Aletho News


Two Broken Cameras

By Yossi Gurvitz | November 11, 2013

Israeli soldiers try to arrest Activestills photographer Yotam Ronen, as Palestinian and international activists block 443 highway, which connects Tel Aviv and Jerusalem through the West Bank, during a protest against the violence of the Israeli settlers, October 16, 2012.

One morning last September, Nadel Shafiq Taher Shatiya heard the loudspeakers of the mosque in his village, in the Nablus region, announce that settlers were approaching the village’s land. Shatiya, a photojournalist by trade, grabbed two cameras and raced to the scene.

Based on his account, it turns out that when he arrived, several tractors and settlers – who, according to the reports received by Shatiya, came from thenearby Elon Moreh settlement – were trying to plough the village’s lands while several dozen Palestinian farmers tried to expel them. A settlement security vehicle showed up, and two settlers stepped out of it (Shatiya believes he can identify them), and started shooting live ammo at the farmers. Some of them took cover; Shatiya kept taking photos. That’s his job.

About ten minutes later, a large IDF force arrived at the scene, and did what it usually does: joined the settlers. The soldiers fired tear gas canisters and stun grenades at the farmers, and as the area is full of dry thorns, a fire broke out. The Palestinian farmers tried to put it out, and the two armed settlers demanded that the troops stop them (Yours truly was present for another incident, in which IDF soldiers fired at Palestinians who tried to put out a fire which had erupted after a demonstration due to canister fire.) The soldiers confronted the Palestinians, and Shatiya saw – and documented – one of the soldiers pull out a knife and threaten one of the farmers.

Our brave troops don’t know how to deal with nonviolent resistance. Major General (res.) ‘Amon Gilad became famous abroad when he told the American embassy “we don’t do Ghandi very well.” In such cases, the IDF’s instinct is to use excessive force. It makes for bad publicity, and the soldiers know that – so they try to suppress the evidence.

Shortly after Shatiya photographed the knife-wielding soldier, other soldiers assaulted him and took his cameras and camera bag from him. He witnessed another soldier tearing a phone out of the hands of a farmer, who was using it to document the incident; the farmer was beaten and detained.

So far, no surprises. Anyone who has either served in the West Bank or demonstrated there is familiar with the loving care the soldiers lavish on photographers. But in Shatiya’s case, the story underwent an unusual twist: the soldiers took his cameras to an officer, who turned them over, along with his camera bag, to a settler. Shatiya protested to the officer, saying “you’re in charge of security, and if, as part of your duty, you want to confiscate the cameras, keep them; why do you give them to the settler?” In return, the officer blamed Shatiya for the fire. Later on, Shatiya saw a settler moving among the detained Palestinians, telling the soldiers who should be kept in detention.

Turning the cameras over to the settler caused some fuss, with Israeli DCO officers telling the army it had no authority to detain journalists or confiscate their cameras, that only policemen may do so. This is inaccurate, by the way: in the West Bank soldiers have the same authority as cops, until the latter reach the scene. The Military Commander is the sovereign in the West Bank, as it is legally considered to be held under belligerent occupation;  the police only act in the West Bank because they have been delegated that authority by the Military Commander. In the end, several officials promised Shatiya he’d get his cameras back, but afterwards they simply ignored and then began avoiding him.

Some 12 days after the incident, the Israeli DCO contacted the Palestinian DCO, and informed the latter Shatiya could come and retrieve his cameras. He found them broken and rubbed with sand. The damage to the cameras is estimated at 21,000 NIS (about 6,000 USD). That’s what happens when you try to document the most moral army between the Jordan and the Mediterranean while it fails to move into Ghandi mode.

So, to sum it up, we’ve had settler violence, immediately backed up by the army; the destruction of evidence by soldiers, using a settler for this purpose; yet another example of problematic cooperation between soldiers and settlers, where a settler tells soldiers who to detain and they obey, and, finally, another example of the security forces in the West bank misunderstanding their role. There’s a strain of thinking in Israel, particularly among the center and on the left, which says that the problem in the West Bank is the settlers, and that the soldiers are not at fault.

But the soldiers know full well that they are at fault – Had they felt no guilt, they wouldn’t have felt the need to destroy evidence, and they would neither have broken the farmer’s cell phone nor given Shatiya’s cameras to a settler, in order to rid themselves of responsibility for taking the cameras away from him.  In the West Bank, the soldiers and the settlers are part of the same pattern, the pattern of an occupation whose inner logic is annexation by a quiet population transfer of the Palestinians.

Yizhak Shamir, an Israeli prime minister, once said that one is allowed to lie for Eretz Israel (the ‘Land of Israel”). The IDF soldiers take this one step further: in the name of Eretz Israel, they destroy evidence and intimidate journalists and innocent civilians.

November 12, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Arab ‘Thugs’ Steal Olives from Poor, Downtrodden Israeli Settlers

By Richard Edmondson | Fig Trees and Vineyards | November 4, 2013

Every now and then we run across stories in the Jewish media that are amusing for their unintended humor. Several days ago the Jewish Press published an article about West Bank Palestinians who crept into a Jewish-owned olive grove, apparently in the night, and stole a number of bushels of olives, breaking off tree branches in the process.

The story—a total of five paragraphs—is written by Yori Yanover, who, in common with most Israelis, refers to Palestinians not as Palestinians but as “Arabs,” and who additionally applies the word “thugs” to the particular thieves in question. (Truly a masterpiece of journalistic objectivity). We also are informed the theft took place at a Jewish-owned farm located between the West Bank settlements of Shiloh and Eli:

Someone should alert Philip Gordon – the US Middle East Czar who was so adamant in his condemnation of those pesky Jewish settlers out to ruin Arab olive trees, he should express at least the same amount of rage at what has taken place today in the Eretz HaTzvi farm, between the towns of Shiloh and Eli.

According to a report by the Tazpit news agency, Jewish farmers who arrived Thursday at the olive grove belonging to Eretz HaTzvi, discovered that Arab thugs had stolen bushels of olives and broke off tree branches. The damage is estimated in tens of thousands of dollars.

Note: we are talking about Jewish farmers who decided to grow their olive trees on stolen Palestinian land—and who now feel put upon because the people they stole the land from pilfered some of their olives. But that angle to the story seems to escape Yanover.

The author also goes on to quote one of the farmers, who speaks of “telltale signs” left by “Arab fruit thieves,” thus arousing our sympathy by letting us know that he, poor fellow, has had to deal with this sort of heinous thievery in the past:

“I arrived at the grove a short while ago, and from the highway I recognized the telltale sign of Arab fruit thieves – Jute sacks that were spread on the ground. Walking around the grove I identified many broken branches and a large amount of olives that fell out of the thieves’ sacks.”

Again note: we’re talking about some broken branches. Nothing is mentioned about whole trees being uprooted or destroyed. In fact, here is one of the photos that accompany the story. You’ll notice, of course, that a limb has been broken from a tree but that the tree itself is still standing:


And here is a second photo that accompanies the article. Again notice, a few broken limbs in the foreground, with unharmed, whole trees standing in the background.


I want to be clear: I do not think theft is ever justified, whether it be a single olive or an entire parcel of land. But at the same time it can be useful to us to put things into perspective. I have posted numerous articles about Palestinian olive groves that have been attacked and vandalized by Jewish settlers (see here, here, here, here, here, and here ). In many of these instances, whole trees have been uprooted or destroyed, and in some cases the number of trees destroyed was in the hundreds. But apparently many Jews are incapable of seeing things from the perspective of their victims. Here is a sampling of comments that accompanied the Jewish Press article:


The commenters seem almost out of touch with reality in a certain sense. But in the interest, again, of perspective, here’s a little dose of reality. The following comes from a report published last year entitled “When Settlers Attack,” by Yousef Munayyer for the Palestine Center:

Executive Summary

  • Israeli settler violence presents a direct and consistent threat to Palestinian civilians and their property in the occupied West Bank and instances of Israeli settler violence are on the rise.
  • From 2010 to 2011 there was a 39 percent increase in incidents of Israel Settler violence. In the five year period from 2007 through 2011 there has been a 315 percent increase. Conversely, over the same 5-year period, there has been a 95 percent decrease in Palestinian violence in the West Bank.
  • There is a noticeable shift in the proportion of violence as it occurs geographically in the West Bank. In the past, the southern part of the West Bank saw the largest number of instances but in recent years the northern part of the West Bank is becoming increasingly targeted and has overtaken the southern part of the West Bank in terms of number of attacks.
  • The period of the olive harvest annually brings a peak in violent settler activity. The presence of Palestinian civilians in olive groves, where they are easy targets for unrestrained and violent Israeli settlers, is the main reason why this occurs on an annual basis.
  • There is a noticeable increase in the frequency and proportion of arson attacks employed by violent settlers. This suggests that violent settlers are increasingly choosing this method of violence and will continue to do so. The percentage of arson among all attack types in 2005 was 6 percent and has risen to 11 percent in 2011.
  • While minimal variation in Israeli settler violence over time can be explained as a response to Israeli state actions against settlements, like the dismantlement of outposts, the vast majority of Israeli settler violence is not responsorial but rather structural and symptomatic of occupation.
  • Over 90 percent of all Palestinian villages which have experienced multiple instances of Israeli settler violence are in areas which fall under Israeli security jurisdiction.

To View the Full Report as PDF (2.8 MB)

At the top of this piece I referred to Yanover’s article as providing us with “unintended humor,” and so it does. But what I also detect in it is an element of self pity.

November 5, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Join ISM for the 2013 Olive Harvest Campaign

International Solidarity Movement | August 22, 2013

Occupied West Bank – At a time of regular settler violence in the West Bank, the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is issuing an urgent call for volunteers to join us for the 2013 Olive Harvest Campaign at the invitation of Palestinian communities.

The olive tree is a national symbol for Palestinians. As thousands of olive trees have been bulldozed, uprooted, burned and destroyed by Israeli settlers and the military – according to the UN settlers alone destroyed or damaged over 7,500 trees just in 2012 – harvesting has become more than a source of livelihood; it has become a form of resistance.

The olive harvest is an annual affirmation of Palestinians’ historical, spiritual, and economic connection to their land, and a rejection of Israeli efforts to seize it. Despite attempts by Israeli settlers and soldiers to prevent them from accessing their land, Palestinian communities have remained steadfast in refusing to give up their olive harvest.

ISM volunteers join Palestinian farming communities each year to harvest olives, in areas where Palestinians face settler and military violence when working their land. Your presence can make a big difference, with Palestinian communities stating that the presence of international volunteers reduces the risk of extreme violence from Israeli settlers and the Israeli army.

We support Palestinians’ assertion of their right to earn their livelihoods and be present on their lands. International solidarity activists engage in non-violent intervention and documentation, practical support which enables many families to pick their olives.

The campaign will begin mid October and will last around 5-7 weeks.  We request a minimum 2 week commitment from volunteers but stress that long-termers are needed as well. We ask that volunteers start arriving in the first week of October, so that we will be prepared when the harvest begins.


The ISM will be holding mandatory two day training sessions which will run weekly on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Please see the join ISM page or contact for further information.

In addition to the Olive Harvest Campaign, volunteers can also participate in regular ISM activities in support of the Palestinian popular struggle.

Join us in our solidarity with the Palestinian resistance at this crucial time of year!

In Solidarity,

ISM Palestine

August 22, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

Voices from the Occupation: Hammam and Odai S. – Settler violence

Defense for Children International | May 9, 2012

Names: Hammam and Odai S.
Date of incident: 21 April 2012
Age: 3 and 12
Location: Hebron, West Bank
Nature of incident: Settler violence

On 21 April 2012, a 12-year-old boy and his three-year-old brother go with their father to their land south of Hebron, in the occupied West Bank, where they are attacked by a group of settlers.

“On 21 April 2012, at around 9:00 am, I went with my father and my three-year-old brother, Hammam, to our  land in Khirbet  Shuweika, about seven kilometres from where we live,” explains 12-year-old Odai. “My father started clearing the land; I helped him for a while and then I went to play with Hammam,” he continues.

“At around 1:00 pm, I saw six men approaching us. They were carrying sticks and their faces were covered. I stayed where I was and didn’t feel scared because I didn’t know they were settlers. When they were about 20 metres away, they started throwing stones at us. Four of them attacked my father, and the other two attacked me and my brother. I felt terrified. Hammam started screaming and shivering. He was also terrified.”

Odai’s father tried to defend his children and was hit by stones several times. “A stone also hit me in the left leg and it hurt a lot,” says Odai. “Luckily, Hammam was not hit.” While they were being attacked, Odai’s father called his brothers to come and help them. “When the settlers noticed that two cars had arrived, they fled.”

Odai and his father were taken to the nearest medical centre for treatment. “I was told the settlers were from the settlement of Shim’a, located about one and a half kilometres from Khirbet  Shuweika,” explains Odai. “What happened terrified me and my brother. This is the first time I have had such a terrifying experience,” he adds.

May 10, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment