I’ll never forget the hilarious conversation we had back in the summer of 2005. The extended family went to the beach that day. As the sun went down, my father ordered anargilah, and whenever he’d break to continue a conversation, I’d take the pipe and draw a few puffs, much to the indignation of my mother. Seeing how my dad obviously didn’t object his fourteen-year-old daughter smoking an argilah, she appealed to my grandfather, who was sitting right next to me and pretended not to notice. At her request, however, he jumped into action.
“Linah, I’m not satisfied with how you look,” his voice carried over half of Gaza’s beach. “You’re nothing but skin and bones. At your age, you should be bursting with life! A long time ago, young women used to be like this —” he made curvy shapes with his large hands — “and like this!” Another curvy motion. “You don’t eat enough. You have the body of a child.” He was really getting into his stride now, as I sank lower and lower in my seat, my cheeks flaming, highly aware of the stares from other people on nearby tables. “You should eat meat! Lots of meat! And fruits! Meat and fruit! And an assorted variety of nuts!” I wondered if the pilot in the F-16 plane above could see Sido’s wild gesticulations or possibly hear his voice. “Eat! Eat meat, fruits and nuts! Eat, so your breasts can grow! But smoking? NEVER!”
Land Theft / Destruction / Ethnic Cleansing / Apartheid /Refugees
Israel legalizes unsanctioned settler enclave (AP)
AP – Israel has legalized one of the oldest and largest of the unsanctioned settler enclaves dotting the West Bank, a step denounced by the Palestinians and Israeli activists as a show of bad faith ahead of talks next week between the Israeli leader and President Barack Obama.
Lieberman: No withdrawal from Jordan Valley
The Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman has affirmed that his government would never relinquish control on the Jordan Valley.
Homes destroyed, land stolen, lives shattered
Within the catalogue of criminality that is Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, the destruction of Palestinian homes must rank as one of the most cynical and heinous. “Some 90,000 people are currently reported to be at risk of displacement as a result of Israeli policies such as restrictive and discriminatory planning, the revocation of residency rights, the expansion of settlements and the construction of the West Bank Separation Wall.”1 All, let us note and explore further, with the tacit engagement of America, which bankrolls the entire operation.
The Battle for Emergency Services in East Jerusalem
From 1967 up until 2005 Israel’s emergency evacuation service, Magen David Adom (MDA), was responsible for all ambulance transportation within greater Jerusalem.
Hamas lashes out at UNRWA for reducing services to refugees
Hamas denounced UNRWA for reducing services extended to Palestinian refugees in its capacity as a preliminary step to liquidating the issue of those refugee and their right of return.
Interview: Palestinian rights defender banned from traveling tastes freedom in Geneva, Adri Nieuwhof
For most of the past six years, Israel has forbidden prominent human rights defender Shawan Jabarin from leaving the occupied West Bank. On exception, he was allowed travel to Geneva this week.
Violence / Aggression
Israeli sniper units deployed in Al-Ram
Israeli military forces deployed sniper units throughout Al-Ram district of north Jerusalem following heavy confrontations between locals and armed forces as the funeral of martyred local man Tala’t Ramyeh drew to a close on Friday, 24 February. Israeli forces attempted to storm the neighborhood but were thwarted by local youth, who presented strong resistance. A heavy buildup of troops stayed in the area, as the situation remained tense. Undercover units were also deployed, though local resistance prevented any arrests from being made. A high number of injuries have been reported as the clashes continue.
Heavy violence struck Ras al-Amoud and Al-Hara al-Wasta neighborhoods of Silwan at 8:30pm on Saturday, 25 February. Israeli troops fired heavy amounts of tear gas and sound grenades throughout the densely populated areas as local youth responded with stones and firecrackers. Eyewitnesses report that the confrontations were the most violent since the recent raids on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
Report: “Army, Settlers, Carried Out 145 Attacks In February”
The Wall and Settlements Information Center at the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Wall and Settlements, issued a report revealing that Israeli soldiers and settlers carried out 145 attacks against the Palestinian residents, their lands and homes, killing one and wounding several others.
Israeli Land Mines Still Pose Problems for Palestinian Communities
On the morning of February 28th, 2012 in the Palestinian village of Surif in the southern West Bank, two Israeli bulldozers and five jeeps of Israeli soldiers came unannounced to Abdel Hamid Abu Khader’s land. The soldiers placed erected concrete blocks with yellow warning signs, claiming that the land was mine-ridden and that the land was a closed military zone. The Palestinian owner of the land claims that the area was cleared of mines more than 20 years ago by the Palestinian Authority. The land mines were originally placed there by the Israeli army, as soldiers used Palestinian communities such as Surif (a very large town of about 15,000 people) for training operations. The total area of the land is about 10 acres and it is located very close to a busy street and to numerous residences, posing a danger to the civilian population. The actions of the soldiers this morning follow a joint Israeli settler and soldier attack on Surif in which 700 olive and fruit trees were uprooted and two water wells belonging to Palestinian farmers were destroyed. This kind of harassment, on the part of both soldiers and settlers, seems to be increasing in Surif and the surrounding area.
Hana al-Shalabi, hunger striking for 15 days
Palestinian woman’s hunger strike enters third week against arbitrary detention by Israel, Ali Abunimah
Today marks the 15th day of Hana al-Shalabi’s hunger strike against her arbitrary imprisonment by Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank. Currently held in the Hasharon prison, she was seized from her home in a violent nighttime raid in the early hours of 16 February, when, according to an Addameer profile: “50 Israeli soldiers raided her house in Burqin village, near Jenin, in the early morning. The soldiers were accompanied by an intelligence officer and a large number of dogs and first raided her brother’s home before coming to her house. The IOF [Israeli occupation forces] moved through his house with the pack of dogs, causing the children of the household to panic.” Al-Shalabi, 29, is being held without charge or trial under an “administrative detention” order, a practice dating back to British colonial rule, that goes until 16 August. Al-Shalabi previously spent two years in administrative detention from September 2009, to October 2011, when she was released as part of the Hamas-Israel prisoner exchange deal. During the raid, Hana and her family were subjected to violence and harassment, and since her detention she has been subjected to further abuse, including solitary confinement to punish her for her hunger strike, according to Addameer.
Hunger-Striking Detainee Moved Back To Security Detainees Facility
The Israeli Prison Administration moved, on Tuesday, hunger-striking female detainee, Hana’ Ash-Shalabi, to the security prisoners branch of the Ha-Sharon Israeli prison, after she was previously moved to the section where prisoners held on criminal charges are detained.
Palestinian Female Hunger Striker Causes Uproar in Gaza
Topping her second week of food abstinence, hunger striker Hana Shalabi has been receiving a lot of attention, including protests for her release. “Shalabi has reportedly been on a hunger strike since February 16, when she was re-arrested at her home in the occupied West Bank. She has been under ‘administrative detention’ and her lawyer says she has been put in ‘solitary confinement as punishment for the hunger strike.'”
Free Hanaa Shalabi, End Administrative Detention, Mahmoud El-Yousseph
Hanaa Shalabi is on hunger strike. She is a Palestinian female political prisoner from the village of Burgin near Jenin. She was kidnapped from her home on February 16, 2012 by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) in the middle of the night. Hanna’s family was ordered outside the house, she was blindfolded and handcuffed. All cell phones and computers in the house were confiscated and a photograph of her brother hanging on the wall, who was killed by IOF in 2005, was torn up and stepped upon by one of the soldiers. Hanaa was also beaten and sexually harassed by the IOF. Her attorney stated, “she is demanding the end of administrative detention and that the soldiers who beat her up and undressed her to carry out a body search be put on trial.”
Islamic Jihad members start hunger strike
JENIN (Ma’an) — Two imprisoned members of Islamic Jihad started a hunger strike on Thursday in support of female detainee Hana Shalabi. Bilal Dyab from Jenin, and Thaer Halahla, from Hebron, said in a letter received by Islamic Jihad that they will not stop their hunger strike until Israel ends its policy of administrative detention. The Ofer military court decided on Wednesday to postpone the hearing of Hana Shalabi, a prisoner on hunger strike, until the judge examines secret evidence with the intelligence services on March 3. Shalabi started a hunger strike on Feb. 16 after she was re-arrested by Israeli forces, despite being freed in a prisoner swap deal in October.
Qaraqie Announces International Campaign Against Administrative Detention
The Palestinian Minister of Detainees, Issa Qaraqie, announced today that his ministry is organizing an international campaign against the Israeli administrative detention and ill-treatment of Palestinian political detainees in Israeli jails.
Witnesses: Israeli forces arrest senior Jihad member
JENIN (Ma’an) — Israeli forces on Thursday arrested a senior member from the Islamic Jihad movement in Jenin, witnesses said. Muhammad Mardawi was arrested by military forces after they raided his home in the village of Arraba. He was taken to an unknown destination. Mardawi was released from jail 4 months ago, having been in and out of Israeli prison for 7 years. His brother, Thabet, is currently in an Israeli jail and is also a member of Islamic Jihad. An Israeli army spokeswoman said Muhammad Mardawi was a “known operative” from Islamic Jihad and was taken for security questioning.
Army Kidnaps 12 Palestinians In Jenin, Hebron
Israeli soldiers kidnapped on Thursday at dawn thirteen Palestinians in the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and the southern West Bank city of Hebron. On Tuesday evening, soldiers kidnapped two residents in the central West Bank city of Salfit.
IOA moves detained academician to hospital
The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) transferred detained Palestinian academician Dr. Mohammed Salibi from Ofer jail to hospital after his health condition declined.
Israeli Forces Arrest 5 Beit Ommar Residents During Night Raid
Ten Israeli jeeps entered the Palestinian village of Beit Ommar at 2am in the early morning hours of February 29, 2012 and arrested five residents in the area. During the night raid, Israeli forces split up into groups in order to surround homes. At one of the residences, soldiers surrounded the home and ordered the family of Zain Khader al-Alami to go outside there home. The family was left outside in the cold while the soldiers proceeded to search the building.
Palestinian Sentenced To 4 Years For “Affiliation With Hamas”
An Israeli court sentenced, on Wednesday, a Palestinian from occupied East Jerusalem to five years imprisoned for what the prosecution called “affiliation with the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas”.
Military radio targets protesters for future arrests
Shuhada Street in Hebron today may become the scene of a confrontation, as hundreds of left-wing Jews and Arabs are expected to march there to protest the closure of Shuhada Street from Palestinians. Police and army will attempt to keep order. At 12:00 today (Friday) hundreds of leftists, anarchists and Palestinians are expected to arrive in Hebron, walk along Shuhada Street, which is closed to Palestinians. Security forces are preparing for the demonstration and are trying to prevent it from sliding into serious violence and keeping the peace. Right-wing activist Baruch Marzel, commented on protesters Issa Amr and others, stating: ”I expect the security forces to deal with terrorist Issa Amro and all partners who attack IDF soldiers… Issa Amro has been rampamtly inciting for years against the IDF soldiers, and no one does anything to him. ”
Palestinian prisoners boycott military courts
Palestinian prisoners in the occupied West Bank have begun a boycott of the controversial military courts.
Rights group: Israel set to release prisoners
NABLUS (Ma’an) — Israel is set to release at least a dozen Palestinian prisoners on Friday, a human rights group said. Ahmad al-Beitawy, a researcher with International Solidarity for Human Rights, said Thursday that the Israeli prison administration will release prisoners with sentences of four years or less. The expected release is due in part to the activation of a law by the prison authorities which sees detainees released early for good behavior and because they have undertaken a third of their sentence, al-Beitawy said. The Palestinian Authority Ministry of Prisoner Affairs said Thursday, however, that the Israeli decision to release prisoners was in fact related to conditions of overcrowding in jails, and lawyer for the ministry Jawad Omoumi told Ma’an that announcements by the International Solidarity for Human Rights group were inaccurate.
Gaza hit by power crisis
An acute fuel shortage is putting hospital patients at risk and increasing hardship among Gaza Strip residents. Gaza is in the midst of an acute power crisis, with blackouts lasting up to 12 hours and a shortage of generator fuel putting at risk the lives of cardiac and dialysis patients and babies in incubators, as well as increasing daily hardship among the general population. The sole, privately owned, power station in the Palestinian enclave shut down on Tuesday for the second time in two weeks as a result of the fuel shortage, worsening already limited electricity supplies.
Fuel shortages make life hell for Gaza mothers
Israel’s blockade of the Palestinian Gaza Strip has caused fuel shortages and continual blackouts due to the embargo, which prevents fuel and vital spare parts for power plants from entering the coastal territory. But for women and children, it can be especially hard. For 40-year-old Naima Abu Shawareb, living in Al Shaati refugee camp, the electricity crisis has brought increased hardships over and above what she was facing already. Not able to afford a portable generator when the power is cut, her house is only lit by candles and she huddles together for warmth with her four children and husband in one room. “By the afternoon, our house is completely dark,” she said. “My children can barely read and do their homework and I’ve had to borrow money to buy glasses for one of my girls because her eyesight keeps getting worse.”
Rebuilt Gaza Music School hopes to reach more children
Sarah, Abdelaziz and Anda have found a welcome distraction from Palestine’s troubles: music. They and 120 other girls and boys are enrolled in the Gaza Music School, a program of the A.M. Qattan Foundation launched in 2008.
Popular Protests / Activism / BDS
CKUT radio: International Women’s Day special on Under the Olive Tree
toward Women of diverse origins — Femmes de diverses origines 2012 actions/events Palestinian women prisoner being released, Ramallah, Palestine 2/10/2009. ActiveStills Thursday, March 1 11h-12h at 90.3fm in Montreal globally athttp://www.ckut.ca/ Tune-in to Under the Olive Tree on Thursday, March 1st for a discussion focusing on the struggles of Palestinian women in the lead-up to International Women’s Day March […]
Tom Hurndall: a remarkable man’s photographs of the Middle East
Peace activist Tom Hurndall died at 22 after being shot by an Israeli sniper. His images and articles, that grew in intensity as his journey became more difficult, are published in a new book. Tom Hurndall was a peace activist and an aspiring photojournalist. His photographs, alongside his journals, bear witness to the often terrible, sometimes uplifting, events he saw and experienced while living among families in Iraq, in a refugee camp in Jordan, and in the Gaza Strip. It was there on 11 April 2003 that he was shot in the head by an Israeli soldier while attempting to rescue a child who had been pinned down by gunfire. He died nine months later in hospital in London. He was 22.
Abu Marzouk: US-Israeli veto obstructing reconciliation
Deputy political bureau chairman Dr. Mousa Abu Marzouk has said that the US and Israel were impeding the progress of Palestinian national reconciliation.
Between Politics and Principles: Hamas’ Perilous Maneuvers, Ramzy Baroud
Despite all of Hamas’ assurances to the contrary, a defining struggle is taking place within the Palestinian Islamic movement. The outcome of this struggle – which is still confined to polite political disagreements and occasional intellectual tussle – is likely to change Hamas’ outlook, if not fundamentally alter its position within a quickly changing Arab political landscape.
Calling all friends of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa
Calling all friends of Jerusalem and Al-AqsaPalestinians have been putting their bodies and lives on the line against repeated Israeli aggression in the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. Sometimes they have succeeded in pushing back the hordes of illegal Jewish settlers and the Israeli soldiers protecting them; sometimes they have failed. On every occasion, however, they have shown exceptional courage and demonstrated that they are prepared to sacrifice their own lives and those of their children for the sake of their land and their sacred places.
Rights group condemns ongoing abuses in Bahrain
A leading human rights group called on Tuesday for the release of thousands of Bahraini activists detained after last year’s pro-democracy uprisings in the country. Human Rights Watch said the proceedings against protesters in civilian courts and military-style tribunals violated international standards for fair trials, including denying the right to counsel and failing to investigate allegations of torture during interrogations.
Thousands of Bahrainis Mourn another Tear Gas Victim
Thousands of Bahrainis have attended the funeral procession of the latest victim of Manama regime’s misuse of toxic tear gas against anti-government protesters.
Netanyahu will ask Obama to threaten Iran strike
Intensive preparations underway to ensure a successful meeting between the two leaders next week in Washington, despite lack of trust between two sides.
Hezbollah: Israeli attack on Iran would set Middle East ablaze
Deputy secretary-general of Hezbollah says Israel unaware of ‘the scale of consequences’ from a strike on Iran; stresses that Hezbollah fighters are now better equipped to retaliate against Israel than they were in 2006.
Iran’s citizens should be starved in order to curb Tehran’s nuclear program, officials in Jerusalem said Wednesday ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming trip to Washington. “North Korea is halting its nuclear program in order to receive aid in food, and this is what should be done with Iran as well,” one unnamed official said. “Suffocating sanctions could lead to a grave economic situation in Iran and to a shortage of food,” the source said. “This would force the regime to consider whether the nuclear adventure is worthwhile, while the Persian people have nothing to eat and may rise up as was the case in Syria, Tunisia and other Arab states.” “The Western world led by the United States must implement stifling sanctions at this time already, rather than wait or hesitate,” the official said. “In order to suffocate Iran economically and diplomatically and lead the regime there to a hopeless situation, this must be done now, without delay.”
What Surprises Await Our Warmongers in the Gulf?, Stuart Littlewood
The most important thing I’ve read these last few days is the excellent article ‘Armageddon Approaches’ by Dr Lasha Darkmoon, a cautionary piece which points the reader towards some very scary background information. For example, according to Russ Winter of The Wall Street Examiner, Iran’s Sunburn missiles, acquired from Russia and China over the last 10 years, have the capability of creating “a world of hurt” for the US Navy’s 5th Fleet. ”The Sunburn is perhaps the most lethal anti-ship missile in the world, designed to fly as low as 9 feet above ground/water at more than 1,500 miles per hour (mach 2+). The missile uses a violent pop-up maneuver for its terminal approach to throw off Phalanx and other US anti-missile defense systems. Given their low cost, they’re perfectly suited for close quarter naval conflict in the bathtub-like Persian Gulf.” With its 90-mile range, the Sunburn can be fired from practically any platform, including a flat bed truck, and could hit a ship in the Strait in less than a minute. Mark Gaffney adds this warning: “The US Navy has never faced anything in combat as formidable as the Sunburn missile.”
Israeli: Syrian rebels want peace with Israel (AP)
AP – An Israeli lawmaker says Syrian opposition leaders have told him they want peace with Israel after Syrian President Bashar Assad falls.
Free Syrian Army withdraw from Baba Amr in Homs
The Free Syrian Army has withdrawn from the Baba Amr area of Homs following an attack on the city by government forces. The head of the FSA said it had “tactically” pulled out of the neighborhood after nearly two days of an all-out assault by forces loyal to President Bashar Assad. Rebels “have pulled out tactically in order to protect the remaining civilians,” Colonel Riyadh al-Asaad told AFP. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Syria said it could not confirm the area had been retaken by government forces.
Syrian forces launch ground assault on Homs
Heavy fighting reported in key city as Western powers call for UN Security Council action authorising humanitarian aid.
As soldiers launch a massive ground assault on a rebel-held district of Homs, other Syrian towns also struggle with the effects of the army’s bombardment. In northern Idlib province, activists say many of the casualties are children. Al Jazeera’s Khadija Magardie reports.
The United Nations now says more than 7,500 people have been killed in Syria’s uprising. With no ceasefire in sight, international opponents of the Assad government appear to be increasing diplomatic pressure. Kristen Saloomey reports from the UN.
Syria ‘humanitarian’ vote pressed
A new resolution is being drawn up at the United Nations to focus on humanitarian aid for Syria, in the hope both China and Russia will give support.
Syria: 30 years on, Hama survivors recount the horror
The Syrian military assault on Homs is now in its fourth week with no sign of abating, prompting memories in nearby Hama of mass killings 30 years ago. Three decades ago, Syrian troops under the government of Hafez al-Assad – father of current President Bashar al-Assad – unleashed a bloody 27-day assault on Hama. It followed an ambush of soldiers by members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and attacks on officials and alleged “collaborators”. The final death toll may have reached 25,000, from both sides. Some 6,000 to 8,000 soldiers were dispatched to Hama in February 1982, according to news reports and information received by Amnesty International.
Damascus: When Funerals Turn Into Protests
While Damascus was busy preparing for the constitutional referendum to be held on Sunday, the neighborhood of Kafar Sousseh, in the heart of the capital, held a nighttime demonstration against the referendum in solidarity with Homs. The protest, however, turned into a tragedy when five people were shot dead. Their funerals, which were bound to turn into anti-regime demonstrations, were held on Monday night. Funerals in Damascus have become a main force for mass demonstrations as is the case in the flashpoint neighborhoods of Mezze, al-Midan, and al-Qadam, among others.
Questioning the Syrian “Casualty List”
“Perception is 100 percent of politics,” the old adage goes. Say something three, five, seven times, and you start to believe it in the same way you “know” aspirin is good for the heart. Sometimes though, perception is a dangerous thing. In the dirty game of politics, it is the perception – not the facts of an issue – that invariably wins the day. In the case of the raging conflict over Syria, the one fundamental issue that motors the entire international debate on the crisis is the death toll and its corollary: the Syrian casualty list. The “list” has become widely recognized – if not specifically, then certainly when the numbers are bandied about: 4,000, 5,000, 6,000 – sometimes more. These are not mere numbers; they represent dead Syrians.
Lebanese Islamists in Tripoli have been at the forefront of supporting the anti-Assad uprising in neighboring Syria. But the lens through which they see the uprising and use to mobilize young people is infused with sectarianism, a far cry from the pro-democracy discourse the revolution is associated with.
Stratfor: Russia Provides Israel With Code to Crack Tor M-1 Air Defense System It Provided to Iran
Among the new nuggets exposed by Wikileaks’ dump of Stratfor e-mails is an eye-opening 2009 memo from an analyst who met with an intelligence source in Mexico. The latter had a Mexican ex-military friend with a background in Mexican UAV (drone) systems. The source told his Stratfor “handler” that the Georgians just before their war with Russia, had desperately appealed to him for help in procuring Mexican UAVs (used particuarly in the fight against the local drug cartels) to replace the Israeli craft they had been using. It appears the Georgians suspected that their Israeli-built downed drones had been sabotaged by the Russians. How? The Israelis, eager to procure data link codes for Russian-supplied Tor M-1 anti-aircraft systems (which would defend Iran against Israeli air attack), had traded sabotaging one of their (UAV) weapons systems for one of the Russians.
Stratfor Wanted Assange Out by Any Means
While publicly underplaying the significance of WikiLeaks activity in combating government secrecy, senior execs and analysts at private US intelligence firm Stratfor privately described Wikileaks founder Julian Assange as a “terrorist” and “delusion nut” who “needs to be water-boarded” and made to “move from country to country” for the “next 25 years,” Stratfor leaked emails recently released by Wikileaks and obtained by Al-Akhbar show.
The Stream – NYPD under fire for spying on Muslim students
The New York Police Department continues to come under fire as more details emerge regarding the Muslim spying controversy.