Israeli police bans lecture on home demolitions in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM, Israeli police banned today a lecture which was supposed to discuss the Israeli policy of home demolitions in the old city of Jerusalem, witnesses said.

Israeli police officers raided Burj Al-Laqlaq building in the old city and handed representatives of the Palestinian Bar Association, the organizer of the event, a notice signed by Israeli Minister of Interior Gilad Erdan ordering the event to be canceled, under the pretext that it was sponsored and financed by the Palestinian Authority.

Last month, Israeli occupation authorities demolished 100 residential apartments in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sur Baher, under the pretext of their proximity to the Israeli segregation barrier.

Source: Palestinian News and Info Agency

Erekat calls on UN chief to accelerate probe into UNRWA corruption suspicions

RAMALLAH, Secretary-General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Saeb Rekat, called today upon the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to accelerate the ongoing investigation into suspicions of corruption in the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

In the meantime, Erekat sent identical letters to the foreign ministers of the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland in which he expressed his regret over these countries’ decisions to halt aid to the UNRWA based on unconfirmed reports of corruption in the UN agency.

He called for not politicizing humanitarian assistance to the UNRWA, which he said would drag the region into further tension and instability. “Half a million Palestinian children who depend on your regular contributions cannot suspend their classes until the results of the investigation,” Erekat said in the letters.

While you have announced your suspension of assistance to the UNRWA because of the leaked reports, you have not yet announced any accountability measures regarding the continued and systematic Israeli violations of UN resolutions and international law, and you still allow Israeli settlement goods to enter your markets, Erekat added.

We expect that you and all peace-loving states to take concrete measures of accountability to promote the realization of the long-awaited inalienable rights of the people of Palestine, particularly the right to self-determination.

Earlier this month, the United Nations said it has started an investigation into reports leaked to the UN Ethics Committee suggesting long-term corruption at the UNRWA.

Several rights groups, including the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights, warned of the serious repercussions for reducing international support for the UNRWA, which relies on voluntary donations budget, and warned that the decision threatens to end the Agency’s services.

Source: Palestinian News and Info Agency

Battir, a West Bank village, holds annual eggplant festival despite loss of land to Israel’s barrier

BETHLEHEM, Battir, a Palestinian village six kilometers south of the southern West Bank biblical city of Bethlehem and on the UNESCO world heritage list since 2011 due to its terrace farming and 2500 years old Roman spring, bath and irrigation channels, opened today its annual eggplant festival attended by Palestinian officials, farmers and dozens of guests.

This festival that will go on for two days is very important for the eggplant farmers in Battir, said the village’s mayor, Taysir Qattoush, at the opening ceremony. The municipality is doing all it can to help the farmers cultivate their land through the opening of roads to help them with the land reclamation process, he explained.

Qattoush said that the festival came to shed light on the areas where the eggplant is grown, which are considered these days as hazardous areas because of their proximity to Israel’s military separation barrier that devours a large part of Battir land thus destroying the historic stone terraces that are more than 2,500 years old and which are planted with the famous Battir eggplant.

The festival, added the mayor, hopes to attract, in addition to tourists and visitors, the attention of officials to Palestinian agriculture as an important source of income for the villagers and farmers that would also solve the problem of unemployment suffered by many young people.

The Battir eggplant is well known in the West Bank, but more so in occupied Jerusalem, where one of the farmers at the festival, Illian Shami, said they used to market most of their eggplant product during its harvest season. However, with the construction of the barrier in 2004 that separated Jerusalem from its West Bank environs, the eggplant farmers have lost this important and vital market, said Shami.

Source: Palestinian News and Info Agency

Two Palestinian resistance men complete over 18 years in Israeli prisons

JENIN, Two Palestinian resistance men from the northern West Bank governorate of Jenin have completed 18 and 20 years behind Israeli prison bars, according to the director of the Jenin office of the Palestinian Prisoner Society Muntaser Sammour.

He told WAFA that Azzam Nabil Diab, from the town of Kufr Rai, south of Jenin, has completed 18 years in prison. He is serving a life sentence for resisting the Israeli occupation.

Mohammad Adnan Mirdawi, from Arrabe, has completed 20 years in prison. He is serving a 28-year prison sentence also for resisting the Israeli occupation, said Sammour.

A third prisoner, Sidqi Hamed Tamimi, 60, from the southern West Bank city of Hebron, has completed half of his 35-year prison sentence in Israel.

All three prisoners from Hebron, Kufr Rai and Arrabe were placed in solitary confinement for many years and denied family visitation.

Source: Palestinian News and Info Agency

Israel detains two Palestinian brothers in raid at their West Bank home

HEBRON, Israeli forces detained this morning two brothers during a raid at their home in the southern West Bank town of Beit Awwa, southeast of Hebron, according to Palestinian security sources.

They said an Israeli army force raided Beit Awwa and detained Alaa Yousef Swaiti and his brother Islam after raiding their home.

Soldiers also raided several areas in Hebron city and set up checkpoints on roads leading to a number of towns in the Hebron area, stopping cars and checking identity papers of their occupants.

In the Jordan Valley area of the occupied West Bank, a Palestinian was detained late last night at an Israeli army checkpoint near the ancient city of Jericho, according to sources.

They said the army detained Mutaz Jaradat, from Jenin refugee camp, as he passed al-Hamra checkpoint near Jericho.

Source: Palestinian News and Info Agency

BDS movement calls to boycott three anti-Palestinian German clubs

BERLIN, The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights called last week for the boycott of three anti-Palestinian German clubs because of their complicity in Israel’s oppression of Palestinians, according to a statement by the Israel boycott movement.

Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), a founding member of the largest Palestinian civil society coalition that leads the global BDS movement, called in a statement for boycott of Conne Island in Leipzig, Golden Pudel in Hamburg, and ://about blank in Berlin.

Conne Island, Golden Pudel and ://about blank have, to varying degrees, demonstrated glaring and persistent anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab racism. All three are complicit in promoting Israel’s regime of apartheid, settler-colonialism and occupation and shielding it from criticism and accountability in accordance with international law, said PACBI. These clubs have repeatedly cancelled or denied performances to electronic artists who have given their support to the inspiring #DJsforPalestine initiative, engaging in censorship, intimidation and outrageous suppression of freedom of expression.

PACBI said the three clubs have taken measures against DJs who support Palestinian rights and denied them appearance in shows in Germany.

Conne Island, Golden Pudel and ://about blank should end their shameful complicity in whitewashing Israel’s decades-old oppression against Palestinians, especially by ending their censorship, said PACBI. Until then, we urge artists and cultural workers to refuse offers from these repressive, anti-Palestinian venues, and we call on progressive club-goers to refrain from attending, in support of freedom of expression and in principled opposition to racism, censorship and intimidation against progressive artists who support Palestinian human rights.

Source: Palestinian News and Info Agency