PA forces arrest 3 Palestinians over political affiliation

PA political affiliation

PA security forces arrested Saturday three Palestinians over their political affiliation, while continuing to hold dozens others without legal basis.

In Nablus, PA Intelligence Service detained two young men after being summoned for investigation earlier Thursday.

In al-Khalil, PA forces detained a photojournalist without a warrant.

Meanwhile, two university students continued to be detained in PA jails for 12 days.

Suha Jabara, a mother of three children, who was reportedly exposed to torture by interrogators in PA’s Jericho jail, is still in custody for allegedly providing assistance to Palestinian families of prisoners and martyrs.

(Source / 24.11.2018)

PA files indictment against Suha Jabara

Suha Jubara

A Palestinian Authority (PA) court in Jericho city has accepted an indictment filed against Suha Jabara, a mother of three children, who are reportedly exposed to torture by interrogators in Jericho jail.

The indictment includes an accusation of providing assistance to Palestinian families of prisoners and martyrs.

The family of Jabara appealed to the PA to end her detention, which affected the lives of her children and their educational attainment.

As part of their security cooperation, the PA and Israeli security forces launch arrest campaigns against citizens who provide help for relatives of prisoners and martyrs in the occupied West Bank.

(Source / 24.11.2018)

Clashes flare up as IOF storms Azzun

Clashes Azzun IOF

Violent clashes broke out in Qalqilya on Saturday evening when the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed Azzun town, east of the city.

Local sources told the PIC reporter that the IOF closed the main entrance to Azzun and prevented the Palestinian citizens from leaving or entering the town.

The sources said that Palestinian youths threw Molotov cocktails at the settler vehicles passing on Azzun’s main road before the confrontations moved inside the town which witnesses clashes between the Palestinians and IOF soldiers on almost a daily basis.

(Source / 24.11.2018)

Lieberman angry $15m Qatar aid to be sent to Gaza

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman speaks during a press conference at the Israeli Parliament on November 14, 2018 in Jerusalem, Israel [Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images]

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman speaks during a press conference at the Israeli Parliament on November 14, 2018 in Jerusalem, Israel

Former Israeli defence minister Avigdor Lieberman has said that he does not approve of the extra $15 million being paid in aid to Gaza by Qatar, Al-Wattan Voice reported yesterday.

Lieberman, along with members from his party, spoke during a visit to the Israeli Jewish settlement of Sderot, located near the Gaza Strip.

“Yesterday and today, the Israeli government pumped more Qatari fuel to the Gaza Strip. Next month, it will allow the entry or an extra $15 million also paid by Qatar for the salaries of Hamas employees.”

“This is taking place at the time Hamas is attempting to carry out attacks in the [occupied] West Bank. This means that the truce does not include the West Bank,” he said.

Israeli Defence Minister: Security cabinet refuses to direct ‘severe blow’ at Gaza

He added: “I consider this silly. Therefore, we must not surrender to Hamas and its rule.”

“I am planning to stay with the residents in the south,” he said in a show of support to residents of the area.

“I am going to open a parliamentarian office within 10 days in Sderot and I will be here every week in order to work for changing the current situation and erase the fear imposed by Hamas in the south.”

(Source / 24.11.2018)

Hamas: Normalising ties with Israel ‘a stab in the back’

Rider of team UAE Emirates Fabio Aru rides during the 1st stage of the Giro d'Italia 2018, held in Israeli-occupied Jerusalem on May 4, 2018 [LUK BENIES/AFP/Getty Images]

Rider of team UAE Emirates Fabio Aru rides during the 1st stage of the Giro d’Italia 2018, held in Israeli-occupied Jerusalem on May 4, 2018

Hamas described Arab states’ efforts to normalise ties with Israel as “a stab in the back of the just Palestinian cause”, a spokesman said.

In a press release, official Hamas Spokesman Abdel-Latif Al-Qanou said: “Normalising ties with the Israeli occupation state is also a stab in the back of all the nations which reject the occupation.”

“The Zionist Israeli occupation will remain the main enemy for the Palestinians and the Arab nations, and [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s visits to the Arab states will not legitimise it.”

He called for the Arab states “to stop all forms of normalisation with the Israeli occupation, isolating it and disclosing its crimes against the Palestinians.”

This comes as reports are circulating that Netanyahu is due to make an official visit to Bahrain. The Israeli prime minister made a similar visit to Oman in October while ministers from his government have attended conferences and international events in the UAE.

(Source / 24.11.2018)

Religious tourism to Palestine at peak

Streets and avenues near the Church of the Nativity are illuminated with Christmas lights in Bethlehem, West Bank on December 11 2016 [Wisam Hashlamoun / Anadolu Agency]

Streets and avenues near the Church of the Nativity are illuminated with Christmas lights in Bethlehem, West Bank on 11 December 2016

Tourists planning to spend Christmas in the holy city of Bethlehem have already booked every room in the city’s hotels, as pilgrims and tourists arrive in occupied Palestine from all over the world.

The Palestinian Tourism Minister, Rola Ma’ay’a, said in an interview with the Anadolu Agencythat she expects the total number of tourists visiting Palestine in 2018 to exceed three million. The tourism industry in Palestine has been robustly growing in the last couple of years. In 2017, the growth rate for the first half of the year was 57.8 per cent.

Ma’ay’a said: “Most of the tourists arrive in Palestine for religious tourism owing to the fact that Palestine has many holy sites, both Islamic and Christian.”

Bethlehem receives the biggest share of tourists in Palestine during Christmas season between late November and early January. The minister added that: “Pilgrims heading to the Church of the Nativity should expect to queue for long.”

READ: Italy prepares to host conference for cities twinned with Bethlehem

Tourism to Palestine is, however, hindered by the Israeli occupation, Ma’ay’a stressed, noting that most of the Palestinian archaeology is located in “Area C” of the occupied West Bank, which is under full Israeli civil and military control as per the Oslo Accords. The minister added that many archaeological antiquities have been stolen by Israel.

Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, is surrounded by the eight-metre high concrete Separation Wall. This is just one of a number of restrictions on movement imposed by the occupation authorities against Palestinians in the West Bank and tourists wishing to visit the area, Ma’ay’a added.

UNESCO lists Hebron’s Old City, the Battir village of the southern West Bank and the Church of Nativity and Pilgrimage Route as world heritage sites.

READ: A Celebration of Palestinian Art & Culture

(Source / 24.11.2018)

India to finance national printing press in Palestine

Image of Palestinian Minister of Finance and Planning, Shukri Bishara [Utenriksdepartementet UD/Flickr]

Palestinian Minister of Finance and Planning, Shukri Bishara

The Palestinian Minister of Finance, Shukri Bishara, and India’s Cosmas International Company yesterday signed a contract for the construction of a national printing press in Palestine.

Bishara said in a statement that the national printing press will be financed by India and will cost $5 million.

Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa News Agency reported that Ahmad Assaf, the General Supervisor of the Palestinian Official Media, attended the signing ceremony and said there was a need for this printing press to print Al-Hayat Al-Jadida newspaper, governmental and official documents, as well as books.

Assaf added that work for the construction of a national printing press started several years ago with efforts mainly from the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Read: Why do Israel and Palestine matter equally to Indian diplomacy?

(Source / 24.11.2018)

‘I thought I knew about Palestine, until I saw the occupation first hand’

Maher dances in Al-Manara Square, Ramallah in the occupied West Bank

Maher dances in Al-Manara Square, Ramallah in the occupied West Bank

By Rebecca Stead

Film director Toomas Järvet discusses Rough Stage ahead of its screening at the London Palestine Film Festival on 27 November.

Al-Manara Square, central Ramallah. Children eat candy floss greedily as their parents tug at their hands, hurrying them along. Street vendors peer cautiously into the camera. Taxis fight their way through the gridlock that clogs the roundabout.

Amid the chaos, Maher stands barefoot on the concrete, his movements soft and graceful against the cityscape. In the fading light he dances, paying no heed to the bewildered onlookers who, after a few moments of curiosity, carry on with their lives.

“Maher told me when we first met to discuss the film that he has always had this idea that he wants to dance in Al-Manara Square,” explains Toomas Järvet. “It was meant to symbolise his connection to the people of Palestine. As you can see from their reactions, he has a long way to go to really be connected to the people.”

Maher dances near an ancient olive tree, symbolising his connection to the land

This was the first dance scene that the director filmed when he began working with Maher to create Rough Stage. Set in the occupied West Bank, the film traces one man’s struggle to build a career as a contemporary dancer and put on a production at Ramallah’s Cultural Palace.

“It all started when I first read a Facebook post by a friend,” Järvet explains. “They had reposted an advert from an NGO looking for volunteers to go and teach classical dance in Palestine. Right away it caught my eye; I thought it could be interesting to follow how ballet could relate to the cultural and religious background of Palestine.”

Järvet travelled to the occupied West Bank with the teacher selected for the programme, but quickly found himself more interested in Maher, the head of the dance school in Ramallah. “I wanted to know who he was, why he was doing this, what this meant for him and how he was capable of doing all this, despite all the frustrations and difficulties that one has to face in Palestine. These restrictions and constraints aren’t just set by Israel but also by the Palestinian authorities and the community itself, his family and friends; this was really the most interesting point.”

READ: Israel bans Palestinian writer from Jerusalem festival

Maher’s attempts to continue in the face of these restrictions lie at the heart of Rough Stage. From early on in the film, it is clear that Maher’s family is far from enamoured with his decision to pursue a career in dance. “There are not many demands, son,” his father tells him. “But you’re getting older, this is it! Look for a good girl; you must turn your life around.”

Candid moments such as these are woven throughout the film. Maher goes to visit his mother a few days ahead of the performance, for example. Just like his father, she wants Maher to get married. “I don’t like your way of life, I’m often criticised for it,” she berates him, adding that people speculate if he is “not in fit shape to marry.”

“I’m happy,” Maher tells her, as he laughs at his mother’s no-nonsense talk.

As far as director Järvet is concerned, the essence of the film is very simple; how to stay true to what you believe in and what you want to achieve no matter what the obstacles are in life. “The ideas and problems the film talks about are very common and universal,” he insists.

Graffiti covers Israel’s Separation Wall, which cuts deep into occupied Palestinian territory

Yet while, true to Järvet’s intention, Rough Stage deals with relatable, universal challenges, it also cleverly explores some of the deep-seated problems facing Palestinian society as a whole. During the film’s opening sequence, Maher stands at his kitchen sink speaking to the camera. “We have a lot of water in Palestine,” he explains, “but there is a limit to how much Israel gives us. You put a fish inside a bottle and throw it into the sea. They see food and they have a lot of water, but they cannot swim.” This captures perfectly the impact of the overbearing restrictions that characterise life in the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip.

According to Järvet, the analogy was completely Maher’s. “During my first trip I really wanted to know his opinion on everything. He was just constantly talking and I managed to capture the scene you see on camera. It’s one of the very few things from our first meeting that actually made it into the final cut.”

Throughout the making of the film — four years’ worth of trips to meet Maher in Ramallah — one thing that struck its director the most was the extent of these restrictions. “I thought I was socially and politically sensitive and that I knew all the stories and background, because my first degree was in cultural theory and I had studied the Middle East, but of course when you enter it all becomes alive and real.

“When you have to go through the likes of Qalandia checkpoint [situated between Ramallah and Jerusalem] and you see people waiting in long lines like cattle waiting to be executed, it really affects you. If it affects us Westerners, who know that this is something we have to go through once and that’s all, how must it affect Palestinians who go through this on a daily basis? I thought I knew about Palestine until I saw the occupation first hand.”

READ: Israel military court jails Palestinian activist for bike protest in his village

One of the subtle themes running through Rough Stage is the question of what it means to resist. Although not mentioned explicitly, before becoming a dancer Maher was active in the Second Intifada which started in 2000 and lasted until February 2005. He was arrested, spent three years in an Israeli prison and was banned from entering Israel for a further ten years. Yet now, almost two decades later, his interpretation of resistance has altered.

“At a certain point,” explains Järvet, “he said ‘no’, my way of resistance has to be different: ‘I don’t want to throw stones or use a gun or communicate that violence is the solution’. He knew that he wanted to express himself in a different way and that’s how he found dancing.”

Maher touches upon this himself. In one scene, as he drives to Ramallah to deal with yet another pre-performance obstacle, he laments, “It’s like jihad the things we are doing in this country. I’m not doing this for myself. I feel this need for change. I don’t know what it is, but we have to change something during our lifetime. If not, what’s the meaning of one’s existence?”

Later, as Maher discusses his dancing with his brother, the latter says: “When our mum does embroidery, it’s a form of resistance. When I see you dancing, competing with an Israeli and receiving awards, this is also resistance of the occupation, but I want you to explain this, because our people don’t understand modern dance and what your movements symbolise.”

That scene, says Toomas Järvet, is both intense and interesting. “It explains the problem in Palestine. Palestinian people, and possibly people in general, expect more explicit ways of making art that is more easily understandable.”

Perhaps the same is expected of resistance. Yet, as Rough Stage shows, maybe simple acts like dancing, planting trees or crafting cultural products can, in their own way, act as powerful statements of resistance in the face of Israel’s all-encompassing occupation.

READ: Banksy brings Separation Wall to London

(Source / 24.11.2018)

Israeli Soldiers Abduct Two Palestinians In Hebron

24 NOV
10:40 AM

Israeli soldiers abducted, Saturday, two young Palestinian men from their homes in Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank.

Media sources said dozens of soldiers invaded neighborhoods in Hebron city, before storming and violently searching several homes, and interrogated many Palestinians while inspecting their ID cards.

They added that the soldiers abducted Adli Adnan Gheith and Ismael Ghaleb Ja’bari, before taking them to a military base near Hebron.

On Saturday evening, the soldiers invaded many neighborhoods in Hebron, and assaulted two Palestinians from the southern area of the city.

The army also installed roadblocks on main roads leading to Sa’ir and Halhoul towns, north of Hebron, before stopping and searching dozens of cars, and interrogated many Palestinians while inspecting their ID cards.

(Source / 24.11.2018)

Israel Seeking to Establish 50km Settlement Belt in Jerusalem

23 NOV
8:54 PM

Israel is planning to build a settlement belt around the occupied city of Jerusalem, in order to increase the Jewish population density, at the expense of Jerusalemites within the “Holy Basin” project, experts on Jerusalem affairs have said, according to the PNN.

In the second and third legislative readings, the Israeli Knesset approved a bill allowing the construction of houses and residential units in areas that had recently been deemed national parks in Jerusalem.

This law, according to Jerusalemites, allows the Elad settlement association to build within public parks near Al Aqsa Mosque, which is called the “City of David” National Park, in the Silwan neighborhood.

The National Parks Law was issued in 1974, where the Israeli side controlled hundreds of dunams in the Old City of Jerusalem and was included in the municipality’s ‘tourist’ areas. The authorities did not grant any building permits in these parks throughout this period.

Despite this, members of the Knesset saw the settlement expansion bill into the national park pass with a voting turnout of 61 votes of approval to 41 votes rejecting the bill.

Holy Basin Project

“The Judaization operations taking place in the city of Jerusalem come within the framework of a plan supervised by the government, the municipality of Jerusalem and the settlement associations to build a settlement belt around the city for 50 kilometers to increase the Jewish population density,” said Jamal Amro, a Jerusalem researcher.

“The Holy Basin is part of the Greater Jerusalem project, which aims to increase the area of ​​the city from 126 square kilometers to 800 kilometers by 2022, including changing the demographic reality in the city,” he said.

In an interview with Arab21, Jerusalem affairs expert, Al-Maqdisi, said that “to expedite the implementation of this plan, the municipality of the occupation is practicing a form of discrimination between Jews and Palestinians. This is done by removing all obstacles to building any property for Israeli citizens, compared with 16 years to give approval to the Palestinian citizen of Jerusalem. Municipal revenues from taxes and fees for Jerusalemites are estimated at 170 million dollars annually, compared to 60 million dollars collected from Jews, although the proportion of the population in the city is two-thirds to one-third for the Jews”.

Increase in Settlement Activity

In the same context, the head of the Islamic Christian High Commission in Jerusalem, Hanna Issa, says that “the Israeli occupation government increased the settlement activity during the year by 1000 percent, accompanied by the increase of the settlement budget by 600 percent, and the number of outposts in Jerusalem to 500, which is the largest figure since its occupation in 1967”.

Issa said in an interview with Arab21 that “the number of settlement houses for the year 2017 amounted to 6742 compared to 2629 for 2016. Planned settlements envisions for this year to increase the number of settlement units seven fold compared to the previous year.”

To add to the problem in protesting this expansion, member of the Jerusalem Committee in the Legislative Council, Samira Halayqa, pointed out that “the city of Jerusalem lacks formal and popular forms of solidarity due to the Israeli occupation’s measures that prevent the deputies of the Legislative Council from entering the city, which also prohibits any forms of protest under the pretext of security risks”.

“What is happening in Jerusalem is out of Palestinian control, and this threatens serious repercussions for the future of the city unless there is Arab and international action to stop the Judaization in Jerusalem.”

(Source / 24.11.2018)