Alerts and Reports 

Jerusalem District Court - don't expel the Sumarin Family from their home

A nearly 30-year battle comes to a significant turning point today, Tuesday, in a Jerusalem District Court hearing regarding the Jewish National Find (JNF-KKL) demand to evict the Sumarin Family from their home in Silwan, East Jerusalem.

At 8.30 am we will come to stand outside the District Court on Salah A Din St., East Jerusalem,

The demand for eviction of the Sumarin family is based on a discriminatory interpretation of the Absentee Property Law, which states that those who resided in what is legally defined as an enemy coultry stand to lose their property. This is despite the fact that the family has lived continuously in the house since it was built, by the family, in the 1950s.

We are coming to support the family and demand a fair decision! We will meet at 8:30 outside the District Court on Salah Din Street, Jerusalem - to show the family, judges, the public and the JNF that this injustice is totally unacceptable. To make it clear that the court can - and should - put an end to it.

The power to change the fate of the Somarin family is in the hands of the court - but also in the hands of the JNF. For more Information, and to join us in writing a letter to the JNF- KKL -

‘It’s a war crime’: Thousands rally in Tel Aviv against annexation

Meretz MK, Joint List leader says move would create ‘apartheid’; Sanders sends video message; police forcefully detain photojournalist covering event, arrest four demonstrators.

Thousands of Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv Saturday evening to protest Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pledge to begin annexing parts of the West Bank next month.Police initially sought to block the rally but backtracked Friday after meeting with organizers, who urged participants to wear masks and adhere to social distancing guidelines.Dozens of officers were securing the demonstration after police said attendance would be capped at 2,000, though the Haaretz daily put turnout at 6,000 people in what appeared to be the largest protest in the country since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The demonstration was organized by the left-wing Meretz party and the Communist Hadash faction of the majority-Arab Joint List, along with several other left-wing rights groups.MK Nitzan Horowitz, the head of Meretz, told the crowd that annexation would be a “war crime” and would cost Israel millions as the economy is already reeling due to the pandemic.“We cannot replace an occupation of dozens of years with an apartheid that will last forever,” shouted a hoarse Horowitz. “Yes to two states for two peoples, no to violence and bloodshed,” he continued. “No to annexation, yes to peace.” Horowitz said “annexation is a war crime, a crime against peace, a crime against humanity, a crime that will result in bloodshed.”He called out Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and Economy Minister Amir Peretz, accusing them of “raising their hands and crawling to the other side.”

The three center-left lawmakers had pledged not to sit in a government with Netanyahu, citing the premier’s indictment on graft charges, but after Israel’s third inconclusive election in March agreed to join him in a coalition.The coalition deal signed between Netanyahu’s Likud party and Gantz’s Blue and White allows the prime minister to begin moving forward with annexation on July 1. The parts of the West Bank that Israel will extend sovereignty over are those earmarked for it under US President Donald Trump’s peace plan.

“You have no mandate to approve this apartheid. You have no mandate to bury peace,” Horowitz yelled. The Meretz head claimed Netanyahu was being pushed to carry out the controversial move by the “messianic” Trump administration.“Make some noise so no one thinks that we’re a bunch of nerds,” the emcee shouted at the crowd after Horowitz’s speech.

)Fellow Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg savaged Trump’s peace plan as “a cursed deal between one man who’s trying to win an election and another who’s trying to escape a corruption trial,” referring respectively to the US president and Netanyahu.“Trump is not a friend of Israel. Bibi [Netanyahu] is not good for Israel,” she said, ironically echoing settler leaders who oppose the US plan due to its backing for a Palestinian state. “This [peace] deal has nothing to do with what is good for us, Israelis and Palestinians who live here in the Middle East.”She said the agreement would “officially make Israel an apartheid state… [Enacting] sovereignty [in the West Bank] without [granting] citizenship [to Palestinians] is apartheid,” she asserted.

Also addressing the rally was Joint List leader Ayman Odeh, who spoke from quarantine by video link after a member of his party contracted COVID-19. Odeh said all Jews and Arabs who support peace and justice must oppose Netanyahu’s plan to enact Israeli sovereignty over some 30 percent of the West Bank.“Annexation is apartheid,” Odeh told the cheering protesters.Odeh compared the protest against annexation to the Four Mothers protest movement in the late 1990s, which pressed the government to withdraw Israeli troops from southern Lebanon.

Labor MK Merav Michaeli, who opposed her party’s decision to join the new government, told protesters she came to Rabin Square as a representative of those in her center-left faction who oppose annexation.Michaeli said the move will damage relations with Jordan, which along with Egypt is the only Arab country to have full ties with Israel, as well as with close trade partners in Europe.She also bashed Gantz for agreeing to join a government that would carry out such a move.

Vermont senator and former Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders addressed the rally in a video message from the US.“I’m extremely heartened to see so many of you, Arabs and Jews alike, standing up for peace, justice and democracy,” the self-described Democratic socialist said.He added: “The plans to annex any parts of the West Bank must be stopped. The occupation must be ended and we must work together for a future of equality and dignity for all people in Israel and Palestine.”

Some of the protesters waved Israeli, Palestinian and Communist flags, with several dozen holding up pictures of Iyad Halak, a Palestinian man with autism who was shot dead by police last week in Jerusalem’s Old City. Police said they believed Halak had a gun; he was unarmed and holding a cellphone, and apparently did not understand the officers’ orders to stop.Ripping a page from protests in the US, Peace Now CEO Shaqued Morag told demonstrators to take a knee “in memory of George Floyd. In memory of Iyad Halak. In memory of all the victims of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”After the protest ended, police cleared a group of protesters who illegally blocked Ibn Gabirol street, a main thoroughfare in the city that runs by Rabin Square.

Police said five protesters were detained, including a photographer from the Haaretz daily who was covering the protest.A reporter at the newspaper tweeted that the photographer identified himself as a journalist, but was forcefully apprehended by officers.

Ahead of the rally, Knesset opposition leader Yair Lapid dismissed Netanyahu’s annexation vow as “spin” meant to distract the public’s attention from his ongoing corruption trial and the pandemic-induced economic crisis.“I think it’s spin by Netanyahu, who is trying to deflect attention from economic meltdown, including the collapse of independent businesses, and his criminal trial,” he told Channel 12 news in an interview.“I support the Trump plan. I oppose unilateral annexation,” Lapid added.

Saturday’s rally came amid a wave of regional and international criticism of the planned Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank under the peace plan being advanced by the Trump administration in the US.Much of the International community has already expressed strong opposition to the move, and the US has also recently intimated that it wants Israel to slow down.

Palestinians are vocal in their opposition to Trump’s plan, which gives Israel the green light to annex Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley, in what is intended to be part of a negotiated process but may go ahead unilaterally.

By Jacob Magid Times of Israel 6 June 2020,

Tel Aviv Protest Sat. June 6 - No to Occupation and Annexation!

Tel Aviv Protest Today Saturday June 6 - No to Occupation and Annexation!

Sat. June 6 at 7.00 PM at the Rabin Square, Tel Aviv

We'll all say

No to annexation and occupation! Yes to peace and democracy!

We, Jews and Arabs, will protest together for a different future for Israelis and Palestinians.

A future without occupation and bloodshed in which we all live in safety.

We will protest against the occupation and call out for peace and hope, against racism and for partnership.

Netanyahu and Trump want to perpetuate a violent reality of hate and separation.

They plan on cutting out and annexing parts of the west bank, pushing people out of their homes and depriving the Arab citizens living in the Triangle and Wadi Ara of their Israeli citizenship.

If their plans are realized – it will destroy any hope for a solution.

But we know there is a different way, of equality and justice, that we must fight for.

We cannot stay silent in the face of hatred and fear, of violence and oppression.

This evening no one should stay home!

We come out to Tel Aviv main city square, standing together for democracy based on peace and equality.

Note: During the past week the Tel Aviv police made enormous obstructions, denying a permit for the rally until late yesterday night (Friday) on the pretext that holding a rally might "spread the Coronavirus". The orgnizers made clear that they would not give up the democratic right to protest against a disastrous government policy, that the rally would be held with or without a police permit, and that measures would be taken to make sure that participants adhere to the rule of "social distancing" to prevent the spread of the Covid-19. "We are concerned for public health as we are concerned about the very harmful results of a 53-years old occupation and impending annexation. These two kinds of concern do not contradict - on the contrary, they complement each other. " Finally and very belatedly the police gave in and granted the permit.

Article from the Times of Israel

Tel Aviv rally against annexation plan to go ahead after police backtrack on ban Law enforcement want participants at Saturday evening protest limited to 2,000 although unclear how this would be enforced; Joint List chief won’t attend due to virus quarantine By TOI STAFF Today, 9:20

In this Saturday, April 25, 2020 photo, people keep social distancing amid concerns over the country's coronavirus outbreak, during "Black Flag" protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and government corruption, at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, Israel. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty) In this Saturday, April 25, 2020 photo, people keep social distancing amid concerns over the country's coronavirus outbreak, during "Black Flag" protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and government corruption, at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, Israel. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty) Police on Friday backtracked on a ban for a rally in Tel Aviv against Israel’s annexation plans, saying the protest can go ahead Saturday evening if social distancing regulations are maintained.

According to the Haaretz daily, organizers have pledged to mark up the city’s iconic Rabin Square so that demonstrators stand separated, and have pledged to avoid blocking surrounding roads and to limit the number of participants to 2,000. It was unclear how this could be enforced.

The event, entitled, “No to the occupation, no to annexation, yes to democracy”, was banned by police on Thursday, who said that current virus regulations did not permit marches despite there being no such clause in the rules. The ban was rescinded after meetings with organizers, who were asked not to advertise the event.

Police reportedly issued a formal permit for the rally after talks with MKs from the Joint List party and left-wing activists who said that demonstrators would gather at the square in any case.

Joint List leader Ayman Odeh speaks during a protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on April 19, 2020. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90) Joint List leader Ayman Odeh announced Friday that he would not be attending the rally as he remains in isolation after coming in contact with MK Sami Abou Shahadeh from his party who later tested positive for the coronavirus. Odeh said that even though he himself tested negative, he will remain quarantined under Health Ministry regulations.

“Unfortunately, I will not be able to show you on Saturday night, but I urge every Arab and Jewish citizen to come out and protest against the danger of annexation and occupation and for peace and democracy,” Odeh said in a video message.

Police forcibly broke up a rally late Thursday night, also at Rabin Square, against emergency coronavirus regulations, arresting 12 demonstrators. The protesters who were arrested had blocked traffic, attacked bystanders and police, and damaged property, the police said.

Saturday night’s rally comes amid a wave of regional and international criticism of the planned Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank under the peace plan being advanced by the Trump administration in the US.

After more than a year of political deadlock and two inconclusive elections, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and rival Benny Gantz in April joined in a coalition government and under their agreement, from July 1 Netanyahu can move ahead with his annexation project.

Much of the international community has already expressed strong opposition to the move and the US has also recently indicated that it wants Israel to slow down.

Palestinians are vocal in their opposition to US President Donald Trump’s Middle East plan, which gives Israel the green light to annex Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley in what is intended to be part of a negotiated process but may go ahead unilaterally.

Palestinians in the West Bank on Friday rallied to mark 53 years since the 1967 Six Day War and protest against the Israeli government’s annexation plans.

A Palestinian man throws a tire during clashes with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank village of Qusin near Nablus, June 5, 2020. (AP/Majdi Mohammed) In Tulkarem, in the northern West Bank, dozens of demonstrators waved Palestinian flags and chanted slogans. Israeli troops fired stun grenades and tear gas to repel protesters approaching a military checkpoint.

Near Tubas, also in the northern West Bank, a protester was wounded in the head by a rubber bullet fired by Israeli forces, the Palestinian Red Crescent said.

There was no immediate comment from the IDF.

Further protests took place in the West Bank cities of Ramallah, Nablus, Jericho, and the Jordan Valley, an area which could be annexed as part of the Israeli plan.

In the southern West Bank city of Hebron hundreds gathered, chanting against Israel and the US.

Friday’s protests coincided with the anniversary of what Palestinians call the Naksa, the defeat of Arab countries by Israel in the Six Day War of June 1967.

At the Posts of Jaffa and Acre: calling for an end to the Siege of Gaza

Saturday May 30: Protest event Commemorating ten years since the attack on the 2010 Freedom Flotilla.

End the Blockade on Gaza

Jointly organized by Palestinian and Jewish activists, this event means to commemorate together with the Freedom Flotilla Coalition a decade since the lethal attack on the first Flotilla and to call for the immediate and complete lifting of the illegal blockade off the Gaza Strip. On our minds are all Palestinian refugees around the world, those in the West Bank, living under military occupation and the threat of annexation and of course those in the blockaded Gaza Strip. The International Flotilla Coalition is planning another flotilla that will focus attention on a significant portion of the Palestinian population under Israeli occupation: young people and children who are half of Gaza’s population. This flotilla was scheduled to take place in May, but due to the Corona crisis and traffic restrictions imposed on large parts of the world, this plan has been postponed at this stage. Therefore our event will include two memorial gatherings streamed live from Acre and Jaffa as well as a webinar

Please register to the event here:

MK Aida Touma Suleiman will speak in Acre port MK Sami Abu Shehadaeh and Noa Levy will speak in Jaffa port Past participants on boats challenging the blockade will share their experience: Amira Hass, Sheik Hamed Abu Daabas, Rami Elhanan and Jeff Halper. We will also here from Marwan Mahmoud, a Palestinian from Gaza. The event will include poetry, music and singing contributed by the following artists: Dareen Tatour, Dror Feiler, Zeev Tene, Meira Asher, Tal Nitzan and Shmulik Tzur.

Especially now that the global corona crisis is making us aware on the one hand, of our interdependence and on the other, of the threat posed on the weakest populations in general and those under blockade in Gaza in particular- It is time for the international community to demand the lifting of the blockade off the Gaza Strip. The Freedom Flotilla will continue to sail, and other solidarity actions will perssist until Palestinian rights to freedom and life with dignity are respected!

Staff Sergeant Amit Ben Yigal was sacrificed on the altar of occupation

Gush Shalom mourns the unnecessary death of Staff Sergeant Amit Ben Yigal who fell in battle at the village of Ya’bad, where the State of Israel sent him to enforce occupation rule. Amit Ben Yigal joins a very long and painful line of young victims who were sacrificed by the State of Israel on the altar of a 53 years old occupation, on the altar of settlement expansion, on the altar of the annexation plans of the government which is to be inaugurated his week. Every minister and Knesset Member voting for annexation, for settlement expansion, for continued Israeli rule In the territory called in right-wing lingo "Judea and Samaria", must know that this vote would doom more young people to shed their blood in vain. There is no other solution, no other way to end the bloodshed, but the end of the occupation, the removal of the Israeli Army from all territories occupied in 1967 and the signing of a peace agreement between the sovereign state of Israel and the sovereign state of Palestine.

Contact: Adam Keller, Gush Shalom spokesperson +072-(0)54-2340749

Settler attacks increase under cover of coronavirus

Since the start of the corona crisis, Israeli settlers have ramped up attacks against Palestinians throughout the West Bank, with full state backing. The attacks have increased despite the movement restrictions, lockdowns and social distancing measures introduced to battle the pandemic.

During the first three weeks of this month (through 22 April), B’Tselem documented 23 settler attacks against Palestinians. In all of March, 23 incidents were documented, 11 of them after the severe restrictions on movement and social gatherings were imposed (mid-March). In comparison, 11 attacks were recorded in January and 12 in February. In these violent incidents, settlers, some of them carrying firearms, physically assaulted Palestinians with the aid of clubs, axes, electroshock weapons, stones and assault dogs, in some cases causing severe injury. Settlers also attacked homes, torched cars, vandalized and uprooted olive trees and other crops, and stole livestock.

These incidents took place throughout the West Bank, with several epicenters: the area around the recently expanded outpost of Havat Ma'on in the South Hebron Hills; the area around the settlement of Shilo and its adjoining bloc of outposts, with the villages of al-Mughayir, Turmusaya, Qaryut and Qusrah within target range; and the area around the settlement of Halamish, where another new outpost was recently erected. Settlers also harass Palestinian shepherds almost daily in the Jordan Valley, near the settlements of Rimonim and Kochav Hashahar, and in the South Hebron Hills. Settlers also graze their cattle and sheep in Palestinians' cultivated fields, mostly in the Jordan Valley, on a daily basis. These routine acts of harassment and vandalism are not included in the above data.

In a 13 April incident widely reported by Israeli media, a group of settlers sent by the authorities to self-isolate near a popular hiking spot along the northern Dead Sea (Metzoke Dragot) attacked Palestinians and torched their cars. Yet this was just one of eight physical assaults against Palestinians in the first three weeks of April.

A particularly serious incident took place on 16 April, when brothers ‘Issa and Musa Qatash from al-Jalazun Refugee Camp were attacked by settlers while out for a walk in their family plots near the village of Jibya. The brothers were beaten so severely that they required medical attention. The assault on ‘Issa Qatash was prolonged and resulted in a fractured bone in his leg and two broken front teeth. The settlers also spat at Qatash, which forced him to enter isolation in a Palestinian Authority facility for fear of corona infection, keeping him away from his family for several days after the traumatic event. He was released on 22 April and is now self-isolating at home.

‘Issa Qatash described the terrifying moments he endured in a testimony he gave to B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad on 18 April:

I could barely protect my head and face from the blows. Someone hit me hard on the mouth and I could feel my front teeth break. Blood started trickling into my mouth and down my face. I shouted and cried out: “For God’s sake, what did I do to you? Do you have no mercy? You’re killing me. Have mercy.” But none of them listened. At some point, I collapsed. I had no strength left. Then they tied my hands behind my back with some rope. The armed settler pointed his gun at my head and cocked it, as if he was going to shoot me in the head. I started reciting the “shahada” over and over: “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet.” I thought my time had come to die.

They kept on beating me and swearing at me, and threatened to kill me. Then they pulled me up on my feet. I could barely walk and it felt like my left leg was broken, but they forced me to walk. They led me, limping, through the wild oats, rocks, bushes and thorns. Every now and then I fell down, but they pulled me back up and forced me to keep walking. I was in a terrible state, bleeding from the mouth and hardly able to open my eyes, which were swelling up with every step I took. My throat was dry and I felt like I was dying of thirst. Psychologically, I was broken. It was a terrible situation, only God can imagine it. They kept slapping and kicking me and swearing at me the whole way. They spat on me, too.

In most of the other incidents this month, settlers violently drove Palestinian farmers and shepherds out of pastureland, prevented access to farmland and damaged crops. Settlers also vandalized hundreds of trees in just three weeks: about 180 olive trees in land belonging to the villages of Turmusaya and al-Mughayir, 30 in Qaryut, 50 in Ras Karkar, 15 in a-Tuwani and hundreds more, some of which were newly planted, in lands belonging to the village of al-Khader. These actions are part of a joint strategy by the settlers and Israeli authorities to systematically block Palestinian access to land – one acre, field, fertile plot, grove or pasture at a time – for decades on end, and take effective control of it. This way the state transfers the means of livelihood of Palestinians into the hands of Israelis. Settler violence is the state’s unofficial, privatized arm that serves to gradually achieve this goal.

The state’s full support for this violence is evident in the actions of Israeli security forces on the ground. Five of eight attacks on Palestinian homes in March occurred in the presence of soldiers, who not only allowed the settlers to do as they pleased but took action against Palestinians trying to protect their families and homes. In some cases, soldiers arrested residents, and in at least three incidents fired tear gas canisters at residents. In three incidents, the soldiers arrived with the marauding settlers or joined them early on in the assault. Similar incidents occurred in April, with soldiers firing rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas canisters at residents, as has happened in the villages of Qusrah and a-Shuyukh on 6 April. In the Qatash brothers’ case, after the assault, the settlers handed ‘Issa Qatash over to soldiers, who did not give him any medical assistance or help him get back to his family. Instead, they simply abandoned him in the field with a fractured leg.

For years, Israel has allowed settlers to attack Palestinians and damage their property virtually unimpeded, as a matter of policy. This includes provision of military protection for the attackers, and in some cases soldiers’ active participation in the assault. The police, meanwhile, hold back from enforcing the law on the offenders. This is part of Israel’s strategy to encourage the dispossession of Palestinians from growing areas throughout the West Bank, which paves the state’s way to take over more land and resources. The fact that this violence has exacerbated during a global pandemic adds another layer of brutality to Israel’s policy.

This week – April 5-12, 2020 – in the Occupied Territories

Taking advantage of the general closure (imposed by Israel to prevent Corona-virus spread), the Israeli settlers are constructing a series of new settler outposts on the hill range around Auja, expanding and building in the illegal outposts already existing in the South Hebron Hills, invade with their flocks sown Palestinian fields inside Area C and causing extensive damage to their Palestinian neighbors, nearly always without any interference by Israeli army and police; Palestinian communities in the South Hebron Hills have put up a network of checkpoints manned by volunteers in order to prevent the spreading of Corona among the rural communities there and the urban center of Yatta – the security official of Carmel settlement summoned the army in order to dismantle such a checkpoint at the entrance to the Palestinian hamlet of Umm Al Kheir; a fundraising campaign to aid shepherd families in need in the Palestinian Jordan Valley who are on the brink of famine following the state of emergency – update and link for donations at the end of the present report;

Pictured: Palestinian “Corona” checkpoint in the South Hebron Hills

Palestinian Jordan Valley and West Bank hill range

On the hill range, settlers are taking advantage of the closure and putting up three new outposts in the space between Rimonim and Kokhav Ha-Shachar and Auja. The Israeli security forces are not preventing this construction, but are preventing activists from coming to document it. On Friday (April 10) the Israeli police once more prevented an association employee from coming to document the new outpost near Rashash, and fined him again although repeated checks with the authorities affirmed that association employees are allowed to come there even during closure.

In addition, the settlers and their flocks continue to enter sown Palestinian fields around Tayibe-Rimonim, almost on a daily basis. Activists working for associations reached the sites nearly every day this week. When they come and film the goings-on, the settler-colonist leaves. On Sunday, April 12, after a blitz of phone calls by activists to the authorities, the Israeli army came there for the first time and ordered the settler and his flock away.

South Hebron Hills

Here too, settlers are taking advantage of the closure to build in their illegal outposts. On Monday, April 6, a new caravan and tents were spotted near Palestinian Tawane, erected by settlers from Havat Maon outside the wooded area, nor far from the new army post. On Wednesday, a concrete truck was documented ascending to Mitzpe Yair.

Close to Hali ravine in Tawane, 15 olive tree saplings were uprooted that had been planted by Palestinians in their privately-owned land several months ago. On Saturday, April 11, Palestinian landowners at Umm Al Arais discovered that settler-colonists had invaded their fields with livestock and caused extensive damage to the sown crops. In a nearby field from which settlers had been ordered away by ruling of the Supreme Court, cadavers of sheep had been found, thrown there by settlers of Mitzpe Yair (the only ones who dare approach the spot next to the outpost after years of attacking their neighbors and activists). In both cases, complaints were lodged with the authorities.

The occupation forces, whom international law considers responsible for preventing such incursions and destruction of Palestinian property, were busy elsewhere. On Monday, army and Civil Administration construction supervisors came to Umm Al Kheir to photograph an outdoor oven that has existed there for decades. On Saturday, April 11, soldiers reached the field of the Abu Kbeita family in the seam-line zone and broke the lock on the field’s gate.

Last Saturday, April 4, Palestinians of the area put up checkpoints at entrances to villages in order to prevent the entry of Corona-virus patients. The security official of the Carmel settlement saw such a checkpoint at the entrance to Umm Al Kheir and immediately summoned the army. A Civil Administration officer came and demanded of the inhabitants to dismantle the checkpoint within the hour, or else – army forces would arrive and “blow it away”. The checkpoint was not dismantled, and the threat was not acted upon.

Such checkpoints were also put up near Susya, and on the road from Tawane to Carmil. All in all, 21 such checkpoints have been erected around Yatta, manned 24 hours a day by volunteers from the area who ask questions and take people’s temperature, in order to prevent Corona virus patients from entering the various communities and Yatta town.

East Jerusalem

In Issawiya, Israeli police has let up on its harassment of the neighborhood inside, and is now focused on putting up checkpoints at the entrances to Issawiya, and distributing fines.

Last Friday, too, the weekly protest vigil at Sheikh Jarrah took place unhampered.

Yaacov Manor’s letter regarding the fundraising campaign to aid families in the northern Palestinian Jordan Valley:


As everyone knows, we have been fundraising in order to help families in need in the northern Palestinian Jordan Valley. About 20,000 shekels have already been collected thanks to generous donations by our friends. Together with our Palestinians friends there, we have decided to transfer an initial sum of 10,000 shekels, to be distributed among the 50 families most in need. Since we ran up against bureaucratic obstacles and because of the closure, we asked Mahdi to purchase products on credit and give them out along with a committee chosen for this purpose. The food has been distributed and today, April 12, dry food stuffs were supposed to be fully distributed. We also solved the problem of money transfers and tomorrow they will be receiving the full amount.

We received good news today, of an organization called “Help the Farmers” (probably under the aegis of the People’s Party), who will purchase dairy products from the shepherds and market them in the towns and cities. Unfortunately, due to a shortage of fresh food for the sheep and goats, the shepherds are forced to feed the lambs with lamb milk, which considerably lessens the amount of milk for the production of cheese, and thus less income…

From various sources we learn that in many villages farmers have been organizing to help families who do not manage to balance their budget during closure time.

We are looking into more places in need of food and launch more fundraising campaigns.

On behalf of the team members – Daphne, Tzvia and Hanna,


For donations to Palestinian families in need in the Palestinian Jordan Valley, please contact

Yaacov Manor – 050-5733276


Webinar tomorrow (Monday): Israel, Palestine and the International Court in the Hague

Dear Friends, You are invited to a Zoom webinar.

Tomorrow, Monday Apr 13, 2020 11:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada) 4:00 PM London 6:00 PM Jerusalem/Ramallah

The Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP) invites you to join a webinar on the ongoing issue of Israel-Palestine at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague.

The ICC is currently considering opening a formal probe into Israeli and Palestinian actions in the Occupied Territories. This webinar will examine that case -- what it is about, why and how it was brought before the ICC, and the controversy that it has generated.

Our expert panelists will also delve into the broader stakes involved in this case -- a case that is testing the legitimacy and viability of both the court and the international law it is designed to uphold.

Featuring: Dr Michael G Kearney (Al Haq) Hagai El-Ad (B'Tselem) Liz Evenson (Human Rights Watch) Katherine Gallagher (Center for Constitutional Rights)

In conversation with: Lara Friedman (Foundation for Middle East Peace)

For further details and registration:

Please note: in order to join us tomorrow you must register for this webinar, through the RSVP button in the link above. See you tomorrow! Our mailing address is B'Tselem, The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories P.O. Box 53132, Jerusalem 9153002

Settler violence escalating behind the Coronavirus smokescreen

This week – March 22-28, 2020 – in the Occupied Territories: Steep escalation throughout: Jewish settler-colonists from outposts and colonies in the South Hebron Hills, Palestinian Jordan Valley and the West Bank hill ranges have been attacking Palestinian shepherds, farmers and whole communities, fully backed up by the Israeli army, taking advantage of the closure in Israel and the resulting absence of Israeli activists on the ground; a retarded youth from Tuba who was picking Akoub herbs was arrested, restrained and taken to a distant Israeli army camp, and released from there no phone nor any contact with his family; settler-colonists from Havat Maon are coming day after day to attack and throw stones at the Palestinian village of Tawane, and among other means have released a dog that bit and wounded a Palestinian in the belly,while his friends were wounded by beating and teargas fired by violent Israeli soldiers – who attacked them instead of chasing away their assailants; incursions from the outposts on the hill range into Palestinians’ fields and attacks against shepherds this week have caused several communities to dismantle their tents and leave; in the northern and southern Palestinian Jordan Valley the occupation forces are on a rampage of demolitions in the midst of this Corona virus crisis, destroying dwellings and a mosque, and sequestering materials that were meant to construct two clinics.

South Hebron Hills:The settler-colonists take advantage of the state of emergency and absence of Israeli activists on the ground to escalate their harassment of Palestinian inhabitants and make them leave their lands, with the Israeli army helping exacerbate these actions all the way.On Sunday, March 22, the Israeli army chased away shepherds in Haruba near Tawane, and on Tuesday settler-colonists chased away shepherds near the settler-colony of Sham’a. In both areas, expelling the shepherds had no legal basis whatsoever to prevent them from grazing there.

On Monday,March 23, the security official at settler-colony Maon summoned the army in order to harass a retarded youth from Tuba who was picking wild Akoub herbs.The soldiers arrested the boy, restrained him and confiscated the herb and his scissors. He was taken to the army base near Yatir checkpoint. The boy has no cell phone and when finally released, had to walk from the Yatir checkpoint all the way to Kawawis, and only then was there contact with his family.

The same security official at Maon summoned the army on Thursday, too, this time to chase away shepherds grazing their flock on their privately owned lands in the Hali valley, near Tawane. The soldiers who arrived on the spot detained the shepherds for nearly an hour.

Assaults by settler-colonists against residents of Tawane and its surroundings have escalated greatly during the weekend. On Friday around noon, a group of settler-colonists attacked shepherds in Humra valley with stones, and one of them set his dog at them. One of the Palestinians was bitten in his hand and belly and needed medical care.Another settler- colonist held a handgun, pointed it and threatened to fire. At the same time, another group of settler-colonists came to the outskirts of the village and threw stones at the house on the village edge. Soldiers summoned to help arrived and immediately declared a closed military zone, and violently distanced the local Palestinians.

On Saturday, around 2:30 p.m., a girl accompanied by two young men left Tawane in the direction of Tuba. Settler-colonists came down from the Havat Maon outpost to block their way and threw stones at them. The three tried to run back to the village, but more settler-colonists with their dogs joined the attack and chased the youngsters all the way to the house on the edge of Tawane, and began throwing stones at the village.

Soldiers reached the spot,and instead of dealing with the settler-colonists turned to chase Palestinians,fired teargas at them and beat them violently. A Palestinian was harmed by inhaling teargas, another was wounded in his hand when a settler-colonist tried to grab his cell phone. A third Palestinian was wounded, beaten in the head by a soldier with his rifle butt while arresting him. The army arrested him and two more Palestinian villagers. Two of the arrestees were released later that evening, the third is still in custody. No settler-colonist was detained or arrested.

All afternoon, until 7 p.m. the settler-colonists continued their attacks in the Humra valley and outskirts of Tawane. Thanks to the closure, Jewish settler-colonists with their donkeys invaded fields owned and tended by Palestinians at Umm Al Arais, and caused extensive damages.Since closure was imposed on the territories, Israeli soldiers have been preventing passage at Yatir Checkpoint of the Abu Kabita family members, who are caged beyond the Separation Fence inside the Seam-line Zone, and need to travel to Palestinian towns for supplies and medical care.

On Thursday evening, March 26, one of the family children needed urgent medical care, but was detained at the checkpoint and only much later transferred for treatment.

The Palestinian Jordan Valley and West Bank hill ranges Near the settler- colony Rimonim on the West Bank hill ranges settler-colonists continue their daily incursions out of their new outpost into Palestinian-owned and tended fields. This week they threatened the inhabitants of one of the local communities and caused them and other shepherd communities in the area to dismantle their tents and leave.

At Rashash settler-colonists of the outpost continue their illegal road- paving inside a firing zone. In one instance this week, activists documented the activity and return of the heavy equipment to the outpost – located inside an army base – and passed this filmed evidence to army officers and the Civil Administration.

Inhabitants of shepherd communities in the northern Palestinian Jordan Valley – Khalat Makhoul, Humsa, Al Hadidiya, Ras Al Ahmar and others – are suffering serious nutrition and economic shortages due to the closures that prevent them from traveling to Palestinian towns.

In this region, too,settler-colonists are taking advantage of the absence of Israeli activists in order to expel shepherds from growing areas, vigorously helped by the Israeli army.

On Wednesday, March 26, settler-colonists from Maskiyot settler-colony, aided by Israeli soldiers, attacked shepherds from En Al Hilwa. The soldiers arrested two shepherds, releasing them several hours later. Settler- colonists attacked the son of one of the arrested shepherds, who was hurt and taken to hospital in Toubas.

At the same time, in the midst of the present state of emergency, occupation forces went on a confiscation and structure destruction rampage on Thursday, March 27. At Khirbet Ibzik in the northern Palestinian Jordan Valley, metal rods, plastic sheets and other materials meant for constructing clinics were all confiscated, and four dwelling structures were demolished - put up as emergency aid for families whose homes had been demolished as well as mosque. The same day, the army demolished three dwellings at En A-Duyuk in the southern Palestinian Jordan Valley.

East Jerusalem

The Jerusalem district police continues its incursions in the neighborhood of Issawiya nearly every day in the late afternoon, puts up checkposts, exerts violence and intentionally creates crowding. The weekly protest in Sheikh Jarrah was also held last Friday, adhering to emergency procedures. *Please note: Due to daylight saving time, starting this Friday, April 3, the weekly protest in Sheikh Jarrah will begin at 4 p.m.

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From: Michal Hai, Ta`ayush Email from

8 arrested at protest against suspension of Knesset activities

Convoy of cars drives on main Tel Aviv-Jerusalem artery, earning some participants fines for breaking directives against mass gatherings; Edelstein backs down in face of criticism, says key votes to take place next week

At least eight people were arrested Thursday at a demonstration outside the Knesset in Jerusalem over the decision by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) to suspend parliamentary procedures earlier this week.

olice say the demonstrators violated a Health Ministry directive against mass gatherings.

The protesters arrived at the Knesset in a convoy of cars on the main Route 1 highway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, which led to some of the organizers receiving fines for violating the ban on mass gatherings.

Those who joined the protest "against attempts to destroy Israeli democracy," said in response that driving in separate cars did not breach the directives. Police also said that the convoy caused unnecessary delays for other motorists.

Edelstein, who came under intense criticism for his decision to suspend a vote on filling Knesset committees key to fighting the coronavirus, said Thursday that that the vote would go ahead on Monday.

The speaker was also rapped by Knesset legal adviser Eyal Yinon, who called for the vote to take place as soon as possible.

The Knesset is subject to the same restrictions on more than 10 people as the rest of the country, and last week's swearing-in ceremony was conducted piecemeal, with the 120 Knesset members entering the plenum in groups of three to be sworn in.

Edelstein has been accused of political machinations in favor of his party leader Benjamin Netanyahu, in order to thwart the efforts of his rival Prime Minister-elect Benny Gantz to form a government and bring in replacements for major Knesset positions, including his own speaker's chair.

Every car in the convoy carried an Israeli flag and a black flag. "We have launched an event today that will continue in the coming weeks until Israeli democracy returns," the organizers said.

"The closure of the courts, the entrenchment of the Knesset speaker in his post, paralysis of the Knesset committees and the start of spying on civilians without supervision are no longer warning signs," they said. "This is an attempt to destroy Israeli democracy. Attempts to eradicate democracy will not succeed, the State of Israel belongs to its citizens, not to a dictator in the making."

Israel has suspended court appearances and introduced digital tracking used in terrorism cases as part of efforts to contain the spread of the virus. Netanyahu, who was due to go on trial this week for bribery, fraud and breach of trust, will now face the court in May.

How the supposedly inept Benny Gantz found a strategic path (almost) to the top

He’s not prime minister yet, but the ex-army chief has defied his critics and proven his political mettle against the formidable Benjamin Netanyahu

After Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for a unity government on Thursday amid an unprecedented shutdown of the Israeli economy to stem the coronavirus outbreak, Gantz’s response seemed flatfooted and myopic.

He responded to Netanyahu on Thursday night saying he welcomed a unity coalition, but demanded one condition for his Blue and White party to join it: that Netanyahu forge a “broad national government including representatives of all parts of the house [the Knesset]” — that is, including the Arab-majority Joint List party.

It was a surprising move. The Arab factions united in the Joint List are a diverse collection of liberals, Islamists, progressives and ultra-nationalists. Most are openly anti-Zionist and some have expressed proud and open support for ruthless terrorists responsible for some of the most infamous atrocities ever inflicted on Israelis.

It was also surprising in the narrower sense of political tactics. Netanyahu’s campaign had focused for months on the claim that Gantz could not govern without the Joint List’s support; now Gantz himself seemed to acknowledge that dependence.

The left celebrated the move on Thursday as a blow for equality, a first-of-its-kind injection of the Arab minority’s representatives into the heart of mainstream Jewish politics. But Gantz is not the idealist, starry-eyed progressive that the right has been claiming over the past year. He was the IDF chief of staff who oversaw the military’s incursion into Gaza in the 2014 war with Hamas, and in 2006 during the Second Lebanon War, when he led the Grounds Forces Command, urged a broader ground campaign in Lebanon. In the years before the two became political rivals, Netanyahu repeatedly praised both his “calm” and his “determination.”

So why, in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic, would Gantz condition joining an emergency unity government on the inclusion of the Arab factions — a political self-immolation and, from Gantz’s own perspective, an ethical compromise of the highest order?

One simple answer: He appears to have calculated that for the first time in their history, Israel’s Arab political factions, fresh from an unprecedented 15-seat win at the ballot box, had finally come to play ball in the hard-nosed game of Israeli coalition politics. No more mere complaints from the sidelines, posturing over symbols, or campaigns consumed by shows of defiance of the Jewish majority. Joint List chairman MK Ayman Odeh yearns to make himself and his community a force to be reckoned with in the halls of the Knesset — and the deadlock among the Jews has given him the opportunity to do just that.

One signal of a political faction’s seriousness can be found in its willingness to soberly prioritize its many goals and to sacrifice less-important ones for those that matter more. That may sound obvious, but a party like Balad, one of the four factions that make up the Joint List, had proved over the years that it could not look past its obeisance to radical Palestinian nationalism. Its members have joined the 2010 Turkish flotilla to Gaza, praised a murderer of Israeli children, and even spied for the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.

That same Balad was the only Arab party that couldn’t bring itself to back Gantz, reviled architect of the 2014 war, after the September election.

Mtanes Shihadeh of the Joint List, leader of the Balad party, attends an election campaign event in Tel Aviv, August 20, 2019. (Gili Yaari/Flash90) On Sunday, that changed. Gantz thrust the Arab parties center-stage, and they showed — to themselves, their constituents and the intently watching Jewish Israeli political world — that they could come through. With Balad’s votes, Gantz now had 61 recommendations to