Israel destroys over 1,000 olive trees in Hebron village


by  on April 25, 2013


Palestinian women and children demonstrate on January 3, 1988 in Al-Ram in the West Bank.
(Photo: Esaias Baitel/AFP/Getty Images)

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

Map of destroyed villages aims to teach Israelis about Nakba
Tel Aviv (IPS) 22 Apr by Jillian Kestler-D’Amours — Fireworks went off over theTel Aviv skyline last week as thousands of flag-waving Israelis marked the 65th anniversary of their country’s establishment. At the same time, a smaller group of activists explored the other, most often ignored, side to the country’s creation: the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. The group Zochrot(‘Remembering’ in Hebrew) unveiled the first Hebrew-language map on this year’s Israeli ‘Independence Day,’ detailing hundreds of Palestinian villages that were destroyed in historic Palestine from the beginning of the Zionist movement until the1967 War. The map also includes Jewish and Syrian villages that were destroyed, dating as far back as the late 1800s. Each former village and town is marked with a dot — red, blue, yellow, pink, purple or green — to indicate its type, and when and how its residents were displaced. The names of the Israeli communities that were built over the Palestinian ones are also marked.
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Israel cloud hovers over green energy
MASAFER YATTA, Occupied West Bank (IPS) 23 Apr by Mel Frykberg — A quiet diplomatic war is being waged by several European governments against the Israeli authorities, specifically the Israeli Civil Administration which controls the Israeli occupied West Bank. At stake is the destruction of a humanitarian project funded by a number of European governments, international organisations and foundations, worth approximately half a million euros and years of voluntary manpower hours put in by Israelis and Palestinians. Should the destruction go ahead more than a thousand Palestinians will be without electricity, and their livelihood would be decimated. Community Energy Technology in the Middle East (Comet) has been providing free hybrid solar and wind renewable energy services to off-grid Palestinian communities in the southern West Bank since 2006.
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IOA besieges Jerusalemites in 8% of the city area
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 23 Apr — Two human rights organizations in the 1948-occupied territories accused the Israeli Occupation Authorities (IOA) of besieging Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem in 7.8 % of the city’s area. Citizen’s Rights and Bimkom Israeli organization have appealed against the Israeli “structural map, Jerusalem 2000” as an illegal map, stressing that the map aims to besiege Jerusalemites in an area of 7.8% of the city. The Israeli authorities refused any new building projects under the pretext of non-compliance with the structural map, although it has no legal validity, the organizations confirmed … The Palestinian presence in Jerusalem constitutes 39% of the total population in the city, however the Palestinian neighborhoods’ area does not exceed 14% of East Jerusalem and 7.8% of the city, the human rights organizations stated, stressing that the Israeli structural map threatens the Jerusalemite demographic growth. The appeal pointed out that the “structural map” aims to reduce the Palestinian residential areas in East Jerusalem.
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Israel demolishes house in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 24 Apr – The West Jerusalem municipality workers Wednesday demolished three apartments of a building under the pretext of building without a permit, in the town of Al-Tor in East Jerusalem, according to the house owner. Kayid Jaradat told WAFA that this is the third time the Israeli municipality workers demolish his house despite the fact that he obtained all the required papers to stop the demolition. He added that the 500-square-meters apartments were to house 40 of his family members including three blind and six disabled members
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Israel to allow UNESCO inspectors in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (JTA) 24 Apr — Israel has agreed to allow UNESCO to inspect sites in Jerusalem in exchange for the postponing of five Palestinian-sponsored resolutions critical of Israel. The deal, reached on Tuesday, was brokered by the United States, Russia and Jordan, according to The New York Times … UNESCO inspectors will look at the Old City of Jerusalem and its walls, including the Western Wall and the Mughrabi Bridge to the Temple Mount, according to the Times, as part of an “action plan” to inspect and safeguard the cultural heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem. Conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has increased dramatically over the Mughrabi Bridge, which Israel closed in the wake of safety concerns and then later reopened. UNESCO reportedly is working to broker an agreement between the two sides on building an alternative to the bridge.
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Israel demolishes popular Palestinian restaurant
AL-MAKHROUR, West Bank 24 Apr by Jihan Abdalla — A large pile of twisted zinc and concrete rubble in a parking lot is all that is left of the popular al-Makhrour restaurant in the occupied West Bank. Dirty pots and pans lie on the ground and broken glass crackles under the feet of owner Ramzy Qissiyeh as he tries to salvage more buried items. Last week, Israeli soldiers arrived with bulldozers and demolished his family-owned restaurant, located in the picturesque valley near the West Bank city of Bethlehem. Qissiyeh said this is the second time the Israeli army has demolished his business, citing the lack of a building permit. “All I could do was watch and mourn,” Qissiyeh told Al-Monitor. His family house next door also has a pending demolition order, but has so far been spared.
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Palestinian Christians battle Israel barrier route
BEIT JALA, West Bank (AP) 24 Apr by Diaa Hadid — Palestinians in this Christian village are hoping the new pope can succeed where others have failed – pressing Israel to drop plans to build a stretch of its West Bank separation barrier through their picturesque valley. Since Vatican properties are affected, residents have appealed to the Roman Catholic Church to use more of its significant influence in the Holy Land to reroute the barrier, even as local Catholic leaders hold a special protest Mass in threatened orchards each week … Beit Jala is a postcard-pretty Christian town of 16,000 in the overwhelmingly Muslim West Bank. The likeness of the Palestinian patron, Saint George, is carved into building facades. Groceries sell beer and butchers sell pork, items banned under Islamic law. A bowling alley faces an Israeli military base. Yet the village feels hemmed in. It abuts the biblical town of Bethlehem on one side. On another, barbed wire separates Beit Jala from the Jewish settlement of Har Gilo. Part of the separation barrier seals in another side, protecting a nearby road used by Jewish settlers. Residents say the planned stretch of construction will close off one of the village’s last remaining open spaces. “They are crowding us inside a ghetto,” sighed Issa Khalilieh, whose family lost 12 acres (five hectares) in years of Israeli confiscations, and is poised to lose another three acres (one hectare) to the barrier.
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Nun says locals building illegally on monastery land
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 22 Apr — The head of a monastery in East Jerusalem on Monday accused residents of al-Eizariyya of building illegally on church land.  Al-Eizariyya residents are constructing buildings on the private lands of the Holy Monastery of Martha and Maria, “brushing aside all religious, social and national values,” said Sister Efpraxia. “This is a dangerous violation in broad daylight, and construction is ongoing despite our frequent appeals and calls. Such provocative acts are not acceptable by any rational human,” the abbess added. The nun appealed to President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah, custodian of holy sites in East Jerusalem, “to relieve the feeble people as soon as possible bringing these overt violations against the monastery’s property.” She added: “Our properties and lands are not deserted properties, but rather Orthodox endowments and always will be. Next Saturday we will celebrate Lazarus Saturday. Dozens of pilgrims will visit the monastery from all over the world, and we wonder what we will tell them when they see these violations against the monastery’s property.” [Not sure what to think of this report. First we’ve heard of anything like this]
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Israeli forces demolish 3 homes near Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 24 Apr — Israeli forces on Wednesday demolished three homes in al-‘Arrub refugee camp in Hebron, a local official said. Israeli bulldozers, accompanied by a large military force, entered the al-Bassah area of the camp and demolished the home of Omar Muheisen and two others under construction, popular committee head Ahmad Abu Kheiran told Ma‘an. Camp residents are afraid that more homes could be under threat of demolition, he added.
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Israel destroys over 1,000 olive trees in Hebron village
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Apr — Israeli forces destroyed over 1,300 olive trees in the south Hebron hills on Tuesday. Israeli soldiers accompanied officials from Israel’s civil administration as demolition crews uprooted hundreds of olive trees in the village of Susiya, Ma‘an’s reporter said. According to B’Tselem, there are 26 outstanding Israeli demolition orders in the village. In February 2012, right-wing settler advocacy group Regavim petitioned Israel’s supreme court on behalf of an Israeli settlement overshadowing the village, calling for Israeli authorities to implement the demolition orders.
Meanwhile, settlers from Karmi Tzur uprooted 30 olive trees east of Halhul, local Saeed Madiyah told Ma‘an.
In al-Malih and al-Madareb, in the Jordan Valley, Israeli forces demolished 15 animal shelters belonging to Bedouins in the area.
In Hizma, north of Jerusalem, Israeli forces demolished shelters belonging to Nayef al-Ashab. Al-Ashab told Ma‘an he used the shelters to store produce for his shop and that he was not warned they would be demolished. The goods were all destroyed in the demolition, he said.
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Israel to evacuate around 100 Jordan Valley families
JORDAN VALLEY (WAFA) 24 Apr — The Israeli  authorities Wednesday informed around 100 families of Wadi Al Malih, in the Jordan Valley, that they have until Monday to evacuate their shacks and move somewhere else, according to a local official. Aref Daraghme, head of al-Maleh local council, said that Israeli forces informed the residents of the area to evacuate their shacks and tents temporarily for military training, which will force them to eventually leave their homes. e added that using live bullets during the military training will put the residents and their cattle’s life in risk. Daraghme said that this is not the first time Israeli soldiers force residents to evacuate their homes.
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‘My land is like my identity … I will always replant my trees’ — farmer resists as 500 olive trees uprooted in Beit Dajan
ISM 24 Apr by Team Nablus — On the 22nd April 2013, 500 trees belonging toBeit Dajan villager Jamal Kanaan were uprooted by the Israeli military; making a total of six times since 2002 that his olive trees have been destroyed by the Israeli authorities. Around 50 soldiers arrived in the early morning and uprooted the young trees by hand, removing them in jeeps before Jamal could arrive and intervene in the theft of his trees. The olives had been planted just one year ago, following the Israeli army bulldozing his previous trees. Each of the five previous times that Jamal’s trees have been destroyed he has replanted them; even though they often don’t even grow old enough to produce olives. This year, the military once again gave Jamal no notification that his trees were to be uprooted; the only time that he has had any sort of notice was in 2005 when a letter was left under a stone on his land … Despite the repeated destruction of his trees, Jamal remains steadfast, saying today “I will not leave my land. My land is like my ID card, my identity. I will always replant my trees on my land. Whatever the occupation does, I will not leave.”
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Tel Rumeida settlers occupy Palestinian land by cutting down trees and farming the land
ISM 21 Apr by Team Khalil — Settlers from the Tel Rumeida area in Hebron gradually cut down 15 almond trees on privately owned Palestinian land over the last two weeks. The settlers also installed an irrigation system and planted seeds with the clear intention of taking over the land. The owner of the land has complained to the police and army on several occasions to no avail. “The police just showed up, watched the settlers and then went away.” “The trees are very close to my heart, my children used to play around them.” The Palestinian family Abu Heikel is renting the land from a Palestinian Jew called Jofef Ezra who fled Hebron during the 1967 Israeli invasion of the West Bank. The Ezra family continues to rent its property to the Heikel family to prevent the land from falling into settler hands. With the army on call to defend the settlers on their various, usually violent, whims, there are serious doubts that Ezra`s wishes will be fulfilled.
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Settlers torch 10 cars in Ramallah village
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 23 Apr — Dozens of settlers raided a Ramallah village overnight Monday and set fire to 10 cars, locals said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that settlers from Ofra entered the village of Deir Jarir and attacked property in the village, setting fire to 10 vehicles. In recent weeks, fierce clashes have broken out in the area as Palestinians try to protect private land slated for annexation to Ofra.
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Palestinians fight unlawful deportation
ABEYAT, Occupied West Bank, (IPS) 24 Apr by Jillian Kestler-D’Amours — Hind Ibrahim Abeyat has spent most of her life separated from her father. “Every house in Palestine has something – someone in prison, a martyr,” the 19-year-old told IPS from her family home in Abeyat village, near Bethlehem. “For us, our father isn’t here. My friends ask me, ‘How can you live without your father?'” Israel exiled Hind’s father, Ibrahim Abeyat, from the West Bank at the height of the Second Intifadah, after the Israeli army’s infamous siege of the Nativity Church in Bethlehem in 2002 … Some 200 Palestinians were trapped inside as Israel lay siege on the church for 39 days and fired live ammunition and other weapons at the building. After an American-brokered deal was reached to end the attack, Israel exiled 26 Palestinians hiding inside the church to the Gaza Strip, and another 13 to various European countries … After being flown to Cyprus, Ibrahim Abeyat was eventually deported to Italy, where he remains today. His wife spends six months of the year with him there, and the other six months with her children in the West Bank.
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IOF tried to blackmail Palestinian patient at Beit Hanoun crossing
GAZA (PIC) 22 Apr — A Palestinian patient revealed that the Israeli officers tried to blackmail him at Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing to provide them with information about one of the resistance leaders in order to allow him to travel through the crossing for medical treatment. Palestinian officials consider Beit Hanoun crossing which is controlled by Israeli authorities “a trap to recruit collaborators with the occupation”, and warn citizens of the dangers of falling into such a trap as part of the Palestinian campaign against collaboration in the Gaza strip.
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Violence / Attacks / Raids / Arrests

Residents of Qusra village on the road to recovery after attacks by settlers
Qusra (ISM) 22 Apr by Team Nablus — Helmi Abdul Azeez Hassan was shot with live ammunition by a settler on 23rd February at short range and came very close to death. He spent nine days unconscious before he woke up in hospital only to be interrogated and accused of throwing stones. Two months later, he sits down with his family and international activists and is happy as he talks of his life, with his wife expecting a child. His two year old daughter, shy of strangers, runs to his legs to be embraced as tea and coffee is passed around. Helmi’s recovery is slow but is of great relief to his family. He is housebound by his injury but still makes regular trips to the hospital with the possibility looming of another operation. Sixty six percent of his liver was removed due to the extensive damage caused by the shot. The catheters repairing the arteries to his heart will have to be replaced soon – they only last three months. A builder by trade, Helmi arrived home from work to find that around 15 heavily armed settlers had invaded the village. A shot from one of the settlers narrowly missed his heart and would have mortally wounded him, had he not been able to receive immediate treatment. Despite this, it will be at least six or seven months before Helmi will be able to go back to work … Another in the series of injured villagers is Ammar, a 21 year old who was shot with live ammunition in the leg on January 10th 2013. He is still using crutches but is believed to be able to make a full recovery. Akram Taysir Daoud was attacked and beaten unconscious after being lured into an ambush when settlers called to him in Arabic on the 15th September 2012. He was beaten with sticks and rocks and left for dead, but fortunately regained consciousness after 15 minutes so he could phone his brother for help.
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Settler MK aims to change West Bank shooting laws
Times of Israel 24 Apr — Orit Struk proposes letting settlers fire on suspected intruders and vandals, even if there’s no threat to their person — A member of Knesset for the right-wing Jewish Home party is pushing for laxer rules of engagement for West Bank settlers, which would permit them to open fire on people they suspect are damaging property on Jewish settlements, Haaretz reported on Wednesday. Orit Struk, a member of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee and a resident of the Jewish settlement in Hebron, called on the committee to extend to the West Bank a bill that allows residents of Israel proper to use live fire against suspected intruders and vandals. The “Dromi Law” removes criminal liability from people who discharge a firearm at intruders whom they suspect of intention to cause material or physical damage. Since the West Bank is not officially part of Israel, the military administration there has the power to limit the application of civil laws.
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IOF kidnap 10 Palestinians, including child, from their homes
WEST BANK (PIC) 22 Apr (Monday) — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) kidnapped 10 Palestinian citizens, including a child, during violent raids in different West Bank areas. A security official reported that the IOF kidnapped a 14-year old child named Karam Shehadeh after a violent raid at dawn on his home. He added that Israeli troops aboard military vehicles patrolled at dawn today Ras Juraneighborhood in Al-Khalil city and stormed Al-Samu‘ town to the south. Later, they established a checkpoint at the entrance to Beit Kahel town north of Al-Khalil and another one in Ras Jura neighborhood, and embarked on checking the IDs of citizens.
In Bethlehem, the IOF kidnapped five young men and brutally beat another one during raids on homes in different areas of the city. During a raid in ‘Azza refugee camp in Bethlehem, the IOF handed three young brothers summonses for interrogation from the Israeli intelligence in Etzion settlement.
In Jenin refugee camp, three sons of prisoner Sheikh Jamal Abul-Heija were kidnapped from their home. A Palestinian teacher named Khaled Al-Haj was also reportedly taken prisoner after a raid on his house in Jenin city. In another incident, the IOF stormed Jalqamus village to the east of Jenin and established a checkpoint at the entrance to Yamoun town before starting to search vehicles and interrogate the passersby.
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IOF soldiers launch arrest campaign in Nablus
NABLUS (PIC) 23 Apr — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed Nablus city at dawn Tuesday and searched a number of homes and arrested three citizens. Local sources said that the soldiers burst into their city and roamed a number of its suburbs and were confronted by stone-throwing youths. The sources said that the soldiers wreaked havoc in the houses they stormed without giving reason for the storming.
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IOF soldiers detain son of prisoner
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 23 Apr — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) nabbed the son of a Palestinian prisoner from Al-Khalil at dawn Tuesday.
MP Samira Halaika told Quds Press that IOF soldiers arrested her nephew Qassam Mousa Halaika, 22, from Al-Shuyukh village in Al-Khalil. She said that Qassam was detained at the Container barrier near Bethlehem along with another young man. She said that his father is serving a 22-year sentence. The MP said that her nephew was released from the PA preventive security jails only a few days[previously] after 20 days in detention during which he was tortured. She said that she visited him before his release and saw that he was in a bad condition and had gone on hunger strike for four days.
Meanwhile, IOF soldiers arrested a university student from Al-Khalil’s Beit Kahelvillage. The soldiers also stormed two villages and a suburb in Al-Khalil city at dawn Tuesday where they detained two other Palestinians.
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IOF arrests 9 Palestinians including liberated prisoners in WB
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 24 Apr — The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) arrested on Wednesday 9 citizens from different areas in al-Khalil and Bethlehem, mostly liberated prisoners from Israeli and PA jails. Local sources in Dura south of al-Khalil confirmed that IOF arrested 5 Palestinians and took them to interrogation centers under the pretext of being wanted by the Israeli Intelligence. In Beit Awwa town southwest of al-Khalil, Israeli forces arrested Tariq Nayef Mokhtar Masalma, 20, after raiding his home. Israeli forces also arrested 3 Palestinians aged between 16 and 27 after storming their houses in Tekoa [or Taqu‘] and al-Khader villages south of Bethlehem.
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FPJ slams PA intelligence for kidnapping journalist from hospital
GAZA (PIC) 24 Apr — The forum of Palestinian journalists (FPJ) strongly denounced the Palestinian authority intelligence agency for kidnapping journalist Tareq Khamis from a hospital in Ramallah city. In a press release on Tuesday, the forum said that this incident proved further the size of the violations committed by the PA security apparatuses against freedom of the press. The forum expressed its solidarity with the journalist who said he would not respond to any summons for interrogation from any PA security apparatus. Khamis stressed that there is a coordinated war launched by the PA and Israel against the Palestinian journalists, noting that 14 of them are locked up in Israeli jails … PA intelligence personnel had kidnapped Khamis on Saturday morning from the medical care hospital in Ramallah city without any arrest warrant.
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Prisoners / Hunger strikers / Court actions

Israel agrees to a deal for release of striking prisoner
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 23 Apr — Israel agreed Tuesday to a deal in which 8-month long striking prisoner Samer Issawi will be released to his home in Jerusalem after serving another eight months in prison, according to Jawad Boulus, head of the legal department of the Prisoners Club. He said in a statement that Issawi agreed to end his hunger strike and has started to take food supplements recommended by the doctors as of midnight in the presence of his sister, Shireen, and lawyer.
The deal, said Boulus, which is supposed to be sealed with an Israeli military court decision on Tuesday, says that Issawi will be released eight months from the day of the agreement and his sentence includes the period he has already spent in prison when he was arrested on July 7. Boulus said the importance of this deal is that Issawi will not be convicted by an Israeli military committee to spend the remaining 20 years left in his sentence in prison. Boulus said the deal also includes an Israeli presidential amnesty, which means Issawi cannot be re-arrested and forced to serve the remaining 20 years of his former sentence. [So, this time Israel will keep its promise?] 
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Issawi: My detention is malicious
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 22 Apr — After 265 days on hunger strike, Samer Issawi on Monday told an Israeli judge that he will not take liquids and will boycott future court sessions at a hearing in Kaplan Medical Center.  “I was sentenced by a Jerusalem court to eight months which ended in March, so I don’t see any reason to be detained. Your detention is malicious and I don’t recognize your committee, nor the procedures you take against me,” Issawi told the judge in a weak voice, his lawyer Jawad Boulos said … Monday’s hearing was held in a hall near Issawi’s hospital room. He was escorted by a doctor and his sister Shireen. Boulos said the hospital had been turned into a fortress by Israeli police and security. A group of peace activists and anti-Issawi protesters gathered outside, but police prevented friction between the groups … Israeli guards did not allow Issawi’s mother to see her son at the hearing on Monday, his sister said. “One of the soldiers verbally assaulted her and said he would not shoot Samer in the foot or hand if he had the chance, but rather in the heart to deprive her of Samer,” Shireen added. She said Issawi was like a skeleton but that his spirit was strong.
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Al-Taj: Israel released me after being certain of my death
RAMALLAH (PIC) 23 Apr — The liberated prisoner Mohamed al-Taj stated that his release from Israeli jails came after his serious health deterioration, where the Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) were sure that he may die at any moment. During an exclusive interview with PIC reporter at the medical complex in Ramallah on Tuesday morning, Al-Taj expressed his joy at his release and sadness at the same time for fear of being the victim number 208 due to the Israeli medical neglect towards Palestinian prisoners. His illness began in 2004, but the occupation did not provide him with the necessary treatment for 7 years till his health condition sharply deteriorated, he explained.
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Ahrar: Israeli racist decision to separate between Palestinian prisoners
NABLUS (PIC) 22 Apr — Fouad Khuffash, director of Ahrar Center for Prisoners Studies and Human Rights, stated that the Israeli Prison Service’s decision to separate prisoners from Jerusalem, West Bank, and Gaza prisoners in Gilboa prison exposes the Israeli racist face. Khuffash pointed out the Israeli double standard policy in dealing with Jerusalemite prisoners, where the occupation authorities refused to include them within prisoners exchange deals under the pretext of being “Israeli citizens”, while depriving them from their rights enjoyed by Israeli prisoners.
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‘Tell us about jail — just in case’
HEBRON, Occupied West Bank (IPS) 22 Apr by Pierre Klochendler — “Three interrogators questioned me for three hours. I was handcuffed. They beat me, slapped me, kicked me, boxed me, accused me of throwing stones; played a video of a demonstration. I denied I was there. So again, they beat me up,” recounts Zein Abu-Mariya, 17, seated on a sofa next to dad. “They pressured my son to confess,” Hisham chimes in. “‘If you don’t sign, you’ll be treated like an animal,’ they threatened.” Zein acquiesces. In March 2012, in the dead of night, he was arrested by Israeli soldiers. Thirty-six hours later, he was brought before a judge. He stood at 35 court hearings, spent nine months in the HaSharon jail minors section; yet was never convicted. In January, his father finally managed to bail him out. Back home, waiting for an impending court hearing, Zein strikes a defiant pose: “I don’t want to go back to jail, but I’m not afraid; I got used to it.” He’s gone back to school, but he was held back one year. “My friends ask me what jail is like — just in case.”
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Palestinian stone-thrower gets life for killings
AFP 24 Apr — An Israeli military court on Tuesday sentenced a Palestinian to two life terms and almost another 60 years in prison for the killing of a Jewish settler and his infant son, an army spokesman said. The spokesman said Waal al-Araja was earlier this month found guilty of murdering Israeli-American Asher Palmer, 25, and 18-month-old son Yonatan when he hurled stones at Palmer’s vehicle traveling near the West Bank town of Hebron in September 2011.  Palmer, who lived in the Kiryat Arba settlement near Hebron, lost control of the car as a result and the two crashed to their death.
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Gaza siege

Israeli gunboats fire at Palestinian fishermen
GAZA (PIC) 24 Apr — Israeli navy gunboats opened heavy machinegun fire at Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of Gaza city on Wednesday morning. Eyewitnesses told the PIC reporter that the Israeli gunboats fired at the fishing boats and in the air to scare the fishermen who were trying to fish within the three nautical miles radius fixed by the Israeli occupation authorities.
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Israel never stopped pirating in Palestinian waters
RT 24 Apr by Eva Bartlett — Though you wouldn’t know it from the lack of media coverage, for decades Israel has been committing acts of piracy in Palestinian waters: Attacking, kidnapping and stealing from Palestinian fishers, sometimes just a mile off the Gaza Strip’s coast. Despite pledges of restraint, the Israeli navy’s attacks have continued since the November 2012 ceasefire between Israeli authorities and the Palestinian resistance. The Mezan Centre for Human Rights noted on March 24, 2013, that “Since the ceasefire agreement, Israeli occupying forces have carried out 44 attacks against fishermen in Gaza’s waters, injuring four fishermen. Israeli forces arrested 44 fishermen, confiscated nine boats, and damaged fishing equipment on five separate occasions … Israel’s gunboats in Gaza’s waters routinely machine-gun, shell, and water-cannon Palestinian fishers, in addition to seizing their boats. Before abducting Palestinian fishers, the Israeli navy orders them at gunpoint to strip to their underwear, dive into freezing waters and often to swim or tread water for up to a half hour or more, after which they are then hauled aboard the Israeli gunboat, handcuffed and blindfolded (usually still only in their underwear) and abducted to Israel.Many fishers report that their interrogations center on information gathering.
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IOF soldiers detain young man [from] central Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 23 Apr — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) detained a Palestinian young man [from] the central Gaza Strip three days ago, the Mizan center for human rights said. Mizan, in a press release on Monday, said that IOF soldiers detained 22-year-old Mohammed Abu Oweili, from Deir Al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, on Saturday. It said that the youth was trying to cross the separation fence in Wadi Salaqa to the south east of Deir Al-Balah when the soldiers captured him. The center said that the IOF informed family of the detainee of his detention.
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Gaza to import chickens from Egypt to ease shortages
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 Apr — The Ministry of Agriculture in Gaza on Monday decided to import chickens from Egypt to ease shortages in the enclave. The ministry will import between 10,000 and 20,000 chickens a day, the head of the ministry’s marketing department Tahseen al-Saqqa told Ma‘an. Al-Saqqa said the shortages were critical, highlighting that chicken had not been imported from Egypt for 10 years. A team of vets has visited Sinai and confirmed that the chickens are safe for consumption.
The ministry official said he hoped the imports would be short-term, and that breeders in Gaza would be able to meet local demand by May. The shortage is a result of Israel’s repeated closures of its border with Gaza, al-Saqqa said, explaining that around 3 million hatching eggs were usually imported from Israel, the West Bank and abroad every month, providing around 2 million chickens.
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Israeli vehicles enter northern Gaza, witnesses say
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 Apr — Israeli military vehicles and bulldozers crossed into an area of farmland in the northern Gaza Strip on Monday, witnesses said. Locals told Ma‘an that five bulldozers dug up agricultural lands east of Beit Hanoun. Saber al-Zaghain, a popular resistance coordinator, told Ma‘an that Israel conducted dredging operations on farmland near Beit Hanoun, damaging Palestinian crops. “These crops have been planted after the recent Israeli war on the Gaza Strip, and now is the season to harvest them in order to be distributed to the markets,” she said. Al-Zaghain called on the international community to protect Gazan farmers during the harvest season.
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Gaza prison escapees turn themselves in
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 Apr — Two prisoners who escaped from a jail in Gaza last week have turned themselves in to Hamas authorities, Gaza’s interior ministry said in a statement Tuesday. Ammar Abu Hein and his brother Bilal turned themselves in to police on Monday, a statement said. Hamas security forces intensified security in the Gaza Strip after the jail break last week, setting up checkpoints on roads leading to smuggling tunnels and distributing photos of the fugitives. Naval security forces in the coastal territory imposed a ban on fishing the day the prisoners escaped, fearing they might try to flee the coastal territory. A third escapee, Mousa al-Deiri, is still on the run.
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Gaza has a date with bullets and smoke
MEMO 24 Apr by Oraib Al-Rantawi — Israel is, once again, beating the war drums against Gaza. This time it is on the grounds of the missiles from Sinai that hit Israel, which it claims came from Gaza (or rather its launchers). However, it knows with certainty that Hamas, or any other known Palestinian group, have nothing to do with the Eilat missiles, but insists on punishing Gaza, along with its people and political groups, for something they didn’t do. Netanyahu frankly said that Gaza must pay the price for “the two Eilat missiles.” Anyone reading Israel’s positions and statements following the two Eilat missiles definitely realises that the centre of gravity in Israel’s current thought is no longer clipping Gaza’s claws and teeth, rather turning its people and resistance into border guards, assigning or authorising them to guard the geographic borders of Gaza, along with its surrounding ground and maritime borders.
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The Right’s latest invention: Gazans celebrated Boston bombing
972mag 24 Apr by Larry Derfner — The birth and growth of an utterly baseless, extremely damaging claim. If you Google “Gazans celebrate Boston Marathon bombings” or variations of that entry, you will have your reading cut out for you. Such a scene was reported by Pamela Gellar, possibly America’s best-known Muslim-basher, on her website Atlas Shrugs. The story was headlined “DANCING IN THE STREETS OF GAZA OVER BOSTON BOMBINGS,” and carried the intro, “End US aid to these savages. Now.” … Where did they get this idea? From going through the links posted, the origin was a story written on the day of the bombing by Israel News Agency, the English-language website of Arutz Sheva, known in Israel as “the settlers’ radio station.”
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Political and other news

Palestinian Authority budget 28 percent for security forces – funded by US
Read News 24 Apr by Paul Jay — Shir Hever: US funds to the PA are earmarked for security forces that control militant opposition to Israel’s occupation —TRANSCRIPT: PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay. With President Obama having recently visited Israel and John Kerry now going back and forth between President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu and trying to (what they claim) restart the peace talks, there’s a piece of this story that does not get discussed very much, and that is just how close the Palestinian Authority is to the United States. Now joining us to talk about all this is Shir Hever. He’s an economist studying the Israeli occupation of Palestine. He works for the Alternative Information Center. He’s also now working with The Real News Network.
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Palestinian watchdog: Corruption continues
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 24 Apr — A Palestinian watchdog group says it’s looking into corruption claims against government officials. Azmi Shuabi of the Coalition for Transparency in Palestine said Wednesday it is checking 29 claims that senior officials of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority stole public funds. Shuabi said the Palestinian Authority also has problems with money laundering, nepotism and misusing official positions. Shuabi said most cases involve institutions overseen by the Palestinian president’s office.
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Paralysis grips Palestinian Authority, Obama administration in daily contact
RAMALLAH (WT) 24 Apr — The Palestinian Authority has been struggling to find a replacement for Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Palestinian sources said PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has been unable to find a consensus candidate to become the next prime minister. The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama, a leading donor to the PA, has been in daily contact with Abbas. “Would I prefer that he weren’t leaving?” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who failed to reinstate Fayyad, said. “Sure, because you have continuity.” The sources said many in the ruling Fatah movement have opposed any permanent prime minister and were calling for elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council. “The president must hold consultations with Palestinian movements to form a national unity government and set a date for elections,” former PA minister and Fatah leader Azzam Al Ahmed said.
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Hamas: Najah election results big victory
GAZA (PIC) 24 Apr — Hamas movement described the results of the students’ elections in the Najah university in Nablus as a victory for the Islamic bloc after six years of boycott. Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, said on Wednesday that winning 33 seats against 43 seats for the Fatah-affiliated bloc reflected growing popularity for the Islamic bloc that has been absent from those elections for six years. He said that the result pointed to the failure of the policy of persecution on the part of both the PA security apparatuses and the Israeli occupation.
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House resolution would stop all US aid if Hamas takes over West Bank
NEW YORK (Times of Israel) 24 Apr by Haviv Rettig Gur — A resolution circulated Tuesday among House members calls on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to expand political freedom in the West Bank, “clarify” a succession plan should he resign, and take measures to prevent a Hamas takeover in the West Bank, or risk losing American aid money. Two Chicago-area congressmen, Republican Peter Roskam and Democrat Dan Lipinski, initiated the proposed legislation, which reflects growing concern in Washington over the succession crisis that may occur should Abbas step down or die while in office. The key concern: that the death or resignation of Abbas would lead to a Hamas takeover of the West Bank.
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Turkish PM to visit Gaza despite US plea
ANKARA, Turkey (UPI) 23 Apr — Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said Tuesday his plans to visit the Gaza Strip are unchanged despite Washington’s plea to delay the trip. He described as “not nice” a request by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry not to go, Today’s Zaman reported. In a stop in Ankara earlier this month, Kerry had urged Erdoğan to delay his trip, saying the visit would harm the ongoing peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
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Haniyeh: Erdoğan’s visit to Gaza indicates the end of American hegemony
MEMO 24 Apr — Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh considered the determination of Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to visit Gaza as evidence of the expiration of American authority. In a brief statement from Doha, a copy of which was received by the Palestinian Information Centre, Haniyeh said: “We welcome the visit of the Turkish Prime Minister and we appreciate this attitude, which shows the nobility of Turkey’s leadership and people, and shows its embrace of and support for the Palestinian cause.”
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The opening of a Spanish consulate in Gaza
JPost 22 Apr by Alan Baker — One of the central issues that will presumably accompany the upcoming visit to Israel by the foreign minister of Spain, José Manuel García-Margallo y Marfil, will be the minister’s curious, unprecedented and most irregular decision, dated March 14, 2013, as published in Spain’s official governmental publication, to open a Spanish consulate in Gaza, accredited to the Hamas administration.
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Expatriate loses bid to seize Gaza terror ships
WASHINGTON (CN) 23 Apr – A federal judge refused to seize boats in the name of the U.S. government for a citizen who claims they were used in a Jerusalem terrorist attack in which he was injured. Alan Bauer, a U.S. citizen and biologist living in Jerusalem, filed a federal forfeiture complaint against 13 ships in 2011, claiming that Hamas had used them to commit hostilities against Israel. Bauer said that several U.S. individuals and organizations, such as the Free Gaza Movement, raised the funds for these attacks to retaliate for Israel’s maritime blockade on the Gaza Strip … Bauer brought the suit under the more than 200-year-old Neutrality Act, a law designed to keep the United States from getting dragged into the conflict between England and France …  U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras concluded Friday, however, that the antiquated Neutrality Act, which has “rarely been invoked since” its inception in 1794, lacks a private cause of action … The vessels that Bauer had targeted are the Mavi Marmara, the Audacity of Hope, the Rachel Corrie, the Challenger I, the Challenger II (aka the Saoirse), the Gazze, the Tali, the Arion, the Sfendoni (Boat 8000), the Tamara (Eleftheri Mesoghios), the Seven Y Two (Irene), the Finch, the Tahrir and the Stefano Chiriani.
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Bedouin army trackers scale Israel social ladder
SHTULA, Israel (AFP) 24 Apr — The army jeep rolls to a halt and Lieutenant Colonel Magdi Mazarib hops off the back to take a closer look at the dirt path running along Israel’s border fence with Lebanon. He kneels, his sharp eyes scouring an unassuming constellation of pebbles, possible proof of an unwanted entry into Israel, and satisfied with what he sees, he jumps back onto the jeep and trundles away down the track. Mazarib is a Bedouin who grew up in northern Israel, intimate with its green, hilly landscape from an early age. He is also the Israeli army’s highest-ranking tracker and commands a small unit of Bedouin soldiers who use their fieldcraft skills to serve as Israel’s gatekeepers. As part of a minority within the Palestinian community in Israel, itself a minority among the Jews of Israel, Mazarib is at ease protecting his country’s borders from other Arabs, fellow Muslims. “This is our country,” he states simply in perfect Hebrew with a light Arabic accent. And its Jewish symbols, such as the Star of David or the theme of the national anthem, do not perturb Mazarib.
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Report: No bunker-busters in Israel-US weapons deal
Ynet 23 Apr — The deal signed this week between the US and Israel includes advanced weapons systems, but the interesting note is in the item left out of the deal, the New York Times reported Tuesday. The paper said that the Israeli Air Force will not get bunker busting bombs which can pierce layers of cement at underground sites. These bombs are considered integral to a successful attack on Iran’s underground nuclear facilities.
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Former AG: Settlements worse than Darfur
Ynet 22 Apr — Michael Ben-Yair, attorney general between 1993-1996 posts on Facebook: ‘Settlements are the most evil and immoral act since World War II’ — Former Attorney General Michael Ben-Yair severely criticized Israel’s conduct in the West Bank in a debate on his Facebook page over the last few days, Yedioth Ahronoth reported. “The settlements are the most evil and foolish acts since World War II,” Ben-Yair said in a post. His statement was prompted by the release of a report by the human rights organization Yesh Din.  The report, which investigated the expulsion of Palestinian farmers from their lands, determined that “it is a complex, years-long process in which the settlers and the IDF are coordinated.”
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US report: Israel discriminates against Arabs, women and migrants
WASHINGTON (Ynet) 20 Apr – Discrimination of women, Arabs and Ethiopians, mistreatment of refugees and asylum seekers and violations of migrants’ rights – Israel is guilty of all these charges, according to a State Department report on human rights practices around the world.  The report states that the most significant human rights problems observed in Israel in 2012 were terrorist attacks against civilians but it also points to some concerning practices by the government. One of the most pressing problems, according to the report, is “the institutional and societal discrimination against Arab citizens, in particular in access to equal education and employment opportunities.” … Referring to Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, the report accuses Israel of “excessive use of force against civilians, including killings; abuse of Palestinian detainees, particularly during arrest and interrogation; austere and overcrowded detention facilities; improper use of security detention procedures; demolition and confiscation of Palestinian property.” The State Department further criticized Israel for “limitations on freedom of expression, assembly, and association; and severe restrictions on Palestinians’ internal and external freedom of movement.”
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Jordan refutes report of opening airspace to Israeli armed drones to spy on Syria
RT 22 Apr — A Jordanian military official has refuted the reports that Jordan has opened two air corridors for Israeli drones to monitor the Syrian conflict. The official told RT Arabic that an earlier report by Le Figaro was “inaccurate and groundless.” Citing a Western military source, the French daily said the decision to open Jordanian airspace to the Israelis had been reached in March following a visit by President Barack Obama to the country. “The Syrians have Russian air defense assets, but Israeli aircraft are difficult to detect and therefore virtually immune to anti-aircraft measures,” said the unnamed source to Le Figaro. The military craft will fly at night to minimize the risk of detection and are capable of striking a target “anywhere in Syria.” The report follows an alleged Israeli strike at targets inside the Syrian border in acts branded as a violation of the UN charter.
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Morsi: Don’t expect improvement in Israel ties
Ynet 22 Apr — Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has said he won’t visit Israel, nor would he host an Israeli leader in Egypt, before peace is achieved between Israel and the Palestinians. In a lengthy two-hour interview with the Qatari television news channel Al-Jazeera, Morsi said true peace could not exist as long as Palestinians were denied their rights. He cited Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel, saying “The peace treaty clearly states, ‘just and comprehensive peace for the nations of the region.’ I refer to the Palestinian people. Where is just and comprehensive peace for the Palestinian people?”
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General: IDF faces manpower crisis
Ynet 23 Apr by Zoav Zitun —  The IDF is facing reduced human resources and waning effectiveness as a result of decreasing conscription rates and budget cuts, Head of the IDF Planning Division Maj.-Gen. Nimrod Sheffer said Tuesday. “The corps is half as big as it was 30 years ago,” Sheffer said, adding that some 70% of approximately 700,000 IDF soldiers are reservists. “We have only 3-5% of professional soldiers in the IDF, which is very low compared to other nations’ militaries.”
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‘US hasn’t discouraged E from labeling W. Bank products’
JPost 25 Apr by Tovah Lazaroff — The US has not pressed EU countries to drop any plans they might have to facilitate the placement of consumer labels on West Bank settlement products, according to the Netherlands’ Ambassador to Israel Caspar Veldkamp … Veldkamp explained that this initiative has wide support in the European Union and even tacit approval from the Americans. “The United States did not discourage us from this direction,” he said.
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Opinion / Analysis / Human interest

Re-turning rights / Joseph Massad
Al Jazeera 20 Apr — Like everything else with Zionism and Israel, their conception of rights is never universal but always particular — Since its inception, the Zionist project was clear in its goals and the strategy required to achieve them. In order for Jews to colonise the lands of the Palestinians and establish an exclusivist Jewish state, Zionist strategists insisted, the natives must be driven out of the country. For Zionism, colonisation and expulsion were to be simultaneous processes that could not be decoupled from one another: indeed, they would become the very same process … Understanding the transfer of the rights of one people to another, Edward Said affirmed that: “The colonisation of Palestine proceeded always as a fact of repetition: The Jews were not supplanting, destroying, breaking up a native society.  That society was itself the oddity that had broken the pattern of a sixty-year Jewish sovereignty over Palestine which had lapsed for two millennia…  Zionism therefore reclaimed, redeemed, repeated, replanted, realized Palestine, and Jewish hegemony over it. Israel was a return to a previous state of affairs, even if the new facts bore a far greater resemblance to the methods and successes of nineteenth century European colonialism than to some mysterious first-century forebears.”
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Finding our voices in the Palestinian stories we tell / Nour Joudah
EI 24 Apr — For more reasons than I care to list, it has been many months since I’ve written. It has been easier and yet somehow simultaneously more exhausting to let others write than add my own voice, aside from a sprinkling of quotes or an interview for the news cycle. I did write a personal reflection that many friends called a piercing mini-memoir on the past months since Israel denied me entry to the West Bank, where I had been living and teaching. However, upon my return to the US, it has become increasingly clear to me that even the honesty of that piece barely scratches the surface of the impact my entry denial and potential ban has had and will continue to have on me, and the effect said denials and bans have on us as a larger community already in exile. It is a bizarre thing to have such difficulty conveying an emotion that so many know so well and that your entire community understands or has experienced in some form and in varying degrees. One would think that our immense shared trauma of countless exiles, generation after generation, would have given us a mastered lexicon with which to describe our losses. And yet, here I am, like a kid with a K’Nex challenge, overwhelmed by options and scrambling for a masterful combination of pieces – I find myself lost in an abundant lexicon of familiar stories and struggling to find a way to tell my own.
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Hard to deny a holocaust your father saved Jews from / Miriam Shaviv
LONDON (Times of Israel) 24 Apr — Tackling a fractured relationship with London’s Muslims, the Anglo-Jewish leadership is staging a display honoring righteous Muslims during the Shoah — When the Gestapo ordered the Jews on the island of Rhodes to report to its headquarters in July 1944, Selahattin Ülkümen acted fast. As the Turkish consul, he demanded the release of all the Turkish citizens and their families, reminding the German commanding officer, General Ulrich Kleeman, that Turkey was neutral. He even invented a Turkish law that said that spouses of citizens were considered citizens themselves. Threatened with an international incident, Kleeman let 50 Jews go, of whom 13 were Turkish citizens; the other 1,700 were deported to concentration camps.
Thirty-year-old Ülkümen paid a heavy personal price, as the Germans bombed his consulate in retaliation, mortally wounding his pregnant wife and killing two staff members. He spent the rest of the war detained by the Germans. Today, however, he is among a small group of Muslims honoured by Israel for risking their lives to save Jews during the Shoah. Their little-known story is the subject of a small new display in the offices of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Anglo-Jewry’s representative organization. Some 20,000 educational brochures on the subject have also been distributed.
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Netanyahu and the laws of killing goyim / Sefi Rachlevsky
Haaretz 23 Apr — Israel is becoming a racist society, in which the prime minister of a country that was founded after the murder of Jews salutes a rabbi who supported a work on the laws of killing non-Jews — Among all the rabbinical racism that’s been surfacing, among all the events of the national memorial days that made Israel look more like a racially exclusive society than a state, even more telling than the chilling preference for placing a flag only on the grave of a certified kosher fallen soldier was an event of extreme significance that got little public attention. It was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement saluting a Torah giant, teacher and arbiter of Jewish law. We’re talking about Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, who was arrested for giving a letter of approbation to the work “The King’s Torah — Laws of Killing Non-Jews.” As a rabbi, Yosef contributed to and expanded the body of racist halakha ‏(Jewish religious law‏) against Arabs, “goyim” and homosexuals until his recent death. But all this is dwarfed by the simple and unnerving fact that the prime minister of Israel referred to one of the people behind the “The Laws of Killing Non-Jews” as a posek gadol — a great halakhic arbiter. No Western leader could be caught doing something comparable, even if he’d wanted to. No one in the West publishes books on “the laws of killing Jews,” or on “the laws of killing non-Christians,” or on “the laws of killing non-whites.” They would be marched straight to prison, and anyone saluting them as “great arbiters” would be booted out of public service. Even in the most extreme Islamic countries you won’t find an exact parallel. There are no books there on “the laws of killing Jews,” or even on “the laws of killing those not of the Islamic race.”  Yes, there have been religious rulings favoring suicide terrorists and the killing of Zionists. But never a blanket permit for racist murder.
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Palestinian composer and musician a leader in the development of Arabic music in North America
The Province 23 Apr by Stuart Derdeyn — Since arriving in New York City in 1980, Palestinian composer and musician Simon Shaheen has been instrumental in the development of Arabic music across North America. A master of the Arabic lute known as the oud, the 58-year-old Catholic born in Tarshiha, Upper Galilee, Israel, grew up in a musical dynasty with father and siblings all actively teaching and performing. He is a professor at Columbia University music school and his students are everywhere bringing Arabic music into jazz, rock, pop and traditional music. His latest show is presented in partnership with the MOA exhibit Safar/Voyage: Contemporary Works by Arab, Iranian and Turkish Artists. Titled The Call: Songs of Liberation, it takes folk songs from the turbulent 1950s and 1960s era that have been revived as anthems of movements in the Arab Spring and mixes them in with his own adventurous traditional/jazz compositions.
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Why song performed by Palestinian Arab Idol struck a chord with millions of viewers – English translation of lyrics included / Samah Sabawi
In the song that qualified him for the Arab Idol competition, Palestinian singer Muhammad Assaf  from Gaza city sang ‘ya tair altayer’ flying bird.  This national song struck a chord with Palestinians and Arabs everywhere and the original video clip from the Arab Idol competition has gone viral with over a million viewers.  A new clip has just been posted on youtube with images of the Palestinian cities Assaf sang for (see new video below).  Assaf told reporters that he sees no line between his art and being patriotic.  He is right.  His song expresses a Palestinian wish for freedom and for the ability to see loved ones in other villages that are now no longer accessible.  It is a reminder that even though Palestinians are confined within their bantustans and behind Israel’s big walls and towers, they haven’t given up on the dream that one day they too will fly like a bird and see their homes, villages and loved ones.
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Palestinian rappers spark academic debate with new album
Al-Monitor 23 Apr by Janne Louise Andersen — From Haifa to Ramallah, New York to San Francisco, the three Palestinian rappers from DAM have been busy promoting their new album Dabke on the Moon. But this time, more than a decade after first mesmerizing young Palestinians with political rhymes against Israeli oppression, the musicians have sparked criticism from an unlikely group — liberal Palestinian academics. Their fans have been waiting six years for the release of their new album, which is full of danceable messages from the three wise men of Arabic hip hop. But the emcees have directed some of their new lyrical criticism to oppression in Palestinian society. The song “If I Could Go Back in Time” condemns forced marriages and killing of girls, causing some to say DAM (which means bloodin Arabic and doubles as an acronym for Da Arabian MCs) has been seduced by “honor crime.” … “They criticized that we put our dirty laundry out to the world,” said Mahmood Jrere of DAM, in an interview with Al-Monitor in New York in April 2013.
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