Israel - Palestine news this week
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Israel-Palestine News 19th - 30th August 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. We do not currently have the capacity to provide translations of actual Hebrew and Arabic media, so bear in mind that news agencies that issue articles in those languages may not produce the same content as the English versions of their outlets provided here (e.g. Aljazeera Arabic and Aljazeera English do not simply produce the same content in both languages). 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)
Haaretz, Israel Plans to Expand Jewish Settlement in Hebron
The first expansion in Hebron for a decade will allow new housing only allowed for a handful of homes. Earlier this year the Defense Ministry issued a planning permit for several housing units for Jews in city’s H2 area, which is under full Israeli control. The units are to be built on land that belongs to the military’s Mitkanim outpost.A special team has been planning the settlement’s expansion in recent months. The planning is at an early stage. Israeli sources say the land is private property that belonged to Jews before the establishment of the state in 1948. Settlers in Hebron agree. “The land has always been known to belong to the Jewish community,” said a spokesman for Hebron settlers, Noam Arnon. Peace Now and other groups on the left disagree. “There is an attempt here to overturn a High Court decision that forbade building settlements on land seized for military use,” said Peace Now’s Hagit Ofran. “The settlement in Hebron is the most extreme and callous of all, and the Netanyahu government is trampling legal standards to build a settlement exactly where the occupation and separation are the most callous and severe,” she said.  

The Times of Israel, Turkey: Restored ties won’t halt criticism of Israel on Gaza
The newly restored ties between Israel and Turkey have not changed Ankara’s position on the Palestinians, the Turkish foreign ministry said on Monday 22nd August as it condemned Israel’s airstrikes in the Gaza Strip a day earlier. “The normalization of ties with Israel does not compel us to remain silent on the attacks against the Palestinian people in Gaza,” the ministry said in a statement, according to the Anatolia news agency. “We will continue to protect the Palestinians from Israeli actions that violate the law and human conscience,” the statement said. The Israel Defense Forces carried out a series of airstrikes in the Gaza Strip late Sunday, targeting 50 Hamas positions in response to a Palestinian rocket attack that hit the Israeli border town of Sderot. The foreign ministry’s statement came as Turkish police arrested five people who earlier on Monday tried to break into Israel’s consulate in Istanbul to protest the Israeli bombardment. The incident came days after Turkey’s parliament approved a reconciliation pact reached with Israel last month, ending a six-year rift and paving the way for the mutual re-appointment of ambassadors. Already tense relations between the former allies imploded in 2010 following an Israeli naval raid on the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish aid ship trying to breach Israel’s blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. The raid left 10 Turks dead and several IDF soldiers wounded. Under the terms of the reconciliation agreement, Israel will pay a “lump sum” of $20 million in compensation to the victims within 25 days. Individual Israeli nationals will not be held criminally or financially liable for the incident.  

The Jerusalem Post, Majority of Israelis and Palestinians still support two-state solution
51% of Palestinians and 59% of Israelis back the two-state solution, despite the recent stagnation in the peace process, according to a poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Polling and Survey Research (PCPSR) and the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI). However, when the pollsters presented Israelis and Palestinians with a hypothetical peace agreement based on previous negotiations, only 39% of Palestinians and 46% of Israelis supported it. Interestingly, when incentives were introduced, the figures changed dramatically. 26% of Israelis said they would change their minds, if the proposed peace deal included peace with all Arab nations in the framework of the Arab Peace Initiative, while 34% of Palestinians said they would change their minds, if Israel acknowledged responsibility for creating the refugee problem, giving a clue to the sort of issues which are of the most importance to Israelis and Palestinians. 

Israel Hayom: More illegal Palestinian arms seized in fresh West Bank raid 
A trove of illegal weapons and munitions was discovered Tuesday night during an Israel security forces raid on several weapons mills in the Bethlehem area. A joint operation by the Judea and Samaria District Police and the military's Etzion Brigade, Tuesday's raid was the second operation this week targeting illegal Palestinian weapon manufacturers and dealers across Judea and Samaria. The search yielded a hunting rifle, guns, dozens of rifle barrels, a large variety of gun magazines, hundreds of bullets, and a large number of firearm components such as triggers and safeties, as well as military clothing. A military official described the raids as part of "the biggest operation carried out this year against illegal arms" in Judea and Samaria. He said two suspects, one of them a "high-profile arms dealer," were arrested during Tuesday's raid. Both have been turned over to the Shin Bet security agency for interrogation. A military source with the Judea and Samaria Division told Israel Hayom the troops were surprised by the sheer quantity of illegal arms seized. "We thought they [the Palestinians] would be a little more sophisticated. We didn’t expect to just find them [the weapons] lying around." The raids, he said, raise concerns "because we saw the substantial production potential of those mills. They were computerized and far more advanced than what we've seen before. The plan is to find all of them, seize [the weapons] and stop production." 

The Times of Israel: Israel targeted ‘key Hamas strategic assets’ in Sunday’s barrage
In last Sunday night’s bombardment (21st August), the Israel Defense Forces struck “key Hamas strategic assets” in the northern Gaza Strip, military sources said Tuesday, shedding more light on the harsher-than-expected response to a rocket attack from the coastal enclave. After a projectile from Gaza landed in the southern Israeli town of Sderot on Sunday, the IDF retaliated with what has become the routine response of a limited strike, hitting two Hamas installations in the northern Gaza Strip, the army said. Hours later, the IDF conducted another, considerably larger barrage, carrying out approximately 50 strikes against Hamas infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, using both tanks and aircraft. These targets were not directly related to the rocket launch, nor were they only an attempt at creating a deterrent effect. Rather, the IDF took advantage of the opportunity presented by the attack to take out Hamas strategic assets. With few exceptions, the army’s policy toward Hamas in Gaza has been only to retaliate, not to initiate, an officer in the IDF’s Southern Commandtold The Times of Israel in November. Though the IDF often has extensive intelligence on the terrorist group’s dealings in the Gaza Strip, “we don’t respond to everything, because we don’t want to escalate the situation,” the officer said. When a rocket is fired into Israel, however, that dynamic changes and the IDF has a certain legitimacy in targeting terrorist infrastructure in the coastal enclave, as occurred on Sunday night. It was immediately noted that Israel’s bombardment on Sunday was larger than most retaliatory strikes. “There were approximately 50 airstrikes within two hours,” a senior military official told The Times of Israel. “But there is no intention to escalate the situation further.” Hamas quickly claimed the response was an attempt by Israel to change the status quo in Gaza — and Israel agreed. “You can’t expect the State of Israel to allow [Hamas] to rearm itself, to steal money from the residents of Gaza. They are levying taxes and not constructing buildings, but tunnels,” Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said on last Tuesday morning at an army base in the Galilee. 

Arabic News Sources (English versions)
PNN: 3 injuries in Israeli shelling on Gaza

The Israeli occupation army fired missiles into the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun on Sunday afternoon and evening, injuring three Palestinians. Reports of an air raid over Beit Hanoun emerged at around 10 p.m, causing light injuries. Israeli F16 warplanes fired two missiles at Beit Hanoun. 10 artillery shells rocked the city’s eastern corner moments after. Ambulances rushed to the scene to evacuate the casualties. Earlier in the day, spokesman for the Ministry of Health in the blockaded Gaza Strip, Ashraf al-Qudra, announced that a young Palestinian man in his twenties was injured as a result of an Israeli artillery shelling targeting a resistance training site in Beit Hanoun. Local sources said three artillery shells fired by the Israeli occupation army targeted an agricultural land in al-Misriyine neighborhood in Beit Hanoun. Furthermore, Israeli artillery shells landed in the Filistin training ground which Hamas fighters use for resistance drills. The shells were fired minutes after the Israeli army alleged that a rocket was launched from the Gaza Strip and hit the city of Sderot, with no injuries or damage reported by the Israeli army. The Israeli occupation forces have often launched airstrikes at several sites allegedly used by Palestinian resistance groups in the besieged coastal territory in response to rockets fired from the enclave. 

Maan News Agency: Israeli forces kill Palestinian near Nablus 
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli forces on Wednesday near Nablus after allegedly attempting to stab an Israeli soldier, according to Israeli sources. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an that Palestinians were "hurling stones" from a vehicle near Israel's Ariel settlement on Route 60, when Israeli forces began to chase their vehicle. During the pursuit, one Palestinian reportedly exited the vehicle and tried to stab an Israeli soldier in the neck. According to the spokesperson, the soldier opened fire on the Palestinian, which "resulted in his death." The Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed the Palestinian was killed at the scene. A Ma'an reporter identified the slain Palestinian as Sari Muhammad Abu Ghurab, 24, from the village of Qabatiya in the northern West Bank district of Jenin. Israeli media reported that the Israeli soldier suffered light wounds during the incident. Since a wave of unrest swept across the Palestinian territory and Israel in October, at least 219 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis while allegedly carrying out attacks or attempting to carry out attacks on Israeli targets, or during clashes with Israeli forces during raids in Palestinian communities. Scores of Palestinians have also been detained for allegedly possessing knives or attempting to carry out stabbing attacks. Some 32 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians during the same period. Israel has come under repeated criticism for failing to carry out due process in response to alleged and actual attacks, particularly in regard to the apparent extrajudicial executions of Palestinians who no longer posed a threat when they were killed. 

Al Jazeera: Rights groups say Israel behind death threats campaign
The threats have come via emails, phone calls, and once with flowers delivered directly to the front door.  Amid months of sustained intimidation, harassment and threats, Palestinian human rights defenders are coming forward to denounce a campaign that they say aims to "plant fear" into their efforts to hold Israel accountable for human rights violations. "This is a very organised and advanced campaign," said Shawan Jabarin, director of Al Haq, a prominent Ramallah-based Palestinian human rights organisation. "The goal is to stop us [from] dealing actively with the [International Criminal Court], cooperating actively with the ICC," Jabarin told Al Jazeera. "They want to plant fear on our side … when it comes to accountability [and] when it comes to our advocacy work." Earlier this month, Al Haq's researcher at the ICC, Nada Kiswanson, told the Dutch press that she had received death threats and other intimidations for several months, including letters, emails and phone calls to her home and family members. A man phoned Kiswanson's family members in Sweden and, in heavily accented Arabic, told them she would "disappear" if her work at the ICC continued, Jabarin said.  Kiswanson also received a call from a woman purporting to be from the Dutch Health Ministry, who asked for her home address to send her a survey and information about the Zika virus. Shortly thereafter, Kiswanson received flowers at her door, a threatening note attached to them. Jabarin said the delivery originated in Amsterdam. Previous death threats levied against Al Haq staff members have been "directly connected" to their work at the ICC, according to Amnesty International. At the same time, leaflets misrepresenting Al Haq's work - which featured the organisation's name and logo and asked for donations in support of refugees - were also distributed to homes in The Hague, Jabarin said. In addition, Al Haq's international donors have received calls alleging that the organisation was being investigated for corruption, while faked internal emails told staff members that the organisation was having funding problems and that they should find new jobs, he said. Dutch authorities have been investigating the Kiswanson case, but Al Haq did not have any information about potential suspects for that or any of the other incidents. "Israel is behind it," Jabarin alleged. "Criminals, all the time, they are afraid. When you start searching and looking to identify them, they will become afraid. For them, it's easy to defeat politicians, but it's not easy for them to defeat the human rights defenders." 
Middle East Eye: Israeli police arrest Palestinian days after release from 14 years in prison
Israeli police in Jerusalem said on Friday they arrested a Palestinian man just days after he completed a 14-year prison sentence for a plot to poison diners at an Israeli restaurant. A police statement said the man was detained on Thursday in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Jabal Mukaber, where he lives. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the suspect was arrested for "supporting terrorism". Rosenfeld did not identify the man, but Israeli media said he was Sufian Abdu, an accomplice in a 2002 plan by Palestinian cook Othman Qihanya to kill customers at a west Jerusalem landmark, Cafe Rimon, on behalf of the Palestinian party Hamas. The Jerusalem Post said Abdu had left prison only three days prior to his arrest. Police said he was suspected of "supporting and identifying with a terror organisation," without elaborating. Israeli public radio said he was detained again because of "the waving of Hamas flags and the voicing of calls to violence and incitement against Israel" at a party to welcome him home from prison. He was brought before a magistrate on Friday and remanded in custody for further questioning by the Jerusalem police "minorities" (Palestinian affairs) unit, a police statement said. Before his arrest, Abdu said Israeli jails are witnessing increased tensions because of the maltreatment of Palestinian prisoners, Arabic-language news website Alwatan Voice reported. Activists point to double standards in Israeli incitement laws, which largely target Palestinians while ignoring extreme statements and calls for violence by Israelis. "Like virtually all aspects of life in Israel, how the incitement law is applied depends on ethnicity," writer Alex Kane wrote in a Mondoweiss column in 2015. "Palestinian citizens are routinely investigated and arrested for incitement to violence for comments that don’t come close to the edge of violent speech." 

Ma’an News Agency: Peace Now: New settlement will add 100 more Israeli settlers in Hebron
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli human rights group Peace Now revealed further information on a planned settlement in the location of an Israeli military base in the occupied West Bank district of Hebron, saying that the settlement plan would increase the number of Israeli settlers by 100. The group said in the statement that Israel’s Housing Ministry was planning to build 28 housing units at the military compound of Plugat Hamitkanim for Israeli settlers, after former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon approved a portion of the land for allocation to the ministry, adding that the move would increase the settler population in the city by 10 percent -- adding approximately 100 settlers to the area. While Peace Now reported on Monday that the renovations for the housing units were already underway, the statement on Tuesday said the planning process for the new settlement had not yet begun in the Israeli Civil Administration's High Planning Committee. Despite a legal opinion issued by the administration’s legal adviser in 2007 which concluded that it was forbidden to establish a settlement at the base, the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved the units for the settlement anyway. The housing plan reportedly seeks to sidestep the law by deducting the area in question from its military designation. However, Peace Now highlighted in the statement that, according to the administration’s legal adviser, the land was leased to the Hebron municipality in a protected lease agreement -- first by the Jordanians and then by Israel -- and should the military seizure be lifted, the land must be returned to its Palestinian tenants. According to the statement, the Ministry of Justice was quoted on Israel’s Army Radio as saying the legal modifications were a result of an “internal discussion” that “"essentially the protected tenancy ended in the area, and that on the face of this there are extenuating circumstances on the matter.” “Today the intention is to use the land for a settlement rather than for a security need. The argument that the right of the Hebron Municipality for protected tenancy has ended is essentially a way of turning the military seizure order to a land expropriation,” Peace Now argued. 

US-UK News Sources 
The Guardian:  Celtic fans raise more than £130,000 for Palestinian charities after flag protest
Celtic fans have raised more than £130,000 for Palestinian charities in an attempt to match an impending Uefa fine for displaying Palestinian flags at a match against an Israeli team. European football’s governing body began disciplinary proceedings against the Glasgow club last week after a number of fans displayed the flags during their 5-2 home victory against Hapoel Be’er Sheva in a Champions League qualifier. The return leg in Israel on Tuesday night finished 2-0 to Hapoel Be’er Sheva. No Palestinian flags were in evidence and the match appeared to pass without incident. The Green Brigade group of supporters set up an appeal on the gofundme website on Sunday to match the anticipated fine, and donations passed £80,000 on Tuesday morning.The fans are raising money for Medical Aid Palestine, which delivers health and medical care to those “worst affected by conflict, occupation and displacement”, and the Lajee Centre, a cultural and sports project for children in Aida refugee camp, in Bethlehem.
The Guardian: Israel launches up to 50 strikes on Gaza after rocket attack on Sderot
Responsibility for the rocket attack on Sunday the 21st was initially claimed by Ahfad al-Sahaba, one of the small Salafi groups that have recently become more active in Gaza, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. It prompted a wave of up to 50 retaliatory attacks, according to Israeli military sources, hitting several of Gaza’s armed Palestinian factions. Several Palestinians were injured in military raids.The raids broke the pattern of limited Israeli retaliation during periods of relative quiet, leading the Islamist group Hamas to accuse Israel of escalating tensions, which Israel denied.  The rocket strike on Sderot is the first significant incident since the far-right Israeli politician Avigdor Lieberman became defence minister. It comes after Lieberman set out his guiding principles for dealing with Palestinian affairs, in which he invoked the “carrot and stick approach” and a desire to sideline the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank. 

Reuters: In crime-ridden Israeli Arab city, police seek new approach
The Israeli-Arab city of 50,000, Umm al-Fahm, is overrun by violent crime at the hands of drug gangs. Reprisals are common. Israeli Jews rarely set foot in the city. With murder rates and other criminal activity far higher among Arabs - 59 percent of all murders are committed by Arabs, police records show - the government is hoping a multi-year, multi-billion-dollar plan to bolster policing will tackle the problem and put Arab municipalities on a better footing. As well as extra policing -- at a cost of $500 million -- there is a proposal for a general boost in spending in Arab areas, where nearly half the population lives below the poverty line, double the national rate. In a signal of its commitment, the national police in April promoted an Arab Muslim officer to its second highest post, for the first time in its history, and has announced plans to build more police stations and recruit more Arab officers. But the residents of Umm al-Fahm say they have seen no change so far, and there is little optimism. Weeks after Deputy Commissioner Jamal Hakrush's promotion, two Umm al-Fahm men were murdered hours apart. Much of the crime is Arab-on-Arab.

FOX- Palestinian authorities abuse journalists, activists, human rights group says

Palestinian authorities are silencing dissent by cracking down on free speech and abusing local journalists and activists critical of their policies, a leading international human rights group said Tuesday. Human Rights Watch said both the Western-backed Palestinian Authority led by President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank and its rival, the ruling Islamic militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip, are "arresting, abusing, and criminally charging journalists and activists who express peaceful criticism of the authorities." "The Palestinian governments in both Gaza and the West Bank are arresting and even physically abusing activists and journalists who express criticism on important public issues," said Sari Bashi, the Israel and Palestine country director at Human Rights Watch. HRW said that in the West Bank, Palestinian forces arrested activists and musicians who "ridiculed Palestinian security forces" and "accused the government of corruption" in statements posted on Facebook or stated in graffiti and rap songs. Tarik Abu Zaid, a journalist with the Hamas-allied al-Aqsa TV station, said he has been arrested by the Palestinian Authority three times, most recently in March, and held for a month each time. "For the first week, the investigation was friendly," he said. "But by the end of the first week, they started using several ways of physical and psychological torture to make me confess to charges that I didn't do." He said he was forced to stand and prevented from sleeping for three days and beaten in the genitals by an interrogator. Jamal Dajani, spokesman for the West Bank government, said any such incidents were "isolated" and did not reflect official government policy. He said in some cases, journalists were arrested under defamation laws. In Gaza, Hamas officials declined comment. 

The Telegraph: Why Israel and the Arab nations are slowly drawing closer together

The relationship is that of a mistress to a married man: one party eager for public acknowledgment, in hope of legitimising her questionable social status, the other desperate to keep it in the shadows for fear of the domestic consequences. Most Arab states risk popular fury if they were to normalise relations with Israel in the absence of a just settlement to the Palestinian issue. There is no question about what has prompted this rapprochement. Over the past decade, Iran’s proxies and allies have grown more active and powerful. For instance, the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, fostered by Iran in the 1980s, points its vast missile stockpile across the border to Israel – but also fights against Gulf-backed forces in Syria and Yemen. Meanwhile, the US and Europe have chosen to avoid a major confrontation with Iran. They struck a nuclear deal with Tehran last year. Naturally, the Arabs and the Israelis have acted on the dictum that the enemy of your enemy is your friend. The UK has demanded that Arab allies take on more responsibility for their security rather than calling on us to intervene. Why should we complain if they seek others’ help in doing so? Our partnerships with Israel and the Gulf states will remain crucial to fighting terrorism and remaining in a position to intervene in the Middle East when our interests demand it. Iran is not a realistic substitute: its regime remains divided between the pragmatic leadership and hardliners who seek to sabotage it. Iranian forces continue to support the Syrian regime in its brutal war. However, we should reject the view that being good allies to the Gulf and Israel means distancing ourselves from Iran. The nuclear deal emboldened Iran, but also averted a war that would have been ruinous to us, Israel and Arabs alike.    

Haaretz: The IDF Is Not a Gang, It Needs 'A Lawyer by Its Side' to Prevent Needless Escalation
The Israel defence minister seems to think that the military would be better off without the practical positions that keep it accountable to itself. Before his appointment as defence minister Lieberman publicly voiced his support for Sgt. Elor Azaria, who is charged with killing a gravely wounded Palestinian assailant in Hebron. On Monday, he expressed himself on the same issue, while also addressing a more recent incident, of a soldier charged with causing a Palestinian’s death in the West Bank town of Silwad. For Lieberman, the best defence is always an attack, with the “media” as the target for ostensibly making a judgement on these cases. Lieberman is being disingenuous as the media has only reported the utterances of officials in the chain of command and outside it, including Lieberman’s remarks in favour of Azaria, and those of his predecessor, Moshe Ya’alon, and Chief of General Staff Gadi Eisenkot, against Azaria’s actions. Ya’alon isn’t authorized to convict, and never purported to be, while Lieberman isn’t authorized to acquit. Lieberman doesn’t want to publicly confront the chief of staff, and thus strikes out at an easier target, “the media.” Inciting against it and identifying it with “the enemy,” he called on the media to “strengthen Israeli deterrence against its enemies, and not deter Israeli soldiers in their struggle against terrorists.” The essence of his argument is that “people who fight terrorism every day can’t pursue their mission with a lawyer at their side.” He should know: During 20 years of police questioning Lieberman needed more than one lawyer at his side. But in a military context, his argument is incorrect. The Israel Defence Forces goes on every mission, from a bombing to a patrol, accompanied by a lawyer. That lawyer is the attorney general, as the authorized interpreter of Israeli law and judicial rulings, and the military advocate-general, the representative of the rule of law in the military. There is a legal, moral, and practical reason for this. The military is not a gang, and indiscriminate firing will lead to an escalation that will harm Israel. Lieberman wraps himself in the pretensions of the minister responsible for the army, but he is in fact encouraging gang-like behaviour.  
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