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TODAY in Palestine

Lundi, 12 mai 2014 - 15h52

lundi 12 mai 2014



Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Judaization

Palestinians revive earthen architecture

JERICHO (Al Jazeera) 10 May by Ala Qandil

— Despite persisting stigmas, Palestinians are increasingly using clay, mud and sand to build their homes [out of necessity in many cases] — Ahmed Dawud’s neighbours thought he had lost his mind. When they saw three young architects building Dawud’s winter house in Jericho, in the occupied West Bank, using bags filled with a soil mix of clay, sand and gravel, they were quick to mock the 45-year-old. "My neighbours perceived building from mud at first as a step backward. They found the shape of the domes strange and didn’t take the project seriously. Even the workers were suspicious about the capacity of the house to be habitable," Dawud told Al Jazeera. Danna Masad, one of the architects at ShamsArd Studio, which built the house, recalled similar reactions : "One of the neighbours, who was building his own house at the time with cement, said he will be done with his construction before we raise Ahmed’s house from the foundation," Masad told Al Jazeera. But while the architects busied themselves with Dawud’s home last year, Nesher, an Israeli company that exports the vast majority of cement used in the occupied Palestinian territories, suddenly stopped the supply for almost a month because of cement shortages in the Israeli market. A few months later, the price of cement sold to the Palestinians also increased - and Dawud’s neighbours stopped mocking his use of natural, cheaper materials. "The neighbours loved it, and many people came to see it, even from Ramallah," Masad said of Dawud’s winter home, known as the "moon house" after the moon-like cocoon of the design first developed by architect Nader Khalili.

Hebron suffers landfill and water shortage, aggravated by Israel

HEBRON (Ma‘an) 11 May — Like many cities in the region, the southern West Bank city of Hebron faces a shortage of space for waste disposal. Unlike most cities, however, Hebron’s problems are exacerbated by gun-toting Israeli settlers who forcibly access the area’s main landfill. Mayor Dawood Zaatari told Ma‘an on Sunday that the al-Minya landfill, which was built with World Bank funds specifically to serve the 800,000 Palestinian residents of the Bethlehem and Hebron regions, is still being used by Israeli settlers who dump their waste "at gunpoint." "We could take the case to international courts in order to stop settlers from using the dump," al-Zaatari added, stressing that "settlements are illegal and we don’t recognize them." Al-Zaatari, who chairs the Joint Service Council for Solid Waste Management of Bethlehem and Hebron, added that the council contacted several international organizations and donor countries in attempt to stop settlers’ violations. "A legal committee is studying the case and we could end up filing a complaint against settlers," he added. The al-Minya landfill is the first modern waste landfill in the southern West Bank, and was intended to dispose of 34 percent of the entire West Bank’s total needs.
Hebron has also been suffering from a serious water shortage that is expected to take a few years in order to be fixed, the mayor told Ma‘an. Asked about the water crisis in Hebron and the municipality’s preparations for the upcoming summer, the mayor said that all West Bank districts face water crises in summer. The problem, he said, is mainly political as Israel maintains control on water resources in the West Bank.

Nakba 2.0 : A somber trip down memory lane with an Israeli app

Haaretz 10 May by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — A click on iNakba, which the Zochrot NGO launched this week, reveals a hidden world — “Begin the trip. Drive carefully,” the programmed voice said, adding not long afterward, “In another 200 meters turn left… You have reached your destination.” Destination ? The ruins of a Palestinian village amid thick undergrowth, in the middle of nowhere. This week, iNakba, a new mobile app, was launched by Zochrot (an NGO that describes itself as promoting “Israeli Jewish society’s acknowledgement of, and accountability for, the ongoing injustices of the Nakba and the reconceptualization of Return as the imperative redress of the Nakba, and a chance for a better life for the entire country’s inhabitants.”) There are directions to the most hidden and most denied places in Israel. The Nakba in your iPhone. Zochrot is developing an Android iNakba app as well. The app, subtitled “The Invisible Land,” is astonishing : sophisticated, thorough and knowledgeable, and user-friendly – if that’s the appropriate term for things related to Israel’s repressed past. One click and here’s the geography, another and you see the history, and yet another gets you a short video containing testimonies, if available, by refugees from the destroyed village in question. It’s a fascinating journey to this country’s archaeological past, one that is both the nearest to and most remote from the present day. Enter the free app and a packed (and depressing) panoply of virtual pins covers the country. Each represents one of the more than 400 destroyed villages. And they’re everywhere ... The cemetery of Tzrufa lies opposite the cemetery of Sarafand, separated by the coastal highway. It was here that we saw the most piteous sight. All that remains of the mosque is the floor, yet miraculously there were rolled-up carpets, folded chairs, bottles of water and paper cups there. People apparently still make pilgrimages here and continue to pray – in a mosque without a turret, without a ceiling and without walls, in which not a stone remains in place. An inscription has been spray-painted on the water tower next to the floor of the mosque : “And you shall love your neighbor as yourself – the whole Torah in a nutshell.”

Students mark Nakba Day at Tel Aviv University

Ynet 11 May by Shahar Chai — Some 300 Arab and Jews raise awareness for Palestinian narrative with annual protest ; organizer emphasizes "Nakba continues." — Some 300 students marked Nakba Day on Sunday with a demonstration at Tel Aviv University. Arab students carried pictures of relatives and read testimonies of Palestinians who were forced from their homes and villages during Israel’s War of Independence. "The tragedy of the Palestinian people began in ’48 and continues to this day," the students said. One demonstrator, a communications and law student, said that "in order for Arabs and Jews to live together we must recognize the tragedy of our people, our oppression, our expulsion. It cannot be denied." The student stressed that "this day is even more important considering the current wave of hate crimes we have been witnessing.",7340,L-4518399,00.html

Activists call for Nakba commemoration in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 10 May — Jerusalem activists representing all major Palestinian parties on Saturday called for Nakba Day commemorations to be held at Damascus gate in the Old City of Jerusalem on May 15. The activists also called for all Palestinian Jerusalemites to participate in the commemorations and contribute to reviving the memory of the Nakba, or "catastrophe," among all generations of Palestinians. The activists highlighted that the commemorations would be national and not party-oriented ... Nakba Day commemorations take place around the world on May 15, and commemorations held by Palestinians still inside Israel have become a highly charged political issue, where they sometimes coincide with Israeli independence day celebrations. Israeli authorities have attempted to ban Nakba day commemorations in the past, including in 2012 in Tel Aviv where they prevented activists from reading the names of the more than 400 villages depopulated in 1948.

Wadi Hilweh Information Center monthly report

. . . closing Al-Aqsa 6 times to Muslims, arresting 135 citizens and isolating 70 others from Al-Aqsa
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 10 May — Wadi Hilweh Information Center-Silwan warned against the unprecedented Israeli escalation in Al-Aqsa Mosque during the month of April where there were many violations at the Mosque using several methods at the governmental level and through occupation forces and settlers ... The Information Center explained that the occupation forces who were equipped with weapons broke into Al-Aqsa Mosque during the month of April three times (13th, 16th, 20th) and included forces from the police, Special Forces, borders police, Intelligence, Musta’ribeen [Israeli forces disguised as Palestinians] and snipers and got engaged in violent clashes with the Palestinians where they used bullets, sound and gas grenades and pepper gas and directly assaulted the Muslims who were present in Al-Aqsa courtyards ; note that more than 70 minor to moderate injuries were recorded in those three days. Among the weapons used was a new Sulfuric type of rubber bullets that causes stains and burns on the body and the forces managed to injure the young men using this type of bullets. The forces also deliberately damaged the facilities of Al-Aqsa during the break-ins as they damaged the windows of Al-Qibli Mosque using the butts of their guns in addition to burning the carpets and damaging the marble poles [columns] with the grenades and bullets. Officials at the Islamic Awqaf confirmed that the clashes that broke out in Al-Aqsa in the month of April were the most violent since the 1990’s. During the above mentioned dates, clashes broke out at the open gates of Al-Aqsa (Hutta, Al-Silsileh and Al-Majles) where the Israeli forces established iron barriers and assaulted all citizens from all ages with batons in addition to using sound grenades and pepper gas to disperse them and prevent them from entering Al-Aqsa where they planned to stay and confront the settlers’ break-ins.

Christians ask Maronite patriarch to reconsider Jerusalem visit

BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 May by Alex Shams — A prominent Palestinian Christian activist group has urged the Lebanese patriarch to reconsider an upcoming trip to Jerusalem, as controversy mounts over what could potentially be the first visit of a Maronite religious leader to the holy city since Israel’s creation in 1948. Palestinian group Kairos released a statement on Friday warning Patriarch Beshara al-Rai that his plans to accompany the Pope on a Holy Land visit May 24-26 could be misused by Israeli authorities to "whitewash" the occupation. "We as Christian Palestinians are eager to see and meet with our religious guides and leaders," the statement said, but it stressed that the group would prefer to meet with him in "prayer of the spirits, and not in the presence of the Israeli occupation." The group also expressed its desire to "prevent the formation of any moral, ethical, or religious cover" for the occupation, highlighting their fears that Israeli authorities would misuse the patriarch’s visit to distract attention from crimes perpetuated against Palestinians.

Global march to Jerusalem launches ahead of June protest
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 May — The Al-Quds international foundation on Saturday launched activities for the Global March to Jerusalem on Saturday, an event organized annually on June 6 in commemoration of the outbreak of the Six Day War that led to the 1967 Israeli occupation of Jerusalem. Hamas-affiliated lawmaker Ahmad Abu Halabiya announced that marches would set off from Jerusalem as well as from cities in the West Bank, Gaza, and inside Israel. Similar marches will be arranged in Egypt, Syria and Lebanon, in addition to marches in 45 Arab and predominantly-Muslim countries. The lawmaker called for Palestinians and all Palestinian parties and institutions to participate in the march and its activities to deliver to Israel the message that "Palestinians and free people will protect Jerusalem and al-Aqsa mosque with all their power."

Israeli forces demolish houses, steel structures near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 12 May — Israeli military forces demolished a number of homes and steel structures south of Nablus on Monday, a Palestinian official said. Ghassan Daghlas, a PA official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an that dozens of military vehicles raided the village of Khirbet al-Tawil and demolished steel structures, water wells, and several homes made from corrugated iron, without providing further details ... On April 29, Israeli forces demolished a mosque and three houses in Khirbet al-Tawil, affecting 29 people, 21 of which were minors, a statement by the EU said. EU missions in East Jerusalem and Ramallah condemned the demolitions and called on Israel "to meet its obligations regarding the living conditions of the Palestinian population in Area C, including by halting the forced transfer of population and demolitions of Palestinian housing and infrastructure."

Jewish settlers desecrate West Bank mosque
World Bulletin 11 May — A member of the Palestinian Legislative Council on Sunday denounced the desecration of a West Bank mosque by scores of Jewish settlers. "Tens of settlers broke into the Mosque of Prophet Yunus [Jonah] in the town of Halhul in the south of the occupied West Bank in the early hours of Sunday and defiled it," Mariam Saleh told Anadolu Agency. "The desecration of the mosque happened under official protection from the Israeli army," she said. Saleh said settler attacks on mosques have become a common occurrence, adding that hundreds of settlers had desecrated Ibrahimi Mosque in the West Bank city of Al-Khalil and Joseph’s Tomb in the northern West Bank in recent days. Eyewitnesses have confirmed the desecration of the Mosque of Prophet Yunus by scores of settlers this morning.

Jewish settlers spray racist graffiti, insults to Prophet Mohammed
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 11 May — Jewish fanatics sprayed racist slurs on the walls of a workshop in Petah Tikva, east of Tel Aviv, on Sunday reading “Death to Arabs.” Israeli police said that the incident was part of the Price Tag attacks, adding that an insult to Prophet Mohammed was also sprayed on the same walls. It claimed that investigations were underway but no suspects were arrested.

Hordes of Jewish squatters converge on Palestinian village of Wadi Fuqeen
Redress Info&Analysis 11 May — It can’t get more blatant than this. On so-called Israeli “Independence Day” hundreds of Jewish squatters descended on the Palestinian village of Wadi Fuqeen, near Bethlehem, guarded by the Israeli occupation army. They used Palestinians farms as entertainment parks, destroying crops, contaminating irrigation pools and channels, and using, abusing and damaging Palestinian recreational facilities – including a children’s playground built by the villagers but earmarked by the Israeli occupation army for demolition. To make matters worse, the occupation army prohibited the Palestinians farmers from tending their crops and Palestinian children from playing in their playground while the Jewish squatters were present. Here is a report by Mirna al-Atrash of Ma‘an satellite TV channel. It’s in Arabic – an English translation is beneath the video clip.

Settlers chop down Palestinian-owned trees near Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 11 May — Israeli settlers Sunday chopped down dozens of Palestinian private-owned trees in the village of Beit Ummar, to the north of Hebron, according to Mohammad Ayyad, spokesperson for the anti-settlement committee in the village. He said settlers used chainsaws to chop down around 70 almond, olive trees, and grape vines belonging to one of the residents.

Don’t miss the excellent opinion articles at the end of today’s list

Hate crimes

Israel hate crimes ’poison atmosphere’ for pope visit
HAIFA, Israel (AFP) 11 May by Daphne Rousseau — The head of the Roman Catholic church in the Holy Land said Sunday that Israeli hate crimes against local Muslims and Christians are souring relations ahead of a papal visit. "The unrestrained acts of vandalism poison the atmosphere — the atmosphere of co-existence and the atmosphere of collaboration, especially in these two weeks prior to the visit of Pope Francis," Latin Patriarch Fuad Twal said. "It is also a blight on the democracy that Israel ascribes to itself," he told a news conference in the northern port city of Haifa. The pope’s visit is scheduled to begin in Jordan on May 24, and he is then due to spend two days in the Holy Land from May 25. On Friday, vandals spray-painted anti-Christian graffiti on a Jerusalem church, just days after the Roman Catholic church demanded that Israel act following the discovery of racist slogans daubed on a Vatican-owned property elsewhere in the city.

Pope tackles rifts with Middle East ’pilgrimage of prayer’
VATICAN CITY (AFP) 9 May by Ella Ide, Jean-Louis De La Vaissiere — Pope Francis makes his first trip to the Middle East this month accompanied by Jewish and Muslim intellectuals to push for inter-religious dialogue amid stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The head of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, who has garnered a reputation as a reformer as well as defender of the downtrodden since his election last year, has referred to his journey as a "pilgrimage of prayer." Francis’s trip from Amman to Bethlehem and Jerusalem from May 24 to 26 will aim to reach beyond the walls of Catholicism and mark the 50th anniversary of a historic rapprochement between the Catholic and Orthodox worlds. In an unprecedented move, Francis will be accompanied throughout by Rabbi Abraham Skorka and Islamic studies professor Omar Abboud — old friends of the Argentine pope from when he was the archbishop of Buenos Aires. "Every gesture and word will be scrupulously analysed," Andrea Tornielli, a biographer of the pontiff, wrote on the Italian website Vatican Insider. "This is precisely why the pilgrimage of a pope who named himself after the saint of peace and has chosen two representatives of the Jewish and Muslim faiths as travel companions, can help renew dialogue," he said. Security for the crowd-loving pope will be high after a series of hate crimes against the Catholic Church and Muslims in Israel, and the Vatican hopes the visit will draw attention to the plight of the region’s Christians. On his first day, Francis will pray on the banks of the River Jordan for the victims of the Syrian conflict and meet some the families among the 600,000 refugees who have sought shelter in Jordan since the war broke out.

Settler council files incitement complain against Amos Oz over ’racist’ jibe
Haaretz 11 May — The Samaria settler council filed a complaint against Amos Oz for incitement yesterday, following the renowned author’s statements calling perpetrators of hate crimes "Hebrew neo-Nazis," according to news portal Walla ! "The author’s statements are grave incitement to racism, for which he deserves the Nobel Prize for racism," asserted Sagi Keizler, council chairman. He argued that in the wake of the precedent of Eliraz Fein of Yitzhar, who was arrested after writing in a similar vein in an internal Yitzhar Internet forum, "the police won’t be able to ignore the author’s serious incitement." Fein had written : “I am in favor of throwing stones (at Jews, of course ; there is no question about Arabs) in some cases, even if the rock causes the death of a soldier !!!”

Israel intensifies campaign against ’price tag’ attackers
Ynet 11 May by Tova Tsimuki — AG says administrative detention without trial permissible ; Livni behind law amendment allowing judges to impose stiffer jail sentences — Israel is beginning to take intensive action to end "price tag" attacks by far-right extremists, which have systemically targeted Christian and Muslim property, as well as on frequent occasions the IDF ... In a recent internal debate on the issue, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein clarified that, in "special and suitable instances of law-breaking", where there is intelligence and administrative evidence of involvement in hate crimes, it is permissible to detain suspects for an extended period under administration detention, without trial. "It is clear today that this is to all intents and purposes a terrorist cell," said a senior figure in Israel’s judiciary. "There are several dozen activists from Judea and Samaria, mostly from Yitzhar and the surrounding hills who are perpetrating these serious incidents," says a senior police officer. "We know who they are, more or less." On Friday there were two more hate crime attacks against Muslims and Christians in Jerusalem.,7340,L-4518337,00.html

Youths arrested for stoning Arab man’s car in Afula protest, take ’selfie’ in police station
Jerusalem Post 11 May by Ben Hartman — An Afula rally to commemorate the life of a local teenager murdered in a suspected terror attack became heated late Saturday night, with some participants throwing rocks at cars belonging to Israeli Arabs. Eleven youths suspected of taking part in the violence were arrested by police, and three were ordered to be kept in custody overnight. Of the three kept in custody two are minors. The news portal 0404 News on Sunday posted a selfie that seven of the youths took of themselves inside the Afula police station before they were released. All are in a celebratory mood and according to 0404 they said they were proud of what they stood accused of.

Violence / Raids / Attacks / Clashes / Illegal arrests

15-year-old boy assaulted and detained in Hebron
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine (ISM Khalil Team) 10 May — Today in al-Khalil (Hebron), Israeli soldiers viciously assaulted a 15-year-old boy while they were attempting to arrest him. The soldiers accused him of attacking 10 settler youth ; he was then taken to Tel Rumeida military base and then released after 20 minutes with no charges. ISM activists witnessed one Israeli soldier pulling the young teenager towards Tel Rumeida military base, as his two sisters frantically tried to intervene. The 15-year-old was held in the military base, on his own, for approximately 20 minutes before being released. After the incident, ISM activists spoke to the boy’s father, Abu Shamsiyeh, who described the events leading to his son’s detention. He explained that he was in his house when his two daughters ran to him and said that Israeli soldiers were attacking their brother. Abu Shamsiyeh left the house to witness a group of soldiers grabbing his son by the neck and throwing him to the ground. He told the soldiers that his son has problems with his back, and was ignored. More Israeli soldiers, including a commander, arrived and when Abu Shamsiyeh tried to speak to them, he was physically grabbed and told he was not allowed to accompany his son to the military base, or to continue filming. Israeli police did not arrest the 15-year-old as they said it was impossible for a boy of his size to attack 10 settler youth. Abu Shamsiyeh stated that the family, himself, his wife and all five of his children, have many problems with Israeli soldiers and with the settlers from nearby illegal settlements in Tel Rumeida. However, he explained that on Saturdays (the Sabbath in Judaism), the harassment often escalates due to an increase in settler activity and an influx of Zionists tourists.

Settlers attack, injure shepherd near Hebron
JERICHO (WAFA) 11 May – Israeli settlers Sunday attacked a shepherd while he was grazing his sheep in the area of Wadi Abu Obaida, near Hebron, according to medical sources. Sources said that settlers brutally beat up 22 year-old Nader al-Njoom, causing him severe bruises throughout his body. He was transferred to hospital for medical treatment where his case was described as moderate to stable.

Building Israel, one rock at a time
HEBRON (EUObserver) 12 May by Andrew Rettman — The rock, thrown by a Jewish settler, hit Rashida, a six-year-old Palestinian girl, in the forehead as she walked from school in the South Hebron Hills one Wednesday (23 April). She needed six stitches, but photos of her injury indicate it could have been worse. The Israeli NGO B’Tselem has given cameras to Bedouin who live in this remote part of the West Bank so they can tell media about the violence because, they say, Israeli police does nothing to stop it. Nasser Nawaj‘ah, a Rashida family friend, told EUobserver similar attacks take place “three or four times a week”, on top of settler vandalism of Bedouin property. “Thank God we have this technology, this Internet, so we can tell the story,” he said. “If a settler attacks you, and you put up your hand to defend yourself, the Israelis arrest you for assault. You’re gone from your family for a long time and your house is demolished.” He spoke in a makeshift building made from stones and tarpaulin because his original home, a Bedouin cave, was smashed up and filled with rubble by Israeli soldiers. They destroyed a cistern by dumping a Subaru car into it, so that the rust and battery acid would poison the water. His house is also under a demolition order. It is because the Hebron hills are in “Area C” - a vast swathe of the West Bank under full Israeli control where Palestinians rarely get construction permits....

Israeli settlers ’kidnap’ child near Yatta for several hours
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 11 May — Israeli settlers from Havot Maon "kidnapped" a Palestinian child south of Hebron on Saturday evening, a local activist group reported, before releasing him a few hours later. Coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements south of Hebron Rateb al-Jubour said in a statement that settlers took 6-year-old Mosab Kamel Mousa Roba‘i from the village of Tuwani east of Yatta. He said that the settlers released the boy after a few hours and left him in the forest located adjacent to the settlement of Havot Maon, which is located adjacent to the village. Al-Jubour added that the child was in "difficult" and deteriorating health conditions when he was released and was unable to speak. He was subsequently transferred to Abu al-Hasan al-Qasim Hospital in Yatta for treatment. Havot Maon is home to around 200 Jewish settlers and is considered one of the most violent and radical outposts in the West Bank. On April 24, settlers from Havot Maon attacked a mother and her four children with rocks while they were walking on one of the few roads in the area where locals do not require army protection to travel, injuring a seven-year-old.

Murad Eshtewi, and four Palestinian youths from Kafr Qaddum, have been arrested
KAFR QADDUM, Occupied Palestine (ISM Nablus Team) 12 May — On the night of the 28th to 29th of April 2014, the Israeli army raided the village of Kafr Qaddum to arrest five people, among them Murad Eshtewi, the media coordinator of the weekly Friday demonstration in Kafr Qaddum. The four other young man who where arrested are Reslan Joma, Ream Harham, Mustafa Eshtewi and Ahmad Hassan Eshtewi. At this time, all five are still imprisoned by Israeli forces in Meggido prison. This prison is located north of the West Bank and thereby contradicting Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention which states that “Protected persons accused of offences shall be detained in the occupied country, and if convicted they shall serve their sentences therein”. Murad is being charged with stone throwing and organizing the demonstration, while the remaining four youths are also charged with stone throwing. Witnesses from the village state that the Israeli army, numbering approximately 100 soldiers, raided the different houses at approximately 02.30AM. Murad was arrested at his house, however the Israeli army used unconventional methods to arrest him. The soldiers climbed into Murad’s bedroom window using ladders, and took him out of the window ... Currently, Murad and the other villagers from Kafr Qaddum have been in custody for 12 days. During this period, they have had two court hearings in which their sentences were postponed, allegedly to collect more evidence. The weekly Friday demonstrations in Kafr Qaddum started in 2011 to reopen the road to Nablus and against the illegal Israeli settlement of Qedumim. The Israeli army responded with systematic arrests. In some cases, the detainees would be under custody for one or two days and then released on bail. According to the former mayor of Kafr Qaddum, this has had an important economic impact : approximately 250,000 shekels (almost 52,000 euros [more than $72,000]) have been paid by local villagers to release their detainees. As of today, there are 155 villagers from Kafr Qaddum detained in Israeli prisons out of a total population of approximately 4,500.

It’s the little things about occupation
972blog 11 May by Yossi Gurvitz for Yesh Din — Sometimes the daily, petty nastiness of the occupation is encapsulated in the dismal theft of a few farming tools — Ryad, who lives near Bethlehem area, has a small orchard with apricot, hazelnut, olive and fig trees. Near the orchard is an ancient agricultural structure, aged some 100 years, which serves Ryad and his family as a tool shed, as well as a resting place in the far too many hot days. One day, Ryad was asked by his nephew, Khader, to hold a family barbecue by the shed. Ryad agreed. When Khader got there, however, he was shocked to see a few men, whom he would soon identify as Israeli civilians, attempting to damage the structure. Khader shouted at them and moved in their direction, and the three immediately fled. When Ryad got there, after being summoned by Khader, he found that the Israeli civilians had not limited themselves to their attempt to destroy the structure : they also stole some agricultural tools and silverware that were in it. Why ? Just because. We’ve already become pretty much inured to the daily violence against Palestinians, whether coming from the military or civilians. We’ve grown used to it. After all, it happens so often you could mumble the excuses in your sleep : the soldier felt in danger, they were near the fence, they were somewhere they shouldn’t be, and anyway, you know what they would do to us if they only could. Violence toward a person can always be excused, if that’s your cup of tea ... But while we’ve become accustomed to excusing violence toward persons, we still have a problem explaining away simple theft. Such incidents pierce the foggy veil of security. Every IDF veteran can easily recite all the excuses for why it is proper to fire a lead bullet from an assault rifle through the body of an unarmed child ; but he’d have a hard time justifying the looting of the body. And such incidents allow us to see what lies beyond the veil of excuses. And what we see, when all is said and done, is theft. Theft on the part of people living in a well-to-do settlement, enjoying all the munificence the government of a high-tech superpower can throw at them. The theft, as we’ve seen in an earlier case, of a donkey and a few obsolete agricultural tools. Did the thieves who broke into Ryad’s shed need those tools and utensils ? Not likely. But they took them because they knew they could, and that nothing would happen.

Soldier and settler attacks continue in West Bank
IMEMC Sat 10 May by Chris Carlson — Both Israeli soldiers and settlers continued their violations against the Palestinian people and their property well into Saturday, this week, with the most recent assaults and abductions occurring in the districts of Jenin, Hebron and Bethlehem. Israeli forces kidnapped two people, Saturday, from Maythalun and Burqin in the southwest of Jenin, in addition to summoning three others from the Hebron area, according to reports by a local security source. Soldiers also invaded Burqin, where they carried out a large-scale search campaign, WAFA reports, sparking clashes with the residents. Forces kidnapped one 17-year-old and damaged a vehicle parked near a local church. Late Friday evening, soldiers stationed at Zaʻtara checkpoint abducted a 24-year-old student at the Arab American University in Jenin. Meanwhile, to the west of Hebron, forces stormed the village of Tarqumia, where they served three people with notices to appear before Israeli intelligence after breaking into, searching and wreaking havoc on their houses. Checkpoints were set up in several neighborhoods in Hebron city, as well as at the entrances of Saʻir, Dura and Halhul, where they stopped Palestinian vehicles traveling along the roads and examined passengers’ ID cards. Near the village of Nahlin, to the west of Bethlehem, on Saturday, Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian cars, according to a security source who told WAFA that a group of settlers from Beitar Illit threw stones at Palestinian vehicles driving by, causing damage to the cars. No injuries were reported. Settler attacks against villagers and their property have escalated in recent days, as they pump waste water onto Palestinian-owned land, uproot trees and attempts to seize residents’ land.
Earlier this week, on Thursday, members of a Palestinian family Thursday suffered the effects of tear gas fired at them by Israeli soldiers in Taqouʻ, just east of Bethlehem, according to a local security source. Forces also stormed al-ʻAmur, al-Sabbah, al-Baladiya and Maydan al-Wazir neighborhoods in Taqouʻ, where they hurled stun grenades and tear gas canisters at residents, sowing panic among them, WAFA went on to say. A family comprising seven members, including children, endured suffocation after Israeli soldiers fired a tear gas canister into their home.

Army invades a town near Jenin
IMEMC/Agencies Sun 11 May by Saed Bannoura — Several Israeli military jeeps invaded, on Sunday morning Methaloon town, south of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, where soldiers clashed with local residents, leading to several injuries. Eyewitnesses said the soldiers invaded the center of the town and fired rounds of live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets and several gas bombs, causing several Palestinians to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation. All wounded Palestinians received treatment by local medics, as their conditions did not require hospitalization, medical sources said. The soldiers also broke into and violently searched several homes in the center of the town, and interrogated the residents.
Earlier on Sunday, soldiers invaded various districts in the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, kidnapping three children in Jerusalem, one child in Hebron, and a Palestinian worker from Hebron, at a construction site in occupied Jerusalem.

Israeli forces, students clash at Al-Quds University
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 12 May — Clashes broke out in Abu Dis on Monday after Israeli forces raided the town to repair a hole made by local activists in the separation wall, local officials said ... The presence of the soldiers led to clashes with locals and university students, who threw stones and empty bottles at the soldiers. Israeli soldiers then blockaded the main entrance to the university and fired tear gas canisters and stun grenades onto the campus. A paramedic at the scene told Ma‘an that dozens of local residents, school children and students were injured as a result of excessive tear gas in the area. Two people were evacuated to a local clinic after being shot with rubber-coated steel bullets. Students from Abu Dis High School and the Arab Institute High school were evacuated to safety by ambulance crews after Israeli soldiers fired tear gas in the area.

4 Palestinians detained crossing into Israel for work
JENIN (Ma‘an) 11 May — Israeli forces detained four Palestinians while they were trying to enter Israel near Jalama checkpoint in the northern West Bank early Sunday. Palestinian security sources said that Israeli border guards detained four workers from Jenin refugee camp who were crossing into Israel for work. The sources identified the detained individuals as Ahmad Toufiq, Adnan Omar al-Azizi, Raafet Khalil, and Ihab Jamal Khader, all of whom are either 17 or 18 years old. An Israeli army spokeswoman said that "four suspects" attempted to cross and were detained, and one was taken for questioning.

Weekly report on human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (30 April - 01 May 2014)
PCHR-Gaza 8 May — Israeli forces continued to open fire in the border areas of the Gaza Strip. A stone and gravel collector was wounded in the northern Gaza Strip. A member of an armed group was wounded, east of Deir al-Balah. Israeli forces continued to use excessive force against peaceful protesters in the West Bank. 3 protestors were wounded during peaceful protests against the annexation wall. Israeli forces conducted 98 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. A Palestinian child was wounded during an Israeli incursion into Nablus and Balatah refugee camp. 44 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children and a woman, were arrested. Israel continued to impose a total closure on the oPt and has isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world. Israeli forces established dozens of checkpoints in the West Bank. At least 9 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were arrested at checkpoints in the West Bank.Israeli navy forces continued to attack Palestinian fishermen in the sea. Israeli navy forces opened fire at and chased Palestinian fishing boats and confiscated pieces of fishing net. Israeli forces continued to support settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property. Israeli forces demolished 3 houses in Hebron and Bethlehem. Israeli settlers cut 85 olive trees near Bethlehem. [details follow]

Activism / Solidarity / BDS

Israeli patrols in West Bank for Palestinian landowners
CCTV (China) 10 May by Stephanie Freid — Nearly three million Palestinians living in the West Bank face daily threats from Jewish settlers occupying their land. Citing biblical land ownership rights, Jewish settlers routinely intimidate Palestinian locals in an effort to squeeze them out. But one man is dedicating his life to helping them. Sixty three and tough as nails, Ezra Mawi is making his daily rounds through the Hebron Hills. En route to the site of a reported settler provocation, he fields calls in Arabic, English and Hebrew. Ezra volunteers his time, patrolling the area six days a week going on fourteen years. He helps Palestinians file legal complaints against settlers, responds to reports of settler intimidation, and summons legal help when necessary. The locals welcome him. As an Israeli, he wields influence within the Israeli system that Palestinians can’t. "If Palestinian of here will phone the police, they will never get results. Never. If I phone the police or the lawyer we working with phone the police, they doing something." Ezra Mawi said. Settlers drove ATV’s through these wheat fields earlier in the day as the landowners were harvesting. "Did you see them ? Yes, we filmed them with camera. There was a car and also the motorbike. (Can you make a copy of this ?) Yes. "

UN’s Falk urges companies worldwide to boycott settlement products
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 10 May — A UN official on Friday called for solidarity with Palestinians though boycott and divestment from companies that benefit from settlements. In a report published in Arabic on the UN’s website, Richard Falk, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, urged organizations and companies around the world to join the "increasingly international solidarity movement against Israeli occupation." "Now is the best opportunity for the Palestinians to achieve self-determination through pressures at the grassroots level" and "nonviolent resistance," Falk said.

Gaza under dual blockades

Israeli soldiers shoot Palestinian near border in northern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 11 May — Israeli troops shot and injured a Palestinian man in the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday, locals and an army spokeswoman said. The man was collecting small stones used to make concrete on the outskirts of Beit Hanoun near Erez crossing when Israeli forces opened fire at him, locals said. He was taken to Kamal Udwan Hospital in Beit Lahiya for treatment. Many Gazans collect pebbles in order to make concrete as the Israeli economic blockade has prevented the import of civilian construction material, including concrete, since 2007. An Israeli army spokeswoman said there were "a few suspects in the area" near Erez crossing who were "tampering with the ground." ... Asked if the Palestinians were threatening the soldiers in any way, the spokeswoman said : "The threat is trying to enter Israel."

Army opens fire targeting farmers in southern Gaza
IMEMC/Agencies 11 May — Israeli soldiers, manning military towers across the border with Gaza, opened fire at Palestinian farmers working in their lands east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Eyewitnesses said the soldiers fired several rounds of live ammunition at the farmers while they were working in their own agricultural lands, located between Khuza‘a and Abasan towns, east of Khan Younis, forcing them to leave their lands fearing additional attacks. [See 2009 video ‘Farming under Fire’, where Palestinians try to harvest parsley with live bullets whizzing past their heads]

Coalition government to run Rafah terminal
IMEMC Sat 10 May by Saed Bannoura — Spokesperson of the Fateh Movement Fayez Abu Atiyya stated that the upcoming national unity government would be supervising the Palestinian side of the Rafah Border Terminal, on the Egyptian border, in southern Gaza. Abu Atiyya said Egypt wants a Palestinian government run by President Mahmoud Abbas, and will deal with this government regardless of the border terminal agreement signed with the Palestinians in 2005. The Egyptian official further stated that Egypt considers Abbas the core of Palestinian legitimacy, and is willing to deal with any authority or department running the Palestinian side of the border, as long as it represents president Abbas.

Prisoners / Exiles

Ministers back bill curbing prisoner releases
Ynet 11 May by Noam ’Dabul’ Dvir — Government ministers on Sunday voted to advance a new bill barring the release of convicted killers sentenced to life terms in prison, a piece of legislation that would restrict Israeli options in any future negotiations with the Palestinians. The bill allows the court to determine during sentencing that – out of special considerations – the president will not be allowed to pardon or reduce the punishment handed to the murderer. Pardoning prisoners is one of the sole prerogatives enjoyed by the Israeli president, generally a largely symbolic position. In recent months the bill has picked up momentum due to strong support from bereaved families, who have actively campaigned against the release of prisoners as part of negotiations with the Palestinians. Yossi Tzur, who lost his son in a 2003 suicide bombing on a Haifa bus, expressed his support for the legislation. He said the end of the recent nine-month negotiations was the time to settle the issue legally ... The bereaved father emphasized that the state must make clear to terrorists that they will not be pardoned. "Today terrorists murder knowing they will be released from prison. During the Shalit deal three terrorists were released who had been sentenced to 17 life sentences and were responsible for the murder of 17 people – including my son," he said.,7340,L-4518196,00.html

Letter from Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails 5/9/2014
IMEMC 10 May by Chris Carlson — The following is a copy of a letter from Palestinian administrative detainees, posted on Facebook by the Campaign of Exposing Israeli Crimes via Social Media. Peace upon you all. Dear all Palestinians, Arabs, people worldwide, all humans... We are the Palestinian administrative prisoners in Israeli prisons, who are on hunger strike for the 14th day continuously, since 24th of April. We send you this message as fatigue has taken over our bodies and hunger has weakened us. We have become incapable of moving, many of us have gone into comas because of our hunger strike that we been on since 14 days, despite this, and our weary bodies, this did not stop the Israeli guards and officers from beating us and taken away from us our basic rights. They even took our watches from us, so that we do not know when the times of prayer are, for they have no left a religion that they have disrespected or even a principle of humanity. Despite all this, we have our strong wills and unbroken, and so they shall remain and we will carry on our strike until we gain our freedom. Our weary bodies are stronger than then unjust laws, until we regain our freedom and our human rights. We demand to know why we were imprisoned, what is our crime ? What mistake have our families and children committed to never see us again ? No matter what, we will continue our strike till we gain our freedom....

Families of Palestinian prisoners close Red Cross office in Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 11 May – Families of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails on Sunday closed with chains the main door of the International Committee of the Red Cross office in Nablus in the northern West Bank. Spokesman of Nablus’ higher committee for prisoners’ affairs Imad Ishteiwi told Ma‘an that dozens of family members of prisoners arrived at offices of the Red Cross in southern Nablus and tied the main door with chains. He said families were protesting against the passive role of the Red Cross for hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners. This protest, said Ishteiwi, is a message to the Red Cross which has not visited hunger-striking prisoners so far, nor has it taken any steps against the Israeli prison service.

Families of Nativity Church deportees deliver letter to FM
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 May – On the 12th anniversary of their deportation from Bethlehem to the Gaza Strip and to European countries, families of Nativity Church deportees on Sunday handed a letter to Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki urging the PA to exert serious efforts to bring them back to Bethlehem. The letter was handed over in Ramallah in the central West Bank during a protest to show solidarity with 39 Palestinian activists from the Bethlehem area who were deported in 2002 after hiding out at the Nativity Church for 40 days. Thirteen were exiled to Europe and 26 others to the Gaza Strip. Another protest activity was organized in Gaza City simultaneously. Al-Maliki told the families of the deportees that President Mahmoud Abbas “has been exerting efforts to bring their suffering to an end.”

Palestinian prisoners plotted to kidnap soldiers, Shin Bet says
Haaretz 12 May by Gili Cohen — The Shin Bet security service and the Israel Prison Service have foiled a plan by Palestinian prisoners to arrange for the abduction in the West Bank of an Israeli soldier who could then be used as a bargaining chip to secure their release. The suspects, who are serving time in Israel for security offenses, were questioned by the Shin Bet security service and charged in the Salem military court, near the West Bank city of Jenin. According to the Shin Bet, in March and in April the agency obtained intelligence information according to which Abd al-Rahman Uthman, who is serving a life sentence for his role in a 2006 shooting attack, and his accomplice in that attack, Assam Zin al-Din, were planning a new crime together with a third prisoner, named Abd Al-Haq. The three began planning the attack in 2012, the Shin Bet said, and to that end they contacted a Hamas activist in the Gaza Strip through another prisoner and secured the necessary funds. At first the plotters planned to have released prisoners carry out the abduction, but they later changed their minds. Under interrogation they said they had given Uthman’s brother Nazia and brother-in-law Nader instructions to prepare for the kidnapping, including finding a hiding place and obtaining a vehicle, weapons and tranquilizers.

Restriction of movement

Israel bars Pakistan soccer coach from entering West Bank
Haaretz 10 May — Israeli authorities stopped Pakistan’s soccer coach Mohammed Shamlan en route with his team from Jordan to the West Bank, Pakistani media reported on Saturday. According to reports in Dawn and The News International newspapers, Shamlan, who is a Bahraini national, was not permitted to continue with his team to the West Bank to attend the Al-Nakba International tournament. Pakistan is scheduled to face Jordan on Sunday as the tournament opens at the Faisal Al-Husseni Stadium in A-Ram, near Jerusalem. Pakistan Football Federation secretary Col. Ahmed Yar Khan told Dawn on Friday that “Shamlan is stuck in Jordan and is yet to receive permission to travel through Israel." He added : "The team received the visas and have proceeded to Palestine. We’re in talks with officials of the Israel Football Association (IFA) and they have assured us that the matter will be resolved by Sunday.”

WATCH : Bethlehem village blockaded by Israeli forces
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 May — Israeli forces have blocked the main entrances to a southern West Bank village since Saturday night, locals said, impeding villagers’ ability to travel freely. Locals in the village of Beit Fajjar south of Bethlehem told Ma‘an on Tuesday that Israeli forces had shut the roads in and out of the village by constructing large earth mounds on them. Locals said that they were unsure of the reasons behind what they called the "collective punishment" of the village, highlighting that the Israeli authorities had cited security reasons without giving any explanation. As a result of the closure, residents need to take bypass routes through the nearby al-‘Arrub refugee camp or Tuqu‘ village. However, these routes are bumpy mountainous paths unqualified as roads. The town has a population of about 15,000 many of whom leave every day to work outside. In addition, the town does not have a hospital or a major medical center, and so access to Bethlehem, about 10 kilometers to the north, is important for healthcare and emergencies ... The town is also known for stone factories and quarries, and the closure of the main road creates a serious problem for truck drivers who need to travel back and forth every day. Furthermore, dozens of teachers who work at several public schools in the town come from other cities and village in Bethlehem district every day.

Other news

Secret talks held in Jerusalem, Amman
IMEMC 12 May by Saed Bannoura — Palestinian and Israeli sources revealed, Sunday [May 11, 2014] that despite the collapse of direct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, Israel and Palestinian negotiators are still holding “secret talks” in the Jordanian capital, Amman, and in occupied Jerusalem. The sources said that several sessions were held between the two sides, and that direct negotiations are ongoing without any changes to agree upon time-frames. They said that “negotiations are not restricted by a timetable”, and the two sides agreed to continue talks, mainly on the files of borders and security, especially since Jordan is directly involved in those files. Israeli and Palestinian negotiators agreed to continue the talks until reaching a final status agreement

Palestine accepted to UN anti-corruption convention
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 11 May – Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah was notified officially Sunday that the UN accepted Palestine as a signatory to the UN Convention Against Corruption of 2003. According to an official letter from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Palestine has become an official signatory of the convention as of May 2, 2014. The letter was sent to chief of the Palestinian Authority’s anti-corruption commission Rafiq Natsha, who delivered it to Hamdallah Sunday. Natsha highlighted that his committee would take certain moves to amend its laws and regulations so they can match the convention. Hamdallah, for his part, asserted that his government would provide full support to the anti-corruption commission so as to protect public and private property and money.

Hamas-affiliated newspaper distributed to West Bank, Jerusalem
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 May — The Hamas-affiliated newspaper Felesteen on Saturday was distributed in the West Bank and East Jerusalem for the first time in seven years. The Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Information announced earlier this week that it would allow the newspaper to be distributed outside the Gaza Strip.
Meanwhile, the West Bank and East Jerusalem newspapers al-Quds, al-Ayyam, and al-Hayaat al-Jadida were allowed to be distributed to Gaza on Monday. The decision to distribute the newspapers comes after Hamas and the Fatah-led PLO signed a deal to end political division on April 23.

Israel Electric sues Palestinians for $153 million in unpaid bills
Haaretz 12 May by Avi Bar-Eli — Long period of quiet contacts to find a solution comes to an end — The Israel Electric Corporation filed a 531 million shekel ($154 million) lawsuit last Thursday against the Jerusalem District Electric Company, the Arab-owned electric company that provides power to Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, for not paying its debts. The Palestinians have refused to pay for most of the electricity the IEC has supplied in recent years and the JDECO’s total debt to the IEC is estimated at 850 million shekels. Including the electricity supplied directly to the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinians owe the IEC an estimated 1.4 billion shekels, which is a serious burden on the IEC’s financial situation. The IEC has warned in the past that it might file suit to collect its unpaid debts, though for now the company has decided to sue only the JDECO, and only for some of the debt. The IEC filed suit only after a long period of quiet contacts to find a solution, in an attempt to reach a compromise. A month ago there seemed to have been progress made on the matter, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s personal lawyer and representative to the peace talks with the Palestinians Isaac Molcho was in charge of finding a compromise. The end of the peace negotiations seems to have also led to the end of the talks over the payment of the electricity bills.

Court dismisses case against US charities supporting West Bank settlers
Homeland Security News Wire 9 May — U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman has ruled that residents of “Occupied Palestine” cannot proceed with claims that five U.S.-based organizations have funded attacks against Palestinians. The thirteen men and women — two Americans, ten Palestinians, and one Greek — argued that a portion of the territory where they reside is “within the internationally recognized borders of the future Palestinian state.” According to the claim, more than 500,000 Israeli citizens or “settlers,” live in “Occupied Palestine,” or a portion of the West Bank, an act which violates international law. Israeli citizens living in the territory are accused of assaulting Palestinian residents through stoning, fire bombings, shootings, beatings, and vandalism, all intended to “coerce, intimidate, and influence the Israeli government and public and thereby ultimately bring the expulsion of the Palestinian residents from Occupied Palestine,” according to the complaint. The plaintiffs claimed that Christian Friends of Israeli Communities, the Hebron Fund Inc., the Central Fund of Israel, One Israel, and American Friends of Ateret Cohanim send money to the settlers to “build and maintain the illegal settlements, illegally take land in Occupied Palestine, to support the attacks by the settlers on Palestinians living in Occupied Palestine, and to support the terrorist acts of the settlers against Palestinians and other persons in Occupied Palestine.”

Arabs, Haredim to be excluded from tax exemption on first home
Haaretz 12 May by Nomrod Bousso & TheMarker — Home buyers will have to show they have done military or civilian national service in order to qualify for an exemption from the value-added tax, the Finance Ministry said on Sunday. The criteria, which were established after weeks of discussions between treasury officials and the attorney general’s office, will apply to first-time buyers purchasing a new home costing up to 1.6 million shekels ($460,000), including VAT. With VAT currently at 18%, the exemption would provide badly needed price relief for home buyers. Those who have not done military or civilian service will also qualify for the exemption, the Finance Ministry said, but it will be limited to homes that cost no more than 600,000 shekels, including VAT.

IDF reservists warn PM : Disaster looming due to lack of training
Ynet 12 May by Yoav Zitun — Twenty IDF reservist commanders sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday, in which they stressed that over 100 soldiers under their command hadn’t undergone any training exercises for three-and-a-half years, and therefore were unprepared for any military conflict the country may face ... The combat soldiers also let the government officials know that they aren’t impressed by reports of a budget crisis in the IDF, and said that the political debate on how to settle financial issues didn’t interest them ; they were just informing the government of the dire situation.,7340,L-4518624,00.html

Israel closes Golan zone adjacent to Syria
JERUSALEM (AFP) 10 May — Israel’s army on Sunday declared part of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights a closed military zone, fearing battles on the Syrian side would spill over the ceasefire line. An army spokeswoman told AFP the area around the Quneitra crossing was closed "for security reasons." Speaking to AFP, security sources said they feared fighting between rebels and Syrian army forces would affect the area. Rebels in southern Syria set up earlier this year the so-called Southern Front, including some 30,000 fighters from more than 55 mainstream rebel groups, and have claimed successes, notably in Quneitra. Israel, which is technically at war with Syria, seized 1,200 square kilometres (460 square miles) of the Golan Heights plateau during the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community. In March, Israeli aircraft struck inside Syria in the wake of a bomb attack on the Golan which wounded four soldiers. Since the Syrian conflict erupted in 2011, the plateau has been tense, with a growing number of stray projectiles hitting the Israeli side, prompting an occasional armed response.

Analysis / Opinion / Human interest

Where is it really better to be a Christian — Israel or Palestine ? / Nicolas Pelham
Haaretz 11 May — Rarely has my email inbox come under great attack than in the run-up to Pope Francis’ visit. Israel’s multiple lobbyists have donned the mantle of Christian saviors. They highlight the safe haven Israel offers the Middle East’s – rather than “Arab”– Christians in contrast to their Muslim tormentors. Fleeing “persecution,” as one email put it, Palestine’s Christian population, they say, has fallen from 10 percent to 2 percent. Palestine’s Muslim masters pursue a program of Sharia-ization in the West Bank as well as Gaza, and the little Christian town of Bethlehem is now a Muslim morass.
What they do not say is that Israel’s population of native Christians has fallen by roughly the same amount. From 8% in 1947 in all of mandatory Palestine, it numbered 4% in 1948, and is now less than two percent today. The reasons for the decline are largely the same. Jewish, as Muslim, birth-rates are much higher. More importantly, while many Palestinians long to escape the yoke of occupation, Christian-led administrations from Beirut to Bueno Aires, prioritize Christian applicants over Muslim ones.
“Very few Christians are appointed to senior positions by the PA”, says one "briefing,"“in what is perceived as routine discrimination.” In fact, the PA’s record is far better than Israel’s. The president’s president’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, is a Christian. So are two cabinet members, for Finance and Tourism, and two members of the PLO’s executive committee. The deputy speaker of the Palestinian National Council, Qonstantin Qurmush, is a priest. Christians abound on boards of banks and chambers of commerce, and head its largest company, CCC. Despite their falling numbers, nine municipalities, including Ramallah and Bethlehem, stipulate their council should have a Christian majority and a Christian mayor. Christmas and Eastern are official Palestinian holidays. President Abbas attends three Christmases (the Greek Orthodox, Catholic and Armenian) in Bethlehem and would celebrate Easter in Jerusalem, if Israel let him in. On St. George’s Day, Muslims join Christians to commemorate his martyrdom at his shrine in al-Khadr, near Bethlehem. By contrast, in its 66 years, Israel has had no Christian presidential spokesman, government minister, or bank chairman.

How to build a nation of overlords / Amira Hass
Haaretz 11 May — Why do Israeli soldiers trash-talk Palestinians ? To help them forget that Palestinians are human beings — Why did his commanders send a soldier with a record of violence to bully Palestinians in Hebron ? [see video] The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit chose to respond to Haaretz’s question with “no comment.” Perhaps that’s because the right answer is : Violence and bullying are what the Israel Defense Forces’ presence in Hebron and the West Bank is really all about. And another right answer : The IDF’s first mission in the West Bank is to ensure the continuation of the settlement enterprise, which means expelling the Palestinians from their land. The violence of the army and the settlers serves this mission. The proof ? The hundreds of buildings in Hebron’s Old City that have been emptied of their owners and tenants ... Why do soldiers bark obscenities at Palestinians ? I didn’t ask the IDF Spokesperson this question. Since I first began covering the occupation, nearly a quarter-century ago, I have learned that soldiers must do so in order to overcome the cognitive dissonance in which they operate. After all, 18 and 20-year-olds can think and feel, in short, be responsible for their actions – and here I part ways with the military experts, obviously. Clearly, 18- and 20-year-olds know the Palestinians are human beings just like us. The trash talk and humiliation builds up the dehumanization, until the soldiers are convinced that the Palestinian is different. Commanders don’t want to stop this, because only then can the soldiers fully carry out their mission : to prevent the Palestinian from walking down the street where he lives, to prevent him from living on the street where he and his parents were born, to destroy the livelihoods of many thousands of people. Humiliation of the Palestinians by every level of the civilian and military apparatus is an inseparable part of building a nation of overlords.

2,000 years in the blink of an eye / Oudeh Basharat
Haaretz 12 May — Netanyahu is on a quixotic campaign to prove that Arabs have no roots here — What the hell is going on here ? You take a short nap, say, 2,000 years, and you wake up to find someone’s taken your land. That’s what I call chutzpah. Although to hear Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speak of “Judea and Samaria, the places where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, David and Solomon, and Isaiah and Jeremiah lived,” you’d think he’d just taken leave of these honored figures after finishing up a sheepherding shift near a cave in the Judean hills. That’s the essence of the secular-messianic theory, a mix of jingoism and messianic religious fanaticism wrapped up with money and connections into a well-oiled marketing machine. With this in mind, we can turn to the new Basic Law Netanyahu is proposing, that would anchor Israel’s status as the democratic state of the Jewish people. And thus, as they build bypass bridges and make Arab villages disappear, a trans-historical bridge is being built, meant to connect the Babylon exile to the current reincarnation of the Jewish state, as if the intervening 2,000 years never were. “Without the Arabs’ preservation of their ancient Arabic-Aramaic names, the Zionists would not have been able to recreate their Hebrew map,” wrote Meron Benvenisti in his (Hebrew) book “Dream of the White Sabra : An Autobiography of Disillusionment.”

Stench tag / Yitzhak Laor
Haaretz 12 May — In all the celebrations of “Israeliness,” in all the public discourse surrounding Independence Day or other holidays, the Arabs, a fifth of the citizenry, don’t exist. In places where there are no Arabs living, the “decent Israeliness” celebrations go on without hindrance. In places where they do live or work, their lives are made difficult with all kinds of discrimination, just because they are still here. The “price tag” phenomenon did not arise from a collective psychopathology, or as a result of “terrorism” or halakha (Jewish religious law). The state created its habitat, with the help of the military administration. Ninety three percent of the land in Israel is designated just for Jews. Three percent is owned by Arabs. That’s where you shall live ! And as if that weren’t enough, now Benjamin Netanyahu wants to further obscure their rights to their homeland, through legislation defining Israel as the “state of the Jewish People”. The banishment began with the massive land appropriations during the 1950s and 1960s. At the same time, in order to keep up the dispossession and the settling of Jews in place of Arabs, a whole host of laws and regulations were passed. In 1950, there was the Law of Return, the Citizenship Law and the Absentee Property Law. In the next three years came the Entry to Israel Law, World Zionist Organization-Jewish Agency for Israel Status Law, and the Jewish National Fund Law. In 1954, the government signed “conventions” with the WZO and the Jewish Agency, but the real kicker came in 1960 − the Basic Law : Israel Lands, and the Israel Land Administration Law. For 66 years there hasn’t been any field of life in Israel where the Arabs were not led to be inferior.

Across the West Bank on foot / Stefan Szepesi
Huffington Post 9 May — There are few places in the world where a good walk can be as stimulating to body and soul as the Palestinian West Bank. That may be a surprise to many, but six years after I took up hiking its valleys and hillsides, these high rewards remain. Here, perhaps like nowhere else, a physical escape up into the hills is also a mental climb down the ladders of prejudice — about what this part of the world is and what it can be. We wake up in the pretty town of Sebastia and walk towards the village of Arabe on a new section of the Masar Ibrahim, as the Abraham Path is called in the West Bank. Both places are living testaments to the layers and tides of empire that have moved forth and back for over 3,000 years. Their remnants are immense Roman walls, Greek defense towers, and a Herodian palace ... Our walk in between these places passes through silver-green olive orchards, mixed every so often by almond, apricot and fig trees. Mysterious holy shrines dot the hilltops we pass on our walk — the places where for centuries holy men were revered by people of different faiths seeking cures for their ailments, forgiveness or council ... After our group of hungry walkers takes in a feast of a home-cooked meal, Zeina uploads pictures of our group to Facebook. She befriends, tags and shares. Within moments, the Abraham Path family I stayed with last October in Kisas, Turkey, is connected to the hospitality in Arabe, Palestine. Exactly a hundred years ago these villages were part of the same grand empire, with a grand railway project about to spark a travel revolution. Almost. Now four impassable borders separate them.