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‘Why should we give Israeli investigators a gun to shoot the victims again?’: B’Tselem ends cooperation with Israeli military citing total lack of accountability

Allison Deger on
Israeli soldiers stand guard near the scene where two Palestinian men were shot dead by Israeli troops at the Beit Ainun junction northeast of Hebron in the occupied West Bank on Jan. 12, 2016. An Israeli army spokesperson said that Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man after he allegedly attempted to stab soldiers at the junction. (Photo: APA Images/Wisam Hashlamoun)

After 25 years of bringing cases to Israel’s military court and supporting investigations into the killings of Palestinians, a foremost Israeli human rights group has said “there is no longer any point” to submitting complaints. Following stalled and faulty investigations in more than 700 cases since 2000, which resulted in a 3% conviction rate, the rights group B’tselem has given up on cooperating with the military justice system. The organization now believes filing cases in army courts can cause further harm to Palestinian victims. The group said it will cease “lending legitimacy to the occupation regime and aiding to whitewash it,” in report published today that outlines what it described as major deficits in the prosecuting process.

After 68 years of Nakba, is coexistence still possible?

Mohammed Alhammami on
Palestinian boy climbs through an opening in Israel's separation barrier in Shuafat near Jerusalem. February, 2009. (Photo: REUTERS/Baz Ratner)

Mohammed Alhammami recalls stories he heard growing up of Jews, Muslims and Christians living alongside each other in historic Palestine as one people, not divided factions. But he wonders what about now? Can Jews and Palestinians (Christians and Muslims alike) really coexist in the Holy Land, after 68 years of Nakba?

Religious zealots ready for takeover of Israeli army

Jonathan Cook on
Naftali Bennett, leader of the Jewish Home party, recently boasted that the national-religious camp, though only a tenth of the population, held “leadership positions in all realms in Israel”.

In a surprise move, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week forced out his long-serving defense minister, Moshe Yaalon. As he stepped down, Yaalon warned: “Extremist and dangerous elements have taken over Israel.” He was referring partly to his expected successor, Avigdor Lieberman, and Israeli commentators pointed out that the new government will be the most extreme in Israel’s history. Less noticed however has been the gradual and parallel takeover of Israel’s security institutions by those espousing the ideology of the settlers – known in Israel as the national-religious camp.

‘His only crime was that he’s not Jewish’: Israeli police caught on video attacking Palestinian in Tel Aviv

Kate on
Video of Israeli police attacking (Video: Ha'aretz/YouTube)

Off-duty Border Police officers in civilian clothes savagely assaulted a Palestinian supermarket worker in central Tel Aviv on Sunday after he refused to identify himself because he didn’t know who they were, according to eyewitnesses. “The blows were murderous, from the guy and from one of his friends. I’ve never seen anything like it. Teeth were flying through the air. The Arab was torn apart,” Erez Krispin, an eyewitness, wrote in a Facebook post.

Video: Gaza family mourns children who burned to death

Dan Cohen on

On May 7, 2016, fire broke out in the Abu al-Hindi home in Gaza’s Shati (Beach) refugee camp. Started by a tipped candle, the flames grew quickly grew out of control. Three children, Yusra, 3, Rahaf, 2, and Nasser, 6 months, perished in the burning house, and Muhannad, 8, was severely burned. Ali, 6, is the only survivor without physical injuries but lives with deep psychological trauma. The fire is a direct result of severe electricity shortages due to the ongoing and tightening Israeli/Egyptian since and repeated Israeli military assaults.

Palestinian jailed for Facebook post casts light on PA attacks on free speech

Allison Deger on
Kifah Quzmar, 27, in his home after he was detained by Palestinian intelligence agents for "insulting a public official" on Facebook. (Photo: Allison Deger)

When the plain-clothed men came for him, Kifah Quzmar, 27, did not need to be told why they were dragging him out of a popular Ramallah cafe on a sunny afternoon last week. “Call my brother,” he told bystanders before being tossed into the back of a tinted SUV parked outside. “The muhaberat are rotten,” Quzmar wrote on Facebook two weeks before he was detained, using the Arabic colloquial term for undercover Palestinian intelligence agents. In the West Bank, such words are a punishable offensive under a 1960 Jordanian law still on the books making illegal “insulting a public official.” The crime carries a maximum of a six-month prison sentence.

‘This is not an environment to learn’: Palestinian college struggles to exist next to IDF training ground

Steven Davidson on
Khadoori Institute students escape teargas enveloping the campus greenhouses, fleeing towards the campus quad (Photo: Steven Davidson)

Welcome to Khadoori Institute. Located on the pre-1967 border with Israel in the city of Tulkarem, this Palestinian agricultural and technical college has lost 200 dunams of land to Israel’s separation wall and neighbors an Israeli chemical factory that was built in the occupied territories to circumvent environmental laws. In the 1990s the IDF took 23 dunums of school property to place a military training field on Khadoori’s campus and since tensions rekindled in October 2015, soldiers have shot at protesting students on campus with live bullets, rubber bullets, tear gas, pepper spray gas, and also sprayed skunk liquid over university buildings.

Joint List MK: Lieberman deal reveals ‘the real face of Netanyahu’

Emily Mulder on
Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman in 2012 (Photo: REUTERS/Baz Ratner)

Amid mass political upheaval this week, the Israeli prime minister’s government reshuffle has brought in the creme de la creme of Israel’s far-right and raised the hackles of those fearing an apparent rise in extremism among Israel’s political leadership. “The question now is: what is the world going to do?” Joint List MK Aida Touma-Souliman tells Mondoweiss. “The world until today still believes what Netanyahu says about his willingness to talk to the Palestinians. To have Lieberman as defense minister…I think this is a very clear message Netanyahu is sending to the world over his goals for the future.”

Youth Against Settlements: Hebron closed military zone ended following activist campaign

Kate on
(Graphic: Youth Against Settlements)

Press release: “Youth Against Settlements is pleased to announce that the closed military zone orders in Hebron were not renewed today by the Israeli military. The Tel Rumeida neighborhood in Hebron had been under closed military zone orders since November 1, 2015 with the order having been renewed at 2-4 week intervals. Youth Against Settlements attributes (YAS) this success to the Open the Zone campaign that YAS and International Solidarity Movement (ISM) launched on May 3. The campaign involved video testimony of families and individuals living in the closed military zone describing the difficulties the closed military zone created for their lives. “

Israeli ‘chutzpah’ versus Palestinian ‘sumud’

Jonathan Ofir on
Israeli soldier chokeholds young boy at gunpoint after clashes between Israeli occupation forces and Palestinian protesters following Nabi Saleh march against illegal Jewish only settlement expansion on their village land. West Bank, Palestine August 28, 2015 (Photo: AFP/Getty )

Jonathan Ofir shares a tale of two idioms. Israel’s Chutzpah is shouting “help! Help!” to the world whilst beating Palestinians up. But Palestinians have demonstrated their own tradition, of sumud, or steadfastness, in refusing to buckle to ethnic cleansing and occupation and human rights abuses, “This is the fight that Palestinians are to endure with Sumud, if they are to remain. Israel may consider efforts to confront its subjugation as a Chutzpah in itself – how dare they resist? – whilst it engages in ever more inventive stratagems of deceit, to be able to continue its adventurism in the frontier of Greater Israel.”

Aymen Odeh and the Joint List stand to gain if Herzog joins Netanyahu government

Allison Deger on
Aymen Odeh

After campaigning on a platform of “Anybody-but-Netanyahu,” Israeli opposition leader Issac Herzog is in discussion to join forces with the one man he said he would never work alongside in a unity government. While Herzog’s constituents are mad about it, analysts say Netanyahu is hoping to build favor with the Obama administration with a broader tent. Still it is the Joint List’s Ayman Odeh that might stand the most to gain and Herzog’s defection would leave him to lead the opposition, the first time a Palestinian citizen of Israel would ever be in that position.

A brief history of the ‘Nakba’ in Israel

Eitan Bronstein Aparicio on
Graph Nakba in Hebrew 1999 - 2015

Eitan Bronstein Aparicio discusses how the discourse on the Nakba has changed over time in Israel — When did the term appear? When did it decline and what was repressed? And what has caused these changes? Bronstein Aparicio writes, “Today the term Nakba represents the polarization in Israeli society and discourse. In the non-zionist left there is a full understanding of its centrality in the construction of the conflict and its possible solution. On the other hand, there exists a raging battle led by the Israeli regime to repress these discussions as much as possible. Paradoxically these attempts to silence the discourse leaves the Nakba as a burning question that demands answers”

Land of Sad Lemons: A song for the Nakba

Haidar Eid on
An image by Carlos Latuff for Nakba Day in 2013.

Haidar Eid writes, “I tried to explain to my late mother that she had to be expelled from Zarnouqa in 1948, leave her memories and house behind because a crazy bigot had committed a pogrom against Jews in Europe, but she neither wanted to understand (“what does that have to do with us?”) nor accept (why didn’t the Europeans give them a homeland?” until she passed away in a refugee camp, 90 km south of her village. This song is dedicated to all Palestinian mothers who had to endure the unendurable in 1948.”

Video: Remembering the Nakba from Burj Barajneh refugee camp

Sonia Grieco on
Remembering the Nakba from Burj Barajneh refugee camp

In the Active Aging House of Burj Barajneh, a Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut, the Nakba is still a vivid memory. Some of the center-goers were in their childhood when, in 1948, the ‘catastrophe’ had befell the Palestinians and more than 750,000 were ousted from their homelands. Around 110,000 took refuge in Lebanon that. Marian, 68 years old, still remembers those keys to her house. Her parents were holding them in their hands while telling her about al Safsaf, the village in Galilee they used to live in before the Nakba.

Video: March of Return commemorates expulsion and fights the ‘continuing Nakba’

Jimmy Hutcheon on
The March of Return

Thousands of Palestinians, mainly citizens of Israel, participated in the annual “March of Return” for the Nakba commemoration on Thursday, May 12. For the first time the Association for the Defense of the Rights of the Internally Displaced organized the march in the Naqab. The location on the lands of the destroyed village of Wadi Zabala was symbolic, and highlighted the on-going Nakba of the Palestinians.

‘Train of Return’ rolls through Bethlehem as refugees commemorate Nakba Day

Sheren Khalel on
“It means a lot to be here to today, because the Nakba means a lot to us,” Abdo said, as the train rolled down Bethlehem’s main street. “I don’t care if we take a train, or a bus or a car or if we have to walk, what we are saying is we will return to our homes.” (Photo by Sheren Khalel)

Several hundred Palestinians marched through Bethlehem on Sunday in commemoration of the 68th anniversary of the Nakba, when an estimated 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly expelled from their homes and hundreds of others are believed to have been killed. The theme of the march this year was the “Train of Return,” and a massive train was made by volunteers from the three refugee camps in Bethlehem city for the march. “The idea behind the train was to show that we will return to our original villages,” Mohammed Abu Srour, one of the volunteers who helped build the train told Mondoweiss. “It is a simulation of our dreams to come back to our land.”

Settlers raid Palestinian home and beat a woman and pepper-spray her daughter

Kate on
Settler in occupied Hebron assails Imad Abu Shamsyee and the  activist Yasser Abu Markhia while they were  documenting a group of settlers who were abusing the residents of Tel Rumeida area in occupied Hebron. This incident took place earlier this week.

A group of Israeli settlers attacked a woman and child late Friday night during an incursion into a home in the area of in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron. Emad Abu Shamsiya, a coordinator for Human Rights Defenders, told Ma‘an settlers attacked the house of Riyad Abu Hazza and beat his wife as settlers sprayed his daughter with pepper spray and caused her to faint.

The Making of Israel: Zionist settler colonialism in historic Palestine

Visualizing Palestine on
A new infographic from Visualizing Palestine

A new infographic from Visualizing Palestine using data from the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics shows how European Zionists began establishing population centers in Palestine in the 1870s, with British imperial support and how from 1967 to present, Israel has continuously engaged with impunity in the construction and expansion of settlements defined as illegal under International Law.

Palestinians on Nakba Day 2016 — Defiant, Undeterred and Organizing

Nada Elia on
A Palestinian protester holds a Palestinian flag during clashes with Israeli troops at a protest ahead of Nakba day, in the West Bank village of Bilin near Ramallah May 13, 2016. (Photo: Shadi Hatem/ APA Images)

Nada Elia writes, “This year, as we commemorate al Nakba yet one more time, as we remind the world that our catastrophe is ongoing, let us also act upon the belief that merely speaking out against injustice is not enough. ‘Demonstrations’ are not enough. BDS is a means to an end: liberation, the abolition of apartheid, the return of the refugees. We are approaching this end, and must look beyond it.”