Today in Palestine! ~ Wednesday, 24 August 2011 ~

Land, property theft & destruction

Israeli bulldozers raze Palestinian land in Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 24 Aug — Israeli bulldozers Wednesday razed 20 dunums of agricultural land planted with crops and confiscated irrigation networks in Al-Baq‘a lands, east of Hebron in the southern West Bank, according to local witnesses. Sources said that Israeli bulldozers, under the protection of Israeli soldiers, civil administration and police razed about 20 dunums of lands belonging to a Palestinian family. They added that this is the fourth time such an incident has taken place in Al Baq‘a in the last few months, with the aim of displacing farmers and seizing the land for the benefit of the Jewish settlements of Kiryat Arba and Kharsina.

Israeli forces

Israeli forces detain 5 in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 24 Aug — The Israeli army detained five Palestinians in the Hebron district overnight Tuesday, witnesses and the army said.  An Israeli military spokeswoman said three people were detained in the city of Hebron and two from surrounding villages. She said they were taken for “security questioning.” The detentions follow a mass arrest campaign in the southern West Bank city which began Saturday night. Overnight Saturday, over 100 Israeli military jeeps raided the city detaining over 120 Palestinians, most of whom were Hamas members, Palestinian security sources said. Hamas lawmaker Muhammad Mutliq Abu Juheisha was among those detained in the biggest detention campaign in Hebron since 2003.

State to indict IDF company officer for shooting Palestinian in back
Haaretz 24 Aug — The state prosecution has decided to indict a company commander in the army reserves who shot a Palestinian in the back and killed him. The commander, a well-known religious Zionist educator, opened fire in contravention of the rules of engagement. The move is a fairly rare event: From 2002-2009, only 14 indictments were filed over the death of Palestinian civilians, out of 173 cases investigated, according to the Yesh Din organization. Many other deaths were not investigated at all.
The incident occurred in December 2007, when Firas Qasqas, an unemployed gardener and father of three from Batir, was spending the weekend with relatives in Ramallah. Together with two cousins, he went for a walk in the valley that separates Ramallah from the settlements to its west. Soldiers spotted them climbing the terraces and opened fire, hitting Qasqas in the back, according to the case file, which Haaretz obtained. He died in the hospital a few hours later.


Palestinian journalists under fire again from Israeli troops
RSF/IFEX 23 August — Reporters Without Borders condemns the complete failure to punish the abusive treatment of Palestinian journalists by the Israel Defence Forces in the West Bank. Many arbitrary arrests have been reported in the past two months and five journalists are currently being held. Cases of Israeli soldiers deliberately firing on media personnel have also been reported … The latest victims of arbitrary arrest were Usaid Abd Al Majid Amarana of Al-Aqsa TV, and Amar Abu Urfa, a reporter for the Shahab news agency, who were arrested in their homes on 21 August. After storming into Amarana’s home in the Dahishe Camp in Bethlehem, soldiers opened fire, wounding his cousin.

Israeli court extends detention of Jazeera reporter Allawi
NABLUS (PIC) 24 Aug — Israeli occupation’s Salem military court on Monday extended arbitrarily the detention of Al-Jazeera reporter in Afghanistan Samer Allawi for eight more days. Allawi’s family said that he was brought to the court under heavy military guard and barred from shaking hands or talking with any member of his family, affirming that he appeared during the trial in a difficult health condition … Allawi’s brother, Musab, said the court verdict to extend his brother’s detention was part of a conspiracy against his brother and Al-Jazeera satellite channel, affirming that his brother is not engaged in any political activity and he is only a reporter and director of Al-Jazeera office in Afghanistan.

Israeli military court sentences Hamas leader to administrative detention
RAMALLAH (PIC) 24 Aug — The Israeli military court in Ofer on Wednesday sentenced Hamas leader Awad Eshtiye to six months in administrative custody, the Tadamun foundation for human right said. Ahmed Al-Beitawi, a researcher with the foundation, said that the court would hold another hearing within days to stabilize the ruling against Eshtiye.
Eshtiye was arrested last Wednesday while on his way from Qalqilia to his hometown Salem village, east of Nablus city. The Hamas leader served 12 years in Israeli occupation jails and 10 months in a PA prison in Jericho. Eshtiye, a member of the Salem municipal council, suffers from high blood pressure and has undergone a catheterization operation five months ago.

Israel releases Palestinian detainee after 10 years
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 24 Aug — Israeli authorities on Tuesday released a detainee who had spent 10 years in Israeli prisons, a rights center reported. Hisham Hmeidan Al-Sharbati, 44, spent several years of his sentence in solitary confinement and was banned from receiving visitors for long periods, the detainees’ center said in a statement.


Gaza truce under fire after Israeli strikes kill militants
AFP — Israeli air strikes on Wednesday killed three Palestinians, with the first incident prompting mortar fire into Israel days after armed groups agreed to a temporary truce. The exchange of fire across the Gaza border raised fears of a fresh descent into violence just 48 hours after militant factions agreed to end rocket attacks on southern Israel on condition the air force also stopped its raids. Ismael al-Ismar, 34, a leader in the Al-Quds Brigades — the armed wing of Islamic Jihad — died when a missile ploughed into his car in the southern city of Rafah near the Egyptian border, witnesses and the militant group said…
Several hours after Ismar’s death, two mortar shells hit the Eshkol region, which flanks the Israel-Gaza border, Israeli police said. Al-Quds Brigade claimed the attack and said it had fired six shells towards the Kissufim border crossing, in response to Ismar’s killing.
Immediately afterwards, the air force hit “two terrorists who had fired rockets at Israel,” the army said in a raid which Palestinian medics said moderately wounded two Islamic Jihad militants near Deir al-Balah. Palestinian medics later reported finding the body of Ismael Amoum, 65, in the same area, saying it had been blown to pieces.
In a third strike, Palestinian medical sources said 20-year-old Attiyeh Moqat had been killed, and the Al-Quds Brigade claimed him as a member. Another Palestinian was wounded, said medical sources who had initially identified the dead man as Mohammed Moqat.

IDF kills Islamic Jihad operative in Gaza
Haaretz 24 Aug 09:06 — Early on Wednesday morning, the Israel Air Force killed an Islamic Jihad operative in the Gaza Strip. The operative was identified as Ismael al-Asmar, 34. According to the IDF, al-Asmar was involved in smuggling weapons to Gaza and in militant activity in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Al-Asmar was targeted while he was in a vehicle in the western part of Rafah. One additional person was wounded. Later on Wednesday morning, two mortar shells fired from Gaza exploded in the Eshkol Regional Council, causing light damage but no injuries.

Islamic Jihad vows revenge after Israel kills commander
GAZA (PIC) 24 Aug 11:14 — A commander from al-Quds Brigades, the Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, was killed and two others have been injured in an Israeli air strike in southern Gaza Strip Wednesday morning…
The Islamic Jihad has vowed to respond to the hit as well as to other Israeli crimes. “We will deal with the enemy in a language it understands well, the language of blood. We will not be silent over its crimes constantly committed against our people,” said islamic Jihad leader Ahmed al-Mudallil in statement aired by Al-Aqsa radio station on Wednesday.
Later on, al-Quds Brigades declared that it bombed three Israeli military sites with six mortar shells after the hit. It also announced that one of its cells survived an Israeli air strike in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza Strip.

Gunned-down Israeli Jihad operative involved in attacks near Eilat
Ynet 4 Aug 14:17 — IAF targets car of local group leader in Rafah, who, according to defense officials, was in charge of the funding of the attack that left eight Israelis dead [and they know this how?],7340,L-4113110,00.html

Az-Zahhar: Eilat attack ‘used as pretext to attack Gaza’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 Aug — The series of shooting attacks in southern Israel on Thursday were part of an “ambiguous operation” used as a pretext to attack the Gaza Strip, senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Az-Zahhar said Wednesday … Israeli forces killed five attackers in Eilat, officials said, but did not reveal their identities, which Az-Zahhar noted was unusual. “So far we don’t who they are and where they came from. Israel has not published their photos, or photos of the slain Israelis as they usually do with such operations. “Further, no Palestinian factions have claimed responsibility for the attack,” the Hamas official added. “The aggression was conducted for the sake of aggression and there was no justification. Then they targeted an outstanding leader of the Popular Resistance in Rafah Abu Awad An-Nayrab and five others and resistance factions found themselves obliged to retaliate.”

Medics: 1 killed in Gaza airstrikes as border violence flares up
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22:13 — Israeli warplanes struck Gaza late Wednesday killing one Palestinian and injuring another amid reports that six rockets had been fired into southern Israel.  An Israeli airstrike targeted a group of people in the Ash-Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in Gaza City, a Ma‘an correspondent reported. One man died and another was injured, medical officials said … The man killed was identified as Atieh Maqat, a member of the military wing of Islamic Jihad, the Al-Quds brigades. Six projectiles were fired at southern Israel from the Gaza Strip on Wednesday with no injuries reported, an Israeli army spokeswoman said.

As this is compiled (22:32 GMT 24 Aug) tweets from Gaza are coming in about Israeli air strikes continuing tonight, F-16s hitting a sports club in Gaza, among other places.

Iron Dome intercepts Grad rocket; baby hurt
Ynet 24 Aug 23:11 — A rocket fired at Ashkelon Wednesday night exploded near a house in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. A 9-month-old baby was hit by glass splinters and sustained light to moderate wounds … Damage was caused to a vehicle and several structures.  An additional rocket exploded inside the local council and a third hit Ashkelon’s southern industrial zone. No injuries or damage were reported. The Iron Dome system intercepted a fourth rocket fired at Ashkelon.
Earlier, a rocket fired at Beersheba was intercepted by the Iron Dome system prompting a loud blast. Two mortar shells landed in an open field at the Eshkol Regional Council. No injuries or damage were reported.
Several minutes later, Palestinians reported that the IDF hit a cell launching rockets east of Shuja‘iyya in the Gaza Strip. Several victims were taken to hospital as the IDF mounted its third strike in Gaza in less than 24 hours.,7340,L-4113596,00.html

Israel bolsters Egypt border defenses over new terror warnings
Haaretz/Reuters 24 Aug — Security officials say that Islamic Jihad operative killed in IAF strike on Wednesday was planning another attack from Sinai — Chief of Staff Benny Gantz ordered on Wednesday that the Israel Defense Forces increase defensive measures along Israel’s border with Egypt due to intelligence that terrorist groups are planning attacks similar to the ones last Thursday in which eight Israelis were killed. The new measures include putting in place additional means of electronic and visual intelligence gathering as well bolstering the Navy Command Center in the southern city of Eilat.

Gaza projectile lands in Egypt
EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma‘an) 24 Aug — A woman was injured by a projectile fired from the Gaza Strip into the Egyptian town of Rafah on Wednesday, Egypt’s state news agency MENA reported. The woman was taken to hospital with light injuries, said a security source in the area. Egyptian security forces said that a Palestinian projectile had landed around 300 meters from the Gaza border. An Egyptian military committee arrived at the location of the projectile and have stored the remains. It is not the first time a projectile from Gaza has landed in Egypt, security forces said, as tension simmers in the region after a spate of cross-border violence. [End]

8 Palestinians, including 2 children and 3 women, wounded due to explosions of homemade rockets in populated areas of Gaza
PCHR 24 Aug Field Update — In the past five days, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) documented the injuries of eight persons, including two children and three women, due to the explosions of home-made rockets in populated areas across the Gaza Strip. The injury of one of the women was described as serious. PCHR calls upon concerned authorities to investigate these incidents, to take necessary measures to ensure the non-recurrence of such incidents and to provide protection to civilians
…at approximately 20:00 on Sunday, 21 August 2011, another home-made rocket hit the western side of the house of Mas’oud Ibrahim al-Sheikh, 53, near Dar al-Arqam School in al-Toffah neighborhood, east of Gaza City. As a result, his son Ra’ed Mas’oud al-Sheikh, 8, was moderately wounded by shrapnel to the head, and his daughter Samar Mas’oud al-Sheikh, 28, was seriously wounded by shrapnel to the pelvis and back, and consequently, was admitted into the intensive care unit at Shifa Hospital.

Al-Qassam Brigades leader dies
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) — Hamas military wing leader Mithqal Issa died while receiving hospital treatment abroad, a statement from the Al-Qassam Brigades said Wednesday. Issa, from Al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza, was being treated for injuries sustained in an attack by Israel, the statement added.

Israel video games in Gaza / Alison Weir
He looks at the camera with bright eyes and the beginning of a smile, wearing a miniature dark blue zipper sweatshirt, the cuffs folded up a bit to make it fit. I can imagine his mother dressing him that morning, making sure he would be warm enough. I wonder if she’s the one who took the picture. Someone has written on the photo “kisses.” It’s not a formal picture. He’s outside on a sunny day. It looks like he was probably moving when the picture was snapped; his arms seem to be swinging a little. As with most almost two-year-olds, I suspect it was hard to get him to stay still long enough for a photo. It’s a happy picture, the kind that makes you smile; perhaps it reminds you of funny, energetic little children you know or remember. Until you see the next picture. It was taken on his second birthday. His name was Islam Quraiqe. Death from a drone strike is not pretty. The small body is charred, ripped apart; internal organs are pouring out.

Haniyeh urged to allow students out of Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 Aug — A Palestinian human rights official is urging the leadership in Gaza to reverse a decision blocking eight students from traveling to the United States for university. Rawyeh Ash-Shawwa, member of the legislative council and head of the Independent Commission for Human Rights, called on Prime Minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh to personally reverse the decision. She called the decision an explicit violation of human rights. Ash-Shawwa said many families in Gaza want their children to study internationally. She found it dumbfounding that Palestinians have battled Israel for permission to leave Gaza but remain stuck due to Hamas.

From 8 Jan 2009 – in honor of the medics from whom so many reports are taken:
Photoessay: What the medics see, do, and are subjected to / Eva Bartlett
InGaza  9 Jan 2009 — On 31st December, around 2 am, two emergency medical services personnel were targeted by an Israeli missile as they attempted to reach injured in the Jabaliya region, northern Gaza.  The first died immediately, the second soon after of complications from his internal injuries. Two days later, 2 more medics were injured in the area east of Gaza, again in the line of duty, again trying to reach the injured.Under the Geneva Conventions, Israel is obliged to allow and ensure safe passage to medical personnel to the injured.  Instead, Israel routinely targets them. At the Jabaliya Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) station, the team there tells me of their injuries.  Half, they say, of emergency medics and drivers in Gaza have been injured by Israel while trying to perform the duties.

Activism / Solidarity

Protests against Israeli occupation make it to Google Street View
Haaretz 24 Aug — A new initiative seeks to take advantage of Google’s Street View service launch in Israel to promote demonstrations against the Israeli occupation. The initiative is being promoted through a new Facebook group which attempts to coordinate the demonstrations alongside the route of Google’s vehicles.

Security on high alert as Israeli delegation arrives in South Africa under protest
IMEMC 24 Aug — South African security forces were put on high alert this week as a delegation of former Israeli soldiers arrived as part of a campaign by an Israeli group to promote Israel through talks and events at university campuses worldwide.  The delegation was organized by the group ‘What Is rael’ (a play on the name Israel), which states on its Facebook page that the group aims to recruit “Students who consider themselves Zionists” to travel around the world to speak on campuses to challenge the global movement for a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel.
… The South African Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Working group announced that their research into the visiting delegation of twenty ‘students’ had found that “two of the Israeli student delegates claiming to be students worked at the Israeli parliament. One is a deputy spokesperson and another is an official policy advisor.” After a call was issued by the South African Students Congress last week to boycott and oppose what they called a ‘propaganda’ tour, dozens of students showed up at the airport to protest the arrival of the ‘What Is rael’ delegation, forcing the Israelis to exit the airport under heavy security through a back exit. At the delegation’s first stop, the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, they were met by a number of protests, including a flash mob ‘die-in’, in which students all fell to the floor at the same moment to represent Palestinians killed by the Israeli military.

Political / Diplomatic / International

Egyptians plan million-man rally against Israel
Ynet 24 Aug — Egyptian daily al-Youm al-Saba’a reported Wednesday that Egyptian citizens have created groups on Facebook and other social networks calling for “a million-man protest” outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo on Friday. The protesters say the focus of the demonstration will be the demand to have the Israeli ambassador expelled from Egypt and Israel’s embassy in the capital closed. Meanwhile, protesters continue to demonstrate outside the embassy for the fifth day in a row.,7340,L-4113501,00.html

Egypt intervention ‘prevented major Gaza assault’
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma‘an) 24 Aug — Egypt has prevented a major Israeli incursion in the Gaza Strip following the Eilat shootings, according to a report Wednesday in the Israeli press. In messages conveyed to Israel, it was said that a large-scale military operation could lead Cairo to the point of suspending relations with Israel, which would critically harm the peace treaty. In a talks held this week between a senior Egyptian official and a very high-placed official in Jerusalem, the latter told him: “We stopped the escalation in Gaza because of you,” according to the report in Maariv. This was preceded by talks held between Defense Minister Ehud Barak with Gen. Hussein Tantawi and intelligence chief Murad Muwafi, who conveyed messages in a similar vein, the report said.

Ambassador: Israeli-Egyptian relations still tense
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 Aug — Yasser Othman, the Egyptian ambassador to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, said Wednesday that there is still tension in Egyptian-Israeli relations after the killing of five Egyptian soldiers last week. “We want a clear, strong apology and a pledge to not to repeat such acts in the future,” he said. It was not enough that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and President Shimon Peres expressed regret for the incident, Egypt’s cabinet said.

Envoy: China to support Palestinian UN bid
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 24 Aug — Chinese Middle East envoy Wu Sike announced his country’s full support on Wednesday for the Palestinian UN bid for recognition in September. Secretary-General of the Presidency At-Tayeb Abdul Rahim met with the Chinese envoy in the presidential headquarters in Ramallah on Wednesday.

Palestinians hope most UN members back statehood bid
RAMALLAH (AFP) 24 Aug — A senior Palestinian official said on Wednesday that he hoped the great majority of countries would back a Palestinian membership application to the UN next month. “We hope for the vote of more than 150 countries for recognition of the state of Palestine on the 1967 borders with its capital in east Jerusalem as a full member at the United Nations,” top official Saeb Erekat told AFP. The UN has 192 member states.

Fatah official: Hamas requested elections delay
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 24 Aug — Fatah central committee member Mahmoud Al-Aloul on Tuesday said Hamas requested the postponement of local elections. In a statement, Al-Aloul said a delegation representing Hamas requested that the vote be postponed until reconciliation with Fatah was finalized … But the Palestinian Democratic Union, Fida, on Tuesday urged Abbas to retract his decree and accused Hamas and Fatah of “monopolizing decision-making and ignoring Palestinian law and consensus.” “It is evident the decision was based on a bilateral agreement between Fatah and Hamas,” Fida said in a statement. Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine lawmaker Qays Abdul-Karim also slammed the delay, and said the decision was “illegal.”

Minister accused of corruption suspends work
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 24 Aug — Palestinian Minister of Agricultural Ismail Daik, who is facing corruption charges, said he respects the decision to be put on trial and expressed his confidence that the Palestinian judiciary will be fair and prove his innocence. Daik added that he will suspend the performance of his job duties until the court issues a decision, expressing hope that the Palestinian people will understand that suspects are innocent until proven guilty.

PA pays public employees remaining half of June’s salary
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 24 Aug -– Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said Wednesday that the government will pay the remaining half of June’s salary for public employees on Thursday. He discussed the severe financial issues facing the Palestinian Authority and ways to overcome it.

Britain accelerates aid to help PA respond to fiscal crisis
LONDON (WAFA) 24 Aug — Britain Wednesday announced that it is speeding up assistance for the Palestinian Authority (PA) to help enable it to meet its commitments and continue its provision of essential services, such as immunization and primary school education, the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office said in a press release … The issue was raised by Fayyad with Development Minister Alan Duncan when he visited the occupied Palestinian Territory in July. The two ministers signed a memorandum of understanding for the existing DFID support package of £100 million for the occupied territories, which was due to begin in September. Wednesday’s announcement sees £10 million of this being brought forward to August.

Other news

Palestinian unemployment at 30 percent
UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 24 (UPI) — Despite economic gains last year, the occupied Palestinian territory still has an unemployment rate of 30 percent, the United Nations said Wednesday. The territory’s economy grew by 9.3 percent, with Gaza’s increasing 15 percent and the West Bank’s rising 7.6 percent, the U.N. Conference of Trade and Development said in a report. The Palestinian per capita gross domestic product was 7 percent below the 1999 level, the report said
The report noted Palestinian imports from Israel are not taxed but said much of these imports are produced elsewhere in the world and re-exported to the Palestinian territory, with import revenues going to the Israeli treasury. A recent Bank of Israel study found about 58 percent of what’s officially reported as Israeli exports to the territory comes to Israel from abroad. Thus, customs revenue doesn’t go to the Palestinian Authority, costing it $480 million a year, or 25 percent of its public revenue, the report said.

Palestine ranks 157 in FIFA’s World Cup list
ZURICH (WAFA) 24 Aug — The Palestinian national football team ranked 157 in the FIFA (International Federation of Football Association) World Ranking, according to FIFA’s latest rankings published Wednesday. Palestine advanced nine ranking positions in August, surpassing the Lebanese national team, to reach the 157th position after ranking 166 in July. FIFA has 203 members on the ranking list. Palestine’s highest FIFA rank position was 115 in April 2006, whereas its lowest was 191 in April 1999.

In Hebron, rare bargains draw crowds to Old City
HEBRON (AFP) 24 Aug — An unlikely noise can be heard in the Old City of Hebron in the southern West Bank — the sound of Ramadan bargain-hunters dipping in and out of shops and buying cut-price goods. The crowds milling round the city’s ancient streets are a change of pace for vendors here, who for years have suffered the consequences of Israeli-imposed security restrictions that have brought business to a virtual standstill … the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee, a group that works to revive the Old City, saw Ramadan as the perfect time to dispel some ghosts and draw shoppers back to the area. So they launched a canny campaign, encouraging companies to slash their prices and even set up temporary stalls piled high with bargains in a bid to attract customers.

Left and right join forces against Glenn Beck’s Western Wall rally
Haaretz 24 Aug — Conservative commentator Glenn Beck is scheduled to hold a widely advertised rally Wednesday at 5 P.M. near the Western Wall in Jerusalem … The combination of Israeli nationalism and Christian subject matter has led to a surprising alliance against Beck. His critics include Israelis who normally oppose each other, including religious figures and political personalities from both ends of the spectrum. “We all have the same reasons for opposing Glenn Beck,” said Etai Mizrav of Peace Now. “This is a person who seems to support Israel, but he is a fanatic. I don’t know how the right wing intends to protest, but if they want to join us they are welcome,” he told Haaretz.

Glenn Beck hosts rally in Jerusalem
Ynet 24 Aug 18:35 — US radio personality Glenn Beck held a rally at the Davidson Center near the Western Wall in Jerusalem under the banner “Restoring Courage.” More than 1,000 of his supporters, mostly Evangelical Christians from the US, participated in the  event.,7340,L-4113474,00.html


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