‘Radical’ organisations in Europe recruiting for the Israeli army

An Al Jazeera investigation has revealed that international volunteers are being enlisted in the Israeli army

Organisations linked to the Israeli army are said to be cropping up all over Europe to enlist voluntary recruits. The organisations specialising in bringing individuals to Israel operate branches in major European cities including London to provide military experience and also an opportunity to take part in formal combat.

While Israel is known to offer tourists, especially from the Jewish diaspora, the opportunity to play the role of Israeli soldier, the revelation by Al Jazeera of a network of recruitment agencies will come as a surprise.

The investigation was prompted by a Ukrainian Jewish woman who appeared on the TV show “Lie Detector” revealing that she worked for the Israeli army and that she had continued to do so. Norwegian journalist, Tarjei Leer Salvesen, described the operation of the recruitment groups which he had been reporting on for some time.

Salvesen said that he had attended a number of meetings in various recruitment centres in Norway and cities across Europe. He described the meetings as having a “harsh tone” with people saying that “Israel should be cleaned of all Arabs”. Now an expert on the issue having spent a considerable length of time visiting these centres and writing on the issue for Norwegian press, Salvesen added that these centres were spreading a “radical” message.

Read: Israel gives settler children firearms training

The programme aired this week is said to be the result of a two-year investigation into an issues which thus far has gone under the radar. With dozens of foreign fighters travelling to the Middle East to take part in combat, the revelation that foreign nationals from the Jewish diaspora from the UK to Australia are taking part in military exercises has raised further concerns.

Counterterrorism experts interviewed by Al Jazeera questioned whether it is “acceptable… for certain programmes to be in place that encourage people to join the Israeli Defence Forces.”

“I think it’s shocking, largely because if you read through the human rights abuses that have been conducted by them…. Why would you want to encourage young people, or even old people, to be involved in such heinous crimes”, said counterterrorism analyst and historian Jahan Mahmood.

“I think it’s shocking largely because if you read through the human rights abuses that have been conducted by them…. Why would you want to encourage young people, or even old people, to be involved in such heinous crimes” added Mahmood.

After their unsuccessful attempt to dig further into the inner operations of the organisations, the Al Jazeera team travelled to Israel and recruited a foreign team to film the training camps. Described as “the ultimate tourist experience” these camps were running training in Israeli occupied West Bank. Many that visited the sights were found to be self-proclaimed Christian Zionists.

Read: Closing Al Jazeera will harm Israel, ministers warn

The programme discovered a growing number of so called “lone soldiers” who volunteer in the Israeli army. Many are said to have taken part in the 2014 Gaza war; some also lost their life. Most of the lone soldiers come from the US, Ukraine and Russia. The three countries make up nearly half of the foreign recruits that have joined the Israeli army.

(Source / 29.08.2017)

Israeli minister: BDS campaign more anti-Semitic than alt-right

Image of a BDS rally in Washington, US

Alleged anti-Jewish hatred from the far-left is more significant than that from the far-right; Israeli Diaspora Minister Naftali Bennett has told the Times of Israel.

In an interview last week, Bennet argued that the sight of Nazi flags at a rally in Charlottesville, as well as white supremacist slogans “Jews will not replace us”, were not as significant a form of anti-Semitism as the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israeli produce.

“We see the lions’ share of anti-Semitism is actually BDS, pro-Arab, anti-Israeli anti-Semitism, which is on the rise. That would be, let’s call it, radical left anti-Semitism.”

Bennett, who leads the right-wing Jewish Home party and has been termed “Minister of the Jews”, called on national leaders to do more to protect their Jewish citizens from such anti-Semitic behaviour, but refrained from criticising the muted responses of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump following the alt-right rally.

“We view ourselves as having a certain degree of responsibility for every Jew in the world, just for being Jewish. But ultimately it’s the responsibility of the sovereign nation to defend its citizens.”

Read: Portuguese photographers boycott Israel

His comments echo those recently made by Netanyahu’s son, who identified “Antifa [anti-fascist] bandits and Black Lives Matter” movements as more dangerous than neo-Nazis whose influence was allegedly waning on a Facebook post. Yair Netanyahu criticised the popularity of such movements, especially at universities where student activism for Palestine has surged.

Zionist lobbyists have attempted to label the BDS movement as anti-Semitic continuously since its inception.

Pro-Palestinian activists deny the allegation, stating that the campaign opposes all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism and targets Israel for its violations of international law. The BDS movement also cites its numerous Jewish supporters as evidence that this is not an issue of race or faith, but solidarity with Palestinians against illegal occupation.

Read: Zionists give supporters of Israel a free past for their anti-Semitism

(Source / 29.08.2017)

The call of the sky: Transcending the borders of the occupation

Two women hold their kids as they wait to cross the Rafah Border with their luggage, in Rafah, Gaza on August 16, 2017. ( Mustafa Hassona - Anadolu Agency )

Palestinian women hold their children as they wait to cross the Rafah Border in Rafah, Gaza on 16 August 2017

In a psychotic state, a 16 year old young woman patient from the West Bank went beyond the confines of her own boundaries: “I saw the sky turned red in colour and I perceived a calling… I looked into people’s eyes to see that they too were excited and understood the call of the sky.”

She grasped that Jerusalem had been liberated and that she was being called to walk in its direction. Her wish for freedom, her deep desire to merge with a liberated Jerusalem surfaced to falsify the political reality. This beautiful psychotic vision resulted in border police attacking and capturing her. Although dozens of other Palestinian youngsters have been killed at checkpoints, she survived to tell her story.

Unlike the weakened psychic boundaries of my patient, the geopolitical boundaries and borders erected by the Israeli occupation are rigidly evident. The checkpoints not only rob us of land and natural resources, classifying and fragmenting our Palestinian identity as Jerusalemites, West Bankers, Gazans, Palestinians of 1948, refugees and exiled individuals, but also continue to forge new identities that affirm the privilege of the occupiers and deny us our rights and integrity. Checkpoints define walls of exclusion and control, and crossroads of colourful humiliation and black death for anyone who risks to “invade” the borders of her/his narrow community prison. These concrete structures have created finite parameters for our emotions, relationships, hopes, dreams and ambitions. Damned are those who defy their borders and dare to expand their love, relatedness, study or work outside their cages.

Once, after giving a talk in Brussels, I was stopped by a very young Palestinian youth from Gaza. His wants were pragmatic: to help him obtain papers testifying that he is a Palestinian. This young man had become intolerant of life in Gaza and had escaped through the tunnels, enduring terrifying journeys through Egypt and several European countries before reaching Brussels. He had sacrificed all of his money, and paid whatever can be paid to smugglers and dealers. When the boat carrying him arrived on the shores of Italy, it sank and several of his companions died. He lost all his belongings in the sea, including his identity papers and birth certificate.

In Gaza, borders have become a noose strangling the life out of its people. The siege constricts human potential by obstructing electricity, work, and studies, and denying medical care. Recently, the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip revealed that half of the Palestinians in Gaza report that they are considering emigrating. Those who refuse to accept the slow suffocation in the besieged enclave risk their lives on an illegal boat to Europe; sadly, many of them drown. The keys locking borders are used to promote dependency on the abuser. Who may cross is determined by blackmail and exploitation; there are multiple reports from patients from Gaza who were asked to be informers for the Israeli intelligence agencies in exchange for permission to cross the border to seek healthcare.

Read: Cancer patient dies after Israel refuses medical referral

As a Palestinian Jerusalemite, lacking both passport and citizenship, I am very familiar with the paradoxical feelings involved in crossing borders, locally and internationally: the disgrace of being investigated as a permanent suspect; the frustration of hours and days robbed in mortifying delays; and the anxiety of not being able to cross back. And yet there is a desire to connect beyond borders, the yearning to exchange knowledge and experience with the other, and the aspiration to transcend the confines of the colonially-imposed borders of Sykes-Picot, the UN Partition Plan, the Green (1949 Armistice) Line, Areas A, B and C, etc. I have learned many languages and the field of psychiatry as my visa and passport to symbolic border crossings into other worlds.

Working in the West Bank, I cross borders every day. I experience moments of perplexity; degrading waiting and multiplicity and wealth of experience at the same time. I observe young men climbing and jumping dangerously over the 8 metre-high wall in the hope of finding work in Israeli-held areas. A few have died or been killed and many have been injured or arrested during this adventure. I observe how borders exist as concrete on the land and as thoughts in the mind. Not only are driving habits very different on the two sides of the walls, but borders also make people behave and feel differently in countless ways. Between Jerusalem and the West Bank, there is a gap in per capita GDP, education, health and human rights.

However, these borders do not have to be a physical wall or a checkpoint. I think of Frantz Fanon’s “zones of being” and “zones of non-being” drawn along the virtual line that separates people according to their relative power and domination over one another.

#GazaSiege

In my land, borders are drawn with blood on the ground. They are neither natural nor neutral. They are fabricated by the Israeli occupation to maintain the power relationship between the occupiers and the natives of Palestine. Yet the fate of Palestinians should not be determined by a power relationship. Article 13 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone lawfully within the territory of a State shall, within that territory, have the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose his residence. And everyone shall be free to leave any country, including his own.”

While thinking of the “call” beckoning my adolescent patient to cross into Jerusalem, I look at the blue sky and I see a flock of migrant birds passing over the horizon and remember the blue sea that has swallowed many refugees and their belongings.

If there came to be justice or equality on both sides of the borders; if there came to be respect for ethical standards or human rights within these borders and walls, then the divide between “us” and “them” would dissolve. A common pluralistic humanity would emerge around shared values and permit new middle ground and a new zone for human engagement.

(Source / 29.08.2017)

16-year-old Palestinian held under administrative detention for 5 months

Nour Kayed Faiq Issa

16-year-old Nour Kayed Faiq Issa

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — For five months, Israeli forces have been holding a 16-year-old Palestinian in prison — currently the youngest person to be held under Israel’s widely condemned policy of administrative detention, internment without trial or charge based on undisclosed evidence.

Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer profiled Nour Kayed Faiq Issa, from the town of Anata in the central occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem, on its website on Monday.
The high school student was detained from his home in the middle of the night on April 3, 2017, when a group of more than 40 Israeli soldiers and military vehicles stormed the town. Some 15 soldiers broke into the house and told Nour’s mother they were there to arrest her son.
“His mother hurried to wake up his sisters so that they could see him before the arrest. The officer separated Nour from his family and put him in another room for questioning. The separation was undertaken despite his mother’s continuous demands to be in the same room as her child while he was to be questioned,” Addameer wrote.
More than 94 percent of Palestinian minors are interrogated without being accompanied by a parent, according to Military Court Watch (MCW).
Nour’s mother was forced to wait in the living room with her husband and daughters while Israeli soldiers yelled and threatened her son. She was told Nour was going to be accused of “incitement” on Facebook, Addameer said.
Israeli forces have reportedly detained more than 400 Palestinians for social media activity in recent months. When formal charges are brought against the detainees, Palestinians face a 99.74 percent conviction rate in Israel’s military courts, according to Human Rights Watch.After the 45-minute raid, Israeli soldiers blindfolded and handcuffed Nour behind his back, and took him without telling his family where he was going. His mother waited eight hours before being informed that Nour was at Ofer detention center in the Ramallah district of the occupied West Bank, where the majority of underage Palestinian prisoners are held by Israeli forces.
Nour’s mother has been allowed to visit her son once since he was detained, while the father has been denied permission to see him completely for alleged “security reasons,” according to Addameer.
“Nour’s arrest has placed a great amount of stress on the whole family, with the youngest two girls struggling at school as a result. Nour’s mother emphasized that the greatest stress in this situation is the misery experienced by Nour himself. “He has spoken about how difficult it has been without his family, missing Ramadan, and how much he wishes to see his new nephew. He spoke about how the five past months have gone by without his mother’s hugs, his father’s advice, playing with his sisters, and, most importantly, his basic freedom.”
His administrative detention was renewed earlier this month and will end Nov. 1.  Admistrative detention can be renewed indefinitely for three to four-month intervals.
While a list of charges were filed against him, including incitement on Facebook, no evidence has been presented and Israeli authorities have claimed that Nour, who spent two one-week stints in detention last year, is a security threat.
However, Addameer argued that Israeli forces have continued to target Nour as an act of “retribution,” as his brother allegedly attempted to stab an Israeli. “Considering that no evidence was presented indicating that Nour is a threat, his imprisonment thus represents an act of collective punishment against the family,” the NGO said.“Nour’s case is testament to the fact that the occupation does not differentiate between a child and an adult, and does not take into consideration the psychological and physical effects of detention on children. The occupation forces do not only detain children and sentence them to spend months or years in prison, but also resort to administrative detention when they don’t have enough evidence to try the child.”
Addameer noted that Nour’s case is not unique, as Israeli forces “have been targeting Palestinian children continuously since 1967. The occupation’s policy of terrorizing Palestinian children is clear. Asserting dominance and control over children early is a clear strategy of control. The thinking goes that, if a child understands the consequences of political action, they will be less likely to undertake any such activity in the future.”
Among the 6,128 Palestinians in Israeli prisons, 450 are administrative detainees and 320 are minors, according to Addameer.
(Source / 29.08.2017)

Palestinian children demonstrate against Israeli occupation in Hebron

Pal kids against occupation

HEBRON (Ma’an) — Dozens of children and their parents demonstrated south of the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron’s Old City in the occupied West Bank on Monday against the ongoing presence of Israeli settlers in the area and the Israeli army’s restrictions on Palestinian movement.

Coordinator for the local activist group Youth Against Settlement Issa Amro told Ma’an that the demonstration was the first activity of a local and international campaign against the Israeli occupation’s “ethnic discrimination and apartheid” policy in the center of Hebron.
The campaign, he said, will include local activities, demonstrations, sit-ins, voluntary events, and protest tents.
Organizers of the campaign will also install street signs and billboards using the original names of Palestinian neighborhoods. In addition, there will be signs illustrating the history of Hebron’s Old City to visitors, to contend with signs that have been installed by Israeli settlers.
Amro, who is known for advocating non-violent resistance and is facing charges in Israeli military court related to his activism, added that the organizers would contact international organizations to organize solidarity activities abroad, which, he said, would help to put pressure on the Israeli occupation.
Amro explained that the Salayma and Gheith neighborhoods south of the Ibrahimi mosque, where Monday’s action took place, were suffering from the approximately 10 Israeli military checkpoints clustered in the small area.
The Israeli army, he added, recently installed a gate at the main entrance to the neighborhoods that Israeli soldiers operate from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m. “Israeli soldiers close the gate whenever they please, punishing 50 Palestinian families who live in the area.”
The activist highlighted that schoolchildren face particularly serious difficulties as a result of the Israeli military checkpoints when they commute to school every day.
Resident of the Salayma neighborhood Wael al-Fakhouri told Ma’an that the residents have been suffering from closures and attempts to “Judaize” the neighborhood for years. “We feel we are in a big prison, isolated from life. We don’t possess any of the elements necessary to enable us to remain firm.”
“It seems everyone has forgotten about the Salayma and Gheith neighborhoods,” he said, in a reference to negligence by the Palestinian Authority. “The Israeli occupation is seeking to expel us from the Ibrahimi mosque area as part of their efforts to kill the Palestinian identity here.”
Al-Fakhouri pointed out that the neighborhoods are not even serviced by an ambulance, and Palestinian ambulances stationed elsewhere take too long to arrive to treat locals. “School children arrive late to their schools, while human rights organizations are denied entry to the area,” he added.
Mistreatment of Palestinians in the Hebron area has been common since the city was divided in the 1990s after a US-born settler, Baruch Goldstein, massacred 29 Palestinians inside the Ibrahimi Mosque.
The majority of the city was placed under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, while the Old City and surrounding areas were placed under Israeli military control in a sector known as H2.
The area is home to 30,000 Palestinians and around 800 Israeli settlers who live under the protection of Israeli forces. Hebron residents frequently report attacks and harassment by the settlers carried out in the presence of the forces.
(Source / 29.08.2017)

Video: Settlers hurl insults, threaten sexual violence against Palestinians in Hebron

Settlers near Nablus

Armed settlers overlook a Palestinian village south of Nablus during confrontations following the setting on fire of Palestinian-owned fields on Jan. 1, 2010

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli rights group B’Tselem released a video on Tuesday showing a group of settlers from Israel’s illegal Kiryat Arba settlement in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron hurling abuses through a loudspeaker at Palestinians in the area.

In the presence of Israeli soldiers and police, settlers used a loudspeaker to shout abusive language at Palestinians in the the al-Hariqah neighborhood on Thursday, insulting Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, whom they called a dog.
According to B’Tselem’s statement, once the settlers noticed a Palestinian woman — a local volunteer for the group — filming them, their scathing language was directed at her and they began to threaten her with sexual violence. B’Tselem noted that the incident continued for hours.
Despite the disturbing threats, Israeli forces did not intervene. Palestinians often report that Israeli forces idly stand by when Israeli settlers harass or assault Palestinians, while routinely providing the settlers protection.
An Israeli army spokesperson was not immediately available to comment on the incident.
The unidentified volunteer provided testimony to B’Tselem, in which she said that the Israeli settlers were having a party on a hilltop nearby and turned their music up when the adhan (the Muslim call to prayer) was sounded from the neighborhood’s mosque. This is when they began insulting Islam.
When she started filming “the settlers began to use foul language and call out obscenities concerning me, Islam, and especially the Prophet Muhammad,” adding that it was not the first time that she has documented Israeli settlers hurling insults about Islam in the presence of Israeli forces.
“Life in al-Hariqah has become intolerable,” she added. “The military repeatedly raids the neighbourhood and the settlers assault and harass us.”
She told B’Tselem that as a Muslim, she was “extremely offended by the insults” against the Prophet Muhammad. “As a woman, I felt terrible hearing the foul language directed personally at me for filming them,” she said.
Over recent weeks, there have been routine reports of Israeli settler attacks on Palestinians and their homes in the Hebron district, particularly in the Old City.
Some 600,000 Israeli settlers reside in occupied Palestinian territory in violation of international law. The international community has repeatedly called their presence and rising population the main impediment to potential peace in the region.
The UN reported this month that after a three-year decline of settler attacks on Palestinians, the first half of 2017 showed an 88 percent increase in settler attacks compared with 2016. The attacks during this time period have led to the deaths of three Palestinians, the UN added.
Israeli authorities served indictments in only 8.2 percent of cases of Israeli settlers committing anti-Palestinian crimes in the occupied West Bank in the past three years, according to Israeli NGO Yesh Din.
“In the reality of life under occupation, in which settlers assault Palestinian residents in the presence of Israeli security forces on a regular basis, even explicit threats of violence and blatant sexual harassment of a Palestinian woman and abuse of her community go unchecked by the security forces,” B’Tselem added in their statement.
(Source / 29.08.2017)

Netanyahu in tight spot amid Hamas prisoner swap debate

Almost six years have passed since the release of Gilad Shalit in October 2011, a saga that generated a national trauma that is deeply engraved in the souls of many Israelis. Unfortunately, the same story seems to be slowly repeating itself.

Shalit, a member of an Israeli tank crew, was abducted by Hamas in 2006 and held captive for five years. Ironically, it was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who, after negotiating with the terrorists, released more than 1,000 Hamas terrorists and murderers in order to bring Shalit home. This was despite the fact he had invested great efforts throughout his political career in preaching against negotiating with terrorists.

Shalit had spent five years incommunicado without any visits. During this time, Israeli society was torn between the masses of demonstrators who demanded that the state do everything to bring Shalit home, and opponents of a deal, mainly right-wingers, who demanded that murderers not be released in exchange for the soldier. They argued that a large proportion of the released terrorists would obviously return to the circle of terror.

On the heels of the Shalit deal, Netanyahu established a special committee, headed by former Supreme Court President Meir Shamgar, to set basic rules with which to conduct similar negotiations in the future. In 2012, the committee submitted a detailed report that recommended to severely stiffen the conditions for conducting negotiations for the return of abducted or imprisoned Israeli soldiers, and set out a detailed outline that severely limits the government’s freedom of action in freeing terrorists. For example, the report states that Israel should be willing to give up the bodies of terrorists it holds for the bodies of Israel Defense Force (IDF) fighters, but should not release living terrorists for an Israeli corpse. Though he was the one to order the report, Netanyahu did not bring it to the government for ratification, thus the document remains nonbinding.

Now the story is returning. This time, it is not about imprisoned or abducted soldiers but about the bodies of two Israeli combat soldiers: Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul and Lt. Hadar Goldin. Both were killed in the course of the 2014 Operation Protective Edge, but their bodies were abducted by Hamas and have been held since then in the Gaza Strip.

It turned out that Hamas has no qualms about wheeling and dealing over bodies, and the organization demands the release of terrorists in exchange for the bodies of the fighters — just to start the negotiations. Israel refuses. Recently, the families of Goldin and Shaul, who had kept a low profile in the last two years, transitioned into an open struggle. On Aug. 24, retired IDF Col. Lior Lotan quit his role as the prime minister’s coordinator for Israel’s prisoners of war and those missing in action. Lotan gave up on reaching a breakthrough for retrieving Goldin and Shaul. On Aug. 27, the Goldin family convened a press conference in which they called Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman weak and a coward. If we add to the pot the fact that Goldin was the nephew of the previous defense minister, Moshe Ya’alon, then we receive the Gordian knot that Netanyahu now faces.

It is believed that Hamas holds, in addition to the bodies of the two IDF fighters, three Israeli civilians who crossed the border of their own volition in recent years. The families of these civilians are also demanding that Israel take decisive action to return their loved ones. The one who is blocking negotiations with Hamas on this issue is Liberman. He demands that the government adopt the Shamgar report, despite its delay in doing so, in order for Israel not to “repeat the mistakes made with the Shalit deal,” in his words.

According to Liberman, 202 of the terrorists released in the Shalit deal have been rearrested by Israel for returning to terror. In addition, seven Israelis were murdered with the direct or indirect involvement of these terrorists. Liberman swore that this scenario would not repeat itself on his watch and has now found himself on a collision course with the families. Netanyahu, who is well-aware of the power held by bereaved families on Israeli society, is trying to keep a low profile, but does not dare enter into a conflict with Liberman on this issue. This is especially true now that Netanyahu is under siege by two hefty criminal investigations and perhaps additional ones in the future.

There are even more variables in this equation that further complicate the situation. As opposed to the Shalit family, who demanded in its time that the government comply with Hamas’ demands of releasing the terrorists and returning their son home alive, the Goldin family does not have a similar demand; perhaps even the reverse is true. Goldin’s parents feel that it is forbidden to release murderers in exchange for the body of their son. Instead they demand the government increase the pressure on Hamas and the Gaza Strip to force the organization to return the body by its own initiative. They demand that Israel should stop returning the bodies of Hamas terrorists that were killed in the course of carrying out attacks in Israel, worsen the conditions of Hamas prisoners incarcerated in Israel and halt family visits to jailed terrorists in Israel. Also, they demand that Israel not assist Hamas in Gaza and instead severely intensify the siege on the organization. Ironically, their opinions are close to those of Liberman regarding this last issue: Over the last year, Liberman has been torpedoing all the new suggestions of many sources within the government to bring humanitarian relief into the Gaza Strip and lessen the heavy pressure on Gaza.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu is trying to run between the raindrops on this dilemma, without paying a political or public price. On Aug. 2, the Goldin family complained that Netanyahu has not found time to meet with them. Netanyahu knows that there will not be the kind of public outcry and protest now as there was for Shalit because the present case is about bodies, not a soldier who is alive. On the other hand, the Goldin family belongs to the religious Zionist stream, part and parcel of Netanyahu’s electoral base and the hard kernel of Netanyahu’s supporters among Israel’s traditional right. Should the Goldins continue their protest, this can inflict significant damage on Netanyahu in the public opinion, and in his traditional bastions of support.

Netanyahu could formulate a diplomatic plan if he only had a well-formulated, strategic policy in regard to the Gaza Strip in general. The problem is that no such strategy exists. On Aug. 28, Netanyahu met with Antonio Guterres, the new United Nations secretary-general. Guterres has begged the prime minister to alleviate the situation in the Gaza Strip. But Israel still has not decided what exactly it wants from Gaza and what exactly is its policy vis-a-vis the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip.

On the one hand, Israel holds Gaza above the water via more than 1,000 truckloads of provisions it sends from the Israeli side, and through other means. On the other hand, Israel continues to keep in close contact with Egypt and with former Fatah senior member Mohammed Dahlan — who is reportedly close to Liberman — in an effort to try to formulate an alternative to Hamas in Gaza.

When one body has several hands that move in opposite directions, it is no wonder that the head does not really know what to do.

(Source / 29.08.2017)

Adalah: Israeli AG Fails to Respond to Appeals against Closure of Bakr Investigation

29 AUG
8:28 AM

Paramedics and media crews at the location minutes after the attack on the beach that killed the four Bakr children as they were playing on the beach. (Courtesy of Al Mezan)

The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights (Gaza), and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (Gaza) sent a letter on 20 August 2017 to senior Israeli legal officials demanding that they respond to the appeals submitted against the closure of the investigation into the 2014 killing of four children on a Gaza beach and order the military to hand over materials from its investigation.

On 16 July 2014, during the military offensive that Israel termed “Operation Protective Edge”, the Israeli forces fired missiles that killed four children  of the Bakr family – Ahed (10 years), Zakaria (10 years), Mohammed (11 years) and Ismail (10 years) – while they were playing soccer on Gaza City’s fishermen’s beach. Six other civilians were also wounded in the missile attack, including four children from the Bakr family.

This incident was witnessed by foreign journalists covering the 2014 Gaza war and it received widespread global media coverage.

Paramedics evacuating one of the Bakr children after the attack  

Two days later, Adalah and Al Mezan sent a letter to the Israeli defense minister, the military advocate general, and the attorney general, demanding an investigation into the killing of the Bakr boys. Almost one year later, on 11 June 2015, the Israeli army announced the closure of the investigation without further measures. Two months after that, in August 2015, the organizations filed an appeal on behalf of the victims’ families demanding access to investigatory materials and a reopening of the probe.  The Israeli authorities have failed since then to respond to the request.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) in Gaza also submitted a complaint and later an appeal to the AG against the MAG’s decision to close the case in August 2015. Despite providing the military with additional materials, sending several reminders and requesting access to the investigatory materials, PCHR was also unable to get any response from the MAG or the State Attorney regarding this case.

In their 20 August 2017 letter to Osnat Mendel, director of the Supreme Court Department in the Israeli State Attorney’s Office, the three human rights organizations also demanded Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit issue a decision on the appeals against the closure of the Bakr boys investigation.

 

A member of the Bakr family showing a screen shot on his mobile phone showing the Bakr children running on the beach after the first missile was launched 

Attorneys Muna Haddad and Tamim Younis wrote in their letter that this case exemplifies Israel’s flawed investigation system and unwillingness to genuinely carry out an investigation:

“This is an unreasonable delay highlighting a lack of willingness on the part of [Israeli] authorities to conduct an effective investigation. They are essentially thwarting any possibility of conducting such an investigation. The obligation to investigate any suspicion of war crimes is anchored in international law. An investigation must comply with the universal principles of independence, effectiveness, promptness, impartiality and transparency… The nature of this investigation and the unreasonable foot-dragging when it came to responding to parents’ appeals are a gross violation of these international standards.”

The human rights organizations also stressed that the ineffective nature of the Israeli investigative system grants de facto immunity to military figures involved in the incident:

These unjustifiable delays and investigative “failures threaten to thwart any chance of bringing to justice those responsible for the killing of civilians and the violation of international humanitarian law.”

 

Three days after the attack, members of the Bakr family sit in a room without electricity in their home in Al Shati’ (Beach) refugee camp, fearing further attacks 

CLICK HERE to read the letter [Hebrew]

CLICK HERE to watch Al Mezan’s short documentary film on the killing of the Bakr children

CLICK HERE to read a joint report by Adalah and Al Mezan: Gaza 3 Years On – Impunity Over Accountability

(Source / 29.08.2017)

Peace Now activists demonstrate near al-Aqsa Mosque

Peace Now Movement

Activists from Peace Now Movement demonstrated Tuesday at al-Magharba gate where MKs Yehuda Glick, of Likud party, and Shuli Moalem-Refaeli, of the Jewish Home, broke into al-Aqsa Mosque.

The Movement expressed protest at the Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision to allow members of the Knesset to enter the holy site in a one-day trial.

According to Maariv website, MKs intending to enter the Mosque must obtain the approval of the Knesset’s security commander and the Jerusalem police chief.

Based on the decision, MKs will be able to enter the site through Bab al-Magharba only at times when Jewish settlers are allowed to visit it. Political speeches and media interviews are not allowed during the visits, and MKs are prohibited from entering the Islami Waqf offices.

Arab MKs announced that they will enter al-Aqsa Mosque whenever they want and not when Netanyahu wants.

(Source / 29.08.2017)

Activists push for serious response to Israeli violations at al-Aqsa

Anti zio's because of al-Aqsa

Palestinian activists on Tuesday launched calls for the implementation of a thought-out plan to thwart Israeli attempts to hold sway over holy al-Aqsa Mosque.

Speaking during a press conference, head of Jerusalem’s Committee at the Israeli Knesset, Ahmed al-Tibi, spoke out against the Israeli violations and Judaization schemes at al-Aqsa and Occupied Jerusalem.

He warned of ongoing Israeli attempts to whitewash its crimes and “pool the wool over the world’s eyes” with the help of the new US administration.

Meanwhile, representative of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Ambassador Ahmed al-Ruweidi, strongly condemned the Israeli break-ins at al-Aqsa and attempts to grab hold of the site.

He added that the break-ins carried out by Israeli Mks at al-Aqsa are tension-provoking.

“Netanyahu wants to take revenge of al-Aqsa and the Muslim worshipers,” said al-Ruweidi, warning of the simmering Israeli terrorism and dangerous excavations around the site.

Head of al-Aqsa’s Academy for Endowment and Heritage, Sheikh Najeh Bkeirat, called for the launch of a unified and well-organized plan in the face of the Israeli violations in Occupied Jerusalem.

A press conference held at PalMedia headquarters in Occupied Jerusalem culminated in a set of recommendations urging the Palestinians to stand on guard against the Israeli attempts to enforce a new fait accompli and impose a spatio-temporal division at al-Aqsa.

(Source / 29.08.2017)