Occupied: Headlines From Palestine

Blogging From Gaza, Palestine


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The Only *Democracy* In The MIddle East Is Going to Demolish A Palestinian Mosque

Israel issues demolition order for mosque in East Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli municipality officials delivered a demolition order Friday to the al-Qaaqaa Mosque, a house, and a studio apartment in the Silwan neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, local sources told Ma’an. Majdi al-Abbasi, from the Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan, said that Israeli municipality members delivered a demolition order to the al-Qaaqaa mosque in the Ein al-Luza area of Silwan.The mosque, built three years ago, is a 110 square meter space that serves 5,000 worshipers.Al-Abbasi added that the Israeli municipality also delivered a demolition order to a studio apartment and its facilities. The studio belongs to Iyad al-Abbasi and was built 12 years ago.A demolition order was also delivered to a home housing six people.Earlier this week an Israeli court ruled to demolish a football field and its facilities in Silwan, a local committee said.

The ruling includes the demolition of a 1.5 dunam (.4 acre) sports field as well as a neighboring warehouse and animal shed.Silwan is one of many Palestinian neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem that is seeing an influx of Israeli settlers at the cost of the demolition of Palestinian homes and eviction of Palestinian families.

Israeli authorities have carried out around 370 demolitions of Palestinian property in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank since the start of 2015, displacing an estimated 432 residents, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Thousands of Palestinian residents are at risk of losing their homes, as members of the current right-wing Israeli government continue to champion longstanding policies to obtain a Jewish majority in East Jerusalem.
East Jerusalem was occupied by Israel in 1967 in a move never recognized by the international community, and four decades of Israeli policy in the area have neglected the Palestinian community while fostering the growth of Jewish settlement.


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Israeli Occupation Court Orders Demolition Of Palestinian Football Field -Sports Under Occupation

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — An Israeli court has ruled to demolish a football field and its facilities in occupied East Jerusalem, a local committee said Thursday.The owners of the property, located in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan, received a demolition order in the mail over 70 days after the court had passed the ruling at the beginning of June, the Wadi Hilweh Information Center said.The “demolition and removal” order had allowed for an appeal to be lodged within 30 days of the ruling.The ruling includes the demolition of a 1.5 dunam sports field as well as a neighboring warehouse and animal shed.Silwan committee member Ahmad Qaraeen said the ruling required that anyone who chose to object to the order would be fined and forced to pay demolition and removal fees. He added that Israeli authorities are aware that the owners of the land — the heirs to Atallah Siyam — regularly allowed the area to be used by Mada Creative center for activities. Qareen said that the Israeli municipality attempted to confiscate the land in 2007 and turn it into a parking lot, but that the move was appealed in court and the land owners built a football field on the property in 2009 after receiving approval from the central court. In 2012, the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority demolished several of the family’s facilities under the pretense of “removing trash,” he added.Silwan is one of many Palestinian neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem that is seeing an influx of Israeli settlers at the cost of the demolition of Palestinian homes and eviction of Palestinian families.Israeli authorities have carried out around 370 demolitions of Palestinian property in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank since the start of 2015, displacing an estimated 432 residents, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.Thousands of Palestinian residents are at risk of losing their homes, as members of the current right-wing Israeli government continue to champion longstanding policies to obtain a Jewish majority in East Jerusalem.East Jerusalem was occupied by Israel in 1967 in a move never recognized by the international community, and four decades of Israeli policy in the area have neglected the Palestinian community while fostering the growth of Jewish settlement.


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It’s Time to Admit It. Israeli Policy Is What It Is: Apartheid

Bradley Burston for Haaretz

What I’m about to write will not come easily for me.

I used to be one of those people who took issue with the label of apartheid as applied to Israel. I was one of those people who could be counted on to argue that, while the country’s settlement and occupation policies were anti-democratic and brutal and slow-dose suicidal, the word apartheid did not apply.

I’m not one of those people any more.  Not after the last few weeks.

Not after terrorists firebombed a West Bank Palestinian home, annihilating a family, murdering an 18-month-old boy and his father, burning his mother over 90 percent of her body – only to have Israel’s government rule the family ineligible for the financial support and compensation automatically granted Israeli victims of terrorism, settlers included.

I can’t pretend anymore. Not after Israel’s Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, explicitly declaring stone-throwing to be terrorism, drove the passage of a bill holding stone-throwers liable to up to 20 years in prison.

The law did not specify that it targeted only Palestinian stone-throwers. It didn’t have to.
Just one week later, pro-settlement Jews hurled rocks, furniture, and bottles of urine at Israeli soldiers and police at a West Bank settlement, and in response, Benjamin Netanyahu immediately rewarded the Jewish stone-throwers with a pledge to build hundreds of new settlement homes.

This is what has become of the rule of law. Two sets of books. One for Us, and one to throw at Them. Apartheid.

We are what we have created. We are what we do, and the injury we do in a thousand ways to millions of others. We are what we turn a blind eye to. Our Israel is what it has become: Apartheid.

There was a time when I drew a distinction between Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies and this country I have loved so long.
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No more. Every single day we wake to yet another outrage.

I used to be a person who wanted to believe that there were moral and democratic limits – or, failing that, pragmatic constraints – to how low the prime minister was willing to go, how far he was willing to bend to the proud proponents of apartheid, in order to bolster his power.

Not any more. Not after Danny Danon.

Not when the prime minister’s choice to represent all of us, all of Israel at the United Nations, is a man who proposed legislation to annex the West Bank, effectively creating Bantustans for Palestinians who would live there stateless, deprived of basic human rights.

The man who will represent all of us at the United Nations, the man who will speak to the Third World on our behalf, is the same man who called African asylum seekers in Israel “a national plague.”

The man who will represent all of us at the United Nations is the same politician who proposed legislation aimed at crippling left-leaning NGOs which come to the aid of Palestinian civilians and oppose the institution of occupation, while giving the government a green light to keep financially supporting right-wing NGOs suspected of channeling funds to support violence by pro-settlement Jews.

What does apartheid mean, in Israeli terms?

Apartheid means fundamentalist clergy spearheading the deepening of segregation, inequality, supremacism, and subjugation.

Apartheid means Likud lawmaker and former Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter calling Sunday for separate, segregated roads and highways for Jews and Arabs in the West Bank.

Apartheid means hundreds of attacks by settlers targeting Palestinian property, livelihoods, and lives, without convictions, charges, or even suspects. Apartheid means uncounted Palestinians jailed without trial, shot dead without trial, shot dead in the back while fleeing and without just cause.

Apartheid means Israeli officials using the army, police, military courts, and draconian administrative detentions, not only to head off terrorism, but to curtail nearly every avenue of non-violent protest available to Palestinians.

Late last month, over the explicit protest of the head of the Israeli Medical Association and human rights groups combatting torture, Israel enacted the government’s “Law to Prevent Harm Caused by Hunger Strikes.” The law allows force-feeding of prisoners, even if the prisoner refuses, if the striker’s life is deemed in danger.

Netanyahu’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who pushed hard for passage of the bill, has called hunger strikes by Palestinian security prisoners jailed for months without charge or trial “a  new type of suicide terrorist attack through which they will threaten the State of Israel”.

Only under a system as warped as apartheid, does a government need to label and treat non-violence as terrorism.

Years ago, in apartheid South Africa, Jews who loved their country and hated its policies, took courageous roles in defeating with non-violence a regime of racism and denial of human rights.

May we in Israel follow their example.


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14-Year-Old Shot By Israeli Occupation Forces In Gaza Strip In Critical Condition

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A 14-year-old Palestinian is in critical condition and has been transferred to Ramallah for treatment after he was hit by a stray Israeli bullet on Friday at his home in the central Gaza Strip, his family said Tuesday.

The family of Fadi Abu Mandil, 14, said that the teen will undergo surgery in his spine as he is currently unable to walk.His uncle told Ma’an that the child was hit with a stray Israeli bullet while studying at his home when Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinian farmers.

On Friday medical sources said that the 14-year-old from al-Mughazi refugee camp had been transferred to Shuhada al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah city.Israeli forces were again firing on Gazan farmers on Tuesday, damaging property and forcing farmers to flee their land, and on Sunday, they shot and injured a 37-year-old man.

Israeli forces have repeatedly opened fire on Gazans since the ceasefire agreement signed Aug. 26, 2014 that ended a devastating 50-day war between Israel and Hamas.

In March alone, there were a total of 38 incidents of shootings, incursions into the coastal enclave, and arrests, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.
That was up from 26 incidents through February, and left seven Palestinians injured and one dead.
The attacks come despite Israeli promises at the end of the ceasefire to ease restrictions on Palestinian access to both the sea and the border region near the “security buffer zone.”


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Terror Attack: Israel Terrorist Yells ‘Death To Arabs’ And Stabs Palestinian Worker

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — An Israeli man stabbed a Palestinian worker on a construction site north of Tel Aviv on Monday, Israeli police and media reported.The victim, a Palestinian worker for the Herzliya Municipality, told police that a man with a Russian accent shouted “Death to Arabs” before stabbing him in the shoulder.

The worker was transferred to hospital for treatment.

Israeli police are searching for the suspect, who fled the scene of the attack.

Anti-Palestinian attacks in Israel are frequent and often involve the desecration of holy sites in addition to physical assaults.

In February, suspected Jewish extremists set fire to part of a Christian seminary in East Jerusalem’s Old City and sprayed “Jesus is a son of a whore” and “Redemption of Zion” on the walls.

A day earlier, extremist Jewish settlers set fire to a mosque in the southern West Bank town of al-Jaba and sprayed racist slogans calling for killing Arabs and Muslims on the walls in Hebrew.


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PLO Official To Hold Talks With Syria On Yarmouk Relief

RAMALLAH (AFP) — A senior Palestinian official said Monday he was headed to Damascus for talks on helping residents inside the Yarmouk refugee camp, parts of which have been overrun by the Islamic State group.

Hundreds of families have been evacuated from the camp in a southern neighborhood of Damascus after IS militants launched on attack on Wednesday.

Palestinian forces inside Yarmouk are largely surrounded by IS fighters who have captured large parts of the camp.

Ahmed Majdalani, an official with the PLO, told AFP that he would discuss with Syrian officials “ways to offer help to our people in the Yarmouk camp”.

In a statement, the PLO called for “all sides to immediately agree to protect the camp from efforts to turn it into a battlefield”.

It also called for civilians to have access to relief corridors and to humanitarian and medical assistance.

Majdalani accused IS militants of “seeking to control the whole camp” and to use it “as a springboard for attacks on the Syrian capital Damascus because of its strategic location”.

Since the militant advance began, regime forces have pounded the camp with shells and barrel bombs, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group.

“We don’t need to turn our people into human shields and pay the price for a fight that they have no role in,” Majdalani told AFP.

Dozens of Hamas and Islamic Jihad supporters meanwhile protested in Gaza on Monday to demand an end to the violence in Yarmuk.

“We demand the attackers immediately stop their killing,” former Hamas justice minister Mohamed Faraj al-Ghul told protesters outside the parliament building in the Gaza Strip.

Yarmouk “must be a neutral place, far from the madness of war,” he said, urging an international intervention to “stop the killing”.

Earlier, President Mahmoud Abbas expressed grave concern over the crisis in Yarmouk, PLO executive committee member Saeb Erekat said.

Abbas denounced the “hideous crimes by the Islamic State group against our people,” said Erekat.

Palestinians “are people who live under occupation. When countries of the world suffer crises, their people later return to their countries, but we are denied our right to return, and we live in danger even in refugee camps,” the PLO negotiator added.

Yarmouk was once a thriving neighborhood home to 160,000 Palestinian refugees and Syrians but has been caught up in the country’s civil unrest which began in 2011.

It has been besieged by regime forces for more than a year and only about 18,000 residents are estimated to remain in the camp after many fled the fighting.

IS, which has seized control of large parts of Syria and Iraq, has fought not only against the President Bashar Assad’s regime but also against other rebel groups as it seeks to expand the territory under its control.

Ma’an staff contributed to this report.


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War Crime: Israeli Occupation To Build 142 Illegal Housing Units Palestine’s East Jerusalem

JERUSALEM, March 30, 2015 (WAFA) – The Israeli West Jerusalem municipality Monday approved a tender to build 142 new housing units in East Jerusalem area, according to Israeli media website Walla!.

It reported that the municipality’s committee approved the building of 142 new housing units in Jabal Abu Ghnaim, recognized by the Israeli government as the illegal settlement of Har Homa.

Israel has been approving the building of new housing units in settlements located in the Palestinian territory, including in East Jerusalem, despite of international condemnations.

The United States, along with other world countries, have continuously expressed concern over Israel’s settlement construction, which is internationally slammed illegal based on international law.

On October 27, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave orders for the construction of 1,060 new housing units in two settlements in East Jerusalem; 660 new units in ‘Ramot Shlomo’, and 400 in ‘Har Homa’, in addition to an infrastructure project of 12 new settlement roads in the West Bank.

Media reported on United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon criticizing Netanyahu’s aforementioned settlement construction decision, challenging him ‘to show leadership and make compromises for peace.’

Only last week, the Jerusalem Municipality stated that the “planned construction of some 1,500 apartments in the capital’s southeastern Har Homa neighborhood has been frozen.”

The Jerusalem Post website reported that, “While no rationale for the freeze was provided; the municipality issued a brief statement Wednesday afternoon saying that the plan has been “dropped from the agenda of the Interior Ministry’s local planning committee.” It remains unclear if, or when, the contentious project will be resumed.”

It said that some speculate that the construction freeze is an attempt to improve foundering diplomatic relations – amid heightened tensions between Netanyahu and Obama’s administration.

It said that, the settlement freeze decision stands in stark contrast to Netanyahu’s declaration while visiting Har Homa the day before this month’s election that there is “a way of stopping Bethlehem from moving toward Jerusalem.”

Netanyahu was quoted as saying, “We will continue to build in Jerusalem. We will add thousands of residential units and withstand all the [international] pressure, as we continue to develop our eternal capital.”

T.R/M.H