Israeli forces seize residential structures near Jericho

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JERICHO, October 13, 2016 (WAFA) – Israeli army on Thursday seized residential structures in Arab al-Mlehet area, west of Jericho in the West Bank, according to local sources.

They told WAFA that the army seized structures, mainly caravans, belonging to Palestinian residents of the village.

 

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Palestinians petition Israeli court to retrieve decades-held corpses

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RAMALLAH, October 13, 2016 (WAFA) – Palestinians Thursday petitioned the Israeli High Court to retrieve bodies of Palestinians that Israel had been holding for decades.

The Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC) petitioned the court on behalf of the National Campaign for Retrieving the Bodies of Martyrs (NCRBM) demanding that Israeli military hand over the bodies of 52 Palestinians buried in what is known as “numbers cemetery” for decades.

The campaign said in a press statement that it would submit a petition to the court within the coming days demanding that the military releases 70 bodies, including the bodies of 19 Palestinians killed in the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel since April.

The campaign said it had successfully pressured Israel to release the bodies of 131 Palestinians between 2010 and 2014 and pledged to exert efforts to secure the release of all remaining corpses.

Israel has continued to hold the bodies of Palestinians and Arabs killed during the last decades in two facilities known as the ‘numbers cemeteries” because it identifies the graves by numbers only. One is located in the northern Israeli area of Galilee, where reportedly 243 bodies were held, and the second in the Jordan Valley where 92 bodies were kept.

Israeli government designates the cemeteries as closed military zones and denies Palestinians and Arabs access into them.

 

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Israeli forces fatally shoot 12-year-old in Gaza Strip

ATTENTION EDITORS - VISUAL COVERAGE OF SCENES OF INJURY OR DEATH  Palestinians gather around the body of Palestinian boy Marwan Barbakh,12, who was shot dead by Israeli forces on Saturday, at a hospital morgue in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip October 10, 2015. Israeli security forces on Saturday shot dead two Palestinians aged 12 and 15, one of them Barbakh, in protests along Gaza's border fence, Palestinian medics said, and Israeli police said they killed three Palestinian assailants in separate violence in Jerusalem. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

KHAN YOUNES, October 13, 2016 (WAFA) – Israeli troops stationed along the border with Gaza shot and killed on Monday night a 12-year-old child east of Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip, according to medical sources.

The Ministry of Health said Abdullah Abu Mudaif was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers near the border fence. Local sources said the shooting came from Kissufim military outpost.

In the meantime, Israeli forces opened a hail of gunfire at Palestinians’ homes and lands to the east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. There were no reports of casualties, however.

 

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Army destroys road in Jordan Valley village

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JORDAN VALLEY, October 13, 2016 (WAFA) – Israeli forces on Thursday destroyed a local road leading to the village of al-Hadidiya  in the northern Jordan Valley, according to a local source.

Mutaz Bsharat, who monitors settlement activities in the Jordan Valley, told WAFA that an army bulldozer accompanied by a military escort destroyed the road.

The village has been subject to repeated Israeli violations, including demolition of homes and agricultural facilities in order to force residents to leave it.

The village is in Area C, which makes around 60 percent of the total area of the West Bank. Israel controls this area and wants to empty it from its Palestinian residents in order to annex it.

 

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Israel prepares to demolish homes of alleged attackers

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NABLUS, October 13, 2016 (WAFA) – Israeli army unit took measurements of the family homes of two alleged Palestinian attackers in the northern West Bank city of Nablus in preparation to demolish them, family members said Thursday.

They told WAFA that Israeli forces raided Nablus around 3:00 a.m. where they stormed and examined the family home of Bassem Abdul-Rahman Salah in preparation to demolish it.

Salah, 38, was shot dead by Israeli police after he allegedly stabbed and injured a police officer near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem on November 29.

Forces also stormed and took measurements for the family home of Ashraqat Qatanani also in preparation to demolish it.

Qatanani, 16, had been run over and shot by an Israeli settler at Huwwara checkpoint following an alleged stabbing attempt on November 22.

The settler who shot her, identified as Gershon Mesika, had bragged about the killing saying he rammed his car into her before he had shot her dead.

The planned demolition of Salah and Qatanani’s homes came in line with the Israeli policy of punitive demolition of family homes of Palestinians suspected of carrying out attacks against Israelis.

This policy was widely condemned by human rights organizations as “collective punishment” and “a war crime and a crime against humanity.”

 

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Residents protest closure of their Jerusalem neighborhood

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JERUSALEM, October 13, 2016 (WAFA) – Dozens of Palestinians from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya protested on Thursday against Israeli closure of their area.

The protesters, who marched towards one of the closed entrances of the neighborhood, called upon the Israeli authorities to remove the cement cubes placed to block the main roads to their neighborhoods that prevent entry and exit of vehicles from and into the area.

The protesters expressed anger over what they described as Israeli collective punishment against the entire Palestinian residents of Issawiya.

The village witnessed fierce clashes on Wednesday between Palestinian teenagers and Israeli police forces during which six Palestinians were reportedly detained by the police.

 

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Newspapers review: Dailies highlight Jerusalem clashes, killing of Palestinian child

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RAMALLAH, October 13, 2016 (WAFA) – The three Palestinian Arabic dailies highlighted in their Thursday issue renewed clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinians across Jerusalem district and the killing of a Palestinian child east of Khan Younis.

The dailies said Israeli forces shot and injured many Palestinians and detained a number of others during the clashes across Jerusalem district.

They said Israeli forces opened fire east of Khan Younes, in the southern Gaza Strip, killing a Palestinian child.

Israel tightened restrictions and increased harassment of Palestinians across Jerusalem after the Yom Kippur Jewish holiday.

Al-Quds and al-Hayat al-Jadida said tension escalated at Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem following calls by extremist Jewish organizations to storm the Muslim compound during the Jewish holidays.

Al-Ayyam said over 3,000 Israeli police officers were deployed across Jerusalem and that Jewish settlers attempted to perform religious rituals at the mosque compound.

Al-Quds described Israeli restrictions on and harassment of Palestinians across Jerusalem during Jewish holidays as a “nightmare.”

Al-Ayyam reported a number of Palestinians suffocated as Israeli forces showered them with tear gas canisters during a raid into Zabbouba village, west of Jenin, in the northern West Bank.

Highlighting tightened Israeli siege on Gaza, al-Quds and al-Hayat al-Jadida said French lawmakers slammed Israel’s decision to prevent them from visiting the besieged coastal enclave.

The dailies said an investigation committee found that the death of a Palestinian woman in Beit Jala government hospital was not the result of medical negligence.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida reported family of Ali Shiokhi as saying that their son was shot dead by Israeli forces while he was on his way to buy a medicine for his mother.

Shiokhi, 20, was killed by Israeli troops during a raid into the Jerusalem town of Silwan. He was reportedly shot by a live bullet in his pelvis and left to bleed to death.

 

wafa

 

Newspapers review: Large scale detention campaign focus of dailies

RAMALLAH, October 11, 2016 (WAFA) – Israeli army and police large scale detention campaign in Jerusalem and the West Bank hit the main front page headlines in the three Palestinian dailies on Tuesday.

Al-Ayyam said Israeli forces detained a total of 64 Palestinians, including 12 minors as well as the father and daughter of Misbah Abu Sbeih who was shot dead by police on Sunday after attacking and killing two Israelis in Jerusalem.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida said scores of Palestinians were detained during the overnight raids.

Al-Quds said undercover Israeli forces detained nine Palestinian children from Aida refugee camp in the southern West Bank district of Bethlehem.

While al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida highlighted the detention campaign in their main front page story, al-Quds opted to give prominence to army raids at the Abu Sbeih family home al-Ram, north of Jerusalem, and taking measurements for the structure in preparation to demolish it.

The papers said several Palestinians were injured in clashes with soldiers that broke out during the raid.

Al-Ayyam said police detained several Palestinians who captured video footages of the drive-by shooting attack and several others who expressed support for it and distributed candy in jubilation.

Highlighting Israeli reprisals against Palestinians, the dailies said the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem halted the issuance of building permits for Palestinians in Jerusalem.

Al-Quds and al-Ayyam citied a Haaretz investigation about a video footage that refutes Israeli military claims that two Palestinians were killed after attempting to stab soldiers at Qalandiya checkpoint in May.

They reported a video footage shows that Maram Abu Ismail, 23, and her brother Ibrahim Taha, 16, were shot dead by Israeli police at Qalandiya checkpoint without any justification.

Citing a report by the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in Occupied Territories (B’Tselem), al-Quds said a total of 1,062 Palestinians were displaced by Israeli military in the Jordan Valley since early 2016.

Al-Quds and al-Ayyam said a total of 177 Israeli Jewish settlers and intelligence officers conducted provocative tours of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound following calls by right-wing Jewish organizations.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida said Israel imposed a general closure on the West Bank for the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement.

Al-Ayyam said 10-year-old Palestinian-Norwegian Rashid Hijjawi has joined the Italian football champions Juventus FC.

 

wafa

 

Adjudication of violence against women cases subject of workshop

 

 

Members of the panel at the Amman workshop. Photo courtesy of UN Women

 

AMMAN, October 10, 2016 (WAFA) – UN Women and the State of Palestine High Judicial Council opened Monday in Amman, Jordan an Expert Group Meeting on the adjudication of violence against women cases, according to UN Women press release.

During three days, 30 judges from Palestine and the region are discussing methods, challenges and opportunities for specialization of services, as well as restorative justice and reintegration for survivors of violence as a way to improve women’s access to justice and deter gender-based violence in society.

The Expert Group Meeting represents the starting point of the High Judicial Council and UN Women’s partnership in Palestine towards the specialization of judges on family violence.

The judicial system plays a central role in combating violence against women but often inadequate laws, lack of trust and confidence in justice and security institutions, stigma and pressures from community and family stop victims from seeking justice, and create challenges and pressures on the adjudication of cases.

“The whole justice chain must be prepared to deal with violence against women cases,” noted Ziad Sheikh, UN Women Country Representative in Jordan who opened the event on behalf of UN Women. “The police can accept reports and the prosecutors can investigate and prosecute, but if judges are not sensitive to the special dynamics of these cases and the pressures and stigma victims face, then they will not adjudicate cases in a sensitive manner and there will be no justice for victims.”

Palestine’s Chancellor Chief of Justice, Sami Sarsour, said that “It is important to have an efficient, effective, transparent and truthful justice system for women to navigate the chain of justice” adding “that courts bear the ultimate responsibility for case outcomes, and as such represent the most important body that has the power to ensure safety for victims and accountability for perpetrators.”

Palestine has taken one of the leading positions on women’s access to justice in the MENA region. A few examples of Palestine’s commitment are the ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) with no reservations, the establishment of 11 Family and Juvenile Protection Units under the Palestinian Civil Police and the appointment of 20 prosecutors specialized on family violence.

UN Women, through “Sawasya” UNDP/UN Women Joint Program “Strengthening the Rule of Law: Justice and Security for Palestinian people” (2014-2017), has been working closely with Palestinian justice and security institutions on enhancing gender sensitivity and responsiveness to women’s rights, and more particularly has supported the establishment and strengthening of specialized units within the police and prosecution on domestic and family violence cases, and is now pleased to also extend its support  to the High Judicial Council.

 

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PLO official says ICC delegation avoided meeting Palestinian committee

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RAMALLAH, October 10, 2016 (WAFA) – A Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) official said on Monday that a delegation from the International Criminal Court (ICC) avoided during its visit to the Palestinian areas meeting with the national committee set up by President Mahmoud Abbas to follow up with the ICC.

Ahmad Majdalani, member of the PLO Executive Committee, told Voice of Palestine that the delegation’s visit was only to raise awareness of the Court’s work, expressing concern that the United States and Israel have pressured the ICC to keep the visit informal.

“We will continue to work and communicate with and to pressure by all means within our right as Palestinians the ICC,” he said.

Palestinians have asked the ICC to investigate Israel’s settlement activities and military assaults against Gaza as crimes against humanity and war crimes.

 

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Official: Security Council to hold two meetings on settlements

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RAMALLAH, October 10, 2016 (WAFA) – The United Nations Security Council is going to hold two discussion meetings during October on Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, Foreign Minister Riyad Malki said on Monday.

He said in an interview on Voice of Palestine radio that the Palestinian leadership is following up with international bodies and the Palestine mission at the United Nations on Israel’s recent settlement activities.

He said Palestine has sent messages to the European Union and the UN Secretary General asking them to take serious steps against the settlements, saying condemnation statements were not enough.

Malki said talks regarding a draft resolution that condemns Israeli settlements have started with Security Council member states, expressing hope that the Arab quartet could convene before the end of this month to decide on the final text of the draft resolution before it is voted on by the Council.

He said Palestine is going to participate in two Security Council meetings on Israeli settlements this month; the first one is “Arria formula meeting” on October 14 and the second, which is set for October 24, will be devoted to discussing settlement issue.

The “Arria-formula meetings,” according to the Security Council, “are very informal, confidential gatherings which enable Security Council members to have a frank and private exchange of views, within a flexible procedural framework, with persons whom the inviting member or members of the Council (who also act as the facilitators or conveyors) believe it would be beneficial to hear and/or to whom they may wish to convey a message.”

Malki told the radio these meetings would enhance Arab and Palestinian efforts to submit the draft resolution at the Security Council.

On the French initiative, Malki said French special envoy for its peace conference, Pierre Vimont, is likely to visit Palestine next week.

He said the French envoy will brief the Palestinian leadership on the latest in the French peace initiative and to coordinate for the upcoming high level meetings and the work committees ahead of the peace conference, which is supposed to be held before the end of the year.

 

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Settlers attack olive pickers south of Nablus

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NABLUS, October 10, 2016 (WAFA) – Israeli settlers on Monday attacked Palestinians harvesting olives near the village of Qaryout, south of Nablus, according to local sources.

Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activities in the north of the West Bank, told WAFA that dozens of Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian olive pickers and smashed the windshields of their vehicles.

The village is surrounded by a number of settlements housing the most extremist and violent settlers in the West Bank.

Violence by illegal Jewish settlers is commonplace. They have repeatedly attacked Palestinian property and worship places. Settlers’ violence includes property and mosque arson, stone-throwing, uprooting of crops and olive trees and attacks on vulnerable homes among others.

 

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Newspapers review: Israeli airstrikes rock Gaza after missile falls on southern Israel

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RAMALLAH, October 6, 2016 (WAFA) – The three Palestinian Arabic dailies Thursday highlighted several Israeli airstrikes that targeted locations to the north and east of the Gaza Strip after a missile fell on the southern Israeli city of Sderot.

Al-Ayyam said the Israeli army published a press release saying the airstrikes came as a response to a missile attack that targeted Sderot. The airstrikes targeted several locations where Hamas members are thought to be stationed, even though a Salafi group assumed responsibility of the attack.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida reported that an Israeli pilot was killed after his F16 fighter aircraft crashed while attempting to land in an air force base in the Naqab on the way back from Gaza.

The three dailies printed photos that show smoke rising from several buildings in Gaza following the airstrikes.

Al-Quds newspaper said that Israeli naval gunboats took over a Gaza-bound international aid boat named “Olive” and steered it to Ashdod port where the authorities arrested the 13 female activists onboard.

The paper published a story about UNRWA’s Gaza employees who threatened to start a general strike in protest of the agency’s cuts to services offered to them.

Al-Ayyam reported that the US administration strongly criticized Israel for approving plans to construct a new settlement in the West Bank, saying it violates Israel’s pledge not to create new settlements.

It read: “Washington strongly condemns Israeli settlement activities, which impose a one state reality and an ongoing occupation.”

Al-Hayat al-Jadida said that a delegation from the International Criminal Court (ICC) will begin an awareness tour in Palestine and Israel for five days, despite concerns that the visit will affect an ongoing investigation in possible war crimes committed during the 51-day war in Gaza in August 2014.

 

WAFA

 

Military razes land near Hebron, Rafah

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HEBRON, RAFAH, October 6, 2016 (WAFA) – Israeli army bulldozers on Thursday razed land in the village of Kharas, west of Hebron, as well as land in Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip, according to sources.

Abdul Fattah Hmeidan, head of Kharas village council, told WAFA that soldiers and members from the so-called civil administration, an arm of the military government, raided an area west of the village and proceeded to raze 38 dunums of land, part of which was planted with olive trees.

He said the soldiers also destroyed water wells and retaining walls.

Meanwhile, army vehicles crossed the Gaza border near Rafah in the south and razed land.

Witnesses told WAFA that six army vehicles, including two bulldozers, crossed the border and reached more than 150 meters inside Rafah. Drones were also flying in the area.

The bulldozers razed border land and erected dirt barriers along the border area.

 

WAFA

 

Dutch minister: Palestinian people are not numbers

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UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl (right) attended the opening of ‘The Long Journey’ exhibition at The Hague with the Dutch Minister of Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade, Lilianne Ploumen (centre), and the Mayor of The Hague, Jozias van Aartsen (left), during his two-day mission to the Kingdom of the Netherlands this week. Photo courtesy of Dirk-Jan Visser

 

JERUSALEM, October 5, 2016 (WAFA) – At the opening event of a photo exhibition in The Hague, Dutch Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Minister Lilianne Ploumen said the Palestinian people are not just numbers, according to a press release by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) published Wednesday.

UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl along with Dutch officials attended on Monday the opening event of ‘The Long Journey’, a travelling exhibition of select photographs from the UNRWA Film and Photo Archive, hosted at the City Hall of The Hague.

The exhibition, attended by Ploumen, The Hague Mayor van Aartsen and Krähenbühl, featured historic images from the UNRWA Film and Photo Archive that illustrate the many challenges Palestine refugees have faced throughout the decades, as well as the ingenuity, courage and steadfastness with which they have responded, according to the release.

“There are now more than 5 million Palestinian refugees, but we are numbed by numbers,” said the Minister Ploumen. “This Exhibition makes us see that the Palestinian people are not numbers. Each of these people has the right not to be left behind.”

The Exhibition will be open to the public at the City Hall Atrium until 28 October.

Over the course of the two day visit, Krähenbühl discussed with high ranking Dutch officials and parliamentarians the current situation facing Palestine refugees in the Agency’s five fields of operations, including those who have been heavily affected by the ongoing conflict in Syria, and the Gaza blockade.

He expressed his gratitude for the continued support of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to UNRWA.

“This visit was a welcome opportunity to bolster our ongoing partnership with the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which has played an important role in enabling UNRWA to deliver critical services to Palestine refugees in the areas of education, health care, relief and social services, and in times of emergencies,” said Krähenbühl upon concluding his visit. “We remain profoundly grateful for the continued support of the government and the people of the Netherlands.”

The Netherlands is among the top 15 donors to UNRWA. In 2015, Dutch contributions to the Agency totaled US$ 21.4 million, including US$ 16.9 million to the Agency’s education, health care and social service programs and US$ 4.3 million to the 2016 Emergency Appeal for the Syria Regional Crisis.

Dutch support to Palestine refugees is also implemented through the European Union’s contributions to the Agency’s program budget, emergency appeals and specific projects. Collectively, the EU and its Member States are the Agency’s largest multilateral donor.

 

WAFA

 

Israel arrests 36 Palestinians, including 16 from East Jerusalem

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RAMALLAH, October 6, 2016 (WAFA) – Israel arrested 36 Palestinians in overnight raids that reached East Jerusalem and several West Bank cities, a press release by the Prisoner’s Society said on Thursday.

A total of 16 teenagers were rounded up in East Jerusalem, most of them from Issawieh neighborhood with four from al-Tur neighborhood.

The society said the Israeli army arrested eight Palestinians from various towns in the Ramallah district, six from the Tulkarm district, three minors aged 14 years from Deheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem and the rest from Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem, Toubas in the northern Jordan Valley and Samou in the Hebron area.

 

WAFA

 

World condemns new Israeli settlement units in West Bank

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RAMALLAH, October 6, 2016 (WAFA) – The international community strongly condemned an Israeli plan to build hundreds of new settlement units in the West Bank.

Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, condemned in a statement Israel’s decision to authorize the construction of 98 settlement units near the illegal Israeli settlement of Shvut Rachel intended to serve settlers who are expected to be removed from yet another illegal outpost.

He said that such decision affirms Israel’s resolve to destroy the two-state solution.

“Our position is clear and in line with international law: all Israeli settlements in the occupied State of Palestine are illegal and undermine the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution and the establishment of an independent and sovereign State of Palestine. Day by day the right-wing extremist Israeli government’s real intentions are unraveled by Israel’s lack of respect for international law,” he said.

Erekat reiterated Palestinians’ understanding that Israel’s ongoing settlement activities impede international efforts to achieve peace in Palestine and the region especially with complete inaction by the international community to hold Israel accountable for the crimes.

He said concrete measures and actions against all Israeli settlement activities should be taken in accordance with international law and United Nations resolutions.

The US administration also strongly criticized Israel for approving plans to construct a new settlement in the West Bank, saying it violates Israel’s pledge not to create new settlements.

The US found the timing of the announcement very ill, because Israel announced it so soon after the US agreed to a 10-year $38 billion military aid package to Israel.

The announcement also comes shortly after US President Barack Obama’s visit to Jerusalem last week to attend the funeral of former Israeli president Shimon Peres and after his meeting in New York with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

United Nations Secretary?General Ban Ki-moon also condemned the decision as well as for the creation of a new industrial zone west of Ramallah.

He expressed concern that the establishment of a new settlement will make the prospect of a viable, contiguous Palestinian State more remote. “Settlements are illegal under international law, and such decisions run counter to Quartet recommendations,” he said in a statement.

Ban urged Israel to “halt and reverse such counterproductive decisions in the interest of peace and a just final status agreement.”

British Minister for the Middle East, Tobias Ellwood, condemned as well the Israeli announcement describing it as the “latest example of a series of worrying new settlement announcements in recent months.”

Ellwood affirmed that “settlements are illegal under international law.”

He said that “[a]s underlined in the July report of the Middle East Quartet, settlement activity undermines trust and makes a two state solution much harder to achieve.”

The Israeli government’s plan is to move Israeli settlers illegally residing in Amona, an outpost built on private Palestinian land, to the newly approved settlement, built on public land, which would initially have 98 houses and eventually could accommodate up to 300 houses.

Israel’s ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement issued on Wednesday that “the 98 housing units approved in Shilo do not constitute a “new settlement.”

Israel views Amona as part of Shvut Rachel, which lies within the boundaries of the illegal settlement, Shilo, north of Ramallah.

According to B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, there are an estimated 547,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank, living in around 125 settlements.

In addition, there are more than 100 illegal outposts that are not recognized by the Israeli government although they receive assistance.

 

WAFA

 

PLO condemns Israel’s takeover of Gaza bound aid boat

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RAMALLAH, October 6, 2016 (WAFA) – Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Saeb Erekat Wednesday condemned the Israeli navy takeover of a Gaza-bound international aid boat.

“We strongly condemn the Israeli aggression against today’s international Flotilla that attempted to break the illegal Israeli siege over 1.8 million people in Gaza,” said Erekat in a statement.

The PLO official praised the participants, who were composed of an all-female crew of parliamentarians, writers and human rights activists, among others.

“We call upon the occupying power to immediately release them, as well as on their countries, including Spain, Sweden, Norway, Australia, Canada and the United States, to do everything possible in order to prevent Israel from violating the rights of their citizens,” he said after Israel had held the international activists.

“The Palestinian cause for freedom and independence is a universal quest for justice embraced by millions worldwide. The flotilla is a humble yet significant reminder that it is time to turn statements into concrete actions,” he said.

 

WAFA

 

Government condemns Israel’s escalation in Gaza

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RAMALLAH, October 6, 2016 (WAFA) – The Palestinian government condemned on Thursday the Israeli air strikes against the Gaza Strip.

In a press release, government’s spokesman Yousef al-Mahmoud called on the international community to intervene to prevent further escalation of the situation and to compel Israel to lift its 10-year-long blockade of the coastal enclave.

The government also condemned Israel’s interception of the Zaytouna-Oliva flotilla and the arrest of the 30 international activists who were on board, saying such acts are typical of Israel’s insistence on escalation and tension.

 

WAFA

 

Consultations to begin in New York over draft resolution on settlements

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CAIRO, October 4, 2016 (WAFA) – Foreign Minister Riyad Malki Tuesday stated that the Arab Ministerial Quartet has decided to start consultations in New York to push for a United Nations Security Council resolution on Israeli settlements.

Speaking to WAFA before leaving Cairo where he attended the Arab meeting, Malki said that consultations will start in New York on submitting a draft resolution to the UN Security Council condemning and calling for a halt to Israeli settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territories.

“We agreed that Arab ambassadors to the UN would start consultations on the draft resolution before the end of October,” said Malki.

He described the meeting as a “significant step” that underscored the importance of immediate action to confront Israel’s daily illegal settlement plans across the occupied territories.

He added that the Arab quartet also discussed mobilizing Arab countries’ support to activate Palestine’s request to become a full member of the UN.

“We already know the US Administration would attempt to obstruct this move at the UN Security Council. However, we would repeatedly approach the council until Palestine is accepted as a full member,” he said.

“If the US Administration vetoes the draft resolution, we would take other steps at the UN General Assembly,” he added.

 

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Cabinet postpones municipal elections four months

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RAMALLAH, October 4, 2016 (WAFA) – The Cabinet decided on Tuesday to postpone municipal elections by four months.

Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah told the weekly cabinet meeting that the decision was to ensure a safer legal environment for the elections. He added that the decision comes in the best interest of the people of Palestine.

On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that municipal elections could take place in the West Bank only with the exclusion of the Gaza Strip.

Municipal elections were supposed to take place in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip on October 8. However, the Supreme Court suspended them on September 10, citing the exclusion of Jerusalem from the electoral process and concerns about courts in the Gaza Strip.

 

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Investment Fund lunches first cement factory

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BETHLEHEM, October 1, 2016 (WAFA) – The Palestine Investment Fund (PIF), the investment arm of the Palestinian Authority, launched on Saturday phase one of the new cement factory, the first in the Palestinian areas.

Ceremonies were held on this occasion at Jaser Palace in Bethlehem under the patronage of President Mahmoud Abbas and in the presence of PIF chairman of the board Mohammad Mustafa. The ceremony was also attended by Louai Kawas; chief executive officer of Sanad Construction Industries Company, a PIF-owned company in charge of the cement factory.

“Sanad Construction Industries Company was established in 1994 for the purpose of meeting the needs of the Palestinian construction market such as the provision of building materials,” said PIF on its website.

It will lead the efforts of investment in industrial and production sectors related to construction industries, particularly provide cement to the Palestinian market, it explained.

Investment in the factory is expected to reach $310 million.

Officials believe that once the factory starts production in about two years, it will be able to provide 90 percent of the Palestinian construction market needs. Currently cement is being bought from Jordan and Israel.

 

wafa

 

Statistics bureau: 74% of the Palestinians live in urban areas

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RAMALLAH, October 3, 2016 (WAFA) – Marking Arab Housing Day, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) said on Monday that the population of Palestine reached 4.82 million people in mid 2016, 73.9% of them living in urban areas, 16.6% in rural areas and 9.5% in refugee camps.

It said that population density in 2016 was estimated at 800 persons per square kilometer.

The results of the Local Communities Survey 2015, said the PCBS, showed that there were 407 local authorities in Palestine: 374 in the West Bank, and 33 local authorities in Gaza Strip. They were distributed into 128 municipalities, 242 village councils, 10 local councils and 27 camps.

In addition, 225 local authorities had approved structural plans, while 160 local authorities had their structural plans under preparation.

The report said 80.9% of households live in owned housing units, with 81.4% in urban areas and 83.0% in rural areas, while 73.0% of households in camps live in owned housing units

In addition, 7.8% of households live in rented housing units, 9.0% in urban, 3.8% in rural and 6.4% of households in camps.

The results showed that the average housing density in Palestine in 2015 was 1.7 persons per room: 1.7 in urban areas, 1.6 in the rural areas and 1.9 in refugee camps. Around 13.2% of households in Palestine live in housing units with three persons or more per room: 12.8% of households in urban areas, 10.9% in rural areas and 21.1% in refugee camps.

In 2015 the average number of rooms per housing unit in Palestine was 3.4 and average area of housing unit was 126.2 square meters.

The results of 2015 showed that 94.9% of households in Palestine live in housing units with access to an improved water source and 54% are connected to wastewater networks.

 

wafa

 

Education ministry warns teachers against strike

Public school teachers demonstrate in front of a ministry of education office on the first day of the new academic year in the West Bank city of Hebron September 2, 2006. Tens of thousands of Palestinian government employees went on strike in the West Bank and Gaza on Saturday in protest against unpaid salaries and the perceived failings of the Hamas-led government. REUTERS/Nayef Hashlamoun (WEST BANK) - RTR1GWVF

RAMALLAH, October 4, 2016 (WAFA) – The Ministry of Education warned on Tuesday hundreds of public school teachers that they could be dismissed from work if they go on strike over salary issues.

The ministry said in a statement that it will consider deducting any strike day from the salaries and may also resort to dismissing striking teachers and replacing them by teachers who are waiting to get a job in the ministry.

The Palestinian Authority and the Teachers Union reached an agreement in February ending weeks of strike demanding better salaries and guarantee of teachers’ rights.

Some teachers who were not happy with the deal and formed what is known as Teachers’ Movement are calling for strike in schools until the government meets all their demands, particularly those dealing with cost of living increments.

 

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Newspapers review: Supreme Court’s ruling on elections focus of dailies

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RAMALLAH, October 4, 2016 (WAFA) – The Palestinian Supreme Court’s ruling on local elections, initially set for October 8, hit the front page headlines in the Palestinian dailies on Tuesday.

The three dailies said the Supreme Court ruled that local elections could be held only in the West Bank but not in the Gaza Strip.

The Central Elections Commission (CEC) recommended in a letter to President Mahmoud Abbas to postpone local elections for six months, said the dailies.

Al-Ayyam added Hamas rejected the Supreme Court’s ruling and other Palestinian political factions stressed that locals elections should be held in the West Bank and Gaza simultaneously.

Al-Quds reported some analysts describing the court’s ruling as one that would have “serious political implications.”

The general closure imposed by Israel on the West Bank and tightened restrictions in Jerusalem for the Jewish New Year also hit the front page headlines in the dailies.

Highlighting restricted Palestinian movement, al-Quds said Israeli forces placed Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem and the Ibrahimi Mosque in the southern West Bank city of Hebron under siege.

Al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida said scores of Israeli extremists escorted by police held provocative tours of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Al-Quds added an increasing number of Palestinians received police orders banning them from entering the mosque compound.

The dailies said a Palestinian man was forced to partly demolish his Jerusalem home with his own hands following an Israeli court order for building without a permit.

Al-Quds and al-Ayyam said Israeli naval boats have been placed on alert in Ashdod seaport in the south of the country in order to intercept the Women’s Boats heading to break the 10-year-old blockade Israel has imposed on the Gaza Strip.

Highlighting settlement construction plans across the West Bank, al-Quds said Israel advanced plans to build an industrial zone in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, south of Bethlehem.

Al-Quds and al-Ayyam said Israel finalized plans to start the construction of the “Jewel of Israel” synagogue in the heart of Jerusalem’s Old City.

The dailies said the Arab ministerial quartet stressed the importance of maintaining coordination with France over holding the international Middle East peace conference before the end of 2016.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida said Saudi Arabia decided to exempt Palestinians exports from customs.

 

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Prisoner says he was tortured while in Israeli detention

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RAMALLAH, October 3, 2016 (WAFA) – A Palestinian detainee held in Israeli jails said he was tortured while being interrogated in Israeli jails, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said on Monday.

Fayez Attar, 65, from the Gaza Strip who was arrested in June, told a PPS attorney that during his interrogation, which lasted for 33 days, he was exposed to multiple forms of physical and psychological torture, including severe beating, verbal abuse, and prolonged hand-cuffing.

Attar said that after the course of interrogation, he was moved to prison cells containing pro-Israel informants during which his head was covered with a bag that almost suffocated him and he was also beaten.

The prisoner is married and has nine children, one of them was killed by Israeli forces.

 

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Newspaper Review: Demolition of Palestinian Houses in Hebron, Jerusalem

RAMALLAH, August 31, 2016 (WAFA) – The demolition of Palestinian houses in the Hebron tow of Dura and the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Sur Baher and Silwan hit the front page headlines in Palestinian daily newspapers.

The three dailies said Israeli forces demolished the family house of Muhammad Abdul-Majid al-Amayreh during a raid into the Hebron town of Dura.

It is worth noting that the house of al-Amayreh was punitively demolished for allegedly being involved in a deadly shooting near the Hebron village of As-Samou’ on July 1.

The dailies also reported Israeli bulldozers demolished three Palestinian houses in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Sur Baher and Silwan.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida explained that as part of the demolitions, bulldozers tore down two fences surrounding Palestinian houses in Silwan.

Official and Palestinian reactions to United Nations (UN) Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov’s remarks criticizing Israel for ongoing settlement expansion also hit the front page headlines in the dailies.

Al-Ayyam reported Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed Mladenov’s remarks as “distorting history and international law” and “pushing peace farther away”.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida said Israel made a mockery of the UN over the latter’s criticism of settlement expansion.

Presidential Spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh was reported in the dailies as stating the Palestinian Authority (PA) is making contacts ]with stakeholders[ to discuss approaching the UN Security Council for a session following Netanyahu’s remarks on settlement construction.

Highlighting a meeting of Fatah’s Central Commission in Ramallah, President Mahmoud Abbas was reported in the dailies as confirming local municipal elections would be held as scheduled in order to consolidate democracy.

Furthermore, al-Ayyam highlighted President and Chief Executive Officer of World Vision Kevin Jenkins’ doubts over Israel’s claims that head of the group’s office in the Gaza Strip Mohammad al-Halabi siphoned funds to Hamas.

It reported him as demanding that Israel holds a public hearing for al-Halabi.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida highlighted cabinet’s announcement that the investigation committee regarding the brutal killing of Ahmad Halaweh, the highest ranking Nablus-district leader of Fatah’s military wing, would carry out its mandate.

Al-Ayyam said Israel is determined to hol;d a wine festival on the ruins of Ma’man Allah Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem.

Finally, al-Quds said Fuad Shehadeh, a professional Palestinian lawyers in Ramallah, was recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the longest serving lawyer.

 

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Israeli Forces Detain 14 Palestinians in West Bank Raids

HEBRON, August 30, 2016 (WAFA) – Israeli forces Tuesday detained 14 Palestinians, including three minors, mostly during overnight raids across a number of West Bank districts, said local security sources and activists.

Nine Palestinians were detained from Hebron district, two others from Tulkarem, two others from Tubas and another from Jenin.

Forces detained three Palestinian minors after storming their family houses during a raid into Beit Ummar town, northwest of Hebron.

Local activist Muhammad Awad identified the detainees as Wasim Bahr, 16, Muhammad Abu Maria, 17, and Anan Khlayil, 17, and noted they were taken to the Gush Etzion detention and interrogation center.

Elsewhere in Hebron district, troops raided Dura town, detaining four Palestinians and ransacking two houses.

Local activist Rateb Jabbur identified the detainees as Husam Makhamra, Hani Makhamra, Fahed Awad and Ziad Nawaj’a, 40, a member of the Hebron District Office of Fatah.

During the raid, troops ransacked the family houses of Muhammad Makhamra and Yunis Zein, who are held in Israeli detention.

Another Palestinian identified as Izziddin Masalma was handcuffed and detained during a raid into Beit Awwa town, southwest of Hebron.

This came as Ismail Rayyan, who comes from the Hebron town of Dura, was detained after being stopped at al-Container military checkpoint, northeast of Bethlehem.

In the northern West Bank, forces detained Bilal Ahmad, 25, and his brother, Tamer, 22, during a raid into Dhannaba, east of Tulkarem.

Elsewhere in the northern West Bank, troops detained two Palestinians during a raid that sparked clashes into al-Fari’a refugee camp, south of Nablus.

Troops stormed the family house of Abdullah Odeh, detaining his sons, Saher, 23, and Hamza, 27, and briefly held Abdullah in order to force his third son, Thaer, to turn himself.

Troops fired live ammunition and tear gas canisters at local youths who protested the raid and attempted to block their passage. No injuries were reported though.

Another Palestinian was detained as he attempted to cross a military checkpoint near the Jenin town of Bartaa.

The man was identified as Nuriddin Qararya from Fandaqumiya, a village to the northwest of Nablus.

 

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EU Provides 10m to Support Families In Need in the West Bank, Gaza

BRUSSELS, August 29, 2016 (WAFA) – The European Union made the second contribution this year to the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) quarterly payment of social allowances to Palestinian families living in poverty in the West Bank and Gaza, said an EU press release issued on Monday.

Around 115,000 poor Palestinian families in the West Bank and Gaza will receive social allowances through the PA’s cash transfer programme. The contribution of €10 million from the European budget is equivalent to nearly one-third of the budget for this payment, said the release.

It noted that the eligible beneficiaries are households living in extreme poverty that are registered in the cash transfer programme of the Ministry of Social Development.

The programme is designed to provide basic safety net to the poorest and most vulnerable Palestinians in the West bank and Gaza, through cash and in-kind assistance. Over 115,000 Palestinian households are enrolled in the programme, with almost two-thirds of living in Gaza.

“The assistance provided through the cash transfer programme is essential to ensure that those Palestinians in greatest need have access to basic services and minimum income security. However, on its own, it is not a sufficient remedy to fight poverty and exclusion,” said David Geer, Deputy EU Representative.

“Ultimately, it is only through social and economic development that Palestinians will be provided with real opportunities for growth and prosperity. The Ministry of Social Development’s determination to place socio-economic empowerment at the forefront of its upcoming strategy to combat poverty is an encouraging step in that direction.”

Payments are made through a network of local banks. Beneficiaries living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank will collect their allowances from 28 August.

This contribution, channelled through the PEGASE(1), represents the second tranche of the European Union’s support to the cash transfer programme this year. Over €42.2 million were made available to support the budget of the cash transfer programme in 2016, including €40 million from the European Union budget and contributions from the Governments of Austria, Ireland and Portugal.

 

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Central Elections Commission Publish Preliminary List of Candidates for Local Elections

RAMALLAH, August 29, 2016 (WAFA) – The Central Elections Commission Monday announced that it had registered a total of 874 electoral lists for the upcoming local elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The Central Elections Commission (CEC) published a total of 874 electoral lists and candidates, including 787 lists in the West Bank and 87 lists in Gaza, for the local elections scheduled in October.

The local municipal elections, the first to be held jointly in the West Bank and Gaza in eight years, are scheduled for October 8, 2016.

CEC said in a press statement the list of candidates would be published for three days in order to enable candidates to verify their details and allow citizens to submit objections to CEC should any candidate or electoral list be ineligible to run for elections.

CEC said its decisions on objections can be contested before the Court of Appeal within three days from the date of issuance. The court should adjudicate and issue final rulings on appeals within five days from the submission date of the appeals.

According to data provided in the statement, a total of 867 electoral lists from all district offices were submitted for application during the nomination period.

CEC added that following the reviewing of all applications in accordance with Palestinian electoral law, it rejected the candidature of seven electoral lists for failure to meet the legal requirements, including six lists in the West Bank and another from Gaza.

CEC noted representatives of rejected electoral lists can contest the CEC’s decision within three days.

It also noted that representatives of published electoral lists can withdraw their candidature application until September 23, but they could not modify their details nor add or withdraw any candidate from their list.

This announcement came several days after political factions and institutions in the northern West Bank city of Nablus decided to postpone municipal elections in the aftermath of the violent confrontations between gunmen and Palestinian security forces which culminated in the brutal beating to death of Ahmad Halaweh, the highest ranking Nablus-area leader of Fatah’s military wing, the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, who was accused of being the “mastermind” of the shooting attack that killed two Palestinian security officers in Nablus.

United Nations Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Piper stated he was encouraged by preparations for the early October elections and appealed to all Palestinian parties to stick to the agreed code of conduct and refrain from actions that could undermine electoral process.

“I am encouraged by the efforts of the CEC and the dedication of its staff in preparing for this important election which is to be carried out across the State of Palestine. It will be the first concurrent poll in the occupied West Bank and Gaza since 2006,” he said.

However, Chairman of CEC had expressed concerns about potential Israeli restrictions on the entry of electoral material into Gaza as well as fears that Israel might not issue permits for CEC staff to enter Gaza through Erez border crossing and that Israel might apprehend some candidates or ban campaigns for some electoral lists.

 

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124 of Jerusalem’s Children in Prison on First Day of School Year

JERUSALEM, August 28, 2016 (WAFA) – A total of 124 Palestinian students in Jerusalem missed the first day of the school year as few were killed by Israeli police and others were arrested and currently spend time in jail.

According to Adnan Ghaith, an official in Fatah in Jerusalem, 11 students were killed during the 2015 unrest that spread across the West Bank and East Jerusalem while 124 girls and boys are currently imprisoned; including 10 children under the age of 12.

He said the Israeli government is trying to erode its responsibility towards those children as occupied and neglect all international laws and conventions which guarantee children’s right to education.

“Education should be a free right and an aspect all children must enjoy,” he added.

Ghaith affirmed that by targeting children either through killing or arresting them, Israel aims to destroy one of the most essential pillars in any society and raise an ignorant generation.

“Israel is using education to achieve its goals by changing the curriculum,” he added.

 

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Newspaper Review: Registration of Electoral Lists in Anticipation of Local Elections

RAMALLAH, August 29, 2016 (WAFA) – The completion of the registration of electoral lists in anticipation of the local elections scheduled to take place in October hit the front page headlines in Palestinian daily newspapers.

Covering this theme in its main front page news article, al-Ayyam said a total of 180 electoral lists are expected to win local elections without contest in the West Bank.

Al-Quds reported former Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Khaled Abu Arafa as warning that choosing the electoral lists by acclamation would serve to increase tensions among Palestinians.

Al-Quds said the construction of hundreds of new settler units is underway in Jerusalem –district settlement, namely Pisgat Zeev, Jabal Abu Ghneim (Har Homa), Navi Yaakov and Modi’in Illit.

Al-Quds and al-Ayyam said Israeli police detained a Palestinian boy allegedly for finding a knife in his possession outside of Shufat refugee camp, north of Jerusalem.

Both dailies said thousands of Palestinians attended the funeral procession of Ahmad Halaweh in the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

It is worth noting that Halaweh, the highest ranking Nablus-area leader of Fatah’s military wing, the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, was brutally beaten to death by Palestinian security forces following violent confrontations between Palestinian gunmen and security forces in the Old City of Nablus.

Halaweh was accused of being the “mastermind” of the shooting attack that killed two Palestinian security officers in Nablus.

Al-Quds said Israeli occupation authorities tightened restrictions on Palestinian farmers in Salfit district who were briefly allowed to tend their lands isolated by Israel’s segregation wall.

Al-Quds and al-Ayyam highlighted Russian efforts to convene a meeting between President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Moscow.

Al-Ayyam reported member of Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Executive Committee Ahmad Majdalani as stating in this regard what would be important is the content and results of this meeting.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida said Abbas discussed with the US Consul-General in Jerusalem Donald Blome political issues of mutual interest and mutual relations.

Al-Quds said six-year-old Ahmad Dawabsheh, who survived the July 2015 arson attack against the Dawabsheh family house in the Nablus village of Duma, started the school year in Duma School.

Al-Ayyam reported Israel court delayed hearing for UNDP worker, ]accused of diverting resources for Hamas[.

Finally, al-Ayyam and al-Hayat said Israel to hold wine festival on the ruins of Ma’man Allah Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem.

 

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Israeli Army Raids Salfit, Hands out Demolition Order of Prisoner’s Home

SALFIT, August 22, 2016 (WAFA) – Israeli army forces Monday notified the family of a Palestinian prisoner of its intent to demolish the house in the city of Salfit.

Local sources told WAFA Israeli troops raided the city and the house of Omar Aboushi, who has been in detention since May 30.

The soldiers took measurements of his house  before they handed the demolition order to the family.

Meanwhile, Naim Shaqir, Al Zawiya Mayor told WAFA that Israeli forces raided the house of Abdul Rahman Radad, who was killed by Israeli soldiers, tampered with the house’s content and photographed it.

 

WAFA

 

Israeli Bombing in Gaza Focus of Dailies

RAMALLAH, August 22, 2016 (WAFA) – The three Palestinian Arabic dailies focused on Monday on the Israeli aerial bombing which targeted a location near the town of Beit Hanoun, northeast of Gaza.

The dailies said the bombing resulted in the injury of four local Palestinians, whose cases were described as moderate.

On a different subject, the dailies quoted the Islamic-Christian Committee in Support of Jerusalem on the 47th anniversary of Al-Aqsa Mosque fire. The committee said: “Al-Aqsa is still burning until today by Israeli violations.”

The three dailies quoted the Jews for Justice for Palestinians, a pro-Palestinian jewish organization, as saying: “We have started to be ashamed of our Judaism because of the Israeli occupation”.

Al-Hayat Al-Jadida and Al-Ayyam reported that the Israeli authorities decided to demolish a house owned by a Palestinian detainee in Israeli Jails in the town of Dora, near Hebron. Israeli authorities accused Abdul Majid Amaira of carrying out a fire shooting attack in July which wounded an Israeli rabbi.

Al-Ayyam quoted an unidentified Palestinian official as saying: “Israel refuses to do any preliminary step to proceed to implement the French peace initiative”.

Al-Quds reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to send an envoy to Cairo in order to thwart the French peace initiative.

Al-Ayyam said that the Israeli Internal Security Agency (Shabak) refused to release Palestinian detainees who were convicted of minor security cases.

 

WAFA

 

Newspapers Review: Palestinian Ex-Detainee Dies Due to Israeli Medical Negligence

RAMALLAH, August 17, 2016 (WAFA) – The three Palestinian Arabic dailies focused on Wednesday on the death of former Palestinian detainee in Israeli jails Naeem Al-Shawamrah, who was said to have died due to medical negligence while in Israeli jails.

The dailies also focused on the Israeli forces’ fatal shooting of a Palestinian teenager in al-Fawwar refugee camp near Hebron city. About 1500 Israeli soldiers raided the camp on Tuesday morning, provoking clashes which resulted in the killing of one teenajer and the injury of dozens others.

Al-Quds reported that Supreme Court of Israel has delayed the demolition order of Al-Khan Al-Ahmar School, east of Jerusalem, until the August 23.

Al-Quds quoted the Chairman of committee of detainees and ex-detainees affairs, Issa Qaraqi, who said that an agreement was reached with Israeli authorities to hand over the bodies of the killed Palestinians whose bodies are withheld by Israel.

Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah reported that Israeli groups are plotting to demolish Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the third holiest Islamic site, according to Israeli Channel II. The Israeli channel also reported that these groups are encouraging Israelis ro perform provocative visits to the site.

Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah and Al-Ayyam said that the Israeli army is working to recruit members of the “Hilltop Youth” terror organization, which is responsible for many terrorist attacks against Palestinian civilians.

Al-Ayyam reported that Israeli authorities continuing the intensive demolitioncampaign in the West Bank, with more than nine Palestinian-owned homes demolished in the towns of Sa’ir and Beit Jala, in southern West Bank.

Al-Ayyam said that the Israeli Internal Security Agency (Shabak) had announced the detention of nine Palestinians allegedly affiliated with Lebanon-based Hezbollah organization.

 

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Israeli Army Arrests Seven during Large Scale Camp Raid South of Hebron

HEBRON, August 16, 2016 (WAFA) – Israeli forces Tuesday injured seven Palestinians with live round bullets during a raid into homes in Fawwar refugee camp south of Hebron.

According to local security sources, Israeli soldiers hit several young Palestinians with rubber steal bullets and live rounds when they raided the camp. The youth were identified as Tamer Abdulmajid, 27, Muaz Arar, 29, 18-year-old Faris Titi, Ismail Najjar, and 18-year-old Mamoun Shawabkah.

They were transferred to Yatta public hospital to receive immediate medical treatment.

Medical sources at the Red Crescent told WAFA that most injuries were mainly in the lower extremities and were described as light to moderate.

Israeli forces also arrested Rajeh Abui Ajamiah, 45, while snipers deployed on the rooftops of many homes after thoroughly inspecting the content.

A surveillance balloon was used and Israeli forces intensified the camp’s siege.

 

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Newspaper Review: Demolition of Palestinian House in Hebron Town Focus of Dailies

RAMALAH, August 16, 2016 (WAFA) – The demolition of a house of a Palestinian killed in June following a deadly attack in the Hebron town of Bani Naim hit the front page headlines in Palestinian daily newspapers.

The three dailies said Israeli forces demolished the family house of Muhammad Tarayra in Bani Naim town. Al-Ayyam added Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters and stun grenades during clashes, causing a number of Palestinians to suffocate.

New Israeli plans to grab Palestinian land and build settlements in the southern West Bank district of Hebron also hit the front page headlines in the dailies.

The three dailies said Israel advanced a plan to consolidate settlement construction in southern Hebron.

Al-Quds added that Israel approved the construction of 56 new settler units in the Jerusalem settlement of Ramot. Al-Ayyam highlighted Israeli procedures to consolidate settlement construction in Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives.

Furthermore, the three dailies highlighted the statements of King Abdullah II of Jordan on recent Israeli violations and intrusions into Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Al-Quds reported Abdullah II pledging to continue to defend the mosque compound and stating that he has legal and political options that he could resort to in order to confront Israeli violations.

He was also reported in al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida as stating his country would defend the mosque compound against Israeli attempts of dividing it.

Highlighting other Israeli forces raids across the West Bank, al-Quds said Israeli troops tore copies of the Koran during a raid into the Bethlehem town of Tuqu’.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida said Israeli forces detained 18 Palestinians during West Bank overnight raids and Israeli navy detained five Palestinian fishermen offshore Gaza.

Al-Quds and al-Ayyam said Wlid Masalma, who has started an open-ended hunger strike in protest of his administrative detention without charge or trial, was evacuated to the Israeli hospital of Suruka following his health deterioration.

Al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida said scores of Palestinians rallied in solidarity with Bilal Kayid, who entered the 64st day of his hunger strike, outside Barzilai hospital in Ashkelon (Askalan).

Al-Quds and al-Ayyam said Israel would not take any legal proceedings against two soldiers who had been filmed by Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem assaulting a Palestinian girl and taking her bicycle away for daring to play on a street reserved for settlers in Hebron.

 

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Foreign Ministry Calls for Israel to Face Sanctions for Settlement Construction

RAMALLAH, August 15, 2016 (WAFA) – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a statement Monday, called upon the international community to impose ‘realistic’ sanctions against Israel for its continuing settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian Territory.

The Ministry called upon the United Nations Security Council to uphold its responsibility with regard to Israeli settlement activities, which it said undermine the two-state solution and the international peace will.

This came after the Israeli Planning and Construction Committee approved a plan to construct about 4200 housing units in the illegal settlement of Modi’in, west of Ramallah in the West Bank.

 

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Newspaper Review: Clashes at Flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound Focus of Dailies

RAMALLAH, August 15, 2016 (WAFA) – Clashes that erupted at Al-Aqsa Mosque compound as hundreds of hardline Israelis stormed the esplanade to commemorate Tisha B’av hit the front page headlines in Palestinian daily newspapers.

The three dailies said hundreds of hardline settlers forced their way into Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and Israeli police assaulted ]Palestinian[ worshippers. Al-Ayyam said a total of 400 settlers forced their way into the esplanade.

Al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida said 15 Palestinians sustained injuries after being assaulted by police.

New Israeli plans to grab Palestinian land and build settlements in Bethlehem district also hit the front page headlines in the dailies.

Al-Quds said Israel laid the groundwork to seize and isolate a total of 11,700 dunums of Palestinian land belonging to Bethlehem district.

Al-Ayyam explained in this regard that Israeli authorities are considering announcing plans to seize Palestinian land in Bethlehem district in order to expand the Israeli settlement of Efrat.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida said Israeli authorities plan to isolate Bethlehem through the construction of a new settlement.

Highlighting settlement construction plans in Ramallah district, al-Quds and al-Ayyam said Israel approved the construction of 4,200 new settler units in Modiin Illit settlement, west of Ramallah.

The three dailies said a Palestinian girl was detained after allegedly stabbing an Israeli soldier at a military checkpoint, west of Jenin, in the northern West Bank. Al-Quds and al-Ayyam added that four members of the girl’s family were subsequently detained.

Al-Quds said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the closure of al-Khan al-Ahmer Primary School in the Bedouin communities, east of Jerusalem.

Al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida said the Israeli Supreme Court rejected an appeal submitted by the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs to release hunger-striking Palestinian brothers Muhammad and Mahmoud Balboul from administrative detention.

Al-Ayyam reported Palestinian human rights organizations called for an investigation to be opened into mounting Israeli authorities’ threats and smear campaign against Palestinian human rights organizations members and staff.

 

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Israel Vows to Advance Settlement Projects South of Hebron

TEL AVIV, August 15, 2016 (WAFA) – The Israeli Civil Administration in the West Bank has promised to advance a “strategic plan” to develop the South Hebron Hills region, according to a report by the Israeli daily Haaretz.

According to Haaretz, the Civil Administration plan calls for two industrial centers in the area – one, earmarked for shops, near the settlement of Tene Omarim, and the second, for “logistical needs,” near the Palestinian town of Tarqumiya.

The area already has one industrial center, near the settlement of Otniel. According to the plan, the new industrial centers will serve both settlers and Palestinians, as well as nearby towns within Israel.

The medical center, to be built near the settlement of Adorayim, would also serve both Israelis and Palestinians.

Israeli settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, including in East Jerusalem, are illegal under international law.

A 2013 United Nations report said the Israeli government persists in building settlements in occupied territories claimed by Palestinians for a future state, including east Jerusalem and the West Bank, “despite all the pertinent United Nations resolutions declaring that the existence of the settlements is illegal and calling for their cessation,” the report said.

The settlements are “a mesh of construction and infrastructure leading to a creeping annexation that prevents the establishment of a contiguous and viable Palestinian State and undermines the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination,” the report concludes.

More than 500,000 Israelis already live in settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the Palestinians’ hoped-for capital. Israel annexed east Jerusalem, with its Palestinian population, immediately after capturing the territory from Jordan in 1967 and has built housing developments for Jews there, but the annexation has not been internationally recognized.

 

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UPDATE: Clashes Erupt as Settlers Break into Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa

JERUSALEM, August 14, 2016 (WAFA) – At least 15 Palestinian worshipers were injured on Sunday during clashes with Israeli police, who escorted about 260 settlers on a provocative visit to Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem.

WAFA correspondent said about 260 settlers entered the Islamic holy site in groups to perform rituals, following calls by Jewish ‘Temple Mount’ groups urging their followers to break into al-Aqsa Mosque to commemorate the Tisha B’Av holiday.

The Israeli incursion in al-Aqsa, Islam’s third holiest place, provoked tension with Palestinian worshipers, who protested and chanted religious slogans in defiance of the settlers.

Israeli police then chased the worshipers and assaulted them, injuring about 15 of them.

Last year, tension ran high across the West Bank, including Jerusalem, against the backdrop of Israel’s repeated assaults on the Mosque, including attempts to enforce a unilateral temporal division of the Islamic holy site between Muslims and Jews.

Prior to unrest in early October 2015, the Euro Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor pointed out in a report that Israeli incitement and violations against Arabs in Jerusalem have increased dramatically in 2015.

The report, titled “Fire under the Ashes: Provoking Muslims in Jerusalem,” warned that Israeli incitement against Muslims could trigger a conflict that would likely result in disastrous consequences.

“Among the provocative acts documented by Euro-Med researchers against Palestinians in Jerusalem were performance of Talmudic prayers near Muslim worshippers, beating, throwing rubbish, cursing, death threats and preventing worshippers from reaching the mosque,” the report said.

 

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Newspapers Review: Israeli Forces Deploys Security Reinforcements in Jerusalem

RAMALLAH, Aug 14, 2016 (WAFA) – The three Palestinian Arabic dailies on Sunday focused on the deployment of security reinforcements by Israeli forces in Jerusalem ahead of the Tisha B’Av (the 9th of the Jewish month of Av).

On a different subject, al-Hayat Al-Jadida said President Mahmoud Abbas stressed on the importance of intra-Palestinian dialogue to coordinate positions in all issues.

Al-Hayat Al-Jadida and Al-Ayyam reported that Palestinian detainees in the Israeli Jails of Rimon, Negev, and Hadarim are due to go on a hunger strike on Tuesday in solidarity with six hunger striking administrative detainees.

Al-Quds reported that Palestinian hunger striker in Israeli jails Bilal al-Kayed – who has been on hunger strike for more than 60 days in protest of being detained without charge or trial – threatened to stop receiving water in case his detention was extended.

Al-Ayyam also reported that Israeli forces opened gunfire at Palestinian farmers to the east of Rafah in southern Gaza Strip on Saturday, forcing them to leave their lands for fear of being killed.

Al-Quds reported that Israeli settlers organized provocative rallies in Jerusalem, calling for unrestricted entry of Jews to the Islamic site of al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the city.

 

wafa

 

Israel renders 53 Palestinians homeless in August alone; 2016 home demolition rate highest since 2006

 

 

 

The spate of demolitions in the West Bank continues in full swing: in the past week and half, since the beginning of August 2016, Israel’s Civil Administration demolished 20 homes and 13 other structures in Palestinian communities throughout the West Bank, leaving 53 people – including 25 minors – homeless. In total, Israel has demolished at least 188 Palestinian homes in the West Bank this year – the highest number since B’Tselem began documenting home demolitions on grounds of “lack of building permit” in 2006.

All the homes demolished this month were in areas defined as Area C. Nine of them were inhabited intermittently, so their owners were not counted among the 53 persons left homeless. At least five of the demolished structures were donated by humanitarian aid organizations.

9 August, Um al-Kheir community in the South Hebron Hills: five homes demolished, leaving 27 people – including 16 minors – homeless.

8 August, Fasayil village in the Jordan Valley: two homes demolished, leaving 12 people – including seven minors – homeless. 4 August: Al-Mu’arrajat community in the Jordan Valley: four homes demolished, leaving 14 people – including two minors – homeless.

This month, the Civil Administration also demolished non-residential structures in the following Palestinian communities: Farsh al-Hawa, Khirbet a-Rakhim, and Fuqeiqis in the South Hebron Hills; a-Nueimeh and al-Jiftlik in the Jordan Valley; a-Nabi Samwil in Al-Quds District; and Sabastiya in Nablus District.

These demolitions are a direct continuation of Israel’s policy to step up and expanddemolitions in the West Bank since the beginning of 2016. They were executed although Israel and the European Union are currently engaged in “structured dialogue” over home demolitions, and despite international condemnation of this policy in the Quartet Report published in early July.

 

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PLO Ashrawi Condemns Israel’s Increasing Home Demolitions

RAMALLAH, August 11, 2016 (WAFA) – Executive Committee Member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Hanan Ashrawi, on Thursday strongly condemned Israel’s escalation of its illegal and inhumane measures in and around Jerusalem and in Area C.

She said: “Israel has gone too far with its persistent violations and its blatant disregard of international law.  With its systematic efforts to steal more Palestinian land and demolish and ethnically cleanse entire Palestinian villages and communities … Israel has clearly demonstrated its blatant intent of destroying the two-state solution and superimposing “Greater Israel” on all of historic Palestine.”

In the past two days, Israel demolished multiple residences and structures, including EU-funded Palestinian homes, in Sebastia, Umm al-Kheir, Umm al-Hiran, and the Jericho villages of al-Jiftlik and Fasayil.  The Israeli government also has expressed its intentions of destroying the villages of Susiya and Umm al-Hiran near Hebron.

Israel also recently announced plans to construct 2,500 units in the illegal settlement of Gilo and to build 5 new police stations in and around the heart of Occupied Jerusalem in Ras al-Amud, Jabal Mukaber, Silwan, al-Issawiya, and Sur Baher.  “

Israel is illegally and unjustly transforming Jerusalem into an exclusively Jewish area and attempting to rid the occupied city of its Palestinian culture, history and narrative,” Ashrawi remarked.

She concluded, “Once again, the enormity and comprehensive nature of such existing violations are not only alarming, but they send a strong message to the international community that it needs to intervene immediately.

Ashrawi called on all members of the international community to “undertake concrete measures and hold Israel accountable for its violations of Palestinian rights, lands and resources.”

“Rather than rewarding Israel and providing it with legal, political and economic cover by means of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, the European Neighborhood Policy and the Horizon 2020 Association Agreement, as well as the increase in the American military aid package amounting to almost $40 billion dollars, respectively, both the European Union and the United States should end their preferential treatment of Israel and adopt serious steps to ensure Israeli compliance with their own laws, as well as with international law and international humanitarian law.”

 

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Newspaper Review: Closing Investigation into Death of Palestinian Minister

RAMALLAH, August 11, 2016 (WAFA)  – Closing the investigation into the death of Palestinian Minister Ziad Abu Ein, who died after being beaten by Israeli forces in December 2014, hit the front page headlines in Palestinian dailies.

Al-Quds said Israeli police exonerated the border police officer who killed Minister Ziad Abu Ein purportedly for lack of evidence, while al-Ayyam said Israeli authorities closed the case of the killing of Abu Ein without ever interrogating police officers or asking them to testify.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida and al-Ayyam also reported that the Abu Ein family already filed an appeal.

Highlighting Israeli plans to advance settlement construction in Jerusalem in its main front page news article, al-Quds said Israel approved a plan to build 62 new settler units on lands belonging to the Jerusalem town of Beit Hanina.

Al-Quds and al-Ayyam also revealed that Jerusalem’s Planning Committee plans to grab a land plot from the Jerusalem Palestinian neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir to build a synagogue and Mikveh (Jewish ritual purification bath) for the neighboring settlement of Nof Zion.

Highlighting international condemnations to Israeli plans to demolish the Palestinian village of Susiya in the southern Hebron hills, the three dailies reported US and European diplomats warning that their countries would “harshly respond” if Israel demolished the village.

Furthermore, al-Quds and al-Ayyam reported that a Palestinian elderly died after he was run over by an Israeli settler driving a motorcycle near the Palestinian community of Khirbet al-Marajim, south of Nablus.

The elderly was identified as Moussa Salman, 85, from the Nablus village of Talfit.

The three dailies also reported that Israeli bulldozers razed Palestinian land planted with 500 olive trees in the Salfit village of Iskaka.

They also reported that settlers from Yitzhar settlement, south of Nablus, attacked Palestinian houses in the Nablus village of Asira al-Qibliya.

Al-Quds also reported Israeli forces shot and injured four Palestinians during a raid into the Ramallah refugee camp of al-Amari.

Regarding local elections scheduled to take place in October, President Mahmoud Abbas was reported in al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida as stating that local elections would prove that the Palestinian people are capable of holding transparent and fair elections.

Highlighting the situation of hunger-striking detainees in Israeli jails, al-Quds reported that Secretary-General for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Ahmad Saadat and other PFLP leaders suspended their hunger strike.

Al-Ayyam said the health condition of four hunger strikers deteriorated and the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) tightened reprisals to force detainees to end their hunger strike.

Highlighting the situation at flashpoint Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, al-Ayyam said settlers and staff of the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) forced their way into the mosque compound.

Al-Quds said so-called “Temple Mount” organizations urged followers to storm the mosque compound in order to commemorate the “destruction of the temple”.

 

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77 Detainees Start Hunger Strike in Solidarity with 5 Hunger Strikers

RAMALLAH, August 8, 2016 (WAFA) – Seventy seven Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails have begun an open-ended hunger strike in solidarity with five hunger striking administrative detainees, according to the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs.

The commission said the five detainees – namely Belal Kayed, Mohammad Balboul, Mahmoud Balboul, Ayyad Heremi, and Malek Qadi – have seen rapid deterioration in their health conditions due to their continuing hunger strike in protest of being detained without charge or trial.

The commission also warned about the serious health condition of detainee Belal Kayed who has been on hunger strike for 57 days, saying he could die at any moment.

Under administrative detention rules, Israel may detain Palestinians without charge or trial for up to six month intervals that can be renewed indefinitely by military courts on the basis of secret evidence.

The international community and many human rights groups, including Israeli and Palestinian, have strongly criticized the administrative detention policy, accusing Israel of using it as a routine form of collective punishment against Palestinians as well as using it when failing to obtain confessions during interrogation.

Palestinian detainees have continuously resorted to open-ended hunger strikes as a way to protest their illegal administrative detention and to demand an end to this policy, which violates international law.

Addameer human rights association stated “Administrative detention in the OPT is ordered by a military commander and grounded on “security reasons. Detainees are held without trial and without being told the evidence against them.”

In most cases, they are simply informed that there is “secret evidence’ against them and that they are being held for security reasons.”

 

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PMRS holds summer camp as part of Child Protection campaign

The Palestine Medical Relief society has contninued its campaign to protect Palestinian children through different activities which included a summer camp named “I want to Feel Safe.”

The camp, held in Hizma town north of Jerusalem, opens horizon for hundreds of kids who suffer from apartheid, constant closures, and military raids to enjoy their age in peace and dignity, away from the occupation and its ongoing violations.

 

‘It shows our strong will’: Palestinian athletes proud to take part in Rio Olympics

Team members see chance to tell story of their people as even more important than medal count

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Mary al-Atrash will swim for the Palestinian team in the 50-metre

freestyle at the Summer Olympic Games in Rio. (Derek Stoffel/CBC)

 

When Palestinian swimmer Mary al-Atrash dives into the pool at the Summer Olympics in Rio, she’s not aiming to bring home a medal.
 
A winning performance will mean telling the story of the Palestinian people and the difficulties they face, not only in preparing for the Games, but also living in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
 
“I’m very proud to be going to Rio. And to represent Palestine,” Atrash told CBC News. “I also have the responsibility of highlighting that we are living under great difficulties.”
 
CBC: Rio 2016
Six Palestinians will compete during the Games, which run from Aug. 5 to 21. Atrash is one of two swimmers. Two runners are also part of the team, which is rounded out by one competitor in dressage and one in judo.
 
The International Olympic Committee invited Palestinian athletes to first compete in the Summer Olympics in 1996 in Atlanta, as part of a program to include participants who do not meet the qualifying criteria.
 
Atrash swims in the 50-metre freestyle, but her best time of 29.91 seconds is more than four seconds slower than the 25.28 qualifying time needed to compete in the Olympics.
 
“It’s difficult because of the lack of resources for us here. It will be very difficult to win a medal,” Atrash said.
 
There is no Olympic-sized swimming pool in the Palestinian territories that Palestinians are allowed to use, so Atrash practises at the YMCA in Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem. The pool is 25 metres long, half the length of the facility she’ll compete in at Rio.
 
‘Harder to practise’
 
Most Palestinians are unable to travel into Israel, where sports facilities are larger and more modern, because of the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
 
“Because of all the difficulties that Palestinians live under … it makes it harder to practise and compete in our sports,” said Atrash.
 
Beyond travel restrictions, Palestinians face checkpoints and a scarcity of services such as sanitation, and in some areas clean water.
 
Atrash’s coach, Mousa Nawawreh, said it’s important for Palestinians to compete in the Olympics.
 
“Our presence in any international event is important because it shows our ambition. It shows our strong will,” Nawawreh said.
 
For the Palestinian Olympians, telling the story of their people and the goal of achieving their own state is even more important than the medal count.
 
“It’s a good chance to represent Palestine, to tell the world that Palestine is there and that one day Palestine will be free,” said Palestinian sports journalist Umar Hammad. “To tell the world our story through sports, to tell the world our culture, our daily life.”
 
While soccer is by far the most popular sport among Palestinians, Hammad says he expects people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to tune in to the Olympic broadcasts and cheer when the Palestinian team enters the stadium during the opening ceremony.
 
“There is a lot of pride in our team,” Hammad said. “Not to win medals, but to represent the Palestinian people.”
 

Israeli Forces Turn Away Families of Palestinian Detainees at Checkpoints

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RAMALLAH, August 6, 2016 (WAFA) – Israeli forces Saturday turned away Palestinian families at military checkpoints, preventing them from visiting their detained members, said an attorney.

Karim Ajweh, an attorney representing the Detainees and Ex-Detainees Committee, said a number of detainees held in Askalan prison complained about preventing their families from visiting them despite being granted entry permits.

Ajweh added Israeli troops turned away the families of a number of detainees after tearing their permits purportedly for being denied entry by Israeli intelligence.

He identified the families as Naser Abu Hmeid’s wife, Haitham Salhiyeh’s mother, Muhammad Abu Shahin’s brother, Issam al-Frukh’s mother and daughter, Yusef Nazzal’s brothers and Majdi Saba’na’s brother.

Detainees and Ex-Detainees Committee called upon the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to assume its responsibilities and intervene to halt these Israeli practices that violate all humanitarian laws and norms.

According to a report by Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, a local human rights organization,following the Israeli re-invasion of the West Bank and the resulting imposition of movement restrictions, all Palestinian families from the occupied territory who wish to visit a family member detained in Israel – with the exception of Jerusalem ID holders – must now receive an entry permit into Israel.

The application process for entry permits is lengthy and can take between one and three months, while the permit itself is valid for only one year. The application is submitted via the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and then transferred to the Israeli authorities.

Visits to Palestinian prisoners and detainees are restricted to first-degree relatives – children, spouses, parents, siblings and grandparents only, thus isolating the detainee from his or her social and professional environment. Men between the ages of 16 and 35 are typically prevented from visiting prisons inside Israel and receive the special entry permits only once a year if they are the brother of the detainee and biannually if they are the son of the detainee. Furthermore, in practice hundreds of families fail to receive permits at all, based on undisclosed “security grounds”.

 

Israeli authorities never provide any justification for the rejection of a permit application apart from the standard phrase: “forbidden entry into Israel for security reasons”. In many cases only old and young relatives – children under the age of 16 who do not require permits – are able to visit relatives detained in Israel. As a result, thousands of Palestinian prisoners serve their entire sentences without receiving regular family visits.

For Palestinian families who visit relatives detained inside Israel, the journey from home to prison depends on the family’s residence and on the type of ID they hold. For most West Bank residents, the round-trip journey takes anywhere from eight to 15 hours depending on their place of residence – village or city – the number of checkpoints they must cross and the location of the prison, i.e. in the northern, central or southern regions of Israel.

In many cases, the journey involves waking up as early as 4 or 5 a.m., taking public transportation to the ICRC meeting point in a governorate city and then taking the ICRC bus to the nearest Green Line crossing. During this first part of the journey, visitors are subjected to random searches at checkpoints and multiple ID checks. Once they arrive at the Green Line crossing, family members are forced to walk through between seven and 10 sets of revolving doors and are subjected to lengthy body searches.

The family’s bags are emptied and searched in separate rooms. This process can last around two hours. Afterwards, families are directed to Israeli-registered ICRC buses waiting on the other side of the Green Line. Escorted by police vehicles, the buses continue their journey to the prisons housing Palestinian prisoners and detainees. Upon arrival at the prison door, family members are routinely subjected to body searches. On occasion, they are also subjected to humiliating strip searches.

Frequently, families of prisoners and detainees report being turned away from a Green Line checkpoint despite holding a valid permit authorizing them to enter Israel on a prison visit. In addition, prisoners are often transferred to different detention facilities just before a scheduled family visit. Such transfers are rarely communicated beforehand to the families, who then make the long journey only to find out that their visit had been cancelled.

 

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