Briefing Paper May 2007

Palestine’s War of Independence

Return Review Jan 2007

Today the chickens hatched by the international sanctions are coming home to roost. They are witnessed in the complete paralysis that has grounded the Palestinian economy, the attendant political confusion and declining social security.

For the first time in living memory an Occupied [Protected] People have been subjected to an international economic blockade of this magnitude. These punitive measures were taken in support of the Occupying Power, which after six decades still refuses either to define its international borders or recognise an independent Palestinian state . . . . . the sanctions imposed on the Occupied Territories since the parliamentary elections of 26 January 2006 amount to no less than a dreadful violation of Article 54 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

One year after their comprehensive defeat in the 2006 parliamentary elections president Abbas announced that his Fateh movement have run out of patience in their effort to form a government of national unity. Strange the movement that had the patience to negotiate with Israel for 15 years for empty promises should become irreversibly impatient with their own compatriots after one year.

It is decidedly clear that the policy planners in Washington and Tel Aviv have converged on a need for a prolonged era of Palestinian infighting and to eventually topple the government.

What the Iranian president really said

Letter in the Independent on Iran, 17 February 2007


The march to war with Iran appears to be picking up pace, assisted more often than not by disgraceful comments and actions from the Iranian regime. However, while in no way excusing such behaviour, one has to wonder why the inaccurately translated phrase “wipe Israel off the map”, attributed to Ahmadinejad, is repeated ad nauseam including in The Big Question of 1 February.

A closer translation from Farsi might be that “this regime that is occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time”. This translation is not such a clear statement of genocidal intent as war-mongers routinely depict but more his desire for regime change or that Israel will one disappear as did the Shah’s regime and the Soviet Union. Why does this quote routinely go unchallenged even when Iranian officials have tried to correct it?

The reaction of the international community to the massacre in Bayt Hanun was predictable. For the 41st occasion the US used its veto to protect Israel. Britain abstained.

In this latest round of aggression Israel completely destroyed An-Nasr Mosque built 800 years ago.

Destroying places of worship in times of military conflict is a War Crime under Article 16 of the Geneva Conventions

Return Review Dec 2006

The Sunni Islamists’ changing agendas-what Hamas really wants By Paul Delmotte

Tension remains high in Gaza because of clashes between Fatah and Hamas militants, which increased when Mahmoud Abbas decided to hold new presidential and parliamentary elections. One of the main sticking points is Hamas’s refusal to recognise Israel formally.

The failure to form a Palestinian coalition government again raises the question of why Hamas persists, despite considerable pressure at home and abroad, in refusing to recognise Israel officially and explicitly. The first answer, which is rarely discussed, is that Hamas is convinced that recognition would be a pointless concession.

It has not forgotten that for decades the international community pressured the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and Fatah, both secular bodies, to make the same concession: they were given nothing in return, neither a Palestinian state nor a capital in East Jerusalem. Worse, Israel did not accept any responsibility for the Palestinian exodus of 1947-49 nor did it recognise the right of return (or the entitlement to compensation) of some 5 million refugees.

In March 2006 the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, announced a unilateral programme of withdrawal from occupied territory, stipulating that Israel intended to keep 36.5% of the West Bank, not including East Jerusalem and the Jordan valley. This represented almost half of the 22% of the post-1949 Palestine on which Yasser Arafat had hoped to build a Palestinian state. Hamas consequently seems to have decided to stick to the position the PLO defended in the 1970s and 1980s, keeping recognition for Israel in reserve, while making a succession of minor statements reflecting de facto recognition of Israel.

Many commentators maintain that Hamas’s radical stance is due entirely to its Islamist world view. As the researchers Bruno Guigue (1) and Khaled Hroub (2) have often pointed out, this analysis of Hamas policy is based only on its charter, published in August 1988.

Hroub has analysed in detail three key documents published by Hamas since the charter: its autumn 2005 election manifesto, Change and Reform; its March 2006 draft programme for a government of national unity; and the government programme presented by the Palestinian prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, to the new parliament on 27 March 2006. Hroub points out that Hamas is now a different organisation from the Hamas that took shape at the beginning of the first intifada in December 1987.

Democratic concerns

According to Hroub, Hamas now claims to be concerned about political freedom: freedom of expression, press and association; pluralism; the separation of powers; and due electoral process. It also wants to build a proper civil society and uphold minority rights. Between the first and third documents, the number of religious references decreases and the theme of armed struggle disappears almost completely (3) to make room for matters of governance and civil reform. There is also a noticeable change towards the “two states for two peoples” solution and in the attitude of Hamas towards international agreements on Palestine.

Western media and government bodies have not publicised any of these documents. Hroub notes that of the 13

items in the manifesto addressing legislative and judicial policy, only the first, which stipulates that Islamic law should be the principal source of legislation, has attracted any public attention; it prompted fears of an Islamic society. The 12 other items, which do not mention Islam, have gone unnoticed.

Guigue writes: “On an issue as essential as the Islamic status of Palestine it is striking that the election manifesto makes passing reference to Qur’anic tradition, without dwelling on the topic.” He also finds it significant that the manifesto should refer to United Nations resolutions when condemning Israel’s illegal occupation. He writes that this does not mean that Hamas is ready officially to recognise the state of Israel, a requirement that also features in several UN resolutions. But explicit appeals for compliance with international law “will sooner or later lead to accepting all the [attendant] consequences”.

As for the programme for a national unity government, its preamble recalls the need to preserve non-negotiable

national imperatives: an end to occupation; the right of return; the right to resistance in all forms; the construction of an independent and fully sovereign Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital; and the rejection of partial solutions.

Setting aside the fact that these priorities are common to all Palestinian organisations, including those that the international community is prepared to endorse, many clauses in the programme reflect the efforts of Hamas to make allowance for international demands, even if they fall short of fulfilling all its requirements.

Hroub maintains that the programme as a whole hinges on a two-state solution, referring to territory occupied in 1967 without any mention of liberating the whole of Palestine or destroying Israel, as was the case in the charter. He notes that the government platform of 27 March shows no sign of backtracking on the ideas outlined in the programme of national unity. This is significant, for by this stage the other political organisations had rejected plans for a coalition. The platform consequently only concerned Hamas, which had no further need for concessions.

Stifling Palestine

The silence that has greeted the texts published by Hamas should prompt questions about the international community and the European Union. The obsession with Hamas’s Islamist leanings was not the only the justification for the decision to impose economic sanctions on the Palestinians unless they unilaterally renounced their part in the violence and officially recognised Israel (without any gesture being demanded of Israel), but it made it easier to convince public opinion of the need for sanctions.

Commentators in the United States and Europe have been quick to condemn the shocking remarks about Israel and the Holocaust made by the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (4), since October 2005. But their swift response has distracted attention from the positive reception that his words enjoyed in the Middle East, and farther afield. What Ahmadinejad made explicit with these remarks (at least as they were understood by some in his Arab and Muslim audience) was that recognition or denial of the reality of the Holocaust was less important than the idea that, 60 years after the Nazi genocide, the West still uses it, along with Zionism, to justify the fate of the Palestinian Arabs.

Several years ago the Israeli historian Dan Diner identified three orders of legitimacy for Israel, to which he

allocated degrees of universality (5). He classified Zionist legitimacy as unilateral, because it was only valid for Jews, being based on a promise by God to the Jews (6). He acknowledged that Jewish legitimacy, rooted in the horror of the Holocaust, was only partly universal. He rated Israeli legitimacy as universal since, in his view, it was based on Israel’s irrevocable right to exist because it already did exist.

We may acknowledge this Israeli legitimacy and conclude, as Maxime Rodinson did, that “the rights derived from making good use of land, from work done and from personal sacrifice are the only ones that may be validly invoked” (7). In which case, we may ask why Palestinians are not entitled to such rights.

Recogition is a two-way street.

The legitimacy of Israel is only likely to be recognised, particularly in the Arab and Muslim world, if it is unbreakably linked with universal legitimacy for Palestine. In resolution 181 of 29 November 1947, on the partition of Palestine under the British mandate, the UN General Assembly jointly recognised the legitimacy of two independent states.

It might be helpful to recall the legitimacy granted by the UN to Israel. The international community seems to be suffering from amnesia in demanding that Hamas recognise Israel unconditionally. There is no longer any question at the UN of the 44% of the territory covered by the mandate, offered (8) to the Arab state of Palestine under resolution 181. Nor yet of resolution 194 covering the Palestinian refugees’ right of return and entitlement to compensation.

By locking itself in this omission and making de jure recognition of Israel an obligation the EU is digging itself deeper into a hole. It will soon be unable to frame an overall strategy, backed by political proposals, to convince Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims that the West has decided to end double standards.

The Israeli journalist Amira Hass once joked that Hamas extremists think that Allah will give Palestine back to the Arab world and Islam in 50 years, whereas their more moderate brothers think it will take five centuries. As long ago as 1995 Sheikh Ahmed Yassin (9) offered Israel a long-term truce in exchange for a Palestinian state on the West Bank and in Gaza. In 2004 he added that, if this was achieved, he would leave the rest of the occupied territories to history.

Senior Hamas leaders have repeated this offer since and allowance should be made for such statements. They seem to confirm Guigue’s view that Hamas has come to “tacitly accept a share-out of Palestine on the basis of the borders as they stood before the 1967 war”.

It took Fatah 20 years to make this acceptance official. Europe’s lack of political courage since Hamas first made these concessions is partly to blame for the collapse of subsequent negotiations. Given Israel’s persistently intransigent attitude and the worsening tension in the Middle East, it is urgent that the international community act and work towards a solution based on Hamas’s de facto recognition of Israel.

“The international community,” writes Guigue, “must finally show that its resolutions are serious, after 40 years of conniving with Israel”.

Israel will never get true security and safety through oppressing another people. A true peace can ultimately be built only on justice.   The Guardian 29 April 2002

Peace will come to Israel and the Middle East only when the Israeli government is willing to comply with international law . . . Jimmy Carter (p.216)

International Community’s Actions Threaten Viability of Palestinian Territories

International Development Committee Report 31 Jan 2007

The situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is worse now than it was in 2004, politically, economically and socially, despite their receiving more humanitarian assistance per capita than any other country in the world, says today’s report from the International Development Committee on Development Assistance and the Occupied Palestinian Territories [HC 114-I, Session 2006-07].

Rt Hon Malcolm Bruce MP, Chairman of the Committee said: “The international community is in danger of preventing the creation of a viable Palestinian state.” The Committee urges the Quartet to work more proactively towards the goal of a two-state solution, as set out in the Roadmap, through talks between the parties and through measurable and internationally monitored steps to achieve it.

The Committee held an inquiry three years after the previous Committee’s report to assess change in the development situation since 2004. In particular, the Committee examined the impact on the development situation of the Hamas election victory in January 2006, and the international community’s response to the formation of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority.

The Hamas leadership’s refusal to accept the principles of the Quartet led international donors to withdraw direct budget support to the Palestinian Authority. This had provided $30 million a month. The Government of Israel has also withheld tax revenues which it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, which amount to about $60 million a month. The combined effect has been the withholding of 75% of the Palestinian Authority’s budget. The Committee reports that, as a result, the Palestinian Authority is facing financial crisis and that this is seriously affecting the Palestinian people: 51% of Palestinians are now food insecure and 66% of families are below the poverty line.

The report questions whether the withholding of funds from a democratically-elected government in the conflict-affected Territories is the most effective response to Hamas’s refusal to accept the Quartet principles. The boycott of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority has led it increasingly to look elsewhere for funding which means it is being drawn closer to governments such as that of Iran. The Committee doubts whether this is a development the international community would have intended.

The Committee accepts that the Government of Israel has genuine security concerns and a duty to protect its citizens but questions the proportionality of its actions, the human cost and their likely effect on long-term peace in the region. The report highlights that the actions of the Government of Israel, including an expansion of Israeli settlements on occupied territory, security measures such as the construction of a separation barrier and separate roads, and restrictions on Palestinian access and movement, continue to harm the economic prospects of a future Palestinian state. Malcolm Bruce MP, Chairman of the Committee said: “We believe there is a fundamental relationship between Palestinian economic viability and Israeli security. The benefits from the achievement of both would be mutual.”

In November 2005, the Agreement on Movement and Access was made between Israel and the Palestinians. The Agreement seeks to open crossings between Gaza and Israel and Gaza and Egypt, and to ease restrictions on movement within the West Bank as well as between the West Bank and Gaza. But Israel has failed to implement many of the agreed measures. Most of the access points for people and goods in and out of Gaza have been closed or are operating at limited capacity. The Chairman of the Committee said: “If the Agreement on Movement and Access was properly implemented, it would provide a significant boost to the Palestinian economy. Making the Agreement work should be a priority for Israel, the Palestinians and for the international community.”

The Committee visited the region in November 2006 and saw the detrimental effects the financial crisis is having on ordinary people. Salaries of public servants have not been paid since March. Many, including school-teachers and health workers, have been on strike and public services, particularly health services, are in a state of near collapse. As a means of mitigating the worst effects of the financial crisis, the EU has created a Temporary International Mechanism. This has helped fund supplies of fuel in Gaza after the bombing of the power plant by Israel, and has made payments to 100,000 of the poorest and to key workers, including health workers.

Malcolm Bruce MP, Committee Chairman said: “The Temporary International Mechanism is a timely response to the crisis but it cannot meet the needs of the majority of the Palestinian people. If the TIM proves to be anything more than a temporary arrangement, beyond the current year, there is a real risk that the Palestinian Authority may be fatally undermined.”

Further Information: The membership of the Committee is as follows: Malcolm Bruce MP (Chairman, Lib Dem), John Barrett MP (Lib Dem), John Battle MP (Lab), John Bercow MP (Con), Hugh Bayley MP (Lab), Richard Burden MP (Lab), Mr Quentin Davies MP (Con), James Duddridge MP (Con), Ann McKechin MP (Lab), Joan Ruddock MP (Lab), Mr Marsha Singh, MP (Lab).

Palestinian Voice

Rima Merriman BADIL quoted in Return Review Feb 2007

Before the peace treaties, Palestinian political voices were more effective, and we had a voice: we worked properly! . . . But the world now only hears the voice of the Palestinian president and his prime minister. . . if this peace will silence me then I don’t want it.

As UNWRA teachers, we are forced to sign a document which prohibits us from discussing politics, especially the Palestinian refugee issue, with students, directly or indirectly. Whoever refuses to sign is fired. It is illegal to hang anything in schools that has reference to the Intifada, or the [Palestinian] revolution, or expressing your right as a refugee . . . continuing to give precedence to the concerns of West Bank and Gaza residents over those of non-resident Palestinians means the planting of a time-bomb in the heart of the peace process. Their inclusion guarantees that the historical roots of the conflict, something that Israel has spent its monstrous state apparatus denying for decades, will be taken into consideration, as it is the right of every Palestinian that they should be.

Palestinians must start building political infrastructures that go all the way to the top for Palestinians now outside the West Bank and Gaza who have never relinquished their right of return. These Palestinians must have active and constructive involvement in the decision-making process.

Victims of Operation Hot Winter

Nablus press release 4 March 2007

Father of five, Ghareb Abdel Ghani Selhab, 47, a resident of Nablus old city who had a heart attack after a tear gas canister was fired into his home, died this morning. According to the Red Crescent Society who sent an ambulance to evacuate Mr. Selhab they were prevented by the Israeli military from accessing his home for over an hour. He had been in Watani hospital since the attack on Tuesday 26th February on a life support machine.

Anan Al-Tibi, 49-year old father of four, was shot dead on February 26th when he went up to the roof of his home to check why the water was not working. His 20-year old son Ashraf, a medical volunteer, was shot in his right arm by a dumdum bullet, shattering his elbow, while attempting to warn his father that the military were in the area. Ashraf was then detained by the Israeli military and released hours later. He is still in Nablus Specialist Hospital (Nablus Al Tahasusi).

Eleven year old Jihan Dahadush was used as a human shield and led around the old city for an hour and a half in front of ten Israeli soldiers.

Several men who were rounded up and detained by the Israeli military testified that after being detained, blindfolded, handcuffed, and denied access to food, water, for between six and twenty hours, they were released in front of Huwarra military base after being asked only basic questions such as what is your name and where do you live.

Not since the demise of the All-Palestine Government in Gaza in 1948 have the Palestinians succeeded in forming a national unity government with a common Palestinian agenda. On that occasion, Britain forced Arab leaders to withdraw their support on the grounds that it was ill-timed,

Dov Hanin a Knesset member for the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (Hadash) disclosed last month that while the Palestinians were busy trying to form a government, Israel was preparing to expel 34 000 Palestinians from East Jerusalem to make way for its Apartheid Wall.

Return Review   March 2007

Night in Jenin Camp: family forced outside in the cold while Israeli soldiers destroy belongings

PNN Jenin, Saturday, 14 April 2007

Shock and anger rippled through a Jenin Refugee Camp house as neighbors came in and saw the damage. Israeli forces overtook the Hourieh home for hours, and kept the family hostage, including an ill daughter. The father of the family and a pharmacist, Ahmed Farid Hourieh, told PNN, “As usual the soldiers used provocative actions and punitive measures, and did not exclude my daughter who is very sick. The soldiers insisted on keeping us in the extreme cold while they were destroying the contents of our home.”

The tiles are uprooted, the furniture is riddled with bullet holes, flour, cooking oil and rice are thrown throughout the kitchen. Hourieh said, “No one in our family is on their `wanted` list, and they didn`t arrest anyone. They did this deliberately and without a reason, even for them.”

He described being awoken at 2:00 am by the shouts of soldiers at the gate, “telling us to leave our house at once. They threatened to demolish the house with bombs, which caused us to make haste to awaken everyone and get them to safety.” The home is comprised of five apartments, with children and grandchildren living in each. “When I opened the door,” Hourieh said, “I faced at least 40 soldiers in full gear, their weapons pointed. They checked our identification and make us go outside in the extreme cold.”

There were some 20 military vehicles in the camp, attacking the neighbourhood with random fire. Hourieh said, “The soldiers forced the women, small children and young people to sit on the ground, despite the cold weather. My wife gave them the name of the child who is ill, suffering from kidney and liver disease. She told them that being in the cold was intolerable for them. But they refused to let the children in the house. They refused to let anyone go to the bathroom as the hours passed. My daughter was crying from the pain of her illness and they wouldn`t let us move.” Israeli forces stormed the house using military dogs. “We heard gunfire and the soldiers began interrogating my sons, saying there were `wanted` persons inside the home.”

The soldiers refused to accept the results of the interrogation and instead spent four hours searching and destroying the home. “They tampered with everything. When I saw the effects, the torn furniture and the bullet holes in the clothes, the broken refrigerators, pots and pans, and flour dumped on everything, I was unable to control myself.

This is such a shocking and blatant violation of the most elementary of rights. This is what they do.” The eldest son, Lyad, told PNN, “It is clear that the occupation wants to punish every Palestinian family without cause, firing at everything, destroying our senses and terrorizing the children. They destroy every aspect of our lives, now under the pretext of a search for the `wanted` but they destroy my mother`s cooking oil and flour, they shoot our clothes. It is clear that this is general persecution, bleak and terrible, the acts of occupation and the continued assault on Jenin Refugee Camp.”

Since the beginning of the month, as five years since the April 2002 battle and massacre is memorialized, Israeli forces have invaded Jenin Refugee Camp and its homes every day.

Twilight Zone / Village of the Martyrs Gideon Levy Ha’aretz April 15 2007

In a square marked by cypress trees, the dead rest. Here are 48 decades-old graves – graves of Qassem Abbas, Awad

Jawad, Arif Aqel and many unknown soldiers, who rest beneath the old tombstones. The cemetery of the fallen of the Iraqi Army’s Second Battalion, 1948. Until the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, an Iraqi tank that had invaded the area was also kept here. In 1993, Israel hastened to remove the tank, lest the Palestinians make use of the steel junk heap.

Up on the hillside, above this military cemetery located south of Jenin, the “Village of the Martyrs,” AlShuhada, was founded in 1948, a village of Bedouin refugees. About 2,000 of their descendants live here today; about a third of the men still go to work in Israel, in the fields of Emek Hefer and the surrounding area, exactly where their forefathers’ villages once stood. At the end of last week, they dug another grave here.

Ahmed Asasa was buried in the soil of his village. He’d been shot in the neck from afar by an Israeli sniper.

Two of his friends, who tried to come to his aid while he was bleeding to death, were also shot and wounded by snipers. Asasa was 15, a 10th-grader in the village high school. There was more than one Ahmed Asasa in this story: One of the friends who tried to help him, and one of the witnesses to the killing, also share the same name. Everyone is Ahmed Asasa, in the Village of the Martyrs.

Our escort to the village hesitates to drive his car into the Jenin refugee camp, where we are waiting for him. Captain Saud, of the Palestinian national security forces, is armed and wearing a fashionable shirt embroidered with the logo of the U.S. Army Special Forces; he knows that the camp’s boundaries are a “red line” for PA personnel. Outside the boundaries, his people lie in wait for the owners of the stolen cars from the city and the camp, and they immediately confiscate and destroy the vehicles. “The PA brought an end to the occupation, solved the refugee problem, and now all it has left to do is to confiscate cars stolen from Israel,” people in the camp say bitterly.

The government hospital in the city, on the edge of the camp, is shut down again, due to non-payment of wages. The two wounded boys whom we met later had received only first aid at this hospital and then were released. The hospital is deserted. Oh, the international boycott. In both the city and refugee camp of Jenin, people look like the walking dead.

We parked our car outside the house of Rabi’a Asasa, the “bingo” – slang for the wanted man of the village. In order to apprehend him, the soldiers raided this place two weeks ago Thursday at first light; in seeking to catch him, they killed young Ahmed. Rabi’a managed to get away. We walk to the house of the dead boy. The blue iron gate is wrecked, because of the Jeep that stormed into the yard. The houses here are built on a rocky slope and we climb over the rough terrain to Ahmed’s house. The fields of Qabatiyah, carpets of brown and green, are visible in the valley below. Further up the hill, between the houses, is a makeshift monument with a photo of Ahmed. This is where he fell. The sniper, say the residents, stood in the pink window of the house on the slope, under the television satellite dish, more than 100 meters away. The sniper aimed at the neck, fired and Ahmed collapsed.

It was very early in the morning. Only the laborers who go to work in Israel were awake at that hour. The sound of gunfire and stun grenades exploding was heard from the hills and the whole village awoke in a fright. Ahmed also awoke in his house at the top of the hill. The women and children rushed out, toward the slope, in fear of the soldiers who had invaded from above. They didn’t know that the soldiers had raided the entire village, and were standing on the roofs of the houses and at the windows, also along the same slope. Only the head of the household, Ibrahim Asasa, remained in the house.

Ibrahim is 69, the father of 11 children; Ahmed was his youngest. Three days after the tragedy, the signs of shock and bereavement are still apparent on this withered man in a kaffiyeh. He was born in a village that is now the site of Moshav Beit Eliezer. Ibrahim still goes out to work in the fields of neighboring communities, between Kfar Monash, Beit Lid and Netanya. Last week, he was working for the Columbia citrus fruit company in Hadera. Now he’s afraid that the state will prevent him from going to work in Israel because he has become a bereaved father. It seems like all the men of the village have come to console him in the living room of his home. They sit sipping bitter coffee and eating dried dates. Ibrahim awoke at five that fateful morning and was getting ready to leave for work in Israel, when he heard gunfire from the hills overlooking the house. The other members of the family woke up and began running for their lives. Ahmed headed toward his cousin’s house further down the slope. Ibrahim stayed behind, near the iron gate. A few minutes later he was informed that his son had been hit and was lying wounded on the slope. He was told that the boy was taken to the hospital and, afterward, that he had died. By the time he reached the hospital, he could only see his son’s dead body.

The family’s neighbour, also named Ahmed Asasa, was also awakened by the gunfire, and soon looked out the window and saw the other Ahmed Asasa lying wounded on the ground, bleeding from the neck, not far from his house. This Ahmed Asasa was afraid to leave the house because of all the shooting. Yet another Ahmed Asasa, an 18-year-old neighbor, decided to make a run for it and try to save his wounded cousin. A few women had tried before to pull the wounded boy out of the way, but then ran off because of the continued shooting. This Ahmed Asasa thought that because he was short, he could get to his bleeding cousin and help him. He started pulling him along the rocky ground, but then he, too, was wounded by bullet fragments, in the head and the waist. He shows us the scars. He says that when he got close to his cousin, Ahmed was still moving parts of his body and his eyes were open.

The Ahmed Asasa who’d tried to come to his aid fell and lost consciousness. He woke up later in the hospital. Neighbors say that the Ahmed who was shot in the neck lay on the ground for close to an hour. The Ahmed Asasa who survived still has trouble getting around. Another neighbor, Shawki Asasa, a 24-year-old soldier in the PA under Captain Saud, also made his way to the wounded boy. Now he is at home recovering from his own injuries; a sniper’s bullet pierced his shoulder and exited his upper back. He heard the women shouting that someone was wounded and rushed to help. After he himself was hit, he managed to drag his body a little before collapsing on the rocks like the two Ahmed Asasas. One of his commanders says that he tried to talk to one of the Israel Defense Forces officers, to persuade him to let them evacuate the wounded, but that the officer told him: “Don’t interfere.” Shawki’s father says: “They don’t want the world to help us and they don’t want us to help each other, either. A boy lies there wounded and they don’t let us help him.”

By the time the first Ahmed Asasa arrived at the hospital, having finally been transported in a private car since no ambulance was permitted to get near him, he was already dead. The second Ahmed Asasa survived.

The IDF Spokesperson, this week: “On March 29 an IDF force operated in Shuhada, south of Jenin. During the action, the force was fired upon in a number of different incidents. At 4:47 the force identified a terrorist armed with a long weapon on the roof of a building, fired at him and identified a hit. At 5:24, the force identified two more armed terrorists on the roof of a nearby building and fired at them. Subsequently, a violent riot erupted in the village that included the throwing of explosives, gunfire and rock-throwing. In the course of the action Palestinians blocked the traffic routes with boulders, which prevented the medical forces from reaching the place. The IDF force did not prevent ambulances from entering the village. As noted, IDF fire was directed solely at armed terrorists.”

His friends say that Ahmed loved soccer and was a good student. In the last picture taken of him, he’s holding a certificate of excellence fr om his school. They laugh at the claim that he was armed, and his father points out that, given the distance between the sniper and his fleeing son, the boy wasn’t endangering anyone, in any case. In recent years, six others from the village have been killed, including Hussam Asasa, who was physically and mentally disabled, and young Fadi Asasa, who was run over by a vehicle belonging to an undercover army unit.

All the students from the school came to their friend Ahmed’s funeral, which was held in the village cemetery not far from the Iraqi cemetery, in the shadow of the cypresses.

Report: “68 women gave birth on checkpoints, 33 infants and 4 women died” April 11, 2007 IMEMC The Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens Rights (PICCR) reported that Israeli troops stationed at hundreds of roadblocks in the occupied territories barred dozens of pregnant women from crossing the checkpoints while in labour; 34 infants and four women died on their roadblocks.

The Commission reported that soldiers forced 68 pregnant women to give birth on road blocks after barring them from crossing as they were being transferred to hospitals and medical centres. Also, the PICCR said that the Israeli procedures complicated the lives of the Palestinian civilians including pregnant women by enforcing harsh conditions and carrying illegal practices at these checkpoints.

Since the beginning of the Al Aqsa Intifada on September 28 2000 until July 2006, 68 pregnant women had to give birth at checkpoints, and 34 infants and 4 pregnant women died on these checkpoints.

Murder and mayhem in Jenin

I have been writing my diary of life in Jenin tonight. I try to update it when possible. I have been interrupted by other events. Since approximately 6.30 pm, minutes after I heard of a further 3 assassinations in Jenin this afternoon, there has been intermittent gunfire coming from Jenin camp. This is happening every 5 minutes. I am concerned that this means that Israelis will continue to fire on the camp throughout the night and its traumatized residents will get no peace.

The background is this: last Tuesday 17th April on my return from visits with the TRC, I passed the scene of the assassination of a 25 year old police man, close to Jenin. He was also working as a taxi driver and had 3 other people in the car with him. I have subsequently spoken to 2 witnesses to this murder. And this is why I use this definition. He was shot while driving and injured. Special Forces (disguised) dragged him from the car and shot him. They could have taken him alive. Nor was there the necessity to shoot him through the eye removing that and a large part of his skull. A woman witness said that after death, one soldier took his legs, another his arms and threw his body in a field.

Today while attending a Women’s Union Conference, I learned that there had been another assassination of a police officer 23 years of age in a village in Jenin, Kafr Dan. They shot him at home, unarmed, by sniper fire from a nearby roof. His family witnessed his murder. Neither of these murders have been necessary acts of bloodshed in a war. They have been strategic acts that dispose of young men who are working for the Palestinian Authority as policemen.

Three men killed this afternoon in Jenin were “wanted” by Israel. This tends to imply that they have a connection with resistance forces. Before evaluating the rationale, as is often encouraged by Western media, behind’s Israeli action to eliminate “terrorists,” I suggest that this be contextualized and that balance is applied.

Every night, in Jenin camp, Israeli soldiers open fire after dark, usually 11.30, after 12.00, sometimes 3 in the morning. I hear it. If they see a shadow, they shoot. Last night, I saw the remains of a concrete wall and steel gate of a family I was visiting in the camp. Last week, the Israeli army, in the middle of the night bulldozed through it. I sat with that family in their wide open, unprotected front garden last night smoking a Nargila pipe. This garden has become the route of bulldozers and tanks to gain easy access for incursion. One of the young people I sat with had a few years ago nearly died from stomach injuries that were the result of Israeli bullets. He had gone to help his friends during an Israeli incursion.

Occupation is force. A natural response to force is to resist.

If resistance is a Kalashnikov against high powered bullets, shells, snipers and bulldozers, [then the occupier] determine its effectiveness and thereby, its potential threat.

When that analysis is complete, consider the necessity to remove members of a national police force by death squad.

In a week where negotiations are reported to be taking place for the release of Palestinian political prisoners, there are implications of a strategy being employed in Jenin to deal with its political threat without imprisonment. That strategy is assassination.

Received from Finola 21st April 2007

This message had an addendum:

A young woman of 17 was murdered in the camp last night. Her brother was wanted and they could not access him. She opened the door and they shot her. Protests taking place today, with Ministers from the Government present. Please do put on the website / send to twinning groups.

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