Today in Palestine! ~ Sunday, 3 May 2015 ~‏

Violence / Raids / Attacks / Suppression of protests / Arrests

Israeli forces suppress Palestinian journalists’ march

[with PHOTOS] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 May — A number of Palestinian journalists were injured on Saturday when Israeli forces suppressed a peaceful march organised by journalists to mark World Press Freedom Day. Israeli forces fired tear-gas canisters and stun grenades into the crowd of journalists marching in Bethlehem. Among the injured were the head of the Union of Palestinian Journalists Abd al-Nasser al-Najjar, member of the union’s general committee Muhammad al-Laham, and Reuters photographer Muhammad Abu Ghaniyyeh. Al-Najjar said that the march was carried out to express “our refusal to systematic Israeli suppression policies against journalists even as they express their right of coverage and freedom of expression.” The march headed to the northern entrance of Bethlehem city and faced Israeli soldiers at the “300” checkpoint. Protesters held signs condemning Israeli attacks and violations against journalists in the field. As of April, 20 Palestinian journalists were being held in Israeli prisons, including six detained in 2015 alone. Furthermore, last year was the deadliest ever for journalists working in the occupied Palestinian Territories, according to the Gaza Center for Press Freedom. Seventeen journalists killed during the 50-day Israeli offensive on Gaza last summer, including an Italian photographer working for Associated Press. The center said Israel had committed 295 separate “violations of press freedom” across the occupied Palestinian Territories. Israel arrested or detained an unspecified number of journalists, denied freedom of movement to local media workers wanting to leave the blockaded Gaza Strip, and partially or completely destroyed 19 buildings housing editorial operations during its bombardment of the territory during the conflict. Palestinian authorities also committed 82 violations of press freedom, the center said, including arresting or summoning 28 journalists, and injuring or assaulting 26 more.

One journalist kidnapped in April, six injured

IMEMC 2 May — The Palestinian Radio and Television Union has reported that Israel soldiers kidnapped a Palestinian journalist, shot and injured six others, in April. In a report on Israeli violations against the media in Palestine in April, the Union said that Israel’s violations against the journalists, and media outlets, aim at silencing them, and preventing them from covering those aggressions. The Union said the soldiers also detained four journalists in an attempt to prevent them from documenting their violations.  It stated that the recent Israeli attack on journalists in Nabi Saleh village, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, is a clear indication of those illegal policies, as in that incident, the soldiers chased the journalists and started throwing stones on them, in addition to trying to run them over with their jeeps. The soldiers also repeatedly fired rubber-coated metal bullets, and gas bombs, targeting Palestinian journalists while covering clashes between the soldiers and local youths. In addition, the army kidnapped the head of the Asda Media Center, Journalist Amin Abu Warda, and forced him under arbitrary Administrative Detention, without charges or trial….

Harvesting while harassed — Jabari family face military and settlers to gather their crops

HEBRON, Occupied Palestine 3 May by ISM Khalil Team — The Jabari family owns land sandwiched in between the illegal settlements ofKiryat Arba and Givat Ha’vot. In 2001, settlers illegally took over part of the land to erect a synagogue-tent on the Jaabari-family land … In February 2015 an Israeli court finally ordered the demolition of the tent-synagogue. Even though the demolition was carried out in April, the debris until now still remains on the land and settlers keep on partly rebuilding under the protection of the Israeli forces … Since the demolition, settlers have been partly rebuilding the synagogue-tent with the materials still on the land. “Price Tag” violence from the settlers, both adults and children, has rapidly increased since the demolition, with Palestinians walking past on the main road attacked by settlers, and the Jabari family has been attacked verbally and physically, with stones thrown by settlers. Israeli police and soldiers are present at the site — they watch but do not stop the settlers. Watch this video  taken by the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) on settler children attacking Palestinians and human rights observers.The Jabari family asked for support with harvesting their fodder crops. As all of their land is bordering either the demolished synagogue-tent or the illegal settlement of Givat Ha’vot, Youth against Settlements (YAS) arranged to help with the harvest on 1st May 2015. Together with YAS, volunteers from a range of human rights organisations, both local and international, joined the family to harvest the area directly next to the demolished synagogue tent, the area most threatened by settlers. Israeli occupation forces are prohibiting the Jabaris and all volunteers from using any kind of harvesting tools under threat of arrest. Shortly after harvesting began, settlers, police and the army arrived. At first they only watched the harvest, but after two hours  the Israeli forces declared the field a closed military zone and everyone was ordered to leave.

Palestinian UN envoy denounces Israeli abuse of children

BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 3 May — Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour has sent an open letter to the UN Security Council demanding that Israel be brought to justice over violations and abuse against Palestinian children. “Every single day and in countless ways, Palestinian children are victims of Israeli human rights violations, with no child considered too young to be spared the oppression being meted out by the Israeli occupying forces and extremist settlers,” Dr. Mansour wrote in the letter on Friday, which was made public late Saturday. He added: “These crimes committed against our children and intolerable and unacceptable,” and noted that they were in violation of international humanitarian and human rights law. Mansour called on “the international community to uphold its responsibilities and provide the necessary assistance and protection to Palestinian children and hold accountable the violators of international law.” … The letter came days after a seven-year-old Palestinian boy, Ahmad Zaatari, was interrogated for nearly eight hours by Israeli forces, in what Mansour described as “a horrifying and traumatic ordeal for a child of any age. “The seven-year-old was detained along with his cousin Muhammed Zaatari, 12, on April 29, from the neighborhood of Wadi al-Joz in East Jerusalem. Neither of the children’s families were informed where the boys had been taken until more than three hours after the arrest, Mansour wrote, adding that more than four hours later, “Ahmad was released, terrified and hungry.”

Israel raids currency exchange shops in West Bank

Middle East Monitor 3 May — Israeli army forces on Sunday raided several currency exchange shops in the occupied West Bank on the pretext of involvement in transferring funds to Palestinian factions Hamas. Israeli radio said the raids came after Israeli security authorities received a tip-off indicating that some currency exchange companies are transferring funds to Hamas activists in the West Bank through exchange offices in Jordan and Western Union. “During the raids, army forces seized funds and documents that are currently being used in the investigation of the case,” the broadcaster quoted an Israeli security source as saying. “These funds were transferred using fake names and falsified statements on the sources of funds to circumvent international sanctions imposed on Hamas,” the broadcaster said, adding that the funds were transferred to Western countries before being sent back to the West Bank.

IOF storms currency exchange office in al-Khalil, seizes cash

AL-KHALIL (PIC) 3 May — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) at dawn Sunday broke into local offices for currency exchange in the West Bank city of al-Khalil [Hebron] and grabbed hold of money and other properties. A drove of Israeli army jeeps rolled into al-Khalil City at the crack of dawn and stormed the local offices of the Abdine agencies for currency exchange in Ein Sara, Al-Salam Street, Bab al-Zaouia, Douar al-Manara and al-Haras, bystanders at the scene told a PIC journalist. The invading IOF troops further dragged the offices’ owner, Fdhl al-Abdine, out of his family home and forced him to unbolt the entrance doors moments before they held sway over important documents, laptops, and hard cash. A similar assault by the IOF cropped up last June on allegations of chasing down the youngsters Amer Abu Eisha and Marwan al-Qawasmi following the disappearance of three Israeli soldiers from al-Khalil.

Including three children, six Palestinians kidnapped in the West Bank

IMEMC/Agencies 2 May — Israeli soldiers kidnapped, earlier Saturday, five Palestinians, including three children and a security officer, in the occupied West Bank, after breaking into homes and searching them, and kidnapped one Palestinian on Friday evening.  Several military vehicles invaded the Tal Romeida neighborhood, in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, before violently searching and ransacking a number of homes. The soldiers also kidnapped two children, identified as Nizar Nidal Salhab, 14, and ‘Awni ‘Ammar abu Shamsiyya, 15 years of age.  Israeli extremists of the Ramat Yeshai illegal outpost attacked the two children before the soldiers arrived on the scene and kidnapped them, instead of removing the assailing fanatics. Another Palestinian identified as Thaer Mohammad ‘Amro, 22, was kidnapped after the soldiers stormed his home, and searched it, in Doura, south of Hebron. Soldiers also installed a sudden roadblock on the Jericho road, and kidnapped a Palestinian security officer identified as Lieutenant Mohammad Yassin Kabaha, 37 years of age. Kabaha, from Toura al-Gharbeyya village, west of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, was on his way to Jericho to participate in a special training course. The soldiers also invaded Ya‘bad town, west of Jenin, violently searched dozens of homes, used some rooftops as monitoring towers, and interrogated the families. Other military units searched farmlands, and installed a roadblock leading to the villagers’ orchards. In Bethlehem, local youths clashed with soldiers invading Jabal al-Mawaleh area, and threw a Molotov cocktail on one of the military vehicles. The soldiers tried to ambush the protesters, but withdrew after failing to kidnap any of them. In addition, soldiers invaded ‘Ailet ‘Ali area, east of Bethlehem, and handed one Palestinian, identified as Ahmad Ibrahim Ali, 30 years of age, a military warrant for interrogation in the Etzion military base. The army also invaded Bethlehem city, searched a number of homes, and handed a similar order to ‘Issa Nader Saleh, 18. In addition, Israeli soldiers said they arrested a Palestinian teen, “after attempting to stab a soldier”, at the Tunnel Roadblock, south of occupied Jerusalem.  The Israeli Radio said the teenager “raised a knife and tried to stab a soldier, before he was subdued.”  The unidentified teen was moved to an Israeli military center for interrogation, the Israeli Radio added. On Friday evening, soldiers invaded Wad al-Jouzneighborhood, in occupied Jerusalem, and clashed with local youths before kidnapping one Palestinian, identified as Mohannad Saharabati, 19 years of age, near Abdin Mosque.

At least 9 kidnapped in West Bank & Jerusalem, several assaulted

IMEMC/Agencies 3 May — Israeli authorities, on Sunday, kidnapped six Palestinians in East Jerusalem, including two minors, and three others in the West Bank, most of them during predawn and night raids, during which several Palestinians were assaulted. According to WAFA Palestinian News & Info Agency, Israeli police stormed the neighborhood of Ras al-Amoud, in Jerusalem, where they detained Izzeddine Barbar, age 17, after raiding his family’s home and breaking down the door. Police also raided the neighborhood of Silwan, where they abducted Mohammad Asaliya, 21, and his brother Hamza, 17. Police assaulted members of their family during the arrest raid, according to Jerusalem Prisoners’ Families Committee. Meanwhile, a police contingent stormed a house in the town of ‘Anata, east of Jerusalem, and took 24-year-old Mohammad Esaeed after assaulting his entire family, including his minor brother Tareq. Police also stormed the neighborhood of al-Tour, where they took Saeed Abul-Hawa, 23, and Basel Sayyad, 24.
Meanwhile, police arrested two Palestinians from Bethlehem while they were at their workplaces in Jerusalem, under the pretext of not having entry permits. In Hebron, the Israeli army broke into the city and raided a money exchange shop. The army additionally stormed the nearby town of Dura, where they kidnapped a local resident after raiding and wreaking havoc in his home . He was identified as Alaa Rbei‘i.


Al-Qassam fighter killed in tunnel collapse

GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 2 May — Hamas’ military wing Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades said that one of their fighters died in a tunnel collapse on Saturday in the northern Gaza Strip. In a statement the Brigades identified the fighter as Nihad Awad Khleif, 30, from Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip. A number of fighters in Gaza have been killed by accidents during military training exercises in recent years, and the tunnel networks, which are largely used for smuggling in the coastal enclave’s south and for military purposes in the north, are notoriously dangerous. The Institute for Palestine Studies reported in 2012 that Hamas authorities had counted 160 deaths inside the tunnels since the Israeli blockade began in 2007, and in August 2014, Al-Jazeera reported that figure to be as high as 400.
Separately, Islamic Jihad announced earlier on Saturday the death of a gunman from the group’s military wing in the northern Gaza Strip, saying that Nasim Khalil Naim had been killed during a “Jihadist mission,” without giving further details.

Gaza fisherman under Israeli fire

IMEMC/Agencies 3 May — Israeli naval boats, on Sunday, opened heavy machine gunfire towards Palestinian fishermen while sailing just offshore of Gaza City, within the allotted the fishing zone, according to local sources … No injuries were reported among the fishermen.

3 Gazans arrested for crossing border fence

GAZA (PIC) 3 May — The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) arrested Sunday evening three Gazans for crossing the border fence to the east of Gaza Strip. Israeli media sources claimed that three Palestinian youths were detained after crossing the border fence [from] the besieged strip of Gaza. The three detainees were taken to an Israeli investigation center, the sources added.

650 trucks with goods, construction materials enter Gaza

AMMAN, Jordan (Petra) 3 May — Some 650 trucks loaded with commercial goods and construction materials entered the Gaza Strip on Sunday as the Israeli occupation authorities reopened the Karam Abu Salem commercial crossing.  Head of the Coordination Committee for entry of goods in the Gaza Strip, Raed Fattouh, in a statement said that 90 trucks carried construction materials to be used for international projects, while 150 trucks are loaded with gravel for infrastructure work, and other trucks contained large quantities of fuel.

Explosive device set off in Gaza City

GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 4 May — An explosive device blew up near a major square in Gaza City late Sunday, security officials said.
The device exploded in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood, with no injuries reported. Police arrived at the scene and are investigating the incident. The circumstances behind the explosion are unclear. A series of explosions have rocked Gaza over the past month.

Gaza’s energy crisis increases risk of fires

KHUZA‘A, Gaza (Al Jazeera) 2 May by Walaa Ghussein — It was 4am when Maysa Abu Reida discovered the room was full of smoke. The family’s electric heater had fallen onto the floor where 24-year-old Reida had been sleeping alongside her husband and three children. The heater burned through the blanket on the rough floor, and the fire spread to the fabric of the family’s shelter. Reida panicked and woke her husband, ushering their children outside. They spent almost two hours in the biting cold until the fire was extinguished. Their 10-day-old child had inhaled smoke, her chest gripped in spasms in the chill dawn air. Luckily, no one died. “If I didn’t wake up as soon as I smelled the smoke, the five of us would’ve been gone,” Reida told Al Jazeera … Today, Palestinians in Gaza have just six hours of electricity every 18 hours. Even with electricity purchased directly from Israel and Egypt, officials warn the blackout hours will increase in the summer. In addition to the lack of power, many families living in shelters lack cooking gas and heating elements, forcing them to use open fires and candles, increasing the risk of accidents. Burns have become more frequent, doctors say. In January, two children seeking refuge from the dark of one of Gaza’s frequent power cuts lit a candle in their bedroom. They perished as the room was engulfed in flames and smoke. Their deaths are among a rising numbers of fatalities and injuries caused by fire-related accidents since the start of Gaza’s electricity crisis, according to al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights.

Palestinians forced to live in ‘fridges of death’ after Gaza war

KHUZA‘A, Gaza (The National) 3 May by Kate Shuttleworth — With their homes destroyed by Israel, families in a village in southern Gaza have been forced to live in shipping containers. Khuza‘a, next to the border with Israel, was once a small farming community of 2,000 homes and 15,000 residents. But during last summer’s war on Gaza, Israeli jets and tanks flattened more than half of the houses in the village. Many of the residents who fled after the Israeli military dropped warning leaflets on July 23 returned a few days later to find their homes turned to rubble. Today only a few houses remain standing among the destruction. Among the rubble lies a crumpled yellow taxi. Off to one side, more than a dozen shipping containers sit in the sand. These are makeshift homes for the extended Al Najjar family, which lost 48 members during the attack. Having survived a miserable cold, wet winter, the occupants of the containers now face a scorching Gazan summer. The metal containers will soon become like furnaces, making the already squalid conditions unbearable. “I call this caravan the fridge of death – in the winter it’s so cold and in the summer it’s going to be like an oven,” says Samer Najjar, 45, as he gives a tour of his two-room container at the entrance of the camp. He, his wife and their five children live crammed into a space about six metres long by three metres wide. The front door of the container, which frequently jams shut, leads straight into a kitchen area. The other room is used for sleeping and bathing.

Rocket fired toward Israel lands in Gaza Strip

i24news 3 May — A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip Sunday evening towards Israel landed within the Palestinian enclave and exploded just meters from the border fence, the Israeli army said. No sirens warning of incoming rockets sounded in Gaza border communities, however soldiers stationed in the area reported hearing a loud explosion. Two weeks ago, Israeli military forces struck a target in Gaza, hours after a rocket fired from the coastal enclave struck southern Israel, violating an already shaky truce between the sides… Meanwhile, in a separate incident, two Palestinian assailants were arrested on Sunday in the West Bank following a foiled attempt to stab Israeli soldiers at a military checkpoint.

Salafist group accuses Hamas of torturing supporters in Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 3 May — A Salafist group based in the Gaza Strip has accused Hamas of torturing its supporters in prison and closely watching other supporters in cities and refugee camps across the coastal enclave. A statement issued on Saturday by the group, which identified itself as the Salafist Trend, warned Hamas of consequences if the group’s supporters were not set free. “Once again we ask the wise people of Gaza to stop the ongoing Hamas criminality and abusive detention of our brothers before it’s too late,” the statement said. It added that the Salafist Trend “has details about what is going on inside the detention cells of the interior security service, including names of the criminal interrogators who torture and insult our people.” …
According to an International Crisis Group report in 2011, “The vast majority of Salafis in Gaza are apolitical, focusing on conventional daawa activities — scholarship, education and social outreach.” It is only a smaller sub-group “who espouse violence, taking up what they perceive to be the armed defense of the Muslim community against non-Muslim enemies,” the report said. Hamas has in the past cracked down hard on Salafis in the Gaza Strip, particularly as the religious group enjoys the support of Fatah. According to the ICC report, Fatah appointed Salafis to a number of Palestinian Authority positions as it viewed the group as potential competitors to Hamas. Recently Hamas has targeted the more violent Salafi fringe in particular, which it views as a threat to its power in the same vein as extremist groups such as the Wahhabi Islamic State group.

Visitors discuss agriculture concerns with security official

JPost 30 Apr by Sharon Udasin — Voicing their desire for more flexibility at IDF checkpoints, increased farming equipment imports and opportunities to export crops, some 200 Gazan farmers came to Tel Aviv on Thursday to engage in a face-to-face dialogue with a senior defense official … [They] came to participate in the third and final day of the annual Agritech International Agricultural Exhibition and Conference at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds. They took part in a conversation in Arabic with Col. Grisha Yakubovich, head of the civil department at the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. Among the key issues to arise were the need to boost agricultural trade allowances, and to increase the availability of supplies crucial to farming. “We need free trade,” Khlael said. “We want to go back to the period prior to 2007.” In response to the concerns of the Gazan farmers who attended the dialogue, Yakubovich stressed that many obstacles still exist to improving the status quo – in particular due to the fact that the residents of the Strip “have to deal with Hamas.” “They said to me throughout the lecture that we are not dealing with politics,” Yakubovich said. “I said that this is an issue of security, and we have to make sure there is security. They want to live their lives and we understand that.”

Hamas urges Sweden to reconsider blacklisting Palestinian flag

GAZA (PIC) 3 May — Hamas on Sunday slammed the Swedish police for blacklisting the Palestinian flag as a symbol of terrorism, branding the move as “upsetting.” Hamas voiced in a press statement its firm condemnation of the ambivalent position adopted by Sweden in regards to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, especially that the move came a few months after Sweden had recognized Palestinian statehood. The group urged Sweden to press ahead with a serious re-assessment of the tag and resume its pro-Palestine standpoint. The Swedish police branded the Palestinian flag a terror logo and updated high school principals on the designation allegedly so as be able to lookout for early signs of potential trouble among their student populations in light of several Swedish teenagers becoming radicalized and traveling to Iraq and Syria to join terrorist fighters.

Al Fakhoora, UNDP, UNICEF to launch projects in Gaza

DOHA (WAFA) 3 May – During a series of meetings which took place in Doha this week, Education Above All’s Al Fakhoora program, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have agreed on the implementation of joint education, reconstruction and psychosocial support projects in Gaza … UNDP said it will respond to the current deficit of classrooms in Gaza, focusing on the reconstruction of educational facilities working closely with UNICEF, which will provide guidance on ensuring that the facilities are inclusive, child-friendly learning environments. The projects will also strengthen child protection systems to provide psychosocial support to children, and will enhance adolescents’ social entrepreneurship skills, so that they can become active agents of change in their communities.

Gaza wife becomes blacksmith to help husband feed family

GAZA (Xinhua) 3 May — In a small tent erected along a main road in northern Gaza, Aisha Hussein, the 36-year-old housewife, has been exercising one of the most difficult jobs to help her husband to overcome their family’s hard living situation in the impoverished Gaza Strip. At the sunrise of every day, Aisha holds a steel-made heavy hammer with her roughened hands, standing in front of an iron anvil and starting hammering the iron after heating it, while her husband Ibrahim Mustafa, 41, subdues and composes it into sharp objects used for agricultural purposes to sell it in the market. In front of their rented apartment, the couple erected the tent on sandy ground and covered it with a poor and ragged cloth. It includes blacksmithing and sharpening tools, and a small kitchenette for tea and coffee. In the middle of the tent there is a fire flame to heat up iron and twist it into different shapes.

Israel’s rhetoric and deliberate deprivation of Palestinians prepare for another military offensive

Middle East Monitor 30 Apr by Ramona Wadi — Reports in the Times of Israel have not yet exhausted their Iran-Hamas rhetoric. Coinciding with affirmations that Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif survived an Israeli assassination attempt during Operation Protective Edge last summer, Israel’s media has focused on the cross-border tunnel network, as well as Iran’s military and financial assistance to Hamas; the intention is to set the scene for another military offensive against the Palestinians in Gaza. Tunnel reconstruction in Gaza, which the UN, at the behest of Israel and the US, had outlawed ineffectively, has continued to provide a backdrop to any future violence perpetrated by Israel. According to the Times of Israel, “The IDF is training for the possible reconquering of the entire coastal Palestinian territory in a future confrontation with the Islamic organisation [Hamas].”

IMI to display tank round first used in Gaza conflict

JPost 4 May by Yaakov Lappin — Israel Military Industries (IMI) is to display this week a tank shell that was first used operationally during last summer’s Gaza conflict, and which has been selected by a number of international military forces for urban operations. During the Ground Forces Conference, organized by Israel Defense magazine and set to begin in Latrun on Monday, IMI intends to display the M339 tank shell – currently the principal round for the IDF Armored Corps’ Merkava Mk. 3 and Mk. 4 tanks. The M339 round was first used operationally during Operation Protective Edge last summer in Gaza. According to IMI, it enables “main battle tanks to participate in urban warfare without causing excessive collateral damage.” … It is “highly effective against enemy targets within buildings, particularly in built-up areas,” IMI said. The shell is fired with high precision and even a single shot can neutralize an enemy cell hiding inside buildings, while “significantly decreasing the harm of noncombatants,” said IMI.

Hamas rebuilding Gaza forces as military leader returns to the helm

Haaretz 29 Apr by Jack Khoury — Mohammed Deif, the commander of the Hamas military wing whom Israel tried to assassinate during last summer’s war in Gaza, is alive and involved in Hamas’ military decisions, according both Israeli and Palestinian assessments. It also appears that while Hamas has tried to present itself as victorious in the fighting against Israel last summer, opinion in the Gaza Strip is divided over the outcome of the war, especially in light of the serious social and economic situation in the Strip today. The decision to confront Israel militarily was made in the context of the severe distress in Gaza due to the Israeli closure, as a means of putting the plight of Gaza on the agendas of Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the international community. However, there was disagreement in Hamas over how to achieve that goal. The military wing, headed by Deif, was ready with an operational plan based on raids on an Israeli community, primarily Kerem Shalom, via tunnels and the abduction of soldiers and civilians back to Gaza. That, they argued, would give the military wing a strong bargaining chip vis a vis Israel, even at the cost of a war. But the Hamas political echelon was against the plan, opposition that greatly frustrated Deif and his people. During the war there were a number of unsuccessful attempts to implement Deif’s plan, with the result that today, nine months after Operation Protective Edge, the Gaza Strip is worse off in every way, according to Gazans themselves. The efforts of Hamas’ military wing are now focused on drafting fighters and rebuilding battalions, mainly in the areas of Beit Hanun, Shujaiyeh and Khan Yunis, which were hard hit during the fighting. New attempts are also being made to dig both attack and logistical tunnels….

Former President Jimmy Carter: Gaza situation ‘intolerable’

JERUSALEM (AP) 2 May —  Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said Saturday that eight months after a bloody war in the Gaza Strip the situation there remains “intolerable.” Carter and his delegation were supposed to visit the isolated territory but earlier this week called it off citing unspecified security concerns. Speaking to reporters in Jerusalem, Carter said he was still determined to work for a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. “What we have seen and heard only strengthens our determination to work for peace,” he said. “The situation in Gaza is intolerable. Eight months after a devastating war, not one destroyed house has been rebuilt and people cannot live with the respect and dignity they deserve.”

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Restriction of movement

Settlements threaten Palestine’s historic sites

RAMALLAH (Al-Monitor) 3 May by Ahmad Melhem — Violations carried out by Israeli settlers are destroying historic sites in Palestine in what many see as an attempt to bury Palestinian historic and cultural heritage — Settlers from the Leshem settlement in the northern West Bank took over the archaeological village of Deir Samaan on April 12. The Leshem settlement, constructed in 2013, is located west of Salfit governorate. Targeting archaeological landmarks and stealing their contents is part of the policy adopted by Israel following the occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Saleh Tawafsha, general director of the Ministry of Tourism’s Department of Antiquities Protection, told Al-Monitor, “Deir Samaan is an archaeological landmark that dates back to the Roman period. It consists of several monuments such as residential buildings, a church and mosaic floors. Since 1967, Israel has been fiercely attacking these archaeological sites. It has established several settlements like the Shilo settlement, built over ‘Khirbet Ceylon,’ a Canaanite city and archaeological site, north of Ramallah, as well as the Leshem settlement that encircles Deir Samaan.” Khaled Maali, a researcher in settlement affairs who is closely following the situation in Deir Samaan, told Al-Monitor, “The settlers are digging around the archaeological site and changing its features. They set up buildings near it and created roads to access the site, which the settlement borders.”….

40 settlers storm archaeological village west of Salfit

SALFIT (PIC) 2 May — 40 extremist Jewish settlers stormed at noon on Saturday Qarqesh archeological village to the west of Salfit governorate in the occupied West Bank. Eyewitnesses told PIC reporter that the settlers roamed and took photos in the village while a tourist guide was offering explanations on the history of the village and the area. The researcher Khaled Maali said the settlers’ incursion is not the first as settlers previously arranged several tours to the village and its surrounding area. The village dates back to Roman times. It has historic caves, theatres, pools, and cemeteries, Maali said. He added that the factories of the Israeli nearby Ariel settlement are only dozens of meters far from the village. Maali warned of isolating the village by Ariel outpost’s structures just like what happened in Dair Samaan village in Salfit. He also warned of changing the history of Qarqesh village as the settlers claim that it belongs to Jews who resided in Palestine in ancient times.

Israel Police leave East Jerusalem hotel after 13-year stay

Haaretz 4 May by Nir Hasson — Cliff Hotel became center of legal battle after owners launched legal battle to get their hotel returned —After more than a decade, the Border Police have left the Cliff Hotel in the East Jerusalem village of Abu Dis and removed the adjacent checkpoint that restricted movement in the area. The hotel’s Palestinian owners are already dreaming of renovating and reopening it. The hotel, on the eastern border of Jerusalem, was opened in 1961 by the Ayyad family that lived nearby. When East Jerusalem was annexed in 1967, the municipal border was drawn between the family home and the hotel. The hotel continued to function undisturbed until 2002, when it was seized by the police on security grounds. Later, the state claimed that the hotel had become state property under the Absentee Property Law, even though the family had never abandoned the hotel or left their own home 200 yards away. The hotel continued to act as a base for the Border Police, which also set up a checkpoint that restricted Palestinian movement near a small Jewish enclave called Kidmat Zion, which was established nearby. The Ayyad family launched a legal battle against the seizure that went on for years, and eventually became a struggle in principle against the implementation of the Absentee Property Law in East Jerusalem … With regard to the Cliff Hotel specifically, even before ruling on the case the court ordered an appeals committee to reevaluate the seizure of the building; the committee ordered the hotel be returned to its Palestinian owners. The state wants to continue using the roof of the building, where a system of sophisticated security cameras is installed to monitor the area. Security officials said Sunday that, given the available technology, there is no longer a reason to use the entire hotel as a base. …

2,026 settlement homes built on private Palestinian land, right-wing study finds

Haaretz 3 May by Chaim Levinson — Some 2,026 structures in the West Bank were built on privately owned Palestinian land, according to a study conducted by the right-wing organization Regavim and submitted to Knesset members ahead of deliberations on legislation aimed at expropriating land from Palestinian owners. Regavim claims that its mission is to “preserve national lands.” Until the recent election, it was run by Bezalel Smotrich, who has since joined Knesset on the Habayit Hayehudi roster. One of Smotrich’s primary goals in the Knesset will be passing legislation to expropriate land from Palestinian owners in exchange for reparations …  According to the report, the 2,026 structures located on private Palestinian land include 1,232 permanent homes and 794 mobile homes. Roughly 1,500 families live in these structures. The study was first reported by Arutz Sheva … In response to inquiries, Regavim issued a statement that read “it is irresponsible to publish data that appears in the report; any discussion on this sensitive issue should be conducted with appropriate discretion in the proper forum. Regavim has presented its stance on this issue to the officials relevant in finding a solution for the complex situation that has arisen in these places.”

Tracking illegal Arab construction, one EU-funded house at a time

Times of Israel 1 May by Elhanan Miller — Regavim, the right-wing equivalent of Peace Now, says Europe is using an impoverished Bedouin population to create political facts on the ground — …Today, with a staff of 10 working from offices at the Sha’ar Binyamin Industrial Zone southeast of Ramallah, Regavim defines its mission as “setting a Zionist agenda for the State of Israel, with an emphasis on the land and its management and preservation.” In practical terms, that means deploying dozens of volunteers to the field and using sophisticated aerial footage to track Arab building violations. Most recently, the group has chosen to focus on the European Union and its massive funding of illegal Bedouin construction in areas east of Jerusalem, commonly known as E-1. According to a report published in January titled “Illegal EU building in Adumim Region,” over the past two years the European Union has helped erect hundreds of illegal structures in area C of the West Bank, administratively controlled by Israel, in violation of Israeli building laws … Beyond its genuine concern for the well-being of the poorest Palestinians, the EU is politically motivated to entrench the Jahallin Bedouin on the strategic tracts of land they currently settle in order to maintain Arab contiguity between the northern and southern West Bank, Regavim argued. But the organization takes issue not only with Europe, but also with Israel’s bureaucracy and legal system which allows the situation to continue unabated.

Israel to endorse constructing 1500 settlement units in Jerusalem

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 3 May — Israeli media sources revealed that Israel has ordered on last Wednesday the endorsement of a resolution made by the Israeli Housing and Planning Committee to construct 1500 new settlement units in northern Occupied Jerusalem.  The website of Israel’s Channel Ten disclosed that the new 1500 settlement units will be constructed in Ramat Shlomo outpost to the north of Occupied Jerusalem.  The Channel’s website pointed out that the housing project was postponed due to technical claims such as opening streets in the area. After the removal of such claims, it is expected that the project will be endorsed on Monday by the Committee, the website added.

Palestinians under water, under occupation

[with photos] CPT 18 Apr — After just a few short hours of rain, dozens of Palestinian shopkeepers have spent the past week salvaging the goods of their stores, and exhausting the modest means of their bank accounts to return places of business into working order. To a simple passer-by, the flooding would have looked like the rare product of circumstances: the Old City being located at the geographical low spot ofHebron and poor infrastructure. But that isn’t the whole story. Israel’s military occupation of Hebron sometimes manifests itself in subtle ways. Unless you specifically look at how the instruments of apartheid impact the lives of Israelis and Palestinians differently, the systems of oppression can go unrecognized … There is a small corridor that separates the Jewish settlement of Avraham Avinu from the Palestinian community in the Old City. This historical corridor didn’t just serve as a passageway to link up the different neighborhoods of Hebron — it also served as a strategic point of drainage during the rainy season. It’s not only that the passageway was blocked, it was the way in which it was blocked. If the aim for sealing off the corridor was to prevent people from passing, a simple gate would have worked. But instead, an iron clad door, which restricts the passage of water, was installed – preventing the water from flowing freely out into the streets and into the main drainage points … Tahor Mosbah Sa’id Ahmed who owns a radio and video shop had to throw away hundreds of shekels of inventory because of the flooding. After several days of cleaning his shop, he is still not done. “This shop has been here for 66 years, and most of those years, we didn’t have this problem,” he said as he walked around his shop.

Israeli army drills damage land near Nablus

NABLUS (WAFA) 3 May – Israeli army Sunday conducted military drills using live ammunition near the village of Khirbet at-Tawil, east of Nablus, causing damage to hundreds of dunums of Palestinian-owned land, according to local sources. Khirbet at-Tawil has been a frequent target for Israeli violations, including property demolitions; Israeli forces have delivered many demolition and eviction orders to locals and demolished many houses, including tents and basic tin structures, barns and water wells.  According to a local study, Israeli forces aim in reality to “displace the hundreds of citizens living in Khirbet al- Tawil under the pretext that the village is located within Area C and is situated within an Israeli military zone used for the training of the Israeli army.” World Bulletin news reported that, “The Israeli army usually conducts drills in the occupied West Bank, especially in the Jordan Valley, which is often accompanied by the forced displacement of dozens of local Palestinian families due to the proximity of their homes to the training sites.” “Palestinians often worry about unexploded ordnance left behind by the Israeli army after the drills, which have led to the death of many Palestinians, including children, over the past years,” it said.

Israeli forces close Qalandiya checkpoint between Jerusalem, Ramallah

RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 3 May — Israeli forces on Sunday shut down Qalandiya checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah denying all entry in both directions. Sources told Ma‘an that a state of alert had been declared inside the checkpoint and that Israeli soldiers had forced all Palestinian drivers and pedestrians away from the crossing. It remains unclear why the checkpoint was closed.

171 Palestinians banned from traveling during April

AL-KHALIL (PIC) 2 May — The Israeli Occupation Authorities (IOA) banned last month at least 171 Palestinians from traveling via al-Karama border crossing that links West Bank to the outside world, Palestinian police said. 171 Palestinian citizens were prevented from passing through al-Karama crossing during April for “security reasons”, the sources affirmed. The number of West Bankers who have been prevented from traveling has notably increased during April in comparison with March when 130 Palestinians were not allowed to travel. During the reported period 129,000 persons have managed to pass through al-Karama crossing including 69 patients. Al-Karama border crossing between occupied Palestine and Jordan, which is controlled by the Israeli occupation, is the West Bank’s only exit to the outside world. These arbitrary travel bans are a clear violation of freedom of movement, a move Israeli employs to silence Palestinian activists, and to blackmail and exploit civilians and businessmen and even sick people seeking medical treatment.

Prisoners / Courts

The illusion of change in the West Bank military courts

+972 blog 2 May by Gerard Horton — Positive developments in the treatment of minors by Israeli security forces are overshadowed by partial and half-hearted implementation — In March 2013, UNICEF recommended that all children detained by the Israeli military in the West Bank must be given written information about their rights, including the right to silence and prompt access to a lawyer, at the time of arrest. This followed a finding by the UN agency that the ill-treatment of children detained in the system was “widespread, systematic and institutionalized.” In response, the Israeli Foreign Ministry announced that it would “study [the recommendations] and work to implement them through on-going cooperation with UNICEF.” Two years on, Military Court Watch has documented a case in which a minor was actually provided with a written document which included information about his legal rights while in custody. However, when the circumstances of the case are considered in greater detail, this development is less than positive and suggests that the military authorities are either unwilling or unable to implement UNICEF’s recommendations in good faith. According to a testimony provided by the 15-year-old youth from the al-Arroub refugee camp, the military came for him at 2.30 a.m. on April 7. After waking the family and checking ID cards, the youth was bound, blindfolded and taken away. The youth was not informed of his legal rights at this time as recommended by UNICEF. After being transferred on the floor of a military vehicle and physically assaulted, the youth was interrogated on two occasions at the police station in Etzion settlement….

Israel issues administrative detention orders against 11 Palestinian prisoners

RAMALLAH (WAFA) 3 May – Israeli authorities Sunday issued administrative detention orders without charge or trial against 11 Palestinian prisoners, reported the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club (PPC). PPC said that the Israeli military court of Ofer issued administrative detention orders against three prisoners for a period of six months. They were identifies as Izz Ed-din Saleh, a resident of Jenin, Ahmad Tawafsheh from Ramallah, and Nidal Zboon from Nablus. The remaining eight prisoners received detention orders without charge or trial for a period of four months … Administrative detention is the imprisonment of Palestinians without charge or trial and on the basis of secret evidence for up to six month periods, indefinitely renewable by Israeli military courts. The use of administrative detention dates from the “emergency laws” of the British colonial era in Palestine, said the Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network.

Palestinian refugees – Syria

UNRWA calls for protection of Yarmouk civilians as fighting escalates

JERUSALEM (WAFA) 3 May – The United Nations Relief and Works Agency said on Saturday it was increasingly alarmed about the safety of civilians in Yarmouk, amid reports of armed clashes, the use of heavy weapons and air strikes. “Civilians in the camp went through a night of extreme trauma and distress. We call on the Syrian Government to refrain from using explosive weapons in populated areas, including airborne weapons, whose indiscriminate effects expose civilians to imminent danger and suffering. UNRWA is closely monitoring reports of civilian fatalities and casualties,” said the UNRWA in a statement. UNRWA said it concerns were heightened since these events follow an earlier night of heavy armed attacks on 27 April, which were condemned by the UN Secretary General. “With families facing unspeakable suffering, we strongly appeal for respect for civilian life and an end to any actions that might further jeopardize the safety of civilians.”

Syrian army drops 9 ‘barrel bombs’ on Yarmouk refugee camp

DAMASCUS (PIC) 2 May — The Syrian regime warplanes dropped overnight nine barrel bombs on Yarmouk refugee camp to the south of Damascus.  Anadolu News Agency quoted local activist Abu Obeida as saying that nine barrel bombs were dropped on Yarmouk camp amid intensive fire of mortar shells. Heavy property damage was reported.  No casualties were reported, Abu Obeida added. The local activist pointed to the very poor humanitarian situation in the refugee camp due to the shortage of aid supplies and medical equipment. On the other hand, a Palestinian young man died on Friday of injuries he sustained during a similar bombing targeting the Yarmouk camp.

Other news

Fatah says government reshuffle underway

BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 3 May – The Palestinian Authority’s ruling party Fatah is seeking to reshuffle the national consensus government, a senior Fatah official told Ma‘an late Saturday. Secretary-General of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council Amin Maqboul said that the reshuffle had been discussed at the last session of Fatah’s Executive Committee, and that President Mahmoud Abbas had confirmed it would take place soon. “It was supposed to take place in late April,” Maqboul said, “but has been delayed because the government has been preoccupied with events in Gaza.” Maqboul said that a reshuffle will see five to six portfolios swap hands and will name a new minister of the economy whose incumbent Muhammad Mustafa resigned from the government early last month. Rami Hamdallah will continue to head the government as prime minister, Maqboul said. The consensus government has come under intense pressure in recent days following the failure of a high-profile government visit to Gaza that ended in disarray on Apr. 20 … Following the debacle, a minister told Ma’an that the unity government had cut off all contact with Hamas, and on Friday, a Hamas official branded the government a “failure” and said that Hamas no longer supported the body of politically-independent technocrats. Hamas MP Ismail al-Ashraq reiterated Hamas’ calls for elections, which were supposed to take place within six months of April last year when the unity government was formed, but which have been put on hold indefinitely … No election has been held in the occupied territories for nearly a decade. Abbas’s presidential mandate expired in 2009, but he has remained in office because there has been no election. The Palestinian Legislative Council — Palestine’s parliament — also has not met since 2007.

Barghouti calls for convening Fatah’s 7th conference

RAMALLAH (PIC) 4 May — Fatah Central Committee Member Marwan Barghouthi, who is currently held in the Israeli jail of Hadarim, called for convening Fatah Movement’s 7th conference in order to guarantee the group’s internal unity. In a leaked letter, Barghouthi stressed his total trust in the efforts made by his group to overcome the current challenges. The senior leader in Fatah movement called for finalizing preparations for the group’s 7th conference that would guarantee its democratic process and internal unity.

MPs hold Abbas responsible for recent break-in into Fokaha’s house

RAMALLAH (PIC) 1 May — Several MPs of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) on Thursday held the Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas accountable for a an assault by the PA Preventive Forces, earlier in the day, on the house of the newly released MP Abdul Jabar Fokaha. The MPs slammed, in a joint statement, such an abrupt break-in, saying it aims at marring the joyful mood and dampening the high spirits experienced by the family the day of their son’s release from the Israeli occupation jails. The MPs branded the assault a barefaced proof of the PA’s biased positions vis-à-vis a certain category of people and political affiliations. “This just testifies to the PA’s dragging of its feet regarding national reconciliation,” the statement read … Earlier, at noontime on Thursday, the PA preventive forces stormed Fokaha’s family home, just a few hours after he was unshackled from the Israeli occupation bars. A live video footage of the assault shows the PA forces removing and taking away Hamas banners in such a remarkably panic-stricken manner. The family expressed their firm disapproval of the assault, saying it breaches the parliamentary immunity supposedly granted to the PLC deputies. Fokaha, father of five children, had been incarcerated for over 100 months in the Israeli occupation lock-ups, mostly in administrative detention.

Bethlehem municipality considers introducing ‘tourist fee’

BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 May — Tourists visiting Palestine may be charged a “tourism fee” when they visit certain cities in the West Bank including Bethlehem and Ramallah, Deputy Mayor of Bethlehem Issam Juha told Ma‘an late Friday. Juha said that the “symbolic fee” would only amount to one US dollar, but he believed it would help improve services offered to tourists while in Bethlehem. He said that the Bethlehem municipality had already invited consulting companies to put forward proposals for a system to collect the fee. When the municipal council has selected one of the systems, they will then submit an application to the Palestinian cabinet for approval. “Tourists have so far been receiving services for free, and now we are considering a mechanism to make them pay a fee which would help us improve public services, including wireless internet, maps and tour signs,” the deputy mayor said.

The Palestinian soccer league: A microcosm of a national struggle

+972 blog 1 May by Yoni Mendel — Originally founded in 1928, the Palestinian Football Association endured the many trials of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ahead of the conclusion of an eventful season, we look at one of the only national institutions that unifies the Palestinians these days — … Soccer is the most popular sport in the region and in spite of everything, even behind the separation wall and the checkpoints, the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank play every Saturday. The Palestinian league, sponsored by the cellular phone giant “Jawal,” has been operating entirely professionally for the past four years, since the 2010/2011 season. Because of the separation between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, the league is divided into two separate realms: the upper Palestinian league in the West Bank and its counterpart in Gaza. Each league consists of 12 teams, which play home games and away games, 22 games per season in total. At the conclusion of the season the highest scoring team is pronounced a winner, and the two teams with the lowest ranking descend to the secondary league – of the West Bank or Gaza, respectively … The national team reflects the great diversity of the Palestinian people – those who live in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, or Israel; those who live in their ancestral homes, in refugee camps or in the diaspora. The national team enlists players from all these backgrounds.

Police fire stun grenades at Tel Aviv rally by Ethiopian Israelis

Tel Aviv (AFP) 3 May by Jack Guez — Police fired stun grenades to disperse a rally by Ethiopian Israelis demonstrating in central Tel Aviv on Sunday against alleged police brutality and widespread discrimination. Some of the demonstrators hurled stones, bottles and chairs from nearby restaurants after attempting to storm the Tel Aviv municipality building. Mounted police used riot stun grenades and water cannon as well as pepper spray to disperse the crowd and clear nearby streets, but an AFP correspondent said the protesters kept returning. Police said 46 officers as well as at least seven demonstrators were wounded in the clashes, and 26 protestors were arrested … Sunday’s protest came three days after a stormy demonstration in Jerusalem sparked by footage showing two policemen beating a uniformed Israeli soldier of Ethiopian origin. Scores of other Israelis also joined Sunday’s rally, chanting and holding up signs reading: “A violent policeman must be put in prison” and “We demand equal rights” … Demonstrators earlier blocked the Ayalon expressway during rush-hour, causing huge traffic jams on one of Israel’s central highways before police forcefully evacuated them … Police estimated 3,000 people took part in the demonstration, while media reports cited organisers as putting the number at 10,000. Zion Cohen, an Israeli participant, told AFP the Ethiopians were “a hundred percent right” to protest. “It’s a racist country and we don’t accept them,” he said. As the rally began, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement saying that on Monday he would meet Damas Pakada, the soldier who was beaten, as well as other representatives of the Ethiopian community … More than 135,000 Ethiopian Jews live in Israel, having immigrated in two waves in 1984 and 1991. But they have struggled to integrate into Israeli society, despite massive government aid. While Ethiopian Jews have high rates of employment, their average income is lower than that of other Israelis, and they are under-represented in academia and public office….

Personal testimony: Why we came to protest

Ynet 4 May by Noam (Dabul) Dvir — Sahlo was humiliated by officers and arrested; Zerviv claims Education Ministry only lets her work with youths of Ethiopian descent; and Adla, first arrested at 13, had a German Shepherd unleashed on him’  —  Thousands of Ethiopian Israelis turned out to the mass demonstration in Tel Aviv on Sunday to release some of the immense pain they have shouldered over the years. Here are the stories of four protesters, who say they want to feel equal but are faced with discrimination due to the color of their skin.,7340,L-4653352,00.html

Reporting in the line of duty

The Seventh Eye 30 Apr by Nir Gontarz — Television journalists generally bring a videographer with them when they report from the field. Embarrassingly enough, the person who filmed veteran reporter Alon Ben-David’s recent report on Channel 10 about Border Police who go undercover as Palestinians (“Mistaravim” in Hebrew) was actually a cameraman from the Israel Police’s spokesperson’s unit … Ben-David — a news presenter and military and security analyst – made a downright promotional piece, in which he painted a completely one-sided picture, devoid of any journalistic content. The veteran reporter, who never stopped flattering the arrest raid and assassination unit, chose not to ask the soldiers what it feels like to make extrajudicial arrests of civilians, or to break into a family home in the middle of the night based on shady information. Under the cover of darkness, Ben-David accompanied the “Mistaravim” on an arrest raid, which we don’t know why they carried out, and in which as far as we can tell from the footage, the “undercover” officers showed up at the site of the arrest dressed in full uniforms — and not in civilian attire. After blowing off the front door of the home, the disabled suspect is arrested and put into a car. Ben-David doesn’t feel the need to tell his viewers what evidence emanated from the suspect’s interrogation, whether he was brought before a judge, whether his remand was extended, whether he was indicted, and if so, for what crime … More and more often, our television screens are filled with such high production-value items with no journalistic content whatsoever. They call them military reporters. There is no more problematic area of journalistic coverage in Israel than the defense establishment.

Jewish migration to Israel up 40% this year so far

TEL AVIV 3 May by Mairav Zonszein — Ukrainians and Russians account for surge as numbers leaving western Europe in first three months remains steady despite Paris attacks in January, report shows — …Between January and March, 6,499 Jews arrived in Israel, the vast majority from Europe. But the figures produced in an interim report by the Jewish Agency for Israel, an NGO, reveal that the only substantial increase came from eastern Europe with numbers from western Europe remaining more or less steady. In all, 1,971 people came fromUkraine in the first three months of 2015, a 215% rise on the 625 in the same period last year. The number of Russians rose by almost 50% to 1,515. The numbers naturalising from France – which in 2014 became the largest source of immigration to Israel for the first time with 7,000 Jews leaving – rose by 11% to 1,413. Antisemitism certainly plays a role, but so does the declining economy and other social factors … There was also a 43% rise in immigration from Britain in the first quarter of this year. But the actual number of people who moved was only 166. When you consider that there are around 300,000 Jews in the UK, this is not a statistically significant number. Immigration from North America decreased by 7%, with only 478 new arrivals in the first three months of this year.

US allots $700 million for Israel’s missile defense

WASHINGTON (PIC) 3 May — The U.S. Congress last week endorsed a bid to provide military assistance, worth some $700 million, to the Israeli occupation’s war arsenal. The bid pledged to cover $474 million of Israel’s funds allotted to anti-missile systems, including the Iron Dome and the Magic Wand. Included in the U.S.-Israel cooperative missile defense funds are $267 million in research and development funds authorizing probes into and promotions of an anti-tunnels defense system. The congress further approved $41 million for the short-range Iron Dome rocket defense system. Also included in the amendment approved Thursday are $156 million for David’s Sling, another short-range system, and the longer-range Arrow-3 missile defense programs.

Apple to hire hundreds of new Israeli employees

Haaretz 30 Apr by Amir Teig — Apple is expected to expand its Israeli workforce by up to a third by adding between 150 and 250 employees at its research-and-development center in Herzliya, sources told TheMarker on Wednesday. Apple, which launched the center earlier this year, currently employs about 700 people in Israel, most of them chip engineers. Just two years after its arrival in the country, Apple’s Israeli R&D center is its largest outside its headquarters in Cupertino, California. The company has also opened an R&D center in Haifa’s Matam high-tech park, where it took on 100 employees laid off by Texas Instruments in Ra’anana.

US Senate approves bill protecting Israeli settlements

Middle East Monitor 2 May —  The US Senate approved the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 on Wednesday in a move which is clearly designed to protect illegal Israeli settlements built across the occupied Palestinian territories, Al-Quds newspaper has reported. The act is intended to counter boycott and divestment initiatives, including the labelling of goods originating in the settlements. Such activities will now be “against US law and consequently illegal”, even though international law deems all settlements to be illegal. One of the senators who worked on the legislation is Ben Cardin of Maryland, a known supporter of Israel. Media reports said that this law has caused widespread controversy because of attempts by certain senators to link America’s deal over Iran’s nuclear programme to the approval of several trade acts and agreements with various international interest groups, including Israel’s illegal settlements.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

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