Palestinians prepare to observe Passover: Israel puts West Bank under general closure for Jewish holiday

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Israel closes West Bank for Jewish holiday
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 Mar — The Israeli army will impose a general closure of the West Bank during the Jewish holiday of Passover, the army said Sunday. The West Bank will be closed from midnight Sunday until midnight Tuesday, the army said in a statement.

Restriction of movement / Land theft

State: Postpone Amona eviction because of new gov’t
Ynet 24 Mar — The State has motioned the High Court of Justice for an additional postponement in the eviction of the illegal outpost Amona. The reason: To allow the new political echelon to be briefed on the issues of the petition. The motion cited settlers’ ownership claims over parts of the land, but nonetheless stressed that the reason for the request was the formation of the new government. The State was meant to evict the Amona, which was built on privately owned land, by the end of 2012.  Last November, it requested a six-month extension. Justices Asher Grunis, Esther Hayut and Hanan Melcer granted the request and gave a new deadline for the eviction – April 30, 2013.The current motion cites the date June 22 as the date the State will present the case before the new ministers.,7340,L-4360614,00.html

Allenby Bridge crossing to operate reduced hours for Jewish holiday
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 Mar  — The Allenby Bridge crossing between the West Bank and Jordan will operate reduced opening hours on Monday due to the beginning of the Jewish passover holiday, a Palestinian crossings official said. Nathmi Muhanna told Ma‘an Sunday that the last bus will leave the Palestinian side of the crossing at 10 a.m., while the last bus from the Jordanian side will depart at 4 p.m.

The road to Bethlehem: Obama’s commute and the Palestinians’
Bethlehem (Al-Akhbar) 22 Mar  by Fadi Abu Saada – On Thursday, 21 March 2013, US President Barack Obama traveled from Jerusalem to the occupied West Bank town of Bethlehem. He entered the city through its northern entrance along the road Israelis call Route 300. After all checkpoints had been opened and the roads were cleared of people, Obama’s trip took only a few minutes. However, the Palestinians do not enjoy such luxuries; this route is off-limits and access would necessitate a special permit from the occupation authorities. If Obama wanted to arrive in Bethlehem via Ramallah, then his journey would not have taken him longer than 25 minutes, if not less. But what do Palestinians’ trips to Bethlehem from Ramallah look like? Atef Louwais works in Ramallah and lives in Bethlehem. He told Al-Akhbar that he leaves his home every day at 6:30 am to catch a taxi to Ramallah, in the hope that he can get to work by 8 am. After getting a taxi downtown, he makes his first mandatory stop at the Israeli “Container” military checkpoint at the southeastern entrance to the city….

Ashrawi slams lack of permits for Christians on Palm Sunday
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 Mar — PLO official Hanan Ashrawi on Sunday criticized a reported shortage of Israeli-issued permits for Christian communities in the West Bank to visit holy sites in Jerusalem, a statement said. Parishes in Bethlehem and Ramallah only received 30 to 40 percent of requested permits to visit Jerusalem, a statement from the PLO official’s office said. Several scout groups will not be able to participate in Palm Sunday celebrations due to the shortages. “There should not even be a question of needing permits to visit one’s own city,” Ashrawi said. “East Jerusalem is the occupied capital of the Palestinian people and freedom of worship is a basic human right for all of our Christian and Muslim citizens; a right which is being systematically and increasingly denied by a foreign occupying force.

Senior churchman says Christians and Muslims need military permission to pray
MEMO 22 Mar — The retired Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Michal Sabbah, has pointed out that Christians and Muslims living in the Holy Land “have needed military permission to pray since 1993”. Archbishop Sabbah was speaking in the context of another high-profile visitor to Israel – Barack Obama   who won’t make a difference to the conditions for Palestinians. “All world leaders visit us,” he told Italian news agency AKI, “they come and go, but our reality has not changed. We keep living in the same conditions.” In the run up to Easter Week, a very special time for Christians, the Patriarch pointed out that access to their holy places will be limited, difficult and in the control of the Israelis.

Palestinians add national meaning to Palm Sunday in Jerusalem
AP/Haaretz 25 Mar by Amira Hass — The traditional Palm Sunday procession, marking the beginning of Easter week for Catholic and Protestant Christians, was tinged with Israeli-Palestinian politics in Jerusalem on Sunday. Thousands of Christians gathered at noon in the courtyard of the Bethphage Greek Orthodox Church on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives, where Jesus is said to have begun his entrance to Jerusalem five days before his crucifixion. Many carried palm or olive branches as they made their way to the Old City. In Bethlehem, meanwhile, mostly Palestinian worshipers gathered in the Nativity Church in Bethlehem, traditional site of Jesus’ birth, clutching olive branches and bouquets as they sung in praise. For years the Jerusalem procession was attended mainly by non-Palestinian pilgrims, but in recent years the Christian communities in the West Bank and Gaza have made their presence felt, encouraged to do so by the Palestine Liberation Organization. This year the Palestinians stressed their presence by carrying placards bearing the name of an Arab community, the distance of the community from Jerusalem and the word “Palestine.” … One banner, which caused Hebrew and Arab speakers to smile sadly, was a large replica of an entrance permit ostensibly issued by the Civil Administration that read: “The purpose of the permit: Christian holiday. Valid: March 19-May 11. Name: The Palestinian People. ID number: 1948.” PLO officials hoped the banner would raise awareness among Christians regarding the difficulties Christian Palestinians typically encounter when wishing to visit the holy sites in Jerusalem. According to the PLO officials, in many communities only half the requests by some of the 50,000 Palestinian Christians were approved, at most. The office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, however, said it rejected, on security grounds, only 192 of the 19,000 requests it received.


Aqsa guards foil settlers’ attempt to sneak into the mosque
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 24 Mar — Aqsa guards foiled on Saturday afternoon the attempt by four Jewish settlers to sneak into the Aqsa mosque. The guards said that two were captured and handed to Israeli policemen while two others managed to escape, adding that they tried to enter the Aqsa through rooftops of nearby buildings in Bab Al-Silsela and Qatanin. They said that the purpose of their attempt was not known as yet.

Committee warns against Judaization activities
GAZA (PIC) 24 Mar — Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Committee in the Legislative Council warned of the current Israeli Judaization activities in occupied Jerusalem few days before the Jewish holiday of Passover. Ghassan Mustafa al-Shami spokesman for the committee said in a press statement on Sunday that the Israeli Coalition for the Temple started, on these days, promotional activities as a prelude to the Passover Jewish celebrations, calling for accelerating the building of the alleged Temple in place of Al Aqsa Mosque. The spokesman stressed that this Israeli institution works to intensify its activities during the current week and to intensify training programs to “sacrifice at the Temple Mount” in coincidence with the so-called Passover Holiday , which starts next Tuesday, which usually sees Israeli break-in to al-Aqsa Mosque.

Islamic authorities in J’lem slam Israeli police for uprooting trees from Aqsa
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 24 Mar — The higher Islamic committee and the Awqaf and Islamic affairs council in occupied Jerusalem strongly denounced the Israeli police for allowing themselves to remove trees from the Aqsa Mosque’s plazas last Thursday, describing what happened as an infringement on jurisdiction. “The plazas are an integral part of the holy Aqsa Mosque and the uprooting of trees the day before yesterday by the occupation police is unacceptable, reprehensible and an assault on the Aqsa Mosque,” the higher committee the Awqaf council stated on Saturday. “The maintenance and Islamic waqf committee of the Aqsa Mosque is the one authorized to make repairs, plant trees and do other things without permission from the Israeli police which have no authority or jurisdiction over the management of the Aqsa Mosque,” they emphasized.

Violence / Raids / Arrests

Man shot in the face with teargas canister at Hagai roadblock demonstration
ISM Hebron 22 Mar by ‘Team Khalil’ — The weekly Friday demonstration at the Hagai roadblock was attacked by the Israeli military less than one minute after participants started walking down the road. A soldier shot a metal teargas canister directly into the demonstration and hit Ameen Bayed in his face, breaking his right cheekbone and damaging his teeth. He required surgery in a hospital in Hebron city. The video below shows the moment at which he was hit (At 0.42). During the demonstration, soldiers fired large amounts of tear gas directly at demonstrators — against the Israeli army’s own regulations, which state that gas canisters must be fired into the air, not straight forwards. Tear gas canisters can be deadly–– Mustafa Tamimi of Nabi Saleh was killed when a soldier shot him in the face with a tear gas canister in 2011. 49 year old Bayed, from Al Fawar camp, was participating in the weekly action calling for freedom of movement and for the opening of the main road connecting Hebron with its southern villages and towns.

Israeli forces dismantle E1 protest village
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 24 Mar — Israeli forces on Sunday dismantled a protest village set up by Palestinian activists east of Jerusalem last week. Israeli forces raided the Ahfad Younis village in Eizariya early Sunday, witnesses told Ma‘an, forcibly removing around 50 people from the area. They detained eight people, including Palestinian MP Mustafa Barghouthi, and transferred them to Maale Adumim settlement. Four people from Jenin were arrested, one from Bil‘in, one from Bethlehem and one person from Ramallah, witnesses said. “The Israeli occupation prevents us from approaching our land while settlers are allowed to take control of it,” Barghouthi said, vowing that Palestinians would re-build the village.

IOF forcibly evacuates Grandchildren of Yunus neighborhood east of J’lem
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 24 Mar — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) raided at dawn Sunday the newly established neighborhood Grandchildren of Yunus [Ahfad Younis] in Bab Al-Shams village east of Jerusalem and detained more than 50 activists. According to local sources, the IOF used bulldozers to remove the tents of the neighborhood and detained most of the participating activists, including Palestinian lawmaker Mustafa Barghouthi.  Anti-settlement activist Abdullah Abu Rahma said that about 300 Israeli soldiers under aerial cover by a chopper stormed after midnight the neighborhood with their vehicles and one bus for the detainees. He added the soldiers immediately fired photon grenades at the tents and rounded up most of the activists there. Earlier on Saturday, the IOF set up barriers at the entrance to this neighborhood and prevented the access of individuals and supplies to it.
In a related incident, a Palestinian young man officially married a girl on Saturday evening in the presence of their families in Grandchildren of Yunus neighborhood. Both of them are activists against Israel’s apartheid and settlement activities.  The families of Mus‘ab Obeid from Jenin and his fiancée Lina Shalaldeh from Al-Khalil came from their residence in Aizaria village east of Jerusalem and attended the signing of the marriage contract.

PHOTOS: Israeli forces demolish Palestinian camp built to protest Obama visit
Activestills 24 Mar — Until its forcible eviction Saturday night, Palestinian activists built and maintained a new protest camp in E1 to protest Israeli occupation and settlement expansion, directing their message to visiting U.S. President Barack Obama.

Journalists detained in Hebron, leading to two arrests and threats to restrict Palestinian movement
ISM Hebron 24 Mar — In the afternoon of the 24th March, two Palestinian Al Jazeera journalists arrived into Hebron to interview a Palestinian family living near the illegal Israeli settlement in the area of Tel Rumeida. When they arrived, settlers called the Israeli military and police, who arrived and confiscated the journalists’ ID cards, despite having seen their press credentials. The Al Jazeera reporters had their ID cards returned after around an hour, but two Hebron Palestinians who attempted to intervene on their behalf with police were arrested and removed in a police car. Their status is currently unknown and no reason was given for their arrest. After the journalists were today apprehended, police and settlers arrived into the area with rolls of barbed wire, informing another Palestinian resident that his primary access to the main road would be closed … Without the path, Hashem and his family have to travel a much longer, rock-strewn and hazardous route to leave their home. Hashem said today, “I think they will close my access now, they will say it is for security reasons.” He thinks that the settlers used the arrival of the journalists and the subsequent confusion as a pretext to close his path and restrict his family’s movement, in further attempts to drive them from their home – they already face regular hassle from Israeli authorities and attacks from the settlers, including on Hashem’s young children.

WATCH: IDF does not want you to see what occupation looks like
972mag 24 Mar by Mairav Zonszein — According to Guy, an Israeli Ta’ayush activist and documentarian of occupation in the South Hebron Hills area of the West Bank — there has been an increase in incidents over the last month in which Israel Defense Forces soldiers have been preventing him and other Israelis from filming what goes on. In this 7-minute video, edited together from footage taken just over the last few weeks, between February 23 and March 9, IDF soldiers – as well as high-ranking officers – are seen blocking camera lenses over and over by shoving their own smart phones in front of them. This is not only petty and immature, but also illegal, according to Israeli military law and High Court rulings. Any IDF soldier is permitted to be filmed while on duty and there is no legal restriction on filming whatsoever. So what does the “most moral army in the world” have to hide? Well for one thing, all this footage is used to build legal cases against the IDF, which systematically abuses the use of “closed military zone” orders in these parts, kicking out Palestinians from their agricultural lands along with Israeli activists, instead of dealing with the belligerent settlers who are the ones initiating the confrontations. But also, because occupation is very ugly, so who would want it getting out?

2 critically injured by live fire in clashes near Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 Mar — Two Palestinians were critically wounded on Friday during clashes with Israeli forces north of Jerusalem, medics said. Two Palestinian youths were shot with live fire, one in the pelvis and the other in the abdomen, after clashes broke out with Israeli forces in the Jerusalem-area village of ‘Anata, medics told Ma‘an. Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas canisters and chased local youths down alleyways in the village, with locals throwing rocks at Israeli troops….
Five people were also injured in the Ramallah village of Beit Liqya during a protest against Israel’s separation wall, locals said. A young man was injured by a rubber-coated steel bullet and four others suffered smoke inhalation after Israeli soldiers fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators. Local youths threw bottles and stones at Israeli forces.

IOF soldiers storm workshops in Jenin, interrogate liberated prisoner
JENIN (PIC) 24 Mar — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed a number of suburbs in Jenin city and broke into shops and interrogated liberated prisoner Samer Al-Mahroum. Local sources said that the IOF raid focused on the industrial area and Sabah Al-Kheir suburb, adding that the soldiers burst into car repair workshops and questioned their owners. They said that the soldiers broke into the home of Abdulfattah Aboushi and his shop and interrogated all those inside it. The sources noted that the soldiers also interrogated Mahroum, who was released in the first batch of Wafa Al-Ahrar exchange deal.

Settlers attack Palestinian citizens and cars eastern Qalqilya
NABLUS (PIC) 23 Mar — Jewish settlers attacked vehicles of Palestinian citizens on the Nablus-Qalqilya road, near the settlement of Qadumim built on the lands of Kafr Qaddum village eastern Qalqilya, in the northern West Bank. Informed local sources and eyewitnesses confirmed to PIC that groups of settlers from the Qadumim settlement and the adjacent settlements attacked the passing vehicles and broke windows of some cars. Meanwhile, settlers from the outpost of Havad Gilad set up on the lands of Sarra village, western of Nablus, have also attacked and vandalized Palestinians vehicles. These settlers’ attacks came after the Palestinian marches organized in various towns and villages in the West Bank, including the town of Kafr Qaddum, in rejection of the continued Israeli settlement policies.

Young man injured by a suspicious object
NABLUS (PIC) 24 Mar — A young man was injured in ‘Awarta town south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank as a suspicious object [Ma‘an: a landmine] exploded in his hand on Saturday evening. According to local sources Hamouda Walid Qawariq was injured in his village, where he saw a strange object, thought to be from the remnants of the Israeli occupation forces’ ammunition, and he picked up and the object exploded in his hand. The sources added that Qawariq was hospitalized with moderate to serious injuries at Rafidia Hospital west of Nablus, where he lost his fingers.

6 children injured in Gaza explosion
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 Mar — Six children were injured in an explosion in the Gaza Strip on Friday, a medical official said. Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma‘an that six children aged 6 to 10 were moderately wounded when an unknown device exploded in Rafah. One child suffered serious injuries to his hand.

Israeli forces detain 3 Palestinian teens near Salfit
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 23 Mar — Israeli forces detained three Palestinian teenagers from the central West Bank city of Salfit overnight Friday, locals said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli troops raided the village of Haris before arresting Saqi Baseem, 15, Hadi Baseem, 13, and Muhammad Mazin, 17.

Israeli forces detain 18 in overnight arrest raids
JENIN (Ma‘an) 24 Mar — Israeli forces detained 18 people overnight Saturday, including the brother of long-term hunger striker Jafar Azzidine, locals and Israel’s army said. Dozens of Israeli soldiers raided ‘Arraba village in Jenin and detained the brother and nephew of Azzidine, witnesses told Ma‘an. The soldiers also handed notification orders to Muhammad, Dirar, Omar, and Najib Azzidine.
In Tulkarem, Israeli soldiers arrested Tareq al-Amouri, 23, Jihad al-Amouri, 18, Hisham Freij, 22, and Qusai Atef Shalabi, 28, locals said.
Sulieman Yousef Mawas, 19, was detained in the Hebron village of Bani Naim, witnesses said.
An Israeli army spokesman said 18 people were detained in the West Bank, including two in Arraba, three in Tulkarem, seven in Nablus, three in Ramallah, one in Beit Ummar, one in Bethlehem and one in Bani Naim.

Israeli forces detain farmer in South Hebron Hills
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Mar — Israeli forces arrested a farmer in the south Hebron hills on Saturday, locals said. Fouad al-Shamisty was detained by soldiers after being prevented from reaching his land, witnesses told Ma‘an.

Israel releases 3 children detained in Hebron
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 Mar — Three Palestinian children being held in Israeli custody were released on Friday, the Palestinian liaison department said. Ahmed Abdel Raouf Burgan, 15, Ahmed Abdel Muti Abu Mayaleh, 13, and Mohammed Abdul Muti Abu Mayaleh, 13, were released after being arrested in Hebron this week, a statement said. Twenty-year-old Muhammad Mahmou Abusackor was also released. Israeli forces on Wednesday detained some 30 students who were on their way to school in the southern area of Hebron, locals said.

5 suspects arrested over Ariel attack
Ynet 24 Mar — Nearly two weeks after the stone throwing attack that led to the crash near Ariel in which seven Israelis, including toddler Adele Biton, were injured, five Palestinian teenagers aged 16-17 from the nearby town of Kifl Hares were arrested on Sunday for their suspected involvement in the attack.  The arrest was possible thanks to joint IDF , Shin Bet and police operations. According to security forces, the five confessed their involvement in the incident, in which seven people sustained injuries, including Adele Biton who remains in hospital in critical condition. Four members of the Biton family — Adva Biton and her three daughters — were driving on Route 5 on March 14 stones hurled by Palestinians led Adva to crash her car into an oncoming truck.,7340,L-4360441,00.html

Prisoners / Deportees / Court actions

Israeli court adjourns hearing into case of female captive for the 20th time
NABLUS (PIC) 24 Mar — An Israeli court adjourned on Monday the trial hearing of Palestinian detainee Alaa Al-Juba, 19, for the 20th time running. Rula, Alaa’s sister, told the Ahrar center for prisoners’ studies and human rights that the adjournment, similar to the past 19 ones, was unjustified. For his part, Fuad Al-Khafsh, the director of Ahrar center, said that Alaa was suffering psychologically due to the repeated adjournment of her trial hearings. He pointed out that she was held without trial since her detention near the Ibrahimi mosque in Al-Khalil on 7/12/2011 … Khafsh said that five Palestinian female prisoners were still waiting for their trial while seven others were serving different sentences in Hasharon jail. Alaa’s trial was deferred to 17/4/2013.

No Mother’s Day for women held in G4S-equipped prisons
EI 22 Mar by Adri Nieuwhof — Over the last 45 years, Israel has arrested or detained 10,000 Palestinian women from the West Bank and Gaza, according to prisoners rights organization Addameer. The women are held mainly in Hasharon and Damon prisons inside Israel. The transfer of prisoners into Israel amounts to a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention which states that “persons accused of offenses shall be detained in the occupied country.” Who Profits? (a project of the Coalition of Women for Peace based in Tel Aviv) has reported that the British-Danish security firm G4S has been involved in both prisons … Between 2003 and 2008, Addameer has documented four cases of women who gave birth in Israeli detention. The organization lists the experiences of the women in its statement: “Pregnant prisoners are not afforded special diets, living space or transfers to hospitals during their detention. During labor, they are chained to their beds until they enter the delivery rooms and shackled once again after giving birth. Under Israeli law, a female prisoner may request that her child live with her in prison until he/she reaches the age of two. However, the detainee and her child are not given additional living space or improved living conditions.”

The Nativity Church deportees call on PA to raise their case at ICJ
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 24 Mar — The Nativity Church deportees in Gaza and European countries called on PA to raise their case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) after granting Palestine non-Member Observer State status in the United Nations. On the third anniversary of the deportee Abdullah Daoud’s death, the Nativity Church deportees issued a statement condemning the continued PA indifference towards their issue after spending 12 years away from their families and homeland in light of the Israeli ban on their families to visit them in their exile since more than 10 years. The deportees called for activating their issue in all international forums to expose the Israeli crimes and to allow their families’ visits to Gaza through Beit Hanoun crossing…
The Israeli occupation deported on May 10, 2002 about 39 Palestinians from the Nativity Church after storming the city of Bethlehem, where they were besieged inside the church for more than a month and then deported to the Gaza strip and some European countries for several years following a deal with the PA, but the Israeli authorities breached the agreement and refused to return them.

Palestinian captives demand occupation to stop manipulating their visits
RAMALLAH (PIC) 24 Mar — Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails called on all institutions and human rights bodies to intervene and halt Israeli procedures manipulating their families’ visits. Ahrar center for Prisoners studies and human rights said in a press statement that the Israeli authorities have recently imposed restrictions on family visits and sometimes prevented some of them, under flimsy pretexts. It noted that the Israeli occupation is preventing visits to prisoners who are held in solitary confinement or punished, or those who have been transferred from one prison to another, which requires that the families get new permits for the visits.

Gaza siege

Israel opens fire at Gaza fishermen to impose new limit
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 Mar — Israeli forces opened fire at fishermen off Gaza’s coast on Saturday, forcing them to comply with a newly imposed reduced fishing zone following a rocket attack on southern Israel … Fishermen in Gaza told Ma’an that Israel’s navy opened fire at them on Saturday to prevent them from going out further than 3 miles. Mahfouth Kabariti, head of a federation for fishermen and water sports, confirmed that the Israeli navy had set up new signs defining the permitted fishing zone.

Rights groups: Israel must ease new Gaza restrictions
JERUSALEM (AFP) 24 Mar  – Two Israeli rights groups demanded on Sunday that Israel lift fishing restrictions imposed on Gaza after militants fired two rockets across the border, slamming them as “collective punishment.” Israel on Thursday halved the area in which Palestinian fishermen are permitted to work, closed the Kerem Shalom goods terminal and imposed restrictions on people wanting to leave the territory after two rockets hit southern Israel, causing damage but no casualties. The move, which saw the fishing zone cut from six nautical miles to three, was condemned by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem as well as by Gisha, which campaigns for Palestinian freedom of movement.

Hamas arrests hardline Islamists over rocket attacks
AFP 23 Mar — Gaza’s Hamas rulers have arrested two Salafist terrorists, sources close to the Palestinian Islamist hardliners said Friday, after a Salafist group claimed a rocket attack on Israel.  According to the sources, “the Hamas internal security forces arrested two of our Salafist brothers” in the center of the Gaza Strip. A coalition of Salafist groups in Gaza, which oppose the Hamas regime, claimed responsibility for the firing of two rockets at southern Israel on Thursday while US President Barack Obama was visiting the Jewish state.,7340,L-4360106,00.html

Israel says Turkey deal will not end Gaza blockade
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 24 Mar — Israel did not commit to ending its Gaza blockade as part of reconciliation with Turkey and could clamp down even harder on the Palestinian enclave if security is threatened, a senior Israeli official said on Sunday. After Friday’s US-brokered fence-mending announcement, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan said Israel had met his demands to apologize for killing nine Turks aboard a Gaza-bound activist ship in 2010, pay compensation and ease the blockade. But during the almost three-year rift between the ex-allies, Erdoğan had routinely insisted that Israel end the blockade … Two Israeli officials told Reuters they knew of no plan to review the naval blockade, imposed during the Gaza war of 2008-2009 and which Israel says stems arms shipments to the territory’s Islamist Hamas government and smaller factions. Hamas said on Friday that Erdogan told its leader, Khalid Mashaal, that Israel had promised to “lift the siege on the Palestinian people”.

IOA extends closure of Abu Salem and Beit Hanoun crossings
GAZA (PIC) 24 Mar — The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) decided to extend the closure of Karam Abu Salem and Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossings for several days for security reasons and at the pretext of the Jewish holidays. Ra‘ed Fattouh, chief coordinator of the commercial traffic at Gaza crossings, said the IOA would continue to close the crossings on Sunday and during the two coming days for the Jewish holidays. However, the IOA did not say if it would open the crossings on Wednesday.

Israel returns body of man killed last year to Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 Mar — Israeli authorities transferred the body of a Palestinian man killed last year to the Gaza Strip on Sunday, Palestinian sources and an Israeli official said. Palestinian sources told Ma‘an that the body of Baseem Kamel al-Amour, 24, was transferred to the Gaza Strip and returned to his family. Al-Amour was killed seven months ago after Israeli forces shot him near the Israeli town of Nirim, adjacent to the Gaza Strip, the sources added. His family reported him missing last year and have been looking for him since his disappearance.

Refugees block motorcade of UNRWA director in Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 24 Mar — Dozens of Palestinian refugees intercepted the motorcade of the director of UNRWA operations in Gaza, Robert Turner, in Deir A-Balah city on Saturday. Local sources told the PIC reporter that the refugees were protesting the continued reduction in UNRWA services. They said that the refugees allowed the motorcade to proceed after they conveyed their message.

Gaza court sentences convicted collaborator to death
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 Mar — A military court in Gaza on Sunday sentenced a man convicted of collaborating with Israel to death by hanging. The suspect has been imprisoned since Aug. 11, 2011. The Hamas government in Gaza announced its latest campaign to crack down on collaboration with Israel earlier in March. Palestinian collaboration with Israel is an extremely sensitive issue in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with information passed to Israel’s security services often being used to make arrests and assassinate political and militant figures.

Gaza forces arrest 2 suspects in shooting of Fatah official
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 Mar — Security forces in Gaza have arrested two suspects in the shooting of a Fatah leader last week in Jabaliya refugee camp, police said. Masked gunmen riding a motorbike opened fire on senior Fatah leader Jamal Obeid as he was leaving a mosque following Friday prayers last week. He suffered injuries to his leg and was transferred to a local hospital for treatment. Gaza police spokesman Ayman al-Batanji said that two suspects have been arrested and confessed to the attack. “We expect that the two suspects are also affiliated to Fatah, and the dispute is about internal issues,” he added.

Israeli Racism / Discrimination

Bedouin sector weakest in Israel due to systemic neglect
Haaretz 24 Mar by Yanir Yagna — Public services in Bedouin communities are severely lacking, compared to services in Jewish communities, according to a report by the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality — Israel is neglecting Bedouin communities in the Negev, according to a report by the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality comparing the provision of public services to Jewish and Bedouin communities in the Negev. “These statistics, which show economic weakness, high unemployment and lack of access to government services, prove that the Bedouin’s tough situation results from governmental neglect that has been going on for years,” stated the report, published last Thursday. “This population is therefore at the bottom of the list as the weakest population in Israel.” … The report also revealed that while population density in Bedouin towns ranges from 1,000 to 2,700 people per square kilometer, the maximum population density in the Jewish communities is 400 people per square kilometer.

‘Castrate them!’ ‘Burn them!’ ‘Bullet in the head!’: Facebook Israelis react to photo of Palestinian kids
EI 22 Mar by Ali Abunimah — Having regularly documented the horrifying racism and violent fantasies frequently expressed by Israelis on Facebook or Instagram, I thought I had seen everything. But this may be the worst yet. On Wednesday, the picture above of three Palestinian boys in a tent was posted on a popular Facebook page titled in Hebrew “We are all in favor of death to terrorists.” Under the picture is the following caption: Arab boys in the illegal Arab outpost established near Maale Adumim. What should the Israeli army do to them? This is an apparent reference to the peaceful “Bab al-Shams” encampment established by Palestinians near Jerusalem to protest Israel’s plans to seize more land for settlements. “Run the tent over with a truck/Merkava tank/a bus/ whatever it takes to crush and kill these children,” suggested Facebook user Lidor Swisa.

Israeli corporal Ari Ben Reuven says ‘break every bone’ of crying Palestinian boy seized on way to school
[with video] EI 24 Mar by Ali Abunimah — The Electronic Intifada has captured even more horrifyingly racist and violent statements by Israeli soldiers on Facebook targeting Palestinian children as part of our effort to document this widespread phenomenon. On the day US President Barack Obama arrived for his Israel visit last week, Israeli occupation forces in Hebron violently seized and detained dozens of Palestinian children, some aged as young as eight, on their way to school. The harrowing video, above, of the Israeli army attack on the children went viral on YouTube … When the video of the children’s arrest was posted on the popular Israeli Facebook page “We are all in favor of death to terrorists,” a hotbed of racist incitement, it provided an opportunity for dozens of Israelis, once again, to express horrifyingly violent views (Screenshot of all the comments in context) … Yoni Gordon, a member of the Givati Brigade had simple advice for how to deal with a Palestinian child: Put him on his knees and shoot a bullet into his mouth.

Women excluded from performing in Jerusalem festival
Ynet 24 Mar — The Diwan Project, a musical ensemble of seven musicians and a woman singer, was asked to cut a performance short Saturday during the Sounds of the Old City festival in Jerusalem. “We started the show and already felt something strange,” said Gil Ron Shama of the Diwan ensemble, adding that soon “a representative of the festival production walked over to the singer and asked her to get off the stage.” “I didn’t know what it was all about but would not allow it and we went on with the performance. We later realized that haredim were threatening that if the singer does not leave the stage, they will disrupt all other events in the festival.”,7340,L-4360264,00.html

Activism / Solidarity / BDS

One struggle: students defend Palestinian and [email protected] rights
EI 22 Mar by Gabriel Schivone — This weekend, Danya Mustafa, a national organizer with Students for Justice in Palestine will visit the University of California – San Diego for the 20th annual conference of Movimiento Estudiantil [email protected] de Aztlan (MEChA), the largest association of [email protected] youth in North America. Last year MEChA overwhelmingly endorsed the global movement of Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. During the past twelve months, there have been numerous cross-movement initiatives by students across the country. I interviewed Mustafa last year on these issues, which are growing more in awareness among students organizing across both justice movements … GS: In March 2011, it was reported that a Mexican teenager (with US citizenship) named Carlos LaMadrid was shot three times in the back by a US Border Patrol agent who was “under attack by a rock thrower.”  La Madrid was climbing the US-Mexico barrier at the time. The FBI investigated the incident as an “assault on a federal officer.” This was one of numerous cases of people, many of them teenage boys or children, shot for throwing rocks, running from agents or trying to scale the border wall. DM: First of all, I don’t understand how rock throwing could pose such a threat to authorities who are armed. You see this a lot in Palestine where young kids are often shot and jailed for throwing stones at completely armed IDF [Israel Defense Forces] soldiers.

BDS Roundup: Israel boycott motion passed in Scotland county
EI 20 Mar by nora — In this latest roundup of news from the global boycott, divestment and sanctions movement:
Scottish county council passes resolution to ‘resist … action that gives political or economic support’ to Israel
University of Dundee students vote to cut ties with British-Danish security firm G4S
Students walk out of event sponsored by StandWithUS featuring Israeli soldiers, leaving auditorium nearly empty
Stanford University students ‘hail significant milestone in push for divestment’ even as vote fails
South African boycott activists disrupt Israeli Embassy-sponsored concert during Israeli Apartheid Week
Boston activist groups confront Sodastream CEO
Dutch government announces new retail guidelines to label settlement products
Activists to Ben & Jerry’s: Peace, love and occupation?
Appeals to musicians to respect cultural boycott call
Palestinians to commemorate Land Day on 30 March

Student senate at UC Berkeley passes resolution condemning lecturer’s Islamophobic hate speech
EI 21 Mar by nora — On Wednesday evening, the Associated Students at the University of California (ASUC) at Berkeley voted unanimously to support a resolution “condemning Islamophobic hate speech at the University of California.” The resolution focused on the recent incident of the outrageously racist and Islamophobic hate speech of Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, a lecturer at UC Santa Cruz, who was videotaped in June 2012 saying that campus activists involved in Students for Justice in Palestine and Muslim student organizations have ties to “terrorist organizations.” Rossman-Benjamin, as The Electronic Intifada has extensively reported, is the co-founder of an outside political group, the Amcha Initiative, which seeks out students and professors who criticize Israel or engage in Palestine solidarity activism, accuse them of “anti-Semitism,” and urge university administrations — or state officials — to take punitive action against them.

Political, economic developments

Official: PA economy faces crisis despite US aid release
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Mar — The Palestinian Authority’s financial crisis is not over, a Palestinian official warned Saturday, despite the release of US funds worth nearly $500 million. “The Palestinian government will hold a special meeting Sunday to approve the public budget after the US administration decided to unblock financial aid to the Palestinians,” PA minister of labor Ahmad Majdalani told Ma‘an. “Only $200 million of the $480 million from the United States will go to the treasury, and the rest will be go to USAID-funded projects.” A shortfall in foreign donor funding in 2012 means that the PA is still facing a budget deficit …
In 2011, US Congress froze $200 million in aid to the PA as punishment for seeking statehood at the United Nations. In 2012, the UN voted to admit Palestine as a non-member state, with Congress freezing the US administration’s request for funds. In February, US Secretary of State John Kerry promised to keep working with Congress to release budget support funds for the Palestinian Authority.

Universities to step up protests
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 24 Mar  – The union for university staff said Sunday it would escalate protests until the Palestinian Authority meets its demands. University employees will strike on Tuesday, Wednesday and April 1, the union said in a statement … Union chief Amjad Barham met with union heads from universities across the West Bank and Gaza on Sunday, union spokesman Mousa Ajwah said. They discussed “the fair demands of the university employees” including the cancellation of taxes on end of service benefits, the payment of annual salary increases and job security, Ajwah said in a statement. Ajwah added that the union blamed the PA for the deterioration of Palestinian universities. The government has repeatedly made promises which are not met, rather than adopting effective strategies to support universities and the educational process, the spokesman said.

Palestinians in Syria register to vote for PNC
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 Mar — Palestinians in Syria’s Yarmouk refugee camp have registered to vote in Palestinian National Council elections, the first in the diaspora to do so. “We announce the registration, here in steadfast Yarmouk camp, of the first eligible voters outside of Palestine to the PNC elections,” the Popular Campaign for Registration said in a statement. The PNC is the highest legislative body of the Palestine Liberation Organization … Trained volunteers registered Palestinians to vote in Yarmouk, a camp that has been caught in the crossfire between President Bashar Assad’s forces and rebels trying to overthrow him. Osama Mousa, a refugee from Safad who registered to vote, said the Palestinian National Council must reflect the voices of Palestinian refugees … In 2012, Palestinian leaders issued a National Call for Registration urging Palestinians to participate in a civic registration drive. The voter registration is being run by individuals and civil society organizations worldwide through a secure Internet system. No date has been set for PNC elections, but activists say organizing a voter registry will remove a logistical obstacle to holding a vote.

Netanyahu says Syria was main reason for apology
Ynet 23 Mar — …Netanyahu explained that the situation in Syria warrants a reevaluation of Israel’s relations with Turkey and noted that the presence of Global Jihad terrorists on the Syrian-Israel border in the Golan Heights “creates serious challenges for our defense establishment.” He further noted that Israel is closely monitoring the situation across the border and is ready to respond to any development. “It’s important that Turkey and Israel, which both share a border with Syria, are able to communicate with each other and this is also relevant to other regional challenges…”,7340,L-4360212,00.html

Erdogan: Too soon to drop case against IDF officers
JPost 23 Mar — Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan said on Saturday that despite Israel’s apology over the IDF raid of the 2010 Gaza-bound flotilla, it is still too early to drop the case against IDF generals accused by Ankara of being responsible for the death of nine Turkish activists aboard the Mavi Marmara, Turkish newspaper Today’s Zaman reported. Erdoğan said Netanyahu’s apology satisfied Turkish expectations when he used the word “apology” instead of “regret,” but that it was still too soon to fully restore diplomatic ties and appoint new ambassadors, Turkish daily Hurriyet reported.

Navy commando: We did nothing wrong
Ynet 24 Mar — Soldiers involved in 2010 Marmara raid express ambivalence toward PM’s apology to Turkey, insist ‘we have nothing to apologize for’; Gantz backs decision to apologize — …“This apology doesn’t imply anything,” N., who sustained injuries in the raid, added. “It’s meant to promote reconciliation. On a personal level there’s no need for apologies, but on a national perspective … it seems like the right thing to do.”  A former combat soldier with the Navy told Ynet he was ambivalent about the apology. “On the one hand, there’s something very unfair in this — when you’re in battle, you fight. And we did nothing wrong. But on the other hand, maybe it’s time to end this saga.” As for the decision to compensate the families of the Turkish citizens who were killed in the raid, many Navy soldiers were outraged, saying that IDF soldiers who sustained injuries in the incident have yet to be compensated.,7340,L-4360511,00.html

Israeli forces open fire at Syria targets
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 Mar — Israeli forces in the occupied Golan Heights opened fire at targets in Syria on Sunday after Israeli soldiers came under fire while on patrol, Israel’s army said. “Earlier today shots were fired towards Israeli soldiers while on routine activity in the south Golan Heights,” an Israeli army spokesman said. “The shooting came from Syria and Israeli forces responded with accurate fire towards the post of the fire. No injuries or damage were reported on the Israeli side.” Israel is monitoring the border and taking necessary steps to respond to developments in the region, he added. It is the second incident of its kind in the past 24 hours.

Abu Marzouk asks Egypt’s journalists to avoid making claims against Palestinians
CAIRO (PIC) 24 Mar — Deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau Mousa Abu Marzouk appealed to all Egyptian journalists to scrutinize any information they obtain about the Palestinians and their resistance before publishing or airing it. Abu Marzouk made his remarks in a press release following his meeting on Saturday with dean of the Egyptian journalists Diya Rashwan. He said he urged Egypt’s journalists not to make the Palestinian affairs an object of rumors and make claims against the Palestinians with no evidence. The Hamas official said the political stampede in Egypt was the reason behind the launch of many false accusations against the Hamas Movement, stressing that such allegations adversely reflect on the whole Palestinian situation inside and outside Palestine and serve only the Israeli occupation.

Refugees outside Palestine

3 Palestinians killed in Syria fighting, group says
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Mar — Three Palestinians were killed in Syria over the past two days, according to a Palestinian group in the country. Muhammad Daloul and Bassam Fahmi Tamim were killed on Friday after a mosque in Damascus was attacked, the working group for Palestinians in Syria said. Muhammad Jadallah Abu Madi was killed in Yarmouk refugee camp on Thursday, the group added. It is not immediately clear who was responsible for the attacks. The body of a Palestinian boy was also found in al-Husayniyya refugee camp on Thursday. The camp had reportedly been shelled the previous night…
In early March, the Action Group for Palestinians of Syria said in a statement that around 1,038 Palestinians had been killed [PIC: now 1,130] in the 22-month Syrian conflict, which has claimed the lives of around 70,000 people and created hundreds of thousands of refugees. Syria hosts half a million Palestinian refugees, descendants of those admitted after the creation of Israel in 1948, and has always cast itself as a champion of the Palestinian struggle, sponsoring several guerrilla factions.

Obama visit

Arab student explains why he heckled Obama in Jerusalem
NYTimes Lede blog 22 Mar by Robert Mackey — The 24-year-old student from Israel’s Arab minority who interrupted President Obama’s speech in Jerusalem on Thursday explained his comments and why he made them in an interview with The Lede on Friday. The heckler, Rabbea Eid, a political science student at Haifa University, said by telephone that he did not plan the outburst but was offended by Mr. Obama’s remarks, which seemed to rule out the solution that he favors: a single, binational state to be shared by Israelis and Palestinians: …So I stood up and I told him, “”resident Obama, did you come to make peace or to support Israel and the Israeli occupation?” Then I asked him about this thing, “How can you be democratic and support a Jewish country?” And I asked him also, “Who killed Rachel Corrie?” The last question was, “Did you see the apartheid wall when you came from Ramallah?”

Palestinian youth interrupts Obama’s speech
[with photo] NAZARETH (PIC) 22 Mar — Israeli forces detained Rabee‘ Eid, 24, a student at Haifa University after he interrupted US president Obama while speaking to hundreds of Israeli students and academics in occupied Jerusalem on Thursday … Rabee‘’s statements came despite the Israeli strict measures, where they selected a number of students to attend the speech by making them sign an obligation not to cause any inconvenience in the hall during the speech. “The state must be a state for all its citizens, not a state for the Jewish people, he continued, “Have you seen the apartheid wall on your way?, There are in this room Palestinians, this state must be for all its citizens, not state of the Jewish people,” he said in response to Obama’s statements on a Jewish state … Rabee‘ Eid is a Palestinian student from  a village in Galilee.

Martyrs’ families: Obama’s visit added insult to injury
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 24 Mar — A number of martyrs’ families expressed their anger and dissatisfaction at Obama’s visit to the region, saying that it his visit added insult to their already painful injury. Umm Rafiq Aqnebi, who sacrificed her son and house defending the Palestinian land and dignity, expressed her dissatisfaction towards the PA officials’ warm reception of the US president “who contributed to the killing of the Palestinian people through his support of the Israeli entity.” Our children and brothers are killed by American weapons and decision, so does Obama deserve such a warm reception? Um Rafiq asked.

Palestinian complaint filed to arrest Obama upon his arrival in Ramallah
RAMALLAH (PIC) 21 Mar — The democratic press assembly in Palestine filed a complaint with the Palestinian attorney general in Ramallah against US president Barack Obama calling for arresting and bringing him to justice for the murder of Palestinian cameraman Mazen Da‘nna in Iraq several years ago. Journalist Omar Nizal, the secretary of the assembly, said that the democratic press assembly possesses documents proving that the US army premeditatedly killed Da‘nna in 2003. Nizal added that the documents prompted the assembly to file a complaint to detain and interrogate Obama in his capacity as the current military commander in chief of the soldiers who had killed the cameraman. [Da‘nna was a Reuters cameraman who was shot dead by US soldiers who mistook his camera for a rocket launcher in Baghdad, Iraq on August 17, 2003. He was filming outside Abu Ghraib Prison after obtaining permission from US authorities.]

Abbas’ grandchildren gave letters to Obama
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 24 Mar — Two of President Mahmoud Abbas’ grandchildren gave letters to the US president during his visit to Ramallah on Thursday. Firas wrote that 168 Palestinian children were in Israeli prison, including 15 of Malia’s age and 20 of Sasha’s age, referring to Barack Obama’s children. “Please get them out. Make Israel stop arresting kids,” the 10-year-old wrote. Ziad, 14, wrote that Palestinians have been fighting for freedom for 65 years. “Mr President, this occupation that we’re under is the last occupation in the whole world. Your Excellency, we have a dream too and this is why we’re here today.”

An outrageous Israeli practice we had not previously heard of. Is there no end to them?
Obama fails in the Mideast / Sam Bahour
Vindy 24 Mar — As I watched President Barack Obama’s helicopter pass above my home, just before landing at the Palestinian Presidential Compound next to Ramallah, I just shook my head in disappointment, first as an American, then as a Palestinian. I thought: “Another U.S. president, on another high fanfare visit, carrying the same, failed political messages.” It was difficult to follow Obama’s visit on TV. In normal practice when dignitaries come to town, Israel disrupts the satellite signals that feed our televisions. Nevertheless, I was able to tune in to a single Arabic channel, broadcast from Lebanon, that was unaffected by this.

Other news

Egypt arrests gang selling false passports to Palestinians
EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma‘an) 23 Mar — Egyptian authorities on Saturday arrested a gang accused of selling false Egyptian citizenship documents to Palestinians from Gaza, Ma‘an’s correspondent said. The gang, consisting of three Palestinians and an Egyptian man and his sister, was arrested after Egyptian forces found them in possession of forged birth certificates, passports and other documents ready to be sold to Palestinians seeking citizenship. The woman told interrogators that she had given lots of false documents to Palestinians seeking Egyptian citizenship. She also admitted helping Palestinians obtain citizenship through various contacts, in exchange for money.

Analysis / Opinion / Reviews

In a West Bank refugee camp, stones take place of hope / Gideon Levy & Alex Levac
Haaretz 22 Mar — In the Al-Fawar refugee camp near Hebron, the hope shared over a decade ago by a few has disappeared, without a trace — …Ever since residents were barred from working in Israel more than a decade ago Al-Fawar has sunk into deep unemployment and even more abject poverty than before. Throwing stones at an IDF jeep is the only bit of excitement in a camp, whose boundaries the occupants demarcate thus: It starts at an iron gate (on Route 60 ) and ends at a cemetery. Same wretchedness A musty stairwell leads us to a tiny apartment on the third story of a building that was never completed, and probably never will be. Here we meet with some of the camp’s residents. Thirteen years ago, on the eve of the new millennium, we met here with the same residents: Some of the adults we spoke with then still believed that the future awaiting their children would turn out better than theirs was. They thought, back on New Year’s at the dawn of 2000, that the despotic regimes of Arab states were destined to fall and that this would bequeath change to them as well. Other residents were hopeless then, too, just as they are today. When I read the description of the camp that I wrote at the time, the picture it paints is exactly identical to the one I now witness. The same wretchedness, the same overcrowding. And now even the hope shared then by a few has disappeared, without a trace. Now the adults too know there is nothing awaiting their children in their lives, other than poverty, unemployment and despair. There isn’t even money to use to get married anymore in this camp, and hundreds of young people grow older single, leaving their helpless parents sad and frustrated.

Barack Obama has a dream, and we should listen / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 22 Mar — No American president or Israeli statesman has ever delivered a speech like this. It deserves to enter the history books – and Israel’s textbooks — It was worth it. It was worth listening to the first (and slightly embarrassing) part of the speech; it was worth the thousands of miles that were crossed to get here and the thousands of sweet words showered upon our heads; the removal of the suit jacket and the demonstration in Ramallah; the reference to “Eretz Nehederet;” Obama’s Hebrew declaration “Ah-tem lo lah-vahd” (you are not alone); Osher Twito; the Holocaust; the Seder night and Herzl, and all the other shtick. Every bit of it was worth it to get to the second part of this great speech.
It was the speech of justice. If there are still historical speeches, then this speech from Barack Obama’s can be classified as one of them. No American president has ever delivered a speech like this, nor has any Israeli statesman. American presidents and even Israel prime ministers have talked about two states; but no one spoke of natural justice the way Obama did, a concept that should be obvious; obvious to every decent citizen in the world today; and which should serve as a beacon for every Israeli citizen with a conscience. What began as a speech that could have been given before AIPAC soon evolved into a speech by Martin Luther King … The president of the United States took a step toward the fundamental value: justice. Now it’s Israelis’ turn to do so. It won’t happen immediately — Israeli society is too preoccupied with shallow things — but maybe the seed has been planted. .

FBI’s penchant for manufacturing terrorists probed in new book / Charlotte Silver
San Francisco (EI) 20 Mar — …In fact, the FBI’s 12-year absence from monitoring financial fraud saw the nation’s biggest economic meltdown — itself a direct result of the financial sector running roughshod over what few regulations remained. And now, more than four years after that manmade collapse, the Department of Justice has yet to investigate, let alone prosecute, the criminals responsible for the devastation. What the FBI was doing before, during and after the financial crisis is the subject under examination in Trevor Aaronson’s new book The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism. The book unveils the FBI’s domestic counterterrorism program that began after the 11 September attacks and has continued well into Barack Obama’s second term in office. The program, vividly portrayed by Aaronson, is defined by a wanton use of informants and sting operations in order to produce a high rate of convictions — thus ensuring that Congress continues to write out checks to the FBI’s counterterrorism program to the tune of $3 billion annually. Since the 11 September attacks, the FBI has employed more than 15,000 confidential informants nationwide. And, according to Aaronson, for each official informant there are as many as three unofficial informants — known within the FBI as ‘hip pockets’. By 2011, the Justice Department had prosecuted more than 500 individuals on terrorist charges, a handful of whom Aaronson categorizes as ‘actual terrorists’. The rest were hatched within the context of FBI sting operations, informants and agents provocateur … It seems implausible that Aaronson is unaware of the cases of the Holy Land Five, Muhammad Salah, Sami Al-Arian and countless others — all of them also manufactured ‘terrorists’ whose lives were destroyed by allegations of providing ‘material suppor’ to Palestinian groups categorized as terrorist organizations in 1997 — but the above suggests he is. While this flaw does not negate the value of Aaronson’s significant investigation, it indicates a troubling and, given his insight, rather surprising short-sightedness. In not questioning the US definition of terrorist organizations, Aaronson fails to account for the political motivations that lead to these designations. (listserv) (archive)

About Kate

American; political science major, M.A.; former ISM volunteer in the West Bank

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7 Responses

  1. seafoid
    March 25, 2013, 9:38 am

    “The Israeli army will impose a general closure of the West Bank during the Jewish holiday of Passover..” (where Jews remember the passing of the angel of death over the land of Israel)

    And the West Bank and Gaza will be monitored by drones loaded with bombs

    You just can’t make stuff like this up

  2. seafoid
    March 25, 2013, 10:16 am

    From the WTF department :

    “The Pope and the cardinals of the Vatican help organize tours of Auschwitz for Hezbollah members to teach them how to wipe out Jews, according to a booklet being distributed to Israel Defense Forces soldiers.

    Officials encouraging the booklet’s distribution include senior officers, such as Lt. Col. Tamir Shalom, the commander of the Nahshon Battalion of the Kfir Brigade.
    The booklet was published by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, in cooperation with the chief rabbi of Safed, Rabbi Shmuel Eliahu, and has been distributed for the past few months. ”

    “The younger Eliahu was also behind an online video in which he described the “miracle of our matriarch Rachel,” whom he claims appeared before Israeli soldiers in Gaza to warn them of booby-trapped buildings during Operation Cast Lead.
    “In some of the places we went in Gaza there was a woman who warned them … ‘Did they tell you who I am,’ she said, ‘I am the matriarch Rachel,” Eliahu says in the video. He claims his father confirmed the veracity of the story, and told him that he had prayed to Rachel: “I told her: Rachel, there’s a war… Go to God, Blessed Be He, pray over the soldiers who sacrifice themselves for the People of Israel, so that they will strike and not be struck.” ”

    Reminds me of the Protecting Veil of Constantinople

    but that was Middle Ages (I guess many Orthodox are mentally still in the 1500s)

  3. Ecru
    March 25, 2013, 1:52 pm

    Ironic isn’t it, at one time Jews were locked in their Ghettoes for Easter and we still hear about how wrong that was ad nauseam, and yet here we are, Jews locking Palestinians into their ghettoes for Passover.

  4. Blake
    March 25, 2013, 7:26 pm

    “As Jews around the world commemorate freedom from slavery, 5 million Palestinians held by Israel under closure due to the passover holiday.” — Miko Peled.

  5. john h
    March 25, 2013, 8:46 pm

    ‘Palestinians prepare to observe Passover”

    Really? Where was that in those news items, and where is that in reality?

  6. RoHa
    March 25, 2013, 9:16 pm

    “(where Jews remember the passing of the angel of death over the land of Israel)”

    My copy of the OT says that the angel of death passed over Egypt. (Exodus 12)

  7. kalithea
    March 26, 2013, 1:21 pm

    I can’t wait til one day millions of Palestinians including the refugees are freed from Zionist oppression and we can wish them Happy Passover! That’ll be the day I toast Passover; until then, this is a hypocritical farce of a holiday.

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