Monday, January 22, 2018 Last Update: 8:10 PM GMT

Israel Apologizes for Deadly Embassy Shooting in Amman

Two Jordanian nationals were killed by the Israeli embassy officer at the time. (Photo via social media)

Israel has formally apologized for the fatal shooting of two Jordanian citizens by an Israeli embassy guard in Amman last year, Jordan’s foreign ministry said.

The guard, identified as “Ziv”, shot two Jordanians in a residential building in the heavily fortified Israeli embassy compound in Jordan’s capital in July 2017.

The two victims were 17-year-old Jordanian Mohammed al-Jawawdeh, and Bashar Hamarneh, the owner of a property rented out to the Israeli embassy in Amman.

Mohammed was supposed to deliver and install a bedroom set at the embassy residence that had been ordered by the Israeli embassy through Hamarneh.

The Israeli government has pledged to follow up on legal proceedings and compensate the victims’ families, Jordan’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

Full operations at the embassy will resume immediately, a statement from the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed.

“Israel attaches great importance to its strategic relations with Jordan, and the two countries will act to advance their cooperation and to strengthen the peace treaty between them,” the statement on Thursday read.

In its letter to Jordan, Israel also offered an apology for the death of a Jordanian judge, Raed Zeiter, in 2014.

Zeiter was shot by Israeli soldiers at a West Bank border crossing.

Tensions between the two countries rose last summer after Israel installed metal detectors around the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Thousands of Jordanians took to the streets of Amman to denounce the Israeli measures at the al-Haram al-Sharif. The incident at the embassy came amid the tensions in Jerusalem.

Jordan is the official custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem. It called an urgent meeting for Arab foreign ministers to discuss the situation.

(Aljazeera, PC, Social Media)

OCHA Says Reduction in Humanitarian Aid to UNRWA Worrying

Children in Gaza pose with the flag of UNRWA. (Photo: Days of Palestine)

The significant reduction in funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) is worrying against the backdrop of an overall decline in humanitarian funding in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) in recent years, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) for the oPt said on Wednesday.

The United States announced this week that it has cut $65 million of its $125 million January installment to UNRWA, which was seen as a punishment to the Palestinian Authority for not accepting its dictates on negotiations with Israel.

“I am deeply concerned about the significant reduction in funding for UNRWA, which is critical to the provision of humanitarian assistance in the occupied Palestinian territory. Some 2.5 million Palestinians in this area, or about half of the population, need humanitarian aid, including 1.4 million Palestine refugees, who are among the most vulnerable groups in the oPt,” Acting Humanitarian Coordinator for the oPt, Roberto Valent, said in a statement.

He said some 53 percent of the funding requirements for humanitarian interventions in the oPt for 2018 are for UNRWA activities, in the areas of health, food security, shelter, water and sanitation, and education among others; $286.7 million out of $539.7 million.

“It is crucial that decisions related to humanitarian financing be guided by the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, in order to ensure that the essential needs of the most vulnerable are met. Member states are encouraged to increase funding towards meeting humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip at this critical juncture,” said Valent.

(Wafa, PC, Social Media)

Israeli Soldiers Call for ‘Revenge Unit’ against Palestinians

Israeli soldiers apprehend a Palestinian boy in the Occupied West Bank for allegedly throwing stones. (Photo: File)

Israeli military police have uncovered a recruitment drive for soldiers to join a unit devoted to acts of revenge against Palestinians, following the death of a settler last week, the Jerusalem Post reported yesterday.

Police found flyers with the Israeli army logo at a military base on Tuesday, with a header reading “Secret and classified,” and its title stating “Notice about the establishment of a special unit for payback actions.”

“In response to the terrible murder which happened in Havat Gilad, and in revenge for the spilling of the blood of the martyr Rabbi Raziel Shevach, may God avenge his blood, a pay-back actions unit is being restarted to restore national honor,” the flyer read, advocating for its volunteers to attack Palestinians.

“With strength and power we will fight, we will strike hard, we will strike hard and we will win.”

A contact number was provided for more information, but the leaflet advised volunteers not to make contact through official army channels.

The Israeli military has reportedly launched an investigation and a soldier has been arrested on suspicion of having produced the leaflet and distributing it on a military base.

In the aftermath of the death of settler leader Rabbi Meir Goldmintz, several Israeli ministers also called for retribution for the attack, but in the form of settlement construction.

“We must make clear that every murder will be met with immediate [settlement] construction. Regulating [the status of] Havat Gilad and building there is the most painful price Israel can exact to deter terrorists from undertaking the next attack,” Education Minister Naftali Bennett said.

Following the shooting, Israeli occupation forces carried out raids in several Palestinian villages in the Nablus region and imposed blanket movement restrictions on residents, preventing them from entering of exiting local areas.

Last night, at least one Palestinian was killed in a raid by Israeli soldiers on the town of Jenin in the occupied West Bank. A Palestinian health ministry official identified the man killed as Ahmed Jarrar, a member of Hamas, whom Israeli claims committed the attack.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Israel Prevents Restoration Works at Al-Aqsa

Illlegal settlers perform wedding ritual at Al-Aqsa Mosque under heavy security. (Photo: PIC)

The Israeli authorities have prevented official workers at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque from undertaking any restoration work inside the mosque compound, a Palestinian official revealed yesterday.

“Israeli police forced their way into the office of the Al-Aqsa reconstruction committee and warned engineers against carrying out any mosaic work or restoring the Dome of the Rock’s wooden ceiling,” the spokesperson of Jerusalem’s Religious Endowments (Awqaf) Authority, Firas Al-Dib, said.

“Police have also prohibited any reconstitution work in the Al-Qibli and Marwani mosques [both of which are located in the Al-Aqsa compound],” Al-Dib added.

“They even threatened the reconstruction director with detention if any additional work was carried out,” he noted.

Late yesterday, the Israeli move was condemned by the Jordanian government.

Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is considered the world’s third holiest site for all the Muslims. On the other hand, Jews refer to the area as the “Temple Mount”, claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.

The city of Jerusalem, in which Al-Aqsa is located, remains at the heart of the Middle East conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem – currently occupied by Israel – might one day serve as the capital of the Palestinian state.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

500 Palestinian Schools Scheduled to Go Solar (VIDEO)

A solar panel array in the West Bank. (Photo: Social Media)

The Palestinian Ministry of Education and the Palestinian Investment Fund (PIF) signed an agreement on Tuesday promising solar power to 500 schools in the occupied West Bank, according to official Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency.

The solar panels will be installed on the roofs of 500 Palestinian public schools to generate 35 megawatts of electricity.

The project, worth $35 million and funded by the PIF, the investment arm of the PA, is expected to take four years to complete.

Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah attended the signing ceremony and said the agreement is part of the government efforts to invest in renewable energy solutions. Meanwhile, according to Wafa, PIF director Mohammad Mustafa said this project was the first of its kind in the region.

Palestinian Minister of Education Sabri Saidam thanked the government for its support of this project, which he said he “hopes will develop and enhance the education system in Palestine.”

Remote Palestinian schools and villages who have been set up with solar capabilities through donor funding, have in the past, been targeted by Israeli authorities who either confiscate or destroy the solar panels under the claim that they were set up without Israeli-issued permits in ‘Area C’.

It remains unclear exactly which schools in the West Bank will receive solar panels under the new agreement, and if the PA will have to receive special permission from Israel to set up the solar panels depending on the location of the schools.

(Ma’an, PC, Social Media)

PLO Leaders Reconsider Recognition of Israel

PA President (Second R) at the start of the PLO Central Council meeting in Ramallah. (Photo: Osama Falah, Wafa)

The Palestine Liberation Organisation’s (PLO) Central Council, the second-highest Palestinian decision-making body, has recommended revoking recognition of Israel until the latter recognizes the State of Palestine in its 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

During a meeting in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah late on Monday, the PLO, which is an umbrella of major Palestinian political parties, said it “assigned” its Executive Committee “to suspend recognition of Israel until it recognizes the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders and revokes the decision to annex East Jerusalem and expand and build settlements,” according to Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency.

In a final statement read after the meeting, the PLO also said that the Oslo Accords, signed with Israel in the early 1990s, “no longer stand”.

It added that it would renew its decision to “stop security coordination [with Israel] in all its forms” and called on all Arab states “to sever all ties with any state that recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and transfers its embassy to it”.

But several Palestinian political parties expressed their reservations on the final statement, saying the language was vague.

Omar Shehadeh, a leader in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) party, said there was no clear decision to end the Oslo Accords, withdraw recognition of Israel and stop security coordination. He added that assigning the PLO’s Executive Committee to take such actions could take some time.

The meeting comes following a decision in December by US President Donald Trump to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Breaking with decades of US policy that favored a two-state solution, Trump’s declaration dealt a blow to the Palestinian leadership, which for more than two decades has unsuccessfully attempted to establish a state on the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.

The PLO meeting in Ramallah was organized to lay out the Palestinian strategy to confront the US in the wake of its Jerusalem decision.

At the start of the two-day meeting, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas slammed Trump’s peace proposal, saying: “Now we say ‘No’ to Trump, we won’t accept his plan – we say the ‘deal of the century’ is the slap of the century,” referring to the US president’s pledge to achieve the “ultimate deal”.

In the final statement, the PLO said it would find “other international pathways under the auspices of the United Nations to sponsor solving the Palestinian cause”.

After officially recognizing Israel’s existence in 1988, the PLO and Israel signed the Oslo Accords in 1993 and 1995 meant to lead to the creation of an independent Palestinian state through the establishment of an interim Palestinian government – the Palestinian Authority.

(Al Jazeera, PC, Social Media)

Israelis Shoot Palestinian Student in the Head in West Bank (VIDEOS)

Israeli forces shot and killed a 24-year-old Palestinian student and former prisoner during clashes on Monday in the northern occupied West Bank district of Qalqiliya, reported Ma’an News Agency.

Ahmad Abd al-Jaber Muhammad Salim was critically injured in the head with a live bullet during clashes in his hometown of Jayyous before he succumbed to the wounds just minutes later.

Salim was a student at al-Quds Open University in Qalqiliya and the secretary of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) student bloc.

Witnesses said that Israeli soldiers opened fire at Salim from less than 20 meters away, and that they prevented Palestinian ambulances from reaching him by firing tear gas at ambulances and paramedics.

Shortly after Salim was killed, Israeli forces later closed off the main road in Qalqiliya, while Palestinian youth threw rocks at Israeli settler vehicles on the road passing by the nearby town of Azzun.

Salim was a former prisoner who spent three years in Israeli prison, and was released in 2016. Shortly after he was released he enrolled in university to continue his studies that were interrupted by his arrest.

He is the fourth Palestinian to have been killed by Israeli forces since the beginning of the year. Three of the four were 16-years-old.

Israeli forces have long been criticized for their use of excessive force against Palestinian protesters who did not pose a grave threat to soldiers at their time of death, and who could have been suppressed or detained in a non-lethal manner.

(Ma’an, PC, Social Media)

New Israel Bill to Ban MKs from Taking Part in BDS Activities

Israeli Knesset. (Photo: File)

Chairman of the Knesset House Committee Yoav Kish proposed a bill that prevents BDS movements from financing trips made by Members of the Knesset abroad, Quds Press reported yesterday.

The news site reported the Israeli newspaper saying that the law is to be proposed to the Knesset tomorrow, noting that it is likely to be pushed through after the Ministry of Strategic Affairs identified a list of “blacklisted” organizations.

Haaretz reported Kish saying that at least one of the blacklisted groups, American Muslims for Palestine, had funded a trip made by Arab MK Ahmad Tibi.

“I tried to advance a similar measure in the past, but there was a dispute over who would determine the list of organizations and who would decide which group couldn’t legitimately fund trips for MKs,” Kish told Haaretz.

The Israeli newspaper said that the Knesset legal advisory team is examining the legal feasibility of Kish’s move and will provide its opinion in time for the next committee hearing.

For his part, Tibi said: “This is a transparent and arbitrary attempt to undermine MKs’ immunity and their freedom of movement. Boycotting the settlements is legitimate, as is everything happening with boycotting the occupation.”

He added: “We will continue to attend conferences of our choice, and I hope that the ethics committee will not turn into a government tool to restrict the opposition, including the Arab MKs. This flood of fascist legislation is the height of McCarthyism.”

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Gaza Economy Plummeted from ‘Zero to Below Zero’

An Israeli officer monitoring the entrance of goods into Gaza. (Photo: via Social Media)

Israeli daily Haaretz, reported on Monday that Israeli military officials have acknowledged that the Palestinian situation is deteriorating, and that the economy and infrastructure in Gaza was “from zero to below zero.”

Haaretz said, that Israeli politicians were acting as if military pressure can continue on Gaza, ignoring the worsening economic situation in the Strip.

“In the long term, continually deteriorating infrastructure brings the risk of an uncontrollable blow-up in the Strip,” the daily said.

This deterioration is noticed through the number of trucks crossing the Karm Abu Salem crossing between Gaza and Israel that has dropped by half, due to the decline in the purchasing power of the Palestinians living in Gaza.

The report also said that about 95 percent of Gaza’s water was undrinkable and that unemployment was inching toward 50 percent and was even higher among young people.

(IMEMC, PC, Social Media)

Israel: Anti-Netanyahu, ‘StripperGate’ Protesters Flood Tel Aviv

Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. (Photo: via Twitter).

Thousands gathered in Tel Aviv to protest the alleged involvement of Prime Minister (PM) Benjamin Netanyahu’s son in an infamous “stripper scandal,” during the “March of Shame 2017” demonstrations.

Israelis, who have been demonstrating against government corruption for weeks, added the PM’s son, Yair, to their agenda following leaked audio revealing he patronized strip clubs with State-appointed driver and bodyguard.

Demonstrators displayed signs with slogans that read: “Out with the corrupt!” and “Not leftist, not rightist, but honest!” as well as, “Being a pig isn’t kosher” and “Bibi go home.”

The Israeli leader has been facing a series of probes involving allegations of financial corruption.

For the seventh-consecutive Saturday, central Rothschild Boulevard was flooded with crowds of people participating in anti-Netanyahu protests. The route of the demonstration will involve protesters marching toward business tycoon Kobi Maimon’s home.

According to Haaretz, the younger Netanyahu could be heard on the leaked audio telling Maimon’s son to not bemoan $118 meant for a prostitute, considering his father received $20 billion from the senior Netanyahu.

It is believed Yair was referring to a multi-billion dollar natural gas deal that was signed in 2015.

The report also disclosed that Yair reportedly made disparaging statements about women.

Protests are expected to take place in the upcoming week in Jerusalem, Beer Sheba, Haifa, Rehovot, Eilat and others.

Organizers estimated that last week’s rally drew 10,000 protesters.

(teleSUR, PC, Social Media)