Briefing Paper January 2018

Netanyahu’s Basic Law risks exploding a seven-decade-old myth about Israel

Netanyahu’s Basic Law risks exploding a seven-decade-old myth about Israel: a liberal democracy where Israeli citizens, Jews and Palestinians alike enjoy equal rights. Its purpose is to give a constitutional-like standing to Israel’s definition as a state that belongs not to its citizens – as is the case in a liberal democracy – but to all Jews around the world, including those with no connection to Israel. Additionally, the bill is expected to downgrade the status of Arabic, the mother tongue of a fifth of Israel’s population. It will also require the Israeli courts to give due weight in their rulings to Jewish religious law and Jewish heritage.

“The goal of the state’s founders was to conceal the structural discrimination,” “The mistake was to believe that a Jewish state can be a democratic one, and that it can uphold universal values and rights.”

They fear that the Israeli far right will show Israel’s hand by clearly codifying its status as a state belonging to, and privileging, Jews around the world rather than to its own citizenry, which includes a large proportion of Palestinians.

Israel has two citizenship laws. These confer different rights, based on whether a citizen is Jewish or not.

The Law of Return and the Citizenship Law are two of nearly 70 Israeli laws – the number is growing – that explicitly discriminate based on whether a citizen is Jewish or Palestinian. “Officials are often breaking the law if they do not discriminate. It is their job to discriminate.”

Individual rights are enjoyed by all citizens by virtue of their citizenship, whether they are Jews or Palestinians. In this regard, Israel looks like a liberal democracy. But Israel also recognises “national rights,” and reserves them almost exclusively for the Jewish population. National rights are treated as superior to individual citizenship rights. So if there is a conflict between the two, the Jewish national right will invariably be given priority by officials and the courts.

Israel’s Palestinian minority can pass their citizenship “downwards” to offspring but cannot extend it “outwards,” as a Jew can, to members of their extended family – in this case, the millions of Palestinians who were made refugees by Israel in 1948 and their descendants. Resources can be exploited only by the Jewish population because each community is governed by an Admissions Committee, which blocks entry to Israel’s Palestinian citizens on the grounds that they are “socially unsuitable”. “The committees govern entry to 550 communities in Israel, ensuring that the resources they control are available only to their Jewish populations,” Zaher told MEE. “These committees are one link in a chain of racist policies, segregation and exclusion by the state towards Palestinian citizens.”

The primary purpose of these rural communities is to enforce Israel’s “nationalisation” of 93 percent of its territory. This land is “nationalised” not for Israeli citizens – as no Israeli nationality is recognised – but for a global Jewish nation. Israel should be classified not as a liberal democracy but as a fundamentally non-democratic state called an ethnocracy.

Israel revokes citizenship of hundreds of Negev Bedouin, leaving them stateless

by Jack Khoury Ha’aretz 25/08/17

Some were citizens for 40 years, served in the army and paid their taxes, but had their status canceled with a single keystroke and no further explanation

Dozens of people – men and women, young and old – crowd into a big tent in the unrecognized village of Bir Hadaj. Some hold documents in plastic bags while others clutch tattered envelopes. What brought them to this village south of Be’er Sheva in Israel’s Negev desert was that the Population, Immigration and Border Authority had revoked their citizenship, claiming that it had been awarded to them in error. Judging by the increasing number of complaints piling up in recent months, this appears to be a widespread phenomenon among the Negev’s Bedouin residents.

Hundreds if not thousands of them are losing their citizenship due to “erroneous registration.” This is the reason they get from the Interior Ministry, with no further details or explanationLawmaker Aida Touma-Suliman of the Joint List has received many appeals in recent months from people who have been stripped of their Israeli citizenship. Attorney Sausan Zahar from the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel recently appealed to Interior Minister Arye Dery and to Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, asking them to cancel this policy. According to her petition, these sweeping citizenship cancellations have been going on at least since 2010.

When Bedouin citizens come to Interior Ministry offices in Be’er Sheva to take care of routine matters such as changing their address, obtaining a birth certificate or registering names, the Population Authority examines their status, as well as that of their parents and grandparents, going back to the early days of the state. In many cases, the clerk tells them that their Israeli citizenship had been granted in error. On the spot, he changes their status from citizen to resident and issues them a new document. People who lose their citizenship are given no explanation and no opportunity to appeal. Instead, the clerk suggests that they submit a request and start the process of obtaining citizenship from scratch, as if they were newcomers to Israel. Many, caught by surprise and without legal advice, don’t know what to do. Some submit a request for citizenship while others simply give up in despair.

Two more cancer patients die in Gaza after being denied travel for treatment

MAP  01/09/17

 Two more Palestinian patients have died after being denied permits by Israeli authorities to exit Gaza for medical treatment. Both women were diagnosed with cancer and denied access to vital treatment in Jerusalem. According to Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, Ka‘enat Mustafa Ja‘arour, 42, was suffering from uterine cancer, and was referred for treatment at a hospital in Jerusalem. Her first request for a permit to exit Gaza via the Erez Crossing was submitted to the Israeli authorities at the end of April 2017, and was rejected. She received no response to two subsequent requests until her death on 27 August.
Fatin Nader Ahmed, 26, was referred to the Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem for treatment for brain cancer. Her first permit request was submitted to the Israeli authorities in November 2016, however, the status of her permit request for treatment remained “under security check”. Two further requests also remained under security check, and a fourth was rejected. Fatin’s fifth request was finally approved, allowing her to cross Erez for treatment in Jerusalem. Doctors at Augusta Victoria Hospital recommended a course of four consecutive sessions of chemotherapy. However, following her first treatment, Fatin’s following three permits to exit Gaza for treatment were rejected by Israeli authorities, not allowing her access to the vital completion of her course of treatment. Fatin died in Gaza City on 23 August 2017, a mere hour’s drive away from the hospital that could have given her the treatment which could have extended her life….

Sentence of Israeli soldier convicted of manslaughter reduced

AFP 26/09/17

Israel’s military chief of staff on Wednesday reduced the sentence of a soldier convicted of manslaughter for shooting dead a prone Palestinian assailant by four months, the army said. The move cut Elor Azaria’s sentence from 18 to 14 months after the soldier pleaded for leniency.

Azaria was convicted in a military trial that deeply divided the country and began his sentence in August. Military chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot had repeatedly denounced Azaria’s actions, putting him at odds with right-wing politicians including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who called for the soldier to be released. “Despite the fact that it is clear from the words of the chief of staff that Azaria’s actions were contrary to the code of conduct and to the values of the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) … he decided to do so out of consideration of the fact that he is a combat soldier and a warrior” who had “endured a lot,”  The March 2016 shooting in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron was caught on video by a human rights group and spread widely online. It showed Abdul Fatah al-Sharif, 21, lying wounded on the ground, shot along with another Palestinian after stabbing and wounding a soldier, according to the army. Some 11 minutes after the initial shooting, Azaria shot him in the head without any apparent provocation….

Palestinian children beaten, tortured under Israeli interrogation

IMEMC/Agencies 14/10/17

Several Palestinian child prisoners in Ofer prison revealed their experiences with torture and mistreatment to Palestinian lawyer Wael Awakah, including beatings and threats by Israeli occupation soldiers and interrogators from the moment of their arrest.

Awakah reported that Waleed Riyad al-Dali, 14 years old, a tenth-grade student and a resident of the village of Biddu in the Ramallah district, was seized on 28 September 2017 at 5:00 pm from the center of his village by undercover Israeli occupation soldiers disguised as Palestinians. He was assaulted and beaten by the soldiers, punched in the head and left bloody by their attack. Waleed was then taken to a settlement while shackled and blindfolded in a military jeep. He reported being beaten by the soldiers rifle butts and kicked by them during the travel to the settlement.  At the settlement military base, Waleed was interrogated; the interrogator threatened to break his hands, refused him food and directed curses and obscene insults at him. Yazid Akram Humaidan, 15, also a resident of Biddu, was also seized on 28 September from the center of town by undercover Israeli occupation soldiers, who threw him to the ground, punched and slapped him. Yazid said that one of the undercover occupation soldiers stomped on his neck so hard that he feared for his life as he was beaten on the head and face with sharp blows. Yazid also said that he was screamed at and cursed by interrogators at a nearby settlement and that he was physically weak and tired during interrogation as he had had surgery only two months before….

Meet the Palestinian Israeli put on trial for her poetry

Orly Noy  +972 mag 28/08/17

One day in the future, when they write the book on the belligerence and aggression of the State of Israel toward its Arab citizens, the story of Dareen Tatour — who has been under house arrest for nearly two years, including three months of jail time — will have its own special chapter dedicated to it. Tatour was arrested in October 2015 for both a poem and Facebook post she published. Since then, the state has been waging a legal battle, which has included bringing in a series of experts on both Arabic and Arabic poetry, in order to dissect the words of a young poet who was nearly anonymous until her arrest. Her trial, and the state’s attempts to turn a poem into an existential threat, has been nothing short of Kafkaesque. I spoke to Tatour from her home in the village of Reineh, near Nazareth. As part of the conditions of her house arrest, Tatour is not allowed to use the Internet or smart phones. “So I started using dumb phones,” she laughs. Soft spoken, Tatour maintains a reserved matter-of-factness even as she recalls those first knocks on her door and the moment everything changed….

Israel makes it increasingly difficult for Palestinians’ foreign spouses to stay in W B

Amira Hass Ha’aretz 10/10/17

Ever more frequent demands by the Israeli authorities in the West Bank are forcing these women to leave and re-enter the territories. It’s to urge the families to emigrate, critics say…

In recent months, Eva and other citizens of foreign countries who are married to Palestinian residents of the West Bank have noticed that Israel has been putting more limits on their ability to stay put. Another woman, Dora, says that after years of being issued visas (officially called “visitor permits”) that were valid for a year, suddenly, with no explanation, she received a visa that was only good for a few weeks. Other women, who not long ago received visas valid for six or seven months, have recently been given visas valid for just over two weeks and which must be renewed over and over …

Jerusalem attorneys Leora Bechor and Yotam Ben-Hillel represent many foreign spouses of Palestinians … Bechor says: “Israel has apparently decided that the Palestinians don’t have the right to family life. First of all, the spouses of Palestinians aren’t allowed to obtain legal status in the territories via family reunification. And now on top of that, they’ve decided also to block the only path that still lets these couples live together in the territories – long-term, renewable visitor permits.” Bechor says Israel is creating a situation in which spouses who want to keep living together will be forced to leave the West Bank. “In this way, Israel is ensuring the expulsion of many Palestinians,” she says. “All the excuses used by the Civil Administration for not extending the visitor permits are just further proof that Israel is losing its mind over demographics and counting every single Palestinian who lives between the Jordan River and the sea.”

Breaking up West Bank families: an unseen Israeli policy  

Amira Hass Ha’aretz 17/10/17

Why is Israel so concerned about a Palestinian woman from Ramallah who is married to a citizen of a certain European country, or about a Palestinian man from Bethlehem whose beloved has an American passport? What bothers Israel so much about these “mixed” couples that it sends its long arm into their bedrooms, yanks the partner who is not a resident of the West Bank out of there – and deports them beyond the borders of Israel?

Five weeks ago, Haaretz published an article on this Israeli abuse, the systematic refusal to allow non-Palestinian partners to remain with their families in the West Bank. The article was swallowed up in the Israeli black hole of “it’s not our affair.” But since then more couples have called to tell how Israel is forcing them to live separately. This is policy, not just a collection of individual incidents.

The methods for forced separation are varied. The common basis is a prolonged freeze in the “family reunification” process, which Israel determines if and when it will start and end, how many families will be included and which ones. Family reunification means granting residency in the West Bank and an identity card of the Palestinian Authority. So the foreign partners are living in their homes with a tourist visa from Israel that is extended periodically, whether through the Israeli Civil Administration in the West Bank or after a short trip abroad. Suddenly the couple wakes up to discover their request for an extension of the permit was not approved, the visa is for a very short time, the partner is being threatened that if she continues to work in the West Bank she will be deported because that is seemingly a violation of the visa conditions. Or before he returns to the West Bank he must deposit an astronomical sum of money that is difficult for them to acquire, or the partner is summoned for a threatening talk in the offices of the Civil Administration. “You entered Israel through Ben-Gurion Airport,” is how the official describes the terrible crime the woman committed….

A southern Israeli village’s fate: Bedouin out, Jews in  

Gideon Levy & Alex Levac  Ha’aretz  08/09/17  

Eight months ago, Yakub Abu al-Kiyan was killed by police during a protest against the demolition of Bedouin houses to make way for Jewish ones; his widow and 10 kids are living in a tent next to the rubble of their home –

Wearing black, she emerges from her tent, a beautiful, smiling woman whose face is etched with the lines of life’s ordeals. Raba Abu al-Kiyan, the widow of Yakub – the teacher who was shot to death on January 18 by the Israel Police, who in a snap decision concluded that he was trying to run them over – lives in a tent next to the ruins of her home in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev  

For eight months – through winter, spring, summer and now with the onset of autumn – the bereaved family has called this tent home. The heaps of rubble nearby have lain untouched since that fateful, early January morning, the morning of the killing and destruction in Umm al-Hiran. The ruins of the parents’ house, the children’s house, the animal pen – all are just as they were. People don’t clear away the rubble in Umm al-Hiran, because they understand that in any event they’re living on borrowed time here.

On July 18, the bulldozers returned and started to prepare the ground for the religious-Jewish community of Hiran, which is to be built on the ruins of the Bedouin village. The work is going on just steps away from the tent where Raba and her children live. They probably won’t be able to stay here much longer … A pall of despair seems to have descended on Umm al-Hiran. No one is expanding his house, no one is renovating or fixing anything – neglect is rampant. The mounds of ruins have become street furniture, the meager plantings have wilted, there’s no reason to cultivate anything. The generators, the black water containers, the satellite dishes and the solar panels – all are now signs of transience here, scattered about on the ground, after dozens of years of habitation. Only the access road to the community, formerly scarred and pot-holed, was miraculously repaired and repaved recently. After all, it’s going to serve Jewish residents soon….

S1.5m of EU-donated structures destroyed by Israel since 2014  

MEMO 05/10/17

Israeli authorities have demolished or seized some $1.5 million worth of European Union-donated structures in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) since 2014. The figures are included in a newly published, six-month report by the Office of the European Union Representative in the oPt, covering developments March-August 2017.

During the reporting period, occupied East Jerusalem saw a high number of demolitions, while there was a reduction in Area C of the West Bank (compared to 2016’s unusually high figures). According to a summary of the report, over 150 Palestinian owned structures were impacted by demolition, seizure, sealing off, or eviction throughout the occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem. Almost 60 per cent of the incidents took place in East Jerusalem. “This brings the total number of affected structures since the beginning of 2017 to 330, resulting in the displacement of over 500 Palestinians including 290 children,” the summary states.

Since the beginning of 2017, Israeli occupation authorities have targeted 72 EU-funded structures, representing 22 per cent of all affected Palestinian-owned structures (up from 17 per cent in 2016). The EU report notes that an estimated number of 12,500 Palestinian structures in Area C currently have outstanding demolition orders issued by the Israeli Civil Administration due to lack of required building permits. These pending demolition orders “could be implemented at any moment”….

Israel says Hamas must disarm under Palestinian unity deal  

AFP 12/10/17

Hamas must disarm and recognise Israel under a Palestinian unity deal announced on Thursday with its rival Fatah aimed at ending their decade-long split, an Israeli government official said. “Any reconciliation between the (Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority) and Hamas must include a commitment to international agreements and to the conditions of the Quartet, first of which is recognising Israel and demilitarising Hamas,” the official said in the Israeli government’s first reaction to the deal signed in Cairo. The official was referring to the diplomatic Quartet on Middle East peace, which includes the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia. The reaction was Israel’s first after the two major Palestinian factions agreed a unity deal in the Egyptian capital on Thursday afternoon, which is supposed to see the internationally recognised Palestinian Authority retake control of Gaza from Islamists Hamas by December 1….

Shikun U’Binui wins contract to build Gaza barrier  

Kobi Yeshayahou  Globes 23/10/17

Shikun u’Binui Holdings Ltd. Israeli construction unit Solel Boneh has been awarded another contract to build sections of the new barrier surrounding the Gaza strip over the coming year. Solel Boneh successfully bid for the Ministry of Defense tender to build two sections of the Gaza barrier for a combined value of NIS 640 million. The company previously won the first tender for a section of the barrier worth NIS 220 million. There is an overall budget of NIS 3.3 billion for construction of the Gaza barrier, which combines underground and above ground elements.

Construction of the barrier, which is meant to provide a comprehensive solution to the threat posed by tunnels dug into Israel from Gaza, will begin in the coming weeks and be completed by the end of 2019. Once construction moves into high gear, 1,000 workers will be employed on the project working 24 hours around the clock at 40 sites. The barrier will include an underground concrete wall tens of meters deep with alert sensors. The administration in charge of the project says that each kilometer of the barrier will cost NIS 40 million with a further NIS 1.5 million per kilometer for an over-ground metal fence

Opinion: A yawn – that’s how Israelis respond to land theft   

Amira Hass Ha’aretz 01/11/17

What would have happened had unidentified individuals in Iran, France or Venezuela attacked Jewish shopkeepers and forced them to close their shops? What apologies and expressions of shock our diplomats would have demanded from the European Union, the United Nations and who knows who else. And with what glee various researchers would have drawn a graph of global hatred and been interviewed at length, with grave expressions, about the worrisome anti-Semitic characteristics – so reminiscent of a dark past – of robbing Jews of their livelihood and destroying their property.

But for we Israelis, this rhetorical question has lost its power to educate, embarrass and shame. The fact that so many Israelis are involved in robbing so many Palestinians of their livelihood doesn’t even register on our seismographs … According to complementary reports by the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and two nongovernmental organizations, Rabbis for Human Rights and Yesh Din, over the past few weeks, unidentified individuals have stolen olives from more than 1,000 trees in 11 Palestinian villages in the West Bank – ‘Azmut, ‘Awarta, Yanun, Burin, Qaryut, Far‘ata, Jit, Sinjil, Al-Magheir, Al-Jinya, Al-Khader. Moreover, unidentified individuals, who looked like Jews, assaulted harvesters from the villages of Deir al-Khattab, Burin, As-Sawiya and Kafr Kalil and drove them from their orchards. Aside from in Burin, where the army located some of the Jewish thieves and returned the harvest to its owners, these thefts meant that an investment of time, money and effort had gone down the drain….

Israel’s ‘dogs of war’: another form of colonial violence  

CJ Werleman MEE  03/11/17

Guard dogs are kept in wooden boxes outside settlements across the West Bank for one purpose only: to attack Palestinians — …The first time I visited an Israeli outpost, its residents gave me a tour of the compound. Situated approximately 30-minutes drive from the centre of Jerusalem, the front gate to this particular outpost looked like an attempt to turn an old highway tollbooth into a pseudo-military checkpoint, which on this day was manned by a heavily armed 23-year-old Jewish American kid from Florida. Behind him a loose gravel driveway snaked its way to the top of the ridgeline.

When you stand atop of the hill, you stand among two dozen mobile homes and trailers that house the outpost’s 50 or so occupants. In the distance, and in all directions, you can see the unmistakable red-tiled rooflines of the larger Israeli settlements that strategically trace the Palestinian territory’s hilltops. Midway down the hill, a series of wooden boxes are tied together by chains, each box located approximately 50 yards from the next. These 3ft by 3ft boxes trace the outpost’s entire perimeter, each housing two guard dogs that are chained permanently to them. Should a Palestinian approach the perimeter, the dogs bark, serving as an alarm for the residents to grab their guns.

This scene is typical of every Israeli outpost settlement in the occupied West Bank, and it is every bit as inhumane and barbaric as you can imagine. These dogs are permanently tied to these boxes, throughout the hottest days of summer, where daytime temperatures surpass 100 degrees Fahrenheit, to the coldest nights in winter, where the mercury often touches zero degrees Celsius. No respite. No end to their heinous mandated duty. They are put there for one purpose and one purpose only: to attack Palestinians. For settlers with a reasonable income, there are settler dog training programmes…
In some instances, an impoverished Palestinian is paid a small fee to give a dog a savage beating, thereby ensuring the dog forever remains fearful of Palestinians, which guarantees a more vicious response any time in the future a Palestinian might approach the settlement. With an ever increasing number of Israelis illegally occupying the West Bank, bringing an ever increasing number of trained attack dogs, it’s little wonder reports of Palestinian being attacked by settler dogs are also increasing in both frequency and ferocity. Palestinian kids as young as five years of age have suffered life-long horrific injuries from these dogs. These attacks coincide within a pattern of overall increase in settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank – with the number of attacks increasing by more than 30 percent year-on-year, according to a report published by the European Parliament….

Transfer of Palestinians, in word and deed   

Amira Hass Ha’aretz 14/11/17

The legacy of Rehavam Ze’evi (“voluntary transfer”) is commemorated all the time in the Jordan Valley. Highway 90 there is named after him, using his irritating nickname, Gandhi. On every large sign with the words “Gandhi Highway,” the hardly secret Israeli desire to get rid of the Palestinians is linked to the appropriation of one of the international symbols of liberation from colonialism.
. And now comes housing and construction minister Yoav Galant, and with the help of Kan, the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation, transfers the Palestinians with a thrust of his tongue. “In the Jordan Valley after 50 years there’s a total of 5,000 people,” he said on the morning news program Thursday. He didn’t say Jews, he didn’t say Israelis. He said “people.” And the experienced presenter didn’t interrupt and say: “Just a minute, there are at least 70,000 Palestinian living in the Jordan Valley, and they’ve been there since before 1967. In Ouja alone there are about 5,000 people. And a similar number in Jiftlik, and let’s not forget the city of Jericho, which has a population of about 35,000, and thousands of families of shepherds for whom the valley is home.”
. On the previous evening, Kan’s television news publicized Galant’s plan to persuade more Jews to commit a crime and migrate to the Jordan Valley. “Today only about 6,000 people live in the Jordan Valley,” explained the reporter, and nobody corrected her. This is repeated on the Kan website, with a slight change: “Today only about 6,000 human beings live in the region,” according to the item that sums up the televised report. Galant and the TV reporters showed an extreme lack of awareness of the significance of the word that they chose or allowed to be used, in the above-mentioned context. Even if the reporters themselves are probably opposed to expulsion, they implemented a mental transfer of tens of thousands of Palestinians while internalizing the ultimate Zionist vision … And here is a coincidence that did not happen by chance: About an hour after Galant’s radio interview, soldiers sent by their commander, Maj. Gen. Roni Numa, came to carry out more than a verbal removal: They placed an expulsion order for about 300 Palestinian shepherds and their families on the highway, in the area of the Al Maleh rural council….

How Israel is ‘cleansing’ Palestinians from Greater Jerusalem  

Jonathan Cook MEE  23/11/17

Israel is putting in place the final pieces of a Greater Jewish Jerusalem that will require “ethnically cleansing” tens of thousands of Palestinians from a city their families have lived and worked in for generations, human rights groups have warned.

The pace of physical and demographic changes in the city has accelerated dramatically since Israel began building a steel and concrete barrier through the city’s Palestinian neighbourhoods more than a decade ago, according to the rights groups and Palestinian researchers. Israel is preparing to cement these changes in law, they note. Two parliamentary bills with widespread backing among government ministers indicate the contours of Jerusalem’s future. One bill intends to annex to Jerusalem some 150,000 Jews in illegal West Bank settlements surrounding the city. As well as bolstering the city’s Jewish population, the move will give these additional settlers a vote in Jerusalem’s municipal elections, pushing it politically even further to the right. . Another bill will deny more than 100,000 Palestinians on the “wrong” side of the barrier rights in the city. They will be assigned to a separate local council for Palestinians only, in what observers fear will be a prelude to stripping them of residency and barring them from Jerusalem. Meanwhile, a web of harsh Israeli policies, including late-night arrests, land shortages, home demolitions and a denial of basic services, are intensifying the pressure on Palestinians inside the wall to move out. These measures are designed to pre-empt any future peace efforts, and effectively nullify Palestinian ambitions for a state with East Jerusalem as its capital, said Aviv Tatarsky, a field researcher with Ir Amim, an Israeli group advocating fair treatment for Palestinians in Jerusalem. “What is going on is ethnic cleansing, without guns,” Tatarsky told Middle East Eye. “Israel hopes to get rid of a third of Jerusalem’s Palestinian population through legislative moves alone.”….

Rabbi urges Israel to finish off wounded Palestinians  

IMEMC/Agencies 25/11/17

A Jewish rabbi has urged Israeli occupation forces to “finish off” wounded Palestinians who carry out resistance attacks, and to refrain from providing them with medical treatment or first aid, leaving them to bleed to death. The right-wing Rabbi Baruch Marzel, who lives in an illegal settlement in Hebron, claims that “since the Elor Azarya affair, terrorists are not killed and soldiers do not finish the job and do not make sure that the terrorist is dead.”

However, according to the PNN, the facts on the ground indicate that Israelis have been continuously targeting unarmed Palestinians. The most recent incident was when a member of the Givati Brigade killed a young Palestinian man, Mohammed Musa, 29, and left him to bleed to death. His sister Latifa Musa, 33, was wounded, which forced the brigade’s leadership in the occupied West Bank to reprimand the soldier and dismiss another officer. Elor Azarya shot Abdul Fattah Al-Sharif as he lay motionless on the floor in occupied Hebron on 24 March 2016. After pulling the trigger Azaria said: “He deserved to die.”….

The Israeli military first took his legs, then his life  

Gideon Levy Ha’aretz 17/12/17

The Israeli army sharpshooter couldn’t target the lower part of his victim’s body — Ibrahim Abu Thuraya didn’t have one. The 29-year-old, who worked washing cars and who lived in Gaza City’s Shati refugee camp, lost both legs from the hips down in an Israeli airstrike during Operation Cast Lead in 2008. He used a wheelchair to get around. On Friday the army finished the job: A sharpshooter aimed at his head and shot him dead. The images are horrific: Abu Thuraya in his wheelchair, pushed by friends, calling for protests against the U.S. declaration recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital; Abu Thuraya on the ground, crawling toward the fence behind which the Gaza Strip is imprisoned; Abu Thuraya waving a Palestinian flag; Abu Thuraya holding up both arms in the victory sign; Abu Thuraya carried by his friends, bleeding to death; Abu Thuraya’s corpse laid out on a stretcher: The End….

A girl’s chutzpah  

Gideon Levi Ha’aretz 20/12/17  

Ahed Tamimi, 16, is a heroine, a Palestinian heroine. Maybe the intifada of slappings will succeed where all other methods of resistance have failed — Last Tuesday, Israel Defense Forces soldiers shot Hamed al-Masri, 15, in the head, wounding the unarmed boy from Salfit severely. On Friday, soldiers shot the unarmed Mohammed Tamimi, also 15, in the head, wounding the Nabi Saleh boy severely. Also on Friday, soldiers killed Ibrahim Abu Thuraya, a double amputee, shooting him in the head, too. On the same day Ahed Tamimi, 16, stood in the courtyard of her home with her girlfriend and slapped an IDF officer who had invaded her home.
. Israel woke from its slumber angry: How dare she. The three victims of the barbaric shooting didn’t interest Israelis, and the media didn’t even bother to report on them. But the slap (and kick) by Tamimi provoked rage. How dare she slap an IDF soldier? A soldier whose friends slap, beat, abduct and of course shoot Palestinians almost every day. She really has chutzpah, Tamimi. She broke the rules. Slapping is permitted only by soldiers. She is the real provocation, not the soldier who invaded her house. She, who had three close relatives killed by the occupation, whose parents have been detained countless times and whose father was sentenced to four months in prison for participating in a demonstration at the entrance to a grocery store – she dared to resist a soldier. Palestinian chutzpah … It’s all because of the “incitement.” Otherwise she certainly wouldn’t hate her conqueror.
. But there are other sources of the unbridled lust for revenge against Tamimi. (Education Minister Naftali Bennett: “She should finish her life in prison.”) The girl from Nabi Saleh shattered several myths for Israelis. Worst of all, she dared to damage the Israeli myth of masculinity. Suddenly it turns out that the heroic soldier, who watches over us day and night with daring and courage, is being pitted against a girl with empty hands. What’s going to happen to our machismo, which Tamimi shattered so easily, and our testosterone? Suddenly Israelis saw the cruel, dangerous enemy they are confronting: a curly-haired 16-year-old girl. All the demonization and dehumanization in the sycophantic media were shattered at once when confronted by a girl in a blue sweater … Suddenly all the cards were reshuffled: For one rare moment the enemy looked so human….

And if Ahed Tamimi were your daughter?  

Gideon Levy Ha’aretz 31/12/17 

How is it that Israelis are totally indifferent to the plight of the blond girl behind bars who could easily be their child? — For the past two weeks, she has burst into Israelis’ living rooms every few days through another perfunctory report on the extension of her arrest. Once again, we see the golden curls; once again, we see the Botticelli figure in the brown Shin Bet security service uniform and the handcuffs, looking more like a girl from Ramat Hasharon than a girl from Nabi Saleh. Yet even Ahed Tamimi’s “non-Arab” appearance hasn’t managed to touch any hearts here. The wall of dehumanization and demonization that has been built through vile campaigns of incitement, propaganda and brain-washing against the Palestinians has trumped even the blonde from Nabi Saleh.
. She could be your daughter, or your neighbor’s daughter, yet the abuse she suffers rouses no feelings of solidarity, compassion or basic humanity. After the outburst of anger over what she dared to do came the imperviousness. She’s a “terrorist.” She couldn’t have been our daughter; she’s a Palestinian.
Nobody asks himself what would have happened if Tamimi had been his daughter. Wouldn’t you have been proud of her, like her father, who, in an op-ed that commands respect, voiced that pride. Wouldn’t you have wanted a daughter like that, who exchanged her nonexistent youth for a courageous struggle for liberty? Or would you have preferred a daughter who was a collaborator? Or simply empty-headed?
And what would you have felt if soldiers from a foreign army had invaded your home at night, kidnapped your daughter from her bed before your very eyes, handcuffed and arrested her for a lengthy period, simply because she slapped the soldier who invaded her home, and slapped the occupation, which deserves far more than slaps?….

What happened when a Jewish settler slapped a soldier

Noa Osterreicher Ha’aretz 04/01/18

Both Ahed Tamimi and Yifat Alkobi were questioned for slapping a soldier in the West Bank, but little else about their cases are similar — simply because one is Jewish, the other Palestinian — This slap didn’t lead the nightly news.

This slap, which landed on the cheek of a Nahal soldier in Hebron, did not lead to an indictment. The assailant, who slapped a soldier who was trying to stop her from throwing stones, was taken in for questioning but released on bail the same day and allowed to return home. Prior to this incident, she had been convicted five times — for throwing rocks, for assaulting a police officer and for disorderly conduct, but was not jailed even once. In one instance, she was sentenced to probation, and in the rest to a month of community service and practically a token fine, as compensation to the injured parties.

The accused systematically failed to heed summonses for questioning or for legal proceedings, but soldiers did not come to drag her out of bed in the middle of the night, nor were any of her relatives arrested. Aside from a brief report by Chaim Levinson about the incident, on July 2, 2010, there were hardly any repercussions to the slap and scratches inflicted by Yifat Alkobi on the face of a soldier who caught her hurling rocks a Palestinians … Like Ahed Tamimi, Alkobi has been known for years to the military and police forces that surround her place of residence, and both are considered a nuisance and even a danger. The main difference between them is that Tamimi assaulted a soldier who was sent by a hostile government that does not recognize her existence, steals her land and kills and wounds her relatives, while Alkobi, a serial criminal, assaulted a soldier from her own people and her religion, who was sent by her nation to protect her, a nation in which she is a citizen with special privileges….

Testimonies from the censored Deir Yassin massacre: ‘They piled bodies and burned them’  

Ofer Aderet  Ha’aretz 16/07/2017 

A young fellow tied to a tree and set on fire. A woman and an old man shot in back. Girls lined up against a wall and shot with a submachine gun. The testimonies collected by filmmaker Neta Shoshani about the massacre in Deir Yassin are difficult to process even 70 years after the fact —  For two years now a document that makes for difficult reading has been lying in the archives of the association to commemorate the heritage of Lehi – the Fighters for the Freedom of Israel pre-state underground militia. It was written by a member of the underground about 70 years ago. Reading it could reopen a bleeding wound from the days of the War of Independence that to this day stirs a great deal of emotion in Israeli society.
. “Last Friday together with Etzel” – the acronym for the National Military Organization, also known as the Irgun, another pre-state underground militia, led by Menachem Begin – “our movement carried out a tremendous operation to occupy the Arab village on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv road – Deir Yassin. I participated in this operation in the most active way,” wrote Yehuda Feder, whose nom de guerre in Lehi (also known as the Stern Gang) was “Giora.” Further along in the letter, he describes in detail his part in the massacre that took place there. “This was the first time in my life that at my hands and before my eyes Arabs fell. In the village I killed an armed Arab man and two Arab girls of 16 or 17 who were helping the Arab who was shooting. I stood them against a wall and blasted them with two rounds from the Tommy gun,” he wrote, describing how he carried out the execution of the girls with a submachine gun…
. This letter is one of the historical documents revealed in a new documentary film entitled “Born in Deir Yassin” by director Neta Shoshani, who devoted the past several years to comprehensive historical research on the Deir Yassin massacre, one of the constitutive incidents of the War of Independence, which has remained a blot on Israel to this day….

3,626 Palestinian refugees killed in Syria since 2011

MEMO  01/01/18

The Task Group for Palestinians in Syria has revealed that 3,626 Palestinian refugees have been killed in the war-torn country since 2011, reported on Sunday. Breaking the figures down, the group said that 1,148 were killed in air strikes; 957 were killed in clashes between the Syrian regime and opposition gunmen; and 475 were tortured to death by the Syrian security forces. The latter figure includes 35 women. A report by the Task Group added that 308 Palestinian refugees were killed by snipers and 201 died due to lack of food and healthcare services, most of them in Al-Yarmouk Refugee Camp. The others were killed either in explosions, field executions or after they were kidnapped. Almost 1,650 Palestinian refugees are being held in Syrian prisons. All, it said, were forcefully disappeared and their exact location or fate is still unknown. The treatment of female Palestinian refugees in Syrian prisons is said to be very bad. It is alleged that they have been subjected to electric shocks, beatings with whips and iron batons, and rape.

Israeli bill makes it harder to divide Jerusalem   

Al Jazeera 02/01/18

Israeli legislators have approved a bill that makes it more difficult to divide Jerusalem. The bill passed early on Tuesday and stipulates that two-thirds support is needed in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, before Israel can relinquish control over any portion of the holy city to a foreign entity, according to local media. The bill is widely seen as intended to make it more difficult to give up part of Jerusalem to the Palestinian Authority, which wants the city’s eastern half to be the capital of an independent Palestinian state. The bill, backed by Israel’s ruling right-wing coalition, was passed with 64 Knesset members voting in favour and 52 against, according to Haaretz newspaper. The legislation also seeks to remove Palestinian neighbourhoods from the jurisdiction of the current Jerusalem municipality, affecting two Palestinian areas – Kufr Aqab and the Shuafat refugee camp – that are already on the other side of Israel’s separation wall and are systematically neglected, the report noted.

Army forces children out of their schools, breaks into homes  

IMEMC 31/12/17 –

Israeli soldiers invaded, on Sunday morning, the village of Deir Nitham, northwest of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, broke into and ransacked homes, and forced children out of their schools after invading them. Safi Tamimi, the coordinator of the Land Defense Committee in Deir Nitham, said that many armored military jeeps, and a bulldozer, invaded the village, at dawn, before closing its main entrance. Tamimi added that the soldiers then broke into and ransacked many homes, and occupied the rooftops of the home of the village’s Imam, Fadel Abdul-Hamid, in addition to Asif Hussein Diab, and broke into the Local Council building. On Sunday morning, the soldiers invaded many schools in the village, while the students were conducting their mid-term exams, and forced them out of their schools. It is worth mentioning that the soldiers broke into a school in the al-Khader town, south of Bethlehem, while the students were conducting the mid-term exams, and fired many gas bombs and concussion grenades….

Israeli settlers, soldiers raid Nablus-area school, injure 2 Palestinian students  

Ma‘an  28/12/17  

More than 20 armed Israeli settlers raided a Palestinian school in southern Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank on Thursday, resulting in the injury of two students with rubber-coated steel bullets. Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that Israeli settlers from the ultra-right wing Yitzhar settlement raided the school in the Burin village under the protection of the Israeli army as students were taking their final exams. Daghlas said that clashes erupted in the village as a result of the settler raid, with Israeli forces shooting live fire, rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas and stun grenades inside the school grounds, causing more than twenty students to suffer from severe tear-gas inhalation, and injuring two with rubber-coated bullets. Several students were transferred to hospital for treatment. Israeli settlers also damaged two vehicles and the glass windows of several rooms.

Is Israel testing new types of tear gas in Bethlehem?  

Ryan Rodrick Beiler EI 03/01/18  

Every resident in ‘Aida refugee camp – beside the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem – may have been exposed to tear gas fired by Israeli forces, according to a new study. Conducted by University of California researchers, the study notes Israel’s “widespread, frequent and indiscriminate” use of tear gas against Palestinians.

The report cites incidents of tear gas as often as two to three times a week for more than a year, and in some months, almost every day … The University of California report defines tear gas as a general term for chemical irritants designed for crowd control. The report also notes that newer forms of tear gas have been developed in the recent past that are more potent, last longer and cause more severe pain and injury, as well as being more water resistant. One child interviewed for the report described the effects of tear gas: “My face burns, I feel dizzy.” The child added: “It’s hard to breathe. I sneeze. My throat burns. I can’t open my eyes. Sometimes I faint.” The precise type of gas used by Israeli forces in ‘Aida is unknown. However, the consistent testimonies provided by the camp’s residents suggest that they are being exposed to more potent forms of the weapon. A health care worker quoted in the report stated: “The old tear gas would be better with some water but [now] that only makes it worse. Obviously, it’s a different chemical.” Mohammad al-Azza, a journalist and camp resident, told The Electronic Intifada that he agrees that the gas is now stronger than before…
. ‘Aida residents who took part in the survey reported a number of physical effects from tear gas exposure, including asthma, rashes and headaches. It also notes how a 25-year-old woman who took part in the survey had a miscarriage late in the third trimester of pregnancy. A tear gas canister had landed on that woman’s patio several days before she miscarried; she had severe respiratory systems while being exposed to tear gas. Tear gas has proven to be a lethal weapon on a number of occasions. In April 2014, for example, I attended the funeral of Noha Katamish – a 45-year-old resident of ‘Aida – who died from the effects of tear gas that Israeli forces fired through her living room window. Salah Ajarma from the Lajee Center described how homes in the camp offer no refuge from the gas … Many of the psychological impacts of Israeli forces’ use of tear gas stem from its frequency, unpredictability and the inability to escape its effects.

One teenager testified in the report: “We don’t feel safe in our homes. We don’t feel safe anywhere.”The report states that unpredictability is especially stress-inducing because raids involving tear gas are not always tied to specific incidents, creating “a state of hyper-arousal, fear and worry.”  Residents testified that peaceful events, such as a child’s birthday party or family picnics, had been disrupted by tear gas raids, often captured on video. One interviewee said Israeli soldiers use tear gas “when they are bored, when they want to provoke a clash, or when they want to get into the camp.” “Sometimes, it feels like they do it just for fun,” said one elderly resident … The US also bears responsibility for the impact of tear gas on ‘Aida. Al-Azza pointed out that like many of the weapons used by the Israeli military, tear gas used in ‘Aida is made in the US….

Hugh Humphries   


Scottish Friends of Palestine    0141 637 8046



View all →