Israel - Palestine news this week
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Israel - Palestine News 21 - 27 May 2016
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Purpose: to provide a varied selection of articles from Arabic, Hebrew and English mainstream media outlets so readers get a flavour of what is being said about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from different perspectives. The content and opinions of these articles do not reflect our aims or opinions. Please BE RESOURCEFUL and research for yourself a diversity of sources for everything you read or hear about Israel-Palestine.
Hebrew News Sources (English versions):

Jerusalem Post, Maayan Groisman: Salafi group in Gaza claims responsibility for rockets launched at Israel

Ajnad Bait al-Maqdis, a salafi terror organization operating in the Gaza Strip, claimed responsibility for rocket fire at southern Israel on Wednesday night. In a statement issued following the rocket attack, the group said: "We announce our responsibility for targeting Nahal Oz military base with a Katyusha rocket that was developed by our brave jihadists today at 23:00 p.m." The group, which has clashed with Hamas in Gaza, said that it hoped its rocket attacks on the South would prompt Israel to retaliate against its rival Hamas as the attacks would ‘[steer] the compass against’ Jewish people. "Today, we are renewing our rocket attacks against Jewish settlements near the Gaza Strip in order to avoid a war against Hamas, whose security forces have recently started arresting salafi jihadists," the statement read.

The Times of Israel, Raoul Wootliff: Arab MKs plan to defy ban, visit Temple Mount on Ramadan
Three Muslim lawmakers have announced their intention to break a Knesset ban on visiting the flashpoint Temple Mount complex to pray at the site during the upcoming month of Ramadan. In a letter sent to the Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich on Wednesday, Knesset members from the Joint (Arab) List said that it was their religious duty to visit the site and declared they would defy the directive. “On behalf of Knesset members from the Islamic Movement (Ra’am), we announce our intention to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque during the month of Ramadan and pray there,” read the letter. Last month, Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich renewed the open-ended ban on Israeli lawmakers visiting the Temple Mount complex.

The Jerusalem Post, Tovah Lazarof: Israel: Hamas stealing 95% of civilian cement transferred into Gaza
Hamas is siphoning off 95% of the cement transferred into Gaza to rebuild homes, so that it can use it for military purposes, Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold said adding that this puts Israel in a difficult situation, because the humanitarian assistance it provides for Gaza civilians, also helps Hamas conduct terrorist attacks against it.

Ynet News, Roi Kais: Nasrallah: Lieberman is crazy
On Wednesday night, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah spoke about ‘the crazy and coarse’ Avigdor Lieberman becoming the Israeli Defence Minister in a speech. Nasrallah gave the speech while hiding in his bunker but had the speech broadcasted on giant screens in villages in Lebanon's Beqaa valley. The speech was on given on the occasion of the "Day of Resistance and Freedom," marking 16 years since the IDF evacuated south Lebanon. Nasrallah also spoke about changes in the region. "In occupied Palestine, Lieberman has been made War Minister by Netanyahu the extremist. He continued, "The only way to stop the aggression and remove the occupation is by complete resistance. Our nation has been doing this and succeeded both in 2000 and in 2006 using the military, the nation, and the resistance. This all creates a powerful force when the other Arab nations refuse to help us due to the international conspiracy." Nasrallah reminded his audience that ‘Israel is the real and main enemy’.,7340,L-4807999,00.html
Arabic News Sources (English versions):

PNN, Palestine PMO: Israel’s destruction of Palestinian water infrastructure is atrocious
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah issued a statement condemning Israel’s illegal practice of destroying Palestinian water infrastructure. “Israel uses every means possible to chase Palestinians away from their ancestral land,” Hamdallah said. Israel regularly destroys Palestinians’ homes and structures; in many instances, these structures had been funded by donor countries. In 2016 alone, Israel destroyed over 600 structures. “[W]hile Palestinians struggle with water shortages, Israeli settlers use scarce water resources to fill up their swimming pools,” said Jamal Dajani, Director of Strategic Communications & Media for the Prime Minister. According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Israel uses 86 percent of the water extracted from the Mountain Aquifer, which is a trans-boundary resource that must be shared between both sides in an equitable and reasonable manner.

Al Jazeera, Megan O’Toole: Report slams Israel's military law enforcement system
Citing a raft of deep systemic failures, human rights group B'Tselem has announced that it will no longer cooperate with Israel's military law enforcement system. For the past 25 years, B'Tselem, which documents Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories, has served as a "subcontractor" for the system by submitting complaints about soldiers' alleged misconduct, gathering relevant documents and evidence, and requesting updates for affected Palestinian families. While the goal was to help to bring justice to Palestinian victims and deter future misconduct, the reality has been the opposite, B'Tselem said in a scathing report released on Wednesday. "B'Tselem's cooperation with the military investigation and enforcement system has not achieved justice, instead lending legitimacy to the occupation regime and aiding to whitewash it," the report noted.

Al-Arabiya: Israeli planes target Gaza sites after rocket attack
On Thursday, the Israeli air force carried out attacks on the Gaza Strip in response to a rocket attack targeting the Jewish state, the army and Palestinian sources said. The rocket, which had hit an open area in southern Israel, caused no damage or casualties. In response to it, the Israeli air force “targeted two Hamas sites in the southern Gaza Strip,” the military said in a statement. According to the Israeli army, since the beginning of 2016, nine projectiles fired from the Gaza Strip hit Israel. The army “holds Hamas accountable for all attacks emanating from the Gaza Strip,” it said. Palestinian security officials said the Israeli raids targeted Hamas military sites in Nuseirat and Rafah, causing no casualties.

Ma’an News Agency: NGO appeals Israeli minister's decision to halt return of withheld Palestinian bodies
A Palestinian prisoners’ rights group has appealed the recently ordered freeze on the return of Palestinian bodies withheld by Israel, the group announced on Thursday. Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan announced on Tuesday that he had ordered Israeli police to suspend the return of bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces, on the grounds of ‘incitement’ after seeing footage of a crowd gathering outside the funeral of one such slain Palestinian. Lawyer Muhammad Mahmoud said he had appealed Israeli public prosecution to overturn Erdan’s decision, calling for Israeli authorities to act in accordance with a ruling from the Israeli Supreme Court which ordered the release of the bodies of nine Palestinian from Jerusalem. Israel currently holds the bodies of at least a dozen Palestinians, including six Jerusalemites, killed by Israeli forces since October while they were allegedly committing or attempting to commit attacks. A joint statement released in early April by Addameer and Israeli minority rights group Adalah condemned Israel’s practice of withholding bodies as "a severe violation of international humanitarian law as well as international human rights law, including violations of the right to dignity, freedom of religion, and the right to practice culture."
 US-UK News Sources:

BBC: UN alarmed by Hamas plans for executions in Gaza
The UN has expressed alarm after Hamas said it intended to implement a number of death sentences in Gaza, where the Palestinian Islamist group is dominant. The UN envoy for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, said he had serious doubts as to whether capital trials there met fair trial standards. Mr Mladenov added that he was disturbed by reports that some of the executions might be carried out in public. One Palestinian group has documented 67 executions in Gaza since 2007, not including the murder of 25 Palestinians who were suspected of collaborating with Israel following the 2014 Gaza War. On Wednesday, Hamas-affiliated members of the Palestinian parliament announced they had approved a measure allowing executions to be carried out in Gaza without having first been ratified by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who is based in the West Bank. It was not clear what authority the MPs had to authorise executions in the coastal territory, given that the full Palestinian Legislative Council has not met since Hamas reinforced its power in Gaza in 2007 following a violent rift with Mr Abbas' Fatah movement.
The Guardian, Peter Beaumont: Israel coalition deal brings in its most hard-right government ever
Netanyahu’s coalition deal sees the ultranationalist politician Avigador Lieberman become defence minister, the second most important cabinet post behind the prime minister, joining a series of other hard-right figures now dominating key Israeli ministries. Lieberman, a controversial and deeply divisive figure, replaces the popular former chief of staff Moshe Yaalon, who was pushed out last week as Netanyahu moved to expand his wafer-thin majority. Despite claims by Netanyahu’s office that Lieberman would be “moderate and pragmatic” as defence minister – and that the prime minister remained committed to a two-state solution with Palestinians – most analysts viewed the composition of the new government as making the prospect of peace talks even more distant. Netanyahu has sought to ease fears over Lieberman’s appointment, saying he will continue to seek peace with the Palestinians and oversee the defence ministry’s policies, which include control over most of the occupied West Bank. Lieberman arrives in the Israeli defence ministry with a long history of harsh public remarks targeting both Israelis of Palestinian descent, the wider Arab world and Palestinians.
The New York Times, Liam Stack: Israel Won’t Return Bodies of Palestinian Attackers
Israel’s internal security minister ordered the police on Tuesday to stop giving the bodies of Palestinians killed while committing attacks against Israelis to their families for burial, after online video appeared to show a large crowd at the funeral of a man who killed a rabbi last year. The order by the minister, Gilad Erdan, contradicted an announcement this month by the Israeli authorities that they would follow a recommendation from the country’s Supreme Court to return the bodies of nine Palestinians to their families before the start of Ramadan, which begins in June. Mr. Erdan said the number of people visible in the video violated an agreement made by Mr. Abu Jamal’s family to restrict the number of mourners to 40 and to ensure that the event did not become politicized. ‘‘I just saw the outrageous photos from the funeral overnight in East Jerusalem which violated the police stipulations given to the family of the terrorist, who held a funeral with a large number of attendees and calls for violence and support for terrorism,” Mr. Erdan wrote, according to a translation published by The Jerusalem Post.

The Washington Post, William Booth: Israeli prosecutors target group that collects testimony on soldiers’ conduct
An Israeli organization that publishes anonymous testimony from soldiers, often alleging use of excessive force against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, appeared in court Sunday to fight the government prosecutor’s demand that the group reveal its sources. The organization of current and former soldiers, called Breaking the Silence, released a sobering report last year on the 2014 Gaza war that included anonymous testimony suggesting that permissive rules of engagement coupled with indiscriminate artillery fire contributed to mass destruction and a high number of civilian casualties in the coastal enclave. Many Israeli leaders have branded the group’s activists as traitors, funded by foreign donors, whose anonymous and unverifiable testimonials are used to undermine the Israel Defence Forces and to smear the country before an international audience. Israel’s state attorney is seeking a court order to force the group to reveal names of soldiers whose testimonies appear in the Gaza report.
Haaretz, Robi Niv: Israel's Next War Won't Be Avigdor Lieberman's Fault
Niv tells his audience to ‘just chill’ concerning Lieberman’s appointment and the possible aftermath, citing the depressing statistic that ‘[e]very two or three years on average we have a war, and it doesn’t matter who the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister are, or which parties they come from’. The author proceeds to speculate as to how the next war will break out based on past ones: ‘[s]omeone will kidnap and/or murder soldiers or civilians, and in response the inner cabinet will…send us to war. Niv predicts that the unofficial theme of the next war will be “more”-‘more determination, more firepower, more killing, more everything.
Jerusalem Post, Editorial: Face to Face
Following Netanyahu’s rejection of the French peace initiative, the editorial presents the argument that the Palestinians have successfully been ‘avoiding’ any kind of direct negotiations with Israel for a long time and that Netanyahu is ready to renew talks with Abbas ‘without preconditions’. The reason behind this, according to this piece, is that Palestinians ‘expect international forums…to impose Palestinian statehood on Israel without the PA having to make any of the compromises necessary to sustain such an agreement’. The author compares the Palestinian leadership’s alleged dodging of direct talks to Yasser Arafat’s failure in 2000. In the end, the editorial accuses a new generation of Palestinians of spreading ‘vile anti-Semitism’ and ‘planting the seeds of future terrorism’. The author finishes off with the famous Abba Eban saying that Palestinians do not miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity, in reference to the various peace talks Palestinian leaders have rejected over the course of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Ma’an News Agency, Ramzy Baroud: Time to end the ‘hasbara’: Palestinian media and the search for a common story
Baroud argues that ‘[f]or many years, Palestinian media has been on the defensive’ in the fight against the Israeli media campaign propaganda and the historical and cultural falsifications it propagates through its ‘hasbara’. The task for Palestinian intellectuals, claims Baroud, is ‘to construct their own lucid narrative that is free from the whims of factions and personal gains’ in light of the Palestinian leadership’s failure to achieve political unity. This of course, the author claims, won’t be easy as there are a plethora of political, historical and cultural issues that are deeply divisive amongst Palestinians. Nonetheless, Baroud believes that ‘[e]ven the most compromising of Palestinians can acknowledge the centrality of the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and the destruction of their towns and villages in 1947-48’ and that a common denominator should at the very least be condemning the ‘hideousness and violence of the occupation’. The opinion piece ends on a more positive note, praising the progress that Palestinians have made in trying to coordinate this shared narrative and that this must continue to continue ‘raising global awareness and holding Israel accountable for its occupation and violations of human rights’.

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