Israel demolishes homes in Hebron, Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley

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Israeli bulldozers demolish residence, shed south of Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 25 Jan – Israeli forces Wednesday demolished a residence that housed orphans and a shack in Khirbet Umm al-Khair, a locale in the Hebron south of West Bank, according to a Palestinian activist … Witnesses told WAFA that the 60-year-old owner of the residence fainted while trying to stop the bulldozers from demolishing his house and shed. The demolition of the house left the orphans with no shelter during this cold winter, said Jabour. [according to Operation Dove, the houses had not received demolition orders]

Army bulldozers destroy six sheds near Jerusalem
IMEMC 25 Jan — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Wednesday at dawn, the Wa’r ad-Beik area of Anata town, north east of occupied East Jerusalem, and demolished six sheds. These sheds were home to six families, including five brothers and their families. The Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights (JCSER) reported that its Documentation Unit visited the area, and found out that the homes belong to five brothers identified as Jibril Jahalin and his family (5 members), Yousef Jahalin (8 members), Ahmad Jahalin (5 members), Mousa Jahalin (8 members), Jamila Jahalin (5 members), and Mariam Jahalin (5 members).

Official: Israel to demolish school, homes near Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 24 Jan– Israeli forces on Tuesday issued demolition orders to a school and homes near Hebron in the southern West Bank, local officials said. Bani Naim spokesman Imad Amer said forces handed notices to Shuhada al-Haram school and three homes east of the village. The municipality condemned Israel’s continuous demolitions in the area which aimed to force residents to leave, Amer said in a statement.

Mayor: Israel to destroy 12 Jordan Valley homes
TUBAS (Ma‘an) 25 Jan — Israeli forces have handed out 12 demolition orders to residents of al-Aqaba village, the local mayor said Wednesday. The mayor of Tubas visited al-Aqaba and condemned Israeli threats to demolish homes and shelters in the village in a statement … Al-Aqaba village is surrounded by Israeli military training bases and lies eight kilometers from the illegal Israeli settlement Maskiyot. Israel announced plans to expand Maskiyot in 2006.

Israeli forces block dirt road in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 25 Jan — Israeli forces blocked off a dirt road in the Tel Rumeida area of Hebron on Wednesday, a local advocacy group said. Youth Against Settlements said the closure aims to put pressure on the Abu Heikal family to leave the area, as they can no longer access their home. Israel already closed the main road to their home because of its proximity to the illegal Jewish outpost Admot Yishai. The dirt road was the only remaining entrance to their street.

Jerusalem Municipality still pursuing Al Bustan residents in Silwan
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 25 Jan — The pursuit of Palestinians in the Al Bustan neighborhood of Silwan by the Jerusalem Municipality is ongoing. The Jerusalem Municipality is demanding to turn the only open space for children into a parking lot. This piece of land belongs to Mousa Owaidah whose house was demolished a few years ago. He then donated the land for the use of children living in the neighborhood.A hearing was held on Monday, 23 January 2012, at which time the Municipality of Jerusalem asked the court to give it the permission to turn the playground into a parking lot. Sami Ershaid, the lawyer representing the neighborhood, insisted the land be kept as a playground and presented a petition signed by Al Bustan residents protesting the proposed parking lot on the site. The final verdict was postponed to 18 April 2012.

Fatah official: IPU to investigate MP arrests
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 25 Jan – The Inter-Parliamentary Union has agreed to a suggestion by a Palestinian delegation to send a fact-finding commission to Palestine including occupied Jerusalem.  Azzam Ahmad, who headed a Palestinian Authority delegation to the IPU’s committee on the Middle East, said Wednesday that a fact-finding mission would visit Palestine in March to monitor firsthand Israeli violations against the Palestinian people. Ahmad told Voice of Palestine radio that the IPU had denounced the detention by Israeli forces of four Palestinian lawmakers as well as the prevention of Democratic Front leader Qais Abu Layla from entering Jordan as a member of the delegation to Geneva.

Israel steps up campaign of arresting Palestinian parliamentarians / Dr. Hanan Chehata
MEMO 24 Jan — Israel has finally done what it has waited almost a year and a half to do; in a raid contravening international law it arrested two members of the Palestinian Parliament who had been seeking refuge in the International Red Cross compound in East Jerusalem. We all knew it was only a matter of time before Israeli forces made their move. Israel has no regard for democracy, so why would it matter that those it arrested are democratically-elected members of the Palestinian parliament? Israel cares little for international law and even less for international public opinion. Arresting them was to be expected after the occupation authorities had served illegal deportation notices on the two men. Is there any other country in the world which seeks to “deport” people from their own city?

Settlers / Extremists

Institute: Jewish extremists destroy Palestinian graves
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 Jan — Jewish extremists destroyed Palestinian tombstones on Wednesday in the northern Israeli town of Beisan, the Al-Aqsa Institute for Waqf and Heritage said. A delegation from the institute visited the cemetery in the town, known in Israel as Beit Shean, and found a large number of graves destroyed and vandalized, official PA news agency Wafa reported. “Extremist Jews seek to obliterate what is left of Islamic landmarks in the city,” said Sami Rizqallah, a deputy in the institute.


Man killed in Rafah tunnel collapse
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 25 Jan — One man was killed on Wednesday after a smuggling tunnel collapsed under the border city of Rafah in southern Gaza. Medical sources in the Gaza Strip said that Faraj Abu Mustapha, 28, was working in the tunnel at the time of the collapse. Ma‘an’s correspondent said that Abu Mustapha was involved in smuggling cement into the Gaza Strip.

Video: Beit Hanoun demonstration under fire
[photos also] ISM 25 Jan by Nathan Stuckey — Gaza was treated to a strange new sight today, not really new, but something that has not been seen in Gaza in a long time: tear gas.  In Gaza protests are not smashed with tear gas and clubs like in the West Bank, they are met with live ammunition … The demonstration started like all the others.  We gathered near the half destroyed Beit Hanoun Agricultural College and marched towards the no go zone.  There were about forty of us, men and women together.  As always, the demonstrators were armed only with a megaphone and our voices … We walked down the muddy road that leads to the no go zone.  As we got close to the no go zone, the shooting began.  Shooting is not unexpected; bullets are the language of the occupation, at least the language that you hear.  Ethnic cleansing, oppression, and torture are also languages the occupation speaks, but the loudest voices of the occupation are the bullets and the bombs.  The bullets passed over our heads; they slammed into the dirt in front of us.  Then, the unexpected happened; the tear gas began to fall.

Ashton calls on Israel to open Gaza crossings
GAZA (WAFA) 25 Jan — European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton Wednesday called on Israel to open Gaza crossings, and reiterated European Union’s commitment to supporting people living in Gaza as well as the United Nations Refugee and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). Ashton said, during a press conference held at the headquarters of UNRWA in Gaza City, “Our political message is clear; siege on Gaza must be lift[ed] and people and goods must be allowed to move freely. We want the economy to grow in Gaza and we want people to be able to build a better economy, but this requires serious negotiations.”

EU grants UNRWA €55 million
GAZA (WAFA) 25 Jan — The European Union Wednesday granted the United Nations Refugee and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) €55.4 million as fund support, according to an EU-UNRWA press release. Ashton said ‘the continued EU support to UNRWA is an essential element of the EU strategy to bring peace and stability to the region. The €55.4 million contribution we are signing today represents our ongoing commitment to Palestine refugees.”

First truckload of furniture leaves Gaza
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 Jan — Israel on Sunday allowed one truckload of furniture to leave the Gaza Strip in the enclave’s first export of non-agricultural goods since 2007, an Israeli legal rights group said. The furniture will be showcased at an expo in Jordan, but Israel continues to ban the sale of Gaza produce in its traditional markets in Israel and the West Bank, Gisha noted in a statement. The truck of furniture underwent rigorous security checks and traveled to Jordan via Israel and the West Bank. “The shipment of the furniture to Jordan proves that the marketing of these and other kinds of products can also take place in both the West Bank and Israel itself – Gaza’s traditional markets,” Gisha said.

Rafah crossing closes as Egypt marks year since uprising
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 25 Jan — Egypt on Wednesday closed the Rafah crossing on its border with Gaza as it marked the first anniversary of the revolt that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak … Egyptian authorities and the Hamas-led government in Gaza agreed that the terminal would close on public holidays. Travelers on Tuesday complained that movement through the crossing was slow. Locals on the Egyptian side of Rafah said a large force of soldiers was deployed in the border town on Wednesday.

Political detention / Incursions

Israeli forces rain Jenin refugee camp and Zanouba village in the northern West Bank
PNN 25 Jan — On Wednesday, the Israeli forces raided a house in Jenin refugee camp, and also raided Zanouba village, west of Jenin. Security and local sources said that “enormous” forces from the Israeli army and Arabists attacked the house of the 31-year-old Mohammad Abu Imerah, and his brother’s house Issam in Tal’it al-Khubez in Jenin refugee camp; they searched them and interrogated the two brothers. Al-Khumeni told Palestinian government news wire Wafa that he was granted an exemption from the Israeli forces two months ago, after being chased from the Israeli authorities under the pretext that he was affiliated with Al-Aqsa Martyers Brigades. The Israeli forces also raided Zanouba village, west of Jenin, accompanied with its bulldozers and vehicles. No arrests were reported.

Troops abduct Hamas political leader in Jenin
IMEMC 25 Jan — Israeli troops abducted, on Tuesday evening, Sheikh Mohammad Freihat, 46 years old. Sheikh Freihat is a religious figure and a political leader of the Hamas movement, in al-Yamoun town, west of the northern West Bank city of Jenin. Local sources reported that dozens of Israeli soldiers broke into the home of Freihat, forced him and his family out into the cold, before violently searching the property causing extensive damage. Freihat was then cuffed and blindfolded before being taken to an undisclosed location. Freihat is a former Islamic court judge in the Jenin district. He was removed from his post four years ago under a direct political decision made by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. He was repeatedly imprisoned and interrogated by the Palestinian Authority for political reasons, especially due to his affiliation with the Hamas movement.

Prisoners’ Club condemns mistreatment of Fatah leader in court
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 25 Jan — The Palestinian Prisoner’s Club (PPC) Wednesday condemned Israeli police mistreatment of jailed Fatah lawmaker, Marwan Barghouti, during an appearance in court. A court hearing was held in order for Barghouti to testify in a case filed against him and the PLO by American Jews. The Israeli police, after the hearing, pushed Barghouti to the ground and pulled him by the handcuffs in front of journalists.

Society: Mother of defendant detained during trial
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 24 Jan — Israeli forces on Tuesday detained the mother of a defendant who tried to shake her son’s hand in a military courtroom near Ramallah, a prisoners society said. The society said Nisreen Shaheen was taken to an investigation center after trying to hold her son Ala’s hand during his trial at Ofer court. Ala Shaheen was detained last week in Hebron.

B’Tselem 25 Jan ’12: State won’t prosecute officer responsible for shooting of Firas Qasqas
Firas Qasqas, an unarmed Palestinian civilian, was killed on 2 February 2007 by soldiers’ gunfire, in Ramallah District. On 18 August 2011, in response to a petition filed by B’Tselem, the State Attorney’s Office informed the High Court of Justice that the officer responsible for the shooting would be prosecuted, pending a hearing. In mid-January 2012, the State informed the Court that, following the hearing given the officer, no indictment would be filed against him … B’Tselem intends to appeal the decision.


VIDEO: Mohamad at Eton
Al Jazeera Witness — We follow one boy’s journey from a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon to the UK’s most prestigious public school. [This is an exceptional person, who if he’s allowed to will one day be a great asset to Palestine. Video well worth watching. Unbelievable that Mohamad is only 16.]

Politics / Diplomacy

Palestinian leader: Talks with Israel over
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP)  25 Jan — A low-level dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians about a future border has ended without any breakthrough, the Palestinian president said Wednesday, reflecting the impasse plaguing the negotiations for at least three years. President Mahmoud Abbas said he would consult with Arab allies next week to figure out how to proceed now. While frustrated with the lack of progress, Abbas is under pressure to extend the Jordanian-mediated exploratory talks, which the international community hopes will lead to a resumption of long-stalled formal negotiations on establishing a Palestinian state. Israel said Wednesday it’s willing to continue the dialogue. Abbas didn’t close the door to continued meetings, saying he’ll decide after consultations with the Arab League on Feb. 4.

Israeli-Palestinian talks must continue: EU’s Ashton
Gaza City (AFP) 25 Jan — EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Wednesday that informal talks between Israel and the Palestinians must continue and eventually turn into “genuine” negotiations. “I am a realist about where we are but I am a passionate believer that we need to keep talks going and increase the potential of these talks to become genuine negotiations,” she told reporters in Gaza City. “So we are looking to see what we can do to help, but at the end this is a discussion that needs to take place between the two sides.” Ashton, who arrived on Tuesday for a three-day visit to the region, said the purpose of her trip was to “keep things moving” as a series of informal talks between negotiators from the two sides appeared on the brink of collapse.

Barghouti: Conflict ends after Israeli withdrawal
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 Jan — The Palestinian-Israeli conflict will come to an end only when the occupation comes to an end and Israel withdraws to the pre-1967 borders, jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti said Wednesday. Barghouti, former secretary-general of Fatah in the West Bank, on Wednesday testified in court in Jerusalem in a case filed by Israeli Kleinman family against the Palestinian Authority … The Fatah leader, who has been serving a life sentence since 2004, says he does not recognize the Israeli military court which convicted him. He refused to provide any testimony on those grounds.

Jihad leader: Unity with Hamas is not political tactic
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 25 Jan — The integration of Islamic Jihad and Hamas is a legitimate demand and not a political tactic, Jihad leader Khader Habib said Wednesday of efforts to bridge gaps between the movements … Speaking at an Islamic Union meeting in Gaza, Habib said Islamic Jihad suffered dearly under the rivalry between Fatah and Hamas. The movement has “spared no effort” to reconcile the parties, he said.

Hamas leader to make historic visit to Jordan
AP 24 Jan — Jordan’s king will host the leader of Hamas [Khaled Meshal] this weekend, Jordan’s information minister said Tuesday, his first official visit since his expulsion 13 years ago, another sign that Jordan is seeking a more active role in Mideast diplomacy. The visit is seen as part of Jordan’s effort to engage with previously shunned Islamists, who have been gaining ground across the region in the Arab Spring uprisings that toppled dictators in Egypt and Tunisia. Islamists make up the most influential opposition in Jordan and have been gaining strength in recent months, though King Abdullah II has the final say in all matters.

Hamas denies Mashaal’s family summoned in Syria
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 Jan — Hamas on Tuesday denied reports that the wife and children of party leader Khalid Mashaal were summoned by police in Syria. Arabic-language newspapers had reported that Mashaal’s wife and children were summoned and that his daughter Fatima and her husband were detained. Hamas accused Fatah and its affiliated media of fabricating the “latest lie” in order to thwart reconciliation between the parties.

Haniyeh to visit Iran
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 25 Jan — Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh will visit Iran during an upcoming international tour, he announced Wednesday. The trip will begin Jan. 30 and include a stop in Kuwait, Haniyeh said during a visit to Khan Younis Hospital in southern Gaza … The official visit suggests relations have improved between Hamas and Tehran following reports of diplomatic tensions. Iran is said to have decreased support for Hamas over its refusal to stand up decisively for embattled Syrian leader Bashar Assad.

Elections office opens in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 Jan — The Gaza headquarters of the Central Elections Commission reopened Tuesday and will start work Wednesday, officials said. CEC director Jamil Khalidi received keys for the Gaza City office a day after the commission’s chairman Hanna Nasir lamented its closure.

Palestinian politicians doubt elections will take place
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 25 Jan — Several Palestinian officials expressed doubt on Wednesday that elections scheduled for May would take place. Senior Hamas official Ismail Radwan told Ma‘an that “the pre-date is nearing…. elections can not be held under two governments as the national unity government has not been formed.” “Occupation may be a reason, but we have to overcome any obstacles that may be preventing elections,” he added.

Unity committee to discuss detainees with Gaza officials
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 Jan — The cross-party committee set up to implement national reconciliation agreed Tuesday to meet with Gaza security officials to arrange the release of political prisoners, coordinator Khalid al-Batsh said. Al-Batsh, an Islamic Jihad leader, told Ma‘an the Freedom Committee would discuss the files of people detained for their political affiliation with security officials in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip and make preparations for their release. Hamas and Fatah agreed to release all political detainees in the reconciliation deal signed in Cairo last May.

Palestine to call for vote on UN membership, says foreign minister
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 25 Jan – The Palestinian leadership intends to call for a Security Council vote on the Palestinian application for UN membership regardless of the outcome, Minister of Foreign Affairs Riyad Malki told Voice of Palestine radio Wednesday. He downplayed statements by US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, that the new members that joined the Security Council on January 1 are not in favor of the Palestinian request.

South Africa condemns Israeli settlement activities at UN
NEW YORK (Ma‘an) 25 Jan — South Africa on Tuesday condemned Israeli settlement activities as “acts of aggression” at a UN Security Council briefing in New York. South Africa’s Deputy Minister of International Relations Ebrahim Ebrahim told the council that Israel’s ongoing expansion of illegal Jewish-only settlements made the two-state solution “a distant, if not a pipe dream.” Ebrahim, who is January’s president of the Security Council, recalled South Africa’s struggle to end Apartheid and said the country was certain Palestine would succeed in its own struggle for statehood.

Fatah official criticizes PA finance plan
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 25 Jan – A top Fatah official on Wednesday strongly criticized plans by the government of Salam Fayyad to institute sweeping reforms to Palestinian economy and tax policy. Mohammad Shtayyeh, a veteran economist, said that financial reform cannot be achieved by “burdening citizens, farmers and businessmen. Neither can it be achieved by prematurely pensioning thousands of civil servants.”

Other news

Palestinian tax hike riles business, unions
DS 25 Jan — RAMALLAH: Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has sparked a furor with a push to get Palestinians to pay more taxes and reduce reliance on the massive foreign aid that has kept their self-rule government afloat for a generation. Long accustomed to minimal taxes, the most powerful groups in the West Bank – private business, the civil servants’ union and the main political party, Fatah – are fighting back, including with threats of labor strikes … Jamal Muheisen, a senior Fatah official, said Palestinians cannot be expected to carry an additional tax burden as long as they live under Israeli rule, without a state of their own. “The occupation is the main reason for our crisis. Once we get rid of the occupation, we will have no financial problems. In the meantime, the international community should handle this problem,” he said.

Protests in Ramallah over cost of living
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 25 Jan — Hundreds of people took part in a mass demonstration in Ramallah on Wednesday to protest the new tax laws and the high cost of living. Protesters held banners reading “Yes to a national economy that protects the citizen’s dignity”, “People want to overthrow the new tax law”, and “18 shekels for one kilo of chicken, and 80 for meat, that’s if officials don’t know.”

Israeli hackers plan response to website attacks
JPost 25 Jan — Tel Hashomer hospital, ‘The Marker’, ‘Haaretz’, ‘Dan’ bus company sites attacked; Israeli hackers vow response … Also on Wednesday, the Haaretz Hebrew website was downed by pro-Palestinian hackers. Haaretz said it saw a message claiming responsibility for the attack by hackers calling themselves “Anonymous Palestine.”Providing a moment of comic relief, MK Arye Eldad (National Union) commented on the Haaretz hack, saying that a mistake had been made, and that the [anti-Israel] messages displayed by the hackers are are actually the newspaper’s latest editorial.

US government pledges $3.8 billion in loan guarantees to Israel
IMEMC 25 Jan — In a meeting on Monday between U.S. State Department and Israeli officials, the U.S. officials promised to extend loan guarantees to Israel for the next three years. The $3.8 billion in loan backing is in addition to the $3 billion a year in aid given to Israel by the U.S. government.
Israel is the only recipient of U.S. foreign aid and loans that is not considered a ‘developing’ nation, with an annual GDP of $235 billion ($29,800 per capita). In contrast, the next biggest recipient of U.S. aid, Egypt, receives less than half of the amount given to Israel and has a GDP of $6,200 per capita.

Ministry of Agriculture signs $600,000 agreement with USAID
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 25 Jan — The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) signed a $600,000 agreement with the Ministry of Agricultural to refurbish the ministry’s food laboratory in Arroub refugee camp near the West Bank city of Hebron, a ministry press release said Wednesday. The money will go for renovating the laboratory and to furnish it with modern equipment for testing livestock and its products, said the release. The lab should be ready in 90 days, it said.

Analysis / Opinion

No compromise on Migron outpost / Zvi Bar’el
Haaretz 25 Jan — The State of Israel’s highest court – the institution that obligates every citizen – has transformed itself into a plaything in the settlers’ hands … Strong, choking nausea wells up in face of the “compromise proposal” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has offered the trespassers in Migron. It is hard to identify exactly what is causing this. Is it the fact that the prime minister has once again surrendered to the settlers? Is it the realization of the weakness of the Israel Defense Forces – the army that apparently can attack Iran but can’t manage to impose its sovereignty over a handful of settlers?

A softer touch on the Nakba / Akiva Eldar
Haaret 24 Jan — A surprising new study shows that much of the Israeli mainstream rejects the Zionist narrative that there was no expulsion of Palestinians in 1948.

Hacking away at Arab and Israeli stereotypes / Khaled Diab
19 Jan — Cyber-attacks on Israel shock those who see Arabs as backward – but on both sides such stereotyping is being challenged …Of course, Israel is the Middle East’s undisputed technological powerhouse, but anyone who lives here can tell you that the reality is far creakier and more makeshift than the image. Moreover, Arabs are hardly in the technological stone age and Palestinians, despite the restrictions of occupation, are gradually bolstering their innovative credentials. Nevertheless, many Israelis apparently do regard their nearest neighbours as being backward. “Many Israelis believe that Palestinians are not educated, are just farmers and labourers, and have no idea about technology, despite the fact that many work in Israel’s hi-tech sector,” says Khulood, who is from Nazareth and works for an international agency.


Does this look like ‘incitement’ to you? Zionist fabrications, smears intensify ahead of Penn BDS conference / Ali Abunimah
EI 24 Jan — In the run-up to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) conference at the University of Pennsylvania in early February, at which I will be speaking, the defamation and fabrication machines of anti-Palestinian groups have gone into over-drive … The latest smear against me comes in a column by Emily Schrader in The College Fix which slyly accuses me of “incitement to violence against Israelis.” Schrader is identified only as “a senior at the University of Southern California.” Here’s what Schrader writes: “… Abunimah in particular is highly controversial, having repeatedly condemned a two-state solution, and having gone on record with comments that sound a great deal like incitement to violence against Israelis. In 2002 he told the Washington Post, ‘If Israel is going to maintain a military occupation over millions of people by nothing but brute force, then no power on earth is going to stop some of these occupied people responding in kind. The only way to end the violence is to end the occupation.’… ”

California professor under attack for opposing ‘study in Israel’ scheme
EI 25 Jan — A mathematics professor at the California State University at Northridge is the target of an attack campaign by various pro-Israel lobby groups and individuals because he maintains a website that supports the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, and for his outspoken criticism of Israeli policies. Recently, Dr. David Klein has come under fire for organizing in opposition to the 23-campus-wide California State University (CSU) system’s resumption of a study abroad program in Israel (listserv) (archive)

About Kate

American; political science major, M.A.; former ISM volunteer in the West Bank

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  1. seafoid
    January 26, 2012, 4:15 am

    Child prisoners in Israel’s jails

    We applaud Harriet Sherman for bringing the violation of Palestinian children’s rights to the attention of your readers (Alone and bewildered, the boy in Cell 36, 23 January). We recently visited Jerusalem and the West Bank as members of the British Association of Social Workers, and heard many similar accounts. We also witnessed the horrific sight of Palestinian children being led into a military courtroom in handcuffs and leg-irons, and saw a diminutive 14-year-old being sentenced to three and a half months in prison, together with a large fine, for allegedly throwing stones at Israeli soldiers. The Israeli prison service’s justification for the use of such restraints strikes us as incredible. In a context of the utmost security, it was impossible to see the necessity of such inhuman shackling of a child. Seeing this boy’s bewilderment and tearful face as he looked across to his mother is something that we will not forget in a long time.

    What we witnessed were clear breaches of the human rights of children under international law. We believe, given our professional code of ethics, that we have a duty as social workers to do whatever is in our power to highlight this issue and to promote the rights of those children who are affected. We call upon other social workers to do the same, including within Israel.
    Guy Shennan, David Harrop, Sarah Sturge, Rupert Franklin-Lester

    Members of the British Association of Social Workers

    • Congratulations to Harriet Sherwood for her thorough report. If Mark Regev’s statement is serious that “The test of a democracy is how you treat people incarcerated, people in jail, and especially so with minors”, then he should acknowledge that Israel is no democracy. The reports of abuse of child prisoners are numerous, from Amnesty International and others.

    On 17 October 2011, Jean Gough, Unicef’s special representative in the occupied Palestinian territories, said: “Unicef calls on the Israeli government to release Palestinian child detainees so that they can be reunited with their families. As stated in the convention on the rights of the child, the detention of children should be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.”

    We call upon the coalition government to demand the release of all child prisoners and the cessation of the continual mistreatment of any prisoners in Israeli jails.

    • The appalling treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli jails is sadly not a new phenomenon. In every year since 2002 at least 500 minors have been arrested, despite a much reduced level of disturbance

    Mark Regev may ask complainants to pursue their cases in the courts, but it is a tortuous and costly process. Most of the children are from poor families who simply lack the resources to pursue the matter. While the treatment of child prisoners is particularly shocking, in many ways it is only “the tip of the iceberg” of abuse. Approximately 8,000 Palestinians are currently prisoners in Israeli jails, many of them held for months, even years, without charge or trial. Under the fourth Geneva convention, it is lawful for an occupied people (such as the Palestinians) to resist their occupier. Israel is a signatory to that convention but wilfully ignores its provisions, especially the extra safeguards afforded to children. Shamefully the international community has responded to these grave breaches with indifference.
    Michael Gwilliam
    Norton-on-Derwent, North Yorkshire

    • Your paper, in collaboration with Defence for Children International, has falsely portrayed Israel as a country that tolerates the torture and abuse of Palestinian children, which is definitively not the case. Having to arrest, prosecute and imprison minors is by its very nature a difficult issue. Unfortunately, Israel has been forced out of necessity to address a problem arising from Palestinian society. So where then is the real child abuse?
    Robert Simonofsky
    New Jersey, USA

    • May I offer a word of appreciation for Harriet Sherwood’s work. The strength and clarity of her report into the detention of child prisoners by Israel will have touched many people, not least by means of the human detail included, making these young prisoners more than just statistics. Her use of names, ages, villages and verbatim quotation is such an important part of reporting accurately on these issues, especially when, in the past, Palestinians have been reduced to anonymous numbers of deaths and injuries, mere marks on a page.

    Another cogent aspect of her report, for me, is the way she framed what she said by reference to international law and the Geneva conventions. These legally compelling navigational tools make it possible to plot a course through a territory which some people like to say is too complex to understand – it isn’t ethically complex at all.
    Annie O’Gara
    Huddersfield, West Yorkshire

    • Your report on Palestinian children in Israeli jails makes shocking, distressing reading and provides another example of Israel’s utter disregard for the human rights of Palestinians. Isn’t it time for the international community to stand up to the Israeli government and demand an end to the inhuman practice of imprisoning and torturing children? A start would be the cancellation of all cultural exchanges, a sanctions programme and a ban on all arms sales to Israel. And each one of us can protest by personally boycotting all Israeli products.
    Maisie Carter

    • Despite it being illegal in Israel to imprison children under 14, the Israel Prison Service admitted during 2011 that 35 minors aged between 12 and 15 were among 164 Palestinian children held in Israeli jails.

    Before Christmas, during correspondence with my MP about Palestinian child prisoners, the foreign and commonwealth minister, Alistair Burt, assured me that he “regularly raises concerns about the application of due process and treatment of Palestinian detainees” with the Israeli authorities. He welcomed Israel’s “recent decision to raise the age of legal majority for Palestinian children” and said “when fully implemented, this will be an important step towards protecting children’s rights”.

    Harriet Sherwood’s shocking revelations suggest that, unacceptably, this decision has not been implemented. I would like to know what the UK government is doing to make sure it is before more Palestinian childhoods are ruined.
    Richard Stainton
    Whitstable, Kent

    • The report on Palestinian child prisoners is very timely. The Israeli treatment of child prisoners – physical violence, solitary confinement, shackling and denial of access to parents – breaks the convention on the child (which Israel has signed) and in 2009 elicited a report from the UN committee against torture.

    According to the DCI, arrests of Palestinian children in East Jerusalem have increased markedly; it reports that 80% children detained there have been physical ill-treated during arrest, 75% interrogated in the absence of a parent, with 55% threatened with further violence.

    But Palestinian children are also mentally scarred and physically ill-treated in other ways. The theft of agricultural land during the construction of the so-called separation barrier, as well as blockades and closures, have resulted in up to 30% child malnutrition (WHO 2009). The constant raids on Gaza and other areas have left children mentally traumatised; their schools are wrecked and their relatives killed (UNHRC October 2011). Sick children are frequently denied access to medical care. And do not let us forget that since 2006, nearly 700 children have been killed by Israeli army and settler violence.

    Irene Brennan
    West Kirby, Wirral

    • Harriet Sherwood’s article confirms how supine our governments, past and present, have been towards the Palestinian question. My daughter spent nearly three years in the West Bank, first as an ecumenical accompanier, then as a human rights lawyer at the Womens’ Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling (WCLAC). What this time revealed was that the treatment of children by the Israeli Defence Force and courts had a most profound negative mental health effect on the women and female relatives of the children.

    The WCLAC site documents this fully. During our daughter’s time in the West Bank we visited her and was amazed at the warm, friendly welcome we were given by Palestinians, despite the lack of support for their cause by the UK government. That we were there seemed sufficient reason for their kindness and I can only urge your readers to show that many in the UK support them by also visiting Palestine.
    Michael and Elizabeth Rought-Brooks
    Scarborough, North Yorkshire

    • patm
      January 26, 2012, 7:57 am

      Good on The Guardian, seafoid. My left-wing paper The Toronto Star has never mentioned the subject.

  2. patm
    January 26, 2012, 7:48 am

    From Kate’s list:

    U.S. Government Pledges $3.8 Billion In Loan Guarantees To Israel

    Wednesday January 25, 2012 11:00 by Saed Bannoura – IMEMC & Agencies

    “In a meeting on Monday between U.S. State Department and Israeli officials, the U.S. officials promised to extend loan guarantees to Israel for the next three years. The $3.8 billion in loan backing is in addition to the $3 billion a year in aid given to Israel by the U.S. government.

    Israel is the only recipient of U.S. foreign aid and loans that is not considered a ‘developing’ nation, with an annual GDP of $235 billion ($29,800 per capita). In contrast, the next biggest recipient of U.S. aid, Egypt, receives less than half of the amount given to Israel and has a GDP of $6,200 per capita. Every other recipient of US aid has a GDP that is below that of Egypt.

    The U.S. Congress recently approved a guaranteed $30 billion in aid to Israel over the next 10 years. This aid, unlike assistance provided by the U.S. government to other countries, has no requirements, and is provided without stipulation as to how it should be used.

    Reporter Richard Curtiss, with the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, pointed out in an article on U.S. loan guarantees to Israel that these loans, made by international financial institutions and backed by the U.S. Treasury, are not actually required to be repaid.

    Curtiss writes, “Most U.S. loans to Israel are forgiven, and many were made with the explicit understanding that they would be forgiven before Israel was required to repay them. By disguising as loans what in fact were grants, cooperating members of Congress exempted Israel from the U.S. oversight that would have accompanied grants.”

    He continues, “On other loans, Israel was expected to pay the interest and eventually to begin repaying the principal. But the so-called Cranston Amendment, which has been attached by Congress to every foreign aid appropriation since 1983, provides that economic aid to Israel will never dip below the amount Israel is required to pay on its outstanding loans. In short, whether U.S. aid is extended as grants or loans to Israel, it never returns to the Treasury.”

    The announcement by the State Department officials on Monday included a promise that the loan guarantees would soon be approved by the U.S. Congress.

    An Israeli Foreign Ministry officials told reporters with the Israeli daily Ha’aretz, “We consider the loan guarantees as preparation for a rainy day”.

    The U.S. Congress has received criticism in recent months for its continued aid to Israel, at a time when social programs around the US are being cut due to federal budget cuts, and states have been forced to spend down their own ‘rainy day’ funds to avoid excessive deficit spending during the ongoing economic recession in the U.S”
    (my bold)


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