusive settler use.

At the center lies the construction site. At far right sits the first house of Shufa and at far left, the first building of the Avne Hefez settlement. The road in the middle is for exclusive settler use.

Unlike most other villages in the West Bank, Shufa is located on top of a hill, while the Avne Hefez settlement is located at a lower point. Israeli bulldozers and excavators are now digging the side of the hill where Shufa is located, just a few hundred meters from the center of the village. The landowner hasn’t received any previous notice of the excavation, and what exactly the Israeli army intends to build is still not known.One assumption is that they are trying to connect both Avne Hefez and Enav settlements with a nearby illegal outpost. Villagers fear that Israel intends to create a big settlement block in the area, by connecting these three places. Since the construction site is located at the bottom of the hill, posing a strategic disadvantage for the Israelis, the residents of Shufa are afraid that the Israeli forces will use certain measures, typically on the pretext of ‘security’, to prevent Palestinians from accessing their farm land on that particular part of the hill in the future.

Palestinians living next to Avne Hefez are already facing a lot of difficulties. Farmers are not allowed to enter their farmlands located next to the illegal settlement if they don’t hold a special permit. Israel, in turn, hardly ever gives them these permits. In a more extreme example of the harassment that farmers have to face, the Israeli military recentlydemolished 4 greenhouse structures in a farm belonging to a villager of Kafa, as well as uprooting more than 100 trees.

In addition to all this, the villagers in Shufa are in desperate need of an increased water supply, in order to irrigate their farmlands. But Israel doesn’t let them finish a newly constructed water pipeline that starts in the nearby village of Esba Shufa, and is planned to go all the way to Shufa. The reason for Israel to stop this pipeline construction is that part of it is meant to go through the land area designated as Area C: the territory that comprises 60% of the West Bank and is under full Israeli control. Residents of Shufa also mentioned that the neighboring village of Saffarin is facing worse water problems. They do not have a drinking water pipeline at all, and must buy water from surrounding Palestinian villages at double the normal price.

Shufa is just a few minutes drive from Tulkarm. Since the 2nd intifada, Israeli forces have closed the road between Shufa and Tulkarm periodically, forcing the residents to make 32 km detours in order to get to Tulkarm. During a demonstration on Friday, December 18th, villagers from Shufa removed the illegal Israeli roadblock. Israeli commanders then promised that the road will be kept open. But until now, the road has remained closed most of the time. The few occasions when the soldiers open the road, they begin checking all ID-cards, allowing only residents of Shufa to pass through.

(Source / 05.01.2016)

Call for supporting the youngest captive in the world Ali Alqam

GAZA, (PIC)– Palestinian MP Jamal al-Khudari, Chief of the Popular Committee against the Siege asked the international, Islamic, Arab, and Palestinian human rights institutions to support Palestinian minors detained in Israeli jails.
Khudari said that the youngest captive in the world is Ali Alqam who is only 11 years old followed by detainees Ahmad Manasra and Muawiya Alqam who are both 13 years old. All of the three children are from Occupied Jerusalem and have been detained for two months. They are going to stand trial on Wednesday.

In a press statement on Tuesday, Khudari revealed that the Palestinian minors are held under inhuman and very harsh detention conditions lacking minimum extent of the international standards of children rights as well as prisoners’ rights.

The Israeli Occupation Authority is detaining the child, Ali Alqam, despite being shot with three bullets in his pelvis, abdomen and hand. His family was allowed to visit him just for once and for 20 minutes only in the presence of Israeli police.

The Palestinian Prisoners Society reported that the number of Palestinian minors held in Israeli jails has mounted to 270 juveniles distributed in three sections in Ofer jail.
(Source / 05.01.2016)

Hamas delegation meets with Lebanese army chief

BEIRUT, (PIC)– A delegation of Hamas Movement headed by the group’s representative in Lebanon Ali Baraka met with the Lebanese Army’s Intelligence Chief Brig. Gen. Edmond Fadel in the Ministry of Defense in Beirut.

Hamas’s delegation included Baraka’s deputy Ahmed Abdul Hadi, media official Ra’fat Mora, and political relations official Ziyad Hassan.

The two parties discussed, during the meeting, the general situation in Lebanon and the Palestinian refugee camps.

They also stressed the importance of maintaining civil peace and stability in the country and in the Palestinian refugee camps in particular.

Baraka, for his part, stressed the urgent need for activating coordination between Palestinian factions and the Lebanese authorities in order to strengthen relations between the two peoples and protect and neutralize the Palestinian presence in the country.

He renewed his group’s total adherence to the right of return, saying that the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon have no other political issue to deal with except the Palestinian right of return and the Jerusalem Intifada.

(Source / 05.01.2016)

Three Jerusalemites injured at Damascus gate in OJ

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Three Jerusalemites were injured on Tuesday during Israeli quelling of a protest at the Damascus gate in Occupied Jerusalem. The protest was against the continuation of detaining Palestinian martyrs’ bodies.

Local sources revealed that Jerusalemite activists organized a protest to demand the delivery of the bodies of Palestinian martyrs who were killed by Israeli gunfire.

The participants waved banners demanding delivering the bodies of martyrs. Meanwhile, Israeli forces tried to disperse the protest under gun threat and quelled the participants using stun grenades. The Israeli forces also assaulted the families of martyrs and barred pressmen from covering the event and the Israeli violent quelling of the protest.

The Israeli violent quelling led to the injury of three Palestinians by stun grenades’ shrapnel and were treated at the scene, medic Osama Mekhaimer said.

Eleven bodies of Palestinian martyrs from Occupied Jerusalem are still detained by the Israeli occupation authorities.
(Source / 05.01.2015)

Fears grow over escalation of Saudi-Iran row

Riyadh’s severing of diplomatic ties with Tehran raises concerns of further regional conflict and economic instability.

Flames rise from Saudi Arabia’s embassy during a demonstration in Tehran

The verbal tit-for-tat between regional powerhouses Saudi Arabia and Iran continued on Tuesday after Riyadh’s diplomatic missions were attacked following the kingdom’s execution of 47 people, including a Shia cleric.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani called Saudi Arabia’s decision to cut diplomatic ties with Tehran an attempt to “cover its crime” after prominent religious leader Nimr al-Nimr was among those put to death last week.

Rouhani’s comments were the latest in an escalating diplomatic spat between regional heavyweights Iran and Saudi Arabia that has raised international concerns over peace efforts to end the wars in Syria and Yemen, with both nations supporting opposite sides.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabian Prince Waleed Bin Talal – a renowned billionare businessman – said on Twitter he is putting a halt to business projects and investments in Iran.

Riyadh severed relations with Iran on Sunday after its embassy in Tehran was set ablaze during protests against the executions.

But Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Aljubeir said  on Tuesday the dispute will not hinder political negotiations over the Syrian conflict expected later this month.

RELATED: Saudi-Iran standoff: War or a grand bargain?

“The recent tensions .. will not affect … the operations that United Nations carries out alongside the international community to achieve a political solution in Geneva soon,” Saudi news agency SPA quoted Jubeir as saying, after talks with UN special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura.

John Sfakianakis, an economist and former advisor to the Saudi government, told Al Jazeera that Riyadh and Tehran must take the necessary precautions to avoid a further escalation.

“Both sides are aware of each other’s red lines,” he said.

Protests continued in Bahrain, which is among anumber of states in the region that severed ties with Iran in solidarity with Saudi Arabia.

Kuwait recalled its ambassador from Iran on Tuesday and Bahrain announced a ban on flights to and from the country.

Sfakianakis also warned against the potential economic impact that the dispute could inflict.

“For both sides, dropping [oil] prices are not good news as well as for other oil-producing countries,” he said.

“Market forces do determine prices but – in the eyes of Riyadh – Iran is not helping to increase the prices when they announce they will flood the market with one million barrels whenever the [international] sanctions are lifted.”

Saudi Arabia cuts diplomatic ties with Iran

(Source / 05.01.2016)

Palestinian young woman arrested near the Ibrahimi Mosque

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) arrested Tuesday evening a Palestinian young woman near the Ibrahimi Mosque in al-Khalil, south of occupied West Bank.

A Palestinian rights group affirmed that a 26-year-old young woman was arrested at an Israeli-controlled military checkpoint near the Ibrahimi Mosque for unknown reasons.

Earlier last month, a rights group reported that the number of Palestinian female detainees in Israeli jails and detention centers raised to reach 55 including 10 minors aged between 14 and 17.

The center pointed out that 291 arrest cases of women, young and minors, and even elderly women aged over 60 years old were reported in 2015, adding that the arrestees included mothers and wives of prisoners.

(Source / 05.01.2016)

Israeli forces confiscate road construction material in Hebron

HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli forces on Tuesday confiscated construction material belonging to the al-Dhahiriya city council in southern Hebron that was being used to build an agricultural road, local officials told Ma’an.Members of the council told Ma’an that the road was being built in cooperation with the international aid group Action Against Hunger.Action Against Hunger describes its projects in the occupied Palestinian territory as working to provide “revitalized livelihoods, income opportunities, improved access to water and sanitation, and nutritional support.”The council members said that Israeli forces had also issued a stop-work notice to the official contractor on the basis that the work was being carried out without the correct permission.Israel routinely denies Palestinian permission to build in land classified as Area C, and demolishes structures that it says were build without permits.Last month, the The EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah demanded that all Area C demolitions be halted, and that confiscated humanitarian materials — including shelter for both residents and livestock — be returned.However, Israel has historically ignored EU requests to halt violations against Palestinians as well as demands to stop settlement expansion.

(Source / 05.01.2016)

8,000 Palestinian refugees suffering tragic conditions in Turkey

ISTANBUL, (PIC)– 8,000 Palestinian refugees, who migrated from Syria to Turkey, have been suffering harsh living conditions especially in southern Turkish cities of Kielce, Urfa, Mersin, Antioch and  others.

The Palestinian migrants complain of the lack of job opportunities, poverty, too expensive rentals and harsh living conditions because of the extreme cold weather and the lack of heating means. Besides, many of students refrain from joining Syrian schools.

The Turkish regulations do not allow the entry of Palestinians into Turkey without visa, which force them to enter the country illegally and thus put themselves in danger.

The Palestinian refugees in Turkey appealed to the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Turkish government to help them and improve their humanitarian and legal conditions as well as allowing Palestinians to enter Turkey without visa.
(Source / 05.01.2016)

Warning of force-feeding of two prisoners

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– Chief of Prisoners’ Affairs Committee Issa Qaraqe warned of force-feeding of two prisoners in Israeli jails: journalist Mohammad al-Qiq and the Jordanian Abdulla Abu Jaber.

Detainee Qiq has been on hunger strike for 42 days in protest at his administrative detention, while Abu Jaber has been on hunger strike for 55 days demanding his release to Jordan.

In his participation in a gathering in solidarity with captive Qiq in Ramallah on Tuesday, Qaraqe said that Israeli general prosecution and intelligence absolutely ignore the demands of both detainees. They did not open any dialogue on their demands, he underlined.

Qaraqe pointed to the seriousness of the health conditions of both prisoners especially after they had been transferred to Afula hospital. Captive Qiq uses a wheelchair to move because of the deterioration of his condition. He has been experiencing repeated comas and severe pain all over his body, Qaraqe said.
(Source / 05.01.2016)

PA says Netanyahu ‘plotting’ against it after he warns of its collapse

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — The Palestinian Authority Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of “plotting” against the PA after he suggested its collapse may be imminent.Israeli daily Haaretz reported that Netanyahu said during a meeting of Israel’s diplomatic-security cabinet late Monday that Israel ought to prepare for the PA’s collapse.”We must prevent the Palestinian Authority from collapsing if possible, but at the same time, we must prepare in case it happens,” he said.However, the PA foreign ministry said in a statement that his comments were an attempt to “mislead” the international community, and part of an ongoing “campaign of lies and incitement (he) has been systematically conducting against the Palestinian people, their rights and achievements.”The ministry condemned Netanyahu’s government for weakening the PA while simultaneously “shed(ding) crocodile tears and claim(ing) they are concerned about the PA and its continuity.”It added: “The Israeli army on a daily basis violates the PA-controlled territories, continues to besiege and cripple the Gaza Strip, and practices all types of collective punishment against the Palestinian people to weaken those supporting peace on the Palestinian side.”The ministry said it held Israel accountable for the dire conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, noting that it was Israel that had created a political impasse and sought to weaken the economy by making it dependent on Israel.According to Haaretz, Israel’s diplomatic-security cabinet has met twice in the past 10 days to discuss the possibility of the PA collapsing — due to a wave of unrest, Palestine’s economic crisis, and a political crisis in the Palestinian leadership.The meetings appear to have been prompted by repeared warnings by Israel’s defense establishment in recent months, who noted that the PA’s collapse would force Israel to take on its role.Haaretz reported that while Netanyahu accepted this position, he had chosen not to implement most recommendations from the security establishment, largely due to political pressure in the security cabinet.Last month, US Secretary of State John Kerry warned that key Israeli policies were “imperiling” the viability of a two-state solution by pushing the PA toward collapse.While he acknowledged that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had stated his commitment to a two-state solution, he said it was “important that that not become a slogan, not become a throwaway phrase — that it becomes a policy.”He added that without the PA, Israel’s army could be forced to deploy tens of thousands of soldiers to the West Bank “to fill the void.”With a note of exasperation, he asked: “If there is a risk the the PA could collapse, and it is in Israel’s interests for it to in fact survive, should more therefore not be done to help sustain it?”
(Source / 05.01.2016)