Arabic News Sources (English versions):
PNN: May: 26 violations against media freedoms in Palestine
May 2016 witnessed limited decline in numbers of violations against media freedoms in Palestine compared to the previous month, The Palestinian Centre for Development and Media Freedoms “MADA” monitored a total of 26 violations against media freedoms (where 16 violations were committed by Israeli Occupation, and 10 violations were committed by different Palestinian Apparatuses, while during April an overall amount of (29 violations) committed by both Israeli and Palestinian parties.
Al Arabiya: Palestinians in distress as Israel cuts water supplies in West Bank
Palestinians living in the northern West Bank region have a new challenge at hand this Ramadan with Israel frequently turning off water supplies to these areas. As a result, tens of thousands of Palestinians are in desperate need of water and becoming dependent on water tanks, which come at an additional expenditure of 250 shekels (Dh237). According to a Gulf News
report, Israel’s national water company, Mekorot, has either reduced or cut off supplies to major areas of the northern West Bank to prioritize supplies to Israeli colonies. The disruption, which has been going on since the beginning of Ramadan, is causing distress to Palestinians in the area. According to the report, Mekorot cut off water supplies to the entire governorate of Jenin, several Nablus villages, the city of Salfit and surrounding villages. The company operates all West Bank water wells and has reportedly taken the decision without prior notice. “Residents suffer badly in this hot weather and at this time of Ramadan,” Jenin mayor, Ragheb Al Haj Hassan, was quoted by the newspaper as saying. “Israel and Israel only is responsible for the water cuts as agreements signed with Israel clearly state that Mekorot should provide the northern areas of the West Bank with their needs of water,” Haj Hassan said.
Al Jazeera, Dalia Hatuqa: UN concerned about 'Israel's excessive use of force
The year 2015 marked the highest number of deaths and injuries among West Bank Palestinians caused by Israeli forces in a decade, a United Nations report has said. Israeli casualties - soldiers, civilians and settlers - in the West Bank and Israel were also the highest in that same period, according to the report. Entitled Fragmented lives: Humanitarian overview 2015, the report has been released each year by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) in the occupied territories since 2011. It provides an overview of the causes of the humanitarian vulnerabilities in the occupied Palestinian territory in a given year. The 2015 report found the Israeli occupation "to be the main trigger of humanitarian needs among Palestinians in the occupied territory." The last quarter of 2015 saw a wave of lone-wolf attacks, largely by young disgruntled Palestinians, leading to the highest number of casualties among Israelis since 2005. But these incidents also raised concerns, the UN said, about Israel's "excessive use of force and arbitrary deprivation of life, both in the context of clashes and in response to Palestinian attacks, including multiple cases where perpetrators and alleged perpetrators were shot and killed on the spot by Israeli forces."
Ma’an News Agency: Israeli settler group receives approval for construction of 4-story building in East Jerusalem
On Wednesday, Israeli authorities approved a building permit for a pro-settlement organization to construct a 4-story building in the area of Batan al-Hawa in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem, according to a statement by Israeli human rights group Ir Amim. Israel’s Local Planning and Building Committee approved the permit for the building that will expand the control of the controversial settler group Ateret Cohanim further into the heart of the Silwan neighbourhood -- a Palestinian area targeted by settler groups due to its close proximity to the the Al-Aqsa Mosque, referred to as the Temple Mount by Jews and revered as the holiest site in Judaism. Ateret Cohanim is an Israeli pro-settlement non-profit organisation-receiving tax-deductible donations from the United States through their financial intermediary American Friends of Ateret Cohanim-which focuses on “Judaizing” East Jerusalem through a Jewish reclamation project working to expand illegal settlements and facilitate Jewish takeover of Palestinian properties across the “Green Line” into Palestinian territory.
Al Jazeera: Israel extends detention of Palestinian clown
Israel has renewed the administrative detention of a Palestinian circus performer for another six months after arresting him without charge in December 2015. Mohammad Abu Sakha, 23, teaches at the Palestinian Circus School in Birzeit, near Ramallah. His case stirred global calls for his release after he was arrested on his way to work at the Zaatara checkpoint near Nablus and taken to Israel's Megiddo prison in the north. He was later transferred to Ketziot prison in the Negev, the country's south. Israel's military court claims Abu Sakha carried out unspecified "illegal activities" with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a political party with an armed wing that is banned by Israel. All alleged evidence that authorities purport to hold against him has been withheld, making it impossible for Abu Sakha to build an effective case to defend himself or challenge his arrest. "The arbitrary detention of Mohammad Abu Sakha is yet another shameful example of the Israeli authorities' abusive use of administrative detention. He has already spent more than six months behind bars without being charged or allowed to stand trial - he has been denied even the slightest semblance of justice," Philip Luther, director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at human rights group Amnesty International, said in a statement.
Hebrew News Sources (English versions):
Ynet News, Itamar Eichner: Israel named head of UN body for first time
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, was elected Chairman of the UN Legal Committee on Monday. The committee deals with sensitive topics including fighting global terrorism. This is the first time an Israeli representative will head a permanent UN committee since its induction into the organization in 1949. The result came after a long, complex diplomatic struggle by Israeli representatives worldwide. Their main opponents were the Arab nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
The Times of Israel, Raoul Wootliff: Next war with Hamas must be Israel’s last, top defense official says
A Senior Defense Ministry official said Wednesday that the next round of fighting in the Gaza Strip against the Hamas terror group must be the last. “A war of attrition is not an option. The next confrontation must be the last in terms of Hamas’s regime,” the unnamed official told Israeli reporters at a briefing. With strict border control and occasional large-scale operations, Israel works to deplete Hamas’s supply of weapons and fighters. Meanwhile Hamas, with rockets and “terror tunnels,” hopes to diminish Israeli resolve. In the IDF’s last foray into the Gaza Strip, in a 50-day 2014 conflict known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge, the goal was not to destroy Hamas but to deliver a “meaningful blow” to the terror organization and its tunnel network, according to the army’s own account. The official stressed that Israel does not seek another war, but says “Hamas is a growing threat.” In his first meeting with senior generals after appointed as defense minister last month, Avigdor Liberman hinted at a new strategy to deal with Hamas, suggesting he would not allow continued military conflicts in Gaza. The defense official also lashed out at Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, describing him as “the number one problem for Israel,” and saying he was not interested in bringing about a peace agreement. “Abu Mazen isn’t interested in progressing anywhere or beginning any process [towards peace],” he said. “That man doesn’t have the public support or the will to reach any arrangement or agreement.”
Haaretz, Gilli Cohen: Lieberman Bars Senior Palestinian Official From Israel Due to 'Subversive Activity'
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has revoked a senior Fatah official's entry permit to Israel. Mohammed al-Madani, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee, is considered close to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He also the chairman of the Committee for Interaction with Israeli Society. Lieberman said he has barred Madani from Israel because the official “embarked on subversive activity within Israeli society that included an attempt to establish political parties.” The defense minister said that “Madani tried to work with Israeli Bedouin and with Jews,” activity that he said was an unacceptable effort by a foreign agent to set up a party. Madani has tried to strengthen ties with Israelis through direct contacts. Among others, he met with Reuven Abergil, a former leader of Israel’s Black Panther movement, in a bid to foster a dialogue with Mizrahi Jews.
Ynet News, Elior Levy: Senior Hamas member defects to Israel
A senior Hamas member involved in building tunnel infrastructure, Bassam Mahmoud Baraka, turned himself and his family in to Israel during the first week of June, according to Gazan sources. Baraka, a son of a senior member of Hamas in Gaza, crossed the border into Israel with his wife and children and with valuable equipment, namely his laptop and secret maps apparently showing part of the tunnel infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. According to sources, on the day of his disappearance he arrived at the home of his wife's parents and said he was going out to run errands and would return in the evening. He then went with his family towards the border and there gave himself up with his equipment to Israeli security forces. The Red Cross officially informed his family in Gaza that Baraka is in Israel.
Jerusalem Post, Michael Wilner: White House: Congress' Israel missile aid proposal would 'consume' US missile budget
On Wednesday, the White House defended its rejection of a proposal by Congress to quadruple US missile defense aid to Israel, with one senior administration official calling it "the largest such non-emergency increase ever" and a bleed on America's own missile defense budget. "According to our experts, the levels submitted in the President's fiscal year 2017 Budget Request provide robust support to the Israeli missile defense programs," the senior official toldThe Jerusalem Post.
Congress proposed increasing US missile aid next year to Israel by $455 million– a proposal which, "if funded, would consume a growing share of a shrinking US Missile Defense Agency's budget," the official said. In a statement of administration policy released on Tuesday, the White House outlined its opposition to the increase. But it also declared opposition to a decrease in US missile defense funding in the amount of $324 million. "Given that funding for Israeli missile defense comes out of the same account as domestic missile defense programs, additional support for Israel means fewer resources are available for critical US programs at a time when the missile threat from North Korea is increasing," the official continued.
US-UK News Sources:
The Economist: A brutal attack in Tel Aviv shatters Israel’s relative peace
The Max Brenner restaurant in Tel Aviv’s Sarona neighbourhood was packed with diners on June 8th when two cousins from Yatta in the West Bank ordered drinks, drew makeshift machineguns and opened fire. Four Israeli civilians were killed and six injured by the time the two shooters, one of whom was affiliated with Hamas, were overpowered. Despite an initial assessment that the attackers had few accomplices and were most likely acting without the involvement of any organisation, the Israeli government’s initial response was to suspend 83,000 exit permits from the West Bank, originally issued for the month of Ramadan which began on June 6th. The Israeli army is planning to demolish the homes of the families of the two shooters. The attacks were the first in exactly three months to have killed any Israelis. A wave of violence by Palestinians aimed at Israeli civilians began in late September before petering out after six months. At its height, there were on average two attacks every day. Last month saw only a handful. Senior Israeli military and intelligence officers attribute the decline in violence to a tiredness within Palestinian society, improved intelligence work on the Israeli side and better co-ordination with the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) security forces. Before the killings in Tel Aviv on Wednesday night, Israeli intelligence officials were undecided whether this Ramadan would be relatively peaceful or if the religious fervour inspired by 30 days of consecutive fasts could spur renewed violence. They still have no clear idea whether it was an isolated incident or the start of a new wave.
The Telegraph: UN says Israeli ban on Palestinian entry may be collective punishment
Israel's cancellation of entry permits for Palestinians may amount to collective punishment, which is banned under international law, the United Nations' top human rights official said on Friday. The Israeli military on Thursday revoked permits for 83,000 Palestinians to visit Israel during Ramadan, following a deadly attack in Tel Aviv
, and said it would send hundreds more troops to the occupied West Bank after a Palestinian gun attack that killed four Israelis in Tel Aviv. On Friday, it said it was temporarily barring Palestinians from entering Israel. "In accordance with government directives and the ongoing situation assessment, as of today crossing from the Gaza Strip and Judaea and Samaria (the West Bank) will be open to Palestinians only in medical and humanitarian cases," said a spokeswoman. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said he condemns the attack but is deeply concerned about the revoking of permits "which may amount to prohibited collective punishment and will only increase the sense of injustice and frustration felt by Palestinians," spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told a news briefing.
Ynet News, Ben-Dror Yemini: Zionism didn't cause the Farhud, Israel didn't cause Sarona
Yemini opens by stating what he believes to be the common denominator behind the Sarona market attacks, the Orlando mass shooting and the ‘’Fahrud’’ against Iraqi Jews in 1941: ‘hate crimes’ as opposed to cries for liberation, freedom or crimes born out of ‘fear of the Zionist enterprise’. This is to be understood in the context of Huldai’s statement (Tel Aviv’s mayor) shortly after the attacks that the Sarona shooting was a product of Palestinian frustrations following 50 years of occupation. However, whilst Yemini shows sympathy for Palestinians and believes that they ‘deserve freedom and self-determination’, he very sharply criticises those who ‘have made the justification for Arab anti-Semitism and terrorism their life's work’. He believes that Huldai ‘transformed the murderers who came to Tel Aviv to peace activists’ and points the finger at Palestinians for rejecting several peace settlements in the past. He firmly argues that ‘[the Fahrud] didn't happen then for freedom and liberation, and today [Orlando and Sarona] didn't happen to promote freedom and liberation’.
Haaretz, Alona Ferber: How Israel Must Fight Violent Jewish Extremists
Feber begins by explaining the family links between Jewish terrorist Meir Ettinger and Rabbi Meir Kahane, who founded the far-right radical party Kach. Echoes of this racist (particularly Islamophobic) and violent party can still be heard today particularly within Lehava, the Israeli extremist group led by another Kahanist, Rabbi Bentzi Gopstein. The author stresses the importance of public institutions and civil society taking action against Jewish terrorism with the example of the Anti-Defamation League. It urged Israel’s attorney general to take action against Lehava’s ‘hateful discourse’ which it said harms Israel abroad and at home. Feber strongly believes that ‘[l]egal action would send a clear formal message that there is no place for Lehava’s hateful incitement in Israel’. She then purports preventive measures against the spread of domestic terrorism, such as ‘[engaging] with — and directly [challenging] — the ideas behind it, from the inside’. Ferber takes a particularly innovative approach to the problem when she raises the fact that ‘every ideological violent extremism has its non-violent fellow travellers’ and that ‘[t]heir insider status means they have unique persuasive power and authority — to stop activists taking a violent path’. However, this is not going far enough, she says. ‘We also need initiatives that challenge the ideology and provide alternatives’ such as the 2006 “Yeh Hum Naheem” (This is Not Us) campaign Pakistan rallied which reinforces the distance between mainstream Islam and extremism.
The Times of Israel, Daniel Polisar: Palestinian public opinion is behind Tel Aviv terror attack
Polisar highlights the Israeli public’s failure to grasp one of the key clues explaining the Tel Aviv shootings: recent opinion surveys conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research (PSR). Earlier this month, the PSR asked a series of questions to a representative sample of 1,270 Arab residents of the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Gaza including whether they supported or opposed the April suicide bombing on a Jerusalem bus in which a young Palestinian from the Bethlehem area injured more than 20 Israelis. According to a press release summarising the results, ‘Palestinians expressed their support by a margin of more than two to one (65% to 31%)’ explains the author. He argues that these results are unsurprising to ‘anyone following PSR’s surveys over the past two years’ and quotes similar results emerging from previous surveys. The author concludes from this data that ‘rank-and-file’ Palestinians contemplating an attack against Israelis ‘will be seen as heroes’ at home and can be confident that if they succeed, ‘their actions will earn support and praise in their society — for themselves, their families, and the militant group to which they belong’.
Al Monitor, Akiva Eldar: Israel’s six options for peace
Eldar concisely outlines Maj. Gen. Udi Dekel’s six scenarios for peace, or at the very for least an improvement of the status quo. This is something which the author accuses both Abbas and Netanyahu of avoiding. He bluntly states that Netanyahu ‘can easily muster a solid majority in the Knesset to take action’, and if this backfires, he could take a similar track of action as Menachim did when he agreed to the Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula: chiefly ‘count on support from the opposition’. Dekel, who led the negotiation section in the Olmert government, proposed six options in terms of their greatest success if they were to be successful along with the minimum strategic gains Israel would secure if they didn’t establish peace. Option one involves offering ‘the Palestinians at the outset with a reasonable framework for a permanent arrangement’ such as the Clinton Parameters or the Olmert Proposal. At the very least, this would improve Israel’s image across the international community and pressure Palestinians to soften their positions. The second approach involves letting go of the negotiation attitude that “nothing is agreed on until everything is agreed on”. Instead, proposes Eldar, Israel and Palestine could strive to find common ground on relatively less complex issues like land swaps while carrying out moves on the ground, ‘such as changing the status of parts of West Bank Area C to Area A and evacuating illegal settlement outposts’. The third option sees the promotion of the 2003 road map and its requirement to freeze the construction of Israeli settlements and recognise the Palestinian state within temporary borders. The fourth option is the less realistic but nonetheless conceivable scenario of a ‘[u]nilateral Israeli withdrawal to the line of the separation fence’ with a discreet agreement between both sides regarding the handover of land from which Israel would withdraw. The fifth option would involve negotiation with the Palestinians within the framework of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative and a regional peace arrangement with the leading Arab states. The final option is Israel’s unilateral disengagement from the West Bank, including, according to Dekel, the evacuation of some 120,000 settlers living outside the main Jewish population settlement areas in the West Bank. Eldar reminds his readers of Einstein’s saying that doing the same thing over and over again whilst different results is insanity, and so would prolonging the status quo ‘without understanding that the next tragedy is already lurking down the road’.