And other news from Today in Palestine:
Settlers / Land, property, resources theft and destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Palestinian family ordered to share East Jerusalem home with Israelis
Haaretz 10 Mar — Right-wing Israelis are expected to move into a room in an East Jerusalem Palestinian family’s home on Monday, after a court sided with their claim. The Hamdallah family and American millionaire and settler patron Irving Moskowitz have been fighting an 11-year court battle over the home. Now, authorities are expected to force the Hamdallahs to evacuate a room and their yard to make way for Israelis, who are likely to encumber their neighbors’ day-to-day routine … Sixteen Palestinians live in the disputed home. A couple and a child live in the bedroom that the court ordered vacated.
Israeli forces demolish Palestinian residence in Beit Ommar
PSP 10 Mar — On the morning of Wednesday, March 9th, 2011, Israeli Forces demolished the home of Mohammed Yunis Geiab Al-Alami in the Palestinian village of Beit Ommar in the southern West Bank. The Al-Alami residence was home to ten members of the family. The house was built 20 years ago. An Israeli military bulldozer had demolished the structure by mid-day, leaving the family homeless. The only explanation given to the family was that their house was too close to Route 60, the main road connecting the cities of Bethlehem and Hebron. Route 60 is currently utilized by both Palestinian and Israeli settler drivers.
Israeli forces demolish barn near Beit Ommar
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 10 Mar — Israeli forces demolished a barn Wednesday, telling the owner that it had been built too close to the main Jerusalem-Hebron road. The Beit Ummar resident had been handed a demolition order the day before, according to a report from the town’s popular committee spokesman Muhammad Ayad Awwad. The 30-year-old barn was one of four buildings named in demolition orders handed out to residents on Monday.
Israel seizes large areas of land near J’lem to complete separation wall
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC) 9 Mar — The Israeli army has confiscated 480,000 sq. meters of land in the town of Abu Dis near Jerusalem to be used in completing the separation wall, the Abu Dis land defense committee said. The construction will destroy the historically recognized Jerusalem-Jericho path and turn large swaths of land over to Israel to be used to build the apartheid wall that would isolate the area from the rest of the West Bank … Board chairman Attorney Bassem Bahr said the wall will be erected to the east of Abu Dis, which would split the West Bank north and south and separate the two areas from the Jerusalem region. He added that the wall will separate the north and south West Bank.
Netanyahu: Settlers’ harassment of Arabs would have shocked Begin
Haaretz 9 Mar — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday said the State of Israel would not tolerate the “minority” of extreme rightists have undertaken a policy of harassing Palestinians to protest efforts to curb activity in West Bank settlements. Netanyahu lashed out at those who have adopted the so-called “price tag” policy, declaring: “Not one person is above the law. This is an extremist minority, a small and marginal number of our brothers in the settlement, harming those enforcing law and order and on innocent people just because they happen to be Arabs,” Netanyahu said at a memorial ceremony for former Prime Minister Menachem Begin.
Too lenient on the outposts
Haaretz Editorial 10 Mar — For too many years these outposts have defined Israel’s status in the world as an occupier that ignores international law, but the government’s policy of deception cannot go on. The outposts must be removed immediately. Israel’s future depends on it.
Siege / Restriction of movement
Man shot in Rafah tunnel
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 Mar — A young Gaza man was found dead Thursday in one of the underground tunnels south of Rafah in the Gaza Strip … The shooter remains unknown, but police said an investigation had been opened. Since January 5th, the tunnels have been the sole source of industrial diesel for the Gaza power plant
Palestinian workers harassed as Israel insists on strict security
[includes photo] Ramallah (Gulfnews) 9 Mar — Palestinian workers, subjected daily to grave inconvenience due to Israeli policies at the checkpoints between the West Bank and their workplaces inside Israel, have appealed to the Palestinian Authority and human rights groups to help make their situation more bearable. The workers say they suffer daily humiliation when going through the prolonged electronic security search measures at the border checkpoints. To begin with a worker needs to wait for at least a couple of hours in a long queue to get to the checkpoint where he passes through eight electronic gates in the security search process, which scan each individual with rays which are claimed to be extremely dangerous for health.The large amount of time required means some workers have to start their day as early as midnight the day before in order to be near the head of the queue at the gates…Sowaileh said the Israeli’s complicated security measures at the checkpoints were not needed. Each worker is granted a work permit in Israel after going through many security steps. …
Jordan Valley Solidarity — Caroline and Brenda: Checkmate
8 Mar –Today the main offender, breaking all ID requirements and being refused free passage, was a small black Peugeot car in which we were traveling. It is a rule, we were told, that a car from Tubas or Jenin is not allowed into the Jordan Valley. We were free to cross the checkpoint and continue on our way, but only on foot. Considering we were in a remote area walking did not seem an option. One of the IOF flippantly said “get a taxi” when asked how were we supposed to reach our destination. After much dialogue, we realized the IOF were not about to give an inch so we sadly had to turn back. We now endured a detour of 50 minutes to another checkpoint, Hamra, again one we had used before. We asked the girls if this should be easier and they replied it depended on the mood of the soldiers….
Military checkpoints erected near Jenin
JENIN (Ma‘an) — Israeli troops erected checkpoints at the entrances of villages west of Jenin Wednesday evening, locals said. No arrests were reported in the Palestinian villages of Anin and Ta’nak villages as soldiers stopped cars and checked IDs. Witnesses told Ma’an that military jeeps also toured the villages. [in other words, business as usual - reported every now and then]
Israel okays materials for UN residential projects in Gaza
Xinhua 10 Mar — Israel gave a green light for the resumption of two construction projects in the Gaza Strip, conducted by a United Nations organization, the UN Relief and Works Agency said Wednesday. [End]
An urgent call to release detainee Ahmad Asfour / Terry Wolfwood
Palestine Chronicle — Ahmad was a 17 year old student when he was severely injured outside his home during the invasion of Gaza on January 9, 2009. He was hit by a bomb, probably a D.I.M.E., launched by an unmanned drone. His body was penetrated and lacerated by metal fragments. His father said that Ahmad was in hospital in Egypt for 8 months and then a doctor recommended he go to Jerusalem for more treatment. Ahmed has diabetes, is wheelchair bound and needs more internal surgery. He had lost body parts, sections of his intestines and his pancreas. He was arrested at the Erez border crossing, taken from his terrified father, along with his medicines and insulin. Samir now knows his son gave a forced confession after days of torture and is in prison in Beersheba. In spite of support from human rights and physicians’ groups, Ahmad is still in jail. Samir said,” My son committed no crimes, he is sick and in pain. He cannot dress or care for himself. How is he surviving in prison?” Please contact Israeli Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), the Right Livelihood award-winner, for more information on how to help release Ahmad. http://www.phr.org.il Email: [email protected]. Ahmad is considered to be in critical condition and he needs help NOW.
Israel accused of abducting Palestinian in Ukraine
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) 10 Mar — The Palestinian engineer vanished from a Ukrainian train in the middle of the night. Now, authorities are trying to verify his wife’s claims that he is being held in prison by the Israeli secret service, whom she accuses of kidnapping the man two weeks ago. Dirar Abu Sisi, 42, went missing “under unknown circumstances” in the early hours of Feb. 19 after boarding a train in the eastern city of Kharkiv bound for the capital Kiev, Viktoria Kushnir, a spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry, told The Associated Press. Abu Sisi’s Ukrainian wife, Veronika, 32, alleges the Israeli secret service Mossad carried out the abduction in order to sabotage a key electric power plant in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip where he worked as a senior manager.
Army: 2 projectiles fired from Gaza land in Israel
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma‘an) 10 Mar — Two projectiles fired from the Gaza Strip landed in Israel overnight, the Israeli army reported. Israel’s online news site Ynet said one landed after 10 p.m. in the Eshkol Regional Council, an area east of Gaza, and a second around 7 a.m. Thursday in the Negev Regional Council, an area bordering the northeast corner of Gaza. No injuries were reported in either incident, and reports did not say how far into Israeli territory the projectiles landed. Resistance factions in Gaza have not claimed either of the attacks.
Activism / Solidarity / BDS
‘British show demonizes Israel’
[with trailer] Ynet 10 Mar — British mini-series based in Israel ‘worse than anything I’ve seen,’ London embassy spokesman says; show draws parallels involving IDF, Nazi era, heroine helps Palestinians smuggle arms into Gaza … Throughout the mini-series, the audience is treated to parallels pertaining to IDF operations in Judea and Samaria, the acts of underground groups against the Brits, and the grandfather’s memories from the death camp. Close to two million people watched the first episode of the show, which was directed by Peter Kosminsky, whose grandfather is Jewish.
Israel trip becomes issue at Cambridge [Massachusetts] City Council meeting
3 Mar — A slew of Cambridge residents on Monday criticized an Anti-Defamation League-sponsored trip last year to Israel in which public safety officials learned counterterrorism strategies … Resident Alan Meyers said he was “deeply disturbed” by the trip. “What Israel euphemistically calls counterterrorism is for the most part an assault on a defenseless, unarmed civilian population,” he said. “It is a mechanism of oppression suited to employment in a police state, a status I do not regard our city as having obtained. At least not yet.”
Basques cook up terror attack
Ynet 10 Mar — Embassy cancels Israeli food event in Basque region of Spain after receiving terror threats. Chef: Always sad to find out world doesn’t like us
Palestinian baby dies after Lebanese hospital refuses to help
9 Mar — A Palestinian child, Mohammed Nabil Taha, died in front of a hospital in Sidon, southern Lebanon, because of its refusal to receive him because of the inability of people to pay the costs of treatment. The child is the son of Mohammed Taha, a poor Palestinian family in a refugee camp in Lebanon, consisting of a wife and four children [see also post by As‘ad AbuKhalil]
Racism / Sexism / Discrimination
African refugees hired to build fence to keep migrants out of Israel
Haaretz 10 Mar — Interior Ministry turns a blind eye to recently implemented law banning asylum seekers on temporary-status visas from working – until it finishes building a holding facility that will satisfy migrants’ basic needs. — The government is employing Eritrean asylum seekers to help build a border fence designed to keep out other migrants seeking to enter the country from Africa via the Sinai Peninsula.
Red houses, open houses / Vered Lee
Haaretz 10 Mar — The ‘Open Houses’ campaign has been launched in an attempt to resist the unbridled incitement against refugees, and enables Israelis to see the human face of a community that wide swathes of the public, egged on by politicians, currently view as ‘infiltrators.’ … Refugees invite Israelis to their homes to hear the refugees’ stories and get a sense of their culture.
Prevention of assimilation in the Holy Land / S.D.K.
Palestine Monitor 9 Mar — The ultraconservative Lehava organization mounted a new campaign, issuing kashrut certification to Israeli restaurants that hire Jews, exclusively. The signs will read: “We hire Jewish workers and no enemies.” This reflects a recurring anxiety in the Orthodox Jewish community: interracial mixing.
Jerusalem playground fence symbolizes Jewish split in Israel
LA Times 10 Mar — Reporting from Jerusalem — A new front in the struggle between Jerusalem’s secular and ultra-Orthodox communities has opened in a tiny nursery school playground, where city officials have drawn what might be called a line in the sandbox. In response to complaints from ultra-Orthodox parents, officials last week erected a fence dividing the playground in two, separating pupils at a secular school from those at an adjacent Orthodox one. The fence was torn down Tuesday night, probably by secular parents unhappy about the division, leaving city officials to ponder their next move.
Another happy day like that . . . / Neri Livneh
Haaretz 10 Mar — Happy International Women’s Day? So long as religion rules our lives, our status as women will be regarded as inferior … [Interior Minister Eli] Yishai, who is so conscientious about the rights of Jews in general, and those of skullcap wearers in particular, draws a distinction between human rights and women’s rights. “The honor of the king’s daughter is within” (or in other words, women should stay home and not meddle in important matters ) – that’s the answer every interviewer gets to the question of when a woman from Shas will serve in the Knesset.
Political / Diplomatic news
Palestinian leadership not seeking EU to replace US in sponsoring talks
10 Mar — “When we urge the European Union (EU) for a more active role in the peace process, we are not seeking to fill a political vacuum,” said Saeb Erekat, a member of Palestine Liberation Organization ( PLO)’s executive committee.
DFLP: Hamas all-factions meeting ‘nothing new’
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) — An official from the leftist faction the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine told Ma‘an on Wednesday that a meeting hosted by Hamas in Gaza “presented nothing new,” despite promises of a new unity effort … Member of the DFLP Central Committee Muhammad Khalaf said the points outlined in the meeting were: 1) The need to form a national unity government to oversee the elections 2) To consider repairs to the PLO so it represented all Palestinians 3)….
Hamas announces new Gaza govt
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 Mar — Hamas officials in Gaza announced Thursday the formation of a new government headed by the party’s leader Ismail Haniyeh. The new government is an expanded form of the last, made up entirely of Hamas members, six of them newly appointed, in addition to a new cabinet secretary-general. Many of the newly appointed members also hold positions at the Islamic University in Gaza. Haniyeh said in a statement following the shuffle that “the reshuffle is an administrative step and is not against reconciliation.”
Peres seeks meeting with Obama to kick-start peace process / Akiva Eldar
Haaretz 10 Mar — Israeli President expresses concern over current stalemate, voices disappointment over Netanyahu’s statement that in any agreement the IDF would retain control of the Jordan Valley.
Netanyahu invites extreme right-wing politicians to join coalition
Haaretz 10 Mar — Discussions backsliding because PM refuses demands to declare large-scale building in Jerusalem, West Bank; invitation met with surprise in light of Netanyahu’s intention to announce far-reaching diplomatic initiative in U.S., including the transfer of additional West Bank territory to PA.
Netanyahu appoints ultra right-right national security adviser
AIC 10 Mar — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Wednesday the appointment of radical right wing retired Maj. Gen. Jacob Amidror to head the National Security Council, prompting a letter of protest from prominent leftists. Netanyahu further offered cabinet positions to the extreme right-wing National Union Party.
Obama selects close aide Shapiro as Israel ambassador
Ynet 10 Mar — WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama has chosen Daniel Shapiro, a senior adviser who has helped shape the response to the Middle East upheaval, as ambassador to Israel, the White House said on Wednesday … Shapiro, who speaks Hebrew and gave his children Israeli names, regularly attends a conservative temple.
Denmark to upgrade status of Palestinian representation to ‘mission’
Haaretz 10 Mar — The upgrade from general delegation, the third highest rank, to mission, the second highest, mirrored moves by several other countries – most recently Britain.
Palestinian pride on display at home soccer match
AL-RAM, West Bank (AP) 9 Mar — The Palestinian national soccer team lost to Thailand in a penalty shootout on Wednesday in an Olympic qualifying match deep in symbolism: it’s the first time the Palestinians have hosted a competitive match at the international level, and for excited fans in this conflict-ridden area, it marks an important step in their struggle for independence.
Something different and enjoyable:
Escape to a world of Palestinian surprises / Sherri Muzher
There’s a new ‘website book’ in town. The only one of its kind in the world, this site will put a smile on your face with gems like: the Palestinian women’s national movement began as far back 1920; Scottish bagpipes are used in religious celebrations; the largest Palestinian community outside the Middle East is in Chile; and so on.I call it a website book because this was supposed to be an actual book. It just made more sense to turn it into a website. , I’m an American-Palestinian and I’d like to tell you about my own people and heritage. This website book is not intended to lead a movement of political correctness but it will take you on an enjoyable journey of surprises that will tear down illusions that Palestinians have not made positive contributions in our world. The black and white picture that has been dished out to the world for decades will be challenged on a number of levels. As you go through “Escape to a World of Palestinian Surprises,” please keep in mind that this website is an on-going project with additions to be made as they come to my attention. http://www.palestiniansurprises.com/
AMIN media network honors Palestinian female journalists
RAMALLAH, March 9, 2011 (WAFA) – AMIN Media Network Wednesday awarded two female journalists the Palestinian Women Media Award in a ceremony held in Ramallah commemorating International Women’s Day. The award went to Zulfa Shahrour, from Ramallah, who works with the Palestinian news agency WAFA, and Majida Bilbisi, from the Gaza Strip, who is correspondent for the Arabic daily, Al-Quds.
Palestinians get their first technology venture fund
9 Mar — In a first for an important region of the Middle East, the Middle East Venture Capital Fund announced today it has raised $28.7 million to invest in Palestinian technology companies. The fund will be based in Ramallah and it has money from a bunch of international companies, foundations, and other investors. Those include Cisco, Google, the Soros Economic Development Fund, Skoll Foundation, Jean and Steve Case, and the European investment bank.
New Turkish satellite could publish uncensored images of Israel
Reuters 10 Mar — A new Turkish satellite has Israelis eying the end of a U.S.-backed blackout on high-resolution commercial photography of their turf from space. The GokTurk satellite due in orbit by 2013 will sell images of objects more detailed than 2 meters across — currently the finest grain available when it comes to pictures of Israel, thanks mainly to U.S. legislation from the 1990s.
Israel worried Mideast turmoil will hit tourism
JERUSALEM (AFP) 9 Mar — Israel launched a campaign on Wednesday to limit damage to its tourism industry caused by recent Middle East turmoil and to lure visitors now reluctant to travel to troubled North Africa.
Human interest / Humanitarian issues
Palestinians eke out living on dump recycling / Sara Hussein
YATTA, Hebron (AFP) 10 Mar — Among the gentle slopes of cypress-covered hills near the West Bank city of Hebron is an anomaly, a stinking garbage dump that is workplace and home to dozens of men and boys … At the far end of the hill, created entirely from layers of garbage ploughed over with sand, are makeshift residences — planks of wood with tarpaulin or rubbish bags strapped over them to provide shelter. For many of those working here, these shacks act as their home during the week, a place they can sleep at night rather than going back to the village of Yatta. And it also means they are on hand to sort out any rubbish that comes in after dark. It is unpleasant, tiring work, but is a rare source of income in the West Bank, where unemployment stands around 15.2 percent.
Life in Gaza on International Women’s Day / Najah Ayash
Guardian — I’m the head of a women’s development centre in Rafah, which provides training courses for women and young girls, and benefits around 300 women each month. Severely depressed women often visit the centre and talk about their problems, such as securing food, water, electricity, etc. I try to support them, but they’re living in great pain — and only think about their families’ daily survival rather their rights as women.
Interviews with Palestinian women in honor of International Women’s Day
ISM — To commemorate this special occasion, we have interviewed two Palestinian women representing different women’s organizations engaging in extraordinary work aimed at achieving gender equality. The first interview is with Rania Khayyat, the head of public relations for the Rural Women’s Development Society (RWDS). The second interview is with Hitam Saafin, the Chair of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC), which was founded in 1980.
Analysis / Opinion
The IDF’s masquerade in Hebron / Alon Idan
Haaretz 10 Mar — A walk through Hebron sends you into deep despair. Near the Cave of the Patriarchs, at the end of the plaza surrounded by a low fence, you see destruction and ruin, and especially the inconceivable segregation of the populations … Hebron is a living example, or perhaps it is better to say a dying example, of how a place in despair looks, and of how despair can easily be translated into death. For the visitor, it mainly hurts the eyes: a series of scenes, each of which brings up associations that you have to fight against, not always successfully. Now, it turns out that the IDF also feels suffocated by the aesthetic experience of the city. So it has decided to change the city’s “look.” Over the next six months, several military positions will be stripped of their military character, including the metal camouflage screens. They will be renovated to fit in with the aesthetic of the local buildings.
A neoconservative ‘shock and awe': the rise of the Arabs / Ramzy Baroud
10 Mar — A pervading sense of awe seems to be engulfing Arab societies everywhere. What is underway in the Arab world is greater than simply revolution in a political or economic sense– it is, in fact, shifting the very self-definition of what it means to be Arab, both individually and collectively. Hollywood has long caricatured and humiliated Arabs. American foreign policy in the Middle East has been aided by simplistic, degrading and at times racist depictions of Arabs in the mass media. A whole generation of pseudo-intellectuals have built their careers on the notion that they have a key understanding of Arabs and the seemingly predictable pattern of their behavior.
Iraq, other Mideast, Afghanistan
Wednesday: 7 Iraqis killed, 24 wounded / Margaret Griffis
At least seven Iraqis were killed and 24 more were wounded in new violence. Most of the attacks were in the capital. Also, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Michael Corbin said he expects ongoing protests in Iraq but not revolution as has occurred in other Arab countries. In Baghdad, a bomb targeting a U.S. military patrol wounded five Iraqis instead….
Blast shuts down Iraq Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline: sources
KIRKUK, Iraq (Reuters) 9 Mar — A bomb attack in the northern province of Nineveh halted oil flow through the Iraq-Turkey pipeline, which carries a quarter of Iraq’s crude exports, a spokesman for Iraq’s oil ministry said on Wednesday. The attack occurred on Tuesday night, but oil flow is expected to resume in a “few days”
UN: Record civilian deaths in 2010 / Jason Ditz
9 Mar — Afghanistan: The latest UN report puts the death toll for Afghan civilians across the nation in 2010 to 2,777, the largest since the war began in 2001 and a 15% increase over the toll from 2009. The vast majority of those killed were random victims of the fighting between NATO and the Taliban. But deliberate targetings of civilians seen as supporters of NATO is also dramatically on the rise, as is the tactic of kidnapping civilians to be held for ransom. Perhaps the most surprising number, however, was just how much NATO’s civilians killings were down in 2010, a 26% decline by the UN’s count.
A look at political unrest in the Mideast
(AP) 9 Mar — A look at anti-government protests, political unrest and key developments in the Middle East on Wednesday:
Treasury: Terrorist list explanations too tedious
(AP) 9 Mar — PORTLAND, Ore. – Attorneys for the U.S. government told a federal appeals court Wednesday that informing each person and organization listed as a global terrorist of the reasons they are so designated would be too much work.
Darkness at noon: Bradley Manning / Tony Kevin
8 Mar — Chillingly, inexorably, the life paths of Julian Assange and Bradley Manning are converging. Not yet in the sense that Manning’s US military torturers hope for, with a desired confession by him whether true or falsely coerced of prior collaboration with Assange to pass US classified intelligence material to Wikileaks … More broadly, their stories are appropriately coming together now as stories of two young national heroes, one American and one Australian, who are putting their lives on the line now for the sake of defending the principle of individual moral accountability for the actions of their national states that profess to share similar political values.
America’s anti-Muslim jihadists on the march again / M. Junaid Levesque-Alam
10 Mar — … America’s jihadists are at it again. First there is the spectacle of Congressmen Peter King, an IRA terrorist sympathizer who penned a novel in which he saves America from Muslim terrorist sympathizers. Since no one cared to read it, King is intent on realizing his fictional fantasy by presiding over a show trial held on the equally fictional pretext that “the Muslim community” poses “a real threat to the country” and protects terrorists. Then there is Pamela Geller, who exemplifies the grotesque neurosis that now afflicts many American Jewish conservatives. Geller admires fascist parties in South Africa and Europe (deemed kosher because they now want to exterminate Muslims instead of Jews) and denounces Jewish moderates (read: those who don’t advocate Palestinian genocide) as modern-day Nazi collaborators.