Saturday, 2 May 2015

US denies visa to nun set to testify about ISIS atrocities

Published time: May 02, 2015 03:51

Sister Diana Momeka (Image from
Sister Diana Momeka (Image from
The US consulate in Erbil rejected the visitor visa application of Sister Diana Momeka earlier this week, saying she was “not able to demonstrate that [her] intended activities in the United States would be consistent with the classification of the visa.”
However, visas were given to all the other members of the delegation scheduled to speak in Washington about the Islamic State’s persecution of minorities of the region, including Shia Muslims and Yazidis. Meetings have been arranged for the group before the House and Senate foreign relations committees, with State Department and USAID officials, and with various NGOs.
Sister Diana is a member of the Dominican Sisterhood of Saint Catherine of Siena, an order that dates its presence in Iraq back to the 13th century and has been an outspoken advocate for the Christians who have been killed and deported by the group calling itself the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS/ISIL).
In an op-ed in National Review Online, Nina Shea of the conservative Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom questioned the State Department’s motives for denying Sister Diana a visa. According to Shea, the consular officials denied the application because Sister Diana was an internally displaced person (IDP), and therefore could try seeking asylum in the US.
“Sister Diana had multiple documents vouching for her and the temporary nature of her visit,” wrote Shea, from a letter to her prioress attesting “that the nun has been gainfully employed since last February with the Babel College of Philosophy and Theology in Erbil.” There are also letters from her sponsors, the Institute for Global Engagement and former Congressman Frank Wolf’s (R-Va.) 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative.
“For good measure, she also had a letter of endorsement for her visit from Representative Anna Eshoo” (D-Calif.), who co-chairs the congressional Caucus on Religious Minorities in the Middle East, Shea added.
Yet the consular officials “either thought that they were all in on a scheme by the nun or that Sister Diana was plotting to deceive her well-placed friends and supporters, as well as the US government,”Shea wrote.
“We were shocked and disappointed when we found out,” Elyse Anderson of the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative told theWashington Times.
Other conservative outlets, such as Breitbart and WND, have picked up on the plight of Sister Diana, pointing out she was the only Christian in the delegation and the only member to be denied a visa. They have questioned the official reasoning of the US consular officials, noting that she was not the only internally displaced person in the delegation and that people who have been displaced by the Islamic State’s terror – such as Yazidis – have been allowed to visit the US before.
“It is beyond ironic,” said Anderson, “that Sister Diana, who we had hoped would come to Washington to speak about the worsening plight of Iraq’s displaced Christians and other beleaguered religious minorities, was apparently prevented from doing so precisely because she is herself a displaced person.”
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ICC prosecutor rejects Israel’s fears of bias in war crimes investigation

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Israel has been reassured that the International Criminal Court will not exercise bias in rendering its decisions in the investigation of suspected war crimes committed during the 50-day IDF campaign in Gaza last summer.

The court is to consider the arguments and the evidence brought against Israel by the Palestinians “independently and impartially without fear or favor,” ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda toldHaaretz newspaper.

The prosecutor stressed that she intends to launch an “unbiased” probe of the Gaza war and plans to investigate both sides of the conflict. Bensouda stated that officially no investigation has yet been launched into either side.

“We will of course look into the alleged crimes committed by all sides to the conflict, including the role of Hamas. I have made this clear to both Israeli and Palestinian officials,” Bensouda said.

“If an investigation is opened in any given situation, my office will be guided by a policy of investigating and prosecuting those most responsible for the commission of mass crimes,” Bensouda added.

Palestine is soon to have its day in the ICC, after securing long-awaited membership at The Hague, on April 1, this year. Palestinians are seeking justice for Israel’s operation ‘Protective Edge’ last summer, in which thousands of civilians were killed.

If an official investigation is opened, the prosecutor said, her office will most likely focus on “notorious perpetrators” but warned that in the process of building stronger cases upwards against those most responsible “lower- or mid-level perpetrators” will not be spared.

“In the course of the preliminary examination, we will gather and assess information received from reliable sources from all sides, including from Israel, on alleged crimes committed by any party to the conflict,” she said.

Israel considers any accusations leveled at it with outrage and says it will not allow its soldiers and officers to be dragged to The Hague. While the ICC has no authority to arrest suspects in Israel, it could issue arrest warrants making it difficult for Israeli officials to travel abroad.

When asked by the Israeli publication how can the Hague take petitions from unrecognized Palestinian state seriously, Bensouda said that an “observer state” status granted by the UN General Assembly in November 2012 is just enough recognition “for the purposes of accession to the Rome Statute,” which governs the international court proceedings.

Joining the ICC opens up possibilities: the Palestinian leadership can not only take the Israelis to task for their summer campaign, they can also challenge the Jewish state’s continuing settlement building beyond the Green Line as a war crime. Israeli settlement construction has long been condemned by the international community, including the UN.

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Prominent Free Syrian Army Commander Killed in Aleppo


The infamous commander of the Free Syrian Army’s (FSA) 16th Infantry Division, Khaled Al-Hayyani (of Anadan, Aleppo), was reportedly killed in the Al-Khalediyah Neighborhood of Aleppo City after he and his militants clashed with the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) on early Friday morning.

Khaled Al-Hayyani was notorious for kidnapping and then demanding ransom from civilians inside Aleppo City – he was also famous for issuing several orders to shell the civilians inside the provincial capital for not abandoning and taking up arms against the Syrian Government.

When the war broke-out in the Aleppo Governorate in the Summer of 2012, Khaled Al-Hayyani fled to Turkey in order to purchase weapons and ammunition that his militant group would later use to combat the Syrian Arab Army (SAA); these same weapons were used to terrorize innocent civilians inside of Aleppo City.

According to government sources, Khaled Al-Hayyani’s family made a fortune off of the Syrian Conflict, as they looted many of the factories in the Sheikh Najjar Industrial District, selling anything they found valuable to citizens of Turkey in order to turn a profit.



من دمشق | الواقع الميداني وحرب الشائعات ~ ثائر العجلاني

بانوراما | #المركز_الاخباري | #الفضائية_السورية

مسائية #المركز_الاخبارية | #الفضائية_السورية

حوار بث مباشر | معن الاسعد ~ حسين السلمان | #الفضائية_السورية

السياسة اليوم | سورية .. الميدان يسابق جهود ايجاد تسوية | مصطفى المقداد | آسيا

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Lahoud: As Israel failed in Lebanon Saudi will Fail in Yemen

حديث الساعة | الرئيس اللبناني السابق العماد اميل لحود | المنار


حوار اليوم | فادي الاعور ~ سوسن صفا درويش

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Today in Palestine! ~ Friday, 1 May 2015

Violence / Raids / Suppression of protests / Arrests -- West Bank & Jerusalem

Israeli forces shoot, injure 3 teens near Ramallah

RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 1 May -- Three Palestinian teenagers were shot and injured with live rounds on Friday when Israeli forces opened fire on them during clashes in al-Jalazun refugee camp north of Ramallah. They were taken to hospital for treatment with light to moderate injuries. Several others were injured with rubber-coated steel bullets. Al-Jalazun camp is the site of frequent clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian youths. In April, Israeli forces injured 12 Palestinian youths in the camp, three with live fire and a further nine with rubber-coated steel bullets.

UN affects Kafr Qaddum's demonstration

[with photos] KAFR QADDUM, Occupied Palestine 1 May by ISM, Huwwara Team -- Today’s demonstration in Kafr Qaddum was met with live ammunition, rubber coated steal bullets, teargas and stun grenades. There was a large presence of Palestinian and international protesters. The Israeli forces shot two young men in the leg. UN observers were present. Before prayer ended, usually marking the start of the demonstration, Israeli forces fired lived ammunition from .22 rifles at the people who had started to gather in Kafr Qaddum. As the march started advancing up through the village, a group of Italian women joined in and were chanting songs of liberation with the crowd. Coordinated with the locals, they went to the front of the march with their fingers in the air, symbolically signing peace. Together, they stopped only metres away from the border police and military asking for the opening of the road and the freedom of the Palestinians. The Israeli forces responded with stun grenades and teargas, forcing the crowd to retreat further into the village. The army went on by shooting two young men with live ammunition. The first bullet entered and exited Eanad’s leg, aged 20, while the second one stayed put inside Issam’s leg, age 22. They were both rushed to Rafidia hospital in Nablus. An ISMer on the spot describes, “While Issam was being rushed to a car, teargas was fired over them. Ceasefire during injuries doesn’t seem to be a concern for the Israeli forces. ” Recently, demonstrators and ISMers have witnessed an escalation of violence in Kafr Qaddum. The amount of live ammunitions shot by the Israeli forces has heavily been on the rise. Today, however, protesters were mostly met with stun grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets. Local activist Murad Shtaiwi explained, “the UN’s rare presence today meant that the Israeli soldiers were acting quite politely”. When members of the United Nations arrive at demonstrations, they inform the Israelis in advance of their coming. This inevitably leads to a calmer day, relatively speaking. After the military retreated, a pile of tires was burnt, sending black smoke into the direction of Kedumin, a neighbouring settlement built in 1975. Due to this settlement, the road leading to Nablus has been closed off to the Palestinians since 2003. This has largely increased traveling time and costs for the locals.

Several Palestinians injured in Silwad

IMEMC 2 May -- Army Fires Gas Bombs Into Homes -- Israeli soldiers invaded, Friday, Silwad town, east of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, clashed with local youths, and deliberately fired gas bombs into several homes; many injured, including three Palestinians who were shot with live rounds. The soldiers invaded the town, and assaulted several children and women, beating them on various parts of their bodies, mainly on their heads, backs and shoulders, causing cuts and bruises. A Palestinian child told Palestine TV reporter Ali Dar Ali that the soldiers fired a gas bomb into his family’s home, forcing the family to run out of its property to avoid suffocation. Minutes later, the soldiers surrounded the home, but were forced to run away after dozens of local youths hurled stones on them; the soldiers fired several gas bombs, but local protesters threw the bombs back, forcing the soldiers to retreat. Clashes took place in various parts of the town, and the soldiers fired dozens of rounds of live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets, concussion grenades and gas bombs. During the clashes, Israeli soldiers shot and injured three Palestinians with live rounds, and many others with rubber-coated metal bullets, while many suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation. One soldier was mildly injured in his face after being struck by a stone thrown by a local protester.

Israeli soldiers repress weekly demonstration in Ni‘lin

IMECM/Agencies 1 May -- Israeli forces have, at the time of this report, fired at least 45 tear gas grenades towards the village of Ni‘lin, west of Ramallah. Many suffer from severe inhalation. Residents of Ni‘lin, with international activists, have been staging weekly demonstrations against a nearby expansion of the Israeli West Bank barrier, the PNN reports. It has been estimated that the completion of the barrier will remove ⅓ of Ni‘lin's land. Protests recently began to take place against the building on village farmland within a small stretch of the barrier which will place 2,500 dunams (250 hectares) of Ni‘lin farmland on the Israeli side, an area of the occupied West Bank which has been used to build several illegal Jewish-only settlements, including Hashmoniim. Two other settlements, Nili and Na'ale, have also been built to the east of the village and the people of Ni‘lin fear that they will soon be surrounded and cut off. "Our land will be divided into small cantons," said Salah Khawaja before the latest Israeli military operations. Khawaja, age 40, is one of the village protest organizers, and works as an administrator in a medical organization. People in this area were totally dependent on agriculture but now they are imposing a transfer and migration policy on us in a very harsh way. Everyone can see the quantity and quality of land they are going to confiscate," he said. In 1948, at the time of the creation of the state of Israel, the village had around 57,000 dunams of land, according to Khwaja. It now consists of around 10,000 dunams and will have even fewer when the latest part of the barrier is finished.

Israeli forces violently disperse al-Tur rally against road closure

JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 29 Apr -- Israeli polices forces violently dispersed a Palestinian protest in the occupied East Jerusalem village of al-Turon Wednesday, amid complaints that authorities' closure of the village's main road is a form of "collective punishment" against locals. Sources told Ma‘an that dozens of residents of the neighborhood on the Mount of Olives as well as foreign activists carried out a sit-in on al-Tur's main street to protest Israeli authorities' decision to shut down major thoroughfare Suleiman al-Farsi street with two concrete blocks. The street was closed earlier this week when locals protested against the death of a 17-year-old boy from the area who was shot dead after a scuffle with a soldier at a nearby checkpoint. Mufid Abu Ghannam, director of a local activist committee, told Ma‘an that Israeli forces assaulted protesters on Wednesday and launched stun grenades at sit-in participants, injuring two people with shrapnel in their lower extremities. Israeli forces also reportedly detained two Palestinian protesters, Amjad al-Shami and Youssef Khuweis. Abu Ghannam said that even after protesters had dispersed, Israeli forces continued firing stun grenades at people in the area ... The sit-in on the main street of al-Tur was held concurrently with rallies at five schools in the village, where students carried out sit-ins in school yards in protest against the closure of the village's entrance.

Israeli forces target Nablus-area villages in overnight raids

NABLUS (Ma‘an) 1 May -- Israeli forces detained three Palestinians from the ‘Iraq Burin and Huwarra villages in southern Nablus overnight Thursday, locals said. Mahran Qadus, 17, and his brother Marwan, 16, were detained as Israeli forces raided the Iraq Burin village at midnight on Thursday. Israeli forces fired tear-gas bombs and stun grenades at Palestinian youths as clashes ensued between locals and Israeli forces, locals told Ma‘an. Separately, Israeli forces detained Fatah leader Muhannad Jihad Mafdi, 46, after dozens of Israeli soldiers raided his home in central Huwwara early Friday, spokesperson of the Fatah movement, Awwad Najm, told Ma'an. Mafdi had previously spent 14 years in Israeli jails. Awwad added that Israeli forces also raided and searched the home of Mafdi's brother Nasser Jihad, who is also Huwwara's mayor.

Israel detains 4 children in 2 days from same Jerusalem family

BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 Apr -- Undercover Israeli operatives detained and interrogated a 7-year-old Palestinian boy and his twelve-year-old brother in occupied East Jerusalem Tuesday, only a day after two 15-year-olds from the same family were taken. The boy and his older brother, from the Zaatari family in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi al-Joz, were detained by Israeli operatives dressed as Palestinian locals while walking in the street Tuesday evening, the boys' grandfather told Ma‘an. The Zaatari family has had four children detained this week, Ihab Ahmed Zaatari, 7, and Muhammad Mahdi Zaatari 12, detained on Tuesday just one day after Alaa Magdy Zaatari and Mehdi Barakat Zaatari, both 15, were detained Monday. An Israeli police spokesperson did not immediately return Ma‘an's request for information on the incident, but told Israeli media the children were detained after throwing rocks at a bus. The 7-year-old was reportedly interrogated for nearly eight hours. Family member Mehdi Zaatari denied Israeli police claims that they were throwing rocks, telling Ma‘an that the plainclothes officers came out of nowhere while the children were in the street in an area where nothing was happening. "I was just meters from where they were arrested," he told Ma‘an. "But I wasn't able to reach the area because it was such a quick arrest. 10 officers attacked the two boys and prevented them from moving before violently forcing them into a 'special' car." "We went to the Salah al-Din Street city police station, stayed there from 7:30 until 10:30 PM in front of the police station waiting for him to come. The whole time we tried to inquire about the place of their detention to no avail, he told Ma‘an. "We had no news of the children for three hours." "After they were brought to the police station they prevented us from entering (and seeing them), despite the fact that Israeli and international laws require the presence of the mother or father during interrogation of their children. When the lawyer arrived he was also prevented from entering. He demanded the interrogation not take place at that late of an hour, but they refused (to delay the interrogation)." Zaatari told Ma‘an that his seven-year-old son was released around 3 AM and his 12-year-old son around 7 AM. Both were deprived of food and water during the interrogation, he told Ma‘an.

The occupation assaults and arrests the child Majd Ramadi

[with photo] SILWAN, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 28 Apr -- The Magistrate judge extended on Tuesday the arrest of the 16-year old Majd Ramada for 24 hours to continue interrogating him on charges of throwing a Molotov cocktail at the occupation soldiers in the neighborhood of Wad Al-Joz in Jerusalem. Wadi Hilweh Information Center’s lawyer explained that the occupation police arrested the child Ramadi on Monday night and assaulted and severely beat him and injured him with wounds in his mouth. He was transferred to the hospital where he underwent a surgery to stitch the wounds inside and outside his mouth; he also suffered wounds and bruises in his back due to being dragged on the ground and also suffered bruises in his eye. The lawyer explained that the child was presented to court on Tuesday and signs of fatigue were obvious due to being beaten during detention.

Israeli forces detain 19 Palestinians in arrest raids

BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 Apr -- Israeli forces on Wednesday detained 19 Palestinians in raids across the West Bank, including nine in the town of Beit Ummar near Hebron and seven near Qaliqiliya. Local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awad told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers entered Beit Ummar before dawn and raided a number of private homes in different neighborhoods across the town, which is located along the main road between Bethlehem and Hebron. Awad said that nine Palestinians were arrested during the raids, including five men who had been formerly imprisoned in Israeli jails ... Awad added that clashes erupted between Palestinian youths and Israeli soldiers before the military forces left the town. No injuries were reported. Israeli forces also raided the town of Beit Duqqu northwest of Jerusalem early Wednesday. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided the town and detained Nour Jamal Rayyan, 21. They took him to an unidentified location. Clashes erupted between youths and Israeli soldiers during the raid. Soldiers fired a large number of tear-gas bombs at local protesters as well as nearby houses, causing many to suffer from excessive tear-gas inhalation. Meanwhile, Kazem and Naji Mufid Radwan, Yazan Bilal Radwan, Sari Ziyad Radwan, Yasser Faisal Salim, Muhammad Saber Radwan and Ammad Yasser Salimwere detained in the Qalqiliya town of ‘Azzun and Abdullah al-Juneidi was detained in Hebron.  Most of the detainees are former prisoners. Israeli forces also detained Ahmad Fuad Adwin from the ‘Azza refugee camp in Bethlehem.

IOF breaks into Nablus, Bethlehem

NABLUS (PIC) 1 May -- The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) carried out at dawn Friday a large-scale raid and search campaign in Beit Furik town to the east of Nablus, and Fardies village in Nablus. A number of Israeli military vehicles stormed in large numbers Beit Furik town since the early morning hours and violently broke into a number of local homes, eyewitnesses told PIC reporter. Few hours later, the Israeli forces withdrew from the town towards Itamar settlement built illegally on Palestinian lands in the town. Along the same line, IOF raided at dawn today Fardies town to the east of Bethlehem and handed over a young man a summons order. The 32-year-old Yacub Asakereh was summoned for interrogation in Gush Etizon settlement bloc to the south of Bethlehem after IOF brutally stormed his home.
Meanwhile, IOF arrested overnight a Palestinian youth from Silat Harithiya town in Jenin at Karama border crossing that links between Jordan and occupied West Bank. Local sources confirmed that Abdel Raouf Khabas, 23, was detained at Karama crossing while in his way to Jordan. He was taken to an Israeli investigation center.

Hamas asks West Bank universities to protect its students

GAZA, (PIC) 30 Apr -- The Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, asked the administrations of universities in the West Bank to protect its students from the Palestinian Authority Security Forces (PASF) campaigns of political arrests and summonses. In a press statement on Thursday, Hamas said the continuation of arrest campaigns against members of the Islamic bloc in West Bank universities, especially after the Islamic bloc won the elections in Birzeit University and Palestine Polytechnic University, goes in line with the PA policy of security coordination with Israel. It indicates that Fatah insists on excluding the resistance approach and attempts to exclusively control the Palestinian arena, the statement mentioned. It said the number of the political detainees in PA jails, just in April, reached 75 captives. 17 students were arrested after the results of Birzeit elections; 13 of them are still detained. Hamas charged the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas with full responsibility regarding the arrest campaigns against university students. It asked him to end such campaigns and release all of the political captives.

PA arrest campaign against Islamic Jihad's members

RAMALLAH (PIC) 1 May -- Palestinian Authority security forces carried out Friday morning an arrest and summons campaign against members and supporters of Islamic Jihad Movement throughout occupied West Bank. The Jihad-affiliated website Palestine Today affirmed that most of the arrests were reported in al-Khalil, Ramallah, Tulkarem, and Jenin. Two ex-prisoners who served time in Israeli and PA jails were among the reported arrests, the sources added. PA Security Forces have been intensifying political arrests in various West Bank governorates as thirteen of Hamas' members were arrested while two others were summoned for investigation over the past 24 hours.

Detention / Banning
A session at the Supreme Court for the prisoners of 'Shalit' deal

SILWAN, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 27 Apr -- A session was held on Tuesday at the Supreme Court to discuss the appeal submitted by seven prisoners who were freed among the “Shalit” deal and who were kidnapped last year after the kidnapping of the three settlers in Hebron. The prisoners and their families asked the media and international organizations to attend the court session and discuss their case. The kidnapped prisoners wrote a letter saying: “The occupation forces rearrested us in June 2014 as revenge to the kidnapping of three Israeli settlers in the area of Hebron. They did not provide any legal justifications or an evidence to convict us. The prosecution also refuses to reveal the confidential files that they claim to have and the Israeli committee of “freed prisoner” decided to impose life sentences on us and identified the life sentence as 40 years in prison minus what we have already served in the past.” The prisoners pointed out that some of them got married immediately after being released in 2011 and some had newborn kids that they haven’t seen yet; note that most of the prisoners had already spent more than 20 years in the occupation prisons.

Palestinian left [with] few places to go after Jerusalem ban renewed

JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 1 May -- A Palestinian activist has been left few places to go after the Israeli authorities on Thursday renewed a ban prohibiting him from entering Jerusalem, having also banned him from entering the West Bank and traveling abroad. Dawoud al-Ghoul, 32, was initially banned from his hometown of Jerusalem in November for six months, and on Thursday the ban was renewed by an extra four months. He was separately issued a six-month ban in December that prohibited him from entering the West Bank, and in April the Israeli Ministry of the Interior issued a six-month ban preventing him from traveling abroad. The bans came after Israeli intelligence identified al-Ghoul as "a danger to public security," although by prohibiting him from leaving the country, it is unclear where they expect him to go. The activist comes from the neighborhood of Silwan, south of the Old City in East Jerusalem. Al-Ghoul told Ma‘an that he had appealed to all parties but that his appeals had been rejected for "security" reasons. He said that the bans had forced him to leave his job and to end his Master's studies. Al-Ghoul was among five Palestinians to be banned from Jerusalem last November, prompting Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat to speak out. Erekat said: "Israel's policy of coercive deportation, which has affected five citizens, is illegal in the first place, and is nothing but a consolidation of Israel's policy of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians, especially in Jerusalem."

Israel bans 4 Palestinians from Aqsa mosque

JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 29 Apr -- Israeli authorities on Tuesday banned four Palestinians from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for varying lengths of time. A magistrate's court banned Suad Ubeidiya from the holy site for four months and fined her 1,500 shekels ($386). Salwa Ghazzawi was banned for three months and fined 1,000 ($257) while Ikram Ghazzawi was banned for 45 days and fined 500 shekels ($128). An Israeli police spokesman said Tuesday that two of the women had been arrested at the compound for "causing disturbances," without providing further details. Meanwhile, Israeli forces raided the mosque compound and detained Muhammad al-Shalabi after he performed prayers at the site in defiance of a ban originally dating back to 2012. The ban was extended to eight months in 2013 and all of 2014 until being rescinded in February 2015. Al-Shalabi is now prohibited from entering the mosque for a further six months.

Israeli authorities release 2 prisoners from jail

HEBRON (Ma‘an) 1 May -- Israeli authorities released two Islamic Jihad-affiliated prisoners from jail on Friday, a local group said. The Muhjat al-Quds Foundation for Prisoners and Martyrs said Waad Arafat Mustafa al-Hidmi, 23, from Surif village near Hebron and Muhammad Hassan Issa Adi, 22, from Beit Ummar were released from prison. Al-Hidmi has spent four years in jail and was last detained in September 2014, when he was sentenced to administrative detention. Adi has spent two years in jail and was sentenced to administrative detention on June 5, 2013. Administrative detention refers to an Israeli policy of detaining Palestinians indefinitely without charge or trial.

IOA re-imposes a female ex-detainee's previous sentence

RAMALLAH (PIC) 30 Apr -- The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) re-imposed Thursday the previous sentence of the female ex-detainee Haniyeh Naser who was re-arrested few months ago after being released during the Wafa al-Ahrar deal. Palestinian Prisoners Center for Studies said that an Israeli court re-imposed on the ex-detainee Haniyeh Naser, 25, her previous sentence estimated at 28 months. Naser, who is currently held in Hasharon prison, was re-arrested from her family’s home on December 10, 2014 during an Israeli large-scale arrest campaign targeting Palestinian ex-detainees who were released during Wafa al-Ahrar swap deal in 2011. She was first arrested on September 12, 2011 at an Israeli military checkpoint for allegedly holding a knife to stab an Israeli soldier.

Alarm bells sounded over political detainee tortured by PA intelligence

BETHLEHEM (PIC) 1 May -- A Palestinian political detainee from Occupied Jerusalem has reportedly been subjected to psycho-physical torture at the Palestinian Authority (PA) lock-ups in the West Bank city Bethlehem. A PIC correspondent quoted the family of the 38-year-old political prisoner Ayman Mohamed Abu Eid as reporting that their son has been severely tortured by the Bethlehem-based PA intelligence over the past six days. Prisoner Abu Eid is neither able to walk nor stand on his feet on his own due to the heavy beatings he has been made to endure all the way through, the same sources added. The political detainee has also been hit with a wooden baton on his back, limbs, stomach, and the soles of his feet all along the six days he had spent in Bethlehem jail. Abu Eid showed traces of severe torture, including swelling, blood congestion, weight loss, and balance disorders. The intelligence services have kept Abu Eid in custody despite an earlier court decree, issued by the High Court of Justice, ruling his release on March 1. The detainee was re-captured by the Bethlehem apparatuses shortly after the Jericho intelligence devices issued a decision to unshackle him.  The family lost contact with their re-captured son and was not updated on his incarceration until Monday.


Palestinian killed in tunnel accident in Rafah

IMEMC/Agencies 1 May -- Palestinian medical sources have reported, Friday, that a tunnel worker was killed in a partial tunnel collapse accident in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. The sources said the deceased Palestinian has been identified as Mohammad Walid Lahham, 25 years of age, from Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Lahham suffocated to death under the rubble; his body was moved to Abu Yousef an-Najjar Hospital, in Rafah. On Monday, April 27, a Palestinian worker identified as Mohammad Khalid al-Najjar, 27, died when a tunnel collapsed on him in Rafah.

Israeli forces open fire on Palestinian farmers in southern Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 1 May -- Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinian farmers in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday, with no injuries reported. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli forces deployed along the border east of Rafah city shot at Palestinian farmers and used tear gas to drive them from their land.

Israel fires at Gaza fishermen, nabs youth on way to seek livelihood

GAZA (PIC) 1 May -- The Israeli occupation navy on Friday opened heavy machinegun fire at Palestinian fishing vessels off the Gaza coast, just  a few hours before a Palestinian youth was kidnapped by the Israeli army near the border fence. Media sources said the Israeli occupation warships unleashed spates of machinegun fire on a fleet of fishing vessels off the Gaza waters, resulting in remarkable material damage. No injuries have been reported so far. The same sources said there were no identifiable reasons for the random fire shooting as the fishermen were sailing within less than four nautical miles.
In a separate incident, earlier overnight on Thursday, the Israeli occupation army claimed responsibility for the abduction of a Palestinian youngster as he tried to infiltrate into an Israeli-controlled Kibbutz in the region of Eshkol, to the south of Gaza. The Israeli soldiers dragged the detainee to the Shabak detention center, pending further investigation. Infiltrations into Israeli-run areas have been on the rise due to the high unemployment and poverty rates rocking the blockaded coastal enclave.

Gazans pursue jobs in Israel despite danger

JABALIYA, Gaza Strip (Al-Monitor) 1 May by Hana Salah -- Gazan workers are still trying to look for new work opportunities to relieve the unemployment crisis and the dire economic situation as a result of the Israeli blockade that has been going on for eight years. This time, however, their search for work is inside Israel and in a legal way. Some Palestinian workers have entered Israel through permits granted only to traders. Officials with the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) told Al-Monitor that nearly 200,000 unemployed workers in Gaza, following last summer’s war, pinned their hopes on obtaining work permits to enter Israel after Israel issued a statement a month after the war about providing humanitarian opportunities for Gazans. This included permits for 5,000 workers. However, these dreams faded away as the Israeli authorities allowed the issuance of “work” permits for traders only ... Mohammed, a father of nine living in the area of Izbet Abed Rabbo, east of Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, spoke to Al-Monitor about his new experience as a worker inside Israel. About two months ago, he managed to obtain a trader permit and entered Israeli territory to work in the plumbing field. “I recently established a small store in Gaza to obtain an official commercial registration from the concerned government parties, so that I can work in the capacity of a trader and therefore have a trader permit issued in my name, after having submitted all my papers to the Authority of Civil Affairs, which coordinates with the Israeli side,” he said.

Israel's spy recruitment puts Gazans in tough spot

GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 29 Apr by Rasha Abou Jalal -- Gazans are increasingly issuing complaints with security services in the Gaza Strip of being blackmailed by Israeli security and intelligence services. Israel is seeking to recruit new Palestinian spies, by exploiting their need for work, money, medical treatment or travel. A latent security war is underway between Shin Bet and the security services in Gaza. The former has the means to recruit Gazans to collect information on everything going on in the Gaza Strip, while the latter is seeking to thwart these attempts, according to Col. Mohammed Abu Harbeed, the information security specialist at the Gaza Interior Ministry. Abu Harbeed told Al-Monitor, “In 2014, 70-80% of citizens passing through the Erez crossing -- which is under Israeli supervision -- were subject to recruitment attempts by Israel.” He said they include merchants, patients, Gazans who are traveling for leisure purposes and students studying at foreign universities....

VIDEO: Israel returns 15 confiscated Gaza fishing boats

AFP 30 Apr -- Israel has returned 15 fishing boats it seized in recent years off the Gaza Strip, the army said, months after it fought a devastating conflict in the blockaded coastal territory. Duration: 00:44

'Freedom Flotilla III' to embark for Gaza this summer

GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 1 May -- Three ships are prepared to embark for the Gaza Strip this summer in a humanitarian mission called "Freedom Flotilla III," the coordinator of the international coalition to break the siege on Gaza Berawi Zaher said in a statement Friday. He explained in a press statement that the departure time and launch locations of the fleet will not be released in effort to prevent Israeli authorities from exerting pressure on countries involved in the operation. Final logistical arrangements for the flotilla are to be made in Greece next month. The flotilla campaign is organized by the Freedom Flotilla Coalition in effort to bring relief to the 1.8 million Palestinians living under blockade in the Gaza Strip ... A range of political, religious, economic and public figures are expected to participate in the flotilla, including former Tunisian President Muncef al-Marzouki. The flotilla will be the third of its kind since 2010, when the first Freedom Flotilla was brutally attacked by Israel naval forces, killing nine activists on board the ships. The incident, which took place in international waters, sparked international outcry. A second flotilla planned for 2011 was unable to reach Gaza after Greek authorities prevented the ships from leaving Athens.

Hamas imposes new taxes to meet payroll dues

GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 29 Apr by Hazem Balousha -- The Hamas authorities in Gaza have imposed additional taxes on imported goods, services and public shareholding companies for the purpose of meeting the payrolls of employees appointed by the previous Hamas government, leading to a wave of widespread criticism among the populace. Members of Hamas’ Legislative Council approved the new taxes by adopting a “national solidarity” lex specialis that came into effect at the start of April and extends until the end of the year ... The new fees and taxes caused widespread discontent among merchants, leading some to temporarily stop importing goods beginning April 12 and lasting until the financial issues are resolved ... An anonymous source in the Gaza government told Al-Monitor, “The new taxes will bring in at least $3 million per month, in addition to the $7-10 million previously collected; which might cover part of the estimated $28 million per month in total salaries.”

Gaza's 'jobless' workers find no solace in Labour Day
Middle East Monitor 1 May -- EXCLUSIVE IMAGES -- Labour Day no longer represents an important occasion for Palestinian civil servant Khaled Salama. Salama is one of thousands of civil servants appointed by the Palestinian Authority (PA), who were barred from going to work in Hamas-controlled ministries since the Islamist group seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007. However, those employees are still being paid by the Ramallah-based authority. "I feel as if I have become without any real value," Salama, 42, an accountant, told the Anadolu Agency. "I have not gone to work for eight years now," he added. Like thousands of civil servants, Salama was ordered by the PA not to go to work since Hamas seized control of Gaza. "We are unemployed civil servants," Salama said. The father of six hopes that Hamas and Fatah, which controls the occupied West Bank, would reach reconciliation so that he and other civil servants could go back to work.

Hamas prevents Workers Union procession in Gaza
IMEMC/Agencies 1 May -- The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) denounced the decision of the Hamas-run security forces in Gaza, to prevent a procession marking International Workers’ Day, on Friday, May 1, 2015. The DFLP said the decision is a violation of Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Expression, and an assault on public and union freedoms and rights.

These could be the world's toughest entrepreneurs
Forbes 30 Apr by Elizabeth MacBride -- Four entrepreneurs in Gaza have an idea born out of deep need: A piezoelectric device that charges your mobile phone while you walk. In Gaza, say Omar Badawi, Sameer  Alnunu, Ghaidaa Hussein, and Saeda Nassar, people cope with about four hours of electricity a day after last year’s war between Hamas and Israel. Gazans’ mobiles are lifelines to the outside world, which means keeping them charged is a critical need. The entrepreneurs have a name, Walk and Charge, and they’ve successfully produced an electric charge from a small device that sits in shoes. The app, they hope, won’t be a problem. “We have a lot of challenges,” said Badawi from a small room at Gaza Sky Geeks, the tech incubator and accelerator that itself exists improbably in one of the hardest places in the world to live and work. “But we believe in our idea.” The team was one of about a half-dozen tech startups I met via a recent reporting trip to the West Bank. (I didn’t travel to Gaza, but reached entrepreneurs there via Skype). Israel is famous for its tech prowess, but there’s a small but vibrant ecosystem in the land Israel occupies, the Palestinian territory in the West Bank and Gaza.

Gaza rally for Palestinian unity ends in scuffles
GAZA (Reuters) 29 Apr by Nidal Al-Mughrabi -- A Palestinian unity rally attended by hundreds in Gaza on Wednesday ended in scuffles that showed the depth of divisions delaying reconciliation and recovery from a devastating war. Hamas Islamists, in control of Gaza since seizing the territory from the Western-backed Fatah movement in 2007, had given the green light for the gathering organized by university student groups with rival political affiliations. Waving Palestinian flags, the students called on Hamas and Fatah, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, to resolve differences plaguing the national unity government they formed last year ... After violence broke out at Wednesday's rally, in a Gaza neighborhood badly damaged during battles in July and August, demonstrators and Hamas gave conflicting accounts of the fracas. A Fatah loyalist accused Hamas of sending club-wielding men in civilian clothes into the crowd to attack rival student groups as uniformed police stood by. Several local journalists said they had also been assaulted by plain-clothed security men. "We were chanting slogans calling for an end to the division, urging reconstruction, but Hamas accused us of trying to politicize the rally," the Fatah demonstrator said. Eyad al-Bozom, spokesman of the Hamas-led Interior Ministry, said demonstrators had been fighting among themselves and police stepped in to separate them.

Gaza university launches programs for hearing-impaired
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 30 Apr by Hana Salah --  A group of hearing-impaired female students sits at one of the cafeteria tables at theIslamic University in Gaza to discuss their engineering drawings after one of the lectures offered as part of the creative technology diploma designed for hearing-impaired students. The only difference between these students and the others at the university is that they express their points of view by moving their fingers and hands. They are part of the first batch of hearing-impaired students pursuing university education in the besieged Gaza Strip ... Hearing disability -- mild, moderate, severe as well as profound impairment -- affects 1.2% of the population in Gaza, while overall 7% have some sort of disability, according to a 2011 report by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. Some 90% of the disabled population do not work, and 42.2% have never been enrolled in school ... Suhair al-Hajjar, who teaches a computer course for the creative technology diploma, said, “All hearing-impaired students show great enthusiasm toward university education, especially toward the computer course, as they feel it is the most suitable for them and easier to learn than the Arabic or English languages.”

Doctors launch campaign to install solar panels on Gaza hospitals
Middle East Monitor 1 May -- A group of Canadian doctors hope to make blackouts a thing of the past for Gaza's hospitals by installing solar panels to provide energy 24/7 for emergency rooms and operating theatres. The "EmpowerGAZA" project has launched a fundraising drive on Indiegogo to secure the $200,000 required to fund the first hospital, with the ultimate goal being to supply a further three hospitals with the life-saving solar panels. Power outages are a daily reality in the Gaza Strip, and can last more than 16 hours per day. Hospital patients are especially vulnerable, and insufficient power can be the difference between life and death ... A crowd-funding campaign began on 28 April and will run through to 26 June.

Fast food booms in Gaza

GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 1 May by Mohammed Othman -- Omar al-Shawa owns and runs a restaurant in Gaza City that serves snacks, sandwiches and shisha. After establishing the restaurant in 2014, Shawa has worked hard to promote it as it competes with dozens of restaurants scattered throughout the Gaza Strip. Shawa, who has worked as a manager in many restaurants, said that food investments are currently the only viable and profitable endeavors in Gaza. “One cannot live without food, and restaurants rarely make any losses. Despite the many difficulties that we face in our business, including the continuous power cuts and the repeated wars that stop our work for long periods, our business remains very good and profitable,” he said. Shawa said that his restaurant is visited by many customers from all classes because he offers low prices that everyone can afford. “We rely on the high turnout of people of all classes, and our prices, which range from 7 to 12 shekels [from $1.80 to $3], play an important role in this turnout. Add to this the increased demand in the summer months,” he said.

Twilight Zone: When my Gazan friend saw a private swimming pool for the first time / Gideon Levy

Haaretz 1 May by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac -- Notes from a two-day outing with two Gazan friends, including a visit to the ruins of an ancestral village, and to a villa with a pool in Herzliya Pituah -- They asked if they could take a picture of the swimming pool. One of them had never in his life seen a private pool before, and actually maybe not a swimming pool of any kind, not to mention a house on this scale. There are no swimming pools in the Gaza Strip because, among other things, there’s not enough water. Nor enough electricity; it’s only supplied six to eight hours a day. The two visitors took pictures of the pool and had themselves photographed next to it, as though not wishing to miss any detail, as though to make every moment last and live it to the fullest. That was they way they acted in general, throughout the two days in which we traveled around the country together, from the lost village of their forebears in the south to Rosh Hanikra in the north. Two days of vacationing and of freedom after all the years of siege and after the horrific summer residents of the Strip endured last year. Two days of an emotional roller coaster, for them and for us, too. They’re not likely to forget this outing anytime soon. They took in the landscapes of Israel, without displaying the least sign of hatred, without an iota of envy, without so much as a word of bitterness. A few times they said, “If only we could get out of Gaza once a year and come here.” The words left us speechless and shamed. A feeling of unease hung in the air during the excursion, in the restaurants, the markets and the mosques: Can’t things be like this all the time? Isn’t this the way they should be? A trip with friends from Gaza in our country, which is also their country, as an everyday occurrence ... After half a year of corresponding and coordination, Ghassan Qeshawi, 59, and Munir Dweik, 53, two friends of mine from the Strip, were able to get an extraordinarily rare permit to enter Israel for a few days, because they work for GVC, an Italian aid organization, in Gaza ...  They asked whether there would be another war in Gaza soon, and we said yes. Our parting was very sad.

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Judaization / Restrictions on movement
Israeli forces demolish Palestinian barn near Nablus

NABLUS (Ma‘an) 29 Apr -- Israeli forces demolished a sheep barn belonging to a Palestinian in the village of Rujeib east of Nablus on Wednesday only hours after notifying the owner of the order. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that Israeli bulldozers arrived in the village and destroyed the 270-square meter steel structure, claiming it was not licensed by construction authorities. He said that the structure belonged to local Alaa al-Din Riyad, and he was only given a few hours notice between when he was alerted of the demolition order and the structure's destruction.

Israel to demolish water wells in Hebron

HEBRON (WAFA) 29 Apr -- The Israeli authorities Wednesday notified local residents of Masafer Yatta, south of Hebron, of their intention to demolish a number of water wells used by locals for drinking and irrigation in the area, according to local sources. Coordinator of the Anti-Settlement Committee in Hebron, Rateb Jabour, said an army force accompanied by staff from the Israeli Civil Administration broke into eastern part of Yatta town, and handed local residents notices informing them about their intent to demolish the water wells. The wells were built with funding from the Ministry of Agriculture and Action Against Hunger Association to help meet the needs of locals who suffer from water scarcity in that area, particularly during the summer time. Locals depend on these wells to provide them with drinking water, and  for crops' irrigation. Masafer Yatta, a collection of almost 19 hamlets, relies heavily on animal husbandry as the main source of livelihood. Located in Area C of the West Bank under full Israeli administrative and military control, the village has been subject to repeated Israeli violations by settlers and army soldiers targeting their main source of living, livestock.

IOF hands evacuation notices to Palestinians in Jordan Valley

NORTH JORDAN VALLEY (PIC) 30 Apr -- The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) has continued handing evacuation notices to Palestinians in North Jordan Valley for the second day in a row. The official of the Jordan Valley’s file in Tubas and North Jordan Valley Mutaz Bsharat told Quds Press that the IOF handed evacuation notices to about fifty Palestinian families residing in six neighborhoods. He pointed out that the Israeli forces informed the Red Cross that military exercises using live ammo and aircraft will be conducted in most areas of North Jordan Valley for eight days starting next Saturday. Bsharat opined that such exercises are war crimes against humanity. There is no law in the world that would permit conducting military exercises between houses and evacuating homes by force without providing its residents with any alternative places to live in, he said. The real purpose of this is to pressure the Palestinian residents in the North Jordan Valley to leave their homes and lands to be taken over by Jewish settlers under the protection of Israeli army and police, he added. The IOF burned 4,000 dunums of green lands during military exercises in the same area just last week.

Archaeological activists: Elad must cede control of Temple Mount tunnel

JPost 1 May by Daniel K. Eisenbud -- During a Thursday morning press tour of a contested tunnel being excavated under the Temple Mount, Yonathan Mizrachi stopped to explain why his archeological NGO submitted a petition to the High Court requesting that a right-wing NGO cease managerial oversight of the project. “We don’t think any private organization should operate an archeological site, but especially one with a political agenda in a place that is important to everybody who cherishes the history of Jerusalem – including Jews, Muslims, Christians, and non-religious people,” said Mizrachi, executive director of Emek Shaveh, a left-wing, European- funded consortium of archeologists.

Hundreds pray outside closed mosque in Beersheba

[with photos] BEERSHEBA (Ma‘an) 1 May -- Some 250 Palestinians performed Friday prayers outside a mosque in Beersheba in southern Israel that Israeli authorities have kept closed since 1948. The prayers came amid heavy Israeli police presence, with police sealing the roads leading toward the mosque. The initiative was called for by Sheikh Hassan Abu Ubeid from al-Ramla along with a group of youths from al-Ramla, Lod, and the wider Negev via social networking sites. Abu Ubeid told Ma‘an: "We are here to continue what those who fought before us started in liberating our mosque. It is unreasonable that our mosque has been closed for 67 years and we stand still." He added: "We will pray here every Friday until the mosque is liberated." The Ottoman-era mosque was first closed to Palestinian worshipers in 1948, when it was used as an Israeli prison during the war that led to the creation of the Israeli state and that saw more than 700,000 Palestinians violently expelled from the state's new boundaries. From the 1950s on, the mosque was designated a museum which Palestinians had to pay to enter, leaving the area's 10,000-strong Muslim Palestinian community with nowhere to pray.

200 Gazans pray in the Al-Aqsa mosque

GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 1 May -- Palestinians from the Gaza Strip headed to Jerusalem Friday to perform prayers in the Al-Aqsa mosque. Sources at the Palestinian liaison told Ma‘an that 200 Gazans above the age of 60 headed to Jerusalem via the Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip. Sources added that after performing prayers the 200 head back to the Gaza Strip Friday afternoon. Weekly access to the Al-Aqsa mosque by Gazans has become routine since October 2014 when some 500 Palestinians in Gaza prayed at the mosque for the first time since 2007, having been prevented by Israel from traveling to Jerusalem since that time.

Palestinian refugees in Syria, Lebanon

UNRWA struggles to support Yarmouk residents

JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 29 Apr -- The US government announced a $6 million contribution to UNRWA earlier this week, in one of the few responses to the agency's call on April 17 for funds to support the devastated Yarmouk refugee camp. "We are deeply grateful for all the support we have received from the US for our efforts to help citizens survive this tragedy," said UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl following the donation on April 24. The UNRWA Regional Syria Crisis Appeal for 2015 has only received 20 percent of the funding needed to support the over half a million Palestinian refugees affected by the past five years of Syrian civil war and recent incursions by the Islamic State group, including the IS invasion of Yarmouk on April 1. "After enduring four years of conflict, two of them under siege-like conditions, and the suffering created by armed groups, the civilians in Yarmouk are at a breaking point." ... UNRWA highlighted that further donations are necessary in order to provide aid relief to the approximately 18,000 civilians, including 3,500 children, trapped inside the camp.

Palestinians demand end to work restrictions

BEIRUT (Daily Star) 1 May -- Hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated in Downtown Beirut Thursday against Lebanon’s employment restrictions. On the eve of International Workers’ Day, busloads of Palestinian refugees, some wearing traditional attire and waving Palestinian flags, gathered outside the U.N.’s Beirut headquarters. The demonstration demanded an end to discrimination against Palestinians in the Lebanese job market. Lebanese labor law largely confines Palestinians to work in agriculture and construction industries, and does not afford them the rights granted to other foreigners who belong to recognized states that can offer similar benefits to the Lebanese.  Prior to 2005, over 70 professions were off limits to Palestinians. An amendment in 2005 allowed them to obtain work permits for low-level clerical and manual labor, but upheld restrictions on professions traditionally associated with the elite.

Other news
Israel killed 7 Palestinians, detained 375 in April: NGO

Middle East Monitor 1 May -- "Israeli forces killed seven Palestinians and arrested 375 in April," the Ahrar Centre for Prisoner Studies and Human Rights said in a statement. The NGO said that 113 Palestinians were detained by Israeli forces in East Jerusalem, 86 in Hebron, 54 in Nablus, 40 in Bethlehem and 29 in Ramallah. According to the statement, Israeli forces also detained 26 Palestinians in Jenin, 11 in Qalqiliya, four in Tulkarem and one in Salfit. The NGO said that Israeli forces also detained 11 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, including ten while trying to cross the border into Israel. According to the statement, 55 children and 19 women were among those detained by Israeli forces in April.

ICC says Palestinians too could face war crimes probes
JERUSALEM (AFP) 1 May -- The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor has said she is weighing opening war crimes investigations into Palestinians as well as Israelis after Palestine joined the tribunal's jurisdiction last month. Fatou Bensouda rejected Israeli fears of bias by the court, promising to consider the evidence "independently and impartially without fear or favour," in an interview published by Israel's liberal Haaretz newspaper on Friday. "We will of course look into the alleged crimes committed by all sides to the conflict. I have made this clear to both Israeli and Palestinian officials," she said. Bensouda said that so far her deliberations were still at a preliminary stage and no investigation had been opened into anyone from either side.

Doctors Without Borders denies collaboration with Israel accusation

BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 Apr -- The Palestine branch of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has denied accusations that members of the mission leaked information on Palestinian patients to Israeli authorities. Head of the MSF Palestine mission, Juan Carlon Cano, told Ma‘an that the claims published recently by local Palestinian media are not true and emerged due to an internal conflict between two organization members. Cano told Ma‘an that the independent humanitarian medical organization does not have a political vision and that its work focuses only on providing quality medical care for Palestinians who live under occupation. Cano added that the organization is committed to medical confidentiality and does not reveal any personal, medical or other information that may expose patients to harm by any authority or third party, without the approval of the patient. He denied the claim that an Israeli is working as a supervisor to other workers in the organization's projects in Palestine. Cano's statements came after Palestinian media had recently reported that his mission had employed an Israeli supervisor who shared information on Palestinian patients across the West Bank to Israeli authorities. The organization has worked in the Gaza Strip since 1989 responding to direct and indirect consequences of violence in the enclave, and has operated a psychological health program in the occupied West Bank districts of Jenin, Hebron, Nablus and Qalqiliya since 2000 and in Jerusalem since 2011.  In 2014, more than 5,500 people received psychological support, more than 340 surgeries were carried out and more than 1020 patients received rehabilitative care, according to the organization.

Carter cancels visit to Gaza; Palestinian Authority implicated

IMEMC/Agencies 30 Apr -- Carter has called off the planned visit to the region, scheduled to take place on Thursday, Days of Palestine reports. He had planned to make the visit in an attempt to draw attention to the deteriorated humanitarian situation in the war-battered territory. The trip included planned meetings with officials of the Palestinian Islamic Movement Hamas, which is still currently ruling the Gaza Strip. As an attempt to spoil the visit, none of the Israeli officials have agreed to meet with the former US president, yet accepted a visit via Eretz Crossing. Regarding the PA's role in the cancellation of Carter’s visit, a well-informed PA official said that close aides of Mahmoud Abbas put pressure on certain official close to Carter to cancel the visit. Sources said that Carter had met Saudi officials and has been working on a new reconciliation known as Mecca II ... It is worth mentioning that Fateh (PA backbone) official Abdullah Abdullah had announced the cancellation of Carter’s visit 36 hours before the official announcement by Carter’s staff.

UN envoy urges Palestinian unity, end to Israel blockade

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 30 Apr -- The UN's new Middle East peace envoy on Thursday urged Palestinian factions to unite and Israel to lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip, on his first visit to the territory. "I strongly believe that it will hurt the cause of the Palestinian people if division, if the lack of unity, is not addressed as soon as possible," Nickolay Mladenov, who was appointed in February, told reporters in Gaza City. "I hope that the United Nations will be able to support the efforts to strengthen this unity," he said ... "We in the United Nations, along with our partners in the international community, have a responsibility to ensure that Gaza is not just being reconstructed... but that the blockade which stops access to construction materials, to movement of people, goods... is lifted," Mladenov said.

More Arab students in East Jerusalem seeking Israeli matriculation certificate

Haaretz 30 Apr by Nir Hasson -- Now that separation barrier makes it hard to get to West Bank universities, Arab students need Israeli exams to get into Israeli colleges -- ...This year 1,934 East Jerusalem teens are in classes geared toward the matriculation exam, compared with 1,392 students in 2013. The number is expected to increase to 2,200 next year, according to the education conference... Moshe Tur-Paz, director of the Jerusalem Education Administration, told of visiting a school in the Arab neighborhood of Beit Hanina school two weeks ago with Mayor Nir Barkat. “The mayor asked one of the students what he does in the afternoon, and we expected him to say he plays soccer, but instead he said he goes to a class to study for the Israeli bagrut and he pays 12,000 shekels ($3,100) to this private school,” said Tur-Paz. “That was a watershed moment for us. We understood that it’s our obligation to offer this option. We are not imposing it on anyone, but we have to offer it.”

Clashes as Ethiopian Israelis protest police brutality

JERUSALEM (AFP) 30 Apr -- Clashes broke out in Jerusalem on Thursday as more than 1,000 angry Ethiopian Israelis staged a protest, demanding an investigation into alleged police racism and violence. The protest started outside the city's police headquarters with demonstrators blocking off one of the city's main traffic arteries and the light rail service, an AFP correspondent said. Protesters waved banners reading: "Stop police brutality, stop racism" and "Today it's him, tomorrow it's you!" They then marched towards the residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, where they also blocked the road before being stopped by a large number of police equipped with water cannon. "Enough of racism!" they chanted, some of them waving Israeli flags, others holding up the Ethiopian flag. "In Europe they kill Jews because they're Jews, here they kill Jews for being black," read one placard. Police said the crowd hurled stones and bottles with police using anti-riot measures to keep them at bay, including tear gas and stun grenades, with 13 people injured in the confrontation ... Earlier this week, footage emerged of two police officers violently beating an Ethiopian soldier in uniform, sparking a wave of anger within the community.

Netanyahu signs up first two partners for coalition government

Jerusalem (AFP) 30 Apr  - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made strides toward forming a new government on Wednesday, signing coalition deals with two parties, a week before the deadline to present a cabinet. His Likud party won a surprise victory in a March 17 election but its 30 parliamentary seats, although the most of any single party, still left him the task of forging a majority in the 120-member legislature in order to govern. On Wednesday, he inked alliances with the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism (UTJ) party and the centre-right Kulanu, putting a combined total of 46 seats under his command ... Local media predicted that the far-right Jewish Home party, ultra-Orthodox Shas and the hardline anti-Arab Yisrael Beitenu of incumbent Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman would also sign up with Netanyahu ahead of the May 6 deadline, boosting the alliance to a comfortable 67 votes in parliament.

'Netanyahu's absentee balloting plan -- a ploy to disempower Israeli Arabs'

JPost 1 May -- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s intention to enact a law allowing Israeli nationals living abroad to vote in parliamentary elections is a ploy to dilute the political influence of the country’s Arab citizens, the head of the left-wing socialist Meretz party said on Friday. Zahava Gal-On told Israel Radio on Friday that she finds it “hard to reconcile with the fact that close to 1 million Israelis who chose to live outside the country’s borders and who do not serve in the IDF reserves and do not pay taxes can exert their influence on the government’s policies without having to bear the consequences of those policies.” The Meretz chair said that while she does not support the initiative, she does respect people’s choice to live where they choose. Israelis living abroad who are not emissaries of the state and its institutions will have the right to vote in Israeli elections for the first time, under a bill that all prospective coalition partners have agreed to support, Likud sources said on Tuesday.

Israel blames Arab neighbors for stalling on nuke-free zone

UNITED NATIONS (AP) 1 May by Cara Anna -- Israel is blaming its Arab neighbors for the failure of progress toward achieving a Middle East free of nuclear weapons, saying that "if a serious regional effort has not emerged in the Middle East during the last five years, it is not because of Israel." Israel's statement, distributed Thursday to a global conference on a landmark disarmament treaty, is the country's first public comment since it showed up as a surprise observer. Israel has never publicly declared its nuclear weapons, and it is not a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. As an observer nation, it cannot address the ongoing conference, where many countries have expressed frustration that a key meeting toward a Middle East nuclear weapons-free zone, promised for 2012, has not taken place. That goal was set the last time the conference met five years ago.

British PM defends 2014 Israeli operation against Gaza

Middle East Monitor 30 Apr -- British Prime Minister David Cameron said recently that Israel had the right to defend itself when it launched Operation Protective Edge against Gaza in the summer of 2014. "What I've seen is the attacks that take place on Israel and the indiscriminate nature of them... that reinforces to me the importance of standing by Israel and Israel's right to defend itself," Cameron asserted in an interview with the Jewish Chronicle. The interview was published exactly a week and two days before the UK general election on 7 May. He felt "very strongly" that equating the attacks between Israel and Gaza was "completely wrong and unfair" because "Israel is trying to defend against indiscriminate attacks." "Obviously we regret the loss of life wherever it takes place, but I do think there's an important difference – as Prime Minister Netanyahu put it: Israel uses its weapons to defend its people and Hamas uses its people to defend its weapons," he said. Cameron has previously described himself as a "staunch supporter of Israel" and in 2014 became only the second British premier ever to address the Israeli Knesset.

Why doesn't Hamas change its charter? / Al-Shabaka

1 May -- Al-Shabaka is an independent non-profit organization whose mission is to educate and foster public debate on Palestinian human rights and self-determination within the framework of international law -- The question of how to deal with its Charter has challenged the movement since its decision to participate in the 2006 legislative elections and its subsequent victory, which led to fears that Hamas would end up controlling the Palestinian Authority (PA) rather than being contained by it. Many observers continue to overlook the extent to which Hamas' political discourse and actions are not necessarily determined by its Charter. At the same time, it has not taken any explicit steps towards amending the charter, treating it as if it were a sanctified text.
There are many instances where Hamas has not adhered to the Charter, despite the ongoing debate about how far it can go in disregarding it while still being an integral part of the Muslim Brotherhood and its ideology. Take, for example, Meshaal's statement, "Today, we are a national liberation movement which has nothing to do with the Muslim Brotherhood." Meshaal also told CNN that the movement had two options: either the international community forced Israel to "establish a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with the right of return, which is something we, the Palestinians, have agreed upon as a common program - or Israel continues to refuse this and we continue to resist." This statement contradicts the clear provisions of Hamas charter.  Member of Hamas' political bureau Moussa Abu Marzouk went even further in an interview with The Jewish Daily Forward in which he said that the Charter did not govern the movement, and that many members were talking about modifying it because several of Hamas’ present policies contradict it....
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
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