Briefing Paper August 2016

The late Palestinian national poet will continue to haunt Israel

Gideon Levy Ha’aretz 23/7/16

And who will live in the house after us, my father?

The house, my son, will remain as it was!

Why did you leave the horse alone?

To keep the house company, my son.

When their residents go, the houses will die.

Together we will hold on until we return.

When, my father?

Tomorrow, my son, and perhaps in another day or two!

That tomorrow trailed behind them, chewing the wind

in the endless winter nights.

Mahmoud Darwish insists on mentioning what Israelis don’t want to acknowledge: A great sin took place here when the State of Israel was founded in 1948 — The spectre of Palestinian national poet Mahmoud Darwish will never leave us. Every few years, a witch hunt will erupt over his poetry, stirring emotions and riling Israelis until they compare him to Hitler. It subsides but then revives again. There’s no escaping it. None of the ghosts of the 1948 War of Independence will leave us until we recognize the guilt, acknowledge the sin and take responsibility for it by apologizing, paying compensation and, above all, changing ourselves. Until then, the ghosts will continue to torment us and not give us rest … But the late poet insists on mentioning what Israelis don’t want to know: a great sin took place here. The establishment of Israel – just as it was – was accompanied by the unforgivable crime of ethnic cleansing of wide parts of the country. No Jewish National Fund grove can cover up the moral ruins on which the state was built. Israel added insult to injury by not allowing the Palestinians who were expelled or fled to return. A thousand historical testimonies, which we also avoid like fire, are not equal to one line of Darwish poetry: “Where will you take me, my father?” I will never forget that punch to the stomach, or rather, the dagger to my heart, from the Spring 1996 issue of the Hebrew journal Hadarim, edited by Halit Yeshurun. A dozen pages of Darwish poems from “Why Did You Leave the Horse Alone?” (translated into Hebrew by Anton Shammas): “And who will live in the house after us, my father? / The house, my son, will remain as it was! / Why did you leave the horse alone? / To keep the house company, my son. / When their residents go, the houses will die. / Together we will hold on / until we return. / When, my father? / Tomorrow, my son, and perhaps in another day or two! / That tomorrow trailed behind them, chewing the wind / in the endless winter nights.” I didn’t know at the time, and don’t know today, what we as Israelis do with those lines … In 2016, Israel is handling the Palestinians exactly like it did in 1948. That’s why Darwish isn’t leaving Israel alone, and that’s why he’s so frightening to the country: He confronts Israel with the most primordial truth about itself.

A 12-year-old Palestinian girl in Israeli jail

Gideon Levy & Alex Levac Ha’aretz 29/4/16

A day after her release, D. is already weary of the receptions and interviews, and of being the heroine of the hour. She replies to questions with the demonstrative reluctance of an adolescent whose parents are driving her nuts with their tiresome nagging. Her expression is one of weariness and revulsion, possibly tinged with sadness. Her face lights up for a second, however, when we ask whether she was happy to be released. No, she wasn’t happy, she tells us. She misses S.P., a boy from Kafr Aqab, a Palestinian suburb of Jerusalem. She saw him very briefly in the posta (slang for prisoners van) on one of her trips to court, and hasn’t stopped thinking about him since … D. and S.P. are both 12. With Israel packing its jails with children, child-prisoner experiences are taking place. D. and S.P. forever. A perfect pair behind bars, children who met in prison. A romantic episode – watch for the movie. But little was romantic about the 75 days D. spent in jail. She was 12 years and 2 months old at the time of her arrest, just two months above the age of criminal responsibility. Still, the military justice system had no compunctions about jailing her for four and a half months in February, to the tune of the self-righteous words uttered by the military judge … In the end, the Israel Prison Service reduced her sentence by a third, after her incarceration stirred some sort of reaction internationally … D. suffered in jail. She was the youngest of the seven girls in her cell. The food was bad and skimpy, she says, and the meals often left her hungry. She missed her parents. Only her mother and her younger siblings were allowed to visit her, and only twice during the 75 days of her incarceration: 45 minutes from behind armoured glass … Guests come and go all the time, families and individuals, and the house is covered with huge, colourful posters welcoming D. home. Only her father, Ismail, is feeling forlorn: Not only did his daughter spend time in prison, but the permit he had for working and spending the night in Israel – one of the most comprehensive that the Israeli authorities issue – was revoked. Until D.’s arrest, Ismail was employed in building the new high-speed rail line to Jerusalem. Now he’s been deprived of that income and his world has crumbled. This is how Israel behaves with all the relatives of terror suspects – with vengeance, visiting the sins of the daughter on the father. The authorities he contacted suggested that he try again in a year. Maybe they’ll relent by then. How will he make a living in the meantime?

Israel boycott campaigner ‘prevented from travel’

AFP 10/05/16

Israeli authorities have refused to renew the travel documents of a leader of a campaign to boycott the Jewish state, officials said Tuesday. Omar Barghouti is one of the most prominent campaigners in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which campaigns for a global boycott of Israel until, amongst other demands, the country withdraws from all occupied Palestinian territories. Israel sees it as a strategic threat and accuses it of anti-Semitism — a claim BDS denies. Barghouti was informed last month that the interior ministry would not renew his travel documents, which are usually granted to permanent residents of Israel who do not have full citizenship. An interior ministry spokeswoman told AFP that Barghouti could not yet receive his travel documents since Interior Minister Aryeh Deri was considering revoking his permanent residency. “The minister wants to consider his status. He lives in Ramallah most of the time and part of what determines one’s permanent residency is where the centre of life is,” she said. “His (BDS) activities are also part of this.” Barghouti, whose family are Palestinian but who was born in the Gulf state of Qatar, married an Israeli citizen of Arab descent, entitling him to claim permanent residency. Barghouti denied that he had ever been permanently based in the West Bank city of Ramallah. “I reside with my family in our home in Acre (in Israel),” he told AFP. “I’ve had Israeli permanent residency for almost 23 years, in accordance with the law and without any violations.” He said that he had been due to attend two major events in California in recent weeks but had been prevented from doing so, though he did speak to them via Skype. “Effectively I cannot travel at all,” he told AFP. Israel is imposing this travel ban on me, demonising me and threatening me to intimidate me into silence,” he added, vowing to continue his work.

Father of 12-year-old girl with knife barred from working in Israel

Naomi Zeveloff The Forward 10/05/16

Released from Israeli prison, the 12-year-old girl went home to a festive scene in Halhoul, a town outside Hebron in the occupied West Bank. Bouquets of roses and sunflowers greeted Dima al-Wawi, who served two and a half months in an Israeli prison after she was arrested with a knife outside an Israeli settlement, intending to stab a security guard. Hamas, the Halhoul municipality and a Palestinian prisoner’s group feted the preteen, thought to be the youngest female Palestinian prisoner in an Israeli jail ever, with banners that hung outside the family home. But inside the two-story house, al-Wawi’s father, 54-year-old Ismail al-Wawi, was not celebrating. His young daughter’s act cost him his work permit into Israel, where he was a construction worker on a train line between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. As visitors and journalists streamed into the living room, he wondered how he would provide for his family of 11 when all the attention and celebrations died down … Sylvia Piterman, a volunteer with Machsom (Checkpoint) Watch, says she has seen an “extreme” increase in the number of family members of attackers who have lost their work permits. That includes people with family members serving long jail terms that began before the most recent spate of attacks. And it’s not just limited to the direct family. She he has seen several cases in which the “whole hamula ,” or extended family, has lost work permits into Israel when one of their relatives has attacked Israelis. The revocation of work permits for families of assailants is part of a broader Israeli crackdown on Palestinian violence, although attacks by Palestinians with work permits are rare….

How does harvesting wheat threaten Israel?

Rami Almeghari Electronic Intifada 10/05/16

Zaina Attia al-Amour, known as Um Hani, was harvesting wheat when Israel attacked. “I heard a loud explosion,” said her brother Tayseer, who was nearby. “I rushed to the farm after I saw smoke in the sky. When I found Um Hami she was covered in blood.” Tayseer could tell almost immediately how his 54-year-old sister was killed. The Israeli military had fired shells towards the farm. Overcome by grief, Tayseer began screaming and kicking sand in the direction of the troops on the boundary between Gaza and present-day Israel. Um Hani lived in the neighborhood of al-Foukhari in southern Gaza. Its people have suffered enormously from Israeli aggression. Al-Foukhari was one of the areas most severely affected by Israel’s 2014 attack on Gaza. Some of the victims of that attack were trapped under the rubble of their homes for days before they could be dug out by rescue teams…

–Unimaginable– “We didn’t imagine that the Israeli troops would fire at the farm,” said [her sister] Fatima. “They know who we are. We are local villagers, who farm our land.” Um Hani had looked after the farm since her husband died more than a decade ago. She lived a simple life. When not working, she often watched news on a small TV set in her bedroom. She liked to be informed about current affairs. Her bedroom had little more than a mattress and a few cushions. Earlier on the day she was killed, Um Hani had spent time playing with her grandson. She also joked with her son Ghazi about who exactly owned a new animal on the farm. “She said to me, ‘Ghazi, the new sheep is mine, not yours,’” Ghazi recalled. “She was teasing us; she wanted to have fun. I didn’t know it was the last time I would see her smile.”

UN coordinator calls on Israel to stop destruction of humanitarian aid

WAFA 18/05/16

The UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities for the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), Robert Piper, Wednesday condemned the demolition and confiscation of donor-funded humanitarian assistance by the Israeli authorities in the Palestinian community of Jabal al Baba. On 16 May, the authorities demolished seven homes and confiscated materials for three other ones. Nine Palestine refugee families comprising 49 members were left without shelter as a result, 22 of them children. The materials were part of a humanitarian aid package for vulnerable Palestinian Bedouin families, provided by the UN’s Humanitarian Pooled Fund earlier this year. “Despite the obligation on Israel under international law to facilitate rapid and unimpeded passage of relief to those who need it, humanitarian relief to vulnerable communities like Jabal al Baba is increasingly under attack,” said Mr. Piper. Jabal al Baba, located to the east of Jerusalem in an area planned for the expansion of the Ma’ale Adumim settlement (the E1 plan), is one of 46 communities in the central West Bank considered at high risk of forcible transfer. The destruction of homes and of livelihoods creates pressures on households to move, exacerbating the risk of forcible transfer which would be considered a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Over 600 structures have been demolished or confiscated across the West Bank already in 2016, far exceeding the total for all of 2015. In their wake, over 900 people have been displaced from their homes and a further 2,500 have seen their livelihoods affected. “Once again, we call on Israel to respect the rights of these vulnerable communities and to leave these households in peace,” said Piper.

Defense minister, Lieberman also becomes ‘czar’ of West Bank

Tovah Lazaroff Jerusalem Post 20/05/16

Avigdor Liberman’s new job as defense minister places him in charge of the West Bank. The West Bank is under Israeli military rule, which effectively means it is under Liberman’s rule. For those who are concerned about the appointment, this is one of the aspects of his new job that should concern them … Those who worried about what this appointment means for the right-wing character of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, or even Israel’s diplomatic image, can relax. This is not Liberman’s first high-level ministerial role … It is Liberman in the specific role of defence minister, however, that has the possibility to inflame the already tense situation with the Palestinians. His actions against Palestinians in the West Bank could trigger more violence, and any support he gives to increased settlement building would have an impact on the diplomatic sphere … Liberman, who has called for the ouster of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, will now be in charge of the only military body in the West Bank – one that has the authority to enter any Palestinian city. Similarly, he would have broad powers when it comes to cracking down on Palestinian terrorism and violence in the West Bank, including possibly the ability to institute a death penalty there. He also would have the power to send the IDF into Palestinian cities. He would also have some ability to impact the issue of settlement building, which the international community believes is the stumbling block to the peace process … [Settlers] have high hopes for Liberman, not just because he himself lives in the Gush Etzion settlement of Nokdim, but because he has persistently promised them to support such building. The settler leaders and many on the Right have therefore welcomed Liberman’s appointment and wasted no time in reminding him of his promises for more building. To the Palestinians, it looks like putting the wolf in charge of the sheep.

Israel extends detention of 12-year-old Palestinian for 1 year

Ma’an 25/05/16

The Israeli magistrate court extended the detention of 12-year-old Muhammad Ismail Hushiyeh for a year on Wednesday, according to the head of the Jerusalem Committee for Families of Prisoners. Amjad Abu Asab told Ma‘an that Hushiyeh would be detained in a juvenile facility in the town of Ablin in northern Israel. Hushiyeh is the youngest Palestinian prisoner from Jerusalem held by Israeli authorities, Abu Asab said. The 12-year-old was detained in late January for alleged involvement in a stab attack against an Israeli settler after Israeli forces reported he was in possession of a knife. There are currently ten Palestinian children from Jerusalem under the age of 14 being held in Israeli juvenile facilities, according to Abu Asab.

According to the prisoners’ rights group Addameer, there are currently 438 Palestinian children held in Israeli prisons.

Israelis excel at camouflaging the expulsion of Palestinians [a reprint]

Amira Hass Ha’aretz 20/10/14

As the descendants of a people which was banished throughout history from its homes and various homelands, we Israelis have developed our own expulsion skills – skills that would not embarrass the kings, nobles and officials of the goyim. Our contribution to the family of banishing nations is great, especially considering our short existence as a sovereign entity. After the big expulsion of between 700,000 and 800,000 Palestinians in 1948, we have made do with smaller expulsions, and excel in camouflaging them under various legal definitions or varying circumstantial theories … Here is an inventory of the methods of expulsion in their various concealments: 1. “Stop being a resident.” Israel’s control of the Palestinian Population Registry allowed it to expel some 250,000 Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip between 1967 and 1994 by revoking their status as residents (because they remained overseas for over seven years). These figures were provided by the Defense Ministry to HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, in 2011 and 2012. We must add about 100,000 Palestinians (at least) to this number, who fled or were expelled from the West Bank and Gaza during the June 1967 war and were not present during the census conducted that summer. They have not been allowed back to their homes. The Israelis who have emigrated to Los Angeles, it should be noted, continue to be Israelis. 2. “Trickery.” The Oslo Accords speak of a mechanism for the gradual return to the West Bank and Gaza of those who “lost” their identity cards in 1967. Later, Israeli representatives in the negotiations claimed that the intention was for those who had physically lost their ID cards, not residency status itself. 3. The continued control of the Palestinian Population Registry in the West Bank and Gaza, 20 years after the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, allows Israel to continue and prevent hundreds of thousands from returning to their homes and families. Also, to approve only a few tens of thousands to return through the goodwill gesture of “family reunification.” 4. Defining the Palestinians born in East Jerusalem as “permanent residents” whose status is a sort of favour the country grants – like the favour it grants to a priest from the Philippines, for example, who wants to live in the Holy Land under Israeli rule. However, this is a favour with a condition: Whoever lives abroad for seven years will see this favour revoked. His status as a permanent resident will be revoked. But the Palestinians born in Jerusalem are what they are: Born there. In Palestinian Jerusalem. They did not choose to live under Israeli rule; it is Israel that chose to occupy them. And it is the one which decided that whoever lives and works abroad (even in the West Bank, a kilometre north of their homes) will lose his/her status as a permanent resident. In other, simpler, words to understand: They will not be allowed to return. Since 1967 through the end of 2013, Israel expelled 14,309 Jerusalem-born Palestinians that way (according to information that the Interior Ministry gave to HaMoked)…

247 children with no legal status

Celine Hagbard IMEMC 18/06/16

A committee of the Israeli Knesset is discussing the extension, for another year, of a 13-year old law that has been extended each year as a ‘temporary’ measure. The law prohibits nearly 10,000 Palestinian residents of Israel, including 247 children, from having a legal residency status. The Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order) passed in 2003, and renewed every year since, prevents Palestinian families from living together if one spouse is from present-day Israel and the other is from the West Bank. Numerous human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, have declared the law discriminatory. Despite challenges from Israeli human rights groups, including a legal challenge that made it to the Israeli High Court in 2006, the Court decided to allow the law to continue to be enforced, stripping thousands of Palestinians of legal residency in their homes. According to a report by B’Tselem earlier this year, the Israeli laws dividing families date back to the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. In 1993, a law was passed confirming this discrimination and separation. Families affected by this law, unable to obtain residency permits, “were compelled to settle for short, broken visits and repeatedly face separation between visits. These visits depended on the Israeli authorities’ granting a visitor’s permit, which was generally given during the summer for a period of up to three months. When the permit expired, the visitor was required to leave the Occupied Territories. Children who entered with their visiting parent were required to leave with them. Once the visitor left, he or she had to wait at least three months before being allowed to visit again. In many instances, the authorities did not approve a new visitor’s permit even after the waiting period had passed….

Israeli troops ‘mistakenly’ kill Palestinian teenager

Donald Macintyre The Guardian 21/06/16

Military says 15-year-old died and four others were wounded in West Bank after soldiers mistook them for stone-throwers- Israeli troops have shot dead a 15-year-old Palestinian boy as he travelled home from a family outing, after opening fire in response to stone-throwing in which the boy had not been involved. A preliminary investigation by the Israeli military found that the car the boy was travelling in had been “mistakenly hit” as the soldiers chased Palestinian stone throwers who had injured an Israeli bus passenger and two tourists in another vehicle. The shooting near the village of Beit Sira [in the Ramallah district] was angrily condemned by the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah. The military said that at around 1am firebombs and rocks had been thrown and oil spilled on to the busy Route 443 between Jerusalem and Modi’in. The road, which is often used as an alternative route between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, cuts through the occupied West Bank where it is overlooked at points by Palestinian villages. The Palestinian Authority, who named the dead boy as Mahmoud Rafat Badran, from the village of Beit-Uhr-Eh-Tahta [Beit ‘Ur al-Tahta], said that three other Palestinians also injured were treated at a medical centre in Ramallah, and a fourth wounded person had been taken to Israel for treatment. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted the boy’s father as saying that Rafat was traveling back with relatives, including the boy’s aunt, from a trip to a swimming pool in Beit Sira that had started after the fast-breaking Ramadan evening meal. The road they had taken goes through an underpass under Route 443, he said, adding: “As they approached the passage, a car stood on the bridge, next to a man with a gun who opened fire on the vehicle. As far as I could understand, some of the passengers jumped out of the vehicle and some remained inside, and were hit, including my son who was very seriously wounded and died a short time later. “This was indiscriminate gunfire with the intent to kill and I demand that this incident be judged by the world court,” Badran said … New measures pushed through last year by the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, gave the security forces much greater latitude to use live ammunition against Palestinians throwing stones and firebombs.

Israel incapable of telling truth about water it steals from Palestinians

Amira Hass Ha’aretz 22/06/16

Water is the only issue in which Israel (still) finds it difficult to defend its discriminatory, oppressive and destructive policy with pretexts of security and God — Israeli spokespeople have three answers ready to pull out when they respond to questions on the water shortage in West Bank Palestinian towns – which stands out starkly compared to the hydrological smugness of the settlements: 1) The Palestinian water system is old, so it suffers from water loss; 2) the Palestinians steal water from each other, and from the Israelis; and 3) in general, Israel has in its great generosity doubled the amount of water it supplies to the Palestinians, compared to what was called for in the Oslo Accords. “Supplies,” the spokespeople will write in their responses. They will never say Israel sells the Palestinians 64 million cubic meters of water a year instead of the 31 million cubic meters agreed to in the Oslo Accords. Accords that were signed in 1994, and that were supposed to come to an end in 1999. They will not say that Israel sells the Palestinians water that it first stole from them … With the Oslo Accords, Israel imposed an outrageous, racist, arrogant and brutal division of water sources in the West Bank: 80 percent for Israelis (on both sides of the Green Line), and 20 percent for the Palestinians (from wells drilled before 1967, which the Palestinians continued to operate; from the Mekorot water company; from future wells to be drilled in the eastern basin of the mountain aquifer; from agricultural wells and springs. Many of the springs, by the way, dried out because of Israeli deep wells, or because the settlers took them over. The ways of theft know no bounds.) Twenty percent is actually good, because now only about 14 percent of the water from the mountain aquifer is accessible to Palestinians in the West Bank….

The lie that wall is a security barrier

James North & Philip Weiss Mondoweiss 21/06/16

The New York Times today has a top-of-the-front-page article about tens of thousands of Palestinians managing to get over or through “what Israelis call the security barrier” to work without papers inside Israel. It is a vivid account of smuggling workers into Israel from Palestine. On the one hand, the article by James Glanz and Rami Nazzal, marks real progress: the Times is showing that the wall is not really a security barrier -55,000 Palestinians legally pass through it and 30-60,000 illegally. If Palestinians really want to kill Israelis, the wall is no obstacle at all. The article makes clear that only the tiniest fraction of those who come in to Israel come in to attack; 99.9999 percent come to work. Thus, the article exposes the lie that the wall has stopped attacks on Israelis. There are no attacks because Palestinians are choosing by and large not to resort to violence to counter the occupation. And the two societies are interdependent. So why the wall? That’s the big flaw in the article. It doesn’t address the political purposes of the wall: to grab as much Palestinian land with maximum Jews on it. The wall travels for most of its course to the east of the Green Line, taking Palestinian territory and protecting illegal Israeli settlements/colonies to its west. It is a de facto apartheid border….

City parched after Israel cuts water supply

Amira Hass Ha’aretz 26/06/16

Chickens and gardens in Salfit die of dehydration, and factories are shut down in an effort to conserve water; ‘We woke up one morning to an empty reservoir,’ the mayor says. ‘Had we known ahead of time that the water would be cut off, we would have stocked up.’ — “I can fast. My chickens and plants can’t. I can go without drinking water for 18 hours during Ramadan. I understand. But my plants and chickens, what do they know? What can I tell them – to make do, because Mekorot [the Israeli water company] is reducing the amount of water, and specifically now during the summer and Ramadan?” says Nizar Rayan, a resident of Qarawat Bani Hassan in the Salfit District. Rayan has an impressive plant nursery in front of his house and a large chicken coop down the road. At the beginning of June, when it became clear that the cuts in the water supply to the towns and villages in the central West Bank district were not temporary, he rushed out and sold almost all of his 700 chickens. He thought he would have enough water for about 80 chickens when the regular water supply was renewed, but 50 of them died from dehydration last week. Another died on Sunday. When he entered the almost empty coop to show me around, he discovered the dead body lying on the ground. That’s how, within two to three weeks, Rayan calculates that he’s lost some 7,000 shekels ($1,800). Now he fears for the fate of the plant nursery … When Rayan washes his hands before prayer, he is careful to do so in the garden – above a small tree or the seedlings – so they can enjoy a little too. For the past three weeks, the lives of tens of thousands of Palestinians around Salfit and Nablus have revolved around water…

In other areas of the western West Bank, such as Tul Karm and Qalqilyah, the Jordanian authorities drilled deep water wells before 1967. They’re included in the water infrastructure the Palestinian Authority was allowed to operate. The Salfit District was unlucky, though, and has no such wells. The springs, shallow water wells and cisterns for collecting rainwater in homes and fields, met the needs of 60 years ago. “Who ever thought the day would come when we wouldn’t be able to use the water flowing under our feet based on our own needs,” says the mayor. The temporary-permanent Oslo Accords forbid the Palestinians from drilling deep wells in the region richest in water – the western basin….

Stop living in denial, Israel is an evil state

Gideon Levy Ha’aretz 31/07/16

Israel may not be Nazi, nor even a fascist state. Yet it is a member of the same terrible family, the family of evil states. Just consider these acts of evil perpetrated by the state… — After we’ve cited nationalism and racism, hatred and contempt for Arab life, the security cult and resistance to the occupation, victimhood and messianism, one more element must be added without which the behavior of the Israeli occupation regime cannot be explained: Evil. Pure evil. Sadistic evil. Evil for its own sake. Sometimes, it’s the only explanation …Only evil can explain the state’s conduct toward Bilal Kayed [see article under Prisoners] – only an evil state acts this way.The arbitrary announcement, at the last moment, of a senseless detention is abuse, and the way he has been treated since then is also abuse. Only evil can explain the detention last week of another young man, Hiran Jaradat, whose brother Arif (who had Down syndrome) was killed in June and whose father died two days ago. He is under arrest for “incitement on Facebook” and was not released to attend his father’s funeral. Evil. The continuation of the detention of poet Darin Tatur – evil. The destruction of the tiny swimming pool that the residents of Khirbet Tana in the northern West Bank had built for themselves – evil. The confiscation of water tanks from a community of shepherds in the Jordan Valley in the July heat – evil. A great many of the decisions of the occupation regime that decides the fates of individuals, families, communities, villages and cities cannot be explained without evil. The list is as long as the occupation. The extortion of sick people from Gaza to enlist them as collaborators, the blockades on cities and towns for weeks, the Gaza blockade, the demolition of homes – all evil. Banal or not, its existence must be acknowledged and it must be recognized as one of the most influential values in Israel. Yes, there is an evil regime at work in Israel, and therefore it is an evil state.

The Shot Heard All Over the Country [an extract]

Uri Avnery 06/08/16

Killing a defenceless human being has turned him into a national hero.

Two young Palestinians attacked an Israeli soldier with a knife in Tel Rumaida, a settlement of extremist Jews in the centre of Hebron. The soldier was slightly wounded. The attackers were shot, one died on the spot, the other was severely wounded and lay bleeding on the ground. What happened next was photographed by a local Palestinian. . .

The crew of an Israeli ambulance was treating the wounded soldier, ignoring the seriously wounded Arab [Abd al-Fatah al-Sharif] who was lying on the ground. Several Israeli soldiers were standing around, also ignoring the Palestinian. About 10 minutes later Sergeant Elor Azaria, a medic, appeared on the scene, approached the wounded Palestinian and shot him point-blank in the head, killing him.

According to eye-witnesses, Azaria declared that “the terrorist must die”. Later, on the advice of his phalanx of lawyers, Azaria claimed that he was afraid that the wounded Palestinian had an explosive charge on his body and was about to kill the soldiers around him – an assertion clearly disproved by the pictures which showed the soldiers standing nearby obviously unconcerned. Then there was a mysterious knife which was not there at the beginning of the clip and could be seen lying near the body at the end.

The film was widely distributed on social media and could not be ignored. Azaria was brought before a military court and became the centre of a political storm that has been going on for weeks. It is splitting the army, the public, the political scene and the entire state. . .

We all saw him on TV, sitting in the military courtroom during his trial, which is still going on. A childish-looking soldier, seeming quite lost. His mother sits directly behind him, cradling his head in her arms and stroking him all the time. His father sits nearby and in the intermissions shouts abuse at the military prosecutor. So what is so special about this case? Similar acts happen all the time, though not on camera. It’s routine. Especially in Hebron, where a few hundred [ed – national-religious] fanatical settlers live among 160,000 Palestinians. Since the beginning of the occupation, this has been a place of continued violent strife. The main street is reserved for Jews and closed to Arab traffic. For soldiers sent there to guard the settlers, it is hell.

In the clip, Azaria is seen shaking hands with somebody immediately after the killing. This person is no other than Baruch Marzel, the king of the Tel Rumaida settlers. Marzel is the successor of “Rabbi” Meir Kahane, who was branded as a fascist by the Supreme Court of Israel. (Marzel once openly called for my assassination.) During the trial, it was revealed that Marzel plays host every Saturday to the entire company of Israeli soldiers guarding the settlement, including the officers. This means that Azaria was exposed to his fascist ideas before the shooting event.

The [ed – national-religious] leader, Naftali Bennett, a successful high-tech entrepreneur, is now a dominant member of the government, in constant competition and conflict with Binyamin Netanyahu. The party has its own education system. For decades now this party has been engaged in a determined effort to conquer the army from below. It has pre-army preparatory schools which produce highly-motivated future officers, and is slowly infiltrating the lower officer corps. Kippah-wearing captains and majors, once a rarity, are now very common.

A large part of the population, especially the religious and rightist sectors, protested loudly against the trial. Since the Azaria family is oriental, the protesters include the bulk of the oriental sector. Netanyahu’s acute political nose immediately scented the trend. He decided to visit the Azaria family, and was only held back at the last moment by his advisors. Instead, he called Elor’s father, and conveyed his personal sympathies on the phone. Avigdor Lieberman, before his appointment as Minister of Defense, personally visited the courtroom in order to demonstrate his support for the soldier.

Now the army, the last bulwark of national unity, is being torn apart. The high command is openly attacked as leftist, a term not far removed from traitorous in current Israeli discourse. The myth of military infallibility lies shattered, the authority of the high command profoundly damaged, criticism of the Chief of Staff is rampant.

In the contest between Sergeant Elor Azaria and the Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Gadi Eizenkot, the sergeant may well win. If convicted at all for blatantly disobeying orders, he will get off with a light sentence. Killing a defenceless human being has turned him into a national hero. His was the shot that was heard all over the country. Perhaps all over the world.

Israeli soldiers beat pregnant wife of suspected gunman

IMEMC/Agencies 4/08/16

Israeli military forces stormed, on Wednesday at dawn, the house of Hadeel Owda, wife of Mohammad al-Faqeeh, who was killed by Israeli forces on July 27, and proceeded to physically assault her. Family members claimed, according to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency, that an Israeli military detachment stormed the house, while a number of female soldiers beat Hadeel on her abdomen with the intent of causing an abortion of her unborn foetus. The family added that the soldiers tried to arrest Owda, while her father subsequently fell into a coma, and was taken to an Israeli hospital. Faqeeh’s wife is in her fourth month of pregnancy, and Israeli forces had reportedly demanded her to get an abortion for her baby, previously. Israeli authorities alleged that Faqeeh was the gunman who carried out a shooting attack on Route 60, between the illegal Israeli settlements of Beit Hagai and Otniel, to the south of Hebron, which killed Otniel resident Michael Marc. The Israeli soldiers bombarded, destroyed the house and killed Faqeeh while he was inside it.

Israel passes law allowing imprisonment of East Jerusalem Palestinians ages 14 and under

Ma’an 03/08/16

Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, passed a bill into law on Wednesday permitting the imprisonment of children under the age of 14 if the child committed acts of “terrorism,” according to a statement released by the Knesset. The legislation, labelled the “Youth Bill,” would allow Israeli authorities to imprison a child if convicted of “terrorism” against Israeli civilians or military personnel. The statement said that Israeli courts were now permitted to “set discussions regarding the imprisoned juvenile while he or she is being held at a closed facility,” and that during the discussions the courts “will be allowed to postpone the convicted minor’s transfer date from the closed facility to a prison, shorten the convicted minor’s prison sentence or cancel the prison sentence.” The bill, which was first introduced by Knesset member (MK) Anat Berko, was passed after 32 MKs voted in its favour, while 16 MKs voted against the legislation, and one abstained … The law is intended to punish primarily Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem who attempt attacks on Israeli civilians and military. Palestinians of all ages from the occupied West Bank, including young minors, have long been tried, sentenced and detained in Israel’s military court system.

Paying E. Jerusalem schools to switch to Israeli curriculum

WAFA 07/08/16

The ministry of higher education Sunday expressed strong dismay at what it described as an Israeli war against the East Jerusalem schools through the educational process. It said in a press release that the Israeli education ministry is trying to lure schools in East Jerusalem that stick to the Palestinian curriculum into switching to the Israeli curriculum in exchange of extra funding. The ministry said this move is a “war against the Palestinian and Arab identity of East Jerusalem’s schools and a blatant attempt to mask the Palestinian identity of these educational institutions.” “By trying to enforce these laws, Israel is confiscating Palestinians’ basic rights which protect their identity, culture and curriculum,” said the ministry. The campaign, which is in full swing, now must be confronted by Palestinian and Arab businessmen who can support East Jerusalem’s schools and protect these institutions from any Israeli attempts to take advantage of their financial needs, it added.


View all →