New Zealand Member of Parliament to join Women’s Peace Flotilla to Gaza

Photo: Maori Television

Marama Davidson, MP
Press Release

Green Party MP Marama Davidson will be joining a women’s peace boat in late September which will highlight the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the Green Party said today.

Israel has blockaded the Gaza strip by land, sea, and air since 2006, resulting in plummeting living standards and health services, high unemployment, and severe food insecurity, according to the United Nations.

“I am participating in the Women’s Boats to Gaza flotilla to highlight the crucial role of women in keeping their communities afloat, particularly in post-conflict situations,” said Green Party human rights spokesperson Marama Davidson.

“The people of Gaza are still living with the terrible impact of the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, which resulted in the death of 2,300 civilians and the destruction of hundreds of thousands of homes, schools and hospitals.

“As an indigenous woman myself, I want to stand alongside the women of Gaza and to draw attention to the ongoing humanitarian crisis there.

“Women around the world bear a disproportionate burden in caring for people and keeping communities together in times of hardship, and the women of Palestine are no different. Women’s role in navigating oppression and working for peace and justice has long been under-valued.

“More aid is urgently needed to ensure the fundamental human rights of the Palestinian people in Gaza and to help rebuild the homes, public services and livelihoods that were destroyed in 2014.

“We are calling on Israel to end the collective punishment of the people of Gaza by lifting the inhumane blockade and allowing more critical supplies to go where they are needed the most,” said Ms Davidson.

(Source / 22.07.2016)

The Catastrophe Al Nakba

Article of April 2013

How Palestine Became Israel

In the late 1800s a small, fanatic movement called “political Zionism” began in Europe. Its goal was to create a Jewish state somewhere in the world. Its leaders settled on the ancient and long-inhabited land of Palestine for the location of this state.

Palestine’s population at this time was approximately ninety-six percent non-Jewish (primarily Muslim and Christian)

Over the coming decades Zionist leaders used various strategies to accomplish their goal of taking over Palestine:

    1. Encouraging Jewish immigration to Palestine, partly through the invention of such deceptive slogans as “a land without a people for a people without a land,” when, in fact, the land was already inhabited. Since the majority of Jews were not Zionists until after WWII, Zionists used an array of misleading strategies, including secret collaboration with the Nazis, to push immigration.
    2. Convincing a “Great Power” to back this process. By turn, Zionists approached the Ottomans, the British, and the U.S. to further their cause. While the Ottomans turned them down, the British (being promised that American Zionists would push the U.S. to enter World War I on the side of England) eventually acceded, as did the U.S. (due to concerns of politicians like Harry Truman that they would lose elections otherwise).
    3. Buying up the land (sometimes through subterfuges), proclaiming it Jewish for all eternity, and refusing to allow non-Jews to live or work on the purchased land. This was called “redeeming” the land and was financed by a variety of means, including by such wealthy banking families as the Rothschilds.

Historic Palestine, the land now occupied by the state of Israel, was a multicultural society. During the 1947-49 War, Israel committed at least 33 massacres and expelled over 750,000 Palestinians.
Historic Palestine, the land now occupied by the state of Israel, was a multicultural society. During the 1947-49 War, Israel committed at least 33 massacres and expelled over 750,000 Palestinians.

  1. Violence, if such financial dispossession should fail or prove too slow – as it did.

In the 1930s, Jewish land ownership had increased from approximately 1% to just over 6% of the land, and violence had increased as well. With the emergence of several Zionist terrorist gangs (whose ranks included a number of future Prime Ministers of Israel), there was violent conflict. Numerous people of all ethnicities were killed – then, as now, the large majority of them Christian and Muslim Palestinians.

The Catastrophe

This growing violence culminated in Israel’s ruthless 1947-49 “War of Independence,”in which at least 750,000 Palestinian men, women, and children were expelled from their homes by numerically superior Israeli forces – half before any Arab armies joined the war. This massive humanitarian disaster is known as ‘The Catastrophe,’ al Nakba in Arabic.

Palestinian refugees

Zionist forces committed 33 massacres and destroyed 531 Palestinian towns. Author Norman Finkelstein states: “According to the former director of the Israeli army archives, ‘in almost every village occupied by us during the War… acts were committed which are defined as war crimes, such as murders, massacres, and rapes’…Uri Milstein, the authoritative Israeli military historian of the 1948 war, goes one step further, maintaining that ‘every skirmish ended in a massacre of Arabs.’”

Count Folke Bernadotte, a former official of the Swedish Red Cross who saved thousands of Jews during World War II and was appointed U.N. mediator in Palestine, said of the refugees: “It would be an offence against the principles of elemental justice if these innocent victims of the conflict were denied the right to return to their homes.”  Bernadotte was assassinated by a Zionist organization led by future Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.

Injustice Continues

Over the 60 years since Israel’s founding on May 14, 1948, this profound injustice has continued. Palestinian refugees are the largest remaining refugee population in the world.

Palestinian child refugees.

1.3 million Palestinians live in Israel as “Israeli citizens,” but despite their status as citizens, they are subject to systematic discrimination. Many are prohibited from living in the villages and homes from which they were violently expelled, and their property has been confiscated for Jewish-only uses. In Orwellian terminology, Israeli law designates these internal refugees as “present absentees.”

In 1967 Israel launched its third war and seized still more Palestinian (and other Arab) land. Israel also attacked a U.S. Navy ship, the USS Liberty, killing and injuring over 200 Americans, an event that remains largely covered-up today, despite efforts by an extraordinary array of high-level military officers and civilian officials to expose it.

Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip – the final 22% of mandatory Palestine – and began building settlements for Jewish Israelis on land confiscated from Palestinian Muslims and Christians. It has demolished more than 24,145 Palestinian homes since 1967. In 2005 Israel returned Gazan land to its owners, but continues to control its borders, ports, and air space, turning Gaza into a large prison, where 1.5 million people are held under what a UN Human Rights Commissioner described as “catastrophic” conditions.

Over 7,000 Palestinian men, women, and children are imprisoned in Israeli jails under physically abusive conditions (many have not even been charged with a crime) and the basic human rights of all Palestinians under Israeli rule are routinely violated. Some prisoners tortured by Israel have been American citizens. In the violence that began in fall, 2000 through Feb. 5, 2009, Israeli forces killed 6,348 Palestinians; Palestinian resistance groups killed 1,072 Israelis. Israel’s military, the fourth most powerful on earth possesses hundreds of nuclear weapons.

American Involvement

American taxpayers give Israel more than $8 million per day, even though surveys reveal that 73% of Americans oppose taking sides on Israel-Palestine. Because of Israel’s powerful US lobby, Congress gives far more money to Israel than to all of sub-Saharan Africa put together.  In its 60 years of existence, Israel, the size of New Jersey, has received more U.S. tax money than any other nation. While most Americans are unaware of these facts (studies have shown that media report on Israeli deaths at rates up to 13 times greater than they report on Palestinian deaths) governmental actions are making Americans responsible for a continuing catastrophe of historic proportions – and which is, in addition, creating extremely damaging enmity to the US itself. Israel partisans have played a significant role in promoting U.S. attacks on Iraq and Iran.

As more Americans learn the facts, there is a growing bipartisan, multi-ethnic movement to counter Israel’s US lobby, which has long held a vicegrip on American Mideast policies.

Palestinian Loss of Land 1946-2005

four maps of shrinking Palestine

“Confusion about the origins of the conflict all too often has obscured Americans’ understanding of its true dimension. It began as a conflict resulting from immigrants struggling to displace the local majority population. All else is derivative from this basic reality.”

– Donald Neff, former Senior Editor, Time Magazine, Fallen Pillars: U.S. Policy towards Palestine and Israel since 1945

“[T]he story of 1948… is the simple but horrific story of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine… Retrieving it from oblivion is incumbent upon us, not just as a greatly overdue act of historiographical reconstruction or professional duty; it is… the very first step we must take if we ever want reconciliation to have a chance, and peace to take root, in the torn lands of Palestine and Israel.”

– Ilan Pappe, Israeli Historian, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine

“The Palestinian Holocaust is unsurpassed in history. For a country to be occupied, emptied of its people, its physical and cultural landmarks obliterated, its destruction hailed as a miraculous act of God, all done according to a premeditated plan, meticulously executed, internationally supported, and still maintained today…”

– Dr. Salman Abu-Sitta, Palestine Right Of Return, Sacred, Legal, and Possible

(Source / 22.07.2016)

The Real Reason Israel Attacks Gaza

Gaza in Context argues that Israel’s repeated onslaughts are not aimed at Hamas or the coastal enclave. They’re aimed at Palestine.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8g31KRmSQHg

It has been two years since Israel launched one of its most brutal attacks on the Palestinian people of Gaza. For 51 days, Israel waged a ground and aerial attack on a besieged population and killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians, including 1462 civilians, of whom 551 were children; orphaned 1,500 children; left 370,000 children in need of psychosocial treatment; completely destroyed 18,000 homes; and, at the height of the onslaught, displaced half a million Palestinians. During the onslaught, 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians were killed.

Despite overwhelming evidence of the disparity of power between Israel and Palestinians of Gaza, mainstream American media have repeatedly framed Israel as the victim, and critical pedagogical approaches continue to be policed, as demonstrated by the incendiary campaigns targeting Joseph Massad, Nadia Abu El-Haj, and others. For decades, the mainstream narrative has cast Gaza as the problem, even as Israel has engaged in excessive and brutal force and collective punishment in the form of occupation, siege, and frequent military assaults. This conversation has led to the treatment of Israel’s assaults on the coastal enclave as a national security issue, exceptional and distinct from the broader question of Palestine.

Now, a new pedagogical project, Gaza in Context, aims to correct the biases and misrepresentations reproduced, again and again, in mainstream media and educational coverage. The project provides historical context, situating Gaza within the larger narrative of Israeli settler-colonialism. Its lesson: Israel does not have a Hamas problem; it does not have a Gaza problem; it has a Palestine problem.

The project’s components include a teaching guide for instructional purposes, a bibliography for research purposes, and a compendium of Jadaliyya articles featured in what we call a Jad Mag. All of these elements are housed on the project’s website, which is part of a broader research initiative on Gaza led by the Forum on Arab and Muslim Affairs, a subsidiary organization of Arab Studies Institute.

The project also features the short film Gaza in Context, which seeks to explain the long and troubled history of Israel’s policies towards the Gaza Strip—policies that preceded the advent of Hamas suicide bombings and rocket fire and are distinct from its West Bank policies. The 20-minute film is available in four five-minute parts, and each part is accompanied by a teaching guide that can be used in the classroom and beyond.

The above video is Part 3 of the film; it should be read together with the curriculum on the History of Israel-Palestine.

(Source / 22.07.2016)

Bahrain Arrests Terrorist Cell Trained by IRGC, Iraqi Hezbollah

Bahrain

Manama – Bahraini authorities said they have detained five members of a terrorist cell linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and the so-called Iraqi Hezbollah.

Security forces said that the suspects had received intensive military training in making bombs and carrying out terrorist activities at the camps of IRGC and Iraqi Hezbollah.

Bahraini Security Forces captured the terrorist network two weeks ago in a preemptive strike.

A source at the Ministry of Interior confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper the news that the cell is linked to people in Iran and the suspects arrested in Bahrain.

“A secret terrorist plot aided by the so-called Iranian Revolutionary Guard and the Hezbollah terrorist organization was foiled,” said the ministry.

“It targeted the security of the kingdom of Bahrain by plotting to carry out a series of dangerous bombings,” it added.

The ministry announced that its security forces had collected items suspected to be explosives and moved them to a safe location, away from the residential area where they were being stored.

The security forces discovered a number of weapons, communication devices and equipment used in detonating bombs. The police also seized daggers, knives covered with polyurethane bags and various currencies.

Investigations and testimonies of the five members of the cell revealed a series of important security information.

The five members are:

Mohammed Abduljalil Mahdi Jassim Abdullah (28, a private company employee) received military training in Iran that included the use of pistol and automatic weapons, such as Kalashnikov and PKG. He also received training in bomb-making and assembly and in the use of explosives such as TNT and C4. Ali Ahmed al-Musawi, living in Iran, coordinated the training and provided Mohammed with logistical support.

The investigations revealed that when Mohammed returned to Bahrain, he decided with others to use a car repair workshop in Hamad Town to store bomb-making materials and weapons. The group built a hidden room to conceal the contraband. In addition to the weapons and explosives training he received abroad in 2013, the suspect also watched films of bombings conducted by the Hezbollah brigades in Iraq.

Mahmood Jassim Marhoon Mohammed Marhoom (26, a private company employee) received military training in Iran by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and in Iraq by the Hezbollah brigades.

Jassim Mansoor Jassim Shamloh (25, a private company employee) confessed receiving batteries from the first suspect to be used in bomb-making and remote control devices. He hid the items in his father’s home in Hamad Town until the first suspect asked for them.

Ahmed Mohammed Ali Yousif, 23, confessed providing assistance to the third suspect by transferring the batteries, remote controls and wires for making bombs to his flat with full knowledge of their nature and purpose.

Khalil Hassan Khalil Ibrahim Saeed (20, a student) received a number of batteries and remote controlled bomb detonators from the first suspect who asked him to hide them at his home. He had full knowledge of the nature and purpose of the items.

The Interior Ministry’s counterterrorism investigations continue as part of the ongoing national security operations. The ministry called any citizen who has information about suspicious activity to inform the authorities.

(Source / 22.07.2016)

Israeli Soldiers Injure Two Palestinians In Kufur Qaddoum

22 JUL
10:11 PM

Israeli soldiers invaded, Friday, the town of Kufur Qaddoum, in the northern West Bank district if Qalqilia, and assaulted the weekly protest, wounding two Palestinians, and causing many others to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation.

The protest started from the center of Kufur Qaddoum, in participation with many Israeli and international solidarity activists.

Morad Eshteiwy, the media coordinator of the Popular Committee in Kufur Qaddoum, said the soldiers used excessive force against the protesters, and fired rubber-coated steel bullets and gas bombs.

Eshteiwy added that a young man was shot with a gas bomb in his head, and suffered a moderate injury, before Palestinian medics moved him to Rafidia hospital, near Nablus.

kufur qaddoum A 04222016Another young man was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the leg and received treatment by field medics, without the need for hospitalization.

The medics also provided treatment to many Palestinians who suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation.

Eshteiwy also said that the soldiers sprayed many homes with wastewater mixed with chemicals, while an Israeli military helicopter flew overhead and filmed the protesters.

(Source / 22.07.2016)

Four Million Muslims Killed in US-NATO Wars: Should We Call It Genocide?

Article of March 18, 2016

Hearkening back to the Japanese interment camps of WWII, some Americans are now calling for Muslims to be placed in camps or even openly calling for genocide against the 1.6 billion practitioners of the faith.

Afghan-children-killed-by-NATO

Image: Afghan villagers sit near the bodies of children who they said were killed during a NATO air strike in the Kunar province of Afghanistan. April 7, 2013. (Reuters)

Note: Following the recent US House of Representatives vote to declare that ISIS is committing genocide in Iraq and Syria, we bring to the attention of our readers this article originally published in August 2015.

It may never be possible to know the true death toll of the modern Western wars on the Middle East, but that figure could be 4 million or higher. Since the vast majority of those killed were of Arab descent, and mostly Muslim, when would it be fair to accuse the United States and its allies of genocide?

A March report by Physicians for Social Responsibility calculates the body count of the Iraq War at around 1.3 million, and possibly as many as 2 million. However, the numbers of those killed in Middle Eastern wars could be much higher.  The actual death toll could reach as high as 4 million if one includes not just those killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also the victims of the sanctions against Iraq, which left about 1.7 million more dead, half of them children, according to figures from the United Nations.

Raphael Lemkin and the definition of genocide

The term “genocide” did not exist prior to 1943, when it was coined by a Polish-Jewish lawyer named Raphael Lemkin. Lemkin created the word by combining the Greek root “geno,” which means people or tribe, with “-cide,” derived from the Latin word for killing.

The Nuremberg trials, in which top Nazi officials were prosecuted for crimes against humanity, began in 1945 and were based around Lemkin’s idea of genocide. By the following year, it was becoming international law, according to United to End Genocide:

“In 1946, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution that ‘affirmed’ that genocide was a crime under international law, but did not provide a legal definition of the crime.”

With support from representatives of the U.S., Lemkin presented the first draft of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide to the United Nations. The General Assembly adopted the convention in 1948, although it would take three more years for enough countries to sign the convention, allowing it to be ratified.

According to this convention, genocide is defined as:

“…any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, such as:

  • (a) Killing members of the group;
  • (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
  • (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
  • (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
  • (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

Under the convention, genocide is not merely defined as a deliberate act of killing, but can include a broad range of other harmful activities:

“Deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to destroy a group includes the deliberate deprivation of resources needed for the group’s physical survival, such as clean water, food, clothing, shelter or medical services. Deprivation of the means to sustain life can be imposed through confiscation of harvests, blockade of foodstuffs, detention in camps, forcible relocation or expulsion into deserts.”

It can also include forced sterilization, forced abortion, prevention of marriage or the transfer of children out of their families. In 2008, the U.N. expanded the definition to acknowledge that “rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity or a constitutive act with respect to genocide.”

A Middle Eastern genocide

A key phrase in the convention on genocide is “acts committed with intent to destroy.” While the facts back up a massive death toll in Arab and Muslim lives, it might be more difficult to argue that the actions were carried out with the deliberate intent to destroy “a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.”

The authors of the convention were aware, however, that few of those who commit genocide are so bold as to put their policies in writing as brazenly as the Nazis did. Yet, as Genocide Watch noted in 2002: “Intent can be proven directly from statements or orders. But more often, it must be inferred from a systematic pattern of coordinated acts.”

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush employed a curious and controversial choice of words in one of his first speeches. He alarmed some by referencing historic, religious conflicts, as The Wall Street Journal staff writers Peter Waldman and Hugh Pope noted:

“President Bush vowed … to ‘rid the world of evil-doers,’ then cautioned: ‘This crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take a while.’

Crusade? In strict usage, the word describes the Christian military expeditions a millennium ago to capture the Holy Land from Muslims. But in much of the Islamic world, where history and religion suffuse daily life in ways unfathomable to most Americans, it is shorthand for something else: a cultural and economic Western invasion that, Muslims fear, could subjugate them and desecrate Islam.”

In the wars that followed in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. not only killed millions, but systematically destroyed the infrastructure necessary for healthy, prosperous life in those countries, then used rebuilding efforts as opportunities for profit, rather than to benefit the occupied populations. To further add to the genocidal pattern of behavior, there is ample evidence of torture and persistent rumors of sexual assault from the aftermath of Iraq’s fall. It appears likely the U.S. has contributed to further destabilization and death in the region by supporting the rise of the self-declared Islamic State of Iraq and Syria by arming rebel groups on all sides of the conflict.

After 9/11, the U.S. declared a global “War on Terror,” ensuring an endless cycle of destabilization and wars in the Middle East in the process. The vast majority of the victims of these wars, and of ISIS, are Muslims. In this context, many Americans are embracing Bush’s controversial language of religious warfare, calling for Muslims to be placed in camps or even openly calling for genocide.

(Source / 22.07.2016)

CONFERENCE: ‘Settler Colonialism in Palestine’

Conferentie augustus Edinburgh

The keynote speakers at this one day conference on settler colonialism in Palestine include Omar Barghouti, Ilan Pappé, Ben White and Ruba Salih. Updates will be posted on the SPSC website and emailed to registrants.

BDS is how we exert pressure on Israel to help bring an end to the nightmare in Palestine that the UK launched a century ago.  The conference on Settler Colonialism in Palestine examineswhat we are opposing: the origins, aims and deadly dynamic of the colonisation project ongoing in Israel/Palestine.

The conference is part of a series of SPSC coordinated activities during the international Edinburgh Festival in August 2016. These activites build on several years of cultural boycott campaigning in Scotland.
Open Letter to Edinburgh International Festival and Festival Fringe: Keep your Festivals Apartheid Free! Do not whitewash Israel’s crimes, PACBI, 8 March 2016

The conference is endorsed by The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).


Omar Barghouti is an independent researcher, commentator and activist committed to upholding international law and universal human rights. He is a founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel; and Al-Shabaka Policy Advisor.  Omar is currently under a travel ban imposed by Israel – he will join the conference by video.


Ruba Salih, SOAS University of London, Centre for Gender Studies; Member of London Middle East Institute (LMEI), Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies and Centre for Palestine Studies (CPS)


Ilan Pappe is an Israeli historian and socialist activist. He is a professor with the College of Social Sciences and International Studies at the University of Exeter, director of the university’s European Centre for Palestine Studies, and co-director of the Exeter Centre for Ethno-Political Studies.


Ben White is a writer, journalist, researcher, and activist, specialising in Palestine/Israel. He has been visiting the region since 2003 and his articles have been published in Al Jazeera, Middle East Monitor, The Guardian’s Comment is free, Electronic Intifada, New Statesman, Salon, Christian Science Monitor, Middle East Eye, The National, and others.


WHEN
WHERE
Tollcross Community Centre – 117 Fountainbridge, Edinburgh, EH3 9QG, United Kingdom –View Map

(Source / 22.07.2016)

UNRWA: Growth Needs in Gaza Exceed Financial Aid

22 JUL
9:22 PM

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, UNRWA, warned on Wednesday of the growth needs of Palestinian refugees, in the Gaza Strip, which exceed their financial support.

In its emergency report on the crisis in Gaza, UNRWA noted an increased demand for services resulting from the growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty.

“UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA Programme Budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall, projected for 2016 to stand at US$ 74 million,” UNRWA said.

UNRWA added that its emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.

Following the 2014 conflict, $257 million USD has been pledged in support of UNRWA’s emergency shelter programme, for which an estimated US$ 720 million is required. This leaves a current shortfall of US$ 463 million, UNRWA warned.

Archive IMEMC post: 09/02/14 Gaza City’s Devastated Al-Shuja’eyya Suburb

In the same context, UNRWA urgently appealed to donors to generously contribute to its emergency shelter programme to provide displaced Palestine refugees in Gaza with rental subsidies or cash assistance to undertake repair works and reconstruction of their damaged homes.

The report additionally noted that the agency is seeking US$ 403 million to meet the minimum humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees in the oPt. The Agency requires US$ 355.95 million for programme interventions in Gaza, including US$ 109.7 million for emergency food assistance, US$ 142.3 million for emergency shelter assistance, US$ 60.4 million for emergency cash-for-work assistance, US$ 4.4 million for emergency health/mobile health clinics and US$ 3.1 for education in emergencies.

(Source / 22.07.2016)

Israeli forces close entrances to Bethlehem-area towns after shooting near Israeli settlement

Bethlehem cement blocks

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces Friday closed several entrances to villages and towns in the eastern and southeastern parts of the occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem with large cement blocks, according to a Ma’an reporter, following a shooting on an Israeli settler’s car Thursday night.Israeli forces set up several checkpoints in the surrounding villages and towns in the district, including one at the entrance of the town of Beit Sahour and the entrances to villages in the eastern countryside of Bethlehem, causing heavy traffic, according to the local Ma’an reporter.Israeli forces also closed the entrance to the town of Janata, two roads leading to the town of Zaatara, and the villages of al-Khas and Marah Rabah in southeastern Bethlehem.An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an she would look into reports on the closures.The Hebrew language 0404 news website reported that a group of armed Palestinians opened fire from their car at an Israeli settler’s vehicle that was passing near the illegal Har Homa settlement on Thursday night.An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the reports and told Ma’an that the vehicle sustained damage, but no injuries were reported. However, she could not confirm the number of Israelis that were in the vehicle.Israeli forces searched the area for suspects, and carried out a raid on the eastern entrance of Beit Sahour, as Israeli soldiers searched and confiscated security cameras following the incident, according to a Ma’an reporter.An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that the military search campaign is still ongoing.More than 220 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis and some 31 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians since a wave of unrest first swept across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel in October.The unrest has been marked by a surge of small-scale attacks carried out by Palestinian individuals — predominantly on Israeli military targets.

(Source / 22.07.2016)

Israeli forces detain 4, including Oscar-nominated filmmaker and journalist, in Bilin protest

Bilin en filmmaker

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Israeli forces detained four people, including a journalist and Oscar-nominated filmmaker, as soldiers dispersed weekly protests in the village of Bilin in the Ramallah district of the occupied West Bank on Friday.Israeli forces detained Iranian television reporter Khalid Sabarnah, the head of the local council Basil Mansur, activist Ashraf Abu al Rahma, and filmmaker Emad Burnat, the Oscar-nominated director of the documentary film “5 Broken Cameras”, a film showing Burnat’s first-hand account of the protests in Bilin that began 11 years ago in response to the illegal expansion of nearby Israeli settlements, and the construction of Israel’s separation wall which separates Bilin residents from their privately owned lands.

Bilin has long been one of the most active villages in organized opposition against Israeli policies, as residents have protested every Friday for 11 consecutive years.
Residents of the village were joined on Friday by international and Israeli activists who raised Palestinian flags and chanted songs for national unity and against occupation, according to local sources.

Abdullah Abu Rahma, coordinator for the popular resistance committee in Bilin said the protests will continue despite Israeli detentions and often violent suppressions of the weekly protest.An israeli army spokeswoman said she was not aware of the arrests, as they were possibly carried out by Israeli border police.
An Israeli police spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.Dozens of residents of Bilin suffered from severe tear gas inhalation last Thursday, after Israeli forces raided the village and confiscated vehicles, sparking clashes with local youth.
Israeli forces targeted the western neighborhood of the village, firing rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades, and tear gas canisters, afflicting elderly locals, children, and women with tear gas suffocation.
Israeli forces have come under repeated criticism for excessive use of force as well as lethal methods of crowd control that often result in death or injury of protesters.
(Source / 22.07.2016)