OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – Israeli mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, ordered that 600 dunums of Palestinian lands in al-Issawiya, in northern Occupied Jerusalem, be temporarily confiscated allegedly for gardening purposes, Peace Now reported afternoon Saturday.
The misappropriation order was issued using a special municipal law that allows the municipality to exploit an empty lot for public uses for five years in cases where the owner does not develop it. Al- Issawiya locals found the orders spread out in their fields.
The lands in question have been targeted by the Israeli occupation authorities in recent years, when a plan to declare them a National Park was promoted in order to create an Israeli dominated continuity between Occupied Jerusalem and the area of E1. The park is also meant to block the potential development of the adjacent neighborhoods of al-Issawiya and al-Tur.
It is required according to the law that the land owners refuse or choose not to make use of the tracts. When the owner wants to use his or her private property they are allowed to do so in accordance with the approved construction plans, Peace Now further stated.
In the case of al-Issawiya, the owners wish to make use of their lands. One month ago, the municipality uprooted trees that were planted by the Palestinians under the pretext of unlicensed cultivation. Thus, it seems now very hard to explain why a Gardening Use Order is required in such case when the owners wish to do the farming on their own.
According to analysts, it seems that in order to bypass the need to declare the lands as National Park, the Israeli occupation authorities are trying to take over the lands through other illegal means.
Peace Now added that the goal of the Israeli authorities is to prevent any potential Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem by taking over and blocking the lands necessary for the future development of a viable Palestinian state. The Jerusalem Municipality and the National Parks Authority seem so obsessed with creating an Israeli dominated corridor in the area, making use of the law only as a pretext for a political agenda.
Jerusalem – Hebrew newspaper Haaretz today revealed that Israel and Jordan have been involved in negotiations for a number of months concerning reopening Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount to non-Muslim visitors.
Haaretz further clarified that there would be procedures put in place in order to prevent visitors being refused entry on the grounds of their religion.
Al-Aqsa Mosque has been closed to non-Muslims since the outbreak of the third Intifada in 2000, before which Jewish and Christian people were also allowed to enter freely.
Although Palestinians hold custodianship of the holy site through Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, head imam and manager of al-Aqsa Mosque, Israel claims sovereignty over all of Temple Mount.
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) are permitted to patrol the site despite control of the mosque officially being held by the Islamic Waqf Trust, who are independent of the Israeli government.
JERUSALEM – A group of activists on Friday stopped a conference in occupied East Jerusalem from going ahead that they accused of contributing to the “normalization” of the Israeli occupation.
The conference had been organized by the “Creativity for Peace” group and was set to take place in the Legacy Hotel.
However, the hotel reportedly cancelled the event after they were contacted by the activists.
The hotel management had apparently been unaware of the conference, believing instead that a tourism company had booked the hall.
Creativity for Peace is a non-profit organization that works with young Israeli and Palestinian women on “collaborative leadership and peacemaking,” according to the organization’s website.
Some activists allege that organizations aiming to facilitate dialogue and understanding between Jewish Israelis and Palestinians without addressing political realities “normalize” the Israeli occupation.
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel argues that partnership and dialogue groups often ignore the stark inequalities between Jewish Israelis and Palestinians living under occupation.
They claim that this approach normalizes the Israeli occupation by promoting co-existence at the expense of acknowledging the right of Palestinians to resist oppressive policies of the Israeli government.
Construction of the new planned townships that will house Palestinians displaced by Israel’s E1 plan is already well underway although the demolition of the current villages has not yet been implemented. The E1 plan will displace thousands of Palestinian Bedouin from the Jerusalem periphery area.
Within this colonial project – that has received significant criticism from across the ‘international community’ – the story of the village of Abu Nowwar is in many ways seen as a test case.
The residents of Abu Nowwar are themselves already refugees, as are the majority of all Bedouin in the West Bank, having been originally displaced in the early 1950’s from their ancestral lands in the Naqab. The more than 100 family homes in the village are all slated for demolition.
In early May, residents were told by the Israeli authorities that they must sign documents by May 31st stating that they agreed to being transferred to one of the planned new townships – a site known as al-Jabal – alongside a large Jerusalem Municipality landfill site. The community was told that anybody who refused to sign would have their houses immediately demolished. Yet the community resisted.
For now a legal challenge in the Israeli Supreme Court has delayed the promised demolitions, but time is short. Many people believe that the case of Abu Nowwar, if won by the State in the Supreme Court, will set a legal precedent that will allow E1 to be quickly implemented. None of the planned demolitions of entire communities in this latest phase of E1 have yet been implemented but this legal precedent, if granted, could set a swift and dangerous ball rolling.
Despite the widespread criticism that the E1 project has received internationally, no action has yet been taken to prevent this major advance within Israel’s settler-colonial project. E1 will link Ma’ale Adumim and other Israeli West Bank settlements in a contiguous ring to and around Jerusalem.
‘Forcible transfer’, which is an inherent aspect of the E1 plan, is a breach of the Geneva Conventions, and is recognised by both the Nuremberg Charter and the International Criminal Court as a ‘war crime’.
Image by MEMO Photographer Rich Wiles.
JERUSALEM – Israeli forces demolished three Palestinian homes in the Silwan neighborhood and Salah al-Din street in occupied East Jerusalem early Tuesday morning, the owners told Ma’an.
They were told that the houses were demolished because they had been built without necessary licenses from the municipal council.
Nidal Abu Rmeila said bulldozers under Israeli army escort had demolished two apartments, totaling 140 square meters, that he had been building in Silwan near the Moroccan Gate of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound.
Abu Rmeila said he had not been able to obtain a license from the Jerusalem municipality as the building was located close to the Al-Aqsa compound in an area he claimed the Israeli antiquities authority is “greedily” interested in.
He began construction in late 2014, after which the municipality inspectors ordered him to stop, issuing a demolition order.
Abu Rmeila said the order was postponed several times, adding that bulldozers had arrived two weeks ago to demolish the house, but left after it became clear they were too big to access the building.
Tuesday’s demolition was only possible, he said, after the Israelis “used a lift to carry small excavators and bring them close to the site.”
Abu Rmeila said Israeli troops had assaulted members of his family when they evacuated the home before the demolition.
He said that relatives Hashim Abu Rmeila, Izz al-Din Abu Rmeila and Nur al-Din Abu Rmeila sustained bruises, while his 70-year-old mother was injured when soldiers fired tear gas canisters into the house.
Separately on Tuesday, Israeli forces demolished the upper story of a house on Salah al-Din Street near the Old City belonging to Rafiq al-Salayma.
A relative of the owner Abu Jabir al-Salayma told Ma’an that Israeli troops raided the house at 6 a.m. and forcibly evacuated the family before workers set about demolishing the upper floor.
The family house was built long ago, al-Salayma said, but “because the house was too small” they had added a new floor and roofed it with clay tiles.
The demolitions come less than a week after another house was demolished in Silwan.
Silwan is one of many Palestinian neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem witness to an influx of Israeli settlers at the cost of ongoing demolition of Palestinian homes and eviction of Palestinian families.
While Jewish residents frequently take over Palestinian buildings with the protection of Israeli forces, government policies make it nearly impossible for Palestinian residents to obtain building permits, according to Israeli rights group the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.
Activists confronted participants in the so-called “Jerusalem Hug” march, in which Palestinian and Israelis participated in Jerusalem, on Thursday.
Palestinians from Jerusalem gathered near Damascus Gate, where the march took place, and started telling Palestinian participants in the event that it had “normalization” goals.
There were minor scuffles and exchanges of swearing between the two sides.
Head of Fateh’s Jerusalem youth council Ahmad al-Ghoul told Ma’an News Agency that Palestinian participants in the march — from the West Bank cities of Bethlehem, Ramallah, Nablus, and Tulkarem — were deceived into joining it by luring them with permits to enter Jerusalem.
Al-Ghoul said that the organization claimed that the march was a “humanitarian project for people in the West Bank” and provided them with permits and the necessary transportation without showing them the “normalization” goals of the visit.
He added that such organizations equate the “victim and the executioner” and show the world a picture of Palestinians and Israelis living in peace and love, spending millions of shekels in the process.
Israeli police detained Mahdi Abu Sbeih and Shadi al-Labban, who were trying to stop the march.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday passed a decision in favour of allocating 100 million shekels ($25.8 million) towards investment in settlement activities in the vicinity of Al-Buraq Wall (also known as the Western Wall).
During his weekly meeting with his cabinet Netanyahu said that during the last five years there has been a large increase in the numbers of visitors to Al-Buraq Wall, claiming that “the Western Wall belongs to all the people of Israel” and that the decision taken today “reflects our commitment together; my commitment as a son of Jerusalem, and the commitment of ministers to continue with the construction activities in Jerusalem.”
Only yesterday, Netanyahu appointed Zeev Elkin, a Likud member of the Knesset who is known to be close to the prime minister, as minister for Jerusalem affairs.
Netanyahu repeated the statement he made last week about the intention of his new government to continue the construction work in the settlements in East Jerusalem, despite international demands to halt settlement activity, declaring “a united Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel.”
Israeli Jewish settlers storm Al-Aqsa Mosque from the Maghribi door at Al-Buraq Wall almost daily. Extremist Jewish NGOs, rabbis and sometimes state officials have repeatedly called on settlers to storm the mosque and urged security officials to protect them.
A journalist learns that if you photograph Border Policemen committing a felony, you’ll probably end up paying for it.
Near the end of January 2015, Amin Hassan Raneh Alawiya left his home in East Jerusalem’s Al-Azariya neighborhood and made his way to a wedding. As he later described it in his police complaint, upon leaving the house, lawiya – a photojournalist by profession – noticed a demonstration taking place nearby. Naturally, he picked up his camera and went over to document it. A Border Policeman, whom Alawiya recognized, ordered him to move away. In fact, he gave Alawiya the choice of either moving away, getting arrested or getting shot. Alawiya went back home and photographed from there.
Two policemen then came to the house and called Alawiya to come out. When he did the two cops jumped him. They continued hitting him as he was led to their vehicle, and from what they said on the two-way radio, Alawiya understood that he was to blame for disregarding their instructions. Inside the vehicle, the policemen kept hitting him, one of them shouting “this is for our friend” and “our friend will shoot you,” using the name of a third policeman. One of them also used the opportunity to curse the founder of Islam, Muhammad, until the other one told him to stop.
Who is the third cop? Ah! This is the core of the story. In May 2014, as part of his job, Alawiya documented Border Policemen assaulting a hooded child in East Jerusalem, after he was suspected of throwing stones. The policemen also took photos of themselves with the wounded child. The “friend” is one of those documented in Alawiya’s video, which enjoyed widespread distribution on Al Jazeera and other networks. Ever since, he says, he became a target for the Border Police in East Jerusalem, which he claims prevent him from filming in the city and even broke one of his cameras.
Alawiya’s detention in January was part of the Border Police’s quest for vengeance. One of the problems with police forces, particularly forces that are not subject to serious oversight, is that they tend to become a kind of gang: the permeation of a culture of violence and lies becomes common. We have seen the violence, now let’s deal with the deceitfulness.
After his detention, Alawiya was held, handcuffed and blindfolded, in the Abu Dis Border Police base for some two hours. He was then transferred to the police station in the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Edumim. There he requested to file a complaint of assault against the cops, but the officer present refused to receive the complaint, and told him he should turn to Israel’s Internal Affairs Division. As we will see, this was a hollow demand that reflected the police’s negligence. Alawiya was immediately informed that he was charged with assaulting and obstructing an officer. The police then demanded Alawiya sign a document saying he was not attacked by the police. He did so, but added in Arabic that it was he who was assaulted. Soon afterward, Alawiya was led to an interrogation room, where he was informed by the interrogator that he was suspected of obstructing an officer.
Did you get what, according to the complaint, just happened? Prior to signing a document saying he was not assaulted by the police, Alawiya was accused of assaulting an officer. After he signed the document, the charge of assaulting an officer simply evaporated. There is a method here, well-known to veterans of demonstrations in Israel and East Jerusalem: as soon as you complain about police brutality, you are automatically charged with assaulting an officer.
When a police force fabricates a complaint against a civilian, especially after he complains of being assaulted by a cop, there is, to put it mildly, a gross misunderstanding of the function of the police. Its duty is to maintain law and order, not to protect itself. When it distorts reality, it lies to itself, to the public that pays its salary and to the courts. When it pins false charges on a person, it is conspiring to damage his good name, his livelihood, and in the worst case scenario, deprives him of his liberty. It then ceases to be the servant of the public and becomes its enemy; it ceases being a vehicle for safeguarding human rights and becomes a tool for their denial.
Alawiya couldn’t file a complaint with the Internal Affairs Division, since he lives in East Jerusalem, specifically in a neighborhood that lies east of the separation wall. Despite the fact that Israeli Police (which includes the Border Police) have been active in East Jerusalem since it was occupied in 1967, there is no Internal Affairs Division station there. In order to lodge a complaint, Alawiya either needs a permit to enter Israel, or needs to use mediators such as human rights organizations. He says that ever since he documented the young boy being abused in May 2014, his permit has been denied.
And if you thought that was bad, the story doesn’t end there: a relative of Alawiya paid NIS 2,000 for his release on bail, since being assaulted by police and and then being wrongfully detained means you need to post bail. The relative, however, did not receive a receipt for the money. What happens to money given to a policeman when no receipt is given? Your guess is as good as mine.
In March 2014, Yesh Din Attorney Emily Schaeffer Omer-Man, sent a complaint to the Internal Affairs Division, demanding an immediate investigation on suspicion of, inter alia, false arrest, assault, abuse of the power of office and conduct unbecoming.
Given that in 93 percent of the complaints submitted in 2011-2014, the Internal Affairs Division closed the case without any investigation; that of the 11,282 complaints in the years 2011-2013, only 2.7 percent turned into indictments; and that the former chief of the division is on record saying that the police suffer from a “culture of lies” and that policemen cover for each other, one cannot hope too much that a journalist who exposed the face of the police will see justice. And these, we note, are the results for all complaints to the Internal Affairs Division, not just those by Palestinians. We’ll keep you posted.
The Ahrar Center for Detainees’ Studies and Human Rights issued its monthly report on Israeli violations against the Palestinians during April of 2015, and said that seven Palestinians were killed, and 375 were injured.
The report documents Israeli violations against the Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip, the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem.
Head of the Ahrar Center Fuad al-Khoffash said occupied Jerusalem remains the most targeted district compared to other Palestinian districts in the occupied West Bank, especially since the soldiers and police conduct daily violations against the Palestinians, their homes and property.
Three Palestinians were killed in the last week of April, while at least 39 others, including four children have been injured.
Two other children were also wounded due to the explosion of a remnant object of the Israeli military, south of Qalqilia, in the northern part of the West Bank.
Two Palestinian civilians were killed in two separate incidents in Hebron and Jenin in the West Bank, while the third, who was a child, was killed at a military checkpoint in occupied Jerusalem.
In occupied Jerusalem also, 26 Palestinian civilians, including two paramedics, were wounded during protests that followed the killing of the child; 12 others, including three children, were wounded during other protests in the West Bank and the fourth child was wounded in the Gaza Strip.
Ahrar said the army kidnapped at least 19 Palestinian women, including legislator Khaleda Jarrar, and that most of the arrests took place in the courtyards of the al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem. It added that the army kidnapped at least 55 children, mainly in Jerusalem, followed Hebron and Bethlehem, during repeated Israeli military invasions and assaults.
In occupied Jerusalem, soldiers kidnapped at least 113 Palestinians (including the 55 children), 86 in the southern West Bank District of Hebron, 54 Palestinians in the northern West Bank district of Nablus, 40 in Bethlehem, 29 in Ramallah, 11 in Qalqilia, 4 in Tulkarem, and one in Salfit.
Palestinians Killed In April, As Documented And Reported By The IMEMC
On 27 April 2015, Israeli forces opened fire at 19-year-old civilian while he was in his farmland near the annexation wall in the west of Arqa village, west of Jenin. As a result, he sustained a bullet wound to the testicles due to which he suffered severe hemorrhage and died hours later.
On 25 April 2015, Israeli forces killed a 20-year-old Palestinian civilian crossing via an electronic gate at the entrance of the Ibrahimi mosque, south of the old city in Hebron, reportedly, after he stabbed an Israeli soldier at the said gate.
On April 24, soldiers shot and killed a young Palestinian, near the Zaim military roadblock, east of occupied Jerusalem.
On April 14, a fighter of the Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, died of serious complications resulting from his injury by an Israeli missile during the Israeli onslaught on Gaza eight months ago.
On April 10, Israeli soldiers shot and killed a young Palestinian man during the funeral ceremony of a former detainee, who was denied access to proper medical attention, while being held by Israel.
On April 8, another Palestinian was shot and killed allegedly after stabbing two soldiers, north of the central West Bank city of Ramallah.
BETHLEHEM – The US Court of Appeals in New York has rejected an appeal from a group of 13 Palestinians seeking damages for alleged “terrorist attacks” by Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank, Israeli media reported Friday.
The complaint was filed against US-based charities that financially support settlements, alleging that such support leads to terrorist activity and is in violation of US anti-terrorism laws, reported Israeli news source Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
The USA Patriot Act enacted in October 2001 prohibits citizens from “knowingly providing material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization.”
Plaintiffs in the case argued that charities were financially supporting terrorist activity by funding settlers who have carried out acts of violence against Palestinians and their land, and desecrated houses of prayer.
Charities accused in the case included Christian Friends of Israeli Communities, the Hebron Fund, Central Fund of Israel, One Israel Fund and American Friends of Ateret Cohanim.
After District Judge Jesse Furman initially rejected the case last year, the appeal was rejected again this week by a panel of appellate judges.
“American federal judges recognize the difference between the financing of murder and violence… and legitimate bona fide financial support of the daily needs of peaceful Israeli settlements over the Green Line,” Israeli Haaretz quoted attorney Nathan Lewin, who represented the charities in the trials.
Privately funded violence
The dismissal of the case is a setback for those fighting to shed light on private US funding that is currently helping to sustain illegal settlement activity in the occupied West Bank, as well as the violence that results from it.
While the U.S. government has condemned ongoing settlement expansion, its citizens have been able to freely donate millions to the illegal enclaves.
The New York Times identified at least 40 American groups in 2010 that had collected over $200 million in tax-deductible gifts for Jewish settlement in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank over the last decade.
Israeli watchdog Americans for Peace Now have long fought against tax-exempt donations to settlements.
Among other criticisms, the groups point out that IRS regulations exempting charities from tax deduction define a charitable organization as one that “includes relief of the poor and distressed or of the underprivileged; advancement of religion; advancement of education or science; erection or maintenance of public buildings, monuments, or works; lessening of the burdens of government; promotion of social welfare.”
Such a definition does not extend to charities funneling funds to the Jewish-only settlements of the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, the group argues, and such donations should not be tax-exempt.
The court ruling on the 13 Palestinians’ appeal is only the latest example of a number of cases in which Israeli settlers have gained legal backing from the US government for illegal practices.
Attacks carried out with impunity
Human rights groups in Israel and the Palestinian Territories have long fought for effective Israeli law enforcement against the type of violent acts committed by Israeli settlers that the 13 Palestinians were drawing attention to.
Such acts are often termed “price-tag attacks,” and are carried out to retaliate perceived pressure from both Israeli and foreign governments against settlements, most often with Palestinian civilians as their victims.
They are nearly always carried out with impunity from the law.
Following price-tag attacks on Vatican-owned offices in occupied East Jerusalem in May 2014, Israeli Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said the government planned to begin using administrative detention against suspected extremists.
Although Israeli police had made scores of arrests before that time, there had been few successful prosecutions for price-tag attacks and the government was facing mounting pressure to authorize the Shin Bet internal security agency to step in.
The US State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism discussed price-tag attacks for the first time in 2013, citing UN figures of some “399 attacks by extremist Israeli settlers that resulted in Palestinian injuries or property damage.”
The report said such attacks were “largely unprosecuted.”
The Palestinian News & Info Agency WAFA has reported that the soldiers stopped the Palestinian, who was walking with a young woman from his family, and started provoking the two, before the soldiers uttered vulgar words towards the young woman.
The incident caused the young man to engage in a scuffle with the soldiers before one of them shot him dead.
The army is alleging the Palestinian “attempted to stab a soldier,” and was shot dead while trying to flee the scene.
The name of the slain Palestinian is Ali Sa’id Abu Ghannam, 16 years of age.
The Israeli army refused to hand the body of the slain Palestinian to the Red Crescent ambulance that arrived on the scene, and took it to an unknown destination.
The Israeli Police alleged the young Palestinian arrived at the roadblock “and started running towards the soldiers while carrying a butcher knife.”
Ynet News quoted a police statement alleging that one of the soldiers managed to hold the Palestinian, “but he continued to run towards the soldiers,” and they shot him dead.
In related news, Palestinian medical sources have reported that two Palestinians were shot and injured, on Friday, after Israeli soldiers opened fire on Palestinians east of Abasan town, east of the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis.
One of the wounded was moved to Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, suffering a gunshot injury, while the second received treatment by local medics after being shot with a rubber-coated metal bullet.
Aref Tohta with the demolition order in his hand and his family
Jerusalem, Occupied Palestine – On Wednesday night, the Tohta family received a demolition order for their house in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi al-Joz. After being warned that soldiers would come early on Sunday morning for the demolition, the family was joined by a group of about a dozen international supporters. Despite the warning, nothing happened that night – leaving the family afraid that their house could be demolished at any time without prior warning.
After being told by soldiers that during a demolition they “don’t see anything in front of [them]”, meaning everything will be destroyed, Aref Tohta and his family moved their most needed and precious belongings out of the house. They piled up boxes with warm clothes and blankets for the night, as far away from the house as possible, moved animal shelters and gave the five family dogs away knowing that they would be killed in a demolition.
A demolition of the family home will leave the fifteen family members without a shelter. Twelve of them are children aged between four and eighteen years. Jenny, an ISM-volunteer, staying with the family during the night explained: “any noise – a car door slamming somewhere, a voice heard in the vicinity – made everyone turn their head towards it, fearing an imminent destruction of the house. The fear was visible on everyone’s face”.
When no demolition happened, the father believed it was because the army did not want to have an international presence documenting this aggression. Now, the family lives in constant fear of the army showing up without any prior warning and tearing down the house. Aref Tohta explained the uncertainty the family has to live with every day: “Tomorrow, I don’t know if I have a place to sleep”.
Wadi al-Joz located directly outside the Old City of Jerusalem, is a vulnerable neighborhood that has seen three demolitions in the last three weeks. On 31st of March, the army illegally demolished the Amro family home, neighbors of the Tohta’s, without any demolition order or prior warning.