THE NAKBA CONTINUES … A MUST WATCH VIDEO

After 24 years of back and forth in an Israeli court, this Palestinian family was forced out of their home in occupied East Jerusalem.

OCCUPATIONAL FUN IN PALESTINE CAUGHT ON VIDEO

Watch Israeli soldiers laugh and cheer after one of them shoots a Palestinian protester in the village of Madama

IMAGE OF THE DAY ~~ ANNEXATION OR ANNIHILATION?

Israel annexation of occupied Palestine territories: will Netanyahu decide to act on his threat?

Image by Carlos Latuff

IMAGES OF THE DAY ~~ IN PALESTINE WE ARE ALL BANKSY

When passerbys were asked who painted the murals on the wall the answer was the same from all …. “I did it! I am Banksy.” 

‘In Palestine we are all Banksy’

In Bethlehem yesterday …..


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THE REAL ‘OPERATION PROTECTIVE SHIELD’

Palestinians in Hebron are taking new steps for their community’s safety under constant settler attacks.

APARTHEID CAUGHT ON VIDEO

A trip down Israel’s new Apartheid Road

Last month, Israel opened what has been dubbed by locals and activists as the ‘Apartheid Road’. The four-lane highway features two separate roads divided by a concrete wall – one for Israeli settlers and the other for Palestinians.While the Israeli lane allows settlers quick and easy access to the center of Jerusalem, the Palestinian lane is designed to separate Palestinians off through an underpass, diverging to different areas of the West Bank. Despite Israeli claims that the road “eases traffic congestion” for both Palestinians and Israelis, locals maintain that it is just another step by authorities to further divide the occupied Palestinian territory.

Video by: Yumna Patel

Saleh Zghari

Ahmad al-Bazz

 

Source

APARTHEID BY ANY OTHER NAME IS STILL APARTHEID

Israel opened a new road in the central occupied West Bank on Thursday with an eight-meter wall separating Palestinian and Israeli traffic, leading many to deem the route “Apartheid Road.”

Image by Latuff

Israel’s new ‘Apartheid Road’ separates Palestinian and Israeli drivers with 8-meter wall

 Yumna Patel

Israel opened a new road in the central occupied West Bank on Thursday with an eight-meter wall separating Palestinian and Israeli traffic, leading many to deem the route “Apartheid Road.”

The road connects the illegal Geva Binyamin Settlement, southeast of Ramallah, to Route 1, a major highway that runs through the West Bank and into Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem.

The new 5-kilometer Route 4370, also known as the “Easter Ring Route” is a four lane route: two lanes for Israeli settlers travelling from the West Bank into Jerusalem, and two lanes circumventing around the borders of Jerusalem for Palestinians with West Bank IDs.

The Israeli-accessible portion of the road is currently only operating between 5am and noon, but will be fully opened as of January 10th, Israeli media reported.

While Israeli media have reported that Palestinians with Jerusalem IDs or Israeli citizenship would be allowed to use the Israeli-side of the road to travel from Jerusalem to the West Bank, heightened security and a new checkpoint along the road have led to speculation that Palestinians, no matter what ID they carry, will be subject to discrimination by Israeli border police who man the checkpoint.

There are dozens of segregated and settler-only roads across the occupied Palestinian territory, but Route 4370 is the first of its kind to have a wall — half concrete, half fence — separating Palestinians from Israelis.

Israeli authorities have said the road is meant to ease traffic congestion at the Hizma checkpoint north of Jerusalem, and have even claimed the road offers “a solution for all populations, Israeli and Palestinian.”

Israel’s Public Security Minister called he road “an example of the ability to create a shared life between Israelis and Palestinians, while dealing with the existing security challenges.”

Palestinian officials and activists on the other hand have condemned the road as an example of Israeli apartheid and racism against Palestinians.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry slammed the new road as “emphasizing Israel’s approach aiming to undermine prospects for geographical and demographic contiguity of the West Bank.”

The Times of Israel quoted PA Transportation Ministry Spokesman Mohammad Hamdan as saying that “all roads in the State of Palestine should be accessible to Palestinians. This new road is absolutely unacceptable and embodies barefaced discrimination against the Palestinian people.”

Years in the making

The ‘Apartheid Road’ has been years in the making, and according to rights groups, and is about much more than just easing traffic for settlers traveling to Jerusalem.

The road is a key infrastructural part of implementing Israel’s ‘Greater Jerusalem’ or ‘E1’ plan, which seeks the de facto annexation of the three settlement blocs adjacent to Jerusalem city – Gush Etzion to the South, Ma’ale Adumim/E-1 to the east and Givat Ze’ev to the north.

If implemented, the southern West Bank would be completely cut off from the north, making a future contiguous Palestinian state nearly impossible. It would essentially see the Israeli municipal boundaries of Jerusalem extend to the boundaries of Jericho.

Palestinian cartographer Khalil al-Tafakji warned Palestinian media outlets that opening the new road serves as a “prelude to displacing Palestinians from the area and starting settlement construction in the so-called E1 corridor”.

Israeli NGO Ir Amim said in a press release that the road was the “brainchild” of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and was designed to “solve the dilemma of E-1 splitting the West Bank into northern and southern enclaves by using road infrastructure to preserve a semblance of contiguity between Ramallah and Bethlehem.”

By allowing Palestinians to still navigate between Ramallah and Bethlehem — in a very indirect manner —  while diverting them from both the E-1 area and Jerusalem, the road eliminates a significant Palestinian presence.

Ir Amim says the opening of the road should be cause for “heightened vigilance,” and that while routing Palestinian traffic away from Jerusalem and E-1, the new road also “affords two key benefits for Israelis: 1) expediting traffic flow to Jerusalem for settlers from the Ramallah area and 2) enabling expansion of the settlement bloc around Ramallah.”

“While legislative initiatives like the Greater Jerusalem Bill and other plans designed to redraw the boundaries of the city may be stalled, infrastructure projects have already proven an effective tool for increasing connectivity between the blocs and the city, not only by solidifying physical linkages but also by eroding the boundaries of the city in the Israeli public consciousness,” the group said.

PALESTINE CRUMBLES AS THE PA WHISTLES DIXIE

People feel like there is nobody to defend them — no one to protect their families, their land, or their dignity. Many Palestinians have lost faith in their leaders, and President Abbas is increasingly unpopular.

Image by Carlos Latuff

What an Israeli army closure on Ramallah looks like

As the Israeli army invades Ramallah, fear and anxiety deepen among many Palestinians — but so does solidarity.

By Zena Tahhan

 

The past few days in the occupied West Bank have been particularly difficult. Violence, killings, and military raids are common here, but Palestinian cities are now facing even deeper uncertainty and instability.

The Israeli army imposed a military closure on the city of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, and closed major checkpoints between cities.

The closure, raids, and restrictions on movement followed two drive-by shootings carried out by Palestinians this week near illegal settlements. Two Israeli soldiers were killed in one of the shootings, and in the other, several Israeli settlers were wounded, including a pregnant woman whose baby was delivered prematurely and later died.

As events began to unfold on Wednesday, the Israeli army raided Ramallah and stationed soldiers at Al-Irsal Street, a main street in the city. Within minutes, Israeli soldiers invaded the area, parading their presence very close to the Palestinian Authority’s Presidential Compound and President Mahmoud Abbas’ residence.

Soldiers killed four Palestinians in separate operations across the West Bank, and over the past several days, dozens of Palestinians have been rounded up in widespread arrest raids. Palestinian youths have been confronting Israeli soldiers at checkpoints and near settlements. Soldiers have been responding with tear gas and bullets, killing at least one teen.

This is the ‘de facto’ capital of Palestine? some Palestinians quipped. A video of an Israeli soldier trying, but failing, to climb a short wall turned into a meme of Abbas offering the soldier a ladder.

“The scene removed the veil from the eyes of many Palestinians — particularly [those] living in the Ramallah bubble — that we are living under the false pretense that there is a state and we have independence,” said Fadi Quran, a Ramallah-based activist. “Israel reminded the Palestinians that this is an illusion, and humiliated the Palestinian Authority,” he added.

Palestinians are used to electricity cuts, night raids, arrests, restrictions on movement and killings, but beneath the veneer of normalcy and jokes reigns an atmosphere of anxiety.

Since the closure was announced, events have been canceled, Palestinians in the West Bank are staying put, checking the news, wondering what the Israeli army is going to do, and whether it will turn into a full military invasion like the days of the first and second intifadas.

For many, the escalation is a reminder that Palestinians’ fates are mostly in the hands of a foreign occupying army.

“I wasn’t able to visit my sick uncle who is currently hospitalized in Nablus,” said Fareed Taamallah, a Ramallah resident and activist. “Many of our family members were stuck in the cities where they work, or at home.”

Those who live and work in different cities across the West Bank or in Jerusalem were held up for long periods, as armed Israeli soldiers painstakingly searched every Palestinian car and checked every identity card.

Amid the uncertainty, however, a strong sense of solidarity has emerged. The people of the West Bank are resisting occupation, land theft, as well as settler and state violence, and people realize that they need to stand together.

Across the West Bank, Palestinians opened their doors to strangers who were stuck on their commutes home. Restaurants offered free meals until checkpoints were reopened on Friday. The hashtag #OurHomesAreOpenforEveryone emerged in Arabic on Facebook and Twitter.

As Israeli soldiers marched through the streets of Ramallah, demanding that businesses hand over CCTV footage, activists sent out a call for business and individuals with security cameras to delete any tapes and break their cameras, in order to protect the identities of Palestinian fighters.

“The biggest impact of the past few days has been the deepening of solidarity and cohesion between the people,” said Quran.

“The people remembered that they are all targets of the occupation. The occupation always tries to divide Palestinians, but suddenly, amid the military closures and crackdowns, the people became stronger as one,” he continued.

People feel like there is nobody to defend them — no one to protect their families, their land, or their dignity. Many Palestinians have lost faith in their leaders, and President Abbas is increasingly unpopular.

“I try to explain to my children that we are a people under occupation, and that the occupation tries to disrupt our lives,” said Taamallah, adding that the uncertainty of the future of his family and of life under military occupation is difficult to manage.

“It is very important that they understand what is happening, but at the same time, not to make them afraid. It’s a very thin line, he continued. “You also have to create a sense of solidarity for resistance within them. Not that they must go to the front lines or throw rocks, but that our presence and resilience are important.”

“Those who carried out the attacks are not people who simply enjoy violence. They did so because they have lost all hope. The occupation does not spare us,” said Taamallah.

“The presence of the occupation is violence in and of itself,” he concluded.

FROM JAIL CELL TO VIP SUITE

Ahed Tamimi is out of prison and on tour in Europe and the Middle East speaking out against Israeli occupation and Israeli officials are unhappy about it.

[Ahed] highlights to the world both how unjust the occupation is and how absurd their legal system is,” said Diana Buttu, a former legal adviser to the Palestinian Authority. “Israel instead wants subservient Palestinians who simply stay quiet in the face of the denial of freedom. Ahed shows that won’t happen — including not with this generation.”

Tamimi gained international attention last year when she confronted an Israeli soldier in front of her home in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. She kicked and slapped him, and then took a swing at a second soldier in a videotaped incident that spread quickly on social media.

On Wall Street … Photo: Bud Korotzer/Desertpeace

Palestinian protest icon goes from jail cell to VIP suite

When Israel locked up Ahed Tamimi for slapping a soldier last year, it hoped to finally silence the teenage Palestinian activist. Instead, it created an international celebrity.

Less than three months after walking out of prison, Tamimi is on a victory tour, crisscrossing Europe and the Middle East as a superstar of the campaign against Israeli occupation. She has spoken to throngs of adoring fans, met world leaders and was even welcomed by the Real Madrid soccer club.

The VIP reception has dismayed Israeli officials and is prompting some to ask if Israel mishandled the case.

“We could have been smarter,” said Yoaz Hendel, a media commentator and former spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Tamimi gained international attention last year when she confronted an Israeli soldier in front of her home in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. She kicked and slapped him, and then took a swing at a second soldier in a videotaped incident that spread quickly on social media.

Tamimi’s extended family has long been on Israel’s radar screen. Nabi Saleh is home to some 600 people, most of them members of the clan. For years, they have held weekly protests against the expansion of a nearby Israeli settlement, gatherings that sometimes turn to stone-throwing, prompting Israeli troops to respond with tear gas, rubber bullets or live fire.

For Israelis, the Tamimis are a group of provocateurs intent on manipulating the media to hurt the country’s image. One cousin, Ahlam Tamimi, was an accomplice to a suicide bombing. Among Palestinians, they are seen as brave heroes standing up to Israel.

But neither side anticipated the fallout from last December’s standoff, which occurred during one of the weekly protests.

The military said it moved in after villagers began throwing stones at troops. In the video, Tamimi and her cousin, Nour, walk toward the two soldiers. Tamimi tells the soldiers to leave, pushes and kicks them and slaps one of them.

As the cousin films the scene on her mobile phone, Tamimi’s mother, Nariman, arrives. At one point, she steps between Ahed and the soldiers, but then also tries to push back the soldiers, who do not respond. Ahed Tamimi later said that she was upset because a cousin had been shot in the face by a rubber bullet fired by Israeli troops.

As the video spread, Palestinians celebrated Ahed as a hero. Cartoons, posters and murals portrayed her as a Joan of Arc-like character, confronting the Israeli military with her mane of long, dirty-blond curls flowing in the breeze.

In Israel, the incident set off its own uproar. While the army praised the soldiers for showing restraint, politicians felt the army had been humiliated and called for tough action against the young firebrand. Days later, in an overnight raid, troops entered Tamimi’s house and took her and her mother away. Both were given eight-month prison sentences.

Israel has traditionally been obsessive about defending its image — making the term “hasbara,” which roughly translates as public relations, part of its national lexicon. But as the country has moved toward the right under the decade-long rule of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, charm has been replaced increasingly with confrontation.

Netanyahu, an admirer of President Donald Trump, rarely speaks to the media anymore and often lashes out at reporters for what he believes is unfair coverage. Under his watch, Israel has tried to weaken liberal advocacy groups critical of his policies, detained Jewish American critics at the airport for questioning and banned people who boycott the Jewish state from entering. It attempted to expel an American woman who will be studying at an Israeli university, accusing her of being a boycott activist. She was held in detention for two weeks until Israel’s Supreme Court overturned the expulsion order.

While widely supported at home, these policies risk backfiring on the international stage.

Weeks after her release from prison, Tamimi began a tour that has taken her to France, Spain, Greece, Tunisia and Jordan. At nearly every stop, she has been welcomed by cheering crowds.

“I don’t like living as a celebrity. It’s not an easy life to live. I’m exhausted,” she said in a telephone interview from the Jordanian capital, Amman. “But what I like more is delivering the message of my people. That makes me feel proud.”

She kicked off her tour on Sept. 14 in Paris, where she participated in the Communist Party’s “Humanity” rally. The popular weekend festival attracts rockers, rappers and other entertainers and celebrities. On the festival’s last day, she spoke to thousands of cheering supporters. She traveled to other cities around France at the invitation of the France Palestine Solidarity Association.

In Greece, she was a headliner for the 100th-anniversary celebration of the country’s Communist party, KKE. Addressing a crowd of thousands, she was interrupted by several long ovations and chants of “Freedom for Palestine.”

“Your support means a lot to me. It gives me a big push to return to my homeland and continue my struggle vigorously against the occupation,” she told the crowd. “Free people unite to face capitalism, imperialism and colonization … We are not victims. We are freedom fighters.”

Her family was invited as official guests of Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi to mark the 33rd anniversary of the Israeli bombing of what was then the Palestine Liberation Organization’s headquarters. At the ceremony, Essebsi gave her a statue of a silver dove with an olive branch.

Meetings with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are in the works, said her father, Bassem Tamimi, who has been accompanying her.

“On the Champs-Elysees in Paris, we were surrounded by hundreds of people who wanted to talk to Ahed and take pictures with her,” her father said. “The same thing happened in every other city we visited.”

In a sign of her mainstream appeal, Tamimi recently wrote a first-person account of her time in prison for Vogue Arabia, a Middle Eastern edition of the popular fashion magazine.

“I want to be a regular 17-year-old. I like clothes, I like makeup. I get up in the morning, check my Instagram, have breakfast and walk in the hills around the village,” she wrote. “But I am not a normal teenager.”

Israeli officials have remained silent throughout her tour — with one exception. Tamimi’s reception at Real Madrid, where she met the legendary striker Emilio Butragueno and received a team jersey with her name on it, was too much to bear.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon called the team’s embrace of Tamimi “shameful” in a Twitter post. “It would be morally wrong to stay silent while a person inciting to hatred and violence goes on a victory tour as if she is some kind of rock star,” he said.

Israel faces a dilemma — wanting to respond but fearing criticism will attract even more attention.

Michael Oren, Israel’s deputy minister for public diplomacy and a former ambassador to the United States, learned a bitter lesson when he acknowledged earlier this year leading a secret investigation into whether the Tamimis were “real” Palestinians.

He said their light features, Western clothes and long history of run-ins with Israeli forces suggested that they were actually paid provocateurs out to hurt the country’s image. The investigation concluded that the family was indeed real — prompting mockery and racism accusations from the Tamimis.

Tamimi is reflective of changing Palestinian sentiment. Where an older generation of political leaders sought either armed struggle or a two-state solution with Israel, many younger Palestinians have given up on the long-stalled peace process and instead favor a single state in which Jews and Arabs live equally. Israel objects to a binational state, saying it is merely an attempt to destroy the country through a nonviolent disguise.

“Israel is unhappy because she highlights to the world both how unjust the occupation is and how absurd their legal system is,” said Diana Buttu, a former legal adviser to the Palestinian Authority. “Israel instead wants subservient Palestinians who simply stay quiet in the face of the denial of freedom. Ahed shows that won’t happen — including not with this generation.”

Hendel, the former Israeli government spokesman, said he initially supported Israel’s tough response to the slapping incident but now thinks it was an error. He said issuing a fine or punishing her parents for their daughter’s actions might have generated less attention.

He acknowledged there is a broader problem for which Israel does not seem to have a good answer.

“She’s powerful, part of a sophisticated machine that tries to delegitimize Israel by using photos and creating scenarios that portray Israel as Goliath and the other side as David,” he said. “It is much easier to fight terrorism than to fight civilians motivated by terrorist leaders. I think Tamimi in this story is a kind of a front line for a much bigger organization, or even a process.”

Tamimi could continue to frustrate the Israelis for many years to come. She completed her high school studies in prison and now hopes to study international law in Britain. She dreams of one day representing the Palestinians in institutions like the International Criminal Court.

“International law is a strong tool to defend my people,” she said. “We are under occupation and we have to rely on international law to get the world behind us.”

THE PALESTINIAN HEROINE THAT WENT VIRAL

Ahed Tamimi: A symbol of Palestinian resistance

HELL NO, WE WON’T GO!

Reminiscent of the ‘Vietnam War Era’

In letter to PM, IDF chief, 63 teenagers urge all Israeli youth to refuse to serve in the military until occupation ends, due to ‘racist government policy’ in West Bank

In the 1960s and early 1970s the U.S. government sentenced 3,200 draft resisters – those who publicly refused to register or to go when drafted — to prison for up to five years.

 

Dozens of 12th-graders to defy draft over ‘oppression’ of Palestinians

Dozens of 12th-grade students said they are refusing to be drafted into the IDF in protest over what they say is “the army’s implementation of a racist government policy that violates human rights.”

A letter publicized Thursday, signed by 63 high school students from across the country, was sent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot.

It calls on all Israeli high-schoolers to join them in refusing to be drafted until the occupation in the West Bank is ended.

“The army implements a racist government policy that violates basic human rights and carries out one law for Israelis and another law for Palestinians in the same territory,” the letter charges.

“Therefore we have decided not to take part in the occupation and oppression of the Palestinian nation, which has divided human beings into two antagonistic camps. This ‘temporary’ situation has gone on for 50 long years now, and we won’t contribute to it.

“We will refuse to serve in the army out of a commitment to the values of peace and with the knowledge that there is another reality we can create together. We say to the rest of the country’s [12th-graders], will your military service really help bring about that reality?”

The signatories say the government is engaged in inciting Israelis against Palestinians and Israel’s Arab citizens.

“An entire nation is living under institutionalized incitement directed against Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line, and we are here – young men and women from different parts of the country and different social backgrounds – refusing to believe the systematic incitement or participate in the government’s oppressive and occupying arm.”

The letter echoes the famous petition of the “12th graders,” a group of high-schoolers who sent a letter to then prime minister Golda Meir in 1970 expressing their opposition to serving in the West Bank, which Israel captured in the 1967 Six Day War.

Israel allows military service exemptions for a number of reasons, including mental health and medical problems and religious objections, and for Arab Israelis, but not for conscientious objectors. Refusal to serve is one of the most divisive issues in Israel.

One signatory, Inbal Vardi, a student at a bilingual Hebrew-Arabic high school in Jerusalem, explained in a Thursday interview with Israel Radio that the letter constituted “a refusal to take part in this circle of violence, and somebody needs to take responsibility and say enough. We are not prepared to take up guns anymore.”

Her parents support her decision, she said. “It could end in jail, I hope not, but it could.”

“It’s not a small thing in a democratic state” to sign such a letter, another signatory, Hillel Garmi, told the Ynet news site, “but under any government things could be happening that I would refuse to take part in.”

Yesh Atid MK Elazar Stern, a retired IDF major general who once headed the army’s manpower directorate, called the letter “sad” but “marginal.”

“I think our youth is committed enough to handle these marginal types. It’s minuscule compared to the hundreds of thousands who enlist, and isn’t more than [the numbers of draft defiers] in the past,” Stern said.

According to Ynet, the signatories plan on taking to the streets to recruit more high schoolers to their cause.

Here is one of the brave souls …..

WATER WATER EVERYWHERE …. EXCEPT FOR PALESTINE

The Tamimi family are known for their activism. “It’s just stealing… a clear theft in the middle of the day” 

The price of protesting …..

Well known Palestinian activist 16 year-old Ahed Tamimi was seized by IDF from her home in the dead of night and taken into custody. Her mother went to find her and was also arrested. Children experience widespread, systemic abuse in the Israeli military detention system.

Image by Carlos Latuff

Ahed Tamimi, kidnapped by Israeli soldiers last night

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It’s not just the water shortage we protest …

UN BLACKLISTS THE OCCUPATION

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights al-Hussein warns Israeli firms of their inclusion in ‘blacklist’ of companies operating in West Bank, east J’lem, Jordan Valley; list includes prominent companies such as Bezeq, Hot, Ahava, Cellcom, Bank Hapoalim and others; Bezeq CEO scorns ‘entirely anti-Israeli propaganda.’

130 Israeli companies, 60 int’l corporations on UN ‘blacklist’

Itamar Eichner

In the past few weeks, 130 Israeli companies and 60 international corporations operating in Israel received warning letters from United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid bin Ra’ad al-Hussein cautioning them of their impending inclusion in a “blacklist” of companies active beyond the Green Line in “violation of international law and UN resolutions.”

Ynet has gained access to part of the list, which is set to be published in late December and cites 25 well-known Israeli companies. The companies operate in different sectors—some in food manufacturing, others in services, pharmaceuticals and even high-tech—but have one thing in common: they all operate in settlements, east Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley.

Among the companies in the commissioner’s sights are Ahava, Dor Alon, Amisragas, Angel Bakeries, Arison Investments, Ashdar, Clal Industries, Café Café, Cellcom, Danya Cebus, Electra, HP, Hot, the Israel Aerospace Industries, Matrix Systems, Motorola, Nesher, Partner, Paz, Rami Levy, Remax, Housing & Construction (Shikun Binui), Shufersal, Sonol and Trima.

The above companies are joined by the 12 companies already published on Channel 2 News including Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, Bezeq and Bezeq International, Coca Cola, Africa Israel, Teva, IDB, Egged, Mekorot, Netafim and Elbit Systems.

The “Washington Post” published American companies will also be appearing on the list, including Caterpillar, Tripadvisor and Airbnb.

Some of the companies to be included on the list are still considering their response, but others are already fighting back with the claim their inclusion on the list may cause them financial harm and tarnish their brand, and are therefore looking into filing suits against the Commissioner and the UN’s Human Rights Council that called for the list’s preparation in the first place.

The companies claim the list’s creation was politically motivated and point to the fact that the commissioner constructed no such lists pertaining to other regions of conflict—such as the Crimean Peninsula and Western Sahara—as proof.

Both Israel and the US have been working behind the scenes in the past few weeks to prevent the list’s publication, but it appears it may be presented with a fait accompli. Despite the fact the list carries no operational or legal ramifications, the symbolic move nevertheless caused concern among the Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials due to the fact it may provide a serious boost to BDS efforts, deter foreign investors and convince foreign companies operating in Israel to reduce their operations.

“It may cause large investment firms or pension funds carrying stocks of various Israeli companies to divest in them because they, in turn, operate in the settlements. It may lead to a snowball effect that will greatly harm the Israeli economy eventually,” said a senior Israeli official.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs estimates the Human Rights Commissioner received most of his information about the Israeli firms from Israeli non-profits operating in the settlements and investigating business activities beyond the Green Line.

AIPAC goes to war

In an effort to scuttle the move, the pro-Israel American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) lobby has been working in the US on promoting rapid legislation in Congress determining any company divesting its business dealings from Israel will be considered to have “capitulated” to the Arab boycott, and would thus be in violation of American law.

The Human Rights Council’s efforts to isolate Israel—executed through the office of the commissioner—have largely been facilitated by what Israel frequently slams as the UN body’s years-long anti-Israeli majority which has a long record of a bias slant.

Bezeq CEO Stella Handler published a Facebook post 12 days ago in which she made public the overture she received from the UN’s Human Rights Commissioner. After the Ministry of Foreign Affairs contacted her, Handler took the post down.

“Here’s something the UN’s Human Rights Council doesn’t want you know: we’ve received a message from Special Assistant to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mohammad Ali Alnsour. Alnsour communicated to us that Bezeq was to be included on a list of Israeli companies operating in the West Bank. He asked us to keep that information confidential and to not publically comment on it,” Handler’s Facebook post said.

“Before we get started, here’s some background about the UN’s Human Rights Council. Since it was founded in 2006, it published 68 decisions denouncing Israel, making up 50 percent of the total resolutions pertaining to specific countries the council has made. Not North Korea, not Syria, not Sudan and not Yemen were afforded such attention,” the post continued.

“We will not be cooperating with a move that’s entirely anti-Israeli propaganda. Despite the council’s attempts to harm Israel by harming Bezeq, we give you our solemn commitment to keep focused on what we do best: providing all of Israel’s citizens with quality service, to provide our employees with a fair workplace and to manufacture profits for our shareholders. That is our role as Israel’s communications infrastructures company,” Handler concluded.

WHAT JEWISH HOLIDAYS MEAN TO PALESTINIANS

Closures for Jewish and Israeli holidays are a routine procedure.

Israeli security forces at the Qalandiya checkpoint near Ramallah (Flash90)

Israel set to put West Bank, Gaza under 11-day closure for Sukkot

Exceptionally long closure comes after Har Adar attack; defense minister dismisses as ‘nonsense’ TV report he overruled army’s recommendation

In a rare move, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman approved a plan to shut off the West Bank and Gaza Strip for 11 days for the Sukkot holiday and the following Shabbat, his office said Sunday.

An IDF spokesperson confirmed that this was the current decision. However, she stressed that the closure was subject to further assessments ahead of the holiday and could change.

Closures for Jewish and Israeli holidays are a routine procedure. However, in the past, Israel has shut down the West Bank and Gaza only at the start and end of week-long festivals like Sukkot, rather than for the entire holiday.

As the holiday ends on the evening of October 11 — a Wednesday — the closure is scheduled to last through the weekend, until midnight on October 14, for a total of 11 days.

Channel 2 news reported that Liberman’s decision went against a recommendation by the army and was due to pressure by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, following the deadly stabbing attack at the Har Adar settlement last week in which a Palestinian terrorist shot and killed three security officers and wounded a fourth.

The defense minister’s office dismissed the unsourced report as “nonsense,” and the army similarly denied the claim.

According to both the minister’s and an army spokesperson, since the Har Adar attack, the IDF’s stance has been in favor of a closure for the entire holiday.

The military said that prior to the Har Adar terror attack, it did advocate closing the West Bank and Gaza for only the first and last days of the holiday, but that assessment changed after the attack.

Liberman’s spokesperson said that the new “recommendation was accepted by the defense minister.”

In general, the Jewish high holiday season, which began last week with Rosh Hashanah, is seen by defense officials as a time period of increased tension in the region, when the risk of terror attacks is higher.

Ordinarily, tens of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank enter Israel and Israeli settlements for work each day. A far smaller number of Gaza residents also travel to Israel, mostly to receive medical treatment.

The IDF makes exceptions to the closures for humanitarian and other outstanding cases, based on assessments by the Defense Ministry’s Civil Administration.

West Bank and Gaza closures for holidays are intended both to prevent attempts at terror attacks in Israel during the holiday period and to allow the Israeli security officials who operate the crossings to celebrate the festival.

A similar closure was imposed on Friday and Saturday for Yom Kippur and last week, for Rosh Hashanah.

The above brings to mind a poem that I wrote 13 years ago ….

MY FAMILY IS DIVIDED  

By Steve Amsel 

 

A wall has been built,

I cannot see my neighbor

I know not when he needs my help

I know not when he is hungry.

 

My brother’s child cannot come for an afternoon snack

I cannot bring it to him

The wall is in the way

Dividing families and loved ones.

 

“They” told us the wall is for protection.

From what?

Must our children go hungry?

Must we be jobless?

 

“They” say we are the enemy.

Is going to work a crime?

Is going to school a crime?

Try to tell a child that hunger is a good thing.

 

If the wall stays up

There will be an enemy

Uneducation and hunger leads to resentment

Resentment will lead to revolt.

 

Learn from your history my friends

Learn that walls are not the solution

Learn that unity is strength

And learn that justice triumphs over evil always.

 

RACISM HAS BECOME AMERICA’S GREATEST EXPORT

Ben Packer, a US-born rabbi, is helping to push Palestinians out of their homes.

US-born rabbi aids East Jerusalem eviction

Michael F. Brown

Ben Packer, a US-born rabbi, is helping to push Palestinians out of their homes.

Last week, the Shamasneh family was evicted from a house where family members had lived for more than 50 years in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem.

Packer, who runs a hostel in Jerusalem’s Old City, swiftly welcomed the eviction. Writing on Facebook, he statedthat “our guys were there to help move out the Arabs’ stuff and are now helping to guard the property.”

Packer did not respond to a request asking what he meant by the phrase “our guys” and if staff or residents in his hostel – the Jerusalem Heritage House – had assisted the eviction.

Notorious political activist Arieh King – who sits on the Israeli-run Jerusalem City Council – was instrumental in securing the eviction. King regards Palestinians as “squatters” in Jerusalem and, backed by US donors, has been trying to force their removal. The settlement activities which he undertakes are all illegal under international law.

Applauds ethnic cleansing

Ben Packer is an enthusiastic supporter of King’s work.

Another Facebook posting shows Packer applauding Israeli settlers as he marched with them through the Silwanneighborhood of East Jerusalem in August. Among them is Arieh King.

Both Packer and King were celebrating the placing of a new Torah in a synagogue. The synagogue is located in a building that had been seized two years ago from a Palestinian family. Proponents of the seizure argue that Jews owned the property decades ago. Israeli law, however, prohibits Palestinians who similarly own properties in West Jerusalem and elsewhere from returning to them.

This instance of dispossessing Palestinians was by no means isolated. The day after Packer posted his videos, the Israeli authorities instructed several Palestinian families in the Silwan area to collect demolition orders on their homes.

Packer is an admirer of Donald Trump, another man keen to pursue ethnic cleansing. When Trump was elected US president last year, Packer argued that Israel should “fire up the bulldozers” and build more settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

Packer has claimed to be a friend of Stephen Miller, now a senior policy adviser to Trump and an instigator of the attempt to stop people from six largely Muslim countries from entering the US. A decade ago, Packer took Miller on a guided tour of Jerusalem and Hebron.

The two men – Packer and Miller – appear to have similar political views.

Miller has a history of coded racism. Many comments he has made since taking up his current job can be considered as sympathetic to white supremacists.

Soft spot for KKK?

Packer’s response to last month’s violence in his home state of Virginia suggests he may have a soft spot for the Ku Klux Klan.

His first posting on Facebook after the clashes between white supremacists and anti-fascists in Charlottesvillewas to claim that “both sides there hate Jews.” That remark was made one day after Heather Heyer was killedwhen a car was driven into a protest against the far-right demonstration.

There is no evidence that Heyer hated Jews. On the contrary, there are numerous character references indicating she was a strong proponent of equal rights for all.

In subsequent postings, Packer gave succor to white supremacists in an apparent reference to neo-Nazis and the KKK.

“These people have no real record of terrorism or anything else,” he argued.

That profoundly ignorant remark was made during a Facebook discussion prompted by Packer’s sharing an article with a headline about how one Orthodox Jew in Israel was “standing with the KKK on Charlottesville.”

Falsehood

In a further falsehood about white supremacist protesters, Packer claimed, “There was no indication of violence by the protesters, only by the counter-protesters and that does not justify preventing their ‘rally.’”

He defended his views by noting, “I’m from the South, I think I know a thing or two.”

His high school civics classes in Virginia must have been woefully inadequate or non-existent.

Any adult who has lived in the South in the last 60 years is aware of the history of racial terror spread by the Klan.

Packer’s comments bear more than a passing resemblance to those of Yair Netanyahu. A son of Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, Yair alleged that the anti-fascists in Charlottesville are worse than the neo-Nazis.

The prime minister’s son thinks campaigners against fascism and activists in the Black Lives Matter are getting stronger while the neo-Nazis are “dying out.” Unrebuked by his father, Yair was unable to distinguish between groups supporting equal rights and those who prefer states led by racist supremacists.

Yair has subsequently circulated a cartoon that recycles anti-Semitic tropes. The cartoon suggested that George Soros, a Jewish billionaire, was a puppet-master of Ehud Barak, a long-time rival to Benjamin Netanyahu – and, in effect, controls the world.

The few public figures who defended Yair over the cartoon included the former KKK leader David Duke and Ben Packer. Benjamin Netanyahu, ever-quick to assign anti-Semitic motivations to leftists for speaking on behalf of Palestinian rights, has remained silent on the matter.

It is disturbing that a rabbi would endorse an attempt to score political points by approving an age-old conspiracy theory about Jewish domination.

It is equally disturbing that Packer would indulge the extremists in Charlottesville who chanted “Jews will not replace us.”

Yet the depravity of the relationship between alt-right American racists and alt-right Israeli racists is becoming clearer in the Trump/Netanyahu era with supremacists such as Richard Spencer – a Duke University friend of Miller’s – referring to his pursuit of a “sort of white Zionism.”

In a recent article for the Israeli settler publication Arutz Sheva, Packer wrote about wishing to “send a message.” Opposition to settlement activities in East Jerusalem, he argued, should be “punished” by the building of more settlements.

What that means in practice is that Packer wants to uproot Palestinians and deny their basic rights. Is it any wonder that someone with such an extremist attitude would indulge the KKK?

Having urged supporters to help “work in the Yemenite Village (right outside the Old City),” Packer was recently asked by a Facebook correspondent: “How about you hit up the KKK? You seem to be buddies with them.”

In an unguarded moment, Packer responded: “They’d probably be more helpful than all the liberal losers out there. Let’s be honest.”

Of course, the saddest aspect of Packer’s comment is that both racists on the far right and many “liberals” – particularly in the US Congress – are doing their utmost to dispossess Palestinians.

Packer calls criticism directed at him “fake news” but he has yet to separate himself explicitly from both the racism and the anti-Semitism of the KKK. Like Trump, Packer often appears to be winking at the racist right in the US.

He claims, “Nobody that knows me at all would ever think I support Nazis or any other Jew haters.” That’s his strongest statement to date but it fails to address directly his position on the KKK and it underestimates the disturbing nature of his other posts downplaying the dangers of white supremacists.

Additional research by David Cronin

Israeli settler leader Arieh King observes protests against an eviction he pushed for in occupied East Jerusalem; Ben Packer supported that eviction. (Oren Ziv /ActiveStills)

FRIDAY’S TOON ~~ THE OCCUPATION IS FOREVER!

Or Not!!!

Image by Carlos Latuff

Netanyahu promises West Bank will be occupied Israel “forever”

ARMED TO KILL WITH ‘NON-LETHAL’ WEAPONS

While Palestinian protesters are generally armed with rocks and a few sporadic Molotov cocktails, Israeli forces are armed with some of the world’s leading crowd control weapons.

Live bullets larger than .22 caliber are the only ammunitions used during clashes that are considered lethal by Israeli standards, but the classifications of tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets, sponge rounds and .22 caliber live bullets as non-lethal, is, according to medical professionals, misleading.

Palestinians try to avoid tear gas fired by Israeli soldiers during clashes which erupted after the funeral of Palestinian Mustafa Tamimi in the West Bank town of Nabi Saleh, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011. Tamimi, 28, was hurling rocks at an Israeli military vehicle on Friday in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh when a soldier inside opened the rear door and fired a tear gas canister at him from just a few yards away, witnesses said. He was taken to an Israeli hospital, where he died of his injuries on Saturday. Photo by Issam Rimawi

Sponge rounds, rubber bullets, and tear gas — how Israel’s non-lethal munitions can kill

It was the middle of a cold October night in 2015 when an Israeli army jeep came driving through Aida refugee camp blaring a message through its loudspeaker.

“People of Aida refugee camp, we are the occupation forces,” the message began in Arabic. “If you throw stones, we will hit you with gas until you all die. The children, the youth, the old people – you will all die. We won’t leave any of you alive … Go home or we will gas you until you die. Your families, your children, everyone – we will kill you.”

The Israeli government condemned the message as the act of a single soldier, but Palestinians in Aida, knowing the lethal potential of tear gas, took the threat seriously.

The next day an eight-month-old baby was killed by tear gas inhalation during clashes in a neighboring village.

While Palestinian protesters are generally armed with rocks and a few sporadic Molotov cocktails, Israeli forces are armed with some of the world’s leading crowd control weapons.

Live bullets larger than .22 caliber are the only ammunitions used during clashes that are considered lethal by Israeli standards, but the classifications of tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets, sponge rounds and .22 caliber live bullets as non-lethal, is, according to medical professionals, misleading.

Mondoweiss spoke with Doctor Nasser al-Jaberi, the Director of the Emergency Room Department at the West Bank’s Arab Society Hospital, to get a better idea of what these weapons are capable of.

“[They] can absolutely kill,” al-Jaberi said. “Rocks are no real threat against an armed military. When you ask if a rock could injure or kill a soldier wearing a helmet, a bullet proof vest, and army-grade clothing, it is hard to imagine, but a protester dying of tear gas inhalation is very common.”

al-Jaberi told Mondoweiss that in certain circumstances nearly every non-lethal weapon used by Israel can, and at some point has, killed.

We asked al-Jaberi to break it down for us, munition-by-munition.

Sponge rounds

Sponge rounds, also called sponge grenades or sponge-tipped bullets, are used often by Israeli forces when clashes are happening near Israeli Jewish communities, or when the wind is too strong for tear gas to work well.

At clashes it is easy to tell when Israeli forces are using the rounds.

Youth in the streets are more careful about coming out in the open. They hide behind concrete blocks on the side of the road. In the middle of street wooden boards and other barriers are perched up on light poles and metal dumpsters are pushed out into the road, with youth popping up from behind them just long enough to pop off a rock from their slingshots.

The barriers just get in the way if there is a lot of tear gas being fired and are not sufficient to stop live bullets.

Sponge rounds are designed to be shot over a long distance (the required distance changes depending on the precise version of the ammunition), and only at the lower extremities. When used from a proper distance the harmless-looking rounds cause massive black and blue bruises — when shot at a close distance they can easily stop a heart or crack a skull.

Two types of sponge rounds are used by Israeli forces. The blue-tipped rounds are made up of an aluminum base, plastic base and dense sponge. They can cause serious damage on their own, but in 2015 a new black-tipped sponge round was introduced. The black-tipped rounds are heavier, with more dangerous tips created from synthetic rubber.

“If shot at a very close distance, either sponge round can cause fractures to the skull, which could lead to death,” al-Jaberi said. “They can also be deadly if shot at the chest, eye or neck in some cases. They are certainly less deadly than rubber-coated bullets or tear gas, but that does not mean they cannot cause death or serious injury.”

Sixteen-year-old Muhammad Abdelmajid Sunukrut was shot in the head from around 30 feet away with a sponge round in August 2014. After struggling for a week in the hospital Sunukrut succumbed to his wounds. In July 2016, 10-year-old Muhyee al-Din Tabakhi was hit in the chest with a sponge round, causing internal bleeding that led to the child’s death.

Still, the rounds are considered non-lethal.

Rubber-coated steel bullets

Rubber-coated steel bullets are another form of what is, according to al-Jaberi, wrongly considered a non-lethal method of crowd control used by Israeli forces during clashes.

In Arabic sponge rounds and rubber-coated steel bullets go by the same name: “matahta.” While the word and the defense against them (makeshift barriers in the streets) are the same, youth take rubber-coated steel bullets much more seriously when being used in the field by Israeli forces.

“A rubber-coated bullet is actually just a metallic bullet covered in a small layer of plastic or rubber, so it is still a bullet,” al-Jaberi said. “We have seen many skull fractures here at the ER from these so-called rubber bullets, and a skull fracture can cause internal bleeding, as well as contusions to the brain. If it is from a close distance in the head, eye, neck or chest these ammunitions have every likelihood of being deadly.”

Al-Jaberi explained that while a real bullet is more likely to make a clean entry and exit, the nature of a rubber-bullet means the entry point is much more likely to be torn open jaggedly, and if shot at a close distance, the bullet more likely to embed itself into the body.

These days Mohammed al-Azza, an award-winning Palestinian photojournalist from the occupied West Bank, never ventures to cover clashes without a bulletproof vest and helmet. In 2013 doctors told the young journalist he could have died if the rubber-coated steel bullet shot at his face while covering clashes had hit him just a centimeter closer to his eye.

He was shot from the second floor balcony, by soldiers positioned on the street just in front of him — much too close to be within protocol of any use of the munition.

The bullet fractured his upper cheek bone. It had to be surgically removed and the journalist has had to undergo multiple other surgeries to reconstruct his face and eye socket. Today there is only a small scar left on his upper cheekbone, but a quarter of his facial skeleton is made up of metal and plastic.

A myriad of other cases documented by rights groups illustrate just how dangerous the ammunition can be, including the 2016 incident in which 12-year-old Mohiyeh al-Tabakhi was shot and killed by Israeli forces after a rubber-coated steel bullet hit the child in the chest, causing him to go into cardiac arrest and die.

Israeli rights group B’Tselem has documented dozens of other Palestinians killed by rubber-coated steel bullets. According to B’Tselem, the Israeli State Attorney’s Office has stated these deaths are “unavoidable mistakes.”

Countless others, like 10-year-old Yahiya al-Amudi, have been shot in the eyes by the ammunition, leaving them partially blinded.

.22 Caliber Bullets

There is no question that a .22 caliber bullet, also known as a tu-tu bullet, is considered live fire — it is — but Israeli forces still consider the ammunition a “non-lethal” crowd control method.

The small bullets are less powerful than larger cartridges, but they carry a deadly punch, just like any other bullet, particularly when the .22 calibers are hollow-tip bullets, also known as expanding, dum-dum, exploding or fragmented bullets.

According to al-Jaberi, the majority of the bullet wounds he treats are from these types of expanding bullets — the use of which is considered a war crime under international law.

“Most of the bullet wounds we treat here contain fragmented bullets. When they enter the skin they explode into many fragments. If this reaches the bones we call it comminuted fractures,” he said, explaining that these kind of fractures mean the bone was hit at high velocity and fractured into more than two pieces. “We have had some of these cases where the bullet fragments sliced arteries and that is a very serious injury that could definitely kill in certain circumstances.”

In 1981 John Hinckley Jr. shot then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan with a .22 caliber loaded with expanding bullets. While Reagan spent two weeks in the hospital recovering, the former president’s White House Press Secretary James Brady was shot in the head and suffered permanent brain damage that left him partially paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

Israeli authorities deny the use of expanding bullets in their arsenal.

After the first year of the Second Palestinian Intifada, the head of the security department in the Operations Directorate of the Israeli military announced that the .22 bullet was too deadly to use as a form of crowd control and discontinued its use between the years of 2001 and 2008, according to B’Tselem.

The .22’s were eventually brought back into use, and by 2015 B’Tselem found that there was “a steady erosion in the restrictions on firing… leading to ever greater use of this weapon,” which it said was “misleadingly portrayed as a non-lethal measure.”

“The indisputable facts are that we are dealing with a lethal weapon, which the Israeli authorities falsely present as a reasonable tool to employ in dealing with demonstrations,” the report added.

In the first ten months of 2015, four Palestinians were shot and killed by .22 calibers, including 13-year-old Abdelrahman Obeidallah, who was shot with a .22 caliber bullet straight to the heart right after school let out.

Israeli forces said the shooter had not breached protocol in using the .22 as a non-lethal munition at the time of the 13-year-old’s death. According to Israeli officials, the soldier was shooting for the legs of another youth, when the bullet ricocheted up and hit Abdelrahman, showing that even when used according to Israel’s protocol, the bullets can be deadly.

Tear gas

More than 1,000 Palestinians were injured during the two weeks of daily clashes that followed the al-Aqsa mosque crisis last month, according to the Red Crescent. Most of those injuries were caused by severe tear gas inhalation.

Tear gas is actually not a gas at all, it is a powder mixed with a liquid substance that when released as an arsenal, resembles gaseous clouds. It also affects much more than just the eyes and tear ducts. Tear gas works by irritating mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, mouth and lungs. Touching your face, eyes, or trying to use water to wash it off only intensifies the symptoms.

The fact that it is a solid means the “gas” eventually settles on surfaces around the area it was administered. In the occupied West Bank, some areas are tear gassed nearly daily, meaning surfaces like balconies and window ledges, for instance can become caked in the substance. If someone unknowingly touches a railing, then wipes their face or other sensitive areas of the skin, the concentrated powder causes chemical burns.

“I have had many patients come in with serious respiratory distress from tear gas,” al-Jaberi said. “In particular circumstances tear gas can easily kill someone — for example if someone has a pre-existing condition, or if the patient is a small child, a very old person, and even in some cases, healthy people.”

Earlier this year 18-month-old Abdelrahman Barghouti died from asphyxiation after tear gas was shot by Israeli forces into the child’s family home.

Al-Jaberi’s most recent serious patient suffering from tear gas exposure had to be hospitalized for a week before being released because of respiratory damage triggered by the gas.

Even among healthy individuals, concentrated exposure to tear gas causes sharp pain in the chest and the sensation of suffocation.

Palestinian doctors, medics and nurses, as well as the general populace, know very well how to deal with the immediate effects of tear gas exposure, but al-Jaberi is concerned with the unknown effects it could trigger over time.

“I can’t give any specific evidence on the long term effects of the gas until there are serious research studies done about it,” he said. “Unfortunately there have not been many studies on the case, but we should be monitoring the people who are exposed to this gas on a daily basis, like those who live in the refugee camps, because I think it is logical to say that these people would have a much higher likelihood of having serious respiratory problems when compared to people not frequently exposed to the gas. We can feel certain there are side effects, but without studies it is hard to say for sure.”

Tear gas canisters

In addition to the gas itself, the canisters used to administer tear gas are shot at high velocity and can do serious damage if the canister hits vulnerable parts of the body.

“I’ve had many patients injured from the canisters. One of my patients was hit in the head with a gas canister at short range and it caused a fracture to the skull and damage to the bone around the eye,” al-Jaberi said.

The cases of tear gas killing, both from the gas itself and direct contact from the canisters, is well documented.

While Israeli military regulations prohibit firing tear gas directly at people, B’Tselem has extensively documented cases of the practice.

In March 2009 U.S. citizen Tristan Anderson was shot in the head with a tear gas canister and to this day suffers from severe brain damage. A month later, Bassem Abu-Rahmah, from the village of Bil’in, was hit in the chest by a tear gas canister and killed. Bassem’s death was made famous after his killing was featured in the Oscar-nominated film Five Broken Cameras.

The death of Bassem, a beloved and well-known Palestinian activist, was covered by media internationally, but it did not help to mitigate Israel’s use of tear gas against Palestinian protesters.

Two years after Bassem was killed, his sister died due to respiratory failure caused by tear gas inhalation. Eleven months after that Mustafa Tamimi was killed after being hit with a tear gas canister during clashes in Nabi Saleh.

Israeli forces closed both Abu-Rahmah’s and Tamimi’s case files without indictment. B’Tselem condemned the decision, stating that it gave “Israeli soldiers and officers the unequivocal message that, should they kill unarmed civilians, they will not be held accountable.”

“Given this state of affairs, it is hardly surprising that soldiers and Border Police officers continue to shoot tear-gas canisters directly at Palestinians, endangering their lives. Under such circumstances, it is only a matter of time before yet another unarmed Palestinian civilian is killed in this way,” the group said in a 2013 report.

Four years later, injuries and deaths caused by direct contact with tear gas canisters are still common occurrences.

More photos at the SOURCE

IN VIDEOS ~~ DENIAL AND REALITY OF ISRAELI APARTHEID

First the denial …..

Now the reality …..

Thousands of Palestinian workers queue at this Israeli military checkpoint before dawn each day.

Video by Ahmad Al-Bazz, Haidi Motola and Anne Paq/Activestills.org

THE TALLEST MAN IN THE WEST BANK

The tallest man in Ramallah offered to give us a tour of his cage. We would not even have to leave our table at Rukab’s Ice Cream, on Rukab Street; all he needed to do was reach into his pocket.

The Tallest Man in Ramallah

MICHAEL CHABON ROAMS THE WEST BANK WITH SAM BAHOUR

By  Michael Chabon

At nearly two meters—six foot four—Sam Bahour might well have been the tallest man in the whole West Bank, but his cage was constructed so ingeniously that it could fit into a leather billfold.

“Now, what do I mean, ‘my cage?’” He spoke with emphatic patience, like a remedial math instructor, a man well-practiced in keeping his cool. With his large, dignified head, hairless on top and heavy at the jawline, with his deep-set dark eyes and the note of restraint that often crept into his voice, there was something about Sam that reminded me of Edgar Kennedy in the old Hal Roach comedies, the master of the “slow burn.” “‘Sam,’” he said, pretending to be us, his visitors, we innocents abroad, “‘What is this cage you’re talking about? We saw the checkpoints. We saw the separation barrier. Is that what you mean by cage?’”

Some of us laughed; he had us down. What did we know about cages? When we finished our ice cream—a gaudy, sticky business in Ramallah, where the recipe is an Ottoman vestige, intensely colored and thickened with tree gum—we would pile back into our hired bus and return to the liberty we had not earned and were free to squander.

“Yes, that’s part of what I mean,” he said, answering the question he had posed on our behalf. “But there is more than that.”

Sam Bahour took the leather billfold out of the pocket of his dark-blue warm-up jacket and held it up for our inspection. It bulged like a paperback that had fallen into a bathtub. When he dropped it onto the tabletop it landed with a law-book thump. It was a book of evidence, proof that the cage he lived in was neither a metaphor nor simply a matter of four hundred miles of concrete and razor wire.

“In 1994, after Oslo,” Sam said, “my wife and I decided to move back here.” They had been married for a year, at that point, and decided to apply to the Israeli government for residency in Palestine “under a policy they called family reunification.” He flipped open the billfold and took out a passport with a familiar dark blue cover. “As an American citizen, I entered as a tourist, on a three-month visa.”

Sam Bahour was born in Youngstown, in 1964. His mother is a second-generation Ohioan of Lebanese Christian descent; his father immigrated to the United States from the town of Al-Bireh, then under Jordanian control, in 1957. After spending a few unhappy years working for relatives as a traveling salesman in the rural south (“basically a peddler,” in Sam’s words, “selling cheap goods to poor people at like a two hundred percent markup, it really bothered him”) Sam’s father settled in Youngstown, with its sizable Arab population. He bought the first of a series of independent grocery stores he would own and operate over the course of his career, got married, became a citizen, had a couple of kids, worked hard, made good.

A few things Sam said about his father seemed to suggest that though the elder Bahour settled and prospered in Ohio, he did not entirely lose himself in the embrace of his adopted country. When Sam was born his father had named him Bilal, after the most loyal of the Prophet’s Companions. But when non-Muslim neighbors in Youngstown shortened Bilal to “Billy,” Sam’s father—whose name was the American-sounding but authentically Arabic Sami—had his young son’s name legally changed to match his own. The freedom to return home that an American passport would afford, if only for three months at a time, had been among his motivations for marrying Sam’s mother and becoming a naturalized citizen. Some key part of the man—words like heart, mind, and spirit are only idioms, approximations—never left the house on Ma’arif Street where he had been born and raised, in the Al-Bireh neighborhood of Al-Sharafa, which belonged not to the Ottomans, the British, the Hashemites or the Israelis but only to the people who lived in them.

“I was brought up in a household that lived and ate and slept Palestine,” Sam would tell me, a couple of days after our first meeting over ice cream at Rakub’s. “I lived in Youngstown, where I didn’t know most of my neighbors, but I could tell you everybody in my neighborhood here in Ramallah. That’s an odd kind of way to grow up.”

That enchanted blue American passport, part skeleton key, part protective force-field, could work powerful three-month spells, both for Sam’s father and for Sam, once he and his Jerusalem-born wife, Abeer Barghouty, decided to try to make a life in Al-Bireh. For 13 years after his application for a residency card under the Israeli-controlled Family Reunification policy, Sam raised his daughters, built a number of businesses (telecommunications, retail development, consulting), worked for himself and his partners, for his clients and for the future of his half-born country, and lived a Palestinian life, all in tourist-visa tablespoonfuls, 90 days at a time. But in 2006, for reasons that remain mysterious, the magic embedded in his US passport abruptly ran out. Returning to the West Bank from a visa-renewing trip to Jordan, Sam handed over his passport to an Israeli border officer, expecting the routine 90-day rubber stamp. But when the passport was returned to him Sam saw that alongside the stamp, in Arabic, Hebrew and English, the officer had hand-written the words LAST PERMIT. Once this final allotment of 90 days ran out, Sam would no longer have permission to stay in the West Bank or Israel, and when he left—left his home, his family, his business, his community and everything he had worked to build over the past 13 years—he would not be permitted to return.

This is a very long post but definitely worth reading ….

Continue HERE

CELEBRATING 50 YEARS OF OCCUPATION

Image by Carlos Latuff

Israel celebrates 50 years as occupier

Israel is to hold lavish celebrations over the coming weeks to mark the 50th anniversary of what it calls the “liberation of Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights” – or what the rest of us describe as the birth of the occupation.

The centerpiece event will take place in Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem. The West Bank settlement “bloc” enjoys wide support in Israel, not least because it was established long ago by the supposedly left-wing Labour party, now heading the opposition.

The jubilee is a potent reminder that for Israelis, most of whom have never known a time before the occupation, Israel’s rule over the Palestinians seems as irreversible as the laws of nature. But the extravagance of the festivities also underscores the growth over five decades of Israel’s self-assurance as an occupier.

Documents found this month in Israel’s archives reveal that, when Israel captured East Jerusalem in 1967, its first concern was to hoodwink the international community.

The foreign ministry ordered Israel’s ambassadors to mischaracterize its illegal annexation of East Jerusalem as a simple “municipal fusion”. To avoid diplomatic reprisals, Israel claimed it was necessary to ease the provision of essential services to the occupied Palestinian population.

Interestingly, those drafting the order advised that the deception was unlikely to succeed. The United States had already insisted that Israel commit no unilateral moves.

But within months Israel had evicted thousands of Palestinians from the Old City and destroyed their homes. Washington and Europe have been turning a blind eye to such actions ever since.

One of the Zionist movement’s favorite early slogans was: “Dunam after dunam, goat after goat”. The seizure of small areas of territory measured in dunams, the demolition of the odd home, and the gradual destruction of herding animals would slowly drive the Palestinians off most of their land, “liberating” it for Jewish colonization. If it was done piecemeal, the objections from overseas would remain muffled. It has proved a winning formula.

Fifty years on, the colonization of East Jerusalem and the West Bank is so entrenched that a two-state solution is nothing more than a pipe dream.

Nonetheless, US president Donald Trump has chosen this inauspicious moment to dispatch an envoy, Jason Greenblatt, to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In a “goodwill” response, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has unveiled a framework for settlement building. It is exactly the kind of formula for deception that has helped Israel consolidate the occupation since 1967.

Netanyahu says expansion will be “restricted” to “previously developed” settlements, or “adjacent” areas, or, depending on the terrain, “land close” to a settlement.

Peace Now points out that the settlements already have jurisdiction over some 10 per cent of the West Bank, while far more is treated as “state land”. The new framework, says the group, gives the settlers a green light to “build everywhere”.

The Trump White House has shrugged its shoulders. A statement following Netanyahu’s announcement judged the settlements no “impediment to peace”, adding that Israel’s commitments to previous US administrations would be treated as moot.

Effectively, the US is wiping the slate clean, creating a new baseline for negotiations after decades of Israeli changes stripping the Palestinians of territory and rights.

Although none of this bodes well, Egypt and Jordan’s leaders met Trump this month to push for renewed talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The White House is said to be preparing to welcome the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas.

Some senior Palestinians are rightly wary. Abbas Zaki, a Fatah leader, fears Trump will try to impose a regional solution on Arab states, over Abbas’s head, designed to “eliminate the Palestinian cause altogether”.

David Ben Gurion, Israel’s founding father, reportedly once said: “What matters is not what the goyim [non-Jews] say, but what the Jews do.”

For nearly a quarter of a century, the Oslo accords dangled an illusory peace carrot that usefully distracted the global community as Israel nearly quadrupled its settler population, making even a highly circumscribed Palestinian state unrealizable.

Now, that game plan is about to be revived in new form. While the US, Israel, Jordan and Egypt focus on the hopeless task of creating a regional framework for peace, Israel will be left undisturbed once again to seize more dunams and more goats.

In Israel, the debate is no longer simply about whether to build settler homes, or about how many can be justified. Government ministers argue instead about the best moment to annex vast areas of the West Bank associated with so-called settlement blocs such as Gush Etzion.

Israel’s imminent celebrations should lay to rest any confusion that the occupation is still considered temporary. But when occupation becomes permanent, it metamorphoses into something far uglier.

It is past time to recognize that Israel has established an apartheid regime and one that serves as a vehicle for incremental ethnic cleansing. If there are to be talks, ending that outrage must be their first task.

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