South Hebron Hills Update

Expulsion by a thousand cuts

Dear Friends,

The last weeks have been busy and challenging in the South Hebron Hills. Young Palestinians, with international and Israeli peace activists, have planted hundreds of trees. But this is also a difficult time. Soldiers and settlers have repeatedly forced shepherds off of Palestinian grazing land located near settlements and outposts, settlers have harassed schoolchildren and shepherds, and just last night Settlers uprooted more than 20 young olive trees.


christadelphia.org

The creativity, resilience and commitment to nonviolent resistance is more amazing here each year.

Here are a few recent events and photos.

On the night of February 4 Israeli settlers from the illegal outpost of Havat Ma’on uprooted 23 olive trees on Palestinian land near Tuwani in Humra Valley. The trees have were recently planted during a nonviolent demonstration of Palestinians and Israeli and International activists.

On January 23 Israeli army and civil authorities used a bulldozer to destroy an agricultural field in the Palestinian village of Khalaya Al-Moghrabi. The farmer was already unable to work his land because Israeli authorities had confiscated his tractor.


The Palestinian road to Jinbah and the villages of Massafer Yatta

On January 31 the Israeli army used a bulldozer to destroy two sections of the road that connects the city of Yatta to Jimba village and the other villages of Massafer Yatta, making access to school, health care, commerce and other services even more difficult for the families living in the villages located inside the area claimed by Israel as Firing Zone 918.


School in Khallet Athaba

On January 30 The Israeli Civil Administration (DCO) issued demolition orders for the school and two private family houses in the Palestinian village of Khallet Athaba and a stop work order for a house in the village of Tuba.


Palestinian child from Tuba

Israeli authorities delivered a stop work order for the home of this child’s family in the village of Tuba. It is impossible for families to get building permits. And stop work orders are often followed by demolition orders.

DESTINATION: OCCUPATION
by Amnesty International

DIGITAL TOURISM AND ISRAEL’S ILLEGAL SETTLEMENTS IN THE OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

Allowing some properties and attractions to be listed as being in “Israel”, as Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor do, not only deceives users, but also helps conceal information that can help reveal the illegal nature of the settlements.

In this report Amnesty International exposes how four leading online tourism companies and global brands — TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Expedia and Airbnb — are listing places to stay or things to do in illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

They are promoting these listings, and profiting from them, despite knowing that these Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and are at the root of a wide range of human rights violations suffered by Palestinian communities.

Amnesty International is calling on these companies to stop providing these listings, and on governments around the world to take regulatory action to prevent companies such as these from doing business in or with Israel’s illegal settlements.

Amnesty Intl MDE1594902019ENGLISH

Members of ‘Gaza’ documentary crew trapped as film premieres at Sundance

Fady Hanona and Ali Aby Yaseen desperately trying to make it to the U.S. premiere

Fady Hanouna has been trying to get to the Sundance Film Festival from his home in Gaza. (Courtesy Fady Hanouna)

Ashleigh Stewart and Kaleem Aftab, The National, January 28, 2019

Two “honest, hard-working family men” from Gaza have helped bring the plight of the Palestinian ­people to the largest ­independent film ­festival in the United States but, in an ironic twist, they can’t get there themselves.

Fady Hanouna and Ali Aby Yaseen have tried for months to get the necessary ­documentation and visas ­approved to accompany the film they worked on for four years to its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.

But the duo can’t break free of the very thing they’ve been railing against in the new ­documentary; they can’t get out of Gaza to get to its premiere.

The border between Gaza and Egypt is closed, with no indication of when it will reopen.

Hanouna, 30, a ­production manager on the film, and ­Yaseen, who features in the film, were scheduled to travel to Cairo for their visa ­interviews on January 21. They were supposed to fly out for the US on January 24.

A week has now passed and there has been no change in Gaza. Alongside thousands of others desperate to cross the border, they wait.

“I don’t know why Israel ­closes the border from the north … Egypt is closing the border from the south, and from the west there is the sea. And from the east there are Israeli snipers,” a frustrated Hanouna told The National. “It is my right to travel and it is my right to get a job and it is my right to live a decent life. It is my right to feel safe with my children and my family.”

The US Embassy in Cairo has told the two men they could “be flexible” with their visa interviews if they arrived in the city soon, Hanouna says. ­However, the movie ­premieres at Sundance today and the border remains closed.

 

International travel is a ­foreign concept for Hanouna. He has never seen an airport in his life, let alone been on a plane – or even a train. “So I’m excited and afraid! But I want to try, I want to fly,” he says.

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Palestinian artist brings Japanese origami to Gaza

Ahmed Humaid

In this January 16, 2019 photo Palestinian artist Ahmed Humaid, 29, works on one of his origami sculptures in his house in Nusseirat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip. Origami, the Japanese art of paper folding, is an unlikely pursuit for an artist living in the Gaza Strip, which has been largely cut off from the outside world since Israel and Egypt imposed a crippling blockade on the Hamas-ruled territory more than a decade ago. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Wafaa Shurafa, Associated Press, Jan 27, 2019

GAZA CITY — In a small studio packed with sculptures made of scrap metal, Palestinian artist Ahmed Humaid has found a new medium in origami, the Japanese art of paper folding.

It’s an unlikely pursuit for an artist living in the Gaza Strip, which has been largely cut off from the outside world since Israel and Egypt imposed a crippling blockade on the Hamas-ruled territory more than a decade ago.

But the 29-year-old Humaid, who has no regular job, says interest in origami is on the rise.

“With more people asking about it, this work has turned into a source of income for me,” said Humaid, who lives in Nusseirat refugee camp in central Gaza.

Humaid practices a form of origami in which he folds and forms the pages of an entire book into a readable inscription of calligraphic letters.

He has no formal training. He said he learned about origami when he saw some photos on Instagram. He began following Japanese artists and wrote to them. Some offered help and feedback.

When he made his first origami work in October, it took him 15 hours to finish. He shared the photo with some Japanese artists who acclaimed the work.

Since then, Humaid has sold 45 works locally, including books folded into names that lovers have given to each other as gifts, as well as logos for local businesses. Depending on the size and number of letters, he charges 50 to 100 shekels (about $15-30) per order.

Unemployment in Gaza, a coastal enclave sandwiched between Israel and Egypt, stands at more than 50 percent, according to U.N. and other international estimates. It is even higher among Gaza’s youth.

Humaid would like to expand his business beyond Gaza’s borders, but the blockade has cut off virtually all exports, and Israel and Egypt heavily restrict travel into and out of the territory.

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December 6, 2018
Film: 5 Broken Cameras

The Marquee Cinema, Union South
1308 West Dayton Street , Madison
7:00 pm

Join UW Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), the UW Middle East Studies Program, and the Wisconsin Union Directorate Film and Society & Politics Committees for a screening of the documentary Five Broken Cameras.

The documentary will be followed by a moderated discussion and Q&A with Professor Nevine El Nossery. Five Broken Cameras follows the resistance of one Palestinian farmer and his village against encroachments by the Israeli army.

Israeli Incursions into Gaza Are the Rule, Not the Exception

Israeli troops have crossed into Gaza over 70 times this year alone, according to the UN. And those are only the incursions we know about.

File photo of Israeli troops deployed along the Gaza border. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
File photo of Israeli troops deployed along the Gaza border. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Henriette Chacar, +972 Magazine, November 14, 2018

[Editor’s note: In accordance with our legal obligation, this article was sent to the IDF Censor for review prior to publication. We are not allowed to indicate if and where the article was censored.]

Since Israeli special forces troops got into a deadly firefight with Hamas commandos deep inside the Gaza Strip Sunday night, Israel has dropped dozens of bombs and missiles into Gaza and Hamas has fired hundreds of rockets into Israel.

The New York Times described the special forces raid as “the first known Israeli ground incursion into Gaza since Operation Protective Edge, in July 2014.”

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Since the start of 2015 through the end of October 2018, the Israeli army made 262 known ground incursions and operations to level land inside the Gaza Strip, including over 70 this year alone. This does not include the unknown number of covert operations like the one that went awry on Sunday.

As one retired Israeli general explained on national television, such covert raids across enemy lines are actually rather routine. “Activities that most civilians aren’t aware of happen all the time, every night and in every region,” Tal Russo told Israel’s Channel 10 while discussing the events in Gaza.

According to data obtained by +972 Magazine from the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territories, Israel carried out 21 incursions into Gaza in 2014 (excluding the seven-week war). The next year, in 2015, that number more than doubled, to 56 incidents. In 2016 and 2017, 68 and 65 incursions took place, respectively. By end of October 2018, 73 such incidents had been recorded, according to the UN data.

What is exceptional about Sunday’s action is not that Israeli soldiers crossed into Gaza, but that the military operation was exposed. Most of the time when Israeli forces infiltrate the coastal enclave, they remain within 200 to 300 meters of the border fence, Ibtisam Zaqout, head of field work at the Palestinian Center for Human Rights explained to +972.

Soldiers routinely cross in military bulldozers, not by foot, mostly to raze and level land in order to maintain line of sight in the Israeli-maintained “buffer zone” along the border, she added.

Israel hasn’t consistently determined the perimeter of this access-restricted area along the fence with Gaza, and it has often employed deadly violence to ward off Gaza residents. Between 2010 and 2017, Israeli security forces killed at least 161 Palestinians and injured more than 3,000 near the Gaza-Israel fence, according to a Gisha report published in August.

These regular restrictions of movement near the fence, which the report describes as “arbitrary” and “inconsistent,” are not only life-threatening, but they also severely harm the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Gazan farmers and herders, and stifle the strip’s economic development.

The restriction of movement along the fence, in addition to the daytime, overt incursions that affect farmers and scrap collectors, are just two examples of the ways in which Israel continues to exert control over Palestinians in Gaza despite the “disengagement” of 2005. Since Hamas took control of the strip in June 2007, Israel has also maintained a strict land, air and sea blockade.

The covert incursions we learned about Sunday night demonstrate something even broader, however. The raid came at the height of the most serious cease-fire talks we’ve seen between Israel and Hamas since 2014. That it occurred just hours after Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu declared he was doing everything to avert another war, suggests that Israel did not intend for it to actually spark an escalation. In other words, there was nothing special about the cross-border raid other than the fact that it left seven people dead.

Asked on Monday about the frequency of cross-border incursions into Gaza in recent years, an IDF spokesperson would only say that the army “does not discuss such matters.”

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