Israel’s Dangerous New Transfer Tactic in Jerusalem

Ultra-nationalist Israelis wave their national flags during the "flag march" through Damascus Gate in east Jerusalem on May 28, 2014 as the country celebrates the anniversary of its capture in the 1967 Six-Day War. Fearing clashes, police closed the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound to visitors and in Jerusalem Day speeches Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to never allow the city to be divided. Photo by Saeed Qaq

Israel is adept at creating new Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons, taking advantage of every opportunity to do so and exploiting temporary crises to promote permanent measures. Today, it is using the recent violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) to introduce a dangerous new twist to its long-standing residency revocation policy to force Palestinians out of East Jerusalem.

This new concept –”breach of allegiance” to the state of Israel – is now being used to revoke the residency of Palestinian Jerusalemites, in addition to possible demolition of their family homes. The Israeli government is describing these actions as regular law enforcement measures, but analysis shows that they are part of its ongoing policies of forced displacement, with the aim of making long-term demographic changes and maintaining an overwhelming Jewish majority in Jerusalem.

The Israeli legal system and the military establishment have, since 1948, used several methods to minimize the number of Palestinians in the areas that fall under Israeli control, as I have described in an earlier Al-Shabaka policy brief Decades of Displacing Palestinians: How Israel Does It. These measures have included armed force, restrictions on the civil status of Palestinians, restrictions on building, and dispossession of property (especially real estate), among others forcing the majority of the Palestinian population into becoming refugees or internally displaced.

The latest Israeli shift marks a turning point that is likely to produce thousands of new population transfer victims. It is the third such regulatory turning point in Israel’s efforts to “thin out” Jerusalem’s Palestinian population, as will be discussed below. Forced displacement of Palestinians is part of Israel’s legal system: This needs to be understood and more forcefully countered by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the international community as it is being done by human rights organizations in a new campaign.

Turning Points 1 and 2: “Center of Life”

Israel’s ongoing policy of residency revocation is grounded in the increasingly explicit position that the Palestinians in Jerusalem are no more than foreign immigrants who can be easily transferred outside what Israel considers its sovereign territory. After Israel occupied and illegally annexed East Jerusalem in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, it considered Palestinian Jerusalemites “residents” in Israel, without the right to vote in the Israeli Parliament, so as to avoid adding large numbers of non-Jews to its citizen body. As time passed, the Ministry of Interior, with the consent of the Israeli Supreme Court, developed creative ways to revoke this tenuous status. As a result, since 1967 more than14,000 Jerusalem residencies have been revoked, most of them after the so-called peace process started in the early 1990s.

Successive Israeli governments have cleverly chosen the timing of new regulatory turning points to broaden the scope of residency revocations, manipulating temporary crises to do so. Two high-profile cases helped shape the pillars of the present residency revocation regime. The first was the case of the peace activist Mubarak Awad, who moved to the United States in 1970, where he married an American citizen. Awad was active in promoting nonviolent resistance before and during the First Intifada, the popular Palestinian uprising between 1987 and 1991. In 1987, he applied to the Ministry of Interior to renew his Jerusalem ID card only to learn that his Israeli residency had been revoked as a result of his stay in the US and the fact that he had received American citizenship. In hindsight, this is especially ironic now that some 15% of the settlers displacing Palestinians in the OPT are Israeli American Jews.

Awad subsequently filed a petition in the Israeli Supreme Court where he explained that his right to live in his hometown should not be compromised as a result of his stay abroad. He argued that Palestinian Jerusalemites should have an irrevocable residency status since they could not be considered mere immigrants to Israel. The Supreme Court rejected his argument and approved the revocation of his residency. In a statement that defies belief, the Court noted that his political views were a consideration that the Ministry of Interior took into account when it decided to revoke his residency.

To support this argument, the ministry had attached the opinion of an Israeli Security Agency (Shabak) official, who went by the alias “Yossi,” to the effect that Awad advocated a one-state solution and called for civil disobedience. While the Court did not explicitly ground its decision on this opinion, it frequently referred to it in its verdict. Creating a new precedent, the Court determined that residency status could be denied when a resident’s “center of life” was no longer in Israel. Beyond Awad’s personal tragedy, what is particularly important is that this legal precedent was subsequently used to deny the residency status of thousands of Jerusalemites.

In 1995, the Supreme Court issued another pivotal verdict against Fathiyya Shiqaqi, the wife of Fathi Shiqaqi, founder of the Islamic Jihad Movement. A Jerusalem resident, Shiqaqi was forced to move with her deported husband to Syria in 1988. Six years later she returned to Jerusalem and sought to renew her ID card and register her three children. The Ministry of Interior rejected her request and ordered her to leave the country. Up to this date, Israel had revoked residencies subject to a written ordinance by the ministry if the resident was absent for seven straight years or received a foreign permanent residency or citizenship. Although Shiqaqi’s case did not meet these stipulations, the Supreme Court still approved the revocation of her residency, given that Shiqaqi lived abroad with her husband and her “center of life” was no longer in Israel.

After this second turning point thousands of Palestinian residents who lived outside Jerusalem’s municipal borders in the West Bank, Gaza or abroad began losing their residency status. This large number of victims of forced displacement were not necessarily involved in any political activity. The revocation of their residency depended solely on the “center of life” criterion.

These two important cases seem to have been carefully chosen. In Jewish Israeli society, very few would empathize with the plight of an academic calling for civil disobedience or the wife of an Islamic jihadist. However, once these precedents were in place, the entire Palestinian population of Jerusalem came under threat.

Turning Point 3: “Breach of Allegiance”

The latest turning point in Israel’s revocation policy has its roots in the revocation by the Israeli Ministry of Interior of three elected members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) as well as the Palestinian Minister of Jerusalem Affairs, in 2006. The ministry claimed that they had violated their “minimal obligation of loyalty to the State of Israel” by their election to the PLC and their affiliation with Hamas. Israeli and Palestinian human rights organizations were outraged by the introduction of “allegiance” as a new legal civil status criterion, and the case has been pending at the Israeli Supreme Court since 2006. Should the Supreme Court approve this measure, Israeli authorities will be equipped with a new pretext for forced displacement, as Hasan Jabarin, director of the Haifa-based human rights organization Adalah, has stated.

However, the recent outbreak of violence in the OPT provided Israel an opportunity to act without having to wait for the Supreme Court’s verdict. As early as October 14th, 2015, the Israeli “Security Cabinet” issued a decision to the effect that “the permanent residency rights of terrorists will be revoked,” without defining who was a terrorist. One week later, the Ministry of Interior notified four Palestinians, suspected of committing violent acts against Israeli citizens (three of them were accused of throwing stones), that the minister was considering using his discretionary power to revoke their residencies because the criminal acts they were accused of showed a “clear breach of allegiance”to the state of Israel. In January 2016, the ministry issued official residency revocation decisions against the four Jerusalemites.

Thus, it is no longer enough for a Palestinian Jerusalemite to be actually living in Jerusalem and to maintain his/her center of life in the city. Palestinian Jerusalemites are now expected to commit to the new undefined criterion of “allegiance.” The Israeli human rights organization HaMoked, which is based in Jerusalem, has challenged this new policy in the Israeli Supreme Court. However, the Court has not yet decided the case. Similarly, the case of the four Palestinian political leaders whose residency was revoked in 2006 is still pending.

No one knows yet how many residencies have been revoked according to the relatively new criterion of “allegiance,” but at least a few more cases are pending in the Supreme Court. HaMoked has made an application based on the freedom of information act to force the Ministry of Interior reveal this information.

It is worth noting that international humanitarian law forbids the expectation of allegiance from a population under occupation. Thus, justifying a residency revocation due to a “breach of allegiance” is counter to international law. Furthermore, there is no justification to revoke the residency of anyone suspected of an act of violence because the Israeli criminal court system already punishes any violent – as well as many non-violent – acts committed by Palestinians.

From a broader legal and historical perspective, Israel should remember that forced displacement is a war crime when implemented in an occupied territory and a crime against humanity if it is widespread or systematic. The Israeli government’s latest measures combined with its existing ones would meet the criterion of systematic displacement tantamount to a crime against humanity.

Resisting the Policy of Forced Displacement

The struggle against residency revocations in Jerusalem has mostly taken place in Israeli courtrooms and has, in general, so far been lost. The attempts by several Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations to argue at the Israeli Supreme Court that Jerusalemites are not immigrants but natives who have an unconditional right to live in their own city have failed. The Israeli Supreme Court has maintained that a Palestinian Jerusalemite’s right to live in East Jerusalem should continue to be at the discretionary power of the Minister of Interior. The current right wing government of Israel is using this discretion to fast-track the removal of as many Palestinians from Jerusalem as possible.

In addition, there are no clear counter measures on the diplomatic and international levels against Israel’s punitive acts. The PLO has secured the recognition of the State of Palestine by the UN General Assembly, and then joined a number of important human rights and international humanitarian law conventions including the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). However, it is not yet clear what use the State of Palestine is planning to make of this status and these conventions to resist residency revocations in Jerusalem.

Most of the advocacy after Palestine joined the ICC has been focused on crimes that took place during the war on Gaza, which is obviously important. However, I would argue that the issue of forced displacement is no less important. In Jerusalem and in other parts of the West Bank, forced displacement is part of Israel’s legal regime. It is given expression through Israeli laws, administrative orders and court decisions. In the specific case of Jerusalem, Israeli administrative and legal institutions do not even consider international law arguments because Israel considers Jerusalem to be Israeli and not occupied territory.

Israel needs to get a strong message from international legal institutions and diplomatic circles that, regardless of the Israeli definition, the international community considers Jerusalem occupied and the transfer of its civilians as a criminal offense.

Against this background, several Palestinian human rights organizations in East Jerusalem and elsewhere across the West Bank (Al-Quds University’s Community Action Center, St. Yves, Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC), the Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem, Badil, Al-Haq and Al-Quds Human Rights Clinic have recently launched a campaign to resist Israel’s new transfer policies against Jerusalemites. The campaign began bytaking this issue to the UN Human Rights Council to raise it before international diplomats and human rights practitioners.

The campaign has decided to focus on ending punitive residency revocations because this has not yet been approved by the Israeli Supreme Court, making it easier to challenge. If, however, the Court decides that this policy is legitimate, it will be enshrined in the Israeli legal system and will most likely displace many additional Palestinians from Jerusalem.

Palestinian official institutions as well as civil society organizations should work hard against systematic Israeli policies of forced displacement. While Palestinians in general feel that international law has not served the Palestinian cause well, this should not be used as an excuse to give up on the legal struggle. This struggle should not only be aimed at Israel’s legal institutions and their discriminatory policies, but it should also be taken to the international level. The Israeli Supreme Court itself might reconsider its endorsement of discriminatory policies if it feels it is under scrutiny.

Whether the pressure of the local Palestinian campaign will reverse the policy of punitive residency revocations remains to be seen. What is certain, however, is that the rights of Palestinians in Jerusalem need much more attention and the issue of residency revocation in Jerusalem needs to be on the agenda. Palestinian lawyers, human rights organizations and officials should take advantage of the momentum offered by Palestine’s accession to a number of human rights treaties to increase their pressure on the international community. It is past time for the international community to meet its obligation to take all measures available to end the crime of forced transfer, hold accountable those responsible for such policies and reverse their effects by providing reparations to the victims, including their right to return to their homes. Focused campaigns on single-issue rights may be more effective from an advocacy point of view than general campaigns that aim to raise awareness about multiple injustices.

(Source / 13.04.2016)

Dozens of Palestinian detainees injured during prison raid

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Dozens of Palestinian prisoners were injured on Wednesday when Israeli forces raided section 14 of the Nafha prison, the head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said.Issa Qaraqe said Israeli forces “brutally” and randomly attacked prisoners with batons and pepper spray.At least one prisoner, who has yet to be identified, was critically injured, Qaraqe said. Injured prisoners were taken to the Soroka Hospital in Beersheba.The committee said that that tensions had risen at the prison in the Negev desert following the raid, and that police forces were still surrounding the prison.The committee added that it held Israel and its prisons services responsible for the lives of prisoners, calling on rights groups and humanitarian institutions to head to the Nafha prison and Soroka Hospital to check on the prisoners.A spokesperson for the Israeli Prison Service was not immediately available for comment.Palestinian prisoners affiliated with the Islamic Jihad movement and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) staged protests at the end of March in a number of Israeli prisons, including Nafha, to demand an end to the use of solitary confinement, permission for prisoners to receive family visits, and a resolution to overcrowding issues.

(Source / 13.04.2016)

After wins abroad, BDS conference in West Bank sees local traction

Tamam Abdul, 60, sells Israeli goods in her West Bank supermarket, but she would rather not. “All of the products we receive are Israeli, unfortunately,” she said Saturday outside of Ramallah at a fifth conference about the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel, otherwise known by the initials BDS.

Antendee Sana Sharif from Yatta, a town south from Hebron, said, “BDS is a tremendous effort, despite that few people are involved in it. I suggest that it should be part of our civic education.”

“My suggestion is that you could conduct campaigns that raise campaigns of children in school not to buy Israeli products,” Janna Jihad, 10, said in a plenary session.

Ways of increasing boycotts of Israeli goods were on the minds of many.

Over the past few years BDS has proliferated abroad and as a debate inside of Israel. Some multi-national corporations have severed ties with Israel, mainline Christian churches have divested their portfolios citing the plight of Palestinian Christians, and a slew of university campuses and academic association have endorsed BDS. A major sign of BDS’s impact came last month at an Israeli conference on how to deal with it, in which the campaign was described as looming crisis by leading members of the Israel’s government.

“We must distinguish between criticism and delegitimization when we deal with the BDS,” Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin said in an address to the forum, which was hosted by the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot. Rivlin went on: “The claims of the proponents of BDS and the organization’s criticism, is based on a hatred and enmity of Israel, including anti-Semitic elements with regard to the right of Jews to return to their homeland.”

But there is one corner of the world where BDS has only recently gained traction and political leaders still veer from addressing the topic directly, or send mixed signals. Surprisingly it is in the West Bank, the occupied Palestinian territory, where Israeli products are abundant in shops, although many want them gone.

“We have a captive market,” said Mahmoud Nawajaa, the general coordinator of the BDS National Committee (BNC). He explained there are some products in the West Bank where there simply is no alternative other than an Israeli provider. Medication, water and electricity are prime examples.

“Then something ignited in 2014 in the West Bank during the war in Gaza. People started seeing boycott as a tool that they can use to pressure Israel,” Nawajaa said.  At this time restaurants and markets chose to de-shelve Israeli products in an uncoordinated effort and groups of teenagers posted placards in West Bank cities calling on more to rid their stores of Israeli imports. The products were replaced with Palestinian brands.

The pressure has trickled up to the top tier of the Palestinian government in the West Bank.

An effort is underway to expand awareness of BDS in classrooms. Starting this year, the Palestinian Ministry of Education will train 600 teachers on BDS in order to launch curriculums in 25 schools. The program will instruct on the basics—BDS is a grassroots initiative brought about by Palestinian civil society organizations in 2005 who appealed to their supporters abroad to boycott, divest or sanction economic ties with Israel until three core principles are met: the end of the occupation over territories conquered in 1967, equality among all citizens of Israel, and the right of return of Palestinian refugees whose numbers near seven million, primarily scattered across the Middle East.

In 2014 the Palestinian government passed a law banning the sale of products made in Israeli settlements. Two weeks ago, the Palestinian Authority renewed their efforts and called for a boycott of Israeli dairy and meats in response to Israel turning back trucks loaded with similar Palestinian products from the West Bank seeking entry into Jerusalem in March of this year.

But the measures are viewed as half-steps by seasoned BDS activists. Both resolutions were passed without consultation of local BDS organizers (who call for a full boycott of Israeli goods, not only settlement products) and no enforcement mechanism was in place. Moreover, the Palestinian government shares economic ties with Israel. While on the political front there is no movement, with back and forth unanswered invitations to resume talks cancelled in 2014, the two continue meeting on joint industrial ventures across the West Bank in three manufacturing zones.

“We are not surprised,” Nawajaa said of the government boycott, “because we at least when something happens, they adopt our tactics. At least they started to think about boycott as a tactic of struggle and this is good.”

Others were frustrated with what they see as conflicting messages from the Palestinian government, where figureheads are seen both endorsing the boycotts and expanding business efforts with Israeli companies at the same time.

A sore point that was raised repeatedly in the conference is that the head distributor for the Israeli dairy brand Tnuva also serves as the mayor of Beit Jala, a Palestinian town outside of Bethlehem.

“I think the moral responsibility requires that he either stops being their agent—which I prefer—or resigns from his position,” said Mustafa Barghouti, a conference presenter and head of the Palestine National Initiative.

“People are fed up with some elites in Palestinian society,” said Omar Barghouti, a leading BDS organizer and conference founder (and a distant relation to Mustafa Barghouti).

“The criticism of the PA [Palestinian Authority], the president of the PA, the government was really strong,” Omar Barghouti  added of the conference participants, “that reflects at the popular level people are sick and tired, and want to see their supposed representatives do something about actually ending Israel’s injustices rather than moving from one negotiation to another.”

BDS secured one of its biggest boosts, Barghouti said, last fall when the French company Veolia sold its shares of a light rail that runs through East and West Jerusalem. Barghouti estimated the service provider lost nearly $20 billion in contracts due to the BDS campaign launched in 2009 asking businesses and governments to hold off on contracts with Veolia until it disposed of its five-percent ownership of the tram.

Since then, more companies are re-thinking their investments in Israel.

“By this standard if it takes seven years to get one company out you need seven-thousand years to end the complicity of companies, but it doesn’t work like this,” Barghouti went on. “It’s a domino effect.”

“Over the past ten years we have shifted over symbolic and cultural boycotts if you will, to effecting the economy of the regime, of the occupation, of apartheid. So several multinationals are pulling out already,” Barghouti concluded. “We—it’s also Israel—are both starting to see the ‘South Africa’ moment.”

(Source / 13.04.2016)

Palestinian prisoner enters 40th day on hunger strike

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Palestinian prisoner Sami al-Janazreh entered his 40th day on hunger strike to protest his internment without trial or charge, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said Wednesday.Mutaz Shqerat, a lawyer with the committee, told Ma’an the 43-year-old prisoner from al-Fawwar refugee camp near Hebron, continued to be held in solitary confinement and was suffering from pains across his body and could no longer walk.He is only drinking water and has refused to take vitamins, Shqerat said, adding that al-Janazreh had pledged to continue his hunger strike until Israel agreed to release him.Shqerat said the authorities in the Negev prison where Janazreh is being held had confiscated his personal belongings as a punishment for his hunger strike.Al-Janazreh was detained by Israeli forces on Feb. 15 and sentenced to six months in administrative detention, which allows for internment without trial indefinitely. He had previously spent seven years in Israeli jails, all in administrative detention.Israeli officials claim the practice is an essential tool in preventing attacks and protecting sensitive intelligence because it allows authorities to keep evidence secret, but it has been strongly criticized by the international community as well as activists.They say international law allows for such detention only under extreme circumstances, whereas Israel uses it as a punitive measure on a routine basis to circumvent the justice system or as a crutch to avoid trial.Many Palestinians have gone on hunger strike to protest the practice, with journalist Muhammad al-Qiq coming close to death earlier this year after he went 94 days without food before Israel finally agreed to his release.As of February this year, Israel was holding around 670 Palestinians in administrative detention, nearly a 10th of Israel’s 7,000 Palestinian prisoners, according to Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer.

(Source / 13.04.2016)

Take Action: Demand the PA free five imprisoned Palestinian activists subject to torture!

threeguys

Five Palestinian young men, Basil al-Araj, 33; Mohammed Harb, 23; Haitham Siyaj, 19; Mohammed al-Salamen, 19; and Ali Dar al-Sheikh, 22, are currently imprisoned by the Palestinian Authority; their detention was extended on Monday, 11 April for 15 more days by the PA’s Magistrate’s Court for them to undergo further interrogation. The story of their discovery, arrest and imprisonment has been widely reported in Palestinian media; several of the young men are well-known community and civil activists. Click here to take action and demand the immediate release of these young Palestinians.

Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association reported on 11 April that their lawyer confirmed that the five Palestinians were being subjected to sleep deprivation, stress positions, lengthy interrogations, physical hitting and beating, insults and denial of access to the toilet; all of this was reported to the Addameer lawyer during the hearing for the extension of their detention.

Al-Araj, Harb and Siyaj were arrested on Saturday night, walking near Ramallah, while al-Salamen and Dar al-Sheikh were arrested a week before. Ma’an News noted that “according to the Israeli media report, the three were detained thanks to ‘cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.’”

Addameer wrote, “Addameer considers the actions of the Palestinian Security Forces to be in contravention with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) as well as the Convention Against Torture (CAT), both of which the Palestinian Authority is a party. These treaties prohibit the use of torture and ill-treatment against detainees and affirm the right of individuals to fair trial guarantees. Addameer condemns the use of torture and ill-treatment under any circumstances and considers this to be a non-derogable norm, to which individuals must be held accountable. Addameer holds that the Palestinian Authority must comply with the conventions to which it is a party, especially considering the ongoing deteriorating human rights situation in the occupied territories.”

The context of these arrests is that of ongoing PA security coordination with the Israeli occupation. These young men are not a threat to Palestinian security; they are well-known, beloved members of their community and trusted strugglers for the freedom of the Palestinian people. They are not being detained and tortured to protect the Palestinian people, but because the Palestinian Authority, under the Oslo Accords, is a subcontractor of arrests, surveillance and imprisonment to the Israeli occupation that is daily killing Palestinians, imprisoning thousands, carrying out home demolitions, land confiscation, settlement building, racist repression and preventing millions of Palestinian refugees from returning home.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges people of conscience around the world to take action and demand that the PA release these five young men and hold accountable those who have tortured and abused them. It is critically important for international supporters of the Palestinian people and Palestinian cause and Palestinians around the world to make their voices heard and demand an end to the arrest and torture of these young men and the policy of security coordination which has brought about this situation.

Take action!

1. Email the Palestinian Embassy or PLO Mission in your country. Click here for a list of contact information. Act now to send this email message!  Make it clear that Palestinians around the world and international activists stand together to confront occupation, end security coordination, and free these detainees – including the former prisoners who have already given so much to the Palestinian struggle for liberation.

2. Call the Palestinian Embassy or PLO Mission. This is a case where phone calls can make a real difference!Palestinians and internationals around the world can raise their voice and demand action. Phone numbers for some missions follow: PLO Delegation in Washington, DC:  202-974-6360. Palestinian Mission to the UN: 212-288-8500. Palestinian General Delegation in Ottawa, Canada: 613-736-0053. Palestinian Mission UK: +44 (0)20 8563 0008. More may be found here!

Letter Text:

Dear Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian representatives,

I am writing today about the case of five young men, imprisoned in Palestinian Authority prisons and victims of torture. These five young men – Basil al-Araj, Mohammed Harb, Haitham Siyaj, Mohammed al-Salamen and Ali Dar al-Sheikh – are internationally known activists working for freedom and justice for the Palestinian people. As a strong supporter and advocate for the rights and freedom of the Palestinian people, I urge their immediate release and accountability for the torture and abuse they have suffered in Palestinian Authority prisons.

They are not being imprisoned because they are a threat or a danger to Palestinians. The arrest and torture of these five young men is an example of the damage that security coordination with the Israeli occupation has done and continues to do to the Palestinian people. I urge you to end the policy of security coordination, and to stop the imprisonment and abuse of young Palestinian for the benefit of the Israeli occupation. It is the responsibility of Palestinian leaders and officials to provide security and protection for the Palestinian people – not torture, abuse and detention for the benefit of their occupier.

Sincerely,

(Source / 13.04.2016)

Palestinian activists file lawsuit against US and Israeli entities supporting West Bank settlements

illegal Israeli settlements

File photo of illegal Israeli settlements

A group of Palestinians affected by Israel’s activities have filed a $34.5 billion lawsuit against US and Israeli entities supporting West Bank settlements.  The lawsuit was filed in the Federal District Court of Columbia in the United States.

Ayman Nejm, media spokesman for Martin McMahon and Associates, the law firm that filed the law suit, told Safa news agency on Monday that the case is the first of its kind where Palestinian and Palestinian-American plaintiffs have filed a lawsuit against wealthy US citizens and tax-exempt entities that have provided massive financial assistance to settlements across the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

According to the statement, the lawsuit has been filed against construction companies, security firms, real estate agencies and private banks involved in supporting the growth of Israeli settlements.

The case will also include Palestinians subjected to Israeli attacks which resulted in the loss of life, property and agricultural land in Palestinian Authority controlled areas.

The statement said the plaintiffs include Susan Abulhawa, a prominent Palestinian writer, and activist Bassim Tamimi who has been incarcerated and tortured numerous times for staging peaceful weekly protests.

The statement read: “Plaintiff Doaa Abu-Amar lost fourteen family members when the Israeli army bombed a day-care centre they had taken shelter in during the 2009 Gaza invasion. Plaintiff Ahmed al-Zeer is permanently disabled today because he was severely beaten by settlers who attacked him on his own property outside the settlement of Ofra.”

It added: “Many of the plaintiffs have had loved ones murdered, children assaulted and murdered on their way home from school, businesses destroyed, land stolen, water wells and livestock poisoned, olive groves destroyed and suffered various physical injuries, including the loss of eyesight, legs amputated and various permanent physical injuries.”

The defendants include prominent pro-settlement billionaires such as Sheldon Adelson, Irving Moskowitz, and John Hagee, and American tax-exempt entities like Christian Friends of Israeli Communities and Friends of the Israeli Army.

“The defendants have committed war crimes because they have collaborated with violent settlers, G4S personnel, and Israeli soldiers in maiming and murdering thousands of Palestinian civilians, hoping such activity would hasten their departure from the OPT. The defendants have also committed money laundering because they purposely sent funds overseas to promote criminal activities like ethnic cleansing, arms trafficking, and wholesale violence” it added.

The U.S. corporations named in the suit, along with Israeli banks Bank Leumi and Bank Hapoalim, international construction companies Africa Israel Investments, Veolia, and Volvo, and the British security protection services firm G4S, have all engaged in war crimes and money laundering.

(Source / 13.04.2016)

Jewish wedding secretly held in al-Aqsa

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– The so-called Temple Institute, an Israeli organization which works to “establish the Third Temple” on the ruins of al-Aqsa Mosque, declared that it secretly held a Jewish wedding in the holy shrine few days ago, Yediot Ahranot Hebrew newspaper revealed Wednesday. The newspaper quoted Rabbi Chaim Richman, who manages the institute’s international activity, as saying that he accepted a request by an Israeli couple who asked him to marry them at the Mosque. He said all those involved were asked to keep the ceremony a secret, the newspaper added, pointing out that the wedding was held according to the law of Moses and Israel. The paper described the event as an “unusual event that could reignite violence at the sensitive holy site and elsewhere.” According to the Hebrew newspaper, Israeli police every week detain and at times also arrest right-wing activists on suspicion of praying or violating the rules in another manner. The Jewish institute said the wedding ceremony in al-Aqsa Mosque is “a great achievement in light of the Waqf and the police’s anti-Jewish discrimination, which rejects any Jewish expression at the holy site.” The institute claims that the moment was documented, but the couple has asked that the video would not be released in full. Instead, the institute posted photos of the married couple’s ringed-fingers without exposing their identity. “The wedding in al-Aqsa Mosque is a unique event in history, since the Temple’s destruction 2,000 years ago,” the institute claimed in its Facebook page.

(Source / 13.04.2016)

Nyrabiya: Assad Killed 1,400 Syrians During Truce, Political Transition Vital to Protect Syrians

Vice-president of the Syrian Coalition Muwaffaq Nyrabiya said that a political transition in Syria is needed now more than ever to protect the Syrian people from Assad’s genocidal war and to end the Assad family’s decades-long dictatorial, authoritarian rule.

“The escalating attacks by the Assad regime against Syrians in many areas across Syria pose a serious threat to the truce. The ‘cessation of hostilities’ agreement, now in its 47th day, has not yet led to the improvement of the tough humanitarian conditions experienced by our people, as was stipulated by the UN Security Council resolution 2254, specifically in Articles 12 and 13,” Nyrabiya added.

Over 1,400 civilians, including 300 women and children, have been killed in regime attacks since the truce took effect on January 27. Nearly 53 victims were killed under torture in Assad’s prisons.

“The Assad regime has not complied with the minimum requirements of the ‘cessation of hostilities’ agreement. On the contrary, the regime is exploiting the armed opposition’s commitment to the agreement in order to make gains on the ground.”

Nyrabiya went on to say that the opposition “does not want temporary cessation of hostilities, but a comprehensive solution to save the Syrian people once and for all from the regime’s escalating violence and to ensure initiating a political transition.”

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 13.04.2016)

Israeli forces kidnap Palestinian girl in Bethlehem

Israeli occupation forces have previously murdered the girl’s father

Israeli occupation forces kidnapped on Wednesday morning 14-year-old Palestinian girl at major illegal Israeli military checkpoint in occupied West Bank.

“A female Israeli soldier started a discussion with my sister Nuran,” Mohamed said, “then, both of them raised their voices. Then, the Israeli soldier ordered my sisters apprehension.”

Days of Palestine, West Bank -Israeli occupation forces kidnapped on Wednesday morning 14-year-old Palestinian girl at major illegal Israeli military checkpoint in occupied West Bank.

The girl was identified as Nuran al-Balboul, 14, from the city of Bethlehem. “The Israeli occupation forces kidnapped her after a heated argument,” her brother Mohamed said.

Mohamed, Nuran and their aunt wanted to cross the checkpoint, which is the main checkpoint between Bethlehem and the occupied city of Jerusalem.

“A female Israeli soldier started a discussion with my sister Nuran,” Mohamed said, “then, both of them raised their voices.”

Mohamed went on: “Then, their argument heated up and suddenly, the Israeli soldier ordered mu sister to be apprehended.”

Meanwhile, spokesman of the Israeli army claimed that Nuran is an old woman and she was arrested after a knife was found in her possession.

It is worth mentioning that Nuran’s father had been previously murdered by the Israeli occupation forces.

(Source / 13.04.2016)

Israeli soldiers torch Palestinian flag at Nablus checkpoint

NABLUS (Ma’an) — The Palestinian Authority has submitted an official complaint to the Israeli authorities after a group of Israeli soldiers was reported to have torched a Palestinian flag at a military checkpoint south of Nablus.Palestinian security sources told Ma’an on Wednesday the soldiers torched the flag at Awarta checkpoint near Huwwara military base in a “provocative” manner in front of hundreds of Palestinians traveling through the checkpoint.The sources said the Israeli authorities had promised to take punitive procedures against the soldiers. An Israeli army spokesperson said the case fell under the jurisdiction of Israeli police, although a police spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.Israeli forces have faced repeated criticism for their conduct at scores of military checkpoints throughout the occupied Palestinian territory, where Palestinians face routine provocation and humiliation.An Israeli soldier’s killing of a wounded Palestinian in Hebron last month sparked a furious debate in Israel in which many Israeli politicians quickly abandoned their initial condemnations of the soldier to take part in a struggle to be seen as the greatest allies of Israel’s armed forces.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israeli soldiers “maintain high ethical values” while fighting “courageously” in the occupied West Bank.Israel’s critics have expressed doubts that Israel’s military courts will fairly try the soldier, arguing that there is a deeply-engrained culture of impunity for Israelis who engage in violence towards Palestinians.

(Source / 13.04.2016)