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Israel sentences rights activist to 8 years in prison

Firas al-Omari
Palestine Information Center – July 9, 2018

NAZARETH – The Israeli Central Court in Beersheba sentenced on Sunday the rights activist Firas al-Omari, 46, to eight years imprisonment.

Al-Omari, from northern Israel’s Arab town of Sandala, is an activist in the Islamic Movement (the northern branch) and head of Yusuf Al-Siddiq Foundation for prisoners’ affairs.

He was arrested in March 2017 for being allegedly affiliated to a banned organization.

The Israeli security authorities have embarked on arresting activists from the northern branch of the Islamic Movement following the right-wing government’s decision to classify it as a banned group in November 2015.

The northern branch of the Islamic Movement and its members are known for peacefully defending Jerusalem and the Aqsa Mosque against Israel’s violations.

July 9, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Khan al-Ahmar: tragedy and outrage

Khan al-Ahmar: tragedy and outrage

Residents and activists sit inside a bulldozer shovel in order to stop the demolition of Bedouin village Khan al Ahmar.
By Kathryn Shihadah | If Americans Knew | July 5, 2018

After years of threats and court battles, push has come to shove in the West Bank Bedouin village of Khan al Ahmar. Israeli soldiers with bulldozers have arrived to demolish every building. The world strenuously objects, but Israel doesn’t seem to notice.

Diplomats from 12 European countries came on Thursday 5 July to visit the tiny Bedouin village of Khan al Ahmar in the occupied West Bank. They echo the global outcry against Israel’s plan to demolish the village.

5 countries issued “an urgent official protest” against the demolition plan.

Around 180 Bedouin, who raise sheep and goats, live in shacks in Khan al Ahmar. Half of the residents are children.

International attention was drawn to the village when, on Wednesday, 4 July, Israeli occupation forces with bulldozers assaulted Bedouins and activists who were protesting the demolition.

According to the Red Crescent, 35 protesters and residents were injured. Several police officers were lightly injured; 11 protesters were arrested.

Police reported that some of those present threw stones.

The area around Khan al Ahmar is closed to the general public as Israeli authorities begin construction on a road to enable the eviction to take place. An IDF source indicated that the actual demolition will not take place for a few days or weeks.

These actions by Israel – forcible transfer of population and confiscation or destruction of private property – are prohibited by international humanitarian law and violate basic human rights.

BACKGROUND

The people of Khan al Ahmar were ethnically cleansed from their previous homes in the Negev desert in 1951, and resettled in their current location near Jerusalem, in Israeli-controlled Area C.

Since 1967, Israel has been appropriating land in the vicinity in order to build and expand 2 nearby illegal settlements, Ma’ale Adumim and Kfar Adumim. Khan al Ahmar is squeezed between them, and if the village is demolished, Israel will be able to link the settlements and take over a large swath of the West Bank.

Dwellings belongings to Bedouin are seen in al-Khan al-Ahmar village near the West Bank city of Jericho February 23, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS )

On 5 March 2017, every structure in the village of Khan al Ahmar – including the school, mosque, clinic, and every home – was placed under demolition orders. The villagers were given 7 days to demolish their own village.

Thanks to a court injunction, the process was put on hold for over a year.

But in May 2018, Israel’s High Court of Justice approved the demolition of the village, citing illegal construction of buildings. As is the case all over Area C, Palestinians who apply for construction permits are routinely denied permission and therefore are compelled to build illegally. Even applications to build a school and a clinic were rejected.

Worldwide condemnation

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly condemned “the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians by the occupation authorities in the designated areas (C) and in the occupied city of Jerusalem and its environs.”

Liz Throssell, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, released a statement calling upon Israel not to demolish Khan al-Ahmar; the statement emphasized that the forced removal of its residents and destruction of private property are violations of international law.

The European Union also condemned Israel’s actions, declaring that the demolition, and the subsequent plans to extend illegal settlement , undermine hopes for a viable peace in the context of a two-state solution.

Apparently no comment has been made about the issue by either Donald Trump or anyone in his administration.

Unacceptable alternative

Israeli authorities they have offered villagers an alternative site about 7 miles away, but the residents of Khan al-Ahmar are not interested.  The new site is next to a landfill and an IDF camp; it does not provide enough space for their animals to graze.

Palestinians in Khan al-Ahmar vowed to never abandon their land.

Faisal Abu Dawoud, a 43-year-old resident, explains: “We have been living here since 1951. My grandfather, my father and me… It is impossible for us to leave this place. Even if they arrest all of us and force us out, we will return.”

“I was born here and will not move anywhere else,” said Feisal Abu Dahok, 45. “If they destroy the village, we will build it again here or nearby.”

A Palestinian Jahalin Bedouin youth tends his flocks in the West Bank village of Khan Al-Ahmar in the Jordan Valley desert east of Jerusalem, June 8, 2012.

The entire village is under demolition order and threat of displacement by Israeli authorities.

Strong words from Hanan Ashrawi

Palestinian Liberation Organization Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi stated that “the protection of the people of Palestine is long overdue. Seventy years after the creation of Israel and the dispossession and displacement of Palestinians continues.”

Hanan Ashrawi is a Palestinian legislator, activist, and scholar. She was a protégée and later colleague and close friend of Edward Said.

“The expulsion of Palestinian families then and now and the forcible transfer of our indigenous population to a state of homelessness and despair is completely unacceptable.”

Ashrawi stressed that the plan to demolish an entire village for the sole purpose of expanding an illegal West Bank settlement is outrageous and inhumane.

She called on the Israeli government to cancel its “unlawful plans” immediately.

Ashrawi continued, “words of warning to Israel are not enough. If there is no serious intervention from the international community towards the Israeli government and its belligerent military occupation, other villages will be next, and more Palestinian men, women and children will be displaced for another 70 years to come.”

“Justice for the Palestinian people can no longer wait.”


See also:

Israeli demolition of entire Palestinian villages continues with no end in sight (includes videos)

UN humanitarian aid coordinator statement on Israeli destruction of schools

July 5, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , | 2 Comments

Pro-Israel group loses ‘anti-Semitism’ case against Leicester council

Jewish colonists stealing Palestinian olives in the West Bank
MEMO | July 4, 2018

Leicester City Council has “won its long-running legal battle” against a pro-Israel advocacy group over a motion backing a boycott of Israeli settlement produce, reported the Leicester Mercury.

In a ruling issued Tuesday, the Court of Appeal rejected the arguments brought by Jewish Human Rights Watch (JHRW), who had taken legal action against the 2014 council motion.

As reported by the local paper, “JHRW challenged a High Court judge’s previous decision to reject the pressure group’s attempt to force the council to rescind the boycott”, arguing that “the council had breached its own equalities rules and had acted in a discriminatory manner”.

The council, however, won yesterday’s case, and “JHRW has indicated it will not pursue the matter further”. In addition, “JHRW is now likely to have to pay the council’s legal costs.”

The council’s barrister, Kamal Adatia, said after the case: “The High Court originally dismissed the claims of discrimination made by this group back in June 2016, and now the Court of Appeal has emphatically thrown out their appeal.”

“The ruling totally endorses Leicester’s approach to handling this motion, and has made no change whatsoever to the way in which councils can pass such motions in future.”

“The judgement is a landmark – not for organisations like JHRW, but for all local councils. It recognises their fundamental right to pass motions of this nature and makes it clear that they can, like Leicester, fully comply with their equality duties when doing so.”

City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said: “Their argument has been trounced in the judge’s decision.”

“I strongly resent the implication it is not possible to criticise the Israeli government without being anti-Semitic.”

The motion backing a boycott of goods made in internationally-condemned Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory was, Soulsby said, “never anticipated to have a major impact (on our purchasing)”, but rather “was a powerful gesture to show support for the plight of the Palestinians”.

In a bizarre press release, Jewish Human Rights Watch spun defeat as victory, claiming that despite their appeal being rejected, the ruling “made a number of very important changes to the law”.

July 4, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Israeli court orders PA to compensate collaborators

MEMO | June 30, 2018

An Israeli court has ordered the Palestinian Authority to compensate Palestinians detained by its security services over suspicions that they have collaborated with the occupation authorities, local media reported on Friday. According to the Times of Israel, the court has ordered the PA to pay a total of NIS13.2m ($3.5 million) in compensation to 52 collaborators.

The PA occasionally detains Palestinians in the occupied West Bank who are suspected of collaborating with the Israeli security services. Israel Hayom reported that five lawsuits involving dozens of plaintiffs have been filed against the authority over its crackdown on collaborators, noting that the oldest dates from 2004.

“We welcome the court’s landmark ruling,” said lawyers acting for the collaborators. “The judge saw the plaintiffs’ disabilities [resulting from torture], understood their distress and decided to grant them partial compensation immediately.”

The Palestinian Authority calls its own collaboration with the Israeli occupation authorities “security cooperation”. PA President Mahmoud Abbas has described this as “sacred”. Critics insist that the PA security services were created solely to protect Israel and its occupation, not the people of Palestine.

June 30, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | Leave a comment

A Watershed Moment in Palestinian History: Interview with Jamal Juma’

By Ida Audeh | CounterPunch | June 22, 2018

For weeks now, Palestinians everywhere have been galvanized by events taking place in the Gaza Strip, the site of weekly (since March 30) mass protests demanding the end of the siege and blockade of Gaza (in place now since 2007) and the right to return to the homes from which they or their elders had been kicked out. Dubbed the Great March of Return, Gazans have assembled as close as they can to the Israeli-designated buffer zone separating Gaza from Israel. Israeli soldiers at a distance, crouched behind earth barriers that they created in the days preceding the march, and at absolutely no danger of attack from the unarmed protestors, pick off demonstrators at their leisure. By June 14, at least 129 Palestinians had been killed and 13,000 injured; the dead included medics like the 21-year-old Razan al-Najjar and journalists including Yaser Murtaja—typically seen as off-limits in conflict zones but transformed by Israel into prime targets.

On June 4, Ida Audeh spoke to Jamal Juma’, coordinator of the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, about the popular resistance in Gaza, the Trump administration’s policy toward the question of Palestine, and Palestinian options to chart a new course. Salah Khawaja, an activist who works with the campaign, joined the conversation.

Ida Audeh: I interviewed you in August 2011 to learn more about the separation wall and its effect on communities in its path.[2] Describe Israel’s current system of control over the occupied territories, of which the wall is a part.

Jamal Juma’: It is clear that the wall was designed to isolate and lay siege to Palestinians. The project to place Palestinians under siege by means of the wall has been completed. It closed off all the dynamic areas that Israel considered necessary to isolate various areas. Eighty percent of the Wall is within the West Bank. The second part of the siege is reinforcement of the settlements. Each settlement has what Israel calls a buffer zone – a security apparatus consisting of barbed wire and roads that Palestinians are not allowed to use. This, together with the alternative (bypass) roads (which we call the apartheid roads), allows them to control the territory. Today there are two road networks: one is for Israeli settlers, about 1,400 km long, and its purpose is to connect all settlements to one another and to Israel in a kind of network. And this is complete. This network is the dominant one in the West bank, and it includes the major roads. The other, the alternative roads, are for Palestinians to use; these roads will intersect through 48 planned tunnels and bridges, some of which have been created already. The two road systems are separate. This is the basis of the racist discriminatory system we talk about: isolating Palestinians and confining them in limited spaces, control of their resources through settlements, the road network, and military installations, and the wall, which take up about 62% of the area of the West Bank.

With the extension of the settlements, we no longer just talk about Palestinians being ghettoized in the north, south and central region. There is more fragmentation of Palestinian residential areas. New settlement outposts are not being discussed in terms of whether they should be removed or not.  They are being transformed into settlements. When you see 150 outposts, you are really talking about 150 new settlements. This project is being intensified, and especially since Trump took office.

IA: So you noticed a clear acceleration after Trump?

JJ: It’s much more than an acceleration. This is a watershed moment in Palestinian history.  We consider that since Trump took office, US policy fully adopted the Zionist project and embarked on a process of liquidating the Palestinian cause, of eliminating it. It is clear program. This began with Jerusalem and the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the Zionist entity, transfer of the embassy, targeting the refugees by cutting financing of UNRWA, and other forms of pressure on areas that host large numbers of refugees including getting them settled permanently in the host countries.

Israeli colonization, the geographic engineering of the political map, is another component in the liquidation of the Palestinian cause. Israeli proposals for colonization are massive. They are concentrating on the Jordan Valley – creating new settlements, expanding existing settlements, creating the supportive infrastructure, with huge incentives for Israelis who work in agriculture (including cash payments of $20,000 for anyone willing to move there). Now the settlements are on the tops of the mountain chain that overlook the Jordan Valley, which enable them to encircle lower lying towns. When you talk about Ariel, Ma’ale Adumim, and so on, it will be as though the entire West Bank is a suburb of Tel Aviv. This will make it impossible for there to be any separation in the future, for there to be any independent Palestinian entity; instead, an apartheid system of cantons will be imposed on Palestinians.  This is the reality on the ground.

Back to the new US policy: In addition to a shift in standing US positions on Jerusalem and the refugee issue, there is the use of Arab countries that are ready for normalization with Israel and eager to be aligned with the American project – first and foremost, Saudi Arabia, and also Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt, which are pressuring the Palestinians to accept the US project to liquidate the Palestinian cause. This has complicated things and taken it out of the sphere of international law and the UN; everyone had previously worked within that framework. We have been demanding the implementation of resolutions. But the US dealt a blow to international law.

IA: The US now proposes the “deal of the century,” which Gulf states are eagerly endorsing. Can you describe the contours of that deal?

JJ: The proposal is to create a Palestinian state in Gaza with extensions into the Sinai Desert, to be administered by the Palestinian Authority. The West Bank and Jerusalem are not part of these calculations, although Israel might be willing to give up some areas around Jerusalem that are densely populated with Palestinians. (This part of the proposal has been floated by extremist Israeli groups even before the Trump proposal.) They might be willing to remove from Greater Jerusalem areas with high Palestinian density, like Jabal Mukkaber, Isawiya, Silwan, and Sur Bahir; there has been some discussion about removing Beit Hanina and Shufat. The Israelis would retain control of the Jewish settlements and the Old City, which together make up about 87% of the area of East Jerusalem—not exactly a small territory.

IA: What is the Palestinian response to these plans?

JJ:  On the formal political level, the PA is in a crisis. It placed its faith in the US, but now US determination to liquidate the Palestinian cause is very clear.  The only real option remaining to the PA is to cast its lot with the Palestinian people and on free people around the world, international solidarity and movements that support us. The Palestinian people have to make a decision, and so does the PA.

On the popular level, we see serious activity in search of an alternative to the status quo, the largest and the most important of which is taking place now in Gaza with the Great March of Return. These actions are important for a number of reasons. They changed the stereotypes about Gaza as a launchpad for rockets, a place of terrorism that has been hijacked by Hamas. In fact, the marches in Gaza since March 30 represent a widespread popular movement, massive popular resistance. Just like the first intifada emerged from Jabaliya in the Gaza Strip, today we have the beginnings of a mass civil disobedience movement. Gaza has a population that is resisting, and Hamas does not control this resistance. The discourse we generally hear, that Hamas is leading people to their death, should be recognized as racist and dehumanizing. People are not robots. Gazans of all ages, family situations, and economic and educational levels are taking part in these marches to raise their cause to the world.  These people are saying that the siege of Gaza cannot continue. We are human beings, we have rights, and one of those rights is to live like human beings. Gaza is no longer inhabitable. Gaza has been turned into a prison and a hell. Even the UN acknowledges that. The numbers around Gaza are just astounding.[3]

The Great March has returned focus on the refugee issue and put it squarely on the table despite all the efforts to ignore and erase it. More than 70% of Gaza residents are refugees, and they are demanding the right to return to their original hometowns.

For that reason, the marches in Gaza are very important in defining the trajectory of the Palestinian question and restoring the role of popular resistance to the forefront. They lay the popular foundation for the coming phase. They might also have prevented another massive disaster. I think Israel was preparing to implement the Trump administration’s proposals; the scenario that the Israelis were planning for was to pull Gaza into a military confrontation, which would justify more intense bombing than it has done in the past. The borders with Egypt would open, and people would flee into Egypt. But the march with its mass participation thwarted that plan.

IA: I find it hard to understand how Ramallah can be so tranquil considering the carnage in Gaza.

JJ:  It might seem that what is happening in the West Bank is not at all comparable to what is happening in Gaza. And that is true, it isn’t as massive. But actions are taking place in the West Bank, and they are also important. On a weekly basis people are gathering to protest at the checkpoints. Since 2011 there have been continuous outbursts (in Arabic, habbat); for example, in Jerusalem in the Bab al-Shams encampment and in the aftermath of the Abu Khdeir and Dawabshe killings (January 2013, July 2014, and July 2015, respectively).[4] These outbursts were significant and exemplary, the way Gaza is today. They reminded us of what the Palestinian people are capable of doing. I expect that these outbursts here and there will lead to widespread civil disobedience. Young people in Jerusalem and the West Bank have been going out to checkpoints in the hundreds, on a daily basis, and these conditions put one in the mindset of the first intifada.

We should take note of what Palestinians in Israel are doing as well. There are youth movements that are taking action in ways that are very impressive and a source of pride.  They defy the occupation and they involve large numbers of people, in Haifa and elsewhere.

IA: Let’s look at the relationship of Palestinians to formal political bodies. Recently the Palestinian National Council held its first meeting in 22 years. One might have thought that over the course of more than two decades, several issues and events warranted a meeting – regional events, the assassination of Yasir Arafat, and the status of the Oslo accords come to mind. But the convening of the PNC doesn’t seem to have generated much popular interest.

JJ: People did not pay much attention to it, but in fact they should be talking about it because it poses a threat. Meeting for the first time in 22 years, it did not even discuss what it has done since the last meeting! What it did do is effectively cancel itself, which means it is changing the structure of the PLO. There is an attempt to replace the Central Committee with a body consisting of the private sector, the political currents in the PA today, and elements of the security apparatus. No representation of Palestinians from the 1948 areas, or the diaspora, or even the Palestinian street. This is a threat to the Palestinian project.

The PLO as it has been transformed by Mahmoud Abbas threatens the national cause. It has been hijacked; our task is to restore it as a representative and unifying entity that works to support the Palestinian cause. The reform should be led by Palestinian groups and movements.

People have no confidence in the leadership; they don’t think it is capable of leading in the coming phase.  In fact, the outbursts I referred to earlier had the potential of triggering a third intifada.  People were waiting for a leadership to emerge, as happened during the first intifada; three months into the intifada, a unified leadership emerged and took charge. But this time, the PA wasn’t interested in assuming that role; three months into these protests, the PA sent its people to disrupt actions and prevent young people from gathering at checkpoints. The national factions were unable to form a unified leadership for obvious reasons.

IA: What is the alternative?

JJ: People have to create a national movement that can lead the change. What will lead the movement for change will not be a single individual. It will be a widespread national movement that has a real relationship with people on the ground, a movement that will direct the street. This is the only way change will take place. People have been waiting for a long time, but who are we waiting for? There is not going to be a great charismatic leader. We don’t talk about a heroic leader, we talk about a heroic people and a leadership of institutions.

We want a Palestinian state that represents all Palestinians. Within that broad outline, we say that right now, we have to protect the Palestinian project – the right to self-determination, and we all struggle for that right. We don’t have to get into a discussion about the final outcome. The time for the two state solution is clearly over—and in fact, that proposal provided the basis for trying to destroy our cause. The other option is clear. But like I said, we don’t want that discussion to detract from our focus now or to place us in conflict with the position of the PLO.

How do we support the Palestinian project? We have to confront what is happening in Jerusalem, the settlements. There has to be a practical program, not just slogans on paper. Palestinians in the diaspora should support these activities, get involved in the boycott movement, because we are part of that boycott movement. We are trying to keep the political work and the boycott movement separate to protect the boycott movement, because there is a Palestinian effort underway to weaken the BDS movement; through normalization, by invoking the PLO position. We consider the boycott movement an essential component of our activism.

This is what people are discussing today, here and with our people in the 1948 areas, and in the diaspora. There has to be a movement that preserves the unity of the Palestinian people and protects the national cause from liquidation. That’s what we are working on now. I expect that in the next few weeks there will be a meeting to put in writing some of the agreed upon principles underlying all of these actions. Many meetings have taken place, and they are being expanded.

SK: We are looking at all ways to get all Palestinians to participate under a banner of a common cause that unites us all. In the 1948 areas, the issue is colonization and civil rights, but Palestinians within Israel don’t find themselves too far apart from those in the West Bank and Gaza. In the West Bank, the issues are Judaization, settlements, attacks against the holy sites. Those in Gaza are concerned about 12-year siege and blockade, hunger, and murder. Those in the diaspora want the right of return. All of these are national issues that unite us, but each location faces specific threats.

The next phase will be difficult, as we figure out how to present a vision that unites all people, especially the youth, which have been marginalized, to be effective participants.  Since 2012, we have been in contact with the youth. About 76% of the population is 35 years old or younger. And yet no one is making a practical effort to involve them in political planning and decision making. As a campaign, we made a deliberate decision about this. Programs grow old, and so do people. So we need an extension, and the youth movement is part of that. Our hope is to create a mass youth activist base so that our energy will be renewed. We see in the diaspora and in the 1948 areas that the majority of activists are young – the marches in Haifa, confronting the Judaization of the Galilee, activism around the depopulated villages of 1948, the attempt to seize homes in Akka — young people are confronting these issues. We must raise the slogan of confronting colonialism, which is the main cause of what we face.  We Palestinians  have to work together, not against one another, and not expect solutions from others.

What they are doing is preparatory to a major outbreak; there will be a launch of boats to break the blockade, and not just from Gaza, and a rush toward all entry points to Palestine, without exception. Either we live with dignity, or we declare an intifada on those who deny us a life with dignity.

Everyone is targeted. In the West Bank, there are mass arrests, home demolitions, checkpoints, and people on the run. The idea of civil disobedience is not a slogan. We can rebel against all forms of Israeli control within the framework of a national program. Since the international community has not acted, what prevents Palestinians from adjacent countries from moving on mass to the border, as occurred in 2012 (and some were able to make it to Jaffa). Those in the diaspora might have ongoing marches in front of Israeli embassies and its supporters. They can paralyze Israel’s work in all countries. These are not the usual slogans or approaches to political work.  There is no need to hold on to agreements and positions that Israel long ago abandoned.

In 1948 we looked to what the international community might give us; it gave to Israel but nothing to us. There were conditions placed on it for recognition: its treatment of the Palestinian minority, accepting the Palestinian right of return, and the creation of a Palestinian state. None of them was fulfilled. After 1967, Palestinians agreed to accept 22% of historical Palestine, but even that was unacceptable for Israel. Palestinians can’t continue to think in terms of what Israel might be willing to give us.

We have a right to exist and to determine our own destiny. This is the issue that concerns us.

Notes.

[1] “Gaza protests: All the latest updates,” Al Jazeera, June 14, 2018, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/04/gaza-protest-latest-updates-180406092506561.html. See also Kate, “Israel has shot 29 medics at Gaza border, killing two,” Mondoweiss,http://mondoweiss.net/2018/06/israel-medics-killing/amp/

[2] Ida Audeh, “Interview with Jamal Juma’: PA ‘killing popular resistance.’” Electronic Intifada, August 8, 2011,https://electronicintifada.net/content/jamal-juma-pa-killing-popular-resistance/10249

[3] “Living conditions in Gaza ‘more and more wretched’ over past decade, UN finds,” UN News, 11 July 2017, https://news.un.org/en/story/2017/07/561302-living-conditions-gaza-more-and-more-wretched-over-past-decade-un-finds. Status Audio Journal Hosts, “Under siege: Daily life in Gaza with Rawan Yaghi,” Jadaliyya, May 16, 2018, http://www.jadaliyya.com/Details/37563/Under-Siege-Daily-Life-in-Gaza-with-Rawan-Yaghi. Gaza in Context Team, “Understanding Gaza in context,” Jadaliyya, May 16, 2018, http://www.jadaliyya.com/Details/37562/Understanding-Gaza

[4] The 2013 encampment known as Bab al-Shams was an attempt by Palestinians to thwart Israeli plans to establish a settlement on land in the E1 zone, between East Jerusalem and the Jewish-only settlement Ma’ale Adumim; the Israeli plan was designed to permanently sever the West Bank from East Jerusalem. Another encampment, Bab al-Karama, was set up in Beit Iksa and stormed by Israeli soldiers two days later. In July 2014, Israeli settlers in Jerusalem abducted 16-year-old Mohammad Abu Khdeir from Shufat and set him on fire; the ensuing demonstrations resulted in 160 Palestinians injured. Israel’s assault on Gaza began five days later. One year later, settlers set fire to a residence in Duma. The soul survivor of the attack was a 4-year-old child; the child’s parents and infant brother were killed. In 2015, a tent encampment, “Gate of Jerusalem,” was set up in Abu Dis to protest the Israeli government’s plans to displace Bedouin communities there. Beginning in September 2015 and lasting until the end of the year, protests spread from the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem throughout the West Bank; 108 Palestinians were killed and 12,260 were injured.  Palestinians in Israel demonstrated in solidarity.

Ida Audeh is a Palestinian from the West Bank who lives in Colorado. She is the editor of Birzeit University: The Story of a National Institution, published by Birzeit University in 2010. She can be reached at idaaudeh A T yahoo D O T com.

June 22, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Despite settler arson confession dismissed by Israel, Dawabsheh family persevere

MEMO | June 21, 2018

An Israeli court on Tuesday threw out a confession given by a teenage settler – who cannot be named for legal reasons – in which he admitted his participation in an arson attack on a Palestinian home that killed three people.

The court ruled that the confession had been obtained under duress and was inadmissible in court, but that the confession given by primary suspect Amiram Ben-Uliel was valid. Ben-Uliel admitted firebombing the house and his involvement in six other racially motivated attacks targeting Palestinian villages after the “necessary investigations” conducted by Shin Bet police.

The unnamed minor had also been accused of taking part in the attack on the Dawabsheh family home on 31 July 2015 in the West Bank village of Duma, which killed toddler Ali Saad Dawabsheh and parents Riham and Saad Dawabsheh.

Omar Khamaisi, a lawyer for the family, told MEMO that despite the confession being overruled, the prosecution still had sufficient evidence of the minor’s involvement.

“The minor was not accused of murder, but prior planning and plotting. His confessions and statement [referring] to “Tag Mehir” or “Paying the price” and the activities of revenge, of burning and sabotaging Palestinian properties were taken and accepted.”

Khamaisi also said that the family would take the case further if a verdict of murder was not handed down to the guilty parties:

“The Dawabsheh case joins other cases and [queries] that the Palestinian Authority is trying to [take to] the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the ICC prosecutor.”

The Dawabsheh family has experienced ongoing harassment as the case is heard in court, with another family home in Duma firebombed by settlers last month, causing severe damage.

Earlier this week, as the family’s uncle and grandfather Nasr and Hussein Dawabsheh walked out of the courtroom accompanied by MKs Ahmad Tibi and Ayman Odeh, right wingers taunted the family chanting: “Where is Ali? Ali’s dead” and “Ali’s on the grill”.

Israel has also refused to pay compensation to the family and five year-old Ahmad, the only surviving member of the attack, who sustained severe burns in the fire. Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said last year that the Palestinian child did not qualify as a “terror victim” and does not hold Israeli citizenship and therefore is not entitled to compensation.

The UN has previously expressed concern at the slow progression of the case, with Special Envoy to the Middle East Nikolay Mladenov calling on Israeli authorities “to move swiftly in bringing the perpetrators of this terrible crime to justice”.

June 21, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 1 Comment

Israeli Authorities Demolish Graves at Historic Palestinian Cemetery

Sputnik – June 11, 2018

Israeli authorities were caught on video excavating portions of the historic Bab al-Rahma cemetery next to Al-Aqsa mosque in occupied East Jerusalem. The cemetery is believed to contain the final resting places of two companions of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.

Video from June 5 shows about a dozen men, presumably members of Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority, at a work site in the Bab al-Rahma cemetery, through which Israel is planning to build a national park trail.

​The cemetery sits adjacent to Al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site in Islam. It is believed to hold the graves of Ubada ibn as-Samit and Shadad ibn Aus, two of the Prophet Muhammad’s companions. The cemetery has remained in use for more than 1,000 years.

Israel plans to seize about 40 percent of the cemetery for the national park under murky legal pretexts, Sputnik News recently reported. The plan has supposedly been in place since 2015, but Palestinian lawyers and conservation activists claim Israel is jumping the gun, as court cases over the fate of the cemetery remain pending.

Israeli authorities have recently resumed work on the park and have been seen digging up and marking graves, removing trees and fencing off areas to halt future burials. During the first weekend of June, several Palestinians were injured and arrested while protesting the desecration of the cemetery.

Outside of Jerusalem proper, in the West Bank, authorities are also clearing the way for a new settlement over the village of al-Khana Ahmar, a village mostly inhabited by Bedouin refugees who were expelled from southern Israel in 1952. In 2009, an Italian aid organization constructed a school there, but Israel ordered it to be demolished one month after it opened. After that, residents in neighboring Israeli settlements petitioned the courts to demolish the community, which has been slated for destruction since February 2010. In 2015, authorities confiscated solar panels that provided the only source of electricity to the village.

​Israel plans to relocate them yet again, this time north to a village called An-Nuway’imah, allowing Jewish settlers to claim the strategically significant spot. Building an Israeli settlement there would allow the government to connect the urban Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adumim to Jerusalem and to control the gateway between northern and southern parts of the West Bank.

Abu Khamiss, a spokesman for the current Khan al-Ahmar villagers, told France 24 in 2014 that “the place where Israel wants us to ‘relocate’ would be like a prison for us. We’d be surrounded by Israeli settlements, a checkpoint and military training camps.”

The demolition is expected to begin any day now. Already, Israeli authorities have been accused of poisoning locals’ dogs under cover of night, robbing the villagers of the “faithful shepherds.”

Palestinian schoolchildren queue outside a tent where they attend lessons after Israeli troops confiscated caravans used as school classrooms, due to the lack of an Israeli-issued construction permit, in the West Bank village of Jubbet Al Dhib, near Bethlehem August 24, 2017

© REUTERS / Mussa Qawasma

For Palestinian children living in the West Bank, getting to school is an incredibly difficult task because of their scarcity and the difficulty of traveling due to the abundance of Israeli checkpoints that control movement around the territory and can take hours to pass through. Israel is slated to destroy the Palestinian school in al-Khana Ahmar as well, a move the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East said in 2011 “would effectively deny the children of the community their education and jeopardize their future.”

According to a January report from the the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, at least 61 schools in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have pending demolition orders or stop work orders against them from the Israeli government.

See Also:

Israel’s Demolishing of West Bank Schools May Amount to Int’l Crime – Watchdog

June 12, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israeli Army Closes Probe into the Murder of Palestinian Teen

Mahmoud Raafat Badran, 15, shot dead by Israelis. They say they mistook him for a stone-throwing “terrorist.”
Palestine Chronicle | June 12, 2018

The Israeli military has closed an investigation into the tragic death of a 15-year-old Palestinian, who was killed two years ago after the soldiers mistakenly opened fire on a car full of West Bank teens.

In June 2016, Israeli forces shot and killed 15-year-old Mahmoud Raafat Badran after “showering” a car on Route 443, a major West Bank highway, with live fire.

Four other Palestinian teens, who were returning from a nearby swimming pool, were also injured in the incident, which unfolded as the Israeli soldiers tried to quell Palestinian youths in the vicinity but “misidentified” the suspects’ vehicle.

The four injured were Mahmoud’s two brothers – 16-year-old Amir and 17-year-old Hadi – as well as Daoud Abu Hassan, 16, and Majdi Badran, 16.

Following a comprehensive investigation into the incident, the Military Advocate General ordered the closure of the probe, admitting that the Israeli Army had “mistakenly” identified the teens as a group of Palestinian youths who had earlier assaulted Israeli cars with stones and Molotov cocktails.

While noting there were “professional failings” during the incident, the Advocate General found opening fire on the car was justified and the mistake was “earnest and reasonable.”

According to the Israeli Human Rights group B’Tselem, the shooting of the 15-year-old Palestinian boy was “deliberate, entirely unjustified and a direct result of military policy”.

June 12, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 1 Comment

Palestinians refuse to terminate social welfare for victims of Israeli aggression

MEMO | June 12, 2018

The Palestinian Authority has sent a defiant message to Israel over Tel Aviv’s attempt to freeze tax money used by the PA to pay victims of Israeli violence.

“There is no force in the world that can cause us to renounce our prisoners and the martyrs”, Yusuf Al-Mahmoud, spokesman for the PA government said, regarding Israel’s attempt to freeze Palestinian tax revenue.

Al-Mahmoud claimed that Israel bore full responsibility for violence in the region and said that it was “stealing their [Palestinian] money on the pretext of offsetting tax revenues”.

His comments follow repeated attempts by the Israeli government to use Palestinian tax revenue to gain political concession.  The tax collection regime in the occupied territory, which grants Israel the right to collect tax on behalf of the Palestinians and then distribute it, is one of the many oddities to come out of the Oslo Accords.

The Knesset is currently discussing a bill to impound tax revenue that would have been handed to families and victims of violence perpetrated by the Israeli army. Protesters killed and injured in Gaza would be eligible for these payments, which Netanyahu is trying to block.

Israeli sources reported that last week Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed Meir Shabbat, chief of Israel’s National Security Council, to deduct money from the taxes collected by Israel on behalf of the Palestinian Authority in order to pay for the damage from fires caused by “rioter-terrorists” in Gaza sending kites attached to firebombs into Israeli territory.

“The martyr’s fund”, as it is known, has become a highly contentious issue. While Palestinians feel they have every right to use their own funds to provide welfare and social security to families of injured or deceased protesters resisting Israel’s brutal occupation, Israel feels it can exploit the tax situation to pile further pressure on the PA.

In addition to the bill discussed at the Knesset, senior members of the Israeli government have conditioned future negotiations on the PA suspending its welfare programme. Commentators have pointed out that this was another crude attempt to blame the victims. Insisting on the PA conceding on an issue that is a red line in the eyes of Palestinians is an attempt to shift the blame for the ongoing conflict away from Israel, and possibly stymie any future negotiations.

Read Also:

The international community should not stand by as Israel abuses Palestinians

June 12, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 1 Comment

The international community should not stand by as Israel abuses Palestinians

Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East including the Question of Palestine at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, United States on 1 June, 2018
By Ramzy Baroud | MEMO | June 12, 2018

What is taking place in Palestine is not a ‘conflict’.  We readily utilise the term but, in fact, the word ‘conflict’ is misleading. It equates oppressed Palestinians with Israel, a military power that stands in violation of numerous United Nations Resolutions.

It is these ambiguous terminologies that allow the likes of United States UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, to champion Israel’s ‘right to defend itself’, as if the militarily occupied and colonised Palestinians are the ones threatening the security of their occupier and tormentor.

In fact, this is precisely what Haley has done to counter a draft UN Security Council Resolution presented by Kuwait to provide a minimum degree of protection for Palestinians. Haley vetoed the draft, thus continuing a grim legacy of US defence of Israel, despite the latter’s ongoing violence against Palestinians.

It is no surprise that out of the 80 vetoes exercised by the US at the UNSC, the majority were unleashed to protect Israel. The first such veto for Israel’s sake was in September 1972 and the latest, used by Haley, was on 1 June.

Before it was put to the vote, the Kuwaiti draft was revised three times in order to ‘water it down’. Initially, it called for the protection of the Palestinian people from Israeli violence.

The final draft merely called for “The consideration of measures to guarantee the safety and protection of the Palestinian civilian population in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in the Gaza Strip”.

Still, Haley found the language “grossly one-sided”.

The near consensus in support of Kuwait’s draft was met with complete rejection of Haley’s own draft resolution which demanded Palestinian groups cease “all violent provocative actions” in Gaza.

The ‘provocative actions’ being referred to in Haley’s draft is the mass mobilisation by tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza, who have been peacefully protesting for weeks, hoping that their protests will place the Israeli siege on Gaza back on the UN agenda.

Haley’s counter draft resolution did not garner a single vote in favor, save that of Haley’s own. But such humiliation on the international stage is hardly of essence to the US, which has wagered its international reputation and foreign policy to protect Israel at any cost, even from unarmed observers whose job is merely to report on what they see on the ground.

The last such ‘force’ was that of 60 – later increased to 90 – members of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH).

TIPH was established in May 1996 and has filed many reports on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian city, especially in Area H-2, a small part of the city that is controlled by the Israeli army to protect some of the most violent illegal Jewish settlers.

Jan Kristensen, a retired lieutenant colonel of the Norwegian army who headed TIPH had these words to say following the completion of his one-year mission in Hebron in 2004:

“The activity of the settlers and the army in the H-2 area of Hebron is creating an irreversible situation. In a sense, cleansing is being carried out. In other words, if the situation continues for another few years, the result will be that no Palestinians will remain there.”

One can only imagine what has befallen Hebron since then. The army and Jewish settlers have become so emboldened to the extent that they execute Palestinians in cold blood with little or no consequence.

One such episode became particularly famous, for it was caught on camera. On 24 March 2015 an Israeli soldier carried out a routine operation by shooting in the head an incapacitated Palestinian.

The execution of Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sharif, 21, was filmed by Imad Abushamsiya. The viral video caused Israel massive embarrassment, forcing it to hold a sham trial in which the Israeli soldier who killed Al-Sharif received a light sentence; he was later released to a reception fit for heroes.

Abushamsiya, who filmed the murder, however, was harassed by both the Israeli army and police and received numerous death threats.

The Israeli practice of punishing the messenger is not new. The mother of Ahed Tamimi, Nariman, who filmed her teenage daughter confronting armed Israeli soldiers was also detained and sentenced.

Israel has practically punished Palestinians for recording their own subjugation by Israeli troops while, at the same time, empowering these very soldiers to do as they please; it is now in the process of turning this everyday reality into actual law.

A bill at the Israeli Knesset was put forward late May that prohibits “photographing and documenting (Israeli occupation) soldiers”, and criminalising “anyone who filmed, photographed and/or recorded soldiers in the course of their duty”.

The bill, which is supported by Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, demands a five-year imprisonment term for violators.

The bill practically means that any form of monitoring Israeli soldiers is a criminal act. If this is not a call for perpetual war crimes, what is?

Just to be sure, a second bill is proposing to give immunity to soldiers suspected of criminal activities during military operations.

The bill is promoted by deputy Defence Minister, Eli Ben Dahan, and is garnering support at the Knesset.

“The truth is that Ben Dahan’s bill is entirely redundant”, wrote Orly Noy in the Israeli +972 website.

Noy cited a recent report by the Israeli human rights organisation Yesh Din which shows that “soldiers who allegedly commit crimes against the Palestinian population in the Occupied Territories enjoy near-full immunity”.

Now, Palestinians are more vulnerable than ever before, and Israel, with the help of its American enablers, is more brazen than ever.

This tragedy cannot continue. The international community and civil society organisations – independent of the US government and its shameful vetoes – must undertake the legal and moral responsibility to monitor Israeli action and to provide meaningful protection for Palestinians.

Israel should not have free reign to abuse Palestinians at will, and the international community should not stand by and watch the bloody spectacle as it continues to unfold.

[Photo credit – Atılgan Özdil/Anadolu Agency]

June 12, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Israel seals Palestinian family’s home with them inside

Front door of the Zahida family home
Ma’an – June 7, 2018

HEBRON – A Palestinian family was trapped inside their home and forced to leave through a broken window after Israeli forces welded their front door shut and temporarily detained them inside their home in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron on Thursday morning.

The incident took place on the al-Shuhada street in the Old City of Hebron, one of the most heavily militarized streets in the occupied West Bank.

Samer Yusri Zahida told Ma’an that Israeli forces broke into his brother’s house at 8 a.m. on Thursday, forcing him and his three other family members into one room in the house.

After detaining the family for a brief period of time, Israeli forces broke one of the windows in the house and exited through it, allegedly telling the family that if they want to leave the house they must also exit through the window. Israeli forces then sealed the front door to the family’s home.

Zahida noted that the window that was broken did not lead to the main road, but to the neighbor’s house.

Coordinator of the Human Rights Defenders Association in Hebron, Imad Abu Shamsieh, told Ma’an that Israeli forces have been trying to force out the family since they moved in two weeks ago, in what he said was an “attempt to empty the al-Shuhada street of all Palestinian residents and provide it to Israeli settlers as a new residence.”

Palestinian residents of Hebron’s Old City face a large Israeli military presence on a daily basis, with at least 20 checkpoints set up at the entrances of many streets, as well as the entrance of the Ibrahimi Mosque itself.

Additionally, Palestinians are not allowed to drive on al-Shuhada street, have had their homes and shops on the street welded shut, and in some areas of the Old City, are not permitted to walk on certain roads.

Meanwhile, some 800 notoriously violent Israeli settlers in Hebron move freely on the street, drive cars, and carry machine guns.

June 7, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel Supreme Court told that settlements law violates apartheid convention

MEMO | June 4, 2018

Israel’s Supreme Court heard a petition yesterday against a law that allows the expropriation of privately-owned Palestinian land for Israeli settlers, reported AFP.

The court, meeting in an expanded panel of nine justices, has been petitioned by Israeli and Palestinian rights groups, on behalf of 17 Palestinian villages.

The law was passed by the Knesset in February 2017. In August, the court issued a restraining order against the law’s implementation, pending its ruling.

According to AFP, the petition “argues that by giving preference to Jewish settlers over the rights of Palestinian landowners it [the law] breaches an international convention on Apartheid”.

“The clear, declared purpose of the law, which seeks to privilege the interests of one group on an ethnic basis and leads to the dispossession of the Palestinians, leaves no doubt that this law involves crimes under the convention,” it says.

Attorney Harel Arnon “argued in defence of the legislation in place of attorney-general Avichai Mandelblit, who has warned the government the law could be unconstitutional and risked exposing Israel to international prosecution for war crimes”, AFP reported.

Arnon told the court that striking down the law would be “abetting a coup against this administration”. It would be “the dismemberment of the sovereignty of the Knesset”, he added.

It was not known yeserday when the court would deliver its ruling, AFP noted.

The law is designed to retroactively “legalise” dozens of settlement outposts and thousands of settler homes across the occupied West Bank, homes built on privately-owned Palestinian land.

Under international law, including as reflected in United Nations Security Council resolutions, all Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, are illegal.

June 4, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment