California

This Bicycle Gadget Makes Red Lights Turn Green

10/22/14
Image
Veloloop/Kickstarter

Want to get to work a few seconds quicker while also feeling like you can bend the invisible forces of the universe? Then put in an advance order for the "Veloloop," a metal doohickey that attaches to your bike and allegedly turns red lights green.

The traffic-hacking device is the invention of Bay Area man Nat Collins, a longtime tech worker and avid cyclist. (Seriously, the guy owns six bikes.) Collins has designed it to help out in situations when a bike rider is stuck at a light—for instance, in a lane with a left-turn signal that seems forever red.

Electronics buried underneath the road are supposed to detect vehicles at traffic lights. Some magnetic sensors, however, can't detect bikes due to their relative lack of ferrous metals. Other "inductive loop sensors" can detect aluminum, but still might not sense a bike if it's not stopped over the right spot or if the sensor has poor sensitivity.

California has deployed road sensors meant to sniff out bicycles—though one "Veloloop" beta tester says they don't always work—but in some other states cyclists are kind of screwed at older-generation stoplights. Here's where the 'loop comes in handy, writes Collins on Kickstarter:

Instead of waiting at intersections for a car to come along and trigger the traffic sensors, you can trigger them yourself with the Veloloop! The Veloloop attaches to your bike and detects when you're at an intersection and triggers the sensor just like a car does....

Using a patented circuit, the Veloloop triggers the sensors using VERY LOW POWER, so a pair of AAA batteries can power the Veloloop for a year or more.

An LED on the Veloloop tells the rider if the Veloloop is searching for a sensor (flashing red LED) and when it is locked on and triggering the sensor (solid red LED). There's no more guessing whether the light will turn green or whether you'll be turning red with anger over not getting a green!

The device is far from reaching its November 7 funding goal, perhaps due to its proposed price of $99. But for bike riders who value every minute of the day, that might not be too much to pay for zapping those annoying reds. Another beta tester timed rides over four days, and reports that the "Veloloop" gave him an "average of 88.8 seconds of improvement" during his commute.

H/t ETA








How the Crime of Labor Trafficking Helps Cities Run

10/21/14
Image
Fourteen percent of trafficked immigrants are brought to America to work in restaurants. (Josh Anderson/AP)

Ima Matul met the President Obama in 2012. It's something she never imagined doing when she was a teenager in Java, Indonesia. In 1997, a relative of the family she worked for approached her with an offer she couldn't refuse: a nannying position in Los Angeles.

It wasn't that much money—$150 a month—but it was more than she was getting paid in Java. Bonus? She wouldn't have to do any paperwork; the man who wanted to hire her said he would take care of the visa, passport, and tickets. All she had to do was say yes. So, she did.

"I took it right away... it was such a great opportunity," she remembers.

When Matul arrived in L.A., the first thing the traffickers did was take away her passport. Within three months of starting her job with the Indonesian-American family, her situation started to deteriorate.  

She had no set hours. In addition to her nanny duties, they had her cooking and cleaning. She wasn't allowed to go out alone. If she did go out, it was around the block to walk the dog, or to church with the family. Even at these places, her employers would reel her back in if she spoke to someone, she says. Soon, it became worse: They began beating and verbally abusing her, and she stopped getting paid regularly. They'd brush her off, saying they'd give her a lump sum at the end of her contract of two years. This contract, by the way, was only a verbal one.

Matul was trafficked as domestic help, like many others who come to America at the promise of better opportunities. But there's not enough discussion about it, Matul says.

"It's happening. People need to know that and start paying attention," she says.

A new report by the Urban Institute and Northeastern University backs up Matul's experience. In the study, researchers gathered data from 122 closed records of trafficked victims in four U.S. cities, and interviewed many of them to understand who they were and how they were exploited. It's only the third government-funded study about labor trafficking, says Colleen Owens, one of the authors.

Owens says the study corrected a lot of assumptions she had going in about who the victims of trafficking are. She thought most of the victims would be unauthorized workers—but, in fact, 71 percent of the cases in their sample set came to America legally through guest worker programs.

Many of the victims of trafficking in various industries came to the U.S. legally. (Urban Institute)

A majority, like Matul, were employed as domestic workers. Others could be working in fields, growing food we find in the supermarket; serving us that food at restaurants; or helping build that restaurant to begin with.

"It started to unravel a more systematic nature of how this is happening across different industries that we really began to uncover," Owens says about the report.

The industries in which the workers were employed. (Urban Institute)

Another interesting conclusion was that, though workers from Mexico made up the largest percentage of trafficked workers from any one country, most came from Asia.

Most of the cases were from Asia. (Urban Institute)

But how did they get here in the first place?

The same way Matul did: For 61 percent of the victims, the trafficker was someone they knew through family or friends. Some of these traffickers were American-born, others were from the home countries of the victims, says Owens. They didn't just use false promises and deception but outright coercion get the victims to sign up. (Almost half of Owens' sample reported paying a hefty fee in the thousands to be "recruited.")

Once the victims arrived in America, traffickers controlled their money, the information they received, and leveraged them with familial and financial obligations. This was in addition to physical and verbal threats.

Nineteen percent of labor-trafficking cases worked in agriculture. (AP images.)

In Matul's case, all of this was true. She was also told that the police were not on her side. (In fact, in 14 percent of cases, the police arrested victims who had come to them for help.) even though she knew what was happening to her was wrong, her limited English skills restricted her and she had no idea where to go for help, she says.  

Methods used by traffickers to entrap workers and keep them in control. (Urban Institute)

Three years into her ordeal, Matul decided to tell someone. It took months to get her English up to a level where she could write a letter to her neighbor. She says it took her even more time to get up the nerve to deliver it. She was scared they would tell her traffickers, but they didn't.

Instead, her neighbors helped her escape and took her to the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST) in L.A. She now works there, advocating for the rights of trafficked workers—that's how she met the president.

President Obama recognized Ima Matul as a slavery survivor at the Clinton Gala in 2012.

As for Matul's traffickers, they were never prosecuted; back in 2000, the federal anti-trafficking law hadn't yet gone into effect.

Since then, things have changed.

“This crime of labor trafficking has existed forever, but our laws around it, our language is different,” Owens says. Still, state laws should be strengthened, she recommends. (Both Matul and Owens mentioned the SB 477 California legislation as a good example of a strong state anti-trafficking law.)

The report only looks at "the tip of the iceberg," of labor trafficking victims, Owens says—most remain invisible. She would like to see stronger coordination between federal law enforcement and the Department of Labor to help identify them.

That remains the biggest problem, and it's one that's often on Matul's mind. She looks closely at the people she encounters, even the ones in seemingly innocuous professions—even kids selling candy to raise money for trips.

“Who are the victims?" she asks. "It’s such a hidden crime because you can’t really tell... Anyone can be the victim."








How the Crime of Labor Trafficking Helps Cities Run

10/21/14
Image
Fourteen percent of trafficked immigrants are brought to America to work in restaurants. (Josh Anderson/AP)

Ima Matul met the President Obama in 2012. It's something she never imagined doing when she was a teenager in Java, Indonesia. In 1997, a relative of the family she worked for approached her with an offer she couldn't refuse: a nannying position in Los Angeles.

It wasn't that much money—$150 a month—but it was more than she was getting paid in Java. Bonus? She wouldn't have to do any paperwork; the man who wanted to hire her said he would take care of the visa, passport, and tickets. All she had to do was say yes. So, she did.

"I took it right away... it was such a great opportunity," she remembers.

When Matul arrived in L.A., the first thing the traffickers did was take away her passport. Within three months of starting her job with the Indonesian-American family, her situation started to deteriorate.  

She had no set hours. In addition to her nanny duties, they had her cooking and cleaning. She wasn't allowed to go out alone. If she did go out, it was around the block to walk the dog, or to church with the family. Even at these places, her employers would reel her back in if she spoke to someone, she says. Soon, it became worse: They began beating and verbally abusing her, and she stopped getting paid regularly. They'd brush her off, saying they'd give her a lump sum at the end of her contract of two years. This contract, by the way, was only a verbal one.

Matul was trafficked as domestic help, like many others who come to America at the promise of better opportunities. These people work jobs that cushion our lives with comfort; we're all benefiting from their exploitation and may not even realize it, Matul says. It's a problem that needs to be talked about more.*

"It's happening. People need to know that and start paying attention," she says.

A new report by the Urban Institute and Northeastern University backs up Matul's experience. In the study, researchers gathered data from 122 closed records of trafficked victims in four U.S. cities, and interviewed many of them to understand who they were and how they were exploited. It's only the third government-funded study about labor trafficking, says Colleen Owens, one of the authors.

Owens says the study corrected a lot of assumptions she had going in about who the victims of trafficking are. She thought most of the victims would be unauthorized workers—but, in fact, 71 percent of the cases in their sample set came to America legally through guest worker programs.

Many of the victims of trafficking in various industries came to the U.S. legally. (Urban Institute)

A majority, like Matul, were employed as domestic workers. Others could be working in fields, growing food we find in the supermarket; serving us that food at restaurants; or helping build that restaurant to begin with.

"It started to unravel a more systematic nature of how this is happening across different industries that we really began to uncover," Owens says about the report.

The industries in which the workers were employed. (Urban Institute)

Another interesting conclusion was that, though workers from Mexico made up the largest percentage of trafficked workers from any one country, most came from Asia.

Most of the cases were from Asia. (Urban Institute)

But how did they get here in the first place?

The same way Matul did: For 61 percent of the victims, the trafficker was someone they knew through family or friends. Some of these traffickers were American-born, others were from the home countries of the victims, says Owens. They didn't just use false promises and deception but outright coercion get the victims to sign up. (Almost half of Owens' sample reported paying a hefty fee in the thousands to be "recruited.")

Once the victims arrived in America, traffickers controlled their money, the information they received, and leveraged them with familial and financial obligations. This was in addition to physical and verbal threats.

Nineteen percent of labor-trafficking cases worked in agriculture. (AP images.)

In Matul's case, all of this was true. She was also told that the police were not on her side. (In fact, in 14 percent of cases, the police arrested victims who had come to them for help.) even though she knew what was happening to her was wrong, her limited English skills restricted her and she had no idea where to go for help, she says.  

Methods used by traffickers to entrap workers and keep them in control. (Urban Institute)

Three years into her ordeal, Matul decided to tell someone. It took months to get her English up to a level where she could write a letter to her neighbor. She says it took her even more time to get up the nerve to deliver it. She was scared they would tell her traffickers, but they didn't.

Instead, her neighbors helped her escape and took her to the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST) in L.A. She now works there, advocating for the rights of trafficked workers—that's how she met the president.

President Obama recognized Ima Matul as a slavery survivor at the Clinton Gala in 2012.

As for Matul's traffickers, they were never prosecuted; back in 2000, the federal anti-trafficking law hadn't yet gone into effect.

Since then, things have changed.

“This crime of labor trafficking has existed forever, but our laws around it, our language is different,” Owens says. Still, state laws should be strengthened, she recommends. (Both Matul and Owens mentioned the SB 477 California legislation as a good example of a strong state anti-trafficking law.)

The report only looks at "the tip of the iceberg," of labor trafficking victims, Owens says—most remain invisible. She would like to see stronger coordination between federal law enforcement and the Department of Labor to help identify them.

That remains the biggest problem, and it's one that's often on Matul's mind. She looks closely at the people she encounters, even the ones in seemingly innocuous professions—even kids selling candy to raise money for trips.

“Who are the victims?" she asks. "It’s such a hidden crime because you can’t really tell... Anyone can be the victim."

*This article has been updated to include an additional quote from Ima Matul.








Here's One Way Earthquake-Prone Cities Are Thinking Ahead

10/21/14
Image
neelsky/Shutterstock.com

Authorities from Washington’s Puget Sound recently gathered around computers, witnessing simulations of how their local ports could be destroyed by an earthquake—and trying make sense of how they might respond in real time.

Large earthquakes and their effects—like tsunamis, floods, and landslides—cause untold damage to cities, while thousands of smaller tremors happen every day. In 2011, mostly because of Japan’s devastating Tōhoku earthquake, the world experienced its worst economic damage as a result of earthquakes.

Response and rebuilding puts a huge strain on cities for months and years afterward. Once the tremors have ended and the clean-up is underway, how can a city make sense of the staggering work ahead? One way: Talk to "reality engineering" company Simudyne, which has developed a simulation tool to help authorities and policymakers better manage earthquake fallout.

(Simudyne)

Located at two convergent tectonic plates, Washington ranks behind only California among states at risk to damaging earthquakes. Communities in the Puget Sound Basin and along the Pacific coast are particularly vulnerable.

In a program funded partly by FEMA’s Port Security Grant Program and aided by disaster planning firm Dynamis Inc., Simudyne worked with the ports of Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, and Everett to simulate the economic costs of an earthquake and to effectively allocate funds for more efficient responses.

The final report of the Puget Sound Regional Maritime Transportation Disaster Recovery Exercise Program was published in May and remarked on the region’s lack of preparedness for disaster recovery.

“The effects, outcomes, and costs of recovery are not well understood, therefore recovery is often neglected during planning for disasters and is not widely exercised,” it said.

To find a solution, Simudyne worked with seismologists to understand how an earthquake works, and how they could now “damage the port realistically,” explains Simudyne CEO Justin Lyon. Based on the simulated seismic activity, they created a real-time virtual environment.

The simulation sets a scenario at about 30 days after the earthquake has hit. Authorities can fully see the extent of the damage and can figure out what decisions they need to make to rebuild the port.

The software integrates data from normal port operations and lays out the cash flow issues associated with returning to normal. “We were looking at the capacity and availability of the people, the utilities. We were simulating road, rail, and waterways, the docks, the trains, as well as the buildings, all of this physical damage,” explains Justin. “Then we also had a whole section of simulating things around the operating revenue and expenses.”

Simudyne then visualizes the data and damage in a game-like environment reminiscent of Sim City.

(Simudyne)

“We made icons that represented the key assets, the utilities, the transport, the infrastructure,” explains Justin. “They would change color based on how damaged they were. You could drill down and see really specific details around what had occurred.”

Another section simulates operating revenue and expenses, taking into account how long insurance payments take to arrive or how much is available to spend on construction costs.

(Simudyne)

Returning to operation as quickly and efficiently as possible is vital. “Ports generate a lot of money in the area around the port,” adds Justin, with the surrounding areas benefiting economically as well. A joint report from Seattle and Tacoma released last month found the ports supported more than 48,000 jobs (directly, indirectly, and induced), producing $4.3 billion in economic activity. Meanwhile, the Port of Seattle plans to generate 100,000 jobs within the next 25 years.

Hindrances to these economic mainstays for Washington State could have long lasting effects.

“We have to be resilient and recover operations quickly after natural or human-made disasters,” says Lou Paulsen, Port of Tacoma’s director of strategic operations projects and risk management, who led the Tacoma team during the program. “Participating in the earthquake exercise with our local, state, and federal agency partners, as well as our customers, provided a valuable opportunity to evaluate and strengthen our response.”

The workforce and economy cannot recover from a disaster without cooperative efforts, said Simudyne’s report. Earlier this month, the ports of Seattle and Tacoma formed the Seaport Alliance, which will manage marine cargo at both ports in order to expand job creation. For a long a time, the ports had been “rivals.” It’s hoped the agreement will help the ports “create the strongest maritime gateway in North America.”

Simudyne’s technology can be configured for different natural disasters and hazardous scenarios as well. Cities are ill-prepared for when disaster strikes, says Justin, and the occurrence of disasters is ever-growing.

“Computer simulations give policymakers an incredible environment to safely test their response strategies,” he says, “and by doing so, they’ll be far more prepared than they ever could be.”

Top image: neelsky/Shutterstock.com








Here's One Way Earthquake-Prone Cities Are Thinking Ahead

10/21/14
Image
neelsky/Shutterstock.com

Authorities from Washington’s Puget Sound recently gathered around computers, witnessing simulations of how their local ports could be destroyed by an earthquake—and trying make sense of how they might respond in real time.

Large earthquakes and their effects—like tsunamis, floods, and landslides—cause untold damage to cities, while thousands of smaller tremors happen every day. In 2011, mostly because of Japan’s devastating Tōhoku earthquake, the world experienced its worst economic damage as a result of earthquakes.

Response and rebuilding puts a huge strain on cities for months and years afterward. Once the tremors have ended and the clean-up is underway, how can a city make sense of the staggering work ahead? One way: Talk to "reality engineering" company Simudyne, which has developed a simulation tool to help authorities and policymakers better manage earthquake fallout.

(Simudyne)

Located at two convergent tectonic plates, Washington ranks behind only California among states at risk to damaging earthquakes. Communities in the Puget Sound Basin and along the Pacific coast are particularly vulnerable.

In a program funded partly by FEMA’s Port Security Grant Program and aided by disaster planning firm Dynamis Inc., Simudyne worked with the ports of Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, and Everett to simulate the economic costs of an earthquake and to effectively allocate funds for more efficient responses.

The final report of the Puget Sound Regional Maritime Transportation Disaster Recovery Exercise Program was published in May and remarked on the region’s lack of preparedness for disaster recovery.

“The effects, outcomes, and costs of recovery are not well understood, therefore recovery is often neglected during planning for disasters and is not widely exercised,” it said.

To find a solution, Simudyne worked with seismologists to understand how an earthquake works, and how they could now “damage the port realistically,” explains Simudyne CEO Justin Lyon. Based on the simulated seismic activity, they created a real-time virtual environment.

The simulation sets a scenario at about 30 days after the earthquake has hit. Authorities can fully see the extent of the damage and can figure out what decisions they need to make to rebuild the port.

The software integrates data from normal port operations and lays out the cash flow issues associated with returning to normal. “We were looking at the capacity and availability of the people, the utilities. We were simulating road, rail, and waterways, the docks, the trains, as well as the buildings, all of this physical damage,” explains Justin. “Then we also had a whole section of simulating things around the operating revenue and expenses.”

Simudyne then visualizes the data and damage in a game-like environment reminiscent of Sim City.

(Simudyne)

“We made icons that represented the key assets, the utilities, the transport, the infrastructure,” explains Justin. “They would change color based on how damaged they were. You could drill down and see really specific details around what had occurred.”

Another section simulates operating revenue and expenses, taking into account how long insurance payments take to arrive or how much is available to spend on construction costs.

(Simudyne)

Returning to operation as quickly and efficiently as possible is vital. “Ports generate a lot of money in the area around the port,” adds Justin, with the surrounding areas benefiting economically as well. A joint report from Seattle and Tacoma released last month found the ports supported more than 48,000 jobs (directly, indirectly, and induced), producing $4.3 billion in economic activity. Meanwhile, the Port of Seattle plans to generate 100,000 jobs within the next 25 years.

Hindrances to these economic mainstays for Washington State could have long lasting effects.

“We have to be resilient and recover operations quickly after natural or human-made disasters,” says Lou Paulsen, Port of Tacoma’s director of strategic operations projects and risk management, who led the Tacoma team during the program. “Participating in the earthquake exercise with our local, state, and federal agency partners, as well as our customers, provided a valuable opportunity to evaluate and strengthen our response.”

The workforce and economy cannot recover from a disaster without cooperative efforts, said Simudyne’s report. Earlier this month, the ports of Seattle and Tacoma formed the Seaport Alliance, which will manage marine cargo at both ports in order to expand job creation. For a long a time, the ports had been “rivals.” It’s hoped the agreement will help the ports “create the strongest maritime gateway in North America.”

Simudyne’s technology can be configured for different natural disasters and hazardous scenarios as well. Cities are ill-prepared for when disaster strikes, says Justin, and the occurrence of disasters is ever-growing.

“Computer simulations give policymakers an incredible environment to safely test their response strategies,” he says, “and by doing so, they’ll be far more prepared than they ever could be.”

Top image: neelsky/Shutterstock.com








Soldiers prevent dozens of Palestinians and int’l activists from sowing field under occupation

10/20/14

Violence / Raids / Clashes / Illegal arrests

Palestinians, activists attacked and prevented from rehabilitating agricultural land
IMEMC /Agencies 18 Oct by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers attacked, Saturday, dozens of Palestinian residents and international peace activists, and prevented them from rehabilitating agricultural land in al-Harabala Hill, in Surif town, northwest of the southern West Bank city of Hebron. Yousef Abu Maria, an activist with the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements, stated that the soldiers fired gas bombs at the residents and solidarity activists as they tried to plant the land, the Palestine TV has reported. Abu Maria added that several persons suffered the effects of teargas inhalation, while a Palestinian identified as Firas Awad suffered various cuts and bruises after being assaulted by the soldiers. The army forced the residents and activists out of the Palestinian land, and threatened harsh consequences should they return.
http://www.imemc.org/article/69430

5-year-old Palestinian girl hit by settler car succumbs to wounds
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 19 Oct — A young Palestinian girl who was struck by an Israeli settler vehicle earlier Sunday has succumbed to her wounds, medics told Ma‘an. Einas Khalil, five, died after being hit by a car driven by an Israeli settler near the central West Bank town of Sinjil, medical sources at Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah said. The girl and young Nilin Asfour were walking on the main road near the village when they were hit, and were taken to the hospital in Ramallah where their wounds were described as serious. Einas passed away hours later. Residents of Sinjil accused the settler of deliberately hitting the girls. Israeli police arrived at the scene shortly after the incident and opened an investigation into whether it was deliberate, locals said. [Nilin is said to be in critical condition]  Photo of Einas
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=734030

Video: report (Arabic) on killing and death of Einas Khalil
Palestine TV 19 Oct – includes interview with the child’s mother ‘She wanted to sleep longer and didn’t have breakfast’ Scenes of her death in the hospital and the street where she was hit
https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=773652026038127&set=vb.132091353527534&type=2&theater

Clashes as Israeli forces raid Salfit city center

SALFIT (Ma‘an) 19 Oct — Clashes broke out around dawn in the northern West Bank city of Salfit on Sunday as Israeli forces conducted a raid in the city center and launched dozens of tear gas canisters into residential areas. Eyewitnesses said that an armed military convoy consisting of five patrol cars entered the city center and deliberately fired tear gas canisters and stun grenades into crowds, injuring a number of people, including a journalist on the scene named Khaled Maaleh. Palestinian youths gathered around the military vehicles and pelted them with stones and empty bottles in response, chanting slogans against the Israeli military occupation and recent attacks on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem. Eyewitnesses said that the Israeli military convoy had deliberately provoked the crowd, stopping locals in the street and checking ID cards.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=733935

Five, including a physically challenged man, kidnapped in Hebron
IMEMC/Agencies 19 Oct by Saed Bannoura — Several Israeli military vehicles invaded, on Sunday at dawn, Hebron city, in the southern part of the West Bank and Beit Ummar nearby town, broke into a number of homes, and kidnapped five Palestinians, including a paralyzed man. Mohammad Awad, spokesperson of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Beit Ummar, stated that the soldiers invaded a number of homes, searched them, and kidnapped two identified as Ziad and his brother Mahmoud Bader Ekhlayyel, 35 and 28 years of age. Awad added that, in 1994, Ziad was shot by an Israeli soldier in his spine, causing paralyses, while his brother is a former political prisoner, who spent two years in Israeli prisons. The soldiers also invaded Ras al-Joura area, north of Hebron city, and kidnapped Suheib ‘Ali Jneid, 20, after searching and ransacking his home. Abdul-Rahman al-Juneidi and Mohammad Ayad Awad, 27, were abducted in the Hebron area as well. In both instances, soldiers smashed the doors of the homes of those abducted. The kidnapped Palestinians were cuffed, blindfolded and were moved to the Etzion Israeli military and security base…
In related news, a number of military vehicles invaded the Deheishe refugee camp, south of Bethlehem, and handed Mohammad Abdullah al-Ja‘fari, 43, a military order for interrogation at the Etzion military base. The soldiers also searched and ransacked his home.
http://www.imemc.org/article/69434

Israeli forces detain 2 Palestinians from Bethlehem-area village
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Oct — Israeli forces detained two Palestinian men from the southern West Bank village of Husan west of Bethlehem early on Sunday morning, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society. The group identified the detainees in a statement as Majdi Hamamra and Nasri Hamamra. The pair were detained after Israeli troops ransacked their homes in the village.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=733897

West Bank checkpoint closed after suicide bombing scare
Times of Israel 19 Oct — Israeli security forces determined that a Palestinian man who was detained Sunday near the northern West Bank city of Jenin on suspicion that he was planning to carry out a suicide bombing was, in fact, unarmed. The man was apprehended at a checkpoint next to the Palestinian town of Jalameh on the northern border of the West Bank, after security forces noticed what appeared to be an explosive vest strapped to his torso, Israel Radio reported. Sappers were attempting to dismantle what they thought was an explosive device while police interrogated the man at a facility adjacent to the checkpoint, according to the report. The device was later found not to contain any explosives, Israel Radio reported.
http://www.timesofisrael.com/suspected-suicide-bomber-held-at-west-bank-checkpoint/

Israeli forces detain Palestinian teen in Beit Ummar
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 18 Oct — Israeli troops detained a young Palestinian man from the town of Beit Ummar in the southern West Bank Friday evening, a local activist said. Muhammad Ayyad Awad of Beit Ummar’s Popular Committee against the Settlements told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers detained 19-year-old Osama Bassam Khlayyil while he was sitting in his car at the northern entrance to the town.  The soldiers, he added, asked Khlayyil to exit the vehicle and show his license and registration documents of the vehicle, before they assaulted him. Awad said that the soldiers took him into custody and transferred him to Gush Etzion detention center.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=733756

Clashes renew in Occupied Jerusalem
IMEMC/Agencies 19 Oct by Saed Bannoura — Palestinian medical sources said several residents have been injured by army fire in renewed clashes that took place with Israeli soldiers invading various neighborhoods and towns in the occupied city. At least five, including a child, have been kidnapped. Dozens of soldiers and police officers invaded the Chain Gate (Bab al-Silsila), the town of at-Tour, and the Shu‘fat refugee camp, in addition to a number of neighborhoods in the Old City. The soldiers invaded Asaliyya and Sharha neighborhoods in the Old City, and attacked several Palestinians before kidnapping four. One of the Palestinians, identified as Hamza Khalaf, was injured in the head when the soldiers assaulted him before kidnapping him. Another kidnapped Palestinian has been identified as Mohammad Sharha; soldiers also kidnapped two of his relatives. In the at-Tour town, soldiers kidnapped a child identified as Ibrahim al-Hedra, after the army invaded the town, and clashed with local youths. Shortly before midnight, dozens of soldiers invaded Aqabat as-Saraya, al-Waad Street, Bab Hatta, Sa’diyya neighborhood, and al-Jabsha Street, in the Old City, leading to clashes between the invading soldiers and local youths.
http://www.imemc.org/article/69433

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing

Photos: Al-Amin Abdul Haq demolishes his own house with an ax
Palestine TV FB Page 18 Oct — Al-Amin Abdul Haq demolished his own house in the Ras al-Amud quarter of East Jerusalem with an ax, after receiving demolition orders from the municipality of occupation. Cinematographer: Afif Amira
https://www.facebook.com/PalestineTv/posts/772923206111009

Settlers take over 2 buildings in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 20 Oct — Armed Jewish settlers took over two buildings in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan on Monday, a local group said. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center said that a group of armed settlers raided Silwan at 2 a.m. and occupied two buildings consisting of 10 apartments. The owners of the buildings, Salah al-Rajabi and Imran al-Qawasmi, sold the properties to a Palestinian man identified as Shams al-Din al-Qawasmi, who in turn sold the buildings to Jewish settler groups, the center said. The previous Palestinian tenants left the buildings over four months ago. There are now four settlement outposts in the heart of the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan, the center said, increasing fears of a gradual Jewish takeover of the strategic area.
The settler news site Arutz Sheva quoted Jerusalem Councilman Arieh King as saying: “This morning the Jewish population in the Yemenite Village doubled.” He encouraged further Jewish settlement of the area.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=734089

Does ‘the thief of Jerusalem’ deserve US aid?
Mondoweiss 18 Oct by Annie Robbins — Hell’s been breaking out in East Jerusalem, exacerbated by Israeli settlers occupying 23 more homes in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan on September 30th. We’re late on this, but Rabbi Jill Jacobs (of the human rights group T’ruah) wrote a killer article published in the Washington Post last week. “You, American taxpayer, are helping to fund Israeli settlements,” is a hard-hitting, no-holds-barred informative article that’s fresh and very timely. Jacobs takes a teeth-grindingly long-argued topic and makes it fresh. I’m not sure I’ve ever even read an article in the mainstream media challenging the legality behind the US tax status of American donations that non profits funnel to Elad, buying up East Jerusalem and placing illegal Jewish settlements on occupied land. Elad, the settler group that organized this incursion, raises $6 million a year in the United States through the Friends of Ir David Foundation. As a nonprofit, donations to FIDF are tax deductible; funders can write off their gifts, which means that all of us who pay U.S. taxes helped subsidize the new settlement. That’s in direct opposition to official U.S. policy, which seeks a two-state solution and prohibits American aid to settlements over the Green Line. If U.S. policy prohibits American aid to illegal settlements, why can’t it challenge nonprofits using tax subsidies to fund the takeover of occupied Palestine? After calling Elad’s appropriation of Palestinian property in Jerusalem a “hostile takeover,” Jacobs unleashes a full throttle assault characterizing Elad as representing “the worst kind of thief” in the Torah, and then saying Americans are complicit!
http://mondoweiss.net/2014/10/thief-jerusalem-deserve

PHOTOS: Dispossession and displacement with no end in sight
Middle East Monitor 18 Oct — 13 EXCLUSIVE IMAGES An estimated 90,000-100,000 Palestinian Bedouin lived in Palestine before the Nakba. In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s all but about 10,000 were driven from their lands by Zionist militias and – after the establishment of the State of Israel – the Israeli army. The Bedouin fled to different areas. Some went south from their homes in the Naqab to Egypt, others fled to Gaza and many to the areas around Hebron and East Jerusalem – lands east of the Green Line. The Jahalin tribe re-established various communities-in-exile around the Jerusalem periphery. Today, it is the largest of the exiled Bedouin tribes in the West Bank. n ‘Area C’ of the West Bank and sandwiched between the Israeli settlements of Ma’ale Adumim and Kfar Adumim, the village of Khan al-Ahmar is one of the Jahalin’s villages. Since its establishment, residents have lived without the most basic of infrastructure and amidst the ongoing demolition of their houses. Israel carries out these demolitions under the pretext of the Bedouin having built their structures ‘illegally’ despite the fact that all their requests by the community for development of their village including construction and connection to infrastructure have been rejected by the Israeli Civil Administration. The ever-present fear of individual demolitions has now been overshadowed by the spectre of another mass-displacement project. Khan al-Ahmar is amongst the communities that are threatened with ‘Forced Population Transfer’ within Israel’s E1 development plan. ‘Forced Population Transfer’ is in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) defines it as ‘a crime against humanity’. More than half of Khan al-Ahmar’s population are children and according to UNRWA many of them ‘display signs of psychological trauma such as speech defects, insomnia and bed-wetting’.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14733-dispossession-and-displacement-with-no-end-in-sight

Otherwise Occupied: The commandment to expel / Amira Hass
Haaretz 20 Oct — …After the big expulsion of between 700,000 and 800,000 Palestinians in 1948, we have made do with smaller expulsions, and excel in camouflaging them under various legal definitions or varying circumstantial theories. The Israeli civil-military bureaucracy does not attempt to bathe its acts in any single guiding ideology … Here is an inventory of the methods of expulsion in their various concealments: 1. “Stop being a resident.” Israel’s control of the Palestinian Population Registry allowed it to expel some 250,000 Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip between 1967 and 1994 by revoking their status as residents (because they remained overseas for over seven years). These figures were provided by the Defense Ministry … We must add about 100,000 Palestinians (at least) to this number, who fled or were expelled from the West Bank and Gaza during the June 1967 war and were not present during the census conducted that summer. They have not been allowed back to their homes. The Israelis who have emigrated to Los Angeles, it should be noted, continue to be Israelis. 2. “Trickery.” The Oslo Accords speak of a mechanism for the gradual return to the West Bank and Gaza of those who “lost” their identity cards in 1967. Later, Israeli representatives in the negotiations claimed that the intention was for those who had physically lost their ID cards, not residency status itself … 3. The continued control of the Palestinian Population Registry in the West Bank and Gaza, 20 years after the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, allows Israel to continue and prevent hundreds of thousands from returning to their homes and families. Also, to approve only a few tens of thousands to return through the goodwill gesture of “family reunification.” 4.  Defining the Palestinians born in East Jerusalem as “permanent residents” whose status is a sort of favor the country grants – like the favor it grants to a priest from the Philippines, for example, who wants to live in the Holy Land under Israeli rule. However, this is a favor with a condition: Whoever lives abroad for seven years will see this favor revoked. His status as a permanent resident will be revoked. … Since 1967 through the end of 2013, Israel expelled 14,309 Jerusalem-born Palestinians that way (according to information that the Interior Ministry gave to HaMoked). Not so many? Think about the 7,000 “victimized” settlers from the Gaza Strip and the noise they are still making because their project of land theft and water robbery came to an end in 2005. 5. Bedouin. Who counts them? They are always being expelled. From water sources, pasture lands, because of military firing ranges. Because of nature reserves   6. Bedouin. Who counts them (II)? Under media silence, a few dozen Bedouin from the Kaabneh tribe, who had lived in East Jerusalem since the 1950s, were expelled to the West Bank. 7.  “Area C.” Even before being defined as such, the Israel Defense Forces and Civil Administration implemented draconian rules (for Palestinians only) on housing, construction and agriculture. This is the reason that only some 300,000 Palestinians – 12% of the residents – live on some 60 percent of the area of the West Bank. 8. In 2002, Israel expelled 26 of the Palestinians who were besieged in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, to Gaza. They were promised they could return after two years… 9. Making life in the enclaves insufferable. The chances of a young Palestinian finding work are shrinking, mostly because of Israeli control over most of the territory of the West Bank, and because of the limitations on movement it imposes. Twenty percent of the residents of the West Bank, and 40 percent of the residents in the Gaza Strip, say they would like to emigrate.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.621596

The forgotten exiles of the Church of the Nativity
Haaretz 18 Oct by Amira Hass — In 2002, 26 Palestinians were exiled to Gaza after an Israeli five-and-a-half-week siege on the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Twelve years later, the exiles and their families are still awaiting their promised return to the West Bank, their hopes pinned on the faltering Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Two key figures in the efforts to rebuild the Gaza Strip are the head of Palestinian intelligence, Majid Faraj, and Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh. Both of them are trusted by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and they are the ones in direct, constant contact with representatives of foreign states (Egypt, the United States, etc.) and their intelligence services, as well as representatives of the Israeli occupation apparatus (the IDF, the Defense Ministry, the Civil Administration and Shin Bet security service). Last week, Faraj and al-Sheikh visited the Gaza Strip (at the time of the reconciliation government meeting) and found time to meet with people who had no direct connection with the reconstruction project: those deported from Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity in 2002 … As senior Fatah officials and Abbas representatives – and not just representatives of the PA – Faraj and al-Sheikh are among those who bear the heavy collective responsibility for the fact that 26 individuals who were under the siege in the church were sent to Gaza in May 2002 (while 13 others were exiled abroad, one of whom subsequently died from disease). They did not discuss returning home during last week’s meeting. All the two Palestinian officials could promise was that they would ask the Israelis to allow the exiles’ relatives to make the 70-kilometer trip into the Gaza Strip through the Erez checkpoint for regular visits. Undocumented promise The agreement to exile them and drop the Palestinian demand for an international investigation into the Israeli attack on the Jenin refugee camp in April 2002 was reached in exchange for ending the siege on Yasser Arafat. The exiles themselves were told by Mohammed Dahlan, then head of the PA’s Preventive Security Service in Gaza, and his colleague Mohammed Rashid, Arafat’s money man, that they would be allowed to return to their homes in two years’ time.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.621361

PHOTOS: Palestinians watch harvest season disappear before their eyes
Activestills 18 Oct  Photos and text by: Ahmad Al-Bazz — As every year in October, Palestinian families in the West Bank head to their groves in order to begin the olive harvest season. The harvest for any given family might take a few days or several weeks depending on the number of olive trees they have. In the village of Salem, near Nablus, the daily olive harvest routine is for families to go out at 6:00 in the morning and work until sunset. All family members participate in the harvest, from children to the elderly.  The families that have groves near their houses and far from settlements can work freely. Families that have groves near Israeli settlements, military bases or bypass roads can only harvest according to a schedule imposed by Israeli authorities. This year, Israeli authorities gave only five days to Salem residents who have lands behind the Israeli bypass road and nearby settlement outposts of Elon Moreh. These families have to finish their harvest in this limited time regardless of their number of olive trees. Some families decided to start harvesting on the days before those dictated by the Israeli authorities’ schedule in order to be able to finish all of their trees. Some succeeded, while others were caught by Israeli authorities and forced to stop working and leave their land. At the same time, other residents said that soldiers forced them to stop the harvest at noon even on days that were supposed to be allowed according to the schedule. In areas such as these, Israeli authorities allow these farmers to reach their lands only two times per year: Once in April for tilling soil, and again in October for the olive harvest. After months of being prevented from reaching their land, farmers might discover new problems. Some reported that they found dozens of damaged olive trees, which they assume were vandalized by Israeli settlers. Others have discovered new settlement outposts being built nearby. The growth of settlements can mean increased movement restrictions in years to come.
http://972mag.com/photos-palestinians-watch-harvest-season-disappear-before-their-eyes/97741/

Palestinians dismantle illegal settler outpost
[with photos] SUSIYA, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Khalil Team) 12 Oct — Today Palestinians and international activists participated in a Palestinian village community action which involved reaching an area of their land which has been declared a closed military zone. The action also consisted of dismantling a new illegal settlement outpost built by settlers. Over the past month the settler outpost has been dismantled by the Palestinians and rebuilt by settlers three times. According to Palestinians living in the area, Israeli forces have permanently stationed a military jeep in this area to survey and protect the illegal settler outpost. The illegal outpost is right next to a water well which the Palestinians rely on for daily use and livestock. Each time the Palestinians go near this piece of land the area is declared a closed military zone by Israeli forces and the Palestinians have been prevented from reaching it many times in the past. Palestinians from the local community and international activists successfully and peacefully dismantled the outpost. A Palestinian child also removed an Israeli flag from a military outpost nearby. Settlers were present in small numbers watching and shouting at the Palestinians and activists. After a short time, the Israeli armed forces forced the Palestinians and international activists to leave the area, declaring it a closed military zone.
http://palsolidarity.org/2014/10/palestinians-dismantle-illegal-settler-outpost/

Settlers cut around 50 olive trees near Bethlehem
IMEMC/Agencies 18 Oct by Saed Bannoura — A number of extremist Israeli settlers invaded, on Saturday, Palestinian olive orchard in the al-Jab‘a village, southwest of Bethlehem, and cut [down] nearly 50 olive trees. Resident Ibrahim Abu Lateefa said he went to his orchard in the al-Jamjoum area, east of the village, to find out that the settlers cut 14 olive trees, and around 36 olive trees belonging to residents Mohammad Ahmad Masha’la and Ali Abu Lateefa. The al-Jab’a village has been subject to frequent Israeli settler attacks, and attacks by the army, including bulldozing agricultural lands, uprooting and cutting dozens of trees. Although such attacks happen frequently around the year, and also include burning lands and trees and flooding them with sewage, they usually escalate during the olive harvest season.
http://www.imemc.org/article/69424

Al-Aqsa

Israel restricts Palestinian access to Al-Aqsa for third week in a row
Anadolu/Al-Akhbar 17 Oct — For the third week in a row, Israeli forces have imposed restrictions on Palestinians seeking to enter Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied east Jerusalem, while facilitating the access of Zionist settlers. Israeli occupation forces have deployed 1,000 troops and erected roadblocks at Jerusalem’s Old City ahead of the weekly Friday prayers. Under the fresh Israeli restrictions, male worshipers under 50 were banned from performing the weekly prayers in Al-Aqsa Mosque. “All Muslim men under 50 and West Bankers will be barred from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for Friday prayers while women of all ages were granted access,” Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, head of the Jordan-run Organization for Muslim Endowments and Al-Aqsa Affairs, told Anadolu Agency. Elderly men and women have had to leave their identity cards with the police officers at the entrances of the compound. Al-Khatib said that while Israeli forces restrict the entry of Palestinians into Al-Aqsa mosque compound, they facilitate the access of Zionist settlers into the holy site. He said that at least 1,300 Zionist settlers and 350 Israeli soldiers had forced their way into the holy site during Jewish holidays in the past ten days. “Meantime, Israeli police banned more than 5,000 Muslims from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque during the same period,” he said.
https://english.al-akhbar.com/content/israel-restricts-palestinian-access-al-aqsa-third-week-row

Video (Arabic) Palestinians excluded and removed from Al-Aqsa
Palestine TV FB Page – Christine Rinaoa reports – Women try to study – Jews enter with military protection –  Israeli forces actually inside the mosque with weapons, etc.
https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=772435629493100

Official: PA should carry more influence in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 18 Oct — An official said Saturday that if any power besides the Palestinian Authority ended up in control of East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Palestinian national project would be “destroyed.” Mahmoud al-Habbash, the Minister of Religious Affairs, told Ma‘an that the PA needed to redouble its efforts to assert control in East Jerusalem. “We should start working with the Jerusalem district … and all the people of Jerusalem to bring back the weight of the PA in Jerusalem,” al-Habbash said. He said a “religious war” would erupt in the area if Israel continued carrying out its plans in Jerusalem. “For Palestine, it is an open battle; even if Israel imposes a new reality in Jerusalem we will not give it legitimacy.”
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=733804

Abbas vows legal measures to prevent Al-Aqsa ‘attacks’
RAMALLAH (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) 18 Oct — Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas said Saturday legal measures would be taken to prevent Jewish settlers from attacking Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound, having said their presence desecrates the site. His remarks follow a recent spate of clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli police, which erupted when Jews were to visit the complex. Muslims fear Jewish presence on Al-Aqsa is aimed at usurping the site. “The Palestinian leadership will be taking the necessary legal measures, at the international level, regarding the aggression of settlers on the Al-Aqsa mosque,” Abbas said in a speech to the Revolutionary Council of his Fatah party. “We will not allow settlers to attack the mosque,” he added, referring to the entire compound, which is the third holiest site in Islam. Non-Muslim visits to Al-Aqsa complex are permitted and regulated by police, but Jews are not allowed to pray at the site for fear it could trigger major disturbances, nor do they enter the mosques there.
http://news.yahoo.com/abbas-vows-legal-measures-prevent-al-aqsa-attacks-200137228.html

PA cracks down on rallies in support of Al-Aqsa Mosque
Middle East Monitor 18 Oct — Palestinian Authority (PA) security services cracked down on two Palestinian rallies which took to the streets of the West Bank on Friday in support for Al-Aqsa Mosque. Witnesses said that hundreds of official and undercover PA security forces flooded the streets where the rallies, which were called for by Hamas, were organised and attacked the protesters. One of the rallies was attacked in front of Al-Nasr Mosque in the city of Nablus. Witnesses said that security forces used batons to beat the protesters when they arrived into Hitteen Street. They also fired tear gas and arrested at least ten protesters and journalists, including journalist Tariq abu-Zaid, correspondent for Gaza-based Al-Aqsa TV. Palestinian protective security services arrested two Hamas members in Al-Beerah city, near Ramallah, while they were on their way to the Grand Mosque in the city. One of them is Sa’ed abul-Bahaa, Hamas spokesman in the city. Sources in the city said that the PA could not crackdown on the rally which took off from the Grand Mosque in Al-Beerah. The rally headed to Al-Manarah Square in central Ramallah.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14732-pa-cracks-down-on-rallies-in-support-for-al-aqsa-mosque

Official accuses PA of targeting Hamas members in West Bank
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 Oct  — A Hamas official on Saturday denounced what he called attempts by the Palestinian Authority to “silence” and marginalize members of the movement after security forces “attacked” rallies the day before. Ramallah-based leader Saed Abu Bahaa urged officials in the Palestinian government of national unity to investigate the “attacks,” which occurred during rallies organized by by Hamas supporters to condemn Israeli attacks on the Al-Aqsa mosque compound. “We consider oppressing rallies in support of Al-Aqsa — despite the fact that they had obtained the needed licenses — as a major and serious breach of freedoms,” he said in a statement. “Hamas views the practices of PA security services against supporters of al-Aqsa and Jerusalem as attempts to silence any voice opposing the judaization of the holy Aal-Aqsa Mosque,” he said, adding that some Palestinian circles are against those who oppose the Israeli occupation authorities’ plans to take control of Jerusalem and its holy places. Abu Bahaa warned that the attacks on the rallies was indicative of a wider crackdown against the movement, suggesting that leaders in the security forces of the previously Fatah-dominated West Bank were targeting Hamas.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=733808

Gaza

Heavy rains displace residents of mobile homes in Khuza‘a
GAZA (PIC) 20 Oct — Dozens of Gazan families who were displaced by Israel’s last war were forced to leave their prefabricated homes in Khuza‘a area, east of Khan Younis, after they were flooded by rainwater. Local sources said that the area, where the residents live in mobile homes in Khuza‘a, was inundated by rising waters because of the heavy rain that fell over Gaza for several days. The sources noted that the residents of this area had complained several days ago before it started to rain heavily that the location where their mobile homes were placed could be vulnerable to flood waters. All the homes also sustained electrical short circuits and power failures caused by their exposure to lightning strikes.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/

Hamas blasts PA for failing to begin Gaza reconstruction
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 Oct — The Hamas movement on Sunday urged the Palestinian Authority to facilitate the entry of construction material into the besieged Gaza Strip in order to speed up the reconstruction ahead of winter, as the first major rain of the fall season highlighted the challenges still facing tens of thousands of displaced Gazans. “Reconstruction of Gaza is one of the most important tasks the PA should carry out according to the reconciliation agreement, but on the condition that there be no obstacles, physical or legal, to the entry of construction material,” senior Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouq said in a statement.
The statement points to growing frustration with the PA’s failure to pressure Israel to open the border into Gaza, despite two different negotiation meetings with Israeli officials where it promised to do just that. It also underlines tension between Hamas and the Fatah-dominated PA despite working together in a technocratic government of national reconciliation, as Hamas has in recent days accused PA security forces of cracking down on members and attacking rallies. Abu Marzouq reiterated in the statement that Hamas had no problem with the PA coming into Gaza and carrying out reconstruction, expressing frustration that the unity government was failing to fulfill its duties.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=733902

A week after Cairo conference, UNRWA steps up recovery and reconstruction efforts in Gaza
October 19, 2014 Official UNRWA Press Release — We are focusing on providing food, water and sanitation services to over 40,000 displaced people in 18 of our installations, psycho-social support particularly for children, cash grants to the homeless for rent, as well as urgent repairs to 118 UNRWA installations, so that we can bring our services to full capacity. Our immediate aim is to help ensure that some of the most seriously affected families are able to improve their situation rapidly. The critical priority remains urgently needed reconstruction for large numbers of people. As assessments continue, we have revised upwards figures of homes destroyed and people affected. We now estimate that over 100,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, affecting more than 600,000 people. These are the latest figures and are likely to rise as UNRWA social workers and engineers continue their homes visits and inspections … Access for building materials is critical. We have consistently called for the lifting of the blockade and again stress that this is an essential parameter to enable Gaza to emerge from years of suffering, joblessness and a lack of prospects….
http://www.imemc.org/article/69438

Gaza still needs rebuilding. Here’s what lies ahead
Huffington Post 19 Oct by Charlotte Alfred — The WorldPost turned to Tony Laurance, CEO of U.K.-based charity Medical Aid for Palestinians, to discuss the reconstruction effort and the scale of the challenges ahead. It’s been nearly two months since Israel and Palestinians in Gaza reached a ceasefire deal. Has the rebuilding of Gaza started yet? Not in any meaningful sense. At the moment they’re mainly clearing unexploded ordnance. People were waiting for the Cairo donor conference and on an agreement on how materials will get into the enclave to start the rebuilding process. Substantial amounts were indeed pledged during the conference. However, after the last confrontation, Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009, there were also a lot of pledges but nothing was delivered. While the agreement reached by the United Nations on the entry of goods into Gaza is promising, there have been many promises over the last five years to resolve that same problem. Nothing ever happened in a very wide scale. Will it be different this time? The UN deal will need to be accompanied by enormous intentions. The challenges lie in the details and the success of the deal depends on relationships and trust, which are very sorely absent. Israeli-Palestinian relations don’t really exist at the moment. Will the promised aid be enough, if it does arrive? Getting the materials in is one thing. There are very complicated projects ahead — like repairing the water, sewage and power systems — which not only require goods entering Gaza but also expertise and equipment. Additionally, unless you create opportunities for export you cannot get the economy running again. One-off aid may help kickstart the economy but it won’t create longer term opportunities or jobs. Where does that leave people in Gaza in the meantime? People aren’t starving, but that’s about the best you can say. Many are not able to go home, many don’t have electricity. There’s an awful lot of people with injuries. Gaza will need to cope with people who have severe disabilities, offering physical therapy and finding opportunities for them. Additionally, unless you create opportunities for them….
http://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/magazine/gaza-still-needs-rebuilding-heres-what-lies-ahead/ar-BB9O0E1

Israeli navy boats open fire at Palestinian fishermen off Gaza coast
GAZA (PIC) 18 Oct — Israeli navy gunboats opened machinegun fire at Palestinian fishermen while fishing off the coast of Gaza on Saturday morning. Nizar Ayyash, the chairman of the Palestinian fishermen syndicate, said that the gunboats opened fire at dawn on fishing boats off the central coast of Gaza. “The shooting did not cause any casualties, but the fishermen were forced to abandon fishing and return to shore,” he added. The shooting is the latest in a series of Israeli violations of the truce agreement brokered by Egypt between Israel and Palestinian factions.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/

What it’s like to fight for Hamas
Al-Monitor 18 Oct by Asmaa al-Ghoul — As soon as the war ended, Abu Abdel Rahman, not his real name, a 26-year-old fighter in the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, emerged from the tunnels where he had directed operations against Israeli forces. He returned to his normal life, splitting his time between work in the Palestinian police force, studying and his family. The war, however, has not left Rahman. “Since the end of the war, I’ve been plagued by nightmares. I dream that they’ve opened the tunnel and found us inside, and kill us,” he told Al-Monitor. Sitting with Rahman is not easy. He watches everything around him, noting every movement, and he falls silent when a stranger approaches nearby. “I can’t [let anyone] recognize the sound of my voice,” he said. Before taking a seat, Rahman removes all his electronic devices and leaves them at a distance from where he eventually comes to rest. Rahman offered a number of details about the war. “We were able to blow up six military vehicles from inside a tunnel that was only 70 centimeters [27 inches] wide and 140 centimeters [55 inches] high. Every bomb planted in the ground had a number. When a military vehicle stopped above the bomb, we would detonate it based on the number. If it was above a no. 1 bomb, the wire connected to it had one node. If the vehicle was above a no. 2 bomb, it had two nodes,” he said, explaining how fighters knew which detonator was paired with which bomb … Rahman continues to record his wartime memories in a small notebook. One this day, he remembered how he and the other mujahedeen divided the little food and water they had. He also recalled how they prayed sitting only on their knees. His head is crowded with such memories as he goes about the daily routine that he returned to as if the war had never happened. He is somewhat absent-minded because he is still caught up in moments of war, not always paying attention to what is around him.
http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/10/gaza-war-end-fighters-tunnels-nightmares.html

Palestinian sources: Israel seized bodies of two Hamas fighters in Gaza conflict
Ynet 20 Oct — Palestinian sources on Sunday told Turkish news agency Anatolia that Israel is holding the bodies of two Hamas field commanders missing since the end of the 50-day conflict in Gaza during the summer.  According to the sources, Anatolia said, the fate of the two bodies, both belonging to members of Hamas’ military wing, was uncovered after a month-long intensive investigation. The Palestinian sources named the Hamas men as Basel Abu al-Naja, and Ibrahim al-Amur, saying they were both members of the Hamas elite forces, the news agency said. The claim comes amid efforts by Israel to negotiate with Hamas for the return of the bodies of two its soldiers, both declared fallen in action by the IDF during Operation Protective Edge. The remains of Lieutenant Hadar Goldin and Staff Sergeant Oron Shaul are believed to be in the possession of Hamas.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4581952,00.html

Gaza Lives — Statues eternalize the massacre in Shejaia district
Artist Sabbah Iyad in the Gaza Strip eternalizes the Israeli massacre committed in the Shejaia district in the north of the Gaza Strip. Those that tried to survive, those that carried their pain and hopes and who tried to walk out, those that had the right to be more than ghosts, those that are still among us are eternalized forever.
https://www.facebook.com/samah.sabawi/posts/10152332360266436

Activism / Solidarity / BDS

Los Angeles activists block unloading of Israeli cargo ship for two days
Electronic Intifada 19 Oct by Charlotte Silver — The Block the Boat coalition of Los Angeles claimed another victory this weekend after an Israeli cargo ship, the Zim Savannah, delayed docking at the port of Long Beach for at least 34 hours. Cookie Partansky, an organizer with the LA Block the Boat coalition, told The Electronic Intifada that approximately 150 activists gathered at the Los Angeles port at 6am on Saturday, 18 October. The morning’s action followed weeks of communication with the longshoremen’s union and educating workers about Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestine, as well as the group’s reasons for targeting Zim, an Israeli shipping line. The coalition — representing nineteen different activism groups — showed up at the port Saturday morning despite being informed at 5am by a member of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 13 that the ship was still at sea and no workers had been called in to unload it. “The fact that the boat is delayed for 24 hours is already costing Zim shipping a significant amount of money because they’re entire schedule will be delayed. This is already a victory for us,” Partansky said Saturday afternoon.
http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/charlotte-silver/los-angeles-activists-block-unloading-israeli-cargo-ship-two-days

Student workers at University of California support Palestine
IMEMC/Agencies 19 Oct — The Joint Council of the Union of Academic Workers – UAW 2865, a body made up of 83 elected officers who oversee the affairs of the 13,000 member-strong student-worker union in the University of California system, has published an open letter which outlines its intent to support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against public institutions and corporations that profit from occupation and apartheid, with direct implication to the state of Israel. Teaching assistants, tutors, and other student-workers at the University of California represented by UAW 2865 have chosen to assume their responsibility as educators “to both learn about and teach the social issues of our time, including pressing global struggles such as the struggle of the Palestinian people for liberation from settler-colonialism and apartheid.”
http://www.imemc.org/article/69435

Political, other news

Legislative Council to hold vote of confidence for unity government
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 Oct — Hamas and Fatah have both agreed to hold a session of the Palestinian Legislative Council before Nov.15 to give a vote of confidence to the unity government and form a unified body to lead the council. Hamas lawmaker Salah al-Bardaweel said Sunday that a vote of confidence should have been given to the government a month after its announcement but was delayed. Bardaweel added that employees in the two previous governments will be merged in order of priority starting with the ministries of education and health.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=734050

Official: PA forces regularly conduct politically motivated arrests
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Oct — Palestinian Authority police regularly detain people in the West Bank due to their political affiliation, an official said Sunday. Khalil Assaf, a member of the subcommittee on civil liberties formed after the West Bank-Gaza unity government was sworn in in June, told Ma‘an that regardless of the committee’s formation, none of its recommendations have been implemented. “Every day people are being detained in the West Bank because of their political affiliation, though in most cases they are released within days,” Assaf said. Though he could not give an exact number of political detainees, he said “we are talking about dozens” of people. The subcommittee, which was tasked with maintaining and monitoring civil liberties in the West Bank and Gaza, has not been summoned for any meetings with the rest of the unity government so far, Assaf said.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=734005

International Middle East Media Center back on-line after DoS attack
nsnbc Int’l 18 Oct — The website of the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC) is back online after the Palestinian news service, under the auspices of the Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement between People, was forced off-line by a DoS [denial of service] attack and apparently let down by Hosting provider Bluehost. IMEMC and other new media came under increased attack during the Gaza war, while mainstream media were bleeding viewers, listeners and readers to new, alternative and independent news services.  A several hundred percent increase in readers of news about the Gaza war may, ultimately, have prompted the UK parliament’s recognition of Palestine. The IMEMC website is under constant attack of one sort or the other, but these attacks increased significantly since the Gaza war, said the editor-in-chief Saed Bannoura to nsnbc. IMEMC’s website ultimately succumbed to a DoS attack on October 14, after the end of armed hostilities, but against the backdrop of the Swedish recognition of Palestine and the UK parliament’s yes vote to the recognition of Palestine on October 13 … IMEMC, which specifically covers Palestine and the Palestinian – Israeli discourse, experienced a significant increase in its number of readers and read articles. Saed Bannoura noted that IMEMC also experienced an increased interest in IMEMC’s Facebook page and Twitter account, adding, however, that there was a particular increase in interest for the IMEMC website. Bannoura said: “Our readership increased from two million hits per month to ten million hits per month … We have seen more and more reprints of our articles….
http://www.imemc.org/article/69429

MK Zoabi: Israeli combat pilots are no better than Islamic State beheaders
Haaretz / Jonathan Lis 19 Oct — MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) equated fighters of Islamic State with Israeli soldiers on Sunday. “They [IS] kill one person at a time with a knife and the IDF at the press of a button [kills] dozens of Palestinians,” Zoabi told Channel 2 Online in an interview. Zoabi added that an Israeli pilot “is no less a terrorist than a person who takes a knife and commits a beheading.” Zoabi said she believes that “both are armies of murderers, they have no boundaries and no red lines.”
http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/1.621626

Most Jewish Israelis oppose Palestinian state, new poll shows
872mag 19 Oct by Mairav Zonszein – No poll is perfect, but this one happens to be an accurate reflection of the Israeli  government’s policies, much of its rhetoric, and the reality on the ground – A large majority of Jewish Israeli citizens (74 percent) oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 borders, according to a new poll conducted by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, a right-wing think tank. The organization also found that 76 percent oppose a Palestinian state if it means dividing Jerusalem … On the issue of the Jordan Valley, a large majority of Jewish Israelis, including those identified as left (42.6 percent), oppose withdrawal for the establishment of a Palestinian state.
http://972mag.com/most-israelis-oppose-palestinian-state-new-poll-shows/97833/

if Gaza had been allowed to develop normally, it wouldn’t need to send its people elsewhere for treatment
Israel hospital treats daughter of Palestinian arch-foe
JERUSALEM (AFP) 19 Oct  – An Israeli hospital said on Sunday that it has treated a daughter of Gaza Hamas leader Ismail Haniya, who is a sworn enemy of the Jewish state. A spokesman at Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv told AFP that the daughter had been admitted for emergency treatment last month, although he was unable to name her due to patient privacy. A senior official in the Gaza health ministry confirmed a relative of Haniya had received treatment at the hospital, but identified her as a sister of the former Palestinian prime minister. She had been in “critical, life-threatening condition” when she arrived at the facility two weeks ago, the official said. Both sources said the patient had been discharged after a few days and returned to Gaza. The Palestinian official said she is now in “stable” condition. Israel, which fought a devastating 50-day war with Gaza militants which ended on August 26, controls the movement of Palestinians from Gaza to Israel but allows the passage of humanitarian cases. Last year, a granddaughter of Haniya was hospitalised in Israel in a critical condition.
http://news.yahoo.com/israel-hospital-treats-daughter-palestinian-arch-foe-195508483.html

Israel’s Yaalon in US after spat over Kerry remarks
JERUSALEM (AFP) 19 Oct — Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon sought to calm fresh tensions with Washington on Sunday as he began a five-day trip to the United States. In a statement released ahead of his departure, Yaalon warned that no dispute should be allowed to “cast a shadow” over Israel’s crucial relationship with its closest ally … On Friday, two senior Israeli cabinet ministers took aim at US Secretary of State John Kerry over remarks linking the growth of Islamic extremism to Israel’s decades-long conflict with the Palestinians. At issue was a statement by Kerry in which he said regional leaders approached him over the need to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians “because it was a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation”. The two ministers seized on his words as linking the Middle East conflict to the rise of the Islamic State group (IS) in Iraq and Syria … Their outbursts drew a sharp retort from State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf, who said they had taken his comments out of context.
http://news.yahoo.com/israels-yaalon-us-spat-over-kerry-remarks-081837898.html

Missile boat crisis ends as Germany gives Israel $382 million discount
Haaretz 19 Oct by Barak Ravid — Agreement is a reversal of Berlin’s earlier decision to withhold the discount because of Israel’s settlement construction — The talks between Israel and Germany to purchase three fast missile boats to protect the gas rigs off Israel’s shore began a year ago. Haaretz reported that the deal was worth about €900 million. Israel asked for a 30 percent reduction on the price, like it had received in previous deals on German submarines …In the beginning of May, about two weeks after the talks between Israel and the Palestinians stalled, German’s national security adviser Christoph Heusgen told his Israeli counterpart Yossi Cohen that Israel would not receive the discount and would have to pay their full price. Heusgen said that following the breakdown in the peace talks with the Palestinians and the harsh criticism in Germany of Israel’s construction in the settlements, the Bundestag would not approve a grant of hundreds of millions of euros to subsidize the boats….
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.621447

Egyptian soldiers die in Gaza tunnel collapse
CAIRO (AFP) 18 Oct — Two Egyptian army officers and a soldier were killed Saturday when a smuggling tunnel connecting Sinai and the Palestinian Gaza Strip collapsed as they were preparing to blow it up, officials said. One army soldier was injured and another missing in the collapse, which happened as troops were planting explosives. The army says it has destroyed more than 1,600 such tunnels — most of them since the ouster of President Mohamed Mursi last year — which the Palestinian Hamas militant group uses to smuggle in arms, food and money.  Cairo has poured troops into the Sinai Peninsula to counter an insurgency since Mursi’s overthrow that has killed scores of policemen and soldiers. Israel went to war with Hamas this summer, in part with the objective of destroying such tunnels, including ones under the border with Israel.
http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2014/10/18/Egypt-policemen-die-in-Gaza-tunnel-collapse-.html

Opinion / Analysis / Arts

‘Tell me, are you OK with yourself?’
Electronic Intifada 18 Oct by Maureen Clare Murphy — “How can you raise your weapon at your brother?” asks a new song which aims to challange Israel’s attempts to recruit Palestinian citizens of the state to its occupation army. Titled “Tell me, are you OK with yourself?” (The Electronic Intifada’s translation), the track was released last week by Ehna TV, an independent Palestinian media group inside present-day Israel. The video for the track, which can be viewed at the top of this page, shows scenes of singer Mira Azar, wearing a traditional embroidered shawl, in what appears to be a destroyed Palestinian village, as well as archive footage of Israeli violence. Some of those scenes include slain Jerusalem teenager Muhammad Abu Khudair’s funeral and Israeli bombing in Gaza and its bloody aftermath, as well as Palestinians fearlessly confronting heavily armed Israeli soldiers. “Tell me, have you seen the pictures? Tell me, have you heard the news,” the song asks, referring to the terrible atrocities carried out by the military in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. “And still you want to serve?” the lyrics, written by Azar, implore..Sectarianism The track is the latest cultural intervention pushing back against Israel’s attempts to divide and rule Palestinian citizens by fomenting sectarianism. Israel’s renewed effort to enlist young Palestinian Christian citizens into its army was the subject of Project X, a short film featuring Omar star Samer Bisharat released earlier this year. The Electronic Intifada reported earlier this week on denunciations of Nazareth priest Jibril Nadaf’s claims at the United Nations that Israel is the only country in the region where Christians are “not persecuted.”
http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/maureen-clare-murphy/tell-me-are-you-ok-yourself

Tunnel vision: How the Egyptian army ‘won’ the war over Gaza / Paul Mutter
Foreign Police Assn blog 17 Oct — The Egyptians may not be receiving fulsome applause at the U.N. this week for their diplomacy to date, but quietly, Israeli, Gulf, and American leaders are clapping, in large part due to Cairo’s reaffirmation of a hardline stance against Hamas this past summer. When the Egyptian government, led by the Muslim Brotherhood, brokered a ceasefire in 2012 between Hamas and Israel, I predicted — wrongly — that as a result, Arab governments “will be less likely to knuckle under in response to an Israeli move in Gaza or the West Bank.” This has not happened, and it will not happen now. Popular disappoint in Gaza over this was well-captured over the summer by an (unattributed) statement going around the Internet that went along the lines of “If I die tonight [in Gaza], donate all of my organs to those in need. Except for my middle finger, give it to the leaders of the Arab world.” As Nathan J. Brown and Michele Dunn have noted, President Adbel Fattah el-Sisi cares less about being a broker than his predecessors did because Egypt has new priorities in handling Gaza. The Islamist imperative is the overriding security concern. An active domestic insurgency lasted from the 1980s to the late 1990s, waged by Islamist organizations such as Egyptian Islamic Jihad and al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya. After this campaign died down, fears of internal war receded even as tourist sites in the Sinai were targeted throughout the 2000s. But today, the concern is much greater with the Brothers disenfranchised and parts of the Sinai lost to smugglers, Bedouin gangs, and the terrorist group Ansar Bait al-Maqdis A return to the 1990s (when mass shootings and assassinations reached their height) is greatly feared, so draconian measures are being implemented nationwide — and especially on the border with Gaza.
http://foreignpolicyblogs.com/2014/10/17/tunnel-vision-how-the-egyptian-army-won-the-war-over-gaza/

Book of the month: The Fauna and Flora of Palestine by Henry Baker Tristram
This Week in Palestine reviewed by Mahmoud Musa — …First published in 1884, this volume of the Survey of Western Palestine is considered the best-illustrated record of the fauna and flora of the region. And it was much-welcomed news back in 2013 when Cambridge University Press announced its intention to reproduce the text of the original edition. The volume contains details on more than 3,000 species; the most important of them are accompanied by detailed descriptions of their appearance and environment. After almost 150 years of the original research, we know today that Palestine is home to a stunning variety of plants and animals, in fact many more than the 3,000 species identified in the book. There are more than 100 species of mammals native to Palestine, more than 500 kinds of birds, almost a hundred of types of reptiles and a dozen types of amphibians. The landscape of Palestine is full of flowers and plants that change suddenly according to the different geographical regions – mostly affected by the sun, water, and altitude. So while the natural woodlands of oaks carpet the upper Galilee and Mount Carmel, in spring, rockrose and thorny broom turn the hillsides pink, yellow, and white.
http://thisweekinpalestine.com/limelight/the-fauna-and-flora-of-palestine/

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