RAMALLAH – Israeli forces briefly detained the governor of the Ramallah and al-Bireh district, Laila Ghannam, at the entrance of Nabi Saleh village in the northern Ramallah district on Saturday.
Soldiers reportedly threatened the governor of “direct targeting” if she continues to participate in the weekly march organized by the popular committee against settlements and the separation wall in Nabi Saleh.
Ghannam said “we will not be frightened of detention even if we are directly targeted; we will take part in the weekly march and will not be prevented from exercising our rights on our land.”
Ghannam was detained in a similar incident in February last year while travelling from Jericho to Ramallah.
She said then that her detention was a political message from the Israeli government to PA leaders that Israel wants to impose its authority in every way possible.
Earlier this month, a local activist committee reported that 11 Palestinians were injured during the weekly march when Israeli forces shot one Palestinian with live fire and beat ten others.
Three activists were also reportedly detained by Israeli forces during the march.
In 2004, the International Court of Justice called on Israel to stop construction of the separation wall within the occupied West Bank.
When completed, 85 percent of the wall will run inside the West Bank.
The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.
Photo of Nabi Saleh girl injured by Israeli occupation forces during weekly demonstration on March 21, 2015, by International Solidarity Movement.
BETHLEHEM – Israeli forces conducted military training exercises in the Ramallah district earlier this week, according to Israeli media.
The Israeli force’s Territorial Brigade allegedly raided the town of Birzeit, just outside the central West Bank city of Ramallah, in what was reported by Israeli news source Haaretz as “preparation for a possible escalation on the ground.”
The forces engaged in a variety of potential scenarios including confronting violent mass demonstrations, shooting attacks, and use of live fire by members of Palestinian security forces.
While Haaretz reported the exercise was planned with the intention to cause “relatively little disruption to the routine of Palestinian life,” the account included a training exercise in the home of a Birzeit University college student, whose house was searched during the night while he stood in his pajamas with an Israeli soldier.
An Israeli army spokeswoman did not have any immediate information about the training, but told Ma’an she would look into recent military training activity in the area.
Birzeit is in Area A, falling under full control of the Palestinian Authority. Israeli forces repeatedly enter Area A despite their obligation by the Oslo Accords not to do so, most often in military raids launched on a near nightly basis to detain Palestinians.
Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din reported that Israeli forces have upheld the practice of using populated Palestinian areas for Israeli military drills since at least 2007.
The group filed a complaint against the Israeli Military Advocate General’s Corps in 2013, arguing that such military exercises “sow fear and panic and violate the security and dignity of the residents,” particularly because exercises are often not announced to Palestinian locals in advance, and thus it is not always clear to nearby residents that these are mere drills.
Legal Advisor for the West Bank declared in February 2014 that military training exercises were no longer authorized to be held in Palestinian villages without giving prior notification to the civilian population, however the rights group continues to criticize the practice.
Tuesday, 17th March 2015, four farmers in the Salfit valley of Wadi Qana were issued with notices that they had 48 hours to remove their olives trees or they would be removed at their own cost. Failure to execute the orders are punishable by imprisonment, or fines up to the maximum penalty of the law.
Supporters, many from the nearby village of Deir Istiya, as well as locals and internationals, turned out in anticipation of soldier presence or settler provocation, but no conflict took place.
A crowd of approximately 250 supporters gathering in the valley were met by a festive atmosphere. Representatives from various organisations in conjunction with the Deir Istiya Municipality converged to remove waste from the spring and its surroundings.
In 2008 and 2011 farmers of Wadi Qana were issued with similar notices. These removal orders were not carried out. In 2012 trees were removed without notice. Approximately 3,000 trees have been destroyed in Wadi Qana by settler attacks and by order of Israeli authorities.
The Deir Istiya region has a population of approximately 12,000 people, 4,000 of whom live in town. The illegal settlements of the area, of which seven surround Wadi Qana, house approximately 15,000 settlers. Wadi Qana itself sits within the 31,000 hectares around Deir Istiya which has been zoned as Area C, leaving only the 1,527 hectares of the township in Palestinian controlled Area A. Under the Oslo Accords, Israeli law forbids Palestinians to build structures or plant trees in Area C, while conversely, entitling illegal Israeli settlements to develop and expand. (Al Jazeera has a good explanation of the different areas here.)
Speaking of the situation in Area C, a frustrated resident of Deir Istiya exclaimed, “They have the right to cut the old olive trees but we have no right to grow a new one. See the discriminations?”
Wadi Qana is a strategic area in the region, containing several significant natural springs. These springs and the crops which they irrigate have been under serious threat since 1994 when settlements began running sewage into the valley. While this practice was limited in 2005, many ocurrences have been identified, with four settlements’ waste currently believed to be pumping into the valley below.
While only two of the seventeen natural springs remain unpolluted, water from the underground aquifers is dropping due to the increasing demands of the ongoing settlement expansion. This has caused many farmers to move away from orange and vegetable crops to the more arid-adapted olive trees. The livelihoods of farmers of Wadi Qana are increasingly under threat because of the occupation and its apartheid laws.
There is something deeply mendacious and cowardly about this ritual leaking by European diplomats of their annual report on Jerusalem. This year they’ve chosen to deposit the “confidential” report in the hands of the Guardian.
Obviously, the Europeans – and Americans – want this information about how angry they are with Israel disseminated as widely as possible in the wake of Netanyahu’s election win. “We’re mad and we’re not going to take it any more!” they shout – yet again, as they have done over the past four or five years.
As ever, the report is being described as “hard-hitting”; as ever, it threatens penalties against Israel; and as ever, it signifies nothing.
This is paltry theatre designed to persuade us – people with consciences – that our representatives care and that they are planning – at some point – to do something. But what it really indicates is that that something is going to amount to nothing more than empty threats. These are the same threats they have been making for more than a decade. And even were Europe actually to carry them out, they would have almost no impact on Israel.
Here’s what these “threats” consist of:
Known Jewish terrorists may face “restrictions” on entering Europe. (One would have hoped such “restrictions” were already in place.)
Europe may give its consumers more information about whether they are being misled into buying products from illegal settlements. (Such products should not even be available in Europe.)
And efforts will be made to “raise awareness” among European companies that it could be bad for business to be associated with the settlements. (And yet, according to free-market ideology, market forces ought to be enough to dissuade most companies from such associations – after all, they are supposed to want to maximise profits.)
In short, this list of potential “sanctions” is complete hot air. It’s zilch. And anyone claiming otherwise, including the Guardian, is simply conspiring in this diplomatic charade.
NABLUS – A Palestinian family has accused Israeli forces of stealing money and jewelry from their family home near Nablus during a military raid Sunday.
Family members of Wisdam Nassar from the village of Madama south of Nablus told Ma’an they realized Tuesday that 5,000 shekels ($1,200) and jewelry worth 12,000 shekels ($3,000) were gone after Israeli forces raided the home.
Israeli forces raided the village at 2 a.m. early Sunday and ransacked several homes for inspection, according to the family.
The family said they had notified the Palestinian security services of the robbery.
An Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma’an she was not aware of any theft that might have occurred and would look into the incident.
Israeli forces confiscated an estimated $2.9 million worth of cash and property from Palestinian homes, charities, and businesses during Operation Brother’s Keeper in the summer of 2014, according to a report by Geneva-based human rights organization Euro-Mid Observer.
The operation involved a three-week campaign of mass arrests throughout the occupied West Bank by Israeli forces, allegedly searching for those responsible for the deaths of three Israeli teenagers killed while hitchhiking in a Jewish settlement near Bethlehem.
Spokespople for the Israeli government justified confiscations during this time by claiming their planned use to fund or support terrorism.
The Euro-Mid Observer reported, however, that Israeli authorities neither provided evidence nor judicial permission for the confiscations.
Four Palestinians and one female German demonstrator shot with live ammunition at “Open Shuhada Street” protest
Israeli military sniper aiming up the road towards the Open Shuhada Street demonstrators
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – On February 27 in occupied Al-Khalil (Hebron), Israeli forces fired live ammunition towards nonviolent protesters participating in the annual Open Shuhada Street demonstration, injuring five including four Palestinian activists, one of them 17 years old, and one German citizen. More were also injured by rubber-coated steel bullets and stun grenades as soldiers and Border Police blocked the roads leading towards Shuhada Street and attacked the protesters.
Close to a thousand Palestinians, accompanied by Israeli and international supporters, marched towards one of the closed entrances to Shuhada Street carrying flags and signs and chanting. They called for the opening of Shuhada Street, whose closure to Palestinians has become a symbol of Israel’s Apartheid system, and for an end to the occupation. The march was turned back by stun grenades, rubber coated steel bullets and live ammunition fired by the Israeli military. Around twenty demonstrators were injured in total; Hebron Hospital reported that at least six were admitted and two required surgery. One Palestinian activist, Hijazi Ebedo, 25, was arrested at the demonstration; all he had been doing was chanting and holding a sign.
Issa Amro, coordinator and co-founder of Youth Against Settlements (YAS) stated: “The protest, which was joined by groups from all over Palestine, marked the twenty-first anniversary of the Ibrahimi Mosque Massacre. Israeli occupying forces shot live ammunition towards peaceful protesters, which is against international law. The Israeli military should be held accountable in international court for their actions.”
“Julia was standing and filming next to me when suddenly she fell to the ground,” stated Leigh, a Canadian activist who was standing next to Julia when she was shot.
Julia, the injured 22-year-old German activist from Berlin, was evacuated to Hebron Hospital where she is being treated for a live gunshot wound which entered and exited her leg. “The brutality of Israeli forces is unbelievable, it seems like they don’t have a limit,” she stated. “In Palestine I have seen Israeli forces shooting tear gas, stun grenades, rubber and live ammunition at any kind of demonstration that is against the occupation. It doesn’t matter for them if it is peaceful or if there are kids attending. Yesterday I saw the army attack children who had been dancing in the street. Two people were shot with live ammunition in Bil’in. They shot me as I was standing and filming. It seems the soldiers just shoot at any one.”
The Open Shuhada Street demonstration marks the anniversary of the 1994 Ibrahimi Mosque massacre, when right wing extremist settler Baruch Goldstein murdered 29 Palestinians while they worshipped in the mosque. Following the massacre, Israeli forces shut down Palestinian businesses on Shuhada Street–once a commercial center–and began to implement the policies which would lead to what is now a total closure of the vast majority of the street to Palestinians. Twenty one years after the massacre, settlers from illegal Israeli settlements use the street freely while Palestinians are assaulted, shot and arrested when they attempt to reach it en masse during the Open Shuhada Street demonstration every year.
The Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem and all Palestine, Theophilos III, denounced on Thursday what he called “repeated” attacks on Christian and Muslim places of worship in the Palestinian territories by extremist Jewish settlers.
“The targeting of churches and mosques is caused by pervasive racism and hatred,” he said in a statement.
Earlier Thursday, Jewish Settlers set fire to part of a religious school affiliated with Jerusalem’s Greek Orthodox Church, Which they sprayed with anti-Christian graffiti. On Wednesday, settlers torched and sprayed graffiti on a West Bank mosque.
Theophilos III said Christians represented an “integral part” of the Holy Land, its history and its future, going on to assert that the Greek Orthodox Church was one of the world’s most important churches.
“Criminals will not intimidate this church or its flock,” he declared.
He called on government agencies to address repeated settler attacks on places of worship.
Earlier Thursday, The Palestinian Foreign Ministry called on both the Vatican and the international community to protect Islamic and Christian places of worship from what it described as “Jewish extremism.”
“We strongly condemn these acts,” the ministry said in a statement. “Yesterday a mosque near Bethlehem was torched and today a church in Jerusalem [was attacked].”
Extremist Jews, the ministry asserted, continued to attack Muslim and Christian places of worship while the Israeli government did nothing to stop them.
The ministry went on to blame the Israeli government for the trend, calling on the Vatican, the international community and the UN to help protect local religious sites.
On Wednesday, Jewish Settlers set fire to a mosque near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem, Which Also they covered with anti-Arab and anti-Muslim graffiti.
Several instances of settler attacks on Muslim places of worship have been reported recently, both in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and in the self-proclaimed Jewish state itself.
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – On the 24th of February in occupied Al-Khalil (Hebron), Israeli forces opened fire on dancing Palestinian youth, firing tear gas and throwing stun grenades at group of young children performing a traditional Palestinian dance as a form of protest in front of Shuhada checkpoint.
The fifteen young dancers, Palestinian girls and boys between the ages of six and twelve, gathered to perform dabke, a traditional Palestinian dance. They staged their dance in the open street in Bab Al-Zawiye (in the H1 – officially Palestinian Authority-controlled – part of Hebron) near Shuhada checkpoint, as part of a week of actions planned by Palestinian organizers around the annual Open Shuhada Street campaign. The children began performing under heavy military surveillance, as at least thirteen soldiers occupied roofs surrounding the entrance to the checkpoint.
Even before the demonstration had begun, Israeli forces closed Shuhada checkpoint to Palestinian men, only allowing a few women through. Shuhada checkpoint controls the main access between Bab Al-Zawiye and the the H2 (fully Israeli-controlled) neighborhood of Tel Rumeida. On the H2 side, the checkpoint faces Shuhada street, and soldiers restrict Palestinian access onto the short portion of Shuhada street where they are still allowed to walk.
“As soon as the dancing kids moved closer to the checkpoint, soldiers immediately attacked with two tear gas grenades and two stun grenades,” reported an ISM volunteer who witnessed the incident. “Israeli soldiers fired tear gas even though the children were not throwing stones.”
Jewish State forces prepare to fire on dancing children
After first fleeing the assault, the Palestinian children managed to continue dancing even as around twenty soldiers and eight border police advanced from the checkpoint into Bab Al-Zawiye. Israeli forces threw a dozen stun grenades after a few youth began throwing stones at the checkpoint.
Clashes continued for about an hour and a half, as Israeli soldiers and border police fired even more rounds of tear gas, several additional stun grenades, and eventually rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinian youth. Advancing further and further into the commercial center of Bab Al-Zawiye, they ended up shooting into the crowded streets of the city’s market area. Local activists reported that two Palestinians suffered injuries from rubber-coated steel bullets.
February 25 marks the 21-year anniversary of the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre; in 1994 US-born extremist settler Baruch Goldstein murdered 29 Palestinian worshipers inside the Al-Khalil mosque and injured dozens more. In the time following the attack, Israeli authorities initiated a crackdown, not on those occupying the city’s illegal settlements, but on Palestinians. Israel put in place policies, including the closure of Shuhada street, which would eventually lead to Al-Khalil becoming the divided city it is today.
Children in H2, which includes Al-Khalil’s historic Old City and once-thriving market, constantly endure the violence and daily humiliations of Israeli military occupation. Children living in the neighborhoods of H2 are routinely tear gassed on their way to school and face arrest, attack and daily harassment at checkpoints. The Open Shuhada Street actions are a yearly expression of resistance to Israel’s Apartheid system, as Palestinians young and old demand and end to the occupation.
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – During the night of the February 22nd, Israeli occupation forces raided two homes belonging to the Edies family, in the Al-Khalil (Hebron) neighbourhood of Tel Rumeida. At least thirty soldiers invaded the homes of Yahya Edies and Saleh Edies at around 2:30 am on Sunday morning. Mhammad Edies, one of Yahya’s sons, reported to ISM volunteers that soldiers threatened his family, telling them “if you don’t open the door in 5 minutes, we will blow it up”.
Israeli soldiers ordered the family of twelve, including five children between 5 months and 12 years old, to gather in one room. One of the family’s sons was unable to follow the soldiers’ orders, since he is disabled and cannot move by himself; only after some discussion was he finally allowed to stay in the room he was in. The family was forced to stay inside that room for about an hour as the soldiers ransacked the house, upending furniture, strewing things all over the floor destroying the family’s belongings.
The soldiers upended furniture and destroyed belongings while the Palestinian family was trapped in one room – photo by Mhammad Edies
Israeli forces prevented ISM volunteers from documenting what was happening, pointing their guns and aiming lasers at them, yelling at and detaining those who attempted to leave their house to photograph the raid.
The following morning, a local a human rights activist reported that Israeli occupation forces had raided around 20 houses in Al-Khalil on that same night of the 21st to the 22nd of February alone.
Medical sources said the slain young man has been identified as Jihad Shehada al-Ja’fary, 19 years of age.
The sources added that al-Ja’fary was shot by a live round that penetrated his left shoulder, and lodged in his chest causing a severe bleeding.
The soldiers prevented Palestinian medics from reaching the seriously wounded man, and he bled to death before the medics managed to move him to the al-Yamama hospital, in Bethlehem.
His body was then moved to the Beit Jala governmental hospital, and will later be moved to a forensic center.
The slain Palestinian was standing on his home’s rooftop, overlooking the main road, when he was shot.
Eyewitnesses said scores of soldiers invaded the camp in an attempt to kidnap a Palestinian, an issue that led to clashes between the soldiers and local youths who hurled stones and empty bottles on them.
The army fired gas bombs, rubber-coated metal bullets and rounds of live ammunition, causing several injuries.
New testimonies from Palestinian minors have made their way out of Israeli prisons, speaking of the brutal beating and torture of youngsters conducted by Israeli soldiers and investigators.
Hiba Masalha, lawyer of the Palestinian Detainees Committee, who visited a number of children in HaSharon Israeli prison, said that the prisoners suffered incredibly savage treatment and brutality.
According to the PNN, 16-year-old prisoner Mohammed Zidani, from Silwan village, who was detained on the 10th of November, last year, and sentenced to 16 months of prison on January 19 of this year, said that he underwent electric shocks during his detention, for “confessions”.
Ziadni told Masalha that he was driven away from his home at 2 AM by private units and soldiers after they overwhelmingly raided his home, then dragged him to the Mascoubiya detention center, “room number 4″. The child said that, before they reached their destination, they stopped the military jeep bearing them, took him down to the street and started beating him so hard he suffered bruises and contusions all over his body.
In Mascoubiya room number 4, Mohammed said that he was forced to kneel and put his head between the legs, with his hands cuffed to his back and his eyes blindfolded. He was kept in this position for 4 hours. The investigation carried on for about 12 hours. He was given no food and was not allowed to go to bathroom.
Zidani said that during the investigation sessions that used to carry on until after midnight, the investigators beat him on his face and stomach.
During one of the sessions, Mohammed said, the investigator had “a stick shaped machine,” put it on his foot and pressed a button. Mohammed then felt the electric shock invading his body, and had unbearable pain in his foot. The investigator repeated the process three times in a row to “pull confessions out of him.” He started shouting of pain.
The testimony of another child prisoner, Kathem Annous (15) further demonstrates the torture children receive in Israeli jails.
Kathem, from Ras Al-Amoud, in occupied East Jerusalem, has been detained since November 3 of last year, in Hasharom prison. Similar to Mohammed Zidani’s case, he was driven from his home by Israeli soldiers and intelligence, and driven to a nearby settlement handcuffed and blindfolded, and kept for hours in the cold.
One soldier, using his iron-soled shoe, slammed Kathem’s foot, causing him contusions. He was then driven to Mascoubiya detention center.
During the investigation, Kathem was forced to kneel and point his head towards the wall, handcuffed. The investigation took 3 hours, in which Kathem was constantly beaten on his stomach and slapped on the face. He was kept in Mascoubiya for 12 days.
Annous said that he was also beaten by the Nahshon forces on his way to the court, and his handcuffs were very tightened. He mentioned that one time,a Nahshon member attacked him in the waiting room, and started violently knocking his head against the wall, for no reason whatsoever.
Anemic 14-year-old prisoner, Khaled Al-Sheikh, has been imprisoned for 55 days now, and hasnt been allowed to see his parents since then.
Child abuse in Israeli prisons is on the increase. According to Ahrar Center, there are about 300 children detained in Israeli prisons.
The Israeli military court in the ‘Ofer prison, in the occupied West Bank, sentenced on Monday, a Palestinian journalism student who is also a Folk Dancer and activist, Lina Khattab, to six months imprisonment and a 6,000 Shekel fine.
The court also instated a three-year suspended sentence on Khattab, 17 years of age, for what it called “participating in a protest in solidarity with Palestinian political prisoners,” in front of the Ofer prison.
Lina Khattab, who is a Journalism student at Birzeit University, was kidnapped by Israeli soldiers on December 13, 2014, during a nonviolent protest organized by students marking the 47th anniversary of the establishment of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
This past December, an Al-Quds News broadcast report about Lina featured an interview with her mother who spoke of the kidnapping of her daughter by the soldiers, who deliberately targeted her for her nonviolent political activities.
In the interview, Lina’s mother said that when she managed to see her for the first time, she noticed that her daughter has lost a lot of weight, and also told reporters that despite harsh living conditions and interrogation methods, her daughter remained steadfast to her principles of justice and liberation.
She added that her daughter told her about the extreme beating she was subjected to when the soldiers kidnapped her, before placing her in their jeep, and that the soldiers were angered that despite the beating, she was not crying, and even asked her why she wasn’t crying, but she remained strong and steadfast without showing any signs of weakness.
The soldiers claimed she hurled stones at them, but she continuously told them she was visiting her friend, and that the soldiers were just trying to frame her by making different allegations and fabrication.
Following her arrest, Dina was moved to the ‘Ofer Israeli prison, were she was forced to stand against a wall in the rain and cold, and the next day, she was moved to the HaSharon prison.
Whenever she was moved to HaSharon to the Ofer military court, the soldiers would wake her up nearly at 2 am, and deprive her from sleeping, before moving her to Ofer in a military vehicle while deliberately running cold air through the area of the vehicles were she was held, and once arriving in Ofer, she would also be placed in a cold room with a cooling system on despite the cold weather.