Today in Palestine! ~ Thursday, 11 August 2011 ~

Land, property, resources theft and destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid

Israel approves 1,600 Jerusalem settler homes
JERUSALEM (AFP) 11 Aug — Israel’s interior minister Eli Yishai has given final approval for the construction of 1,600 new settler homes in east Jerusalem, his spokesman told AFP on Thursday … Roei Lachmanovich also said the interior minister was set to give final approval for another 2,700 settler homes in east Jerusalem neighborhoods in “a couple of days.” “He has approved 1,600 homes in Ramat Shlomo and will approve 2,000 more in Givat Hamatos and 700 in Pisgat Zeev,” Lachmanovich said … Lachmanovich said the final approvals were “economic” not political, tying the final go-ahead to protests over housing prices and the cost of living that have shaken Israel in recent weeks. “These are being approved because of the economic crisis here in Israel, they are looking for a place to build in Jerusalem, and these will help,” he said. “This is nothing political, it’s just economic.”

Another announcement on construction in East Jerusalem
Maps, explanations of plans from Peace Now Settlement Watch E. Jerusalem 11 Aug

UN envoy alarmed by ‘provocative’ settlement plan
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Aug — United Nations envoy for the peace process expressed alarm on Thursday over the announcement by the Israeli government of plans to develop new housing units in occupied East Jerusalem. Robert Serry said in a statement that “this provocative action undermines ongoing efforts by the international community to bring the parties back to negotiations and shape a positive agenda for September.”

Ashrawi: Israel’s de facto policy destroys the peace process
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 11 Aug — Hanan Ashrawi, PLO Executive Committee member, Thursday warned that Israel’s unilateral measures in Jerusalem are a violation of international resolutions and will destroy the peace process. Commenting on Israeli plans to build thousand of housing units in East Jerusalem, Ashrawi said that “this new crime which Israel is seeking to carry out in full view of the world, aims at changing the city’s demographic, cultural and historical reality, terminating Palestinian presence in the city and expelling its original residents without accountability from the international community.” She said the Israeli housing problem resulted from investing the money to serve settlements and occupation projects instead of treating and resolving the social injustice.

Fatah says it will fight Israeli settlement plans
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 11 Aug — Fatah movement, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, said Thursday that it will fight Israeli settlement plans in the Palestinian Territory through legitimate means. It said Israeli government approval of building 4,300 units in occupied Jerusalem “is a new aggression against the Palestinian land and scorns the international community and United Nations resolutions.”

IOA flattens Palestinian home in occupied Jerusalem
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 11 Aug — The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) razed the home of Majed Al-Rajabi in Baka’a area to the southwest of occupied Jerusalem on Wednesday due to the usual pretext of lack of construction permit. Rajabi said that the IOA glued a demolition order on his 60 square meter home a week ago, adding that he had purchased the house seven years ago when it was a deserted shop. The IOA had razed another home for Rajabi in 2009 in Beit Hanina in occupied Jerusalem at the same pretext. Rajabi said that his son-in-law, who lives near him, has received a similar demolition notice,

Palestine’s UN observer calls to stop destruction of historic cemetery in Jerusalem
NEW YORK (WAFA) 10 Aug — Palestine’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations (UN), Riyad Mansour urged Wednesday the international community to take action to stop the continued destruction of  ‘Ma’man Allah’ historic cemetery in East Jerusalem by the Israeli government. Mansour urged the international community to condemn the Israeli construction of the so-called “Center for Human Dignity — Museum of Tolerance” over the buried Muslims in the cemetery.

IOF serves demolition notice to owner of water well
JERICHO (PIC) 11 Aug — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) served a notice to a Palestinian citizen in Nuwaima village, Jericho province, that his water well would be razed because it was built without permit in area C of the West Bank … Zuhair Manasra, the head of the society of palm growers in Jericho, refuted the IOA claim that the water well was located in C area, adding that it is located in A area. He said that the IOA decision would lead to the death of palm trees in the entire area, noting that it contains 4000 trees. The IOA seeks to redirect all water resources in the Jordan Valley to serve 30 Jewish settlements there inhabited by 9500 settlers who consume double the consumption of the entire Palestinian population in the West Bank.

Settlers have other rules / Sima Kadmon
Ynet 11 Aug — Op-ed: While housing protesters struggle, outpost dwellers get quick government solutions … The Migron story is a small illustration of a big policy, says Peace Now Secretary General Yariv Oppenheimer. Those who take over private land in the territories do not only avoid eviction — the State offers them a rapid solution. The protesters at the tents, says Oppenheimer, are hereby invited to build outposts in the settlements and then watch as the State enlists to the cause of finding housing solutions for them.,7340,L-4107427,00.html


Jewish settlers seize Palestinian homes by force
AL-KHALIL/HEBRON (PIC) 11 Aug — Jewish settlers forced their way into Palestinian homes in the Old City of Al-Khalil and expelled their inhabitants at dawn Thursday, eyewitnesses said. They said that the settlers used digging tools to force their way into those homes overlooking the settlement outposts in the city.

Israeli forces

Kfir Brigade soldier’s conviction overturned
Ynet 11 Aug — The Military Appellate Court on Wednesday overturned the conviction of a Kfir Brigade paramedic charged with attacking Palestinian residents during 2008 operational activity in Kfar Kadum, referring the case back to the Jaffa Military Court.  The judges ruled that because the Brigade Commander, Colonel Itai Virob, was reprimanded prior to the opening of Sergeant G.’s trial, his testimony may have directly or indirectly influenced the sentencing and subsequent punishment of 65 days in prison.,7340,L-4107416,00.html

American olim seek combat service
Ynet 11 Aug — Some 100 young Jewish adults from US, Canada to join IDF immediately after arriving in Israel next week; nearly all of them want to be combat soldiers … These young Jews are immigrating to Israel as part of a joint campaign launched by the Nefesh B’Nefesh organization, the Jewish Agency, Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF), Garin Tzabar of the Friends of Israel Scouts and the Immigrant Absorption Ministry.,7340,L-4107650,00.html


Israel uses “primitive, racist” policies against Palestinian prisoners / Mel Frykberg
RAMALLAH (IPS) 10 Aug — ““I’m sick with worry about my daughter,” Yehiya al-Shalabi says. “I’m afraid of what they are doing to her. She has done nothing to deserve this. If they have anything against her why don’t they bring her to trial?” Hana al-Shalabi, Yehiya’s 27-year-old daughter, has been languishing in Israeli administrative detention for more than two years. She is the longest serving Palestinian female political prisoner in administrative detention. According to her lawyer, the young woman from Jenin in the northern West Bank does not know why Israeli soldiers arrested her several years ago. She also does not know how long they will keep her in jail or what they will charge her with.

Longest held administrative detainee arrested again
AL-KHALIL/HEBRON (PIC) 11 Aug — The longest held Palestinian prisoner in administrative detention Ayed Dudin, 44, has once again been arrested just 40 days after being released. Prior to the incident, Dudin had been kept in administrative detention without an indictment for four years … At around 2am Tuesday morning, the Dudins’ residence in Al-Khalil governorate was raided by an Israeli force of 50 soldiers, the family said. Everyone was ordered to evacuate the home as items in it were manhandled and people terrified during a search. In addition, rocks were reported to have been thrown at the residence by soldiers and one of the doors was left broken.  A computer and two mobile phones were also confiscated during the search. But the officers failed to inform the family the reason for the arrest or where Dudin would be taken.

In prison, and denied education / Mohammed Omer
GAZA CITY (IPS) 11 Aug — Access to education for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails is getting worse as international organisations remain unwilling or unable to intervene. Secondary- school students here completed their exams in June, and received their results by end of July. However, the 1,800 Palestinian prisoners who were supposed to complete their exams were not permitted to do so by the Israeli Prison Service.

International abduction

Report: ‘Hamas engineer’ cooperating with interrogators
TEL AVIV (Ma’an) 11 Aug — A Gaza engineer kidnapped by Israel earlier this year in the Ukraine has provided interrogators information on Hamas’ technical capabilities, an Israeli newspaper said Thursday. Dirar Abu Sisi, head of the Gaza power plant, was kidnapped in Kiev in February … Israel claims Abu Sisi served as a kind of consultant for Hamas’ rocket manufacturers. “I assisted Hamas in developing their missile capabilities, by identifying and handing over mathematical equations that improve the metal pipe’s ability to withstand pressure and heat,” he is quoted as saying. … According to the report, Abu Sisi has expressed regret for assisting Hamas. But his family and Palestinian officials have denied any connection to Hamas. Abu Sisi’s sister Suzanne said earlier this year that he was “not linked in any way to any political faction, he was working as the head of the operations of the plant before Hamas came to power, and he continues his work as a university professor.” The Palestinian Authority’s ambassador in the Ukraine has also disputed Israel’s claims …
His Israeli lawyer, Smadar Ben-Natan, said in April that her client had made confessions “under very heavy duress which I would characterise as torture.” Hamas denies that Abu Sisi had any connection to the organization.


US warns Hamas on possible withdrawal of Gaza aid over audit dispute / Ethan Bronner
JERUSALEM (NYT) 11 Aug — The State Department sent a message to Hamas rulers in Gaza on Thursday that it would withdraw some $100 million it is spending in Gaza on health care, agriculture and water infrastructure if they did not back off a demand to audit the books of American-financed charities operating there … For American organizations, United States policy forbids direct contact with Hamas, labeled by the State Department as a terrorist group. As a result on-site audits by Hamas officials would lead to suspension of activity, American officials said. The United States accounts for a large share of the money foreign governments spend on humanitarian assistance in Gaza.

Hamas militant killed in ‘mystery’ Gaza blast
GAZA CITY: A member of Hamas’ armed wing was killed Thursday in a “mysterious explosion” in the southern Gaza town of Rafah, the group and Palestinian medical sources said. The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades announced the death in a statement, naming the militant as 20-year-old Ali Nayef al-Haj.  “Ali Nayef al-Haj of Yebna refugee camp was martyred on Thursday in an accidental internal explosion,” the group said.  The group gave no additional details, but it also made no accusations that Israel was involved in the death.

Gaza Ramadan, hard, meaningful / Eva Bartlett
In Gaza 11 Aug — The Muslim holy month of Ramadan began six days ago here in Gaza, and this year it’s scorching (it’s based on the lunar cycle, so varies yearly). I’ve dabbled in Ramadan before, but have never had the privilege of spending it with a family for more than one iftar (the celebratory evening ‘breakfast’). Living with a fasting family is insightful in many ways. I see the considerable willpower they exhibit to ensure nothing passes their lips. For many going without water is the hardest. For the smokers, it’s the lack of nicotine that causes nerves to fray. And as the countdown to the evening call-to-prayer rolls on, drivers get more irritable and distracted. Were this any other time I’d assume that the many strained faces and lethargic movements I see from mid-afternoon to sunset were due to illness. Despite the serious challenge of abstaining from consuming anything for what amounts to about 14 hours in Palestine (this period differs depending on geographic location), everyone tells me Ramadan is the most beautiful month. And while I was initially skeptical, I see their happiness at iftar and throughout the night as people meet with friends or sit through the late hours with family.

Qassam rocket explodes near kibbutz
Ynet 11 Aug — A Qassam rocket fired from the Gaza Strip Thursday evening exploded near a kibbutz in the Shaar HaNegev regional council. Local residents rushed to take shelter as the Color Red anti-rocket alert system was activated. No injuries or damages were reported in the latest attack.,7340,L-4107904,00.html


Britain denies entry to Israeli rabbi who advocated killing of non-Jews
Haaretz 11 Aug — The U.K. Border Agency is prohibiting fundamentalist Rabbi Yosef Elitzur, co-author of the controversial book “The King’s Torah” (“Torat Hamelech” ), from entering Britain, the Jewish Voice website reported on Wednesday. Elitzur received a letter last month from the U.K. Border Agency, signed by the home secretary, informing him that he could not enter Britain for the next three years. The July 20 letter, which appears on the website, cites the British law forbidding entry to anyone who writes, publishes or distributes material “fomenting or justifying terrorist violence … and seeking to provoke others to commit terrorist acts.” The book says Jews may kill gentiles, among other things.

Political / Diplomatic / International

Abbas tells US lawmakers he wants state empty of settlements
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 11 Aug — President Mahmoud Abbas Thursday told a delegation from the United States Senate and House of Representatives that he is seeking a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with Jerusalem as its capital, empty of settlements. The delegation, led by Senator Steny Hoyer, is on an official visit to Israel and the Palestinian Territory … He said that the security of the upcoming Palestinian state will be the responsibility of a third party made of NATO forces with US command.

Arabs to urge yes vote on Palestinian UN bid
RAMALLAH (AFP) 11 Aug — A delegation of Arab foreign ministers will urge permanent members of the Security Council next week to vote for Palestinian UN membership, a top Palestinian official said Thursday. Negotiator Saeb Erekat said the group would talk with representatives from the veto-wielding Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States in a bid to sway them in favor of the Palestinian request for membership.

Republican presidential candidate wants to destroy UN if it recognizes Palestine / Noam Sheizaf
+972mag 11 Aug — In an op-ed published by the pro-Netanyahu tabloid Yisrael Hayom, Republican Newt Gingrich calls upon the United States to stop supporting the United Nations if it votes for Palestinian independence. “We don’t need to fund a corrupt institution to beat up on our allies,” says Gingrich.

Erekat: UN vote not coordinated with Hamas
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Aug — There has been no coordination between Fatah and Hamas over the Palestinian UN bid for statehood in September, PA official Saeb Erekat told Ma‘an on Wednesday. “Unfortunately, there has been no coordination so far with Hamas, but the door is open and we welcome them any time.”

PA rejects Israeli sanction threats
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Aug– Adviser to President Abbas, Nimir Hammad, said Thursday that the PA will not be intimidated by threats, after Israeli media reported that the government is considering sanctions against the PA if it continues with the September UN bid.

India to vote in UN for Palestinians state in September
NEW DELHI (WAFA) 11 Aug — India will vote in favor of the Palestinian request to gain full membership of an independent Palestinian state within 1967 borders at the United Nations General Assembly when it comes up for a vote in September, said Indian External Affairs Minister E. Ahamed.

Barak warns Israeli ministers sanctions could lead to the Palestinian Authority’s collapse
Haaretz 11 Aug — Ministers hope preemptive sanctions against PA will pressure Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to back down over UN statehood bid … Among the preemptive sanctions discussed was a proposal by Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz to stop transferring the customs duties that Israel collects at its ports on the PA’s behalf. The PA is suffering a severe cash shortage and is having a hard time paying its employees; the taxes Israel passes over are used to pay the lion’s share of those salaries. For this reason, Barak vehemently objected to the measure, saying it could lead to the PA’s collapse, which would leave the territories in a state of anarchy. Representatives of the Justice Ministry and the military prosecution also warned against taking such unilateral steps.

IDF concerned UN vote on Palestinian state may lead to tensions with Syria
Haaretz 11 Aug — The Israel Defense Forces is readying for possible engagement with the Syrian military in September, should the latter involve itself in new attempts by Palestinians in Syria to storm the border with the Golan Heights in connection with a UN vote on recognizing a Palestinian state. The IDF acknowledges it may be necessary to deal with Syrian military intervention in such a scenario, which could occur if Syria tried to deflect world attention from the ongoing demonstrations in that country – and their bloody suppression – by creating an incident on the border.

Israel offers to double restitution instead of apology to Turkey
ANKARA (PIC) 11 Aug — Israel has offered to double compensation to the families of those killed in the May 2010 Mavi Marmara attack instead of officially apologizing for the attack as demanded by Turkey, the Israeli daily Ma’ariv reported on Thursday, quoting an Israeli political official. The new proposal states that the amount to be paid to each of the nine Turkish victims’ families would be raised from US $50,000 to $100,000 in a bid to dodge the apology demand. The official said Turkey has yet to respond to the offer

Other news

Young make up one-third of Palestinian population
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Aug — The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics released a demographic study Thursday which showed that young people form one third of the Palestinian population. The results were published on the eve of International Youth Day … Results showed that around 45% of young people (15-29) were enrolled in education in 2010, with one fifth of graduates studying business and administration. Almost 50% of young people do not read newspapers and magazines and more than one quarter of male youth smoke. One third of young people were unemployed during the first quarter of 2011, the study found. The highest unemployment rate was 38.4% in the 20-24 age group compared with 28.2% for 25-29. In addition, 40.1% of those unemployed had completed at least 13 years of education.

Hamas: PA is clamping down on our preachers
JPost 11 Aug — They want to isolate us because they fear our influence. People won’t give up on us Islamists because we’re credible, legislator says — The Palestinian Authority has been barring Hamas affiliated imams and members of parliament from delivering sermons during the month of Ramadan and have also threatened mosque leaders from associating with them, Hamas MPs have claimed.

Sweden contributes €4 million to pay PA salaries
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — … Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad signed the agreement on Thursday with Swedish consul to the PA Axel Wernhoff. The Ramallah PM thanked the Swedish government for their economic support at a time in which the PA is trying to overcome a financial crisis.

Iran names street after Rachel Corrie
AP 11 Aug — Tehran city council has named a street after an American activist who was crushed to death by an Israeli military bulldozer in the Gaza Strip in 2003, a local newspaper has reported. The report in the Hamshahri, a daily affiliated with Tehran’s authorities, said the council has named the street Rachel Aliene Corrie … The decision marked the first time an Iranian street has been named after a US national since the 1979 Islamic revolution that ousted the pro-west shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi.

VIDEO: Tourists impressed by tent city in Tel Aviv
Ynet 11 Aug — Foreigners used to hearing about Israel in a political context are being exposed for the first time to Israel’s social agenda. Ynet spoke to some at Rothschild Blvd’s tent city,7340,L-4107623,00.html

Haredim protest Jerusalem summer events
Ynet 11 Aug —  The ultra-Orthodox Eda Haredit faction is planning a mass protest against the Jerusalem Municipality on Thursday evening. According to the organizers, the summer events held in the capital are inappropriate for a holy city, and in some cases even lead to Shabbat desecration. Thursday’s rally is expected to be led by Eda Haredit rabbis — including the extreme faction’s leader, Rabbi Yitzchok Tuvia Weiss.,7340,L-4107546,00.html

Analysis / Opinion

Analysis: ‘Prisoners’ of Israeli airspace / Alaa Tartir
Ma‘an 11 Aug — I never thought it was possible to be in prison in the sky. I always thought that prisons needed to be on the ground. I also never thought that the prison could move and even fly: I always believed that cells needed to be rooted in the ground. However, these two assumptions which I have believed for the last 26 years proved recently to be ‘wrong.’ On a recent journey from Ramallah to London — of course through the compulsory Amman route as the West Bank is not allowed an airport — I experienced a new form of Israeli detention, this time in Israeli airspace. It was an unpleasant experience, as passengers were forbidden from fulfilling basic human needs such as using the toilet, receiving food or water, or moving between seats to chat with friends.

Why the US must support bid for Palestinian statehood / Ibrahim Sharqieh
CSM 9 Aug — Palestinian leaders need equal footing with Israeli leaders – not to mention popular backing – for any peace process to succeed. Statehood sets the stage not only for productive negotiations, but also for lasting regional peace … US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s invitation for Palestinian and Israeli negotiators to come to Washington for talks to resolve the negotiations impasse is certainly the wrong approach. It seems that the lessons of the Arab Spring have not yet been learned: The leaders are replaceable, but the people are not. Ms. Clinton should be paying attention to what the Palestinian people want (the declaration of a Palestinian state), rather than heeding only what negotiators are saying. The most recent poll shows that 65 percent of Palestinians support a bid for statehood.

What would UN recognition of a Palestinian state mean? / Dr. Naji Sadeq Shurrab
MEMO 10 Aug — There is no doubt about the importance of the UN recognising Palestine as a state, and more importantly its acceptance as a full member state. If such recognition is given in September, it will confirm the importance of activating the option of international legitimacy. However, we should not get too excited about possible UN recognition; it would not mean an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory, for example, but it could be the start of a long political process. At the same time, it would shift some of the responsibility to bring about an end to the occupation on to the United Nations, for it is inconceivable that a member state of the UN could be occupied by another member; that would be contrary to the organisation’s Charter, and is contrary to the conditions of accession, which provide for the independence of the country requesting membership.

In Egypt’s Bedouin badlands: no police allowed
TIME 11 Aug — Quseima is a quiet village built along a desert valley where a natural spring bubbles forth from the ground, feeding a modest crop of olive groves and date palms where the local Bedouin community ekes out an existence. Its outward appearance is unremarkable in this remote section of the eastern Sinai Peninsula, known to three decades of international peacekeeping forces as “Zone C.” But Quseima’s police headquarters, like those of others in the zone, is a startling sight: gutted by flames and pockmarked by rocket-propelled grenade fire. The burned carcass of an armored personnel carrier sits outside in the blazing sunlight; its turret, guns and interior parts all looted. Zone C is the last bit of Egyptian territory before the international border with Israel and the Gaza Strip, and it’s a zone where – under a long-standing Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty – only Egyptian civilian police are allowed to conduct security. But it has been months since the police have set foot in these parts.

California’s West Bank: Tribes vs. residents on the Colorado River
Capitol Weekly 10 Aug — Last month, Jim Foley got evicted from the land where he’s had a home since 1979 — land that he cleared himself, with 120 feet of shoreline on the Colorado River. He and his wife had lived there full time since retiring in 2000. It had a mobile home and a garage on it, along with other improvements he left in place. But he went without a fight. After all, he hadn’t paid rent in 21 years. “I decided not to pay them,” Foley said. “They did not belong there in the first place. I’m not going to pay somebody for something that doesn’t belong to them.” “Them” is the Colorado River Indian Tribes, a collection of Chemehuevi, Hopi, Mohave and Navajo Indians collective known as “CRIT.” They’re based across the river in Arizona, and have been involved in a decades-long dispute with leaseholders along a 25-mile section of the California side of the river.


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