Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Palestinians’ life under Israeli occupation: Israeli soldiers describe their actions in Hebron

If Americans Knew

Israeli soldiers describe their actions in the Palestinian city of Hebron in the West Bank, and of Israeli settlers living there – from the film by Israeli director Rona Segal, “‘Everyone’s a Suspect.’ Six Former Israeli Soldiers Speak on Their Time in Hebron.” See the full film at https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/16/op…

Segal says: “I joined the army when I was 18 years old. Military service is mandatory in Israel (with few exemptions) and we’re instructed to never doubt its necessity. But I wanted to make films, so I maneuvered my way into the Israel Defense Forces’ film unit. “The army is where I learned the craft of filmmaking, and making the short documentary above allowed me to go back to those years. But now, as an independent filmmaker, I have a different perspective, a perspective that most 18-year-olds simply don’t have. “Here, ex-soldiers share their accounts of day-to-day operations on the ground in Hebron, the largest Palestinian city in the West Bank. They offer a view that has rarely been seen by the public.”

———————————————————————————————————————————————–  

U.S. politicians from both parties vote to give Israel over $10 million per day of Americans’ tax money. For more information on this issue see https://ifamericansknew.org/

An Israeli rubber-coated metal bullet cost Izzuddin, 14, his right eye

Defence for Children Palestine

On April 9, 2021, Israeli forces shot 14-year-old Izzuddin al-Batsh in the right eye with a rubber-coated metal bullet while he was working at his uncle’s vegetable market in the old city of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank. Several months later, Izzuddin recounts the difficulties he faced to receive treatment and what his life is like now with an artificial eye.

November 22, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Hamas slams UK’s intention to label it as a ‘terrorist organization’

MEMO | November 19, 2021

The Palestinian Hamas resistance movement, on Friday, decried the British intention to label it as a “terrorist organization”Anadolu News Agency reports.

In a statement, the group said Britain continues “favouring the (Israeli) aggressor at the expense of the (Palestinian) victims.”

“Resisting the occupation with all possible means, including armed resistance, is a guaranteed right by the international law for the people under occupation,” Hamas statement said.

It added: “The (Israeli) occupation is terrorism. Killing the indigenous people, expelling them by force, demolishing their homes and detaining them are terrorism.”

The statement urged the international community, including Britain, to stop the “double standards and the grave violation of the international law.”

UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel, is expected to outlaw Hamas for “links to terrorism and anti-Semitism against Jewish people.”

Since 2001, the UK has been calling the Hamas armed wing—Ezzeddin Al-Qassam Brigades—a terrorist organization, but did not include the Hamas political bureau within the designation.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, on Twitter welcomed the decision by Britain, claiming: “Hamas is a terrorist organization.”

“I welcome the UK’s intention to declare Hamas a terrorist organization in its entirety because that’s exactly what it is,” he added.

November 19, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , | 6 Comments

From Pegasus to Blue Wolf: how Israel’s ‘security’ experiment in Palestine went global

By Ramzy Baroud | MEMO | November 16, 2021

The revelation a few years ago that the US National Security Agency (NSA) had been conducting mass surveillance on millions of Americans reignited the conversation on governments’ misconduct and their violation of human rights and privacy laws. Until recently, however, Israel has been spared due criticism, not only for its unlawful spying methods on the Palestinians, but also for being the originator of many of the technologies which are now being criticised heavily by human rights groups worldwide.

Even at the height of various controversies involving government surveillance in 2013, Israel remained on the margins, despite the fact that its government, more than any other in the world, uses racial profiling, mass surveillance and numerous spying techniques to sustain its military occupation of Palestine.

In Gaza, two million Palestinians are living under an Israeli blockade. They are surrounded by walls, electric fences, underground barriers, naval vessels and a multitude of snipers. From above, the tannaana, the Arabic slang used by Palestinians for unmanned drones, watch and record everything. These armed drones are used to destroy anything deemed suspicious from an Israeli “security” perspective. Moreover, every Palestinian wishing to leave or return to Gaza — and only a relative few are allowed the privilege — is subjected to the most stringent “security” measures, involving various government agencies and endless military checks. This applies as much to a Palestinian toddler as it does to a terminally-ill Palestinian man or woman seeking treatment unavailable in the besieged territory.

In the West Bank, Israel’s security “experiment” takes many forms. While the Israeli objective in Gaza is to entrap people, in the West Bank and East Jerusalem its aim is to control the everyday life of the Palestinians. Aside from the 1,660 kilometre-long Apartheid Wall in the West Bank, there are many other walls, fences, trenches and other types of barriers that are aimed at fragmenting Palestinian communities. These isolated communities are only connected through an elaborate system of Israeli military checkpoints, many of which are permanent, but with many more duly erected or dismantled depending on the “security” objectives on any given day.

Much of the surveillance occurs daily at these Israeli checkpoints. While Israel uses the convenient term “security” to justify its practices against Palestinians, actual security has very little to do with what takes place at checkpoints. Many Palestinians have died and many mothers have given birth or lost their newborn babies while waiting for Israeli security clearance. It is a daily torment, and Palestinians are subjected to it because they are the unwitting participants in a very profitable Israeli experiment.

Fortunately, the details of Israel’s undemocratic practices are becoming better known. On 8 November, for example, the Washington Post revealed an Israeli mass surveillance operation, which uses “Blue Wolf” technology to create a massive database of all Palestinians.

This additional measure gives soldiers the opportunity to use their own cameras to take pictures of as many Palestinians as possible and match them “to a database of images so extensive that one former soldier described it as the army’s secret ‘Facebook for Palestinians’.”

We know very little about this “Facebook for Palestinians”, aside from what has been revealed in the media. However, we do know that Israeli soldiers compete to take as many photos of Palestinian faces as possible, as those with the highest number of photos could potentially receive certain rewards, the nature of which remains unclear.

While the “Blue Wolf” story is receiving some attention in international media, it is nothing new for Palestinians. To be a Palestinian living under occupation is to carry multiple permits and magnetic cards; to require numerous “security” clearances; to have your photo taken regularly; to have your movements monitored; and to be ready to answer any question about your friends, your family, your co-workers and your acquaintances. When that is impractical because, say, you live under siege in Gaza, then the work is entrusted to unmanned drones scanning the land, sea and sky.

The reason that “Blue Wolf” is receiving some traction in the media is that Israel has been implicated recently in one of the world’s biggest espionage operations. Pegasus is a type of malware that spies on iPhones and Android devices to extract photos, messages and emails, and to record calls. Tens of thousands of people around the world, many of whom are prominent activists, journalists, officials, business leaders and such like, have fallen victim to this operation. Unsurprisingly, Pegasus is produced by an Israeli technology company, the NSO Group, whose products are involved heavily in the monitoring of and spying on Palestinians, as confirmed by the Dublin-based Front Line Defenders, and as reported in the New York Times on 8 November.

It is a sad reflection of world affairs that Israel’s unlawful and undemocratic practices only became the subject of international condemnation when the victims were high-ranking personalities, such as French President Emmanuel Macron and others. When Palestinians were on the receiving end of Israeli spying, surveillance and racial profiling, the story was deemed to be unworthy of global outrage and coverage.

Moreover, for many years, Israel has promoted and sold its sinister “security technology” to the rest of the world as “field-tested”, meaning that it has been used against Palestinians living under occupation. That may have raised a few eyebrows among concerned individuals and human rights groups, but the tried and tested brand has, nonetheless, allowed Israel to become the world’s eighth-largest arms exporter. Israeli military and security technology is now used by governments around the world. It can be found at North American and European airports; at the Mexico-US border; in the hands of various intelligence agencies; and in European Union territorial waters, largely to intercept refugees from war (in which Israeli technology is also utilised) and asylum seekers.

Covering up Israel’s unlawful and inhuman practices against the Palestinians has become a liability for the credibility of the very people who justify Israeli actions in the name of “security” and “self-defence”, including successive administrations in Washington. On 3 November, the Joe Biden administration decided to blacklist the Israeli NSO Group for acting “contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.” This is a right and proper measure, of course, but it fails to address the ongoing Israeli violations against the people in occupied Palestine.

The truth is, for as long as Israel maintains its military occupation of Palestine, and as long as the Israeli military-industrial complex continues to see Palestinians as subjects in a mass “security experiment”, the Middle East — in fact, the entire world — will continue to pay the price.

November 16, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | 2 Comments

Miriam Adelson picks up where late husband and GOP kingmaker left off

2024 candidates know what the billionaire donor wants, and that’s a hawkish pro-Israel U.S. policy in the Middle East.

By Eli Clifton | Responsible Statecraft | November 8, 2021

It’s big news when a political party’s biggest funder announces, after a period of mourning for the death of their spouse, that they will be continuing their role as the go-to funder for congressional and presidential candidates in 2022 and 2024. You also might expect a discussion of how that donor expects to influence U.S. politics with their campaign donations. You’d be wrong.

Yesterday, Politico provided in-depth reporting on how “Republican mega donor Miriam Adelson — the widow of casino mogul and longtime GOP kingmaker Sheldon Adelson — is staging a return to politics, positioning herself to be a force in the 2022 midterms and beyond.”

This is big news. Adelson, a U.S.-Israel dual national, is worth $30 billion as the majority shareholder of Las Vegas Sands, a casino and resort company with enormous business interests in Singapore and Macau, a Chinese Special Administrative Region.

Foreign policy, both in the Middle East and East Asia, is clearly a central area of interest for the woman likely to emerge as the single biggest funder of Republican Party candidates in the 2022 and 2024 elections.

One of the couple’s final political acts, before Sheldon Adelson’s death on January 11th, was to fly Jonathan Pollard — a former U.S. Navy analyst who spent 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to spying for Israel — to Israel on one the family’s private 737s once Pollard’s travel ban was lifted.

Indeed, foreign policy has been the key-defining issue-area of the Adelsons’ political giving. The Adelsons helped to support the ultra-hawkish pro-Likud, anti-Iran echo chamber, including, among other groups, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the Israeli American Council, United Against Nuclear Iran, and the  Zionist Organization of America — all of which the couple financially supported over the last two decades. They also provided tens of millions of dollars to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee over the years, but abruptly withdrew their backing in 2007 because of its support in Congress for an economic aid package for Palestinians.

Miriam, individually, made her views on Trump’s foreign policy known — including support for moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and withdrawing from the nuclear deal with Iran — in a 2019 op-ed in the Las Vegas Review Journal, a newspaper owned by the Adelsons. In it, she berated Jewish Americans for failing to prioritize the U.S.-Israel relationship by voting overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates. She wrote:

The world rallies to an America that is strong, and this strength is best shown by keeping faith with U.S. allies — of which Israel is the best.

By rights, Trump should enjoy sweeping support among U.S. Jews, just as he does among Israelis. That this has not been the case (so far — the 2020 election still beckons) is an oddity that will long be pondered by historians. Scholars of the Bible will no doubt note the heroes, sages and prophets of antiquity who were similarly spurned by the very people they came to raise up.

Would it be too much to pray for a day when the Bible gets a “Book of Trump,” much like it has a “Book of Esther” celebrating the deliverance of the Jews from ancient Persia?

Until that is decided, let us, at least, sit back and marvel at this time of miracles for Israel, for the United States, and for the whole world.

And in China, Sheldon Adelson, already showed he was eager to influence U.S. foreign policy in order to further his casino business interests.

In 2001, Adelson reportedly curried favor with the Chinese leadership and helped secure his initial casino license in Macau by persuading Rep. Tom Delay (R-Texas), then the House majority whip, to halt a bipartisan resolution calling for the U.S. to oppose Beijing’s Olympics bid due to China’s problematic human rights record.

That casino license is up for renewal in 2022, and the company overseen by Miriam Adelson has taken pains to tie itself closer to Beijing, including appointing Wilfred Wong, former member of the National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China, as CEO of its Las Vegas Sands subsidiary Sands China.

Both Miriam and Sheldon Adelson received a public thanks from President Donald Trump at the January 2020 signing of the U.S.-China Phase One Trade Agreement.

But none of this context was provided in Politico’s write-up of Miriam committing to carry-on the political giving previously conducted in collaboration with her husband.

The only mention of the Adelsons’ overriding interest in influencing U.S.-foreign policy was in the 13th paragraph when the author, Alex Isenstadt, noted “Miriam Adelson shared her husband’s hawkish foreign policy views and his staunch support of Israel.”

Speakers at last week’s Republican Jewish Coalition conference at one of Adelson’s Las Vegas properties, The Venetian, included former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Unlike Politico, the speakers were clear about what issues their audience, and their host Miriam Adelson, cared most about.

According to Jewish Insider, Haley attacked AIPAC, accusing the largest pro-Israel group in the U.S. of being insufficiently supportive of Israel at the expense of pursuing bipartisanship. Cruz praised Trump’s foreign policy decisions to relocate the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and withdraw from the nuclear deal with Iran, while attempting to claim credit for his own roles in both decisions. And Pence boasted to the audience that “under the Trump-Pence administration, if the world knew nothing else, the world knew this: America stands with Israel.”

While national political journalists may have chosen to ignore or overlook Miriam Adelson’s clear interest in steering U.S. foreign policy toward hawkish policies in the Middle East, at least inasmuch as the Republican Party can drive policy, the potential 2024 presidential candidates speaking at the event gave every indication that they understood the issues that motivate the Republican Party’s biggest donor: Israel, Iran, and promoting a hawkish U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.

November 9, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

Words without Action: The West’s Role in Israel’s Illegal Settlement Expansion

By Ramzy Baroud | MintPress News | November 4, 2021

The international uproar in response to Israel’s approval of a massive expansion of its illegal settlement enterprise in the occupied Palestinian West Bank may give the impression that such a reaction could, in theory, force Israel to abandon its plans. Alas, it will not, because the statements of ‘concern,’ ‘regrets’, ‘disappointment’ and even outright condemnation are rarely followed by meaningful action.

True, the international community has a political, and even legal, frame of reference regarding its position on the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Unfortunately, however, it has no genuine political mandate, or the inclination to act individually or collectively, to bring this occupation to an end.

This is precisely why the announcement on October 27 by Israel that it has given a ‘final approval’ for the building of 1,800 housing units and initial approval for another 1,344 will unlikely be reversed anytime soon. One ought to keep in mind that this decision came only two days after an earlier announcement that the Israeli government had advanced construction tenders for 1,355 housing units in the occupied West Bank.

Israel has rarely, if ever, reversed such decisions since its establishment on the ruins of historic Palestine. Moreover, since Israel’s occupation of Palestinian East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, Israel’s colonial project has remained in constant and unhindered expansion. 54 years should have been enough for the international community to realize that Israel has no intentions whatsoever to end its military occupation on its own accord, to respect international law and to cease construction of its illegal settlements.

Yet, despite this obvious fact, the international community continues to issue statements, moderate in their language, at times, even angry at others, but without ever taking a single action to punish Israel.

A quick examination of the US government’s reaction to the news of settlement expansion tells of the lack of seriousness from Washington towards Israel’s continued disregard of international law, peace and security in the Middle East.

“We strongly oppose the expansion of settlements,” said US State Department spokesman, Ned Price, adding that the Israeli decision is “completely inconsistent with efforts to lower tension and ensure calm.”

Since when was Israel concerned about ‘lowering tensions’ and ‘ensuring calm’? If these were truly important US demands and expectations, why then, does the US keep funneling billions of dollars a year in military aid to Israel, knowing fully that such armaments will be used to sustain the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine and other Arab lands?

If, for the sake of argument, we assume that Washington is finally shifting its policies on Israel and Palestine, how does it intend to pressure Israel to cease settlement construction? Mr. Price has the answer: The Biden Administration would “raise our views on this issue directly with senior Israeli officials in our private discussions”, he said on October 26. “Raise our views”, as opposed to demanding accountability, threatening retaliation, or, God forbid, withholding funds.

While it is true that the US government is Israel’s main western benefactor, Washington is not the only hypocritical administration in this regard. The Europeans are not fundamentally different, despite the fact that their statements might be a tad stronger in terms of language.

“Settlements are illegal under international law and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-state solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace between the parties,” read a statement issued by the office of EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, on October 29.

The statement mirrors the exact sentiments and language of numerous statements issued in the past, ones that “strongly reject” the Israeli action, and “urge” the Israeli government to “revoke” its recent decisions for the sake of “sustainable peace”, and so on. One may even muse to claim that the task of preparing these statements must be the easiest of all clerical work at the EU offices, as it is largely a matter of a simple ‘cut and paste’.

Yet, again, when it comes to action, Brussels, like Washington, refrains from taking any. Worse, these entities often bankroll the very action they protest, while insisting that they are standing at the exact same distance between Israelis and Palestinians, assigning themselves such roles as “honest peace brokers”, “peace mediators” and the like.

One should not be in the least surprised by Israel’s recent announcement. In fact, we should expect more settlement expansion and even the construction of new settlements, because that is what colonial Israel does best.

Within a matter of a few days, Israel has announced its intentions to build, or start bids for, nearly 4,500 settlement units. Compare this number with the settlement expansion during Donald Trump’s term in office. “Israel promoted plans for more than 30,000 settler homes in the West Bank during the four years (Trump) was in power,” the BBC reported, citing an Israeli group, Peace Now, as saying in its recent findings.

Those figures in mind, if the Israeli government under Naftali Bennett continues with this hurried pace of illegal housing construction, it could potentially match – and even overtake – the expansion that took place during the terrible years of the Trump era. With no accountability, this catastrophic political paradigm will remain in place, irrespective of who rules Israel and who resides in the White House.

Israel is doing what any colonial power does. It expands at the expense of the native population. The onus is not on colonial powers to behave themselves, but on the rest of the world to hold them accountable. This was true in the case of the South African Apartheid and numerous other examples throughout the Global South. It is equally true in the case of Israeli Apartheid in Palestine.

The truth is that a thousand or a million more statements by western governments will not end the Israeli occupation, or even slow down the pace of Israeli military bulldozers as they uproot Palestinian trees, destroy homes and construct yet more illegal colonies. If words are not backed by action – which is very much possible, considering the massive military, political and economic leverage the West wields over Israel – then the West remains a party in this conflict, not as a ‘peace broker’, but as a direct supporter of the Israeli occupation and apartheid.

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press). 

November 9, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 3 Comments

Silencing criticism of Israel

PSA vs. Nazim Ali—What it means for the pro-Palestine Activists

By Massoud Shajareh | MEMO | November 9, 2021

Many of you will have seen the recent news about Nazim Ali’s loss at the High Court. A detailed timeline can be found elsewhere. I want to discuss the three main consequences of this judgment.

First, a quick summary of the case itself. In June 2017, Ali took part in the annual Al-Quds Day parade, during which he made several ill-advised comments about Zionists and Zionism. The Campaign against Antisemitism (CAA) complained to the police and to the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). The police complaint was passed to the CPS, who decided not to press charges; this was appealed and, again, the CPS declined to prosecute Ali. So, the CAA brought a private prosecution against Ali, which the CPS took over and discontinued. This decision was challenged by way of judicial review, which the CAA lost, as the court agreed with the CPS that Ali’s comments were anti-Israel -Zionist in nature and not anti-Semitic.

The GPhC complaints team subsequently decided that Ali’s words were anti-Israel political speech, that they were not anti-Semitic or racist, and dismissed the CAA’s complaint. Ali was notified that the complaint was closed. However, in the summer of 2019, the GPhC reopened the case, justifying its decision on the basis that it had to evaluate Ali’s comments based on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.

Late last year, those proceedings culminated in the GPhC finding the comments made by Mr Ali to be offensive but not anti-Semitic. They held that, a reasonable bystander who was apprised of all the facts would not consider his speech in their context (a pro-Palestine rally) to be anti-Semitic. They took account of the context, Ali’s explanation of his words and his upstanding character. It issued him with a warning, on the grounds that his words were offensive and his behaviour amounted to misconduct.

Pro-Israel campaigners prevailed upon the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care (PSA) to appeal the GPhC decision to the High Court, which has now decided the GPhC reconsider afresh the allegations of anti-Semitism against Mr Ali, on the grounds that the body had erred by taking into account Ali’s explanation for, and intention behind, the words. The High Court held that Ali’s intention and explanation could not form part of the analysis of whether his words were anti-Semitic. Instead, an “objective” test should be used—something the learned judge does not define; he only elaborates on what it cannot include, i.e., the intention of the speaker.

So why is this dangerous?

  • Once you remove intention, all criticism of Israel and Zionism is potentially anti-Semitic: Intention behind words is important. They tell us what the speaker intended, or meant, to say. In the context of controversial subjects, such as Israel/Palestine, they become crucial to understanding what the speaker means. The CAA/UKLFI and others want the courts and tribunals to adopt the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism as the “objective” definition. This is a controversial definition, one which puts substantial emphasis on criticism of Israel. Once an “objective” definition is accepted, where intention is not relevant, pro-Palestine activists will find there is little they can say about Israel without being labelled anti-Semitic.
  • The “objective” definition will be wielded as a weapon to harass and silence professionals who criticise Israel. Pro-Israel groups will target any and every one they can identify as a regulated professional who has the temerity to criticise Israel in public. As the definition is “objective”, pro-Israel groups will simply start framing their complaints as the “person’s words are objectively anti-Semitic” in each case, thereby, avoiding the need to discuss the speaker’s intention. The regulators themselves seem uninterested in the politicised nature of the complaints and will bring to bear their full regulatory weight on the individual— involving a complaints process, a tribunal, lawyers’ fees, appeals and counter appeals. The thought of such an overwhelming process will be enough to stop any regulated professional from publicly criticising Israel or Zionism.
  1. Regulated professionals are just the start— this will set a chilling benchmark that can be replicated in many other regulatory and disciplinary settings. Labour party members accused of anti-Semitism, university disciplinary proceedings, employment tribunals and others will find this case being cited as a precedent. Suddenly, union members are accused of “objective” anti-Semitism as they believe Israel is an apartheid state. Their intent is irrelevant, as the complaint will be framed as the meaning of their words is anti-Semitic— and it is according to the “objective” IHRA definition: “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour.” Teachers, students, employees of any major company, anyone who criticises Israel in public, will find complaints being made against them by pro-Israel groups. These groups know most people do not want their livelihood taken from them; they calculate most people will just remain silent about Israel’s crimes rather than face being disciplined and being removed from employment.

Ali’s words were inappropriate and, on occasion, factually inaccurate (Israel and Zionism are guilty of a lot, but they did not set fire to Grenfell), but they were not anti-Semitic. Our purpose in fighting this judgment is not to defend Ali’s words. Rather, it is to stop the creation of a precedent that will silence virtually all criticism of Israel. Pro-Israel groups wish to proscribe all criticism of Israel; this judgment gives them the tools with which to achieve their goals. Free speech on Israel will be eroded if we do not fight back now.

November 9, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | 1 Comment

Israeli soldiers given ‘prizes’ for helping compile database of Palestinians’ pictures – reports

Israeli forces detain a man during a protest in Hebron. September 9, 2021. © Reuters / Mussa Qawasma
RT | November 8, 2021

The Israeli military has reportedly compiled a digital surveillance database to monitor Palestinians in Hebron in the West Bank using invasive facial recognition tech integrated into a network of cameras and soldiers’ phones.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) even incentivized soldiers to compete against each other to take photos of residents “with prizes for the most pictures collected by each unit,” according to the Washington Post. Soldiers were reportedly offered rewards such as a night off if they managed to take the most pictures.

The surveillance dragnet is apparently based in part on smartphone technology called ‘Blue Wolf’ that captures the photos and cross-references the faces to find matches on the database. The application then signals to the soldier through a “traffic light” of colors which individuals to detain, arrest or leave alone.

Noting that the IDF has admitted to the initiative’s existence in an online brochure, the report also features interviews with former soldiers who had previously spoken to Breaking the Silence – a group of veterans that highlights human rights violations by the IDF.

One former soldier reportedly described the program as the IDF’s secret “Facebook for Palestinians.” Another veteran told the paper a network of facial recognition cameras had been installed at various checkpoints in the flashpoint town – as well as a broader network of CCTV cameras known as ‘Hebron Smart City’ that sometimes even allows the IDF to see inside people’s homes.

The network also apparently makes use of ‘White Wolf’, an app employed by security volunteers in the West Bank to provide ID information about Palestinians before they enter settlements to work.

“I wouldn’t feel comfortable if they used it in the mall in [my hometown], let’s put it that way,” said one recently discharged soldier who reportedly served in an intelligence unit. She called the Hebron surveillance system a “total violation of privacy of an entire people.”

People worry about fingerprinting, but this is that several times over.

In response, the IDF issued a statement that noted how “routine security operations” were “part of the fight against terrorism and the efforts to improve the quality of life for the Palestinian population in [the West Bank].” It would not comment on the IDF’s “operational capabilities in this context.”

November 8, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

Secret Israeli dossier contained no proof to declare Palestinian NGOs ‘terrorists’

RT | November 4, 2021

A classified dossier which Israel used to brand six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist outfits reportedly contains no concrete evidence to prove their involvement in violent activities or to otherwise justify the designation.

The document, which bears the logo of Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service, is the result of its inquiry into six West Bank civil society groups accused of securing foreign funding for a Palestinian militant group.

Despite the severity of the charges, however, Israel has yet to publicly release any evidence backing up its decision to brand the NGOs as terror organizations. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz prompted international backlash last month after he officially placed a terror designation on the six groups on the basis of the Shin Bet investigation.

Accessing the dossier, The Intercept and Israeli outlets +972 and Local Call found that the information used was based chiefly on interrogations of two accountants from another Palestinian NGO, the Health Work Committees, which was also labelled a terrorist organization last year.

The accountants’ lawyers told the outlets that Israeli authorities had “distorted” their testimonies, which were allegedly gathered under threats to family members and harsh interrogation methods that might be considered “torture.”

Shin Bet reportedly used a single statement from one accountant, about forging fake receipts for Health Work Committees, to accuse the other organizations of being involved in a similar scheme to fund the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) militant group. The men apparently described a number of educational and humanitarian initiatives which could be affiliated with the organization as “PFLP activities,” but they did not describe any financing of violent activities.

The outlets said that none of the testimonies cited in the 74-page dossier were backed up by any documents or receipts. The dossier was apparently delivered in May to a number of EU countries that have funded the organizations, prompting independent audits and public criticism from Dutch and Belgian ministers, who stated that the allegations did not contain “even a single concrete piece of evidence.”

“Since the Europeans didn’t buy the allegations, [Israel] used unconventional warfare: declaring the organizations terrorist groups,” Michael Sfard, an Israeli human rights lawyer representing Al-Haq, one of the accused Palestinian NGOs, told The Intercept. He added that the charges were a “political [attack] under the guise of security.”

Meanwhile, senior officials from two unspecified European countries told the outlet that since Gantz’s announcement, Israel has ignored all requests for more information. While the Israeli Ministry of Defense did not comment, two US sources told the outlets that an Israeli delegation had presented similar dossiers on Capitol Hill.

The six NGOs accused by Israel are Al-Haq, Addameer, Bisan Center, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, Defense For Children International-Palestine and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees.

November 5, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 1 Comment

Here’s what’s wrong with Israel branding human-rights groups ‘terrorists’

By Eva Bartlett | RT | November 3, 2021

The Israeli government has designated several human-rights groups ‘terrorist organisations’ in a blatant attempt to further cover up the crimes they commit against the Palestinian people.

On October 22, Israel branded six respected Palestinian human-rights groups “terrorist organisations,” outraging the UN and the wider global community. This, coming from a state that imprisons and kills Palestinian children, and murders uniformed medics.

On the Israeli Defense Ministry’s list were Addameer, Al-Haq, Defense for Children International Palestine (DCIP), the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), the Bisan Center for Research and Development, and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees.

The groups either document Israel’s crimes against Palestinians, which, in my opinion, routinely amount to terrorism themselves, provide legal support to targeted or imprisoned Palestinians, or work to empower Palestinian civilians. In what bizarre world can they be deemed “terrorist groups”?

A joint statement by leading Israeli rights group B’Tselem and numerous other Israeli and Palestinian rights organisations described the ministry’s action as “a draconian measure that criminalises critical human-rights work,” and noted the importance of documentation, advocacy, and legal aid for the protection of rights worldwide. “Criminalising such work is an act of cowardice, characteristic of repressive authoritarian regimes,” it said.

A number of UN special rapporteurs have condemned the decision as “a frontal attack on the Palestinian human-rights movement and on human rights everywhere.”

Meanwhile, Israel continues to attack unarmed protesters with rubber bullets, live ammunition and tear gas; approve new buildings in illegal Jewish colonies on Palestinian land; and bulldoze centuries-old Palestinian graves in Old Jerusalem; and Israeli colonists continue to brutalise Palestinian civilians, as they have long done. And, of course, Gaza remains under a cruel blockade – the longest lockdown in the world. The roughly two million Gazans barely living in the territory are deprived of the most basic essentials, including urgently needed medical supplies, and Israel guns down and abducts their fishermen, often destroying their boats.

But, no, according to the state responsible for these and countless other acts of terrorism, the “terrorists” are the human-rights groups. This is the state that not only abuses and murders Palestinian civilians, and flattens entire neighbourhoods of Gaza, deliberately destroying vital infrastructure, but also occupies Lebanese and Syrian land, violates Lebanese airspace, and routinely illegally bombs Syria.

This is not the first time Israel has harassed Palestinian (and Israeli) rights organizations.

The children’s agency, DCIP, is “an independent, local Palestinian child-rights organisation dedicated to defending and promoting the rights of children living in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.” In July 2021, prior to its “terrorist” designation, its main office was raided by Israeli forces.

At the time, DCIP described the raid as “the latest act by Israeli authorities to increasingly push forward a campaign to delegitimise and criminalise Palestinian civil society and human rights organisations.” They also noted this was a campaign that has been on the rise in recent years, “advanced by a network of rising nationalist Israeli civil society organisations and associated organisations elsewhere, with the support of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”

With the minister of defence designating such groups as “terrorists” and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs supporting the delegitimization campaign, it is not credible to argue the persecution is not coming from the Israeli government itself.

For one of the other listed groups, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), Israel’s targeted harassment caused the Dutch government to cease funding. Israel’s 972 magazine reported on this, saying “for years, a global network of Israel advocacy groups had been lobbying European governments to cut off funding to UAWC, a group that assists Palestinian farmers to cultivate and remain on their land, market their produce, and develop water infrastructure.”

Some of the work UAWC had done in recent years, the article noted, included establishing “52 cooperatives in the West Bank and Gaza, [and] rehabilitating almost 10,000 dunums of Palestinian land that were under threat of confiscation by Israeli authorities in Area C.”

It also planted nearly two million trees, and developed connecting routes amounting to almost 700km in distance. “UAWC also worked to provide better water access to Palestinians in Area C, where water and sanitation services are regularly interrupted by Israeli settlement expansion,” the article also said.

My experiences in Gaza, volunteering for years with impoverished Palestinian farmers and farm labourers coming under Israeli live fire on a near-daily basis, demonstrated to me that the work of groups like UWAC is essential to help farmers rehabilitate destroyed farmland. These are people simply trying to eke out an existence, being maimed and murdered by Israeli fire while doing so, their farmland and wells bulldozed and destroyed, their crops burned.

I also have some experience with the work of DCIP, which documents Palestinian child detainees in Israeli prisons, including children in solitary confinement, as well as children killed by Israeli soldiers or colonists. Without groups like this documenting these crimes, advocating for the children becomes all the more impossible. Clearly, this is one of the reasons Israel has made the outrageous terrorist designation.

But DCIP also helps sick and injured Palestinian children get medical care. The group helped rehabilitate a terribly injured, bedridden, 16-year-old Palestinian teen I met in a Cairo hospital in July 2008, months after an Israeli soldier shot him in the spine.

In March 2008, Abdul Rahman Abu Oida went to the roof of his home, checking the water tank to see why the family suddenly had no water, and was shot in the spine by an Israeli sniper hiding on another rooftop.

As I later wrote, “The bullet destroyed three vertebrae; the shot left Abed paralysed in a puddle of his own blood until his 13-year-old brother, 15 minutes later, found him and dragged him downstairs. Ambulances were prevented from accessing the area. Abed lay untreated for three hours before he reached a hospital in Gaza City.”

In the Cairo hospital where I met him, he was emaciated, with appallingly large bedsores on his backside and feet. These festering bedsores would be the cause of other ailments which plagued him and eventually caused his death. Through a contact at DCIP, Abed began to get proper treatment for his original wound and the consequences of the bedsores.

Although he survived the 2008/9 Israeli massacre, including Israel’s attack on the rehabilitation hospital in which he and 60 other patients were, in 2014 he finally passed away. But without DCIP’s intervention, Abed would surely have died not long after I met him in 2008.

I have written many times about the crimes Israel has perpetrated against Palestinians in Gaza, including sniping at medics and killing and maiming still other medics, including with dart bombs – both war crimes – as well as assassinating children and infants, and firing white phosphorus on civilian areas. These are all just from my personal documentation in the span of a few years.

Without people to document these crimes, Israel’s actions could be even more monstrous than they already are.

Last May, in an attempt to prevent journalists from reporting its war crimes, Israel precision-bombed key media buildings in Gaza (which it had previously done in 2009, 2012, and 2014).

Throughout occupied Palestine, the work of human rights groups in documenting Israel’s crimes remains imperative, and the country’s continued harassment of these groups – including their “terrorist” designation – indicates the effectiveness of their advocacy and the determination of Israel to whitewash its crimes.

Eva Bartlett is a Canadian independent journalist and activist. She has spent years on the ground covering conflict zones in the Middle East, especially in Syria and Palestine (where she lived for nearly four years).

November 5, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 3 Comments

Journalists’ unions seek ICC probe into systematic targeting of Palestinian journalists

Israeli soldiers shoot tear gas near reporters as they disperse Palestinian protesters on July 31, 2021 [JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP via Getty Images]

Israeli soldiers shoot tear gas near reporters as they disperse Palestinian protesters on July 31, 2021 [JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP via Getty Images]
MEMO | November 3, 2021

There are “strong grounds” to conclude that Israel’s systematic targeting of journalists working in Palestine and its failure to properly investigate killings of media workers amount to war crimes, a complaint being submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC) will say.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), working with the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS) and the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP), has asked Bindmans and Doughty Street Chambers to submit a complaint to the ICC detailing “the systematic targeting of Palestinian journalists on behalf of four named victims – Ahmed Abu Hussein, Yaser MurtajaMuath Armaneh, and Nedal Eshtayet – who were killed or maimed by Israeli snipers while covering demonstrations in Gaza. All were wearing clearly marked PRESS vests at the time they were shot.”

“At least 46 journalists have been killed since 2000 and no one has been held to account,” the IFJ said in a statement on its website.

The complaint will also include the “bombing of the Al-Shorouk and Al-Jawhara Towers in Gaza City in May 2021″.

IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “The targeting of journalists and media organisations in Palestine violates the right to life and freedom of expression. These crimes must be fully investigated. This systematic targeting must stop. The journalists and their families deserve justice.”

November 3, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Still No Accountability From Israel Over the 1956 Massacre of Kafr Qasem

By Ramona Wadi | Strategic Culture Foundation | October 31, 2021

On the 65th anniversary of Israel’s brutal massacre on the village of Kafr Qasem, where 48 Palestinians were gunned down by border police, the colonial entity has still failed to formally acknowledge its responsibility for the killings. A bill presented at the Knesset by Arab Israeli MKs was once again voted down. The bill would have required educational instruction in Israeli schools about the massacre, as well as the publication of any classified documents.

The Kafr Qasem massacre is an example of Israel’s premeditated ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. On the same day it attacked the Suez Canal, along with its French and British allies, a curfew was placed on eight Palestinian villages and communicated late, to ensure that Palestinians travelling back home from work would be out after the time restriction. The massacre is one example of Israel’s ongoing Nakba, and one that targeted Palestinians in Israel. Through re-enactment of terror reminiscent of the Nakba, Israel was aiming at further Palestinian dispossession.

It was only 25 days after the massacre that the international community became knowledgeable of the killings, through a press release by Tawfik Toubi, which explained the gruesome massacres in detail. “In some cases, the police stomped on the heads of the dead and sunk their bayonets in the bodies of the women,” an excerpt from the press release included in Samia Halaby’s book, Drawing the Kafr Qasem Massacres, reads.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog attended this year’s memorial. His presence was an example of Israel’s hypocrisy when it comes to Palestinian history as a result of colonial violence. Asking for “forgiveness”, Herzog stated, “For it is clear to all of us: the killing and injury of innocents are absolutely forbidden. They must remain beyond all political arguments!”

But Israel has never made the distinction of the innocent. All Palestinians are a target, since each Palestinian stands in the way of Israel’s colonial expansion. In the case of Kafr Qasem, however, Israel is not averse to making a distinction between this massacre and other previous bouts of ethnic cleansing. Why should Palestinians “forgive” Israel for the Kafr Qasem massacres when the colonial enterprise is failing to institutionalise its culpability? Furthermore, why ask forgiveness for Kafr Qasem and not for the earlier massacres which paved the way for Israel’s ongoing ethnic cleansing?

Herzog’s words attempted to steer clear of what he called “political argument”. At the commemoration, he declared, “This is our opportunity, as a human society, to empower what we have in common as citizens and as neighbours.”

There is no equality between what Herzog calls citizens and neighbours without decolonisation. The Israeli president spoke from a privileged position to Palestinians who have lost family members, knowing that the perpetrators faced only a charade of justice. The convicted officials responsible for the murders were released from prison by 1960, by means of reduced sentences or pardons, meaning that the Israeli justice system failed to recognise the severity of the crime and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

Speaking about the massacres politically as well as in terms of criminal culpability is necessary to ensure that the Palestinian narrative emerges. It is well documented that Israel’s existence is rooted in massacres and Palestinians’ dispossession.

With Kafr Qasem, as well as with other massacres, Israel needs to set the record straight – it is a perpetrator, with intent, and with an entire political structure that has supported its ethnic cleansing for decades. There should be no dissociating from political accountability merely to ensure that Palestinian memory remains distinct from the history which Zionist colonisation perpetrated since the Nakba.

November 1, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Is Biden any different from Trump on Palestine?

WASHINGTON, USA - AUGUST 27: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY – MANDATORY CREDIT - "GPO / HANDOUT" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) Prime Minister of Israel Naftali Bennett (R) meets U.S. President Joe Biden (L) at the White House on August 27, 2021 in Washington, DC, United States. ( GPO - Anadolu Agency )

Prime Minister of Israel Naftali Bennett meets U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House on August 27, 2021 in Washington, DC, United States [GPO – Anadolu Agency]
By Ramzy Baroud | MEMO | October 26, 2021

When Joe Biden was declared the winner in the US presidential election last November, expectations in Ramallah were high. A Biden administration, compared with the brazenly pro-Israel Donald Trump administration, would surely be much fairer to Palestinians. That was the conventional wisdom at the time.

Unsurprisingly, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was among the first world leaders to congratulate Biden enthusiastically. “I look forward to working with the president-elect and his administration to strengthen Palestinian-American relations and to achieve freedom, independence, justice and dignity for our people,” said Abbas immediately after the election result was finally confirmed.

In contrast, the then Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, waited for a relatively long time to offer his congratulations in the hope, perhaps, that his close friend and staunch political ally Trump would succeed in reversing the election outcome.

Nearly a year later, however, it is hard to understand the Palestinian euphoria that prevailed in late 2020. And how do we explain the absence of criticism of the Biden administration for failing to reverse most of Trump’s pro-Israel decisions? These include the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s “undivided” capital and the relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city in violation of international law and even America’s own declared policies.

Why does the PA leadership remain largely silent on the fact that Biden and his team, despite their rhetoric about peace and dialogue, maintain the same degree of commitment to Israel as Trump? The short answer is money.

The only tangible step with regard to Palestine that the Biden administration has taken in the past year has been the restoration of funds that Trump had cut from Palestinian aid in 2018, reversing at a stroke nearly three decades of America, along with other “donor countries”, bankrolling the PA.

In April, the White House declared its intention to restore some, though not all, of such funds given to the Palestinian Authority. An amount of $235 million was to be paid as $75m in economic and developmental assistance; $10m in “peacebuilding” programmes to be provided by USAID agency; and the remainder in humanitarian assistance to the UN agency for Palestine refugees, UNRWA.

The latter, however, did not come without caveats. On 14 July, UNRWA reached an agreement with Washington regarding the use of this money. The so-called Framework for Cooperation stipulated that, “The US will not make any contributions to UNRWA, except on the condition that UNRWA takes all feasible measures to ensure that no part of the US contribution is used to assist any refugee receiving military training” from any Palestinian resistance group. Under the agreement, which was strongly criticised by the Palestinians, UNRWA will receive an additional $135m from the US.

On the political front, however, there is little else to report. The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) office in Washington, although expected to be reopened by Biden after its abrupt closure by Trump in September 2018, remains closed. Moreover, the US Consulate in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem, which was also shut down by Biden’s predecessor, remains “a major point of contention” between Israel and the US, according to Axios.

As soon as the Biden administration declared its intention to reopen its mission in occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem, top Israeli officials poured into Washington to prevent even this symbolic Palestinian gain from taking place. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett raised the issue with Biden during their White House meeting in August, requesting the president to refrain from carrying out such a move. According to the Times of Israel, Bennett asked the Americans to open the consulate in Ramallah rather than Jerusalem.

In September, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid warned Washington that reinstating the US mission in East Jerusalem was a “bad idea”, suggesting that such a move could force the collapse of Israel’s fragile coalition government.

The subject also topped the agenda of Lapid’s meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington earlier this month. Israeli officials revealed that Lapid told Blinken, “I don’t know how to hold this coalition together if you reopen the consulate.” This too was reported by Axios.

To avoid a confrontation and to buy time for the Israeli government, Blinken proposed the establishment of a joint committee to “discuss the issue with maximum discretion.” The Israeli government is thus using the current fractious ruling coalition as a pretence to defer the US decision on the consulate. It is hinting that if the US reopens the consulate before the government budget passes in November, the coalition will dissolve, with the ominous possibility of Netanyahu’s return.

It is expected that the committee will not be formed until the budget vote. Even then, it is unclear if Washington will succeed in persuading Israel to respect Biden’s consulate decision.

Notably, while the matter of the consulate should concern Palestinians the most, no Palestinian official will be included in the exclusive and secretive Blinken-Lapid committee. More bizarrely, the PA does not seem to mind this snub. There has been no public outcry by Abbas and his officials. This, of course, is typical of the PA, and will remain the case for as long as US funds are finding their way into PA coffers. All other issues appear to have little or no urgency. It’s all about the money.

If a political compromise is found, and the US Consulate is finally reopened, will it alter the reality on the ground? Since 1994, the consulate has played a largely symbolic role, one that mattered most to the PA. It hardly changed the political equation in favour of the Palestinians. In a telling and surreal reference to the consulate, Noga Tarnopolsky wrote in the Los Angeles Times in 2019: “The consulate was known for hosting one of the liveliest parties on Jerusalem’s annual schedule, a 4 July gala held on the front lawn.”

A stone’s throw away from the city’s “liveliest parties”, hundreds of Palestinian families are either being evicted from their homes or face the risk of eviction by the US-funded Israeli police and army. A little further away is Israel’s apartheid wall that continues to segment occupied Palestine according to race, ethnicity and religion. We are justified, then, in not being too optimistic that the reopening of the US mission will change the horrific status quo in any way whatsoever.

The Joe Biden administration is proving to be nothing but a soft facade for the same policies enacted by Donald Trump. The only apparent difference is that, this time, Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, for self-serving reasons, do not seem to mind.

October 27, 2021 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 1 Comment