West Bank Update: Surge in Kidnappings, Assaults, Demolitions

February 3, 2016 7:17 AM IMEMC Agencies News Report, Prisoners, West Bank 0
03 Feb
7:17 AM

Israeli forces, Tuesday, abducted at least 34 Palestinians across the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, mostly during predawn and night raids, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS). Several Palestinian homes were also demolished by Israeli forces.In the Jerusalem district, Israeli police took 15 Palestinians into their custody, most of whom are from the towns of Ezariyya and Issawiya. They were identified as Bassam al-Natsheh, 19, Fathi al-Deek, 19, Nadeem Zahra, Anas Abu Assab, Mohammad al-Mekhel, Mohammad Y. Hamdan, Ali Faroun, Mustafa al-Yasini, Marwan Bassa, Nayef al-Khatib, Issa Ayyad, and Abdullah, Ameer, and Mohammad Shatara.

WAFA further reports that, meanwhile, in Nablus district, Israeli undercover soldiers, disguised as Palestinians, shot and injured two Palestinians in the village of Qabalan, before detaining them. The two were identified as Yousef Shahrouj and Samer al-Aqra’.

Two other Palestinians were taken by the Israeli army in Nablus, and were identified as Abdul-Latif Aqra’, the brother of the aforementioned Samer al-Aqra’, and Saher Nasasrah.

Meanwhile in Bethlehem area, Israeli troops broke into the village of al-Khader to the south, and detained Belal M. Salah, Mansour N. Salah, and Khaled Kh. Salah.

Another Palestinian local from Bethlehem, Rashad Radaydeh, was detained by Israeli police while he was present inside Jerusalem.

In the meantime, the army kidnapped four Palestinians in Hebron and led them to an unknown destination. They were identified as Karam Maswada, 34, and his brother Shawqi 30, in addition to Ibrahim Atrash, and Qosay Halayqa. Local Khalil al-Sharawneh, 18, was also detained in Hebron’s town of Dura.

In Ramallah and al-Bireh district, forces took three Palestinians, after raiding their homes in the village of Kafr Ne’meh and al-Jalazoun Refugee Camp. The three were identified as Mohammad A. Ishtayyeh, 20, Fares Ishtayyeh, 22, and Mohammad Abu Asab, 29.

Meanwhile in Tulkarm district, Israeli forces stormed the village of Seida, and kidnapped 25-year-old Suhaib al-Ashqar, after raiding and searching his house. Al-Ashqar’s father said that soldiers ransacked about $650 in cash during the raid.

In Jenin, the army detained local Abdullah Abu Qathela, from the village of Ta’ennek at a flying checkpoint that was set up last night, at the village’s entrance.

In Qalqilia, forces took local Mahmoud Melhem, aged 21.

Yesterday, Israeli soldiers abducted 10 Palestinian workers as they attempted to pass through Tarqomia Israeli military checkpoint to the west of Hebron, according to security sources.

The seven workers were identified as Mohammad Halaika, Yousef Eyadeyyeh, Bahaa Z. Ewedat, Fadi M. Ewedat, Mohammad S. Ewedat, Mohammad Mustafa Es’efan, and Mohammad Azazmeh. They were all led to an unknown destination.

Youth injured by settlers

Furthermore, Israeli settlers, on Tuesday, assaulted an injured a Palestinian youth outside Kiryat Arba, an illegal Israeli settlement located on the eastern outskirts of Hebron, according to security sources.

The sources said settlers from Kiryat Arba, under the Israeli army’s protection, assaulted 21-year-old Mohammad Rasmi Haddad, a local from Hebron, causing him moderate injuries. He was transferred to nearby Hebron public hospital for medical treatment.

Violence by illegal Jewish settlers is commonplace. They have repeatedly attacked Palestinian property and worship places. Settler violence includes property and mosque arsons, stone-throwing, uprooting of crops and olive trees, attacks on vulnerable homes, among others.

There has been a noticeable increase in violence by Israeli Jewish settlers against Palestinians and their properties, across the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, during the past months.

According to OCHA Humanitarian Bulletin covering the month of November 2015, “Settler violence increased markedly in Hebron city and governorate during October and November 2015, with at least 61 attacks resulting in Palestinian injuries or property damage. Several of these attacks reportedly took place in the presence of Israeli soldiers, who refrained from intervening.”

Peaceful rallies quelled

Israeli police, on Tuesday, also suppressed two peaceful rallies that were organized by Palestinians in Jerusalem, in protest of being denied entry into al-Aqsa Mosque, as well as in solidarity with a female prisoner in Israeli jails.

Israeli policemen reportedly assaulted participants, including women, who rallied outside Bab an-Nazer Gate, one of the gates of Jerusalem’s Old City area, in protest of being denied entry into al-Aqsa Mosque under security pretences. Police also reportedly used force against participants and threatened them with arrest.

Some 60 men and women have been denied entry into the mosque for about five consecutive months by Israeli authorities.

In the meantime, Israeli settlers continued their daily provocative tours inside the mosque’s yards, provoking worshipers, who chanted religious slogans to protest their entry.

Meanwhile, Israeli police suppressed another peaceful rally that was organized by activists outside the headquarters of the central Israeli court at Salaheddine road in Jerusalem, calling for the release of Palestinian female prisoner in Israeli jails Israa Ja’abis, who had a court hearing at the time.

The police claimed that the rally was illegal and unpermitted.

Ja’abis, a 31-years-old female from Jerusalem, was detained on October 10th, 2015, for allegedly “attempting to murder” Israelis, after a gas cylinder detonated inside her car on that day.

The family of Ja’abis said that, at the time of the incident, Ja’abis was moving furniture in her private car to a new apartment. They said that she was also carrying a TV, a fact, which they said, the Israeli police failed to mention.

It should be noted that the explosion took place almost 500 meters away from the checkpoint.

To be noted, the Israeli central court ruled to extend the detention of Ja’abis until the 16th of February 2015.

Ja’abis’ 8-year-old son has been deprived from visiting his mother since the beginning of her detention on October 30th.

Ja’abis suffered from first and three degree burns over 50% of her body, including the back, chest, hands, and face; which was distorted. Eight fingers were also mutilated by the explosion and she currently depends on a wheelchair for mobility.

Detainees tortured prior to detention

PPS, on Tuesday, also revealed testimonies presented by two detainees about being subjected to brutal torture at the hands of Israeli soldiers, prior to their detention.

Al-Masri, 23, who comes from Bethlehem district, informed a PPS attorney who visited him in al-Maskubiya detention and interrogation center that, despite informing soldiers about suffering from a skull fracture prior to his detention, soldiers deliberately slammed him with the military jeep’s door, forced him to sit on the floor of the jeep, and dropped a large heavy box of bullets on his left leg, causing him a simple brain concussion and bruises across his left leg.

Meanwhile, Al-Kar, 20, who comes from the Bethlehem town of Beit Fajjar, said that he was beaten up, thrown to the ground and stripped naked purportedly to undergo a body search.

According to B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, “Israeli law, like international law, allows security forces to use reasonable force in self-defense and for duty-related purposes such as dispersing rioters, arresting suspects resisting arrest, and preventing a detainee from fleeing.”

However, it noted that, The law does not allow beatings, degradation, or ill-treatment of persons who are not rioting, resisting arrest, or fleeing.

“The acts described in testimonies given to B’Tselem and to other human rights organizations deviate greatly from what the law allows, and they constitute flagrant violations of human rights.”

Multiple demolitions

Israeli bulldozers, early Tuesday, demolished two Palestinian houses in the Jerusalem area, citing unlicensed building as a pretext, reported a house demolition watchdog.

The Wadi Hilweh Information Center reported that large numbers of Israeli police forces and municipal staff, escorting a bulldozer, stormed Sur Bahir, a neighborhood on the southeastern outskirts of East Jerusalem, and cordoned off Wadi Abul-Humus area before proceeding to demolish a 200-square-meter under construction house.

The center identified the homeowner as Iyad Abu Mahamed. It reported Mahamed as saying that he had started the construction of the four-room house around seven months ago and had planned to move in on Tuesday with his seven-member family.

Mahamed told the center that he had completely finished the house and was supposed to furnish it and move in on Tuesday with his family, including five children between 1 and 12 years of age, but Israeli bulldozers demolished it early morning without any prior notice.

He added that Israeli police broke down the main front door before proceeding to demolish the house.

Mahamed was also reported as saying that Israel doesn’t issue construction permits for Palestinians in Jerusalem as a means to forcefully displace them, prompting them to embark on construction without obtaining construction permits.

In the meantime, Israeli police also demolished another house belonging to Yahya Muhsin in the East Jerusalem Silwan neighborhood of Wadi Qaddum.

Wadi Hilweh Information Center reported on Yahya as saying that he embarked on the construction of his 220-square-meter house seven months ago for his eight-member family, but it was demolished by Israeli bulldozers.

Yahya said that an Israeli Jerusalem district court was supposed to hold a hearing to examine a petition to stop the planned demolition on Tuesday at 10:00 a.m, however, police and municipal staff carried out the demolition.

He stressed that he had been attempting to obtain a construction license, but to no avail.

Israeli authorities has severely curtailed Palestinians’ ability to legally construct new houses or expand existing houses, denying them permits since June 1967.

According to B’Tselem, the Israeli information center for human rights in the occupied territories, from 2004 until 31 Aug. 2015, Israel demolished at least 579 Palestinian residential units in the East Jerusalem area, causing 2,133 people – including at least 1,158 minors – to lose their homes.

To be noted, Israel rarely issues construction permits for Palestinians living in area C, under full Israeli control, prompting them to embark on construction without obtaining construction permits.

UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator James Rawley argued the demolitions violate international law. “Demolitions that result in forced evictions and displacement run counter to Israel’s obligations under international law and create unnecessary suffering and tension,” he said. “They must stop immediately.”

OCHA argues that the planning policies applied by Israel in Area C and East Jerusalem discriminate against Palestinians, “making it extremely difficult for them to obtain building permits.”

“As a result, many Palestinians build without permits to meet their housing needs and risk having their structures demolished. Palestinians must have the opportunity to participate in a fair and equitable planning system that ensures their needs are met,” it added.

Also on Tuesday, Israeli forces demolished a number of Palestinian residential structures in Khirbet al-Fakheit, one of 19 small localities comprising At-Tuwani and Massafer Yatta villages, south of Hebron, said a local activist.

Ratib al-Jabur, who monitors settlement construction in southern Hebron, said that Israeli forces, escorting bulldozers, stormed Khirbet al-Fakheit locality before proceeding to demolish two rooms and a tent belonging to Samir al-Hamamda.

Al-Jabur added that as a result of the demolition, a ten-member family became homeless.

This was the second demolition carried out by Israeli forces in the At-Tuwani and Massafer Yatta villages on Tuesday.

Earlier, forces demolished four residential structures and seized EU-funded solar panels from the Massafer Yatta’s localities of Janba and al-Halawa, displacing over 20 members of Abu ‘Iram family.

Several Palestinian residential structures were also reportedly demolished in Janba and al-Halawa, two out of 19 small localities comprising At-Tuwani and Massafer Yatta villages, south of Hebron.

Ratib al-Jabur said that Israeli forces, escorting bulldozers, stormed Janba and al-Halawa localities before proceeding to demolish four residential structures.

The structures, a home for over 20 members including children, women, and elderly, belonged to members of Abu ‘Iram family.

During the demolition raid, forces seized a number of EU-funded solar panels used for generating electricity. They physically assaulted and pepper-sprayed several local Palestinians who protested the demolition, causing them to suffocate.

Israeli military frequently destroys Palestinian farmland and storm houses under the guise of conducting military drills in the southern Hebron hills of Massafer Yatta.

On January 13, hundreds of soldiers occupied the land in front of a military base near Jinba and al-Halawa localities, pitching up tents, digging trenches and bringing military equipment.

Soldiers conducted their drills across local Palestinian farmland cultivated with winter crops and stormed local houses and residential structures, severely restricting local Palestinians’ freedom of movement, damaging fields and chasing away shepherds with their flocks.

At least 1,300 Palestinians currently live in the area. They have been living in this area for decades, many since before the Israeli occupation began in 1967. The area is populated by at least 1,300 Palestinians who face a continuous risk of forcible expulsion.

The Jinba, Mirkez and Halaweh are among 14 Palestinian communities of Masafer Yatta area that has been designated by Israeli authorities (military) as a closed military zone for training since 1980s. The area has been referred to accordingly as Firing Zone 918.

“Subsequently, these communities have been subject to a range of policies and practices that have undermined their physical security, lowered their standard of living, and increased their poverty levels and dependence on humanitarian aid. The communities are at continuous risk of forcible transfer out of the area,” said the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Occupied Palestinian Territories (OCHA).

According to OCHA, families in two other communities in the area – Al Kharoubeh and Khirbet Sarura – have already been forced to leave their homes as a result of settlement activity, including settler violence.

Like many other Palestinian communities located in Area C, which is under full Israeli military and administrative control, Palestinians living in Masafer Yatta are particularly vulnerable and food insecure. They rely on livestock, mostly sheep and goats, as their primary source of income.

Some families are unable to support their livestock since access to grazing areas is restricted due to the threat of settler violence or by the Israeli military, and thus have reduced income with which to meet their own needs, increasing their levels of poverty. All of the communities located in the Firing Zone are dependent upon food assistance from humanitarian organizations.

Also of interest: 01/09/16 2015: A Dangerous Escalation at Al-Aqsa Mosque

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IMEMC Agencies

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