More from Today in Palestine….
IOA plans to confiscate citizens’ lands in Tulkarem and al-Khalil
Israeli occupation authorities handed residents in the village of Wadi al-Ghrous in al-Khalil notifications to confiscate seven dunums of their lands for building a settlement road.
Further House demolitions are set to take place after Israeli occupation authorities issued demolition orders for two homes in Beit Ommar, Hebron on Wednesday. The Israeli Civil Administration officials, accompanied by soldiers, issued the orders to Younes Z’Aqeq and Jawed Awad, whose homes are located near to the Karmei Tzur colony. Z’Aqeq and Awad have all the legal documents required to prove ownership of their land. These new demolitions follow the news, in June, that five homes and two wells in Beit Ommar are also to be destroyed.
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Settlers destroyed agricultural crops in two Ramallah villages on Saturday, locals said. Farmer Ramadan Sabri Abu Kamish told Ma’an that settlers from Hallamish uprooted trees and destroyed crops belonging to Jammala and Deir Ammar villages, northwest of Ramallah. The settlers damaged the land using sharp tools, Abu Kamish said, adding that he pleaded with the settlers to stop but that they didn’t listen and said he should complain to the police. Around a dunam and a half of land was damaged, representing a financial loss of 60,000 shekels ($15,000), he added.
Jewish settlers ruin olive trees south of Al-Khalil
A gang of Jewish settlers from Havat Maon settlement at dawn Saturday destroyed about 40 olive trees in Al-Hamra area of Tuwani village south of Al-Khalil city.
It was in 1992 that the people of al-Nu’man, a Palestinian village between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, realized that their land had been pulled away from underneath their feet. Unwillingly annexed, no rights granted. Prior to 1967, al-Nu’man had been a tiny dot on the edge of the Bethlehem governorate. After the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, it was decided by the Israeli government that the village would serve a higher purpose within the Jerusalem governorate, where its land would prove to be useful for the inevitable ‘natural growth’ of Har Homa – an Israeli illegal Israeli settlement built in 1967 and in constant expansion.
An Israeli bus driver refused to take Palestinian passengers on board, was ordered to do so by police, and took his revenge by forcing them off the bus at the entrance to a settlement. The bus company: “The driver acted exactly as expected of him.”
As Ramadan 2012 draws to a close, garbage is piled high throughout the streets of East Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Municipality continues to refuse thousands of tax-paying Palestinian residents of the city basic council services such as rubbish collection, forcing many to take waste disposal into their own hands and burn their rubbish in garbage cans. Ein al-Adha, the feast marking the end of Ramadan, was clouded with dangerous smoke this year, composed not only of waste from Palestinian residents, but additional waste dumped in their garbage cans by Israeli settlers.
Egyptian military engineers have blocked 120 tunnels used for smuggling to and from the Gaza Strip since the start of operations in the neighboring Sinai Pensinsula, security officials said on Saturday. “Tunnel entrances are being demolished every day and the operation will continue until all underground passageways are shut,” one official told AFP. No less than 12 tunnels were blocked in the past two days on the Egyptian side, the source said, adding that the most of the tunnels lie in a four-kilometer (2.5 mile) stretch of the border. Until now, the army has not used explosives or water to plug the tunnels, which are also found in residential areas. Seven homes sitting on top of tunnel exits were leveled and two massive underground passages used to smuggle cars into the Gaza Strip were sealed, security officials said.
GAZA CITY — Hamas officials said Saturday that Egypt had informed them it would fully reopen the Rafah crossing on Sunday for the first time since the Aug. 5 border attack that killed 16 Egyptian soldiers, signaling a defrosting of relations that had been chilly since the killings.
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) – Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip on Saturday morning for special humanitarian cases, the ministry of interior of the Hamas government in Gaza said. The ministry explained in a statement that priority would be given to people who urgently needed to renew their residence permits in different countries, and those who need medical treatment abroad. The land port was closed temporarily after a military attack on a police station in Sinai killing 16 Egyptian officers. Egypt this week decided to open the crossing three days a week for humanitarian cases only.
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Qatar will open an office in Gaza to oversee its reconstruction projects in the enclave, an official in Gaza said Friday. Minister of Public Works and Housing Yousif al-Mansi said a Qatari delegation had agreed to start the first phase of a $224 million project during a visit to Gaza in June. ”We’re waiting for the delegation to come back in the next week or two to open a Qatari office in Gaza to start signing contracts and start the reconstruction projects,” al-Mansi told Ma’an. Initially, reconstruction efforts will focus on infrastructure and buildings for the ministries of health and agriculture, the minister said.
With more restrictions placed on the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza, and access to the Palestinian territory’s smuggling tunnels increasingly blocked, human rights groups say Gaza’s 1.6 million residents are unfairly being punished for the attack on an Egyptian military base in Sinai. “Until now, there are no names of anybody from Gaza that have been made public as having committed the crime,” Wael Al-Qarra from the Gaza-based Al Dameer Association for Human Rights, told IPS. “But on the other side, we have been immediately put under punishment. Immediately. We, the people, the civilians, the citizens of Gaza, are the ones who are punished for what is happening.”
Most statistics put the unemployment rate at between 35% to 65%, depending on the age group addressed (adults versus men and women in their early twenties). With 1.7 million people, food-aid dependency in the Gaza Strip has soared at 80% for years, a result of the economy and life-shattering complete siege (lock-down on Gaza’s borders) imposed in 2006, after Hamas won democratic, internationally-supervised elections.
One of the haunting images of Jewish heroism, lauded in history books and holocaust commemorations, is the courage of those, especially the young, in the Warsaw Ghetto, when in 1940, Jewish Warsaw residents were ordered by the German invaders in to a small section of the city. The courage of those who dug tunnels, smuggled goods necessary for survival in, and communications in and out, has rightly become a legendary act of resistance and courage, defiance in the shadow of despotism and repression. The people of Gaza (roughly seventy-five percent of whom are under twenty-five) have had even the water in their natural springs stolen by a population to whom James Arthur Balfour’s sparse words promised: “the establishment of a home in Palestine for the Jewish people … it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine …”
This is just one young man’s story, of course. Except that – remarkably – it is corroborated by one of the soldiers who came looking for him that morning. One of 50 testimonies on the military’s treatment of children – published today by the veterans’ organisation Breaking the Silence – describes the same episode, if anything more luridly than Hafez does. “We had a commander, never mind his name, who was a bit on the edge,” the soldier, a first sergeant, testifies. “He beat the boy to a pulp, really knocked him around. He said: ‘Just wait, now we’re taking you.’ Showed him all kinds of potholes on the way, asked him: ‘Want to die? Want to die right here?’ and the kid goes: ‘No, no…’ He was taken into a building under construction. The commander took a stick, broke it on him, boom boom. That commander had no mercy. Anyway the kid could no longer stand on his feet and was already crying. He couldn’t take it any more. He cried. The commander shouted: ‘Stand up!’ Tried to make him stand, but from so much beating he just couldn’t. The commander goes: ‘Don’t put on a show,’ and kicks him some more.”
BREAKING THE SILENCE Children and Youth – Soldiers’ Testimonies 2005-2011
This booklet is a compendium of testimonies given by over thirty IDF soldiers who served in the West Bank and in and around the Gaza Strip in the years 2005-2011. Like previous publications by Breaking the Silence, it portrays daily events in the Occupied Territories. The testimonies in this anthology illuminate the realities of everyday life for Palestinian children and youth who live under Israeli occupation. Although the events described here took place after the peak of the Second Intifada, at a time perceived as calm and uneventful from a ‘security’ standpoint, the reality that emerges from the testimonies shows that harsh treatment of Palestinian children continues unabated, and despite the overall security situation.
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) opened machinegun fire at eastern Khuza’a town at dawn Saturday, local sources told the PIC reporter.
HEBRON (Ma’an) — A Palestinian man was wounded when Israeli forces raided his home in the southern West Bank city of Hebron overnight Thursday, witnesses told Ma’an. Hosni Matrabeh, 48, lost consciousness when a soldier threw a sound bomb which exploded near his head, his relative Jamal Asaifan Matrabeh told Ma’an. He said around 30 soldiers had raided their home in the Wadi Husain district, near the Israeli settlement Kiryat Arba. The troops said they were searching for someone who had shot at a building in the area which is controlled by the Israeli army, Matrabeh added.
On Thursday August 23, Mumen Mahmoud Raja, 18, was arrested at his home by Israeli occupation forces at 2:30 a.m. Around 2 a.m. around 60 Israeli forces invaded the Palestinian village of Burin, located south-west of Nablus. They came in six military jeeps, a truck, and 16 of them by foot from the illegal colony of Givat Arosha, located atop a hill near the village, Mumen’s father estimates. 20 soldiers entered Mumen’s house waking his family, including his 8 year old brother. “We thought they wanted to arrest our other son, Montser, 19, who was arrested three months ago for 10 days. But then the soldiers began to demand Mumen, and took him away, ” Mumens father recounts.
Israeli Settler: ‘If I see her coming, no matter what age she is 3, 4, 7, I’ll f*ck her over’. Israeli Soldier: ‘No problem
0:04 – Soldier: “But you’re getting in our way, don’t you understand? You’re getting in our way.”
0:07 – Settler: “I’ll stand on the side. I’ll stand on this side, but If I see her coming near [here], remember, it doesn’t matter, 3, 4 or 7 years old, I’ll fuck her over.”
0:12 – Soldier: “No problem.”
JERUSALEM — The vicious nighttime beating of an Arab teenager by a mob of Jewish youths in a downtown square here last week has prompted arrests, condemnation and soul-searching about the depths of ethnic hatred in Israeli society. But human rights activists and analysts say an act of violence against Palestinians that occurred hours earlier in a much different context — a stretch of highway in an Israeli-controlled section of the occupied West Bank — has become a test case for an equally grave problem: rising attacks by radical Israeli settlers on Palestinians and their property.
Israel: 2009 Killings of Mother and Daughter Unresolved
A military trial that ended August 12, 2012, failed to hold anyone accountable for the killings of a mother and daughter during Israel’s military operation in Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009, Human Rights Watch said today.
Illegal Arrests / Political Prisoner News
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Israeli forces detained at least four people on Friday as hundreds of activists protested in villages across the West Bank. Israeli soldiers detained four people in Nabi Saleh, where activists protest every week against a nearby settlement’s encroachment toward lands and a spring owned by the village.
IOF arrests Palestinian, injures three others
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) arrested a Palestinian and injured three others at dawn Friday after storming several houses in Al-Khalil’s neighborhoods.
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Three members of Hamas being held in Palestinian Authority jails went on hunger strike this week to demand their release, a statement from the Islamist group said Saturday. Osama Shahine, 28, has been on hunger strike for 3 days to protest his detention, having been arrested by PA security forces on Wednesday. Loay Mazin Awad and Muhammad Saed Zamara from Hebron had earlier launched a hunger strike on August 20 to protest their detention, the statement added. Awad was arrested on June 3 and Zamara on June 4. Their families have paid fines exceeding 5,000 Jordanian Dinars ($7,000) to have the men released, but a judge informed them that the prosecution has refused to comply.
The liberated prisoner Comrade Woroud Qasem called urgently for a popular movement to take action on behalf of Palestinian prisoners in the jails of the occupation, to uphold unity and resistance, and to unite to confront the occupation. In an interview on August 14, 2012 with the Voice of the People radio, she said “We are one people, with so many martyrs who have fallen in the cause of freedom for our land. We do not want chairs with no power, we want to live in dignity, freedom and self-determination. We have suffered from division for too long and must become one hand so as to prevent the enemy from exploiting the division.”
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Landowners in the Hebron town of Yatta protested on Saturday against increasing threats to their land by Israeli settlements, a local committee said. International activists and co-existence groups also took part in the protest in Yatta, calling for an end to illegal settlement activity, a statement from the local committee against the wall said. Israeli forces arrived at the scene and broke up the protest, the committee added.
IOF soldiers suppress peaceful anti-wall march in Beit Ummar
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) suppressed on Saturday a march against the segregation wall and settlements launched in the town of Beit Ummar, north of al-Khalil.
A weekly demonstration against the ongoing construction of the Apartheid Wall took place in the village of Al Ma’asara, South Bethlehem City, on Friday. Approximately forty demonstrators, including a contingent of international volunteers from PSP, carried banners and chanted anti-occupation slogans. They were confronted by a large number of Israeli soldiers, who forced them off the main road and then blocked their progress toward the sections of Palestinian land which construction of the wall endangers. Confronted by a wall of heavily armed soldiers equipped with riot shields, the demonstrators sat on the ground in front of the soldiers for some time before peacefully dispersing.
Friday protest in Kufr Qaddoum remembers activist Rachel Corrie
Some 200 Palestinians and a handful of Israeli and international solidarity activists joined the protest in Kufr Qaddoum on Friday. The demonstration was dedicated to the commemoration of American peace activist, Rachel Corrie, who was run over by a bulldozer while attempting to prevent house demolitions in Rafah in 2003. The verdict in the civil lawsuit against the State of Israel in her case will be announced next week on August 28. The protest opened with speeches, following which the crowd started marching towards the main road of the village. Without any provocation on behalf of the protesters, the army started repressing the march with tear gas and rubber coated bullets. Fortunately, the demonstration ended without any arrests or severe injuries.
“From November 28 to December 1, 2012 the World Social Forum Free Palestine will be held in Porto Alegre (Brazil). This is a historic event that brings together solidarity, human rights and social justice movements and organizations from across the globe to develop and debate ideas, share experiences, network, and plan strategies and campaigns to advance solidarity with the struggle for Palestinian liberation. (For more information and the full call for the WSF Free Palestine, see: http://wsfpalestine.net/
) The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel calls on academics, students and artists around the world to mobilize in support of the WSF Free Palestine. By expanding and strengthening academic and cultural boycott campaigns and strategies amongst a broader audience across the globe, we wish to build a new generation of Palestine solidarity.”
We may be quietly witnessing these days an important change in Middle Eastern history. The calm, rational human emphasis on ethical behavior and the quest for peace and justice could be triumphing over the attempt to spread victimization and hysteria and to overlook violent and criminal behavior. This development was clear this week in the United Church of Canada’s vote to boycott products from Israeli settlements. This was in contrast to the exhortations by former U.S. State Department and White House official Dennis Ross – a stalwart of the pro-Israel scene from his post at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy – that the United States should withhold financial aid from Egypt if it violates the Camp David peace treaty with Israel (because Cairo is sending more military assets to the Sinai to combat terrorists attacking both Israel and Egypt).
The Mayor of Ma’ale Adumim has claimed that South Africa’s decision to boycott products produced in the illegal Israeli settlement will harm the Palestinian economy and workers. Israeli newspaper Maariv reported that Beni Kashriel, the mayor of the occupied East Jerusalem settlement, has sent an urgent letter to South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane to complain about the boycott. In it he argues that boycotting Ma’ale Adumim’s products or labelling goods as ‘products produced in settlements built on West Bank soil’ will have a negative effect not only on the settlement but also local Palestinians.
Political Developments / Other News
Mahmoud Abbas and Meretz’s Gal-On plan to meet in Ramallah
A president agrees to meeting with Meretz leader despite three-years of refusing to negotiate with Netanyahu; gov’t official: Only way to achieve peace and Palestinian statehood is through an agreement with the government.
Gaza prime minister plans cabinet reshuffle: Hamas
The Gaza Strip’s Hamas government said on Friday that prime minister Ismail Haniya was planning cabinet reshuffle which he would ask parliament to endorse.
A Hamas delegation was to head to Cairo for security talks later Saturday amid Egyptian anger at a deadly raid on an army post near the Gaza border earlier this month, officials from the Islamist group said.
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Gaza premier Ismail Haniyeh has been invited to attend a meeting of leaders of non-aligned developing nations in Iran next week, his office said Friday. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad invited Haniyeh to attend the summit of 120 non-aligned nations in Tehran, The Hamas prime minister’s office said in a statement.
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The Palestinian foreign minister says President Mahmoud Abbas will not participate at the summit of non-aligned nations in Iran at the end of the month if Hamas also attends.
Riad Malki said Saturday the Palestinian Authority is seeking clarifications from Iran after Hamas announced it had been invited to the August summit and that Hamas’ prime minister Ismail Haniyeh would attend.
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — PLO official Saeb Erekat said Thursday that he had written to the US and Israel asking for clarification of a missive by the Israeli foreign minister slamming the president and calling for a new Palestinian leadership. Erekat told Lebanese satellite channel Mayadeen that he intends to send more letters to international bodies to warn that President Mahmoud Abbas is in danger. Israeli FM Avigdor Lieberman’s letter to US, EU, Russian and UN leaders called for Palestinian elections to usher in new leaders.
A Swiss radiology lab said on Friday it has received the go-ahead from the widow of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to test his remains for poisoning by polonium, a highly radioactive element.
Israel’s inquiry into death of activist Rachel Corrie not credible, says US
Israel has failed to carry out the “thorough, credible and transparent investigation” it had promised into the death of American activist Rachel Corrie in Gaza nine years ago, the US ambassador in Tel Aviv has reiterated to her family.
NABLUS (Ma’an) — The family of a Palestinian whose body was supposedly returned by Israel in May say they have conclusive proof they were given the wrong corpse, and insist they will continue their quest for the truth. Nasser al-Buz, who co-founded Fatah’s Black Panther groups in Nablus in the late 1980s, has not been heard from since August 1989, his family says. After 23 years of trying to uncover what happened to Nasser, his family was notified that he would be among the bodies of 91 Palestinians returned by Israel this May, in what it described as a “gesture” to President Mahmoud Abbas.
When the United Nations General Assembly convenes for its annual meeting next month, the PLO/PA will make a request for “non-member state” status. Even if successful, the move would hardly be a game changer. In fact, things may get worse, not least because credible reports of the presence of oil and natural gas in the occupied Palestinian territories are set to make the conflict more explosive than ever. Documents obtained from Britain’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) by the Palestine Policy Network (Al-Shabaka) through a Freedom of Information Act request, confirm that there is potential for a Palestinian petroleum sector in the West Bank. According to Victor Kattan, Al-Shabaka’s programme director, “The new documents reveal that, in addition, Israel may be exploiting an oil field located near Ramallah within the occupied Palestinian territories. The documents also point to the possible existence of two other oil fields near Qalqilya and another near Hebron.”
The Israel Employment Service has published the most shocking figures in three years about unemployment rates and job cuts. A report in newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth revealed that 16,084 people lost their jobs in July, a three year record high; more women than men were made redundant, with 8,587 jobs lost against 7,497. According to the Israel Employment Service, this figure is the highest since 2009. More jobs were lost in Tel Aviv, with 1,072, than in the next highest city, Jerusalem, for which the figure was 803. Director General of the IES, Boaz Hirsch, said: “July saw a 0.5 per cent increase in the number of people unemployed when compared with the previous month, bringing the total number of job seekers to 187,200.” The newspaper also reported that Israel’s Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labour is preparing itself for an economic slowdown leading to a 9 per cent increase in the unemployment rate. The ministry is expecting the number of unemployed in the country to swell to 320,000. “The trend,” said a ministry spokesman, “is heading in a negative direction and is fixed.” Hirsch admitted that the situation is not simple. “The data shows that many of the newly unemployed are 25-34-year-olds from the high-tech sector,” he said. “The employment service is monitoring the situation with a great deal of concern.”
Despite rising prices, new PR campaign – launched by the government with public funding – is telling Israelis that they are better off, and is raising hackles.
Analysis / Op-ed
Guardian dumps Joshua Treviño, Ali Abunimah
The Guardian has dumped Joshua Trevino, who incited murder of Palestine solidarity activists, over conflict of interest.
Hours after The Guardian announced it had dumped Joshua Treviño, a Senior Advisor at the US State Department publicly defended the disgraced columnist, despite the fact that Treviño had openly called for, and gloated over, the murder of US civilians and called for acts of desecration offensive to Muslims in a series of controversial tweets. Shahed Amanullah, Senior Advisor for Technology at the US Department of State, tweeted, “The writings of my friend @jstrevino deserve to be engaged, not suppressed.”
Israeli lies unchecked, Palestinian perspectives censored on BBC, Amena Saleem
One of the most obvious examples of bias by the BBC is the taxpayer-funded broadcaster’s habit of inviting Israeli politicians or the Israeli government spokesperson,Mark Regev, onto its programs to speak without challenge. Meanwhile, Palestinians and those who would convey a Palestinian perspective are not given the same opportunity. Film director Ken Loach recently learned that for the BBC, Palestine remains a taboo. On 23 July, Loach was at the Royal Albert Hall in London to listen to a performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, performed by the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. The orchestra consists of Israeli, Palestinian and other Arab musicians, and is conducted by Daniel Barenboim, who formed the orchestra in 1999 with the late Palestinian academic and activist Edward Said.
Like Israeli National Security Advisor Ya’akov Amidror and Interior Minister Eli Yishai
, US Ambassador to Israel
Dan Shapiro has met with Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel
and current head of Shas’s Council of Torah Sages, the Jewish Press reports
: Dan Shapiro, the new American ambassador to Israel, relates that even before he got to his new post in Tel Aviv, he made note of the fact that he had to establish a good relationship with Rav Ovadia Yosef. Therefore two days after presenting his letter of credence to President Shimon Peres, he approached the office of Interior Minister Eli Yishai to get an appointment with the Rav, which took place later that week. The conversation between the Rav and the ambassador was friendly. The ambassador spoke in Hebrew and told the Rav about his religious affiliations and his studies in yeshiva. Since then, the two meet frequently, and the Americans will definitely try to employ Dan Shapiro, within the next few days, to convince the Rav not to support the attack on Iran.
Last week I wrote about the racism involved in Zionism’s constant planning of demographic engineering in Israel and how common such a racist principle is in the mainstream discourse. Three hours after the piece was posted, a lynch mob in Jerusalem ganged up on three Palestinian Arabs and beat Jamal Julani within an inch of his life. Police said it was a miracle he didn’t die. This is nothing more than the inevitable trajectory of a colonialist ideology, like Zionism, imposing itself on a non-Zionist native population.
from Mondoweiss by Alex KaneLast Sunday, Lizzy Ratner–friend of Mondoweiss, colleague and an excellent journalist–and I co-hosted WBAI radio’s Beyond the Pale, a weekly show on Jewish culture and politics. (WBAI is a New York City-based lefty radio station, part of the larger Pacifica radio network.)