Israel is set to declare 1,500 dunams (370 acres) of land in the occupied West Bank district of Jericho as "state land," Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) announced Jan. 20. The plans were revealed earlier in the day by Israeli Army Radio, which said the land was located north of the illegal Israeli settlement of Almog and had been used by settlers over the past 20 years. COGAT confirmed the plans were in their "final stages," and said they were in accordance with a political ratification. Israeli Army Radio reportedly said: "This is a very sensitive issue which will likely garner harsh critique from Europe and the United States, and of course from the Palestinian Authority." The move is the largest declaration of "state land" since August 2014, when Israel claimed 4,000 dunams (988 acres) of land near the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, sparking international outcry.
Israeli forces on Jan. 6 demolished five dwellings housing Palestinian Bedouin families in the Abu Nuwwar community east of Jerusalem—part of the wider E1 corridor—leaving 25 people homeless. Dawood al-Jahalin, a spokesperson for the Abu Nuwwar Bedouin community, told Ma'an News Agency that Israeli military and police vehicles surrounded the area at around 8:30 AM, before bulldozers demolished five dwellings and an agricultural structure. The families were not given any time to remove their belongings before the dwellings—made of steel, wood, and canvas—were torn down, he said. "I showed them a court decision banning demolition, but the officer in charge refused to see it and instead told me he had a demolition order from the Civil Administration," al-Jahalin said.
Israel's Maariv newspaper reported Nov. 24 that deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely met with representatives of YouTube and Google to discuss cooperation in what she called the fight against "inciting violence and terrorism." She told Maariv that she especially sought to establish a joint working mechanism to monitor and prevent publication of "inflammatory material" originating in the Palestinian territories. Middle East Monitor writes: "Since the latest escalation of violence between Palestinians and Israeli security services that erupted at the beginning of October, many people have been sharing videos depicting Israeli aggression towards Palestinians to highlight the Palestinian perspective of the conflict." Activists and Arab newsmedia have "expressed concerns that the meetings suggest moves towards censoring Palestinian material on the part of the Israeli state."
Judge Jose de la Mata of Spain's Audiencia Nacional on Nov. 12 ordered the Civil Guard and police forces to notify him if Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or any of six of his former officials set foot on Spanish soil, as their visit could re-open a case filed against them in the country. The judge put the case on hold in June 2014 after Spain reformed its Universal Justice doctrine. The case was opened by the Audenica, following the 2010 Israeli raid on the Freedom Flotilla bound for Gaza on a humanitarian mission. The list of Israeli officials also includes former defense minister Ehud Barak, former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, former strategic affairs minister (and current defense minister) Moshe Yaalon, former interior minister Eli Yishai, minister-without-portfolio Benny Begin, and the vice-admiral in charge of the operation, Maron Eliezer. (LAHT, Nov. 16; EFE, Nov. 13; El Diaro, Madrid, Nov. 12)
Dr. Hashem al-Azzeh, who died on Oct. 21 after suffering excessive tear-gas inhalation in Hebron's Old City, was the latest victim of the Israeli settlement policies he spent most of his life struggling against. The 54-year-old activist and medical doctor was one of a few Palestinians who chose to remain with his family in Tel Rumeida, a neighborhood in central Hebron that over the course of decades has seen most of its Palestinian residents pushed out by aggressive Israeli settlers. After experiencing chest pains in his home, he found himself trapped. His family called an ambulance, but it was unable to reach him due to a series of Israeli army checkpoints along the nearby Shuhada Street, his niece Sundus al-Azzeh told Ma’an News Agency. Hashem began to walk toward the checkpoint at Bab al-Zawiya, where fierce clashes were underway as Palestinians protested the shooting of a Palestinian teen-ager [near Nablus] the night before. Once there, however, Sundus said that Israeli soldiers stopped him from moving on, and he soon found himself engulfed by tear gas. Unable to breath, he collapsed. He was rushed to Hebron's governmental hospital, but doctors were unable to save him. A doctor told Ma'an that Hashem had a history of cardiovascular disease, but it was tear-gas inhalation that killed him. Sundus said she was at his side when he passed away—it was the first time she had seen someone die.
An oft-noted failing of the dreaded "mainstream media" is their tendency to bogus neutrality—as when they give climate-change denialists equal weight with representatives of the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change. We hope we don't smell something similar in coverage of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wildly fictional comments asserting that the idea for the Nazi Holocaust originated not with Adolf Hitler but the Mufti of Jerusalem. Here is the offending text, according to the Israeli Prime Minister's Office:
"If the terrorist attacks continue, we will begin deporting the families of terrorists to the Gaza Strip," Israeli TV quoted a senior defense official as saying on Oct. 16—marking another step towards a genocidal solution to the Palestinian question. (JP) The "terrorist attacks" are of course the knifings that have slain seven Israelis since Oct. 1. The toll of Palestinians killed in this same period, mostly in clashes with security forces, is 41. Three Palestinians, inlcuding a teen, were killed Oct. 17 on the West Bank in apparent stabbing attempts on settlers. (Ma'an, AFP) Palestinian protesters on Oct. 16 torched the Jewish holy site of Joseph's Tomb of Nablus, badly damaging the structure. (BBC News) In more encouraging news, some 1,500 Jews and Arabs demonstrated the following evening in Jerusalem under the slogan "we will not surrender to despair." (Haaretz)