#RacismInIsrael~~ FIRST THEY SILENCED THE MOSQUES, THEN THEY SILENCED THE BUSES

The Israeli Ministry of Transportation ordered that an Israeli bus company stop broadcasting announcements in Arabic in the city of Beersheba.

'They never announced my stop so I fell asleep :( )

They never announced my stop so I fell asleep :( 

The Israeli Ministry of Transportation ordered that an Israeli bus company stop broadcasting announcements in Arabic in the city of Beersheba, a spokesperson for Dan Bus Company told Ma’an on Thursday.

The spokesperson said to Ma’an that the company had been asked by the Israeli Ministry of Transportation to cease broadcasting announcements in Arabic on Tuesday, only four days after opening its new bus line in Beersheba.

They said that “many, many people complained to the municipality,” which in turn took the matter to the Ministry of Transportation.

The Dan spokesman stated that the company was “not comfortable” with the request to stop the Arabic announcements, adding that “40 percent of our drivers are Muslim,” but that it would comply with directives from the Ministry.

They went on to add that this was the first time that the company was broadcasting these announcements in both Arabic and Hebrew, but that signs remained written in both languages.

A spokesperson from the Ministry of Transportation did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Ma’an on the legality of the decision given Arabic’s status as one of Israel’s official languages.

The director of the Coalition Against Racism in Israel, Nidal Othman, said that the ban was symbolic of Israeli authorities submitting to racism which it should stop at every level, adding that the bus company’s response was unacceptable and showed an agreement on racism between governmental and public institutions.

Othman went on to call the decision a “very dangerous escalation” which could prove to become a slippery slope from racist political statements to racist actions.

“A minority of society refuses coexistence (between Israeli Jews and Palestinians with Israeli citizenship), but they have loud voices, while the majority is silent,” Othman said.

He added that the continued presence of the Arabic language in Israel was the product of efforts conducted by human right organizations, and must be protected from the “racist minority” in Beersheba which seeks to make Arabic disappear from the public sphere.

Palestinians with Israeli citizenship constitute 20 percent of the population of Israel, and have long been targeted by discriminatory Israeli policies, whether through fewer resources allocated to Palestinian-majority communities in Israel, “divide and conquer” tactics, attempts at forcibly displacing Bedouin communities, and what have been denounced as policies of “Judaization” at the expense of other religious communities.

The bus announcement ban also comes right as the Israeli Knesset is discussing a bill which would ban the use of loudspeakers to broadcast the Muslim call to prayer (adhan) from mosques in Israel.

Despite the bill not yet being voted into law, a mosque in the town of al-Ludd was fined in late November for broadcasting the adhan, sparking uproar.

 

 

FROM

#InPalestine ~~ ALARM CLOCKS AND PHONE APPS CAN REPLACE THE CALL TO PRAYER

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared his support this month for the so-called “muezzin bill”, claiming it was urgently needed to stop the dawn call to prayer from mosques ruining the Israeli public’s sleep. A vote in the parliament is due this week. The use of loudspeakers by muezzins was unnecessarily disruptive, Mr Netanyahu argued, in an age of alarm clocks and phone apps. 

Image by Carlos Latuff

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The link between Israel’s forest fires and the ‘muezzin bill’

Jonathan Cook

Israeli legislation ostensibly intended to tackle noise pollution from Muslim houses of worship has, paradoxically, served chiefly to provoke a cacophony of indignation across much of the Middle East.

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared his support this month for the so-called “muezzin bill”, claiming it was urgently needed to stop the dawn call to prayer from mosques ruining the Israeli public’s sleep. A vote in the parliament is due this week. The use of loudspeakers by muezzins was unnecessarily disruptive, Mr Netanyahu argued, in an age of alarm clocks and phone apps.

But the one in five of Israel’s population who are Palestinian, most of them Muslim, and a further 300,000 living under occupation in East Jerusalem, say the legislation is grossly discriminatory. The bill’s environmental rationale is bogus, they note. Moti Yogev, a settler leader who drafted the bill, originally wanted the loudspeaker ban to curb the broadcasting of sermons supposedly full of “incitement” against Israel.

And last week, after the Jewish ultra-Orthodox lobby began to fear the bill might also apply to sirens welcoming in the Sabbath, the government hurriedly introduced an exemption for synagogues.

The “muezzin bill” does not arrive in a politically neutral context. The extremist wing of the settler movement championing it has been vandalizing and torching mosques in Israel and the occupied territories for years.

The new bill follows hot on the heels of a government-sponsored expulsion law that allows Jewish legislators to oust from the parliament the Palestinian minority’s representatives if they voice unpopular views.

Palestinian leaders in Israel are rarely invited on TV, unless it is to defend themselves against accusations of treasonous behavior.

And this month a branch of a major restaurant chain in the northern city of Haifa, where many Palestinian citizens live, banned staff from speaking Arabic to avoid Jewish customers’ suspicions that they were being covertly derided.

Incrementally, Israel’s Palestinian minority has found itself squeezed out of the public sphere. The “muezzin bill” is just the latest step in making them inaudible as well as invisible.

Notably, Basel Ghattas, a Palestinian Christian legislator from the Galilee, denounced the bill too. Churches in Nazareth, Jerusalem, and Haifa, he vowed, would broadcast the muezzin’s call to prayer if mosques were muzzled.

For Ghattas and others, the bill is as much an assault on the community’s beleaguered Palestinian identity as it is on its Muslim character. Netanyahu, on the other hand, has dismissed criticism by comparing the proposed restrictions to measures adopted in countries like France and Switzerland. What is good for Europe, he argues, is good for Israel.

Except Israel, it hardly needs pointing out, is not in Europe. And its Palestinians are the native population, not immigrants.

Haneen Zoabi, another lawmaker, observed that the legislation was not about “the noise in [Israeli Jews’] ears but the noise in their minds”. Their colonial fears, she said, were evoked by the Palestinians’ continuing vibrant presence in Israel – a presence that was supposed to have been extinguished in 1948 with the Nakba, the creation of a Jewish state on the ruins of the Palestinians’ homeland.

That point was illustrated inadvertently over the weekend by dozens of fires that ravaged pine forests and neighboring homes across Israel, fuelled by high winds and months of drought.

Some posting on social media relished the fires as God’s punishment for the “muezzin bill”.

With almost as little evidence, Netanyahu accused Palestinians of setting “terrorist” fires to burn down the Israeli state. The Israeli prime minister needs to distract attention from his failure to heed warnings six years ago, when similar blazes struck, that Israel’s densely packed forests pose a fire hazard.

If it turns out that some of the fires were set on purpose, Netanyahu will have no interest in explaining why.

Many of the forests were planted decades ago by Israel to conceal the destruction of hundreds of Palestinian villages, after 80 percent of the Palestinian population – some 750,000 – were expelled outside Israel’s new borders in 1948. Today they live in refugee camps, including in the West Bank and Gaza.

According to Israeli scholars, the country’s European founders turned the pine tree into a “weapon of war”, using it to erase any trace of the Palestinians. The Israeli historian Ilan Pappe calls this policy “memoricide”.

Olive trees and other native species like carob, pomegranate and citrus were also uprooted in favor of the pine. Importing the landscape of Europe was a way to ensure Jewish immigrants would not feel homesick.

Today, for many Israeli Jews, only the muezzin threatens this contrived idyll. His intermittent call to prayer emanates from the dozens of Palestinian communities that survived 1948’s mass expulsions and were not replaced with pine trees.

Like an unwelcome ghost, the sound now haunts neighboring Jewish towns.

The “muezzin bill” aims to eradicate the aural remnants of Palestine as completely as Israel’s forests obliterated its visible parts – and reassure Israelis that they live in Europe rather than the Middle East.

A version of this article first appeared in the National, Abu Dhabi.

HOW THE ‘SUPER MOON’ AFFECTED THE SUPER LUNATICS IN ISRAEL

Olive harvest time is a traditional season for pogroms in the West Bank, but this was one of the most violent.

Image by Carlos Latuff

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 Israel’s #1 Lunatic

Image by Amos Biderman

Image by Amos Biderman

A Pogrom Shakes a Palestinian Village Strangled by Israeli Settlements

A dozen masked settlers wielding knives and clubs and yelling ‘death to Arabs’ attacked five Palestinian farmers who were harvesting olives; ‘They came to kill,’ one victim says.

Gideon Levy and Alex Levac

It was a pogrom.

The survivors are five congenial Palestinian farmers who speak broken Hebrew and work in construction in Israel, with valid entry permits. On weekends they cultivate what is left of their lands, most of which were plundered for the benefit of the settlements that choke their village, Janiya, outside Ramallah. They are convinced that they survived last Saturday’s attack only by a miracle.

“Pogrom” really is the only word that describes what they endured. “We will kill you!” the assailants shouted, as they beat the men over the head and on their bodies with clubs and iron pipes, and brandished serrated knives. The only “crime” of the Palestinians, who were in the midst of harvesting their olives when the settlers swooped down on them, was that they were Palestinians who had the temerity to work their land.

Olive harvest time is a traditional season for pogroms in the West Bank, but this was one of the most violent. No Israeli official condemned the assault, no one got upset. One victim needed 20 stitches in his head, another suffered a broken arm and shoulder, a third is limping, a fourth lost his front teeth. Only one managed to get away from the attackers, but he was also hobbled, when he injured his leg on the rocky terrain as he fled.

The farmers, who days later were still in shock from the experience, were evacuated by fellow villagers; the olives remain scattered on the ground. Now they are afraid to go back to the groves. This weekend, they promised themselves, they will send young people from Janiya to collect what was harvested and to complete the work. They themselves, their bodies and spirits battered, say they are incapable of doing anything.

The assailants, about a dozen masked settlers, are seen in a video taken by a local resident, Ahmed al-Mazlim, as they – apparently flushed with the excitement of their act – made their way back to their huts, which are scattered below the settlement of Neria, also known as North Talmon, between Modi’in and Ramallah. This was their “oneg Shabbat,” their Sabbath joy: descending into the valley and beating up people who were working their land, as innocent as they were helpless – possibly even with intent to kill. A peaceful weekend.

The settlers are seen climbing slowly back up to the huts of their unauthorized outpost, which is planted on the hillside below Neria. They are not in any hurry – after all, no one is going to catch them. Finally they sit down on the porch of one of the huts to quench their thirst with a canteen.

I’ve never before seen criminals leaving the scene of the crime with such indifference. Maybe they were exhausted from their labors – thrashing Arabs – tired but happy. Yotam Berger, the Haaretz reporter who was the first to publish the video, visited the huts the day after the pogrom. It was clear to him that settlers lived there, even though the structures were empty when he arrived. No arrests have been made so far, and past experience suggests that none will be made. The police are investigating.

Janiya, a small village of 1,400 souls in the central West Bank, made a living from its lands until most of them were grabbed by the nearby settlements, beginning in the late 1980s. Few regions are as dense with settlers as this one; few villages have had as much of their land plundered as Janiya. Of the original 50,000-60,000 dunams (12,500-15,000 acres) owned by its residents, only 7,000 remain in their hands. The village is being suffocated.

From a vantage point at its edge, we can view the valley in which the assault was perpetrated, and the nearby settlements. Our guide is Iyad Hadad, a field researcher for the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem. Beneath us, the homes of Talmon A abut Janiya’s remaining lands, quite close to the villagers’ houses. Just stretch out your hand and touch them; one more expansion project and they’re inside Janiya.

To the right – southeast – is the settlement of Dolev, on behalf of whose residents Israel blocked the main road to Ramallah for years. Perched on the hill opposite is Talmon B; next to it is Talmon C; and there, on the horizon, lies Talmon D. An Israel Defense Forces base stands on the top of the hill, at a distance.

Every hilltop here poses another threat to the quiet village. Neria overlooks the olive grove belonging to the Abu Fuheida family and the terraced slopes leading down to it. The dwellings of the “hilltop youths” are scattered across the whole expanse, beneath the Talmons, dozens of meters apart from each other.

It’s quiet in the valley. Some of Janiya’s olive groves now lie on property owned by the settlements; when they are harvested, it’s done in coordination with the Israel Defense Forces. For example, olives were picked in Palestinian-tended parts of Talmon A last week. But the attack by the settlers was perpetrated in a location where coordination isn’t required, because it’s not on the property of any settlement.

This is the end of the harvesting season, and this is a wadi called Natashath. It’s Saturday morning, a beautiful day, and five members of the Abu Fuheida family – Sa’il, Hassan, Sabar, Sa’ad and Mohammed – descend to their family grove, where they have about 70 olive trees. It’s about 8:30; there are no other farmers around. They carry bags (“No knives,” one of them quickly makes clear) that are spread out on the ground to catch the fallen olives, along with a bottle of Coca-Cola, tomatoes, pita and cold cuts. This is not a good year for olives – the harvest has been meager.

They work until midday, sit down to eat and go back to the ladders. Their plan is to complete the harvest by evening. But then the assailants sweep down out of nowhere; the harvesters, up on ladders, heads amid the branches, don’t see them. Only Sa’il, at 57 the eldest of the group and the only one not on a ladder, is able to get away, only to be injured in the course of his panicky flight.

According to Sa’il and to his wounded brother Hassan, there were 10, perhaps 15 attackers. They looked young and robust. One of the four who assaulted Hassan wore glasses; Hassan saw only his eyes. He was the one who gave him the worst pummeling, adds Hassan. All were holding pipes, clubs, sticks or knives. There was also one who seemed to be a lookout: He stood atop the hill next to Neria, armed with a rifle, apparently observing the goings-on. “Kill the Arabs! Kill the Arabs!” the attackers shouted. “We will kill you, you sluts.”

Sa’il: “They were aggressive, violent, I’ve never seen an attack like it. They came to kill.”

The villagers scampered down from the ladders, straight into the hands of the attackers, who grabbed Sabar first, then Hassan, surrounding them – a few settlers for every Palestinian – and walloping them. Sabar was the first to lose consciousness, Hassan says he also passed out. The pogromists tried to hit them on the head, but Hassan protected his with his hands. His right hand is now bandaged, stitched up and in a sling, four of his teeth were knocked out and his lip was cut, too. He is barely functioning and his speech is slurred.

The attack went on for between five and 10 minutes. One of the cousins, Mohammed, managed to flee at one stage, after being slightly wounded, and he summoned help from the village. When the assailants left, the wounded were taken in ambulances and private cars to the Ramallah Government Hospital. Hassan relates that he regained consciousness in his brother’s house, where he had been taken by villagers before being evacuated to the hospital. He gets dizzy when he stands up. He was certain he was going to die, says Hassan, a construction worker in Rishon Letzion (“with a proper permit”).

Only Hassan and Sa’il were in the village when we visited this week (the other three victims had gone to Binyamin Region headquarters, to give testimony to the police.) Their home was packed with visitors offering words of comfort to the victims. The assailants are insane, their cousin Sahar tells us: “They hate the Arabs, they hate the smell of Arabs, they see an Arab and want to trample him underfoot. They want to kill us. They don’t want Arabs here. And they do whatever they feel like.”

We sat in the shade of the bougainvillea in the yard of the family house. I asked Hassan what he thought about what happened. A faint smile crossed his wounded lips, as he replied, “I don’t know what to think. This happens every year.”

Source and photos AT

SILENCING OF THE LAMBS IN JERUSALEM

The latest attempt to erase Palestine from the map was to silence the call for morning prayers in Jerusalem ….

This is what some Israelis found offensive …. simply meaning that God is great.

Islamic Call to Prayer at Dawn

Israeli authorities ban Muslim call for dawn prayer from 3 mosques in Jerusalem town

Israeli authorities reportedly banned the Muslim call to dawn prayer from being projected over loudspeakers in three different mosques in the Jerusalem district town of Abu Dis on Friday, according to local sources.

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Lawyer Bassam Bahr, head of a local committee in Abu Dis, told Ma’an that Israeli forces raided the town just before the dawn prayer on Friday.

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According to Bahr, Israeli forces raided the al-Rahman, al-Taybeh and al-Jamia mosques in the town, and informed the muezzins, the men responsible for the call to prayer that the call for dawn prayer through the loudspeakers was banned.
Bahr added that the forces did not provide any reason for the ban, and also prevented locals living in the eastern part of the town from reaching the Salah al-Din mosque for dawn prayers.
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Bahr condemned the “unjustified ban,” saying that “Israel attacks Palestinians in all aspects of their lives,” in the form of limiting free movement through the use of checkpoints, and through the disruption of daily life in the form of nightly detention raids.
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The events in Abu Dis came a day after a number of Israeli settlers from illegal settlement of Pisgat Zeev protested in front of the house of Israeli Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barakat over the ‘noise pollution’ caused by the Muslim call to prayer.
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A spokesperson for the Jerusalem municipality told Ma’an that Barkat, “in collaboration with the Jerusalem District police chief and local Muslim leadership, has developed a plan to protect the religious freedom of Muslim muezzin to announce the call to prayer, while ensuring reasonable quiet in Jerusalem’s residential areas.”
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The spokesperson went on to add that the municipality guidelines would include “increased instructions for muezzin operators regarding technical guidelines for optimal playback and sound amplification, increased mapping of city mosques, and continuous dialogue with local Muslim leadership.”
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Adnan al-Husseini, the Palestinian Authority (PA)-appointed governor of Jerusalem, told Ma’an at the time that the call to prayer — also known as the adhan, which is broadcast five times a day from mosques — was one of the main Muslim religious rituals and an integral part of Jerusalem’s identity. He said that Israeli demands to lower the sound of the adhan was a threat which had been issued several times before in Jerusalem.
Al-Husseini said that the sound of the adhan doesn’t rise above an agreed-upon decibel level, adding that Israeli settlers were not annoyed by the noise, but by the call to prayer as a reminder of Palestinian presence in Jerusalem.
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Meanwhile, Hatem Abd Al-Qader, a Fatah official in Charge of Jerusalem affairs, told Ma’an that Israel aimed to provoke Muslims by attempting to ban the call to prayer.
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Abd al-Qader said that the Israeli settlers’ protest against the adhan came amid constant violations and raids of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem’s Old City, and demolition of Muslim graves in Jerusalem, which he said were part of a broader Israeli plan to destroy the Palestinian Muslim and Christian identities of Jerusalem and replace them with a Jewish one, turning the Israeli-Palestinian political conflict into a religious one.
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Palestinian communities in occupied East Jerusalem — within the municipal boundaries and also beyond the wall in the occupied West Bank — and the larger Jerusalem district, have long been targeted by Israeli authorities in what has been denounced as a policy of “Judaization” of the holy city at the expense of other religious communities.
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This “Judaization” has been characterized by the continuous expansion of illegal Jewish-only settlements and a large-scale policy of demolition of Palestinian homes.
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The Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound has also been the stage of numerous tensions over the years, with Israeli forces imposing tight restrictions on Palestinian worshipers at the site.
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Many Palestinians fear that right-wing Israelis are attempting to reclaim the holy site, as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood.
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SOURCE

HOW BALFOUR’S ‘PROMISE’ AND BRITAIN DESTROYED PALESTINE

Ninety-nine years later, the British government is yet to possess the moral courage to take responsibility for what their government has done to the Palestinian people.  

Ninety-nine years later, Palestinians insist that their rights in Palestine cannot be dismissed, neither by Balfour, nor by his modern peers in “Her Majesty’s Government”.

"The Zionists claimed Palestine and renamed it 'Israel'" [Getty Images]

“The Zionists claimed Palestine and renamed it ‘Israel'” [Getty Images]

How Britain Destroyed the Palestinian Homeland

Ninety-nine years since Balfour’s “promise”, Palestinians insist that their rights in Palestine cannot be dismissed.

Ramzy Baroud

When I was a child growing up in a Gaza refugee camp, I looked forward to November 2. On that day, every year, thousands of students and camp residents would descend upon the main square of the camp, carrying Palestinian flags and placards, to denounce the Balfour Declaration.

Truthfully, my giddiness then was motivated largely by the fact that schools would inevitably shut down and, following a brief but bloody confrontation with the Israeli army, I would go home early to the loving embrace of my mother, where I would eat a snack and watch cartoons. 

At the time, I had no idea who Balfour actually was, and how his “declaration” all those years ago had altered the destiny of my family and, by extension, my life and the lives of my children as well.

All I knew was that he was a bad person and, because of his terrible deed, we subsisted in a refugee camp, encircled by a violent army and by an ever-expanding graveyard filled with “martyrs”.  

Decades later, destiny would lead me to visit the Whittingehame Church, a small parish in which Arthur James Balfour is now buried.  

While my parents and grandparents are buried in a refugee camp, an ever-shrinking space under a perpetual siege and immeasurable hardship, Balfour’s resting place is an oasis of peace and calmness. The empty meadow all around the church is large enough to host all the refugees in my camp.

Finally, I became fully aware of why Balfour was a “bad person”.   

Once Britain’s Prime Minister, then the Foreign Secretary from late 1916, Balfour had pledged my homeland to another people. That promise was made on November 2, 1917, on behalf of the British government in the form of a letter sent to the leader of the Jewish community in Britain, Walter Rothschild.  

At the time, Britain was not even in control of Palestine, which was still part of the Ottoman Empire. Either way, my homeland  was never Balfour’s to so casually transfer to anyone else. His letter read: 

“His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”  

He concluded, “I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.”  

Ironically, members of the British parliament have declared that the use of the term “Zionist” is both anti-Semitic and abusive.

The British government remains unrepentant after all these years. It has yet to take any measure of moral responsibility, however symbolic, for what it has done to the Palestinians. Worse, it is now busy attempting to control the very language used by Palestinians to identify those who have deprived them of their land and freedom.  

But the truth is, not only was Rothschild a Zionist, Balfour was, too. Zionism, then, before it deservedly became a swearword, was a political notion that Europeans prided themselves to be associated with.

In fact, just before he became Prime Minister, David Cameron declared, before the Conservative Friends of Israel meeting, that  he, too, was a Zionist. To some extent, being a Zionist remains a rite of passage for some Western leaders.  

Balfour was hardly acting on his own. True, the Declaration bears his name, yet, in reality, he was a loyal agent of an empire with massive geopolitical designs, not only concerning Palestine alone, but with Palestine as part of a larger Arab landscape.  

Just a year earlier, another sinister document was introduced, albeit secretly. It was endorsed by another top British diplomat, Mark Sykes and, on behalf of France, by François Georges-Picot. The Russians were informed of the agreement, as they too had received a piece of the Ottoman cake.  

The document indicated that, once the Ottomans were soundly defeated, their territories, including Palestine, would be split among the prospective victorious parties.  

The Sykes-Picot Agreement, also known as the Asia Minor Agreement, was signed in secret 100 years ago, two years into World War I. It signified the brutal nature of colonial powers that rarely associated land and resources with people that lived upon the land and owned those resources.  

The centrepiece of the agreement was a map that was marked with straight lines by a china graph pencil. The map largely determined the fate of the Arabs, dividing them in accordance with various haphazard assumptions of tribal and sectarian lines.  

Once the war was over, the loot was to be divided into spheres of influence:  

– France would receive areas marked (a), which included: the region of south-eastern Turkey, northern Iraq – including Mosel, most of Syria and Lebanon. 

– British-controlled areas were marked with the letter (b), which included: Jordan, southern Iraq, Haifa and Acre in Palestine and a coastal strip between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan. 

– Russia would be granted Istanbul, Armenia and the strategic Turkish Straits.  

The improvised map consisted not only of lines but also colours, along with language that attested to the fact that the two countries viewed the Arab region purely on materialistic terms, without paying the slightest attention to the possible repercussions of slicing up entire civilizations with a multifarious history of co-operation and conflict.

The agreement read, partly:  

“… in the blue area France, and in the red area Great Britain, shall be allowed to establish such direct or indirect administration or control as they desire and as they may think fit to arrange with the Arab state or confederation of Arab states.”  

The brown area, however, was designated as an international administration, the nature of which was to be decided upon after further consultation among Britain, France and Russia.  The Sykes-Picot negotiations finished in March 1916 and were official, although secretly signed on May 19, 1916. World War I concluded on November 11, 1918, after which the division of the Ottoman Empire began in earnest.

British and French mandates were extended over divided Arab entities, while Palestine was granted to the Zionist movement a year later, when Balfour conveyed the British government’s promise, sealing the fate of Palestine to live in perpetual war and turmoil. 

INTERACTIVE: A century on – Why Arabs resent Sykes-Picot

The idea of Western “peacemakers” and “honest-brokers”, who are very much a party in every Middle Eastern conflict, is not new. British betrayal of Arab aspirations goes back many decades. They used the Arabs as pawns in their Great Game against other colonial contenders, only to betray them later on, while still casting themselves as friends bearing gifts.

Nowhere else was this hypocrisy on full display as was in the case of Palestine. Starting with the first wave of Zionist Jewish migration to Palestine in 1882, European countries helped to facilitate the movement of illegal settlers and resources, where the establishment of many colonies, large and small, was afoot.    

So when Balfour sent his letter to Rothschild, the idea of a Jewish homeland in Palestine was very much plausible.

Still, many supercilious promises were being made to the Arabs during the Great War years, as self-imposed Arab leadership sided with the British in their war against the Ottoman Empire. Arabs were promised instant independence, including that of the Palestinians.  

The understanding among Arab leaders was that Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations was to apply to Arab provinces that were ruled by the Ottomans. Arabs were told that they were to be respected as “a sacred trust of civilization”, and their communities were to be recognised as “independent nations”.  

Palestinians wanted to believe that they were also included in that civilization sacredness, and were deserving of independence, too. Their conduct in support of the Pan-Arab Congress, as voting delegates in July 1919, which elected Faisal as a King of a state comprising Palestine, Lebanon, Transjordan and Syria, and their continued support of Sharif Hussein of Mecca, were all expressions of their desire for the long-coveted sovereignty.

When the intentions of the British and their rapport with the Zionists became too apparent, Palestinians rebelled, a rebellion that has never ceased, 99 years later, for the horrific consequences of British colonialism and the eventual complete Zionist takeover of Palestine are still felt after all these years.  

Paltry attempts to pacify Palestinian anger were to no avail, especially after the League of Nations Council in July 1922 approved the terms of the British Mandate over Palestine – which was originally granted to Britain in April 1920 – without consulting the Palestinians at all, who would disappear from the British and international radar, only to reappear as negligible rioters, troublemakers, and obstacles to the joint British-Zionist colonial concoctions.  

Despite occasional assurances to the contrary, the British intention of ensuring the establishment of an exclusively Jewish state in Palestine was becoming clearer with time.

The Balfour Declaration was hardly an aberration, but had, indeed, set the stage for the full-scale ethnic cleansing that followed, three decades later. 

In his book, Before Their Diaspora, Palestinian scholar Walid Khalidi captured the true collective understanding among Palestinians regarding what had befallen their homeland nearly a century ago: 

“The Mandate, as a whole, was seen by the Palestinians as an Anglo-Zionist condominium and its terms as instrument for the implementation of the Zionist programme; it had been imposed on them by force, and they considered it to be both morally and legally invalid. The Palestinians constituted the vast majority of the population and owned the bulk of the land. Inevitably, the ensuing struggle centreed on this status quo. The British and the Zionists were determined to subvert and revolutionise it, the Palestinians to defend and preserve it.”  

In fact, that history remains in constant replay: The Zionists claimed Palestine and renamed it “Israel”; the British continue to support them, although never ceasing to pay lip service to the Arabs; the Palestinian people remain a nation that is geographically fragmented between refugee camps, in the diaspora, militarily occupied, or treated as second-class citizens in a country upon which their ancestors dwelt since time immemorial.  

While Balfour cannot be blamed for all the misfortunes that have befallen Palestinians since he communicated his brief but infamous letter, the notion that his “promise” embodied – that of complete disregard of the aspirations of the Palestinian Arab people – is handed from one generation of British diplomats to the next, the same way that Palestinian resistance to colonialism is also spread across generations.

In his essay in the Al-Ahram Weekly, entitled “Truth and Reconciliation“, the late Professor Edward Said wrote: “Neither the Balfour Declaration nor the Mandate ever specifically concede that Palestinians had political, as opposed to civil and religious, rights in Palestine.

The idea of inequality between Jews and Arabs was, therefore, built into British – and, subsequently, Israeli and US – policy from the start.”

That inequality continues, thus the perpetuation of the conflict. What the British, the early Zionists, the Americans and subsequent Israeli governments failed to understand, and continue to ignore at their own peril, is that there can be no peace without justice and equality in Palestine; and that Palestinians will continue to resist, as long as the reasons that inspired their rebellion nearly a century ago, remain in place.  

Ninety-nine years later, the British government is yet to possess the moral courage to take responsibility for what their government has done to the Palestinian people.  

Ninety-nine years later, Palestinians insist that their rights in Palestine cannot be dismissed, neither by Balfour, nor by his modern peers in “Her Majesty’s Government”.

More photos and videos at SOURCE

60th ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF PALESTINE

Sixty years is a long time to mourn a death, even a cold-blooded murder. It is even longer when you must live among those, and under the system of those, who murdered your loved ones. Had this been merely an isolated incident of the Israeli military machine killing Palestinians, one may have already regulated it to the history books. But it was and is not.

Photographs of the victims are displayed at the Kafr Qassem Massacre Museum. (Photo credit: Dylan Collins)

Photographs of the victims are displayed at the Kafr Qassem Massacre Museum. (Photo credit: Dylan Collins)

The Almighty Military Order

Forty-eight civilians, 1 fetus and 10 pennies

By Sam Bahour

If your Palestinian neighbors and friends seem slightly on edge today, please excuse them. October 29th brings back horrific memories to Palestinians everywhere, young and old. It was 60 years ago today that a scene of cold-blooded murder fell upon the hill-top Palestinian village of Kafr Qassem (also written Kfar Kassim), located in Israel about 20 km east of Tel Aviv, near the Green Line (1949 Armistice Agreement’s demarcation line) separating Israel and the West Bank. It was in Kafr Qassem on this day in 1956 where the Israeli military literally mowed down in cold blood 48 innocent civilians, one being a pregnant woman whose fetus is counted as the 49th victim. It was said that all of this was done in the service of the almighty Israeli “military order,” which no one dared to challenge.

Sixty years is a long time to mourn a death, even a cold-blooded murder. It is even longer when you must live among those, and under the system of those, who murdered your loved ones. Had this been merely an isolated incident of the Israeli military machine killing Palestinians, one may have already regulated it to the history books. But it was and is not.

There were other massacres prior to Kafr Qasssem, such as the case of Deir Yassin in 1948. Since that dark day in Kafr Qassem there have been numerous other incidents, too many to list. One that comes to mind is 13-year old Iman al-Homs who, in October 2004, was walking home from school in Gaza when an Israeli soldier emptied his magazine into her after she was wounded and lay on the ground. The soldier was caught on radio communications saying he was “confirming the kill.” The most recent example that comes to mind is the Israeli soldier caught on camera in Hebron this past March as he executed a wounded and immobilized Palestinian man lying on the ground by firing a bullet into his head as his fellow soldiers casually watched on.

Unlike today, decades ago Israel did undertake more serious investigations of actions of its military. This is not to say that justice was ever served—it rarely is. Such a landmark investigation was the Israeli Kahan Commission, established by the Israeli government on September 28, 1982, to investigate the Sabra and Shatila massacre (September 16–18, 1982) where 1,000-3,000 (exact number is disputed) Palestinians were slaughtered over three days.

The Kahan Commission was chaired by the Israeli President of the Supreme Court, Yitzhak Kahan. Its other two members were Israeli Supreme Court Judge Aharon Barak and Major general (res.) Yona Efrat. The Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon was found to bear personal responsibility. Sharon’s negligence in protecting the civilian population of Beirut, which had come under Israeli control, resulted in a recommendation that Sharon be dismissed as Defense Minister. Although Sharon grudgingly resigned as Defense Minister, he remained in the Cabinet as a Minister without Portfolio. Years later, Sharon would be elected Israel’s Prime Minister.

Back to Kafr Qassem.

The Israeli English newspaper, Haaretz, reported in a story by correspondent Ofer Aderet (60 years after massacre, Kafr Qasem doesn’t want an apology from the Israeli government, October 28, 2016) that, “In the 60 years since the [Kafr Qasem] carnage Israel’s attitude has been complicated. Those involved in it were court martialed, convicted and some sentenced at first to long prison terms [these “long terms” were less than what the law stipulated for premeditated murder]. [Israeli] Judge Benjamin Halevy coined the phrase “a blatantly illegal order” in his verdict. The instruction to Israel Defense Forces soldiers that they are obliged to refuse an order “that has a black flag flying over it” has become part of the Kafr Qasem legacy.”

The Haaretz story goes on, “But the convicted parties’ sentence was soon commuted by the chief of staff, they were pardoned by the president and released from jail. The most senior defendant, Col. Issachar Shadmi, commander of the brigade in charge of the area, was sentenced to a symbolic fine of 10 pennies for exceeding authority. Major Shmuel Malinki, commander of the Border Patrol battalion, testified at the trial that Shadmi had ordered him to enforce the curfew with gunshots. Asked what would happen to those who return to the village after the curfew, Kedmi said Shadmi had said “may God have mercy on their soul.””

And maybe most shocking of all coming from an Israeli newspaper is that, “The comparison between the Kafr Qasem massacre and the Holocaust was first made at the trial, when the [Israeli] judge asked one of the defendants if he would have justified a Nazi soldier who was obeying orders.” The Haaretz correspondent continues, “In 1986, 30 years after the massacre, Shalom Ofer, one of the convicted soldiers, said in an interview to Ha’ir: “We were like the Germans. They stopped trucks, took the Jews off and shot them. What we did is the same. We were obeying orders like a German soldier during the war, when he was ordered to slaughter Jews.””

Many, especially those in the Jewish community in Israel and abroad, will rightfully find the above words hard to swallow. I don’t blame them. This horrendous act was revolting and when undertaken in “your” name it makes one sick to their stomach.

Aderet’s article offers but a glimpse into the legal proceedings surrounding Kafr Qassem. One of the first people to document those proceedings wasattorney Sabri Jiryis in his landmark book, The Arabs in Israel, published in Haifa in Hebrew in 1966. A fuller account of the testimonies recorded by the Israeli commanders and soldiers who took part in this killing spree can be found printed here [with the author’s permission] in English. Warning: it’s a disturbing read.

And this, my friends, is the buried past and not so buried present, of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), “the most moral army in the world.” It is imperative that we all redouble our efforts to not make it its future as well, military order or not.

 

Originally posted AT

Related Post (Click on link)

Commemorating Kafr Qasim Massacre at its 60th Anniversary

THE DEAL TO ERASE PALESTINE COMPLETELY

The clearest message from Israel’s new aid package is one delivered to the Palestinians: Washington sees no pressing strategic interest in ending the occupation. It stood up to Netanyahu over the Iran deal but will not risk a damaging clash with Israel and its loyalists in Congress over Palestinian statehood.

Image by Carlos Latuff

Clearest message from new Israel aid package is that US sees no pressing strategic interest in ending the occupation

Clearest message from new Israel aid package is that US sees no pressing strategic interest in ending the occupation

US aid deal gives green light to Israel’s erasure of Palestine

The announcement last week by the United States of the largest military aid package in its history – to Israel – was a win for both sides.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu could boast that his lobbying had boosted aid from $3.1 billion to $3.8bn a year – a 22 per cent increase – for a decade starting in 2019.

Netanyahu has presented this as a rebuff to those who accuse him of jeopardising Israeli security interests with his government’s repeated affronts to the White House.

In the past weeks alone, defence minister Avigdor Lieberman has compared last year’s nuclear deal between Washington and Iran with the 1938 Munich pact, which bolstered Hitler; and Netanyahu has implied that US opposition to settlement expansion is the same as support for the “ethnic cleansing” of Jews.

American president Barack Obama, meanwhile, hopes to stifle his own critics who insinuate that he is anti-Israel. The deal should serve as a fillip too for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic party’s candidate to succeed Obama in November’s election.

In reality, however, the Obama administration has quietly punished Netanyahu for his misbehaviour. Israeli expectations of a $4.5bn-a-year deal were whittled down after Netanyahu stalled negotiations last year as he sought to recruit Congress to his battle against the Iran deal.

In fact, Israel already receives roughly $3.8bn – if Congress’s assistance on developing missile defence programmes is factored in. Notably, Israel has been forced to promise not to approach Congress for extra funds.

Netanyahu’s agreement to such terms has incensed Israeli loyalists in Congress such as Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who had been fighting Netanyahu’s corner to win an even larger aid handout from US taxpayers. He accused the Israeli prime minister on Friday of having “pulled the rug from under us”.

As Ehud Barak, Netanyahu’s former defence minister, also pointed out in a series of TV interviews in Israel, the deal fails to take into account either inflation or the dollar’s depreciation against the shekel.

A bigger blow still is the White House’s demand to phase out a special exemption that allowed Israel to spend nearly 40 per cent of aid locally on weapon and fuel purchases. Israel will soon have to buy all its armaments from the US, ending what amounted to a subsidy to its own arms industry.

Netanyahu preferred to sign the deal now rather than wait till the next president is installed, even though Clinton and her Republican challenger, Donald Trump, are expected to be even more craven towards Israel. That appears to reflect Netanyahu’s fear that the US political environment will be more uncertain after the election and could lead to long delays in an agreement, and apprehension about the implications for Israel of Trump’s general opposition to foreign aid.

Nonetheless, Washington’s renewed military largesse – in the face of almost continual insults – inevitably fuels claims that the Israeli tail is wagging the US dog. Even the New York Times has described the aid package as “too big”.

Since the 1973 war, Israel has received at least $100bn in military aid, with more assistance hidden from view. Back in the 1970s, Washington paid half of Israel’s military budget. Today it still foots a fifth of the bill, despite Israel’s economic success.

But the US expects a return on its massive investment. As the late Israeli politician-general Ariel Sharon once observed, Israel has been a US “aircraft carrier” in the Middle East, acting as the regional bully and carrying out operations that benefit Washington.

Almost no one implicates the US in Israeli attacks that wiped out Iraq and Syria’s nuclear programmes. A nuclear-armed Iraq or Syria, however, would have deterred later US-backed moves at regime overthrow, as well as countering the strategic advantage Israel derives from its own large nuclear arsenal.

In addition, Israel’s US-sponsored military prowess is a triple boon to the US weapons industry, the country’s most powerful lobby. Public funds are siphoned off to let Israel buy goodies from American arms makers. That, in turn, serves as a shop window for other customers and spurs an endless and lucrative game of catch-up in the rest of the Middle East.

The first F-35 fighter jets to arrive in Israel in December – their various components produced in 46 US states – will increase the clamour for the cutting-edge warplane.

Israel is also a “front-line laboratory”, as former Israeli army negotiator Eival Gilady admitted at the weekend, that develops and field-tests new technology Washington can later use itself.

The US is planning to buy back the missile interception system Iron Dome – which neutralises battlefield threats of retaliation – it largely paid for. Israel works closely too with the US in developing cyber­warfare, such as the Stuxnet worm that damaged Iran’s civilian nuclear programme.

But the clearest message from Israel’s new aid package is one delivered to the Palestinians: Washington sees no pressing strategic interest in ending the occupation. It stood up to Netanyahu over the Iran deal but will not risk a damaging clash with Israel and its loyalists in Congress over Palestinian statehood.

Some believe that Obama signed the aid agreement to win the credibility necessary to overcome his domestic Israel lobby and pull a rabbit from the hat: an initiative, unveiled shortly before he leaves office, that corners Netanyahu into making peace.

Hopes have been raised by an expected meeting at the United Nations in New York on Wednesday. But their first talks in 10 months are planned only to demonstrate the unity necessary to confound critics of the aid deal.

If Obama really wanted to pressure Netanyahu, he would have used the aid agreement as leverage. Now Netanyahu need not fear US financial retaliation, even as he intensifies effective annexation of the West Bank.

Netanyahu has drawn the right lesson from the aid deal – he can act again the Palestinians with continuing impunity and lots of US military hardware.

#InGaza ~~ A POEM TO MAKE YOU WEEP

This poem was written by a German friend, Christopher Ben Kushka, a courageous activist for human rights and Palestinian liberation . It is not easy to speak out for Palestine in Germany. He is a teacher who is having a very hard time , threatened by Benjamin Weinthal and the lunatics and ideologues trying to harm him. He writes that 85% of Germans are indifferent or think it is a 50:50 conflict. Like me, he has been dropped like a hot potato for his views considered extreme.  He is also shut down from taking part in public discourse.

Bansky graffiti

Bansky graffiti

Here is a heartbreaking poem Christopher wrote at the height of the Gaza massacre in 2014

I want Palestinians to die

I want Palestinians to worry
about
which career to choose?
where to go on vacation, which country to travel to first?

I want Palestinians to despair
over the sun having set already
when they arrive at the beach to BBQ with family and friends

I want Palestinians toddlers and kids to cry
over a broken toy
and then to stroll on to another day full of adventures

I want Palestinians to battle
the challenges inside their own society
in a country based on justice and rights and peace
with none of us well-meaning friends interfering

I want Palestinians to die
a calm death
after a fullfilled and dignified life
after doing the deeds and praying the prayers
and working the work and
watching the next generations grow and prosper

a calm death they shall die
with a smile on their face
and an Alhamdulillah! on their lips

Click HERE to see a report written by the poet for Mondoweiss

CAUGHT ON VIDEO ~~ LINEUP OF PALESTINIAN CHILDREN

An Israeli soldier searches a 15 year old boy in Hebron. One of the many incidents that takes place in Hebron that many Israelis don't know about.

An Israeli soldier searches a 15 year old boy in Hebron. One of the many incidents that takes place in Hebron that many Israelis don’t know about.

*

This video shows Israeli occupation forces raiding the home of Karam Maswadeh in the West Bank city of Hebron.

Combatants from the Israeli Border Police enter the house and demand the whereabouts of Maswadeh’s son. Unable to find the child, the soldiers seize two other boys, aged 11 and 12.

Israeli soldiers raid house looking for 8-year-old

Ali Abunimah

This video shows Israeli occupation forces raiding  the home of Karam Maswadeh in the West Bank city of Hebron.

It was filmed on 10 August by an international volunteer and published by the human rights group B’Tselem on Monday.

Combatants from the Israeli Border Police enter the house and demand the whereabouts of Maswadeh’s son. Unable to find the child, the soldiers seize two other boys, aged 11 and 12.

The boys are then marched over to a checkpoint where an Israeli settler armed with a rifle is waiting with his son.

The Border Police commander asks the settler and his son if they recognize the Palestinian boys. When they say they do not, the boys are released.

According to B’Tselem, occupation forces later picked up three other Palestinian children, aged 8, 11 and 13, and repeated the same procedure.

This was in connection with a fight that reportedly took place earlier that day between Palestinian children and Israeli settlers.

“Fights between Palestinian and settler children are commonplace in downtown Hebron, where Israel imposes a regime of segregation, causing systematic and extensive harm to the Palestinian population,” B’Tselem states.

Settlers in Hebron habitually harass and assault Palestinians with impunity, often under army protection.

In July, an Israeli soldier was filmed assaulting a Palestinian girl and confiscating her bicycle apparently because she was playing on a street that Israel has designated for the exclusive use of Jews.

According to Maswadeh’s testimony to B’Tselem, the Israeli soldiers later came back to his house at 2am to arrest his 8-year-old son. The father and son were then driven to the nearby settlement of Kiryat Arba where occupation forces wanted to interrogate the boy without his father present. Maswadeh said he refused.

“The video footage – showing Israeli security forces working in the service of the Hebron settlers and launching a night-time raid to locate an 8-year-old boy – highlights the disregard shown by Israeli authorities for the legal rights afforded to minors,” B’Tselem states. “Children below the age of criminal responsibility must not be detained for questioning, and certainly not in the middle of the night.”

The group also condemned Israel’s attempt to interrogate Maswadeh’s son without his parents present.

Sharp contrast

B’Tselem adds: “The immense efforts mounted to locate Palestinians suspected of harming settlers contrast sharply with the near absence of action to protect Palestinians from violence by settlers, be they minors or adults, or to uphold the rights of Palestinian children below the age of criminal responsibility.”

Recently, B’Tselem announced it would no longer cooperate with Israeli investigations into attacks by its soldiers and settlers on Palestinians, calling the military law enforcement system a sham.

“As of today,” B’Tselem executive director Hagai El-Ad wrote on 25 May, “we will no longer refer complaints to this system, and we will call on the Palestinian public not to do so either.”

“We will no longer aid a system that whitewashes investigations and serves as a fig leaf for the occupation.”

Abuse of children

The raid into a family home seen in the video above is routine in Hebron, as are night raids.

Harrowing video filmed last year shows Israeli soldiers raiding the bedrooms of Palestinian children in the middle of the night.

After forcing the children – at least one as young as four – out of their beds, the video shows the soldiers in full combat gear, armed with rifles and hand grenades, photographing and interrogating them.

Former Israeli soldiers have revealed that such raids in villages around the West Bank are often part of “mapping missions.”

Armed soldiers surround a Palestinian family’s home in the dead of night. A squad bangs on the front door, waking everyone up. Once inside, the soldiers gather the residents into a single room.

The family’s ID cards are inspected and recorded, as is how everyone is related, and their phone numbers.

These tactics rarely make headlines, but they are part of the fabric of a regime of seemingly permanent Israeli military rule over millions of Palestinians.

These kinds of abuses against children prompted 20 members of Congress to write to President Barack Obama earlier this year urging him to hold Israel accountable.

The lawmakers wrote of their “profound concern” regarding Israel’s ongoing abuse of Palestinian children, especially during their arrest, interrogation and imprisonment, adding that “ignoring the trauma being inflicted on millions of Palestinian children undermines our American values.”

#InPalestine ~~ THE POLITICS OF WATER AND SEWAGE

The lack of adequate sewage treatment poses a serious risk to public health. During the winter rains, wastewater overflows its containment pipes, creating a higher risk of contaminating groundwater.

A Palestinian woman walks next to sewage water flowing from Israeli settlements in the West Bank village of Kafr Thulth, near Qalqilya, December 2012. (Ahmad Al-Bazz ActiveStills)

A Palestinian woman walks next to sewage water flowing from Israeli settlements in the West Bank village of Kafr Thulth, near Qalqilya, December 2012. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/ ActiveStills)

West Bank villagers suffer from sewer politics

Abu Mazen Square has become a bit of a joke for Palestinian residents in the occupied West Bank town of Bruqin.

To understand why, it is imperative to delve into recent history.

Two years ago, the site of what is now a public square was an open cesspool. Wastewater pumped out of the nearby Israeli settlement Ariel, one of the largest in the West Bank. This wastewater mingled with overflow from nearby Salfit.

Salfit, a town of some 9,000 Palestinians, has spent the past 22 years trying to update its sewage management system, according to chief municipal engineer Saleh Afaneh, but has not been able to get the necessary permits from the Israeli military authorities. Consequently, wastewater has been flowing down freely, joining the natural stream that runs through Bruqin village.

The Salfit government has little power to reduce the amount of sewage entering Bruqin and the neighboring Palestinian village Kufr al-Dik, but it has supplied a few kilometers of pipeline to keep the mess underground in the most densely populated parts of the two towns.

While only four out of 15 planned kilometers of pipeline have been built so far, the Palestinian Authority took the opportunity to build a lavishly decorated new town square, dedicated to Mahmoud Abbas, the PA president, directly over the line, giving Bruqin’s local residents Abu Mazen Square. A kilometer away, the sewage continues to flow openly.

The story of Abu Mazen Square is an execrable reminder for many in Bruqin that their problems are being glossed over by the Palestinian Authority. While sewage leaks have plagued the village for years, the PA and its Ministry of Health have offered a minimal amount of relief, and have abandoned attempts to advocate for rural communities suffering from wastewater mismanagement.

The PA might claim that all is well, but beneath the surface the situation stinks.

Sewer politics

Wastewater management is a problem in the West Bank.

Approximately half of Israel’s environmental regulations do not apply in the occupied territory. With such lax legislation, companies producing metals, chemicals and plastics flock to settlement industrial zones, such as West Ariel and Barkan. Both Israeli and international companies are drawn to areas where they can pollute more freely, often at the expense of surrounding Palestinian communities.

The Oslo accords signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in the mid-1990s saw the West Bank carved up into areas A, B and C with the Palestinian Authority exercising a diminishing level of control over the internal affairs of Palestinian communities in those areas.

For project approval in Area C — the some 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli civilian and military control — Palestinian towns and villages must apply to the Israeli body which oversees civilian affairs in occupied territory.

It is the Israeli military that ultimately decides whether Palestinians can build new sewage infrastructure and wastewater treatment plants in places like Salfit where, according to Afaneh, there is no available land in areas A and B, where the Palestinian Authority exercises civilian control, for such projects.

But the Israeli authorities refuse the vast majority of applications. Making matters worse, since the beginning of 2016, the Israeli military has demolished more than 50 water and sanitation structures in Area C.

The lack of adequate sewage treatment poses a serious risk to public health. During the winter rains, wastewater overflows its containment pipes, creating a higher risk of contaminating groundwater.

In the summer, when the West Bank faces massive water cuts imposed by Mekorot, Israel’s national water company, Palestinians are forced to turn to polluted water sources to meet needs.

Farmers and herders in the area also report that free-flowing sewage damages crops and can poison animals, undermining livelihoods and negatively affecting the quality of food available in rural communities.

Crisis? What crisis?

One wouldn’t know any of this, however, from talking to Palestinian Authority officials.

Haytham Mansour is director of the Ministry of Health in the Salfit region. Mansour refused to be drawn out on whether there is a water crisis in the area. While he acknowledged both water cuts and sewage leaks, he was adamant that both were under control and did not cause undue suffering in the Salfit region.

He insisted that his department tests local water on a weekly or monthly basis. Yet he would not share the findings of those reports or even confirm that the ministry kept records on water quality.

Mansour did concede that the overflow of sewage, combined with the lack of access to potable water, could hypothetically put communities at risk from anything from scabies to Hepatitis A, but maintained that the Salfit region had not seen any significant increase in those maladies.

But his denials, and those of his deputies, seem to fly in the face of evidence collected independently.

Mohammad Bishr, a doctor with the Palestinian Medical Relief Society’s Salfit branch, is concerned. As a participant in a mobile clinic program, he regularly visits both Kufr al-Dik and Bruqin to offer free consultation and primary health care services to underserved communities.

In an interview with The Electronic Intifada, Bishr said that since the beginning of June, the nongovernmental organization has noted an increase in the number of patients with scabies, gastroenteritis and gastrointestinal amebiasis, a miniature epidemic that repeats itself every summer. He attributed this pattern to a lack of proper sanitation and the domestic use of polluted drinking water.

Bishr also noted that patients were concerned over the size and frequency of mosquito bites they sustained in recent years. Small pools of sewage provide optimal breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

“We’ve started to see this every time the water goes [out],” noted Bishr. “Every summer, it gets worse.”

Bassam Madi, another doctor with the Palestinian Medical Relief Society mobile clinic program, worries that if the sewage crisis is not adequately addressed, there will be further increases in communicable diseases.

Crucial evidence

But to address a problem, it first needs to be acknowledged.

With no access to water quality reports from the Ministry of Health, local clinicians and public health officials are at a disadvantage. The Palestinian Medical Relief Society and local government officials have access to just a single independent report, obtained after an Israeli activist sent samples of water from polluted streams outside the Ariel settlement and the Barkan Industrial Zone to Aminolab in Israel.

Some samples showed high levels of organic waste, consistent with untreated industrial waste. Others showed waste consistent with unrestricted dumping. Additional samples showed evidence of intermittent filtration.

Aminolab noted in its report, seen by The Electronic Intifada, that this level of contamination in certain areas deviates from the Inbar standards, the Israeli regulations on water quality. While the report is not comprehensive, it includes enough detail to confirm that industrial pollutants from settlements are entering water used for agricultural and household purposes by thousands of Palestinians in the Salfit district.

The mayors of Bruqin and Kufr al-Dik have been equally dependent on the lone water quality report from Aminolab and confirmed to The Electronic Intifada that the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health had taken almost no measures to address the wastewater problem in their towns.

Jamal al-Dik, the mayor of Kufr al-Dik, said that in 30 months of construction, the PA had only completed a little more than a quarter of the planned 15 kilometers of the sewage diversion pipeline that gave rise to Abu Mazen Square. Currently, this pipeline is only keeping sewage at bay in the most heavily populated areas.

The mayor did say that the ministry this year had supplied Kufr al-Dik with a small shipment of mosquito spray, though not enough to supply every household. The health ministry, he said, had been ignoring the escalating public health threat for years.

“This is an old story, but also our future,” the mayor added.

After years of trying to hold a public health crisis at bay with minimal assistance from the ministry, local residents and health workers are losing confidence in finding a solution to the sewage crisis, and losing confidence in their government.

Politics of water

The politicization of water in the West Bank is nothing new.

Under the Oslo accords, a Joint Water Committee, with equal numbers of Palestinians and Israelis, was established to oversee water and sanitation issues in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. While representation within the committee was hypothetically equal, Israel’s military control over Area C gave Israel effective veto power over the committee’s decisions. As a result, almost no Palestinian proposals to the joint committee ever came to fruition.

In 2010, Palestinian Authority representatives stopped giving their approval to Israeli proposals at the joint committee in protest. The Palestinian delegation failed, however, to combine their protest with any strategy to mitigate the effects of stressed water infrastructure for the Palestinian population.

The Israeli military occupation puts a burden on the Palestinian Authority’s health ministry as well. The World Health Organization estimates that in 2015 the ministry was unable to procure an estimated 30 percent of essential medicines, and 25 to 30 percent of medical equipment and laboratory supplies, due to budget shortfalls as well as Israeli restrictions on movement, which limit the flow of medical goods and personnel.

In addition to restricting access to medical supplies, the violence of the military occupation mean hospital beds are filled with those who have been injured by Israeli soldiers and settlers. The restricted access to potable water simply adds more pressure on already overstressed Palestinian public health institutions.

The Ministry of Health could face political consequences for protesting the causes of the sewage crisis. The ministry’s budget for 2015 was some $323 million, according to the World Health Organization. During the same year, the US government agency USAID donated $7.6 million to the Palestinian Authority for basic health projects and $45 million for water and sanitation.

The health ministry remains caught between acknowledging the overtly political causes of a public health crisis, and the political risk of taking concrete action against the occupation.The US government has previously set a precedent in using aid as a bargaining chip against the PA as possible punishment for state-building activities.

The Palestinian Medical Relief Society’s Bassam Madi believes that the problem of a lack of access to potable water will be solved when the PA, and its donors, are ready to address the matter as a public health crisis, not as a political issue.

“Let’s address the human issue, let’s address the environmental issue,” he said during a break from his work with the mobile clinic.

But, if Abu Mazen Square is any indication, the PA seems more interested in keeping up political appearances, whatever the underlying reality. The needs of vulnerable villagers in the Salfit district do not compete with this priority.

At present, the Palestinian Authority is addressing neither the “human issue” described by Madi nor the underlying political reality of Israeli control and abuse of the environment.

COLOUR CODED PALESTINIANS

Defense Ministry will produce a map of the West Bank marking in green and red the areas where, respectively, “good” and “bad” Palestinians live.

Portrait of a boy with the flag of Palestine painted on his face

Portrait of a boy with the flag of Palestine painted on his face

Israel to colour-code “good” and “bad” Palestinians

By Jonathan Cook in Nazareth

Launched this month, as much of the world was on holiday, Avigdor Lieberman’s plan for the Palestinians – retooling Israel’s occupation – received less attention than it should.

Defence minister since May, Lieberman has been itching to accelerate Israel’s annexation by stealth of the West Bank.

Quislings and propaganda

His “carrot and stick” plan has three components. First, he intends to sideline the Palestinian Authority (PA) in favour of a new local leadership of “notables” hand-picked by Israel.

Preferring to “cut out the middle man”, in his words, he will open a dialogue with supposedly more responsible Palestinians – business people, academics and mayors.

Next, he has established a new communications unit that will speak in Arabic over the heads of the PA in the West Bank and its Hamas rivals in Gaza directly to ordinary Palestinians.

An online campaign – budgeted at USD 2.6 million – will seek to convince them of Israel’s good intentions. The Palestinians’ problems, according to Lieberman, derive from corrupt and inciteful national leaderships, not the occupation.

And finally, his Defence Ministry will produce a map of the West Bank marking in green and red the areas where, respectively, “good” and “bad” Palestinians live.

Sticks and carrots

Collective punishment will be stepped up in towns and villages in red areas, from which Palestinian attacks have been launched. Presumably night raids and house demolitions will increase, while closures will further curtail freedom of movement.

Palestinians in green areas will reap economic rewards for their good behaviour. They will be given work permits in Israel and the settlements, and benefit from development projects, including the creation of Israeli-controlled industrial zones.

This week the Haaretz daily reported that Lieberman is convinced that all the Palestinians can be attributed to Abbas’s “reign of corruption”. In briefings he has stated that the Palestinian leader “doesn’t want to deal with problems of economics and employment. The entire system of management there has failed.”

It sounds like the musings of a 19th century colonial official on how best to prevent the natives turning restless. Ahmed Majdalani, an adviser to Mahmoud Abbas, told the Israeli media the new arrangements assumed Palestinians were “stupid and lacking self-respect” and could be “bought with economic perks”.

Lieberman’s longer-term goal is to persuade Palestinians – and the international community – that their aspirations for self-determination are unattainable and counter-productive

Failed old policy

Israel has tried that approach before, as Palestinian officials pointed out. Decades ago, Israel sought to manage the occupation by imposing on the local population Palestinian collaborators, termed “Village Leagues”. Armed by the Israeli military, they were supposed to stamp out political activism and support for the PLO.

By the early 1980s the experiment had to be abandoned, as Palestinians refused to accept the leagues’ corrupt and self-serving rule. An uprising, the firstintifada, followed a short time later.

Israel’s agreement to the PA’s creation under the Oslo accords in the mid-1990s was, in part, an acceptance that the occupied territories needed a more credible security contractor, this time in the form of the Palestinian national leadership.

Disorganised resistance

Whatever Lieberman and others claim, the Palestinian leaderships in the West Bank and Gaza are the last parties to blame for the recent wave of Palestinian unrest. The attacks have been mostly carried out spontaneously by “lone wolves”, not organised groups. Many occur in Jerusalem, from which all political activity is barred.

Abbas has described the “security coordination” with Israel as “sacred”, aware that his PA will not survive long if it does not demonstrate its usefulness to Israel. His security services have subdued Palestinian resistance more effectively than the Israeli army.

Bereft of regional allies and a credible strategy, even Hamas has chosen quiet since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge, its lethal wrecking spree in Gaza in 2014. It has kept the tiny coastal enclave locked down. Rocket fire – one of the few remaining, if largely symbolic, ways to confront Israel – all but ceased long ago.

The silence from Gaza was briefly disturbed a week ago by a rocket fired by a small group linked to the self-styled Islamic State. Despite Hamas’s disavowal of the attack, Lieberman demonstrated his new big stick by bombarding government sites in Gaza in a show of force unseen over the past two years.

Grassroots rage

The futility of this approach – blaming the official leaderships for the roiling frustration and resentment of those they formally lead – should be self-evident.

Ordinary Palestinians, not officials, endure the endless expansion of settlements and the resulting takeover of their agricultural lands. Ordinary Palestinians, not their leaders, face daily abuses at checkpoints and in military raids. Reports at the weekend suggested soldiers were deliberately kneecapping youths at protests to permanently disable them.

Round-ups, torture, military courts that always find the accused guilty – these are the rites of passage for Palestinians in the West Bank. For Palestinians in Gaza, it is slow starvation, homelessness and a random missile rain of death.

An Israeli strategy that failed decades ago – before the PA even existed – is not going to succeed now. Social media campaigns and paltry handouts will not persuade Palestinians they are nothing more than a humanitarian problem.

They are not about to shelve their dreams of liberation just because Lieberman colour-codes them in red and green.

PAYPAL WON’T PAY PALESTINE

Palestinians Can’t Use PayPal—but Israeli Settlers Can

A PayPal sign is seen at an office building in San Jose, California May 28, 2014. | Photo: Reuters

A PayPal sign is seen at an office building in San Jose, California May 28, 2014. | Photo: Reuters

PayPal and Palestine

By Sam Bahour

As a Palestinian-American management consultant in Ramallah, Palestine, I advise my Palestinian clients living under Israeli military occupation to use world-class software and online services, assuring them that it will help them enter global markets. Some of these clients are not-for-profit outfits, like the Palestinian Circus School and Birzeit University; others are tech start-ups, many of which are funded by U.S. tax dollars via USAID. Time and again, I regretfully must explain to clients that the most popular worldwide online payment system, PayPal, is unavailable to them.

As an American from Youngstown, Ohio, trying to contribute to building a modern Palestinian economy, and a former software developer who worked all over the U.S., I can never offer a satisfactory answer to those who ask why PayPal refuses to follow the lead of technology giants like Google, Cisco, HP, Oracle, and many others, that all operate in Palestine.

Palestine has a thriving banking sector and all Palestinian banks have corresponding U.S. banks that make money transfers daily. The U.S. Treasury Department is also active in Palestine and has praised the level of Palestinian banking compliance. Considering these financial ties, it is a mystery why PayPal, which is widely considered the most trustworthy company in its sphere, continues to ignores this market. While it’s available to users in Israel and to Israeli settlers living illegally on occupied Palestinian land, PayPal does not extend its services to Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza.

Many of these illegal Israeli settlers live literally a few minutes walk from my home, yet they have access to PayPal, but Palestinians do not. This is doubly unfortunate since Palestinians who live in other parts of the world and are regular users of PayPal cannot use the platform to conduct business with Palestinians who live in the West Bank and Gaza.

Israel has continuously placed suffocating limitations on the Palestinian economy, many which have been directly challenged by successive U.S. presidents, such as Israel’s refusal to release the needed frequencies for Palestinians to have 3G services. The Internet age has brought with it a bit of relief from these physical limitations, and the Palestinian tech sector is a key area of the economy that has potential to grow, especially considering the population is so young. Palestine produces roughly 2,000 IT graduates per year that are well-positioned to address the huge gap between growing demand for online Arabic content and the current lack of supply. Currently, however, only one-third of these graduates find work in their field. Without access to the needed services that facilitate businesses to grow, more Palestinian youth will fall into the despair of unemployment and all that it carries with it.

In order to meet these market needs and generate employment opportunities, Palestinian startups and entrepreneurs need equal access to services like PayPal for business and charitable services. In December, the President of Americans for a Vibrant Palestinian Economy (AVPE), Edward Thompson, and myself, as Chairman of AVPE, wrote to inform PayPal CEO Daniel Schulman of the company’s shortcomings in Palestine, but our request for a meeting went unheeded. Now, a group of 40 prominent Palestinian organizations have penned a public letter asking Mr. Schulman to reconsider.

Among the signatories are the Palestinian Telecommunications Group (Paltel) the largest private-sector company in Palestine and one that I assisted in establishing, the renowned startup incubator Gaza Sky Geeks, and Palestine’s National Beverage Company, whose CEO Zahi Khouri is an early stage startup investor through another signatory, the Ibtikar Fund. And these are just a few examples — those in tech, business and finance have come together from across the span of the struggling Palestinian economy to make this request. Seemingly small but poignant indignities like this one block the road toward freedom, justice and equality for Palestinians, and we hope to methodically clear them from our path.

In the letter, my co-signers and I explain that while other payment portals are available, there is no replacement for the trust and familiarity that PayPal inspires among potential users, particularly those that are unfamiliar with Palestine-based companies. Without access to PayPal, Palestinian entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and others face routine difficulties in receiving payments for business and charitable purposes.

Perhaps the most disturbing thing about PayPal’s presence in Israel-Palestine, however, is that access to it depends on ethnicity. Again, while Israeli settlers living in the West Bank are completely integrated into the Israeli system and have access to PayPal and other technologies, the Palestinians they live among do not. These are settlements that are considered illegal under U.S. foreign policy and international law, and the settlers who live in them enjoy access to resources that are regularly denied to the Palestinians next door. In fact, Human Rights Watch released a report earlier this year stated that businesses should withdraw from the settlements entirely to end their complicity in “an inherently unlawful and abusive system that violates the rights of Palestinians.”

This is not just about access to PayPal. It is about PayPal’s role in empowering entrepreneurs, small businesses, and individuals to make a living and conduct commerce, particularly in parts of the world where physical barriers and limitations are established by governments. We would be doing ourselves, as Americans and Palestinians, a disservice by allowing any company to deny their service based on ethnicity, heritage or because of Israeli pressure to enforce a clear suppression of the Palestinian economy via the limitations of occupation.

It is our sincere hope that our latest attempt to right this wrong will not fall on deaf ears. For the Palestinian people, breaking free from Israeli military occupation will mean carving out a meaningful space for ourselves in the global economy, and we cannot do that without equal access to indispensable tools like PayPal.

 

US IS FUELING ISRAEL’S CIVIL WAR

Israel is a very special country. Its history is like no other. Maybe that’s why its civil war, which is well underway, is almost indistinguishable to the untrained eye from a stable country. Upon closer inspection, Israel is a powder keg already in the process of the most significant societal and political implosion of its history. While a total meltdown is not inevitable, the US continues to provide the fuel for Israel to continue driving drunk on power.

An Israeli UAV Hermes 500 flies over the Hatzerim air force base in the Negev desert, near the southern  city of Beer Sheva, on June 30, 2016 during an air show at the graduation ceremony of Israeli pilots. / AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ  File photo of an Israeli drone (AFP)

An Israeli UAV Hermes 500 flies over the Hatzerim air force base in the Negev desert, near the southern city of Beer Sheva, on June 30, 2016 during an air show at the graduation ceremony of Israeli pilots. / AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ
File photo of an Israeli drone (AFP)

US should withhold military aid until Israel recognises Palestinian sovereignty

US fueling Israel’s civil war

Sam Bahour

Israel is a very special country. Its history is like no other. Maybe that’s why its civil war, which is well underway, is almost indistinguishable to the untrained eye from a stable country. Upon closer inspection, Israel is a powder keg already in the process of the most significant societal and political implosion of its history. While a total meltdown is not inevitable, the US continues to provide the fuel for Israel to continue driving drunk on power.

On one side of this civil war is the elected government led by Benjamin Netanyahu and a bunch of the most extremist politicians one can find, several illegal settlers themselves. Aligned with the government are a cohort of settlers in the West Bank, which have surpassed their widely acknowledged role as the largest impediment to peace and have become an electoral consistency that is hard to reckon with.  Supporting this camp in Israel are party faithful that in any other country would be called outright racists. You can find some of them at Israeli soccer games chanting “Death to the Arabs.” A few have actually made that chant a reality.

On the other side is everyone else, albeit unable to see themselves on the same political side. In this camp are many Jewish Israelis who voted for Netanyahu, some more than once, and have watched their candidate move Israel to the most isolated position it has ever witnessed. These Israelis do not feel any safer today than they did when Netanyahu first ran for office. Added to this group are the second, third and fourth class Israeli Jewish citizens who traditionally vote Likud, against their best interests, and they make up the bulk of Israel’s poverty-stricken class; they sometimes are referred to as Mizrachi Jews, Ethiopian Jews, and the like. Then there is the 20 percent block of Palestinian citizens of Israel. This Palestinian constituency comprises the third largest elected block in the Knesset, but no other Israeli Jewish party deals with them; thus is the extreme state of racism inherent in the Israeli political system.

These two warring sides are fiercely at each other’s throats to claim the nature of Israeli society. The government has embarked on a tragic course to complete the process started in 1948 when Israel was established, to ethnically cleanse Palestine of its Palestinian Muslim and Christian inhabitants. The other camp, however fragmented, understands that Palestinians are never going to disappear into thin air and seek their government to end the nearly 50-year military occupation so Israel can reenter the community of nations with some sense of normalcy.

We are told to believe, ad infinitum by Israel’s most senior officials and an endless stream of flashy media clips, that Israel is a “light upon nations,” and brought the world high-tech, modern agriculture, and even cherry tomatoes. Israel brags that it is a “start-up nation” and Intel, Microsoft and HP, just to name a few multinationals, have all enthusiastically setup shop in the country. What these exaggerated quips and polished marketing tools do not tell us is that Israel is at a point where it is at war with itself.

The social inequality in Israel has reached epic proportions. As reported in Haaretz in 2015, as of 2013 “Israel remained at the bottom of the OECD rankings for measures of inequality and poverty.” Added to this acute class strata, indigenous Palestinians who make up one-fifth of Israel’s population are dealt out of the Israeli melting pot. Jewish Israelis are divided to the point where physical altercations frequently occur across race divides in the streets of Tel Aviv. Additionally, imported foreign labor, brought to replace the traditional Palestinian labor force from the West Bank and Gaza, are tearing Israel at its already fragile seams.

The “start-up nation” started up because Israel acquired, by the use of brute military force, land and water, the two key ingredients to statehood in the Middle East. Israel thrives because the US has chosen to relieve it from its full financial burden as a nation by granting it over $120 billion since its founding. Furthermore, all of this start-up buzz is a result of research and development spending by the military, without which there would be no start-up sector to speak of. This external budget support frees Israeli funds to do other business.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is currently negotiating President Obama for a 10-year military aid package to the tune of $40 billion. This new package follows President George W. Bush’s administration’s generous 10-year aid package of $30 billion. Historically, the bulk of these funds have been earmarked for Israel to purchase US weaponry, but the current package under negotiations allows Israel to spend the money in Israel. These monies are Israel’s slush fund. With these funds at its disposal, no wonder Israel can afford to offer multinationals 10 and 20-year tax incentives. In 2014 alone, it was reported that “Intel, the US chip giant, will invest $6bn in the upgrade of its main manufacturing plant in what will be the biggest single investment by a foreign company in the country [Israel]. The company will receive a grant of $300m over five years and will pay a corporate tax rate of only 5% for a 10-year period.” With that kind of financial underwriting, I can make the roof of my house a start-up nation.

Part of that other business that the US indirectly funds allow Israel to pursue its continuation of repressing by military occupation 4.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The US Department of State registers in its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – the Human Rights Reports – year in and year out how Israel violates human rights. US human rights attorney Alice Lynd, with the assistance of her husband, Atty. Staughton Lynd, documented these report’s human rights violations in a pamphlet for the Palestine-Israel Working Group of Historians Against the War (HAW). Yet, US policy remains uninformed by these reports. Israel laughs all the way to the bank as they continue to build illegal, Jewish-only settlements in the occupied territory and entice multinationals to come to Israel to do business.

Don’t do it President Obama. This is an unwise use of US tax dollars. If for some unorthodox political reason, you must agree to this (which I do not buy into), then make sure today’s fundamentalist, right-wing Israeli government finally walks up to the plate and takes the move that is inevitable, recognising the State of Palestine, not to mention ending their occupation. Actually, the world is awaiting the US to make the same recognition. Better yet, take Israel’s hand and head to the UN Security Council and pass the pending resolution which upgrades Palestine’s status at the UN to a full member state. Later, both countries, Israel and the US, can decide when to extend direct recognition.

If Israel refuses to accept recognising the State of Palestine, the ultimate act to save the rapidly vanishing two-state paradigm, then hold the military aid package and take bold political action before you leave office, grant US direct recognition of Palestine. When the incoming president is faced with the wrath of Israel and the pro-Israeli lobby for this US recognition, the new administration will have a $40 billion card to subdue them. Maybe by then, these funds can be leveraged to get Israel to end their military occupation once and for all.

It’s sad that tax dollars are used in such a fashion, but if that is how the US works, then let it work for peace, not to continue fuelling Israel’s civil war, which will ultimately spill over to yet another armed clash with Palestinians under occupation. As a Palestinian-American, born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio, I have an obligation to my two daughters and all Palestinian children, as well as all of Israel’s children too, to speak up before we all end up paying the price, again, for US inaction, or worse.

 

Written FOR

ISRAEL’S LOVE FOR PALESTINE CAUGHT ON VIDEO

First see THIS previous post …..

This video shows four Palestinian youths sitting and relaxing outside a home when an Israeli jeep drives up to them and stops briefly.

As it drives off a few seconds later, the youths leap from their chairs and there is a huge explosion that sends smoke and debris into the air.

Israelis use stun grenade in unprovoked attack on youths

The website Ramallah News, which published the security camera video on its Facebook page on Tuesday, says it was filmed a day earlier in the village of Kafr Laqif, near Qalqilya in the northern West Bank.

At 30 seconds, as the jeep drives off, an object can be seen flying from the back of the vehicle towards the young men, just before the explosion.

Stun grenades, also known as flashbang grenades or sound bombs, are meant to be used to temporarily disorient an enemy.

The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, says stun grenades are “a predominant crowd control weapon” used by Israeli occupation forces.

The US-made weapons “are designed to cause panic, thereby enabling security forces to overpower people,” it adds.

Stun grenades are part of a whole arsenal of allegedly non-lethal Israeli “crowd control” weapons. “In fact, however, they are dangerous weapons that can cause death, severe injury and damage to property if used improperly,” B’Tselem states.

B’Tselem says it has “documented cases in which security forces have thrown stun grenades directly at demonstrators or into a crowd, causing injuries and burns.”

The Israeli army is investigating the incident, according to Israeli media.

Harassment and scorn

Israeli military occupation means death, injury, destruction, land theft, imprisonment and loss of livelihood, among other grave abuses.

But it also means countless other acts of daily, gratuitous cruelty and humiliation inflicted by armed men against a population that has no rights and few protections.

While this is Palestinian daily experience, it seldom makes headlines.

In a recent incident, also caught on video, an occupation soldier in Hebron assaulted a Palestinian girl. The soldier took the 8-year-old’s bicycle and threw it away. Her apparent crime: playing on a Jews-only street.

Another feature of occupation is the systematic impunity Israeli forces enjoy for crimes and violations big or small.

Not surprisingly, Israel’s occupation authorities ruled on Monday that the combatant who took the girl’s bicyclewould face no charges.

Back in 2007, the late Yosef Lapid, a former Israeli justice minister and then chairman of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial’s advisory council, compared life for Palestinians under Israeli occupation to the abuses faced by Jews in 1930s Europe.

“It was not crematoria or pogroms that made our life in the diaspora bitter before they began to kill us, but persecution, harassment, stone-throwing, damage to livelihood, intimidation, spitting and scorn,” Lapid said, commenting specifically on attacks on Palestinians by Jewish settlers in Hebron.

Seeing the video of the bicycle incident and the stun grenade attack brought Lapid’s words back to me.

#InPalestine ~~ IT KILLED IN THE PAST, WHY NOT USE IT AGAIN?

An old weapon appears to have re-emerged in Palestine.

Over the past six months, say activists in the occupied West Bank, the Israeli military has resumed the use of Indoor Barricade Penetrators, a form of high velocity tear gas 40mm projectile designed to deliver its payload inside buildings or homes and used during raids, demonstrations and clashes.

An Israeli soldier fires tear gas towards Palestinian protesters at Beit El on the outskirts of the West Bank city of Ramallah in November 2015. (Shadi Hatem/ APA images)

An Israeli soldier fires tear gas towards Palestinian protesters at Beit El on the outskirts of the West Bank city of Ramallah in November 2015. (Shadi Hatem/ APA images)

Deadly gas projectiles return to West Bank protests

An old weapon appears to have re-emerged in Palestine.

Over the past six months, say activists in the occupied West Bank, the Israeli military has resumed the use of Indoor Barricade Penetrators, a form of high velocity tear gas 40mm projectile designed to deliver its payload inside buildings or homes and used during raids, demonstrations and clashes.

The use of such heavy duty tear gas projectiles fell by the wayside in 2013 after a number of high-profile court cases demonstrated how easily this particular form of delivery could kill or maim. However, a modified version is now employed across the West Bank, say protestors, and no matter what claims the military and manufacturers may make, these barrier piercing projectiles remain potentially lethal.

Israel has used them to deadly effect before.

In 2009, Bassem Abu Rahmeh was killed during the weekly protest in the West Bank of Bilin, after he was struck in the chest with an Indoor Barricade Penetrator.

Just a few weeks earlier, Tristan Anderson, an American volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement, was hit with a high velocity tear gas canister in the nearby town of Nilin. He didn’t die, but was permanently paralyzed on his left side and suffered massive brain damage.

Recent injuries

Anderson and Abu Rahmeh are among the best known victims of such attacks: many others sustained injuries.

According to Murad Shtaiwi, head of the popular resistance committee in the village of Kafr Qaddum, there have been three moderate injuries from these projectiles since March alone. Ahmad Nasser, a medic working in the Ramallah district, has noted two injuries at clashes outside Ofer prison in the same time period. Nasser himself was also struck with one of the projectiles, but was not injured since he was wearing a bulletproof kevlar vest.

Indoor Barricade Penetrators are a more dangerous means of using tear gas for several reasons. As the name implies, they are not intended for use directly against individuals, rather they are designed to penetrate doors, windows and interior drywalls, and release their payload inside a building.

US weapons manufacturer Combined Systems, a longstanding supplier of tear gas to the Israeli military, makesspecial note that these “less lethal” weapons are intended for use on doors, windows and wallboard, and operators should take caution to avoid firing them in a way that risks hitting a person.

Like other kinds of tear gas, barrier penetrating projectiles are fired from a grenade launcher; however some models used by the Israeli military also have a secondary propulsion mechanism, which takes them further and faster. And unlike outdoor short range tear gas, it does not disperse gas until after impact. This means that protesters cannot see the trajectory of the projectiles until they are detonated, making them much more dangerous.

Harmful gas

In addition to the dangers posed as a high velocity projectile, activists from Ramallah and Nabi Saleh have also reported that the projectiles are more likely to carry an Oleoresin Capsicum- (OC spray — more commonly known as pepper spray) based gas than the more common, and less harmful, CS- (O-chlorobenzylidene malonitrile) based tear gas.

Manal Tamimi, an organizer in Nabi Saleh, cannot find a lab in the West Bank with the capacity to analyze the different types of tear gas. She told The Electronic Intifada that protesters who were exposed to gas from Indoor Barricade Penetrators exhibited symptoms consistent with OC gas, including immediate loss of motor control.

The renewed use of these tear gas projectiles has had a significant impact on demonstrations. In Kafr Qaddum, which Israeli soldiers raid on a regular basis, houses near the village’s weekly protest route have installed metal shutters to protect their interiors. But this provides little protection against a projectile that can move at 122 meters per second.

In Nabi Saleh, where demonstrators try to walk from the center of the village to a spring located in a nearby valley which Israel has confiscated for settlers, there’s little hope of ever getting close. The military can keep protesters at bay from a cool 500 meters with these tear gas projectiles, according to those who have taken part in the demonstrations.

Their renewed use was first noted in early 2016 by activists in Ramallah and came after a new wave of protest and deadly confrontation between Palestinians and the Israeli military that began in October last year.

Activists in Ramallah started to note the return of these tear gas projectiles during weekly demonstrations in Kafr Qaddum and Nabi Saleh and speculate that the army has chosen to reintroduce them because they serve a dual purpose: like live ammunition, it is long range and potentially deadly, thus keeping protesters farther away from soldiers than almost any other weapon. However, unlike live ammunition, deaths caused by high velocity tear gas can more easily written off as accidents.

The Israeli military declined to comment for this article.

For demonstrators who face these projectiles, the threat is very tangible.

“After the October uprisings, more Palestinians broke the wall of fear inside themselves. They began to take more risks,” said Tamimi. “This prompted the Israelis to find a weapon that will not directly cause death. In the middle of all the chaos … they don’t want more criticism.”

*Clare Maxwell is a journalist and human rights activist working in the Salfit region of the West Bank.

THE REAL MEANING OF ISRAELI ‘COUNTERTERRORISM’

THE REAL VICTIMS

Every year, the Israeli military arrests and prosecutes around 700 Palestinian children. For 25 Years, our lawyers have defended thousands of these children in the Israeli military court system. This is Osama’s story.

Israeli “counterterrorism” means abuse and torture of children

This brief video illustrates the fear instilled in young Palestinians, mostly boys, arrested by Israeli occupation forces, often during night raids.

Produced by Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP), it features 14-year-old Osama, who was taken from his home in the West Bank during a raid at 3am one night.

“It was the worst feeling to be far away from family and friends,” Osama says. He spent four months in an Israeli prison for allegedly throwing stones.

In a report released at the end of July, Human Rights Watch lists Israel among six countries that have adopted far-reaching “counterterrorism” policies that have led to sweeping arrests of children.

Israel joins Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Nigeria and Syria as governments Human Rights Watch describes as “trampling on children’s rights in a misguided and counterproductive response to conflict-related violence.”

“The indefinite detention and torture of children needs to stop,” said Jo Becker, the organization’s director of children rights advocacy.

Not a week goes by when about a dozen to as many as 38 Palestinian children from the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are arrested.

In June, Israel extended administrative detention orders for seven children.

Solitary confinement as coercion

Israel appear to be increasing the use of solitary confinement against Palestinian child detainees to pressure them during interrogations. One 16-year-old boy spent 22 days in isolation.

“The practice of using solitary confinement on children, for any duration, is a clear violation of international law, as it amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and in some cases, torture,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, accountability program director at DCIP.

Israel doesn’t use solitary confinement for disciplinary, protective or medical reasons, according to DCIP’s documentation, but as an interrogation tool.

Children are confined in cells that barely fit a mattress while they undergo lengthy interrogations during which Israeli authorities attempt to extract confessions or more information on other people, according to DCIP.

“The cell was closed tightly and had no windows, except two ventilations gaps,” 17-year-old Rami K. told DCIP.

“The walls were gray, which hurt my eyes, and the surface was coarse, so I could not lean on them. The cell had a sink and a toilet, but the toilet had a nasty smell. The lights were on the entire time.”

Rami was held for 16 days in isolation while being interrogated. The interrogation was drawn out over hours, during which his wrists and ankles were bound to a metal chair.

Blaming Palestinian culture

Israel defended its treatment of children earlier this month, following criticism by several countries at the United Nations Security Council.

Amit Heumann, the legal adviser to Israel’s UN mission, blamed Palestinians for Israel’s treatment of them.

“It is the responsibility of leaders everywhere to protect children at all costs, to protect them from the ravages of war and to shelter them in a protective environment, where children can thrive,” he said.

“Unfortunately, the Palestinians are failing at this most critical responsibility.”

“Instead of nourishing their youth with the dreams of a bright future, Palestinian children are fed a steady diet of hatred for Israel and glorification of violence in the lessons they learn in school, in the sermons they hear in the mosque and in the streets that are named after terrorists.”

Such debunked claims that “incitement” – rather than the reality of Israel’s military occupation – are to blame for violence, have long been a staple of Israeli government propaganda.

In its report, Human Rights Watch criticizes Israel’s treatment of Palestinian children under its occupation regime in the West Bank, where 500 to 700 children are brought before military tribunals annually, and an average of 220 children are held in prison each month.

But the line between Israeli civil and military law regarding children has become increasingly difficult to discern since violent confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli forces escalated in October 2015.

Last week, the Israeli parliament passed a new law allowing the imprisonment of children as young as 12.

Israel’s military regime in the occupied West Bank has always allowed the detention of 12-year-old Palestinians.

According to DCIP’s statistics, of the 440 Palestinian children in Israeli prison in February, 104 were between the ages of 12 and 15. This represents a four-fold increase from the number of young teens in prison prior to October 2015.

And though the law ostensibly applies to Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel alike, it was explicitly created to target Palestinians.

Imprisoning 12 and 13-year-olds will be permitted in cases where the child is convicted of so-called terrorism, a charge that almost exclusively applies to Palestinians.

“This law was born of necessity,” said Likud lawmaker Anat Berko, who proposed the measure. “We have been experiencing a wave of terror for quite some time. A society is allowed to protect itself. To those who are murdered with a knife in the heart it does not matter if the child is 12 or 15.”

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel warns that the Israeli parliament may soon allow life sentences for children under 14.

This is the latest amendment to Israel’s penal code that expands the criminal culpability of Palestinian children in order to allow harsher penalties.

Last year, the Israeli parliament imposed mandatory minimum sentencing and extended the maximum sentence on people who throw stones at traffic.

Israel also revived administrative detention against Palestinian children ostensibly living under Israeli civil law in the last year.

HYDRO-APARTHEID

Water shortages are not new for Palestinians. Whether in the occupied Gaza Strip or the West Bank including East Jerusalem, the supply of water flowing into Palestinian homes is strictly capped or obstructed by Israel.

Palestinians collect water from a spring, in the West Bank village of Salfit on 27 June. Villagers had been without water for days as chronic supply shortages induced by Israeli occupation authorities continue to hit many parts of the territory. Nedal Eshtayah APA images

Palestinians collect water from a spring, in the West Bank village of Salfit on 27 June. Villagers had been without water for days as chronic supply shortages induced by Israeli occupation authorities continue to hit many parts of the territory. Nedal Eshtayah APA images

Israel’s hydro-apartheid keeps West Bank thirsty

Water shortages are not new for Palestinians. Whether in the occupied Gaza Strip or the West Bank including East Jerusalem, the supply of water flowing into Palestinian homes is strictly capped or obstructed by Israel.

As temperatures climb during the summer, taps run dry. Clemens Messerschmid, a German hydrologist who has worked with Palestinians on their water supply for two decades, calls the situation “hydro-apartheid.”

This year, Israeli journalist Amira Hass published data proving that the Israeli Water Authority had reduced the amount of water delivered to West Bank villages.

In some places, the supply was slashed by half. Her records contradict official denials that water supplies to Palestinian cities and villages are cut during the summer, even though that too is not new.

Cities and small villages have gone as long as 40 days without running water this summer, forcing those who can afford it to haul in water tanks.

When Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967 it also seized control over the West Bank Mountain Aquifer, the territory’s principal natural water reserve.

The Oslo accords of the early 1990s gave Israel 80 percent of the aquifer’s reserves. Palestinians were supposed to get the remaining 20 percent, but in recent years they have been able to access only 14 percent as a result of Israeli restrictions on their drilling.

To fulfill the population’s minimum needs, the Palestinian Authority is forced to buy the rest of the water from Israel. But even then, it’s not enough.

Israel is only willing to sell a limited amount of water to Palestinians. As a consequence, Palestinians use far less water than Israelis, and a full third less than the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 100 liters per person per day for domestic use, hospitals, schools and other institutions.

The Electronic Intifada spoke with Clemens Messerschmid, who has been working in the water sector throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip since 1997, about the engineered water scarcity for Palestinians in the West Bank.

Charlotte Silver: Is scarcity of water in the area driving the water crisis in the West Bank? Or is the scarcity engineered?

Clemens Messerschmid: Of course there is no water scarcity in the West Bank. What we suffer from is induced scarcity – it’s called the occupation. This is the regime imposed on Palestinians immediately after the war in June 1967.

Israel rules through military orders, which have the direct and intended result of keeping Palestinians short on water. It is not an ongoing gradual dispossession as with land and settlements, but was done in one sweep by Military Order No. 92, in August 1967.

The West Bank possesses ample groundwater. There is high rainfall in Salfit, in the northern West Bank, now known for especially hard water cuts.

The West Bank is blessed with a treasure of groundwater. But this is also its curse, because Israel targeted this immediately after taking control.

What we need is simple: groundwater wells to access this treasure. But Israel’s Military Order No. 158 strictly forbids drilling or any other water works, including springs, pipes, networks, pumping stations, irrigation pools, water reservoirs, simple rainwater harvesting cisterns, which collect the rain falling on one’s roof.

Everything is forbidden or rather not “permitted” by the Civil Administration, Israel’s occupation regime. Even repair and maintenance of wells requires military permits. And we simply don’t get them.

It is a simple case of hydro-apartheid – far beyond any regime in history that I am aware of.

CS: Israel has increased the amount of water it sells Palestinians, but it is still not enough to prevent villages from running dry. Putting aside the fact that Israel’s control over the aquifer’s resources is very problematic, why won’t Israel sell the Palestinians enough water?

CM: Israel first of all has drastically reduced the amount of water available to Palestinians. It has prevented all access to the Jordan River, which is now literally pumped dry at Lake Tiberias.

Then, Israel imposes a quota on the number of wells and routinely denies permits for much-needed repair of old wells from the Jordanian days – Jordan administered the West Bank from 1948 until the Israeli occupation – especially agricultural wells. That means the number of wells is constantly shrinking. We have fewer than in 1967.

Now, the only thing that has increased is the dependency on buying water from the expropriators, Israel andMekorot, Israel’s national water company.

This is reported over and over in the western press, because it is the point Israel stresses: ‘See how benevolent we are?’

So, yes, since Oslo, purchases from Mekorot have grown steadily. Ramallah now receives 100 percent of its water from Mekorot. Not a drop comes from a single well field we have.

The supply of villages by Israel was not done as a favor. It was initiated in 1980 by Ariel Sharon, then agriculture minister, when rapid settlement growth was starting. The water supply was “integrated,” in order to make the occupation irreversible.

What is important here is the structural apartheid, cemented and cast in iron in these pipes. A small settlement is supplied via large transmission pipes from which smaller pipes split off to go towards Palestinian areas.

Israel is very happy with Oslo, because now Palestinians are “responsible” for supply. Responsible but without a shred of sovereignty over resources.

The current so-called water crisis is not a crisis at all. A crisis is a sudden change, a new turn or a turning point in development. The undersupply of Palestinians is desired, planned and carefully executed. The “summer water crisis” is the most reliable feature of the Palestinian water calendar. And the amount of annual rain, or drought, has no bearing whatsoever on the occurrence and scale of that “crisis.”

I should stress that however routinely this occurs, in each and every single case, it is a conscious decision by some bureaucrat or office in Israel or the Civil Administration. Someone has to go to the field and turn down the valve at the split off to the Palestinian village. This, like every summer, was done in early June. Hence – water crisis in the West Bank.

CS: What factors may be contributing to the worsening water cuts this year?

CM: It seems settler demand rose drastically since last year. The Israeli Water Authority found 20 to 40 percent higher demand, which is quite remarkable.

Alexander Kushnir, the Water Authority’s director general, attributes this to expansion of settler irrigation in the mountains of the northern West Bank settlements, around Salfit and Nablus.

CS: How is it that people in present-day Israel are reportedly enjoying a surplus of water since the country has started using desalination, while the people under occupation in the West Bank are left with so little? Even Israeli settlers have reportedly experienced water cuts.

CM: It’s true that Israel declared for the first time a few years ago that it had a surplus water economy and iskeen to sell more water to its neighbors, from whom it expropriated water in the first place.

Palestinians are already buying water Israel stole, but as noted, not reliably or at sufficient rates.

Frankly, I don’t know. Why this special, elevated and aggravated desire of Israel not even to sell enough water to the West Bank?

In some areas, water is actively used as a weapon for ethnic cleansing, like in the Jordan Valley. Agriculture was always targeted from day one of the occupation.

But this logic does not apply to the densely populated Palestinian towns and cities in so-called Area A of the West Bank, that are still struggling. After 20 years, this still leaves me puzzled.

Another element is important to understand: Israel needs to constantly teach Palestinians a lesson. Any water procurement, any drop delivered should be understood as a generous favor, as an act of mercy, not as a right.

Israel has augmented water sales to the West Bank from 25 million cubic meters per year in 1995 to around 60 mcm/year now. Why does it not sell much more? It certainly could afford it waterwise – it has a gigantic surplus.

One of the material issues I can detect is the issue of price, and therefore meaning of water.

Israel wants to eventually get the highest price for desalinated water it sells to Palestinians. While we are only speaking about a few hundred million shekels a year [a few tens of millions of dollars] – which is not a lot for Israel – Israel wants to end the debate once and for all over Palestinian water rights.

Israel demands nothing short of a full surrender: Palestinians should agree that the water under their feet does not belong to them, but forever to the occupier.

By demanding full prices for desalinated water, Palestinians would admit and agree to a new formula.

A word on the Gaza Strip – unlike the West Bank, Gaza has no physical possibility of access to water. The confined and densely populated Strip can never supply itself. Yet, Gaza does not get such water deliveries from Israel. Only recently did Israel start selling to Gaza the five million cubic meters per year agreed in Oslo. A tiny cosmetic increase has been enacted.

In a way you could interpret this differential treatment between Gaza and the West Bank as an Israeli admission of a certain degree of hydrological dependence.

Israel receives the bulk of its water from the territories conquered in 1967, including Syria’s Golan Heights, but not a drop from Gaza.

Waterwise, Gaza has no resource to offer Israel. This is the same as with the main resource: land. Hence a very different approach to Gaza right from the start in 1967. Israel does not depend on Gaza in any material form. Ever since Oslo, Israel has demanded Gaza supply itself by its own means, such as through seawater desalination.

CS: How have donor countries acted in all this? Have they defended global minimal water standards or have they affirmed and bolstered Israel’s control over the water resources in the occupied West Bank?

CM: Unfortunately the latter. When Oslo started, we all were under the illusion that a phase of development would start. Wells that were forbidden to be drilled for 28 years would finally be put in place.

Soon, we learned that Israel in fact was never willing to give “permits … for expanding agriculture or industry, which may compete with the State of Israel,” as then-defense minister Yitzhak Rabin said in 1986.

What was needed then and now – and everybody knew it – was political pressure to extract the minimum well-drilling permits guaranteed under Palestinian-Israeli accords. This pressure never came. Never did the EU or my German government issue even a public statement in which it “deplores” or “regrets” the obstructions in the water sector. This is a true scandal.

But even worse, what was our Western answer to this? All donor-funded projects actually abandoned the vital branch of well drilling. The last German funded well was drilled in 1999.

As for the current so-called water crisis, we as donors are now busy generously funding anachronistic water tankering in the cut-off Palestinian towns and cities – adapting to and stabilizing the status quo of occupation and water apartheid.

WHY SHOULD AN ‘ISRAELI ARAB’ BELIEVE ANYTHING NETANYAHU HAS TO SAY?

‘THROW PAPA FROM THE TRAIN’

Israeli officials have forfeited the moral high ground in their denunciations of Palestinians. Pictured: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Photo: Thierry Ehrmann / Flickr Commons)

Israeli officials have forfeited the moral high ground in their denunciations of Palestinians. Pictured: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Photo: Thierry Ehrmann / Flickr Commons)

Yesterday I took a trip to downtown Jerusalem on the Light Rail. On the way home the train was stopped by Israeli Border Police because there was a Palestinian sitting in my car with his son. The Police rudely demanded to see his Identity Card and then ordered him to get off the train. He was dong nothing wrong, just going home with his son the same way I was doing …. They held up the train for ten minutes as the man protested that he was doing nothing wrong. By this time his son was hysterical as other passengers surrounded the man to give (im)moral support to the Police. Eventually he agreed to leave the train and we continued on our journey.

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Just another day in Jerusalem😦

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BUT you must remember …

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The man was a Palestinian … a major crime in the city of Jerusalem.

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This just a week after Netanyahu’s infamous speech where he said;

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Jews and Arabs should reach out to each other, get to know each other’s families.
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Listen to each other.
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Jews and Arabs should treat one another with the same dignity and respect you’d want for your own family

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Our land is too small, it’s too precious to fill it with discord and hate.

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Here is the complete speech on video …

So I ask, after what I witnessed yesterday, how is this Arab man and his son supposed to believe anything that Netanyahu says?

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Hate still rules in the Holy Land!

CATERPILLAR ONCE AGAIN USED AS A WEAPON IN PALESTINE

The D9 is the type of machine that an Israeli soldier used to kill American activist Rachel Corrie in Gaza in 2003.

idf-photo-caterpillar-gaza-august-2014

Israel uses Caterpillar equipment in apparent extrajudicial killing

Israeli occupation forces used a Caterpillar excavator to carry out the apparent extrajudicial execution of a Palestinian man using the so-called pressure cooker procedure in which construction equipment is employed as a lethal weapon, analysis by The Electronic Intifada shows.

Caterpillar, based in Peoria, Illinois, has long been the focus of boycott and divestment campaigns for selling equipment Israel uses in human rights abuses and war crimes, including the demolitions of homes and construction of settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

Late on Tuesday night, Israeli forces massed in the town of Surif, near the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, and launched an assault on a house in which they besieged Muhammad al-Faqih. The Israelis eventually demolished the house with al-Faqih still inside.

Israel’s internal intelligence agency, the Shin Bet, claims that al-Faqih, from the nearby village of Dura, carried out a shooting near Hebron earlier this month that caused the crash of a car, killing an Israeli settler and injuring his wife.

According to the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz, the Shin Bet, whose use of torture is systematic, accused al-Faqih of the killing after obtaining confessions from two other Palestinians who allegedly assisted him, including al-Faqih’s brother.

As the journalist and close observer of Israel’s occupation Marian Houk noted, Israeli media reproduced the Shin Bet’s allegations as fact “without an ounce [or] gram of doubt” and without the need for any judicial process.

Anti-tank missiles

The Israeli army claimed that its forces “called on the operative [al-Faqih] to surrender, and he responded by opening fire and hurling explosives.”

The army said that it “responded according to procedure and returned fire” and that al-Faqih “was killed in the exchange.”

Military spokespersons also told media that soldiers fired anti-tank missiles at the house and then used an excavator to demolish it with al-Faqih inside.

Video published on YouTube shows Israeli soldiers pulling al-Faqih’s body from the rubble of the house and loading it into the excavator’s bucket before taking it away.

The Quds news website, citing witnesses, said dozens of Israeli military vehicles took part in the seven-hour siege and assault as drones circled overhead.

Village youths responded by throwing stones at Israeli forces, and several protesters were injured by rubber-coated steel bullets. Israel also sealed off the village, cut electricity and Internet services and barred Palestinian ambulances from entering the area.

The Ma’an News Agency reported that a woman was also injured during the operation and several people from Surif, including the owner of the destroyed home, were detained.

The lethal raid comes amid massive Israeli closures and arrest sweeps in the Hebron area in recent weeks following attacks on Israeli settlers, including the killing of a 13-year-old child in her home. A field director with UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees, decried Israel’s closure for “collectively punishing innocent people for the acts of others.”

In his home village of Dura, al-Faqih’s family received condolences and his mother praised her son as a “hero” and as “stubborn,” adding that he would never have surrendered himself to Israeli forces.

“Pressure cooker”

While the Israeli army said that al-Faqih fired first, a claim that cannot be independently verified, the “procedure” its forces appear to have used is the “pressure cooker” in which construction equipment is deliberately used as a weapon.

Who Profits, a group that researches companies involved in Israel’s occupation, describes the pressure cooker procedure in a 2014 report on the use of construction machinery in Israel’s occupation.

Originally developed to handle alleged hostage-takers barricaded inside a building, the procedure was modified during the second intifada of the early 2000s and used against any Palestinians who were inside a house who Israeli forces wanted to detain.

First, the forces surrounding the house use a loudspeaker to order anyone inside to come out immediately. If the persons remain inside, the soldiers start shooting at the building first with small arms, then machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades and finally tank shells or missiles.

If the persons survive and still refuse to surrender, an armored bulldozer or excavator is sent to the scene. The bulldozer initially shakes the house and then starts peeling off the walls, ultimately destroying the house and burying the target of the attack beneath it.

“Although heavy engineering machinery clearly plays a significant role in the human rights violations caused by different types of house and property demolitions, its brutal use in the framework of the pressure cooker procedure upgrades it from a potentially deadly tool to a lethal weapon used systematically for extrajudicial killings,” Who Profits states.

In August 2014, Israeli forces used a militarized Caterpillar D9 bulldozer in a similar assault on a building in the village of Qabalan near the West Bank city of Nablus. Zakaria al-Aqra, the 24-year-old target of the attack, was killed, six of his relatives were wounded and the house was badly damaged during the eight-hour operation.

Armored excavator

Analysis of video and photos of the Israeli assault on Surif allows the large machine used to demolish the house where al-Faqih was besieged to be identified as the Bagger E-349 armored excavator.

As the Israeli army’s ground command website shows, this is a weaponized version of Caterpillar’s model 349E Hydraulic Excavator.

An independent UN inquiry into Israel’s assault on Gaza found that Palestinian resistance organizations used tunnels only to attack “legitimate military targets.”

“Primary weapon”

As long ago as 2004, Human Rights Watch called on Caterpillar to halt sales of bulldozers to Israel because of their use as a “primary weapon to raze Palestinian homes, destroy agriculture and shred roads in violation of the laws of war.”

Since then, pressure has mounted on Caterpillar as dozens of campaigns have urged institutions to divest from the firm. The Presbyterian Church USA and the United Church of Christ have voted to do so since 2014.

In 2012, Caterpillar was dropped from a leading index of socially responsible investments in part because of concerns over its products’ use by Israel to violate human rights.

Caterpillar has always tried to distance itself from the Israeli army’s use of its equipment but has done nothing to halt sales. The company says that the machines are not sold to Israel directly, but through the US government and that it “cannot monitor the use of every piece of its equipment around the world.” Caterpillar says that it does not militarize the machines it makes, but that this is done by Israel.

But photographs published by Evenor appear to show Israeli army weaponized bulldozers being serviced at Caterpillar corporate facilities in Israel, suggesting that the company’s complicity is more direct than it claims.

Additional research by Dena Shunra.

More photos at SOURCE

ISRAEL’S REAL MESSAGE TO PALESTINIANS

Surely NOT THIS ….

THIS is more like it ….

A Palestinian family stands amid the remains of their home after it was demolished by Israeli forces in Masafer Jenbah in an undated photo. (AFP/Hazem Bader, File)

A Palestinian family stands amid the remains of their home after it was demolished by Israeli forces in Masafer Jenbah in an undated photo. (AFP/Hazem Bader, File)

Israel demolished more Palestinian homes in past 6 months than in all of 2015

Israeli authorities have demolished more Palestinian homes in the West Bank in the first six months of 2016 as they did in all of 2015, Israeli human rights group B’Tselem revealed in a report released on Wednesday, in a worrying confirmation of Israel’s ongoing crackdown on Palestinian communities in Area C of the West Bank.

The report, which was also presented by the Arab Joint List during a Knesset conference on Israel’s home demolition policy the same day, said that 168 homes were destroyed during the first half of 2016 for lacking hard to obtain Israeli-issued building permits, leaving 740 Palestinians homeless.

B’Tselem’s report did not include punitive demolitions enacted on the home of suspected Palestinian attackers and their families.

The B’Tselem tally marked a higher count than the total number of houses destroyed by Israeli each year in the past decade, with the exception of 2013, when 175 homes were demolished.

The 2016 statistics marked a drastic increase from 2015, when 125 homes were demolished, leaving 496 Palestinians without a home.

B’Tselem further estimated that Israel had demolished some 1,113 Palestinian homes in the West Bank alone from 2006 to June 2016, primarily targeting Palestinian communities east of Jerusalem, in the South Hebron Hills and in the Jordan Valley — where a large number of illegal Israeli settlements are located.

The group added that during that decade, at least 769 Palestinians in the West Bank, including 340 minors, saw their homes demolished more than once.

During the Knesset conference on the report, Ayman Odeh, the head of the Joint List which brings together political factions representing Palestinian citizens of Israel, said the demolitions showed that in spite of calls by Israeli right-wing groups to annex all of the West Bank, “actually and practically, we know that Israel prefers to perpetuate its control in a gray area… while paying lip service to the international community.”

Beyond homes, B’Tselem highlighted the fact that Israeli authorities also demolished structures Palestinians depended on for their livelihoods, such as livestock pens, sheds, and bathroom facilities, and confiscated solar panels and water tanks.

“In doing so, the Civil Administration not only leaves these residents homeless but also severely lacking basic services and the ability to earn a living,” the report read.Joint List MK Dov Khenin denounced the demolitions during the Knesset conference as a deliberate move by the Israeli government to annex parts of Area C — the 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli military control.“

Demolishing houses, water tanks and solar panels does not happen by coincidence or by mistake,” he told the Knesset. “It is an organized policy that aims to change the current political condition, force Palestinians to leave the area and annex parts of Area C to prevent the two-state solution. Therefore, it is no longer a human rights case but a first-degree political case.”Natalie Grove, a representative of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights also present at the Knesset, said that “Israel does not fulfill the minimum of its basic commitments as an occupying power.”

“Israel is creating humanitarian crises, and when the international community intervenes to solve these crises, Israel increases obstacles in front of these interventions,” Grove added. “This policy has led to the worsening of the humanitarian crisis and created the danger of population transfer which leads to a confrontation between Israel and the international community and raises fears that Israel is not serious regarding the two-state solution.”

The publication of the report came two days after some 30 Palestinian families lost their homes during demolition raids of unprecedentedly large scale in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Issawiya and Ras al-Amoud, and in the village of Qalandiya in the West Bank district of Jerusalem.According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Israel only granted 33 building permits out of 2,020 applications submitted by Palestinians between 2010 and 2014.

The dismal number of permits granted by Israeli authorities has forced many Palestinians to build without permission, at the risk of seeing their homes demolished.

B’Tselem said Israel’s pretexts in demolishing so many Palestinian homes constituted “a spurious claim given the absence of any real possibility for Palestinians to build legally in the area.”

“The Israeli authorities impose an impossible daily reality on Palestinian communities in Area C,” B’Tselem concluded in its report. “Israel acts to establish facts on the ground and to create a reality that it will be difficult to change in any future agreement.”

 

Source

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