Jerusalem, Occupied Palestine – The 14 members of Abu Sadam’s family remain homeless after their home was destroyed by the Israel Army in the early hours of Tuesday morning in the Hizbet area of Wadi Joz, Jerusalem.
The family are calling for solidarity and support and would welcome visitors to join them.
If you want to help please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
JERUSALEM – At least 28 Palestinian women have been detained by Israel since October over alleged “incitement” on social media, with six of them still in prison, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies (PPCS) said in a statement released on Wednesday.
PPCS spokesman Riyad al-Ashqar said that most of the women had been released hours or days after they were first detained, but that eight had been held in administrative detention — internment without trial or charges.
Al-Ashqar identified the six women still held over alleged social media incitement as Suad Abed al-Karim Irzeiqat, 28, from the city of Hebron; Dunia Ali Musleh, 19, from the town of Bethlehem; Sanaa Nayif Abbad from the town of Dura; Hanin Abd al-Qader Amr, 39, from the city of Tulkarem; Majd Yousif Atwan, 23, from the village of al-Khader; and Samah Dweik, 25, from occupied East Jerusalem.
Dweik, a journalist working for Shabakat al-Quds (The Jerusalem Network), was detained on April 10 in her home in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al-Amud after writing a Facebook status and sharing an image in support of Palestinians recently killed by Israeli forces.
Meanwhile, Atwan was sentenced by an Israeli court earlier this month to 45 days in prison and a 3,000 shekel ($794) fine over charges of incitement on her Facebook account.
In recent months, Israel has detained scores of Palestinians for social media activity, alleging that a wave of unrest that swept the occupied Palestinian territory last October was encouraged largely by “incitement.”
Palestinians have instead pointed chiefly to the frustration and despair brought on by Israel’s nearly 50-year military occupation of the Palestinian territory and the absence of a political horizon.
Al-Ashqar claimed that Israel was detaining Palestinian women under different pretexts to discourage and prevent them from taking part in resistance against the Israeli occupation, as well as to exert pressure on relatives also detained by Israeli forces.
More than 200 Palestinians and almost 30 Israelis have been killed since October, although the number of Palestinian and Israeli deaths saw a dramatic drop over the last two months, with Israeli leadership suggesting its severe security measures were responsible for the emerging trend.
However, the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found in a poll last month that support for stabbing attacks had seen a decline in the West Bank in recent months — “due, it seems, to a rising perception in its inefficacy.”
According to prisoners’ organization Addameer, 7,000 Palestinians are detained in Israeli custody.
JERUSALEM – Israeli forces demolished a Palestinian family’s home in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shufat early on Wednesday morning, marking the second time the al-Hawarin family saw their home destroyed in 15 years.
“The occupation is stealing our dreams, depriving us of living safely in our own homes,” Nadia al-Hawarin told Ma’an as she looked at the ruins of her home.
Al-Hawarin added that Israeli forces had demolished the family’s former home in the neighborhood of Beit Hanina in 2001, under the pretext that it was built without a license from the Israeli municipality.
“Today, they demolished our house in Shufat for the sake of a road serving settlers,” she said. “The occupation demolished our home to serve the settlers, paying no attention to the fact that eight family members will become homeless.”
Al-Hawarin said that Israeli forces demolished a house belonging to al-Rishiq family in the same area in January, displacing dozens in order to build a road to benefit Israeli settlers in the area.
Al-Hawarin’s husband, Rajih al-Hawarin, said in a filmed interview with Ma’an that a large number of Israeli troops stormed the house at dawn and started to tear down the building.
He said that the house had been built in 2001 following the demolition of the family’s Beit Hanina home.
Before he started to build in Shufat, Rajih al-Hawarin said he had applied for a construction license and obtained initial approval.
“Then I was taken by surprise in 2002, when the application was suspended under the pretext that the area had been rezoned to build a new road connecting the illegal Ramat Shlomo and Pisgat Zeev settlements,” he added.
Rajih al-Hawarin added that the Jerusalem municipality handed him a first demolition order in 2012, and that he had submitted several appeals, to no avail.
East Jerusalem was seized by Israel along with the West Bank in 1967 during the Six-Day War, and since then, the Israeli government has undertaken a policy of “Judaization” across the city, constructing Jewish settlements and demolishing Palestinian homes.
There are upwards of 500,000 Israeli settlers living in illegal settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in contravention to international law.
A study by the PLO Negotiations Affairs Department reported more than 3,000 Palestinian structures demolished in East Jerusalem since 1967.
According to rights group Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Israeli government issues building permits in line with discriminatory state policy enacted to increase the Jewish population, while neglecting local Palestinians.
Only 14 percent of East Jerusalem land is zoned for Palestinian residential construction, while one-third of Palestinian land has been confiscated since 1967 to build illegal Jewish-only settlements, ACRI documented.
In January, Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein approved recommendations for the “enforcement of regulations” in occupied East Jerusalem, in what Israeli daily Haaretz reported would likely prioritize the demolitions of Palestinian homes.
The daily reported that the new recommendations could expedite the demolition of around some 50,000 houses in Palestinian communities in Israel and Jerusalem.
The Israeli occupation has issued a home demolition order against the Issawi family, including imprisoned family members Shireen, Medhat and Samer Issawi, and their home in Issawiya village northeast of Jerusalem.
The order, which alleges that the home was constructed without an Israeli building permit, states that the home, which has stood since the 1970s, will be demolished. Leyla Issawi, 65, the mother of Shireen, Medhat, Samer and their siblings, said that this comes as an attack against her imprisoned children and the will and steadfastness of their family.
Construction permits are routinely denied to Jerusalemite Palestinians and their homes targeted for demolition. Fewer than 4,500 construction permits have been issued for Palestinians since 1967; over 48,000 Palestinian homes and buildings have been demolished by the Israeli occupation army in that time period.
Shireen and Medhat Issawi are serving 4 and 8 year sentences, respectively, for their work in helping families to support and gain representation for their imprisoned loved ones; Samer Issawi’s original 26-year sentence was reimposed after his 2014 re-arrest. He had previously been freed after a lengthy hunger strike.
Palestinian medical sources confirmed that the Palestinian woman, who was killed by Israeli army fire, on Wednesday, did not carry an explosive belt as the army claimed, but was instead five months pregnant, and “her only fault was walking the wrong route and not understanding Hebrew.”
The Israeli police and army tried to come up with various allegations, including the usual claim of “carrying a knife,” and then tried to claim that she “was wearing an explosive belt,” while the only thing she “carried” was her fetus.
The slain woman has been identified as Maram Saleh Abu Ismael, 24, a mother of two children; Sarah, 6, and Remas, 4. Her brother, Ibrahim Taha, only sixteen years of age, was also killed as he was walking with her, heading to Jerusalem, after she obtained for the first time, a permit to enter the city.
Contrary to the Israeli allegation that Maram “carried a knife,” and the second allegation of “carrying an explosive,” eyewitnesses said the two victims walked the wrong route while heading to the Qalandia terminal, as they took the route that is only used for vehicles, instead of the pedestrian path.
The soldiers then started shouting in Hebrew, a language neither Maram nor her brother understood, and the woman just froze from fear before the soldiers started firing at her, and when her brother rushed to rescue her, the soldiers shot him too, and both were left to bleed to death.
The two were tens of meters away from the soldiers, and contrary to military allegations, did not attempt to attack any soldier or officer.
Ahmad Taha, an eyewitness from Jerusalem said that after the soldiers shot the pregnant woman and her brother, they retreated a few meters back, and fired several additional live rounds on them, “confirming the kill.”
“There was no stabbing attempt, and no reason for the army to shoot, the soldiers shot them from a distance, and later fired more rounds to confirm the kill,” Ahmad said, “The soldiers then placed two knives next to the lifeless body of the pregnant woman, and shortly after that, the police published pictures showing three knives!”
Mohammad Ahmad, a bus driver who witnessed the shooting, said an Israeli soldier who was standing behind a large concrete block, shot the woman from a distance of more than twenty meters.
“Neither the woman, nor her brother, posed any threat to the lives of the soldiers,” Ahmad stated, “They were far away from the nearest soldier, and did not pose any threat to them – they just walked the wrong route.”
The slain brother and his sister are from Qotna village, northwest of occupied Jerusalem; Maram is Married and living with her husband and children in Beit Surik nearby village.
It is worth mentioning that a Palestinian ambulance rushed to the scene, but the soldiers closed the entire area, and prevented them from approaching the two Palestinians, who eventually bled to death.
More than an hour after the shooting, Israeli military medics placed the corpses of the two Palestinians in black bags, and took them away.
One day before this fatal shooting, a Palestinian man in his sixties nearly faced the same deadly fate when he walked this same wrong route, but when the soldiers started shouting at him he understood them because he speaks and understand Hebrew very well.
Hardly a day goes by without Israel accusing Palestinian leaders of incitement against the state and its citizens. They argue that such incitement was one of the triggers for the seven-month long uprising which has seen forty Israelis killed by Palestinians, mostly in knife attacks, and over two hundred Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces, many executed while posing no threat to anyone. Such accusations of Palestinian incitement extend all the way up to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He admitted recently that there is some incitement from the Palestinian side in his interview with Israeli Channel 2 TV. On other occasions, Saeb Erekat, General Secretary of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and its chief negotiator has also accepted that there is some incitement from the Palestinians.
Incitement as far as Israel is concerned covers a wide spectrum, from calling those killed by Israel “martyrs” to objecting to repeated incursions by Jewish settlers into Al-Aqsa Mosque, and including the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign; seeking membership in international organisations such as the International Criminal Court; calling Israel out as an apartheid state; describing the horrific impact of the occupation to the UN General Assembly; and even reminiscing about the towns and villages (most of which have been wiped off the map by Israel) from where Palestinian refugees come and to which they long to return.
Israel has worked tirelessly to convince the so called “international community” to accept its definition of “terrorism” and make it cover any form of resistance that is quite legitimate, including throwing stones. Even attacks against Israeli soldiers maintaining an illegal occupation in Palestine are deemed to be “terrorism”. The international community now works according to Israel’s definitions and narrative and seems to require the victims, the occupied people, to be exemplary and simply curse their predicament but do nothing about it. How many victims of an acknowledged crime are required to protect the criminals? The Palestinians under Israeli occupation are.
The situation is the same across the Atlantic. US presidential candidates making their obligatory, embarrassing pilgrimage to the main pro-Israel lobby group conference, AIPAC, earlier this month joined in this nauseating spectacle of dancing to Israel’s tune. Their words were carbon copies of what an Israeli spokesman would say. They accused the Palestinians of raising their children to hate and of loving death more than life. Both are inaccurate and very racist accusations designed to pander to the lobby. Only Bernie Sanders skipped this festival of anti-Palestinian hatred and then took Clinton to task for barely mentioning the Palestinians in a recent debate between the two Democrat front-runners for the White House.
While Palestinians can understand why Israel trivialises the impact that the loss of their homeland in 1948 (the Nakba) and the occupation of the remaining 22 per cent in 1967 (they Naksa) have had on them, they cannot fathom how and why supposedly intelligent people like the presidential candidates can be so insensitive to this. The fact that they see the Palestinians as the villains and their Israeli colonisers and occupiers as the victims is like being stabbed in the heart. To call on them to submit to Israel’s brutal occupation is in itself a form of incitement.
If the Palestinians are guilty of incitement, then what does Israel’s 24/7 occupation amount to? What the Palestinians can do pales into insignificance when compared to Israel’s deliberate daily provocation and humiliation of subjugated people in the hope of a reaction, to which the so-called Israel Defence Forces (IDF) can “respond”. This provocation – and provocation is not a strong enough word to convey the impact it has — is the most significant incitement of young Palestinians to take matters into their own hands. If those calling on them not to react could put themselves in their position for even one day and be on the receiving end of what it is like to live under occupation, I am confident that they would understand why they might be driven to violence.
The list of examples of incitement by Israel is long.
When Zionists claim that historic Palestine belongs to the Jews and use this to argue not only that modern day European Jews with no connection to the land have a “right to return” but also deny the same right to Palestinian refugees driven out of their homes and land in 1948 by Jewish terror groups, that is incitement by Israel.
When Palestinian children are abducted in the night by the army of an occupying power; denied legal rights including representation; shackled when brought to court; and made to sign confessions in Hebrew, that is incitement by Israel.
When an Israeli armoured bulldozer accompanied by dozens of soldiers arrives and demolishes a Palestinian home in occupied East Jerusalem under the pretence of the lack of a building permit, then that is also incitement by Israel.
When illegal Jewish settlers protected by the security forces throw a family out of their home in Sheikh Jarrah, and move into it themselves, that is incitement by Israel.
When Israeli settlers break into the grounds of Al-Aqsa Mosque under the protection of the security forces and claim that the mosque site is theirs, then that is incitement by Israel.
When Muslims are barred from reaching their holiest mosque in Palestine at the whim of the Israeli security forces, then that is incitement by Israel.
When homes are built for Jewish Israelis on Palestinian land and the owner’s movement is restricted to allow them freedom of movement, then that is incitement by Israel.
When the IDF fires tear gas canisters into Palestinian schools causing the children to suffocate or faint, then that is incitement by Israel.
When the occupying state takes over the main mosque in Hebron and divides it between Jews and Muslims, and determines when Palestinians can and cannot pray in it, then that is incitement by Israel.
When the occupation authority builds roads which encroach on Palestinian land for use by Jewish settlers only, then that is incitement by Israel.
When Jewish settlers terrorise the local population in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and even murder Palestinians such as Mohammed Abu Khdair and the Dawabshe family under the protection of the IDF, then that is incitement by Israel.
When Israel lays siege to 1.8 million human beings in the Gaza Strip for ten years with no prospect of the blockade ending, then that is incitement.
When the occupiers use the most powerful and devastating weapons on earth, save for nuclear weapons, to kill and maim in war after war against the Palestinians in Gaza, then that is incitement by Israel.
As far back as 2006, PLO Secretary General Dr Erekat said, “The Israeli ministry of defence is telling its citizens to carry weapons when trailing in the occupied West Bank near Palestinian villages.” This, he added, is an outrageous case of incitement to violence against Palestinians that reflects Israel’s official policy and mindset. “It should be of grave concern to the international community.”
Israeli incitement goes right to the top. In the 2015 general election campaign Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu incited the Jewish population against Israel’s Palestinian citizens when he said, “Arab voters are heading to the polling stations in droves” as if they were a swarm of cockroaches. He was also accused of incitement by Palestinian citizens when he promised Israeli Jews, “We will dramatically increase law enforcement services in the Arab sector.” Netanyahu told the press at the site of a shooting that Israel “will open new police stations, recruit more police officers, [and] go into all the towns and demand of everyone loyalty to the laws of the state.” Israeli lawmaker Miri Regev incited against African refugees claiming, “Heaven forbid [that] we compare Africans to human beings.”
At a recent conference to counter the BDS movement, an Israeli minister called for the “civil targeted killing” of BDS leaders like Omar Barghouti. Even foreign political figures have been the subject of incitement as Saeb Erekat has noted. He strongly condemned the hateful Israeli campaign against Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom following her legitimate calls for an investigation into Israel’s extrajudicial killing of Palestinian civilians.
Those searching for a peaceful resolution to the injustice affecting Palestinian must recognise Israeli provocations and incitement as serious contributing factors to the violence. They cannot expect the occupied Palestinians, victims of Israel’s colonisation project, to turn the other cheek when slapped. That cheek is badly bruised and cannot take any more humiliation, provocation and, yes, incitement by Israel.
The Israeli Supreme Court has sentenced Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, to nine months in prison over charges of “inciting violence” in a religious sermon dating back to 2007, Anadolu reported on Monday.
The Israeli District Court in Jerusalem sentenced Sheikh Salah to 11 months in prison, giving him permission to appeal to the Supreme Court, which reduced the sentence to nine months.
Deputy Head of the Islamic Movement in Israel, which was banned in November last year, Sheikh Kamal al-Khatib condemned the ruling against Sheikh Salah, describing it as “absolutely political” and aimed at keeping him far from Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque.
On 16 February 2007, Salah delivered a sermon in Wadi al-Juz in the Old City of Jerusalem. Over remarks in that sermon, the Israeli court charged him with “inciting violence” and “inciting hatred”.
In March 2014, the Magistrate Court charged Sheikh Salah with “inciting violence” over this sermon, but acquitted him of “inciting hatred” and sentenced him to eight months.
Then, the District Court called for charging him with “inciting hatred” and to sentence him to 18 to 40 months. In October 2015, it sentenced him to 11 months, giving him the permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.
The Israeli authorities are furious after a UNESCO resolution stated that the Temple Mount and holy sites in Hebron and Bethlehem are an “integral part of Palestine.” The organization also criticized Israel, “the occupying power,” for planting fake graves in Muslim cemeteries.
Two tourist destinations, the Cave of the Patriarchs in the heart of the old city of Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, are named in the paper as “Palestinian sites.” The draft decision by the UNESCO executive board on occupied Palestine was released April 11.
UNESCO “reaffirms that the two concerned sites located in… Hebron and in Bethlehem are an integral part of Palestine” and “disapproves the ongoing Israeli illegal excavations, works, construction of private roads for settlers and a separation wall inside the Old City of… Hebron, that harmfully affect the integrity of the site,” the statement says.
UNESCO slammed Israeli attacks on Muslims in the Temple Mount, which it only refers to by its Arabic name, Al-Haram Al-Sharif, and its holy site, Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The organization “strongly condemns the Israeli aggressions and illegal measures against the freedom of worship and Muslims’ access to their Holy Site Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al Sharif, and requests Israel, the Occupying Power, to respect the historic Status Quo and to immediately stop these measures,” the statement says.
Al-Aqsa Mosque became the flashpoint for bloodshed in 2015, amid mounting tensions over the holy site, sacred to both Muslims and Jews.
UNESCO called on Israel to stop “banning Muslims from burying their dead in some spaces and by planting Jewish fake graves in other spaces of the Muslim cemeteries.”
The group also criticized “the continuous Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip,” which causes an “intolerable number of casualties among Palestinian children,” as well as “the attacks on schools and other educational and cultural facilities and the denial of access to education.”
Israeli authorities have reacted with anger to the UNESCO document.
“This is yet another absurd UN decision,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, as cited by Israeli media.
“UNESCO ignores the unique historic connection of Judaism to the Temple Mount, where the two temples stood for a thousand years and to which every Jew in the world has prayed for thousands of years. The UN is rewriting a basic part of human history and has again proven that there is no low to which it will not stoop,” he added.
This is not the first UNESCO resolution that condemns Israel for aggression at holy sites in Jerusalem and the West Bank. In October 2015 the group issued a document which censured Israel for limiting Muslim access to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and reaffirmed that the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem are Palestinian sites.
The document was passed by 26 votes to six – those against being the US, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Estonia.
Meet five Palestinian children who go to school in the Old City of Jerusalem, in close proximity to Israeli settlers and armed forces. Each child describes their daily experience of unease and even bodily danger, as they travel to and attend school.
Hadeel, a tender-hearted young girl, walks her younger sister to kindergarten every morning before heading to her own school. She shares her fear that settlers will enter the building and kidnap her, as her school’s front door faces the entrance to an Israeli settler compound.
“The settlers could easily open the door and walk into our school. I’m afraid,” Hadeel states.
Hamza shows the camera a scar on his chest, the result of an Israeli soldier shooting him with a rubber-coated metal bullet. Israeli forces passing in a jeep likewise shot Ahmad’s father with a rubber-coated metal bullet as he was walking his son to school.
Rashad, a student at Riad Al-‘Aqsa school, explains the he dropped out for a while because of recent political unrest. Now that he has returned, Rashad faces regular harassment from Israeli settlers while walking or riding the bus. Sawsan Safadi, international and public relations director for the Palestinian Ministry of Education, affirms that absences like Rashad’s are quite common and hamper Palestinian children’s education.
Despite these hardships, Mohammad continues to pursue his love of theater, setting up street performances for his friends. “[W]hen I’m acting, nothing can bring me down. I act freely.”
This short film by Mouv Media, L.L.C. was produced by Defense for Children International – Palestine and War Child Holland.
Join a growing global movement fighting for accountability, increased protections, and justice for Palestinian children. You can make a difference. Join us: http://www.dci-palestine.org/donate.
Jerusalem, Occupied Palestine – The 10th of April is the last day of the demolition order on the home of the Totanji family. The family lives in the Sawaneh district in Wadi al-Joz, a village in East Jerusalem near the Old City, which Israel has declared as a ‘National Park’ area. This despite it having always been a residential area. The family received the demolition order over a year and a half years ago, but lost the appeal against the order last month. Today is the last day of the demolition order, which leaves the family fearing that their house maybe demolished tonight.
The house is single-story with 4 bedrooms. However, it is currently the home of 16 people including a 7 month old baby, the granddaughter of the owner of the house. As is the case with other Palestinian families in fear of house demolition, the family does not have any where else to go, and will leave their whole life behind if their house is demolished. Just seven months ago, one of Totanji sons had his house demolished in the same area. This fear of losing one’s home does not just apply to the Totanjis, but also to the rest of the residents in Palestine, due to the huge number of demolitions and demolition orders. In just the last week (31st March-6th April) 14 houses have been demolished in East Jerusalem and the West Bank by Israeli Forces.
Wadi al-Joz is located directly outside the Old City of Jerusalem in a vulnerable area. It is a neighbourhood that suffers from many demolition orders and subsequent demolitions. This is due to Israel declaring parts of the area around the Old City in Jerusalem as a ‘National Park’, to “protect the historical land.” The area covers a huge residential areas containing villages which are already overcrowded including Wadi al-Joz. In addition to the Totanjis, 13 other families in the Sawaneh district in Wadi al-Joz are also in danger of demolition. The information regarding the so called ‘National Park’ was only relayed to these families in the past two years. And whilst Israeli authorities claim that it was declared a park more than 4 decades ago, regardless, this declaration concerning annexed territory is in direct violation of international law.
The family is seeking an international presence to defer the demolition and deter the Israeli authorities. Internationals will be in the house from this evening and for the foreseeable future to prevent the demolition. There is a press conference planned tomorrow morning, 11am on the 11th of April 2016, to announce the opening of a protest tent outside the Totanji family house. The families and the community of Wadi al-Joz invites everyone to attend the protest and to lend coverage to this important event.
Wadi Al-Joz, neighbourhood of East Jerusalem
Across the Fire Station, behind the Central Market or “Hisbi”
From Damascus Gate, follow the Old City Wall towards the Mount of Olives and continue down into Wadi Al-Joz. The home is on a dirt road on the right before you begin to go up the hill to the Mount of Olives. It is about 10-15 minute walk from Damascus Gate. Alternatively, you can drive down from the Mount of Olives past the Ibrahimiya School. The dirt road is on the left at the bottom of the hill just opposite the paved road that goes right into Wadi al-Joz.
Totanji family contact
Aref Tatanji: +972-(0)-508-133-590 (Arabic)
Press conference contact
Nureddin Amro: +972-(0)-525-271-587 (Arabic and English)
ISM media contact
Background about home demolitions:
East Jerusalem: Key Humanitarian Concerns (UN OCHA, August 2014)
The Absentee Property Law in East Jerusalem and Its Implementation: A Legal Guide and Analysis (Norwegian Refugee Council, 2013)
Al-Aqsa imam arrested by Israeli occupation forces after Friday prayers; 6 Jerusalemites arrested in Silwan
Israeli occupation forces arrested imam Sheikh Mohammed Salim as he left the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on Friday, 8 April, accusing him of “incitement” in his speech delivered today at Friday prayers before 70,000 worshipers.
Feras al-Dabas, press spokesperson of the Islamic Waqf, was quoted in Al-Resalah as saying that despite the intervention of the director of the Waqf, Sheik Azzam al-Khatib, the occupation forces insisted on arresting Salim and had taken him to a detention center, without revealing his whereabouts.
This came as occupation forces arrested six Palestinian Jerusalemites from Silwan, confiscating a protest tent, in an attempt to stop a public Friday prayer in protest of ongoing Israeli occupation policies of repression against the people of Silwan, in particular a decision to demolish 50 homes in Silwan under the pretext of the construction of a garden. Occupation forces arrested Jalal Abbasi, Firas Abbasi, Musa Abbasi, Mohammed Abu Tayeh and Khaled Abu Tayeh and detained two vehicles, which were warned against delivering any plastic chairs to the protest tent.
Jawad Siyam, Director of the Wadi Hilweh Information Center was briefly arrested after attempting to stop the arrest of the five Palestinian youths, and later released. Despite the arrests and the confiscation of the protest tent, the public prayer in rejection of arrests, home demolitions and land confiscation went forward.
BETHLEHEM – The Israeli Knesset on Tuesday approved the first reading of a bill which would allow Israeli courts to hand down prison sentences to minors under the age of 14 — legislation critics say is targeted at Palestinian children.
A recent amendment to the bill, which would apply to children convicted of murder, attempted murder, and homicide, reportedly declared that the prison terms would be postponed until the accused minors turn 18.
If passed into law after two more successful readings in the Knesset, the legislation would apply to residents of Israel and occupied East Jerusalem, whereas Palestinians in the occupied West Bank are tried in military courts.
According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, at least 108 Palestinian minors under the age of 16 were being held by Israel as of February.
“Unfortunately, terrorism does not have an age, and today there are no punishments matching the cruel reality we face,” The Jerusalem Post quoted Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked as saying on Sunday. “In order to create deterrence and change the situation around us, we must adopt the suggested new amendments to the law.”
Shaked first proposed the bill in November, after two Palestinian children ages 12 and 13 allegedly stabbed and injured an Israeli security guard on Jerusalem’s light rail near the illegal Israeli settlement of Pisgat Zeev.
An increase in violence in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel has led to the death of more than 200 Palestinians and nearly 30 Israelis since October, with a wave of small-scale attacks and attempted attacks, the majority carried out by Palestinian individuals on Israeli military targets.
Knesset member Yousef Jabareen of the Joint Arab List has criticized the bill as an affront to international law.
“Israel is a party to the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, and this change contradicts Israel’s obligation to this convention,” the politician, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, told Ma’an.
The convention states that “the arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.”
According to Jabareen, Shaked’s statements regarding the bill leave little doubt as to who will be the main targets of such legislation.
“This bill targets Palestinian children,” he said. “Of course the bill is written in objective terms, but everyone knows the context in which it is being presented, and I doubt it will be used in other contexts.”
“This is an integrant part of a wave of bills introduced in the past few months which are harshening punishments for Palestinian children and families, especially in East Jerusalem,” Jabareen added.
The MK notably mentioned a law passed by the Knesset in July which made penalties for stone-throwing more severe, allowing for stone-throwers to receive a 20-year prison sentence where intent to harm could be proven, and 10 years where it could not.
Jabareen said he believed the bill would likely pass into law.
“Unfortunately, in the current atmosphere, there is a good chance the bill will pass,” he said. “Even some opposition MKs support the bill.”
However, he expressed doubts that the legislation would effectively act as a deterrent.
“The (Israeli) government is attempting to oppress and suppress the Palestinian resistance, but everybody knows that without a serious proposal for advancing the political process, they are doomed to fail.”