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Apartheid Made Official: Deal of the Century is a Ploy and Annexation is the New Reality

By Ramzy Baroud | Palestine Chronicle | September 17, 2019

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is moving quickly to alter the political reality in Palestine, and facing little or no resistance.

On September 10, Netanyahu declared his intentions to annex swathes of Palestinian land adjacent to the Jordan River, an area that covers 2,400 square kilometers, or nearly a third of the Occupied West Bank. That region, which extends from Bisan in the north to Jericho in the south, is considered to be Palestine’s food basket, as it accounts for an estimated 60 percent of vegetables that are produced in the West Bank.

While Israel has already colonized nearly 88 percent of the entire Palestinian Ghoor (or Jordan Valley), dividing it between illegal agricultural settlements and military zones, it was always assumed that the militarily occupied region will be included within the border of a future Palestinian state.

Netanyahu’s announcement has been linked to Israel’s general elections of September 17. The Israeli leader is desperate, as he is facing “unprecedented alliances” that are all closing in to unseat him from his political throne. But this cannot be all. Not even power-hungry Netanyahu would alter the political and territorial landscape of Israel and Palestine indefinitely in exchange for a few votes.

Indeed, talks of annexation have been afoot for years and have long preceded the September elections or the previous ones in April.

A sense of euphoria has been felt among Israel’s rightwing officials since the advent of Donald Trump to the White House. The excitement was not directly linked to Trump but to his Middle East team, like-minded pro-Israel US officials whose support for Israel is predicated on more than personal interests, but religious and ideological beliefs as well.

White House senior adviser, Jared Kushner, selected his team very carefully: Jason Greenblatt as special envoy for Middle East peace, David Friedman as United States Ambassador to Israel, and layers of other second-tier officials whose mission was never aimed at resolving conflict or brokering peace, but supervising a process in which Israel finalizes its colonization of Palestine unhindered.

Kushner’s masterstroke is epitomized in the way he presented his objectives as part of a political process, later named “Deal of the Century”.

In all fairness, Kushner’s team hardly labored or even pretended to be, peacemakers, especially as they oversaw the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and of the occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territories. Indeed, none of these officials tried to hide their true motives. Just examine statements made by the just-resigned Greenblatt where he refused to name illegal Jewish settlements as such, but as “neighborhoods and cities”; and Friedman’s outright support for the annexation of parts of the Occupied West Bank, and much more.

The US political discourse seemed in complete alignment with that of Israel’s right-wing parties. When right-wing extremist politicians, the likes of Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, began floating the idea of annexing most or all of the Occupied West Bank, they no longer sounded like marginal and opportunistic voices vying for attention. They were at the center of Israeli politics, knowing full well that Washington no longer had a problem with Israel’s unilateral action.

It could be argued, then, that Netanyahu was merely catching up, as the center of gravity within his right-wing coalition was slipping away to younger, more daring politicians. In fact, Israel, as a whole, was changing. With the Labor Party becoming almost entirely irrelevant, the Center’s political ideology moved further to the right, simply because supporting an independent Palestinian state in Israel has become a form of political suicide.

Therefore, Netanyahu’s call for the annexation of Palestinian land east of the Jordan River must not be understood in isolation and only within the limited context of the Israeli elections. Israel is now set to annex large parts of the West Bank that it deems strategic. This is most likely to include all illegal settlement blocs and the Jordan Valley as well.

In fact, Netanyahu said on September 11 that he was ready to annex the Jordan Valley region even before the election date, but was blocked by the Attorney General’s office. Netanyahu would not have taken such a decision if it represented a political risk or if it faced pushback from Washington. It is, then, sadly, a matter of time.

Suspiciously absent in all of this are the Palestinian Authority (PA), the Arab League, the European Union and, of course, the United Nations and its many outlets and courts. Aside from a few shy statements – like that of the spokesperson of the UN, Stéphane Dujarric, decrying that “unilateral actions are not helpful in the peace process” – Israeli leaders are facing little or no hindrance whatsoever as they finalize their complete colonization of all Palestinian land.

Unable to stage any kind of meaningful resistance against Israel, the Palestinian leadership is so pathetically insisting on utilizing old terminologies. The official Palestinian response to Netanyahu’s annexation pledge, as communicated by Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh, came only to underscore the PA’s political bankruptcy.

“Netanyahu is the chief destroyer of the peace process,” Shtayyeh said, warning that annexing parts of the West Bank would have negative consequences.

For his part, the PA leader Mahmoud Abbas resorted, once more, to empty threats. Abbas said in a statement, “All agreements and their resulting obligations would end if the Israeli side annexes the Jordan Valley, the northern Dead Sea, and any part of the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967.”

Neither Abbas nor Shtayyeh seem troubled by the fact that a “peace process” does not exist, and that Israel has already violated all agreements.

While the PA is desperately hanging on to any reason to justify its continued existence, Netanyahu, with the full support of Washington, is moving forward in annexing the West Bank, thus making apartheid an official and undisputed reality.

The Palestinian leadership must understand that the nature of the conflict is now changing. Conventional methods and empty statements will not slow down the Israeli push for annexation nor Tel Aviv’s determination to expand its apartheid to all of Palestine. If Palestinians continue to ignore this reality altogether, Israel will continue to single-handedly shape the destiny of Palestine and its people.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of The Palestine Chronicle. His last book is ‘The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story’, and his forthcoming book is ‘These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons’. Baroud has a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter and is a non-resident research fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) at Zaim University in Istanbul. His website is www.ramzybaroud.net.

September 17, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 2 Comments

Moscow condemns Netanyahu’s annexation bid on eve of his visit to Russia

Press TV – September 11, 2019

Russia has strongly condemned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s election pledge to annex north of the Dead Sea and Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank on the eve of his visit to the Russian city of Sochi.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry warned that the implementation of Netanyahu’s plan may result in a “sharp escalation of tension in the region”.

It may also “undermine hopes for a long-awaited peace” in the region, the statement added, urging Tel Aviv to return to direct negotiations based on “relevant UN Security Council resolutions, the Madrid Principle and the Arab Peace Initiative.”

The condemnation came on the eve of Netanyahu’s visit to the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, where he is scheduled to hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday.

The visit, announced on Tuesday, will be held just five days before the Israeli snap legislative elections. The last time Putin and Netanyahu met was in Moscow on April 4, again five days before the last Israeli election.

Netanyahu has promised to go ahead with the annexation plan in case he emerges victorious in the forthcoming votes.

“Today I announce my intention to apply with the formation of the next government Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea,” Netanyahu said in a speech broadcast live on Israeli TV channels on Tuesday evening.

The 69-year-old Chairman of the Likud-National Liberal Movement also reiterated his intention to annex Israeli settlements throughout the occupied West Bank if re-elected, and in coordination with US President Donald Trump.

The plan has drawn sharp criticism from countries in the Middle East, including Jordan and Turkey, and international bodies like the UN and the Arab League.

Iran on Wednesday said the Israeli prime minister seeks to stay in power through annexations and anti-Iran accusations.

“Netanyahu is after votes to stay in power and continue with expansionist policies and aggression one day through making accusations against the Islamic Republic of Iran and one day by announcing his malicious intention to annex certain parts of Palestine,” Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi said.

Ironically enough, Saudi Arabia that has been seeking to normalize ties with Israel also criticized Netanyahu for this “dangerous escalation against the Palestinian people” and called for an emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

The OIC later announced on Wednesday it will call an emergency meeting soon at the level of foreign ministers to review the Israeli premier’s plan.

The OIC Secretary General Yousef bin Al-Othaimeen strongly condemned Netanyahu’s intention, emphasizing that the “dangerous announcement is another aggression against the Palestinian people’s rights.”

He said the OIC meeting will discuss the possible political and legal measures that could be taken to confront Israel’s new aggression.

September 11, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , , | 2 Comments

24 Palestinian journalists held in Israeli jails

An Israeli soldier attacks AFP'S photo journalist Jafer Eshtayah during a protest against building of illegal settlements and the separation wall at the Kafr Qaddum village of Nablus, West Bank on March 22, 2019 [Nedal Eshtayah / Anadolu Agency]

Israeli soldier attacks AFP journalist during protest against building illegal settlements and the separation wall at Kafr Qaddum village, Nablus, West Bank on March 22, 2019
Nedal Eshtayah / Anadolu Agency
MEMO – September 2, 2019

Israel’s military occupation authorities continue to target Palestinian journalists, the Journalist Support Committee (JSC) said on Sunday, Quds Press has reported. The JSC pointed out that the number of Palestinian journalists held in Israeli jails has risen to 24.

Information about the imprisoned journalists was included in a statement issued by the committee in the wake of Israel’s detention of Palestinian media Professor Widad Al-Barghouti. She is a media lecturer at Birzeit University.

According to the JSC, the Israelis arrested four journalists in August and extended the detention of two others. It also noted that five out of the 24 journalists in prison are being held by Israel under administrative detention with neither charges nor a trial. Seven have been sentenced and 12 are being held in custody pending prosecution.

The JSC reiterated its concern that the Israeli occupation authorities “insist on hindering the work of journalists” who carry out their national duty regarding the documentation of Israel’s crimes which amount to violations of international laws and conventions.

Highlighting the situation of Palestinian journalist Bassam Al-Sayeh, the committee explained that his health is deteriorating badly in prison. The JSC added that the Palestinian prisoners held by Israel face “intentional medical negligence”.

In conclusion, the Journalist Support Committee called for the international community to protect Palestinian journalists and compel Israel to adhere to the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 2222 regarding the protection of civilians in armed conflict.

See also:

Report: Israel’s targeting of Palestinian photojournalists increasing

September 2, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | 1 Comment

West Bank IED Attack Kills And Injures Israelis- A Closer Look

By Robert Inlakesh | 21st Century Wire | August 23, 2019

Earlier this Friday morning an IED attack, conducted inside the occupied West Bank, killed one Israeli and injured two others.

The incident has been blamed on unidentified Palestinians, who were said to have planted the IED the night prior to the incident, before detonating it upon the arrival of the Israeli settlers to the location.

The attack took place at the site of the Ein Buben Spring, located in between the Palestinian village of Deir Ibzi and the illegal Israeli settlement of Douleb.

A female Israeli has been confirmed dead, with two men injured, one currently on life support in critical condition and the other suffering moderate wounds. The three Israelis had originated from Lod – formerly the Palestinian towns of Lydda and Ramle – and had reportedly been visiting the spring, entering it from the ever expanding neighboring settlement.

As usual, the Israeli and Western press are treating this incident as if it has no link to anything occurring in the area prior to the attack.

Back in 2017 I lived in the occupied West Bank and visited the spring of Deir Ibzi many times. I remember being driven there with Palestinians friends to hang out. The first time I went I was confronted by Israeli soldiers who stopped our car and pointed guns in our faces and continued to linger in the area, watching us, for hours after the incident.

Another time I had visited, we had to quickly leave as armed settlers emerged over the hills and were heading in our direction.

I was told by people in the village of Deir Ibzi, that they fear the day when the Israelis will completely take the site for themselves.

The site, of course being home to a fresh water spring, has been a part the lives of those living in Deir Ibzi and the neighboring villages for generations. Until now, there has been no violent resistance like this recent attack, despite the illegal settlement expansion on the area and the violent forcing of the native population from their land.

Israel considers of all the West Bank as simply being part of Israel and call the land Judea and Sumaria. To Israel, there are no illegal settlers or illegal land grabs, they simply consider their actions as being reasonable expansion on God given Jewish land.

The eldest of the Israelis injured in the attack, currently being treated in Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, is a Rabbi and was reported to be a decorated occupation force veteran.

Due to the constant Israeli settler and occupation force attacks upon Palestinians, in the West Bank, as well as a rise in attacks upon the Al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem, we now see a string of violent attacks against Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank.

This year so far, approximately 100 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and with the lack of action from the international community, to end the violations of international law, the siege, the occupation etc. Palestinians now have their backs to the wall.

No peace talks or peaceful demonstrations have worked. So now, due to the lack of action taken for the Palestinians, the Palestinian people are resulting to the last and only option left for them, violent resistance.

The mainstream media will paint these attacks as horrid terrorist incidents, but the reality is, this is what happens when a people have no other options.

Today, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, 152 Palestinians were injured in Gaza’s Great Return March protests, 60 were shot with live ammunition. Over 310 Palestinians have been killed in these marches since the 30th of March, 2018, with around 40,000 people being injured. So why aren’t these acts of mass murdered labelled terrorism? Are only Arabs and Muslims able to commit a terrorist act, should this perhaps be the new definition for the word?

Under international law, the Palestinian people reserve the right to armed resistance. So why is it always a terrorist attack, in the eyes of the so-called objective mainstream media, when a Palestinian decides to resist? And why isn’t Israeli settler terrorism reported as such, when 6 year old Palestinians are run down and murdered by Israeli religious fanatics?

***

Author Robert Inlakesh is a special contributor to 21WIRE and European correspondent for Press TV. He has reported from on the ground in occupied Palestine.

August 23, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | 3 Comments

FCO Speeds Up Planning to Move UK Embassy to Jerusalem

By Craig Murray | August 18, 2019

Following US National Security Adviser John Bolton’s talks with Boris Johnson and his ministers in London last week, FCO officials have been asked to speed up contingency planning for the UK to move its Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, with an eye to an “early announcement” post Brexit.

The UK is currently bound by an EU common foreign policy position not to follow the United States in moving its Embassy to Jerusalem. As things stand, that prohibition will fall on 1 November. FCO officials had previously been asked to produce a contingency plan, but this involved the construction of a £14 million new Embassy and a four year timescale. They have now been asked to go back and look at a quick fix involving moving the Ambassador and immediate staff to Jerusalem and renaming the Consulate already there as the Embassy. This could be speedily announced, and then implemented in about a year.

Johnson heads the most radically pro-Israel cabinet in UK history and the symbolic gesture of rejection of Palestinian rights is naturally appealing to his major ministers Patel, Javid and Raab. They also see three other political benefits. Firstly, they anticipate that Labour opposition to the move can be used to yet again raise accusations of “anti-semitism” against Jeremy Corbyn. Secondly, it provides good “red meat” to Brexiteer support in marking a clear and, they believe, popular break from EU foreign policy, at no economic cost. Thirdly, it seals the special link between the Trump and Johnson administrations and sets the UK apart from other NATO allies.

Bolton also discussed the possibility of UK support for Israeli annexation of areas of the West Bank to “solve” the illegality of Israeli settlements on occupied territory. My FCO sources believe this is going to be much more difficult politically for the Cabinet to agree than simply moving the Embassy, due to lack of support on their own backbenches.

This is an insight into the future of British foreign policy if the Johnson government, and the UK, both survive. In the massive defeat of the UK at the UN General Assembly two months ago over the illegal occupation of the Chagos Islands, the UK was in a voting block with only the USA, Israel, Australia, Hungary and the Maldives, against the rest of the world. The Maldives had a particular maritime interest there, but the leadership of the others – Donald Trump, Viktor Orban, Scott Morrison, Benjamin Netanyahu and now Boris Johnson – constitute a distinct and extreme right wing bloc. These are very worrying times indeed.

August 18, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kashmir Caged: A Fact-Finding Report

Army patrol on the road | Image courtesy Kavita Krishnan
By Jean Drèze, Kavita Krishnan, Maimoona Mollah and Vimal Bhai | Indian Cultural Forum | August 14, 2019

We spent five days (9-13 August 2019) traveling extensively in Kashmir. Our visit began on 9 August 2019 – four days after the Indian government abrogated Articles 370 and 35A, dissolved the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and bifurcated it into two Union Territories.

When we arrived in Srinagar on 9 August, we found the city silenced and desolated by curfew, and bristling with Indian military and paramilitary presence. The curfew was total, as it had been since 5th August. The streets of Srinagar were empty and all institutions and establishments were closed (shops, schools, libraries, petrol pumps, government offices, banks). Only some ATMs and chemists’ shops – and all police stations – were open. People were moving about in ones and twos here and there, but not in groups.

We travelled widely, inside and outside Srinagar – far beyond the small enclave (in the centre of Srinagar) where the Indian media operates. In that small enclave, a semblance of normalcy returns from time to time, and this has enabled the Indian media to claim that life in Kashmir is back to normal. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We spent five days moving around and talking to hundreds of ordinary people in Srinagar city, as well as villages and small towns of Kashmir. We spoke to women, school and college students, shopkeepers, journalists, people who run small businesses, daily wage labourers, workers and migrants from UP, West Bengal and other states. We spoke to Kashmiri Pandits and Sikhs who live in the Valley, as well as Kashmiri Muslims.

Everywhere, we were cordially received, even by people who were very angry about the situation or sceptical of our purpose. Even as people expressed their pain, anger, and sense of betrayal against the Government of India, they extended warmth and unstinting hospitality to us. We are deeply moved by this.

Except for the BJP spokesperson on Kashmir Affairs, we did not meet a single person who supported the Indian government’s decision to abrogate Article 370. On the contrary, most people were extremely angry, both at the abrogation of Article 370 (and 35A) and at the manner in which it had been done.

Anger and fear were the dominant emotions we encountered everywhere. People expressed their anger freely in informal conversation, but no-one was willing to speak on camera. Anyone who speaks up is at risk of persecution from the government.

Many told us that they expected massive protests to erupt sooner or later (after restrictions were relaxed, after Eid, after 15 August, or even later), and anticipated violent repression even if the protests were peaceful.

A summary of our observations

  • There is intense and virtually unanimous anger in Kashmir against the Indian government’s decision to abrogate Articles 370 and 35A, and also about the way this has been done.

  • To control this anger, the government has imposed curfew-like conditions in Kashmir. Except for some ATMs, chemists’ shops and police stations, most establishments are closed for now.

  • The clampdown on public life and effective imposition of curfew have also crippled economic life in Kashmir, that too at a time of the BakrEid festival that is meant for abundance and celebration.

  • People live in fear of harassment from the government, army or police. People expressed their anger freely in informal conversation, but no-one was willing to speak on camera.

  • The Indian media’s claims of a rapid return to normalcy in Kashmir are grossly misleading. They are based on selective reports from a small enclave in the centre of Srinagar.

  • As things stand, there is no space in Kashmir for any sort of protest, however peaceful. However, mass protests are likely to erupt sooner or later.

Reactions To The Government’s Treatment of J&K

  • When our flight landed, and the airlines staff announced that passengers could switch on our mobiles, the entire flight (with mostly Kashmiris in it) burst into mocking laughter. “What a joke”, we could hear people say – since mobile and landline phones and internet have all been blocked since 5 August!

  • As soon as we set foot in Srinagar, we came across a few small children playacting in a park. We could hear them say ‘Iblees Modi’. ‘Iblees’ means ‘Satan’.

  • The words we heard over and over from people about the Government decisions on J&K were ‘zulm’ (oppression), ‘zyadti’ (excess/cruelty), and ‘dhokha’ (betrayal). As one man in Safakadal (downtown Srinagar) put it, “The Government has treated us Kashmiris like slaves, taking decisions about our lives and our future while we are captive. It’s like forcing something down our throats while keeping us bound and gagged, with a gun to our heads.”

  • In every lane of Srinagar city, every town, every village, that we visited, we received an extensive schooling from ordinary people, including school kids, on the history of the Kashmir dispute. They were angry and appalled at the manner in which the Indian media was whitewashing this history. Many said: “Article 370 was the contract between Kashmir’s leadership and India’s. Had that contract not been signed, Kashmir would never have acceded to India. With Article 370 gone, India no longer has any basis for its claim over Kashmir.” One man in the Jahangir Chowk area near Lal Chowk, described Article 370 as a ‘mangalsutra’ (sacred necklace worn by married women) symbolising a contract (analogous to the marital contract) between Kashmir and India. (More on people’s reactions to the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A below)

  • There is widespread anger against the Indian media. People are imprisoned in their homes, unable to communicate with each other, express themselves on social media, or make their voices heard in any way. In their homes, they watch Indian TV claim that Kashmir welcomes the Government decisions. They seethe with rage at the erasure of their voices. As one young man in Safakadal put it, “Kiski shaadi hai, aur kaun naach raha hai?! (It’s supposed to be our wedding, but it’s only others who are dancing!) If this move is supposed to be for our benefit and development, why not ask what we ourselves think about it?”

Reactions To The Abrogation Of Article 370 and 35A

  • A man in Guree village (Anantnag district) said: “Hamara unse rishta Article 370 aur 35A se tha. Ab unhone apne hi paer par kulhadi mar di hai. In Articles ko khatm kar diya hai. Ab to ham azad ho gaye hain.” (Our relation with them (India) was through Article 370 and Article 35A. Now they have themselves committed the folly of dissolving these Articles. So now we are free.” The same man raised slogans of “We want freedom” followed by slogans of “Restore Articles 370 and 35A.”

  • Many described Article 370 and 35A as Kashmir’s “pehchan” (identity). They felt that the abrogation of these Articles is a humiliating attack on Kashmir’s self-respect and identity.

  • Not all demanded restoration of Article 370. Many said that it was only the parliamentary parties who had asked people to have faith that India would honour the contract that was Article 370. The abrogation of Article 370 only discredited those “pro-India parties”, and vindicated those who argued for Kashmir’s “azaadi” (independence) from India, they felt. One man in Batamaloo said: “Jo india ke geet gate hain, apne bande hain, ve bhi band hain! (Those who sang praises of India, India’s own agents, they too are imprisoned!” A Kashmiri journalist observed, “Many people are happy about the treatment the mainstream parties are getting. These parties batted for the Indian State and are being humiliated now.”

  • “Modi has destroyed India’s own law, its own Constitution” was another common refrain. Those who said this, felt that Article 370 was more important to India (to legitimise its claim to Kashmir) than it was to Kashmir. But the Modi Government had not only sought to destroy Kashmir, it had destroyed a law and Constitution that was India’s own.

  • A hosiery businessman in Jahangir Chowk, Srinagar said, “Congress ne peeth mein choora bhonka tha, BJP ne saamne se choora bhonka hai.” (Congress had stabbed us from the back, BJP is stabbing us up front). He added, “They strangled their own Constitution. It’s first step towards Hindu Rashtra.”

  • In some ways, people were more concerned about the effects of the abrogation of 35A than that of 370. It is widely recognised that Article 370 retained only nominal, symbolic autonomy and had already been diluted. With 35A gone, though, people fear that “State land will be sold cheap to investors. Ambani, Patanjali etc can come in easily. Kashmir’s resources and land will be grabbed. In Kashmir as it stands now, education and employment levels are better than in the mainland. But tomorrow Kashmiris will have to compete for Government jobs with those from other states. After one generation, most Kashmiris won’t have jobs or be forced to move to the mainland.”

“Normalcy” – Or “Peace Of The Graveyard”?

Is the situation in Kashmir “normal” and “peaceful”? The answer is an emphatic NO.

  • One young man in Sopore said: “This is bandook ki khamoshi (the silence at gunpoint), kabristan ki khamoshi (the peace of the graveyard).”

  • The newspaper Greater Kashmir had one (front) page of news and a sports page at the back: the two inside pages were full of cancellation announcements of weddings or receptions!

Invitations cancelled I Image courtesy Kavita Krishnan
  • Between 5-9 August, people had suffered for lack of food, milk, and basic needs. People had been prevented even from going to hospitals in case of sickness.

  • The Government claim is that only Section 144 has been imposed, not “curfew”. But in reality, police vans keep patrolling Srinagar warning people to “stay safe at home and not venture out during the curfew”, and tell shops to close their shutters. They demand that people display “curfew passes” to be allowed to move about.

  • All of Kashmir is under curfew. Even on Eid, the roads and bazaars were silent and desolate. All over Srinagar, mobility is restricted by concertina wires on streets, and massive paramilitary deployment. Even on Eid, this was the case. In many villages, azaan was prohibited by the paramilitary and people were forced to do namaaz prayers at home rather than collectively at the mosque as it usual on Eid.

  • In Anantnag, Shopian and Pampore (South Kashmir) on the day of Eid, we only saw very small kids dressed in Eid finery. Everyone else was in mourning. “We feel like we’re in jail”, said a woman in Guree (Anantnag). Girls in Nagbal (Shopian) said, “With our brothers in police or army custody, how can we celebrate Eid?”

  • On 11 August, on the eve of Eid, a woman at Sopore told us she had come to the bazaar during a brief respite in the curfew, to buy a few supplies for Eid. She said: “We were prisoners in our own homes for 7 days. Even today, shops are closed in my village Langet, so I came to Sopore town to shop for Eid and to check on my daughter who is a nursing student here.”

Eid in Pulwama | Image courtesy Kavita Krishnan
  • “It’s Army rule not Modi rule. There are more soldiers here than people”, said a young baker at Watpura near Bandipora. His friend added, “We’re afraid, because the army camp nearby keeps imposing impossible rules. They insist we have to return within half an hour if we leave home. If my kid isn’t well, and I have to take her to the hospital, it may take more than half an hour. If someone visits their daughter who lives in next village, they may take more than half hour to return. But if there’s any delay, they will harass us.” The CRPF paramilitary is everywhere, outside nearly every home in Kashmir. These are clearly not there to provide “security” to Kashmiris – on the contrary, their presence creates fear for the people.

  • Sheep traders and herders could be seen with unsold sheep and goats. Animals they had been rearing all year long, would not be sold. This meant they would incur a huge loss. With people unable to earn, many could not afford to buy animals for the Eid sacrifice.

  • A shopkeeper from Bijnore (UP) showed us the stacks of unsold sweets and delicacies going waste, since people could not buy them. Shops and bakeries wore a deserted look on the eve of Eid, with their perishable food items lying unsold.

  • An asthmatic auto driver in Srinagar, showed us his last remaining dose of salbutamol and asthalin. He had been trying for the past several days to buy more – but the chemists’ shops and hospitals in his area had run out of stocks. He could go to other, bigger hospitals – but CRPF would prevent him. He showed us the empty, crushed cover of one asthalin inhaler – when he told a CRPF man he needed to go further to get the medicine, the man stamped on the cover with his boot. “Why stamp on it? He hates us, that’s why”, said the auto driver.

Protests, Repression, and Brutality

  • Some 10,000 people protested in Soura (Srinagar) on 9 August. The forces responded with pellet gun fire, injuring several. We attempted to go to Soura on 10 August, but were stopped by a CRPF barricade. We did see young protestors on the road that day as well, blockading the road.

  • We met two victims of pellet gun injuries in SMHS hospital in Srinagar. The two young men (Waqar Ahmad and Wahid) had faces, arms and torso full of pellets. Their eyes were bloodshot and blinded. Waqar had a catheter in which the urine, red with blood from internal bleeding, could be seen. Their family members, weeping with grief and rage, told us that the two men had not been pelting stones. They had been peacefully protesting.

Pellet gun victim | Image courtesy Vimal Bhai
  • On 6 August, a graphic designer for the Rising Kashmir newspaper, Samir Ahmad, (in his early 20s) had remonstrated with a CRPF man near his home in the Manderbag area of Srinagar, asking him to allow an old man to pass. Later the same day, when Samir opened the door to his house, CRPF fired at him with a pellet gun, unprovoked. He got 172 pellets in his arm and face near the eyes, but his eyesight is safe. It is clear that the pellet guns are deliberately aimed at the face and eyes, and unarmed, peaceful civilians standing at their own front doors can be targets.

  • At least 600 political leaders and civil society activists are under arrest. There is no clear information on what laws are invoked to arrest them, or where they are being held.

  • A very large number of political leaders are under house arrest – it is impossible to ascertain how many. We tried to meet CPIM MLA Mohd Yusuf Tarigami – but were refused entry into his home in Srinagar, where he is being under house arrest.

  • In every village we visited, as well as in downtown Srinagar, there were very young schoolboys and teenagers who had been arbitrarily picked up by police or army/paramilitary and held in illegal detention. We met a 11-year-old boy in Pampore who had been held in a police station between 5 August and 11 August. He had been beaten up, and he said there were boys even younger than him in custody, from nearby villages.

  • Hundreds of boys and teens are being picked up from their beds in midnight raids. The only purpose of these raids is to create fear. Women and girls told us of molestation by armed forces during these raids. Parents feared meeting us and telling us about the “arrests” (abductions) of their boys. They are afraid of Public Security Act cases being filed. The other fear is that the boys may be “disappeared” – i.e killed in custody and dumped in mass graves of which Kashmir has a grim history. As one neighbour of an arrested boy said, “There is no record of these arrests. It is illegal detention. So if the boy “disappears” – i.e is killed in custody – the police/army can just say they never had him in custody in the first place.”

  • But the protests are not likely to stop. A young man at Sopore said: “Jitna zulm karenge, utna ham ubharenge” (The more you oppress us, the more we will rise up) A familiar refrain we heard at many places was: “Never mind if leaders are arrested. We don’t need leaders. As long as even a single Kashmiri baby is alive, we will struggle.”

The Gag On Media

  • A journalist told us: “Newspapers are printing in spite of everything. Without the internet, we do not get any feed from agencies. We were reduced to reporting the J&K related developments in Parliament, from NDTV! This is undeclared censorship. If Govt is giving internet and phone connectivity to police but not to media houses what does it mean? We had some people come to our offices, speaking on behalf of Army and CRPF, asking “Why are you publishing photos of the curfew-affected streets?”

  • Kashmiri TV channels are completely closed and unable to function.

  • Kashmiri newspapers that carry the barest mention of protests (such as the one on Soura) are made to feel the heat from the authorities.

  • Foreign press reporters told us that they are facing restrictions on their movement by the authorities. Also, because of the lack of internet, they are unable to communicate with their own main offices.

  • When we visited Press Enclave in Srinagar on 13 August, we found the newspaper offices closed and the area deserted except for a few stray journalists, and some CID men. One of the journalists told us that papers could not be printed till at least 17 August, because they have run out of newsprint which comes from Delhi.

  • As mentioned above, one graphic designer working with a newspaper suffered pellet gun injuries, during a completely unprovoked attack by CRPF

A checkpoint in Srinagar | Image courtesy Vimal Bhai

Does Kashmir Lack Development?

In an op-ed in the Times Of India (August 9, 2019), former Foreign Secretary and Ambassador Nirupama Rao wrote: “A young Kashmiri told this writer a few months ago her birthplace was in the “stone age”; that in terms of economic development, Kashmir was two hundred years behind the rest of India.”

We struggled to find this “backward”, “stone age” Kashmir anywhere at all.

  • It is striking how in every Kashmiri village, we found young men and women who go to college or University; speak Kashmiri, Hindi and English fluently; and are able to argue points of Constitutional and international law in relation to the Kashmir conflict with factual accuracy and erudition. All four of the team members are familiar with villages in North Indian states. This high level of education is extremely rare in any village in, say, Bihar, UP, MP, or Jharkhand.

  • The homes in rural Kashmir are all pucca constructions. We saw no shacks like the ones that are common in rural Bihar, UP, Jharkhand.

  • There are poor people in Kashmir, certainly. But the levels of destitution, starvation and abject poverty seen in many North Indian states, is simply absent in rural Kashmir.

  • We met migrant labourers from North India and West Bengal at many places. They told us that they feel safe and free from xenophobic violence that they face in, say, Maharashtra or Gujarat. Daily wage migrant labourers told us “Kashmir is our Dubai. We earn Rs 600 to Rs 800 per day here – that is three or four times what we earn in other states.”

  • We found Kashmir refreshingly free of communal tension or mob lynchings. We met Kashmiri pandits who told us they felt safe in Kashmir, and that the Kashmiris always celebrate their festivals together. “We celebrate Eid, Holi, Diwali together. That is our Kashmiriyat. It is something different, special,” said one Kashmiri Pandit young man.

  • The myth of the “backward” Kashmiri woman is perhaps the biggest lie. Kashmiri girls enjoy a high level of education. They are articulate and assertive. Of course, they face and resist patriarchy and gender discrimination in their societies. But does BJP, whose Haryana CM and Muzaffarnagar MLA speak of “getting Kashmiri brides” as though Kashmiri women are property to be looted, have any right to preach feminism to Kashmir? Kashmiri girls and women told us, “We are capable of fighting our own battles. We don’t want our oppressors to claim to liberate us!”

The BJP Spokesperson’s “Warning”

We met BJP spokesperson on Kashmir affairs, Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo at the office of Rising Kashmir, a Kashmir newspaper. The conversation was initially cordial. He told us he had come to Kashmir from Jammu to persuade people to support the abrogation of Article 370. His main argument was that since the BJP had won a 46% vote share in J&K and had won an unprecedented majority in Parliament, they had not only a right but a duty to keep their promise of scrapping Article 370. “46% vote share – that’s a license”, he said.

He refused to acknowledge that this 46% vote share while winning only three Lok Sabha seats (Jammu, Udhampur and Ladakh) was possible only because the voter turnout in the three other LS seats (Srinagar, Anantnag and Baramulla) was the lowest in the whole country.

Should a Government impose an unpopular decision on people of Kashmir who have not voted for that decision, at gunpoint? Chrungoo said, “In Bihar when Nitish Kumar imposed prohibition, he didn’t ask the alcoholics for their permission or consent. It’s the same here.” His contempt for the people of Kashmir was evident from this analogy.

Towards the end of the conversation, he became increasingly edgy when confronted by facts and arguments by us. He got up and wagged a finger at Jean Dreze, saying “We won’t let anti-nationals like you do your work here. I am warning you.”

Conclusion

The whole of Kashmir is, at the moment, a prison, under military control. The decisions taken by the Modi Government on J&K are immoral, unconstitutional and illegal. The means being adopted by the Modi Government to hold Kashmiris captive and suppress potential protests are also immoral, unconstitutional, and illegal.

  • We demand the immediate restoration of Articles 370 and 35A.

  • We assert that no decision about the status or future of J&K should be taken without the will of its people.

  • We demand that communications – including landline telephones, mobile phones and internet be restored with immediate effect.

  • We demand that the gags on the freedom of speech, expression and protest be lifted from J&K with immediate effect. The people of J&K are anguished – and they must be allowed to express their protest through media, social media, public gatherings and other peaceful means.

  • We demand that the gags on journalists in J&K be lifted immediately.

Jean Drèze, economist
Kavita Krishnan, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) and AIPWA
Maimoona Mollah, All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA)
Vimal Bhai, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)

August 17, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Big dreams for a small school

Defence for Children Palestine – August 12, 2019

Students attending Ibziq Mixed Primary school in the northern Jordan Valley, near the West Bank city of Tubas, face danger and instability due to Israel’s military trainings and activities in the area.

Read the feature: https://www.dci-palestine.org/big_dre…

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MUSIC The Machine Assembly by The Whole Other https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBDYF…

August 14, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘There’s no law in the world that says you can cut water from humans’

This is the second of a series of reports documenting the control and devastation of water sources by Israel as a tool of oppression.*

A bulldozer destroys water wells while a Regavim drone hovers above
International Solidarity Movement | August 3, 2019

South Hebron Hills, occupied Palestine – Israel is escalating its war on water in the South Hebron Hills, demolishing wells, ripping out kilometres of pipeline and even confiscating trucks carrying emergency water tanks to parched villages.

In the sweltering month of July, five demolitions targeting water infrastructure were carried out, leaving Palestinian farming villages without access to water.

The latest took place on Wednesday July 31, when the Israeli Civil Administration – the body that governs Area C in the West Bank – cut pipes supplying water to houses and farmland in the area of al-Jaway near At-Tuwani.

Tariq Hathaleen, a local activist from the South Hebron Hills, says that the number of demolitions on water sources has “more than doubled,” this year compared to previous years.

He told ISM: “Now in the summer it sounds like the Civil Administration has a plan to restrict Palestinian access to water in the South Hebron Hills, in Area C in general, and that’s actually to put more pressure on those people to move them away from those villages.

“Because the Civil Administration don’t have a direct excuse to expel those people from their land but the plan is to put more pressure to make them leave by cutting their water sources.”

On July 4, bulldozers destroyed three water wells outside the town of Dkeika, a day after they came to the same area and uprooted over 500 olive trees.

The destruction of the wells and trees have affected around 1,200 people, 60 per cent of them registered as refugees. according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Four water cisterns were also destroyed on July 24 in a park between the villages of Umm al-Kheir and Umm Daraj

“I know the reality of these people,” Tariq, who was at the demolition, adds. “I call them the enemies of life and they prove this by cutting trees, by cutting water pipes, by cutting the lives of people.”

The Good Shepherd Collective, a group that advocates human rights predominantly in the South Hebron Hills, puts the escalation of demolitions down to the actions of far-right settler NGO Regavim.

Regavim, which receives Israeli tax-payers money and has charitable status, spies on Palestinian communities, looking out for structures built without a permit and reporting them to the ICA. They then speed up demolition cases in the courts through petitions.

Their devastating impact can be seen by the steep rise in demolitions in the South Hebron Hills; 65 structures have been bulldozed or confiscated so far this year, compared to 23 structures in the same period last year, according to OCHA.

The al Dababsh family watches as their home is razed to the ground in the village of Khalet al Dabeh

“For anyone who still has qualms about the placement of blame on the state or Civil Administration for the act of demolitions, the message of these continued demolitions in natural areas should serve as a clarifying message,” the Good Shepherd Collective said.

“The state, the settlers and the organizations like Regavim that push forward the destruction of these areas, structures and resources for Palestinians are not motivated by the preservation of humanitarian rights, environmental laws, or the protection of the natural environment.”

The series of attacks on water sources in July comes after Israel ripped out a huge pipe network earlier this year that had supplied 12 Palestinian towns in the South Hebron Hills with running water.

The pipes were built in secret and took four months to install. But just six months later, Israel destroyed them, cutting the 20km lifeline.

The 12 villages have had to return to the old method of accessing water – by transporting tanks on tractors along poor roads which wears down the tyres and wastes precious work days.

Transporting water in this way adds to the economic burden of the area’s small villages, costing 30 shekkles for one cubic metre. In contrast Israelis pay just 8 shekkles per cubic metre.

And even the trucks are not safe from Israel’s war on water; on July 15, 18 water tanks were confiscated by Israeli soldiers. In the same raid, several thousand dollars of water pipeline and drilling equipment to install the pipes were also taken.

“The feeling is hard to accept, the fact that those people, those humans out of blood and flesh agree on themselves to cut other peoples’ lives by cutting the water,” Tariq tells ISM.

“It’s far from doing something legal. There’s no law in the world that says you can cut water from humans and forbid him from having water access. Its insane.”

The South Hebron Hills is in Area C of the West Bank which means it is under full Israeli control. Palestinians in this region are denied building permits even to install water pipelines or wells, and are not allowed to hook up to the water network that Israel has laid across Palestinian land to supply illegal settlements.

As a result, villages in the area are subject to unrelenting attacks on not only their water sources but farmland and homes.


* Water Series: IOF destroy farmland east of Hebron – ISM speaks to owner Ghassan Jaber

August 3, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 5 Comments

Israel sentences prisoners’ lawyer to 13 years behind bars

Tariq Barghouth, a prominent lawyer known for defending Palestinian prisoners held by Israel
MEMO | July 31, 2019

An Israeli court sentenced the lawyer of the PLO’s Prisoners’ Committee to 13 years, six months in prison on Tuesday, Quds Press has reported. Tariq Barghouth was arrested by the Israeli occupation forces on 27 February this year before undergoing harsh interrogation.

To put pressure on him in order to give what are said to be false confessions, the Israelis also arrested his wife and sister. The two women were released later.

Barghouth is one of the most prominent lawyers known for defending Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. He is currently in Nafha Prison in the south of Israel.

Meanwhile, the Israeli prison service has detained Shorouq Mohammed Al-Badan, 25, from Taqu village near the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem. She has been given an administrative detention term of six months with neither charge nor trial.

The Prisoners’ Committee said that the occupation authorities arrested Al-Badan on 15 July during a night raid on her house. She was taken to the Etzion interrogation centre and then to HaSharon Prison for five day; she is now in Al-Damoun Prison.

Whilst in HaSharon, Al-Badan was held in a very small room which was extremely hot due to the prevailing high temperature. This led to her suffering from acute pain in her kidneys, presumably as a result of severe dehydration.

The Committee said that there are currently around 500 Palestinian prisoners being held under administrative detention orders inside Israeli jails, including nine who are on hunger strike in protest against their detention. Such orders can be renewed indefinitely.

July 31, 2019 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 1 Comment

Expanding Occupation: Brouqin Village

Al-Haq | July 26, 2019

A short film highlighting the on-going long term drastic effects of settlements on Palestinian communities.

July 27, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , | Leave a comment

Israeli forces laugh and cheer as tower collapses

RT | July 23, 2019

Israeli police and military were filmed laughing and cheering as they blew up a Palestinian building in the West Bank district of Wadi Hummus in East Jerusalem on Monday.

The footage shows three men looking down on the area where Israel began demolition of 13 buildings, after a High Court ruled against an appeal to stop the demolition ordered by the Defense Ministry, which said the buildings were too close to the separation barrier Israel constructed around and inside the West Bank in the 2000s.

A man wearing a balaclava holds the controls to set off the explosions inside the building below. Once it starts to explode, the men laugh and celebrate as other people can be heard cheering and whistling.

The buildings are located on the outskirts of Sur Baher in Wadi Hummus, which is in Area A of the West Bank, meaning it is under the administration of the Palestinian Authority (PA). The separation barrier left Wadi Hummus on the Israel side of the structure, even though it remains part of the West Bank. The buildings that were demolished had permits issued by the PA.

Their destruction was condemned as a “grave aggression” by Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, who said that a complaint would be made to the International Criminal Court. “This is a continuation of the forced displacement of the people of Jerusalem from their homes and lands – a war crime and a crime against humanity,” he said.

Last week UN officials called on Israel to halt its demolition plans and the EU said the policy “undermines the viability of the two-state solution and the prospect for a lasting peace.”

See also:

July 23, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Video, War Crimes | , , , , | 14 Comments

US’ Greenblatt: ‘Israel is victim in conflict with Palestinians’

MEMO | July 18, 2019

The US Special Representative for International Negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, has said that Israel is the “victim” in its conflict with the Palestinians and that he “cannot think of single instances” when Israel made a mistake.

In an interview aired yesterday by US broadcaster PBS, Greenblatt was asked what responsibility Israel bears for its now 71-year-old conflict with the Palestinians. The US envoy replied:

I think that Israel is actually more the victim than the party that’s responsible. From the moment of its formation, they were attacked multiple times. They continue to be attacked with terrorism. So — I’m not sure I understand the premise of the question.

He added that he “cannot think of single instances” in which Israel made a mistake or overstepped its authority, saying: “I think that they’re trying their best to succeed. They have actually succeeded in many ways, especially economically, under very, very trying circumstances.”

Greenblatt also doubled down on previous comments in which he argued Israel’s illegal settlements should be referred to as “neighbourhoods and cities”, saying that the term “settlements” is “pejorative”.

On the occupied West Bank – where over 500 illegal settlements are located – and the besieged Gaza Strip, the envoy said: “I would argue that the land is disputed. It needs to be resolved in the context of direct negotiations between the parties. Calling it occupied territory does not help resolve the conflict.”

Under international law, both the West Bank and Gaza Strip remain classified as occupied territories.

Greenblatt’s comments are the latest in a series of controversial remarks that have drawn fierce criticism and rebuke of the US envoy.

Earlier this month, Greenblatt came under fire after criticising the Palestinian Authority (PA) for failing to provide adequate funds for a Palestinian child’s blood cancer medication. This came after Gaza-based Palestinian journalist Fathi Sabbah accused PA Prime Minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, and Ahmed Abu Houli, a member of the executive committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), of reneging on promises to assist with his daughter Rima’s treatment.

This prompted Greenblatt to write on Twitter: “Mr. Shtayyeh, how about keeping your word & paying for Rima’s treatment? The PA has the funds and it would be a wise and compassionate use of them. Mr. Sabbah, my thoughts are with you and your family. I pray Rima will have a full and speedy recovery.”

Twitter users – including Sabbah – were quick to point out the irony of Greenblatt blaming the PA for the family’s plight while ignoring Israel’s siege of the Gaza Strip, regular refusal to grant exit visas for medical treatment, and the US’ almost-unconditional support for Israel.

The US envoy – who is one of the chief architects of the US’ long-awaited “deal of the century” – has also made a number of provocative claims about Israel’s policy in the occupied West Bank.

In June, Greenblatt stood behind comments made by US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, in which the latter stated Israel has “the right” to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.

Friedman told the New York Times that “under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank”, provoking international outcry and prompting the Palestinian Foreign Ministry to consider filing a complaint against the ambassador at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Greenblatt backed Friedman’s stance, saying: “I will let David’s comments stand for themselves. I think he said them elegantly and I support his comments.” For his part, Friedman has also refused to back down, since claiming he does “not understand why this issue was faced with such criticism. There is no scenario in which Israel is leaving the whole West Bank.”

His comments have been interpreted as an effort to normalise discussion of Israel’s annexation of the West Bank, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed ahead of the country’s April general election that he would annex the territory if he were re-elected.

Though the political elements of the “deal of the century” have not yet been unveiled, the plan is not expected to demand that Israel dismantle its West Bank settlements. Though the US has not yet changed its policy on annexation, the precedent set by President Donald Trump’s recognition of the occupied Syrian Golan Heights as Israeli could pave the way for a similar move in the West Bank.

July 18, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , | 1 Comment