Palestine Theater

Clashes across West Bank amid Gaza bombardment

Fierce clashes broke out across the West Bank late Friday July 11 between Israeli troops and young Palestinian men protesting the ongoing military offensive against the Gaza Strip. In Ramallah in the central West Bank, Palestinian protestors on Saturday morning used rocks to block the road to an Israeli military base near the town of Sinjel in the north. The protestors then clashed with Israeli troops who showered them with tear gas, rubber-coated bullets and stun grenades. The young protestors responded with stones, gas bombs and fireworks. Also that day, dozens of angry young Palestinian men attacked an Israeli military post in Tal al-Asour in the village of Kafr Malik north of Ramallah. The protestors threw several Molotov cocktails and fireworks at the post, setting it ablaze. Israeli troops got out of their bunkers and started to extinguish the fire, while other soldiers fired rubber-coated bullets and tear-gas canisters at the protestors.

Holy Land conflict approaching genocidal threshold

Violent protests sparked by the abduction and killing of Palestinian youth Mohammed Abu Khudair in East Jerusalem spread to Arab villages in Israel on July 5. Palestinians overwhelmingly believe he was abducted and killed by far-right Jews as a "price tag" reprisal for the slaying of the three Israeli youths, and Palestinian Attorney General Mohammed al-A'wewy said preliminary results from the autopsy (carried out by Israeli doctors) indicated he had been burned alive. Israeli authorities have remained silent on the investigation, still refusing to recognize it as a hate crime, although six Jewish suspects were arrested July 6. Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said: "These debased murderers don't represent the Jewish people or its values, and they must be treated as terrorists." At Khudair's funeral on Friday July 4, Palestinians chanted "Intifada! Intifada!" Stones thrown at Israeli police were met with tear-gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets. At least one Palestinian was reported hurt in confrontations in Nablus. Palestinian officials said they would try to prevent a new intifada, but angry protests erupted even in usually calm Arab areas of Israel, with youth throwing stones and firebombs at passing cars. Dozens have been arrested in the clashes.

Palestinians end hunger strike; migrants start one

Dozens of Palestinian prisoners announced an end to their two-month hunger strike, despite not winning any pledge by the Israeli government to end use of "administrative detention." Shawqi Eissa, the Palesitian minister of prisoners affairs, said June 25 that 63 prisoners agreed a deal and suspended their protest shortly after midnight. Under the terms of the deal, the hunger-strikers will be returned to their original prisons. Many had been moved around as punishment, with some kept in isolation. "This is not a huge victory, but a modest step forward," said Qadura Fares of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Prisoners' Society. Some detainees are continuing to refuse food, however. Ayman Tbeish, an "administrative detainee" who has been fasting for 118 days, did not suspend his strike. Some 5,000 Palestinians are currently being held in Israeli prisons, with nearly 200 in administrative detention—a number expected to double in the coming days as recent arrests are processed. Israel pledged in 2012 to limit its use of the practice, as part of an agreement to end a previous hunger strike, but detainees charge the government has reneged on the deal. (Al Jazeera, June 25)

West Bank under siege, death toll mounts

Two Palestinians were shot and killed during clashes in Ramallah and Nablus June 22, the 10th day of "Operation Brother's Keeper," Israeli forces' massive search effort across the West Bank for three missing Israeli teen-agers. The operation is one of the largest deployments since the Second Intifada, with at least five Palestinians killed in the last week and more than 370 arrested. The Israeli Defense Forces have carried out raids on more than 1,100 sites including homes, offices and universities. Ramallah was briefly occupied, with Israeli forces carrying out a search of the Palmedia company. An IDF spokesman said the search targeted Al-Quds broadcasting company, media wing of Hamas. After the IDF withdrew from Ramallah, Palestinian protesters attacked a local Palestinian Authority police station, in anger at the security forces' coordination with Israeli troops. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas nonetheless warned: "Israel's continued destructive actions, including shooting innocent Palestinians in cold blood, while Ramadan is around the corner and the situation on the Palestinian street is explosive, can only serve to ignite the West Bank and take things out of control." (Haaretz, JP, June 23; Ma'an, Ma'an, ITAR-TASS, June 22)

ISIS behind West Bank abductions?

Israel's Haaretz reported June 14 that a "Pamphlet Number 1" issued in the name of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and circulated around Hebron is claiming responsibility for the abduction of three Israelis in the West Bank—but the statement's authenticity is in doubt. The account notes that a "similar case occurred two years ago, when Palestinian groups carried out operations under the banner of the Nusra Front," which similarly rose to prominence in the Syrian civil war as the leader of the Islamist rebels. In other words, aspiring local jihadists may be adopting the names of the Syrian Qaedists to cash in on their cachet. Of course given al-Qaeda's franchise model, real organizational ties may follow appropriation of the name. Other groups operating in Sinai and Gaza such as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis claim affiliation to al-Qaeda, "while Arab governments sometimes term Salafi groups in their territories as Al-Qaida to legitimize their suppression." Algemeiner reports that Reuter's Jerusalem bureau fielded a call from one "Dawlat al-Islam," identified as an ISIS branch operating in Hebron, claiming responsibility for the abductions.

Rights group protests Israel raid on Palestine TV

International media rights group Reporters Without Borders on June 8 said it was "outraged" by an Israeli police raid on the offices of a Palestinian media agency last week. On June 6, Israeli police raided the East Jerusalem studio of Palestine TV and detained Nader Beibars, the producer of Good Morning Jerusalem, and Palmedia cameraman Ashraf al-Showeiki. Both were detained, interrogated, and later released. Israeli forces raided the studio as the show was being broadcast live. "This raid, and the broadcast shut-down, join the long list of violations of Palestinian news media rights by the Israeli security forces, with never-ending threats, arrests and military operations," Reporters Without Borders said. "The Israeli authorities keep on persecuting the Palestinian media and journalists. After seizing Al-Wattan TV's transmission equipment in 2012, the military are now threatening it with another raid on the grounds that it obtained its new frequency illegally." Israeli police said Palestine TV did not have the required broadcasting permits and suspected the station of inciting violence.

Israeli doctors refuse to force-feed hunger strikers

Doctors in Israel are refusing to back proposed legislation that would allow Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike to be force-fed. The bill, proposed by the Home Front Defense Ministry, comes as at least 65 of the 290 striking detainees have been hospitalized since they stopped eating on April 24. The legislation would empower judges to sanction force-feeding if a detainee's life is perceived to be in danger. But the Israel Medical Association is urging physicians not to cooperate in the practice. "It goes against the DNA of the doctors to force treatment on a patient," said the IMA's Ziva Miral. "Force-feeding is torture, and we can't have doctors participating in torture."

Palestinian hunger strikers in solitary confinement

Sixty hunger striking Palestinians in Israel's Eshel prison are being held in solitary confinement, a prisoner rights group said June 3. The Palestinian Prisoners' Society said in a statement that the number of prisoners hunger striking in the Beersheba prison of Eshel had reached 60 and that each of the strikers was being held in solitary confinement. A spokesman for the Israeli Prison Service did not immediately return calls seeking comment. The prisoners are among hundreds refusing meals in solidarity with administrative detainees who have been on hunger strike for 41 days. 

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