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One-third of Gazans have family ties to other Palestinians (poll defies Lieberman’s claim)

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Restriction of movement / Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing

Poll: Nearly a third of Gazans have relatives in WB, E. J’lm or Israel
Haaretz 18 Dec by Amira Hass — More than a quarter of the residents of the Gaza Strip have relatives in the West Bank, and about 15 percent have relatives in East Jerusalem or in Israel. In all, nearly a third of Gaza Strip residents have relatives in the rest of the country, on both sides of the Green Line. These findings emerged in a public opinion poll commissioned by Gisha – The Legal Center for Freedom of Movement and conducted in September by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, headed by Dr. Khalil Shikaki. The poll included personal interviews with 440 subjects, chosen randomly and representing the population of the Gaza Strip. The poll found that 7.2 percent of Gaza Strip residents have first-degree relatives in the West Bank, 10.4 percent have second-degree relatives, and another 8.8 percent have relatives farther removed in the West Bank.NGO that commissioned survey says it shows Israel’s movement-restriction policy divides families…
Israel’s movement-restriction policy stipulates that family visits involving the entry to or exit from the Gaza Strip are only allowed to first-degree relatives, and only under extraordinary circumstances such as a wedding, a death or a grave illness. These are also subject to a complex procedure of permit requests. The difficulty is seen in the surveyed subjects’ answer to a question regarding the maintenance of ties with relatives in other parts of the country. About 70 percent maintain such ties, but only 13 percent out of those who do maintain ties meet their relatives face to face inside the country’s borders. About 81 percent of those who keep in touch with their relatives living a few dozen kilometers away are only able to do so by telephone, Internet or mail. Another roughly 6 percent meet their relatives abroad.
According to the Gisha Center, the poll’s findings are a reminder that the Gaza Strip is not a separate region from the rest of the country, and “prove how unfounded the claim of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman at the Sapir College conference was, according to which ‘there was never any territorial or familial connection between Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip.’

Indictment: Druze sheikhs illegally crossed into Syria
Ynet 18 Dec by Hassan Shaalan —  The Nazareth Magistrates Court rejected Wednesday the appeal of 16 Druze sheikhs filed against an indictment according to which they were accused of illegally entering Syria. The sheikhs crossed into Syria via Jordan in 2010, with the purpose, according to the defendants, of visiting relatives and the gravesite of a Muslim prophet. “This trial is unfortunate,” sheikh Ali Maadi, one of the defendants, told Ynet. “We are very close with family members in Syria, and visiting holy sites is the right of every religious person. Sheikhs should not be tried for a religious visit.”,7340,L-4467092,00.html

Israel rejects American request to freeze settlement activities
IMEMC — [Thursday, December 19, 2013] The Israeli Government of Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected an American request to freeze settlement construction and expansion activities, in the occupied West Bank and occupied Jerusalem, as part of the effort to ensure the continuation of direct peace talks. Israeli sources have reported that the U.S. administration has asked Tel Aviv to refrain from announcing new projects in its illegal settlements after the third phase of release of Palestinian detainees, by the end of this month. The White House stated that the issue is of a great concern to the Palestinians, and could lead to toppling direct political talks between Tel Aviv and Ramallah. Talking to the Likud party conference on Wednesday evening, Netanyahu said that his administration is “committed to building and expanding settlements”, and that Tel Aviv “will not be pressured into halting its settlement activities”. “We are building, and working in full gear”, he stated, “We will build and develop, everywhere, including in the settlements.  Israeli sources said that Tel Aviv is acting “according to agreements reached by Washington”. The Israeli decision followed a letter sent by the European Union demanding Tel Aviv to stop its settlement activities, particularly amidst the release of the third phase of veteran Palestinian detainees on December 29.

Revealed from archive: Israel’s secret plan to resettle Arab refugees
Haaretz 19 Dec by Arik Ariel — Plans drawn up during the 1950s and ’60s had one overriding goal: to preserve the demographic status quo by resettling the 1948 Arab refugees far away from the country — …In the summer of 1961, the skies above Jerusalem darkened when it emerged that the Kennedy administration was determined to find a solution for the approximately one million refugees who were crowded into camps from Syria and Lebanon in the north, as far as Jordan, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the south. ‏(The exact number of refugees, and the question of who should be classified as a refugee, remained a constant subject of controversy.) It would be a mistake, though, to think that the catalyst for Washington’s new initiative was the refugees’ wretched and pitiful condition, the Middle East conflict or the Cold War. It was, in fact, Congress that set the initiative in motion by urging the State Department to find a solution for the problem. What provoked Congress to become involved was the burgeoning amount of aid provided by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, in the form of food, education and health − and the fact that the American taxpayer was underwriting 70 percent of UNRWA’s budget…
The largest and most comprehensive plan, involving the transfer of thousands of Christian Arabs from Galilee to Argentina and Brazil, was given the secret codename “Operation Yohanan,” … In the spring of 1950, the director of the Foreign Ministry’s international institutions department, Yehezkel Gordon, suggested that Israel consider settling Arab refugees in Somalia and Libya, to take the place of the 17,000 to 18,000 Jews who had immigrated to Israel from Cyrenaica and Tripoli … In the first half of the 1960s, the Foreign Ministry continued to examine plans to encourage the emigration of Arab refugees from the Middle East to Europe, particularly to France and Germany … Israel’s efforts to find overseas locations in which to settle Arab refugees continued even after the Six-Day War of 1967. In the end, though, these efforts failed.

Violence / Raids / Clashes / Suppression of protests / Illegal arrests

Palestinian killed, seven wounded in Jenin – Updated
IMEMC — [Wed evening, Dec 18] Palestinian medical sources have reported that undercover forces of the Israeli army shot and killed one Palestinian, and wounded seven others, in the Jenin refugee camp, in the northern West Bank city of Jenin. The sources said that Nafe‘ Jamil Sa’dy, 22, was killed after undercover forces of the Israeli army opened fire at him and his cousin, Ali Qassem Sa’day, 24, as they were walking near the home of detainee Jamal Abu Al-Haija. The undercover forces infiltrated the refugee camp in an attempt to kidnap Al-Haija’s son, Hamza. Eyewitnesses stated that the two were shot in their legs before the soldiers kidnapped them and took them to an unknown destination. Nafe‘ died of his wounds later on, and his body was handed to the Palestinians at the Al-Jalama roadblock, north of Jenin. His cousin was not released. Thousands of Palestinians took part in the funeral procession and burial ceremony of Nafe‘, and marched carrying Palestinian flags, chanting slogans against the occupation, the assassination, and ongoing Israeli violations. Local sources said that the assassination took place after the undercover forces infiltrated into the camp, and broke into the home of Abu Al-Haija, causing clashes with dozens of local youths. Medical sources said that the clashes led to seven injuries among Palestinian youths.

Israeli soldiers raid Qalqiliya, kill Palestinian ‘in cold blood’
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — In the second killing of its kind in less than 24 hours early Thursday, Israeli forces raided a northern West Bank neighborhood and shot a Palestinian man dead. Witnesses said Israeli soldiers raided a neighborhood in the center of Qalqiliya and opened fire at 28-year-old Saleh Samir Abd al-Rahman Yasin, leaving him to bleed to death. The soldiers shot Yasin “in cold blood,” locals said. A statement issued by the Israeli army said that during a “successful overnight ambush” that was “preplanned,” a Palestinian who opened fire at Israeli soldiers was killed. “The soldiers retaliated towards the source of fire,” the statement said. According to the statement, the “assailant” whom Israeli soldiers killed was “a known gunman” who had exchanged fire with Israeli forces before. “A gun and ammunition were later found at the scene,” the statement said. Yasin was a member of the Palestinian security forces.

Officials mourn Qalqiliya man shot by Israeli troops
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 19 Dec – Mourners from Qalqiliya district in the northern West Bank joined the funeral of Salih Yasin who was shot dead by Israeli troops Thursday morning. The body of Yasin was covered with a Palestinian flag as mourners carried it from his home to a mosque in the center of Qalqiliya for funeral prayer. The body was then carried in a military vehicle of the Palestinian national security service to Martyrs’ Cemetery in Qalqiliya. Palestinian officials marched behind the body including the governor of Qalqiliya Abdullah Kameel, the commander of the district’s security services Muhammad Abu al-Hayfa among others. Several people delivered funeral orations applauding Yasin and mentioning his virtues. In his remarks, the governor of Qalqiliya denied Israeli claims that Yasin clashed with troops in the center of Qalqiliya. “The martyr Yasin was an officer in the Palestinian general intelligence service. He was on his way home after work when an Israeli assassination squad surprised him with gunshots.”

Israeli forces open fire on protests across the West Bank
[many photos] RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 20 Dec — Israeli forces dispersed Palestinian protests across the West Bank on Friday, injuring dozens of demonstrators with rubber bullets and through the excessive use of tear gas. Protests against the Israeli occupation and separation wall took place in the villages of Bil‘in, al-Ma‘sara, and Nabi Saleh Bil‘in — Eight protesters people were injured with rubber bullets and dozens suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation after Israeli forces dispersed a weekly protest in Bili‘n, near Ramallah … Ashraf al-Khatib, Majd Burnat, Hamouda Yassin, Mohammad Abu Rahma, Mohammad Yassin, Mohammad Hamad, Ali Abu Rahma, and Bassim Yassin were struck with rubber coated steel bullets in different body parts, including one in the head.
Al-Ma‘sara — Israeli forces dispersed a demonstration marking the establishment of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a leftist Palestinian political group, and Christmas in al-Ma‘sara near Bethlehem. Participants raised Palestinian flags, pictures of late President Yasser Arafat and former PFLP leader Abu Ali Mustafa, but were stopped by Israeli forces who used plastic shields to obstruct them when they reached the entrance of the village.
Nabi Saleh – Israeli forces also dispersed a popular demonstration in Nabi Saleh village near Ramallah. Israeli forces fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at demonstrators, causing dozens to suffer from excessive tear gas inhalation. Israeli forces claimed that the demonstration was illegal because it was held in a closed military zone. Israeli forces declare the village a closed military zone on a weekly basis in anticipation of the demonstration. Clashes then broke out and Palestinians threw rocks at Israeli forces, who responded with more tear gas.

Israeli forces detain 17 in West Bank arrest raids
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 18 Dec — Israeli forces detained 17 Palestinians across the occupied West Bank overnight Monday, Israel’s army and locals said. In Nablus, 10 Israeli military jeeps raided the refugee camps of Balata, Askar and el-Ein, as well as the neighborhoods of al-Mureij and Rafidia, and detained seven people … In occupied East Jerusalem, Israeli forces detained 17-year-old Ahmad Nadir Audah, 19-year-old Fadi al-Rajabi, 15-year-old Muhammad Abdul-Minem, and 17-year-old Mustafa Shehadah in the neighborhood of Silwan. A lawyer told the Wadi Hilweh Information Center that the four teenagers were accused of throwing stones at Israeli officers in the Al-Aqsa compound. They were taken to the Russian Compound interrogation center, located just off West Jerusalem’s Jaffa Street. In Jerusalem’s Old City, Ahmad Hdeib, 25, was arrested by Israeli police.  An Israeli army spokesman said 17 Palestinians were detained overnight for “security questioning.” Nine were detained in Nablus, five in Hebron, one near Bethlehem, one in Ramallah, and one in Qalqiliya, he added.

Four Palestinians kidnapped in Jericho [and four more in Nablus]
IMEMC — [Thursday, Dec 19] Dozens of Israeli military jeeps have invaded Fasayel village and the Ein Al-Sultan refugee camp, in the West Bank district of Jericho, and kidnapped four Palestinians.  The Jericho Office of the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that dozens of soldiers searched homes in Fasayel village, kidnapping a father and his son identified as Mohammad Saleh Nuwwara, 62, and his son Za’al, 42.  The PPS added that dozens of soldiers also invaded the Ein Al-Sultan refugee camp, broke into several homes and searched them, kidnapping two Palestinians identified as Ibrahim Mohammad Basayta and Adi Ibrahim Sarafandy…
Also on Thursday morning, soldiers invaded the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and kidnapped two Palestinians, including a security officer. Local sources in Beit village, south of Nablus, have reported that the soldiers kidnapped Rady Sa’id Hamayel, after breaking into his home. Hamayel is an officer of the Presidential Guard; he was kidnapped after dozens of soldiers violently broke into his house and searched it, causing excessive property damage. Furthermore, soldiers invaded Beita village, south of Nablus, and kidnapped Rady Sa’id Hamayel, after breaking into his home.

Israeli forces detain at least 7 Palestinians across West Bank
JENIN (Ma‘an) 20 Dec — Israeli forces detained seven Palestinians across the West Bank in overnight raids, an army spokesperson told Ma‘an, while local sources reported additional arrests. A spokeswoman for the Israeli army said that Israeli forces detained five Palestinians in Ya‘bad, one in Beit Ummar, and one in Yatta. Locals in the northern West Bank additionally reported two arrests in Kafr Qaddum.

Israeli forces detain 2 Qalqiliya men, clash with locals
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an)20 Dec — Israeli forces on Friday detained two Palestinian young men in the northern West Bank, witnesses told Ma‘an. Locals said that Israeli military vehicles entered the village of Kafr Qaddum east of Qalqiliya at 2 a.m., and that soldiers raided several houses. The soldiers arrested 21-year old Birzeit University student Ghaleb Hilmi Eshtawi and 20-year-old Muhammad Rajab Jumaa, witnesses said. Locals said clashes broke out between Palestinians and Israeli forces during the raid, and that soldiers fired tear gas canisters toward houses in the village. Several Palestinians suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation. The coordinator of Kafr Qaddum’s popular committee Murad Eshtawi said Israeli soldiers raided his house and threatened him with detention. Soldiers told him they would detain him in the upcoming days unless he stops Kafr Qaddum’s weekly protests, Eshtawi said.

PCHR Weekly Report: 2 Palestinians dead, 9 wounded by Israeli forces this week [12-18 Dec]
IMEMC 20 Dec — …Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian and wounded 6 others in Jenin refugee camp in the north of the West Bank. A Palestinian civilian died of previous wounds in Bethlehem. Israeli forces have continued to open fire at the border areas in the Gaza Strip. 3 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were wounded in the northern and southern Gaza Strip … During the past week, Israeli forces conducted 21 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. At least 12 Palestinians were abducted. As part of using military checkpoints and border crossings as traps to arrest Palestinian civilians under the pretext they are wanted, Israeli forces abducted at least 3 civilians in the West Bank … In the Gaza Strip, 3 Palestinian civilians, including a child and 2 farmers, were wounded … In the context of targeting fishermen in the sea, on 16 and 17 December 2013, Israeli forces stationed off al-Waha resort, northwest of Beit Lahia, opened sporadic fire at Palestinian fishing boats that were sailing about 3 nautical miles off the shore. However, neither casualties nor material damage were reported … Israeli forces have continued to support settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property. On 17 December 2013, Israeli forces issued a decision to confiscate 10 dunums of land in Qasrah village, southeast of Nablus. These confiscated lands are in “al-Wa’ar” area, which has always been attacked by settlers from “Yish Kodish” settlement established on the aforementioned village’s lands … Israeli forces continued the systematic use of excessive force against peaceful protests organised by Palestinian, Israeli and international activists against the construction of the annexation wall and settlement activities in the West. As a result, many protestors suffered tear gas inhalation and others sustained bruises as they were beaten up by Israeli soldiers. Full Report

Detainees / Court actions

Israel frees prisoner detained 30 months without charge
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 20 Dec — Israeli authorities on Friday released a Palestinian prisoner from Hebron after keeping him in administrative detention for over two and a half years. Mahmud Issa Abed al-Hamid Masalma, 54, was released on Friday after spending more than 30 months in prison without ever being charged by authorities. Masalma was detained on Aug. 20, 2011 and was transferred to administrative detention because Israeli authorities said that he “constitutes a danger to the security of Israel.”
They refused, however, to explain what kind of danger he posed, and kept him without charge for the entirety of his detention. Administrative detention refers to the tactic of keeping a prisoner without charge or trial for extended periods of time, often due to “security” concerns. Israel routinely uses this tactic on detained Palestinians, even though international law stipulates it only be used in exceptional circumstances. According to Israeli human rights groups B’tselem, in October 2013 140 Palestinians were being kept in administrative detention in Israeli prisons, down from a high of nearly 1,000 in 2002.

PA court extends Bani Odeh’s detention for two weeks
TUBAS (PIC) 20 Dec — The magistrates’ court in Tubas city extended on Thursday the detention of Samer Bani Odeh, 44, for two weeks after being arrested from his home on Wednesday evening. Bani Odeh’s family told the Palestinian information center (PIC) that the magistrates’ court extended his arrest for 14 more days with no charges leveled against him. The PA security forces arrested ex-detainee Samer Bani Odeh on Wednesday after dragging him on the street for a long distance in front of his family. Bani Odeh, has spent 17 years in Israeli jails for his resistance activities.


Israeli forces kill 1 Palestinian, injure 5 across Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 Dec — A Palestinian man was shot dead and five others were injured in a number of incidents across the Gaza Strip on Friday. Jihad Hamad, 24, was shot dead, and an unidentified man was injured after Israeli soldiers opened fire near Beit Hanoun crossing in the northern Gaza Strip. Gaza government spokeswoman Isra Almodallal confirmed the shooting, adding that they had approached the fence but details were still unclear. In another incident, two others were shot and injured east of Khan Yunis, spokesman for the Gaza ministry of health Ashraf al-Qidra said. They were taken to the European hospital south of Khan Yunis with moderate injuries, he added.  Israeli forces also shot and injured two Palestinian men east of Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip earlier on Friday. One of them, 23-year-old Mohammad Ayoub, was shot near the eastern cemetery and transferred to Kamal Odwan hospital, medical officials said.

PHOTOS: Gaza streets remain flooded a week after storm
Activestills 20 Dec — The UN reports that 10,000 people were displaced in the record-setting storm and that it could take another week to clear the flooding — … UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness on Saturday said that large regions of the Gaza Strip were a “disaster area” and called on the international community to lift the Israeli blockade in order to allow recovery efforts to proceed. “Any normal community would struggle to recover from this disaster. But a community that has been subjected to one of the longest blockades in human history, whose public health system has been destroyed and where the risk of disease was already rife, must be freed from these man made constraints to deal with the impact of a natural calamity such as this.” Only two people are reported to have died in the storms, with others only suffering light injuries, but the UN estimates more than 10,000 were displaced,

Official: Rafah crossing closed for seventh day in a row
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — The Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip has been closed seven days in row, a Palestinian official said. The Gaza government’s director of crossings Mahir Abu Sabha told Ma‘an Thursday that the Egyptian authorities “promised” to open the crossing next week.

Hamas secures housing for families displaced by storm
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 Dec — Authorities in the Gaza Strip on Friday decided to close emergency shelters after securing houses for all displaced people following a 4-day storm that caused widespread damage in the coastal territory, undersecretary of the Gaza Ministry of Social Affairs Omar al-Darbi told Ma‘an. Authorities closed Abed al-Rahman Ben Awf School in Sheikh Ridwan in northern Gaza, the last remaining shelter, after the Gaza Ministry of Social Affairs found housing for the 58 displaced families who were seeking refuge there. All families whose houses suffered major damage due to intense flooding of up to 50 cm were given checks for $1000 in compensation … The ministry provided each family with a food parcel worth 400 shekels, and the ministry also paid the cost of transportation for the families who had to move from shelters. The ministry plans to continue clean-up efforts and the pumping of water from still-flooded areas, and will give further compensation to families once the spoke of the damage in those areas is clear.

Palestinian factions race to post snowstorm work on Facebook
Al-Monitor 20 Dec by Asmaa al-Ghoul — Only in Gaza will you see photographs of masked gunmen handing out food aid to families displaced by the storm that battered the Strip last week. The photos in question, which caused great controversy among social media users, portrayed resistance fighters from the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas movement, and the Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad. Yet, the debate revolved around more than these photographs. Something akin to a propaganda war erupted on the pages of social networking sites, particularly Facebook, as people tried to prove that one of the two governments, the Gaza government or the Ramallah one — or the president’s agencies and other political parties — better served citizens during the storm

Israeli naval forces chased Palestinian fishermen and confiscated their fishing equipment in the Gaza waters
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 19 Dec — Israeli Naval Forces stationed off Beit Lahi shore in the northern Gaza Strip opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats in 4 separate incidents while sailing between 600 meters and 3 nautical miles.  Israeli naval forces also confiscated 24 fishing nets.  The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) expresses concern over the continued targeting of fishermen and their livelihoods. Economic and social rights of fishermen have been violated by the illegal naval blockade imposed by Israeli authorities on the Gaza waters since June 2007. According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 10:40 on Wednesday, 18 December 2013, Israeli gunboats opened fire at a Palestinian fishing boat that was sailing about 600 meters off al-Wahah shore in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip…

Israeli gunboats shell Gaza shores
GAZA (PIC) 19 Dec — Israeli navy gunboats fired a number of shells at the shores of Gaza city at a late night hour on Wednesday.
Field sources said that the Israeli gunboats, which are permanently present off the Gaza shores, fired four projectiles to the northwest of Gaza beach, but did not cause any casualties or damage.

Missing Gaza man detained by Israeli forces
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Dec — A man from Gaza who was reported missing by his family over a month ago is being held in an Israeli jail, relatives said Wednesday. The family of Omar Ismail Wadi, 22, say that he called them on Wednesday to inform them that he was detained by Israeli forces after crossing the security fence between Israel and the northern Gaza Strip. Wadi, from Jabalia refugee camp, was reported missing by his family over a month ago. He has been shot and injured twice over the past two years near the security fence in northern Gaza.

1 million Gaza Palestinians will need food aid
GAZA (Reuters) 18 Dec — Almost a million people are expected to need food aid in the Gaza Strip next year, a U.N. agency said on Wednesday as it appealed for $95 million from donors. About 813,000 Palestinian refugees currently receive food aid from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), but the organisation expects a 10-20 percent rise in demand in 2014, said Robert Turner, its Gaza director of operations. The main reason for the increase in the number of needy families was Egypt’s closure in recent months of smuggling tunnels under its border into the enclave which has deprived thousands of people of jobs and halted construction projects, he said.

Eight archaeological sites in Gaza damaged by winter storm
GAZA (PIC) 18 Dec — The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in Gaza revealed that a number of archaeological sites have been significantly affected by the stormy weather that hit the Strip recently. Ahmed Amer, Chief of Media and Public Relations in the ministry, stated that eight important archaeological sites in Gaza Strip had been significantly affected, warning that some of them are threatened with collapse. Byzantine church site, northern Gaza Strip, and Basha Palace site were significantly damaged and flooded by rainwater. He added that the Monastery of Saint Hilarion, in Nuseirat refugee camp, and Tel Rafah site, southern Gaza Strip, were also damaged and threatened with collapse. The storm has also affected Tel Sakan and Tel Ajoul sites in al-Zahra city, in addition to Khader and Abassan shrines east of Khan Younis southern Gaza Strip, he pointed out. A large part of an archaeological house in Gaza City collapsed on Tuesday due to the storm that hit the Strip during the past few days, local sources said.

Palestinians honor Gaza mental health pioneer
Al Jazeera 18 Dec by Jillian Kestler-D’Amours — Dr. Eyad El-Sarraj, a Palestinian psychiatrist and human rights defender, dies after long battle with cancer — Dr. Eyad El-Sarraj was a dedicated medical professional and pioneer in the field of mental health. But to those who knew him best, the respected Palestinian psychiatrist and human rights defender – who died on Tuesday evening after a long battle with cancer – was something even more powerful: a dreamer. “He was some sort of romantic revolutionary because he dreamt about things that to others were not achievable,” said Jaber Wishah, deputy director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza City, and one of his close friends. El-Sarraj, 70, died on Tuesday in an Israeli hospital where he was receiving cancer treatment. His body was being brought back to the Gaza Strip on Wednesday morning, and his funeral was expected to begin after midday prayer at al-Omari mosque in Gaza City that same day. “In a conservative community like the Palestinian community, mental health and psycho-threapy [are] not in the eyes of the people,” Wishah told Al Jazeera. “But with his courage and his commitment and his honesty and his personality, he gradually introduced this culture of [looking at] the impact of the occupation. He is the pioneer.” El-Sarraj was born in 1944 in Bir al-Saba‘ (now known as Beersheba). His family fled to the Gaza Strip in 1948 after some 750,000 Palestinians were displaced following the creation of the state of Israel, a period known to Palestinians as the “Nakba”, or catastrophe. After receiving degrees from Alexandria University in Egypt and the University of London’s Institute of Psychiatry, El-Sarraj founded the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP) in 1990.

Haniyeh turns to Gaza’s intelligentsia
Al-Monitor 18 Dec by Adnan Abu Amer — In meetings with Gazan’s intellectuals, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh sought opinions on the Strip’s most pressing issues from those outside the movement.

Egypt’s Morsi to be tried for ‘espionage,’ Hamas ties
Cairo (AFP) 18 Dec  — Egypt’s deposed president Mohamed Morsi and ex-aides will stand trial for “espionage” that helped a “terrorist” campaign involving the Palestinian militant Hamas and Wahhabi groups, the prosecution said Wednesday. If found guilty, they could face the death penalty. Morsi, an Islamist toppled by the military in July after a single year of turbulent rule, is already on trial for his alleged involvement in the killings of opposition protesters. Prosecutors had been investigating his alleged links to Hamas during mass prison breaks in an early 2011 uprising against ousted strongman Hosni Mubarak, when Morsi and other Islamist prisoners escaped. He and 35 others, including former aides and leaders of his Muslim Brotherhood, now stand accused of “espionage for foreign organizations abroad to commit terrorist attacks in the country,” a state prosecution service statement said. Those groups, according to the prosecution’s investigation, included Hamas and the militant Lebanese Hezbollah movement, it said.

Egyptian soldier killed, two injured in clashes with gunmen
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 20 Dec — An Egyptian soldier was killed on Friday and two other soldiers, including an officer, were wounded during violent clashes between the Egyptian army and gunmen in [Egyptian] Rafah, military sources said. The Egyptian army raided a stronghold of “jihadist elements,” the sources said, and “violent clashes occurred between the two sides.”

Palestinian refugees in Syria

Palestinians in Syria reportedly banned from receiving remittances
DAMASCUS (Ma‘an) 20 Dec — An employee of a money transfer service in Syria claimed that the Syrian government has issued a decision banning the sending of remittances to non-Syrians inside the country, a Palestinian organization said on Friday. An employee of a Western Union branch inside Syria reportedly refused to deliver money to a Palestinian refugee after his relative abroad tried to send it to him, the Action Group for the Palestinians of Syria group said in a statement. The employee at the Western Union in Syria claimed that the government issued a decision banning the workers of Western Union or any such branches to deliver any remittances to non-Syrians, the statement said. The Action Group for the Palestinians of Syria denounced these practices, and noted that such practices are forms of collective punishment against Palestinians by the government. The group called on the Syrian government to stop such practices and not to involve Palestinian people in the Syria conflict.

Statistics: 1800 Palestinian refugees killed in Syria
DAMASCUS (PIC) 18 Dec — Activists in Syria said that three Palestinian refugees were killed in that war-torn country over the past 24 hours. The Action Group for Palestinians in Syria said in a statement on Wednesday that Syrian regular army continued to shell and attack Palestinian refugee camps. It said that the last casualties raised the number of Palestinians killed in Syria since the crisis started there to 1,807. The group said that two were killed in Yarmouk refugee camp and a third was killed under excruciating torture in Syrian security jails.

UNRWA warns ‘thousands’ at risk as Yarmouk siege enters 5th month
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 Dec — The United Nations’ Palestine refugee agency UNRWA warned that the lives of thousands of Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk camp in Damascus were at risk due to the ongoing siege of the camp by Syrian regime forces. Commissioner General of UNRWA Filippo Grandi said that “humanitarian conditions in the besieged refugee camp of Yarmouk are worsening dramatically and that we are currently unable to help those trapped inside.” He stressed that if the situation was not addressed soon, “it may be too late to save the lives of thousands of people including children.” … “20,000 remaining Palestinians have been trapped inside Yarmouk, and although very alarming reports of hardship and hunger have continued to multiply, since September 2013 we have been unable to enter the area to deliver desperately needed relief supplies.”  His comments come days after the PLO announced the failure of an agreement to lift the regime siege on the camp by asking all militant groups to withdraw and allow the area to remain a neutral safe zone. PLO authorities blamed the PFLP-GC, a Palestinian militant group closely aligned with the Syrian government, for foiling that agreement by deploying their troops in the camp…
Five Palestinians were also killed across Syria on Friday in separate incidents linked to the armed conflict, including two who died under torture in Syrian regime prisons.


Native American Studies group joins Israel boycott
Inside Higher Ed 18 Dec — The elected council for the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association has unanimously opted to support the academic boycott of Israel, making it the third U.S.-based scholarly association, after the Association for Asian American Studies and the American Studies Association, to do so.

Joint statement from ‘The Embassy of the State of Palestine to the Republic of South Africa’ and ‘BDS South Africa’
20 Dec — Clarification regarding comments made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas whilst in South Africa on boycott of Israeli settlements and products — Recent comments made in South Africa by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (and Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation), regarding the boycott of Israeli settlements and products, seem to have been taken out of context and misconstrued by some members of the media and members of the Israeli lobby. Some journalists and Israeli lobbyists have reported that President Abbas, at a South African press conference, said that he is opposed to the international boycott. This is untrue. The Embassy of the State of Palestine to South Africa and BDS South Africa want to confirm the following positions: … 5. The Palestine Liberation Organisation and the State of Palestine are not opposed to the Palestinian civil society-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel … We are keenly cognisant that international solidarity , particularly boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) was one of the four pillars of the struggle against apartheid here in South Africa.

Political news

Bloodshed, settlements hike pressure on Mideast talks
RAMALLAH (AFP) 20 Dec — The struggling Middle East peace talks have come under further pressure after Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinians and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to push more settlement construction. Despite relentless US efforts to coax Israel and the Palestinians into reaching an elusive peace agreement, tensions between the two sides have shown little sign of abating as the negotiations, which are scheduled to last nine months, have limped past the halfway point. After Israeli troops killed two Palestinians in separate arrest raids in the northern West Bank late Wednesday and early Thursday, outgoing Palestinian negotiator Mohammad Shtayyeh said the “so-called bilateral Palestinian-Israeli negotiations are not going to take us anywhere”. “There is a strong party and there is a weak party, and the Israelis want to dictate rather than negotiate,” he told journalists at a dinner in the West Bank. “The Israelis want to replace occupation by force with occupation by an invitation, with our signature, and it will never happen.” In Ramallah, presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina accused Israel of trying to scupper peace talks with the two shootings in Jenin and Qalqilya … In an address to his rightwing Likud party late on Wednesday, Netanyahu blamed the Palestinians for the lack of peace, and promised there would be no let-up in construction on land they want for a future state … Two previous rounds of prisoner releases in August and October were accompanied by Israeli announcements of fresh construction, sparking deep anger in Ramallah.

Abbas writes to Obama protesting West Bank security plan
RAMALLAH (Xinhua) 19 Dec — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has sent a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama that reportedly included his reservations on a security plan for the West Bank raised by Washington. Nabil Abu Rdineh, spokesperson for the Palestinian presidency, stressed that the letter to Obama doesn’t sidestep U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry who formalized the plan and presented it to Israel and Palestinians earlier this month. Abu Rdineh declined from revealing the points in the letter that discuss Kerry’s plan, but said it emphasized that negotiations with Israel must lead to an independent Palestinian state with full sovereignty on pre-1967 lines, a reference to the territories Israel has occupied that year. In his letter, Abbas stressed that the Palestinian side is committed to the negotiations’ nine-month tenure, according to Abu Rdineh.

Israel-Palestinian talks may need extra year
BEIT JALA (AFP) 19 Dec — Efforts to reach an Israel-Palestinian peace deal may need to be extended for another year, if parties agree on key issues by the time the current round of talks wraps up in April, the chief Palestinian negotiator said. US Secretary of State John Kerry launched nine months of direct talks between the sides in July after a three-year stalemate, and has insisted he is aiming for a full deal and not an interim agreement by April 29. However, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said the process was likely to be a lot slower. “We are not talking about a peace treaty on the 29th of April, we are talking about a framework agreement,” Erakat told journalists in Beit Jala near Bethlehem on Wednesday.  He said the deal would “specify the borders, percentage of the (prisoner) swaps, security arrangements, Jerusalem status, refugees and then that’s the skeleton. Without achieving that you cannot draft a single word of the treaty. “Once you reach the framework agreement, between that day to reach a comprehensive treaty, on all core issues … you need six to 12 months in the best case.”

We refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, says ex-Palestinian negotiator
Haaretz 20 Dec by Amira Hass — Dr. Muhammad Shtayyeh proposes a Geneva conference on the Palestinian issue because bilateral talks preserve unfair balance of power — Dr. Muhammad Shtayyeh, who last November quit the Palestinian team negotiating with the Israelis over a peace settlement, reiterated Thursday the Palestinian position that they would not recognize Israel as a Jewish state. In a meeting with journalists in the Palestinian town of Beit Jala, not far from Bethlehem in the West Bank, Shtayyeh stated that the Israeli insistence on Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state is a new demand that was not raised in the initial talks and interim agreements between the Palestinians and the Israelis. According to Shtayyeh the declaration of Israel as a Jewish state implies the prevention of Palestinian refugees from returning to their homeland, opening the door to the expulsion of Palestinian citizens of Israel from their homes and the imposition of the Jewish narrative on the history of this country, thereby rejecting the Christian and Muslim narratives. Shtayyeh told Haaretz that there is a fundamental difference between “a state for the Jews” and a “Jewish state.”

Jerusalem patriarch: Settlement construction ‘hampers’ peace
JERUSALEM (AFP) 18 Dec — Mideast peace efforts are being “hampered” by Israeli settlement construction, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem said Wednesday in his traditional Christmas message. “The Israeli-Palestinian talks resumed in late July, after three years of interruption, but the efforts are hampered by the continuous building of Israeli settlements,” said Fuad Twal, the top Roman Catholic cleric in the Holy Land. “As long as this problem is not resolved, the people of our region will suffer,” he said. Twal stressed that, “while the world’s attention has shifted from the situation in the Holy Land to the tragedy in Syria, it must be stated that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains crucial to the region and is a major obstacle in the development of our society and stability in the Middle East.”

EU: Peace talks failure will lead to labeling of settlement goods
AP 19 Dec – -If peace negotiations end in failure, sanction debate could grow, says EU Mideast envoy, citing discussion to tag Jewish West Bank products, effectively facilitating consumers boycott. Is Israel facing surge of support for boycott efforts?,7340,L-4467612,00.html

Hamas PM calls for unified Palestinian government with PA
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of the Hamas-run government in the Gaza Strip, invited Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday to a meeting to discuss the formation of a unity government. In a speech he delivered to the al-Quds Scientific Conference in Gaza City, Haniyeh said it is necessary to discuss the political agenda of the hoped-for unity government, in line with a reconciliation agreement reached in Cairo in 2012. Haniyeh stressed that the agenda of the unity government should be to protect Palestinian resistance and nonnegotiable principles, and to implement ideas that would help both Gaza and the West Bank. Disagreement between Palestinians encourages the Israeli occupation to continue, Haniyeh said

PA ready for reconciliation with Hamas ‘at any price’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 Dec by Graham Liddell — A senior PLO official said Thursday that the Palestinian Authority was ready for reconciliation with Hamas “at any price,” signaling a new openness to engage with its rival party amid deadlocked peace talks with Israel. “We are ready for reconciliation tomorrow,” Mohammad Shtayyeh told reporters hours after Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh called on President Mahmoud Abbas to form a unity government in a landmark speech in Gaza City. The PA’s goal is a coalition government that includes Hamas, Shtayyeh said.  “We are ready to accommodate Hamas within the structure of the PLO.” But the official said Hamas had not shown willingness to form a true unity government, with one leader presiding over both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Instead, he says, Hamas is calling for “an agreed-upon government” to include two separate leaders but with shared municipal oversight.

Unrest in Fatah after Abbas discharges senior member
JENIN (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — A Fatah official on Thursday denied reports that hundreds of the movement’s members had submitted their resignations in protest of President Mahmoud Abbas’ decision to discharge lawmaker Jamal Abu al-Rub from Fatah after he assaulted another executive committee member Wednesday. Fatah secretary-general in the Jenin district Ata Abu Rmeila told Ma’an that Fatah’s leadership in Jenin had not received any resignation letters. He added that a general meeting would be held Thursday in Jenin to discuss the consequences of Abbas’ decision and the attack on Jibril Rajoub, a member of Fatah’s executive committee … Locals in the Jenin town of Qabatia, the hometown of Abu al-Rub, told Ma‘an Wednesday that all members of Fatah in the town had submitted their resignations in protest of Abbas’ decision … Abu al-Rub reportedly attacked Rajoub in retaliation to an attack on him a month ago by one of Rajoub’s security guards.

Other news

Jerusalem prisoner’s wife delivers baby from smuggled sperm
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 18 Dec — For the first time in Jerusalem, the wife of a Palestinian prisoner gave birth to a baby girl after successful artificial insemination using sperm smuggled from her jailed husband, the woman’s family told Ma‘n Wednesday … 34-year-old Fahmi Eid Mashahira from East Jerusalem was jailed on October 2002 and sentenced to 20 life sentences on charges of affiliation with Hamas’ military wing. The newborn baby girl is his third child, the other two of whom were conceived before his prison sentence. But Mashahira’s family could face difficulties obtaining a birth certificate for the baby girl, a Palestinian committee member told Ma‘an. Amjad Abu Asab, head of a committee that represents families of jailed Palestinians from Jerusalem, warned that the Israeli Ministry of the Interior might not register the girl as an Israeli citizen. Abu Asab added that if the Israeli authorities refuse to recognize the girl, legal action would be taken.

Israel to hand over remains of 36 Palestinians
IMEMC — [Thursday, Dec 19,] Israel said that it would be handing over, to the Palestinian Authority (P.A) in the West Bank, the remains of 36 Palestinians buried in the Numbers Graveyard. PA sources said Tel Aviv never officially informed it of this decision. Salem Khalla, coordinator of the National Committee for retrieving bodies of slain Palestinians, said that Israel intends to do DNA testing on the remains for verification. Khalla added that Israel exhumed the bodies of 30 slain Palestinians buried in Be’er As-Sabe‘ (Beersheba), on Wednesday, and will be exhuming the bodies of six more Palestinians buried in an unspecified graveyard, before DNS tests are conducted by the beginning of next month. He said that the remains will likely be handed over to the Palestinians on January 7, and that the Palestinians will not accept unidentified remains, to avoid what happened months ago, when Israel handed over Palestinian remains, including six unidentified remains that were left unidentified, until this moment.

Pope’s plans for Bethlehem Mass disappoint Israel
Ynet 19 Dec by Itamar Eichner — Catholic pontiff’s truncated trip dashes hope of believers expecting papal-led Mass in Jerusalem. Israeli officials ask Vatican to reconsider holding service only in Bethlehem,7340,L-4467385,00.html

Palestinian security forces detain 2 Israeli drug suspects
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — Palestinian preventive security forces on Wednesday detained two Israelis for distributing drugs in Qalqiliya, the district’s governor said. Abdullah Kameil told Ma‘an that the Israelis would be handed back to Israel. Kameil said that Palestinian security forces’ anti-drug policies had been successful, forcing Israeli dealers to distribute drugs in Palestinian cities themselves.

Man who spilled hot tea on MK Tibi charged with assault
Ynet 20 Dec by Mati Siver — Indictment filed against man for assault of public servant after spilling scorching-hot liquid on MK Ahmad Tibi. ‘He is not of sound mind, not racist, needs mental care’ says suspect’s brother,7340,L-4467723,00.html

Negev: Train runs over, kills 14 camels
Ynet 18 Dec by Mati Siver — An Israel Railways train traveling from Dimona to Beersheba Tuesday night hit and killed 14 camels that were on the tracks, near the Segev Shalom Junction … The police are currently working with veterinary officials to locate the deceased camels’ owner in a bid to understand how the camels reached the tracks.,7340,L-4466950,00.html

Israeli racism

‘Jews Only’ vacant apartment ad published in social Israeli website
IMEMC 16 Dec — Last week, an ad for a vacant apartment in occupied Jerusalem was published on a famous Israeli social website; after detailing the specifications of the property, the price and whatever else, it went on to say, “rent is only for Jews”. The advertisement states that the apartment in located in the French Hill in Jerusalem, “great view… close to transportation and Only for Jews”. The Arabs48 news website phoned the advertiser of the property, asking about the issue, and was told that he “follows the Torah”, and only rents to Jews. A Reporter of the Arabs48 tried to get more information, but when the Jewish-Israeli man realized that he was speaking to an Arab, he disconnected the call.

Widespread ire after Israeli soccer fans burn Qur’an, insult Prophet
NAZARETH (PIC) 19 Dec – A state of extreme indignation and anger has prevailed among the Palestinians all over the 1948 occupied lands after fans of the Israeli soccer team Beitar Jerusalem burned a copy of the holy Qur’an book and insulted Prophet Muhammad during a Wednesday match. The incident took place at the end of a match between the soccer teams Beitar Jerusalem and Bnei Sakhnin at the Doha stadium in the city of Sakhnin. The Israeli fans also vandalized the interior of an Arab-owned bus they were aboard on their way back to their homes.

Photos of the week: The long walk to freedom
Activestills 19 Dec — This last week, nearly 200 Sudanese asylum seekers refused to check in to their nightly roll call at the Holot ‘open’ prison in Israel’ south, choosing instead to march to Jerusalem in protest of their imprisonment without trial and the state’s failure to respond to their asylum claims. After spending a night sleeping on the floor of the Be’er Sheva central bus station and another night on a kibbutz, they completed their march to the Knesset where they were met by Israeli immigration officers who arrested them forced them back onto buses.

PHOTOS: Second ‘march for freedom’
Activestills 20 Dec — For the second time this week, 130 asylum seekers leave the Holot ‘open’ prison facility in southern Israel to march through the desert in protest of their detention and the arrest of their comrades in the previous march. This time around, immigration officers stopped the march shortly after it began.

Turning Israel into a ‘state of all its infiltrators’
972blog 20 Dec by Eitan Bronstein Aparicio — The past two Israeli governments successfully turned the issue of African asylum seekers into a threat posed by infiltrators, who were subsequently criminalized. A short examination of the country’s history with infiltrators, however, can give us some important insights … The first illegal infiltrators were the ma’apilim – the illegal immigrants who had to evade the British Mandate police trying to prevent illegal immigration. It’s worth noting that those infiltrators were welcomed with open arms by the pre-state Jewish community.  Read +972′s full coverage of refugees in Israel

Analysis / Opinion / Interviews

Interview with Hashem Azzeh: ‘They want me to move but I will never give up, we are still fighting until we get our freedom’
ISM 18 Dec — Hashem Younes Azzeh is a 50-year-old resident of Tel Rumeida, he is married with 4 children and is a graduate of Hebron and Jordan Universities Can you tell us about the situation in Hebron in general and why it is unique in the West Bank? The city of Hebron is divided into two parts. One part is called H1, it is under the Palestinian Authority control and H2, which is under the Israeli military control. And here in my house we are in Tel Rumeida. Tel Rumeida and Shuhada Street  are under Israeli control. This was agreed on in the Hebron agreement 1997.  The other unique thing about Hebron are the settlements [Hebron is the only place in the West Bank where settlements have been created within the city]. There are four settlements around the area where we are here. One of them is right next to my house (Tel Rumeida). There are only two or three meters between me and the settlers … How is the daily life of Palestinians who live in H2? The situation in Hebron is extremely tense, especially in Tel Rumeida. There are no shops open and no public transportation. We don’t have any clinics here and no ambulances can reach us. If someone needs to go to the hospital, we have to carry the patients by hand through the checkpoint and the ambulance will wait for us behind it. There is no way for them to come to the patients directly in H2. The Palestinians who live here, have to go to H1 to buy their goods. In order to get there, they have to pass the checkpoint at Shuhada Street, which is called checkpoint 56. The soldiers check every bag that we carry.

John Kerry’s framework proposal sets the stage for the ‘Gazafication’ of the West Bank / Jonathan Cook
Mondoweiss 19 Dec — …In recent days PA spokesmen have accused Kerry of “appeasement” and of failing to be “a neutral mediator”. The criticism looks more than justified. Under cover of a vision for peace, the US secretary of state is offering an Israeli security plan at the expense of meaningful Palestinian statehood.That is not entirely surprising given that the plan was drafted by John Allen, a general formerly in command of US forces in Afghanistan, who has spent months quietly liaising with Israeli counterparts. The main sticking point is the Jordan Valley, an area that was expected to comprise nearly a quarter of a future Palestinian state. Allen has indulged an Israeli demand that it be allowed to continue a long-term “military presence” in the Jordan Valley, of at least 10 years. Not only this but, according to a memo sent by Abbas to Obama, which the Haaretz newspaper revealed this week, the US plan would condition an eventual Israeli withdrawal on the Palestinians meeting a “test of implementation.” Abbas rightfully believes that this would give Israel an effective veto on ever leaving the Jordan Valley. That is a big retreat from Washington’s earlier commitment, made at the Annapolis talks of 2007, that no Israeli soldiers would be stationed in the West Bank following an agreement. Security guarantees were to be provided instead by Nato troops, under US command. The new proposal should be a deal-breaker. The valley is a vital resource for the Palestinians, one they have been effectively stripped of for decades by Israel’s exaggerated “security needs”. The Jordan Valley offers the only land border in the West Bank that would be potentially under Palestinian control. It is one of the few remaining undeveloped areas, making it a possible site to which hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees could return. And its lands are fertile and warm all year round, making it highly productive and a likely engine for the Palestinian economy. According to Allen’s plan, Israel’s security also requires that Palestinian security forces be only lightly armed, that Israel has control over the airspace and all borders, and that the US install spying technology – euphemistically called “early warning systems” – throughout the West Bank. In other words, the US vision of a Palestinian state looks remarkably like the model Israel has already implemented in Gaza.

Lessons in desert blooming / Jimmy Johnson
Mondoweiss 20 Dec — …Palestinian Member of Knesset (MK) Hana Sweid lifted his voice against the Prawer Plan during a 9 December Knesset Interior Committee meeting. In response to Israel’s planned removal of up to forty-thousand Bedouin from their Naqab lands he protested that, “You want to transfer an entire population.” Likud MK and former IDFA spokesperson Miri Regev responded, “Yes, as the Americans did to the Indians.” … Regev’s historical analogy is one of countless examples of Israelis invoking U.S. settler colonialism towards Zionism’s own efforts. Israel’s founding prime minister David Ben Gurion identified deeply with the U.S. settler colony. He wrote, “We who want to build a new country, amidst desert and desolation, should see how the expelled and persecuted Sons of England established a rich and powerful state, first in the world for its resources and creative powers.” A more recent example is inspired by Las Vegas. Casino City Times reports that “Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval held discussions with Israel’s political leaders about introducing gaming to the Jewish state. […] David Siegel, the Los Angeles-based consul general, said Sandoval brought up gaming when he met with Israel’s leaders.” While nothing specific is yet planned, “Siegel said [Mitzpe Ramon] in the heart of the Negev Desert could be a potential casino site.” Siegel pointed to the U.S. colonization of Paiute lands as a lesson for Israel noting that “We can benefit from [Las Vegas’] expertise. Gaming could add to our tourism.” Moreover, “Israel could use Nevada’s knowledge of how to ‘build cities in the desert’.” The article concludes with Siegel noting, “It’s amazing how similar we are. We have a natural relationship.” The American mythology of building Las Vegas in an empty desert is alive and well. The Las Vegas city website calls the indigenous Paiute population mere “explorers” of the area … Studying Las Vegas as an exemplar for Mitzpe Ramon’s possible trajectory shows an often ignored connection in the U.S.–Israeli relationship: settler societies recognize each other. It is not coincidence that the U.S., Canada and Australia – as more powerful settler societies – are arguably the three most ardent supporters of Israel today as were their fellow white settler colonies South Africa and Rhodesia yesterday. (listserv) (archive)

About Kate

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

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2 Responses

  1. StanleyHeller
    December 22, 2013, 11:43 am

    Urge you all to write letters and op-eds to your local papers about Gaza.

    The New Haven Register published a piece by me this morning.

    Links to email addresses of many newspapers here:

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