Dozens of Christian pilgrims suffered from excessive tear-gas inhalation on Good Friday, April 18, after Israeli troops fired gas canisters as they performed religious rites at the Tomb of Lazarus in al-Eizariya in East Jerusalem. Israeli soldiers reportedly refused to stop firing tear gas canisters despite the presence of pilgrims after clashes had broken out between local youths and Israeli forces in the area. Witnesses told Ma'an News Agency that a tour guide who was escorting the pilgrims asked an Israeli officer to stop firing tear gas canisters until pilgrims left, but the officer continued to fire. The pilgrims had to take shelter in a souvenir shop before they could complete their prayers. The owner of the souvenir shop also tried to convince the Israeli officer to stop firing tear gas so that the pilgrims could leave, but instead the officer "asked a soldier to fire tear gas canisters at the church and at the pilgrims," witnesses added. An Israeli military spokeswoman did not have any information regarding the incident. The village of al-Eizariya houses the Tomb of Lazarus who, according to the Bible, was miraculously brought back to life by Jesus days after he was buried.
Clashes broke out March 20 between Palestinian worshipers and Israeli forces in the al-Aqsa compound following a visit by a right-wing Israeli MK, locals said. Witnesses told Ma'an news Agency that Likud MK Moshe Feiglin and a number of other right-wing politicians entered the mosque compound via the Moroccan Gate and toured the courtyards. Worshipers shouted "Allah Akbar" at the group before Israeli forces raided the compound and began assaulting them with clubs. In response, young Palestinians began throwing stones at the Knesset members, forcing them to leave the compound. Several worshipers and Shariah law students sustained bruises and one of them was treated at a clinic in the Aqsa compound. An Israeli police spokesperson said two Palestinians were detained for throwing stones at Feiglin.
Israeli forces on Feb. 17 bulldozed five steel structures belonging to a Palestinian community in the East Jerusalem town of al-Eizariya, locals said. A large group of Israeli forces raided the town after midnight and surrounded steel structures belonging to the Bedouin al-Jahalin community. Israeli soldiers forcibly evicted five families from the structures, leaving 55 people homeless, Sami Abu Ghaliya, a spokesman of the al-Jahalin tribe council, told Ma'an News Agency. The demolitions took place without giving residents time to gather their belongings. The structures housed a greengrocers and a car wash which provided the main source of income for the community. "They want to displace us and leave us homeless as they did to us in the Nakba of 1948 and the Naksa of 1967," Abu Ghaliya said. "We have been living on this land since more than 60 years."
Demolition teams from the Jerusalem municipality on Feb. 5 destroyed three Palestinian homes and forced a man to demolish his own home in East Jerusalem, leaving 28 homeless. Clashes erupted in one neighborhood following the demolitions, injuring 15 and leading to seven detentions, according to eyewitnesses. The first demolition was in the Beit Hanina neighborhood north of the Old City. Demolition teams, residents said, arrived at 4:30 AM at Wadi al-Dam in Beit Hanina and stormed the home of Muhammad Sanduqa. They then forced the family out and evacuated furniture before bulldozers pulled the house down. Alaa Sanduqa told Ma'an News Agency that his family house was built 17 years ago. The house, he said, measured 65 square meters and housed seven people. He highlighted that his family had paid a fine of 1,000 shekels ($280) for building without a license.
President Abbas has proposed that US-led NATO forces be stationed indefinitely in a future Palestinian state, according to an interview with the New York Times on Feb. 2. Speaking about security arrangements from Ramallah, Abbas said a NATO force could be positioned at all borders, checkpoints and within Jerusalem for a "long time" after Israeli military forces eventually withdraw from the occupied territories. "The third party can stay. They can stay to reassure the Israelis, and to protect us," Abbas told the Times. The president said that Israeli military forces could remain in the West Bank for up to five years and the removal of illegal settlers should be phased according to a similar timetable. Abbas insisted that the future Palestinian state would be demilitarized with only a police force.
Leftist Palestinian parties on Jan. 25 held demonstrations across the West Bank in opposition to negotiations with Israel and US Secretary of State John Kerry's framework proposal that will serve as the basis for proposed talks. Rallies in Hebron and in Nablus brought hundreds to the street to reject the negotiations proposals from the US leader, which they claimed were intended to "liquidate the question of Palestine and prolong the Israeli occupation."
Israel's ultra-reactionary foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, a vocal advocate of "transfer" of the Palestinians, stars in a very gloomy analysis in The Economist on Jan. 18, "Might they want to join Palestine?" The title refers to Israel's Arab citizens, and the subtitle tells us: "Avigdor Lieberman's radical ideas for population transfers are gaining ground." Actually, in Lieberman's politically correct formulaitons of the "transfer" concept, he insists he is talking about transfering land by tweaking the border between Israel and the Palestinian state, not transfering populations. This is transparent hypocrisy. One favorable comparison he has drawn for his proposal, Cyprus 1974, actually did involve massive forced population transfers—and leaves a bitterly divided island nearly two generations later. Others have been bolder. The now happily retired MK Benny Elon pushed a maximalist transfer program—all the Palestinians from the West Bank across the river into Jordan—and won support from influential US politicians for this blatantly illegal scheme. John Derbyshire in National Review in 2002 called for this future for the Palestinians: "Expulsion from the West Bank and Gaza, those territories then incorporated into Israel.... Would expulsion be hard on the Palestinians? I suppose it would... Do I really give a flying falafel one way or the other? No, not really."
Israel's Culture Ministry and Civil Administration are financing the construction of an "archaeological park" on the ancient site of Tel Rumeida, near the Jewish settlement in the divided West Bank city Hebron, Israeli media revealed this week. Critics on left are assailing the project as cover for expansion of the city's Jewish settlement. Settlers who petitioned for state support of the project say they believe the site to be the location of biblical Hebron. Archaeologists from Ariel University and the Israel Antiquities Authority began excavations at the site Jan. 5. The new archaeological park and anticipated tourist attraction are slated to open by year's end. While the Tel Rumeida site is officially Jewish-owned, a Palestinian family lived on the site and worked the land as protected tenants until the Second Intifada of 2000, when they were evicted.