Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Christians: Israel violates Palestinian religious freedoms each Easter

Ma’an – April 6, 2012

BETHLEHEM – A group of Christians from East Jerusalem on Sunday said that Israel’s restrictions on Palestinian mobility resulted in violations of religious freedoms.

The statement, signed “Palestinian Christian Organizations in Occupied East Jerusalem,” complained that Christians are often denied access to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre during the Easter holidays.

Each Easter, checkpoints are erected “at the Gates and in the alley, thus preventing the worshipers from free access to the Via Dolorosa, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the vicinity of the Christian Quarter.”

Israel’s restrictions on Palestinian Christians are a part of larger strategy of Judaization in Jerusalem, the statement said.

“The restrictive measures constitute grave violation on the freedom of worship, and amount to discrimination against Christians because the occupation authorities want to negate Christian presence and create the impression of a Jewish-only city.”

Both Christians and Muslims are often “unable to worship freely and to be with their families and friends” during religious holidays because of Israel’s actions, the statement went on to note.

The organizations called on Christians to make attempts to attend Easter celebrations in Jerusalem despite the countless restrictions.

In a report published in 2012, the US State Department made similar observations.

“Strict closures and curfews imposed by the Israeli government negatively affected residents’ ability to practice their religion at holy sites, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, as well as the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem,” the report said.

“The separation barrier significantly impeded Bethlehem-area Christians from reaching the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and made visits to Christian sites in Bethany (al-Eizariya) and Bethlehem difficult for Palestinian Christians who live on the Jerusalem side of the barrier.”

East Jerusalem, including the historic Old City, was occupied by Israeli forces in 1967 and later annexed in a move not recognized by the international community.

April 7, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tourism as a tool to erase Palestinian identity

By Jessica Purkiss | MEMO | March 22, 2014

At the entrance of a Dead Sea resort located in the West Bank, Palestinian man Hazem paid his 70 shekels admission fee to the women sitting behind the desk. “Can we camp here?” he asked. Surveying the group of internationals, she said, “Are there any Arabs in your group?” Hazem, born and bred in the West Bank city of Beit Sehour, confessed his origin to the women who replied, “We don’t let Arabs stay the night.”

Past the entrance desk, the small stretch of beach is dotted with groups of Palestinian men smoking arguila- flavoured tobacco- and heating coals for BBQ’s. All of them have paid the same entrance fee. The women behind the desk collecting their fees is Israeli and only speaks Hebrew and English, and the shop on site sells Israeli flags and Jewish relics. While this resort stands on the chunk of the Dead Sea that lies in the West Bank, the Palestinian side and its resources have been appropriated by Israel. This means all the Palestinians that visit the resort, in fact any of the three resorts in the occupied Dead Sea area, have to pay Israel to do so.

The Dead Sea, which is famous for its skin benefits, is a goldmine for those able to tap into its resources, with the extraction of mud proving to be an extremely lucrative business. Friends of the Earth Middle East claim that there are 50 cosmetic factories on the Western shore, both in the occupied Dead Sea area and in Israel proper, The Israeli cosmetic company Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories ltd. is located on the settlement of “Mitzpe Shalem,” in the occupied West Bank, and is the only cosmetic company to be licensed by Israel to mine mud in the area.

In 2007 Ahava’s annual revenues were 142 million USD. As of 2011, 60% of Ahava’s revenues were from exports, shipping its world famous creams and lotions mainly to European countries and to the United States. Despite Ahava sales propping up the settlement regime- two of the settlements in the area have considerable shares in the company- it owns three international subsidiary companies in Germany, the UK and the US.

While the annexation of the Dead Sea has clear economic benefits, the revenues of Ahava should not act as smokescreen for the gains of the Israeli authorities beyond the economic side. Encroachments of Palestinian spaces and heritage under the name of tourism are much more than this, with the Dead Sea as just one example. They are an attempt to strip Palestinian identity from these spaces.

As a PLO Negotiation Affairs department statement read, “Despite its small size, Palestine has an abundance of historical, religious and cultural heritage sites. Every inch of this land has a story to tell, every hill the scene of a battle, and every stone a monument or a tomb. One cannot understand the geography of Palestine without knowing its history and one cannot understand its history without understanding its geography.”

Herodion, Herod the Greats monumental palace built around 23-20 BC and perched on the highest hill in the area, is another example of the above. From the top of the site, the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, which lies just 5km away, is clearly visible. The Palestinian taxi-driver who dropped us off at Herodion, tells us we are in Israel now. Driving past the military base and paying entrance fees to an Israeli man, whose desk sits in a shop selling “I love Israel” and “Visit Israel” t-shirts, it’s easy to see his point.

However, Herodion lies on Palestinian territory, but like the Dead Sea, has been appropriated by Israel. The site is managed by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA). While the stated aim of the governmental body is protecting nature, landscape and heritage in Israel, the organisation has recruited conservation for political gains. For example, there are already five “national” parks in East Jerusalem and more on the way, while West Jerusalem does not have even one. These parks, operated INPA enables the state to appropriate private Palestinian land while avoiding the international rebukes which overt settlement building brings about. Under Israeli law the state does not even have to compensate the owners for land on which national parks are built.

When asked where they think they are, some of the tourists who have shuttled off buses run by Israeli tour companies at Herodion, simply didn’t know. One woman from the US remarked, “Judging from the Israeli soldiers and the Hebrew, I would say Israel.” While her husband walked away muttering Israel defiantly, the woman returned and said in a whisper, “I suppose we are where the person with the biggest weapons wants to tell us we are. That’s not right, but I think that’s how it is.”

To the naive tourist just off the coach, he is in Israel. And while, to this same naive tourist, whether he is Israel, “Judea and Samaria” or the Palestinian territories seems unimportant when at a historical site that stretches back thousands of years, Israel is asserting its connection with the land, while simultaneously wiping the other’s connection off the map. To this tourist, the systematic obliteration, Judaization, annexation and confiscation of Palestinian sites turns Palestine into simply a collection of sites in the desert owned by Israel, surrounded by Arab “villages.”

Israel’s Ministry of Tourism map has aimed to do precisely this. In 2009, the ministry completely wiped the West Bank and any Palestinian areas from its materials. Mandatory Palestine was portrayed without any borders or demarcations, while all maps omitted Palestinian areas and towns. Today, instead of defining a line that is the West Bank, the Ministry of Tourism has shaded the areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority in pink, and the area of joint control in a lighter shade of pink, leaving around 60% of the West Bank which falls under area C to blur into Israel.

After visiting Herodion, most of the tourists are likely to move onto nearby Bethlehem. Like Herodion, many tourists, having booked holy land tours from home, believe they are in Israel. Either way, they tend to make only short organised day trips to visit the holy sites, spending the bulk of their money in Israel. Whilst Bethlehem pulls in thousands of tourist annually, Palestine hasn’t been able to fully utilize the area. According to reports by the PA’s Ministry of Tourism and the Bureau of Statistics, in 2007 509,000 tourists came to Bethlehem, but only 88,000 stayed in the city’s hotels, while Palestinian Authority Tourism Minister Kholoud Daibes contends that Israel collects 90% of pilgrim-related revenue.

Meanwhile, Palestinian tours guides or transportation companies have not been able to enter Israel since 2000. From over 240 tourist guides licensed to work all over Palestine and Israel, only 42 have permits to guide in Israel, which are renewed periodically and without guarantee. These restrictions on movement severely hinder the development of a domestic tourism industry. For Israel, this means the sphere in which tourists may meet Palestinians that are not the terrorists from the headlines, and be introduced to another side of a narrative is successfully limited.

To the Palestinians, this systematic obliteration, Judaization, annexation and confiscation of Palestinian sites, are attempt to take away their connection to the land and its history, in the process impinging on their right to self-determination, freedom, independence, and ebbing at the construction of their national identity.

March 23, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israeli forces leave Bethlehem village following military drill

Ma’an – 18/12/2013

BETHLEHEM – Israeli forces vacated the Bethlehem village of Arab al-Rashayida on Tuesday after conducting military drills in the area for several hours, locals said.

Fawaz al-Rashayida, head of the local village council, told Ma’an that 5,000 heavily armed Israeli soldiers arrived in the village at dawn on Tuesday.

Locals are used to Israeli forces performing drills on the outskirts of Arab al-Rashayida, but this is the first time they have raided homes and local institutions in the village, Fawaz al-Rashayida said.

The drills, which took place in between residential homes, caused damage to the village’s water grid, he added.

Israeli forces also issued demolition orders for six properties belonging to Ali Awda Mohammad Rashayid.

The population of Arab al-Rashayida is around 2,000 and the majority of residents live in cement houses, while others live in tents and dwellings made of steel and tin.

On Monday afternoon, Israeli forces deployed in a nature reserve east of Arab al-Rashayida known locally as al-Muteirda, displacing nearby families and declaring it a “closed military zone.”

During military drills, Israeli forces can enter Palestinian homes and involve Palestinian civilians in their operations without warning them that the raids are mere practice.

In November, Israeli human rights group Yesh Din said Israeli troops had been using a Muslim cemetery in Hebron as a location for military drills and practice.

Approximately 18 percent of the West Bank has been designated as a closed military zone for training, or “firing zone,” which is roughly the same amount of the West Bank under full Palestinian Authority control.

Over 5,000 Palestinians reside in the firing zones in 38 communities.

December 18, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jewish settlers seize Palestinian lands in Bethlehem

Palestine Information Center – 10/08/2013

Women-Jewish-settlement-007BETHLEHEM — A group of Jewish settlers seized agricultural lands in the Bethlehem village of al-Khader southern occupied West Bank on Saturday.

Settlers from Elazar settlement, led by the extremist settler Nadia Matar’s organization “women in green”, have seized an agriculture land belonging to a Palestinian farmer in the village, said Ahmed Salah the coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlement in al-Khader village.

The settlers planted the confiscated land, belonging to Ibrahim Odeh Salah, with olive trees, the local activist added.

August 10, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 1 Comment

Israeli forces raid Cremisan Monastery in Bethlehem

IMEMC & Agencies | July 30, 2013

Witnesses reported that Israeli forces raided the Cremisan Monastery in Bethlehem late on Sunday [July 28]. The witnesses told the Palestinian News and Info Agency (WAFA) that Israeli soldiers broke into the monastery, held the people who were inside, and inspected their personal documents.

The Cremisan Monastery, founded in 1885 (Photo courtesy of cremisan.org)

The Cremisan Monastery, founded in 1885 (Photo courtesy of cremisan.org)

The raid was condemned as a violation of the sanctity of places of worship, and a violation of international law. Under Human Rights Law, Israel must “ensure that religious places, sites, shrines and symbols are fully respected and protected”, and “take additional measures in cases where they are vulnerable to desecration or destruction.”

The Cremisan Valley area has been a hotbed of resistance against Israel’s annexation wall, because the Salesian Sisters of Cremisan Convent and the Palestinians of Beit Jala will soon be the annexation wall’s latest victims. The planned route of the annexation wall will separate more than 50 Palestinian families of Beit Jala from their agricultural land, and they will have only limited access to the land via an agricultural gate. Furthermore, the wall will separate the Salesian Convent from 75% of its land. The convent’s land, along with the monastery, will be on the Israeli side, whereas the convent and primary school will be on the Palestinian side.

To fight the planned annexation of their land, the Palestinians of Beit Jala and the Salesian Sisters of Cremisan launched a seven-year-long legal appeal that was supported by the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague, and the archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols. However, on April 26, 2013, the Special Appeals Committee of the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court ruled in favour of the planned route of the annexation wall. The annexation wall is illegal according to international law and the fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a signatory.

According to the United Nations, 85% of the annexation wall is built illegally inside the West Bank, thereby annexing roughly 10% of its land.

July 31, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel escalates attacks on Palestinains

PressTVGlobalNews · July 4, 2013

Nearly a dozen Palestinians have been abducted by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank. A Palestinian journalist and a lawmaker are among those who were assaulted and then detained.

The latest Israeli raid also caused the death of a 19-year-old boy. Human rights groups say there has been a surge in violence by Israeli forces against Palestinian protesters and the Palestinian media recording Israel’s violations.

Attacks are escalating against Palestinians with one brutal murder and over 11 arrests this week. Although the Israeli army state that the circumstances of these arrests are for legitimate reasons, they are rarely held accountable or made to show evidence for these crimes.

Nel Burden, Press TV, Bethlehem

July 4, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Video | , , , , , | Comments Off on Israel escalates attacks on Palestinains

Israel detains Hamas leader’s sons in raid

Ma’an – April 22, 2013

JENIN – Israeli security forces detained the sons of a local Hamas leader overnight in the northern West Bank city of Jenin, locals said.

Locals told Ma’an that Israeli troops raided Gamal al-Haija’s home and detained sons Abed al-Salam, Asem and Hamzeh. Their whereabouts are unknown, residents added.

Teacher Khaled Mohammad al-Haj was also detained after Israeli forces raided his home to the east of the city, a source told Ma’an. Summons were also handed down to three Palestinians in the district, requiring them to meet with Israeli security agents.

Residents also told Ma’an that Israeli forces raided the nearby Jalqamus and al-Yamoun villages, setting up checkpoints at the villages’ entrance and stationing near Yaba’s eastern border.

An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed three of the four detentions. At least five Palestinians were detained by Israeli forces across the West Bank on Monday.

Three Palestinians were detained in the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem. A local source identified them as Murad Karaja, 20, Ahmad Hajajra 21, and Ahmad Amer, 21. A resident said Hajajra’s mother was taken to hospital after collapsing during the raid.

Israeli forces also raided a home in the area and handed down summoning notices to brothers Muhammad, Khaled and Aboud al-Azza, the local added.

Troops also raided the refugee camp’s youth center, the resident said.

A source said Israeli forces raided the Azza refugee camp, also in Bethlehem, detaining Jihad Abu Shira and injuring his brother. The brother was taken to the al-Arabiya Hospital in Beit Jala for treatment, the source added.

Meanwhile, Ahmad Ali Musa and Amid Ahmad al-Azza, both 20, were detained by Israeli forces from the village of al-Khader in Bethlehem.

Israel’s army confirmed the detentions in Aida refugee camp but did not return requests for comment on the summons and raids.

April 22, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Israel detains Hamas leader’s sons in raid

Palestinian Cameraman Shot In The Face In Bethlehem

By Saed Bannoura | IMEMC & Agencies | April 08, 2013

117486alazzablessure1Bethlehem, Monday April 8, 2013, Palestinian medical sources reported that a Palestinian cameraman was shot in the face, on Monday evening, by a rubber-coated metal bullet, in the Aida refugee camp in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

The Palestine News Network (PNN) has reported that Mohammad Waleed Al-Azza was shot during clashes that took place between Israeli soldiers invading the camp and local youths who hurled stones at them.

PNN added that Al-Azza, who works at the Refugee Media Center in addition to freelancing for PNN and other agencies, was deliberately shot in the face by the soldiers who tried to stop him from documenting the invasion.

The soldiers tried to push him away, and when he refused to leave, one of the soldiers pointed his gun at him and shot him from a relatively close range.

Al-Azza’s medical condition was described as moderate; he was moved to the Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation, in Bethlehem, where he will undergo surgery.

The camp has been witnessing an extended wave of escalation since several months now, due to repeated Israeli invasions and attacks against the residents, PNN said.

Several reporters have been injured in recent clashes between the soldiers and the Palestinians in different parts of the occupied West Bank, and occupied East Jerusalem.

April 9, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Comments Off on Palestinian Cameraman Shot In The Face In Bethlehem

Report: Israeli Occupation Authorities established 482 outposts last year

Palestine Information Center – 04/02/2013

DataFiles-Cache-TempImgs-2013-1-images_News_2013_02_04_wall_300_0

RAMALLAH — The Israeli Occupation Authorities (IOA) demolished 465 Palestinian buildings and established 482 outposts in the West Bank and the occupied city of Jerusalem during the last year, a Palestinian official statistical report documented.

The PA Ministry for Settlement and Wall Affairs stated in its report issued on Sunday that the occupation authorities have set up over the past year 185 settlements and 175 outposts, in addition to another 29 settlement sites.

The report pointed out that the Israeli authorities completed 444 kilometers of a total 757 kilometers currently under construction of the Apartheid Wall that will isolate 10.2 per cent of the occupied West Bank.

The report documented that 465 Palestinian facilities were demolished during the last year concentrated mainly in al-Khalil, Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley, pointing out to 728 demolition orders concentrated in al-Khalil and Jerusalem.

The report revealed new Israeli ways to confiscate Palestinian territories, where IOA began issuing decisions to confiscate isolated lands behind the separation wall such as those within the city of Jerusalem to the north of Bethlehem.

February 4, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Report: Israeli Occupation Authorities established 482 outposts last year

Israel arrests ex-soldier living in Bethlehem

Ma’an – 15/06/2012

TEL AVIV, Israel – A former Israeli soldier was arrested recently by Palestinian Authority forces after living in a Bethlehem refugee camp for the past three weeks, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

“I wanted to prove that it’s possible to live with Palestinians, as long as you are not coming off as an enemy,” Andrey Pshenichnikov, 24, was quoted as saying by Haaretz.

Pshenichnikov moved to Bethlehem three months ago and was working as a waiter and construction worker.

He told Haaretz that he had moved to Duheisha refugee camp to become part of the “political struggle for Palestinian rights,” and had tried to renounce his Israeli citizenship.

The former solider was born in the Soviet Union and had lived in Israeli for eleven years.

PA forces arrested Pshenichnikov on Israel’s request, and he was forced to sign a document agreeing not to enter Palestinian Authority controlled areas, Haaretz said.

He was charged with entering a closed military zone.

Duheisha refugee camp dates back to 1949 and has a population of around 9,000 residents.

June 15, 2012 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Comments Off on Israel arrests ex-soldier living in Bethlehem

Nativity Church deportees ‘did not sign agreement’ to be exiled

Ma’an – 26/05/2012

GAZA CITY – A group of Palestinians deported to Gaza after the Nativity Church siege in 2002 on Saturday disputed claims by a former economic adviser that they had signed an agreement to be exiled.

The 26 deportees told Israeli forces during the siege that only Yasser Arafat could negotiate on their behalf, denying claims that they themselves gave their approval to be deported, a statement said.

Muhammad Rashid, former presidential economic adviser to Arafat, on Friday told Al-Arabiya TV channel that the group had agreed to be deported and that he fully accepted responsibility for the agreement, which Arafat had authorized him to negotiate.

The committee appointed by Arafat to negotiate with the Israelis “almost reached an agreement to deport only 6 activists to the Gaza Strip, but other people were carrying out secret negotiations behind the scenes which ended in the deportation of 39 activists to the Gaza Strip and Europe,” the group of Gaza deportees said.

The official PA negotiating committee was headed by Salah Taamari, who was then governor of Bethlehem.

He told Ma’an TV in May that the deportation deal was reached without his knowledge and recalled his shock when Israeli officials told him Palestinians would be exiled.

The deportees urged the Palestinian Authority to expose all details of the 2002 deal, calling on the PA to prove whether there had been a written or verbal agreement between the two sides.

“If there was no written agreement, that would be a serious mistake by Muhammad Rashid, especially since the agreement was monitored by the US, the UK and the EU, and it was applauded by the Vatican,” the group said.

Former detainee and researcher Abdul Nasser Farwaneh said the deportation deal was a clear violation of international law and human rights.

The Palestinian leadership’s acceptance of the deal to send Palestinians into exile set a dangerous precedent and over the last decade Israel has deported hundreds more Palestinians, Farwaneh said in a statement.

On May 10, 2002, Israeli forces ended a 39-day siege on the church after striking a deal with Palestinian leaders to send 39 people given sanctuary in the church to Gaza and Europe.

When Israeli tanks surrounded Bethlehem on April 2, 2002, around 220 locals — including around 40 priests and nuns — took shelter in the church.

Over the next 39 days, eight Palestinians were killed inside the church and 27 others injured.

The siege on the site believed to be Jesus’ birthplace sparked outrage in the Vatican as monks sheltering inside pleaded for international assistance.

May 26, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Comments Off on Nativity Church deportees ‘did not sign agreement’ to be exiled

10 years on from Nativity Church siege, deportees ‘forgotten’

By Jenny Baboun | Ma’an | May 10, 2012

BETHLEHEM – Ten years after Israel exiled 39 Palestinians taking refuge in Bethlehem’s Nativity Church, deportees say they have been forgotten by Palestinian leaders.

On May 10, 2002, Israeli forces ended a 39-day siege on the church after striking a deal with Palestinian leaders to send 39 people given sanctuary in the church to Gaza and Europe.

When Israeli tanks surrounded Bethlehem on April 2, 2002, around 220 locals — including around 40 priests and nuns — took shelter in the church. Over the next 39 days, eight Palestinians were killed inside the church and 27 others injured.

The siege on the site believed to be Jesus’ birthplace sparked outrage in the Vatican as monks sheltering inside pleaded for international assistance.

Former Bethlehem Governor Salah Tamari headed the negotiations team to end the siege, and told Ma’an TV the deportation deal was reached without his knowledge.

He recalled his shock when Israeli officials told him Palestinians would be exiled, and said he called the office of President Yasser Arafat to resign as chief negotiator.

Israeli officials had demanded a list of names of everyone in the church, Tamari said.

“Since the first moment, we refused to give any names. We told [the Israelis] if you have anyone who’s wanted, give us their names and we’ll see if their charges affect the Palestinian law, we’ll hold them accountable.”

Rafat Obayyat was one of 27 Palestinians injured by Israeli attacks on the church. He is in a wheelchair due to his injuries.

He told Ma’an the grotto was the safest place in the church during the siege. Food was scarce and small amounts of pasta would be rationed between everyone, he added.

After a decade in exile, deportees say they have been abandoned by the Palestinian Authority and all political factions. They have not been allowed to return to their families in the West Bank.

Deportees had planned to demonstrate on Thursday but canceled the protest to stand beside prisoners on hunger strike, spokesman for the group Fahmi Kanan said at a press conference on Monday.

Instead, deportees will go on a 3-day hunger strike on Thursday in solidarity with detainees in Israeli jails, Kanan said.

‘A dangerous precedent’

Former detainee and researcher Abdul Nasser Farwaneh said the deportation deal was a clear violation of international law and human rights.

The Palestinian leadership’s acceptance of the deal to send Palestinians into exile set a dangerous precedent and over the last decade Israel has deported hundreds more Palestinians, Farwaneh said in a statement.

He urged the international community to send a commission of inquiry into Israel’s siege on one of the world’s holiest sites.

He also called for greater efforts to bring the deportees home and said the ongoing failure to bring them back from exile reflected Palestinian indifference to the issue.

May 9, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , , , , , | Comments Off on 10 years on from Nativity Church siege, deportees ‘forgotten’