Today in Palestine


Land, property, resources theft and destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlers
Demolitions in Samra
[with photos] JVS 7 Apr — After noon on 7th April the army demolished three large animal shelters and a kitchen in the farming community of Al Samra in the northern Jordan Valley. We arrived just after the demolitions to find the families devastated, and the grandparents visibly upset. They received demolition orders for the third time on Tuesday 29th March, and were given just 3 days to destroy their own buildings, making it virtually impossible for the to make an appeal through the courts. When the army did not demolish their buildings straight away they became hopeful that they would be able to get a freeze on the demolition order, but their hopes were destroyed today. The grandmother was crying at the sight of the destruction, and that the sheep and goats were now out in the afternoon sun without any shade. The animals were all crowding under the tractors and water tanks to try to find their own shade. As well as the animal shelters, the army also destroyed the small kitchen of a family with a young baby, aged just 20 days old.
Homes and roads destroyed in Aqaba
JVS 7 Apr — On April the 7th at 6 am the village of Al Aqaba woke up to find the Israeli Army destroying their road and two homes. Two Caterpillar bulldozers were with the military jeeps.They demolished two concrete houses leaving a families homeless, one with 11 children, and the other with 7 children. Their animal shelters had also been destroyed. They destroyed about 2.5km of tarmac road that wound around the hills of the village, and the electricity columns which serve energy to the inhabitants. One of the roads is ironically named Peace Street and is a vital link with the Jordan Valley.

Homes, roads taken down near Tubas
TUBAS (Ma‘an) 7 Apr — Witnesses said six bulldozers and hundreds of soldiers were deployed throughout the Jordan Valley village of Aqrava [?Aqaba] on Thursday morning, when two homes and road entrances were taken down by Israeli forces … Sami Sadeq … said some 95 percent of the structures in the village have demolition orders issued on them, including the village’s grand mosque, kindergarten and homes … Israeli daily news site Ynet said the military and Civil Administration “destroyed 3 illegal Palestinian structures and two pathways in Jordan Valley,” saying all were in an areas designated as a firing field.
10 tractors were confiscated in ‘Ein Al Beida and Bardala
JVS 7 Apr — At 7am on Wednesday 6th April the army and military police raided farms and fields in the north of the Jordan Valley. All farmers with a tractor were forced to drive to the illegal Israeli colony of Mehola, where they waited for hours for have their IDs and proof of tractor ownership inspected. After 8 hours more than 30 tractors had been brought to Mehola, and at the end of the day 10 of them were confiscated. This followed a similar action in the Abu Al Ajaj area of Aljiflik just 8 days before on Tuesday 29th March.
Israel and Palestinians have conflicting visions for village’s future / Edmund Sanders
LA Times 7 Apr — Lifta is the last intact pre-1948 Palestinian village in Israel. The Israelis want to put apartments there, but Palestinians want the area preserved as an open-air museum ... Palestinians hope to turn the ruins into an open-air museum devoted to their mass displacement in 1948, an event Palestinians call the nakba, or catastrophe. The ghost town has become an embodiment of one of the most intractable issues in Mideast peace talks: whether Palestinians should have the right to return to ancestral homes inside Israel and what this would mean for Israel’s survival as a Jewish state. During the creation of Israel and the subsequent attack by neighboring Arab nations, 700,000 Palestinians became refugees when they fled the fighting or were chased from their homes by Jewish militias that prevented them from returning.

Sit-in in Jenin against Israeli decision to exile 8 prisoners
JENIN, (PIC) 7 Apr — Protesters outside the Red Cross headquarters in Jenin city on Wednesday demanded human rights organizations, especially the Red Cross, to intervene to pressure Israel to cancel its decision to exile eight Palestinian prisoners. The protesters said the Israeli decision to expel those prisoners from occupied Palestine is unjust and against international law, especially the Geneva convention which illegalizes any individual or collective transfer of citizens living in occupied territories. The committee of objections in Ofer prison decided on Tuesday to postpone the case of eight prisoners threatened with exile until April 17. The Israeli occupation authority claims that the Palestinian prisoners are Jordanians and have no right to stay in the occupied lands, while Jordan confirms they are Palestinians and thus refuses to receive them.
Settler leader downplays WikiLeaks comments on West Bank evacuation
Settlers leader Danny Dayan on Thursday downplayed his comments revealed by WikiLeaks that some settlers would be willing to leave the West Bank for “the right price.”
His comments came following a Haaretz report quoting Dayan as saying that settlers would be willing to evacuate the West Bank in return for adequate compensation … In response to the Haaretz report on Thursday, Dayan criticized Haaretz for taking his words out of context, saying in an interview with Army Radio that “economical laws work in Judea and Samaria as well.”

Medics: Gaza death toll rises to 3; 40 injured
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 Apr 18:54 — Israeli artillery fire killed three Palestinians and injured 40 others in a major escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, after an anti-tank missile struck a school bus in Israel and injured two people, Palestinian and Israeli medical officials said.
Artillery fire kills Palestinian in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 Apr 17:31 — Israeli artillery fire killed an elderly Palestinian man and injured six others after a projectile fired from the Gaza Strip struck a school bus in southern Israel, injuring two people, medical and security officials said. Witnesses said artillery fire injured four relatives of Mahmoud Al-Manasra, 50, who was killed when shells landed near his home in the Ash-Shuja’ya neighborhood of Gaza City. Two people were injured after shells struck near the former Yasser Afarat International Airport in Rafah. Another round of shelling struck Khan Younis, but there were no reports of injury in that attack.
Two hurt in missile strike on bus carrying students near Gaza
Haaretz 7 Apr 15:33 — 16-year-old seriously wounded after anti-tank missile strikes school bus; IDF strikes Gaza Strip moments following bus attack, killing one and wounding five … Following the attack, 16 additional mortar shells were fired at Israeli towns in the western Negev, most of them hitting open areas … Defense Minister, Ehud Barak ordered the army to respond quickly and said he held the Hamas militant group, which rules Gaza, responsible for the violence. There was no claim of responsibility for the attack. …

1 injured in series of overnight strikes on Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) updated 7 Apr 17:32 — Israeli warplanes carried out three bombing missions targeting the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday morning, and a fourth on an area east of Gaza City, injuring one. In the south, strikes targeted an area near the Rafah refugee camp, locally known as the Yebna camp, a second strike hit tunnels near the Salah Ad-Din area, and a third in the Barazili neighborhood. The third strike saw one man injured by debris from the strike …  In the northern Strip, Israeli warplanes fired one missile on an open area east of the Az-Zaitoun neighborhood south of Gaza City, no injuries were reported in the second strike.  An Israeli military statement said all three strikes targeted tunnels, the first three smuggling tunnels and the third a “terror tunnel.” The statement said that “direct hits were confirmed.” The statement said the strikes were in “response to the firing of an anti-tank missile at Israeli territory,
Iron Dome successfully intercepts Gaza rocket for first time
Haaretz 7 Apr — The Iron Dome missile defense system on Thursday successfully intercepted for the first time a Grad rocket that was fired at the Israeli city of Ashkelon from the Gaza Strip. Iron Dome’s success Thursday marks the first time in history a short-range rocket was ever intercepted

Detention / International kidnapping / Extrajudicial killings
100 women detained in Awarta
NABLUS (AFP/Ma‘an) 7 Apr — Israeli troops stormed the village of Awarta on Thursday morning, arresting more than 100 women in what local officials said was part of the ongoing investigation into the murder of five settlers in March. Hundreds of troops entered Awarta – the village adjacent to Itamar, and illegal settlement where the murders took place – shortly after midnight and imposed a curfew after which they began rounding up the women, local council head Tayis Awwad said. Officials told Ma‘an that men and women were taken in the raids, which involved house-to-house searches in the early morning. Some of the women, witnesses said, were in their 60s, and many were taken from their homes by force.
Pity the village: mass arrests in Awarta
[photos] Pal. Monitor 7 Apr — Amjad Suliman Qawariq, the Chief of the Service Department of Awarta, reported that 200 villagers were arrested last night, 6 April, after the Israeli Occupation Forces rolled in at 10:30 pm. According to Qawariq, Israeli police entered with the IOF, ordering villagers to return to their homes and imposing a curfew on the town. At 11:00 pm, police and soldiers began entering homes, conducting searches and detaining residents. According to Abu George, 44, soldiers did not shy away from arresting the elderly, sick or disabled: “Some couldn’t walk, so they carried them.” Abu George’s son has now been arrested twice, and his house raided three times. Those arrested were taken to the Huwarrah military base, not far from Awarta. Once there, they had their pictures taken and were required to give saliva samples and fingerprints. All prisoners were also subjected to an interrogation into their relationship to the killings in Itamar. By 8:00 am this morning, 7 April, all those who were arrested returned to Awarta. Currently there are 41 villagers from Awarta still awaiting their release in Israeli prisons … Nidal Awad, 53, a shop owner in the northern part of Awarta, was arrested along with his father, mother, and brother. According to his mom, Tamam Mahmoud Awad, 70, the soldiers hit her in the chest when she asked them why they were arresting her husband, Malik Said Awad, 80. Expressing disdain, Tamam said, “He is sick, but they didn’t care.”
Israeli security source: Assassination of Abu Sisi was an option
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC) 7 Apr — The assassination of Gazan engineer Dirar Abu Sisi was an option discussed by the Israeli security apparatuses, a security source was quoted as saying by the Israeli TV on Thursday. The Israeli second TV channel quoted the source as saying that the assassination of Abu Sisi was ruled out, although was earlier discussed as an option, due to security reasons in order to obtain from  him accurate and valuable information on Hamas’s military equipment.
Israel releases detained Palestinian patient
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 5 Apr — Israeli authorities on Monday released a Palestinian detained over a month ago on his way to hospital in Israel. Mahdi Atef Nasser, 21, from Deir Al-Balah, was detained on March 1 at the Erez crossing on the Gaza-Israel border. [This is a common occurrence. See a shocking example here: Ahmad was in hospital in Egypt for 8 months and then a doctor recommended he go to Jerusalem for more treatment. Ahmed has diabetes, is wheelchair bound and needs more internal surgery. He had lost body parts, sections of his intestines and his pancreas. He was arrested at the Erez border crossing, taken from his terrified father, along with his medicines and insulin. Samir now knows his son gave a forced confession after days of torture and is in prison in Beersheba.
Ramallah protests continue as Abbas delays freeing prisoners
RAMALLAH, (PIC) 7 Apr — Protests continue in Ramallah as youth await promised steps by Palestinian de facto president to free a list of men held for political reasons in the Palestinian Authority jails and demand an end to a media incitement campaign. The protesters are sitting in at Manara Square in Ramallah and have gone on hunger strike since March 15 … Abbas promised [on 3 Apr] to free the prisoners who have already been ruled as free men by the Palestinian Supreme Court.
Siege / Restriction of movement

Gaza crossing shut for second day
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 Apr — The Palestinian coordination office for Gaza crossings received news that the sole operating terminal for goods into Gaza would be closed for a second day in a row on Thursday, liaison officer Raed Fattouh said. Fattouh said “security concerns” were cited for the continued closure, adding that the crossing is now expected to remain closed for the next two days, according to the schedule Israel has maintained since the end of its offensive on Gaza in 2008-9. The closure means no commercial or humanitarian goods will enter Gaza for a four-day stretch, cutting off all access to supplies for the coastal enclave.
Palestine’s Christians demand freedom to reach holy sites in Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM, (WAFA) 5 Apr — Palestine’s Christians demanded Monday freedom of access and movement to reach the holy places in Jerusalem without Israeli intervention. A statement published by the Palestinian Christians called on the international community to intervene to facilitate freedom of entry of Christians to Jerusalem to worship during the Easter holiday. …  “The Old City (of Jerusalem), its gates and roads, the Mount of Olives, Via Dolorosa and The Holy Sepulchre Church, where pilgrims from all over the world journey to, are equally important to the Palestinian Christians of Gaza and the West bank, who want to join their Jerusalemite Christian brethren in the liturgical events leading to the resurrection, the holiest celebration in Christianity,” it said … Since Easter coincides with the Jewish Passover holiday, a military closure is usually imposed on the West Bank and Gaza Strip automatically cancelling permits since closure means Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza will not be allowed to cross into Israeli territory, including East Jerusalem annexed by Israel shortly after its 1967 occupation.

Refugee camps lack basic facilities, need to expand: study
7 Apr — BEIRUT: A study into the difficult living conditions in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, including recommendations for areas of improvement, was published Wednesday.
The Palestinian Association for Human Rights undertook the 18-month, 170-page study in collaboration with the Humanitarian Relief for Development Society group … The camps have not expanded since they were founded but the population has increased fourfold in that time.
BEIRUT: Palestinian students and teachers held a sit-in Wednesday outside UNRWA offices in ‘Ain al-Hilweh in protest against the ban on teaching of Palestinian history and geography in the agency’s schools.
Activism / Solidarity
Marmara to return to Gaza in May
Ynet 7 Apr — Vessel involved in deadly raid in May 2010 scheduled to take part in another flotilla to Gaza Strip next month, IHH declares. Total of 15 ships to participate in ‘Freedom flotilla 2’,7340,L-4053696,00.html
Freedom Flotilla 2 set to break the siege of Gaza / Dr. Hanan Chehata
MEMO 6 Apr — The first anniversary of Israel’s horrific assault on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla is fast approaching … While Israeli authorities, the jailers of Gaza, argue that they have “eased” the siege since the massacre last May and that there is therefore no need for another “humanitarian mission”, this is completely misleading … the latest flotilla is about more than taking in humanitarian and medical aid; it is about breaking the siege itself, in all of its forms, including restrictions on the free movement of people. Nowhere else in the world are people herded into such a small strip of land and denied the right to leave or to have people visit them. Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on the planet and the only place in the world to endure such a barbaric medieval-style siege. It remains almost completely isolated from the outside world and the flotilla activists hope to bring some normalisation to the situation by visiting the territory.
War criminals / Goldstone report
Bahar asks the Lords to reject law granting immunity to Israeli war criminals
GAZA, (PIC) 6 Apr — Deputy Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council Ahmed Bahar has strongly condemned the British House of Commons’ approval of a law limiting the UK’s power to prosecute Israeli war criminals who step foot in the country, and he has called on the House of Lords, which will review the law next, to reject it. [The House of Lords has some power to amend or reject bills. But its power to reject a bill passed by the House of Commons is now severely restricted]
Goldstone has paved the path for a second Gaza war / Gideon Levy
7 Apr — All at once the last doubts have disappeared and the question marks have become exclamation points. Dr. Ezzeldeen Abu Al-Aish wrote a short book in which he invented the killing of his three daughters. The 29 dead from the Al-Simoni family are now vacationing in the Caribbean. The white phosphorus was only the pyrotechnics of a war film. The white-flag wavers who were shot were a mirage in the desert, as were the reports about the killing of hundreds of civilians, including women and children. “Cast lead” has returned to being a phrase in a Hanukkah children’s song.

US wants Gaza war crimes report to ‘disappear’
[US envoy to the United Nations Susan] Rice told a congressional hearing, “what we want to see is for it to disappear and no longer be a subject of discussion and debate in the Human Rights Council or the General Assembly or beyond.” “We see no need … for the Goldstone report to be considered and now that its principal author has said what he said, “frankly”, our view is reinforced that this should go away and that’s what we’ll work to do,” she said … Rice said the United States did not see “any evidence” at the time that Israel intentionally targeted civilians or committed war crimes.”
Goldstone to face libel suit
Ynet 7 Apr —Judge Richard Goldstone is expected to stand trial for libel following his retraction of his Operation Cast Lead report, in which he accused Israel of war crimes. Knesset Member Danny Danon (Likud), currently in the United States, has enlisted the help of a number of Jewish-American attorneys who agreed to file a lawsuit against the South African judge at no charge. A petition will be filed with a New York District Court next week,,7340,L-4053408,00.html
Where now for the Goldstone report? / John Dugard
6 Apr — …In short, there are no new facts that exonerate Israel and that could possibly have led Goldstone to change his mind. What made him change his mind therefore remains a closely guarded secret. The Goldstone report was not the only fact-finding report on Operation Cast Lead. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the League of Arab States (whose mission I chaired) all produced thorough reports on the conflict. In all the reports, including the Goldstone report, there were accounts of the killings of civilians by Israel Defence Forces (IDF) in a cold, calculated and deliberate manner. But the principal accusation levelled at Israel was that during its assault on Gaza, it used force indiscriminately in densely populated areas and was reckless about the foreseeable consequences of its actions, which resulted in at least 900 civilian deaths and 5,000 wounded.
Politics / Diplomacy / International

Abbas in Cairo, unity efforts begin
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 Apr — Active contacts between Palestine and the new Egyptian [gov’t] were resumed in Cairo Thursday, following the arrival of President Mahmoud Abbas in the Egyptian capital. Abbas will meet with Egyptian General Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, commander-in-chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces, and head of the interim military council ruling the nation following the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak.
Egypt invites Mishaal, Shallah to visit Cairo
CAIRO, (PIC) 6 Apr — Egypt is planning to invite a number of Palestinian factions and independent figures to visit Cairo in the few coming days to discuss reactivating reconciliation efforts, senior Egyptian diplomatic sources revealed on Wednesday. They said that the invitations would start with businessman Munib Al-Masri and a delegation of the reconciliation committee that he chairs, then to the Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shallah, and would conclude with inviting Hamas supreme leader Khaled Misha‘al to push forward the reconciliation process.
Palestinians left skeptical on unity prospects
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 Apr — Palestinian factions agree that national reconciliation will not be achieved in the near future because Hamas and Fatah are deeply entrenched in partisan interests despite positive statements from both sides … Jamil Mizher, a leading figure in the PFLP, said there is nothing new regarding Egyptian pressure on Fatah and Hamas and both movements remain adamant behind their positions to serve their own interests.
Austrian foreign minister enters Gaza through Rafah border crossing
MEMO 7 Apr — On Wednesday, April 6, the Austrian Foreign Minister, Michael Spindelegger, arrived in the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing with Egypt … Mr Spindelegger is one of the few European officials to have been allowed into Gaza through the Rafah crossing. European and American figures usually choose to enter the strip via the Beit Hanoun crossing with Israel. European officials visiting Gaza are strictly limited to holding meetings with UNRWA representatives or businessmen and do not meet with representatives of the Palestinian government in Gaza.
Fatah probes Dahlan and Rashid for supplying weapons to Gaddafi
MEMO 7 Apr — Fatah’s Central Committee announced that it has begun investigating recent reports that two members of the movement’s leadership are involved in smuggling Israeli weapons into Libya to support Mu’ammar Gaddafi’s forces. In a press release, the Committee stated that the allegations against the two contradict Fatah’s principles of non-interference in the affairs of other Arab states.
60% of Egyptians support peace with Israel
WASHINGTON 7 Apr — Some 60% of Egyptians support the peace treaty with Israel – as long as an independent Palestinian state is established alongside the Jewish state, a study conducted by the United Nations-affiliated International Peace Institute shows.,7340,L-4053607,00.html
Israeli official: We struck in Sudan
Ynet 7 Apr — A senior Israeli military official told TIME Magazine Wednesday that the Jewish state was behind a mysterious air strike in Sudan Tuesday that killed two people.  “It’s not our first time there,” the official was quoted as saying, apparently referring to the 2009 airstrike that demolished an arms convoy near the border with Egypt.,7340,L-4053277,00.html
Other news
Haaretz WikiLeaks exclusive: Peace Now updates US on West Bank construction
7 Apr — Israeli left-wing non-government organization Peace Now has urged the U.S. to pressure Israel into evacuating West Bank outposts, according to an American diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks, adding that the group regularly updated both Washington and the Defense Ministry on ongoing settlement construction. See the full story in Friday’s Haaretz Newspaper.

Military tribunal may keep 9/11 motives hidden / Ray McGovern
Antiwar 7 Apr — The Obama administration’s decision to use a military tribunal rather than a federal criminal court to try alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others means the real motives behind the 9/11 attacks may remain obscure. The Likud Lobby and their allied U.S. legislators can chalk up a significant victory for substantially shrinking any opportunity for the accused planners of 9/11 to tell their side of the story … For years, President George W. Bush got away with offering up the risible explanation that they “hate our freedoms.”

The guard told me ‘You are nothing like the Muslim prisoners.’ He was wrong / Andy Stepanian
Mondo 7 Apr — …Ghassan Elashi is a political prisoner incarcerated in a highly restrictive and secretive federal prison program called the Communications Management Unit (CMU), in which I was also incarcerated.  Ghassan is imprisoned for providing humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza, a selfless deed that the Bush administration argued was analogous to indirectly supporting Hamas, by sending charity to Zakat Committees that prosecutors allege were fronts for Hamas. In the same year US AID, the Red Cross, the UN and dozens of other NGOs contributed to the same Zakat committee to which Ghassan and his charity, The Holy Land Foundation, is accused of giving aid.

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