Category: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

In depth coverage and daily reports from inside the occupied territories.

London Concerned Over Israel Plans to Build 500 Housing Units in E Jerusalem

The United Kingdom is deeply concerned over reports of Jerusalem receiving plans for some 500 new “illegal” housing units in a settlement in East Jerusalem, UK Minister for the Middle East Tobias Ellwood said Monday.

Last week, media reports emerged claiming that Jerusalem’s municipality had proposed construction of 500 housing units in Ramat Shlomo, an area annexed by Israel.

“We are deeply concerned by reports that the Jerusalem Municipality has revived a plan for constructing 500 new units in the illegal settlement of Ramat Shlomo in East Jerusalem,” Ellwood said in a statement.

1000s Evacuated as Fire Spreads in Haifa

The Israeli regime has ordered the evacuation of thousands of people and called up hundreds of military reservists to battle a spreading fire in the city of Haifa.

Police said at least eight neighborhoods had been evacuated by early afternoon, as smoke spread over the city. At least 17 people were hospitalized for smoke inhalation, AP reported on Thursday.

Israel/Palestine: Bedouins Face Imminent Displacement

Israeli authorities should revoke plans to forcibly displace Bedouin Arab residents from the village of Umm al-Hiran in Israel’s southern Negev desert to build a new Jewish community there, Human Rights Watch said today.

Israel’s Execution and Collection Authority on November 20, 2016, approved a request by the Israel Land Authority to forcibly demolish two homes and approximately eight surrounding structures at the entrance of Umm al-Hiran between November 15 and November 30. The demolitions would displace about 20 people. The approval follows a January Supreme Court decision not to reconsider the court’s May 2015 dismissal of a legal challenge to the demolition of the village by Umm al-Hiran residents. The residents fear this is the first step toward the displacement of all the villagers.

“The forcible eviction of Bedouin residents to make way for a new Jewish town would be a blatant and ugly episode of discrimination mirroring Israel’s unlawful settlements,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.“Long after most of the rest of the world has such rejected racist policies, the Israeli government keeps building and razing communities on the basis of religion and ethnicity.”

Palestinians Protest against Israel’s ‘Quiet Mosques’ Bill

Hundreds of Palestinians within Israel and the Gaza Strip demonstrated on Friday against a bill to limit the volume of calls to prayer at mosques.

In the southern city of Rahat, 100 Palestinians held a rally against the bill, while more than 500 people took part in various demonstrations in the north, police said.

In the northern city of Jisr al-Zarqa, lawmaker Ahmed Tibi of the Arab Joint List called the legislation “a provocation and act of coercion in the place of dialogue and tolerance”, a party spokesperson said.

Sweden Concerned over Israel’s Settlement Bill

Sweden’s Foreign Ministry said the country is “deeply concerned” about a planned Israeli bill to allow expanded construction in major West Bank settlements.

The ministry said Friday such settlements are contrary to “Israeli and international law,” and “greatly undermine” the possibility of peace.

Israel’s parliament this week gave preliminary approval to a contentious bill that would retroactively legalize hundreds of homes in West Bank settlements that sit on private Palestinian land, according to AP.

Nothing is simple in Palestine

Almost nothing in Palestine is what you expect for the most part. And, this is so true of the negative things you see. No matter how bad you think things are or expect them to be, you are almost always guaranteed that they will be worse (usually much worse) when you actually see them. And if you tell people the truth you may be thought to be making things up. But, this is Palestine and things are this unbelievable and this bad. This was true today for me (to put it mildly). Part of our team was invited by an “inspector” from the United Nations office based here in Al Khalil to go to a Bedouin village in the South Hebron Hills where a demolition took place yesterda

Pump Down the Volume: Palestinians Say Israeli Bill Will Lead to Religious War

The Israeli Knesset Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday approved a bill prohibiting religious institutions from using outdoor amplification.

If the Israeli-proposed bill becomes law, mosques will be forced to stop using public-address systems to call Muslims to prayer five times a day, resorting only to the volume that can be achieved by the unamplified human voice.

The calls usually last several minutes, the first sounding early at dawn and the last just before sunset. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who supports the bill, believes that the practice disturbs the peace, and that it is the government’s duty to protect citizens from noise.

Israel’s Blockade of Gaza is Inherently Violent

This fall, the U.S. agreed to provide $38 billion in military aid to Israel over the next ten years, ensuring America’s continued role in funding the occupation of Palestine. Meanwhile, my friends and colleagues here in Gaza live in fear of another significant Israeli attack in the near future.

They have every reason to fear another major escalation — violence is a daily reality in Gaza. In two recent incidents, a rocket was fired from Gaza into Israel without causing damage or injuries, and in both instances Israel responded by bombing targets throughout Gaza.

Bob Dylan’s embrace of Israel’s war crimes

Controversially, musical genius Bob Dylan received the Nobel Prize for literature last week.

Even some critics who acknowledged his musical brilliance have argued that awarding a musician was a step that too dramatically expanded the definition of literature. What few dispute is that his music inspired millions in the midst of the anti-war and civil rights movements.

But there is also a less pleasant, less known side to the artist, particularly his views on Israel, Meir Kahane and the Jewish Defense League.

In 1983, in The New York Times, Stephen Holden described Dylan’s album Infidels as “a disturbing artistic semirecovery by a rock legend who seemed in recent years to have lost his ability to engage the Zeitgeist.”

Israel Limits Palestinian Villages Water to “Two Hours a Week”

As the water shortage in Palestinian territory continues; new reports show the Palestinian people are getting less water than ever.

Israeli rationing of water is now essentially a summer tradition in Palestine but this year has been unprecedented. Currently, some territories in the West Bank are under such tight water rations that they have only been getting water “for one hour, twice a week.”

Israel keeps Bilal Kayed in ‘administrative detention’

After spending nearly 14 and a half years in an Israeli prison for his affiliation with the left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Bilal Kayed was due to be released on 13 June – but he wasn’t.

Instead, on that day, Bilal was told that he would be held in administrative detention, which amounts to imprisonment without charge or trial.

Kayed’s detention was to last six months, with the possibility of renewal for an indefinite period of time.

Two days later, on 15 June, he began a hunger strike in protest of his continued imprisonment.

The military court ruled that, based on secret evidence gathered about his activities before his initial arrest and his intentions upon release he continued to pose a threat to Israel’s security.

Israeli Occupation is Cutting Palestine’s GDP in Half. Will the World Care Now?

The UN released a report on Monday stating Palestinian territory could “easily produce” twice the GDP it’s currently producing if Israeli occupation were to end. Unsurprisingly, unemployment and poverty would drastically be reduced as well. Here’s a summary of the studies the UN and why they matter.

Natural Resources & Trade

Even in non-occupied territories, Palestinians do not have access to their own ground water supply and are restricted from digging wells. Israel confiscates a whopping 82% of the Palestinian water supply and Palestinians are forced to buy back their own water by importing it from Israel.

My First Day in Occupied Palestine

Today was my first full day as an ISM’er in Al-Khalil (Hebron).

A regular part of our work is to monitor Israeli checkpoints beside schools in the mornings since the teachers ask for an international presence. Often there can be problems with violence between Israeli forces and Palestinian children. Another reason ISM is there, is to count the number of school children using the checkpoint, to see how many children are suffering from this daily stress, which sadly, is part of normal life under the occupation. The data we collect is passed on to NGOs who collects data on children in the whole of Palestine. It is necessary for children living in the H2 area to pass through this checkpoint to reach their school. The Palestinian children are often subjected to intimidation and harassment as they are searched in claustrophobic rooms within the highly militarized structures. This morning i was monitoring Qeitun checkpoint with two other ISM’ers.

Around 120 children, mostly boys, passed through the checkpoint in the first half an hour. There were clearly armed Israeli solders stationed in heavily armored towers overlooking the checkpoint, creating an intimidating atmosphere. There was an older Palestinian man encouraging the children to go through the checkpoint as a few of them were nervously waiting in front of them. In the midst of our counting of children we heard shouting from around the corner and saw a group of Palestinian children being chased by heavily armed Israeli border police, although we were in H1, out of Israeli jurisdiction. A few of the children thew stones towards the invading border police and before we knew what happened a soldier lobbed a stun grenade directly at the children. This grenade exploded a few metres in front of the children standing at an entrance to a junior school. I was down the street but the loud noise really reverberated through my body and sent my heart racing. It was the first time I had experienced this kind of weapon and moments after, I was still terrified. The grenade sent the children fleeing in all directions and one of them dropped his school bag. An Israeli soldier stole his bag and took it with him. As he walked past us an ISM activist asked him “why have you taken his school bag?’, the soldier muttered “to check it”. Of course this was a lie as they did not open it and I found it infuriating that heavily armed, grown men would steal the school bag of a child as some sort of immature intimidation technique.

Palestine: Crackdown on Journalists, Activists

Chilling Effect on Free Expression

The Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and Gaza are arresting, abusing, and criminally charging journalists and activists who express peaceful criticism of the authorities. The crackdown directly violates obligations that Palestine recently assumed in ratifying international treaties protecting free speech.

“Both Palestinian governments, operating independently, have apparently arrived at similar methods of harassment, intimidation and physical abuse of anyone who dares criticize them,” said Sari Bashi, Israel and Palestine country director at Human Rights Watch. “The Palestinian people fought hard to gain the protections that accompany membership in the international community, and their leaders should take their treaty obligations seriously.”