Dave Zirin’s analysis of the hunger-strikers in the Nation, below, along with other news from Today in Palestine:
Video: The great book robbery
Al Jazeera Witness 11 May — Was the appropriation of Palestinian books and manuscripts in 1948 a case of cultural theft or preservation? — A film by Benny Brunner When the Arab-Israeli war raged in 1948, librarians from Israel’s National Library followed soldiers as they entered Palestinian homes in towns and villages. Their mission was to collect as many valuable books and manuscripts as possible. They are said to have gathered over 30,000 books from Jerusalem and another 30,000 from Haifa and Jaffa. Officially it was a ‘cultural rescue operation’ but for Palestinians it was ‘cultural theft’. It was only in 2008 when an Israeli PhD student stumbled across documents in the national archive that the full extent of the ‘collection’ policy was revealed. Using eyewitness accounts, this film tries to understand why thousands of books appropriated from Palestinian homes still languish in the Israeli National Library vaults and why they have not been returned to their rightful owners. Was it cultural preservation or robbery?
Turning Palestine into earth
By Ibrahim Matar —“I plowed Palestine into earth by ordering the demolition of 300 abandoned Palestinian villages from the Negev to the Galilee.” This is a statement made by Ra’anan Weitz, the director of the Jewish Agency’s Settlement Department in 1948 in an interview in the Jerusalem Post dated March 7, 1997. Over the ruins of these villages 500 Jewish moshavim and kibbutzim were established. Weitz further acknowledges that he “levelled them joyfully.” … This destruction committed by the Jewish State in 1948-1950 is one of the major crimes of the twentieth century and should not pass without acknowledgement and repentance. Not only was the Palestinian nation liquidated, but Palestinian cultural heritage and historical presence in the land of Palestine were obliterated. The antiquities of many civilisations – Jebusite, Canaanite, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Crusader, and Muslim – were also destroyed forever.
Christians hold mass to mark Nakba Day
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 May — Palestinian Christians held a mass Friday on the lands of the Cremisan monastery near Bethlehem, which is threatened by construction of Israel’s separation barrier. Rev. Ibrahim Shomali, the Roman Catholic parish priest of Beit Jala led the mass which was held to mark Nakba day and honor the hundreds of prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails. Bishop Munib Younan, the president of the Lutheran World Federation and a Fatah leader, and Mahmoud al-Aloul, the Chilean consul, also joined along with the ambassadors of Chile and Brazil.
Youth on al-Nakba
This Week in Palestine approached Palestinian youth from various areas and backgrounds to ask them what Al-Nakba meant to them. Here’s what they had to say … Al-Nakba to me means a scattered and fragmented life from all perspectives – personal, social, economic. It means that you are forced to live with your country inside you instead of living inside your country. There is fear of the unknown for us. But there is also the strength and pride it has given us too! Because we were chosen of all the people on this earth for this to happen to and we grew stronger as a result of our difficult circumstances. We are not beaten, on the contrary, everywhere we go people welcome us and feel with us because of that Nakba…Samira, 26, Gaza Refugee Camp, Jordan
Lebanon’s Palestinians wary of Nakba march
AIN AL-HILWEH, Lebanon (Daily Star) 12 May By Mohammed Zaatari — In the run-up to next week’s annual commemoration of the Nakba — the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948 — the enthusiasm of refugees is mixed about heading to the border and staging a protest on the edge of their homeland. This year, the event will be marked north of the Litani River, as with the commemoration of Land Day at the end of March — no angry gatherings are expected to take place next to the border fence. Last year, on the 63rd anniversary of the Nakba, thousands of Palestinians from Lebanon’s refugee camps, along with their supporters, gathered in the village of Maroun al-Ras, which lies across from the Israeli settlement of Avivim … The protesters braved a mine field and removed the deadly devices to approach the fence, where the confrontation between rock-throwing protesters and Israeli troops resulted in the killing of ten people and the injuring of scores of others.
Ahead of Nakba Day, Palestinians take measures to avoid confrontation with Israel
Haaretz 11 May by Avi Issacharoff — Next week, on May 14, the Palestinians will mark Nakba Day, recalling what they refer to as the “catastrophe” of 1948: Israel’s establishment and the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their land. The day’s events will dovetail with the ongoing hunger strike of about 2,000 security prisoners in Israeli jails – which could make for a volatile mix. Still, this week the leaders of Fatah and the Palestinian Authority worked hard to ensure that the demonstrations will be confined to the Palestinian cities of the West Bank and will not assume a violent character. Even the tournament that Jibril Rajoub, president of the Palestinian Football Association, is planning for Nakba Day will be held in West Bank cities.
“My legacy? I have one thing, security,” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Wednesday in an interview with Reuters. “Ask anyone if we are going to the third intifada. They will say no, they want peace. That has never happened before.
Tel Aviv University imposes restrictions on Nakba Day events
MEMO 11 May — Tel Aviv University has imposed policies and procedures intended to restrict those Arab students who wish to organise Nakba commemorative events on campus. According to a report in Haaretz newspaper, the presidency of the university has told the organisers of Nakba Day activities to provide the necessary funding for hiring at least six security guards from the university’s own security company to maintain control and order. The university wants to prevent any disturbances or riots during the ceremony scheduled for next week … The university has also banned the use of flags, banners and loud PA systems even though the Nakba Day commemoration has been approved by the students’ council, considered widely to be the first time such permission has been granted. The organisers of the ceremony told Haaretz that the purpose behind the event is to introduce to non-Arab students the facts about the disaster that befell the Palestinians in 1948.
The Church of the Nativity exiles
“I have never led a settled life”: Church of the Nativity exiles mark 10 years of exile
EI 12 May by Shahd Abusalama — Yesterday 39 Palestinians from Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank marked ten years of deportation from their precious homes. That day eleven years ago, they were expelled from Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity after a siege by the Israeli occupation forces that lasted for 39 days; 26 men went to Gaza, 13 to Europe. Since that tragedy, which marked another form of ethnic cleansing, this day has been called “Deported Palestinians’ Day.” Since the prisoner exchange in October, hundreds of Palestinians have joined this category, as 203 ex-detainees were convicted to indefinite deportation … Israel has intensively forcibly transferred people from the West Bank to either the Gaza Strip or deported them to countries such as Turkey, Syria and Qatar.
Flashback from the siege of the Nativity to the siege of the City — a call for peace, love, and understanding
By Nada Atrash — During a meeting a few weeks ago I learned from Fr. Ibrahim Faltas, the president of the John Paul II Foundation for the Middle East and bursar of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, about the book launch on May 5, 2012, for a book about the siege of the Church of the Nativity ten years ago. At that moment, I was mesmerised and could hardly concentrate, perhaps because of the terrible memories that came to mind of being under the forty-day curfew. All that we were able to do during that time was sit in front of the television and watch the news, or listen to the terrible sounds of bombing during the night, not knowing what was happening or where. During that seemingly interminable time, Fr. Faltas was the one who kept us informed about what was happening in and around the church … The most important information was provided by Fr. Faltas’ memoirs, which were recorded during the siege; Fr. Faltas was the connection between what was going on inside the church and the rest of the world.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Meridor: “Palestinian state will never be established on 1967 lines”
Haaretz 11 May — Israeli Deputy Prime Minister, Dan Meridor, stated that the Palestinian state will never be established along the 1967 six-day war border, adding that there should be different maps, and certain compensations … The Deputy PM said that Israel should freeze all settlement construction in the West Bank, but should continue to develop existing settlements. Talking to the “Times Of Israel”, Meridor stated that “Israel should not be building settlements all over the place”, as such a move harms Israel’s stance in the international arena.
Factsheet: Israel attacks on Muslim- and Christian-owned buildings and religious sites in Palestine
April 2012 by Sawsan Ramahi — The recent escalation of Israeli attacks on Muslim and Christian religious sites in Palestine, including Jerusalem, other cities in the occupied West Bank and the area occupied in 1948, can be viewed as part of Israel’s assault on all things Palestinian since 1967. It is a war declared by Israel and waged by the occupation authority’s military and security forces as well as the illegal Jewish settlers. The latter form the spearhead of attacks against mosques with the cooperation and support of military personnel. Although the Israeli occupation authority describes such attacks as “criminal activity”, in reality they are attacks of a religious and socio-political nature … 2 Jan. 2011: Demolition notice served on mosque in Al-Nueama near Jericho. 4 Jan. 2011: The Israeli Institute allocated millions of dollars for the Judaisation of the mosque in Burj Alnwateer and Ein Silwan villages. 6 Jan. 2011: Israel Judaised the gate names of the Old City of Jerusalem … 19 Jan. 2011: Israeli magistrates approve demolition of more than 200 graves in Ma’aman Allah cemetery … 11 Apr. 2011: Dozens of illegal Jewish settlers break into and desecrate the Islamic cemetery in Hebron in an attempt to dig up graves, which they walked upon and sat on….
The Palestinian taxi driver crucial to Jewish settlement in E. J’lem
Haaretz 11 May by Nir Hasson — Affidavits concerning property ownership provided by East Jerusalem taxi driver raise suspicions — Mohammed Nabulsi’s paper trail has been catching up with him, which is making it difficult for Jewish settlers and their state patrons to take over East Jerusalem homes. Starting in the 1970s, Nabulsi, an East Jerusalem taxi driver, provided settler organizations with affadavits claiming that Palestinian owners of East Jerusalem homes were “absentees” residing in enemy countries, which the state used over and over to expropriate the properties and turn them over to settler organizations. On Tuesday, Nabulsi’s work was cited unfavorably by a Jerusalem District Court judge in ruling against the Elad settler organization, Jewish National Fund and various government agencies that have been trying for 25 years to evict a Palestinian extended family from a home in the heart of City of David National Park in Silwan. Overturning a previous court’s ruling and determining that the Roweidi family, not Elad or the JNF, were the Silwan property’s rightful owners, Judge Miriam Mizrahi said Nabulsi’s affadavit, which was crucial to Elad’s case, looked awfully suspicious. Nabulsi was shot by a Popular Front activist in the 1990s, but survived. His services to the settlers continue to this day to make the lives of Palestinian families in Jerusalem miserable.
Occupation displaces hundreds of families from southern Al-Khalil
AL-KHALIL/HEBRON (PIC) 11 May — IOF troops on Thursday raided the eastern region of Yatta city south of Al-Khalil, in the occupied West Bank, and notified its residents to evacuate the area, as preparations for the demolition of houses within one month from the notification’s date … Haj Mahmoud al-Yatim Rabi told our reporter that the notifications were handed over to all the families that live in caves, homes and tents, and that they were warned that anyone who does not comply with the decision will face arrest and confiscation of all his properties and belongings. It has been mentioned that since four months, the occupation forces have deliberately humiliated and maltreated the residents of the eastern regions of Yatta to push them to leave their lands through demolishing a mosque and a school, arresting teachers and confiscating private properties.
Occupation to expand Gilo settlement
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 11 May — Israeli occupation authority is planning to expand the settlement of Gilo, to the south of occupied Jerusalem, by building 2,242 new housing units, as part of 3 settlement expansion plans to be approved over the coming few days. Ahmad Sob Laban, a specialist in settlement affairs said in a statement on Friday evening that the expansion of Gilo will be concentrated in the southern part, moving towards Walaja and Beit Jala and to the north towards Safafa. He added that the district planning committee approved one of the plans two days ago
Another water cistern demolished, another violation of human rights
ISM West Bank — On Wednesday 2nd May 2012, in the town of Al-Baqr, the Israeli occupation forces destroyed yet another water cistern. The water cistern measuring 16 metres in width and length, and 8 metres in height was used to irrigate approximately 40 to 50 dunams of land. The land was used for the purpose of farming. The farms were mainly used for growing grapes, and various other vegetables. The water cistern, owned by Yihya Jaber, was demolished approximately six and a half hours after the ordeal had begun at 7am in the morning. As ISM volunteers arrived at the scene, we could see the excavator being used to pick up the soil and filling in the demolished cistern. As we approached the scene, three Israeli soldiers told us not to go any closer. Without giving us any clear instructions of where we were allowed to stand, we attempted to find an accurate view of this illegal demolition. With the permission of a local Palestinian family, we were able to see the carnage from their terrace. As we looked down, the cistern was almost nonexistent and the source of livelihood for many of the Palestinians in Al-Baqr was reduced to rubble and dirt. The families looked on helplessly.
In West Bank, barrier threatens Roman terraces
BATTIR, West Bank (AP) 11 May by ‘Joseph’ — One of the last Palestinian farming villages that still uses irrigation systems from Roman times says its ancient way of life is in danger as Israel prepares to lay down its West Bank separation barrier. With construction possibly beginning in the coming weeks, the people of Battir hope a legal battle, backed by recent U.N. recognition of the village’s agricultural practices, will help change Israel’s mind. Battir’s 6,000 inhabitants live in limestone-faced houses built into a hillside southwest of Jerusalem. On the lands around the homes, stone retaining walls have transformed scrubby hills into orderly terraces of olive trees and vegetable gardens. Terraces are a common Palestinian farming technique in the hilly West Bank terrain. But in Battir, they are unique for their extent — stretching uninterrupted over nearly 2,000 hectares (800 acres) — and for the centuries-old network of irrigation canals that direct springwater over the stepped hills. This combination prompted the U.N.’s cultural agency, UNESCO, to award the village last year with a $15,000 prize for “Safeguarding and Management of Cultural Landscapes.” The canal network has been in place for 2,000 years, with residents continually keeping up the system
Ulpana meeting ends; ministers to hold more talks
JPost 11 May — A special ministerial meeting to discuss the fate of 30 homes in the Ulpana outpost, which the High Court of Justice has ordered demolished, concluded Friday afternoon. The only decision made during the meeting was to hold further discussions on the topic … Speaking ahead of the meeting, Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin said a law dealing with the outpost must do so justly, noting that illegal Beduin towns in the South would be handled similarly … In a last-ditch effort to save 30 Ulpana outpost homes from demolition, two parliamentarians plan to ask the Knesset next week to approve legislation to retroactively authorize the structures located on the outskirts of the West Bank settlement of Beit El.
PCHR Weekly Report: 12 civilians wounded, 19 abducted in 65 Israeli invasions this week [3-9 May]
IMEMC 11 May — In the West Bank, Israeli forces wounded 12 Palestinian civilians, including two children, in the West Bank. Eleven of these civilians, including a child, were wounded during the dispersion of peaceful demonstrations organized in protest of the construction of the annexation wall and settlement activities in the West Bank, and in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails who have been on hunger strike. Dozens of civilians also suffered from tear gas inhalation. On 04 May 2012, a Palestinian child was wounded when Israeli forces fired at a funeral procession in Beit Ummar town, north of Hebron.
Tel Rumeida: Child settler violence through the lenses of an international activist
ISM posted 11 May by ‘Sunny’ — A group of approximately 10 to 15 soldiers displayed their ineptitude in dealing with a group of rowdy settler children, roughly between the ages of 8 to 14, who were attemptng to enter Tel Rumeida. It was an embarrassing episode for the Israeli occupation soldiers who paid more attention to ISM volunteers who were simply filming the situation. When a settler later confronted me, violently grabbing for my camera, the soldier’s attempts to restrain him were meek and pathetic. It was an embarrassing situation which showed signs of settlers being allowed to behave as they wish with impunity, behaviour which would not be tolerated if it came from the Palestinian side. As I walked down Tel Rumeida with another ISM volunteer, we were approached by a Palestinian child who claimed to have been confronted by a group of settler children.
Seven striking captives at risk of dying
RAMALLAH (PIC) 11 May — Lawyer Jawad Boulus on Friday said that seven hunger strikers in occupation jails are at risk of dying according to doctors at the Ramla prison hospital where the prisoners were moved. Boulus told the AFP that the prison doctor expressed serious concerns for the lives of the seven captives who stopped taking liquids. Boulus added that the doctor called him to try to get him to help somehow. The lawyer said that seven of the hunger strikers who have been moved to Ramla prison hospital decided to stop taking liquids apart from water and that Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh are amongst the seven prisoners.
Halahleh’s father denies receiving promises of his son’s or Diab’s release
AL-KHALIL(PIC) 11 May — Thaer Halahleh’s father has denied receiving promises or guarantees from the occupation authorities for the release of his son Thaer Halahleh and Bilal Diab who have been on hunger strike for 75 days running. Aziz Halahleh told “Quds Press” that there was no truth to news reports about his son’s release along with four other detainees, pointing out that he did not make any statement on this matter, and insisting that it is mere rumors that could be promoted by the occupation. Halahleh said that his son’s health condition is very critical.
Adnan: Israeli intelligence contact captives’ families to demoralize them
JENIN (PIC) 10 May — Former administrative detainee and Islamic Jihad leader, Sheikh Khader Adnan warned against dealing with phone calls from anonymous callers to families of captives, because the Israeli intelligence is behind such calls. Sheikh Adnan told PIC correspondent on Friday evening: “Occupation intelligence call captives’ families from private numbers, the source of which is not known, and feed them misinformation about their children on hunger strike, taking advantage of the fact that there are no contacts between families and their children and visits are banned. This is an attempt to confuse and demoralize the families, or to get information from those families to pressure the striking captives.”
11 students go on hunger strike in solidarity with prisoners
GAZA (PIC) 11 May — In solidarity with the prisoners who have launched “The Empty Stomachs Battle” since 23 days in the occupation jails against the occupation’s repressive measures, 11 students, who are activists in the Islamic bloc in the Gaza Strip’s universities and colleges, have launched an open hunger strike since Thursday 10th May until meeting all the prisoners’ demands.
Palestinian hunger strikers escalate pressure on Israel
Al-Akhbar 11 May — Hundreds of Palestinians on hunger strike in Israeli jails said on Friday they would shun vitamin supplements and prison clinics in an escalation of their mass protest against detention conditions. “We swear we will not retreat. We are potential martyrs. Either we live in dignity or die,” prisoner organizers said in a letter announcing the move and which was read out by Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas government in Gaza, during a demonstration.
As Palestinian hunger strikers starve, a mother waits
JENIN, West Bank (NBC) 11 May – Im Hisham, 65, spends her days sitting in her home in Kufur Raei village near here waiting for news about her 27-year-old son, Bilal Diab. “I haven’t seen my son since the day Israeli Special Forces raided our home in the middle of the night and arrested him in front of my eyes,” she said of the incident on Aug. 16, 2011.”“They gave him administrative detention for six months and when the six months ended they extended his detention for six more without charges or trial.”… On Friday, a spokesperson for Physicians for Human Rights, a humanitarian organization in Israel, said he fears for Diab and Halahleh’s lives. Yael Marom complained that the last time the Israeli Prison Service allowed one of their doctors to visit Diab was on April 30. “The Israeli Prison Service is still denying regular access to [Diab] and the other hunger strikers by independent physicians and do not update us or the families, which is a blatant breach of medical ethics,” she said.
Video: Palestinian prisoners enter Day 74 of hunger strike
Telegraph 11 May — Humanitarian organisation Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) expressed concern about prisoners Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh as they began their 74th day without food on Friday … At the PHR offices in Tel Aviv, the director of the Prisoners and Detainees department said Halahleh’s life was in “immediate danger.”
The release of Hazam Assida after ten years in occupation prisons
NABLUS (PIC) 11 May — Al-Ahrar center for prisoners’ studies and human rights said that the detainee Hazem Assida, 30, from Tall town near Nablus, has been released after 10 years in occupation prisons. The human rights center said that the detainee was released from Megiddo prison; he has lost significant weight because his hunger strike. “I was released from solitary cells because of my strike, the prisoners are in good spirits and need more support,” the detainee said.
Hunger feeds growing protests in prison
JERUSALEM, May 11, 2012 (IPS) by Jillian Kestler-D’Amours — With more than 1,500 Palestinian prisoners weeks into an open-ended hunger strike in protest against worsening conditions in Israeli jails, including two that have gone without food for 72 days, human rights groups say many lives are in danger and are calling for urgent intervention. “At that stage of a hunger strike, death can happen abruptly. Something can happen to the heart and this is the fear now,” said Hadas Ziv, public outreach coordinator at Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I).
Palestinian hunger strikers: Fighting ingrained duplicity
Jadaliyya 11 May by Richard Falk and Noura Erakat — On his seventy-third day of hunger strike, Thaer Halahleh was vomiting blood and bleeding from his lips and gums, while his body weighs in at 121 pounds—a fraction of its pre-hunger strike size. The thirty-three-year-old Palestinian follows the still-palpable footsteps of Adnan Khader and Hana Shalabi, whose hunger strikes resulted in release. He also stands alongside Bilal Diab, who is also entering his seventy-third day of visceral protest. Together, they inspired nearly 2,500 Palestinian political prisoners to go on hunger strike in protest of Israel’s policy of indefinite detention without charge or trial.
Why the Palestinian Authority is afraid of the ‘intifada in Israeli jails’
EI 11 May by Linah Alsaafin — On Thursday, May 10th, word traveled around that Palestinian Authority de facto president Mahmoud Abbas was coming to the prisoners’ solidarity tent in al-Bireh, near the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, at 6pm. As I explained in this week’s Electronic Intifada podcast, this tent, unlike the one at Clock Square in Ramallah’s city center, is where ministers and officials spend a few minutes of their time, preferably when media is “conveniently” around, to make empty gestures of supporting the mass hunger strike taking place in Israeli prisons. A group of ten protesters went to the tent just before 6pm. They had with them rolled-up posters and an angry, determined glint in their eyes. They did not forget that Abbas was quick to telephone Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to pay his condolences after his ancient father recently died, but was silent regarding the hunger strikes of Thaer Halahleh and Bilal Diab
Balata Refugee Camp: The toll of human rights violations and imprisonment
ISM West Bank posted 10 May by ‘Alex’ — The 9th May marks the 22nd day of the Palestinian prisoners mass hunger strike. Today as with every day, the prisoners’ families and friends met at Nablus Prisoners’ tent in a show of solidarity, paying respect to their sons, brothers, daughters and sisters suffering in Israeli prisons in conditions which constantly violate international laws. Said al Kabi, 54, is just one father whose anguish is worn on his worried face. He has suffered greatly, lost many family members and both of his legs to the illegal Israeli occupation. His son, Jawad al Kabi, 26, is sentenced to 13 years in prison and has now served six of them. Said lost both his legs in 1967. One morning whilst going out in his tractor to farm his land as usual, Said turned down a dirt road and hit a land mine left by the Israeli army.
Learning from the Irish hunger strikes of 1981 and the Palestinian challenge / Richard Falk
11 May — Prefatory Note: John Hurson in Ireland has been keenly conscious of the affinities between the historic Irish hunger strike of 1981 and the ongoing Palestinian hunger strikes. He has travelled to Gaza on several occasions on humanitarian aid convoys, and is the founder of the on line Gaza TV News service. I suggested that we collaborate on an article that might recall the Irish experience, especially the parallels and the potential implications for the future of the Palestinian struggle.
What if Kobe Bryant were an imprisoned Palestinian soccer player?
The Nation 10 May by Dave Zirin — Imagine if a member of Team USA Basketball—let’s say Kobe Bryant—had been traveling to an international tournament only to be seized by a foreign government and held in prison for three years without trial or even hearing the charges for which he was imprisoned. Imagine if Kobe was allowed no visitation from family or friends. Imagine if he was left no recourse but to effectively end any future prospects as a player by terminating his own physical health by going on a hunger strike. Chances are we’d notice, yes? Chances are the story would lead SportsCenter and make newspaper covers across the world …
This is what has happened to Palestinian national soccer team member Mahmoud Sarsak. Sarsak, who hails from Rafah in the Gaza Strip, was seized at a checkpoint on his way to a national team contest in the West Bank. This was July 2009. Since that date, the 25-year-old has been held without trial and without charges. His family and friends haven’t been permitted to see him. In the eyes of the Israeli government, Sarsak can be imprisoned indefinitely because they deem him to be an “illegal combatant” although no one—neither family, nor friends, nor coaches—has the foggiest idea why.
1500 prisoners on hunger strike for basic rights: could Hillary say boo?
Huffington Post 10 May by Robert Naiman — More than 1,500 prisoners are currently observing an open-ended hunger strike in defense of basic human rights: the right not to be detained without charge, the right not to be subjected to sustained solitary confinement, the right to be visited by one’s family. Two of the prisoners have been on hunger strike for more than 70 days and have been widely reported to be “near death.” Is it possible that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton could say a few words about this situation? … What might happen if a bunch of Americans tried to put pressure on Hillary to speak up? Some people may say: Hillary? Dream on. The prisoners that you’re talking about are Palestinian.
Activism / Solidarity
From Ramleh to the world: Can you hear us? / Maath Musleh
Al-Akhbar 11 May — “Can they hear us?” wonder the protesters. Raising their voices louder and louder, the protesters in front of Ramleh prison are hoping the detained hunger strikers inside the jail can hear them. They are hoping their shouts will reach the ears of the prisoners and whisper to them: “we hear the growling of your stomachs”. We hear your shouts for freedom loud and clear and it moves us to action. Buses carrying the prisoners’ families are leaving. Engines start, alerting those wearing uniforms. Five minutes pass and the occupation’s police get a rush of adrenaline. It is finally time to do what they do best, crush protests.
Thousands protest in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners
Ynet 12 May — Some 12,000 people attend rally organized by Islamic Movement in village of Qana in support of security prisoners staging hunger strike. ‘Prisoners will be triumphant,’ says deputy head of Islamic Movement’s northern branch
Video: Friday day of anger / Haitham Khatib
Bil‘in – Palestine 11-5-2012 “Friday day of Anger” in support of Palestinian prisoners Weekly demonstrations continued in Bil’in village West of Ramallah. Many citizens, peace and foreign activists suffered from cases of suffocation by poison gas during the weekly march organized by the Popular Committee Against the Wall in Bil‘’in. Many local, foreign and Israeli activists came to show solidarity with the prisoners on hunger strike and to support Palestinian prisoner Bilal Diab and Thaer Hlahalh for entering the day 75 of the open hunger strike by participating in the march called by the People’s Committee, and the people of Bil‘in and in solidarity.
March in Jerusalem, Palestinian flag on top of Israeli court
PNN — Friday, 11th May, protesters raised for the third time the Palestinian flag on top of the Israeli Central Court in Salah al-Deen Street in Jerusalem. Hundreds of Palestinians went out from al-Aqsa mosque, in a supportive march with Palestinian-striking prisoners, after the Friday prayer.
US exhibit to showcase a non-violent struggle led by Palestinian women
972mag 11 May — Next month, the Palestinian non-violent resistance movement will take center stage at an art gallery in New Mexico. Mati Milstein, an Israeli photojournalist, has spent the last year documenting the activities of a group of women activists fighting the occupation. He discusses “Nesa’iyéh (a woman thing),” his exhibition of their struggle, as depicted through his lens.
Other detention news
Israel extends administrative detention of Bethlehem MP
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 May — Israeli authorities renewed for three months the administrative detention of a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council from Bethlehem. The decision means Khaled Tafesh will serve another three months in detention without charge after his original six-month term ends in late July, associates said. Tafesh was first detained on Jan. 19, 2012.
Israeli forces arrest Palestinian from Jenin
PNN — On Friday, 11th May, Israeli forces arrested a Palestinian from Kufur Ra‘i , South of Jenin. Security sources told Official News Agency WAFA that Israeli forces raided the village, broke into the house of Najib Mohammad Ahmad Mirshed, 19, and arrested him.
Lights Out at Palestinian-Egyptian literary festival
Gaza, Acre (Al-Akhbar) 11 May – After four days of celebrating literature and art, the closing ceremony of the fifth Palestine Literary Festival in Gaza on Wednesday had an unexpected guest. Security forces belonging to the Hamas government broke up the meeting of Egyptian and Palestinian writers and intellectuals participating in the event. The Egyptian delegation ran to the bus in panic. “Neither culture, nor writing — nothing is of use here,” poet Youssef al-Kadra announced while heading out. Egyptian author Sahar el-Mogi became so anxious that she thought that Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) was behind the incident.
Gaza’s children reveal their hopes and fears — in pictures
Guardian 11 May — The children of al-Zarqa, one of the Gaza Strip’s poorest areas, have been affected by a conflict outside their control. An exhibition of drawings made by primary school children from the area, which was damaged during a three-week military assault in 2009, is on show in Whitechapel. It highlights a collective yearning for a clean, safe neighbourhood
Book festival allowed into Gaza after five-year wait
CNN 11 May — After five years of trying, an international group of authors have achieved their aim of taking their Palestine Festival of Literature to Gaza for the first time. The annual traveling festival, known as PalFest, was set up in 2008 to bring book readings and cultural events to Palestinians who otherwise had little access to the outside world. Each year the literary festival has visited several cities in the West Bank, but has been unable to gain permission from Israel to visit Gaza … This year, the group of 37 writers, artists and community organizers applied instead to enter Gaza from Egypt through the Rafah crossing, which re-opened last year. After a two-week wait, they were granted permission from the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to enter Gaza.
No justice for the victims of Gaza / Raji Sourani, PCHR
Gaza City (Al Jazeera) 11 May — On Tuesday May 1, our office in Gaza received an official communication from the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) notifying us of the decision to close the investigation into the case of the Samouni family, one of the gravest “incidents” of the so-called operation Cast Lead. Since then, I have been asking myself how the Israeli Military Advocate General (MAG), a professional military lawyer, can live with himself. How does one look in the mirror knowing that you systematically legitimise the commission of war crimes and you ensure that unlawful practices become part of the IDF’s standard operating procedure? … What matters is that not a single effective investigation has been conducted into these incidents. Not a single investigation conducted by Israel can be said to respect even the minimum standards required by international law. Lawyers at the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights filed 490 criminal complaints, and requests for investigation, to the Israeli authorities. Three and a half years later, the result – apart from a handful of laconic responses – has been an oppressive and overwhelming silence. In many instances, receipt of the complaints has not even been noted.
Israel to respond Saturday to Abbas grievances
AFP 11 May — Israel will reply on Saturday to a letter from Mahmoud Abbas voicing the Palestinian president’s grievances over the failed peace process, a senior Palestinian official said. The message from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be delivered by his chief negotiator Yitzhak Molcho to Abbas at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, the official said Friday on condition of anonymity. An Israeli official questioned by AFP said he was “not aware” of such a move. On April 17, Abbas sent Netanyahu a letter which Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath said was meant to challenge the Israeli leader over the collapse of the peace process and “put Mr Netanyahu on the spot.”
Earthquake felt across the eastern Mediterranean
JERUSALEM (Reuters/Ma‘an) 12 May — An earthquake was felt across the eastern Mediterranean region on Friday night, although no casualties or damage was reported. The United States Geological Survey’s web site said a 5.5 magnitude quake at a depth of 19.8 kilometers occurred in the sea between Cyprus and Lebanon at 9:48 p.m. Director of an-Najah University’s Urban Planning and Disaster Risk Reduction Center, Jalal Dabeek, told Ma‘an that the earthquake was felt more clearly in the northern West Bank, namely in Nablus and Jenin.
IDF searching for 4,500 deserters, draft dodgers
Ynet 10 May — Military Police mounts operation to catch deserters, draft dodgers as their rate significantly increases
Opinion / Analysis
Palestinian Authority silent as Israel consolidates fuel monopoly
EI 11 May by Charlotte Silver — “There’s no money in this job — everything I earn goes to pay for gasoline,” a Ramallah cab driver laments, while hurtling down a street on the outskirts of the occupied West Bank city. Cab drivers are not the only ones who have felt the pinch of rising gasoline prices in the West Bank. The price of basic foodstuffs — maize, vegetable oil and bread — is higher than ever, after rising steadily since 2011 … Israel exercises exclusive rights over the supply of fuel to the Palestinian population, despite the fact that the West Bank and Gaza Strip should be able to import cheaper petrol from oil-rich neighbors and alleged allies, or tap into gas reserves off the coast of Gaza. The expensive — and in the case of Gaza, sparse — gasoline is a consequence of Israel’s control that has yet to be challenged by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority.
The rise and rise of Sheikh Raed Salah, Israel’s most prominent Islamist wins his case against Britain’s home secretary
MEMO posted 11 May by Dr. Tilde Rosmer — …The deportation case of Salah demonstrates that even in Britain there is a fine line between criticism of Israel which is tolerated and that which draws accusations of anti-Semitism. It has also thrown into sharp relief the polarisation of British Jewish and Muslim voices in respect of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. One positive outcome is that it briefly brought the often forgotten predicament of Palestinian citizens of Israel to the attention of the British and international media. It has also certainly raised the international profile of the Islamic Movement of Israel and especially the leader of its Northern branch, Sheikh Raed Salah himself.
West Bank mosque raises questions about donor aid in Palestine
11 May by Joseph Dana — The Palestinian economy is characterized by a reliance on huge sums of international foreign aid – they are one of the largest recipients in the world. But where exactly this money gets spent is not always so obvious. In a small town just outside the boundaries of Jerusalem, a construction project is nearing completion which has been funded by the president and emir of the United Arab Emirates, Shiekh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan. When finished it will be one of the largest mosques in the Middle East, and it’s raising questions among local residents about the role and necessity of donor aid in the West Bank, as I report in my latest audio piece for Monocle 24.
Israel’s huge reward / Nina Burleigh
Salon.com 11 May — As progressives total up the ways Obama dashed their hopes for the elusive change we can believe in, there is one big, broken change-promise that no one mentions these days. Three years ago this month, Obama met with Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and told him that the West Bank settlements had to cease. “The settlements have to be stopped in order for us to move forward,” said Barack Obama, at his first presidential meeting with the Israeli leader … But the settlements have not stopped and, rather than rebuking Israel, the U.S. government is preparing to reward it more than ever before. This week, the U.S. House Subcommittee on Appropriations passed a bill handing over the most money ever in one year to Israeli defense: just shy of a billion dollars toward three Israeli missile defense projects, called Iron Dome, David’s Shield and Arrow.
Q&A: Israel’s military looks to the sea / Edmund Sanders
TEL AVIV (LA Times) 11 May — Israel buys a sixth German-made submarine. A navy officer explains why Israel’s military is looking increasingly to the seas — With the acquisition this month of a sixth German-made submarine, Israel is seeking to position itself as the region’s undisputed naval powerhouse. From spying on enemies to intercepting illegal arms shipments to blockading the Gaza Strip, Israel’s naval capabilities are playing a more prominent role in the nation’s security. The latest advanced German sub, with a price tag of more than $500 million, is Israel’s most expensive piece of military equipment.
Egypt-Israel gas issue becoming explosive
IPS 11 May by Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani — The two weeks since Egypt’s abrupt cancellation of a Mubarak-era gas-export deal with Israel have seen an exchange of indirect threats and warnings between the two countries, culminating in an apparent Israeli military build-up on the border of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. “In recent days, Israel appears to have begun preparing for military deployments on its southern border,” Tarek Fahmi, head of the Israel desk at the Cairo-based National Centre for Middle East Studies, told IPS. On April 22, Egypt unilaterally cancelled a 2005 export agreement for the sale of natural gas to Israel, which for the past five years had ensured a steady supply of Egyptian gas from the northern Sinai Peninsula to Israel.
A tipping point for Israel / Philip Giraldi
Antiwar 10 May — A tipping point is where physical momentum, inclined in one direction, reverses its course, stabilizes, and then begins to move the opposite way. Those of us who have been arguing for a sane United States foreign policy in the Middle East have well understood that the odds on shifting the prevailing narrative have been heavily against us thanks to the overwhelming resources possessed by a powerful domestic lobby. Ten years ago in America, it was impossible to place even a letter in a mainstream newspaper or magazine that was in any way critical of Israel. Apart from Pat Buchanan, no one on television provided a critique of Israel and its policies. In the U.S. media, Israel was ever the beleaguered little democracy surrounded by savage Arabs. But then, all of a sudden, the conspiracy of silence began to break down. It began with the revisionist history of the antecedents of the Iraq War as that conflict continued to drag on.
Federal appeals court in Ore. takes up no-fly case
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) 11 May — A federal appeals court judge leaned forward in his chair, turned his head to the Justice Department attorney defending the government’s no-fly list and posed a frank question. “Let’s say you want to fly back to Washington, and you find yourself on the no-fly list,” 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Alex Kozinsky said Friday. “You’re sitting in an airport, stranded. You think, ‘my God, I went to law school, I work for (the Justice Department), in my heart I know I did nothing wrong.’ What do you do?” Fifteen Muslim men who faced circumstances similar to the hypothetical one asked by Kozinsky, are suing the federal government over their placement on the FBI’s no-fly list. They had tried to board flights — either domestic or returning to the U.S. — and were told they couldn’t fly.