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First Land Day, in ’76, marked a turning point in Palestinian struggle

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Land Day, 1978. (Photo: Gidon Gitai)

Land Day, 1978. (Photo: Gidon Gitai)

Land Day

What is Palestine’s Land Day?
Electronic Intifada 30 Mar by Ali Abunimah —  On this day in 1976, thousands of Palestinians marched in towns and villages across the Galilee region, in the north of present-day Israel, to protest Israel’s expropriation of vast tracts of land as part of its openly declared policy to “Judaize” the area at the expense of the indigenous population. No Zionism without ‘evacuation’ and ‘confiscation’  “Following the Zionist tenets, Israel has systematically and callously followed an intricate and continuous process of Arab land expropriation through the promulgation of new laws, the circumvention of existing laws, harassment and duplicity. Recognizing the naked truth, Y. Ben-Porat, a known ‘hawk’ wrote ‘One truth is that there is no Zionism, no settlement, no Jewish state without evacuation of the Arabs and confiscation and enclosure of their land,’” anthropologist Khalil Nakhleh wrote in The Journal of Palestine Studies in 1976. Frustration and anger at Israel’s land theft from, and discrimination against, Palestinian citizens of Israel had been mounting for years. Nakhleh adds: “To protest against the essence of this process and orders for new expropriations, the Arab population declared a general strike for 30 March 1976. In an effort to preempt the strike, army and border police, including armored units, were dispatched to the most affected Arab villages. Violent confrontations ensued, and left behind six Arabs killed, tens wounded and hundreds arrested. March 30 was commemorated as Yawm al-Ard or the Day of the Land.” … The Day of the Land — or Land Day — marked a turning point as the first mass mobilization by Palestinians within Israel against internal colonialism and land theft. Its commemoration is a reaffirmation that the Palestinians who remained in the areas on which Israel was declared in 1948 are an inseparable part of the Palestinian people and their struggle.

An Israeli policeman’s account of Land Day, 1976
972blog 30 Mar — On March 30, 1976, Israeli police repressed protests by Palestinian citizens of Israel against the confiscation of Arab land in the Galilee for use by Jewish citizens. Six protesters were killed, some 100 wounded and hundreds were arrested. Ever since, Palestinians in Israel, the Occupied Territories and the Diaspora mark Land Day on March 30. ‘Ha’olam Hazeh,’ a magazine published by Uri Avnery, was the only Israeli media outlet to challenge the state’s narrative of the events at the time. The following, a testimony from an Israeli police officer who was present that day, is short item ‘Ha’olam Hazeh’ published following the Land Day events.

Why Land Day still matters
972blog 30 Mar by Sam Bahour & Fida Jiryis — Today, with no resolution in sight to the historic injustices inflicted upon them, Palestinians in Israel and elsewhere use this day to remember and redouble their efforts for emancipation — Every year since 1976, on March 30, Palestinians around the world have commemorated Land Day. Though it may sound like an environmental celebration, Land Day marks a bloody day in Israel when security forces gunned down six Palestinians as they protested Israeli expropriation of Arab-owned land in the country’s north to build Jewish-only settlements. The Land Day victims were not Palestinians from the occupied territory but citizens of the state, a group that now numbers over 1.6 million people, or more than 20.5 percent of the population. They are inferior citizens in a state that defines itself as Jewish and democratic, but in reality is neither. On that dreadful day 38 years ago, in response to Israel’s announcement of a plan to expropriate thousands of acres of Palestinian land for “security and settlement purposes,” a general strike and marches were organized in Palestinian towns within Israel, from the Galilee to the Negev. The night before, in a last-ditch attempt to block the planned protests, the government imposed a curfew on the Palestinian villages of Sakhnin, Arraba, Deir Hanna, Tur’an, Tamra and Kabul, in the Western Galilee. The curfew failed; citizens took to the streets. Palestinian communities in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as those in the refugee communities across the Middle East, joined in solidarity demonstrations. In the ensuing confrontations with the Israeli army and police, six Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed, about 100 wounded and hundreds arrested … Thirty-eight years later, the situation is as dire as ever. Racism and discrimination, in their rawest forms, are rampant in Israel, and are often more insidious than physical violence. Legislation aimed at ethnically cleansing Palestinians from Israel is part of public discourse. Israeli ministers do not shy away from promoting “population transfers” of Palestinian citizens − code for forced displacement.

Amnesty warns Israel against ‘violent crackdown’ on Land Day
Electronic Intifada 30 Mar by Ali Abunimah — Amnesty International has warned Israel against a “violent crackdown” on protests in present-day Israel, the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip this weekend as Palestinians mark Land Day. Despite the warning, Israeli occupation forces and settlers have continued violent attacks on Palestinians in several locations. Every 30 March, Palestinians commemorate the 1976 killing by Israeli police of six Palestinian citizens who were taking part in mass marches against land expropriation and state-sponsored discrimination in the Galilee. “Amid news of plans for forced evictions of Bedouin in the Negev/Naqab, demolitions of Palestinian homes in the West Bank and the often lethal enforcement of a no-go zone in Gaza, ‘Land Day’ demonstrations will protest ongoing policies as well as commemorate historical events. Israeli forces must not resort to unnecessary or excessive force as they so often have done in the past,” Philip Luther, director of Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa program, said in a media release.

Thousands take part in ‘Land Day’ protests
Ynet 30 Mar by Hassan Shaalan —  Thousands of demonstrators are taking part in two rallies marking ‘Land Day’, held in the village of ‘Arraba in the Galilee and in the town of Shaqib al-Salam in the Negev. The protesters are calling on the government of Israel to release the fourth batch of Palestinian prisoners. Schools, businesses, public institutions, and medical centers in the Arab sector are conducting a general strike Sunday in solidarity with the protests.,7340,L-4504880,00.html

38 years on, Israel still doesn’t understand Arab protests over land seizures
Haaretz 30 Mar by Jack Khoury — Since the first Land Day, Israeli Arabs have been losing their trust in Israel’s Jewish populace — Israel’s Palestinian Arab community on Sunday observes Land Day, an annual event commemorating protests that broke out on March 30, 1976 against government land seizures in which six Arabs were killed by Israeli security forces. That first Land Day began with a general strike in Israel’s Arab communities, in the wake of a cabinet resolution approving the expropriation of 20,000 dunams (some 5,000 acres) in an area known as Area 9 or the Sakhnin valley, as part of the government’s goal of increasing the Jewish population in the Galilee. In the intervening 38 years, two events stand out in shaping the often rocky relations between the state and its Arab citizens. The first was the second Rabin government and the Oslo peace process, when for the first time Arabs in Israel were seen as genuine partners and a number of Galilee Bedouin communities received official recognition. The second watershed moment was the events of October 2000, which precipitated the complete collapse of Israeli Arab trust in the establishment … Specific proposals, such as the so-called Prawer plan for relocating tens of thousands of Negev Bedouin from unrecognized villages to recognized communities and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s population exchange proposal, send Israeli Arabs a clear message that the state wants as few of them as possible within the state’s borders, and in the smallest area possible.

Jerusalem police battle protesters, injure newsmen
Jerusalem (AFP) 29 Mar – Israeli police used force on Saturday to break up a Palestinian protest march in occupied east Jerusalem, injuring several people including two journalists, news photographers said. Several demonstrators and four journalists — among them a photographer from Agence France-Presse and another from Reuters — were slightly injured by projectiles fired by police during the incident, near the walled Old City’s Damascus Gate. The AFP photographer, who was hit on the head, was treated in a local hospital and discharged. The demonstration, by a few dozen activists, was to mark the eve of Land Day when Arab Israelis and Palestinians in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem, the West Bankm and Gaza hold protest rallies. It commemorates the day in 1976 when six Arab Israeli protesters were killed by Israeli security forces during mass protests against plans to confiscate Arab land in the northern Galilee region. “The demonstrators began to throw stones at police on the scene,” police spokeswoman Luba Samri told AFP, adding that officers responded with unspecified “riot dispersal means”. She said six people were arrested for public disorder offences but said she had no report of any casualties. The Foreign Press Association, which represents the international news media in Israel, has repeatedly complained to Israeli authorities over a string of violent incidents involving security forces and journalists.

Israeli forces ‘target journalist’ in Land Day protest near Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 29 Mar — Israeli forces hit a journalist with a tear gas canister during clashes in the Jerusalem governorate as Palestinians marked Land Day, a local popular committee spokesman said. Hani Halabiyya told Ma‘an that Palestinian journalist Rami Illariyya, who works for al-Quds newspaper, was targeted by Israeli troops and hit with a high-velocity tear gas canister in al-Eizariya. Dozens of youths were hurt by tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets during clashes with Israeli forces in al-Eizariya and nearby Abu Dis, Halabiyya said. He added that Israeli forces arrested 18-year-old Ahmad Khalid Warrad during the clashes, which lasted for over three hours.

Woman injured, man arrested in Jerusalem Land Day protest
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — Israeli police lightly injured a woman and arrested a man during clashes that broke out in Jerusalem on Sunday, a Ma‘an reporter said. Following a demonstration marking Land Day, Israeli police officers prevented demonstrators from entering Damascus Gate using batons and pepper spray. The pepper spray burned a woman’s face, and she was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. Police also arrested a man and took him to Salah al-Din police station.  Meanwhile, dozens of Palestinians from Jerusalem were planting trees in nearby al-Tur, when Israeli police dispersed the gathering, threatening arrest.

Israeli forces disperse Land Day demo in Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 28 Mar — Israeli forces on Friday dispersed a protest commemorating Land Day in the Nablus village of Burin, a PA official said. Ghassan Daghlas told Ma‘an that villagers had aimed to plant olives trees in Burin following the demonstration, but Israeli forces fired stun grenades and tear gas at the crowds. A number of activists suffered tear gas inhalation.

Palestinian expatriates mark Land Day in Vienna
VIENNA (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — The Palestinian community and the union of Palestinian students in Austria on Sunday marked 38th anniversary of Land Day in the Austrian capital Vienna. The commemoration was attended by Palestinian ambassador to Austria Salah Abdul-Shafi, Bassam Zakarna, a member of Fatah Revolutionary Council, Mazin Ramahi, the speaker of the Palestinian community in Austria as well as several other dignitaries from Palestine and other Arab countries. Speakers who addressed the audience talked about the history of Land Day highlighting that the Israeli occupation continued to confiscate Palestinian land both in towns and cities occupied in 1948 and in the West Bank. Palestinian folklore band Asayil performed the traditional dance Dabka during the festival.

Factions unite on Land Day
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 Mar – Hundreds of Palestinians joined on Sunday a rally in the northern Gaza Strip to mark the 38th anniversary of Land Day. Representatives of all factions including rival parties Hamas and Fatah joined the rally in scene that embodied unity of Palestinian land despite factional disputes.  Photos of President Mahmoud Abbas were raised during the rally as well as slogans showing the importance of land to the Palestinian people. “The land isn’t for sale,” a poster read. Fatah leader in Gaza Abu Judah al-Nahhal said in a short speech during that “Land Day in Palestine reiterates unity of the question of Palestine and consensus over all Palestinian invariables.” He added that “those who see this scene can see that Gaza doesn’t suffer from any disagreement.” ….

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid / Discrimination

Resource: Israel’s persistent policy of land discrimination
972 Resources 30 Mar — To commemorate the 38th “Land Day”, marked on 30 March 2014, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, decided to research the policy of ‘state land’ allocation. This data revealed that the ILA and the Ministry of Construction and Housing persist in their discriminatory policies against Arab-Palestinian citizens in Israel in various fields of development. The ILA and the Ministry also continue to place Palestinian land on the market for mass housing construction in the illegal settlements in the 1967 occupied territories, and sell property belonging to Palestinian refugees, thereby further obstructing the likelihood for their right of return … In a letter sent to the Israel Land Authority in 2009, Adalah revealed that Israel continues to sell hundreds of properties belonging to Palestinian refugees and demanded that this practice be halted immediately. It must be noted that Israel refuses to provide information on the scope of Palestinian assets classified as absentee property.

Survey: 42% of employers prefer not to hire Arab men
Haaretz 31 Mar by Hila Weissberg — Some 42% of all employers say they preferred not to hire Arab men, making them the group most likely to face job discrimination of five population categories covered in a survey released by the Economy Ministry on Sunday. The poll, which was conducted by the ministry’s Equal Employment Opportunities Commission and surveyed 500 people, found that 37% of all employers preferred not to hire Haredi men and that 22% felt the same about educated Arab women. Smaller minorities of employers preferred not to offer work to mothers of young (13%) or Ethiopian men (9%). “The survey raises difficult questions about how the public feels generally and employers in particular about workers from differing populations even though half those survey were women themselves,” said Tzionia King-Yair, the equal employment commissioner. In general, employees surveyed were less likely to express a preference for not working alongside various groups. Only 30% said they would prefer not to work with a Haredi male, 9% said they would rather not work with a young mother and 8% with an Ethiopian man. But in some cases employees were more likely than employers to prefer not working with certain populations. Among surveyed employees, 46% said they would prefer not to work with an Arab man and 28% expressed the same view towards Arab women.

Settlers uproot olive saplings near Bethlehem
IMEMC/Agencies 30 Mar — [Saturday evening, March 29, 2014] A number of Israeli settlers invaded a Palestinian olive orchard in Husan town, west of Bethlehem, and uprooted dozens of saplings. Resident Mohammad Sabateen told the WAFA News Agency that, as he went to his orchard in Wadi Abu al-Hasan area, east of Husan, he found out that the settlers uprooted at least fifty olive saplings. The orchard is located near the illegitimate Boaz settlement outpost, installed on private Palestinian property.  Sabateen added that, in February of this year, fanatic settlers invaded his orchard, and uprooted more than 60 olive saplings.

for a change…
Palestinians, Israeli settlers fight security barrier in nature area
GUSH ETZION, THE WEST BANK (NBC News) 30 Mar by Yardena Schwartz —  One evening in late January, a group of settlers here gathered on Tu Bishvat, a Jewish holiday marking “the new year of the trees,” the start of a new harvesting cycle. Many Israelis celebrate ecological awareness on this day, planting trees and eating biblical fruits, such as pomegranates, dates and olives. But this group didn’t gather to eat fruit. They were holding a conference to discuss their opposition to the Israeli government’s plan to build a 20-foot-high security barrier in Gush Etzion. Their main qualms were that the fence would cut through the land of their Palestinian neighbors in Wadi Fukin, Battir and Husan. Their guest was Ziad Sabatin, a Palestinian man who was born and raised in Husan, and whose family has cultivated the land for generations. “This security fence would separate us from our land and from our farming,” Sabatin told the audience in Hebrew. “It would be like separating a baby from his mother.”A Jewish speaker at the event talked about the importance of preserving the natural beauty and ancient history of the area. He showed pictures of the Roman-era terraces and natural springs that are used for agriculture in Battir, a proposed UNESCO World Heritage Site located just a few miles from Bethlehem and Jerusalem … Tropper works at the Kfar Etzion Field School, one of the only Jewish groups to join Palestinian residents in petitioning Israel’s High Court of Justice to prevent construction of the barrier. While some Israeli entities have suggested alternative routes, Tropper and his group would prefer that the fence not be built at all … Although they are neighbors, settlers and Palestinians are typically only seen together in their common role as bargaining chips on the negotiating table, rivals in a fruitless game of war, peace talks, war and more peace talks.Yet this small group of settlers and Palestinians have put aside their stereotypical roles, and come together for an unlikely collaboration against the Israeli government.

Violence / Raids / Clashes / Illegal arrests [See also Hass and Levy articles at the end of this newslist]

Palestinian injured by settler fire near Nablus
IMEMC/Agencies — [Monday morning, Mar 31] Palestinian medical sources said a young Palestinian man was shot and injured by an Israeli settler, south of Nablus, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank. A young man was also injured after being attacked by settlers in occupied Jerusalem. The sources stated that Nidal Yousef Shihada, 25, from Orif town, southwest of Nablus, was shot by a live round in his leg, and was moved to a local hospital. The incident took place at the Jeet Junction; the wounded young man was moved to the Rafidia Hospital in Nablus. [Ma‘an: he was changing a flat tire on his car near the village of Jit when a settler opened fire at him with a sub-machine gun.]
On Sunday at night, resident Ghaleb Edrees, 24, was injured after being violently attacked by a group of settlers in the al-Qarmy neighborhood, in the Old City of occupied Jerusalem.  Eyewitnesses said the settlers sprayed Edrees’s face with pepper spray, and assaulted him. He was moved to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem suffering moderate injuries, especially in the face, chest and legs. Resident Jawad Edrees said the attack took place after a group of settlers invaded the neighborhood and attacked Edrees and his friend.

Not often a winning strategy, though…
When Israeli settlers attack and steal, Palestinians now have a strategy
PRI’s The World 28 Mar by Daniel Estrin — Listen: A few weeks ago, in a West Bank olive grove, someone tried to steal a mule… The incident may seem way too trivial to even bother mentioning. It didn’t make headlines when it happened. But in the West Bank, an event like this quickly becomes a very high stakes game. And that offers a glimpse of life against the backdrop of one of the world’s most intractable conflicts … Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors Israeli settler activity in the West Bank, said he got a call around 11am that a farmer near Lubban had caught a settler trying to steal his mule. “The settler was in a car, driving,” Daghlas said. “He saw a mule tied up to a tree. He thought he would steal the mule. He could get on the mule and ride it [back to his settlement up the road.]” But the Palestinian farmer caught the settler, put him in a car, and telephoned his village council. Soon, a whole group of villagers were surrounding the farmer’s car with the settler inside. When Daghlas arrived, he called Palestinian liaison officials, who called their Israeli army counterparts, who soon arrived. One villager used his cell phone to film as the farmer told the soldiers what happened. The trespassing settler, the farmer said, was named Zohar and was approximately 20 years old. “I told him, ‘Zohar, I want to put you in my car, you are like my son, do not be afraid,’” the farmer said on the video. The Israeli soldiers escorted the settler out, unscathed. End of story. The same thing happened a few months ago close to the nearby village of Qusra. A group of settlers in their late teens and 20s were seen attacking Palestinian farmers in broad daylight.

Israeli forces escort settlers as they stone Hebron homes
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 30 May — Dozens of Israeli settlers late Saturday attacked Palestinian homes in Hebron, and Israeli troops responded to complaints by detaining Palestinians, locals said. Witnesses told Ma‘an settlers from the illegal Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba hurled rocks at Palestinian homes in the al-Jaabari and al-Raas neighborhoods of Hebron. Resident Bassam al-Jaabari said Israeli troops escorted the settlers, who in addition to throwing stones, swore at Palestinians in the neighborhoods. Al-Jaabari said two of his family members approached the soldiers to complain, but that instead of offering assistance, the soldiers detained the two Palestinians.

Israeli military to investigate border killing of Jordanian judge
Haaretz 30 Mar by Gili Cohen — The military adjutant general announced on Sunday that he had ordered the opening of a Military Police investigation to determine the circumstances leading to the death of Jordanian judge Raed Zueter at the Allenby Bridge crossing three weeks ago. The MAG’s office also announced it had ordered Military Police investigations into two other deaths: of Saji Darwish, 18, near Beit El; and of Yosef Abu Akar, 14, who was killed by IDF fire in the southern Hebron Hills. The opening of the investigations is part of the MAG’s policy since 2011 of investigating every case involving the death of a Palestinian in the West Bank related to IDF actions, if the death was not caused by “substantive combat operations.” … At the same time, the IDF is continuing its own investigation in cooperation with the Defense Ministry. This inquiry, headed by Brig. Gen. Moti Baruch, commander of the 162nd Armored Division, has yet to be concluded, said IDF sources.

Son of Jordan judge shot dead at Karama crossing dies
AMMAN, Jordan (Ma‘an) 30 Mar – The son of a Jordanian Palestinian judge who was shot by Israeli troops at the Allenby Bridge crossing earlier in March died Saturday evening in Amman. Family members told Jordan’s daily al-Ghad newspaper that 6-year-old Alaa Raed Zieter died of a chronic disease. His doctor refused to give details. The boy’s body was laid to rest Saturday in a cemetery in Tabarbour neighborhood in the Jordanian capital. His father, Raed Alaa Addin Zieter, was shot dead by an Israeli soldier at crossing on March 10. Zieter was a judge at a magistrate court in Amman and was on his way to a visit to his town of origin, Nablus. The Jordanian government demanded that Israel provide it with a full report detailing the incident, and to open an investigation and inform Jordan of its results.

Army invades Hebron, nearby towns
IMEMC/Agencies 29 Mar by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers invaded on Saturday (?Friday) [March 28, 2014] several neighborhoods in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, as well as the nearby towns of Bani Ne‘im and ath-Thaheriyya, handing out interrogation orders to a number of citizens. Local sources in Hebron city said that dozens of soldiers invaded several neighborhoods, and installed roadblocks in the city, especially at the northern entrance, in the Jouret Bahlass area. Several roadblocks were also installed at the entrance of Hahoul town, Beit Ummar, al-‘Aroub refugee camp, Sa‘ir town, and the al-Fawwar refugee camp. The soldiers stopped and searched dozens of cars and inspected the ID cards of the passengers.  The army also invaded Bani Ne‘im and ath-Thaheriyya, violently breaking into and searching dozens of homes, ransacking their property, and serving several residents with warrants ordering them to head to the Etzion military and security base for interrogation.  On Friday evening, soldiers kidnapped four Palestinians after they allegedly infiltrated an Israeli settlement in the central West Bank. According to the Israeli Walla News Agency, the army kidnapped four unarmed Palestinians after infiltrating the Neveh Telmon illegal settlement, in the “Benjamin area” of the occupied West Bank. The army said that the four were moved to an interrogation facility.

Israeli forces detain several Palestinians in overnight raids
JENIN (Ma’an) 30 Mar — Israeli forces detained several Palestinians in overnight arrest raids across the West Bank, locals and a military spokesman said Sunday. Locals told Ma‘an Israeli troops stormed a village in the Jenin district in the northern West Bank and detained three Palestinian men, one of whom is an officer in the Palestinian Authority security forces. Israeli forces ransacked several homes in the village of Jaba‘a and detained 18-year-old Muhammad Yasir Khalayla, 20-year-old Aws Muhammad Hamarnah, and 23-year-old Yaqub Mahmoud Alawnah, an officer for the PA security forces. Meanwhile, in the village of al-Fureidis east of Bethlehem, Israeli forces detained 27-year-old Ayman Said Salahat. Additionally, in al-Issawiya east of Jerusalem, Israeli forces ransacked several homes, causing damage, a local popular committee spokesman said. Muhammad Abu al-Hummus said three Palestinians were detained — Wahib Ubeid, Muhammad Ubeid, and Mufeed Ubeid. Clashes broke out between youths and Israeli forces during the raid.

Israeli forces arrest eight in West Bank
JENIN (WAFA) 30 Mar – The Israeli forces Sunday arrested eight people in different areas of the West Bank, according to local and security sources … A 22-year-old was also arrested near Al-Jalamah crossing point to the north of Jenin. Forces also broke into the nearby town of Qabatiya but no arrests were reported. Meanwhile in Hebron, forces stormed Hebron old city and arrested three local residents, including a father, 56, and his son, 35, after raiding their house. Army forces further stormed several towns in Hebron district but no further arrests were reported. In Bethlehem, forces arrested a 28-year-old after raiding and searching his house in the area of Handaza to the east.

PA intelligence elements kidnap 3 wounded Palestinians from hospital
JENIN (PIC) 29 Mar — Elements of the Palestinian Authority’s general intelligence apparatus kidnapped before midnight Friday three wounded Palestinians from their hospital beds in Jenin. Eyewitnesses told the PIC reporter that dozens of intelligence agents broke into the Martyr Khalil Suleiman government hospital in Jenin city and took away three wounded Palestinians despite objections by the medical staff. They said that one of them, Yehya Bassam Al-Saadi, had undergone a surgery on Thursday, adding that all three were among those wounded in the Israeli storming of the Jenin refugee camp last Saturday that resulted in killing four young men and the injury of more than 15 others.
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PA security forces raid mosque, arrest more than 100  Hizb Al-Tahrir supporters
BIREH (PIC) 30 Mar — The Palestinian Authority security forces violently raided a meeting held on Saturday evening by Hizb Al-Tahrir (Liberation Party) inside Jamal Abdul-Naser Mosque in Bireh city near Ramallah and physically assaulted a number of attendees, including journalists. Local sources told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that PA security men encircled the Mosque, which is also known as the Grand Mosque of Al-Bireh, as some other plain-clothes elements stormed it and arrested many members of Hizb Al-Tahrir. Hizb Al-Tahrir accused the PA security forces of arresting more than 100 people of its supporters and members during their attendance of a weekly meeting.
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War crimes

Israel’s Supreme Court will hear evidence that officials committed war crimes in Lebanon and Gaza
Sabbah Report 30 Mar by Jonathan Cook — For the first time Israel’s Supreme Court is set to consider evidence on April 2 that senior Israeli political and military officials committed war crimes in relation to major military operations in Gaza and Lebanon. Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the current justice minister, are among the high-level figures accused of breaking the laws of war when they launched attacks on Lebanon in 2006, and on Gaza in the winter of 2008-09. The allegations have been levelled by Marwan Dalal, the only Israeli lawyer to have served as a senior prosecutor in one of the international criminal courts at The Hague in the Netherlands. Dalal, who spent three years as a prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, belongs to Israel’s Palestinian minority, which comprises a fifth of the country’s population. He said he had based his petition to the court on “strong factual and legal findings” from public sources, including the reports of Israeli official inquiries. His evidence includes statements from senior Israeli officials in which they appear to implicate themselves in actions – including killing, collective punishment and attacks on civilian infrastructure – not justified by military necessity. Such acts are breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention as well as Israeli law.

Gaza under double blockade

7 children injured in explosion in Rafah
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — Seven children were injured by an unidentified explosion in Rafah in southern Gaza on Sunday, a medical official said. Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma‘an that seven children were injured in the explosion, which was suspected to have resulted from old Israeli ordnance in al-Saudi camp in the Tal al-Sultan area in Rafah. Six of the Injured were identified as Ahmad Imad Abu Muhsen, Mohammad Imad Abu Muhsen, Ameen Imad Abu Muhsen, Mahmoud Wael al-Nerab, Momen Wael al-Nerab, and Rajab Mohammad al-Maghaari. They were taken to Abu Yusef al-Najjar Hospital with moderate and serious injuries.

Egypt opens Rafah crossing for 3-day period
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an/AFP) 29 Mar — After being closed for several weeks straight with few exceptions, the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip will open on Saturday for special cases, Palestinian sources told Ma‘an. Egypt will allow medical patients, students, and foreign nationals to travel through the Rafah crossing in both directions starting Saturday and until Monday, Palestinians working at the Egypt-Gaza border said. More than 6,000 Palestinians have submitted travel applications since the terminal shut shut down in February, Gaza government officials told Ma‘an. The officials said the applications would be processed in the order they were received.

Egypt allows Malaysia delegation into Gaza – UPDATED
World Bulletin/News Desk 30 Mar — Egyptian authorities authorized on Sunday the passage of a Malaysian delegation into the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing after initially refusing to allow their access into the Palestinian enclave, the organizer of the visit said. “The delegation is composed of six Malaysian journalists who will be staying in the Gaza Strip for two weeks to write news reports on the suffering of Gaza’s residents,” Omar Siam, head of the Aman Malaysia organization which organized the visit, told reporters at the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing. Alaa al-Batta, Gaza’s Foreign Ministry Undersecretary, pointed out that this is the 15th foreign delegation to visit Gaza through Egypt since last July. “The closure of the Rafah border reduced the influx of solidarity convoys to Gaza by 95 percent,” he told Anadolu Agency. The delegation had failed to enter the strip through the crossing for four past times, the Governmental Committee for Receiving Delegates, an affiliate of the Foreign Ministry of Gaza, said in a statement earlier in the day. It noted the members of the delegation had spent eight days in Egypt in hopes to enter the Gaza Strip. Egypt reopened the Rafah crossing on Saturday after 49 days of closure to allow the passage of medical patients. The crossing would be open until Monday.

Haneyya pledges to rebuild destroyed house in Rafah
RAFAH (PIC) 30 Mar — Gaza premier Ismail Haneyya has pledged to rebuild a house for a Palestinian family in Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip, that was destroyed in a fire that also killed two children. Two toddlers of the Sheikh Eid family were killed and other family members suffered various burns as a result of the fire caused by a candle, which is widely used in the repeated absence of power in the besieged enclave. Haneyya’s pledge was voiced during his visit to the family afternoon Saturday to offer condolences.
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PPP: Hamas plans to impose new penal code on Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 Mar — The Palestinian People’s Party said in a statement Saturday that it opposes Hamas’ attempts to change the penal code in the Gaza Strip. The Hamas movement that governs Gaza is attempting to impose a new penal code on the Strip, one that is inconsistent with the basic Palestinian law that has been applicable in the West Bank and Gaza since 1936, the PPP statement said. Citing comments from the secretary of the Palestinian Legislative Council in Gaza and the chief of the council’s legal committee, the PPP said that Hamas-affiliated lawyers were preparing to replace the 1936 penal code with a new one. “Hamas and its parliamentarian bloc do not have the right to pass such a law in the name of the Palestinian parliament,” the PPP statement said, adding that changing the penal code in Gaza would further divide Fatah and Hamas. A legal adviser from the Palestinian human rights organization al-Haq said that the new penal code in Gaza would include regulations from Shariah law.

Gaza flotilla victims slam Israel deal
MWC 30 Mar by Agencies — Israel is expected to sign a compensation deal with Turkey soon over the Mavi Marmara raid in 2010, in which Israeli troops killed nine activists, including eight Turkish nationals and one US citizen, who were part of a mission to deliver humanitarian aid from Turkey to the Palestinian territory of Gaza by ship in an attempt to break a longstanding and crippling Israeli blockade. The anticipated agreement aims to ease a diplomatic crisis between the two countries over the deadly raid on the “Gaza Freedom Flotilla”, which also resulted in the injuries of scores of other activists. Bulent Arinc, Turkey’s deputy prime minister, said in a statement that the final text of the deal had come one month earlier from Israel, but that financial compensation would be determined following Turkey’s upcoming elections with a legal document, and would then be sent to the Turkish Parliament for consent. However, the families of victims of the raid have refused to withdraw their court cases, which were launched in Turkey over Israel’s raid, even if an agreement is reached and said that their cases should not be included in the context of the compensation deal. They have also continued to demand that Israel lift the blockade on Gaza. Ismail Bilgen, the son of Ibrahim Bilgen, one of those who had lost his life in the raid, told Al Jazeera that the Israeli perpetrators must be held accountable for the attacks, which Tel Aviv claimed were made in defence against armed activists.

Videos: Gaza in Crisis
An eyewitness report by Eva Bartlett, Imperial Hotel, Galway 28-3-2014. Here given in three parts. [Great speaker, presents Gaza’s case better than almost anyone. Warning:  She shows extremely graphic photos and videos of Israeli crimes in Gaza]

Video: In Conversation: Pro-Palestinian activists Eva Bartlett and Margaretta D’Arcy
Published on Mar 29, 2014

Peace talks, other news

Palestinian official hopes for quick resolution to prisoner release delays
AFP/Al-Akhbar 29 Mar — A senior Palestinian official said a release by Israel of Palestinian prisoners would not go ahead on Saturday as envisaged but he hoped there would only be a short delay. “Today the prisoners will not be released… maybe in the coming days,” Issa Qaraqe, the minister of prisoner affairs, told AFP. “There are efforts to solve the crisis and I believe that in 24 hours everything will be clearer.” … There has been no official Israeli update on the last batch of prisoners. The Palestinians want it to include Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, a demand hotly opposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right coalition partners and by hardliners within his own Likud party … A poll published Saturday by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion said 87 percent of those surveyed believed the Palestinian leadership should renew its UN efforts if the prisoners are not freed. The prisoner release “is a prerequisite for any future progress of the negotiations,” the center said, as the overwhelming majority of Palestinians consider it to be “the most crucial issue that must be treated in order to continue with the peace process.”… Israeli media say Netanyahu could give a green light to the prisoner release if the US frees Jonathan Pollard, who was arrested in Washington in 1985 and condemned to life imprisonment for spying on the United States for Israel.

US officials: We can’t stop Palestinian statehood bid if talks fail
AFP, Ynet’s Attila Somfalvi 30 Mar — Washington demands flexibility of Israel, raising the possibility of another prisoner release of long-serving prisoners as a gesture to the Palestinians —  The United States cannot stop a Palestinian campaign to the United Nations for statehood should peace talks with Israel fail, American diplomats told The Washington Post on Saturday. The Obama administration has been working to salvage the peace talks that have been tittering on the brink of collapse for weeks, after Israel refused to released the fourth and final group of Palestinian security prisoners on Saturday … If negotiations continue, it is possible that the prisoner release will be postponed until the end of April … On Saturday morning, the London-based Arabic Al-Hayat newspaper quoted western diplomats as saying that Kerry was trying to overcome the impasse over the recognition of Israel as a “Jewish state” by changing the definition to “the homeland of the Jewish people.” In return, the Palestinians would have to agree to a Palestinian capital in a part of East Jerusalem and not all of it. According to the report, the Palestinians have rejected that proposal as well.,7340,L-4504575,00.html

Israel offers to free more Palestinian prisoners to extend peace talks
Haaretz 30 Mar by Barak Ravid & Jack Khoury — Israel is offering to free additional Palestinian prisoners in exchange for extending the peace talks by several months and for the Palestinians not taking unilateral steps in the United Nations during that period, said a senior Israeli official. Israel is waiting for a response to the offer, which was made via the United States. If the Palestinians agree, Israel will free the fourth batch of Palestinian prisoners over the next few days, but this apparently will not include Israeli Arab prisoners. “At the request of the United States, Israel was willing to be flexible, to make a greater effort and to give more, so that the Palestinians would agree to extend the talks,” said the source. The Walla! website reported that Israel offered to release 400 Palestinian prisoners, along with the fourth group of prisoners in exchange for another 6 months of negotiations with the Palestinians. According to the report, Israel agreed to release Israeli Arab prisoners, although this was conditioned on Israel choosing all the prisoners who would be released. A senior Israeli official said the report was inaccurate, although he did not completely dismiss it.

PA to discuss prisoner release
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — The Palestinian leadership will hold a meeting on Monday to discuss further steps if Israel does not release a fourth group of veteran prisoners, the undersecretary of PA’s ministry of detainees said. Ziad Abu Ein told Ma‘an that the meeting was called to discuss steps that could be taken in case Israel reneges on the deal to release the last group of 30 Palestinian prisoners. He added that Israel did not officially inform Palestinian officials of its intent not to release the prisoners, but they have informed the US that they want to release the fourth group on the condition that negotiations are extended, and that the PA decides not to seek standing in international organizations. Abu Ein added that there are proposal to release other prisoners but refused to elaborate, adding that President Mahmoud Abbas refuses to discuss anything until the prisoners are released.  Abu Ein ruled out the possibility of releasing the prisoners in the next two days, saying that their names need to be made public 48 hours before their release. He said chief negotiator Saeb Erekat is having on-going discussion with the US ambassador on the issue. Erekat said a day earlier that Abbas has been exerting all efforts to negotiate the release of the fourth group. Israel “must release the fourth batch” of prisoners, held in Israeli jails since before the 1993 Oslo Accords, Erekat said Sunday. The deal at the beginning of the negotiations was for Israel to release 104 veteran prisoners in exchange for the PLO’s pledge not to attempt a statehood bid at the UN or other international bodies, Erekat reiterated.

Abbas: Withdrawal of Arab Peace Initiative not on summit agenda
KUWAIT CITY (Ma‘an) 29 Mar — Despite remarks by officials that the 25th Arab League summit would consider withdrawing the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002, President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that the issue was not on the summit’s agenda. “I haven’t asked for a withdrawal of the Arab Peace Initiative because I am convinced that it has positive elements for the Arabs, the Palestinians, Jews, Muslims, and the whole region,” Abbas told journalists at the summit. He said the only two alternatives to the initiative would be a continuation of the decades-long stalemate between Israel and Arab countries or for Arab countries to wage war against Israel. He said the first alternative had already proved seriously damaging to the Palestinians, and that the second option was not viable. Additionally, Abbas commented on the ongoing peace negotiations with Israel.

Israeli troops shoot, kill 2 suspects near barrier in Golan Heights
JERUSALEM (AFP/Ma‘an) 29 Mar — Israeli troops late Friday shot what the military said were ‘infiltrators’ trying to breach a separation barrier from the Syrian-controlled side of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. “Soldiers detected two armed suspects infiltrating into Israel and tampering with the infrastructure of the Israeli-Syrian border of the Golan Heights,” a military statement said. “The Israeli army opened fire. Hits were confirmed.” The Israeli news site Ynet reported that the two men were killed. Israeli troops did not carry out arrest procedure before opening fire, the Ynet report said. Israel, which is technically at war with Syria, seized 1,200 square kilometers (460 square miles) of the Golan Heights plateau during the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community. Last Wednesday Israeli aircraft struck inside Syria in the wake of a bomb attack on the heights which wounded four Israeli soldiers.

Analysis / Opinion

They can be killed / Amira Hass
Haaretz 31 Mar — The language of the military and Shin Bet spokespersons hypnotizes us, as always, with its objective-professional imitation — So the Shin Bet security service found another reason for us why Muataz Washaha deserved to die. He was allegedly a lookout in an “armed terror attack” against an IDF position in the West Bank. After a huge police and military force stormed his home on February 27 and killed him from close range, the official accounts told us that he was armed and was planning a terror attack. “Terror attack” is a phrase that bewitches us and nips in the bud any nagging thought. It raises the ghost of past bus bombings and when associated with the future it rhymes with “a ticking time bomb,” which, in its turn, rings like “deserves to be killed.” So why get into details and ask moot questions? For example, if he is so dangerous, wouldn’t it have been preferable to try harder to arrest and interrogate him for more intelligence? The Shin Bet and the IDF have known how to arrest more senior men. So why did they screw up here? Now they have added the vital information on top of an audacious deed that is attributed to him, that he reconnoitred an IDF position (from where our merciful soldiers − they don’t fire and don’t reconnoiter, only play jazz music − hand out ice cream and candy to poor Palestinian children from the faltering villages, didn’t you know?). He deserved to be killed at close range, and his mother and father deserved to stand outside and watch their home go up in flames and be destroyed, and to see how death, in the form of the Yamam counterterrorism unit, creeps step by step toward their son. With much fanfare and countless armored troops, our forces came to arrest him. That is how you arrest someone? With even bigger and noisier accompaniment they came to arrest Hamza Abu al-Haija, too, in the Jenin refugee camp on March 22. That is how you capture someone? The Shin Bet and IDF arrested more senior and experienced people than him and didn’t screw up.

The blood it’s acceptable to shed / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 30 Mar — The further trials and tribulations of the most moral army in the world (part of an ongoing series, alas) — Which is worse, accidental pointless manslaughter or premeditated murder? Which is more heinous, pointless killing as a result of mistaken identity, or pointless murder without mistaken identity? The Israel Defense Forces has definitive answers to these questions, attesting to its order of principles. It is not the circumstances of the killing, but rather only the identity of the victims, that determines its character. If the Israeli army purports to be “principled,” and these are its principles, then it would do better not to have such pretensions in the first place. Capt. Tal Nahman, Yusef a-Shawamreh and Samir Awad never met, in life or in death. All three must have had dreams and plans for the future, loving families and supportive friends. Only their single, terrible fate brought them together, and only for a moment: All three were killed by the IDF, for no reason. Nahman, 21, from Nes Tziona [a Jewish Israeli soldier killed in a ‘friendly fire’ incident]; Shawamreh, 14, of Deir al-’Asal al-Foqa and Awad, 16, of Budrus, were victims of the IDF’s trigger-happy policy. Nahman died around two months ago, near the Gaza border fence; Shawamreh died 10 days ago near the West Bank separation fence on Mount Hebron; and Awad died some 15 months ago near the fence at Budrus. All three were shot in an ambush: Nahman after soldiers noticed suspicious movement and failed to identify him; Shawamreh when he crossed into Israel through a hole in the fence made at least two years before, in order to pick wild plants on his family’s field; and Awad after crossing through a similar gap, on a dare from friends. None of them deserved to die. The two Palestinians were unarmed and posed no danger to anyone … let’s look at how the IDF dealt with these three incidents, two of which are suspected war crimes. Last week, around two months after Nahman’s accidental killing, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz announced the dismissals of a few soldiers and officers who were involved in the incident. According to an IDF inquiry – which was quickly carried out, of course – there were “failures in the planning and the performance of the operation” that led to Nahman’s tragic killing. The deaths of the two Palestinian teens were no less tragic, but in these cases “the investigation has not yet been completed,” no “failures” have been announced, and no one has been dismissed or prosecuted.

How Israeli Arabs can achieve a just distribution of resources / Oudeh Basharat
Haaretz 30 Mar — Industrial zones are erected right next to Arab communities, but great care is always taken to retain them within the jurisdiction of Jewish communities, funneling property taxes to the latter — Honestly, how much more can you squeeze out of a dried-up old lemon? Research presented at a recent conference by the NGOs Sikkuy (“Opportunity”) and Injaz, the Center for Professional Arab Local Governance in Israel, claims that even if Arab regional councils collected taxes to the same extent that Jewish ones do, this would only close the gap between them by 10 percent. If there are no industrial zones in Arab communities, how can a few drops fill the gap? For Jewish locales, more than 50% of tax revenues come from commerce and industry, whereas in Arab communities such revenues amount to only 22% of the total. The data on the disparity came to light as result of a study conducted by Michal Belikoff and Safa Ali Aghbariya from the two aforementioned organizations. Thus, in one fell swoop, the entire conception whereby all Arabs do is walk around all day in their pajamas, evade their property taxes and condemn themselves to live in poverty, collapsed. This accusation amounts to blaming the victim, which is the twin brother of discrimination. This is how one clears one’s conscience and continues to maintain a policy of discrimination. The real problem is that industrial zones are erected right next to Arab communities, but great care is always taken to retain them within the jurisdiction of Jewish communities, funneling property taxes to the latter. This is exactly the case in Sakhnin where taxes on a big complex go to the Misgav local authority, in Kafr Qasem, where revenues of an industrial park go to Rosh Ha’ayin, and in a (Arab) Nazareth where an elaborate government building complex pays property taxes to (Jewish) Upper Nazareth – but one more cause for joy in the eyes of racist Upper Nazareth Mayor Shimon Gapso. The Arabs are fighting for construction of industrial parks in their jurisdictions, but attorney Kais Nasser who is helping with efforts can offer no positive tidings… (listserv) (archive)


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

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One Response

  1. seafoid on March 31, 2014, 11:02 am

    76 was 28 years after the Nakba, one generation away, the start of a revival of group Palestinian consciousness within the Palestinian space after the disasters of 18, 67 and Black September. I know there was Fatah activity in exile but Land Day was something internal.

    What’s going on now is built on the work of that generation , both internal and external . Every generation advances it.

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