Ethnic Cleansing / Land Theft & Destruction / Occupation & Apartheid
On March 15th at 16:00 we got a call about three house demolitions in the village of Al Jiftlik, near the Jordan Valley. We threw ourselves into the first public transportation vehicle to take us to the village. It was dusk when we came to the outskirts of the village where we met our contact person. He quickly fixed up a car, and we got straight to the first house which was adjacent to the highway. Here we found two families standing before the ruins of their homes. They are seven people in all, including three children, one of whom is sick. It is the second demolition for one of the families, the first for the other.
IN-PHOTOS: New Home Demolitions in Jordan Valley
In the afternoon of 14 March, 12 military jeeps and one army bulldozer entered the Jordan Valley village of al-Jiftlik and demolished three homes, displacing 22 people.
220 trees damaged in Nablus village
NABLUS (Ma’an) — Settlers entered village land in Nablus late Friday and damaged 220 olive trees, a Palestinian official said in remarks denied by Israeli military officials. Settlers from the illegal outpost of Yesh Kodish entered land belonging to the village of Duma and destroyed 220 olive trees, Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settler activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an. An Israeli military spokeswoman said, however, that Palestinians damaged the trees. The land belongs to Ali Abdul-Hamid, Hasan Salawdah, Zakariyya Salawdah, Hosni Salawdah and Avdul-Raziq Dawabshah.
Israel allocates millions of dollars for building synagogues in O. Jerusalem
The Israeli municipality of occupied Jerusalem has earmarked millions of dollars to build more synagogues and other Jewish institutions in a bid to Judaize the occupied holy city.
On Thursday March 15, at a UN Human Rights Council conference, 300 international organizations signed during, a call for Israel to lift the restrictions on the Palestinians’ movement in the West Bank. The conference that was held on Wednesday March 14 in Geneva presented information on the Israeli violations in the Palestinian occupied territories. The Euro-Mediterranean Observatory for Human Rights was the main spokesman about these violations. The regional director for the Observatory, professor Amani al-Sinwar, spoke of the gravest Israeli contraventions of human rights that were committed against Palestinians. Special focus was on the recent processes on Gaza Strip, and what Palestinians suffer as a result of the unjustified Israeli restrictions that aim to control Palestinians lives.
BEIT UMAR, West Bank—When Mahmoud al-Alami was 9 years old, an Israeli soldier caught him throwing rocks, took him out of his uncle’s arms, slung him over his shoulders and carried him away. Mahmoud, now 10, says he was subsequently blindfolded and shackled, slapped and ordered to confess to throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers and identify other children doing the same. Mahmoud is among dozens of Palestinian minors who are detained every month by Israeli security forces in the West Bank and Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem, interrogated and pressured to report on others, according to a report issued this week.
Israeli Aggression / Violence
IOF soldiers storm Jenin, Al-Khalil villages
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed villages to the south of Jenin and north of Al-Khalil on Friday afternoon and evening, local sources said.
Jewish settlers attacked a Palestinian shepherd from Madma village, to the south of Nablus, near Yitzhar settlement on Saturday.
Settlers Attack Child in Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Al-Khalil
On Saturday, March 17 2012, illegal settlers in Al-Khalil (Hebron), guarded by Israeli Occupation Forces soldiers, trespassed onto the private property of the Abu Ayesha family and proceeded to attack fifteen year old Said, striking him on his arms. The settlers refused to begin leaving until police arrived.
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Fatah official Abbas Zaki called on Saturday for an international campaign against Israel’s use of police dogs to break up popular protests in the West Bank. A Palestinian man was injured in a demonstration in Nablus village Kafr Qaddum on Friday when Israeli border police released a dog which locked its jaws on him, an incident caught on tape by Ma’an affiliate Nablus TV. Zaki said the use of dogs to apprehend Palestinians at protests is a “crime that opposes all humanitarian and ethical standards.” ”International organizations should not be silent towards the crimes and violations regularly committed by Israel against Palestinians,” he added.
Gaza hit by severe power crisis
For more than a month now, Gaza has been dealing with a crippling energy crisis. The single power plant, which supplies nearly a third of Gaza’s power has been shut down three times.
Twenty-six. Eighty. Gaza. Two numbers and a location. Random numbers and a special location. Taken alone, the numbers carry no particular meaning. But when Gaza is linked to these numbers, one of them must be the number of people killed, while the other indicates the number of injuries, respectively. The above numbers are the results of a brutal unjustified and inhumane chain of attacks on Gaza Strip. This chain of attacks didn’t stop for four days. Amongst those killed was a 12-year-old schoolboy who was on his way home back from school. Or rather, a “militant,” as Zionists would call him, just like the other 1.8 million inhabitants in Gaza. Innocent men and women were killed too. But again, there is absolutely no indication that could possibly identify them as militants. Even empty lands and multistory buildings that belonged to civilians didn’t make it out in one piece. All this is deemed necessary in the name of ‘”Israel’s right to self-defense.”
Palestinian Hunger Strikers / Prisoners
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — The Palestinian Authority minister of prisoners said Saturday that Israel offered to deport hunger-striker Hana Shalabi to the Gaza Strip, but the government rejected the offer. Issa Qaraqe said that “We did not agree on such a proposal, neither do we legitimize deportation.” The minister did not specify when the offer was made by Israel.
UFree: MP Haj Ali may not survive his hunger strike and should be let go
The European network-Ufree said Palestinian lawmaker Ahmed Al-Haj Ali has entered a life-threatening stage and may not survive if his hunger strike continues for more days.
Captives announce the start of a revolt in all occupation prisons
Palestinian captives in occupation jails announced the start of a revolt in all occupation prisons which they will gradually escalate until all their just demands of the captives are met.
Soldiers Broke Into Detention Camps 6 Times Last Week
Palestinian Researcher specialized in detainees’ affair, Riyadh Al-Ashqar, stated that Israeli soldiers broke into prisons and detention centers six times last week, attacked and violated the rights of the Palestinian detainees, and wounded eleven.
Arrests & Detentions
HEBRON (Ma’an) – Israeli forces on Saturday morning briefly detained two Palestinian teenagers in the southern West Bank village of Beit Ummar north of Hebron. Local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awad said Israeli troops ransacked two homes. The soldiers detained 15-year-old Alaa Anees Abu Maria and 15-year-old Muhammad Nuaman Zaaqiq before they were released hours later.
On Monday, 12 March at 9pm, the soldiers were making themselves comfortable yet again in the village of Burin. Around 6 jeeps entered and 10 jeeps surrounded the village. It seemed for a while it was just another evening of playground antics with the soldiers occupying the village and enjoying an evening of military training, as this often happens and is expected throughout the nights when the village no longer belongs to the residents but instead becomes the soldiers training field. There is a military compound very close to Huwarra which makes Burin and surrounding villages, such as Madama and Assira al Qablia, very convenient places for the soldiers to embark on such antics.
Popular Protests / Solidarity & Activism / BDS
The Beit Ommar Popular Committee organized today’s weekly peaceful protest adjacent to Karmei Tzur colony built on the stolen land of Beit Ommar farmers. When we arrived next to the so called security fence surrounding the colony, more than 60 heavily armed Israeli occupation soldiers obstructed our path and tried with aggression to force us back, but we resisted their violence and carried on our protest program. This protest was in solidarity with Hana Shalabi who has been on hunger strike for the last 31 days in the Israeli occupation jails, and in memory of the ninth anniversary of the martyrdom of Rachel Corrie, who was bulldozed by an Israeli occupation military bulldozer while she trying to stop the bulldozer from bulldozing a Palestinian house in Rafah in the Gaza Strip. It’s important to note that the popular committee of Beit Ommar has been on hunger strike for the last two days in solidarity with Hana Shalabi. Justice and Freedom for Hana Shalabi, Long live the memory of Rachel Corrie. LONG LIVE PALESTINE
Younes Arar is a coordinator for the Beit Ommar Popular Committee.
It has been nine years today (16 March) since our daughter Rachel was crushed to death under an Israeli driven, U.S. funded and built, Caterpillar D9 bulldozer in Gaza. In March 2003, the news was full of talk of war with Iraq – a preemptive war to protect the west, particularly the U.S. and Israel, from the weapons of mass destruction then alleged to have been amassed by Saddam Hussein. When Rachel traveled to Gaza that year, the world was not watching. According to Human Rights Watch, from September 2000 until September 2004, 1,600 Palestinian homes in the city of Rafah were destroyed by the Israeli military as it occupied the Gaza Strip. One-tenth of the population lost their homes. Rachel chose to be in Gaza when the ground attack against Iraq broke out. She feared an escalation of the violence and a tightening of the isolation against people there, as the world looked to the northeast and watched the carnage in Iraq. It did not happen as immediately as some expected, but with the Israeli military attack on Gaza of November 2008 through January 2009, the violence became overwhelming, and the tightening of the seige initiated in 2006 by Israel to remove Hamas, made the isolation nearly complete.
Thousands join global hunger strike for Palestinian detainee
Thousands of people across the world are on a one-day hunger strike in solidarity with a female Palestinian prisoner refusing food in an Israeli jail. Hana Shalabi has been on an open-ended hunger strike since she was detained by Israeli forces 27 days ago. Shalabi is suffering spells of dizziness, muscular wasting and loss of consciousness, her lawyers and medical observers say. The 30-year-old is held under administrative detention laws, which allow the Israeli military to hold Palestinians on secret evidence without charge or trial for renewable six-month sentences.
Dozens of US Campaign Member Groups Participate in 2012 Israeli Apartheid Week!
Two weeks ago, activists from US Campaign member groups and other organizations joined organizers in 115 cities worldwide for the 8th AnnualIsraeli Apartheid Week (IAW)! From Olympia, WA to New Brunswick, NJ; from Burlington to Boston; US Campaign member groups in more than a dozen U.S. cities held IAW actions and events during the global week of action to educate people about the nature of Israel as an apartheid state and to build campaigns for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
Please join us at the AICafe on Saturday 17 March at 8.00 p.m. for an Israel Apartheid Week discussion: Normalisation and Apartheid with Yousef Habash of PNGO.
Last month we celebrated the 36th annual African American History Month. The origins of this month come from the need to study the major contributions that Black people brought to America. “The fact is that the so-called history teaching in our schools and colleges is downright propaganda, an effort to praise one race and to decry the other to justify social repression and exploitation”. Sadly, this quote from 1927 is still relevant today. Carter G. Woodson strived for an accurate representation of Black people in history studies, and Palestinians are fighting for the same rights as well. The history of Israel is taught in schools, but the events leading up to its creation are missing in most. Palestinian Schools in East Jerusalem have been pressured to change their curriculum to be more Israeli friendly.
Developments / Other News
Islamic Jihad seeks ‘balance of terror’ with Israel
Gaza militant group Islamic Jihad seeks to create a “balance of terror” with Israel, a senior member of its military wing has told AFP in an exclusive interview.
Bill set to allow Israel Police immunity when quizzing suspects
The practice of not recording interrogations has been in place since 2002 but is not permanently anchored in law.
Palestinians are up to ears in debt
The Palestinian middle class has seized on mortgages and consumer loans as a route to upward mobility. But with the credit increase comes soaring personal debt.
Analysis / Op-ed
Why is human rights group B’Tselem “proud” to sponsor J Street gala keynoted by war criminal?, Ali Abunimah
B’Tselem USA, the American arm of renowned Israeli human rights group B’Tselem is “proud” to sponsor the 26 March gala of pro-Israel lobby group J Street despite the fact that the keynote speaker is former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who is responsible for extensive war crimes in Lebanon and Gaza.
Following a police investigation that closed with no criminal charges against the Israeli military, new video evidence in Tristan Anderson’s last round for justice—a civil suit—was brought forth, identifying the solider who injured the peace activist with a long-range tear gas canister in 2009. “Sergeant Jackie” is named as the border patrol officer who shot Anderson in the clip filmed by a Palestinian activist from Ni’lin, the village where Anderson was wounded.
Daily Show blasts U.S. decision to cut UNESCO funding
In a special two-part segment on Thursday night’s The Daily Show, correspondent John Oliver took an in-depth look at the U.S. government’s decision to block funding to the relief group UNESCO. First, Oliver meets with former Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL), who informs him that under 1990′s Public Law 103-236, the United States is forbidden to provide funding to any agencies who deal with Palestine directly. As a result, a UNESCO spokesperson says, programs like fresh water for 950,000 people, literacy programs for the Afghan police force, and programs to strengthen the Iraqi judiciary are all going to have to be scrapped.
The focus of several Arab leaders including Saudi Arabia and Qatar has strongly been shifted in the last few months on the events taking place in Syria.
There is no shortage of books in English about the Palestinian political party and Islamic resistance movement Hamas. This latest effort is by Italian journalist Paola Caridi, who has lived in the Middle East since 2001. Published in this reworked edition later this month, Caridi’s Hamas: From Resistance to Government draws on much of the previous literature, combining it with the author’s original interviews with Hamas leaders and activists such as Mahmoud Zahhar, Musa Abu Marzouq, Ahmed Yousef and Osama Hamdan (although the lack of interviews with top leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Mashaal is a deficiency).
Israel’s Willing Executioners: AIPAC Invades Washington
From March 4th to March 9th, 2012, 13,000 militant Israel Firsters, took over “political Washington”1 and imposed a foreign regime’s (Israel) political agenda to the rousing applause and appreciation of their captive vassal US legislators and executives who crowded the halls and platforms groveling for the imperious nods of their visiting Israeli overlords.2 The annual meeting of the American (sic) Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is the most outrageous public display of Zionist-Jewish power as it shapes US foreign policy. The sole purpose of AIPAC is to ensure Israel’s unchallenged military and political power over a huge region from North Africa to the Persian Gulf. Over three-quarters of the US Congress members paraded themselves before the AIPAC, as well as President Obama and Vice President Biden, and any high ranking Cabinet members in any way related to US foreign policy (Secretary of State Clinton, Secretary of Defense Panetta included). They all loudly parroted the political agenda and military priorities that the AIPAC has imposed on the United States.
A piece by Adam Chandler at Tablet
describes a group of American veterans of the Israeli army who meet in New York. It is named Aluf Stone after an American soldier of an earlier generation who went to serve in Israel. I know we’re not allowed to talk about dual loyalty. But in this day and age sometimes we have to. How many other foreign armies are calling to American youth?
I used to dismiss Cenk Uygur as a timid right-winger back in Air America Radio days. Whew, was I wrong. Last year, Uygur was the only MSNBC host to pipe up about Palestinians’ rights after Benjamin Netanyahu lectured Congress that Israel would never return to the 1967 borders.
Activists to track Bahraini rights abuses
Leading human rights activists have established a new website to highlight abuses of power by the Bahraini state. The website, bahrainwatch.org, tracks and records the government’s promises of reform and highlights when they fail to fulfill them. Last year the government established the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) to look into allegations of abuse during the crackdown on peaceful protesters in March 2011.
Bahrain opposition marks raid anniversary
Thousands of opposition supporters rallied in Bahrain on Friday to mark the one-year anniversary of the military raid on the capital’s Pearl Square, the epicenter of last year’s Shiite uprising in the Gulf kingdom.
Bahraini forces attack protesters
Bahrain forces fire tear gas to disperse anti-regime demonstrators protesting in several Bahraini villages.
‘Saudi forces aggravate Bahrain crisis’
The Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian says Saudi Arabia’s military presence in Bahrain is “utterly wrong” and will only aggravate the crisis in this country.
Suicide blasts kill dozens in Syrian capital
Twin suicide car bombs struck intelligence and security buildings in the Syrian capital Saturday, killing at least 27 people and wounding 140, according to state media.
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A vehicle belonging to the Palestine Liberation Army exploded in Damascus’ Yarmouk refugee camp on Saturday, killing several people, sources in the city told Ma’an. It was not immediately clear what caused the explosion, or who was behind it. Syrian authorities immediately cordoned off the area and prevented access to the site and photography. The number of casualties could not be independently verified from outside the country.
Five Syrian opposition groups on Saturday announced the formation of a new coalition, a sign of growing opposition to the Western-backed Syrian National Council (SNC) a year after the start of the protest movement. The five groups said their yet unnamed coalition would act independently from the SNC, the main opposition coalition which was set up in August. The new group is made up of the liberal National Movement for Change, the Islamist Movement for the Fatherland, the Bloc for Liberation and Development, the Turkmen National Bloc, and the Kurdish Movement for a New Life.
Two huge bomb blasts killed at least 27 people and wounded almost 100 in central Damascus on Saturday, state media said, as a top Arab diplomat confirmed that Saudi Arabia was arming the Syrian opposition. The early morning attacks, apparently car bombings timed minutes apart, targeted criminal police headquarters in the Duwar al-Jamarek (Customs Roundabout) area and air force intelligence offices in al-Qasaa district, state television said.
(AFP) – DUBAI — Saudi Arabia is delivering military equipment to Syrian rebels in an effort to stop bloodshed by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, a top Arab diplomat said on Saturday. “Saudi military equipment is on its way to Jordan to arm the Free Syrian Army,” the diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity. “This is a Saudi initiative… details will follow at a later time.”
Push for political solution to Syria crisis
Some Syrians are pushing for political solution to year-long crisis.
Economic and financial sanctions have sent the economy and the Syrian pound into a free fall, and caused increasing inflation. But the regime and it’s entourage aren’t the ones hurting. Damascus – It is no secret that the Syrian economy is in crisis. The value of the local currency against the US dollar has decreased by half in the last few months and it has lost between 35 to 50 percent of its purchasing power. Syrians fear economic calamity is approaching. Before the unrest began in March last year, the Syrian economy was supposedly experiencing a golden age. The Syrian pound’s exchange rate against the US dollar and other hard currencies was stable, privately-owned banks increased in number, and the Damascus stock exchange was opened.
Elias Hanna speaks to Al Jazeera about attacks in Damascus
Syrian state TV reported that two car bombings killed dozens of people in Damascus. Elias Hanna, a former Lebanese military general, says both the government and the opposition in Syria benefit from these kinds of attacks. He spoke to Al Jazeera.
Other Arab & World News
Egypt’s Coptic Pope Shenuda III, spiritual leader of the Middle East’s largest Christian minority, has died at the age of 89, state television and cathedral sources said. The cause of death was not immediately clear, but the Christian leader has suffered health problems for years.
Halt ships of shame from the USA carrying weapons to Egypt
A ship carrying a cargo of weapons with explosives en route from the USA to Egypt must not be allowed to offload because of a substantial risk the weapons will be used by Egyptian security forces to commit human rights violations, Amnesty International said on Thursday. The organization has tracked the Dutch-flagged ship, MV Schippersgracht, for the past two months. It is currently in the Mediterranean Sea and due to arrive in Egypt early next week. The U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command contacted Amnesty International to say the cargo is not intended for Egypt but refused to give further information as to its final destination, citing security reasons.
Iraq’s autistic children find a refuge
Nibras Sadoun literally adopted the issue of autism in Iraq. While conducting field research in special education, she took in an autistic child who had been abandoned by his mother. Now Sadoun oversees six countrywide offices of Al Rahman Institute, which is named after her son. The institute helps educate and socialise autistic children, who are often overlooked by Iraq’s educational system. The government does not provide Al Rahman with any funding, but parents say the institute is a lifeline for their children. Al Jazeera’s Jane Arraf reports from Baghdad.
Jordan demonstrators want jailed activists freed
Jordanians demonstrated on Friday against a “tight security grip,” demanding the release of activists arrested this week after pro-reform protests in the southern city of Tafileh.
Former Gaddafi intelligence chief ‘held’
Abdullah al-Senussi, who is reported to have been detained in Mauritania, was the right-hand-man and brother-in-law of deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Afghan Massacre Sheds Light on Culture of Mania and Aggression in U.S. Troops in Afghanistan
We speak with journalist Neil Shea, who has reported on Afghanistan and Iraq since 2006 for Stars and Stripes and other publications. Shea discusses his experiences witnessing disturbing behavior during his travels with U.S. troops in Afghanistan and offers insight into understanding the massacre of 16 Afghan civilians. “When we cycle our soldiers and marines through these wars that don’t really have a clear purpose over years and years…we expect light-switch control over their aggression,” Shea says. “We expect to be able to turn them into killers and then turn them back into winners of hearts and minds. And when you do that to a man or a woman over many years, that light-switch control begins to fray.”
Directly after the incident, Reuters reported multiple witnesses claimed multiple soldiers were present at the scenes and carried out the crime. The acclaimedPajhwok Afghan News (initially funded by USAID, its co-founder Farida Nekzad, won the 2008 International Women’s Media Foundation Courage in Journalism Award) is reporting, Up to 20 US troops executed Panjwai massacre: probe…