30 Palestinian children have been shot with live ammunition in protests last 3 months

Violence / Raids / Suppression of protests / Arrests — West Bank, Jerusalem, Negev

Israeli forces target children with live ammunition to quash protests
Ramallah (DCI-Palestine) 23 Mar — At least 30 children across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, sustained gunshot wounds when Israeli forces used live ammunition to quash protests during the first three months of 2015. While none of the incidents resulted in death, the live bullets left several children in a critical condition. On March 6, Israeli forces shot Moaaz Mahmoud Ramahy, 15, in the chest while confronting Palestinian youth at the entrance of Jalazun refugee camp, north of the West Bank city of Ramallah. The medical report obtained by Defense for Children International Palestine stated that the bullet caused severe internal bleeding, shattered two rib bones, and damaged his right lung. In the same incident, Israeli soldiers also injured Mohammad Rajae Issa Humidat, 16, in the face with live ammunition. Seven other children from Jalazun refugee camp sustained injuries from live fire since January. All but one of the injuries documented by DCIP occurred at the hands of Israeli soldiers. The exception took place in East Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhood of Silwan on February 2 when an unprovoked Israeli settler shot Mohammad Burqan, 17, in the right leg. “The high rate of incidents involving live ammunition against children amounts to a de facto policy that permits Israeli forces to use lethal force on civilians,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, DCIP’s Accountability Program director. “Soldiers operate with the knowledge that their brutal actions will go unchecked whatever the result.” …Over the past 12 weeks, Israeli forces injured 258 Palestinian in the occupied West Bank, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Between March 10 and 16 alone, Israeli forces shot 18 Palestinians, including nine children, with live ammunition, the UN agency reported … In 2014, Israeli forces killed 11 Palestinian children with live ammunition in the occupied West Bank. Only one incident resulted in both an investigation and an indictment. Israeli prosecutors brought manslaughter charges against the border police officer allegedly responsible for the death of Nadeem Nawara during May 15 protests commemorating the Palestinian Nakba — or 1948 “catastrophe.” Since 2000, Israeli security forces have killed over 8,896 Palestinians. At least 1,900 of those have been children, according to DCIP documentation.

WATCH: IDF fires tear gas canisters directly at protesters
+972 Blog 24 Mar by Natasha Roth — Two Palestinian protesters have been killed from the practice in recent years despite it being illegal — In keeping with a recent upsurge in the illegal use of lethal force during weekly Friday demonstrations in Nabi Saleh, video footage emerged last week of an Israeli soldier firing tear gas canisters directly at protesters on March 13, 2015, filmed by local journalist Bilal Tamimi. Shooting tear gas canisters directly at humans can be deadly, due to the velocity at which the canisters are fired. Just over three years ago, Mustafa Tamimi was killed in the same spot after being hit in the face by a canister at close range. In 2009, Bassem Abu Rahmah was killed after being struck in the chest by a tear gas canister in Bil‘in. According to Israeli military guidelines, firing tear gas at a direct trajectory toward people – is irregular use of the weapon, and illegal. This joins the army’s increasing use of live fire in Nabi Saleh against unarmed protesters, also illegal except in situations of “mortal danger.” During the demonstration shown in the video, a Palestinian demonstrator was shot in the leg by a live bullet; the army released a statement saying that the use of live fire had been in response to a “violent riot of 200 Palestinians” and that a Molotov cocktail had been thrown. Both these claims are untrue; the demonstration was, however, a particularly violent one due to the actions of the Israeli army and Border Police. Several women and children demonstrators were beaten by soldiers, and three women were arrested: two residents of Nabi Saleh, Bushra Tamimi and Shireen al-Araj, and one Israeli activist, Tali Shapiro. Border Police also used stun grenades in an irregular fashion during the demonstration, throwing them directly at protesters rather than rolling them along the ground [Heb] – also visible in the video (the black canisters are stun grenades)….

Videos: Israeli night raids on sleeping Palestinian children
EI 24 Mar by Ali Abunimah — Israeli human rights group B’Tselem today released two harrowing videos of heavily armed Israeli soldiers raiding the bedrooms of Palestinian children in the middle of the night. The first video, above, is titled “Night search of Sameeh and Mai D’ana’s home, Hebron, 24 February 2015.” The video was shot during a night raid on ten homes in the occupied West Bank city. B’Tselem does not say who shot the video, but typically the videos it releases are made by Palestinians. After forcing the children – at least one as young as four – out of their beds, the video shows the soldiers in full combat gear, armed with rifles and hand grenades, photographing and interrogating them. The father asks the soldiers why they are invading his home in the middle of the night. “Because stones are thrown at us all day long,” one soldier replies. “What’s that to us?” the father asks. “I don’t have to explain my schedule,” the soldier shouts and orders the father to “go wake up your children.” We see the soldiers follow the father into the room and order the children – one of whom is visually impaired – out of bed.

Ni‘lin demonstrators met with senseless violence
ISM 23 Mar — On the 20th of March, during Ni‘lin’s weekly Friday demonstration, Israeli occupation forces attacked protestors with about 20 rounds of tear gas canisters shot with the VENOM® (it’s a pretty nasty grenade launcher thing [from Combined Systems in Pennsylvania]), countless rubber-coated steel bullets and approximately one hundred rounds of live ammunition. One Israeli activist was shot in the ankle and one Palestinian boy was injured in the leg, both with rubber-coated steel bullets. Many protestors suffered from tear gas inhalation. Even before the demonstration started, Israeli occupation forces shot several rounds of tear gas grenades at the shabab (the young boys) in the fields close to the village’s school. An Israeli activist documenting this aggression was shot in the ankle with a rubber-coated steel bullet and was treated at the scene by paramedics. After the noon prayer, the protestors started their peaceful march in the direction of the apartheid wall and the illegal settlement of Hashmon’im, but were violently stopped by Israeli forces – initially with four rounds of tear gas shot with the venom, each round simultaneously shooting 10 tear gas canisters. In order to stop protestors from regathering and continuing their march after the thick clouds of tear gas had disappeared, Israeli forces used more rounds of the venom alongside rubber-coated steel bullets, pushing the demonstration back towards the village. One round of the venom was fired in close proximity to the village’s residential area. Most of the protestors suffered from tear gas inhalation. A 15-year old boy was shot with a close-range rubber-coated steel bullet that penetrated his leg. He was evacuated to a hospital, treated and released the same evening. The Israeli military continued shooting tear gas grenades towards the village even after the protestors had left….

Israeli military storms Negev, arrests six Palestinians
IMEMC/Agencies 24 Mar — Israeli occupation forces, on Tuesday morning, stormed Wadi al-Neimvillage and confiscated several vehicles. According to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency, activist Jalal Zyadnah said that dozens of Israeli police deployed into the village, in addition to other areas of the Negev, and confiscated a number of tractors. Israeli police claimed that these vehicles were used without a license and were identified in previous confrontations with the Israeli soldiers. Local witnesses reported that Israeli special forces assaulted Palestinian citizens while taking their tractors, noting that they also arrested six Palestinians as they tried to confront the Israeli forces. No further details were given.

Soldiers kidnap two children in Jerusalem
IMEMC 23 Mar — Israeli soldiers kidnapped, on Monday at dawn, two Palestinian children in theal-‘Eesawiyya town, south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem, and took them to an interrogation facility. Children and residents remanded for further interrogation. Head of the Jerusalem Detainees’ Committee, Amjad Abu ‘Asab, said the soldiers kidnapped Mohammad Abu Ramouz, 16, and Mohammad Sa‘ida, 16, after breaking into their homes, and violently searching them. The two were moved to the al-Maskobiyya interrogation center, west of Jerusalem. They will have a hearing in the District Court later in the day to decide a remand request from the prosecution. In addition, lawyer of the Ad-Dameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association Mohammad Mahmoud, said that the District Court ordered, Sunday, two children identified as Mohammad Abdul-Razeq, 14, and Ghassan ‘Asssi, 14, under further interrogation. The two children were taken prisoner from the ath-Thoury neighborhood, in Silwan. Mahmoud added that a detained child, identified as Mohammad Suleiman, 15, from al-‘Eesawiyya, was released and placed under house arrest. Resident Wael Salayma, who was kidnapped Sunday, will have a court hearing on Tuesday, while Mousa al-‘Ajlouni, accused of stabbing two Israeli officers, will be sent to court by the end of the month. Many other detained Palestinians from Jerusalem, including Mohammad Abu Sbeitan, Yousef Abu Jom’a, Mahdi Sayyad and Attallah ‘Awad, have been ordered under further interrogation, while detainee Mohammad Hamad has a trial date scheduled for April 26.

4 women detained while exiting Aqsa mosque
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) 23 Mar — Israeli forces on Monday detained four women as they left the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. The four women, one of them carrying her infant child, were taken to the Chain Gate police station. Two of the women were released, while the other two, identified as Ayeda al-Sidawi and Noura al-Sa’ou, were held.

Soldiers kidnap six Palestinians in Jerusalem, many injured
IMEMC 24 Mar by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers kidnapped, on Monday evening, six Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem, including two workers from Bethlehem, while many residents have been injured. Local sources said the soldiers invaded the al-Jadira town, northwest of Jerusalem, and clashed with local youths before kidnapping four Palestinians. The four have been identified as Fathi Rebhi Barjas, 18, Mohammad Ashraf Barjas, 17, Mahmoud Nayef ‘Azzam, 20, and ‘Odah Mustafa ‘Azzam, 20.  The army also attacked and beat several Palestinians, who tried to prevent the soldiers from kidnapping the four Palestinians, causing a number of residents to suffer cuts and bruises. All wounded residents have been moved to a hospital in the city for treatment. In addition, soldiers kidnapped two Palestinian workers from the al-Khader town south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, after the army stormed a construction site in Jerusalem.  The two have been identified as Mohammad ‘Adel ‘Issa, 22, and Mohammad Ibrahim Mousa, 22; the army said the two did not carry permits to enter and work in the city.

Seven Palestinians arrested overnight
AIC 23 Mar – Israeli forces arrested seven Palestinians overnight and early Monday morning throughout the West Bank. Jenin area: One Palestinian was detained in the city of Ya‘bad; one Palestinian was arrested in the village of ‘Araba.  Nablus area: Two Palestinians were arrested in the city of Nablus. Qalqilya area: One Palestinian was detained in the village of Hajja. Ramallah area:One Palestinian was arrested in the village of Beit Laqiya. Hebron area: One Palestinian was arrested in the village of Beit Ummar. All seven were transferred to Israeli interrogation facilities for questioning.

Six Palestinians arrested overnight
AIC 24 Mar – Israeli forces arrested six Palestinians overnight throughout the West Bank. Qalqilya area: One Palestinian was arrested in the city of Qalqilya. Ramallah area: Two Palestinians were arrested in the village of Beitunia. Bethlehem area: One Palestinian arrested in the Deheishe refugee camp; one Palestinian arrested in the city of Bethlehem. Hebron area: One Palestinian was arrested in the city of Hebron. All six were transferred to Israeli interrogation facilities for questioning.

Three Palestinians kidnapped in Bethlehem, Jenin and Ramallah
IMECM/Agencies 24 Mar by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers kidnapped, on Tuesday at dawn, one Palestinian in the West Bank district of Bethlehem, another on a military roadblock near the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and a third Palestinian in Ramallah. Several military vehicles invaded Ertasvillage, south of Bethlehem, and kidnapped a former political prisoner, identified as Jom’a Nahedh al-Juju, 32 years of age, after searching and ransacking him home. His family said the army previously kidnapped al-Juju, and imprisoned him for several years, before he was released just a month ago. In addition, soldiers kidnapped Noureddin Hamza Kamil, 19 years of age, from Qabatia town, south of Jenin, while trying to cross the Za’tara military roadblock, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus. The soldiers also invaded the al-‘Arqa village, west of Jenin, stormed and searched several homes, and interrogated the families. A number of military vehicles also invaded Betunia town, in the central West Bank district of Ramallah, and kidnapped a young Palestinian man, identified as Mohammad Mahmoud Mohammad, 21 years of age. Local sources said the resident suffers a disability in one of his legs, and that the soldiers pointed their guns to his father’s head while searching and ransacking his property.

Freedom Theatre board member arrested
AIC 23 Mar — Mustafa Sheta, secretary of the board of The Freedom Theatre [in Jenin], was taken from his home by Israeli soldiers in the early hours of March 19.  Sheta, 35 years old and father of three children, is a researcher and a journalist who is well-known for his social and humanitarian activism. He works with the United Nations and is also studying for a Masters degree. He recently received an honours award and was planning to pursue further studies in London later this spring. Sheta’s arrest came a few days before the theatre’s General Assembly.  “Since Mustafa joined the board last year he has been a tremendous resource for the theatre”, says Jonatan Stanczak, managing director of The Freedom Theatre. “His dedication, involvement and communication skills have meant a lot to us. We are doing all we can to follow his case. Until recently there was no information at all available but we just learned that there will be a court hearing in a few days.”

PA intelligence arrests MP’s son, Hamas leader
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 24 Mar — Palestinian Authority (PA) intelligence apparatus arrested at dawn Tuesday Muath Abu Juhaisha, the son of MP Mohamed Abu Juhaisha, after beating him up. The MP told the PIC reporter that five military vehicles escorted by a PA ambulance stormed Muath’s house in Ithna town, west of Al-Khalil, and arrested him after beating him up brutally in front of his wife and children. Abu Juhaisha clarified that his son was in Israeli Ofer court to attend one of his court hearings on Monday, as he was released from Israeli custody on bail two months ago and when he arrived home after Maghrib (sunset) prayer he was surprised with the PA security forces coming to arrest him. The sons of Abu Juhaisha were targeted by PA security apparatuses several times before. For his part, the MP was detained nine times in the Israeli jails and was released only five months ago.
In a related context, PA intelligence agents nabbed Hamas leader Ismael al-Nattah from Ithna town. Reliable sources told the PIC reporter that PA intelligence agents stormed al-Nattah’s house and nabbed him on Tuesday morning. The Hamas leader is an ex-detainee in PA and Israeli jails and a tribal and political leader in Ithna town.

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Judaization

Arab lawmakers to lead 4-day march from Negev to J’lem for Bedouin rights
Haaretz 25 Mar by Jack Khoury — Representatives of the Joint List of Arab parties and social activists plan to start a four-day march Thursday from unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev to the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, hoping to raise awareness of the hardships in those communities. The Joint List said that at the end of the march it will present to President Reuven Rivlin and the Knesset to recognize all 46 of these villages. About 100,000 Bedouin citizens live in the unrecognized communities without basic infrastructure, including connections to the national water and electricity grids, local health services, paved roads and various public institutions. Most of the communities do not have their own schools and daycare centers, requiring families to send their children long distances from home. The Joint List discussed the march with Rivlin when they met with him this week as part of the consultations on forming the new government, and Rivlin agreed to meet the marchers when they arrive in Jerusalem. Protest leaders expect that the president’s participation will help advance their plan to provide full civil and municipal services to the communities; create a transportation infrastructure; provide a balance between development and environmental protection; and establish a special planning framework for the Bedouin villages under the auspices of the Regional Planning and Building Committee, along with significant representation from the villages themselves …  The master plan for recognizing the Bedouin communities is based on research conducted by the regional council for the unrecognized villages, and the Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights nonprofit organization, in cooperation with the Sidreh nonprofit organization for Bedouin Arab women in the Negev. The plan emphasizes the benefits of recognizing the villages for all residents of the Negev, both Arab and Jewish.

Israel orders construction work on mosque in Tubas to stop
TUBAS (WAFA) 23 Mar – Israeli authorities Monday ordered to stop the construction work on a mosque in the village of Kardala in Tubas, located within the Jordan Valley to the south, under the pretext of ‘unlicensed building’, according to head of Waqf in Tubas Hassan Shahadeh. Israeli forces ordered the construction work on Abd al-Rahman mosque to stop as well as confiscated construction equipments. Shahadeh said that the Israeli authorities set a date for a court hearing on the April 13 to determine whether to allow the resumption or suspension of the construction work.

Israel orders construction work of homes, workshop in Hebron to stop
HEBRON (WAFA) 23 Mar – Israeli authorities Monday ordered four Palestinian residents of Beit Ummar town to suspend the construction work of three homes and an auto workshop to the north of Hebron, according to local activists.  Spokesperson of the anti-settlement popular committee in Beit Ummar Mohammed Awad told WAFA that Israeli forces along with staff from the Israeli civil administration stormed the area of al-Mantra to the east of the town and handed three residents notices to stop the construction work on their homes. They were recognized as Amro Alqam, and the two brothers Mohammad and Mohannad Alqam. Mohammad’s family has been living in the 50-square-meter house for the past five years. Army forces also handed Yousif Alqam a notice to stop the construction work on his auto workshop despite having the legal documents that prove his ownership of the property. The order came under the pretext of being too close to Gush Etzionsettlement bloc. All four residents were ordered to appear before court in Beit El settlement on April 13 to look into the cases.

Al-‘Araqib Bedouin village demolished for 82nd time
IMEMC/Agencies 23 Mar — Israeli police officers demolished, on Monday morning, the al-‘Araqib Bedouin village in the Negev, for the 82nd consecutive time, rendering the families homeless again. Resident Salim al-‘Araqib said dozens of police vehicles, and undercover units of the Israeli military, accompanied by bulldozers and trucks, invaded the village before forcing the residents out of their sheds and homes, and demolished their structures. Seeking a temporary shelter, the families had to go to the local cemetery.

Israeli forces demolish water cistern, uproot olive trees in Jenin, Hebron villages
JENIN (WAFA) 24 Mar – Israeli forces Tuesday demolished a water cistern, uprooted olive trees and handed two demolition orders in Ta‘annak village to the west of Jenin and al-Kom locality to the southwest of Hebron. Escorting a bulldozer, large Israeli troops, consisting of at least 10 vehicles, raided Ta‘annak [or Ti‘innik], where they proceeded to demolish a 50-meter-deep water cistern that is used to provide local farmers in this village as well as Rummana, Zboba, Silat al-Harithiya and al-Yamoun with water for irrigation, said ‘Abdul-Rahman Zyoud, a local farmer and owner of the water cistern. Zyoud added that forces also demolished a retaining wall and uprooted olive trees in Marj Ibn ‘Amer area.
Meanwhile in Hebron, forces handed demolition orders to two Palestinians who own two houses and water cistern in al-Kom locality. According to Isma‘il Ahmad, a local resident, forces handed ‘Arafat and Ahmad al-Rjoub orders to demolish their houses. Another local identified as Muhammad al-Rjoub was handed an order to demolish his water cistern.
Meanwhile, protected by Israeli forces, settlers from ‘Ramat Yishai’, an illegal settlement outpost constructed on Tal Rumeida [land] in central Hebron, broke into Palestinian lands in Jabal al-Rahmaarea.
Forces also broke into several Hebron neighborhoods and set up roadblocks at the entrances of bothSa‘ir and Halhul as well as the northern entrance of Hebron, where they stopped and inspected vehicles with Palestinian registration plates traveling along the way and inspected passengers’ identity cards.

Israel orders demolition of water tank near Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 24 Mar – The Israeli authorities Tuesday handed a local resident of Um Nir, south of Hebron, an order to demolish his water storage tank, according to local sources. Coordinator of the Anti-Settlement Committee in Hebron, Rateb Jabour, said an Israeli army force broke into the village and handed Mohammad Ali Jabour, a local villager, a notice ordering him to demolish the water reservoir, under the pretext it was constructed without a permit … The village of Um Nir is located in Masafer Yatta, a rural congregation south of Hebron consisting of almost 19 hamlets, which rely heavily on animal husbandry as the main source of livelihood.

Under constant attacks, Palestinians, Israeli activists guard Palestinian property in Jerusalem
[Palestine TV video embedded below the article] IMEMC 23 Mar by Saed Bannoura — Amidst repeated invasions, assaults and attacks by extremist Israeli colonialist settlers attempting to displace a Jerusalemite Palestinian family and occupy their building, Palestinian residents and Israeli peace activists have started guarding a Palestinian building inhabited by the family for more than 60 years … The activists are constantly in and around the property hoping to foil all Israeli attempts to remove the indigenous Palestinian family, and replace them with colonialist settlers … The property in question is owned by a Palestinian family, that rented it to a Jewish family, prior to the establishment of Israel in the Palestine in 1948, and in 1953 the Jewish family rented the home to Sob-Laban family. Under Israeli renters’ protection law, the Sob-Laban family that rented the property 62 years ago, is supposed to be protected and secured as they have been paying, not only their monthly rent, but also property taxes to the Jerusalem City Council.

‘Israel grabbing Palestinian soil in the name of preserving history’
LONDON (IANS) 23 Mar — Israeli settlers are colonising Palestinian territory under the guise of protecting archaeological sites, the British government has said, according to media reports. British ministers have warned that the Israeli government agency responsible for preserving historic artefacts is undermining efforts for peace in the region by working with a group of “radical” settlers, The Independent reported on Monday. The “Elad” group of settlers is known for aggressively colonising Palestinian areas, including evicting Palestinian residents from their homes in urban areas. “We are aware of the link between the Elad (settler) group and the Israel Antiquities Authority. We are concerned that this link has led to Israel Antiquities Authority’s support of radical settler activities in and around the Old City under the guise of tourism and protection of Jewish history,” Conservative Foreign Office minister Baroness Anelay said. “Such actions not only aggravate mounting pressures in East Jerusalem, but serve to increase tension around the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif and further complicate future attempts to negotiate a political resolution in the city.” Elad has reportedly paid the Israeli Antiquities Authority earlier to dig deep trenches near the foundations of Palestinian homes and mosques in East Jerusalem. Palestinian residents of the area blamed the excavations for the collapse of a number of their buildings, according to a report in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, which The Independent cited.


Farmers again attacked by Israeli soldiers in central Gaza
IMEMC/Agencies 24 Mar — Israeli occupation forces, Monday morning, opened fire towards Palestinian farmers and agricultural lands east of the central Gaza Strip. Witnesses told Safa news agency that Israeli soldiers and military vehicles that were stationed along the border and in military towers east of the central Gaza strip, fired tear gas and live ammunition towards the farmers. They pointed out, according to Al Ray, that the farmers tried to reach their agricultural lands near the border and that Israel prevented them by opening fire, with no casualties reported.

Siege limits options for Gaza’s chronically ill
KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip (Al Jazeera) 24 Mar by Creede Newton — Residents of the Gaza Strip are facing tighter restrictions on obtaining medical care outside of the besieged coastal enclave, according to a recent monthly report issued by the World Health Organisation’s Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office. According to the report, the closure of the Rafah border with Egypt has “virtually eliminated access to specialised medical treatments outside of Gaza for private patients”, while 20 percent of patients applying for permits to travel through Israel’s Erez checkpoint for medical care last month were not approved. Ashraf Alkdra, a spokesman for Gaza’s health ministry, said restrictions on these border crossings have exacerbated the health conditions of Gazans living with chronic illness. “Increasingly, we are unable to provide them treatment,” he said … Fikr Shaltoot, Medical Aid Palestine’s director of programmes in the Gaza Strip, concurred with Seita, explaining that the closed borders have severe consequences for those living with chronic illness.  “If the crossings were open, including the Rafah crossing, some medicine would be donated through international Arab organisations,” Shaltoot said. “Also, [Palestinians] would have purchased Egyptian medication at a lower cost.”  Drugs coming from Israel are far more expensive than what used to come through Rafah, she said, adding that their delivery also takes longer.  Speaking from a doctor’s clinic near Khan Younis, Aisha Aborjela, a 57-year-old mother of four, told Al Jazeera that her hypertension and Type 2 diabetes cause her great difficulty in everyday life. Her husband makes “barely enough” to provide for their family, despite workdays that last up to 14 hours, and Aborjela maintains the household in his absence. “I am on my feet from sunrise to sunset,” she told Al Jazeera. “The diabetes causes me to become very tired. There are times when I can’t see, and I’m always hungry,” Aborjela said, citing common symptoms of the chronic illness….

Gazans protest power outage in front of distribution company
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 Mar — Dozens of Gazans protested in front of the Khan Younis district headquarters of the Gaza Electricity Distribution Corporation (GEDCo) in the Gaza Strip late Monday. Protesters attempted and failed to reconnect power lines feeding electricity into the city of Khan Younis. Their earlier disconnection caused a blackout across the entire city. A pregnant woman identified as Azza Youssef Najjar was injured and taken to a hospital during the protest, though it is unclear how she was injured. GEDCo, which oversees electricity distribution across the West Bank, redirects power supplied by a power station inside Gaza, the Egyptian electricity grid and the Israeli electric company. However, these supply lines fall far short of the Gazan population’s needs. While they provide 230 MW of electricity, Pal-Think, a Gaza-based think tank, has estimated that the Gazan people require 350 to 450 MW. GEDCo describes itself as a privately owned company, jointly owned by the Palestinian Authority and local authorities. It lists its responsibilities at the collection of bills as well as the technical supervision, maintenance and improvement of the electricity distribution network. However, the company has been plagued by supply problems due to the Israeli blockade, in place since 2007 and upheld by Egypt, as well as devastation caused by war … Gaza suffers 12 hours of power outages each day.

Photos: Relatives of Gazans missing at sea stage sit-in
PIC 24 Mar — Relatives of Palestinians who went missing at sea while trying to immigrate to Europe stage sit-in on Tuesday 24/3/2015 in front of the council of ministers in Gaza City. They demand the right to know the fate of their next of kin.

Armed with new website, Hamas resumes information war
Haaretz 23 Mar by Jack Khoury – Joining social-media accounts and other PR outlets, the new site will bypass other media and transmit directly to the public ‘so the world will hear about us from us, not others.’ — Hamas launched a new Arabic-language website on Sunday, where one can read about the Islamist organization’s objectives, leaders and history. The new site, on which the group will be publishing its own reports, was officially inaugurated in the Gaza City residence of Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, on the anniversary of the assassination attempt [?] against him. In attendance were Hamas leaders including the deputy head of the political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh. The new website, he said, would strengthen the organization’s connections with the public, not only in the Strip and in the West Bank but worldwide. The website will serve as a means of bypassing the media in order to transmit messages directly to the public, it was said, “so the world will hear about us from us and not from others.” According to sources in Gaza, the website is not necessarily intended for supporters of the organization, but for anyone who is interested in its activity, from within Israel too. In accordance with that principle, Hamas has for years been operating a department in Hebrew within its public relations office, which distributes film clips and other propagandistic materials designed for the Israeli public. The department has a Twitter account in which members invite surfers to ask questions about Hamas, and promising a response to every request. The new website joins a broad network of Hamas media outlets, which includes several other sites identified with it – some owned by the organization and others by private individuals affiliated with it – as well as a television channel called Al-Aqsa TV, a newspaper called Palestine, and active accounts on the social networks….

Facebook admin removes Hamas page
GAZA (PIC) 25 Mar — The online social networking website Facebook has removed a Hamas page with thousands of likes from the group’s fans. A so-called Hamas Online page had been created by the Movement concurrently with the launch of its new official website, with thousands of fans from different nationalities. Hamas has slammed the Facebook admin for blocking the page, saying the move is rather stirred up by political motives. The Movement pointed to its accounts on Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram, all designed to keep in touch with the group’s supporters from all corners of the globe.

Hamas denies Abu Marzouk has planned for Riyadh visit
GAZA (PIC) 25 Mar — Hamas has denied claims that the group’s senior leader Mousa Abu Marzouk has been making arrangements for a projected visit to Saudi Arabia. Reports about underway arrangements for a Hamas visit to Saudi Arabia are untrue, Hamas said in a statement Tuesday. The Movement called on the mass media to consult the official bodies to either authenticate or invalidate any provided data before broadcasting them. Media outlets claimed that arrangements had been underway for a visit by a Hamas delegation to Riyadh within the next few days. However, Hamas said Abu Marzouk is currently in Doha to undergo surgery.

Gaza family lived with unexploded bomb for seven months
Daily Examiner (Australia) 24 Mar by Justin Bruhn — WHEN the Nassir family were finally rid of an unwanted household item they had been stuck with for more than seven months, there were huge cheers and bursts of music. The unexploded bomb, 10ft long, weighing more than a ton, and delivered by an Israeli warplane, had been the talk of Gaza’s Beit Hanoun neighbourhood. The family was one of 40 households in Gaza sharing their residence with explosive devices because they had nowhere else to live. There has been little or no reconstruction following last summer’s war. Some of the schools that had become places of refuge have been returned to the education system, the others still housing the homeless, are full. Meanwhile, the cost of what properties are still available for renting has risen by more than 200 per cent. There are 18 members of the extended Nassir family, ranging in age from a two-year-old girl to a grandfather of 64, living in the house with a massive, jagged hole in the floor of the front room. That there is no longer something ticking away underneath the floor is a huge relief to those in the surrounding houses as well as the Nassirs. “When we moved back here last August there were a lot of people who were accusing us of being irresponsible, but I asked them what they suggested we did instead, where do we stay?” recalled Fadel Nassir, 41 … “Of course, we have been worried [about the bomb] all the time. We went to the authorities many times and eventually they sent us to Ahmed, who is an expert in these things.” Ahmed Miat, whose team extracted the bomb, said at first that he had gained his expertise in Germany. Later he expanded that he had, in fact, undertaken a short general engineering course there and was self-taught in bomb-disposal, largely from the internet. He had, he said,  already made two households safe from ordnance and had a waiting list of others in Gaza….

Conflict, courage and healing in Gaza
[includes slideshow of remarkable photos] New York Times blog 24 Mar by James Estrin — Heidi Levine has won the Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Award, which was created to honor the Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press photographer who was killed last year while working in Afghanistan. It is an award she would rather not have. “I am honored beyond what any words can describe, but I am heartbroken, too, because this award has been created because a friend of mine and a dear colleague was killed,” she said. “I am honored, but I am broken at the same time.” Ms. Levine, an American photographer based in Israel, and Ms. Niedringhaus were part of a small sisterhood of photographers who covered conflict internationally. “Whenever I felt frustrated, Anja would always make me smile and was like a beam of light,” Ms. Levine said in a phone conversation. “I highly respected her and respected her judgment.” … The award, created by the International Women’s Media Foundation, recognized Ms. Levine’s work in Gaza. While she has covered three wars in the last five years and is intimately familiar with both sides, she says she had never seen this level of violence or hatred. “To be honest, what I saw was hell,” she said of the last Gaza war in August 2014, when she stayed for 40 days documenting the effects of Israel’s bombardment. “Every day I went out to photograph I thought the next day could not possibly be worse but somehow it was. It was endless and shocking.”

Conservative Gaza stifles female talent
BEIT HANOUN, Gaza Strip (Al-Monitor) 23 Mar by Mohammed Othman — Khouloud Alian wished she had been gifted with a talent such as drawing or writing — a talent that did not require her to be in direct contact with the public, such as singing. As a singer, Alian feels that society has been unfair to her, in addition to the clampdown by the previous Hamas government on female singers and performers, which has prevented many from fulfilling their dreams. Alian is a 24-year-old singer living in the Beit Hanoun area in the northern Gaza Strip, which is seen as the most conservative region in Gaza. Alian told Al-Monitor that she could not take any singing or vocal lessons or become a professional singer, given the conservative traditions of Gaza society. “I’m majoring in health management, and I previously majored in information technology. I’m now working as a field researcher,” she said. Alian also discussed when she first started to sing with the school’s radio station and took part in singing contests organized by the Ministry of Education. As a child, she also attended musical institutes … The social crackdowns began when Alian was still a teenager. She said, “As I was growing into adulthood, my relatives and neighbors advised me to let go of singing as I was no longer a child. But singing was something I was fond of and loved to continue doing. Yet my parents and my husband were not against it.” Two years ago, Alian took part in a local talent contest and made it to the final round. However, the Hamas-affiliated security services at the time stormed in and prevented the young girls from performing at the contest.

Growing mushrooms in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 24 Mar by Rasha Abou Jalal — Shaima al-Amoudi tries to maintain the insulated room on her rooftop in the city of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. She prevents light from entering the room as much as possible, and keeps the humidity high, in an effort to succeed in cultivating mushrooms to improve her family’s financial situation. Amoudi, a mother of seven, began planting mushrooms nearly two years ago. “My husband does not have a stable job,” she told Al-Monitor. “He works on and off, which provides an income of no more than 500 Israeli shekels [$120] per month. Due to the lack of better job opportunities that would contribute to the improvement of our income, I began to grow and sell mushrooms to restaurants.” Growing mushrooms is one of the very few options women in Gaza have to face poverty and unemploymentthat has been prevalent ever since the imposition of the Israeli siege on Gaza in 2007.

When Jewish militants dug underground tunnels
+972 23 Mar by Edo Konrad — Seventy years ago it was the Zionist militias who dug underground tunnels and hid weapon caches among the civilian population. So why is it so difficult for Israelis to understand when Hamas does the same today? — Whether we like to admit it or not, the Israeli pressintentionally ignores the realities of Gaza …  So when do we hear about Gaza? When Hamas and Fatah go head to head, when the international community fails to make good on its commitments, when Israelis are killed or wounded by Gaza militants or when the army happens to discover a new underground tunnel that it missed during Operation Protective Edge. … like the Hamas militants of today, each and every pre-state Zionist militant group — be it the Haganah, Etzel or Lehi — operated against the British and the Palestinians by building secret weapons factories or hiding weapon caches — known in Hebrew as slikim — among the civilian population. These acts are not retroactively condemned as war crimes by Israelis; on the contrary, they are part and parcel of Zionist mythology and the founding story of the Jewish state … What are we to learn from all this? Not that building bullet factories in kibbutzim or hiding weapons in mosques is acceptable, and not that the Zionist militants and Hamas are one and the same. Rather, the story of Yehudit Ayalon reveals a truth that Israelis have become blind to: oppressed groups will often commit the most immoral acts in the name of resistance to their oppression. And supporters, be they Israelis or Palestinians, will both use the same rhetoric to justify the need to commit those acts. Nowadays any Israeli can take a tour of Machon Ayalon museum, which honors the Haganah recruits who lived those double-lives and built countless bullets in the factory under a fake kibbutz. I wonder what kind of museums they will open in Gaza 60 years from now.

Prisoners / Exiles

Nativity Church deportees demand end to exile
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 Mar — Palestinians who were were deported from Bethlehem to the Gaza Strip in 2002 on Tuesday issued several demands to the Palestinian Authority to end their exile. The group issued a statement of demands to mark the fifth anniversary of the death of one exile, Abdullah Daoud, in Algeria. Daoud was repatriated and buried in the Balata refugee camp in Nablus. “As the anniversary of his death comes, Nativity Church deportees in the Gaza Strip and European countries still suffer from being banished, eliminated, forgotten and ignored by everyone, without any exceptions, as they cannot see their families, travel and are deprived of their rights of having a decent living,” a statement from the group said. The deportees said that PA Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh visited Gaza six months ago and told them that he could not arrange for them to return to the West Bank but would try and pressure authorities to allow family members to visit Gaza. The group issued several demands, including calling on President Mahmoud Abbas to raise their cause with foreign diplomats, allowing family visits, and urging the international community to intervene and allow them to return home. On May 10, 2002, Israeli forces ended a 39-day siege on the Nativity Church in Bethlehem after striking a deal with Palestinian leaders to exile 39 people given sanctuary in the church to Gaza and Europe. When Israeli tanks surrounded Bethlehem on April 2, 2002, around 220 locals — including around 40 priests and nuns — took shelter in the church.  Over the next 39 days, eight Palestinians were killed inside the church and 27 others injured.

Palestinian journalist receives a 4-month administrative detention order
IMEMC 24 Mar by Saed Bannoura — The ‘Ofer Israeli military court issued, Monday, an arbitrary Administrative Detention order against a Palestinian journalist, ordering him imprisoned for four months, without charges or trial. The Ahrar Center for Detainees’ Studies and Human Rights, said ‘Ala at-Teety, the correspondent of the al-Aqsa TV in The southern West Bank city of Hebron, was kidnapped by the army on January 21, 2015.  Ahrar added that at-Teety is a married father of two children, and is currently held in the ‘Ofer Israeli military prison, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah. His family has not been able to visit him since his arrest. Head of the Ahrar Center, former political prisoner Fuad al-Khuffash, said at-Teety was first kidnapped in 2002, before being sentenced to 18-month imprisonment, then was rearrested in 2006, and was sentenced to one year. Al-Khuffash said that Israel is still holding captive 22 Palestinian journalists from different parts of the occupied territories.

Israel placed 81 Palestinians under administrative detention since early March
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 24 Mar – Israeli authorities has issued administrative detention orders against 81 Palestinian prisoners since the beginning of March, said the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club (PPC) on Tuesday. PPC, in a press release, said that 15 prisoners received detention orders without charge or trial, including 13 prisoners whose sentence was renewed for numerous times, while the remaining two received new orders. Administrative detention is a procedure that allows the Israeli military to hold prisoners indefinitely on secret information without charging them or allowing them to stand trial. Palestinian detainees have continuously resorted to open-ended hunger strikes as a way to protest their illegal administrative detention and to demand an end to this policy which violates international law. B’Tselem, the Israeli information center for human rights stressed that, “International law stipulates that it may be exercised only in very exceptional cases – and then only as a last possible resort, when there are no other means available to prevent the danger.” In the case of Palestinian detainees, Israel routinely uses administrative detention against Palestinians. Statistics show that over the years, thousands of Palestinians have been held in Israeli custody as administrative detainees for extended periods of time. Following are the names of the 15 detainees who received administrative detention orders:

Restriction of movement

School students use sewage channels to reach school
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 24 Mar — Palestinian students are being forced to cross through sewage channels to reach a high school in western Ramallah district after a settlement road cut off the only other means of access, residents told Ma‘an. Up to 200 students from the villages of al-Tira and Beit ‘Ur al-Fuqa now reach the school using a four kilometer route that runs along the separation wall, where armed settlers, as well as Israeli soldiers, almost daily interrupt their commute. The route passes through sewage channels and regularly takes students up to 40 minutes to reach their school, as the channels are filled with rainwater in the winter and snakes in the summer. Students told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers regularly fire tear-gas canisters at them on their way back. The al-Tira Beit ‘Ur al-Fuqa high school is now enveloped by the Israeli separation wall on three sides at a point where the wall extends more than five kilometers inside the 1949 Armistice Line.  The wall separates the villages from the illegal Israeli settlement of Beit Horon as well as an Israeli military training camp. On the school’s fourth side, a road was opened exclusively for settlers going from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. The school principal, Samer Bader, said that when the sewage channels are filled with wastewater in the winter it is particularly difficult for children to reach the school and sometimes they are not able to make the passage at all. Bader also said that security conditions surrounding the school had prevented the administration from developing and maintaining the school properly, meaning that in the winter the students study in classrooms covered in mold….

Israel to open closed checkpoint, village entrance in Tulkarem
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 24 Mar — …Muhammad Yassin, head of the Palestinian liaison office of Tulkarem, told Ma‘an that the Israeli authorities had informed them of their decision to open theShufa checkpoint, which has been closed since August. Yassin added that Israel had also decided to open the main entrance to the Ramin village. The road has been inaccessible since it was closed in 2002 during the second intifada.

Israel removes cement block from entrances of Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 23 Mar — Israeli forces on Monday evening removed cement blocks from the northern entrance of Hebron and from the entrance of al-Harayeq area south of the city, a Palestinian official said. A Palestinian Authority official told Ma’an on condition of anonymity that the move was positive “despite the complete darkness overwhelming the political life in Israel after (Benjamin) Netanyahu’s election win, and his statements.”

Other news / Reviews

Palestine unity gov’t agrees on emergency budget
RAMALLAH (IANS) 25 Mar — The Palestinian unity government has said it agreed on an emergency budget and sent it to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for approval. The government on Tuesday said in a statement issued in the aftermath of its weekly meeting that agreeing on the emergency budget was decided after the Israeli decision of withholding the Palestinian tax revenue dues since early January, Xinhua reported. The government’s weekly meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah who plans to visit in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday to promote reconstruction and internal reconciliation. “The dues that Israel is still withholding represent 70 percent of the general Palestinian budget, besides that the donors didn’t transfer the donations they pledged in the conference held in Cairo in Oct. 12,” said the statement.

IDF warns: Freeze in Palestinian funds could fuel West Bank unrest
Ynet 24 Mar by Yoav Zitun & Elior Levy — Economic sanctions implemented by Israel against the Palestinian Authority could backfire, top IDF officials warned Monday, saying the pushback from the Palestinian street could lead to unrest, or even an uprising in the West Bank. Israel is currently holding NIS 2.5 million in Palestinian Authority tax funds, a move it took in retribution for unilateral Palestinian actions in the diplomatic arena, like their attempt to attain statehood through a UN Security Council resolution and their accession to the Rome Statute, which cleared the way for an inquiry into alleged Israeli war crimes at the ICC. Ynet has learned that IDF officials have recently presented the political echelons with the possible security ramifications for Israel’s economic sanctions. According to army officials, growing economic tensions in the Palestinian market in the West Bank served as a catalyst for riots and even terror attacks, breaking the relative calm the West Bank has enjoyed in recent years. The IDF even said they took a number of steps to mitigate the economic fallout of the decision, which has seen half a million NIS frozen per month, by easing restrictions on the Palestinians. The procedures were authorized by the political echelon, IDF officials said. For example, the IDF increased work visa quotas for Palestinians, allowing scores to join the close to 130,000 Palestinians who make their livelihood in Israel (some 30,000-40,000 without work permits).

PA security forces capture produce smuggled from Israeli settlements
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 24 Mar — Palestinian security forces in Hebron captured four truckloads of chicken smuggled from Israeli settlements in the southern Hebron district on Tuesday. Settlement produce had been banned by the Palestinian Authority throughout the occupied Palestinian Territories since 2010. A security forces source told Ma‘an that the truckloads were captured from settlements in eastern Yatta and that several individuals had been arrested on suspicion of smuggling chicken from Israeli settlements into Hebron. The source added that Palestinian customs services as well as the Ministry of Agriculture had been informed of the incident and they would be handling the case. The sale or purchase of settlement produce was officially banned in April 2010, along with a ban on working in settlements. The PA said at the time that $200 million that Palestinians annually contributed to settlement economies by purchasing their products would be “channeled to Palestinian made products, provide more local job opportunities, and lay the foundation for true economic independence.”  – Ongoing boycott –  Tuesday’s capture comes in a recent upsurge in boycott activity throughout the West Bank. The National Committee against Israeli Punitive Measures launched a campaign in February to boycott the products of six Israeli companies, in response to Israeli withholding of more than $120 million of Palestinian tax revenues.

Turning water into wine
Qantara 23 Mar by Ylenia Gostoli — The Taybeh Golden Hotel’s sleek glass walls and neoclassical-inspired facade would blend anonymously into the background of most streets in Paris or London. But in the sleepy West Bank village of Taybeh, its brightly lit, chandelier-clad lobby is unlikely to go unnoticed. One family in Taybeh is determined to turn this small village 20 kilometres north of Jerusalem, the only remaining Christian enclave in the West Bank and home to some 1,400 people, into a tourism hub in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Nadim Khoury returned from Boston to his native Taybeh after the Oslo Accords, taking advantage of the climate of temporary stability to set up the successful brewery that first put the village on the map. The yearly Oktoberfest that began in 2005 drew visitors in their thousands. Last November, Khoury opened what he calls “the first boutique winery in Palestine” and put his 23-year-old son, Harvard University graduate Canaan Khoury, in charge. The winery, located in the ground floor of the hotel, then launched its first wine festival, which took place on 27 and 28 February 2015.

Abbas meets with Joint Arab List members, praises Arab vote
Ynet 24 Mar by Hassan Shaalan —  Members of Israel’s sole Arab political party – the Joint Arab List – met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian officials said Tuesday. A source within the party said party chairman Ayman Odeh was present alongside MK Masud Ghnaim and MK Jamal Zahalka. “During the meeting they spoke about the party’s political and social power… and Abu Mazen (Abbas) praised the party, expressing support of their election results,” a Joint Arab List source said.

Algeria to contribute $52.8 million to PA’s March budget
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 24 Mar — The Algerian Permanent Representative to the Arab League Nazeer al-Arbawi said that his country would contribute $52.8 million to Palestine’s budget this month. During a meeting for all permanent representatives to the Arab League in Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh, Al-Arbawi reportedly said that the $52.8 million comes as a contribution to the PA’s budget for March, according to the Palestinian Authority’s official news website, Wafa. Al-Arbawi added that the funding reflected Algeria’s continuing support for the Palestinian cause in achieving their legitimate rights to establish an independent state with its capital in Jerusalem. Algeria has a long history of supporting Palestinians and their fight against the Israeli occupation.

Ex-Education Minister Piron backs teaching Nakba to all Israeli students
Haaretz 24 Mar by Yarden Skop — Shay Piron, education minister in the previous government, was quoted on Tuesday as backing the teaching of the Nakba – the Arabic word for “catastrophe,” which the Palestinians use to refer to Israel’s War of Independence – to all Israeli students. Piron’s remarks, in a recording broadcast by Israeli Army Radio, indicated that he supported teaching the Nakba story alongside what he called the “settler narrative.” “In the bilingual schools in Misgav” – a city 45 minutes northeast of Haifa – “I was asked what I thought about teaching the Nakba to Arab students,” Piron, a member of the Yesh Atid Party, said. “I answered that I opposed it. I support teaching the Nakba to all Israeli students. I don’t think that a student can reach deep in the Israeli educational system when 20 percent of the students have an ethos, a specific story, and he does not know that story.”… He later on Tuesday spoke directly with Army Radio about his remarks, saying, “No one ever died from studying, and studying something doesn’t mean you agree with it. Studying something, not studying it or ignoring it doesn’t mean it does not exist.

Israeli military prepares for possible violent uprising in West Bank
Haaretz 23 Mar by Amos Harel & Gili Cohen — Central Command has completed a series of drills aimed at responding to a conflagration. Still, security services say an escalation is unlikely and cite Palestinian Authority efforts to prevent it — …In the past months there has been a large gap between the tense atmosphere in diplomatic relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, in light of the Palestinian request to join the International Criminal Court in The Hague and the Israeli reaction of freezing the tax money to which the Palestinians are entitled, and the situation on the ground. Security coordination between the IDF and the Shin Bet security services and the Palestinian security services continues as usual for now, despite Palestinian threats to discontinue it. The coordination is based on shared interests of the two sides and the desire of both to prevent a violent clash. At this point the Israeli defense establishment sees little willingness on the part of the Palestinian public to take part in large popular anti-Israel demonstrations, along with continued Palestinian Authority efforts to prevent a conflagration, mainly for fear of the major damage they anticipate to Palestinian society and the Palestinian economy, like that which occurred during the period of the second intifada.

Tel Aviv U: 850 scholarships for Gaza attack service
AIC 24 Mar — Tel Aviv University (TAU) recently awarded scholarships to 850 students who took part in Israel’s military attack on the Gaza Strip last summer. The “President’s Scholarship for Service in Operation Protective Edge”, up to NIS 2,000 per student, was awarded as tuition credit to the winners. Already during the attack, which killed some 2,200 Palestinians and wounded over 10,800, Tel Aviv University President Joseph Klafter announced that such scholarships would be made available through a dedicated fundraising campaign … Students doing a regular BA or MA programme at the university, who were students during the 2013-2014 academic year and served for at least seven days through an emergency military call-up during the attack, and who are continuing their studies in the 2014-2015 academic year, were eligible for the scholarship.

White House chief of staff: 50 years of Israeli occupation must end
Haaretz 24 Mar — White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough made it clear Monday that the crisis in U.S.-Israeli relations over the issue of a Palestinian state has not dissipated, despite efforts by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to clarify remarks he made late in the election campaign thatno such state would be established on his watch. “We cannot simply pretend that those comments were never made,” McDonough told the J Street conference in Washington, whose leftist audience received his remarks enthusiastically. He also warned Israel’s next government not to consider unilateral annexation of any West Bank territory, saying it would “be both wrong and illegal,” and that America would strenuously object. “Israel cannot maintain military control of another people indefinitely,” he said. “An occupation that has lasted for almost 50 years must end.” … McDonough did not address the possibility that the focus of the peace process would move to the United Nations – which may indicate a softening of that position compared to what was said immediately after last week’s election results became known – but said that Obama would “never stop working for a two-state solution,” despite the difficulties. He also detailed what the U.S. believes the arrangements would be: borders based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, security arrangements, and a “sovereign and sustainable” Palestinian state.

Israel ‘boycotts’ UN rights council session on Gaza war
AFP 23 Mar by Nina Larson — Israel’s representative was conspicuously missing when the UN Human Rights Council started a special session Monday on the situation in the Palestinian territories and the 2014 Gaza conflict. “I note the representative of Israel is not present,” said council president Joachim Ruecher. Israel provided no immediate explanation for not being present at the session dedicated overwhelmingly to discussion of its policies and alleged abuses, but a source close to the council said its absence clearly amounted to a boycott. “We won’t comment on that,” a spokeswoman with the Israeli mission in Geneva told AFP. The United States was also absent from Monday’s discussions. Asked to explain why the United States was not taking part, a spokesman said only that the US ambassador to the council Keith Harper was in Washington. Monday’s session had originally been scheduled to discuss a probe on the 50-day war in Gaza last year, but the investigators obtained a delay after the head of the team quit under Israeli pressure.

Real Madrid coaches Palestinian children in West Bank
AFP 23 Mar — Hundreds of Palestinian children on Monday attended a football training session given by Spanish giants Real Madrid in the West Bank, as part of a charitable project organised through the UN. The Real Madrid Foundation sent professional coaches to the Palestinian territories for three days of training with children at schools run by the United Nations Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA. Suma Abdelrahman, a young teenager, was enthralled after taking part in a session organised in Ramallah. Having been granted permission by Israel to come from the blockaded Gaza Strip for training, she proudly sported her black Real Madrid replica shirt, with the name of Spanish defender Sergio Ramos on the back. “In Gaza we live in a restricted society, and girls don’t really play football. But the Real Madrid Foundation and their programme have allowed girls to get more involved,” she said. “I will take what I’ve learned in the West Bank back to Gaza.” But in a reminder of the daily struggle experienced by Gaza’s residents, a number of Suma’s teachers who wanted to take part were not allowed to leave the besieged Palestinian coastal territory.

Israeli, Palestinian girls learn together about animal welfare in Tel Aviv
Jerusalem Post 23 Mar by Sharon Udasin — As Yaniv Ovadia shouted, “Who wants to pet the cats?,” several dozen elementary school girls sped down a sandy hill at the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in south Tel Aviv on Sunday evening.  So many of the girls, Palestinian and Israeli students from Jericho and Beit Shemesh, eagerly clamored around the fenced-in area housing the shelter’s felines, that Ovadia redirected some of them back to the dogs they had been playing with. The approximately 40 girls were participating in an event called “New Spring – New Hope,” held at the SPCA in conjunction with the Peres Center for Peace … In addition to petting the dogs and cats, the girls were also able to visit the site’s horse stables. Prior to their visits with the animals, they listened to a brief lecture in both Hebrew and Arabic about the importance of treating animals kindly. “The concept behind the event is if Palestinian and Israeli children can work together in cooperation for the benefit of animals in distress, it proves that change is possible, and it starts with education,” Ovadia said.

Book Review: Israeli portrait of rose-tinted past gives way to rage at settlers / Selma Dabbagh
EI 23 Mar — It is unusual to read a book on Israel and the Palestinians — perhaps the most documented conflict in world history — that starts by focusing on commonalities rather than divisions: on marriages rather than feuds, festivals rather than riots and municipal housing plans rather than the demolition of homes. Menachem Klein’s Lives in Common: Arabs and Jews in Jerusalem, Jaffa and Hebron (Hurst Publishing) is a loving, albeit rose-tinted, depiction. By conveying past realities, the book offers a vision of a future for the area that was the British Mandateof Palestine that needs to be visualized if it is ever to come close to being realized. The overt point that this book makes could be summed up in the platitude: Peoples of Different Religions and Ethnicities Can Get On Together … – A people’s account – Lives in Common provides a people’s account of the changes that came about in Palestine from the last decades of the Ottoman Empireuntil the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. The stories, taken from primary source material such as diaries, newspapers, memoirs and letters, as well as from secondary materials, fill the book with vivid imagery. They capture the voices, smells and sounds of a former world, written joyously and imbued with a sense of wonderment. It is not a depiction that shies away from prejudices or ignores growing tensions, but alerts the reader to many of the misconceptions that existed at the time. In speaking of the rival cities of Tel Aviv and Jaffa, Klein writes: “Jaffa’s residents, for their part, believed Tel Aviv to be ruled by communists and viewed it as a territory occupied by European invaders. As far as they were concerned, it was a city whose streets were full of morally corrupt and licentious people. The fact is that Jaffa was ahead of Tel Aviv when it came to modernity. The Arab city had Bauhaus buildings before the Jewish one did.”

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