Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Israel: Palestinian farmers to blame for settler attacks on their land
Haaretz 26 Dec by Amira Hass — The state is claiming that Palestinians who were the recent target of a “price tag” attack are to blame for their misfortune – because they failed to adequately protect their plot of land. This position arises from the state’s response to a damages claim filed by the owners of an olive grove situated in Area C, under full Israeli military and civilian control. The IDF, for its part, is refusing to install lighting around the olive grove to protect it from future vandalism, arguing that a claim for damages has already been filed. The grove, which belongs to the Amour family, lies adjacent to highway 317 in the southern Hebron hills, across from A-Tawani village, the settlement of Maon and the outpost Havat Maon. This case can well serve as a litmus test for the seriousness of declarations made by civilian and military authorities, according to which they will take action against price tag vigilantes. In 2006, unknown persons cut down all 120 trees in the grove. In 2011, part of a surrounding fence was destroyed and a tree was felled. On the night of May 9 of this year, half of the trees belonging to the Amour family were chopped down, and the act was accompanied by a message sprayed in Hebrew letters, saying that “price tag is fed up with thieves – mutual responsibility” and “regards from Eviatar”. The perpetrators used hand saws to achieve their mission. After each of the incidents, the Amour family filed a complaint with the police, asking for protection against future vandalism.
Likud pushing bill to annex Jordan Valley
Jerusalem Post 26 Dec by Lahav Harkov — Likud ministers and lawmakers are trying to limit Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s freedom in peace talks, with MK Miri Regev submitting a bill on Thursday to annex the Jordan Valley. If Regev’s bill becomes law, Netanyahu would be unable to accept the American offer to put the Jordan Valley and border crossings into Jordan under Palestinian control, with IDF soldiers posted at the border and the US providing additional security. According to Regev’s office, all Likud ministers other than Netanyahu support the bill and it has enough votes to be authorized by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation.However, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who is leading negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, is the chairwoman of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation. She is likely to try to block the billl … Still, Likud ministers could push the legislation forward and demand that it be brought to a general ministerial vote.
Kerry wants to imprison West Bank with massive security fence along Jordanian border
Mondoweiss 26 Dec by Ira Glunts — According to a widely quoted report from Israeli Army Radio (Galei Zahal) on Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will propose most of the security arrangements that Israel desires from any agreement with the Palestinians. It is rumored that on December 31st, Kerry will present a draft proposal to both sides which will outline the U.S. understanding of all outstanding issues to be addressed in any peace agreement. The Kerry draft will also give the U.S. proposals for Israeli military deployments in a future Palestinian state. Sources close to the Palestinian negotiating team say that Kerry and his team have already reserved hotel rooms for his year-end visit. What is new about the Army Radio report (Hebrew) is that according to the Kerry plan a massive border fence would be built and Israeli surveillance drones would patrol Palestinian airspace.
Israel to build new West Bank homes, Palestinians urge US to intervene
Ynet 27 Dec by Elior Levy — As Israel announces plans to build 1,400 new settlement housing units, Palestinians petition US to halt move, ‘save the peace process’ — A senior negotiator says the Palestinian president has appealed to the US to block plans by Israel to announce new construction of 1,400 settlement housing units. Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said President Mahmoud Abbas voiced his plea at a late-night meeting with senior US officials Thursday in West Bank. Abbas “asked for US intervention to stop the Israeli government from issuing new settlement decisions in order to save the peace process and the American efforts,” Erekat said Friday. Thursday Abbas met with US Mideast peace envoy Martin Indyk in Ramallah. Israel plans to build a further 1,400 homes in the West Bank, and will announce the projects next week after releasing a group of Palestinian prisoners, an Israeli government official said on Friday.
Israeli bulldozers level private Palestinian lands near Qalqiliya
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 26 Dec – Israeli bulldozers started to level private Palestinian lands south of Qalqiliya in the northern West Bank slated for confiscation. Witnesses told Ma‘an that large numbers of Israeli troops deployed in the area between Ras Atiya [Ras at-Tira?] and al-Daba‘a villages south of Qalqiliya. The soldiers prevented Palestinian citizens from approaching the area where bulldozers leveled their fields. Locals highlighted that Israeli forces had notified Palestinian owners of more than 15 donums (about 4 acres) that entry to the land was forbidden. The Israelis claimed that the land was a private property owned by Israeli citizens.
IOF demolishes Araqib village in Negev for the 63rd time [and wells to be demolished in Fakhit]
NEGEV (PIC) 26 Dec — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) demolished on Thursday morning for the 63rd time the village of Araqib in the north of the city of Beersheba, southern the 1948-occupied territories. Local sources in the Negev reported that hundreds of Israeli police officers and special units surrounded in the early morning hours the village of Araqib, which is not recognized by the Israeli government, while the occupation bulldozers and military vehicles began to demolish the villagers’ houses and tents. The angry residents stressed that they are committed to their right to the land and will rebuild their homes…
Meanwhile, the IOF notified on Thursday four citizens to demolish wells used to collect rainwater, in the village of Fakhit eastern Yatta, in the south of al-Khalil, as part of restrictions imposed on the citizens to force them to abandon their homes, activist Rateb Jabour told PIC. The occupation forces also intend to forcibly deport residents of 8 hamlets in the south of al-Khalil, in favor of settlement projects. The Israeli troops have also prevented two citizens from the town of Beit Ummar, north of al-Khalil, from entering their lands in the town, under the pretext that they are “government land”.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/
Desert town’s struggle shows pitfalls of Israel’s policies to Bedouin of Negev
Rahat, Israel (The Forward) 27 Dec by Nathan Jeffay –Rahat Is Model Only of Failure, Critics Say — This four-decade-old city was meant to kick-start an urbanization of Bedouin life that would lead to a new prosperity in the Negev. But if the Israeli government is hoping to use Rahat as a model for its current push to forcibly settle other Bedouins in urban developments, they have a struggle ahead.
UNRWA condemns Israel’s ‘Christmas Eve demolitions’ in the West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 Dec — The United Nations Palestine refugee agency on Wednesday condemned Israel’s latest demolitions of Palestinian Bedouin homes in the West Bank, which UNRWA said displaced 68 people. The latest demolitions in the West Bank, “the most recent of which occurred on Christmas Eve,” have “severely threatened” the livelihoods of the families that lost their homes, UNRWA Spokesman Chris Gunnes said in a statement. According to UNRWA, the demolitions that occurred near Ramallah and Jericho displaced 68 people in total, most of whom were refugees, and 32 of whom were children, “including a five-year-old girl who is paralyzed from the waist down.” The demolitions took place in ‘Ein Ayoub, displacing 61, and in Fasayil al-Wusta displacing seven, Gunnes said. “These are Bedouin communities who managed to weather the recent snow storms. Tents have been distributed by the Palestinian Red Crescent in coordination with the ICRC but this is hardly adequate considering night-time temperatures plunge to around zero. In addition, some 750 head of sheep and goats are without shelter at this crucial lambing season.”
New settlement units built near Ramallah
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 25 Dec — Hebrew media sources revealed that 25 new housing units were recently built on Palestinian land in the settlement of Ofra, west of Ramallah. Haaretz newspaper, on its Wednesday edition, said: “These units have been built despite the promises made by the Israeli government before the Israeli Supreme Court to impose building codes in the place.” It added that the High Court on Wednesday will consider a petition demanding that nine houses illegally built on Palestinian land in the settlement of Ofra in 2008 be demolished. The paper said that the Israeli settlement movement Amana, in the West Bank, began the construction of dozens of settlement units in Ofra, with the support of the government.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/
Court rejects Israeli universities’ bid to halt upgrade of West Bank college
Haaretz 25 Dec by Revital Hovel and Yarden Skop — The High Court of Justice on Tuesday rejected a petition by seven universities against the decision to upgrade Ariel University Center into a full-fledged university. The ruling removes the last barrier to the upgrade of the institution, located in the West Bank settlement of Ariel.
Knesset calls for halting maintenance work at al-Aqsa
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 26 Dec — Israeli Knesset Interior Committee, headed by Likud party member Mary Rigab, has called on Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu and the special Ministerial Committee to order a halt to the maintenance works carried out by the Islamic Endowment at al-Aqsa Mosque. In its statement issued on Wednesday, the Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage said that the Knesset’s Interior Committee had convened on Tuesday a special session on maintenance works implemented by the Islamic Endowment Department in occupied Jerusalem. The Committee’s members claimed during the session that Endowment Department’s maintenance works may lead to the destruction of Jewish relics associated with the alleged Temple.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/
Israeli forces convert private home in Ya‘bad into military base
JENIN (Ma‘an) 27 Dec — Israeli forces raided a private home in the northern West Bank town of Ya‘bad and converted it into a military watch station on Friday morning. Sobhi Ali Abu Bakr told a Ma‘an correspondent in Jenin that he was surprised this morning when Israeli forces stormed his property and set up a military observation station in it before ascending to the roof to plant an Israeli flag atop it. The house belonged to Abu Bakr, but he had prepared it for his son Firas to move in to. In the last few months Yabad has witnessed a series of home invasions and takeovers to convert them into Israeli military watch points. These takeovers have occurred under the pretext of monitoring the activities of local youths who throw rocks at the vehicles of Israeli settlers’ vehicles as they pass by on the nearby main road … The sources added that Israeli forces erected a military checkpoint at the eastern entrance to Yabad and another at the the Kufeirit junction and they prevented locals from leaving the village for a period of four hours. This was the fourth time in a row over the last four days that Israeli forces had blocked off roads and had limited locals’ freedom of movement.
Separately, Israeli forces stormed the town of Beit Qad east of Jenin just before midnight and handed a notification to meet with Israeli intelligence forces to Ahmad Robaiy, 23.
Violence / Raids / Clashes / Suppression of protests / Illegal arrests
PCHR Weekly Report: 3 Palestinians killed, including 3-year-old; 12 wounded by Israeli troops
IMEMC 27 Dec — In its weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories, for the week of 19- 25 December 2013, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) found that Israeli forces launched a series of aerial and land attacks on the Gaza Strip. A child was killed and a woman and her 2 children were wounded in al-Maghazi refugee camp, in the central Gaza Strip. Israeli forces have continued to open fire at the border areas in the Gaza Strip. In excessive use of force, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian and wounded his brother, in the northern Gaza Strip. 8 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were wounded in the northern and southern Gaza Strip … Israeli attacks in the West Bank: During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 58 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During these incursions, Israeli forces abducted at least 37 Palestinians, including a child. In addition, a member of the Palestinian General Intelligence Service was killed in Qalqilia, and a child was wounded during an Israeli incursion into Tulkarem. Full Report
VIDEO: Nabi Saleh activist shot at point blank range by Israeli border police (updated)
Mondoweiss 27 Dec by Annie Robbins — IWPS: a shocking video by Bilal Tamimi of defenceless and unarmed Nabi Saleh activist Manal Tamimi being shot in the legs from very close range by one of many Israeli war criminal soldiers. It is reported that four heavy metal rubber coated bullets were fired into the lower part of her body.
Israeli forces shoot photographer in Bil‘in demonstrations
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 26 Dec — A photographer was injured and dozens suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation as Israeli forces dispersed a demonstration in Bil‘in near Ramallah. Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas and stun grenades at demonstrators as they neared their lands close to the wall. Photographer Mohammad Yassin, 20, was hit with a rubber-coated steel bullet during the protests. The demonstration was held in celebration of Christmas and the release of Samer Issawi, and in protest of Israeli settlement activity and the separation wall. Participants, some of whom wore Santa Claus costumes, raised Palestinian flags and chanted songs for unity and resistance.
Israeli forces injure 13-year-old Palestinian in Tulkarem clashes
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 25 Dec — A Palestinian teenager was injured and a man was detained after clashes broke out between Palestinians and Israeli forces in the northern West Bank Wednesday, locals told Ma‘an. Witnesses said Muhammad Ali Hassan Haddad, 13, was injured after being hit in the head by shrapnel from a stun grenade that Israeli troops fired at Palestinians in a neighborhood in western Tulkarem. Additionally, Israeli forces detained 22-year-old Samir Riyad Tamim during the clashes, locals said.
Israeli forces storm heart of Bethlehem in rare daytime raid
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 Dec — Israeli forces raided the center of the southern West Bank cities of Bethlehem and Beit Jala on Thursday afternoon, detaining four Palestinians under heavy armed escort. In a rare daytime raid into the heart of Palestinian Authority-controlled areas, Israeli army forces accompanied by special plain-clothes soldiers raided several homes in the center of Bethlehem after passing through the center of nearby Beit Jala. A Ma‘an correspondent said that Israeli forces stormed several homes with police dogs and caused extensive damage to Palestinian private property in order to detain four civilians. The civilians were identified as Omar al-Harimi, 46, and his son Samy, 21, as well as Abd al-Salam Souman, 45, and his son Muhammad, 14.
The Ma‘an correspondent added that Israeli forces had blockaded the neighborhood and declared the area around it a “closed military zone,” preventing the entry and exit of local residents amid heavy gunfire. The correspondent added that Israeli forces also pointed green lasers at journalists and local residents during the raid to prevent their movement.
On Wednesday night, Israeli forces stormed the neighborhood of Wadi Maale, also located near the center of Bethlehem. During that raid, they raid the homes of two Palestinian civilians, Hamzah al-Kamel and Shehadah Muhammad Shehadah and detained them. Israeli forces also raided a third home, but the unidentified resident fled the house before Israeli forces could detain him or her. Both Bethlehem and Beit Jala are located in Area A, the less than 20% of the West Bank that is under Palestinian civil and military control according to the Oslo Accords.
Israeli settler runs over Palestinian child near Salfit
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 26 Dec — A Palestinian child was seriously injured after being run over by a car driven by an Israeli settler in the Northern West Bank town of Deir Istiya near Salfit. A Ma’an correspondent citing local and medical sources said that Yasser Ibrahim Abu Zeid, 7, was seriously wounded after being hit by an Israeli settler’s car. Yasser was subsequently taken to an Israeli hospital in Petah Tiqva. Deir Istiya is located directly between two large Israeli settlement blocs in the northern West Bank.
Fire erupts in Hebron house after Israeli troops fire stun grenade
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 26 Dec — A stun grenade fired by Israeli soldiers caused a fire in a house in Hebron in the southern West Bank on Thursday, residents said. Locals told Ma‘an that a fire broke out in house of Muhammad Jabir al-Karaki in Talat Abu Hadid neighborhood in southern Hebron. Fire fighters of the Hebron municipality who extinguished the fire told Ma’an that it was caused by a stun grenade fired by Israeli soldiers stationed at a military post near the house.
Israeli forces detain 7 Palestinians across the West Bank
JENIN (Ma‘an) 25 Dec — Israeli forces detained seven Palestinians across the West Bank in overnight raids, an Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma‘an. Five Palestinians were detained in the northern West Bank town of Ya‘abad, in addition to one in Jenin and one in Hebron, the spokeswoman said. Palestinian sources confirmed the detentions in Ya‘abad, saying Israeli forces stormed the village early Wednesday between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m … Israeli forces erected flying checkpoints at the main entrances of the village, preventing residents from leaving, locals added. They added that soldiers were heavily deployed in nearby agricultural fields to ensure no one exited the town.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces detained two brothers from ‘Askar refugee camp east of Nablus, locals told Ma‘an.
IOF arrests 10 Palestinians across the West Bank
WEST BANK (PIC) 26 Dec — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) arrested at dawn Thursday ten citizens in Nablus and Bethlehem, and took them blindfolded and handcuffed to an unknown destination. Local sources said that large numbers of Israeli soldiers and military vehicles raided at early Thursday the town of Beit Fajjar and al-Saff neighborhood in the city of Bethlehem, south of the West Bank, where they broke into and searched the houses and arrested six citizens.
In Nablus, an eyewitness said that the IOF raided the area of Ras al-Ain in the south of the city, and arrested two young men after searching their homes.
Another young man was arrested in Burqa village, west of Nablus, after raiding and searching his house.
The troops have also ransacked several houses in the town of Huwwara in the south of Nablus, before arresting a citizen from his house.
llink to www.palestine-info.co.uk/
IOF arrest 4 youths and interrogate ex-detainee in Jenin
JENIN (PIC) 27 Dec — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed on Thursday night the towns of Silat Al-Harithiya and ‘Arbuna in Jenin city, where they kidnapped four citizens and questioned a liberated prisoner. Local sources said that the IOF stormed the home of ex-detainee Othman Bani Hassan, who was freed two months ago in the second batch of veteran prisoners, in the village of ‘Arbuna east of Jenin and questioned him.
The IOF also kidnapped on Thursday evening four young men, under age 18, from the town of Silat Al-Harithiya, claiming they were throwing stones at Israeli soldiers near the apartheid wall. The detainees were transferred to Salem military camp.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/
Community which confronted Israeli killer suffered years of harassment
SHEFA AMR (Electronic Intifada) 23 Dec by Patrick O. Strickland — On Friday 13 December, three young men were greeted at a local municipality by a crowd of approximately 50 persons welcoming them home. They were returning to Shefa Amr, a Palestinian town in the Western Galilee region in the north of present-day Israel. The three had been arrested in late November. An Israeli court had banned them from entering their hometown for 15 days. Mwafaa Nafa’, a 21-year-old activist from Shefa Amr, told The Electronic Intifada that he and the two others were also barred from having direct contact with one another for forty days. The three had been arrested while trying to ensure that businesses were respecting a town-wide general strike protesting an Israeli court’s decision to imprison six Palestinian citizens of Israel over the killing of Eden Natan Zada. Zada killed his victims, the Haifa Municipal Court judges admitted, “simply because they were Arabs.” The six were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 11 months to two years for different charges after being found guilty by an Israeli district court in Haifa this past July.
Political detainee Raed Abu Juhaishe transferred to hospital
AL-KHALIL(PIC) 26 Dec — PA security services have intensified arrest and summons campaigns against Hamas’s supporters and members in the West Bank, where they arrested three of them and summoned seven others over the past 24 hours.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/
Gaza under blockade
Escalation of Israeli attacks on Gaza kills two, injures at least 14, over five days
GAZA, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Rosa Schiano) 27 Dec — Early on the afternoon on Friday, 20th December, Israeli occupation forces killed a 27-year-old Palestinian, Odah Jihad Hamad, and wounded his brother Raddad, age 22, north of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights reports that Israeli forces fired directly at them, although it was clear that the two civilians were collecting steel and plastic from the landfill near the separation barrier … On the afternoon of the same day, two men were injured east of Khuza‘a in the south of the Gaza Strip … Qudaih said that around 2:30 pm, they had been collecting beans about 500 meters from the fence … The following day, on Saturday, 21st December, at about 7:30 am, Israeli soldiers fired at farmers and workers near the barrier Khuza’a. Ismael al-Najjar, a 21-year-old farmer, was wounded in his leg.Al-Najjar thinks that the bullets were fired from control towers. He said he was with two other workers at about 600 meters from the barrier, and that he had been walking toward his chicken farm … On Tuesday, 24th December, Israeli forces carried out a series of airstrikes hitting different locations in the Gaza Strip, and shelled different areas along the barrier. Earlier [in the] afternoon, a contractor of the Israeli occupation forces had been killed by a Palestinian resistance group east of Gaza City. Shortly afterward, a Palestinian civilian was wounded by Israeli army fire in Beit Lahia, in the northern Gaza Strip. Government buildings were immediately evacuated.
Western media and others claiming the escalation began with the shooting of the military contractor should be reminded of the killing by Israeli forces of a young Palestinian collecting material from a landfill on Friday [20 Dec].
In the afternoon of 24th December, local sources reported two Palestinians had been killed, included a three-year-old child killed in a bombing of Maghazi in the center of the Gaza Strip. The number of injuries remains imprecise. Shortly after the shooting of the contractor, Israeli forces reported they had killed a Palestinian along the northern barrier around the Gaza Strip, as Palestinian sources also did later. It later became clear the Israeli army had opened fire at a large tortoise moving slowly along the barrier. Its large size, and its bloodshed after an Israeli missile, led some to speak of a martyr. The occupation hits anything moving along the barrier, including a rare breed of giant tortoise…. [very good explanation of the timeline of recent Gaza events]
VIDEO: Brother of Gaza man killed by Israeli sniper speaks
GAZA (IMEU) 26 Dec — Raddad Hamad was collecting scrap with his brother Odeh when Odeh was fatally shot by Israeli soldiers on December 20, 2013. The brothers, according to Raddad, were a kilometer away from Gaza’s Israeli-sealed border, which is the scene of frequent Israeli attacks on Palestinian farmers whose land has been confiscated or destroyed by so-called Israeli “buffer zones.”
IOF soldiers fire at Palestinan homes in central, south Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 25 Dec — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) opened heavy machinegun fire at Palestinian homes to the east of Gaza and Rafah cities on Wednesday morning. A field observer told Quds Press that IOF soldiers stationed in military watchtowers and army vehicles east of Gaza city opened indiscriminate fire at citizens’ homes. He said that soldiers in military watchtowers to the east of Rafah, south of Gaza, also opened machinegun fire at houses east of the city. The shooting coincided with over flights of Israeli warplanes and movement of armored vehicles along the border fence.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/
IOF opens fire at Palestinian houses northern Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 26 Dec — Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) opened heavy fire Thursday morning at Palestinian agricultural lands and houses in Beit Hanoun town northern Gaza Strip. Eyewitnesses said that Israeli forces stationed at the border area northern Gaza Strip opened fire at agricultural lands. No casualties were reported among the farmers. The shooting targeted a number of nearby homes, the sources added without mentioning any injuries.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/
Israel strikes Gaza, injuring at least 2 Palestinians
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 27 Dec — Israel’s Air Force hit the Gaza Strip with missiles late Thursday, injuring two Palestinians and causing damage, the official Palestinian Authority news agency Wafa reported. F-16 warplanes bombed “several sites” in Gaza City, specifically in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood, in addition to striking Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip. Medical sources said two Palestinians were taken to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City and treated for shrapnel injuries. Earlier Thursday, Palestinians in Gaza fired a projectile that hit an uninhabited area in southern Israel. A military spokeswoman told AFP it caused no damage or injuries. On Thursday night a second projectile fired from Gaza “landed in open ground causing no damage,” a military spokesman said. Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said Israel would not accept the “trickle of terror from the Gaza Strip, where Hamas is sovereign.” The Israeli army said that in response to the two rockets launched Thursday, its aircraft “targeted terror infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.” “A weapons-manufacturing facility was targeted in the central Gaza Strip, and a weapons storage facility was targeted in the northern Gaza Strip. Direct hits were confirmed,” a statement said.
7 Palestinians injured in clashes with Israeli forces on Gaza border
GAZA (Ma‘an) 27 Dec — Seven people suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation in clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces east of Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip on Friday. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli forces fired tear gas heavily at Palestinian youths, and the fumes reached residences in the Izbet Abed Rabbo area east of the camp. Medics said that two women were among the injured, and that they were taken to Kamal Adwan hospital. Tensions have been high along the border with Israel in the Gaza Strip recently, as Israeli forces have severely escalated attacks against Palestinian civilians in the area, killing two and injuring 14. Palestinian militants inside the strip have launched increasing numbers of rockets into southern Israel, which have all landed in open areas. [a list of recent incidents follows]
Video: Israeli troops fire on Palestinian farmers and international activists in Gaza
GAZA (Resistenza Quotidiana, Silvia Todeschini) 27 Dec — International activists have been accompanying Palestinian farmers to their lands near the separation barrier between the territories occupied in 1948 and the Gaza Strip. We have noticed, in recent days, an increase in the presence of the Zionist occupation forces. A few days ago, we felt more drones and F-16, then Jeeps and bulldozers began to move near the barrier more often. On Sunday, 22nd December, two Jeeps were stationed in front of the area [Khuza‘a] where farmers were seeding and tractors plowing. They fired shots into the air and on the ground. This video shows the last episode.
Olive, orange and lemon trees grew in these fields until the second Intifada. Then bulldozers and tanks of the occupying forces uprooted them. After “Operation Cast Lead,” the no-go zone was established at 300 meters, but aggression towards Palestinians was not limited to that area. According to UN reports, high-risk areas in some places reach two kilometers from the barrier, and included 35% of all arable land in Gaza. Following the truce concluded after the Zionist attack called “Operation Pillar of Defense,” farmers were able to reach their land up to 100 meters. Now, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, the situation is very similar to that seen before the last offensive: Zionist aggression reaches up to 1,500 meters from the border. The high-risk areas comprise 35% of arable land, and in the restricted areas, 95% is cultivable. Also according to PCHR data, the last farmer killed by the occupation forces while working, Mustafa Abdul Hakim Mustafa Abu Jarad, was 1,200 meters from the barrier. He was killed by a bullet in the head 14th January 2013, one of four people killed this year in the areas near the separation barrier. Not only are Palestinian farmers attacked during their work, but the land they farm is itself destroyed by the passage of bulldozers and tanks.
Why does Israel treat Gaza farmers sowing wheat as military targets?
GAZA (ISM, Charlie Andreasson) 28 Dec — December is the time for farmers in the Gaza Strip to sow. But for those with fields near the Israeli separation barrier, it is highly dangerous. Sure enough, we were met by news that an 18-year-old was shot an hour earlier when he was checking his bird nets here in Khuza‘a in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. To sell small birds can earn a few bucks, but also makes the hunter the hunted. This one was lucky. For him, a day’s hospital visit was enough. That our presence and our yellow vests are desirable cannot be mistaken. Without any directive, some of us get up on the tractors as protection for the drivers while the rest form a row between the field and the Israeli barrier. Here the open fields were once interspersed with olive and other fruit trees, trees devastated by Israeli bulldozers. Now they can only plant wheat, a crop that grows without daily care.
Lack of fuel grounds Gaza’s sole power plant
GAZA CITY (AFP) 27 Dec — Lack of fuel from Israel brought Gaza’s lone power plant to a halt on Friday, days after it was fired back to life following a seven-week shutdown, the electricity company said. “The plant stopped working on Friday morning due to a lack of fuel caused by Israel’s closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing,” said a company official. Israel closed the crossing to the besieged Palestinian territory on Tuesday following a series of violent cross-border incidents earlier in the week. The official said the closure of the power station means that electricity supplies to Gaza would be limited to six hours a day as opposed to the usual 12 hours a day. The plant, which supplies some 30 percent of Gaza’s electricity needs, had previously fallen silent on Nov. 1 as stocks of diesel ran out. The power station returned to life on Dec. 15 after receiving a delivery of fuel purchased from Israel by the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority using funds donated by Qatar.
Gaza schools severely damaged by the Israeli shelling
GAZA (PIC) 25 Dec — The Ministry of Education in Gaza said that a number of schools in the central governorate were severely damaged as a result of the Israeli shelling of the neighboring areas in Deir al-Balah … Engineer Medhat Dessouki, a ministry official, explained, during a field visit to the school, that despite the damages the final examinations for the first semester were not interrupted, and that the students were moved to alternative classrooms.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/
Israel closes Gaza crossing to punish Hamas, but farmers pay the price
Ynet 25 Dec by Elior Levy — As Israel and Hamas lock horns, Gazans are forced to pay the price. In response to the death of an Israeli working on Israel’s border fence with Gaza, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has ordered the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza closed until further notice. The order was given in a bid to punish the Hamas government in Gaza, but its real victims are Gaza’s farmers and exporters, who were planning a large shipment of strawberries and flowers to the European market. Head of Gaza’s farmers’ union, Rasan Qasem told Ynet that some 16 tons of strawberries and 100,000 flowers were expected to pass through the Kerem Shalom crossing out of the impoverished strip Wednesday and Thursday. “When Israel decides to close the crossing, they cause damage to hundreds of families trying to make an honest and decent living. These people are farmers and exporters, they have no connection to terrorism.
Gaza lays to rest 3-year-old Palestinian girl killed by Israeli strike
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 25 Dec — Hundreds of mourners in Gaza Wednesday attended the funeral of a 3-year-old girl who was killed by Israeli forces the day before. Hala Abu Sbeikha, who was killed by an Israeli airstrike Tuesday, was buried in al-Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip on Wednesday. Hala’s father carried her body to his house, where family members bid her a final farewell, then brought her to the refugee camp’s cemetery amid hundreds of mourners. Her mother told Ma‘an: “I was busy teaching my children while Hala was playing in the courtyard, and suddenly a missile came and I couldn’t rescue her.” “The area was quiet before the missile landed,” she said. Israel launched airstrikes across the Gaza Strip Tuesday, killing Hala and injuring her mother and brother, after an Israeli Civil Defense worker was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper at the border in the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday afternoon.
Islamic Jihad: 1,400 Gaza ceasefire violations since 2012
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 25 Dec — Israel has violated a November ceasefire with Gaza over 1,400 times since December 2012, a spokesman for the military wing of Islamic Jihad said Wednesday. Al-Quds Brigades spokesman Abu Ahmad told Ma‘an that the killing of a child on Tuesday marked the biggest violation of a truce since Egypt brokered an agreement to end a week-long assault on Gaza last year. Abu Ahmad said that the militant group did not want to end the ceasefire because “it benefits our people” under present regional circumstances “but we will not keep it forever.”
Shin Bet arrests Gazan suspected of planning sniper attack on IDF
Haaretz 26 Dec by Gili Cohen — A Gaza resident suspected of planning a sniper attack against Israeli forces was arrested recently when he requested entry into Israel for medical treatment in Ramallah. A gag order on the arrest was lifted on Thursday. Mohammed Abu Amsa, 32, of Beit Hanoun, was nabbed in a joint operation between the Shin Bet security service and the Israel Police. He will be charged in the Be’er Sheva District Court on Thursday with attempted murder, contact with a foreign agent and conspiracy to commit murder. Abu Amsa confessed during interrogation that he was meant to be the sniper in a planned attack on an Israel Defense Forces patrol along the security fence on the Gaza border
Egypt destroys 6 smuggling tunnels under Gaza border
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 25 Dec – Egyptian border guards on Tuesday afternoon discovered and destroyed six smuggling tunnels under the border with the Gaza Strip, military sources said. They told Ma‘an that the operation was a joint activity between border guards and army engineering units. They added that the tunnels were discovered in Rafah on the Egyptian side. A large quantity of goods was seized near the tunnels including more than 1,800 mobile phones and 300 boxes of cigarettes.
Hamas slams Egyptian gov’t for recent threats
GAZA (PIC) 26 Dec — Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum deplored the Egyptian government for threatening to take military action against his Movement, stressing that “it is trying to export its internal crises to the Palestinians and Hamas.” Spokesman Barhoum said in a press release on Wednesday that his Movement would never be a party to any events happening in Egypt, affirming that its battle is only against the Israeli occupation … The spokesman urged the Egyptian government and its media outlets to refrain from implicating the Palestinians in events happening in Egypt and the Sinai. The secular Egyptian government claimed on Wednesday that its army had foiled an attempt by a Hamas-affiliated bomber to detonate a security site in Egypt, and threatened that its military response would be severe if it sensed that Hamas continues to violate Egypt’s national security. Hamas, for its part, categorically denied the Egyptian claims and any connection to the man named by the army as Jum’ah Khamis Bureika and affirmed that such a name cannot be found in the civil records in Gaza.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/
South Africa solidarity activists visit Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 25 Dec — A delegation of 19 solidarity activists from South Africa on Wednesday started a six-day visit to the Gaza Strip, a Hamas government official said. Alaa al-Batta, who heads a governmental committee for hosting visiting delegations, told Ma’an that the visitors brought gifts for Gaza children “who have been suffering as a result of the siege.” “The South African delegation has been waiting in Cairo for about a week,” added al-Batta.
Five years on, family keeps open Gaza clinic of doctor killed by Israel
RAFAH (Electronic Intfada) 27 Dec by Rami Almeghari — A portrait of Dr. Ehab Jasir al-Shaer still greets patients at his skincare clinic in the city of Rafah. Five years ago this week, al-Shaer was one of the first Palestinians to be killed when Israel launched a three-week attack on Gaza. Surviving members of his family have made sure that the clinic continues to function. Al-Shaer’s father, Jasir, takes care of opening the clinic — now run by another local doctor — every Sunday and Tuesday, as well as paying its rent. It was Jasir who had to identify his son’s body on 27 December 2008. Jasir also lost his brother Yasir and nephew Haitham in the same explosion that killed his son … Ehab al-Shaer left behind a baby daughter called Rimas. He was the father of two other children. Umm Ehab, the doctor’s mother, said her son was “like the backbone of the entire family.” “A few weeks after he was killed, we discovered that Ehab was providing financial support to about twenty local school children who were orphans,” she said. “You cannot imagine how generous Ehab was.” Having studied in Ukraine, al-Shaer had equipped his own dermatology clinic. Described as “very ambitious” by his father, he had planned to expand his private healthcare business by bringing a number of doctors from Eastern Europe to Rafah. Jasir al-Shaer and his family are well-acquainted to suffering and grief. In 1948, they were forced out of Karatiya, one of many villages in present-day Israel that were ethnically cleansed by Zionist forces.
Facebook businesses boom in Gaza amid unemployment
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (Al-Monitor) 26 Dec by Abeer Ayyoub — With the increasing number of unemployed youths in Gaza, many young women have turned to social media as a way to both productively use their time and to obtain a source of income. As a result, many Facebook shopping and service pages were recently launched, either by individuals or groups. Most of these pages are basically concerned with clothes, cosmetics and accessories, yet there are many pages that provide services such as organizing events, preparing gifts or selling homemade food. The idea seems to be ideal for those who have a little money to invest. They can sell goods, advertise them for free and not pay a single penny for rent in shopping areas. The pages were welcomed by many female customers, particularly since it is the first time that people in Gaza have experienced online shopping
Five years after Cast Lead: ‘Gaza writes back’
Mondoweiss 27 Dec by Annie Robbins — The blog Arabic Literature interviews Refaat Alareer, editor of Gaza Writes Back, a book of short stories marking the five year anniversary of Cast Lead
Detainees / Prisoner releases
Dozens protest against upcoming prisoner release
Ynet 26 Dec by Shahar Chai — Next week Israel is expected to release 26 Palestinian prisoners … Dozens of protesters rallied outside the Kirya in Tel Aviv Thursday evening against the expected release of Palestinian prisoners next week. The protesters, including bereaved families, blocked traffic on Kaplan Street for several minutes with the approval of the police. They chanted “Jewish blood is not cheap” and held signs reading: “Shame on you — only in Israel murderers are released” … Ynet has learned from Israeli officials that the third round releasing Palestinian soldiers will not take place on Sunday, as was previously planned. The postponement is due to technical difficulties. Following the publication of the list of prisoners’ names to the public, the State must provide a 48-hour extension allowing the public the option to appeal the decision to release prisoners before the High Court. According to the plan, 26 out of 104 Palestinian prisoners whose release was agreed upon prior to negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, will be freed. Fifty two prisoners have already been released in two rounds in recent months. Twenty two terrorists, Arab-Israelis and residents of East Jerusalem, will probably be released only in the fourth and final batch, thus in the upcoming days, 26 out of 31 prisoners will be released — including four Gazans.
Writer Ahmad Qatamesh freed after 2.5 years in administrative detention
Electronic Intifada 27 Dec by Sarah Irving — The Palestinian prisoner support network Samidoun announced that Palestinian writer and academic Ahmad Qatamesh was released on 26 December after two and a half years in Israeli jails. Qatamesh was held under administrative detention, a legal system derived from British colonial law under which the Israeli state holds prisoners without charge for indefinite periods of time. As reported on The Electronic Intifada, Qatamesh was taken from his home in Al-Bireh in the occupied West Bank at gunpoint in April 2011. Following the public expression of hope by his family earlier in 2013, Qatamesh was taken to Salem checkpoint and released to his family. His wife, Suha Barghouti, a board member of the prisoner support organization Addameer, and daughter Hanin, a student in Cairo, have run a high-profile campaign for his release since 2011. Ahmad Qatamesh was listed as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, the human rights organization which stated that it believed him to be held “to deter political activities by other Palestinian left-wing activists” and “solely for expressing non-violent political beliefs.”
Israel extends the detention of 43 Palestinians being held in prison
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 27 Dec — Israeli courts on Friday extended the detention of 43 Palestinian prisoners under the pretext of continuing investigation and judicial procedures against them, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society said. Al-Jalama court extended the detentions of Orwa Radwan, Ali Irshid, Samih Adwan, Adib Ghalban, Amjad Hasis, Luay Huwari, Mahmoud Amarneh, Abdullah Harzallah and Anas Assaf. Ashkelon court extended the detentions of Ibrahim Musallam, Mahmoud Musallam, Luay al-Hashlamoun,…
Prisoners ‘find cameras’ in Rimon jail cells
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 25 Dec — Palestinian prisoners on Wednesday said they discovered cameras hidden in the walls of their cells in Rimon Prison, the Palestinian prisoners society reported. The director of the society Amjad al-Najjar said that the prison administration raided several cells after prisoners made the discovery. He added that prisoners refused to hand the cameras they found to the prison administration and refused to leave for inspection or stand for counting.
Palestinian refugees elsewhere
NGO: Five Palestinians die of hunger in besieged Yarmouk
BEIRUT (AFP) 27 Dec — Five people, including an elderly man, a woman and a disabled man, have died of hunger in a besieged Palestinian refugee camp south of Damascus, a monitoring group said Friday. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s troops have sealed off several rebel-held areas ringing the capital, some for more than a year, prompting fears of a worsening humanitarian disaster as citizens run low on food and fuel. “Five people died, including an elderly man, a disabled man and a woman, as a result of malnutrition and the lack of the necessary treatment,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based group relying on sources inside the war-torn country. Their deaths were “the result of the siege imposed by regime troops” on the Yarmouk refugee camp, it said. The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees and several rights groups have called on the Syrian regime to lift the siege of Yarmouk, and on both troops and rebels to allow aid into the camp.
Solidarity / BDS
One London church goes on the record with ‘Bethlehem Unwrapped’
[with video] Mondoweiss 26 Dec by Marc H. Ellis — …But check out this London church’s “Bethlehem Unwrapped” happening. They built a real Wall – in the middle of London – with a series of events to boot. Quite an undertaking. Talk about going on record. What it would be like if we had a similar happening in our American backyard? It would be a difficult assignment. Some American church has got to do it sooner or later. After all, the churches have been on a BDS roll for some time. Sure there have been setbacks and retro-assaults like the one the American Studies Association is undergoing now. In the past few days, the ASA issued a red alert due to the usual threats from the usual suspects … Nonetheless as the year draws to an end, we should take note how far things have come. In Bethlehem Unwrapped, we even have a minister who is willing to stand up and be counted. So, hats off to Reverend Lucy Winkett, Rector, St. James’s Piccadilly.
Israeli actors boycott performance in West Bank settlement
JERUSALEM (AP) 26 Dec –/ A trio of Israeli actors is refusing to perform in a theatre in a West Bank Jewish settlement, part of a growing domestic movement against the government’s settlement policies. The protest mirrors a global movement against the settlements that has put Israel’s government in an increasingly difficult situation as peace talks with the Palestinians continue … One of the actors, Sarit Vino-Elad, said she could not bring herself to step foot in a theatre built on occupied land and which posed an obstacle to peace with Palestinians. “This is not a boycott. It’s my own little protest against a government policy that continues to build settlements,” she said. “They are trying to make Ariel part of the consensus, but as far as I am concerned it is not legitimate.” Israel is particularly sensitive to such sentiments as it is constantly battling international efforts to impose economic, cultural and academic boycotts over the settlements. Defenders of Israel say it is a victim of orchestrated campaigns to delegitimise it and hold it to a double standard over its policies.
Open letter from Gaza to Moddi: Do not entertain our oppressor!
Besieged Gaza, Palestine 27 Dec — Dear Moddi, We are a group of academics, students and youth from Gaza, and our only fault is being born Palestinian. You might think we are in an era from where you should not be murdered, tortured, forced to leave your houses and villages, denied water and electricity, restricted movement, imprisoned and regularly harassed and humiliated – all because of who you are when you are born, because of what is written on your identity card. But this encapsulates the reality of our entire lives for decades under the Israeli Apartheid that you are intending to entertain on 1st February and we implore you to take a stand by refusing to perform there … We love music. But, we are deprived of it. For years musical instruments were one of those items banned from entering by Israel’s blockade, along with toys, pasta, school books and chocolate….
Danny Ayalon fabricates Christian fears in Islamophobic hasbara video
Mondoweiss 27 Dec by Annie Robbins — The rightwing Israeli politician Danny Ayalon is back with another of his lying hasbara videos, this time in response to Lara Sawalha and Dana Dajani’s ‘The real truth about the West Bank’. This time, along with the usual ‘Palestine and Palestinians don’t exist’ denial narrative, the former deputy foreign minister is also promoting the idea Palestinian Christians have been leaving Palestine because of Muslims, which is a lie. Israel is still smarting from CBS’s 2012 60 Minutes bombshell episode on the plight of Palestinian Christians living under Israel’s oppressive occupation. Even Netanyahu was involved in that push back, with CBS’s coverage compared to a ‘strategic terror attack’ on Israeli diplomacy … It’s been one train wreck after another for Israel’s image regarding Christians
Israel Defence Forces deploy ‘selfie squad’ to boost image
JERUSALEM (The Guardian) 27 Dec by Matthew Kalman — Having suffered a PR battering from viral video clips showing its soldiers in an unflattering light, the Israel Defence Forces are firing back with a combat camera unit trained to show their version of the story. The first round of graduates – all combat soldiers – have completed a seven-month training programme before joining frontline units. Private Ido H, one of the new “selfie squaddies”, has trained for more than a year as a combat soldier and videographer. He can film, edit and broadcast from the battlefield. “My main mission is to film. I think the job of anyone recording what happens is much more important than any fighter,” he told the Guardian. “There are lots of cameras on the other side. They show us apparently acting in an unfair way to civilians, to our enemies. We are here to explain and to document for the entire world that we don’t use force for bad.”
Photos of the Week: From a razor-wire Christmas to ‘Marches for Freedom’
Activestills 26 Dec — This week: Former hunger striking Palestinian prisoner gets a taste of freedom; African asylum seekers march through central Tel Aviv and the Negev desert demanding recognition as refugees and an end to detentions; an art exhibit in Bethlehem brings occupation to pilgrims, one tear gas canister at a time; a week after massive storm, Gaza residents still struggle to recover from floods; Afghan asylum seekers march in Belgium; Tel Aviv homeless activists face eviction from tent encampment; and, Israeli journalists demand better wages and work conditions.
Christian Arabs top country’s matriculation charts
Times of Israel 24 Dec by Adiv Sterman — Students from the religious minority, which makes up only 2% of Israel’s population, most likely to graduate high school — Christian Arabs in Israel appear to represent the most successfully studious sector in the Jewish state, new research shows, as the tiny sector’s students are more likely than any other Israeli community to succeed on their matriculation exams. Slightly more than 160,000 Christian citizens currently reside in Israel, less than two percent of the country’s overall population. The study found that almost 80% of Israel’s Christian population identify as Arab, while the remaining 20% is comprised mostly of immigrants from Russia who arrived in Israel under the Law of Return, and other residents who identify as Christian. The majority of Christian Arabs live in the cities of Haifa, Nazareth, and Shfaram, as well as other towns in the country’s north, though a sizable minority also reside in and around Jerusalem. Despite the community’s strides in education, challenges remain around the question of identity and their place in broader Israeli society. On Sunday, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) turned down a request from a Christian Knesset member to place a Christmas tree on prominent display in the parliament.
Frustrated documentary maker opens cafe in West Bank
NPR 26 Dec by Emily Harris — Small businesses make up the vast majority of companies in the West Bank. Before opening a cafe, Palestinian Tariq el-Ayyan worked on documentary films. Two months in, the cafe seems to be succeeding, with two paid employees and steady traffic.
Syrian artists turn to black humor to mark Christmas
BEIRUT (AFP) 26 Dec — Syrian artists have turned to black humor to depict the brutal war devastating their country as they marked on Wednesday the third Christmas since the deadly conflict erupted. Their works posted on the Internet reflect the tragedy that has struck Syria where violence has reportedly killed more than 126,000 people and forced millions to flee. One of the most poignant illustrations by graphic designer Sedki al-Imam shows Santa Claus riding his sleigh through a starry, deep blue sky but instead of reindeer it is being pulled by warplanes. And rather than shower the earth with gifts, Imam’s Santa drops TNT-packed barrel bombs over Syria.
Analysis / Opinion
Haaretz editorial: Israel must let the Gazans live
26 Dec — The Strip is a powder keg waiting to explode, and zero-hour is not far off — A new round of violence is underway. A Palestinian sniper from Gaza shot and killed Saleh Abu Latif of Rahat, who was working for the Israel Defense Forces near the border fence, and brought on a powerful retaliatory attack on the Strip that killed a three-year-old girl and wounded 10 people. This round began last Friday, when the IDF killed a Palestinian who approached the fence; two days later another Palestinian was shot and wounded on the grounds that he intended to plant explosives. “I suggest that you don’t test us; if it’s not quiet in Israel it won’t be quiet in Gaza, either,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, and was quick to fulfill his promise. But quiet and occupation cannot coexist. For years, the Gaza Strip has been in dire straits because of the blockade Israel has imposed on it, which was recently joined by Egypt. There are 1.7 million Palestinians trapped in one of the most densely populated areas of the world. No new jobs are being created, and the sources of funding for Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, have dried up. The Sinai-Gaza tunnels, which in addition to being routes for smuggling weapons were also a lifeline for transferring goods, have been mostly destroyed. There is almost no chance of passage between Gaza and the West Bank, and the export of goods from Gaza is restricted. Although Israel holds Hamas responsible for the situation in Gaza, Israel actually controls the outer perimeter, and thus dictates Hamas’ ability to conduct normal life in the Strip. This creates a paradox replete with contradictions. On the one hand, Hamas is required by Israel to keep the peace in Gaza and, as far as Israel is concerned, is responsible for security, which means Israel is implicitly recognizing the Hamas regime. Yet the State of Israel continues to maintain a chokehold policy that weakens Hamas in the eyes of rival organizations, which in turn challenge Hamas’ solitary rule by launching attacks against Israel.
Scion of Zion calls Israel ‘frighening, sickening monster’ and ‘leper state’ / Richard Silverstein
Tikun Olam 27 Dec — Imagine if you will a direct descendant of Abraham Lincoln or Thomas Jefferson with an impeccable pedigree penning an op-ed in the New York Times saying the author of the Gettysburg Address or Declaration of Independence would be turning over in his grave if they could see what Barack Obama has done to their beloved Constitution. That’s something like the op-ed Zeev Smilansky wrote in today’s Haaretz, portraying the moral abyss into which contemporary Israel has sunk. Here is how Avner Cohen described him in his Facebook feed: “The author is true Israeli nobility, a descendant of a Zionist “Mayflower” family, his father was one of the most prominent Zionist teachers who laid the foundation of Israel’s education system, his Dad was a famous author, professor and once a Knesset member, and he and his brother contributed much to Israel’s security.” …
The younger Smilansky, like his uncle Moshe, owns a winery where he produces fine Israeli wine (within the Green Line). Here are some of his pungent thoughts on the wasting away of the Israeli State and the Zionist dream: “…The people in my immediate circle…regard everything that is happening beyond it [the Green Line] as a terminal illness. It was not always like this. We loved to visit the West Bank in the past, but no more. Today, this land is one of moral turpitude, a blot on the family’s record, a historic disgrace. In the West Bank, the State of Israel has become an apartheid state, where our children carry out war crimes on our behalf; where the concept of population transfer has become a reality; where (in a sickening twist of history) the Jews have become a master race that is on a lofty and well-protected pedestal while the Other – the Palestinian – has no rights, no identity, and can be trampled upon by any soldier, any member of the Shin Bet security service – in fact, by anyone with a blue identity card. Whenever the Jews have turned to the path of physical force, it has invariably ended in unforgettable catastrophe.
Asymmetric warfare – The killing fields of Gaza / Colin Green
Counterpunch 27-29 Dec — Revelations from Israeli sources such as ‘Breaking the Silence’ and ‘Physicians for Human Rights-Israel’ that the Israeli assaults on Gaza in 2008/9 (Cast Lead) and 2012 (Pillars of Defence) were planned many months ahead pose many questions about the real motives for the seven year siege and these massive attacks on a helpless concentration of impoverished and imprisoned people. Let us then pose just some of those questions and seek objective answers to: *Why does the international community and UN allow Israel to blockade and besiege a tiny strip of land called Gaza for near seven years with absolute impunity? *In a related vein, why is Israel allowed to commit piracy in international waters to prevent unarmed merchant ships reaching Gaza under the nose of NATO naval fleets operating in the Eastern Mediterranean? *Were the asymmetric assaults on Gaza in 2008/9 and again in 2012 genuinely a response to Qassam rocket attacks or carefully planned attacks for other reasons? *Could the siege and attacks actually be about testing of new weapons, testing of new missile defence systems, field trials of new strategies of population control and control of the immense energy resources found in the Eastern Mediterranean?
Syria’s civil war tests whether borders drawn less than a century ago will last / Liz Sly
AL-QASR, Lebanon (Washington Post) 26 Dec — That half of his farm lies in Syria and half in Lebanon is a source of mystery and inconvenience for Mohammed al-Jamal, whose family owned the property long before Europeans turned up and drew the lines that created the borders of the modern Middle East. Jamal has mostly ignored the invisible frontier that runs a few yards from his house — and so did the Syrian civil war when it erupted nearby. Relatives were kidnapped, neighbors volunteered to fight and shells came crashing in, killing some of of his cows, injuring three workers and underlining just how meaningless the border is.
“I blame Sykes-Picot for all of it,” said Jamal, referring to the secret 1916 accord between Britain and France to divide up the remnants of the collapsing Ottoman Empire. The result was the creation of nation-states where none had existed before, cutting across family and community ties and laying the foundations for much of the instability that plagues the region to this day.
Less than a century after they were drawn, the durability of those borders — and the nations they formed — is being tested as never before. The war in Syria is spilling into Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Israel, sucking in places that for centuries belonged to a single entity and people whose history, faith and livelihoods transcend the nations in which they were born.
link to www.washingtonpost.com/