B’Tselem 15 Mar — On 2 March 2011, the Civil Administration demolished all the structures in the Palestinian village Khirbet Tana, in the Jordan Valley. This is the sixth time that the Civil Administration has demolished structures in the village since 2005, and the fourth in the last four months … Khirbet Tana is the third Palestinian community in the Jordan Valley from which the Civil Administration has sought in recent years to expel the residents. In 2008, the Civil Administration planned to demolish most of the houses in al-Aqaba, a village in the northern Jordan Valley. Following a campaign by the residents and international organizations, the Civil Administration did not carry out the demolitions. In the summer of 2010, the Civil Administration demolished all the structures in al-Farsiyya, a village east of which the Shademot Mehola settlement had been built. Since then, the village has been rebuilt … As part of the these efforts, Israel has declared 45 percent of the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea closed military areas intended for military [training], and prevents Palestinian access to them.
And more news from Today in Palestine:
Itamar settlers erect new illegal outpost
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 15 Mar — Caravan homes were installed 500 meters outside the boundary of the Itamar settlement near Nablus on Tuesday morning, as grieving settlers installed an illegal outpost in memory of the slain members of the Fogel family … Village council chief Qays Awwad told Ma‘an that the lands on which the mobile homes were being installed were all privately owned by families in Awarta, the village closest to the settlement … In addition to the mobile homes installed outside Itamar, settlers were seen manning bulldozers west of the settlement’s declared municipal boundary. According to Yanoun mayor Rashid Murrar, the lands being bulldozed belong to residents of the city of Nablus. The mayor said settlers were driving the equipment and appeared to be preparing to set up greenhouses.
Settlers protest as army hunts killers near Nablus
NABLUS, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 14 Mar — Israeli settlers on Monday stoned Palestinian homes at a West Bank village where troops hunted those behind a grisly attack on a settler family, Palestinian officials said. Palestinian security officials said hundreds of settlers, some masked, rallied on the eastern edge of Awarta village, near Nablus, and some hurled stones at houses there. Witnesses inside the village told AFP one Palestinian was injured when a number of settlers broke into his property and beat him. It was not clear whether Israeli soldiers operating inside the village intervened.
Awarta: Bulldozers plow land, Israelis set up temporary houses, free treatment offered
Nablus (PNN) 15 Mar – In Awarta, south of Nablus, Israeli forces bulldozed Palestinian-owned lands on the village’s northeast side and settlers set up at least two temporary dwellings in the area. The Palestinian Ministry of Health offered free treatment to the villagers, who have been under a general curfew and with severely reduced access to basic necessities for four days … Yesterday, Awarta’s four schools were closed and reports circulated about all the village’s men being taken in for questioning. At least one school was turned into a interrogation center, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Education. Bulldozing operations on Tuesday morning cleared a “wide area of cultivated land,” according to Palestinian state-run news wire Wafa, including olive trees.
Israel navy seizes boat ‘carrying arms for Gaza’
JERUSALEM (AFP) 15 Mar — The Israeli navy seized a boat carrying weapons apparently destined for militant groups in Gaza, a military spokeswoman told AFP on Tuesday. The vessel, boarded as it sailed southwards some 200 nautical miles off the Israeli coast [in international waters], was carrying “various weapons,” she said, without saying exactly when it was seized.
Netanyahu: Arms on seized ship came from Iran via Syria
Haaretz 15 Mar — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that weapons seized by the Israel Navy from a ship bound for Egypt earlier in the day had come from Iran, via Syria, and were intended for militants in Gaza. “We are currently collecting information and the one thing that is certain is that the weapons are from Iran with a relay station in Syria,” Netanyahu said.
Israel invades central Gaza Strip, no casualties
Gaza Strip, (Pal Telegraph) 15 Mar — Several Israeli military troops invaded Monday morning limited areas in the east of Al-Buriage refugee camp, central Gaza Strip. Local sources reported that eight bulldozers and four vehicles advanced about 300 meters from the gate of Al-Neser and started razing operations to agricultural lands amidst massive gunfire creating a state of fear among civilians.
OIC warns of human tragedy in Gaza
14 Mar — The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) warned of a human tragedy in the Gaza Strip due to the dire lack of water and food supplies as well as electricity and reconstruction facilities in the besieged region. According to a report issued by the OIC’s humanitarian affairs department, 10% of the Gaza residents have access to water every fifth day, while 80% can use water only twice a week and the daily water consumption of individual citizens in Gaza hardly amounts to 86 liters, half the amount of the world average.
Gaza: Single border crossing partially open
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 15 Mar — Israeli authorities will allow a limited delivery of goods into the Gaza Strip through the sole operating border crossing for commercial goods, Kerem Shalom, on Tuesday, Palestinian officials said … Twelve of these trucks will be carrying iron bars to be used in UN-funded construction projects and six trucks will be loaded with cement for USAID-funded projects.
Israel begins paying pensions to Gazan pre-blockade workers
Haaretz 15 Mar — Most of the Gazan beneficiaries used to work in Israeli hospitals and money had been deducted from their wages for their pension funds, as required by law … In another development, the High Court of Justice ruled last week that Palestinians may submit any official application to the IDF’s Civil Administration in Arabic. The ruling came in response to a petition filed by the HaMoked Center for the Defense of the Individual and a Hebron resident, whom the Civil Administration chief told she must fill out official forms in Hebrew.
Detention / International abduction / Banishment / Israeli injustice
Tadamun: Detainees in Awarta exceeded 100
[note photo of dehumanizing treatment] NABLUS, (PIC) 15 Mar — The international Tadamun (solidarity) institution for human rights said that the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) have arrested around 100 Palestinians in Awarta village, near Nablus city, following the Itamar incident. It said in a statement on Monday that entire families were taken for field questioning or for interrogation in Hawara and Petah Tikwa detention centers.
Israeli troops invade Beit Ommar, arrest eight
Hebron (PNN) 15 Mar — Israeli troops conducted military raids of the southern West Bank village of Beit Omar, north of Hebron, and arrested eight Palestinians aged 17 to 41 … Israeli troops reportedly used police dogs, tear gas, and sound bombs in a series of home invasions in Hebron as well, put did not make any further arrests.
Student accused of throwing stones at Elad director’s car during hit-and-run sentenced to eight months in prison
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 15 Mar — Mohammed Sharaf of Silwan was sentenced to 8 months in prison by the Israeli District Court, with an additional suspended sentence of 3 years. Sharaf, 21, was arrested in October 2010 on charges of throwing stones at Elad director David Beeri’s car, which ran over two Palestinian children in Silwan.
Settler woman acquitted of assault charge
Ynet 14 Mar — (Video) Hebron resident Yifat Alkobi, who was caught on tape calling Palestinian woman ‘whore’, was accused of attacking Palestinian boy six years ago. Defense attorney: Police adopted Palestinian incitement narrative … The Yesh Din human rights group said the “investigation’s failures prevented the court from deciding between the versions of the defendant and the complainant.”
Abducted Abu Sisi denied lawyer visits
GAZA, (PIC) 15 Mar — Dirar Abu Sisi, the Deputy Director of Gaza’s power plant who was abducted by the Mossad in the Ukraine three weeks back has been denied the right to see a lawyer, the Palestinian Prisoner Society said. Abu Sisi is detained at the Ashkelon prison, but the prison has placed restrictions on lawyers meeting with him, PPS attorney Jad Qadmani has confirmed.
Delegations from US, UK visit public figures banished from holy city
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC) 15 Mar — Delegations from the US and UK have paid visits to the Palestinian public officials seeking political sanctuary from banishment at the Red Cross in Jerusalem. Ahmed Attoun and Ahmed Totah, members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, and former minister Khalid Abu Arafeh have been camping out at the Red Cross headquarters for the past 258 days to protest orders by Israel to leave their native city of Jerusalem. The US group included 30 Harvard students and several other students from Palestine’s prestigious Birzeit University. The visitors from UK included 17 religious men.
Silwan residents released from prison
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 15 Mar — Mohammad Abbasi, 23, and Thaer Abbasi, 21, were released from 10 months in prison yesterday, on charges of participating in clashes in Silwan. They were released from Ashkelon and Gilboa prisons respectively, after their release was postponed by prison administration on 11 March and the two were left in small holding cells over the weekend.
Report highlights widespread detention of Palestinian children
London, (Pal Telegraph) 14 Mar — A report from the Britain Palestine All Party Parliamentary Group (BPAPPG) has highlighted the widespread detention of Palestinian children, by the Israeli state. Under Occupation, which is based upon recent delegations to the West Bank by the Britain-Palestine Group and the Council for Arab British Understanding (Caabu) includes firsthand accounts from MPs that witnessed the trials of Palestinian minors, in the Israeli military court system. The report shows that approximately 700 Palestinian children are prosecuted every year in such courts and that at the end of January 2011, 222 Palestinian children were being held in Israeli jails.
EU Parliament to review prison conditions inside Israel
On 15 March 2011, the EU Parliament’s Sub-Committee on Human Rights will review prison conditions in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. In advance of the hearing, DCI-Palestine has lodged a submission relating to conditions faced by Palestinian child detainees held in Israeli interrogation and detention facilities and prisons. DCI-Palestine’s submission to the Sub-Committee provides evidence of ill-treatment and torture during the initial stages of detention, and also includes: -Information that 27 percent of Palestinian child detainees are forced to sign confessions written in Hebrew. -Information that 58 percent of Palestinian child detainees are being held inside Israel, in contravention of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention; -Information indicating that as many as 43 percent of child detainees are not adequately separated from adult prisoners; …..
Palestinian refugees: a surplus population? / Patrick Mac Manus
15 Mar — Despite 20 years of peace diplomacy, the majority of the Palestinian people remain in forced exile, mainly as refugees and/or stateless persons vulnerable to persecution and renewed displacement in their host countries. The root causes of Palestinian displacement and dispossession remain unaddressed and there is no respect of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination, national independence, sovereignty and return to the homes and properties from which they have been forcibly displaced, despite the United Nations’s assertion that “full respect and the realization of these inalienable rights of the Palestinian people are indispensable for the solution of the question of Palestine. Instead, 20 years of peace diplomacy have resulted in a truncated Palestinian people, more than half of whom continue to be afforded the treatment of an “indistinct mass of refugees” or a “surplus population” expected to find individual solutions and to disappear from the political agenda of the peace makers.
Activism / Solidarity / Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions
Activism roundup: Palestinians shut down settler road
14 Mar — As Israeli Apartheid Week events continue to take place across the globe, The Electronic Intifada brings you this roundup of recent activism news. Palestinian popular struggle leader Abdallah Abu Rahme was released from 16 months in Israeli detention, Palestinian women marched to commemorate International Women’s Day and faced violence from Israeli forces, Polish solidarity activists creatively protested a meeting between Polish and Israeli officials and anti-Zionist activists sponsored an initiative in the UK to remember all victims of historic and current genocide.
De Niro and Penn back Palestinian film at UN
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) 15 Mar — Sean Penn and Robert De Niro joined stars who appeared at the UN headquarters for the US premiere of a contested movie on the Middle East conflict that Israel tried to get cancelled. Penn, De Niro, Josh Brolin and Steve Buscemi on Monday turned out to support award-winning American-Jewish director Julian Schnabel at the premiere of “Miral,” the story of two Palestinian women after the creation of Israel in 1948.
‘Operation S’ – LSE Palestine Society occupy for Israeli Apartheid Week
[photo] London, (Pal Telegraph) – A Personal Reflection on the LSE [London School of Economics] Palestine Society Settlement Occupation … For 24 hours we occupied. We occupied the main road on the campus of the London School of Economics and Political Science: Houghton Street. We settled illegally like those illegal, 500 000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank. We created our own “outpost of colonialism” in the heart of London just like the Israelis have created their 146 “outposts of colonialism” in the heart of Palestine – on second thought, Palestine was “wiped off the map” so perhaps Judea and Samaria is more fitting? Alas, we were the Blue People of the Blue Land: for 24 hours I was a Blue Land Settler and my doctrine was, “War is Peace, Ignorance is Strength, Freedom is Slavery and Apartheid is Democracy.” This is good.
#BDS: Agrexo blockaded at Belgian airport: Campaign against imports from Israeli settlements to Europe
14 Mar — “On February 11, 2011, a group of Belgian peace activists blocked the entrance of the Israeli company Agrexco’s distribution centre at Liège Airport. The activists protested against the import of agricultural goods from Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.
#BDS: Using arts to whitewash Israeli crimes: Demonstrators urge boycott of Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra
14 Mar – ”Activists protested the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra’s performance at the Walt Disney Concert Hall last week as part of a growing global movement of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) in support of the Palestinian cause. Los Angeles marked the end of the orchestra’s U.S. tour and a potential turning point in the BDS movement in the United States. It was one of the first times that regional BDS activists coordinated a unified national call to boycott Israel through the Philharmonic.
#BDS: Using sports to whitewash Israeli crimes: Adidas: Don’t Run with Apartheid
14 Mar — “On 8 January 2011, London BDS activists kicked off the Adidas — Don’t Run With Apartheid campaign at the Adidas store near Covent Garden regarding the company’s sponsorship of the first-ever Jerusalem Marathon due to take place on 25 March 2011.
#BDS: Campaigners threaten to picket Israeli Music conference
10 Mar — PACBI “A number of groups campaigning for Palestinian human rights today called on academics and musicians to boycott a forthcoming conference on Israeli music, and threatened to picket it. The conference is entitled “Art Musics of Israel: Identities, Ideologies, Influences” and is being organised by the Jewish Music Institute (JMI), based at SOAS, University of London, where some of the events are taking place.
#BDS: Israeli trade union congress to US Jewish leaders: Don’t underestimate BDS movement
10 Mar — “Chairman of the Histadrut labor federation says that the boycott movement against Israel is “doing a good job all over the world.” NEW YORK – Ofer Eini, chairman of the Histadrut labor federation, told Jewish leaders in New York on Wednesday not to underestimate the power of the BDS boycott movement, and pledged to speak as often as possible to combat its efforts to sow anti-Israel sentiment among international unions.
#BDS: UK company exporting from Jordan Valley
10 Mar — “The Jordan Valley is the Palestinian area most relentlessly exploited by settlement agricultural companies. Most famously campaigners have been focusing on the Israeli national exporter Carmel Agrexco for their illegal exports from the area. However, Corporate Watch has uncovered a new company to add to the target list. During a trip to the area we found a packing house bearing the signage of the Israeli company ‘Edom UK’ (http://www.edom.co.il/), 20% owned by the British company Valley Grown Salads (www.v-g-s.co.uk).
#BDS: France: Israeli artist singer of the year
10 Mar — “Three years after winning Album of the Year award in World Music category, Israeli artist takes center stage at French music award ceremony — Israeli singer Yael Naim was crowned Best Female Singer of the Year in France’s musical award ceremony “Victoires de la Musique” on Tuesday.
#BDS: Add this artist to the boycott list: José Carreras arrives in Israel
10 Mar — “World famous opera singer to perform in Tel Aviv’s Nokia Arena on Thursday. Between rehearsals, he plans to visit Jerusalem too
#BDS: More reason to hate Pamela Anderson: She’s returning to Israel
10 Mar — “Four months after previous visit, American-Canadian actress to arrive in Holy Land for lingerie photo shoot — American-Canadian actress Pamela Anderson will land in Israel on Tuesday [15 March] for the second time in four months.
#BDS: CulturEscapes Festival in Switzerland and the moral duty of BDS today
10 Mar — The neutral Switzerland is about to host a yearly Culturescapes festival. Every year the festival focuses on a different country. This year- the most successful for cultural boycott, yet- it just had to play into Desmond Tutu’s hands and focus on Israel. A Word about Culture Culture is a word I’ve been hearing a lot lately. Israel’s Brand Israel campaign is focusing on PR apartheid; Hiding its atrocities as best it can, and highlighting its “advantages”:
Political / Diplomatic news
Hamas PM asks for ‘immediate’ unity talks with Abbas
GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 15 Mar — Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya on Tuesday invited Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas for “immediate” talks to mend the bitter divide between their two movements.
Palestinian leader eyes poll ‘to end divide’
RAMALLAH (AFP) 15 Mar — Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Tuesday proposed holding elections “as soon as possible” in order to end the divide within the national movement … His remarks came as tens of thousands of young Palestinian activists took to the streets of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to call for unity between the bitterly divided Hamas and Fatah factions.
Thousands rally in Gaza, West Bank for ‘unity’
GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 15 Mar — Tens of thousands of Palestinians were rallying in Gaza City and Ramallah on Tuesday in a mass show of strength to call for end to the division in their national movement. The biggest gathering was in Gaza City, where officials from the Hamas-run interior ministry said vast crowds had packed into the city’s Square of the Unknown Soldier.
Unity rallies get off to rocky start
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Mar — Thousands of pro-unity protesters in Gaza City’s Unknown Soldier Square moved to the city’s Khatib Square on Monday, when a Hamas-organized rally arrived at the scene, dampening the calls for a non-factional call for Palestinian unity. A much smaller protest in Ramallah, with estimates of about 3,000, gathered in the Manara Circle, called in tandem with Gaza for an end to Palestinian political division, which fissured that Palestinian leadership in 2007 … From the first organizing attempts, youth groups said they feared the protests would be hijacked by political parties seeking to blame their rivals for the failure to achieve unity, but said all efforts were being made to keep factions out.
1,500 come out in Bethlehem for unity
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Mar — No party flags were flown at the Bethlehem protest on Tuesday, which joined calls from Gaza City and Ramallah for an end to Palestinian political division.
Abbas denies incitement against Israel in mosques, schools
ArabNews 14 Mar — RAMALLAH: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday rejected Israeli accusations that the Palestinian Authority (PA) allows incitement against Israel in its mosques and schools. Abbas said in an interview with Israeli Radio that he has, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, agreed to a joint investigation into the matter. The president further called for a joint Israeli-Palestinian-American committee to look into claims of incitement in Palestinian schools and mosques.
New PA cabinet to be announced next week
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) — Government officials in Ramallah will meet Monday to hear appointed Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s proposal for a new Palestinian Authority cabinet, officials said. Discussions of the proposal will continue until Wednesday
Right-wing Israeli group heads to Washington to drum up support
Haaretz 15 Mar — Im Tirtzu leaders went to spread their proclaimed goal to ‘Renew and reinstate Zionist discourse, thinking and ideology in order to secure the future of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.’
Merkel invites Netanyahu for visit after tiff over stalled peace process
Haaretz 15 Mar — German Chancellor Angela Merkel has invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a reconciliation visit to Berlin in the first week of April, diplomatic sources say … Israeli officials say Merkel is expected to ask Netanyahu for details of his new peace plan.
Bill to remove landmine fields in Israel clears final Knesset hurdle
Haaretz 14 Mar — …The mines were planted between 30 and 40 years ago between the border fence and the actual border (the Jordan River, about 1.5 kilometers away), when Israel feared hostile activity on its eastern front. In the Golan Heights also, hundreds of minefields still form part of the defense line, in the event of war with Syria.
Leak in Egypt gas pipe halts Israel supply again
Reuters 14 Mar — JERUSALEM, March 14 (Reuters) – Natural gas supply from Egypt to Israel and neighbouring countries has been halted again due to discovery of a leak, an Israeli partner in the East Mediterranean Gas (EMG) consortium said on Monday. Gas supply to Israeli customers was set to resume on Monday after completion of repair work and testing of the pipeline that was damaged in an explosion and fire on Feb. 5
Israel’s falafel food fight
AJ 12 Mar — It is the 1960s and a systematic effort to create a collective ‘Israeli’ identity is at its peak. Falafel is nationalised into Israeli culture and used as a symbol of ‘Israeliness’ as part of its nation-building campaign. Popular songs claiming falafel as an exclusive Israeli provenance, like And We Have Falafel, are composed, while falafel restaurants – reconstructed in Arab street-vendor fashion – are mapped across the state.
Mahmoud Darwish: Standing before the ruins of Al Birweh
[March 13 was the poet’s birthday. He would have been 70.] Standing Before the Ruins of Al-Birweh — Like birds, I tread lightly on the earth’s skin so as not to wake the dead…
Spanish writer wins award for contribution to Arab culture
DS 15 Mar — BEIRUT: Spanish writer Juan Goytisolo was awarded the second annual Mahmoud Darwish Award in Ramallah over the weekend. The prize is given for work that contributes to Palestinian cultural life … He was a friend of Darwish, who died in 2008 and was thought of as the Palestinian national poet.
Analysis / Opinion
Israeli settler minister: We published pictures of corpses for hasbara / Richard Silverstein
It’s hard to believe that any minister of any government, even Israel’s, would’ve given an interview so patently disgusting and self-serving as Yuli Edelstein did with Haaretz’s Nir Hasson. Edelstein is the aptly named ‘minister of hasbara’ (in Hebrew–in English he’s the ‘minister for public diplomacy’). And what he’s done is disseminate terror porn. To get the full flavor of just how odious the interview is I’ll quote extensively from it and let Edelstein hang himself with his own words: … Do you think this sort of publicity can change Israel’s image? People who deal more with information sent quite a few supportive messages. I know that on the Internet the images are really catching on and circulating.
After Itamar: Exploring the cynical logic that makes everyone a target / Max Blumenthal
15 Mar — …even if the motives of the killer seem obvious to everyone, journalists covering the incident must be reminded there is no hard evidence that a Palestinian terrorist committed the crime. No viable armed faction has taken credit, and Israeli police are even treating Thai workers as suspects. Itamar is heavily guarded, surrounded by an electrified fence, and monitored 24/7 by a sophisticated system of video surveillance. Yet there is no video of the killer. Like it or not, until the identity of the killer is confirmed, the murder can only be described by journalists as an “alleged terror attack.” Legitimate outrage is no excuse to flout the basics of journalism 101. Given the amount of violence visited upon local Palestinians by the residents of Itamar and nearby settlements, I will not be surprised if the killer turns out to be a rogue Palestinian bent on revenge.
It’s official: Sharia will be an issue in 2012 / Rick Santorum
Salon 14 Mar — We saw last year in the “ground zero mosque” saga just how politically potent fear of Islam can be. So perhaps it’s no surprise that the increasingly high-profile “issue” of sharia, or Islamic law, has now entered presidential politics. Former Sen. Rick Santorum has now become the first member of the (likely) GOP presidential field to make an explicit anti-sharia appeal.