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In Wake of Fourth Demolition, Tana Villagers Vow to Rebuild

PNN – 10.02.11

Nablus – On Wednesday, Israeli army bulldozers demolished all but the mosque in the tiny village of Tana, east of Nablus, because it did not have the required permits. On Thursday afternoon, the villagers began to rebuild. This is their fourth time.

A villager from Tana carries away part of his demolished home (PNN Images).

Thirty-five buildings in all were destroyed, most of them makeshift houses constructed of metal siding, pipes, and blue tarp. Now most of the roughly 200 villagers made homeless by the demolitions must move to nearby caves as winter winds and rain buffet this mountainous region of the West Bank. Livestock sheds were destroyed, so five thousand sheep are shivering.

Nobody, however, is leaving Tana.

“This is my life,” said one man, who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals. “I was born here and I have my children here. I won’t leave.”

Many residents even laugh at the idea, saying if they wanted to leave they would have gone when the village was first demolished in 2005. Since then Israeli bulldozers have come back three times, most recently in December, when they destroyed the Tana schoolhouse, forcing villagers’ children to make the seven kilometer walk to the village of Beit Furik. Each time the reason is the same: the structures in Tana, which falls in the West Bank’s Israeli-controlled Area C, are unlicensed.

“Of course my house doesn’t have a permit,” said Radi Mahmoud Hamali, 64, the remains of whose house lie close to the small stone mosque, the only structure left untouched. “I cannot get a permit. It’s impossible. They just [demolished Tana] to take the land for the settlers.”

Radi Hamali prepares tea in a cave near his demolished home (PNN Images).

Two illegal Jewish settlements, Yitzhar and Makhoura, stand atop nearby hills. Both have been named as the sources of violent attacks on local Palestinian shepherds in the past. On January 27, Yitzhar settlers were suspected, but not arrested, in the shooting death of 18-year-old Adi Qaddous from the village of Iraq Burin. Residents in Tana suspect that the Israeli army—commonly seen as a powerful enabler—demolished the village to clear the land for further settlement.

At least on Thursday, however, Tana was not without friends. An Italian NGO has pledged to pay for and build a new schoolhouse. In the afternoon a convoy of UN and Fatah party vehicles stopped on the dirt road that runs through the village. Ghassan Douglass, the Palestinian Authority (PA) official in charge of filing settler attacks in the West Bank, spoke at the mosque and promised that both Fatah and the PA would help rebuild the village.

“We in the Fatah movement are all standing in support of these citizens,” said Douglass. He pointed to the caves in which the Tana villagers will have to live for the time being. “There are no hotels here, unfortunately.” The convoy moved on after about twenty minutes.

Down the hillside, Radi Hamali’s son and neighbor helped clear away the wreckage of pipes, twisted metal, and chicken wire that was his home. Hamali reckoned it will take him two days to set it up again. But there are other problems: the Israeli soldiers knocked over the water barrels and feeding troughs he used for his 150 sheep. One sheep is pregnant and sick. His wife is sick, he’s sick, and he’s sleeping in a cave.

Radi Hamali, 64, says he will stay on his land, “if God wills, until death.” (PNN Images)

“I say to Barack Obama, come and look at this!” he said. “This is my land, this is the land of my father, of my grandfather. I call on all Europeans to come help me, everyone in the West, everyone in the [Palestinian] Authority, all people and journalists. I will stay on our land, if God wills, until death.”

February 11, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | 1 Comment

Boycott roundup: international day of action called for Land Day

Report, The Electronic Intifada, 11 February 2011

As part of a regular feature, The Electronic Intifada reports on the latest developments of the Palestinian-led global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israeli violations of human rights and policies of apartheid.

BDS campaigners scored a significant victory this month as the London Borough of Tower Hamlets voted to exclude Veolia, a French firm that has provided services to the Israeli occupation in the West Bank, from receiving any contracts with the municipality. Activists have also staged protests and launched campaigns in Ireland, Belgium, Palestine. Meanwhile, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) announced the third annual global day of action to be held on 30 March 2011.


Activists with the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) are calling for a global boycott against Israeli “blood diamonds” on Valentine’s Day, 14 February.

In a statement on the campaign’s website, IPSC activists are urging consumers to make conscious choices in buying jewelry gifts for their loved ones.

“This Valentine’s Day, don’t let dazzling diamonds blind you to the plight of those whose misery and suffering is funded by revenue from the Israeli diamond industry,” IPSC stated (“Global Call to Action – Flashy Stones and Broken Bones,” January 2011).

IPSC has campaigned against the Israeli diamond industry for more than a year, petitioning Irish jewelry associations to stop carrying Israeli gemstones.

Sean Clinton, chairman of the Limerick branch of IPSC, wrote last year for The Electronic Intifada that “The diamond industry is a major pillar of the Israeli economy … No other developed country is so heavily dependent on a single luxury commodity and the goodwill of individual consumers globally.”

Clinton added that Israel holds a “dominant position” in the diamond industry, and the state currently chairs the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme, an international regulation and certification program that is tasked with eliminating “blood diamonds” from the industry. Blood diamonds are gemstones mined from areas in the world — mostly in the African and Asian continents — that are involved in, or directly finance, ongoing human rights violations, violence and war.

In its campaign statement, the IPSC added: “[diamonds] are the currency of broken bones and bombed out homes in Gaza. The burning glow of the white phosphorous that rained down on Gaza doesn’t come cheap, but the $1 billion the Israeli military derives from revenue from the Israeli diamond industry each year helps to fill the coffers of the criminal military regime.”

IPSC stated: “Every time someone buys a diamond processed in Israel some of the money goes to funding the Israeli war machine that stands accused of war crimes. Israeli diamonds are blood diamonds.”

United Kingdom

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign in the UK is intensifying its efforts to urge local authorities to exclude French urban services corporation Veolia from major public contracts. This comes on the heels of the recent findings of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine that Veolia is liable for serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law because of its numerous contracts with the Israeli government’s settlement industry in the occupied West Bank (“The Boycott VEOLIA Campaign-A Fortnight of Actions In February,” February 2011).

Campaigners around the UK are planning a series of actions, including sit-in protests at two London borough council meetings to protest possible city contracts with Veolia for waste management systems. On 1 February, the group organized a protest at Veolia’s UK headquarters in Islington, North London.

On 2 February, Tower Hamlets, one of the London Borough councils, passed a motion to formally exclude Veolia from its urban waste management contracts, citing that the corporation has “clearly committed acts of grave misconduct in relation to the Palestinian people and the maintenance of illegal settlements …” (“Full text of the Council meeting,”2 February 2011 [PDF]).

Additionally, the council voted to support the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign “against the pariah state of Israel,” and stated that “urgent steps should be taken to review all contracts with Veolia and not to place any further contracts with the company.”

The council also passed a motion to urge the Mayor of London to write to Veolia to communicate the council’s “determination to terminate any relationship” to the company.

The action by Tower Hamlets is reminiscent of similar actions by many UK local authorities during the 1980s campaigns against apartheid in South Africa.

After the Russell Tribunal, Veolia Environmental Services UK spread the news that the company had pulled out of the operation of the Tovlan landfill site in the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank. The landfill serves mainly illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and municipalities in Israel. Meanwhile, Who Profits? ( — a project of the Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace — verified the information against facts on the ground. The Israeli environmental protection authority of the settlements in the West Bank told Who Profits? in early February that Veolia is still operating the Tovlan landfill.


Solidarity activists staged a protest inside an international tourism industry exhibition in Brussels on 5 February, encouraging attendees to boycott the Israeli exhibit. Wearing matching T-shirts emblazoned with “Free Palestine” and “Palestine Vivra” (Palestine will live), with “Boycott Israel” on the back, activists formed a human chain around the Israeli tourism tent and chanted in support of boycott.

The protest, organized by European solidarity group Generation-Palestine (, was captured on video and uploaded to YouTube.


Palestine-based activists with the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) continued to put pressure on American singer Macy Gray, who has stated she will perform in Tel Aviv despite repeated protests by Palestinian, Israeli and international boycott campaigners.

In its statement on 9 February, PACBI expressed “great dismay” at Gray’s decision to keep her Tel Aviv performance date, and warned her that she would be “electing to serve directly the interests of the [public relations] campaign to Brand Israel” (“Open letter to Macy Gray,” 9 February 2011)

“This is a campaign that has been launched by the Israeli government and promoted by institutions throughout the country and abroad in order to whitewash Israel’s violations of international law and project a false image of normalcy,” PACBI added.

PACBI stated that Gray has promoted this campaign already, by playing at the opening of the Israeli consulate offices in Los Angeles and, more recently, releasing a statement declaring her support for Israel at the request of Israeli diplomats in California.

After Gray announced that she would proceed with her planned performance, she said she would visit Ramallah, the West Bank city where the US-supported Palestinian Authority is based, during her visit, a move which PACBI said is a “a patronizing attempt to dictate the terms of the Palestinian people’s struggle — by wanting to visit Palestinian schools or play a show in Ramallah, as though the Palestinian people need your pity.”

PACBI added: “We have asked, as an occupied people, for the minimum act of solidarity by not playing in Tel Aviv. We have been answered with your dismissal of our struggle in favor of your own way of helping, as though you know better. While we acknowledge there are many ways to help, we ask that people who do so are not directly delegitimizing the popular will of the Palestinian people. By playing in Tel Aviv you will do this and more. Your action will imply support of the occupation and the colonial Israeli state, denial of the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, and dismissal of a system of apartheid.”

Global boycott, divestment and sanctions day of action

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) announced the third annual global day of action to be held on 30 March 2011, in a call to intensify boycott actions around the world while commemorating an historic day in the Palestinian anti-colonialist movement (“Commemorate Land Day 2011 by Joining the Global BDS Day of Action“).

“Inspired and buoyed by the popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia and their unique manifestation of courage, dignity, civility and determination, we stand resolutely with worldwide struggles for self-determination, freedom, democracy, social justice and equality, and we call for intensifying BDS actions globally as the main form of solidarity with Palestinian rights,” the BNC stated.

The BNC said it is calling on people of conscience all over the world to join the global boycott, divestment and sanctions movement by launching and supporting local, national and international divestment initiatives; by taking part in consumer boycotts; to pursue legal action against Israeli war criminals and violations of international law by corporations complicit in Israeli military policies; and more.

The date of the global day of action, 30 March, is the annual commemoration of Land Day. In 1976 the Israeli military shot and killed six young Palestinian citizens of Israel during a massive uprising in protest of the Israeli government’s plan to build new Jewish-only colonies and expand existing Jewish cities.

“Today, Land Day symbolizes Palestinian resistance to Israel’s ongoing land expropriation, colonization, occupation and apartheid,” the BNC wrote in its statement.

The first Global BDS Day of Action was announced by Palestinian civil society with overwhelming support at the World Social Forum in 2009.

February 11, 2011 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism, Video | 1 Comment

Concocting elections to regain lost legitimacy

By Khalid Amayreh | Palestine Information Center | February 11, 2011

Frustrated by the utter lack of progress in the manifestly futile peace process with Israel, the American-backed Palestinian Authority (PA) has once again designated a date for holding general elections in the occupied territories of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.

But the organization of elections hedges to a large extent on Israeli consent. The Israeli occupation army, after all, still controls every nook and cranny of the West Bank, and it would be unimaginable to hold elections if the Israeli occupiers said “No.”

Hamas has also objected to the unilateral announcement in Ramallah, arguing that the holding of elections in the absence of basic civil liberties such as freedom of speech and expression would be a foolish and irresponsible act.

Hamas is correct. The West Bank is languishing under a police-state apparatus, with a nearly total absence of the rule of law as well as basic liberties, without which the organization of true elections would be meaningless.

The organization of elections would require the availability of basic rights and freedoms, including the freedom to hold rallies, meetings, do campaigning and electioneering without being suppressed and harassed by the police and other security agencies.

Needless to say, these rights and freedoms don’t exist in the West Bank today. Mendacious claims to the contrary don’t really warrant a refutation. The people and human rights organizations operating in the region know the truth too well.

Indeed, if a small child is caught raising a small green flag, bearing the Islamic article of faith, there is no god, but one God, and Muhammed is His Messenger, the child will be arrested, beaten and his family will be held accountable for the “crime” of raising Hamas’s banner aloft.

Some Palestinian officials might claim that for the duration of the elections and the immediate period preceding them, candidates and electoral lists would be able to do electioneering rather freely and that the elections themselves would be monitored by international observers.

However, that is not enough. We all know that in order to hold true representative elections, equal opportunities must be given to all contenders, a condition that is conspicuously absent in the West Bank.

More to the point, we all know that most of the Islamist people who might contest the elections are already behind bars, either in PA or Israeli jails, and held without charge or trial, mostly on concocted and frivolous charge that have nothing to do with any genuine violation.

Indeed, in any other country that respects itself, the lengthy incarceration of people because of their ideology would be considered a taboo.

In addition to hounding and imprisoning people because of their thoughts, the PA has taken over or deliberately ruined hundreds of Islamic institutions, including Zakat committees, schools, orphanages, social and athletic clubs as well as health institutions.

In some instances, the PA has totally illegally seized businesses and workshops, thus depriving entire families of their source of livelihood.

Hence, one might wonder how genuine elections could be held under the existing abnormal conditions, this is unless the PA is planning to rig the elections by hook or by crook in order to compensate and avenge its electoral defeat of 2006.

The PA says it will be willing to allow international observers to monitor the elections. However, the presence of international observers by itself wouldn’t create an ideal atmosphere for transparent elections.

I am talking about pre-election preparations, such as campaigning and holding rallies in a free environment.

True, the PA might allow one or two weeks of free and unfettered campaigning, but this short period would be utterly insufficient to make the transition from a police-state atmosphere to freedom where all political groups and parties, including Hamas, are given an equal opportunity.

Obviously, the PA decision to hold elections has been taken under pressure from a few leftist and liberal parties with little weight in the Palestinian streets. These parties hope that in the absence of Hamas’s participation in the elections, they would be able to obtain a significant chunk of the people’s vote.

The rationale of these parties is that people disgruntled and disillusioned with the Fatah rule, and they are certainly many, would give their votes to these parties.

Unfortunately, considerations having to do with national Palestinian interest seem to come a distant second after the above-mentioned parties’ short-sighted expediency.

The PA decision to hold elections is in no way an expression of a commitment to democracy. In fact, Fatah, the political and security backbone of the PA, has never showed a genuine commitment to democracy, neither under the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat nor under the current leader Mahmoud Abbas.

In fact, Fatah and democracy have always seemed an eternal oxymoron. Arafat, for example, held all the reins, controlled all the money and took all the decisions. His successor, Abu Mazen, allowed the Fatah-dominated security agencies to take over and dissolve democratically-elected institutions all over the West Bank.

It is widely believed that the election decision is related to two important developments that really shook and shocked Fatah to the core, prompting the movement to try rather desperately to enhance its public standing:

First, the recent revelation by al-Jazeera TV network of documents showing the extent of concessions to Israel by Palestinian negotiators. The revelations infuriated and embarrassed the PA, prompting PA leaders to accuse the pan-Arab network of waging an all-out war on the Ramallah regime in cahoots with Israel.

The so-called Palestinian Papers showed Palestinian leaders as “liars” who tell their people one thing with regard to Palestinian national constants on such paramount issues as Jerusalem and the right of return for the refugees, but tell their Israeli counterparts an entirely different thing.

This scandalous exposition of the true stands of PA negotiators seems to have seriously undermined the public standing of the PA leadership. Hence, the quest to seek a renewed popularity.

The other factor contributing to the election decision has to do with ground-shaking events in Egypt, which are also shaking the PLO regime to the core. The tyrannical regime of Hosni Mubarak has always been viewed as the PLO leadership’s ultimate insurance policy in the Arab world. Its possible disappearance therefore and especially the emergence of a new regime in Cairo in which the pro-Hamas Muslim Brotherhood plays a certain role is a real nightmare for Fatah, the PA and PLO combined.

Hence, the decision to hold elections in the hope of neutralizing any possible ramifications of the Egyptian revolution, e.g. strengthening Hamas and enhancing its bargaining position vis-à-vis Fatah.

There is no doubt that holding elections is a positive thing to do in ordinary circumstances. However, when holding election obscures and hinders greater national goals, such as freedom from a foreign occupation, it becomes an impeder rather than a facilitator of true nation-building.

February 11, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | Comments Off on Concocting elections to regain lost legitimacy

Egypt’s Dignity Revolution

By SALWA ISMAIL | CounterPunch | February 10, 2011

In commenting on the unfolding Egyptian revolution, media and analysts have emphasised the role of social media in building up networks of dissidents and facilitating the organisation of protests. Some have credited the ‘Facebook generation’ with lighting the spark of collective action. Undoubtedly, social media activists, in calling for ‘the day of anger’, put the tools of virtual communication to remarkable use. However these ‘days of anger’ can only be understood if we look at what the vast majority of Egyptians have experienced over the last three decades under Mubarak’s rule.

Successive waves of protests by wide segments of the population, particularly over the last decade, have also given a clear indication of growing opposition to the regime’s economic and social policies and its instruments of government and control. Prior to the recent protests, there were numerous massive strikes by textile workers demanding better pay, week-long street occupation by tax collectors protesting their low wages, and various sit-ins by university professors, doctors and lawyers calling for policy change.

Under Mubarak, the Egyptian state abandoned its welfare responsibilities and left citizens to fend for themselves. The so called free market became dominated by monopolies and oligopolies, with party elites and regime cronies controlling entire markets in basic and strategic commodities such as iron and steel, cement, and wood. The ruling clique and its business partners appropriated the country’s lands converting publicly-owned property into gated communities and turning entire coastal areas into exclusive resorts for the super rich. Built on vast areas of privatised state land, enclaves like Qatamiyya Heights and Mirage City catered to multi-million dollar palaces for the very privileged few. The scale of the land grab has threatened to deprive future generations of any chance of descent housing and a share of the country’s resources and wealth.

At the same time, masked and not-so-masked privatisation of education and health robbed citizens of the few citizenship rights gained in the country’s post-independence period. Social disparities have grown at extraordinary rates as state offices turned into personal fiefdoms in order to maintain the regime and its clients and to implement the neo-liberal agenda of economic reform.

To try and prevent growing resistance to these economic and social policies, Egypt and the Egyptians became subject to a police government. The Egyptian police departments govern vast areas of social life. They have responsibilities over security and public order, but also have jurisdiction over the regulation of, among other things, outdoor markets, the use of public utilities such as electricity, and the implementation of municipal building codes. With regular outdoor market raids and campaigns to monitor citizens’ use of these utilities, the police intruded into the daily life of ordinary citizens. Endowed with the arbitrary powers of emergency laws, the police engaged in practices of extortion, and used violence to intimidate and silence any questioning of their powers.

Security checks and roadblocks on the streets of Cairo and many other cities were part of Egyptian citizens’ daily reality. Drivers and pedestrians were randomly stopped, arrested and subjected to arbitrary investigation. Young men, feared by the regime for their potential for activism and resistance, were the main target of these practices. The everyday experience of humiliation at the hands of the police fuelled the youth’s opposition and rejection of the regime and its coercive arm, the police.

It was befitting that the revolution had its spectacular beginning on Police Day and that the youth would take the lead in breaking down the barrier of fear that the police have erected over a long period of time. Egypt’s youth have bravely put themselves forward along with vast segments of society to reassert their right to dignity and freedom. They have taken the first steps towards reclaiming their rights and towards exercising fully the responsibilities of citizenship. It is in reference to these objectives that the protesters’ main and most powerful slogan “the people want to bring down the system” should be understood. The desired change is nothing short of an overhaul of the institutions and structures of government.


Salwa Ismail is Professor of Politics with reference to the Middle East at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).

February 11, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | Comments Off on Egypt’s Dignity Revolution

Mubarak turns power over to military

Press TV – February 11, 2011

Egypt’s vice president says Hosni Mubarak has handed power over to the high military council, despite millions-plus involved in pro-democracy demonstrations.

In a brief announcement, Omar Suleiman said on Friday that Mubarak had “abandoned the presidency,” handing over the power to the Supreme Council of the Egyptian Armed Forces.

The transition of power to the military comes while Mubarak, Suleiman and Prime Minister Ahmad Shafiq are all former military men. Analysts believe despite the transition Mubarak would still remain in power.

The transition means that Egypt, which has been under a state of emergency for the past 30 years, will continue to be ruled by the military.

This is while millions of Egyptians have for the past 18 days been calling for the departure of Mubarak and a new democratic establishment.

Earlier in the day vigilantes opened fire on pro-democracy protesters in Egypt in a move unprecedented over the past couple of days.

The shooting in El-Kharga came as protestors took over several government buildings in major cities across Egypt on Friday. The last time that live bullets were used against protesters was on Wednesday, when six protesters were killed and hundreds of others were injured — some of them critically.

Reports say protesters have also clashed with security forces and attacked police stations in El-Arish. About 1,000 protesters attacked the police station in El-Arish in an attempt to free political prisoners held by the regime for their anti-Mubarak stance.

More than 20,000 Egyptians have marched towards the City Council in the port city.

Millions of protesters in various cities across Egypt are calling on President Hosni Mubarak to step down.

A large number of Egyptians have surrounded the Presidential Palace and the state Radio and Television building in Cairo as the Mubarak regime dispatches scores of vigilantes to attack pro-democracy protesters. The Army, however, has prevented protesters from entering the buildings.

According to a Press TV correspondent, the republican guards have been deployed around the palace with snipers positioned on the rooftop of the building.

The measure was taken after protesters began gathering outside the presidential palace following the Friday Prayers.

This is while, a huge crowd of pro-democracy protesters have already gathered in Cairo’s Liberation Square.

Reports say protesters have marched to the US Embassy, which is under tight security. The families of US diplomats have already been evacuated from Cairo.

Aside from Cairo, Alexandria and the port city of Suez have also been the scene of large protests since the country’s pro-democracy rallies began 18 days ago.

Suez has also seen some of the most violent clashes in the same timescale.

Police have used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters.

More than one million pro-democracy protesters have taken to the streets of Alexandria. Protests have also broken out in Mansura, Port Said and Beni Suef. About 10,000 people took to the streets of Ismailia.

February 11, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | 4 Comments

Settlers hold marathon in Hebron city center

Ma’an – 11/02/2011

HEBRON — Israeli far-right supporters are expected to join settlers in a marathon planned in the West Bank city of Hebron on Friday, a local Palestinian youth group said.

The route of the Jewish-only race runs through the heart of the occupied city, starting at an illegal settlement and passing through Al-Ja’bari and Jibr neighborhoods, past the Ibrahimi Mosque and down Shohada Street.

Settlers from across the West Bank are expected to join residents of Hebron’s illegal outposts and the Kiryat Arba settlement, Youth Against Settlements said.

YAS coordinator Issa Amer warned Palestinian residents living close to the track that the Israeli army may declare their neighborhoods a closed military zone.

He appealed to locals to take precautions against attacks by settlers, and appealed to the international community to pressure Israel to prevent “provocative acts” by settlers and the army.

In Hebron, settlers live in the heart of the occupied city, and frequently attack their Palestinian neighbors under the guard of the Israeli military.

According to the Israeli rights group B’Tselem, “Over the years, settlers in the city have routinely abused the city’s Palestinian residents, sometimes using extreme violence.”

Further, due to the increased presence of Israeli soldiers in the city center, “Violence, arbitrary house searches, seizure of houses, harassment, detaining passersby, and humiliating treatment have become part of daily reality for Palestinians,” the organization says.

“Soldiers are generally positioned on every street corner in and near the settlement points, but in most cases they do nothing to protect Palestinians from the settlers’ attacks.”

February 11, 2011 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | Comments Off on Settlers hold marathon in Hebron city center