A strip of settlements built on what was northern Bethlehem threatens to cut the city off from its historic twin, Jerusalem. If Joseph and Mary were making their way to Bethlehem today, the Christmas story would be a little different, says Father Ibrahim Shomali, a parish priest in the town. The couple would struggle to get into the city, let alone find a hotel room. "If Jesus were to come this year, Bethlehem would be closed," says the priest of Bethlehem's Beit Jala parish. "He would either have to be born at a checkpoint or at the separation wall. Mary and Joseph would have needed Israeli permission – or to have been tourists. "This really is the big problem for Palestinians in Bethlehem: what will happen when they close us off completely?"
Land, Property Theft & Destruction / Ethnic Cleansing / Apartheid / Refugees
Today, Three Accounts of Property Destruction in the West Bank
The occupation forces washed away a number of water wells, throne room and agricultural land in the area known as “Thahr al Suboh” in Kufur al Deik village in Salfit. The occupation has done this several times before within the same area, which is an agricultural relief operation project funded by the Dutch government.
A group of settlers also uprooted 30 olive trees belong to Osama Alsamamra and wrote hostile slogans to the Arabs, in al-Samou’ village in the Hebron district.
As well, and for the thirty-third time, the occupation forces demolished Araqib village in the Negev within the territory of Palestine 1948. Aziz Sayah said that the forces snatched them out while eating their lunch and started demolishing. Despite demolishing for the 33rd time the people of Araqib remain steadfast and will continue to be for as long as our people stand with us.
link to www.stopthewall.org
The IOA has expropriated thousands of dunums of Palestinian land to the south and east of Al-Khalil at trivial security pretexts, Abdul Hadi Hantash, an expert in settlement, warned on Tuesday.
An expert on settlement issues has warned of an Israeli plan which will displace thousands of Palestinian citizens from 20 towns and villages near Hebron in the occupied West Bank. Abdul Hadi Hantash has told the Palestinian media that the Israeli authorities have confiscated thousands of acres of land south and east of Hebron on what he says are very flimsy security grounds. The occupation authorities have also established a number of settlements on the confiscated land, including Ammon, Susiya and Carmel. These have expanded quickly and are the focus for the establishment of smaller satellite settlements.
Last week, following reports that Israeli forces were planning to evacuate and demolish Ramat Gilad, an illegal oupost located in the West Bank, Jewish settlers rioted. They hurled stones at Palestinians' cars and threw a cinderblock into a military jeep.
Palestinian medical sources reported Wednesday that a Palestinian worker, 19 years old, was shot and wounded by Israeli army fire in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.
link to www.imemc.org
link to palsolidarity.org
Eyewitnesses in occupied East Jerusalem reported Thursday that a group of extremist Israeli settlers attacked a Palestinian child in Al Wad neighborhood, in the Old City, leading to clashes between the residents and the settlers. Injuries and arrests were reported.
Three groups of Jewish settlers in the early hours of Thursday morning stormed the Aqsa Mosque through the Maghareba Gate which is closed to Muslims.
Beit Ummar residents demonstrated on their land by the Carmei Tzur settlement. Soldiers enabled settlers to attack them from within a buffer strip surrounding the settlement.
Footage depicting members of the Israeli security forces firing tear-gas canisters directly at protesters in a-Nabi Saleh. This footage was filmed by B'Tselem field staff and volunteers during May and June 2011 and was sent to the Israeli military authorities to alert them to this ongoing and dangerous practice, which is illegal under the military's own regulations.
Israeli occupation forces rounded up 17 Palestinian citizens in different West Bank areas and occupied Jerusalem on Thursday in the biggest such campaign in weeks.
Eight Palestinians were arrested in pre dawn raids during a large scale incursion by the Israeli military on Thursday in the Jenin Refugee Camp. Over 30 arrests have been made in the camp in the last month.
Israeli occupation forces arrested four Palestinian citizens in the West Bank on Wednesday, three of them in Al-Khalil, and assaulted a Palestinian paramedic while on duty.
The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) reported that the Israeli “Ofer” Military Court sentenced, Thursday, former legislator, Husam Khader, to three months under administrative detention without charges filed against him.
The family committee of political prisoners said the Palestinian authority security apparatuses still carry out arbitrary detention campaigns despite the national reconciliation meetings.
The Tunisian aid convoy, Al-Ahrar, is due to fly from Tunis-Carthage airport to Egypt on Thursday before heading to the besieged Gaza Strip to deliver humanitarian aid.
Israeli legislators are considering a controversial law that would ban mosques from using loudspeakers to call worshippers to prayer. A handful of European countries have similar laws in place and this latest proposal has sparked similar mixed reactions. The bill's supporters say the amplified call to prayer is noise pollution, but critics say the proposed law is racist. Al Jazeera's Cal Perry reports from Jaffa.
Talila Nesher - Haaretz - Tel Aviv University has called on lecturers to turn in students who carried out protest activities on campus last week. Students and lecturers accused the university of resorting to "secret police" methods and oppressing legal social protest on campus.
An influential UK charity denounced Jewish critics of Israel in secret reports to the government earlier this year, The Electronic Intifada has learned.
The three groups involved in this action -- CODEPINK, 14 Friends of Palestine, and Keep Hope Alive -- are all coalition members of the US Campaign, which offers its exclusive flash mob resources here.
Another budget battle has ended as Congress has agreed to fund the government through next fall including a record-breaking $3.075 billion in military aid to Israel. At the same time though, the failure of the super committee to come up with a deficit reduction plan will trigger across-the-board budget cuts in 2013, including a loss of $250 million per year in military aid to Israel. As our National Advocacy Director Josh Ruebner writes, this is the time for Congress to review U.S. policy towards Israel, a policy which the United States cannot afford "morally, politically or financially." Military aid to Israel makes the average American taxpayer complicit in Israel's human rights abuses as well as takes away resources from funding the projects Americans need at home, including providing affordable housing and primary healthcare.
Our Steering Committee member Kristin Szremski writes that Newt Gingrich is forwarding a Zionist agenda at the expense of Americans. In trying to "out-Romney" Romney, and align himself to the pro-Israel element, the potential GOP frontrunner is not only selling off the values and safety of the United States for his shot in the Oval Office -- and still failing to impress the pro-Israel Jewish voters he was trying to court -- he's also inflaming tensions in the Middle East, where U.S. neutrality and integrity are already is viewed with suspicion and hostility. He's proven he does not care about the people whom he'd be sworn to protect as President.
Member of Knesset Ahmad Tibi has vigorusly criticized House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in his hometown Richmond Times-Dispatch. Please make your online comments and send your letters to the editor today, particularly those of you in Richmond or in the district of Michele Bachmann or Newt Gingrich's old district. Those two presidential candidates also came in for heavy criticism.
AP - The rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas took an important step toward reconciliation on Thursday, announcing plans for the Islamic militants to join the umbrella group that has overseen two decades of on-and-off peace talks with Israel.
Foreign Ministry files formal complaint against Hadash Chairman Mohammad Barakeh for allegedly representing Ramallah on official visit to Poland.
Attorney general decides to end investigation against Israeli nationals who participated in Gaza-bound flotilla that ended with lethal raid.
Jerusalem calls off $141 milliion deal with Ankara over fears that Turkey could hand over cutting-edge equipment to hostile parties, officials say.
There is an escalating pattern of physical attacks by Egyptian military and police officers against women and male protesters, journalists, and activists in Cairo, some of which are sexual in nature. News reports and images of protesters in Cairo being stripped, beaten, and dragged through the street in the past several days are just the latest incidents.
Egypt imposes biometric visas on EU officials in tit-for-tat move
The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has decided to impose biometric visas on diplomats and citizens of EU countries in response to the implementation of similar visa requirements for North African citizens, including Egyptians, visiting Europe. Foreign Ministry spokesman Amr Roshdy said that as from 15 January 2012 all holders of diplomatic and private passports who work in EU-member state embassies in Egypt will be required to obtain biometric visas from Egyptian embassies and consulates in their home countries. This means that applicants will have to go in person to be photographed and submit their fingerprints for the database, which will be used to identify applicants when they arrive in Egypt.
Shocking images revealing the brutality of Egypt’s armed forces in quelling protests caused outrage around the world.
[A day after soldiers brutally attacked and stripped a woman protestor in Tahrir Square in Cairo, thousands of women and men marched on 20 December from Tahrir Square to the Journalists' Syndicate and back to condemn the violence. Sarah Carr reports in Al Masry Al Youm that, "There was pervasive anger against the army, with frequent chants for the SCAF to leave power... 'Tantawi is the supreme commander of harassment and violation of honor,' one placard read. ... 'They know that we participated as much as men in the revolution. But we’re not scared,' Hadia Mohamed said. Thirty-six-year-old Nariman Youssef agreed. 'The main thing is to show that we’re not afraid. They can kill us, hit us, beat us on our heads but we’re getting stronger.'"]
A new law introduced this week imposing the death penalty on anyone arming “terrorists” is only likely to worsen the bloodshed in Syria, Amnesty International warned today as the number of people killed this week soared. In one of the deadliest weeks since pro-reform protests began, some 170 people – including around 70 army defectors – were reported to have been killed when government forces attacked the village of Kafr Awaid in the north-western province of Idlib. Dozens of military personnel are also reported to have been killed in Syria.
Activists report more deaths, hours before arrival of advance observer delegation in accordance with peace plan.
About 200 people have been killed by Syrian security forces who launched an offensive against defected troops in the northwestern opposition stronghold of Idlib. The latest fighting has prompted the Syrian opposition to call for an emergency meeting of the Arab League. The Syrian National Council also wants an emergency UN Security Council session to discuss what they call the Assad regime's massacres. Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr reports.
Iranian embassy in Damascus said five engineers were working on a power plant project in Homs, a center of the uprising.
A coordinated series of bombings shattered the peace in Baghdad, shortly after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ratcheted up tensions between his government and Sunni politicians. Despite international calls for prudence, Maliki is now targeting another senior Sunni politician for harassment. At least 81 Iraqis were killed and 184 more wounded in today's carnage.
Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki told Kurdish leaders there would be “problems” if they do not turn over a vice president who has been accused of assassinations.
Kurdistan Regional President Massoud Barzani called on Iraqi politicians to hold a "crisis summit" to discuss recent events surrounding Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's harassment of several Sunni politicians. Meanwhile, at least eight Iraqis were killed and 16 more were wounded in new attacks.
As the U.S. military leaves Iraq, the New York Times has recovered hundreds of pages of documents detailing internal interrogations of U.S. Marines over the 2005 Haditha massacre of Iraqi civilians. The documents, many marked "secret," were found among scores of other classified material at a junkyard outside Baghdad as an attendant used them as fuel to cook his dinner. The documents reveal testimony of Marines describing killing civilians on a regular basis. "In some ways, this is one of the most grotesque episodes of the entire war in Iraq. And I’m afraid to say, this is part of our legacy," says Time magazine contributor Tim McGirk, who first broke the story of Haditha in 2006. It was November 19, 2005, when a U.S. military convoy of four vehicles driving through Haditha was hit by a roadside bomb, killing Lance Corporal Miguel Terrazas. The next night, Marines burst into several homes in the neighborhood, killing 24 Iraqis, including a 76-year-old man and women and children who were still in their night clothes when they died. "Nobody is behind bars for this," McGirk notes. Charges from the episode were dropped against six of the accused Marines, one was acquitted, and the final case is set to go to trial next year. [includes rush transcript]
Nearly nine years of war in Iraq have produced a growing cadre of world-class, homegrown Iraqi news photographers. The Lens blog shares the stories of five of them.
Reuters - The United Nation's top human rights official said on Wednesday Bahrain was failing to prosecute security forces who tortured people during anti-government protests in February and was still using excessive force against civilians.
The UAE says it wants democracy, so why has it put five bloggers on trial for demanding political reform?
UAE strips six of citizenship
Security concerns cited, although those affected say they are being unjustly targeted for their political views.
Long before running for president, Newt Gingrich was the most prominent American politician to embrace the idea that Shariah poses a major threat to the United States.
Prime minister David Cameron has told Britain: 'We are a Christian country and we should not be afraid to say so.' He was speaking on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the King James version of the Bible which, he said, had helped to give Britain a set of values and morals that make us what we are today. And Cameron doesn’t accept the argument about the church not getting involved in politics. "To me, Christianity, faith, religion, the Church and the Bible are all inherently involved in politics because so many political questions are moral questions.” True, but can our churchmen ‘do politics’? They perpetually fail to get a result even on the Church’s ‘home turf’, the Holy Land.