Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid / Restriction of movement
Army to arrest, deport internationals living in the West Bank
IMEMC 11 July — Israeli Ynet News reported that the Israeli Central Command Chief, Nitzan Alon, signed an order granting the Israeli Population and Immigration Authority “the right to search for, and arrest, internationals illegally living in the occupied West Bank, in order to deport them”. Alon described the foreigners residing in the West Bank without a permit from Israel as “infiltrators”, and said that they all must be sent back to their countries. Under this order, the army will be allowed to arrest foreigners in the Palestinian territories, move them into prisons in Israel until all deportation measures and documentations are concluded … Israel is in control of all border terminals in the West Bank, internationals living in the Palestinian territories face numerous hardships and obstacles as Israel refuses to renew their entry visas…
Israeli restrictions against internationals living in the West Bank are also forcing the separation of hundreds of families where Palestinians are married to Arab or international spouses as Israel is refusing to grant them family reunification documents.
Salesian nuns and priests to be separated by Apartheid Wall
Elect. Int. 10 July by Alice Bach — The Salesian Sisters of Cremisan, led by Mother Adriana, run a school for Palestinian children. The nuns were told in September 2011 that the Apartheid Wall would bisect their land. By separating their convent and school from the villages, particularly al-Walaja, where the school children live, the peaceful town of Beit Jala will become another Hebron. The Israelis intend to create another area of the occupied West Bank virtually unlivable, complete with armed Israeli soldiers who will circle like buzzards around the checkpoint that the children will have to go through twice a day in order to attend school. That is, if their families are given the new IDs that will allow them to cross to the other side of the Wall. What the Israeli Defense Ministry has recently proposed is to leave the nuns on the West Bank side of the Wall and the monks on the Israeli side. I realize that the Defense Ministry’s plan is somewhat confusing geographically since both sides of Beit Jala are clearly on Palestinian land, often called the West Bank, without reference to ownership of the land…
When the Apartheid Wall splits Bethlehem yet again, approximately 50 families of laborers who work in the Salesian Friary’s Cremisan vineyards, in Beit Jala, will be without work. These workers have been coming to Cremisan from local villages, pruning and hand-tending the vines, and harvesting the grapes as their families have done for more than 100 years.
IOA launches aerial survey to complete construction of separation wall
BETHLEHEM (PIC) 12 July — The Israeli occupation authority launched an aerial survey of Khader village, south of Bethlehem, on Wednesday in preparation for completing the construction of part of the segregation wall. Ahmed Salah, the coordinator of the popular anti wall committee in Khader village, said that the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) installed a military barrier at the entrance to the village apparently in preparation for resuming work in the wall. He noted that IOF soldiers stormed the village in a number of armored vehicles and took photos of houses near to the site of the separation wall, adding that at the same time planes of the civil administration made the survey of the same area called Nashash. Salah said that completing this sector of the wall would bar Palestinian farmers from reaching their land, around 22000 dunums of cultivated land, and they would have to trek dozens of kilometers to reach it or go through the IOF-controlled gate that allow entry of farmers alone without their tools or cattle.
Israel drills for oil near West Bank
RAMALLAH, West Bank (UPI) 11 July — Israel is reported to be drilling for oil close to the occupied West Bank after a government-commissioned report recommended legalizing Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territory on the bizarre premise that the occupation does not exist. At the same time, Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reports the hard-line energy and water resources minister, Uzi Landau, has decided to issue permits for oil and gas exploration in the occupied Golan Heights. Like the West Bank, the volcanic plateau that dominates Israel’s northern border was captured by Israeli forces during the 1967 Middle East war. The occupied southern half of the Golan, an area of 500 square miles that provides Israel with one third of its water, was annexed by the Jewish state in 1981.
These moves by the right wing-dominated coalition government of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu could have immense political repercussions and add a new and disruptive dimension to the floundering peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. It could also go some way to explaining the politically explosive conclusions reached by the commission, with pronounced pro-settler sympathies, set up under former Supreme Court Vice President Judge Edmund Levy to explore the legal status of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
Excavations detected in Sheikh Muwannis cemetery in Yafa
YAFA (PIC) 11 July — Al-Aqsa Foundation for Waqf and Heritage revealed that the Zionist “Solel Boneh” construction company launched excavations in the cemetery of Al-Sheikh Muwannis village in Yafa [Jaffa, Yafo]. The excavations were accompanied with digging operations aimed at preparing the site for building residential apartments for the University of Tel Aviv’s students and a shopping center, Al-Aqsa Foundation said. It also reported in a press release on Wednesday that: “These excavations had been detected during a tour by the Foundation’s delegation when they saw the remains of gravestones, as well as parts of skeletons.” It also denounced such procedure considering it “a crime and a violation of the sanctity of the dead.”
Israeli incursions at Al Aqsa Mosque occur almost daily, not just holidays
MEMO 12 July — A field study prepared by a Palestinian organisation which monitors Israeli human rights and other violations in Jerusalem has concluded that the Israeli occupation authorities are trying to impose a division of access to Al-Aqsa Mosque with implicit Jewish presence daily on three axes. The study was conducted by Al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage in cooperation with the Foundation for the Architecture of Al-Aqsa and Sanctities. The three axes are based on incursions by settlers almost daily around and in Al-Aqsa Mosque, which include the performance of Talmudic rituals; the storming of the mosque by Israeli soldiers in uniform and their extensive “exploratory” tours; and incursions of Israeli intelligence groups and their snooping around the buildings of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Strengthening the Jewish presence: The study said that the Israelis are trying to strengthen the Jewish presence in Al-Aqsa, especially in the morning, by an average of 450 illegal settlers per month as well as 300 intelligence agents and soldiers in uniform, in order to create a “routine” stereotype for the Jewish presence in the Noble Sanctuary. It warned that if unchecked this could lead to a unilateral division of access to the Mosque between Muslims and Jews.
Israeli eradication of history: Disappearing mosques / Jonathan Cook
Al Akhbar 9 July — The discovery of a rare aerial photo of Jerusalem in the 1930s, taken by a Zeppelin, has provided the long-sought after proof that when Israel occupied the Old City in 1967 it secretly destroyed an important mosque that dated from the time of Saladin close to the al-Aqsa mosque. The destruction of the Sheikh Eid mosque — in an area widely considered to be the most sensitive site in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — revives questions about Israel’s continuing abuse of Islamic holy places under its control. The issue has been in the spotlight recently because of a growing number of arson and vandalism attacks by Jewish extremists on mosques in Jerusalem and the West Bank … Earlier this year, before the aerial photo was unearthed, development at the spot where the mosque once stood led to damage of what was left of the building below ground, archaeologists now admit. Israel’s Antiquities Authority, its chief archaeological institution, dug up the mosque’s remaining foundations and disinterred a human skeleton, believed to be Sheikh Eid himself.
Israeli experts quibble on the fate of Negev’s Bedouin
Haaretz 12 July — A government panel is busy creating a development plan for unrecognized Bedouin villages. The question is, are the Bedouin prepared to accept it? … At present, government officials agree that the policy of gathering Bedouin into large towns, as was done in the past, must be discontinued and that some of the unrecognized settlements must be recognized as agricultural villages. But there is a fundamental difference of opinion between Bedouin organizations and the panel headed by Begin about the development of Bedouin villages.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians suffer from water supply disruptions in East Jerusalem
Haaretz 11 July — For the past month the water supply to tens of thousands of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem has been sporadic, at times no more than two days a week. The problem affects communities connected to the city water system as well as ones that receive their water from the Palestinian Authority. Those affected are all Jerusalem residents with blue, Israeli-issued identity cards who live on either side of the separation fence. The problem is predominantly on the Palestinian side of the fence in the northern Jerusalem neighborhoods of Ras Khamis, Ras Shahada and Hashalom as well as the Shoafat refugee camp. Residents of these communities say that for the past few weeks they have had a regular water supply only two to three days a week. Sometimes there is water only at night, and usually the water pressure is quite low. Water to these neighborhoods is supplied by Gihon, the Jerusalem municipality’s water corporation.
Israeli soldiers destroy, uproot ancient trees near Qalqilya
QALQILYA, July 10 (WAFA) – Israeli soldiers Tuesday destroyed and uprooted several ancient cypress trees at the entrance of Amatin, a town east of Qalqilya, said Head of Amatin Village Council, Haitham Sawan. He told WAFA that Israeli soldiers, accompanied by military bulldozer, completely destroyed and uprooted numerous trees aged over several hundred years.
Israeli bulldozers demolish water wells near Hebron
HEBRON, July 10 (WAFA) – Israeli bulldozers Tuesday demolished wells used to collect rain water in Farsh al-Hawa area in north of Hebron, which is part of area ‘C’ that falls under the complete Israeli military and civic control, according to local sources. hey told WAFA that Israeli bulldozers demolished several wells that belong to a Palestinian family residing in the area; while Israeli soldiers prevented other Palestinians from reaching the demolished wells.
Israel bans Palestinian from reclaiming own land
BETHLEHEM, July 12 (WAFA) – Israeli forces Thursday handed a Palestinian farmer in Artas, a village south of Bethlehem, a notice banning him from reclaiming his land located near Etzion settlement bloc, a local activist said Thursday. Member of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in Bethlehem Hasan Breijeh said the Israeli notice alleged that landowner Ali Abu Suwi had “unlawfully” paved a road in a section of the land in question, claiming it was state land. However, Abu Suwi has presented legal documents proving ownership of land. Breijeh said Israeli forces forced Abu Suwi to destroy the road after it was paved and warned him against working on his land.
Rights groups: Spike in Israeli settler violence
AP 11 July — B’Tselem, UNHRC report of disconcerting rise in cases where ‘settler vigilantes’ attack Palestinians in West Bank ‘in hope of driving them away’ from areas they want to take over — Extremists among Israeli settlers in the West Bank have stepped up attacks on Palestinians in recent years, human rights groups and UN agencies said Wednesday, claiming a lack of Israeli law enforcement has created a climate of impunity.
Israelis write anti-Arab slogans on property near Hebron
HEBRON, July 12 (WAFA) – Israeli settlers Thursday spray-painted anti-Arab graffiti on Palestinian tents in Khirbet Susiya, a locale in the south of Hebron, according to local sources. Ratib al-Jabour, coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, told WAFA that settlers wrote offensive slogans on tents and water tanks, inciting revenge against Arabs and calling to expel them.
Groups to present movie on village’s struggle for survival
AT-TUWANI, SOUTH HEBRON HILLS, July 9 (WAFA) – Two groups, one international and the other Israeli, are planning to present for public screening a movie that depicts life in At-Tuwani, a small Palestinian village in the hills southeast of Hebron, and its struggle for survival against Israeli plots to evacuate it from its residents, according to a press release. Operation Dove, the nonviolent peace corps of the non-governmental organization Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII – Condivisione fra i Popoli, and Alternative Information Center plan to launch three public screenings of “Tomorrow’s Land, how we decided to tear down the invisible wall” in the West Bank and Jerusalem in the coming days.
Video: Are Israeli settlements legal? Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah vs. Commentary’s Jonathan Tobin
Democracy Now 11 July — An Israeli government committee has affirmed the country’s self-proclaimed right to build settlements throughout the occupied West Bank, and recommended the legalization of dozens of settler outposts that have not received government authorization. The International Court of Justice has already ruled that all of Israel’s West Bank settlements are illegal, but Israel has said it would only consider dismantling scattered outposts that it has not officially approved. The settlers have used the outposts to seize even more Palestinian land than has already been taken. We host a debate between Jonathan Tobin, Senior Online Editor of Commentary magazine, and Ali Abunimah, co-founder of The Electronic Intifada. [Transcript to come. Check back soon.]
Violence / Raids / Arrests / Provocations
Jerusalem teen gets 8 years for killing Arab man
Ynet 12 July — The Jerusalem District Court has sentenced a 17-year-old Jewish teen to eight years in prison for killing a young Arab man in a racist brawl which took place in Jerusalem in February 2011. The 17-year-old’s sentence was reached as part of a plea bargain. In the verdict, Judge Zvi Segal said that the defendant’s past was taken into consideration and the fact that he had not been aware of the fact that this was a racist crime [what?!?]. The defendant, who stabbed 24-year-old Hussam Rawidi, was indicted for manslaughter, while his three friends were charged with aggravated assault, obstruction of justice and aiding and abetting the crime. The incident occurred in central Jerusalem around 2 am, after the Jewish teens had vodka earlier that evening. They encountered Rawidi and his friend, and began shouting racial slurs at them, such as: “Death to Arabs” and “You’re all sons-of-bitches.”
Palestinian shot by Israeli army, then stabbed by settlers
IMEMC 11 July — Israeli forces shot a Palestinian man in the northern West Bank on Saturday and then a group of Israeli settlers repeatedly stabbed him, a Palestinian official told Ma‘an news. The incident happened in Yanun village, south of Nablus. Jawdat Bani Jabir, 43, was shot by soldiers in the face and the foot. Then a group of Israeli settlers entered the village and began stabbing him repeatedly. His current condition could not be confirmed.
Army shuts down Hebron’s Old City
IMEMC 12 July — Palestinian sources in Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, reported that Israeli soldiers invaded, on Tuesday evening, the Old City of Hebron leading to clashes with local youths, and entirely sealed all entrances of the Old city forcing all stores to shut down. Issa Amro, a local activist in the Old city said that soldiers and fundamentalist Israeli settlers clashed with local youths, and fired rounds of live ammunition at them. The clashes took place after a number of armed fundamentalist settlers hurled stones at several residents and their cars, and issue that pushed local youths to hurl stones back at them. Amro said that the soldiers fired rubber-coated metal bullets and gas bombs at the protesters; dozens were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation while an 18-year-old girl was hit in her arm by a gas bomb fired by the army and suffered moderate injuries.
Wednesday: Israeli forces arrest 14 in West Bank
RAMALLAH, July 11 (WAFA) – Israeli forces Wednesday arrested 14 Palestinians from the Qalqilya area in the north of the West Bank and the Hebron area in the south, according to local activists. They said forces arrested nine people during a night raid at the Qalqilya area village of Azzoun, including three minors and two in their 40s. Army units raided homes in Azzoun, ransacking them and arrested nine people.
In the city of Hebron, soldiers arrested a 20-year-old student studying at the Polytechnic College and two other people, one of them 50 years old.
Forces also raided the town of Sa‘ir, northeast of Hebron, and arrested one resident after searching several homes in the area.
Soldiers also arrested a former prisoner in the town of Beit Ummar, north of Hebron. Sources said soldiers arrested Jalal Rai, 42, who had spent a total of 12 years in Israeli jails. They said Rai had recently a work accident that caused him a leg fracture, yet the soldiers took him away in spite of his injury.
Thursday: Israel arrests 17 Palestinians in series of raids
IMEMC 12 July — A total of 17 Palestinians were arrested in different parts of the West Bank on Thursday and transferred to centres for interrogation.
In the city of Tubas in the northern part of the West Bank, soldiers raided several homes. In one incident, an eyewitness stated that soldiers raided the home of Hamada Mahmoud Abu Salah and stole NIS 9000 while the family were detained in a separate room. Elsewhere, Jamal Masalmani, 18, was arrested and taken to an unknown location after his father’s home was raided.
A military checkpoint was erected between the cities of al-Rama and Ejja, south of Jenin, and several Palestinians were arrested.
PA intelligence detains citizen, asks him to hand in his wife
RAMALLAH (PIC) 12 July — The PA intelligence in Ramallah arrested Ziyad Mishaal on Thursday and told him to bring in his wife or else she would be arrested in an inappropriate manner. Their son Muadh told Quds Press that the intelligence agents told his father that he should hand in his wife Rahma Allan, 49, within a week. He added that the intelligence arrested his father, 55, while on his way from Silwad to Ramallah, adding that his father is a Silwad municipal council member. Muadh, a journalist, said that his mother refused two previous intelligence summonses
Palestinian killed in fresh Israeli airstrikes on Gaza
IMEMC 12 July 13:05 — Mahmoud al-Haiji, 27, was killed and another man injured as the Israeli bombardment of Gaza continued on Thursday. Both men were in the Gaza City neighborhood of al-Zaytoun when Israeli warplanes launched their missiles. Ashraf al-Qudra, A spokesman for the ministry of health in Gaza, reported that al-Haiji, a fighter with the al-Qassam Brigades, died at Shifa hospital. Israel claimed they were planning to launch an attack on Israeli soldiers patrolling the Gaza border.
Several wounded by Israeli fire in Gaza
IMEMC 12 July 10:19 — Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip report that several Palestinians suffered moderate-to-severe injuries when the Israeli army fired artillery shells before invading Ash-Shijaeyya neighborhood, east of Gaza City. Dr. Ashraf Al-Qodra, spokesperson of the Ministry of Health in Gaza, stated that the army fired several shells into the area leading to excessive damage and three injuries. All wounded residents were moved to the Ash-Shifa Hospital in Gaza. Furthermore, several armored Israeli military vehicles and a number of armored bulldozers invaded the area, and uprooted farmlands while the army fired shells and rounds of live ammunition. One of the shells fired by the army struck a car driving in An-Nazzaz Street, in Ash-Shijaeyya, leading to several injuries.
15 Palestinians killed by army fire [in Gaza] in June
IMEMC 11 July — The Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights reported that Israeli soldiers shot and killed 15 Palestinians during the latest escalation against the Gaza Strip in June, including three children. At least 75 residents, including 16 children and five women, were wounded … It added that Israeli strikes and bombardment led to the complete destruction of five homes and caused damage to 51 homes, in addition to 11,200 square meters of agricultural lands, agricultural water-wells, a chicken farm, a sheep farm, and three factories in addition to several other civilian structures … The al-Mezan Center documented 25 attacks against the fishermen and their fishing boats in which the Israeli Navy abducted 13 fishermen, and confiscated 5 fishing boats. Most of the attacks carried out against the civilians in Gaza targeted areas close to the border, especially in the northern and southern parts of the Gaza Strip, leading to four injuries among farmers and workers, in addition to excessive damage to civilian property and homes
Israeli fury at UNESCO academic chair in Gaza
MEMO 12 July — Israeli officials have reacted with anger to UNESCO’s decision to endow an academic chair at the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG). This, claim the Israelis, is an “endorsement of terrorism”. “The chair,” said one Israeli official, “is seen as a stamp of approval from the international body, implying recognition of the university’s importance as an academic institution.” The Israelis regard the IUG as a “terrorist organisation” as many of those who resist Israel’s occupation of Palestine are graduates. The Israeli ambassador to UNESCO has held intense discussions with the organisation and announced that he is going to submit a formal letter of protest.
Israel attacked and bombed the IUG during the war against the Gaza Strip in 2008/2009, destroying the science building “because it produces rockets and bombs”. International weapons experts denied these allegations after specific tests conducted after the war.
Photoblog: Ibrahim’s wheels
Al Akhbar 9 July by Shuaib Abu Jahal –Every morning at 8 am, Ibrahim Abu-Thurya, a 26 year old Gazan native, heads to the streets to earn his daily bread. His job as a car-washer supports his family of 11. Ibrahim has been injured four times by Israeli attacks since the age of 12, the most serious of which was an artillery shell took both of his legs in 2008, confining him to a wheelchair for life. Due to the harsh living conditions in the Gaza strip, and after the family’s living expenses exceeded the $300 that the Ministry of Social Affairs allocated to him for being wounded, Ibrahim was forced to work to provide food for his family. Ibrahim wheels around the streets of Gaza searching for cars to clean. He maneuvers deftly with his rag and bucket and tries his best to reach every part of the car. All this for $1.5, $3 if the car owner decides to be generous.
Video: Rafah border crossing to open round the clock
AJE 12 July — Egypt is considering plans to keep its border crossing with the Gaza Strip open round the clock. Under former President Hosni Mubarak, the Rafah crossing had been effectively blocked. Since the revolution, it’s open five days a week, benefiting thousands of Palestinians. Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland reports.
Gaza presents: ‘Prisoners’ Summer Camp’
Ynet 11 July by Elior Levy — …Narrow hallways, interrogation rooms painted black, isolation cells and handcuffed mannequins – this is all part of the setting of a new summer camp operated by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The Islamic group has been operating summer camps for children in all cities and refugee camps throughout the Strip. This year, the organizers came up with an original theme — “the suffering of the Palestinian prisoners” — allowing children to experience first hand the daily lives of prisoners held in Israel.
Hamas eases strict enforcement of Sharia law
GAZA CITY, Gaza (Global Post) 11 July — Five years after seizing power in the Gaza Strip, the Hamas movement appears to have entirely backed off from attempts to impose strict Islamic strictures on life in the coastal territory. Hamas’ largely bearded police force once aggressively stalked Gaza’s streets and beaches, searching for canoodling, unmarried couples and intimidating shop owners selling risqué lingerie. The government ordered female lawyers to cover their hair in court. Citing Islamic traditions, in 2010 it announced bans on women smoking nargileh — the Middle Eastern water pipe. But now, locals say, the Gaza Strip is a much more liberal place … More than 90 percent of Gaza’s 1.5 million people are Muslims, but the territory is also home to a minority group of Christians and secularists — as well as Muslims whom balk at government interference in personal or religious matters..
Prisoners (Israel, PA)
Osama Az-Zaree‘ey, the only detainee currently held under ‘Illegitimate Combatant Law’
IMEMC 12 July — The Detainees’ Study Center reported Wednesday that, following the release of detainee Mahmoud Sarsak on Tuesday, one Palestinian detainee remains imprisoned under the Israeli “Illegitimate Combatant Law”. Detainee Osama Hajjaj Az-Zaree‘ey has been held by Israel without charges or trial since June 2, 2008; back then, he received a six-month detention order without charges, and Israel kept renewing these orders against him since then under the claim that he is an “illegitimate combatant”, but never filed charges against him … Nearly 45 days ago, Israel released Rami Sayyed Abu Jalala, from Jabalia in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, after holding him under the “illegitimate combatant” order for 3 consecutive years without any charges or trial.
Riyadh Al-Ashqar, head of the Media Department at the Detainees Study Center, stated that Israel passed the “illegitimate combatant law” in December of 2005, following its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip … The law is similar to the Administrative Detention orders Israel issues and renews against hundreds of detainees, without charges or trial, but the Illegitimate Combatant Law was specifically designed for Gaza Strip detainees, believed to be members of the armed resistance, despite the fact that no charges are ever filed against them.
Haniyeh visits the liberated prisoner Sarsak
GAZA (PIC) 12 July — The Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has visited the liberated prisoner Mahmoud Sarsak who was released after his successful hunger strike which lasted for 96 days in a row, and congratulated him and his family and all the Palestinian people on this great victory … He wished Sarsak to live happy and good life and to continue the struggle against occupation through his sport skills, adding that the government will help him to return to his normal life as a football player.
Ministry monitors increasing blindness among Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails
MEMO 10 July — Palestinian Authority report has recorded an increase in the number of prisoners suffering from loss of vision and deteriorating sight in Israeli jails as a result, it is claimed, of medical negligence. The report by the Ministry of Detainees’ and Ex-Detainees’ Affairs in Ramallah points to the number of Palestinian prisoners who are at risk of losing their eyesight completely. It cites the example of Mustafa Salloum, 24, who has been in Israel’s Megiddo Prison since his arrest in March 2008 and is suffering from severe infections in his right eye socket – he already has an artificial eye – but the prison administration refuses to let him see a specialist … Other case histories noted by the ministry report include Muhammad Ali Adwan, 21, acute inflammation in his left eye, and white water resulting in sight loss; Mohammed Khamis Brash, 32, severe pain and loss of eyesight; Muhammad Tawfiq Guadrh, 35, a disease of the nerves which affects the sight leading to gradual blindness; and Yasser Nabil Sharbati, 34, detached retina which means he has severely restricted vision.
Artistic director of the Freedom Theatre commences hunger strike
PNN 9 July — The artistic director of The Freedom Theatre, Nabil Al-Raee, has declared that he has begun an open hunger strike in protest against his current detention in an Israeli Prison. Al-Raee officially began his hunger strike on the 6th of July, stating “I don’t know why I’m here. There is no reason for them to keep me here.” Nabil Al-Raee was arrested on the 6th of June at 3:00 am, during a night raid by the IOF. For the first two weeks of his imprisonment, both his lawyer and his family were not allowed to visit him and no charges were brought against him. In Nabil Al-Raee’s second court case, the military judge declared that there was no evidence of any illegal activity committed by Al-Raee. However, the military judge gave the prosecution a 48-hour time period to appeal, which they did; bringing forward a third accusation. His current charges consist of possessing firearms and assisting a wanted fugitive. Micaela Miranda, Nabil’s wife, described the charges as a “farce”
Call for international inquiry into conditions for sick prisoners in Israeli jails
MEMO 11 July — Following the refusal of the Israel authorities to allow Palestinian and international medical teams into their prisons, a call has been made for an international inquiry into the conditions in which seriously ill prisoners are being held. A national Palestinian committee for prisoners’ affairs said that the circle of physical and psychological violence against prisoners continues to get wider. “This calls for a lobby made up of Palestinian, Arab and international human rights groups to rally world opinion.” The intention would be to expand the solidarity campaigns and focus on the portfolio of sick prisoners in Israeli jails. In a statement sent to the local media, the committee also demanded that pressure be put on the Israeli occupation authorities to get them to close the Ramle Prison hospital as it lacks the minimum elements of medical care.
PA security services transfer Al Aker to prison 2 hours after undergoing surgery
NABLUS (PIC) 12 July — PA intelligence agency has transferred, on Wednesday, the political prisoner Abdullah al-Aker to Rafidia hospital to undergo a surgery, and after less than two hours of the surgery he has been returned to prison despite his health deteriorating and critical condition. Family sources confirmed that he announced his hunger strike protesting against his re-arrest despite his health deterioration and to demand the PA security forces to release him, especially after repeated false promises to set him free.
The Death of Yasser Arafat
Palestinian officials hesitant on Arafat autopsy
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 12 July — In an apparent flip-flop, Palestinian investigators looking into Yasser Arafat’s death said Thursday they want to review reports from a Swiss lab before deciding whether to exhume the leader’s remains. Earlier this week, a senior West Bank official said a final decision was made to examine Arafat’s bones. That development followed an announcement by Switzerland’s Institute of Radiation Physics, which said it found unexplained, elevated traces of a radioactive agent, polonium-210, on clothing and personal items Arafat used before his Nov. 11, 2004 death at a French military hospital. The lab said the results were inconclusive and that Arafat’s remains would have to be tested to learn more.
Palestinians pressured not to seek international probe into Arafat’s death
RAMALLAH (Xinhua) 10 July — The Palestinians’ efforts to launch an international probe into the 2004 death of ex-leader Yasser Arafat face serious obstacles, a Palestinian official said Tuesday. The obstacles stem from the opposition by some countries including the United States and France, the official said on condition of anonymity. The United States has put pressure on the Palestinian leadership not to seek such an investigation because it can lead to some negative consequences on the Middle East peace process, which has been stalled since 2010, according to the official. The amount of pressure mounted on the Palestinian leaders might foil their efforts to stage an international probe into Arafat’s death, the official added.
Ramallah reacts to Arafat poisoning claims
Al Jazeera In Depth by Linah Alsaafin — Many Palestinians seem to believe Arafat was poisoned by the Israeli intelligence or from within Fatah’s ranks — …The last image of the leader was one of a wasted old man in grey pyjamas, sitting in a wheelchair, waving and blowing kisses to the Palestinians just before boarding a French government jet. Even as he lay in the hospital bed (with Dr Ashraf al-Kurdi, Arafat’s personal physician for 18 years, reportedly denied access), the Palestinian streets were rife with speculation that Arafat had been poisoned – with allegations aimed at figures ranging from the Israeli intelligence establishment to power-hungry officials within his own political party, Fatah.
Palestinian Authority wants all facts about Arafat’s death revealed
RAMALLAH, July 12 (WAFA) – The Palestinian Authority said Thursday that it will do all it can to reveal the truth behind the death of former President Yasser Arafat. Presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said at a press conference attended by Abdullah al-Bashir, the Jordanian doctor who heads the medical team investigating Arafat’s death, Tawfiq Tirawi, head of the national committee investigating the death, and Minister of Justice Ali Muhanna that President Mahmoud Abbas wants all the facts regarding Arafat’s death revealed. “There will be no obstacle put in the way of any party seeking to reveal the truth,” he said.
Medical investigator on Arafat death to arrive in West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 July — The head of a medical committee investigating the death of President Yasser Arafat will arrive in the West Bank on Wednesday. Abdullah Al-Basheer, a doctor in Jordan, will spend three days in Ramallah, where he will meet Palestinian leaders and conduct medical lectures, he told Jordanian newspaper Al-Rai. Al-Basheer will also examine Arafat’s medical reports, and has begun communications with the Swiss laboratory that found abnormal levels of a rare and radioactive element called polonium on his belongings. He noted that medical reports indicate Arafat’s symptoms prior to his death in 2004 are not consistent with this radioactive element.
Political and Economic News
Abbas to visit Saudi Arabia to discuss PA financial crisis
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 11 July — … Abbas chose to visit Saudi Arabia because “it has always been supportive to the PA at all levels,” PLO Secretary-General Yasser Abed Rabbo told the official PA radio station the Voice of Palestine. He said the PA would send letters and official delegations to several Arab countries seeking aid to help end the PA’s financial crisis.
PA salaries expected to arrive Thursday
RAMLLAH (Ma‘an) 11 July — The Palestinian Authority minister of finance, Nabil Qassis, said Wednesday that [part of] public employees’ salaries would be in banks within 24 hours. Sixty percent of the salaries will be transferred, he said, thanks to the arrival of aid to the Palestinian Authority.
EU commissioner pens $25 million deal for PA rule of law
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 8 July – European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, on a visit to the West Bank on Sunday, signed a 20 million euro ($25 million) funding deal for rule of law and justice projects. After meeting Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Ramallah, Barroso lauded the PA’s institution-building work, stressing the EU’s commitment to a two-state solution to the conflict with Israel.
US envoy Burns meets Abbas in West Bank
AFP 11 July — Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas met on Wednesday with US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns to discuss the stalled peace process, the official WAFA news agency said. “President Abbas briefed Burns on the latest developments in the political process, which is stalled because of the intransigent position of the Israeli government,” a statement from Abbas’s office published by WAFA said.
US threatens to cut all aid to Palestinian Authority
IMEMC 11 July — On Tuesday Khaled Mesmar, head of the Political Committee of the Palestinian National Council, reported that an official statement issued by Washington had been received demanding that if another membership bid was put to the United Nations, then all financial aid to the Palestine Liberation Office in Washington would be cut.
Palestine, Thailand to launch diplomatic relations in August
BANGKOK, July 11 (WAFA) – Minister of Foreign Affairs Riyad al-Malki declared a joint Palestinian-Thai agreement to launch diplomatic relations between Palestine and Thailand starting in August of 2012, Wednesday said a statement released by his office … The foreign ministers agreed that Thailand would temporarily use its embassy in Jordan, while Palestine would temporarily use its embassy in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lampur, said the statement.
Tunisian president receives Mishaal, Hamas delegation
TUNIS (PIC) 12 July — Tunisian president Al-Muncef Al-Marzouqi received political bureau chairman of Hamas Khaled Mishaal and the accompanying delegation at Carthage Palace on Wednesday night. A Hamas statement quoted Mishaal as expressing pleasure for visiting Tunisia after its victorious revolution, which, he said, was an inspiration for other Arab countries. Mishaal also briefed the president on latest Palestinian developments and reconciliation efforts. For his part, the Tunisian president affirmed his country’s unwavering support for the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights, adding that the Palestine cause was backed by all spectrums of the Tunisian political arena.
Activism / Solidarity / BDS
NY ads depicting Palestinian dispossession are termed antisemitic by ‘Jewish community’
Mondoweiss 12 July by Philip Weiss — The graphic above, long distributed on postcards at Palestinian solidarity events, is a work of genius; it explains the history of Israel and Palestine better than any other quick summary. Andrew Sullivan published it last year. My wife saw the postcard once and was soon citing it at dinner parties. “Have you seen the maps? Well I have!” Now this graphic has made the bigtime. It’s part of an ad on train platforms aimed at the elite in the New York suburbs. Here’s reporting by Bob Ryser in the Journal News in the Hudson Valley. (A photo at the link shows how the graphic is used in a larger ad). Note the conflation of the “Jewish community” with Zionism, and the claim that ad-buyer Henry Clifford has “little following.”
Palestine takes center stage at World Pride
Mondoweiss 11 July by Sarah Colborne — Over the last few years, the Israeli government has been running a marketing campaign, ‘Brand Israel’, with a particular eye on gay tourism. Although there is a financial incentive in attracting the ‘pink pound’ to Israel, the key element has been to present an alternative image of Israel … World Pride, with a march through London and a rally in Trafalgar Square, provided an ideal target audience for an initiative to ‘pinkwash’ Israel … But as Harel Skaat, Israel’s 2010 Eurovision entrant, came on stage, a sea of Palestinian flags sprang up in the audience and were waved high above the crowds throughout his performance and through some excruciatingly bad lip-syncing from the next act, 4 Drag Queens from Tel Aviv. The Palestinian theme continued to snowball.
Ban on settlement goods wouldn’t break EU laws
MEMO 11 July by Samira Shackle — Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are illegal under international law. This is a fact, accepted by most countries in the world, so prohibition of trade with these settlements – distinct from a ban on Israel proper – might seem like a no-brainer. Such a ban is generally considered less contentious, and there is a substantial movement even within Israel to boycott goods made over “the Green Line”. But despite agreeing that settlements are illegal, there has been concern among European Union officials that it could be a breach of European or global trade law for member states to ban imports of settlement produce, or prohibit banks from financing settlement business. That could all be about to change, after a new report has suggested that states would be fully within their rights to implement such a ban. The report, by Cambridge law professor James Crawford, says that “there do not appear to be any EC laws which could be breached by a member state taking the decision to ban the import of settlement produce on public policy grounds.”
Academics call to cut EU funds to Israeli companies
LONDON, July 12 (WAFA) – Around 250 European academics sent a letter to the European Union Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science calling to exclude Israeli companies engaged in violations of international law from receiving EU funding and to introduce new legislation that would prevent them from doing so; according to a copy of a letter WAFA received on Thursday. The letter considered the participation in and aid to Israeli companies involved in serious breaches of international law, such as construction of the Apartheid Wall and relations to illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian land to “seriously undermines both the reputation of these programs and the stated goals of the European Union and its member states.”
Groups want fund to divest from firms profiting from occupation
NEW YORK, July 12 (WAFA) – The Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and other human rights groups urged the College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF) to stop investing in companies that profit from Israel’s occupation and colonization of Palestinian lands, according to a statement published Thursday. The groups plan to rally at the pension fund annual meeting in New York City next week to express their view … “Divestment supporters will remind TIAA-CREF trustees that they are profiting from companies whose products are used to destroy Palestinian schools, make Palestinian families homeless, and to deny millions of Palestinians basic human rights like freedom of movement,” [the press release] said.
Group says largest security firm violates international law
RAMALLAH, July 11 (WAFA) – A Palestinian rights group said the world’s largest security firm, the British-Danish G4S, violates international law through its cooperation and work in the Israeli occupied territory. Stop the Wall Campaign called in a statement for action to boycott this company and force it to pull out its operations from and investments in Israel … Through its subsidiary G4S Israel (Hashmira) it provides equipment for Israeli-run checkpoints and terminals in the West Bank and Gaza and a security system to the Israeli armored corps base of Nachshonim. The company also operates security systems in several Israeli prisons where Palestinians are held as well as security services to businesses in illegal settlements, including security equipment and personnel to shops and supermarkets in several West bank and East Jerusalem settlements … G4S is the world’s largest security firm and, with almost 700,000 employees, the third largest private sector employer. A British-Danish company headquartered in the UK, the firm has operations in more than 125 countries.
Israeli Racism / Sexism / Discrimination
Racist arson attack leaves 3 injured
IMEMC 12 July — Three people, including a heavily pregnant woman, suffered severe burns and smoke inhalation on Tuesday night in what Israeli police are calling a racist attack — Micky Rosenfeld of the Israeli police reported that there was an arson attack on an apartment in west Jerusalem on Wednesday night. Three Eritreans were seriously injured in the attack. One suffered severe burns while two others were being treated for smoke inhalation.
Superbus to compensate passenger over women’s exclusion
Ynet 11 July — Superbus transportation company will pay NIS 13,000 (some $3,200) in compensations to Ariella Marsden, a 15-year-old high school student who was asked by a bus driver to move to the back of the bus in order to allow two haredi men to sit in the front.
State to Israel High Court: Women must not be excluded from ads
Haaretz 11 July — The State announced before the High Court of Justice on Wednesday that it is vehemently opposed to the exclusion of women from advertisements on buses. About nine months ago, the NGO Yerushalmim, a civic organization dedicated to diversity and pluralism in Jerusalem, petitioned the High Court after the Canaan advertising agency and the Egged Bus Cooperative refused to run the NGO’s advertising campaign featuring women, “Getting to Know the Women of Jerusalem,” in the city. The campaign’s aim was to protest the exclusion of women from the public sphere.
4.29 M total population of Palestinian territory mid 2012, says Statistics
RAMALLAH, July 10 (WAFA) – The total Population of the Palestinian Territory at mid 2012 was about 4.29 million; 2.65 million in the West Bank and 1.64 million in the Gaza Strip, Tuesday said a press release issued on the eve of the international population day by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) … Data revealed that the population of the Palestinian Territory is a young population; the percentage of individuals aged (0-14) constituted 40.4% of the total population at mid 2012 of which 38.4% in the West Bank and 43.7% in Gaza. The elderly population aged 65 years and over constituted 2.9% of the total population of which 3.3% in the West Bank and 2.4% in Gaza of mid 2012 … Data revealed a decline in the average of households’ size in the Palestinian Territory during the period between 1997 and 2011 from 6.4 persons in 1997 to 5.8 in 2011. This average declined in the West Bank from 6.1 persons in 1997 to 5.6 in 2011, while it declined in Gaza from 6.9 persons to 6.4 for the same period
Resheq: We condemn the killing of Palestinian conscripts in Syria as cowardly
TUNIS (PIC) 12 July — …Ezzet Al-Resheq, a political bureau member of Hamas, told the PIC at dawn Thursday that the “brutal killing of 17 conscripts in the Palestinian liberation army (PLA) in Syria was a racist, cowardly act”. He said that the Palestinians in Syria are guests, who do not interfere in the internal affairs of the country and who look forward to the day when they return to their homeland from which they were forcibly uprooted. Palestinian sources said on Wednesday that 16 PLA members were kidnapped and killed on Tuesday night while on the Aleppo-Misyaf road near Idlib. Their number varied from one source to another.
Palestinian women battle to break into business
RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) 11 July — From corner fruit stalls in Hebron to chic Ramallah ballet studios, Palestinian women are making their mark in business, some out of necessity and others looking to break the gender mould and pursue a dream. For Shyrine Ziadeh, a 24-year-old Birzeit University graduate, that dream was to open a dance studio. Now the proud owner of the Ramallah Ballet Center, the first in the West Bank, her sunny, top-floor studio is flooded with classical music and mirrors stretching from wall to wall. Little girls plié in pink ballet shoes and jump over fairy wings.
Arab cyber-attackers hack Knesset website
Haaretz 11 July — A group of hackers calling themselves the “Gaza Hacker Team” hacked into the Knesset’s website on Tuesday night. The hackers posted a communique on the site with a list of demands written in Hebrew, including Israel cease “digging underneath the al-Aqsa Mosque” in Jerusalem, stop building settlements “particularly near the al-Aqsa Mosque,” stop attacks on Gaza and release Palestinian prisoners … Knesset spokesman Yotam Yakir said the breach was detected and dealt with within minutes.
Fayyad, President of European Commission inaugurate Palestinians College for Police
BRUSSELS, July 8 (WAFA) – Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, inaugurated the Palestine College for Police Sciences in Jericho as part of the official visit of Barroso in the occupied Palestinian Territory, Sunday said a press by EU representative office. The construction of the compound – worth €15 million – was a multi-donor effort funded by the European Union as well as Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, the UK and Canada.
Israel to deploy Iron Dome anti-missile system on Egypt border
Reuters 12 July — Rocket intercepting system to be set up near Eilat after the border with Egypt grows tense since a popular uprising ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak last year.
Analysis / Opinion / Human interest
How obsession with nonviolence harms the Palestinian cause / Linah Alsaafin
Elect. Int. 10 July — In recent years, western discourse surrounding the Palestinian cause has employed a few new — and superficial — adjectives to describe Palestinian resistance: Palestinian “nonviolent” resistance, Palestinian “peaceful” resistance, Palestinian ‘popular’ resistance, Palestinian ‘unarmed’ resistance. And the ever so popular Palestinian ‘Gandhi-style‘ resistance … However, the obsessive, fetish-like concentration on a specific type of resistance has in one way or another contributed to the delegitimization of other forms of resistance, while simultaneously closing off open discussion on what popular resistance actually is.An historical overview of Palestinian resistance would testify to its use of different forms, although they were not viewed separately by Palestinians themselves. Palestinians were aware of their rights being stripped from them and confronted their occupiers. There were the 1929 Wailing Wall/Buraq Wall demonstrations against the domination of the site by Jews who were backed by the British Mandate that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Palestinians and Jews; the 1935 armed uprising spearheaded by Izz al-Din Qassam against British soldiers; the six-month trade strike against the British Mandate and Jewish colonialists the following year; and the subsequent three-year uprising brutally crushed by the British.
Nowadays, Israelis and internationals and unfortunately even some ‘enlightened’ Palestinians champion ‘nonviolent resistance’ and consider throwing a rock to be a violent act. The argument goes that throwing rocks tarnishes the reputation of Palestinians in the western world and immediately negates the ‘nonviolent/peaceful’ resistance movement. This argument falls into the trap of western- (read, colonizer) dictated methods of acceptable means to resist. Oppressed people do not and should not have to explain their oppression to their oppressor, nor tailor their resistance to the comfort of the oppressors and their supporters.
Israel’s civil service bill distorts 64 years of Palestinian history / Abir Kopty
The National 10 July — A new bill is being debated in the Israeli Knesset: compulsory civil service for all citizens, including Palestinians and ultra-Orthodox Jews, the two groups that have been exempt. If passed, the bill would force every 18-year-old citizen who is exempted from military service to serve in another public institution for between one and two years …
In 2008, about 250,000 Palestinian citizens of Israel signed a petition rejecting compulsory civil service, the largest such petition in history, and a wide coalition of youth groups and civil society organisations have campaigned against the service under the motto: “We won’t serve our oppressor.” As Palestinians and as citizens, we have every reason to revolt against the state …Israel promotes meaningless soundbites on the issue: “taking equal part in the state’s burden”, or “citizens should volunteer”. But our opposition involves our relationship with the state since its creation, our Nakba in 1948. Despite 64 years of Israeli attempts to wipe us off the map, to destroy and distort our identity, to erase the history of the land, we managed to remain, maintain our identity, and revive our narrative, culture and unity. Unsurprisingly, this effort has always been seen by the Israeli government as a threat.
The connotations of Khalid Meshaal’s visit to Jordan
MEMO 11 July — Last Tuesday’s visit to Amman of the head of the Political Bureau of Hamas, Khalid Meshaal, and a number of the Islamic Resistance Movement’s senior leadership was completely different from the two previous occasions from many perspectives. The visit was the second in six months and the third since Hamas was expelled from Jordan in 1999.
Although the first was a family visit for humanitarian reasons when Mr. Meshaal attended his father’s funeral, it hinted at the stagnation in the relationship between Amman and Hamas. Meshaal, who only had permission to stay for a limited period at that time, did not even meet low level Jordanian officials. The second visit was mediated by the State of Qatar, whose representative Hamad bin-Tamim al-Thani accompanied Meshaal to the Royal Palace. That visit showed Jordanian intent to rebuild good relations with Hamas but there was still a degree of political reserve.
On the latest visit, however, Khalid Meshaal went to Jordan without any mediator and after his assistants had made the arrangements and paved the way for his stay in terms of protocol afforded to the representative of a state. The delegation was hosted with pomp and circumstance by the King in the Royal Palace, including a formal banquet. Official meetings were held behind closed doors; Meshaal and the other Hamas political bureau members had time to meet senior Jordanian officials such as the Prime Minister and other significant figures.
Justice for just us
Haaretz 11 July by Zeev Sternhell — Anyone who wants the Arabs to be integrated should first end the occupation and invest in Arab society and in infrastructure in Arab towns — The two major demonstrations held here recently attracted different participants, but they nevertheless had a common denominator: the illusion that life in Israel can continue as if the country were on a distant, independent planet. It’s convenient for most Israelis to ignore the fact that all of society’s weaknesses are interconnected …
The truth is that the battle over drafting the ultra-Orthodox lacks any real significance, while requiring young Arabs to do civilian service is mere snake oil. In exchange for the generous government support they receive, the ultra-Orthodox should first of all be required to prepare themselves to work in a modern economy by starting to learn math, science, English and history. Only later, if ever, should they learn nighttime navigation and the procedure for arresting a suspect.
Similarly, anyone who wants the Arabs to be integrated should first end the occupation and invest in Arab society and in infrastructure in Arab towns. Once that happens, they’ll enlist in the army voluntarily, because they’ll understand what others have discovered long since: The army is an unparalleled tool for rapid social advancement.
Elias Jubran: Maker of magical instruments
Al Akhbar 6 July — Palestinian instrument-maker Elias Jubran learned how to make the oud and other instruments virtually on his own – a talent he was born with. He recounts the story of his beginnings to Al-Akhbar. Elias Jubran has spent many long years in the small room beneath his house in Rameh, a village in the Galilee, northern Palestine. The “musical operations room” — as he calls it — is packed with ouds and many other types of string instruments. But around a year ago Jubran abandoned it, when his deteriorating health forced him to retire from making musical instruments. He was first acquainted with the oud, his favorite instrument, thanks to his neighbor. “In 1954, when I was a young man, I heard music coming from the house of our neighbor Jad. I followed the sound until I found him playing the oud on the balcony of his home,” he said.
US lawmakers slam Mahmoud Abbas for alleged corruption
Haaretz 11 July — On Tuesday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called Ehud Olmert to congratulate him on the Jerusalem District Court decision that acquitted him of two major corruption charges that led to his resignation as Prime Minister. In an apparent coincidence, the same day in Washington, the House Subcommittee on the Middle East dedicated a large part of its hearing to a discussion on Abbas’ alleged corruption in a hearing titled ““Chronic Kleptocracy: Corruption within the Palestinian Political Establishment.”
Department of alternate reality – and why should people be able to vote in two countries, anyway?
US Republican Ari Fleischer: Obama forcing Israel to make harmful concessions
Haaretz 11 July — Speaking to an audience of dual U.S.-Israeli citizens in Jerusalem, former White House press secretary urges crowd to register to vote — The former White House press secretary for the Bush administration has assailed President Obama for “pushing Israel around” and forcing the Jewish state to “make harmful, unwise concessions.” –
Muslim civil rights groups boycott NYPD’s Ramadan conference
Mondoweiss 11 July by Alex Kane — Last July, some 400 Muslim New Yorkers gathered at the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) annual “pre-Ramadan conference” at police headquarters. Mohamed Shamsi Ali, the imam of the Islamic Cultural Center of New York, delivered prayers while Mayor Michael Bloomberg told the audience that “New York is a city built on religious tolerance.” But this year, the scene was different. In the wake of the New York Police Department’s spy scandal, a coalition of Muslim groups in New York announced a boycott of the Ramadan conference, which was held this morning. Ramadan, the Islamic holy month, begins later this month.
US deploys sea drones to Persian Gulf to clear Iranian mines
WASHINGTON (LA Times) 11 July — The Navy is rushing tiny underwater drones to the Persian Gulf to help find and destroy sea mines as part of an American military buildup aimed at stopping Iran from closing the strategic Strait of Hormuz in the event of a crisis, U.S. officials said … Along with the new submersibles, the Pentagon recently added four minesweeping ships, bringing the total in the area to eight, and four MH-53 minesweeping helicopters. They reinforce a growing U.S. naval, air and ground force aimed at countering Iran, and reassuring Israel, in an uncertain environment. The Obama administration previously sent two aircraft carriers and a squadron of F-22 fighter jets to the region and is keeping two Army brigades in Kuwait. The Pentagon has acknowledged those deployments, but has not publicly disclosed sending underwater drones, apparently to avoid alerting Iran.