Today in Palestine! ~ Headlines ~

Land, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid / Division of Palestine

Israel is doing everything to separate Gaza, West Bank / Amira Hass
Haaretz 23 May -- Israel wants Hamas rule in Gaza because it guarantees the disconnect between the Strip and the West Bank -- An elephant will be sitting Wednesday in the courtroom of Supreme Court justices Asher Grunis, Salim Joubran and Noam Sohlberg. The elephant will occupy the places of the five plaintiffs, who will be absent: five women from the Gaza Strip who were accepted into Bir Zeit University in the West Bank. Four want to go on to a master's degree in gender studies ... The justices will see the elephant in the room, but what's to be done with it? An attorney representing the state will explain why it is opposed to granting these women permits to pass through Israel and passes to stay in the West Bank. The key word here, of course, is security.

Israeli court orders state to consider allowing Gaza students to study in West Bank
Haaretz 23 May -- Since 2000, Israel has allowed a total of three students to study in the West Bank. All three received scholarships from the U.S. government -- Justices on Israel‘s High Court of Justice ordered the state to reconsider its stance regarding five female residents of Gaza who want to study Gender Studies in Birzeit University in the West Bank.

Palestinian capital in Jerusalem now a slim possibility
IMEMC/Agencies 23 May -- Givat HaMatos, or 'Airplane Hill', so named for the military plane shot down during the six day war in 1967, has major new settlement plans for 2,610 housing units and 1,100 hotel rooms. These extensive plans were released earlier in the year, however the speed with which planning and approval these plans have proceeded is unprecedented ... If this expected development goes ahead the result will be that Palestinian cities and neighbourhoods would be cut off from Bethlehem. This will have a detrimental effect on the goal of the Palestinian people to have their desired capital of an independent state. "There is only so much territorial abuse this tortured land can take before we kill the political option of saving the two- state solution," said Daniel Seidemann, an Israeli attorney who monitors urban developments which he thinks affect the chances for peace.

Sameh Idris's house was demolished 4 months before his wedding
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 23 May -- Sameh Idris 26 years old , has been building his dream for the last few years so he can establish his future, he was working on the house that he was suppose to live in after getting married next September, but the municipality’s bulldozers destroyed his house turning his dream into a nightmare ... Sameh told us the cost of the house is 150,000 NIS, and he was suppose to live in it next September with his future wife. Sameh "I don’t know what to do now, the house was ready and now its not, I took a loan to finish it, the furniture is suppose to come in 2 days."

Farmland exploited for Israeli military exercises
ISM 23 May by 'Alex' -- Monday the 21 of May is the third day in a row of Israeli military exercises in and around the small Palestinian village of Khirbet Atwayel outside Nablus. These exercises prevent the farmers from working on their lands and force the villagers to sleep under the sound of heavy shelling with the constant presence of soldiers. Khirbet Atweyel is a village located on the slopes West of the Jordan valley ... The military training, however, is only one of many aspects of oppression that the people of Khirbet Atwayel suffer on a daily basis. Like many other villages in the Jordan valley, Khirbet Atwayel is in Area C. It is under full Israeli civil and military control. One result is that the villagers are not allowed to have wells or water cisterns.

Israeli bulldozers demolish residential tents
HEBRON (WAFA) 23 May -- Israeli bulldozers Wednesday demolished residential tents of Palestinian families in al-Jihesh valley south of Yatta, a town south of Hebron, according to a local activist. The Popular Committee coordinator in Yatta, Rateb al-Jabour, said Israeli soldiers accompanied by policemen and members of the Israeli civil administration raided the area with heavy machinery and destroyed six tents housing over 30 people.
In a related matter, Israeli forces demolished an animal barn in Khirbet al-Rahweh, a locale south of the town of Dahriyieh south of Hebron. The barn owner, Ibrahim al-‘Amoul, told WAFA that Israeli authorities gave him a demolition notice several days ago with a final deadline to demolish it by September, but Israeli bulldozers destroyed the barn on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Israeli bulldozers demolished on Wednesday a 600-square-meter chicken hut, built 30 years ago, in Beit Liqya, a village southwest of Ramallah, according to head of Beit Liqya local council Khaled Shibli.

Israel demolishes West Bank villages as Jewish outposts remain untouched / Akiva Eldar
Haaretz 21 May -- Israel's eagerness to demolish renewable energy installations in a West Bank village is seen as an ugly riposte to the European Union ... It is doubtful whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has expressed great concern over the fate of Migron's residents, has heard of Tha'lah. Unfortunately for the village's residents, Tha'lah is situated in Area C, which is under Israel jurisdiction. Minister Benny Begin, who worked so tirelessly on the questionable "agreement" that will leave the Migron criminals on stolen land for a few more years (if it is ever implemented ), presumably does not know what happened to the residents of this tiny village in the Southern Hebron Hills.

Water apartheid leaves Palestinian children ill / Alex Abu Ata
EI 23 May -- Photo: Israeli forces destroy a Palestinian-owned water tank in Dura village near Hebron in the occupied West Bank, 16 April 2012 -- Faqua is one of many Palestinian villages not connected to a water network. A few kilometers east of Jenin, it is located right on the edge of the massive wall that Israel continues to build in the West Bank.

Occupation continues with its repression in Al-Khalil
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 23 May -- IOF have prevented, on Wednesday, a Palestinian citizen from Fawwar camp southern Al-Khalil to access to his land adjacent to Al-Majnouna area confiscated by Jewish settlers. Eye witnesses told PIC that the occupation forces prevented a citizen from Hatab family in the camp from entering and working on their land from which they were expelled without reasons by the occupation soldiers. These measures came in parallel with the Israeli War minister Ehud Barak's decision to give Al-Majnouna area to the settlement council in Al-Khalil in order to set up settlements there.
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"I want to live in a state that's not racist," a Bedouin keeps fighting for his people's rights
EI 22 May by Jillian Kestler-D'Amours -- After more than three years of expert testimony, evidence and deliberations, an Israeli court recently rejected an appeal filed by Bedouin activist Nuri al-Okbi demanding that his land ownership claim to his family’s ancestral land in the village of al-Araqib be officially recognized. "The ruling is oppressive and unjust," al-Okbi told The Electronic Intifada. "It is also illegal; illegal because the court was completely biased towards the Israeli government, the Israeli state." Al-Okbi was nine years old when he and his family were forced from their homes in al-Araqib, located just north of Bir al-Saba (Beersheva) in the Naqab (Negev) desert.

Netanyahu delays vote on bill to sanction illegal West Bank outposts
Haaretz 23 May 10:38 AM-- According to bill, Jewish neighborhoods built on land whose legal Palestinian owners didn't challenge the construction for 4 years would not be evacuated -- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delayed a Knesset vote on a bill geared at sanctioning illegal West Bank outposts on Wednesday, with the intent of reaching an arrangement that would evade the need to demolish illegally built homes. The move came as Netanyahu continues to seek ways to avoid the forced evacuation of homes in the Beit-El neighborhood of Ulpana Hill, after the High Court of Justice ruled that the state had to demolish those structures by July 1.

Knesset to discuss bill to legalize West Bank settlements
Ynet 23 May 17:33 -- The Knesset plenum is set to discuss a bill to legalize West Bank settlements despite an agreement to freeze it for two weeks. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the bill's initiator MK Zvulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi) agreed to freeze promotion of the bill in order to give the government time to settle the issue. Meanwhile, Netanyahu has instructed Defense Minister Ehud Barak to halt all demolition preparations.,7340,L-4233121,00.html

Israel will collapse unless Arabs and Palestinians are expelled, fenced, says legal advocate
[video - Hebrew] EI 23 May by Ali Abunimah -- The separation fence must be closed and sealed. The Egyptian border fence must be closed and sealed. We must build a fence on the Jordanian border immediately, no one gets in or out! Jews who live in Judea and Samaria [West Bank] may come in and out - Arabs may not come in and out. That was the proposal of Ilan Tsion, the head of an Israeli group called "Fence for Life," moments after he forcefully objected to Israel being called an 'apartheid' state. Tsion, an Israeli lawyer and activist, who boasted about his efforts to prevent the reunification of Palestinian families, spoke at a conference in Ramle, on 15 April where he also called the presence of Africans a mortal threat to the lives of every single Jewish man, woman and child.

Violence / Raids

Teen stabbed by soldiers 'in stable condition'
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 23 May -- An 18-year-old stabbed by Israeli soldiers near Bethlehem on Sunday is in a stable condition after surgery, the Palestinian prisoners society said Wednesday. Salah al-Zghayar underwent surgery at Jerusalem's Hadassah Medical Center after he was stabbed in the abdomen at Gush Etzion junction, prisoners society lawyer Mofeed al-Haj said in a statement. Al-Zghayar, from Hebron, told the lawyer he was attacked by several soldiers who were guarded by police. His father Nidal told Ma‘an he has not yet received permission from Israeli authorities to visit his son.

Palestinian alleged to attack soldiers denies claim
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 23 May -- An 18-year-old Palestinian who allegedly attempted to attack Israeli soldier in Hebron with a knife denied the Israeli claims accusing instead the Israeli soldiers of stabbing and seriously wounding him, a statement issued by The Palestinian Prisoner's Club (PPC) said on Wednesday ... PPC lawyer Mufeed al-Haj visited Zughayar, who was registered as an anonymous person, in Hadassah hospital in West Jerusalem, where he was held under police custody. He said Zughayar told him that he was not shot as claimed by some media, but was attacked with knives by a number of Israeli soldiers who stabbed him in his stomach from bottom to top.

Settlers 'attack village' near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 May -- Israeli settlers on Tuesday attacked several homes during a march through a village near Bethlehem, witnesses said. Dozens of settlers threw rocks at homes and shops in Tuqu‘ and shut down the main road, preventing cars from entering the village, locals told Ma‘an. Israeli soldiers were stationed at the entrances to Tuqu‘ and were protecting the settlers, witnesses added.

Iraq Burin residents confront Israeli soldiers
NABLUS (WAFA) 23 May – Confrontations erupted Wednesday between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians in Iraq Burin, a village near the northern West Bank city of Nablus, according to local sources. They said Israeli military vehicles stormed the village, provoking residents who clashed with the forces. Forces fired tear gas bombs at Palestinians, causing a number of suffocation cases among them, including three fainting.

IOF raid houses of Hamas figures in Jenin
JENIN (PIC) 23 May -- The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) at dawn Wednesday raided many homes of Palestinian figures from Hamas Movement in Jenin and interrogated them. Israeli occupation troops were seen encircling the house of Hamas official Hashim Azmouti, 46, in the eastern district of Jenin. They also questioned him after ransacking the house.
The same Israeli troops also broke into and ransacked the house of legal clerk and reformer Abdullah Harb, 48, and questioned him.
Hamas figure Ahmed Ghassoub was also questioned after Israeli soldiers stormed his house at dawn.
The IOF also invaded at an early hour of the morning the towns of Assila Al-Harthiya and Yamoun west of Jenin and spread in their alleys.
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IOF troops raid Kufr Qaddoum
PIC 23 May ...In another incident, IOF troops raided the village of Kufr Qaddoum on Tuesday night and burst into one of the homes and detained shopkeepers inside their businesses for hours before retreating from the village, which witnesses daily weekly marches against settlement activity.
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Why Israeli settlers shot an unarmed Palestinian / Robert Wright
The Atlantic 21 May -- When West Bank settlers shoot at unarmed Palestinians while Israeli soldiers look on without intervening, that's a story--especially when one of the Palestinians suffers a head wound. So it's natural that this weekend's conflict near the Palestinian village of Asira al-Qibliya has been covered widely--in 972, the Guardian, the Washington Post, Haaretz, the Daily Dish, and elsewhere. Still, it's important to appreciate how unsurprising this story really is, and how unexceptional its fundamentals are.

It's time for an international force in the West Bank / Yossi Gurvitz
872mag 22 May -- Since the IDF cannot and will not protect Palestinians from settlers, it’s time to turn over the West Bank to an international force --- An incident in the village of Asira Al-Qibiliya drew media attention on Saturday, since it was captured on B’Tselem’s cameras. The settlers, blindsided by the fact the incident was actually covered, came up with several arguments. They claimed (a) that the fire was started by the Palestinians; that (b) observant Jews won’t light fires on Saturday, and that (c) the raiders were in fact the settlement’s squad of guardsmen ... The second lie is easily disproved. Raids by Yitzhar settlers are rather common, particularly on Saturday, as the holy flock is infused with the "extra soul" of the holy day and dies of boredom. Just a year ago, the settlers of Yitzhar were documented (Hebrew) raiding Asira Al-Qibiliya, stoning the residents, and setting a vehicle on fire. Among the pogromchiks was also Yitzhak Shapira, the head of the Yitzhar yeshiva, who is a co-author of the infamous "Torat Ha’Melekh" tract, the manual on gentile-slaying. The settlers said at the time that you can break the sanctity of the Sabbath if you are in conflict with non-Jews. How… convenient. They probably did not think that someone will remember this excuse a year later, and that it’ll come back to bite their latest lie.

Detentions / Court actions

Prisoners' leadership: We will not leave Abu Sisi in isolation
NABLUS (PIC) 23 May -- Tadamun foundation for human rights confirmed that Captive leadership in occupation prisons is making a great effort to end Dirar Abu Sisi's isolation in Ashkelon prison. Ahmed Betawi, a researcher at the foundation, quoted Mohammed Sabha, leader in Captive movement, as saying that the movement leadership will not leave Abu Sisi in isolation, trying to end his isolation and move him to prisons at any cost. The prison service administration had moved 19 isolated prisoners to normal cells after the mass prisoners' hunger strike, however it [has] kept Abu Sisi isolated until this moment.
Regarding administrative detention, he said that the captive leadership has formed a special committee to follow the administrative detainees' files evaded by the Zionist prosecution.
In the same context, Betawi revealed that the Jordanian ambassador met the two Jordanian prisoners in Gilboa prison, Abdullah Barghouti and Ali Nazzal, two days ago, where he confirmed to them that their families will be allowed to visit them within the next month.
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Relatives of Jordanian prisoners in Israeli jails protest outside royal court
AMMAN (PIC) 23 May -- Dozens of relatives of Jordanian prisoners in Israeli jails have staged a sit-in in front of the royal court in Amman on Tuesday demanding greater concern with the issue of those prisoners. The relatives, who met with court officials, said they wanted regular visits to those prisoners. The officials promised to follow up their request with the court director Riyadh Abu Karki. The participants hoisted signs saying that the issue of those prisoners was ignored for the past 28 years and that 18 years of 'peace' did not liberate those prisoners. They also castigated their government for ignoring 28 days of hunger strike launched by Palestinian and Jordanian prisoners.
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Jarboni transferred to hospital
RAMALLAH (PIC) 22 May -- Lina Jarboni was transferred to Meir hospital on Tuesday after ten days of excruciating pain in the Israeli jails. Jarboni, from Arraba Al-Batuf town in Palestine occupied in 1948, has been suffering from severe pain in her gallbladder that necessitated a surgery ... Qassem said that the Israeli prison authority was compelled to take Jarboni to hospital after one week of delay after the prisoners threatened to return the meals.
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Qaraqe: Israel to release sick prisoner
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 May -- Israeli authorities will release a Palestinian prisoner with chronic health problems on Thursday, the PA minister of detainee affairs said Wednesday. Issa Qaraqe told Ma‘an Israel agreed to release Zuheir Lubada, 38, due to his deteriorating health. Lubada, from Nablus, has been held in Ramle's prison clinic for seven months. He suffers from liver and kidney diseases. [Lubada is apparently an 'administrative detainee']

Lawyer: Israel High Court considers MP discharge
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 23 May -- Israel's high court is holding a session to consider a discharge request by Palestinian Legislative Council member Hussam Khader, who has been in detention for a year, a lawyer said Wednesday. Jawad Boulos of the Palestinian prisoners society told Ma‘an that the society asked the court to accept its petition considering a year has passed in which Khader has not been charged with a crime.

Mother of 4 jailed sons: Christians suffer for homeland
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 May -- "Since 2004, the whole family did not gather, not even once. Someone is always missing," recounted Alexandra Halabi, a Christian mother of four sons imprisoned by Israeli forces ... Alexandra told Ma'an that Raed, 28, was given a two-year suspended sentence and released in 2005, but toward the end of his probation he was handed to Israel by a collaborator and ordered to serve two years plus two months in jail. He had two jobs, working for the Global Movement for Children and in a hotel, and had no time for political activism, she added ... [Her sons] are all accused of involvement in Kutab Tulabi, an activist group in Birzeit University affiliated to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine ... She says Israeli prison guards and soldiers discriminate against Christians, but inside prison Muslim and Christian detainees are like brothers ... Alexandra said the soldiers who search her before visiting her sons in prison or in court were more aggressive with her than with veiled women. "The Palestinian cause is for all the Palestinian people, whether Muslims or Christians," she stressed.

2 prisoners in Israeli jail still on hunger strike
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 May -- Mahmoud al-Sarsak, a 25-year-old forward in Palestine's national soccer team, has been on hunger strike in an Israeli jail for over two months, officials said Tuesday. Al-Sarsak and Akram al-Rekhawi, a diabetic who has refused food since April 17, are both being held in Ramle prison clinic. Israeli Prison Service spokeswoman Sivan Weizman told Ma'an they were both in a stable condition and receiving all necessary medical treatment. Al-Rekhawi's lawyer Fadi Ubeidat, who visited both detainees on Monday, said al-Rekhawi was in critical condition ... Physicians for Human Rights - Israel has asked to visit the detainees, but Israeli authorities have not approved the request, a representative said Tuesday, adding that the group would file a court petition for access.

Israeli forces detain 9 Palestinians in West Bank
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 23 May -- Israeli forces detained nine Palestinians overnight in separate raids across the occupied West Bank, witnesses and a military official said Wednesday.
Soldiers stormed the village of Azzun east of Qalqiliya in the northern West Bank and detained five teenagers, locals said.
Also Wednesday, Israeli forces also stormed the southern West Bank town of Beit Ummar near Hebron and detained three Palestinians, a local activist said. An army spokesman put the number at four.
On Tuesday, Israeli forces searched several homes in the southern quarter of Hebron. Locals said the operation near Kiryat Arba was carried out house to house and one person was beaten.

Israelis arrest eight Palestinians in West Bank
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 23 May ...Forces arrested five Palestinians from the Hebron area, including two in their early twenties, after raiding and searching their homes, said spokesman of the National Committee against the Wall and Settlements, Mohammed Awad.

Burin arbitrary arrests continue
ISM 22 May by Maria Erdely -- Castro Risaq was arrested on the night of the May 1 in Burin, a village just 7 kilometres south west of Nablus. The Israeli military arrived at 1 a.m. demanding Castro. Waking up the family, they barged through the front door. The 38 year old man was arrested and blindfolded without an opportunity to get dressed. His wife and 6 children were forced to watch as the head of the family was taken away without explanation. No charges have been pressed yet. The soldiers who arrested him stated only, "this is our job." Castro was told that he would have a hearing within 3 days. This date has since has been postponed to the end of the month. Castro holds both a Palestinian and British passport. He lived in the United Kingdom for a period of 7 months before he was called back to Palestine to stay with his ill mother ... Upon Castro’s arrest, his wife, Salam Risaq, contacted the British Embassy. Their response was simply that they are unable to help.

Ashton concerned after Tamimi conviction
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 May -- Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief, is concerned about the conviction of Bassem Tamimi in an Israeli military court, a representative said Tuesday. Tamimi was convicted Sunday of taking part in illegal demonstrations and of soliciting protesters to throw stones. The EU considers Tamimi to be a human rights defender committed to non-violent protest against the expansion of an Israeli settlement on lands belonging to his West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, Ashton's representative said. A statement from Ashton's office said the EU attended all court hearings in his case and is concerned at the use of evidence based on the testimony of a minor who was interrogated "in violation of his rights."

PA security: Jenin arrests not based on political affiliation
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 May -- A wave of detentions by Palestinian security forces in Jenin is not targeting any political group, the security services spokesman said Monday. Islamic Jihad said on Monday that forces from the Fatah-led PA detained five of its members in the northern West Bank. Force have led a security crackdown in the Jenin district after assailants opened fire on the home of Jenin Governor Qaddura Musa in early May ... Since the 2007 split between the Hamas-run administration in the Gaza Strip and Fatah-led authority in the West Bank, both governments are accused by human rights groups of detaining political opponents.

Pro-Hamas students holed up on West Bank campus
BIR ZEIT, West Bank (AP) 23 May -- At 26, Saed Qasrawi is among the oldest students at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank. The leading Hamas activist has been enrolled for eight years, but he has been unable to complete his undergraduate engineering program because he keeps getting detained by Palestinian security forces before final exams. This year, Qasrawi and more than a dozen other supporters of the Islamic militant group tried a new tactic. Since May 5, they've remained on campus -- a sanctuary considered off limits to the security forces -- to evade arrest.

Shin Bet arrests two West Bank terror cells planning to abduct Israelis
Haaretz 23 May -- Israel's security forces have arrested operatives of a Hamas terrorist cell in the city of Hebron, suspected of planning to abduct Israelis in the nearby settlement of Kiryat Arba. The cell members were arrested in the past few weeks, but a gag order on the case was lifted only on Wednesday.

Torture, duplicity and resistance: The story of Salameh Kaileh
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 23 May by Budour Hassan -- He was arrested from his home at 2 a.m.; insulted and mocked by the interrogators for being Palestinian; severely tortured during interrogation; chained to a hospital bed by his hands and feet and denied medical care despite his illness -- a pattern drearily familiar to Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails.
There is a small twist in the tale, though. The Palestinian protagonist of this story -- Marxist intellectual and dissident Salameh Kaileh -- was arrested, tortured and eventually deported by the Syrian regime which has long portrayed itself as a champion of the Palestinian cause and the bulwark of resistance to Zionism and imperialism.

Siege of Gaza

IOF incursion in central Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 23 May -- Israeli occupation forces (IOF) raided eastern Deir Al-Balah town in central Gaza Strip on Wednesday morning, local sources told the PIC reporter. They said that the IOF soldiers in five tanks escorted seven bulldozers that entered from eastern Khan Younis and headed north to the eastern area of Deir Al-Balah. IOF soldiers fired at Palestinian farmers to the east of Al-Qarara in Khan Younis and moderately wounded one of them a couple of days ago. Farmers in the raided area fear that the IOF soldiers would level their cultivated land and the loss of their crops as a result.
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Gaza fleet leashed by Israel, starved for fuel
GAZA CITY (Reuters) 23 May by Nidal al-Mughrabi -- Israeli gunboats and an Egyptian clampdown on fuel smuggling into the Gaza Strip are strangling the enclave's little fishing fleet, slowly turning a generation of fishermen into fishmongers. Since 2009, they have been unable to sail out beyond three miles because of Israel's strictly enforced blockade. This year they can hardly afford to go out at all because diesel has nearly tripled in price. There are about 3,700 full-time fishermen in the Gaza Strip ready to serve a market of 1.7 million Palestinians. They used to export to Israel. Now Gaza imports about 80 percent of its needs from the Egyptians and the Israelis.

WHO: Eight patients denied permit to leave Gaza Strip
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 23 May ...The report on referral of patients from the Gaza Strip published monthly by the Right to Health Advocacy said while April approval rate was almost 95%, yet 8 patients out of 764 referrals were denied a permit to leave through Erez, and 32 patients, including one child, did not receive a response to their permit request in time and missed the date of their hospital appointment. "Delays in processing applications can be critical for patients who are waiting for urgent medical treatment," said WHO ... The report said that for the first time since WHO began monitoring patient referral data, more female patients than male patients were asked to attend interrogation by the security services ... Following their interrogation, 11 patients were still waiting for a GSS response, seven were approved, four were asked to submit a new request, and one was denied, said the report. Palestinians have regularly complained that the GSS tries to recruit permit applicants to work for them as spies or collaborators in return for granting them permits.

Cash crops season ends on sour note
PNN 22 May -- Gaza's crops season ended last week with dramatically reduced income for farmers as a result of the fuel crisis and ensuing water shortages. The ongoing fuel crisis negatively impacted the otherwise relatively good season for export farmers, with carnation growers worst hit at the end of the season with 9 million flowers exported – 2 million less than last year. Strawberry exports allowed out of Gaza by the government of Israel were slightly better than last year's at 447 tons, while sweet peppers and cherry tomatoes registered dramatic increases from 6 and 7 tons respectively last year to 44 and 75 tons this year ... Despite the relative increase in exports allowed out by the government of Israel this year, there is little comparison to Gaza's economy before the blockade, which is now entering its fifth year. PARC's marketing officer Mohammed Zwayyed on the cash crops project said Gaza exported an average of 50 million carnations every year before 2007, and up to 1,500 tons of strawberries.

Maariv: Israel approves the admission of 30 millions liters of fuel into Gaza
PNN 23 May -- Israeli Maariv newspaper published on Wednesday 22nd May, stated that the Israeli Environment Minister, Jilad Ardan has said that the Knesset has approved the admission of fuel to the Gaza Strip. The newspaper said that the Knesset was approved on the demands of Egypt and Qatar to admit 30 million liters of Diesel to Gaza.

PEA: Occupation force tries to embellish its image by allowing Qatari fuel into Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 23 May -- Ahmad Abu al-Amarin, head of the information office at the Palestinian Energy Authority (PEA), said that the occupation is trying to embellish its ugly face and its criminal role in Gaza's power crisis by approving entry of a quantity of Qatari fuel to Gaza. Commenting on news reports that the Israeli occupation agreed to allow 30 million litres of Qatari fuel into the Gaza Strip, Abu al-Amarin said "These reports are worthless because it was the occupation that imposed the condition for the fuel to go through Auja crossing and not the Egyptian side."
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Paper: Turkey indicts Israeli commanders over Mavi Marmara raid
ANKARA (Reuters) 23 May -- A Turkish prosecutor has prepared an indictment seeking life sentences for four former Israeli military commanders over their alleged involvement in the 2010 killing of nine Turks on a Gaza-bound aid ship, Turkish newspaper Sabah reported on Wednesday ... Turkey expelled Israel's ambassador and froze all military cooperation after a UN report into the incident released last September largely exonerated Israeli forces. Sabah said it had seen details of the indictment prepared by Istanbul state prosecutor Mehmet Akif Ekinci and that it called for 10 life sentences to be given to each of the four commanders. It said the Istanbul chief prosecutor must approve the indictment before it is sent to the relevant court.

Hamas-run schools in Gaza set out to teach 'the language of the enemy'
NY Times 22 May by Jodi Rudoren -- ... It has been nearly two decades since the language was taught in Gaza’s schools, and last month, after much debate, Hamas officials chose to add it to the optional curriculum rather than Turkish or German. "Through the Hebrew language we can understand the structure of the Israeli society, the way they think," explained Mahmoud Matar, director general of the Hamas-run Ministry of Education here ... For all its problems of poverty and restricted movement, the Gaza Strip is a place that prides itself on education: illiteracy among its youth was less than 1 percent in 2010, according to the World Bank, and there are five universities within its 139 square miles ... Now, seven years after Israel’s withdrawal from the strip and five years after Hamas wrested control of it from the Palestinian Authority, students will begin grappling with Hebrew.

Army: Snipers injure Israeli soldiers near Gaza border
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 May -- Palestinian snipers on Wednesday opened fire at Israeli forces, injuring two, near the border of the central Gaza Strip. the Israeli army said. An Israeli military spokesman said an officer and a soldier were transferred to hospital, adding that troops returned fire. There were no immediate reports of any Palestinian injuries.

'Art is a hammer to shape reality': PalFest breaks the siege of Gaza
EI 23 May by Ayah Bashir -- photo: Palestinians enjoy a concert featuring musicians from Gaza and Egypt as part of the Palestinian Festival of Literature -- Amid the focus on the economic hardships caused by Israel’s ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip, it has been easy for many to overlook the fact that the territory’s 1.6 million people have been kept under a cultural siege as well. This is ironic because much international debate has emphasized the rights and wrongs of cultural boycott of Israel in the context of the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign.

Journalism / Freedom of the press

Israel urged to release satellite TV director
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 May -- Israeli authorities should release the director of a new Palestinian satellite broadcaster who has been detained since Thursday, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday. "Israeli authorities should consider the message they are sending by imprisoning the head of a station that covers news about prisoners," said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's coordinator for Mideast issues. "Authorities should not be holding Bahaa Khairi Moussa, and certainly not without explanation. He should be released immediately, and the station's equipment should be returned."

Abed Rabbo resigns as head of PBC
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 23 May -- Yasser Abed Rabbo has stepped down from his position as head of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation, sources in Fatah said Wednesday ... The head of the Palestinian Authority union of government employees, Bassam Zakarneh, had attacked Abed Rabbo for suppressing dissenting views and keeping him off the air. The union chief had called on the president to dismiss Abed Rabbo. According to the Fatah sources, the former PBC chief stepped down after a presidential order prevented him from fulfilling unspecified tasks. Abed Rabbo denied knowledge of such an order. Abed Rabbo is Abbas' second-hand man in the PLO.

Journalists threatened during Naomi Campbell visit
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 22 May -- The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate condemned the Palestinian Authority's heavy-handed treatment of reporters on Tuesday covering a supermodel's visit to Bethlehem. The PA's official Palestine TV recorded an exclusive interview with Naomi Campbell at a restaurant outside the Church of the Nativity, but other reporters weren't allowed as much as a photograph. Security guards accompanying the model harassed reporters and even threatened to break their cameras if they got near, according to the syndicate, which said its members were "furious."

Political news

Palestinian elections staff to visit Gaza
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 May -- The head of the Central Elections Committee said Tuesday that his office was sending a group to Gaza to start the necessary preparations for the voter registration process ... Fatah and Hamas, meanwhile, are meeting in the Gaza Strip to discuss a deal agreed in Cairo late Sunday.

Abbas asks PA ministers to halt costly political ads
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 May -- After the new Palestinian Authority cabinet was sworn in last week, President Mahmoud Abbas asked ministers to try to halt the usual spate of political congratulation adverts, sources close to the discussions said ... Abbas told ministers that while the PA is in deep financial crisis, the vast sums spent on such adverts should be dedicated to Palestinians facing poverty.

Activism / Solidarity / BDS

Citizen journalism focuses on Israeli occupation
ASEERA AL-QIBLIYA (Reuters) 23 May by Noah Browning -- Amateur video of Israeli soldiers appearing to watch idly as settlers opened fire on Palestinians throwing stones has emphasized the growing power of citizen journalism in the occupied West Bank ... The incident was the latest in a series of images captured by activists and other people in the West Bank which are attracting fierce scrutiny by the international and Israeli media on practices in territory seized in the 1967 war ... In villages and at demonstrations throughout the West Bank, cameras now accompany stones and tear gas as an increasingly permanent fixture.
"Our impact is excellent if you consider that Nabi Saleh is a village of less than 600 people," said Bilal Tamimi, an activist and wielder of a B'Tselem camera from a flashpoint area near an Israeli settlement and military base in the West Bank. "People from around the world have learned what happens here through this distinct medium," he said.

Massive rally against Lieberman's visit to London
LONDON (PIC) 23 May -- A massive crowd of pro-Palestinian activists participated in a rally outside The Pilar hotel in London in protest at the visit of Israel's foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman who is notorious for his racist positions against the Palestinians. The protesters chanted slogans in favor of Palestine and condemning Lieberman and his government as racist, and called for expelling and prosecuting him. At the same time, the British police intensified their presence in the protest area as dozens of extremist Jews living in London showed up chanting slogans against the Arabs and Muslims
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Turkey implements development and service projects in Palestine
ISTANBUL (PIC) 22 May -- The Turkish Cooperation and Development “TIKA” in Palestine announced that its development projects in Palestine had reached approximately about U.S. $ 118 million within 7 years. TIKA coordinator Kursat Mahmat told Anatolia news agency "We opened our office in Palestine in Ramallah in 2005 and have supported the Palestinian people with hundreds of projects since then." Some of these projects are supply potable water, school and hospital construction projects and the renovation of reliefs in the al-Masjid al-Aqsa Mosque, he added.
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Racism / Discrimination

Arabs are shut out of Israel's bubbling culture scene
Haaretz 22 May byNicolas Pelham -- Sometimes it feels as though the cultural separation barrier in which Israel envelops itself is even higher than its concrete one. At least the security wall has holes to pass through. The organizers of this month's International Writers Festival in Jerusalem rigidly shut out the bubbling culture of the Arab world that shares the city.Mishkenot Sha’ananim - a bastion of liberal Jewish thought overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem - invited writers from across the globe, but shunned the culture in front of them. It devoted a half-day to Indian literature, but leapfrogged the Arabic and Persian literature in between. The only Palestinian Israeli on the podium writes in Hebrew. The token Arab on the guest list is an Algerian known for comparing Islamism to Nazism, and publishes in French, not Arabic.

High Court: Arabs deserve tax breaks
Ynet 23 May -- State discriminates against northern Arab communities by not granting them tax breaks, judges rule -- Three Arab communities in northern Israel will be granted tax breaks by the State, similarly to Jewish communities in the same regions that are already entitled to the benefits, the High Court of Justice ruled Tuesday. Addressing the failure to provide the Arab communities with tax breaks, the judges wrote: "This is a blatant violation of the equality principle.",7340,L-4232966,00.html

Israel Land Administration charged with race and gender discrimination
Mondoweiss 23 May by Allison Deger -- The Israel Land Administration (ILA), the powerhouse behind Jewish territorial expansion, is being challenged in Israel's high court over race and gender discrimination. Yesterday a judge gave the government agency and steward over state-owned lands 60 days to come up with an explanation as to why women and Palestinians should not be appointed to their high council.

Demonstration: South Tel Aviv a 'refugee camp'
Ynet 23 May -- Residents says streets 'no longer safe for children, women' due to influx of African infiltrators. Demonstrators attack migrants' car. MK Regev: They are a cancer in our society,7340,L-4233509,00.html

AG: South Sudanese can be deported
Ynet 23 May -- About to be deported? Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein has presented Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a brief that says that Israel can return illegal migrants from South Sudan to their country. Weinstein met with Netanyahu on Wednesday evening and informed him that the Attorney General's Office would support the stance of the Foreign Ministry, which seeks to deport the migrants now that South Sudan has been declared an independent state.,7340,L-4233546,00.html

Israel's migrant explosion
Ynet 23 May -- Guide for the perplexed: Infiltrators or refugees? And why aren’t they deported? [Yedioth Ahronoth explains it all for you!],7340,L-4233020,00.html

Other news

Israel to return Palestinian bodies 'within week'
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 23 May -- Israel will return the bodies of a number of Palestinians held in a cemetery in Israel within a week, the PA minister of civil affairs said Wednesday. Hasan al-Sheikh told Ma‘an his ministry would ensure the bodies were exhumed according to religious rites, and would deliver them to their families for proper burials. Israeli military rabbis began exhuming bodies from a cemetery in the Jordan Valley on Wednesday morning, the ultra-orthodox news site Kikar HaShabbat reported. Ofir Gendelman, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told Ma‘an on May 14 that Israel had agreed to hand over the bodies of 100 Palestinians as a "gesture" to President Mahmoud Abbas ... Hundreds of Palestinians are currently interred in numbered, rather than named, graves in Israel.

Ailing Palestinian hospital awaits cash infusion
JPost 23 May -- With Palestinian Authority subsidies being held back, Jerusalem’s Al-Makassed can’t pay its staff -- Husni Samara is a gynecologist and endoscopic surgeon at Al-Makassed hospital on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives. Even though he has a family to support and hasn’t been paid in months, he won’t consider lucrative offers from abroad. "I am probably the only person who can do endoscopic surgery in the Palestinian territory," Samara told The Media Line. "If I leave then there is no option for these patients. I know I can earn more money abroad but I will dump these patients. I can’t leave them."

Birzeit University holds 37th graduation ceremony
MEMO 21 May -- EXCLUSIVE PICTURES Birzeit University in the occupied West Bank held its 37th graduation ceremony at the weekend; the programme of events was spread over two days ... Throughout the ceremonies, speakers emphasised the need to use education as a means to combat the Israeli occupation and its violations of human rights and international laws. The Chancellor of the university, Dr Muhammad al-Hindi, spoke about the many obstacles which prevented students from completing their studies.

Poll: Majority of Germans think Israel is 'aggressive'
Berlin (dpa) 23 May -- Germans have become markedly more critical of Israel over the past three years, with 59 per cent describing it asaggressive, according to a survey for the weekly magazine Sternreleased on Wednesday. The survey was conducted shortly before President Joachim Gauckvisits Israel and the Palestinian territories May 28-31. A similar Stern survey in 2009 found 49 per cent considered Israelaggressive. The survey, conducted by Forsa pollsters, found 70 per cent of Germans agree with the statement that Israel pursues its interests without consideration for other nations.

US Senate mulls unprecedented aid to Israel
WASHINGTON (Ynet) 23 May – The US Senate is currently reviewing the US-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012 which passed the House of Representatives earlier this month. The bill proposes shared satellite intelligence, aerial refueling tankers, specialized munitions and surplus drawdown gear from Iraq. A Senate aide said the bill has already amassed nearly 50 co-sponsors and is expected to pass "by a lopsided margin or even unanimous vote" once it reaches the Senate floor, the Defense News weekly reported.,7340,L-4233005,00.html

Watch: Performance artist Razan Akramawy's Jerusalem Intervention
EI 23 May -- In the Palestine solidarity movement, a common happening is the mock checkpoint. In these scenarios — usually performed on a college campus -- volunteers dress as soldiers and attempt to present some obstacle to passers-by in an attempt to give a small taste of the subjugation and humiliation experienced by Palestinians at Israeli checkpoints. Here the artist enlists two others to courageously and comically become the checkpoint itself in Palestine. Set in various parts of the Old City of Jerusalem, she imposes on the public a new regime of restriction and movement. Tourists, soldiers and citizens all must wait for her arbitrary decisions so they can move through her checkpoint, or they must evade her control ... In [another] performance, she pretends to be a scarecrow. This work accidentally becomes amazing when a Jewish man decides to intervene in her performance.

Sudan says car blast bears hallmarks of alleged Israeli missile strike
Reuters 22 May -- One person was killed when a car exploded in the eastern Sudanese city of Port Sudan on Tuesday in what the government said resembled a blast last year that it blamed on an Israeli missile strike. An Israeli government spokesman declined to comment on the explosion in Sudan's east, which analysts say is used as an arms smuggling route to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip via neighboring Egypt.


Rmeileh becomes first Palestinian to earn Olympic spot
Daily Times 22 May -- JERUSALEM: A judo champion from east Jerusalem has become the first Palestinian to qualify on points for the Olympics, winning entry to the London Games, the Palestinian Olympic Committee told AFP on Monday. Maher Abu Rmeileh, 28, who comes from Jerusalem’s Old City, will join the Palestinian delegation heading to London this summer. "Abu Rmeileh qualified on points and not by invitation like the others," said Hani al-Halabi, who will head the Palestinian squad."
"He deserved to qualify," Halabi told AFP, saying Abu Rmeileh’s success raised to five the number of Palestinian representatives to the Games.\05\22\story_22-5-2012_pg2_5

Palestinian champions revel in success
23 May -- Football followers in Jerusalem have been in celebratory mood ever since, just a few days ago, Hilal Al-Quds completed their victorious campaign in the fourth edition of the national league: the Palestine West Bank League Division A. Runners-up on two previous occasions, the capital team came out on top this time, and there can be little doubt that their triumph this time round was richly deserved. takes a look at the side’s journey to the top and talks to the coach and players of the newly crowned national champions.

Gaza Paralympians determined to succeed in London
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 23 May -- Palestinian Paralympic athletes preparing for the international games in London this summer are determined to overcome the extra obstacles they face to sporting glory ... Nabil Hamdiyeh, a 44-year-old wheel-chair user competing in discus and shot-put, had not been to Jerusalem for 26 years. "Despite the difficulties of being in Gaza, of training and exercise, we are ready for the games ... because of our motivation," he says. "We hope to be great ambassadors to Palestine, and the Palestinian flag flying in the Olympics." The athletes' main obstacles are the lack of training facilities and electricity shortages in the blockaded Gaza Strip, Okkeh says ... The team has won three Paralympic medals, in games in Sydney and Athens.

Palestinian Paralympians visit holy site
Guardian 21 May by Harriet Sherwood -- Gazan athletes take in al-Aqsa Mosque ahead of Games after Israel grants exit permits applied for by British consulate -- In al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, Moussa Qadoom sank to the floor and wept into the gold and red carpet. As swallows swooped between the white marble columns of the vast edifice, the athletics coach from Gaza City surrendered to the emotion of the moment. "I'm 31 years old, and I have only ever seen this place in newspapers and on television," he said a few minutes later. "I never imagined in my whole life that I would come and pray in al-Aqsa." ... A fifth Paralympic contestant, wheelchair user Khatib Zakout, 47, was refused permission to leave Gaza by the Israeli authorities on security grounds.
For further information contact Shadi Fadda

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