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Israeli sniper shoots Palestinian cameraman at Ofer protest

Ma’an – 06/04/2014

BETHLEHEM – Video emerged on Sunday of the moment an Israeli sniper shot a Palestinian cameraman in the stomach while he was covering a protest at Ofer prison on Friday.

Israeli security forces shot and injured Mohammed Basman Yasin, a volunteer cameraman for the Israeli human rights organization B’tselem, while he was filming a protest in the West Bank city of Beitunia, according to Israeli website +972.

The video, which could not be independently verified, appears to show Palestinian protesters sitting on the road when Israel forces arrive and begin firing tear gas canisters at them.

At times, protesters are seen throwing rocks at Israeli forces, although in other scenes activists can be seen walking towards an ambulance when Israeli forces open fire without warning in their direction.

At 5:30, meanwhile, two activists can be seen throwing rocks at the heavily-armed Israeli soldiers, when the video cuts to a scene showing Yasin, who is at the back of a large crowd watching the scene, being shot in the stomach.

Israeli forces caused severe damage to his internal organs, and according to B’tselem, doctors have said they may be forced to remove his liver and kidneys.

Yasin is currently hospitalized in Ramallah.

The clashes took place near the Israeli Ofer prison, located in the occupied West Bank, in protest against the Israeli government’s refusal to release a fourth group of veteran Palestinian prisoners it had previously agreed to release as part of ongoing US-sponsored negotiations with the PLO.

13 were reported injured during the clashes, including seven with live bullets.

An Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma’an that Israeli forces fired at “rioters” who threw rocks and burning tires at security forces, “lightly injuring” five.

April 6, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture, Video | , , , , | Leave a comment

Activists and journalists injured in prisoner release protest outside Ofer prison

International Solidarity Movement | April 4, 2014

Ramallah, Occupied Palestine – This afternoon approximately 500 Palestinian, international and Israeli demonstrators gathered close to Ofer Prison in Ramallah to protest against the refusal of the Israeli state to release the fourth group of Palestinian prisoners. As part of the current round of talks between Fatah (the Palestinian government of the West Bank) and the Israeli government, a series of prisoner releases was promised by the state of Israel, and the fourth was due to be carried out by the end of March, the Israeli government has now refused to honor the final release.

The demonstration began at approximately 12pm, the protests’ aim was to march towards Ofer prison itself, but due to the large number of Israeli forces present, this was not possible. The demonstrators also twice attempted a prayer at the start of the protest, but were unable to due to the high level of aggression from Israeli forces.

rsz_dsc01379-2-400x357As the demonstration was beginning a 53-year-old Palestinian was shot at several times through the window of his car as he was driving away from Israeli forces. One of these rubber-coated steel bullets struck him in the head. The rubber-coated steel bullet broke several bones around his eye, a piece of the bullet was unable to be immediately removed and so he required surgery.

The level of violence escalated from this point as Palestinian youth threw stones at the Israeli military, while they (the military) fired hundreds of tear gas canisters, rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition, injuring many demonstrators. At several points during the demonstration, Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters directly at protesters, both highly dangerous and in contravention to Israeli military procedure, which is shooting them up into an arch to lower the impacted velocity.

A full list of all those injured is currently not available, however at least 10 people were transferred by ambulance to a local hospital in Ramallah to seek medical treatment for their injuries and Red Crescent medics at the demonstration treated many others for varying wounds.

Below is a list of specific injuries that were confirmed both at the demonstration and from ISM activists at the local Ramallah hospital:

  • A 21-year-old Palestinian activist was injured after being shot from extremely close range with a sponge-tipped projectile in the back.
  • Two ISM activists were also both shot from extremely close range with sponge-tipped projectiles in their backs.
  • A 20-year-old Palestinian was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the head.
  • A 48-year-old Palestinian journalist was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the left shoulder.
  • A Palestinian activist was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the foot.
  • A 20-year-old Palestinian was shot with two .22 live ammunition bullets in his foot and in his knee.
  • A 30-year-old Palestinian was shot with .22 live ammunition in his right hand.
  • Another Palestinian was shot with .22 live ammunition in his left foot; the bullet was unable to be removed.
  • 36-years-old Palestinian was shot with two .22 live ammunition bullets, both in his left foot.
  • A 31-year-old Palestinian was shot in the left leg with .22 live ammunition.
  • A 36-year-old Palestinian was shot with .22 live ammunition in the left foot.
  • Mohammed Yasin, a photojournalist from Bi’lin who was wearing a press vest, was shot in his face with a rubber-coated steel bullet and also shot in his stomach with a .22 live ammunition bullet. He remains in hospital in serious condition, as the bullet may have destroyed parts of his liver.

An ISMer who was present at Ofer had this to say: “The Israeli forces present were really violent today. It was impossible to count the amount of tear gas canisters, rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition fired; it felt constant for several hours. It became clear many times during the protest that the soldiers were specifically aiming at people, they weren’t trying to ‘end’ the demo, they just wanted to injure as many people as possible. I just don’t understand how people can defend the Israeli state and its military when they use this much violence against unarmed protesters.”

Photo by ISM

April 4, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Video | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Palestinian man shot dead by Israeli forces near Ramallah

Ma’an – 29/01/2014

RAMALLAH – Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian man near the Ramallah village of Ein Siniya on Wednesday.

A Ma’an reporter identified the victim as Muhammad Mahmoud Mubarak, 22, from al-Jalazun refugee camp.

Israeli forces in the area denied Palestinian ambulances access to the body before medics were eventually allowed to transfer the man to Ramallah Medical Complex.

A Palestinian official in the military liaison department told Ma’an that Mubarak was shot dead by a soldier positioned in a military watchtower.

“A Palestinian terrorist opened fire at an IDF (army) post near Ofra. The soldiers responded immediately in order to eliminate the imminent threat to their lives and fired towards the terrorist, identifying a hit,” Israel’s army said.

Eyewitnesses in the area told Ma’an that Mubarak was a laborer working with the al-Tarifi company on a USAID funded project to refurbish the main road in Ein Siniya.

Earlier, he had been directing traffic in the area with a handheld sign.

“While he was doing his job, a number of Israeli soldiers arrived and started to harass him,” witnesses told Ma’an.

“They forced him to take off his clothes, then put them on again. Then they ordered him to take a few steps forward, then walk back, and finally they shot him and left him bleeding preventing ambulance and medics from reaching him.”

Coworkers and an executive from the al-Tarifi company were close-by when the shooting took place.

Last year, Israel’s army killed 27 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, according to UN statistics.

January 29, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fast Times in Palestine – Book Review

Reviewed by Jamal Kanj | Palestine Chronicle | October 5, 2013 
pamela_olson_book_cover
(Fast Times in Palestine. Pamela Olson. Seal Press, March 2013)

Whenever I read a biographical book, I make it a point to start with the acknowledgement page to learn a little about the writer. In reading “Fast Times in Palestine: A love affair with a homeless homeland,” I had to start from the end of the book.

In those two pages the author thanked more than fifty individuals, but what got my attention was recognizing her ninth grade teacher for forcing her to write “a journal every day.” A gift the author displayed meticulously in chronicling the places and people she met in every page of a moving memoir of her journey in Palestine.

As I read the book I tried to fathom what drove a young American woman from a small town in Oklahoma with degree in physics to end up spending two years traversing military checkpoints and helping farmers harvest olives in the Middle East.

It could have been her adventurous nature and love for travel that brought her to that part of the world, but it was sheer destiny that tossed her into the abyss of fire to tell the world of her “love affair with a homeless homeland.”

After graduating from Stanford University in 2002, the newly graduated student was working at a neighborhood bar to save enough money for a backpacker vacation in the Greek isles when her French friend suggested Egypt as an alternative, less expensive destination. She traveled to Cairo and the Sinai, where she met an Israeli tourist named Dan who invited her to visit him in Israel.

Her journey took her across the Red Sea to Jordan, where she met—by chance—two peace volunteers, one British and one Canadian, who were on holiday from their work in Palestine. In the few days she spent with them in a downtown Amman hotel, she learned for the first time of the $3 billion the US government pays Israel annually on behalf of American taxpayers.

Stories about occupation, the Palestinian people and human rights activism intrigued her, and she became interested in finding out for herself the truth about life in the West Bank. She jumped on the opportunity when they invited her to come along with them, and they took her to an unlikely tourist destination, a small Palestinian village called Jayyous.

The author tackles the paradox of occupation in very straightforward layman’s terms, describing how a forty-mile journey from Jerusalem to the Palestinian city of Nablus would take a full day crossing a separation wall, changing cabs six times and navigating permanent and flying Israeli military checkpoints.  Meanwhile a much longer trip with her Israeli friend on “Jewish only settlement roads” could be completed uninterrupted in a much shorter time.

She also describes how the separation wall isolates villagers from their olive groves and farms—for many their only livelihood—while hilltop Jewish-only settlements encroach on centuries-old trees and isolate Palestinian towns and villages into islands surrounded by Zionist colonies and the army that protects them.

Ever more fascinated by the wickedness of occupation and the joys of life among Palestinians, Pamela Olson took a low-paying job in Ramallah as an editor and head writer for the Palestine Monitor to study and document the daily human rights abuses under Israeli occupation.

Living and working in the Palestinian political capital, Pamela entered Palestinian politics from its widest doors by becoming the foreign press coordinator for a major candidate in the 2005 presidential election.

In her two years between Jayyous and Ramallah, the author takes the reader on an extraordinary expedition very few of us will ever get the opportunity to experience in a lifetime. She takes us along with her via immaculate descriptions of the spring greenery on hills and meadows—not yet raped by the concrete desertification of the Jewish only settlements—or smoking Nargila (hookah) on porches with friends in Jayyous or sipping coffee at westernized cafés in Ramallah.

What makes this book special is the writer’s ability to keep the reader spellbound with her vivid descriptions of events, people and places. The reader is able to feel the author’s inner glee meeting beloved friends, pain while witnessing and experiencing the horrors of occupation and the melancholy of bidding farewell to people who became part of her family in Palestine.

– Jamal Kanj (www.jamalkanj.com) writes weekly newspaper column and publishes on several websites on Arab world issues. He is the author of “Children of Catastrophe,” Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America.

October 6, 2013 Posted by | Book Review, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israeli forces open fire on Palestinians, injure 11

Al-Akhbar | May 18, 2013

Israeli troops shot and wounded nine Palestinians near the West Bank city of Ramallah on Friday night, and injured two others north of Hebron, security officials and medics said.

Palestinian security officials said that Palestinians from the Jalazoun refugee camp, near Ramallah, were hurling stones at Israeli motorists near an illegal Jewish settlement before coming under fire from soldiers.

They said that six of the injured were sent home after receiving first aid at a Palestinian hospital and three were kept in, although none of them was in life-threatening condition.

An army spokeswoman said that troops opened fire with 0.22 ammunition after tear gas and rubber bullets failed to disperse the crowd of about 50 people engaged in “a violent disturbance.”

Earlier in the day, troops fired tear gas at Palestinians demonstrating against the confiscation of land by Israel in the nearby village of Deir Jarir.

On Saturday the Israeli army used road blocks to shut the main road connecting Deir Jarir and other villages with Ramallah near the location of the attack, according to the head of the village council Imad Alawi.

Alawi told Wafa news agency that the road is the only direct passage to Ramallah for seven villages in the area. Its closure means Palestinians traveling to Ramallah must now take an extended route through the notorious Qalandia checkpoint.

It was unclear if the closure was directly linked to incidents on Friday.

And also on Friday, in al-Arrub refugee camp north of Hebron, Israeli forced shot two Palestinians with rubber-coated bullets, breaking the jaw of one man, and hitting the other in the hand, according to medics.

Luay al-Badawi was hit in the face with a plastic-coated bullet that broke his jaw, and then shot again in the head, Red Crescent official Nasser Qabaja told Ma’an news agency.

218958_345x230Badawi is in a critical condition in Al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron, Qabaja said.

Witnesses said a second man, who was not identified, was shot in the hand.

Locals said clashes erupted after Israeli forces stormed the camp. Residents confronted the soldiers and threw stones at them, and the soldiers fired tear gas and rubber coated-coated bullets.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said soldiers responded to a “violent riot in which Palestinians hurled rocks at Israeli security forces” with “riot dispersal means.”

She told Ma’an that forces used rubber bullets and that two Palestinians were injured.

(AFP, Wafa, Ma’an)

May 18, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Nothing forbidden for them, but nothing allowed for us”

International Solidarity Movement | May 14, 2013

Qaryut, Occupied Palestine – Settlers from the illegal colony of Shilo set fire to land belonging to the nearby village of Qaryut. Around 25 families own land in this area. The land contained wheat crops and olive trees and is next to land previously stolen by settlers, which they had been cultivating for themselves only two days before.

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Illegal Shilo settler Moshka takes pictures of his handiwork, torching Palestinian land (Photo by Qaryut villagers)

Red Crescent paramedics went to the scene of the fires at around 6pm, where many villagers had already arrived hoping to put out the fires. However they were prevented from doing so by four settlers and half a dozen soldiers who had turned up to protect the settlers. Villagers were made to stand and watch their future harvest go up in flames. With the fires building up they had nothing to do but argue in vain with the soldiers about the gross immorality of the situation.

The settlers present also prevented the fire from spreading on to the annexed land they have been cultivating. It was clear to see the fires had been deliberately lit as there were many separate fires in a close range, rather than one large fire spreading on the overcast and wet day. Villagers witnessed Moshka, one of the settlers – (who is a regular problem causer; his son is a patrolman for the settlement too) – use a lighter to set fire to their land. The fire was only put out by the arrival of heavy and atypical rain from a thunderstorm an hour later.

Two days prior to this attack the settlers had started ploughing stolen land and cut down four trees. They have been expanding the settlement on the Palestinian side of the highway to Ramallah and Jerusalem. Fifteen dunams of land was torched. Meanwhile two dunums of wheatfields had been burnt in the South Hebron Hills earlier that day.

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A familiar sight, soldiers and settlers working together (Photo by Qaryut villagers)

May 14, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , | Comments Off on “Nothing forbidden for them, but nothing allowed for us”

Jewish settlers attack West Bank village with Israeli army support

Al-Akhbar | May 5, 2013

Jewish settlers raided a West Bank village near Ramallah on Saturday night, attacking several houses and prompting clashes between residents and Israeli forces, Ma’an news agency reported.

216076_345x230Israeli forces were standing guard as hundreds of settlers stormed the village of Ras Karkar, reportedly barring ambulances from entering the village before allowing an ambulance to take only two people to the hospital.

Eight residents of Ras Karkar were wounded as Israeli troops fired tear gas and rubber bullets at them. Live bullets were also fired into the air to scare the residents and prevent them from defending their property.

Rubber-coated bullets hit one Palestinian in the eye, one in the head and another in the chest. Four others sustained bruises and fractures from the attack by settlers and Israeli troops, locals said.

According to local sources, three houses in Ras Karkar were attacked and set on fire, as well as a number of olive trees.

One settler was wounded after being hit by a stone.

Settlers were also gearing up to attack another village near Ramallah on Sunday, Ma’an reported.

According to a witness, dozens of settlers were being escorted by Israeli troops and police officers near the village of al-Janiya in northwest Ramallah.

Residents of al-Janiya were trying to close the road to the village with rocks, only to be met with stun grenades and tear gas. Activists used the village mosque’s loudspeakers to urge residents to defend their village.

Settlers routinely attack Palestinians and their property in the occupied West Bank, as Israeli forces regularly turn a blind eye or even assist settler crimes.

According to figures compiled by Israeli group Yesh Din, nine out of 10 police investigations about settler crimes fail to lead to a prosecution.

(Ma’an, Al-Akhbar, Photo Credit – Ma’an)

May 5, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ex-prisoner explains self-immolation attempt

Ma’an – 21/09/2012
Former prisoner Abeer Odeh (MaanImages/File)

RAMALLAH – A former prisoner who tried to set herself on fire in Ramallah on Thursday says the Palestinian Authority is neglecting released detainees.

Abeer Odeh, 30, tried to self-immolate in Ramallah’s Manara square on Thursday but was stopped by police, a Ma’an correspondent said. She was taken to a nearby police station.

Odeh was released from Israeli detention last year in a prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas.

Speaking to Ma’an on Thursday evening, Odeh accused the PA ministries of health and prisoner affairs of failing to assist prisoners struggling with health problems and financial difficulties after their release. She said she tried to set herself on fire to draw attention to the plight of ex-detainees.

Odeh receives a salary from the PA but has had to cover the cost of several surgeries since her release, she said.

She says she was tortured during her nine years in Israeli detention and suffers colon infections, hernias, jaw erosion and spinal problems.

The former prisoner rejected statements made by some Palestinian officials that she was suffering from psychological problems, and considered the claims efforts to discredit her.

She said police in Ramallah mistreated her after her attempt to self-immolate.

Six of Odeh’s brothers have spent time in Israeli jails, and one brother was killed by Israeli forces. Another brother is disabled after he was injured by Israeli soldiers.

Israeli forces arrested Odeh’s mother in August, and she is now subject to movement restrictions by the Israeli military.

September 21, 2012 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Comments Off on Ex-prisoner explains self-immolation attempt

8 injured as settlers stone bus carrying worshipers

Ma’an – 04/08/2012

Israeli settlers hurl stones toward Palestinians during clashes in the
village of Burin near Nablus (MaanImages/Rami Swidan, File)

NABLUS – Eight Palestinians sustained injuries late Friday when Jewish settlers pelted a bus with stones on the main road between Ramallah and Nablus, a Palestinian official said.

Ghassan Daghlas, a PA official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an that settlers from Shilo hurled stones at a bus carrying Palestinian worshipers on their way back from al-Aqsa Mosque.

The attack, he said, took place at 1:30 a.m. and eight people including men and women were injured. They were taken to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus, he said.

Daghlas highlighted that Israeli military forces closed the main road between Ramallah and Nablus for more than two hours after the incident to prevent further attacks.

The Israeli military confirmed receiving reports about the incident.

“Once the reports were received, IDF soldiers arrived at the scene and set up temporary checkpoints while searching for suspects,” a spokeswoman told Ma’an.

Settler violence against Palestinians and their property is systematic in the West Bank.

On Wednesday settlers vandalized Palestinian property in the Ramallah village of Sinjil.

A group of settlers from Givat Ariel outpost wrote “Palestinians should die,” and “Stay away from our lands,” on a wall in the village, Sinjil mayor Ayoub Swaied said.

Settlers also left an improvised explosive device made from chemicals under a car. A box containing ethylene, benzene and sulfur was found underneath a car in the village, Swaied added.

August 4, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Israeli forces detain Hebron journalist

Ma’an – 03/06/2012

Sharif Rajoub works as a reporter for al-Aqsa radio station.

HEBRON – Israeli forces detained a local journalist in Hebron early Sunday, relatives said.

Soldiers raided the home of Sharif Rajoub in the village of Dura and took him to an unknown destination, his brother Mahmoud told Ma’an.

Rajoub works as a reporter for Al-Aqsa radio station. He was preparing for his wedding, which was set to take place next week, his brother added.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said that a man had been arrested in Dura overnight Saturday, but could not provide further details about his identity.

Another man was arrested in Ramallah overnight, she added.

Israeli forces have raided several Palestinian news outlets in recent months.

In late February, Israeli forces raided the university institute’s Al-Quds Educational TV in Ramallah-district Al-Bireh and confiscated its broadcasting equipment, claiming it was interrupting legal broadcasting.

The same day, Israeli forces also raided Watan TV’s newsroom in Ramallah and seized transmitters.

In May, Israeli forces arrested the director of a Jenin-based satellite channel after raiding his home. Soldiers confiscated Al-Asir TV station’s broadcasting equipment, the director told Ma’an.

June 3, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | Comments Off on Israeli forces detain Hebron journalist

Rawabi: Israeli Model for “Neo-Palestinian” City

By Abbad Yehya | Al Akhbar | June 1, 2012

Ramallah – Halfway between occupied Jerusalem and Nablus, in middle of the West Bank and 9km north of Ramallah, private Palestinian funds, generously supported by Qatar, and protected by the occupation army, are building a city for the “new Palestinians,” as US General Keith Dayton, US Security Coordinator for Israel-Palestinian Authority in Tel Aviv, calls them.

Rawabi is a “Palestinian settlement” currently under construction at a cost nearing US$1 billion. It is located on a 6,300-dunum (6.3 square kilometers) piece of land seized by the Palestinian Authority (PA) through a decree signed by president Mahmoud Abbas in November 2009.

After a failed attempt by landowners to reverse the decision or reduce its impact, the land was bought by businessman Bashar al-Masri. On several occasions, al-Masri called on Israelis to buy apartments and houses in his city and become neighbors with the “new Palestinians.”

In the nearby village of Attara, residents whisper about Israeli officers who visit the city to eat breakfast with its developers. The visits are frequent and include officers from the Israeli Civil Administration accompanied by army units and border guards.

Villagers speak about soldiers who man the Attara roadblock, allowing everyone related to the Rawabi project to pass through while barring the flow of regular Palestinians.

Things were made clear following friendly conversations al-Masri had with the Israeli press. He sent out statements to appease “the neighbors” and inform them that everything is under control and security prevails, due to solid collaboration with the occupation army.

This is a new phase of spatial engineering. Israel went to war against the old camps and towns that were immune to infiltration during the intifada. It sought to destroy spaces of resistance in Palestinian towns. It even rebuilt Jenin in an exposed and permeable manner, financed by the United Arab Emirates.

Now, the architecture of Rawabi will suit the needs of the colonialist invaders. It will stand before them completely exposed. Ironically, the money for it also came from the Gulf. Thus, the architectural style bears a close resemblance to Israeli settlements.

Architect Lynn Jabri analyzed the building style in Rawabi. She compares the style to the criteria used to build Israeli settlements in mountainous regions, according to a guide used by the Israeli Construction and Housing Ministry. The same criteria are all applied in the city (with the exception of painting the roofs red for the Israeli air force to identify).

Jabri believes that “the search for a modern Palestinian architectural style remains superficial and does not exceed some formal features, without the proper understanding of local architecture. Actually, Rawabi’s “Palestinian” architects are proposing an architecture that looks Israeli.”

Bashar al-Masri considers the project to be part of building the Palestinian state. But he said in a “very friendly” interview with Israeli TV Channel 10 that he visited the Modi’in luxury settlement west of Ramallah to learn from the building experience there and create a better model.

On the way to the largest investment project in Palestine and inside the city itself, countless cameras monitor everything in sight. Nobody knows exactly who sits behind the monitors and sees all that is displayed.

The exposed nature of Rawabi is manifold: Broad streets, buildings aligned according to a strict plan, and a service center looking more like a control tower above the city. Thus, controlling the city becomes no more difficult than taking a pleasant ride in a military Jeep, as a young man from Ajoul, a village being suffocated by the project, likes to put it.

This is the other similarity with early Zionist colonies which erected control towers at the highest point in the settlement as part of their absolute security regulations.

Speaking about the sustainability of the project, Rawabi’s website asks visitors to plant a tree in the city because “the natural beauty of the country has been damaged by war, development, neglect, and climate change.”

The text fails to mention who carried out the ethnic and spatial cleansing of Palestine, destroyed its environment, then brought trees to plant and cover their crimes. Rawabi wants to mimic the Jewish National Fund’s project of planting trees in villages whose residents were expelled during and after the Nakba.

The city’s planners, enamored by Ramallah’s opulent neighborhoods, did not forget to build a mosque and a church. They even brought religious crews to run them following the inauguration of the city in front of potential clients and residents.

Rawabi does not tire of delegations and visitors. It is now on the map for international travelers, politicians, economists, even athletes. Al-Masri speaks proudly about his city, whether to Palestinian security officers or the United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki Moon.

The city is in harmony with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s rhetoric of building a state and its institutions. It is part of the hackneyed propaganda about “the Palestinians’ right and worthiness to live.”

In following the rhetoric of the PA and its supporters, the project owners attempt to create a fantasy completely detached from the bitter reality.

Al-Masri speaks of the city’s five gates, leading to Jerusalem, Yafa, Nablus, Gaza, and Qatar’s Capital, Doha. The latter is the location of Bayti Real Estate Investment Company, which is jointly owned by Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company and al-Masri’s Massar International.

The separation walls, the segregation, and the Green Line, along with a bitter history of 64 years of occupation, are nowhere to be seen in Rawabi’s advertising campaign. “It has a superb view of the Mediterranean,” they say.

From the onset, the PA wholeheartedly supported the project. In May 2008, it held the Palestine Investment Conference in Bethlehem in total collaboration with the Israeli army and government to finance two projects, Rawabi and the Rihan suburbs.

Thus, Rawabi is promoted as a solution to the deteriorating economic situation in language full of numbers: 10,000 new jobs in the city and the commercial activity of at least 40,000 residents.

But there is a deliberate disregard for the role of the occupation in the economic situation of Palestinians. Palestinian groups of all persuasions are either silent or complicit. This complicity is prevalent among the majority of elites and intellectuals who are afraid to challenge this “national” project and its unprecedented media juggernaut.

City planners say that Palestinian expertise has returned from outside the country to work on this city. But they fail to mention that the economic return is based on the occupier’s criteria and the time frame of the project.

Similarly, there is increased talk of the cultural and artistic life of Rawabi. We can now easily imagine the type of culture practiced in the city of “economic peace” so loved by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Israeli press also like to talk about Rawabi. Israelis seem very interested in learning about this “new settlement.” Al-Masri was exclusively interviewed several times in the city by Channel 10, the Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, and others. The interviews were intended to put Israelis at ease and inform them that Rawabi is different from any other Palestinian city.

Israeli media is keen on comparing Rawabi, and some parts of Ramallah, with “Hariri’s Beirut.” There were open calls for Netanyahu and his defense minister Ehud Barak to participate in the inauguration. It is ultimately an outcome of Fayyad’s “silent revolution,” whose slogan is that Palestinians “are tired and weary of conflict and are looking for a new life.”

Al-Masri uses every occasion to insist that his company works under the regulations of the PA and its ministries, namely the Ministry of Local Government. It is expected to be transferred to a locally elected body following the delivery of apartments to the owners (the first batch will be delivered in 2013) and the markets to the investors.

The real estate firm, Bayti, will have an administrative and organizational function and will preserve the architectural style of the city and its neighborhoods. The exact scope of the private company’s authority is unknown. This will allow it to complete its spatial architecture with a social architecture consistent with neoliberalism, the socio-economic framework of General Dayton’s security plan.

One of the biggest ironies is that the only real opposition to the construction of the city came from Israelis living in nearby colonies. They started to attack the Palestinian workers until they were stopped through coordination with the Israeli army.

Israelis can enter the city as visitors, workers, and experts. Relationships with Israeli raw materials providers and experts are not even controversial. The Palestinian private sector, with all its factories and contractors, cannot provide even a third of what is required.

Knowing all of this, it seems that the settlement of Atiret, occupying the nearest hill, will be a friendly neighbor. Its residents could come to the more modern and opulent Rawabi for entertainment. The earlier misunderstanding will turn into mutual hospitality and neighborly relations.

Peace-mongers on both sides now have a model consisting of a new kind of Palestinian who gladly embraces the language of consumerism, malls, and international brands!

A few months ago, Rawabi was but a mere idea of a city for refugees who will be brought back based on strict selection criteria. Their return and residence in the city is promoted as a partial solution to the refugee question.

But such talk disappears beneath the haughty buildings of a durable city that goes against the temporary and impatient architecture of refugee camps. In Rawabi, glass will prevail, signifying the brittle and exposed nature of the setting. Its stones, “expensive and rare,” will not be fit to throw at an occupying soldier.

June 1, 2012 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Comments Off on Rawabi: Israeli Model for “Neo-Palestinian” City

Israeli Authorities or Cyber Police? Ola Haniyeh Arrested with no Charges

By Dylan Collins | Palestine Monitor | April 17, 2012

In the early morning hours of Monday March 26th, a large force of Israeli soldiers surrounded the Haniyeh house in Al-Bireh, located in the heart of the West Bank’s capital city of Ramallah. After setting up a perimeter around the house, 12 well-armed soldiers kicked down the Haniyeh’s door and entered the home.

“They broke the door. They didn’t knock. They didn’t ring. They broke the door and we found them in the middle of our bedroom,” says 26 year-old Dima Haniyeh.

After confining Dima’s parents to their bedroom, the soldiers proceeded on to the next bedroom shared by Dima and her 22 year-old sister, Ola.

Right off the bat, Dima recalls, it was clear the soldiers had an apparent interest in her young sister. “They wanted to search us both and they wanted Ola’s mobile phone and laptop.”

A female soldier was brought in to search them both.

Coincidentally, Ola’s phone had been lost several days before but the soldiers didn’t believe her.

“If you don’t give us your phone we are going to destroy the room. We will destroy every room until we find it,” Dima remembers one of the soldiers having said.

They did just that—, emptying every drawer onto the floor, flipping the beds, and clearing the shelves. Eventually, they told Ola to get dressed. They wanted to take her with them for questioning.

Ola remembers her father saying, “Why don’t you ask her here?! You’ve been here an hour and a half and haven’t asked a single question!”

Brushing aside her father’s supplications, and in violation of Fourth Geneva Convention, the soldiers took Ola with them and brought her directly to Israel’s Askalan prison in the Naqab Desert.

Another Detainee Without Charges

Ola has been held in Askalan ever since. Although no charges have been officially filed against her, a review trial held at the Askalan military court on Thursday April 5th ruled in favor of a 7-day extension of Ola’s detention. Ola was given another trial on Wednesday April 4th which resulted in yet another detention extension for the second time, as the prosecutors and Israeli judge did not carry out an investigation as they were on a vacation. Ola’s third court extension date was given this week, with her due to appear in court on Thursday, April 19.

“She is being interrogated daily regarding internet activity. The suspicion is that the internet pages are connected to ‘security activities’”, says Amal Husein of Addameer.

Ola’s detention was up for review on Tuesday April 17th. Her family and friends are confident that she will be released, as she hasn’t been accused or charged of anything as of yet. However, given the Israeli authorities’ administrative detention track record, anything is possible.

“People have said that the Israeli authorities have taken many people because of Facebook,” says Dima. “But everyone has a Facebook. Everyone puts his or her opinion on Facebook. There is nothing serious about it… it is freedom of speech.”

Ola recently graduated with a degree in Media and Political Science from Birzeit University last Fall. “She might go to protests sometimes, as all of us do, to speak out against the occupation and to support people- nothing extraordinary,” says Dima. “All of us participate—its part of being in Palestine and living under occupation.”

“She’s a quiet girl,” continues Dima. “She is a genuine and passionate person. She has friends and is lively, but she is much more the quiet type.”

Ola’s sister Dima says that Ola had perhaps had made comments on Facebook in support of Palestinian prisoners in general and against Israel’s policy of administrative detention but had done nothing out of the ordinary. “She is a journalist. This is her job. She should be able to do that,” argues Dima.

Ola’s sister and friends are quite confident that she was arrested simply because she voiced her opinions—a scary thought in the Facebook age.

“When you don’t have charges against someone—why… how can you keep them detained?” asks Dima. “When you don’t have any serious charges, how can you break down someone’s door in the middle of the night and take them? What happens when they have a serious case? What will they do then? Its scary.”

April 18, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , | 1 Comment