and other news from Today in Palestine:
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid / Restriction of movement
Breaking News: Demolitions in northern Jordan Valley
JVS 30 Nov — IOF demolish house in al-Malhe See photos of demolitions in Al Maleh here Five structures were demolished by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) in the Northern Jordan Valley this morning: three houses, one animal barracks and a bee farm.
Two houses were demolished in Al Maleh. Nief Mohamad Abed Faqer, his wife and five children lived in one. Aref Ahmad Twefeq Daragmah’s public meeting house was also demolished. The house of Hassan Ahmad Abo Zahow was demolished in al-Hamne. A bee farm run by the women’s co-operative in Kardala village was demolished. An animal barracks owned by Ali Zohdi Abedalah Abomihsen in al-Farsiya was also destroyed.
European diplomats visit Al-Hadidiye: demolitions due after Dec 5
STW 30 Nov — Days after STW has called upon supporters to write to their diplomatic missions, on November 23 diplomats from 7 European representative offices have visited al Hadidiye. They have seen the precarious living conditions now threatened by demolition orders affecting 72 people. They have heard testimonies from al Hadidiye and received a background briefing on the Israeli policies of ethnic cleansing of the Jordan Valley. (See below.) In the meanwhile, on November 17 the legal defense of the people of Al Hadidiye has started the process of asking permission for the construction of the homes built by the residents on their own land.
Israeli bulldozers demolish Bedouin barracks in Jerusalem area
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 29 Nov – Israeli bulldozers Tuesday demolished four barracks and sheep pens belonging to Arab Bedouins in al-Za‘eem/az-Za‘ayyem neighborhood in East Jerusalem, according to local sources. Residents said Israeli soldiers beat the owners of the barracks, which house forty members of al-Jahaleen Arab Bedouins, and closed the area, preventing anyone from entering or leaving.
Israeli bulldozers raze land in Salfit to expand Apartheid Wall
SALFIT (WAFA) 30 Nov — Israeli bulldozers razed land and uprooted around 100 olive trees in Mas-ha, a village northwest of Salfit in the northern West Bank, in preparation to expand the Apartheid Wall, landowner Hani Amer said Wednesday. He told WAFA that he arrived at his land west of the village early in the morning and was surprised to find Israeli bulldozers razing his land. He expected that the razing started Tuesday evening. “The new section of the wall aims to steal land in favor of expanding the settlement of Oranit,” said Amer. He indicated that the area of the land intended to be seized is estimated at hundreds of dunums and is owned by a number of village residents.
Farmland seized in Beit Ummar, local official says
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 29 Nov — Israeli authorities handed over a decision Tuesday confiscating 12 dunums of land in Surif village northwest of Hebron and gave the owners orders to demolish a well and uproot trees. Yousef Abu Maria, coordinator of the national committees in Beit Ummar, told Ma‘an that the land is 5 kilometers from a wall Israel is maintaining to separate the village from a nearby settlement.
Farmer arrested close to the Apartheid Wall
PSP 29 Nov — Maroan Ahmad Khamis Saharna was working on his fields in Hatta behind Beit Ula. Saharna was working with his tractor just outside the apartheid wall in area C. Suddenly soldiers arrived. Both the farmer and his tractor were arrested because the soldiers claimed that the fields are in a closed military zone. Often farmers that own land in area C need special permits to harvest and work in their land. Many of them experience lot of harassment from both settlers and soldiers.
Israeli forces storm Nablus company, seize money
NABLUS (WAFA) 30 Nov — Israeli forces Wednesday raided a Palestinian car rental company in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, confiscated its computers and seized a large sum of money, according to the owner of the company, Wael Fatooh. He told WAFA that Israeli forces broke down his company’s main door and disabled its security system. Then they opened the safe and seized almost $20,000 in cash, bank checks and documents, in addition to confiscating all of its computers.
Meanwhile, security sources said that soldiers also stormed a residential building near the company, searching a number of its apartments, and stormed the former headquarters of the Palestinian stock exchange and al-Dahya area, east of Nablus, searching several homes. No arrests were reported.
Israel ‘bars lawmaker from travel’
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 30 Nov — A Palestinian lawmaker says Israeli authorities barred him from leaving the West Bank on Tuesday evening. Qays Abdul-Karim, a senior member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, told Ma’an he was at the Allenby Bridge crossing to Jordan with a delegation of parliamentarians heading to a conference in Panama.
Israel urged to lift Al-Haq director’s travel ban
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 Nov — Human Rights Watch and other organizations urged Israel on Tuesday to rescind a travel ban imposed on the director of the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq. Shawan Jabarin has been prevented from leaving the occupied West Bank since 2006 in violation of his due process rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem said. “The ban preventing Shawan Jabarin from traveling abroad to receive an award is emblematic of the arbitrary restrictions placed on Palestinian human rights defenders,” said Philip Luther of Amnesty International.
Palestinians and Jews protest the death of public housing
AIC 30 Nov — Yesterday, dozens of Palestinian citizens of Israel and Jewish Israelis staged a mock funeral for the death of Israel’s public housing in protest of the evictions that threaten to leave both Palestinian and Jewish families homeless … While both Jaffa and South Tel Aviv are undergoing intense processes of gentrification, in Jaffa the housing struggle has nationalistic overtones and is fraught with racial tension.
Netanyahu looking to weaken settlers’ influence in Likud
Haaretz 30 Nov — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is working to reduce the power of West Bank settlers in the Likud’s convention and central committee by increasing the number of delegates from other locales while not increasing the number of delegates from the settlements. Netanyahu’s proposal on the matter will be submitted to the Likud’s constitution committee on Wednesday, in advance of elections for the new party convention that will convene in January.
Settlers irked by ‘tight security’ at roadblocks
Ynet 29 Nov — …Settlers from Binyamin are claiming that recent weeks have seen repeated delays at the checkpoints, specifically in the morning hours. Heavy traffic was felt “due to strict security checks which do not spare Israeli citizens,” one settler official said. According to the settlers, Border Guard officers stationed at the checkpoint north of Jerusalem take a long time checking the trunks of their cars while ordering passengers to step out of their vehicles … “IDF checkpoints in Judea and Samaria’s seam lines have turned from a means to fight Arab terrorism into a means to make the lives of Jewish settlers miserable due to lack of consideration, unwillingness to assist, and imperviousness,” MK Eldad said.
Settlers destroy olive trees in Nablus
NABLUS (WAFA) 29 Nov — A group of Jewish settlers Tuesday destroyed several olive trees in Nadama, a village south of Nablus, according to a local official. Head of the Village Council, Ehab al-Qitt, told WAFA that a group of settlers from Yitzhar settlement south of Nablus raided the village, chopped off ten olive trees and destroyed them. The settlers fled the scene once the village residents arrived, added al-Qitt.
Main power line to Gaza down for 13 days
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 Nov — Israel is refusing to allow technicians to repair a main power line supplying the Gaza Strip, a spokesman for Gaza’s electricity company said Wednesday. Jamal Dardasawi said the line has been down for 13 days, exacerbating the electricity crisis in the coastal enclave … Gaza’s power company has been applying an emergency distribution program, disconnecting the power grids for eight hours every day. Dardasawi noted that the problem coincided with threats by Israel’s foreign ministry to cut off water and electricity to Gaza if Fatah and Hamas formed a unity government. Senior engineer Ahmad Abu al-Amrein said the shortage of power in the Gaza Strip had reached 37.3 percent.
Israel frees Gaza fishermen but keeps boats
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 Nov — Israel has freed 10 fishermen detained off the Gaza coast but has not released their boats, a Palestinian official said Wednesday. Mahfouz al-Kabarety, head of the Palestinian society for fishing and marine sports, said eight of the men had been detained on Tuesday and were released Wednesday. Two fishermen detained on Monday were freed Tuesday, he added. On both occasions, Israel confiscated the fishermen’s boats and has not returned them, the official said.
IOF soldiers raid central Gaza amidst intensive shooting
GAZA (PIC) 30 Nov — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) advanced a few hundred meters to the east of Breij refugee camp in central Gaza Strip on Wednesday amidst intensive shooting at residential quarters. Local sources said that the soldiers in three army tanks and a number of armored vehicles escorted four bulldozers into the area as reconnaissance planes flew overhead. They said that the bulldozers destroyed land in the area as the soldiers were firing at nearby neighborhoods to scare off citizens.
Link to Palestinian Information Center
Witnesses: Israeli army vehicles enter Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 Nov — Israeli army vehicles entered the Gaza Strip early Wednesday as soldiers fired from military towers by the border, witnesses said. Four bulldozers, three tanks and several other military vehicles were seen leveling farm land in the Juhor al-Dik and Maqbola neighborhoods near al-Bureij refugee camp, onlookers told Ma‘an. Meanwhile, several helicopters hovered in the area and soldiers stationed in army watchtowers fired gunshots, they added. An Israeli military spokeswoman said the vehicles were “on routine activity” in the Gaza Strip.
Netherlands welcomes first truckloads of strawberries from Gaza
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 29 Nov — The Dutch Representative to the Palestinian Authority, Birgitta Tazelaar, Tuesday, welcomed the shipment of the first two truckloads carrying 2.6 tons of strawberries from Gaza which successfully crossed the Kerem Shalom crossing, according to a press release issued by the Netherlands Representative Office … She added that “after several years of exporting these crops to Europe, now is the time for the Gaza strawberries to also reach the markets of Hebron, Nablus and Ramallah. The Dutch government therefore encourages all Palestinian and Israeli stakeholders to do their utmost to make the transit of strawberries from Gaza to the West Bank a reality this season.”
Gaza farmers keep working despite export ban
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 Nov — Farmers continue to grow produce in the Gaza Strip despite Israel’s ban on exports, but productivity has plummeted. Israel bans all exports from Gaza aside from a few trucks of berries and flowers each day during winter under an agreement with the Dutch government. Farmers are denied access to lucrative markets in Israel and the West Bank.Meanwhile, Israel has leveled vast areas of arable land in the coastal enclave over the last decade.
But farmers continue to produce strawberries, carnations, cherry tomatoes and bell peppers to export in limited quantities to Europe, although shipping fees reduce the profit margins. Mahmoud Ikhlayyil, chairman of the strawberry and carnation association in Gaza, says farmers used to plant 2,500 dunams of strawberries before Israel’s siege, but only plant between 900 – 1,000 dunams today. This year, farmers avoided growing potatoes after a disastrous season in 2010 when no potatoes were exported, Ikhlayyil said. “Farmers paid storage fees equal to 1.5 shekels ($0.40) per kilo, and in the end they sold it in the local market for 1 shekel per kilo.” In 2010, 25,000 dunams of fields had been planted with potatoes, he added.
It’s the export, stupid!
Gaza Gateway 30 Nov — Three days ago two truckloads of strawberries exited Gaza and passed through Israel on their way to Europe. They were the first truckloads of export allowed out of the Strip in over six months, part of a program funded by the Dutch government to bring Gaza produce to European markets … So is there export? Very little and with great difficulty. Produce from Gaza enters Israel, where it is transferred to the Ashdod seaport or Ben Gurion airport for travel on to Europe. Marketing Palestinian produce all the way in Europe is naturally more costly, so much so that it’s simply not profitable. In other words, the export isn’t a product of a functioning economy, more like the outcome of a humanitarian aid project. Sale of goods to the West Bank or Israel from Gaza has been strictly prohibited since June of 2007 …Stay tuned, in the next post we share three export stories: dangerous potatoes, burning furniture, and the runaway cherry tomatoes…
The ridiculous burdens borne by Gaza medical patients / Rami Almeghari
CAIRO (EI) 30 Nov — …Why don’t we have good medical staff in Gaza, who are well-trained and highly qualified, and can practice preventative medicine? Isn’t it ridiculous that we have to travel long distances — approximately 500 kilometers in our case — and have no choice but to stay in a different country? Isn’t it ridiculous that we are forced to be away from our loved ones, who could help comfort us if they were nearby? Isn’t it ridiculous that Palestinian medical staff are not being sent abroad from Gaza on training courses? Isn’t it ridiculous that instead of investing in the health of its people, the Palestinian Authority has spent the millions of dollars it receives from donor countries on its repressive security forces?
Detention / Courts
Witnesses in Bassem Tamimi’s trial: We were instructed by interrogators to incriminate him
Popular Struggle 29 Nov — The trial of West Bank protest organizer from Nabi Saleh, Bassem Tamimi, resumed today at the Ofer Military Court, after the main prosecution witness – 14 year-old Islam Dar Ayyoub, testified yesterday contending that his testimony was given under duress. First to take the stand today was 15 year-old Mo‘atasem Tamimi from Nabi Saleh, who was brought in wearing a prison uniform following his arrest last Thursday. When asked by the military prosecutor about what he had said during his interrogation regarding the demonstrations’ organizers , he replied by saying “I was beaten up and told ‘Incriminate him’, as well as shown photos.”
Conviction rate for Palestinians in Israel’s military courts: 99.74% / Noam Sheizaf
972mag 30 Nov — Unlike Jews, Palestinians under Israeli control in the West Bank are tried in military courts, where the rights of defendants rights are minimal, and the prosecution enjoys a low burden of proof and – most importantly – wears the same uniforms as the judges – IDF uniforms. In a military court, the testimony of a soldier who arrested a Palestinian can be enough to send a minor to prison. The results are staggering: Palestinians have no chance to walk free from an Israeli trial. A new internal IDF document revealed today by Haaretz shows that in 2010, 99.74 percent of the trials of Palestinians in Israeli military courts ended in convictions. That’s 25 acquittals, out of 9,542 cases.
Israel arrests suspected Hamas fundraisers
TEL AVIV (Ma’an) 29 Nov — Israeli authorities have arrested several Hamas members on suspicion of raising funds from abroad for activities in Jerusalem, officials said Tuesday. The suspected Hamas officials were charged with money laundering, being active in a “terror” organization and using property for “terrorist” purposes, Israel’s Ynet news site reported. “The activities were aimed at creating solidarity with Hamas, thereby strengthening its presence and position among the east Jerusalem population,” the report quoted Shin Bet officials as saying.
Israeli troops detain 3 in Beit Ummar raid
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 30 Nov — Israeli forces detained three men on Wednesday during a raid on the southern West Bank town of Beit Ummar, local officials and the army said. Soldiers ransacked several homes in the town before detaining Rahsi Muhammad Awad, 17, Yasser Fayiz Abu Fanous, 17, and Muhammad Mahmoud Ikhlayyil, 22, a statement from the mayor’s office said. An Israeli military spokeswoman said three men in Beit Ummar were taken for security questioning.
Israeli soldiers arrest 5 Palestinians in the West Bank
WEST BANK (WAFA) 29 Nov – Israeli forces Tuesday arrested five Palestinians across the West Bank, according to local sources. Witnesses told WAFA that Israeli soldiers raided a number of houses in al-Khader town, south of Bethlehem, and arrested two Palestinians. Security sources said that soldiers arrested another three Palestinians from the Old City in Hebron, under the pretext of throwing stones at an Israeli patrol.
Detained legislator receives extended remand for six months
IMEMC 30 Nov — For the third consecutive time, the Israeli Authorities decided to extend the Administrative Detention order against elected legislator, Nayef Rajoub, 55, for an additional six months. The family of the Hamas legislator stated that Israeli courts never brought any charges against him … Rajoub held the position of the Minister of Waqf and Islamic Endowment at the tenth Palestinian government, and is considered one of the well-respected officials and religious figures in the Hebron district, in the southern part of the West Bank. After the Hamas movement achieved an overwhelming victory in the 2006 Legislative Elections, and the Local Councils Elections before that, Israel carried out an extensive campaign, and kidnapped most of the elected officials in the occupied West Bank.
Israeli soldiers beat man, detain internationals in retribution for incident in Hebron
AIC/CPT 30 Nov — Contrary to the Geneva Convention, which forbids punishing a group for the actions of a few people, Israeli soldiers in Hebron hauled Palestinian men out of their homes, beat a man at a checkpoint, and detained three internationals on Monday night, after someone threw two Molotov cocktails at a checkpoint
Preventive security detains father, four sons to pressure his wanted fifth son
RAMALLAH (PIC) 29 Nov — Agents of the PA preventive security apparatus detained 55-year-old Omar Awad and his four sons at a roadblock near the entrance of Ramallah on Tuesday to pressure his fifth son Abdulrahman to surrender himself to them. Eyewitnesses told the PIC reporter that the security agents took the father and his four sons from Badars village, west of Ramallah, to a detention facility in the city.
Meanwhile, the PA intelligence in Jericho handed a summons to Bara’, the son of Hamas MP Fathi Al-Qarawi, on Monday evening. The MP told the PIC that he was surprised at the summons especially when his son was more than once before summoned for interrogation. He added that the ordinary citizen would not feel any change on the ground unless detention and summons practices came to a halt.
For her part, Hamas MP in Al-Khalil Samira Al-Halaiqa told Quds Press on Monday that political detention was still rampant in the West Bank despite the meeting a few days ago between Hamas and Fatah leaders in Cairo that renewed agreement on ending the practice. She said that the security apparatuses in the West Bank did not only refuse to release detainees but were still detaining and summoning others.
Link to Palestinian Information Center
Jailed officer says 777 PA employees held by Israel
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) updated 30 Nov — Palestinian Authority Brigadier General Maysara Abu Hamdiyya is urging the PA to raise the issue of the 777 PA employees and security officers in Israeli custody. Abu Hamdiyya, serving a life sentence in Israeli jail since 2002, sent a letter Friday to the PA ministry of prisoners affairs. The letter says most of these detainees were seized in incursions in 2002, many while on duty. Many of the security officers, added Abu Hamdiyya, were detained in their military uniforms, and thus they should be treated as prisoners of war. He called on the Israeli government to release all PA officers.
Activism / Solidarity / Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions
Bil‘in to hold mass demo this Friday in protest of recent house demolition
Popular Struggle 30 Nov — The demonstration will protest the demolition of the ‘Bil‘in Outpost’ by Israeli forces last Monday. The structure was built in 2005 on lands then sequestered by the Wall in order to assert ownership of the land and expose illegal construction in the nearby settlement … The path of the Wall has since been rerouted, and the structure stood on lands supposedly returned to the villagers, who were outraged by its destruction on Monday. Mohammed Khatib of the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements said, “It is a mockery of justice that the settlers’ houses – built on our stolen land – were retroactively approved, but our building was knocked down as if we are the criminals. If this isn’t apartheid, I don’t know what is.” When: Noon, Friday, December 2nd, 2011 Where: Bil‘in village, West of Ramallah. Video of demolition by Haitham Khatib
International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People in the no-go zone
ISM 30 Nov — by Nathan Stuckey– Today, Tuesday, November 29, 2011 is the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. This day commemorates the racist and colonialist proposal of the United Nations to partition Palestine in 1947. All over the world, people stood in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle today. In Beit Hanoun, today, like every Tuesday for the last three years, the popular struggle raised its voice against the occupation. Against the no go zone which surrounds Gaza, which makes the refugees of 1948 and 1967 who live in Beit Hanoun refugees once again, the no go zone which throws them off their land and destroys their houses and orchards.
November 29: a mystery date for most Israelis
Haaretz 19 Nov — Poll show that 73% of Israeli adults do not know the historical significance of the date, when the UN General Assembly decided to end the British Mandate and adopt the partition plan.
Israel fears boycott law in Tunisia
MEMO 30 Nov — Sources in Israel have expressed deep concern about the possibility of Tunisia adopting what is being called the “Opposition to Zionism and Boycott of Israel” law. According to the Hebrew language media, the political community in Tel Aviv is taking this seriously as the proposed law is being supported by the two largest political parties in the country, Al-Nahda and Democratic Rally.
Boycott Israel campaign grows among UK unions despite Zionist backlash / Asa Winstanley
London (EI) 30 Nov — Over the last few years, UK trade unions have expressed solidarity with Palestine more and more explicitly. Union after union has overturned a previous orthodoxy of balance between “two sides” when it comes to policy on Israel and the Palestinians. So many unions have now passed motions in support of the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement that even the often conservative Trades Union Congress (TUC) has been compelled to change policy.
…after several years of bitter battles, the pro-Israel wing of the unions has dwindled to such a degree that it seems to have given up the battle against BDS. At congress, no one even spoke against the 2011 TUC motion, said Lanning … But this does not mean the Israel lobby has given up. Backroom tactics, appeals to union official to “see sense” and smearing activists as anti-Semitic seem to be the order of the day.
Video: French BDS activists de-shelve huge amounts of Israeli produce at Carrefour
EI 29 Nov — Activists de-shelved huge amounts of Israeli avocados and oranges during a protest action in Montpellier in the south of France on 26 November. For more than one and a half hours, the activists from the Comité BDSFrance34 – a group in the French region of Hérault – removed the produce from shelves of a Carrefour mega-store and marched through the aisles shouting “Boycott Israel,” “Israel is criminal, Carrefour is an accomplice,” and other Palestine solidarity slogans.
Employees hold sit-in to protest WHO conference in Jerusalem
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 29 Nov — Employees of the ministry of health carried out Monday a sit-in in response to holding World Health Organization – European region (WHO/Europe) conference at the invitation of Israel, in Jerusalem, according to a statement issued by the employees.
American hip-hop group to perform in Palestinian territory
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 29 Nov — The American hip hop group, Legacy, will hold a cultural exchange program in the Palestinian Territory from December 1 to 3 that will include workshops and live concert performances, a US consulate press release said Tuesday. “Legacy’s music about faith, love, struggle, and the pursuit of beauty in life and art, will be performed for audiences in Hebron, Abu Deis [Dis] and Jerusalem,” said the press release. [is this the Louisiana State University group?]
Political / Diplomatic News
Hamas, Fatah officials to meet in Gaza ‘in days’
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 Nov — A meeting will be held by the end of the week between Hamas and Fatah in Gaza to discuss outstanding topics for wrapping up the reconciliation deal, a Fatah official said Tuesday. Abdullah Abu Samhadaneh, a senior Fatah official in Gaza, said four issues to be discussed are passports, freedom of travel, political detainees, and reopening the Hamas and Fatah headquarters. He told Ma‘an that lists of political detainees will be shown to a committee from both sides to check whether they are detained for political or criminal reasons. The ones who are detained over criminal issues will be put on trial. He added that Fatah’s list consists of 50 names in Gaza prisons.
Hamas: Abbas not serious about achieving Palestinian unity cabinet
AP 30 Nov — Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas is not serious about reconciling with political rival Hamas despite public statements to the contrary, a senior Hamas official said in an interview published Wednesday. The official, Mahmoud Zahar, said Abbas “is not interested in achieving” a deal with Hamas, allegedly because the U.S.¬ and Israel oppose it.
Invitations received for next Cairo talks
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 Nov – Egypt has sent invitations to several factions to attend bilateral meetings with officials in Cairo ahead of general reconciliation talks on Dec. 20, two of the factions confirmed Wednesday. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Palestinian Liberation Front confirmed receiving the invitations to send a delegation to Cairo on Dec. 4 and 6 for talks on various elements of the deal.
Iceland votes to recognize Palestine
Ynet 29 Nov — Iceland’s parliament voted on Tuesday in favor of recognizing the Palestinian territories as an independent state, the first Western European country to do so according to Iceland’s foreign minister.
Meanwhile, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas reaffirmed his bid for UN membership on Tuesday, saying it should complement peace negotiations provided that Israel is prepared to negotiate on the basis of 1967 borders.
Sri Lanka reiterates support for Palestinian state
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 Nov — Marking the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the president of Sri Lanka reiterated his support of the “just struggle of the Palestinian people” toward statehood.
PLO calls for efforts to achieve Palestinian independence
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 29 Nov — Marking 64 years since the United Nations partitioned Palestine, the PLO Tuesday called for efforts to achieve Palestinian independence, according to a press release. PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi said, “For 64 years, the Palestinian people have been subjected to an apartheid-like regime and prevented from proclaiming their rights to person and property….” On this day in 1947 the United Nations General Assembly passed UN Resolution 181 calling for the division of Palestine; 55% of the land was allotted to the Jewish minority at the expense of the Palestinian majority.
In Jordan, Livni urges Abbas to resume peace talks
Ynet 30 Nov — Opposition leader tells Palestinian president ‘Middle East is changing, and peace talks stalemate serves extremists’
Israel releases frozen Palestinian tax funds
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 30 Nov — Israel announced on Wednesday it was releasing millions of dollars in tax revenues it owes the Palestinian Authority, lifting a month-old freeze that had threatened to undermine the West Bank government. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had come under international pressure to hand over the funds
FM: No such thing as ‘kosher’ terror funds
Ynet 30 Nov — Avigdor Lieberman slams cabinet’s decision to transfers PA tax funds, warns Palestinian Authority will ‘use money to shelter murderers’ … The decision to unfreeze the funds followed a demand to that effect by Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Lawmaker: Israel in ‘most dangerous’ situation
TEL AVIV (Ma‘an) 30 Nov — An Israeli lawmaker on Wednesday described Israel’s security situation as the “most dangerous”, in remarks during a meeting of the foreign and security ministries. Benjamin Ben-Eliezer told lawmakers at the meeting that “Israel has never been in more dangerous situation than the current one”, according to Hebrew-language press accounts. He called on Israeli officials to act responsibly and not to reduce the budget of the army and security services, into which he said both Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel should be drafted.
Economy minister steps aside to fight corruption charges
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 Nov — Palestinian Authority Minister of Economy Hassan Abu Libdeh said Tuesday he had suspended all ministerial duties to fight corruption allegations. Abu Libdeh told Ma‘an he suspended his work in order to have time to defend himself against the accusations, which he said were “pure fabrications.”
Lebanon, Iran vs Israel
Al Qaeda-linked group ‘claims Israel rocket attack’
BEIRUT (AFP) 29 Nov — A group linked to Al-Qa‘eda on Tuesday claimed responsibility for an overnight rocket attack from southern Lebanon against Israel, a local website announced. Elnashra website said it had received an email from the Brigades of Abdullah Azzam claiming responsibility for the attack … The same group claimed responsibility for the last rocket attack from southern Lebanon against Israel in 2009. Tuesday’s attack prompted a retaliatory strike from Israel but there were no casualties on either side.
Barak takes to Facebook on Iranian blast
Ynet 30 Nov — Defense minister praises second mysterious blast in Iran on Independent Party’s Facebook page, commenting: ‘The more the merrier’ before post version was modified
Israeli racism, discrimination
IDF freezes implementation of report calling for gender equality
Haaretz 30 Nov –The Israel Defense Forces has effectively frozen implementation of a report that called for full equality of service between men and women. Publicly, the army announced its support for the recommendations, which were drafted by a special military committee. But in practice it has done very little to implement them in the four years since the report was written, and the drive to expand service options for women has largely been replaced with a rearguard action to keep existing gains from being lost, in the face of both increased pressure from the religious establishment for greater separation of the sexes in the army and a rise in the number of women claiming a religious exemption from service.
How Israel stigmatizes and mistreats AIDS sufferers
Haaretz 30 Nov — While AIDS sufferers in the West are treated with miracle drugs and can live normal lives, in Israel, those with the disease are stigmatized and given medicines that don’t work.
In Photos: Eritrean refugees protest torture, rape in Sinai / Jillian Kestler-D’Amours, Mya Guarnieri
AIC 19 Nov — On Friday morning, Eritrean refugees gathered outside the US embassy in Tel Aviv, in hopes of bringing the American government’s attention to the plight of Eritrean asylum seekers who face torture and rape at the hands of the smugglers who take them to the Israeli border … Once in Israel, Eritrean refugees face a policy of non-policy–the state simply does not process requests for asylum … There are an estimated 27,000-35,000 African refugees in Israel, most from Sudan and Darfur. Israel is currently building a detention facility to imprison asylum seekers, including unaccompanied minors, children, and those who have fled genocide in Darfur.
NGOs say police ignoring Sinai human smugglers’ accomplices in Israel
Haaretz 30 Nov — Israel is not doing enough to apprehend suspects within the state who are cooperating with human traffickers in Sinai who abuse and hold African asylum seekers for ransom, according to Israeli and international human rights organizations. The organizations say the bands of smugglers have contacts in Israel and have been demanding ransom payments from relatives and friends who have reached Israel to free fellow migrants from detention camps in Sinai.
Israel and weaponry, military
Germany to provide Israel with 6th submarine
JPost 30 Nov — Germany will build and pay up to one-third of the cost of a sixth Dolphin-type submarine to be delivered to Israel, a German government official said Wednesday. The agreement in principle to provide Israel with the submarine, which foreign reports say enhances Israel’s second strike capability since it can carry nuclear warheads, comes a month after reports emerged that Germany was reconsidering the deal because of anger at the announcement of plans to build some 1,100 housing units in Gilo.
Tammuz missile gets major upgrade
Ynet 30 Nov — Greater accuracy, greater sense of control and ability to shift missile trajectory to avoid civilians are all part of the IDF’s upgrade for Tammuz anti-tank guided missile. Watch as the missile avoids hitting a target
The IDF: We’re broke, send more money / Yossi Gurvitz
972mag 30 Nov — The IDF has overspent its budget by nine million NIS, and has the temerity to demand more money … Suddenly, Iron Dome turns into a homeland defense measure – after the IDF explicitly told us (Hebrew) it intends to use the system to defend its own bases, and that the civilians can die off, as far as it cares. Note that the IDF — still calling itself “Israel Defense Forces” after all these years — saying implicitly that the defense of the Israeli population is an unwanted distraction which it ought not to consider as part of its budget. Two days ago we received yet another demonstration of the IDF’s priorities. Someone fired rockets from Lebanon into Israel. Despite the fact that an early warning system was installed, there was no warning. Why? Because the IDF decided to save some bucks at the public’s expense (Hebrew), that’s why.
Human error likely behind artillery near-disaster
JPost 30 Nov — Human error appeared to be the cause of a training accident that occurred early on Wednesday morning, and almost ended in disaster, with artillery shells hitting just over 100 meters from IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz. The shells were fired during a live-fire brigade-level exercise at the Ze’elim Training Base in the South.
Soldiers’ online clip reveals classified data
Ynet 30 Nov — Six-minute Youtube video showing confidential maps, command-and-control systems able to go viral before IDF removes it … In response, the IDF spokesman said: “The IDF views this incident with grave severity and it will be investigated thoroughly
Ultra-Orthodox vs. other Israelis
Mea She’arim shop accedes to vandalist demands
JPost 30 Nov — After 20 months of attacks and a quarter million shekels in damage, a religious bookstore in the ultra-Orthodox Mea She’arim neighborhood of Jerusalem decided on Monday to accede to the demands of extremists responsible for the violence. Under the terms of the compromise, Ohr Hachaim/Manny’s put up a large sign requesting that all customers dress modestly. A mashgiach, who checks the store’s inventory to make sure there are no controversial books, will go over the books in the coming week and require that some books be removed from the shelves, though they will not be permitted to remove any English books, said Marlene Samuels, one of the store’s managers. A haredi group called Sikrikim deemed the store as “promoting immodesty,” and since Manny’s opened in March 2010, the group has smashed its windows more than a dozen times, glued its locks shut, thrown tar and fish oil at the store and dumped bags of human excrement inside. The owners were also personally threatened multiple times.
Mea Shearim embodies tensions of Jewish community / Mikaela Levin
AIC 29 Nov — A look at Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Mea Shearim gives a glimpse of the deep divisions in Israeli society — Just a ten-minute walk away from the Old City and downtown Jerusalem lies a neighbourhood which seems untouched by modern life … The town walls remind visitors that they are not welcome. Signs by the entrance of the neighborhood read: “Groups passing through our neighborhood severely offend the residents. Please, stop this!” and “Please do not disturb the sanctity of our neighborhood and our way of life as Jews deeply committed to G-d (God) and his Torah.” There are also signs describing what a modest outfit for girls and women should be like: closed blouse with long sleeves, long skirt; no trousers or tight clothing.
The Zionist ultra-Orthodox are cashing in their IOU / Amira Hass
Haaretz 30 Nov — Those spending their Saturdays having fun rather than defending shepherds and farmers should not be surprised if the day after, Jewish fundamentalism even invades their bedrooms — The Haredim and Hardalim, as the non-Zionist and Zionist ultra-Orthodox are respectively known, are now cashing in their promissory note from Israeli society. Their bitterness at an ungrateful secular-nationalist public is certainly justified. For what is doing without women’s singing in comparison to the direct line to God they offer us? And what are advertisements featuring men only compared to the blank check God gave all of us to be the masters of the entire Promised Land?
The rise of Israel’s religious right / Michael Warschawski
AIC 30 Nov — The 29th of November marked the 64th anniversary of the UN Partition of Palestine. In the early days of Israel, many ultra-Orthodox Jews, even those who lived here, renounced Zionism as a kind of heresy. When did they sign up for the national project? And where are they leading the state?
Israel’s rightist, religious camps mired in identity crisis / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 27 Nov — The right-wing and the religious camps are making a racket in Israeli politics. These are allegedly the factions that are getting stronger in Israeli society, but they are actually two groups in a deep identity crisis … Emptiness has taken hold of the religious world. It has been decades since a major Torah figure or pillar of halakha (Jewish religious law) has arisen there, to say nothing of a moral paragon. Nothing but parched and withered ground. Running rampant and becoming more extreme is their pathetic substitute.
Exclusive: Full report on Department of Politics and Government at Ben Gurion University / Noam Sheizaf
972mag 30 Nov –Last week, the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth broke a story about a draft report by an evaluation committee commissioned by Israel’s Council for Higher Education (CHE), recommending closing the Department of Politics and Government at Ben Gurion University if changes are not made, including to the perceived political leaning of the department. The department has been the target of a campaign by the radical rightwing movement Im Tirzu for its “lefty” political leaning. Despite pleas from dozens of academics that protested this attempt to supervise the political opinions raised in classrooms, the Council for Higher Education voted to adopt the report yesterday. Haaretz has revealed that before the committee was formed, one of its members was replaced with a rightwing professor … Here is the full report, made public for the first time:
Video: The Gospel Trail
JPost 30 Nov — Minister of Tourism Stas Misezhnikov inaugurated on Tuesday the new Gospel Trail pilgrimage route which has been created by the Ministry of Tourism along with the Jewish National Fund. The trail, which cost NIS 3 million to develop over three years, is designed to further increase the already large numbers of Christian tourists and pilgrims who visit Israel each year.
Arabs, Jews brawl on train
Ynet 29 Nov – A huge brawl on Jerusalem’s Light Rail Monday prompted the evacuation of passengers after one of the participants used tear gas on the train, Yedioth Ahronoth reported. The brawl erupted after dozens of Arab and Jewish girls clashed on one of the train cars. At one point, a Jewish girl at the site pulled out a personal canister of tear gas and sprayed it at the Arab girls.
‘Talkback bill’ passes first Knesset reading
The “talkback bill,” which aims to see internet users held accountable for slanderous remarks, passed its first Knesset reading on Monday. The vote was carried nine to one. The bill proposes subjecting all content uploaded by users to criminal and civil liability by enabling the courts to order internet service providers to divulge subscriber information in case of user-abuse. The bill was prompted largely due to talkback discussions on news websites … The bill aims to tackle the unfortunate lack of online decorum prevalent among Israeli talkbackers, who are somewhat infamous for their verbal violence.
Abbas, Fayyad, Barghouti among ‘top 100 thinkers’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) — President Mahmoud Abbas, PA premier Salam Fayyad and lawmaker Mustafa Barghouti are among Foreign Policy Magazine’s 100 top thinkers for 2011. The list “presents a unique portrait of 2011′s global marketplace of ideas and the thinkers who make them,” according to the magazine, and features a strong showing of Arab leaders and revolutionaries.
Abbas and Fayyad take joint 28th place: “If Palestine ever becomes a state, it will owe much to these two men and their steadfast rejection of violence,” FP maintains …
Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan is the only Israeli official on the list, taking 63rd place “for being the last man in Israel to stand up to Benjamin Netanyahu.”
US consulate in Jerusalem introduces new visa application procedures
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 29 Nov — The US Consulate General in Jerusalem Tuesday announced what it described as “important changes to visa application procedures,” according to press release. It said that as of December 12, the US Consulate will implement new visa application and appointment procedures. “The new system will make it quicker and cheaper to apply for a U.S. non-immigrant visa,” said the release.” [of course most Palestinians can't get to either the consulate in Jerusalem or the embassy in Tel Aviv, anyway]
Analysis / Opinion / Reviews
Sparking an international conversation about the Palestinian right of return / Mitchell Plitnick
AIC 30 Nov — The Palestinan right of return — guaranteed by UN resolution 194 and considered sacred by most Palestinians — is markedly absent from the international discourse regarding Israel and Palestine. Unless it enters the conversation, there can be little hope for resolution of the conflict — This week, Iceland became the first European country to recognize the State of Palestine. The declaration had a curious clause: “Iceland recalls also the right of Palestinian refugees to return to former homes in accordance with numerous UN resolutions.”
Israeli intelligence officials all but take credit for Isfahan blast. black ops en route to war / Richard Silverstein
Tikun Olam 30 Nov — Sheera Frenkel, reporting in the Times of London has gotten several high-level Israeli intelligence officials to go on record confirming yesterday’s explosion at Isfahan’s uranium enrichment facility was sabotage, and not an accident as Iran initially reported (later it withdrew this claim and said no accident had occurred at all). Iran’s outright denial that any accident occurred is reminiscent of Hezbollah’s denial that it’s arms cache in south Lebanon exploded recently, despite the fact that local villagers, the Daily Star, and an Israeli source here in this blog reported the sabotage. Among the more colorful and typically Israeli macho statements was by Maj. Gen. Giora Eiland who said coyly that he didn’t know if the Mossad did it, and that it could very well be “the hand of God:”
Israel’s take on the Arab Spring may undo peace with Egypt / Zvi Bar’el
Haaretz 30 Nov — Why learn the new names among our rivals when it’s more convenient, easier and mainly more threatening to talk about ‘Islam’. When a threat has a collective name, it removes responsibility from Israel’s shoulders for poor relations with Arab countries and their future regimes.
First guide to Palestine on both sides of the wall
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 Nov — Ma‘an spoke to the guide’s author Sarah Irving, a human rights observer, tour guide and independent writer. Why did you decide to write the book about Palestinian communities in Israel as well as West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem? There were two reasons for this. Firstly, after long discussions with various Palestinian friends, I felt it was important to include Palestinian communities in Israel because it’s important to highlight their continued existence and cultural resilience within the state of Israel. They and their culture are often sidelined or represented as marginal, dangerous and unattractive by many conventional guidebooks to Israel. Secondly, I felt that many travelers who were interested in Palestine as a destination would be interested in the culture, history and food of Palestinian communities in Israel and in understanding their situation, and that’s not something they could get good up-to-date practical coverage of from elsewhere