Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid
Israel presses ahead with new settlement plans
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 13 June — Israel is pressing on with plans for more than 1,000 new homes in two West Bank settlements, officials said on Thursday, moves that could complicate U.S. efforts to persuade Palestinians, seeking a construction freeze, to return to peace talks. An Israeli settlers’ council has asked Israeli zoning authorities in the occupied territory to approve the building of 550 housing units in Bruchin, an unauthorized outpost granted legal status by Israel last year. The extent of Bruchin’s expansion, where some 350 settlers live, had not been disclosed previously. The officials said zoning authorities also received a plan from the council for the construction of 537 dwellings in the settlement of Itamar, along with the retroactive approval of 130 homes built there without permits … “The continuation of settlement activity is killing the two- state solution,” Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah told Reuters in response to news of the proposed housing projects. “The international community must take action before this solution dies.”
Palestinian property, absent justice
Haaretz 12 June by Ali Ayyad — Along with many other West Bank Palestinians who own land and property in East Jerusalem, my family is caught in a Kafkaesque trap: We are considered absentee owners – and the Israeli government has the right to take our homes away from us — Three weeks ago, the Israeli Supreme Court discussed whether or not they should consider my family and me absentee owners. I was born in Abu Dis, and I live barely 300 meters from my childhood home there – and yet, under Israel’s 1950 Absentee Property Law, I can be considered an absentee owner, and my property can be confiscated by the state. The hearing was just the latest in a string of ironies with which I have had to deal in the last decade. From 2003 onwards, the State of Israel has claimed that my family house in Abu Dis, which is very close to the Jerusalem municipal border, is in fact inside Jerusalem. Since I am a resident of the West Bank, this has enabled the state to apply the Absentee Property Law to the house – which my father converted in the 1960s into the Cliff Hotel – and define us as absentees in relation to the property.
Survey: Israeli Jews tolerate settlements, status quo
972mag 13 June by Dahlia Scheindlin — A new survey released by Ariel-which-is-now-known-as-a-University, shows, remarkably, that the majority of Israeli Jews inside the Green Line are still basically wedded to settlements and barely register that they pose a problem. *A 52 percent absolute majority agrees that settlements are ‘“a true Zionist act’, twice as many those who disagree (26 percent). The remainder, roughly one-fifth, were in-between … *Another absolute majority of 54 percent disagrees with a statement that the settlements are illegal – more than twice as many as those who agree that they are illegal. *A clear plurality of 46 percent say settlements provide a ‘security’ band around the country, 28 percent disagreed (another quarter admitted to being in-between). *Respondents were divided about whether the settlements are a waste of money, with a small plurality who disagree – 43 percent. Nearly 40 percent do see them as a waste of money, a gap that is within the margin of error. *Fewer than one-fifth – 18 percent – view the settlements as the source of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with 56 percent disagreeing with that statement.
Thousands of Arab Negev residents rally against Prawer Plan
BEERSHEBA, Israel (Ma‘an) 13 June — Thousands of Palestinians holders of Israeli citizenship on Thursday demonstrated in Beersheba in southern Israel in protest against the Prawer Plan which will displace thousands of Bedouin families in the Negev desert. A Ma‘an reporter said the demonstrators waved Palestinian flags as they marched in front of a governmental complex in the center of Beersheba chanting slogans against the Prawer Plan. Large numbers of Israeli police officers deployed in the area. Heated arguments broke out between demonstrators and police officers who tried to prevent the protesters form shutting down offices in the complex. The officers tried as well to force the protesters to lower Palestinian flags they were waving. Several Arab members of Knesset joined the rally including Jamal Zahalqa, Ahmad Tibi, Ibrahim Sarsour and Talab Abu Arara. Chairmen of the Islamic movement in Israel Sheikh Raed Salah and Hamamd Abu Daabis also attended the protest along with several mayors and heads of local councils of Bedouin villages in the Negev.
Israeli town with anti-Bedouin bias earmarked for Dutch water project
EI 10 June by Adri Nieuwhof — An Israeli town set to benefit from a water project by the Dutch branch of the Jewish National Fund denies adequate health treatment to Bedouins living nearby, according to a human rights group. Approximately 250 Palestinian Bedouin families from the village of Abda depend for medical care on the clinic in Mitzpe Ramon, a Jewish town in the Negev/Naqab region of present-day Israel. The latest newsletter from Adalah, an organization campaigning for the rights of Palestinians in Israel, documents how the clinic discriminates against those families.
Attackers desecrate Palestinian Christian graves near Tel Aviv
JERUSALEM (AFP) 13 June — Attackers desecrated graves in a Palestinian Christian cemetery in Jaffa and damaged property nearby, in an incident that bore the hallmarks of a “price tag” hate crime, police said on Thursday. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that headstones in the Orthodox Christian graveyard in Jaffa, a mixed Palestinian-Jewish area in southern Tel Aviv, were sprayed with Hebrew graffiti and the tires of five vehicles parked nearby were slashed.
Note under a rock: ‘We’re stealing your land’
Bruqin, Occupied Palestine (ISM) 12 June by Nablus Team — It was only days after it had been placed that a farmer accidentally found a piece of paper that stated he was no longer the owner of his own land. The undated paper, in Hebrew and Arabic, had been hidden under a rock in the farmer’s fields in the village of Bruqin, occupied Palestine. It said that the farmer’s land was being taken for the expansion of the nearby illegal Israeli settler colony of Bruchin [also spelled as Brukhin]. This farmer was not the only one to be informed about a crime in such a way. More landowners, including the village’s mayor, received the same notifications. Additionally, this week the Jerusalem Post published an announcement that more than 500 new houses would be built on land stolen from Bruqin and its neighbouring villages Sarta and Kafr-ad-Dik (the article itself made no mention of the villages, implying they don’t exist). The exact number of dunums of land being stolen is not clear. Villagers have been given 60 days to file official complaints with the occupation authorities. New houses may be built any time now.
Jerusalem: 2 vehicles torched in Sheikh Jarrah
Ynet 14 June by Noam (Dabul) Dvir — Unknown assailants set fire to two vehicles in a parking lot in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. Graffiti reading “price tag” was found nearby. Police suspect the act was racially motivated. One vehicle sustained heavy damage … In another recent case, unknown vandals sprayed anti-Christian hate slogans on Jerusalem’s Dormition Abbey and a car parked nearby. The slogans read, “Christians are monkeys”, “Christians are slaves” and “Havat Maon” referring to a settler outpost in the West Bank.
Israelis demolish Palestinian property near Jenin
JENIN (WAFA) 12 June — Israeli forces Wednesday demolished two Palestinian homes, a barn and a shed in Barta‘a, a village behind the segregation wall southwest of Jenin, according to the owner of the homes. Ahmad Qabha told WAFA that a large military force raided the town, surrounded it from all sides before declaring it a closed military zone and demolished the barn, the shed and the 170-square-meter homes, which housed seven people. He said that the soldiers threw some furniture out before demolishing them but prevented the owner from removing the rest of the furniture. The army had demolished 11 shops in the area last month under the pretext of being built without permit. Residents also said they had received demolition orders for eight more shops.
Israeli flares set fire to agricultural land in Tubas
TUBAS (WAFA) 12 June — Fire broke out Wednesday in Palestinian agricultural land and a greenhouse in the village of Tammoun, south of Tubas, caused by flares fired by Israeli soldiers, according to a civil defense report. The report said that soldiers fired light flares over an agricultural land in the village which set fire to around 25,000 square meters of land planted with wheat. The fire also damaged a greenhouse. The civil defense crews were able to control the fire and prevent it from spreading to nearby land.
Israeli troops hand out demolition orders in Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 12 June — Israeli forces handed seven demolition orders to residents in Sarra in Nablus on Monday, locals said. Soldiers gave the orders to Ahmad Turabi, Mazen Turabi, Zahi Turabi, Hussein Turabi, Hilmi Turabi and Muhammad Turabi, locals told Ma‘an.
Israel to seize land near Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 13 June — the Israeli military Thursday notified residents of Khirbet An-Nabi, a locale south of Hebron, of its intention to take over their land, according to a local activist. Ratib al-Jabour, the coordinator of popular committees in southern Hebron, said that forces handed the residents notices to evacuate their land and demolish their animal barns, their only source of livelihood, in order to seize the land. Residents said that this is their land and that they have the official documents to prove their ownership of the land, stressing that they will not leave under any pressures, he said.
Restrictions on movement
Ban on Palestinians living with spouses in Israel
JERUSALEM (AP) 12 June by Diaa Hadid — When Israeli Arabs search for a spouse, they don’t just worry about looks, job prospects or future in-laws. They must think about whether their partner will be allowed to live with them. The problem is — many Israeli Arabs, who are ethnically Palestinians, want to marry Palestinians from the West Bank or Gaza Strip. But relations between the Palestinian territories and Israel are testy at best and violent at worst, resulting in limits that even love can’t overcome. For the past decade, Israel has largely restricted Palestinians from joining their spouses inside the Jewish state, citing security concerns like Palestinian militants using entry permits gained through marriage to carry out attacks in Israel. For ordinary people, though, the restrictions have undone countless romances, created stressful living arrangements and frayed family ties. About 1.6 million Arabs are Israeli citizens. About 4.4 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and Gaza. They are linked by ethnic and family ties, but the lines between Israel and Palestinian areas divide them. There are no official statistics, but thousands of Palestinians are believed to be living illegally with their Israeli Arab spouses inside Israel, threatened with deportation.
Travel restrictions take toll on Palestinian relationships
Al-Monitor 11 June by Abeer Ayyoub — Seven years ago, Abu Sido, then 22, met the girl of his dreams online. While he lived in Gaza, his girlfriend was a Ramallah [West Bank] resident. He already knew that gaining access to the West Bank was hard, yet he didn’t think it was impossible … Abu Sido realized that his relationship apparently wouldn’t get any better, so he made the hardest decision ever. ”I know it was hard on both of us to break up, but it was the only possible solution after I tried everything,” he explained…. Israeli borders haven’t only affected Abu Sido’s life, but also those of his two siblings. His sister, who married a Palestinian man from the West Bank eight years ago, still hasn’t made it to Gaza since that time, nor has her family been able to visit her. Furthermore, his brother got married in Dubai in 2009 without his family being there, due to the Egyptian border crossing at Rafah being closed back then. Using this as inspiration, Abu Sido is now making his own short movie about how relationships among Palestinians are badly affected by borders, using his experience, along with those of his siblings, as the main storyline … In an info sheet prepared by Gisha, Israeli security officials explain that they form part of the “policy of separation” between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. This term reappears in official statements but has never been explained.
The most humane little checkpoint
Haaretz 13 June by Amira Hass — …According to the Defense Ministry, it takes about seven minutes for the average person to cross from the start of the roadblock to the plaza where Palestinians catch their rides to work. Yet independent observers calculate that on a good day — like last Sunday, for example — it takes at least 28 minutes. And according to calculations from May 26 it took as long as 71 minutes per person. The disparity in these figures encapsulates the debate over the very nature of the border crossing. “This is the most humane crossing system,” an official from the Crossings Authority who was at Tarqumiya on Sunday told Haaretz. The laborers, meanwhile, describe it as a place of physical and emotional exhaustion, of humiliation and contempt. Palestinians from the West Bank who have permits to enter Israel are required to cross, on foot, through one of 11 crossings managed by the Defense Ministry’s Crossings Authority. The security checks are conducted by two private security firms: Sheleg Lavan, in the southern West Bank, and Modi’in Ezrahi in the central and northern sectors. The Defense Ministry says that more than 25,000 Palestinians pass through these crossings daily … In recent months laborers had been complaining that passing through the Tarqumiya checkpoint had become tortuous. They claimed all the crowding and pushing were making it difficult to breathe. People were getting bruised from the jostling. Others were fainting.
Report: Israel finds tunnels under West Bank wall
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 June — Israel’s army has uncovered two tunnels under the separation wall, used by Palestinians to enter Israel from the West Bank, Israeli media reported Friday. The tunnels were found under the wall near al-Tayba village in the northern West Bank, the Hebrew-language daily Maariv reported. Soldiers found two Palestinians trying to enter Israel through the tunnels, according to Maariv.
Violence / Raids / Attacks / Clashes / Arrests
Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (05-12 June 2013)
PCHR 13 June — Israeli forces have continued to open fire at the Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip border area. A Palestinian worker was wounded, east of Khan Yunis in the south of the Gaza Strip. 5 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were wounded during an Israeli incursion in al-Far’ah refugee camp, south of Tubas. Israeli forces have continued to use excessive force against peaceful protesters in the West Bank. A protester was wounded during a peaceful protest in Bil’in village, west of Ramallah Israeli forces conducted 67 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 2 limited ones in the Gaza Strip. 51 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children, were arrested. Among the arrested is Abdul Jaber Foqaha’, Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council for the Change and Reform Bloc…
Five injured by army fire near Tubas
IMEMC 12 June — Israeli soldiers invaded on Wednesday [June 11 2013] the Al-Far‘a refugee camp, in the central West Bank district of Tubas, and clashed with local youths who hurled stones at the invading soldiers. Eyewitnesses have reported that the soldiers broke into dozens of homes in the camp, and interrogated the residents while asking them about several youths allegedly wanted by the army. Dozens of local youths hurled stones and empty bottles at the invading soldiers; the army fired rubber-coated metal bullets and gas bombs leading to five injuries. The five wounded residents were shot by rubber-coated metal bullets; two of them, identified as Ahmad Abed Jaad, Abdul-Rhman Amor and Zakariyya Abdul-Hady, were shot in the head, while Qais Abu Al-Hasan and Suleiman Shaweesh we shot in the thigh and arms.
In related news, soldiers invaded the towns of Methaloon and Zababda, south of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, broke into and searched dozens of homes causing property damage
Palestinian seriously injured at the Qalandia terminal
IMEMC [Thursday June 14 2013] An Israeli soldier shot, and seriously injured, a Palestinian man at the Qalandia terminal, north of occupied Jerusalem. The army claimed that the Palestinian failed to stop when he was ordered to, and kept walking towards them while “carrying a knife.” An Israeli ambulance moved the wounded Palestinian to the Hadassah Israeli hospital in Jerusalem. Clashes between dozens of local youths and the army have been reported following the shooting.
Father: Israeli interrogator threatened son with rape
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 13 June — An Israeli court on Thursday released a Palestinian teenager from Isawiya in East Jerusalem on bail. The father of 13-year-old Ismail Tawfiq Muheisin says he paid a bail of 1,000 shekels and signed a third-party bail of 5,000 shekels. The boy, added his father, is barred from approaching a hill near Hadassah Hospital, and he is not allowed to talk to his friends who were accused of arson for three months. Speaking to Ma‘an, the father alleged that an Israeli interrogator threatened to “bring a Sudanese man to rape the boy” in order to force him to reveal information. He says the judge in the case ordered an investigation into the claim. Israeli police detained six teenagers from Isawiya and accused them of setting fire to straw in hilltops in the village.
Settlers from Bracha attack and harass farmer on his land
Al Rujeib, Occupied Palestine (ISM) 13 June by Nablus Team — …Salah Sukamel Deweket rents 70 dunums of land between his home in Al Rujeib and the occupation forces’ checkpoint at Huwwara. The land is mainly used to plant crops for his sheep to graze upon. On Friday 7th June Salah was working hard to enable his sheep to feed when he was surprised by five settlers, thought to be an old man and his four sons who brought their own sheep to eat Salah’s wheat. The settlers threw rocks using slingshots at Salah and his flock. Salah had no one who could help him as he had no number for the District Coordination Office (DCO) — the Palestinian liasion with Israeli authorities or other organisations. Unable to get the number, he returned to his land to find that the settlers had ripped apart his bales of wheat. The settlers resumed throwing stones at him in full view of soldiers stationed at the Israeli occupation forces checkpoint at Huwwara. The soldiers did nothing but watch as the Palestinian farmer was attacked. As an occupying power the Israeli military are meant to protect all citizens in the territory. Salah asked the older settler why he had destroyed his wheat. “People who stay in Israeli land have to be good Israeli people,” the settler replied. “If this is Israeli land, where’s Palestinian land?” Salah asked. “There is no Palestinian land,” the settler shouted back. The settlers continued to graze their sheep on Salah’s land and then encouraged their sheep to eat the olive trees of another Palestinian farmer who came to protect his land. It was only then that army jeeps came to intervene — asking why the Palestinian farmers were there.
165 ‘price tag’ attacks carried out this year
IMEMC 13 June — The Israeli Police revealed Wednesday [June 12 2013] that Israeli settlers carried out 165 Price Tag attacks against the Palestinians and their property, in the West Bank, and in the 1948 territories since the beginning of this year. The statement came during a session that was held by the Interior Committee of the Israeli Knesset to discuss increasing attacks carried out by the settlers … Meanwhile, the Police claimed that it apprehended 67 suspects, and filed indictments against 31 of them.
Army: ‘Shots fired at settlement bus near Nablus’
IMEMC 13 June — Israeli military sources claimed, on Thursday evening [June 12 2013] that gunmen opened fire at a settlement bus driving close to the Huwwara military roadblock, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus. The bus driver stated that he heard a number of live rounds, and that dozens of soldiers rushed to the scene, and found some bullet holes, no injuries. The army then closed the area, declared it a military zone and started a search campaign.
In other news, Israeli Ynet News reported that two Israeli settlers have been apprehended by the army on suspicion of throwing stones at a house in Burin Palestinian village, near Nablus.
Committee: Israel soldiers force Muslim to drink wine at gunpoint
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 12 June — Israeli intelligence officers forced a Palestinian man from Beit Ummar to drink wine at gunpoint on Tuesday evening, a local committee spokesman said. An Israeli military patrol stopped Muhammad Khalil Abu Dayyah, 24, from the Safa neighborhood near Beit Ummar and forced him into a military tower at the entrance to Beit Ummar, said Muhammad Ayyad Awad, spokesman of Beit Ummar’s committee against Israel’s separation wall and settlements. Abu Dayyah was being asked to give names of young men who participate in clashes against Israeli forces in the Hebron-district town, Awad said. When Abu Dayyah refused to cooperate with the soldiers, they brought an intelligence officer who took out a list of names of young locals and asked him to identify them. Abu Dayyah refused to give any information, and the intelligence officer pointed a rifle at the back of his head and ordered him to drink a bottle of wine. Awad said that after Abu Dayyah drank the bottle, he passed out for an hour. He was awoken by Israeli soldiers who then threw him out of the military installation, he added. [The Israeli army denies this ever happened]
Israel arrests director of Al-Aqsa Mosque
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 12 June — Israeli police arrested Tuesday night the director of al-Aqsa Mosque, Najeh Bkairat, at Allenby bridge crossing between the West Bank and Jordan upon his return to Jerusalem, Waqf sources said Wednesday. Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Adnan Husseini and Director of the Islamic Waqf Council Sheikh Abdel Azzim Salhab condemned the arrest, which they described as a violation of international law and conventions. Bkairat has been banned from entering the Mosque area for seven consecutive times and for six months each time.
Police: Israel detains 3 Palestinians in Dura
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 12 June — Three Palestinians were detained on Wednesday after Israeli forces stormed the city of Dura in the southern West Bank district of Hebron, Palestinian Authority police said. Hebron police spokesman Ibrahimi al-Absi told Ma‘an that several army vehicles raided Dura at dawn, ransacking three homes. Those detained were identified as Zaki al-Huroub, Mahmoud Darawish and Hasan Darawish, al-Absi said.
Israeli forces arrest nine Palestinians in West Bank
HEBRON (WAFA) 13 June — Israeli forces Thursday arrested nine Palestinians from the West Bank cities of Hebron, Nablus, and Bethlehem, according to local and security sources. They told WAFA that forces arrested four Palestinians from the Hebron area, including a 60-year-old man. Four other Palestinians were arrested from the village of Awarta, south of Nablus, after raiding and searching several homes, tampering with their contents. Forces also arrested a 23-year-old Palestinian from the village of Marah Rabah, south of Bethlehem, after raiding his family home.
Hamas says PA detained 6 affiliates
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 June — Hamas said Wednesday that Palestinian Authority forces detained six party affiliates in the West Bank, a party statement read. Hamas said the detainees were arrested in Nablus and in the Jerusalem outskirts.
Hamas: PA arrests 4 party members in Nablus
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 June — Palestinian Authority security forces detained four Hamas members in the northern West Bank, Hamas said Thursday. Forces of the Fatah-led PA arrested four Hamas affiliates in Nablus and handed another four warrants to appear at PA security headquarters, Hamas said in a statement.
Detainees / Court actions
Four hunger striking detainees forced into solitary confinement
IMEMC — [Wednesday June 12] the Prison Administration of the Negev Detention Camp forced four hunger striking detainees into solitary confinement in an attempt to force them to quit their strike. Head of the Ahrar Center for Detainees Studies and Human Rights, Fuad Al-khoffash, stated that the four detainees started their strike two days ago, demanding Israel to release them, and protesting the cruel treatment, and the extremely difficult conditions they face … The four are Samir Bheiss, 42, from Yatta near Hebron, Moayyad Sharab from Awarta near Nablus, Anas Jadallah from Nablus, and Basem Dweikat from Beta village, near Nablus.
Legislator moved to administrative detention
IMEMC — On Wednesday [June 12 2013] an Israeli military court decided to imprison elected Palestinian Legislator, Abdul-Jabbar Foqaha, under arbitrary Administrative Detention, without charges, for six months. The army kidnapped the legislator on Wednesday [June 6] after dozens of soldiers invaded his home in the central West Bank city of Ramallah. Foqaha was moved to the Ofer Israeli prison along with several kidnapped Palestinians. It is worth mentioning that, in October of last year, the legislator was released from an Israeli prison after being detained for 10 months. He was repeatedly kidnapped and imprisoned by the Israeli army, and spent a total of 77 months in prisons, mainly held under arbitrary Administrative Detention orders.
Israeli military judge: West Bank legal system ‘impairs’ sense of justice for Palestinians
Haaretz 13 June by Chaim Levinson — A military court in Ofer, one of the two military courts in the West Bank, has recommended that in cases involving Palestinian defendants, the Israel Defense Forces’ GOC Central Command, Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon allow the court to use the “non-conviction” mechanism employed in Israeli civilian courts. Military judge Maj. Meir Wigisser noted that the present system of conviction and sentencing “could impair the feeling that justice is being carried out.” In a “non-conviction” arrangement, which is acceptable for light offenses committed by persons with no previous criminal record, the court sentences the defendant to a number of hours of community service. Such sentences leave the defendant without a criminal record. The statements were made in connection with the trial of Fares Bader in Bitunya, which is located not far from Ramallah, who was convicted of having participated in a demonstration in his community in April 2011.
Palestinian female prisoners suffer abuse in Israeli jails
Al-Monitor 13 June by Linah Alsaafin — …Ehteram Ghazawneh, the coordinator for prisoner rights group Addameer’s documentation and research unit, told Al-Monitor that the Palestinian women’s prison conditions do not differ much from the other security prisons for the 5,000 Palestinian men [in custody], although a lot of pressure is applied to the female prisoners in interrogations. “The women get interrogated at the same detention centers as the men do, such as the Muskobiyeh (the Russian compound) in Jerusalem or Jalameh north of Jenin,” she said. “They get subjected to sexual harassment, psychological and verbal abuse, and the interrogations can get quite violent. The Israeli interrogators not only try to defame the reputation of the women prisoners, but also threaten them with arresting members of their immediate family or kidnapping their younger brothers or sisters.” Tahrir Mansour and Sireen Sawafteh, from Kufr Qleil in Nablus and Tubas respectively, were arrested days apart last month due to what the Israeli occupation refers to as “Internet activism” and in the case of Sawafteh, creating a Facebook page that threatens the security of the region. The two women were denied the right to see a lawyer during their interrogations, with Ghazawneh pointing to the paranoia of the Israeli state in arresting anyone active and involved in good international coordination. Sawafteh was sentenced to four months in prison with a fine of 4,000 shekels ($1,100).
Pre-Oslo prisoners still obstacle to Palestinian-Israeli talks
Al-Monitor 12 June by Daoud Kuttab — Amona Abed Rabo remembers the TV interview with Israeli President Shimon Peres quite well. Demonstrating with a photo of her son Issa Abed Rabo when US President Barack Obama visited Bethlehem, she repeated every question and answer of a TV interview with President Peres. She slows down and raises her voice when she gets to the section of the interview in which the architect of the Oslo Accords confirms his commitment to the release of Palestinians imprisoned before the Oslo Accords. Some 107 Palestinian prisoners (some accounts say 103) arrested before September 1993 are still held in Israeli jails. The prisoners, who belong to the PLO’s Fatah movement, feel betrayed by Israel and their own leaders. Having been sent on military missions by their PLO leaders, these men are rotting in jail while the leaders who gave the orders for them have been free since 1993. Promises made by the Israelis, including former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, have not been fulfilled. This week it was revealed that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has rejected an Israeli offer to have 50 of the prisoners released. Abbas insists that all prisoners must be released as part of a US-brokered agreement to restart face-to-face peace talks.
Army opens fire at Palestinians in Khan Younis
IMEMC [Thursday morning June 13 2013] Israeli military vehicles, stationed across the border with Gaza, opened fire at Palestinian farmers and homes in Abasan Al-Kabeera town, east of the southern West Bank district of Khan Younis. Eyewitnesses have reported the soldiers, stationed on the eastern border of Abasan, fired several rounds of live ammunition in an attempt to force the residents out of their lands, close to the border. The farmers left lands, and their agricultural equipment, as they ran for their lives. The area is one of many border areas, subject to frequent similar attacks targeting the farmers, their lands and their homes.
Israeli military vehicles enter border area in central Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 June — Israeli military vehicles entered a border area in central Gaza on Wednesday, locals said. Witnesses told Ma‘an that three military vehicles accompanied six bulldozers into an area east of the al-Bureij refugee camp and leveled Palestinian agricultural land.
Egypt deploys heavily at Rafah crossing
EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma‘an) 12 June — Egyptian forces have been deployed along the Rafah crossing since Tuesday evening, after closing the pedestrian crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, a security source told Ma‘an. Egyptian soldiers were deployed in a bid to crack down on the smuggling of Palestinians into Egypt through the underground tunnel, the source said.
Egypt seizes smuggled iron in Gaza tunnel area
EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma‘an) 12 June – Egyptian military forces in Rafah raided the border area surrounding the Gaza Strip and seized control of four tunnels loaded with iron bound for the Gaza Strip. Security sources told Ma‘an that the forces received information about 80 tons of iron and raided the al-Hilwat area, finding four tunnels loaded with five trucks on their way to the Gaza Strip. The suspected smugglers escaped through the tunnels, the sources said. The security forces destroyed the tunnels’ entrances and confiscated the iron.
Palestinians tormented at Rafah crossing
Al-Monitor 13 June by Mohammed Suliman — For Palestinians living inside the Gaza Strip, getting past the Rafah border crossing is almost an unattainable goal. I have experienced the humiliating conditions at the Rafah crossing several times recently … I spoke to Samir Zakout from Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, who recently returned to Gaza through the Rafah border crossing … Zakout called the extreme conditions at the Egyptian Rafah terminal not suitable for human beings. “Besides the degrading treatment and the process by which we are left continuously anxious and worried, the hall itself is extremely ill-equipped and has no proper facilities or services whatsoever. Tthe place is a complete mess. There is no clear drinkable water; the toilets are filthy. There are no microphones used when calling our names, so we have to chaotically gather around the police to hear our names, yet they would snub us for being disorganized,” he said … As I wandered about the hall, near the corner on the other side, where the names of those denied entry are called out, I stood silently observing one young Palestinian lady who had just been denied entry. She grabbed her passport, bit her lip and fought back tears before she erupted, crying hysterically, hitting the wall with her fists while a man who looked to be her husband tried to calm her down.
‘Whatever you take from the sea, the sea takes back from you’
PCHR 12 June — Majed Fadel Hassan Baker (53) is a fisherman from the Gaza Strip. Having been a fisherman since the age of 10, he has borne witness to the sharp decline of the fishing industry in the Gaza Strip in recent years. Majed’s weathered skin shows evidence of a life outdoors. Life as a fisherman in the Gaza Strip is one of the most dangerous seafaring jobs in the world. This is not due to adverse weather conditions, or because their catch resides at unreachable depths. The greatest danger for fishermen in Gaza is posed by Israeli gunboats … Majed lost his boat in October 2012, when he set sail to try his luck at catching some fish … “In October, I was sailing with two of my sons within the limit. We were attacked without warning by two Israeli gunboats. They fired at the engine and destroyed it, and then warned us that we were past the limit.” Majed pointed out that they had been within the limit and, moreover, that the Israeli forces had fired upon them before issuing any warning.
Unemployment drives graduates in Gaza to drug addiction
Al-Monitor 13 June by Rasha Abu Jalal — Hassan recounts how he fell into the swamp of addiction to Tramadol, a habit-forming drug prohibited in the Gaza Strip. He ascribes it to the absence of job opportunities after he completed his university education nearly two years ago.
Islamic Jihad ‘preparing next generation to resist’
[with photos] GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 June — Islamic Jihad is preparing a generation of Palestinians ready to defend themselves and their people against Israeli attacks, a spokesman said Wednesday. As the movement completed a summer camp for 80 teenagers in the southern Gaza Strip, Daoud Shibab said Palestinian children needed to learn to defend themselves. “We need to prepare our children to defend themselves, and protect themselves against Israeli persecution and crimes,” Shibab told Ma‘an … Shibab said the summer camp included lessons in first aid, civil defense, self-defense, and crisis avoidance management and training, adding that these subjects were not taught in schools. It also included military training exercises.
Gaza Strip nearly self-sufficient in growing grapes
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 13 June – Only a few years after farmers in the Gaza Strip started to harvest seedless grapes, the sector has likely achieved self-sufficiency with more than 1,500 acres of vineyards. Muhammad Abu Kamil, the Gaza ministry of agriculture’s director general of rural development, told Ma‘an Tuesday his ministry would not allow importing any grapes from outside. “There are 7,000 dunums (1,750 acres) of vine trees including seedless grapes,” he said during a ceremony declaring the start of grape season in the Gaza Strip.
Gaza suffers drop in foreign aid over Syrian war
AP 13 June — Hamas says Iran reduced monthly cash transfers because it refuses to side with Assad regime; ministries ordered to slash operating costs by 50% … Islamic charities abroad that used to donate heavily to Gaza have been redirecting some of their aid to Syria, forcing local charities to scale back programs, aid officials said … In a further costly twist, more than 1,500 people fleeing the fighting in Syria, most with family ties to Gaza, have arrived in the coastal territory since last year, with hundreds more en route.
Parents fuming after youth movement books fun day at amusement park that segregates Jews and Arabs
Haaretz 14 June by Yarden Skop – Parents say that sending kids to Superland amusement park could create impression that Bnei Akiva youth movement supports racism; Bnei Akiva chief says that while movement denounces discriminatory acts, it does not intend to boycott any organization.
Civilian service for freeloaders
Haaretz 12 June by Zvi Bar’el — A majority of Israeli Jews support integration of Arabs into society. But that’s the same majority that continues to view Arabs with suspicion, whether or not they volunteered for national service … In addition, Arab Israelis suspect that the entire objective of the national service program, or the civilian service program as it is politely called, is not to create a lever for their integration, but to serve as a test of loyalty to the Jewish state, without improving their chances of becoming part of the majority Jewish society. They are already experienced. Army service did not prevent the demolition of Bedouin homes in the Negev diaspora; an Arab volunteer in the Civil Guard was removed from his post in disgrace; when the management of the Superland amusement park conducted a policy of separate days for Arab children, it didn’t ask whether any of their parents served in the army or did national service; Arab academics earn half the salary of their Jewish colleagues, on average; the rabbi of Safed doesn’t differentiate between Arabs who served in the army or did national service and those who didn’t when he enlists God in the battle against renting or selling homes to Arabs.
Tel Aviv: 2 arrested for attacking foreigners
Ynet 12 June by Eli Senyor — Youths who claimed [they] were attacked while aiding woman being molested by foreign national were themselves aggressors, attacking, stealing from foreign nationals, police suspect … During the police investigation of their claims it turned out that the two frequently roamed southern Tel Aviv, picking on foreigners and at times even beat them and robbed them of their phones or other items … According to the police, all of the cases share a certain common core and police suspect that the two were more interested in humiliating the foreigners and causing them fear than actually robbing them.
When ‘black’ becomes synonymous with ‘infiltrator’
972mag 13 June by Laissez Passer — Israeli society is undergoing a process by which the words ‘Eritrean’ and ‘Sudanese’ are becoming synonymous with the word ‘cleaner,’ while ‘Filipina’ has long ago become synonymous with ‘caregiver.’ And who else is behind the education process if not the Interior Ministry and the Justice Ministry? … In accordance with the law that passed in the second and third readings in the Knesset last week, ‘infiltrators’ will be barred from sending the money that they earned outside of Israel. The law will apply primarily to asylum seekers from Sudan and Eritrea (who comprise 90% of ‘infiltrators’). These are two groups that the State of Israel does not deport, as it recognizes that deporting them will put their lives in danger; the state also refuses to recognize them as refugees. They are present absentees in Israel, living on the edge of the law — they cannot work but ‘benefit’ from a stated policy (backed by the Supreme Court) of lack of enforcement on the ban on their employment.
Haaretz editorial: Health for asylum seekers, too
12 June — The Knesset’s committee on foreign workers will meet Wednesday morning to discuss the question of providing medical treatment for those people without official legal status in Israel, and in particular the situation of asylum seekers. Today, asylum seekers and others without legal status are not entitled to treatment under the National Medical Insurance Law. Such rights are only granted to legal residents. Even migrant workers who are here legally have no such rights for national health insurance, though they are required to be given private medical insurance. This situation leads asylum seekers and others to pass up essential medical treatment and make them dependent on limited services such as the open clinic run by Physicians for Human Rights − Israel
The price of discrimination in Israel: one year in prison
Haaretz 13 June by Revital Hovel – A month after Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein ruled that the exclusion of women would be defined as a criminal offense, the Justice Ministry circulated a legal memorandum on Wednesday ruling that the punishment for discrimination based on race, religion and gender would be one year imprisonment. The current law forbids anyone who provides or operates a public service to discriminate for reasons of race, religion or religious group, nationality, country of origin, gender, sexual orientation, political views, party affiliation, marriage status or parenthood. The new memorandum also proposes the inclusion of another offense, also carrying a one-year jail term: shaming or humiliating another person with the aim of preventing him or her from receiving a public product or service … Thus, for example, humiliating a woman on a bus to prevent her from sitting in the front will constitute a criminal offense, even if the perpetrator’s objective isn’t to prevent her from using public transportation in general.
Likud MK: Settlement construction is good for peace with Palestinians
972mag 11 June by Mairav Zonszein — Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Ofir Akunis took Netanyahu’s position that settlement construction is not an impediment to a negotiated solution with the Palestinians to a whole new level. According to a report in Haaretz Tuesday: “… [Akunis asserted] that past experience has shown that a halt to construction has only driven the Palestinians away from negotiating with Israel. “The Likud policy is very consistent. Our call to the Palestinians to enter into direct peace negotiations without precondition is in effect,” he said. (Emphasis mine)
Senior Israeli minister: Palestinians will be governed by Jordan
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 June — Israel’s deputy defense minister on Thursday said there will never be a Palestinian state and that Palestinians will be governed by Jordan. “The Jewish people are not settlers in the West Bank but Israel will make the Palestinians settlers and Jordan will be the one taking control over Palestinians and that’s it,” Danny Danon told Israel’s Channel 1. Asked about the upcoming visit of US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is trying to restart negotiations for a two-state solution, the Knesset member said there would never be a Palestinian state, whether Kerry visited or not. Israel will control the empty land in the West Bank and turn Palestinian population centers into Jewish settlements, Danon said. He added that the Israeli government and the Knesset shared his opinions, even if they did not admit it publicly. Ahmad Tibi, a Palestinian member of the Knesset, was asked to respond to Danon’s remarks. Tibi told Channel 1 that Danon was the most honest extremist in Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu’s government as he did not hide Israel’s plans.
PA blasts Israeli leader’s remarks on Palestinian state
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 13 June — The Palestinian Authority denounced Israel’s deputy defense minister Thursday after he stated there would never be a Palestinian state and suggested Jordan as an alternative. Foreign minister Riyad al-Malki said Danny Danon’s remarks to Israel’s Channel 1 TV exposed the “true face” of the occupation as well as the strategy followed by the Israeli government since 1967. Al-Malki said he sent messages to the UN, the Arab League and the EU to inform them of the obstacles threatening the peace process in general, evidenced by the Israeli official’s remarks. He said the remarks were aimed at undermining US Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to restart peace talks.
Palestinian boycott leaders say peace talks ‘useless’
BETHLEHEM (AFP) 12 June — Leaders of a growing Palestinian movement to boycott Israel oppose any peace talks, even if they include a long-demanded freeze of Jewish settlements on Palestinian land. “We have no faith … in the so-called negotiations,” said Omar Barghouti, head of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which lobbies worldwide for the economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel. On the sidelines of the fourth annual BDS conference at Bethlehem University at the weekend, Barghouti said the talks were “absolutely useless, just another smokescreen to allow Israel to continue its colonization — its building of settlements.”
Shaath: PA willing to resume talks on basis of 1967 borders
RAMALLAH (Ynet) 13 June by Attila Somfalvi — The Palestinian Authority will return to the negotiating table if Israel agrees to negotiate on the basis of 1967 borders or freeze settlements and free “political prisoners”, Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath said Thursday. Speaking with reporters in Ramallah, Shaath said, “We’re not demanding that settlers be removed, just that settlements not be expanded. At the current building rate in the West Bank, there won’t be a Palestinian state left.” On Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would be willing to launch direct peace negotiations with the Palestinians without preconditions in order to reach a historic agreement that would end the conflict.
Abbas rejects call to fire official who praised settler’s killer
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 June — The Palestinian Authority has rejected calls from a group of US congressmen to fire a Fatah official who praised the killer of an Israeli settler in the occupied West Bank, an official said Wednesday … The letter, according to the Jewish Telegraph Agency, denounced al-Einein’s “open support for the murderer of Eviatar Borovsky.” It quoted al-Einein as saying shortly after the killing: “We salute the heroic fighter, the self-sacrificing Salam Al-Zaghal.” The congressmen urged Abbas to dismiss Abu al-Einein from the government … In his letter of reply, Abbas confirmed that Abu al-Einein is an elected leader of the Fatah movement and a Palestinian Authority official, Ulayyan told Ma‘an. He also wrote that “It would have been more appropriate for the Congress to document settler attacks on the Palestinian people, schools and mosques in the West Bank,” Ulayyan said. The letter added that the Fatah official paid a visit to a Palestinian family and highlighted that Fatah’s political agenda considers resistance within the Palestinian territory occupied in 1967 a legitimate right of the Palestinian people.
PA: Israeli government, settlers on same page
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 13 June — Since its establishment, the Palestinian Authority has never refused as adamantly as it is refusing today to negotiate with Israel as long as settlements continue to be built in the occupied West Bank. President Mahmoud Abbas along with all PA leaders have made this point clear over and over despite pressure from the United States and its Arab allies to bring Abbas back to the negotiating table while settlements expand. Abbas’ adviser on Jerusalem affairs Ahmad Ruweidi says the Israeli government and settlers are working together to try and eradicate the Palestinian population from Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank. “Settlers are implementing a plan designed by the Israeli government,” he told Ma‘an Thursday. The plan, he said, is to establish ” state for settlers in the West Bank inside the Palestinian state so as to task the settlers with security missions in future.”
West Bank lawyers to strike after police assault attorney
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 13 June — The union of lawyers in the West Bank announced Thursday evening that attorneys would suspend all their activities Sunday after anti-drug police in Bethlehem assaulted a lawyer. The union said in a statement that all its offices would be shut down in all West Bank districts. The statement called upon all members of the union’s general assembly to join sit-in strikes in front of the district attorney’s office. “We were shocked and couldn’t believe that a group of anti-drug police officers in Bethlehem assaulted a lawyer and strip searched him in a humiliating manner,” the statement said.”“What shocked us even more was that the district attorney was present and the attackers received instructions directly from the attorney general.”
Arab Idol’s Mohammad Assaf thanks Palestinian fans
BEIRUT (Ma‘an) 13 June — Mohammad Assaf on Wednesday thanked his fans in Palestine for supporting him as he prepared for the final stages of the Arab Idol singing competition. Assaf is one of four finalists in the hit show, broadcast on MBC, and has become a household name and a source of pride in Palestine. The 23-year-old singer thanked everyone who voted for him and supported him despite the difficult economic situation in Palestine. “If I keep thanking you forever it is never enough,” Assaf said in an interview in Beirut, promising to do his best to keep entertaining his fans. He also thanked Palestinian leaders for their encouragement, particularly those who came to Beirut to watch him perform in the show.
West Bank’s only ballet school offers refuge for Palestinian kids
[with video] PRI 13 June — Shyreen Ziadeh runs a dance studio in Ramallah, in the Palestinian Territories. It’s not what she dreamed of doing, but it’s all she can imagine doing these days. She introduces ballet to youngsters, and gives them a refuge from everyday life … one area where Ziadeh said she feels that she has fallen short, is attracting boys to her dance classes. At one time, she had two brothers taking one of her ballet classes. They liked it a lot, she said, but their father decided to put an end to it. “Ballet is for both, for boys and girls. But I think because of culture issues they think only ballet is more for girls, because ballet is something more soft and they want something more masculine,” she said..
Jerusalem’s Eye Hospital awarded international accreditation
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 13 June — St. John Eye Hospital in East Jerusalem became the first Palestinian hospital to achieve the Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation for quality and patient safety, a press release by the East Jerusalem Hospitals Network said Thursday … The East Jerusalem Hospitals serve as the main centers for specialized care within the Palestinian health system. Over half of the EJHN workload comes from referred patients from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The EJHN and its six facilities have been supported by the European Union and the World Health Organization (WHO) for the last four years.
Israel soldiers breach Lebanon border
IMEMC 12 June — Lebanese army sources reported Wednesday [June 12 2013] that a number of Israeli military vehicles advanced approximately 15 meters into Lebanese territory, and that Lebanon complained to the UNIFIL … The UNIFIL contacted the Israeli side and managed to have the army withdraw in order to avoid tension or “be dragged into conflicts in the region.” On Wednesday evening, the Israeli Air Force breached Lebanese airspace by flying over areas in central and southern Lebanon.
Opinion / Analysis
National conference focuses on West Bankj boycott efforts / Asa Winstanley
EI 10 June — Reports on Saturday’s fourth national Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions conference in Bethlehem tended to focus on the shaming of Palestinian Authority minister Jawad Naji (including my own initial one). But the conference itself was a bigger story. The main reason the audience was so angry with Naji was that the focus throughout the day was on local boycott initiatives. The PA undermines these through its many contacts with Israeli officials and institutions … Samia Botmeh of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel talked about efforts in schools to combat normalization initiatives like OneVoice, which target the minds of children, she said. OneVoice is group founded by Israeli businessman Daniel Lubetzky, which seeds to bring the “two sides” together in dialogue … The ‘ubiquity’ of Israeli products in Palestinian stores in the West Bank was also a major talking point from both speakers and participants.
The Palestinian struggle is a black struggle / Susan Abulhawa
EI 11 June — One of the pillars of my trip to Gaza with the Palestine Literature Festival turned out to be an ongoing discussion regarding the essential blackness of the Palestinian struggle and the need to form greater ties with our “natural allies” from Africa and South America in particular. At one event, a man in the audience questioned the usefulness of seeking alliances or help from Africa, where, he said, people are “hungry and poor and in need of help themselves.” I pointed out that the image he holds of African peoples was planted in his mind by those who also plant the same image of us around the world. We, too, are viewed as helpless, hungry and needy. We, too, are seen as less human somehow, as savages, terrorists. The various layers and tempers of our and their intellectual, cultural, social and historical lives are ignored, or worse, intentionally obscured. Instead, the challenges of our societies are highlighted as all-encompassing truths. But a better answer came from Ayman, a gentle soul who is trying to start up a film program in Gaza to help children cope with the violent realities of their lives. He said, simply, “So what? What does hunger and poverty have to do with dignity, anyway?”
Abir Kopty in US: Palestinians must reach out to African-American community
EI 13 June by Maureen Clare Murphy — Palestinian activist and writer Abir Kopty is from Nazareth and holds Israeli citizenship. Defying Israel’s attempts to separate Palestinian communities from each other, she has been very involved in the popular struggle in the occupied West Bank in recent years, including the Bab Al Shams protest village, as well as the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement challenging Israel’s system of colonization and apartheid. Kopty is currently touring the US and was in Chicago this week where she spoke on a panel featuring activists from other communities of color with the goal of building transnational solidarity. The panelists drew comparisons between the systematic injustice in Palestine and in the US, particularly mass incarceration … Maureen Clare Murphy: You’ve been in the US for several days now. Can you talk a little about your tour, the groups you’re meeting with, and any observations you have about the solidarity movement in the US? Abir Kopty: …The other observation is regarding the African American community, because I think we need to do much more work to speak to the community and to make the connections and the common ground with our struggle and their struggle. We’re not reaching out enough, although there are so many African Americans that I’ve met here and it’s really moving to see their commitment to Palestine and how their analysis sees the similarities common to oppression everywhere. I think we as Palestinians need to do more about this, which can be really effective for the movement-building.
BBC questioned over why it pulled documentary on Jerusalem / Amena Saleem
EI 12 June — The BBC is coming under increasing pressure from British Members of Parliament (MPs) and leading pro-Palestinian organizations over recent decisions that throw its impartiality in reporting on the Israeli occupation into serious doubt. … last month the complaints system threw out the concerns of license-fee payers who wrote to ask why a documentary which questioned whether the Jewish exile from Jerusalem 2,000 years ago ever happened was pulled from the BBC schedule. Jerusalem: An Archaeological Mystery Story, due to be shown on BBC Four in April, throws into doubt the basis on which the Zionist claim to the Jewish “right of return” to Palestine, and the right to colonize Palestinian land, is based. It was pulled from BBC Four at the eleventh hour, after being widely publicized. In May, the BBC complaints system dealt with viewers who wrote to ask why it was taken off the airwaves with the following response: “As this film was never aired on the BBC, it is not open to us to investigate it or the decisions made regarding it.” As far as the BBC is concerned, that was that.
Gaza, Jewish kids play same ‘war games / Oded Even-Or
Ynet 13 June – When I was in fifth grade, my class was taken to Caesarea beach to engage in what apparently would be described now as a “series of combat and guerilla warfare drills.” More specifically, I recall we were playing Irgun fighters attempting to smuggle new Jewish immigrants onto Palestine’s soil under the watchful eye of our British oppressors, in the course of which we had to crawl under wires, run for cover under fire and engage in several other “combat drills.” The reason for this reminiscing, pleasurable as it might be in its own right, is the all-too-familiar annual news story and ensuing public uproar over the “terror summer camps” organized in the Gaza Strip, in which Palestinian tykes play the same games Israeli kids have been playing since before the State of Israel was born.
The soldiers’ stories that Israel lacks the courage to hear / Larry Derfner
972mag 11 June — Testimonies from former Israeli soldiers have failed to touch the Israeli public or change the state’s policies. The IDF gives an ‘explanation’ for why it ignores these and all other occupation stories told by the men and women of Breaking the Silence. I used to think that Breaking the Silence, which publishes testimonies of IDF soldiers about what they see and do on occupation duty, would really strike a blow against the empire. Who could doubt the word of soldiers — by now over 900 — coming forward to, essentially, confess; who wouldn’t at least show them respect and give them a hearing? Once again, I was naïve; Breaking the Silence, God bless it, is keeping the truth alive. It’s telling that truth to masses of individuals, most importantly to draft-age Israelis. But the horror stories from the field told by the soldiers — this week by four young women who served in the West Bank and on the Gazan border — just slide off the back of this country’s body politic. They don’t make the slightest dent in Israeli policy in the West Bank and Gaza.
Are Palestinian industrial parks illusion or real development? / Jillian Kestler-D’Amours
RAMALLAH, West Bank 10 June — While the Palestinian Authority (PA) and its international donors move forward with plans to build industrial parks in the West Bank, critics say the projects undermine real economic development and dangerously cement Israel’s control over Palestinian lives. The idea of establishing industrial zones in the occupied Palestinian territories took off shortly after the creation of the PA itself in the early 1990s. Today, there are three Palestinian industrial zones under construction in the occupied West Bank near Bethlehem, Jericho and Jenin. These zones are financed by French, Japanese, Turkish and German donors, and are part of the “economic peace”model of development, which argues that improving Palestinians’ economic well-being will create the necessary conditions to reach a peace agreement with Israel.
A counter to the Nakba / Avi Shilon
Haaretz 12 June — If the government truly intends to reach an agreement on how to define Jews of Middle Eastern origin, and not just to pose a counter to the Nakba, the equation between Palestinian and Jewish refugees has some value … The change in the government’s approach toward this narrative of immigration stemmed from recognition of the fact that from an international standpoint, Israel would have trouble evading pressure to recognize its responsibility, at least to some degree, for the Palestinian refugee problem. Because the Palestinians’ demand for a right of return is taboo, it’s reasonable to assume that the state will be forced to contend, at the least, with their claims for compensation. Defining these Jews as refugees could thus accomplish two goals: overshadowing the Palestinians’ narrative of the Nakba (‘catastrophe’) with a greater Jewish catastrophe, and offsetting their financial claims against Israel. According to researchers’ calculations, Jews in Arab countries owned property whose value exceeded that of Palestinians in Israel … Either way, the irony is that a right-wing government is the one that is undermining the Zionist narrative by treating Jewish immigrants from Arab lands as refugees. Judging by the personal history of my own family, which immigrated from Baghdad, the ‘refugee’ definition is debatable.
In Israel, a conversation about the future of the occupation is part of the occupation / Noam Sheizaf
972mag 13 June — While a third of the Knesset joins the pro-settlement caucus, one member of the coalition warns of a ‘South African’ future. The Israeli political conversation has a strange sense of déjà vu these days: on Wednesday, during a panel organized by the think-tank Molad, Knesset Member Ofer Shelah of Yesh Atid warned that if Israel fails to disengage from the West Bank, it will face a similar fate to that of Apartheid South Africa. “The occupation,” said Shelah, “corrupts Israeli society. It corrupts the army, corrupts Israeli justice, Israeli media, Israeli psyche and Israeli language.” Facing Shelah at the panel were MK Yoni Chetboun from the settlers’ Jewish Home party, and MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) who called for leaving the idea of the two-state solution in the past. If changing the status quo becomes inevitable, Chetboun and Hotolevy support annexing the West Bank and gradually offering Israeli citizenship to the Palestinians over the next decade. These sound like statements I heard growing up in Israel in the 1980s.