Israeli forces target paramedics at Gaza protest (days after ‘NYT’ publishes ‘war crime’ report on killing of a medic)

Kate – January 5, 2019
On Friday evening, 04 January 2019, Israeli forces wounded 46 Civilians, including 7 Children, 4 Journalists and 6 Paramedics, in an excessive use of force against the peaceful demonstrators in the eastern Gaza Strip though the demonstrations have scaled down for the tenth week consecutively and despite absence of most means usually used during the demonstrations since the beginning of the Return and Breaking the Siege March 9 months ago.

According to observations by PCHR’s fieldworkers, Though the demonstrators were around between tens and hundreds of meters away from the border fence, the Israeli forces who stationed in prone positions and in military jeeps along the fence continued to use excessive force against the demonstrators by opening fire and firing teargas canisters at them, without the latter posing any imminent threat or danger to the life of soldiers … On this Friday, the Israeli forces have increasingly targeted the medical personnel in the field and wounded 6 of them, including one who was hit with a teargas canister while he was in an ambulance transferring one of those wounded in eastern Rafah City. Moreover, the Israeli forces fired a barrage of teargas canisters near where ambulances were parked in Khan Younis…. [The New York Times last Sunday published an investigation of Israel’s killing of medic Rouzan al-Najjar, 20, last June and concluded that it was a possible war crime, never investigated.]

IMEMC 28 Dec — Karam Mohammad No‘man Fayyad, 26, a disabled Palestinian man, was shot in the head and killed by Israeli forces at the [40th Friday of the] Great March of Return east of Khan Younis in Gaza. In addition to Karam, Israeli soldiers shot and injured at least eight other protesters with live ammunition, including a medic and a photojournalist, during the Great March Of Return processions in the besieged Gaza Strip. The Health Ministry said two of the wounded suffered life-threatening injuries. Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, the spokesperson of the Health Ministry in Gaza, said the soldiers fired dozens of live rounds, high-velocity gas bombs and concussion grenades at the marchers, killing Karam and wounding eight others. Among the eight Palestinians shot with live ammunition were a child who was shot in the neck, a journalist, and a female medic. They were all shot along the perimeter fence areas, in the eastern parts of the Gaza Strip, as the Great Return March processions continued for the fortieth consecutive week … It is worth mentioning that, since the Great Return March procession started in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army has killed at least 190 Palestinians, and injured more than 25,000 others. No Israeli soldiers have been killed by Palestinian demonstrators participating in the ‘Great March of Return’ that has taken place each Friday since March 30th, 2018.
Haaretz 29 Dec by Yaniv Kubovich — Hamas has allowed for the firing of a rocket from the Gaza Strip to Israel’s south on Friday as retribution over the death of a 26-year-old Palestinian by Israeli soldiers earlier that day, Israeli military officials believe. Following the killing of Karam Fayyad during a weekly demonstration east of the Gazan city of Khan Yunis, Palestinians demonstrated, calling on Hamas to avenge his death. The rocketlaunched from Gaza fell in an open area and no casualties or damages were reported in Israel’s southern communities. Israel’s rocket alert system didn’t give a warning of the firing, and it is unclear whether it had failed to identify it or didn’t give a warning because it had been fired toward an inhabited area and therefore posed no danger. An IDFhelicopter struck a Hamas target in southern Gaza, near the Israeli border, following the rocket launch….
IMEMC 29 Dec — The Israeli Air Force, on Saturday at dawn, fired two missiles into a site east of Deir al-Balah, in central Gaza, causing damage to it and the surrounding buildings. Media sources said the missiles struck a site believed to be run by the al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, causing excessive damage. The missiles also caused damage to civilian structures in the vicinity of the bombarded site, but did not lead to any casualties. The Israeli army claimed it fired the missiles after a shell was fired from Gaza and landed in an open area.
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 Dec — The National Committee for Breaking the Siege announced on Sunday that the 22nd naval march will be rescheduled due to weather and the difficulty of Palestinian protesters reaching the area during rainstorms. The committee confirmed that the naval marches will resume next week and will continue until demands are met, particularly until the siege over the Gaza Strip is lifted. Every Monday, large crowds of Palestinian protesters gather at the seaport in northern Gaza, demanding the international community to intervene to end the Israeli occupation and to break the siege.
[with photos, map] MEE 2 Jan — Construction could have knock-on environmental effects for Israel and the blockaded enclave, Israel’s environment ministry has warned — The Israeli army has almost completed work on a 200-metre long barrier of boulders and concrete on the boundary with the Gaza Strip, Israel’s Channel 10 reported. Israel announced work on the barrier in May, claiming it would prevent Hamas fighters from infiltrating Israel by sea as they did during the last war in 2014. It adds to the existing security fences and naval presence around the blockaded Palestinian enclave. The barrier consists of an over-ground fence and a combination of an underwater concrete wall and sensor systems, filling a gap in the shallow area of the waters where Israeli naval boats cannot operate….
PCHR 2 Jan — … According to PCHR’s investigations, at approximately 10:00 on Tuesday, 01 January 2019, Israeli gunboats stationed off al-Wahah Shore, northwest of Beit Lahia, chased fishing boats sailing within 6 nautical miles and opened fire at them. A gunboat then intercepted a fishing boat manned by ‘Isa Ahmed Jamil al-Shrafi (68) and his son, Basil (28), who are both from al-Shati’ refugee camp in western Gaza City. The Israeli naval soldiers then ordered the fishermen to take off their clothes, jump into the water and swim towards the gunboat. They were arrested and taken to Ashdod Seaport in addition to detaining the fishing boat. At approximately 22:00 on the same day, the Israeli authorities released the two fishermen via Beit Hanoun “Erez” Crossing after interrogating them, while the boat is so far under custody.
Times of Israel 2 Jan — Leading medics have called for states to forget the politics of Gaza and focus on the “epidemic” of antibiotic-resistant superbugs now threatening the Palestinian territory. International doctors working in Gaza and the West Bank say shortages of antibiotics, clean water, power and fuel for generators have left them unable to follow even the most basic medical protocols. An in-depth analysis by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, released this week, shows how Gaza’s crippled health system has led it to become fertile ground for the virulent infections, which could soon spread over the border into Israel. “It will always get out,” said Dr Ghassan Abu Sittah, an expert in conflict medicine at the Beirut Medical Center. “The untreated sewage from Gaza containing multi-drug resistant bacteria goes into the aquifer” which supplies Egypt and Israel….
JERUSALEM (Anadolu Agency) 31 Dec by Abdel Raouf Arnaout — The Israeli army on Monday announced it had carried out a total of 865 airstrikes in the blockaded Gaza Strip over the course of 2018. According to a report released Monday by the military, the Israeli army also destroyed 15 cross-border tunnels in Gaza within the same period. The report did not mention the number of Palestinian casualties caused by the raids and tunnel demolitions. According to the same report, Palestinian resistance factions based in Gaza fired some 1,000 rockets into Israeli territory, 250 of which were intercepted and 45 of which fell in residential areas inside Israel….
Al-Monitor 3 Jan by Adnan Abu Amer — A last-minute, partial debt payment is keeping Hamas’ broadcast wing in the Gaza Strip on air — for now — but the organization still faces a financial crisis that threatens what is left of its media assets. Hamas’ financial woes have worsened in recent years for several reasons: declining Iranian support since 2012, Egypt’s campaign to close off smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Sinai since 2013 and shrinking financial donations from abroad. This is all on top of the pressure that weighs on Hamas from the United States, Israel and some Arab countries that accuse the movement of funding terrorism. The movement’s Al-Aqsa TV channel announced Dec. 19 that financial problems — compounded by Israel’s devastating bombing Nov. 12 of the station’s Gaza Strip headquarters — would drive it off the air for the first time since 2006. Prominent sources in Hamas told Al-Monitor that senior leaders then made some calls, after which Ismail Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, announced Dec. 20 that the channel would not stop broadcasting after all, and that part of its $220,000 debt had been settled….
Gisha 30 Dec — December 30, 2018. It has been two months since Gaza’s sole power plant resumed operations of three of its turbines, leading to a significant increase in Gaza’s overall supply of electricity. For nearly two years, the power plant had only been able to operate one of its turbines, producing an average of 25 megawatts (MW). The power plant’s output increased to 80 MW in November as a result of a 60 million USD donation by the Qatari government for fuel. The Strip now has a total of 200 MW available to its residents, including the electricity sold and provided by Israel. As of today, Gaza residents are receiving up to 11 hours of electricity per 24-hour period … Currently, about one quarter of all households in Gaza receive running water for eight hours per day; fifty-five percent receive water for eight hours per day every other day, and a fifth of all households only receive running water every third day … As Gisha has cautioned previously, the Qatari funding agreement is expected to last long enough to operate three of the plant’s turbines for a total of six months, at best Two months have already gone by and even with the funding, Gaza’s needs are far from being met….
MEMO 31 Dec — Gaza’s economic losses exceeded $300 million in 2018 as a result of Israel’s stifling siege on the Strip, head of the Popular Committee Against the Siege Jamal Al-Khodari said yesterday. In a statement, a copy of which sent to MEMO, Al-Khodari described 2018 as “the most disastrous year” for Gaza since it was occupied by the Israeli occupation in 1967. “Gaza experiences unprecedented disastrous economic situation […] due to the 12-year strict Israeli siege and the three destructive Israeli offensives,” Al-Khodari said in the statement. “The continuous and systematic Israeli siege aimed to hurt the national economy,” he said. According to Al-Khodari, the Israeli occupation is still banning hundreds of basic commodities from entering Gaza, causing up to 90 per cent of Gaza’s factories to stop working. He stated that there are around 300,000 unemployed workers in Gaza, in addition to tens of thousands of unemployed university graduates. “The unemployment rate in Gaza is over 65 per cent,” he said. “Income of more than 85 per cent of Gaza residents has declined to less than $2 a day,” he said in the statement….
EI 3 Jan by Mousa Tawfiq — On 3 January, 10 years ago, the ground invasion stage of Israel’s 2008-2009 assault on Gaza began. As with much else during what is known as Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli army exploited its massive military advantage to the full. Palestinians in Gaza paid a devastating price. More than 1,400 people were killed in Gaza during the attack. The vast majority, some 1,200, were civilians. Among them, few suffered more than the Samouni family. Twenty-three members of the extended family were killed in two separate incidents on 4 January and 5 January 2009. Twenty-one of those perished in a missile strike on a house they had been ordered into by Israeli soldiers on the ground. The UN subsequently deemed the slaughter of the Samounis to be war crimes, but Israel – which denies the accusation – has never been held accountable. The Samouni story is the subject of an Italian documentary by filmmaker Stefano Savona. Samouni Road won international recognition at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, where it garnered the L’Œil d’or prize for best documentary. For Palestinians it has special resonance. For those of us from Gaza who lived through those dark days, it’s personal….
+972 mag 2 Jan by Edo Konrad — It is difficult to imagine today, but meetings between Palestinian and Israeli activists used to be routine. The younger generation of Palestinian and Israelis, however, were born into a world of walls, fences, and segregation, where even a simple conversation can be complicated, and at times, impossible. That stark reality was on display two weeks ago when dozens of Israeli activists, including past and soon-to-be conscientious objectors held a rare conversation with Ahmed Abu Artema, one of the main organizers behind Gaza’s Great Return March. For many of the younger conscientious objectors, the Great Return March served as an inspiration for their personal reasons to refuse enlistment in the Israeli army…..
Mondoweiss 31 Dec by James North — The New York Times surprised us yesterday by running a long, front-page investigation into the Israeli army’s killing last June 1 of a 20-year-old Gazan health worker, Rouzan al-Najjar. Before we criticize, let’s state clearly that this article was inconceivable in the Times up until a year, or even 6 months ago. By contrast, when Israel killed four small boys who were playing soccer on the beach during its 2014 assault on Gaza, the paper swallowed the army’s dishonest explanation, without challenge, even though one of its own photographers had been an eyewitness to the killings. This time, the Times came right out and said its inquiry showed that “. . . the shooting [of Rouzan al-Najjar] appears to have been reckless at best, and possibly a war crime, for which no one has yet been punished.” The paper waited until the 9th paragraph to say this, but better late than never. This improved Times coverage is no accident. The paper understands that its reading public is growing steadily more informed about Israel/Palestine, partly due to alternative news sources like this site. Public comments sections that follow some Times reports show that readers will no longer accept one-sided pro-Israel coverage….
Times of Israel 30 Dec by Joshua Davidovich — The Israeli military has responded to a New York Times report that questioned use of live fire in an incident along the Gaza border on June 1, in which a Palestinian medic was killed, when a soldier fired into a crowd of protesters … The IDF says the army’s internal investigations body is “probing to clarify the reasons behind the death of Razzan al-Najjar. The results of the investigation will be sent to the military advocate general upon their completion.”
BBC News 30 Dec — A Palestinian Instagrammer in the Gaza Strip wants to show us a different side of life there. Gaza has seen three major wars between Israel and Hamas, the militant group that controls the strip. Gaza’s economy has also been badly hit by a blockade by Israel and Egypt – needed, they say – for security reasons. Kholoud Nassar says there is a face for death in Gaza, but a thousand faces for life.
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
IMEMC 3 Jan — Israeli soldiers invaded, Wednesday, Kufur Qaddoum town, east of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, and abducted two Palestinians, including a wounded man, and attacked the father and the uncle of the injured Palestinian. Morad Eshteiwi, the media coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Annexation Wall and Colonies in Kufur Qaddoum, said the soldiers abducted Yazan Barham, 20, who was previously shot and injured by the soldiers, and Dia’ Rajab, 29. Eshteiwi added that the soldiers assaulted and injured Yazan’s father, and his uncle Sobhi, 55, causing various cuts and bruises, before Palestinian medics rushed them to a hospital. Eshteiwi called on international legal and human rights organizations to intervene and stop the escalating Israeli violations, and added that Yazan has several bullets’ fragments in his back and requires surgery. It is worth mentioning that the soldiers also invaded and ransacked several homes, while undercover forces infiltrated into the town using a car with Palestinian license plates, but the locals managed to notice them fast.
IMEMC 3 Jan — Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded the northern West Bank city of Nabluson Thursday at dawn, shot one journalist and one medic, and caused many residents to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation. Palestine TV reported that several armored Israeli military jeeps invaded many neighborhoods in Nablus city, and fired live rounds as well as rubber-coated steel bullets and gas bombs at several youngsters who had taken to the street to protest the invasion by throwing stones at the soldiers. The TV station added that the soldiers shot its reporter, Bakr Abdul-Haq, 29, with a rubber-coated steel bullet in his leg, before he was rushed to Rafidia governmental hospital. The soldiers also shot one medic of the Palestinian Medical Relief, identified as Yassin Omran, with a rubber-coated steel bullet in his face. The soldiers also surrounded Palestine TV reporters and many other journalists, to prevent them from documenting the invasion and assaults.
IMEMC 3 Jan — In the village of Tell, in the northern West Bank district of Nablus on Thursday, Israeli troops invaded and began to open fire on students as they left school after classes let out. The invasion of the village came in conjunction with an attack by Israeli paramilitary colonial settler forces on the Nablus-Qalqilia road near the village. The paramilitary forces came from the nearby illegal Israeli colony of Yitzhar, constructed on stolen Palestinian land. The soldiers invaded the village just as school was letting out, and immediately began firing tear gas on the students from Tell High School as they ran out of the school gates. The reason for the assault on the students remains unknown – the army issued no statement as to why they had invaded the village, or why they targeted Tell High School. Some of the students from the school responded to the tear gas and the military invasion by picking up stones and throwing them toward the armored vehicles of the heavily armed soldiers. At this point, the soldiers began firing live ammunition toward the students. No injuries were reported.
[behind paywall] Haaretz 5 Jan by Jack Khoury — According to reports, soldiers threatened the Barghouti family they would be expelled to Jericho if they didn’t turn their son in, weeks after Knesset advances bill to allow such expulsions despite legal and political objections — The Israeli military arrested Friday night 17-year-old Mohammed Barghouti, the brother of Assam and Salah Barghouti who had perpetrated attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians in the West Bank in December. According to Palestinian sources, the Israel Defense Forces raided the village of Kobar north of Ramallah, searched several houses and made multiple arrests, among them Mohammed Barghouti. Assam Barghouti, 29, killed two soldiers at the Givat Assaf outpost in the West Bank in December. He had previously served an 11-year sentence in an Israeli prison for security offenses, including planning to abduct soldiers and was released in April. The IDF is still searching for him. A few days prior to that attack, Assam’s brother Saleh Barghouti carried out a shooting attack on Israeli civilians outside of the West Bank settlement of Ofra, in which seven people were injured and an infant of one of the injured women died shortly after being delivered. Assam is alleged to have participated in this attack as well. Israeli troops shot and killedSaleh Barghouti three days after he carried out the attack as part of an ongoing manhunt for the assailants….
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 31 Dec – In what appears as a premeditated terror attack, an Israeli settler Monday rammed his vehicle into a herd of sheep in the village of al-Mughayyer, to the east of Ramallah, killing 12 and injuring 18 others, according to local sources. They told WAFA the settler rammed into the herd on purpose and with full force to cause as much damage as possible. They said he ran over 30 sheep killing 12 and injuring the others of which six were in critical condition. The attack happened on what is known as Alon settlement road. Raising sheep is the only source of income for Khaled Abu Illia, victim of the premeditated terror attack….
Ynet 30 Dec by Elisha Ben Kimon — Details of case largely under gag order; security services have carried out numerous raids ongoing battle against Jewish hate crimes in the territories — Israeli security forces on Sunday arrested at least two Jewish youths in the West Bank, as part of a far-reaching investigation into Jewish terrorism. A gag order has been placed on details of the investigation. The Israel Police and the Shin Bet domestic security service have in recent weeks carried out numerous raids across Jewish communities in the West Bank, which led to the detention of the two minors on Sunday. The Times of Israel said that the two were detained at a yeshiva in the northern West Bank and have been prevented from seeing a lawyer. Also Sunday, far-right attorney Itamar Ben Gvir, known for his prior defense of Jewish terror suspects, issued a statement condemning the security forces’ handling of the investigation. Ben Gvir is the lawyer for another Israeli youth who was arrested earlier Sunday….
AMONA, West Bank (AP) 3 Jan – Israeli police faced stiff resistance early Thursday as they tried to dismantle mobile homes of settlers who had moved back into an illegal West Bank outpost, with 23 officers lightly injured by stone-throwing settlers. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the Israeli troops were enforcing a court-ordered evacuation of two homes, popularly called caravans, when they were pelted with rocks and stones from some of the 300 protesters in Amona, in the northern West Bank. One officer was stabbed with a sharp object. Police dragged away several protesters with bleeding cuts. Rosenfeld said police responded with non-lethal means and arrested seven settlers on the scene. Dozens of mattresses remained strewn about the abandoned structures. The outpost was dismantled two years ago after the Supreme Court ruled that it had been built on private Palestinians land. The Israeli government has promised to build a new settlement to replace it. Amona has become a rallying cry for extreme settlers and a small group returned there recently in protest, amid an outburst of Palestinian violence…. [see video here]
Times of Israel 4 Jan by Jacob Magid — Military secretary Avi Blot blamed after reportedly failing to relay order to halt in time, but some don’t buy story; defense official admits army gave settlers heads-up — A military official may be facing a reprimand after reportedly failing to relay a message that would have halted the violent evacuation of a West Bank outpost Thursday, though some are questioning whether the move is a ploy by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to save face with settler leaders. Col. Avi Blot only told commanders headed to the Amona outpost that Netanyahu had called off the evacuation when they were on their way to remove two mobile homes illegally installed on the West Bank hilltop Thursday morning, according to reports in the Hebrew media….
IMEMC 1 Jan — In the latest set of abductions through invasion of Palestinian areas, a nightly occurrence in the West Bank and Jerusalem, Israeli forces took 32 Palestinians from their beds in pre-dawn raids New Year’s morning. According to the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS), the invasions occurred in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Shu‘fat, at-Tur and Jabal al-Mukabber, where nine Palestinians were detained; the Ramallah area, where 19 were detained, the Jenin area in the northern West Bank, where 2 were detained, and the Salfit area, where 2 were detained … In the Ramallah area, the majority of those abducted were from Kobar village, where 14 Palestinians were taken….
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 4 Jan — Israeli occupation authorities on Friday evening handed over the body of slain Palestinian youth Abdul-Rahman Abu Jamal, who was killed by Israeli forces on the 20th of October 2018. Abu Jamal’s body was released by Israeli military and handed over to his family in occupied East Jerusalem. He was shot dead by Israeli forces on October 20 after he allegedly attempted to stab Israeli policemen in an Israeli police station in the city. His body has since been withheld by the occupation forces. Israeli authorities have escalated the policy of withholding Palestinian bodies killed by Israeli forces, claiming that funerals of Palestinians had provided grounds for “incitement” against Israel. Dozens of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces are still withheld in Israeli mortuaries despite calls by human rights groups on Israel to release them.
Prisoners / Court actions
Al Jazeera 2 Jan — Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan has announced plans to “worsen” conditions for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, including rationing water supplies and reducing the number of family visits. The planned moves, which are expected to come into force in the coming weeks after being approved by the Israeli cabinet, were sharply criticised by Palestinian leaders and activists who described as them as another escalation of human rights violations by Israel. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Erdan said the plan will also see jails removing cooking rights and limiting prisoners’ access to television as well as blocking funds to the Palestinian Authority. The minister said that family visits had already been halted for prisoners affiliated with the Palestinian movement Hamas. “The plan also includes preventing members of the Knesset [Israel’s parliament] from visiting Palestinian detainees,” added Erdan, who last year set up a committee to make prison conditions harsher for those who “committed acts of terrorism”. The policy of separating Hamas prisoners from those affiliated with rival Palestinian faction Fatah will also come to an end, as Erdan said that holding inmates in cells based on organisational affiliation resulted in “strengthening their organisation identity”….
IMEMC 31 Dec — The Palestinian Information Ministry has reported that there are 19 Palestinian journalists who are still imprisoned by Israel, in direct violation of various treaties and International Law. In a press statement Monday, the Ministry said that the Israeli occupation and its military courts are ongoing with their serious violations against the journalists and various media outlets in occupied Palestine. It said that many journalists have also been forced under house arrest, others were forced out of their towns, in addition to facing high fines by the Israeli military courts for performing their duties. The Ministry also said that some of the abducted journalists were shot and injured, while others are sick, in need of specialized medical treatment but are denied that right. The soldiers also invaded and violently searched many media outlets across the West Bank, and confiscated equipment…
EI 3 Jan by Amjad Ayman Yaghi — Imad al-Din al-Saftawi waited 18 years before he could give a doll to his daughter. In 2000, Imad traveled from Gaza to the United Arab Emirates as part of his work. “My daughter Sarah was the most precious thing I had at that time as she was the first daughter after three boys,” he said. “I was thinking of bringing her a gift from a big store in Dubai. When I saw a doll that looked like a beautiful girl, I decided to buy it.” Yet Imad did not make it home from his trip. When he arrived at the Rafah crossing which separates Egypt from Gaza, he was arrested by Israel’s occupation forces. It was not until November this year that Imad was informed he would be released from Ashkelon Prison – located inside Israel – within a month. Before he was freed, Imad was handed a bag containing items confiscated from him in 2000. Among them were a mobile phone, an embroidered picture and the doll. Now aged 20, Sarah only saw her dad twice during his imprisonment. She was blocked from visiting him by Israel….
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 31 Dec by Dan Williams — An Israeli court sentenced a Palestinian to 18 years imprisonment on Monday for stabbing to death a British woman in Jerusalem last year, under a plea bargain acknowledging he is mentally ill. Jamil Tamimi, 59, killed 21-year-old exchange student Hannah Bladon on a tram as she was going to the church where she volunteered, the court heard. He targeted her at random when she came within his reach after offering her seat to an older woman, stabbing her at least seven times. “This was not a terrorist incident … This was a terrible murder carried out by a mentally ill person,” the prosecutor said, explaining why a life prison sentence had not been sought, according to a court transcript. Tamimi’s lawyer said the defendant attacked Bladon in a rage at his sons insisting that he stay in a mental institution rather than with them. “This drove him to stab a person to death so that he would be shot dead,” the lawyer said….
Punitive demolitions
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 2 Jan — Minister of Housing and Construction Mufeed Hasayneh said on Wednesday that work has begun on clearing the rubble of the Abu Hmeid home the Israeli army has demolished in Amari refugee camp in Ramallah last month in order to rebuild it. President Mahmoud Abbas has ordered the rebuilding of the house, which received wide coverage during the Israeli army use of explosives to demolish the four-story building, and appointed a committee headed by the Ministry of Housing to rebuild it. The rebuilding of the Abu Hmeid home is part of the effort to strengthen the steadfastness of people in facing the brutality of the Israeli occupation, said Hasayneh in a statement. Israel accused a member of the Abu Hmeid family of killing an Israeli soldier during a night army raid of the Palestinian camp last summer. Israel follows a policy of demolishing homes of Palestinians involved in attacking Israelis as part of its collective punishment policy.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Al Jazeera 31 Dec — A Ramallah court has sentenced a Palestinian man to life in prison with hard labour after he was found guilty of selling land in the Old City of Jerusalem to Israeli Jews. According to the Palestinian news agency Wafa, the Ramallah High Court found the man guilty on Monday of violating a penal code from 1960 that bans the sale of land to a foreign country. Israeli media identified the man as Isaam Akel, a Palestinian-American citizen and resident of occupied East Jerusalem.
A source with the court confirmed to AFP news agency the man sentenced was Akel, adding that he could appeal the ruling. Such sales are considered treasonous among Palestinians concerned with Israeli settlers buying property in annexed East Jerusalem … Following Akel’s detention, Israeli police twice arrested the Palestinian governor of Jerusalem, Adnan Gheith, in connection with their investigation into the matter and raided his office….
Al Jazeera 2 Jan — With little resistance from a friendly White House, Israel has launched a new settlement push in the West Bank since President Donald Trump took office, laying the groundwork for what could be the largest construction binge in years, according to data obtained by The Associated Press. The figures, gathered from official government sources by the anti-settlement monitoring group Peace Now, show an increase in building in 2018 and a sharp spike in planning for future construction. The trend, highlighted last week when an Israeli committee advanced plans for thousands more settlement homes on occupied lands, has only deepened Palestinian mistrust of the Trump administration as it says it is preparing to roll out a Middle East peace plan. Each new settlement expansion further diminishes the chances of setting up a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Both supporters and opponents of settlements confirm a change in atmosphere since early 2017 when Trump took over from Barack Obama, whose administration had tried to rein in construction. “The feeling of the [Israeli] government is everything is allowed, that the time to do things is now because the [US] administration is the most pro-settlement you can ever have,” said Hagit Ofran of Peace Now’s Settlement Watch programme….
[behind paywall] Haaretz 3 Jan by Amira Hass — Israel has drastically reduced the number of Palestinian farmers who are allowed to work their lands located between the separation barrier and the Green Line, according to Civil Administration data. In 2018, 72 percent of Palestinian requests for farming permits were refused, compared to 24 percent in 2014. There are also very few permits issued for “agricultural employment,” beyond the barrier, permits generally given to the relatives of the plot owner who work with him, but also to paid laborers. This information was supplied to Hamoked – the Center for the Defense of Individual Human Rights in response to a Freedom of Information Law request … The land between the barrier and the Green Line, which Israel refers to as the “seam zone,” totals 137,000 dunams (33,853 acres) … A reason that Civil Administration clerks often state out loud, but which isn’t listed in its response to Hamoked, is that the plot for which the farmer is seeking a permit is “too small,” to require cultivation (this refers to plots smaller than 330 square meters). This reason could explain the substance behind the written reasons cited above, and reflects the enormous change Israel is trying to impose on the Palestinians’ ownership and land cultivation customs … When they examine a farmer’s request, the Civil Administration takes into account only his relative portion of the family’s land (which is often still registered by the name of grandparents or parents), with no consideration for family traditions of working the land together or the fact that siblings are abroad or otherwise employed and unavailable for farm work. That’s how small, 330 square meter plots emerge that ostensibly don’t need cultivation, even though they contain trees and have been cultivated for decades….
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 2 Jan – Israeli bulldozers Wednesday demolished a Palestinian-owned house in al-Matar neighborhood, north of Jerusalem, according to local sources. WAFA correspondent said that Israeli military police cordoned off the area as bulldozers proceeded to demolish the house near the illegal Israeli settlement of Atrot. The house, which belongs to the al-Mughraby family, was demolished purportedly for being built without a rarely-issued Israeli permit. Al-Matar, one of the eastern neighborhoods of Qalandia town, was left outside the barrier, in a section between Qalandia and East Jerusalem….
JENIN (WAFA) 1 Jan – The Israeli army razed land in Dhar al-Maleh village, southwest of Jenin in the north of the occupied West Bank, in order to expand an illegal Jewish settlement, the village’s head of council Ahmad Khatib said on Tuesday. He told WAFA that bulldozers started to work on 120 dunums of the village land and in the process destroyed a paved road as the military was working on expanding the illegal settlement of Shaked, built on expropriated village land. He said the land in question was isolated from the rest of the village by the Israeli apartheid barrier, which made it difficult for land owners and village residents to reach it.
Haaretz 28 Dec by Zafrir Rinat — Sad fate of West Bank environment: Caught between illegal Palestinian hunters and illegal settlement expansionists — The trial of three West Bank settlers charged with opening a new road to the unauthorized outpost of Alonei Shilohbegan this week. Part of the road passes through the Nahal Kana nature reserve. Two years ago, a resident from the same area admitted in the same court to damaging a protected nature site: 15 Palestine oak trees (Quercus calliprinos), as part of the work to build the same road, which was meant to connect the outpost to the city of Emmanuel to the east. The defendant was convicted and fined 3,000 shekels ($800). This is not just an isolated case of settlers invading a nature reserve. A number of outposts were built inside nature reserves – and many of them are flourishing and expanding. What is new in the case of Alonei Shiloh is that this time the Israel Nature and Parks Authority decided to take legal action against the alleged criminals. In general, the INPA works hand in hand with the settlers, and until now has never been in a hurry to act against their intrusions into the nature reserves….
AP 5 Jan — The Arkansas Times is challenging the state’s 2017 anti-boycott law which requires contractors to pledge not to boycott Israel, claiming the law infringes on free speech — Attorneys for an Arkansas newspaper asked a federal judge Friday to block a law requiring that contractors pledge not to boycott Israel, saying it forces businesses to give up their free speech rights in order to receive state money. U.S. District Judge Brian Miller heard arguments in the Arkansas Times’ lawsuit challenging the state’s 2017 anti-boycott law. Miller said he hoped to rule soon on whether to block the law, which the Times and the American Civil Liberties Union argue is unconstitutional. The law requires contractors to reduce their fees by 20 percent if they don’t sign the pledge … Arkansas’ law is similar to restrictions enacted in other states that have been challenged. The measures are aimed at a movement protesting Israel’s policies toward Palestinians. A federal judge in September blocked Arizona from enforcing a similar measure….
EI 31 Dec by Nora Barrows-Friedman — The year 2018 was one of victories by human rights activists despite heavy pressure, attacks and propaganda efforts by Israel and its lobby groups to whitewash its image. Starting off the year, it was revealed that US President Donald Trump’s alliance with white supremacist groups and anti-Semitic figures has pushed support for Israel to a low point, especially among young American Jews. By October, it was confirmed in another survey that support for Israel is coming primarily from Trump’s base, a hotbed of right-wing, white nationalist and Christian Zionist views, while support from other Americans continues to erode. Early on in the year, AIPAC, Israel’s powerful lobby group on Capitol Hill, was forced to admit that it was facing mounting problems in its efforts to shore up support for Israel among progressive American leaders….
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EIectronic Intifada 2 January
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 31 Dec — The projected number of Palestinians in the world is 13.05 million, of whom 4.91 million are in the State of Palestine, 1.57 million in Israel, 5.85 million in Arab countries and around 717,000 in foreign countries, Ola Awad, President of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) said, on Monday, in a brief on the status of the Palestinian people at the end of 2018. The projected number of Palestinians living in the State of Palestine at the end of 2018 is 4.915 million: around 2.954 million reside in the West Bank and 1.961 million in Gaza Strip. Palestinian refugees make up 42% of the Palestinian population in the State of Palestine: 26% of them in the West Bank and 66% in Gaza Strip. The total fertility rate declined during (2011-2013) to 4.1 births (compared to 5.9 births in 1999). In Gaza Strip the rate was 4.5 births compared to 3.7 births in the West Bank during 2011-2013….
Al Jazeera 2018 — With little reason for optimism for 2019, here are the main events that rocked the West Bank, Gaza and Israel this year. Over the past year, Palestinians have experienced no respite from the Israeli occupation, let alone a breakthrough of ending it. Although no full-scale war broke out in 2018, as some had expected, it did bring a grim year of deadly violence, illegal settlement expansion and home demolitions. At least 289 Palestinians – men, women and children – were killed throughout 2018, while thousands of others were wounded, including many who were maimed for life by Israeli gunfire. According to the Defense for Children organisation, the death toll includes 56 Palestinian children – an average of more than one child every week. At least 538 housing units and facilities were demolished in the occupied West Bank, resulting in 1,300 Palestinians losing their homes, a report by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s Centre for Studies and Documentation said. Meanwhile, the Israeli-Egyptian blockade on Gaza is still ongoing, which the United Nations has repeatedly warned is having a devastating effect on the strip’s two million population….
Al Jazeera 4 Jan — Armed men have raided the offices of President Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestine TV in Gaza, officials said, in a move that could exacerbate tensions between the leader’s Palestinian Authority and the Hamas movement which rules the territory. Rafat Al-Qidra, the office director, said five men broke into the premises early on Friday and destroyed cameras, editing and broadcast equipment worth nearly $150,000. “Whoever rules in Gaza must afford protection to everyone here,” Qidra told the Reuters news agency. The station broadcasts material supportive of Abbas’s Western-backed Authority, whose power base lies in the occupied West Bank. Station officials immediately blamed Hamas for the attack. “Hamas is deeply involved in this conspiracy,” said Ahmed Assaf, chairman of the Palestinian Broadcast Corporation (PBC), speaking to the channel in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah. The PBC issued a statement saying the attack was a “clear reflection of the mentality of the Hamas movement and criminal gangs who believe only in their voice, and who seek to suppress freedoms”. Neither Assaf nor the PBC offered any evidence for their accusations, and Hamas officials swiftly condemned the incident. “What happened is rejected, and we condemn it,” Eyad Al-Bozom said in a statement issued by the Hamas-run Interior Ministry in Gaza. He urged the station’s officials to cooperate with investigators … The TV station was able to continue broadcasting from Gaza later in the day. The attack was widely condemned by other Palestinian political factions and by journalists….
GAZA/RAMALLAH (Xinhua) 31 Dec — Thousands of supporters of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah Party celebrated in both Gaza City and the West Bank city of Ramallah the 54th anniversary of the founding of the party. In Ramallah, Abbas ignited the torch marking 54 years since the establishment of his Fatah movement, the largest leading faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization, as thousands of Fatah supporters gathered for the celebrations. Fatah was founded on Jan. 1, 1965 by a group of Palestinians, including Yasser Arafat who died of a mysterious disease in a French hospital in 2004. After igniting the torch, Abbas slammed Islamic Hamas movement, ruler of the Gaza Strip, for preventing his supporters in the coastal enclave to celebrate the anniversary. In Gaza, the Hamas interior security arrested dozens of Abbas’ supporters and prevented them from celebrating the anniversary of Fatah.
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) 31 Dec — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party says the rival Hamas movement has detained hundreds of its members in Gaza. The arrests on Monday came as Fatah prepared to mark the 54th anniversary of its founding. The movement says that Gaza’s Hamas rulers have banned pro-Abbas loyalists from organizing events to mark the occasion and rounded up 500 activists. The Hamas-run Interior Ministry denies the accusations, saying it only summoned 38 local Fatah leaders “to maintain order.” Hamas also is allowing supporters of Abbas’ rival in Fatah, Mohammed Dahlan, to light torches and stage marches….
MEMO 2 Jan — Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces have arrested 28 Palestinians, most Hamas members, in different areas across the occupied West Bank, the Committee of Prisoners’ Families said in a statement yesterday. Palestinian MP Fathi Al-Qar‘awi said that the detention campaign carried out by the PA “destroys civil security in the occupied West Bank.” In a press release, Al-Qar‘awi said: “Some of the Palestinian families pay the price of the occupation two times as their sons are arrested by the Israeli occupation and the Palestinian Authority.” He said that the PA detention of Palestinians and Hamas activists has not stopped, but this “has recently escalated quickly”….
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 31 Dec by Ahmad Abu Amer — During a press conferenceconcurrently held Dec. 23 in Gaza City and Ramallah, five left-wing Palestinian factions announced the formation of a unified alliance under the name of the Palestinian Democratic Alliance, following consultations that had been ongoing since August 2016. The alliance is to serve as a Palestinian political body capable of putting an end to both the Palestinian division and the political dominance of the two main political movements, Hamas and Fatah. It consists of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), the Palestinian People’s Party (PPP), the Palestinian Democratic Party and the Palestinian National Initiative (PNI) among other independent community figures such as Mamdouh al-Akr and Omar Assaf … The alliance will be jointly run by the five leftist parties as it has no leader….
RAMALLAH (AFP) 1 Jan — The Palestinian football team are taking part in their second-ever Asian Cup in the coming days, and team members born in various parts of the world are hoping to spring a few surprises. The team qualified four years ago for the first time but crashed out in ignominious fashion, losing all three games to an aggregate score of 11-1. This year, with the help of several players from the Palestinian diaspora, they hope to do better. Around five million Palestinians live in the blockaded Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank, but around another six million are estimated to live elsewhere. Chilean defender Alexis Norambuena said the players speak in a mix of languages to understand each other. “Football is a way to give some joy to the people and for us to represent them in this cup that is quite important for the country,” he said. “We aim to represent them and give them enough joy so the people can be entertained a bit.” The tournament begins in the United Arab Emirates on Saturday. Back home in the West Bank, football lovers are also willing their players on to new heights….
Times of Israel 31 Dec by Adam Rasgon — Israel and the Palestinian Authority have reversed bans on each other’s fruit and vegetable imports, ending a short-lived trade conflict. Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel ordered authorities not to permit Palestinian fruit and vegetable imports into Israel on December 17 after the PA instructed Palestinian meat-sellers to stop purchasing lamb from the Jewish state, Dalia Goldenberg, a spokeswoman for the minister, said in a phone call last week. The PA responded to the ban on Palestinian fruit and vegetable imports last Thursday with a decision to bar the entry of Israeli fruit, vegetable and poultry imports into Palestinian markets. But on Sunday, Goldenberg said that Ariel had lifted the ban on Palestinian produce imports after PA Agriculture Minister Sufian Sultan sent a message to the Agriculture Ministry, stating that he would permit the import of Israeli-bred lamb into Palestinian markets. Officials in the PA Agriculture Ministry deny that a decision was ever made to ban Israeli-bred lamb imports into Palestinian markets….
GAZA CITY (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) 29 Dec — Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas on Saturday denied an allegation by Egypt’s deposed president Hosni Mubarak that it infiltrated hundreds of men across the border during the 2011 uprising. Mubarak took to the witness stand in a Cairo court Wednesday to testify about jailbreaks allegedly orchestrated by his successor Mohamed Morsi and members of the Muslim Brotherhood. The former president said he had received information at the time from his intelligence chief on infiltration by militants from the Gaza Strip to the country’s east during the uprising. “General Omar Suleiman informed me on January 29 (2011) that 800 armed militants infiltrated through the border,” he said, adding that militants from Hamas, assisted by North Sinai residents, used underground tunnels to cross. But Hamas said in a statement that it “strongly denies the claims made by Egypt’s ousted president Mohammed Hosni Mubarak during his testimony in court” … “While Hamas deplores some parties’ insistence to embroil the Palestinian movement into Egypt’s internal affairs, it reiterates its commitment to its policy of not intervening in the internal affairs of other countries.”….
MEE/Agencies 4 Jan — The UN has condemned the throwing of stones at the Palestinian prime minister on Christmas Day, allegedly by Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank, calling it “absolutely unacceptable”. Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah’s convoy was hit with a number of stones on 25 December as he was returning home from attending Christmas Eve mass in Bethlehem, a Palestinian government spokesman said. Two of Hamadallah’s bodyguards were wounded, the spokesman said in a statement on Thursday. The incident was not immediately reported but the government statement said the stones were thrown by Israeli settlers. Nickolay Mladenov, United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, called for those behind the “absolutely unacceptable” incident to be brought to justice … The incident occurred close to where Aisha al-Rabi, a Palestinian mother-of-se, was killed when stones thrown by Israeli settlers hit her family car in October south of the West Bank city of Ramallah….
Reuters 27 Dec — Paz Oil said on Thursday it extended its contract with the Palestinian Authority to sell petroleum products in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for two more years. Paz, Israel’s largest distributor of refined oil products, said it will also provide maintenance and equipment under the agreement, which lasts until the end of 2020. The Palestinian Authority is a major customer for Paz and in 2017 accounted for 11 percent of the company’s revenue. Paz said it received a guarantee from the Palestinian Authority that the company could collect payment from tax money Israel’s government collects on behalf of the Palestinians under interim peace agreements.
Jewish Press 2 Jan by David Israel — Former Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman unveiled President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” peace plan ahead of his November resignation, Palestinian Authority officials told Al Hayat. According to the London-based newspaper, the plan calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip, sovereignty for the Arab population enclaves in small parts of Judea and Samaria, and broad economic incentives. The PA officials told Al-Hayat that Liberman had met with a PA delegation two weeks before his resignation and told them that Palestinian sovereignty would be extended to the Arab population, not on the land, and that it would be limited to Area A, which, under the Oslo accords, makes up about 13% of the 1967 liberated territories, Area B, comprising 18% of the territories, and a small part of Area C, which includes about 60% of the land acquired by Israel in the Six Day War. The Trump deal also calls for keeping Israeli settlements intact, hands Israeli control of the Judea and Samaria border crossings into Jordan, as well as security, water and the entire Jordan Valley. The plan also includes Israeli control over much of eastern Jerusalem. The same plan also includes the provision of large sums of money from the countries of the world in order to establish an infrastructure for a Palestinian State in the Gaza Strip that would receive an airport, a harbor, and an open sea passage. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said he would fight the US plan. “This is a conspiracy, a conspiracy that they are going to be waging from afar,” Abbas said in an improvised speech on Monday night….
PARIS (AP) 1 Jan by Thomas Adamson — The United States and Israel officially quit the U.N.’s educational, scientific and cultural agency at the stroke of midnight, the culmination of a process triggered more than a year ago amid concerns that the organization fosters anti-Israel bias. The withdrawal is mainly procedural yet serves a new blow to UNESCO, co-founded by the U.S. after World War II to foster peace. The Trump administration filed its notice to withdraw in October 2017 and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu followed suit. The Paris-based organization has been denounced by its critics as a crucible for anti-Israel bias: blasted for criticizing Israel’s occupation of east Jerusalem, naming ancient Jewish sites as Palestinian heritage sites and granting full membership to Palestine in 2011 … The U.S. has demanded “fundamental reform” in the agency that is best known for its World Heritage program to protect cultural sites and traditions. UNESCO also works to improve education for girls, promote understanding of the Holocaust’s horrors, and to defend media freedom. The withdrawals will not greatly impact UNESCO financially, since it has been dealing with a funding slash ever since 2011, when both Israel and the U.S. stopped paying dues after Palestine was voted in as a member state….
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) 30 Dec by Gabriel Stargardter — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Brazil’s President-elect Jair Bolsonaro told him that it was a matter of “when, not if” he moves his country’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. The far-right Bolsonaro, who takes office on Tuesday and is hosting Netanyahu and the leaders of other countries for his inauguration, has said he would like to follow the lead of U.S. President Donald Trump and move the embassy. But he has come under intense pressure from Brazil’s powerful agriculture sector not to do so, as it could hurt Brazilian exports to Arab nations. Despite Netanyahu’s comments, a senior official from Brazil’s incoming government told Reuters on Sunday no decision had yet been made on the issue….
BRASILIA (Reuters) 1 Jan — Honduras will hold talks with Israel, joined by the United States, aimed at opening an embassy in Jerusalem, the countries said on Tuesday, as the small Central American nation looks to follow U.S. President Donald Trump’s much-criticized move. U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez held a meeting in the Brazilian capital on the sidelines of the inauguration of right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonar. The three agreed to hold meetings in the capitals of each country “to advance the decision process to open embassies in both Tegucigalpa and Jerusalem,” as well as “strengthen political relations and coordinate development cooperation in Honduras,” the countries said in a joint statement….
Haaretz 3 Jan by Jack Khoury — Jordan’s Professional Unions Association will place the Israeli flag at the entrance to its offices throughout the Kingdom so that those entering will have to step on it, according to media reports in Jordan. The reports said that the decision was made in condemnation of Israel’s continued occupation of the Palestinian territories and in response to a complaint Israel submitted to Jordan’s Foreign Ministry on the matter. On Sunday, the Foreign Ministry said that it filed a strong condemnation with the Jordanian government over a photo of the Jordanian Information Minister Jumana Ghunaimat stepping on the Israeli flag in the engineers’ union building in Amman, which it described as an “act of disrespect.” … Jordanian Prime Minister Omar Razzaz reportedly entered the same building from a side entrance in order to avoid stepping on the flag. Jordan said in response to Israel’s complaint that the building was privately owned and that the government therefore cannot intervene … Jordan’s Professional Unions Association is known for its stance opposing the peace accords with Israel and is an important leader in public opinion.
Al Jazeera 4 Jan –The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has published an expose on a Jewish charity in Canada, which has been under investigation for using its donations to build infrastructure for the Israeli forces in violation of the country’s tax rules. The Jewish National Fund (JNF) of Canada, one of the country’s long-established charities, has been the subject of a Canada Revenue Agency audit after a complaint was filed in October 2017. The JNF funds numerous projects in Israel, such as reforestation efforts in areas hit by wildfires but it has also funded infrastructure projects on Israeli army, air and naval bases, the CBC, the country’s public broadcaster, reported on Friday. Their activities are in violation of Canadian law which prohibits charitable funds from supporting a foreign army.
New US legislators were sworn in on Thursday, with a number of “firsts” taking their seats in the 116th Congress. Democrats assumed majority control of the House of Representative, while Republicans kept their hold on the Senate. Nancy Pelosi, who was elected speaker of the House, said in a USA Today interview that US President Donald Trump should expect a “different world” with the new Congress. Among those sworn in is a record number of women, including the first Muslim women, as well as the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. Here’s a look at the ‘firsts’ taking their seats: Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar — Both Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar won in their Democrat-safe seats becoming the first Muslim congresswomen. Tlaib was born in Detroit to Palestinian immigrant parents, and Omar arrived in the United States as a young girl from a refugee camp in Kenya after fleeing civil war in Somalia….
Jewish Telegraphic Agency 4 Jan by Ben Sales — More than 6 percent of the new Congress is Jewish, with 34 Jews among the total of 535 lawmakers in the US House of Representatives and Senate. Jews make up 2% of the US population, so Congress as a whole is more than thrice as Jewish as the country in general, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center on religion in the new Congress, which was inaugurated Thursday. The number is even larger in the Senate, where eight, or 8%, of the 100 members are Jewish. This Congress has four more Jews than its predecessor, which had 30 Jewish members. But it’s far from the most Jewish Congress ever. That was the 1993 Congress, which boasted 51 Jews — nearly 10% of the total. All of the Jews in the Senate are Democrats, as are all but two in the House….