The Arab Centre for the Advancement of Social Media -7amleh has found that two-thirds of Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Israel are afraid of sharing their political opinions online.
A poll carried out by 7amleh found that “76 per cent of Palestinian youth access the internet via smartphone for periods of 5.5 hours per day.”
It also found that “two-thirds of Palestinian youth afraid to express their political opinions online” and one-third of Palestinian youth are punished by their families for sharing their political views.
Entitled “Silenced Net: The Chilling Effect among Palestinian Youth in Social Media”, the report found that the current legal, political and social environment is having a significant impact on the political activity of Palestinian youth on the internet.
“Palestinians are subject to repression as a result of the policies and practices of several authorities including Israel who routinely uses Palestinians private information from social media in their surveillance, interrogations, arrests, and prosecutions,” the poll found.
Therefore, Palestinian youth self-censor after seeing family, friends, and journalists arrested.
7amleh’s poll also found that Palestinian citizens of Israel do not share their political views online because they are afraid of losing their jobs or education opportunities.
In March this year, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Centre (PPC) revealed that Israel had arrested more than 500 Palestinians, including women and children, as a result of their social media posts by May last year.
The occupation state uses its “Cyber Unit” to monitor Palestinian social media posts, the centre added.
In December last year, Adalah – The Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel accused media giants of collaborating with Israeli authorities to censor user content.
According to official data, the group continued, in 2016 the unit submitted 2,241 content removal requests, of which 69 per cent of posts were duly removed. In 2017, the unit submitted a massive number of 12,351 content removal requests, 85 per cent of which were removed.
Months earlier, in July, the Israeli Knesset passed the first reading of what is called the Facebook Bill which would authorise the court to issue orders to delete internet content “if it harmed the human safety, public, economic, state or vital infrastructure safety”.
This was halted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu out of fears that under the bill’s format, police could ask a court to remove anything from the Internet without the person who put it online even being able to respond in court.
Britain is yet to acknowledge its historic responsibility for the calamitous situation facing the Palestinians
Britain’s major role in the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 is no secret and has been well-documented by historians. The mainstream media, meanwhile, has for decades addressed the Palestinian issue as something that dates back to the 1967 Six Day War, ignoring the fact that the conflict was by then already at least 50 years old. It was in 1917 that the British government voiced its support for a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine. The letter in which this was set out became known as the Balfour Declaration.
The centenary of Balfour was marked by Britain’s then Prime Minister, Theresa May, inviting her Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, to commemorate the anniversary “with pride”. This was despite the fact that over 13,500 people had signed a parliamentary petition launched by the Palestinian Return Centre calling for the government to apologise to the Palestinians. The PRC pointed out that Britain’s pro-Israel colonial policy had caused “mass displacement” and a massive, ongoing injustice.
The government remained steadfast in its denial. “The Balfour Declaration is a historic statement for which Her Majesty’s Government does not intend to apologise,” a spokesperson declared. “We are proud of our role in creating the State of Israel.”
Britain is yet to acknowledge its historic responsibility for the calamitous situation facing the Palestinians. Successive governments have avoided the injustice by simply making statements of goodwill, instead of progressive actions to end the Israeli occupation and support the Palestinian right to self-determination.
This year, though, the Palestinian ambassador in London, Dr Husam Zomlot, hopes that things will be different. He arrived in Britain in September last year, after being expelled from the US. The Trump administration shut down the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington, and he relocated to the UK to head the mission in London, where he had lived as a student. His PhD is from the University of London.
The British government has never recognised the state of Palestine. According to the ambassador, this omission is “neither legal nor strategic” as it is the one step that will be the most progressive towards achieving the two-state solution, which is Britain’s professed preference.
“It’s what they owe with Britain‘s historic responsibility with the Balfour Declaration contributing to where we are now,” he explained. “And if you keep arguing that the recognition of the Palestinian state will only be an outcome of negotiations, then why did you recognise the state of Israel when we haven’t reached the final resolution yet?”
British fears about the political cost of recognition and Israel’s reaction to it helps neither the Palestinians nor, indeed, the Israelis, argued Zomlot. He narrowed the solutions down to two options: either “unrecognise” Israel and “level the playing field” so both states are equal in status; or recognise the state of Palestine based on its own policy. He believes that the latter would be the most “helpful and constructive”.
The Palestinian ambassador thinks that we need to see a clear signal from Britain and the international community that positive action is under way. He cited the fact that the Gaza Strip, home to nearly two million people, has been under an Israeli-led siege for more than a decade. Given the ongoing human rights violations and crimes against the Palestinians by Israel, why is such a signal not forthcoming? Recognition might do the job.
He finds it amusing that diplomats still talk about “working towards” two states, while simultaneously displaying a carefully measured amount of sympathy for the people of Palestine. Meanwhile, the number of Jewish colonists living on occupied Palestinian land – illegally, under international law – keeps increasing. Nobody, least of all the British government, does or says anything about this fact, apart from a few meaningless platitudes.
According to the official Palestinian Authority Wafa news agency, Israel has used the recent Jewish holidays of Sukkot and Yom Kippur as cover for its ongoing settlement expansion. A statement issued by the PA Foreign Ministry said that the Israeli activities during the Jewish holidays included incitement and aggression against Palestinians and their property, as well as the occupation of more Palestinian land. Moreover, Anadolu Agency reports that the Israeli government has advanced plans to build 251 more settlement units in the occupied West Bank.
Precisely 137 countries have officially recognised the state of Palestine, but Britain and the US have not. Indeed, successive US administrations have been consistently pro-Israel. President Donald Trump broke with protocol and international law last year when he recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and transferred the US Embassy to the holy city from Tel Aviv.
Despite this lack of recognition, Dr Zomlot commends Britain for its financial support for the Palestinian Authority as well as the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) which strives to meet the basic needs of Palestinian refugees. The agency is facing serious financial difficulties and an existential threat from Israel and its allies at the UN.
The ambassador insists that Britain is uniquely placed to give a lead by recognising Palestine now and championing internationalism for urgent peace-making, which will require the implementation of international resolutions. “The UK is very clear that this is a situation of military occupation, that’s why in the official terminology of the Foreign Office and the government, it’s the ‘Palestinian occupied territories’ or the ‘occupied Palestinian territory’,” he noted. “It has also been a main supporter of the Palestinian Authority for many decades, and we appreciate its strong position over the past few years in the face of Trump’s actions by publicly opposing his position on Jerusalem.”
Dr Zomlot added that Britain has also been very clear in its stance on Netanyahu’s threat to annex illegal settlements in the West Bank, including the Jordan Valley, which alone is home to 65,000 Palestinians. Nevertheless, Israel is one of Britain’s top 50 trading partners, according to The Spectator; £2.3 billion worth of vehicles and machinery is sold to Israel annually and £1.6 billion worth of plastics and minerals is bought by Britain in return, even as the Zionist state continues to abuse Palestinian rights systematically.
Banning settlement produce from being imported into Britain is just one of the strategies that Britain could adopt to prevent any further destruction in Palestine, stressed the Palestinian ambassador. “By law, it is clear that products of settlements are illegal and it is important for the UK to prevent British companies who are there for economic reasons from operating in illegal settlements using stolen water and resources. Nothing would help the cause of peace more than banning illegal activity and upholding the law, across the board.”
Although the majority of global conflicts have been resolved by international mechanisms, Palestine has been the only exception. For Ambassador Zomlot, this is a mistake. The Israeli government led by Netanyahu has fighting openly against the two-state solution by its illegal actions, which have intensified over the years. “There is a clear attempt by Netanyahu to dismantle the peace process. If you follow what Netanyahu is doing, he’s trying to focus on attacking three main entities, the first of which is the Palestinian Authority itself. The second is UNWRA, one of the most important organisations that provides services to refugees in Palestine and more than two thirds of the people in Gaza. The third is his attack on Palestinian civil society and its call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against the Israeli regime.
“In such a situation, Britain and the rest of the world must pause and decide what to do. If this continues, it’s just a matter of time until Netanyahu can finally smile on camera and declare the death of the ‘two state’ solution.”
The Palestinian ambassador is keen on direct engagement with the public, including young people. Last month, he attended a meeting in Sheffield City Hall, where councillors passed a motion unanimously to recognise the sovereign state of Palestine, making it the first city in the UK to do so. Like most councils in northern England, Sheffield is controlled by the Labour Party. It hopes that its bold move will increase pressure on the Conservative government in Westminster to follow suit.
Dr Zomlot has visited All Saints Catholic School in Dagenham to see its work looking at the connections between the UK and Palestine after studying about rivers in Jericho, thought to be one of the oldest cities in the world. Furthermore, students from Bewdley Secondary School near Kidderminster have visited the Palestine Mission to ask the ambassador about Palestine and the Palestinian people.
“These are the leaders of the future. Regrettably, previous generations of young Britons have been subjected to a barrage of disinformation and misinformation. Youngsters as young as six or seven should learn the correct message, so when they are exposed to propaganda and deliberate disinformation, they can challenge them.”
The most important thing, concluded Dr Husam Zomlot, is that he and his small staff are being proactive and taking a bottom-up approach. “This is long-term because we want change in the UK and its relations with Palestine to be sustainable and everlasting.”
British recognition of the state of Palestine would help to reduce the risk of the two-state solution becoming irrelevant, and would be powerfully symbolic. However, it will not be enough to restore the damage that years of occupation has inflicted on the Palestinians. It can never be the only solution, but it could be the first, significant step on the road to a genuine and lasting peace based on international resolutions and justice.
Israeli soldiers shot, Wednesday, a Palestinian man near at Barta’a military roadblock, southwest of the northern West Bank city of Jenin; the Palestinian is the fifth to be shot in the same area in one week.
The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said the soldiers shot Abdullah Hasan Etheimar, 35, from Tulkarem in northern West Bank, with two live rounds in the left ankle and his thigh.
It added that its medics rushed the Palestinian to Khalil Suleiman Governmental hospital, in Jenin, suffering moderate wounds.
The soldiers briefly detained the young man, before allowing Red Crescent medics to provide him with the needed treatment and move him to a hospital. The Palestinian is the fifth to be shot by the soldiers in the same area in one week.
The wounded Palestinians were not abducted or imprisoned by the soldiers, which indicates that they did not attempt to attack the soldiers or pose any danger to them, otherwise, the army would not allow their release to Palestinian medics.
Israeli soldiers invaded, on Wednesday at dawn, Silwad Palestinian town, northeast of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, before abducting a former political prisoner and confiscating cash from his home.
Mo’men Hamed, an official in the local town council, said the soldiers abducted Mahmoud ‘Aahed Hamed, 24, after invading the property and violently searched it.
Hamed added that the soldiers confiscated around 80.000 Shekels from the property while searching it.
It is worth mentioning that Mahmoud is a former political prisoner, who was detained and imprisonment four times since the year 2013.
What started as a student act of civil disobedience against Santiago’s rising metro fares has now expanded outside the Chilean capital. In a sudden uprising against austerity and persistent economic inequality, a proposed fare increase (the equivalent of €0.02) was simply salt on an open wound for the poor and working-class citizens of Chile. Peaceful protests, when forcibly dispersed by the national police, have turned violent. The government, led by conservative billionaire President Sebastián Piñera, responded by declaring a state of emergency and calling in the military to quell protests, declaring that the state was “at war”.
While the military enforces brutality towards civilians not seen since the dictatorship that ended in the early 1990s, it is important to highlight the international connections to such brutality. The state of Israel’s tactical and resource-based military support in the past and present for Chile should be noted in particular.
During Augusto Pinochet’s US-supported regime, Chile witnessed tens of thousands of political adversaries imprisoned, killed, or disappeared. During these years, Israel and Chile had a collaborative relationship, as Israel was one of the main suppliers of arms to the military junta.
The dark era of Pinochet’s rule has some notable connections to the present. President Piñera, having appointed individuals to his cabinet who made comments defending Pinochet, has also worked to refine so-called “anti-terror” laws from the junta era. These laws have in turn increased surveillance and oppression of Mapuche and left-wing groups.
Today, the armed forces of both Chile and Israel make no attempts to hide their alliances, citing on the Chilean Embassy to Israel’s website the aims of “increasing the bonds with…Israel, in order to make knowledge, training and experiences exchange possible.” Chile and Israel signed an agreement in 2018 which spoke of encouraging further “cooperation in military education, training and doctrine” during Israeli General Yaacov Barak’s visit to Chile that year.
While this alliance is known to benefit the military power of both countries, those who are affected the most negatively are the working class and Indigenous people of both regions. In Israel, Palestinians suffer under a system of occupation and apartheid, and in Chile, the working class and Indigenous groups, such as the Mapuche, have experiences centuries of colonial-based oppression.
In recent years, the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) has seemingly used a tactic of maiming Palestinian protesters rather than lethally shooting them. For more than a year now, Palestinian civilians have marched towards the Gaza wall in protest of Israeli occupation, and the IDF has shot nearly 60 per cent of these 10,511 civilians in the lower limbs, with more than 90 per cent of casualties coming from live ammunition.
During the past week, these Israeli tactics have been used on Chilean civilians on multiple reported occasions. One woman has been shot in the thigh and was reported in critical condition due to excessive bleeding. In another, a 23-year-old man was shot in the leg before a military vehicle crushed him to death.
These similar tactics are no coincidence, and are internationally a part of what activist groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace have named “the deadly exchange”. In the United States, municipal police, ICE agents, and other security agents routinely train alongside the IDF, sharing tactics and weaponry that can encourage racial profiling, extrajudicial killings, and increased surveillance on both countries’ most marginalized groups.
Emilio Dabed, a Palestinian-Chilean lawyer, has laid out the connections before, writing: “In both cases, Palestinians and the Indigenous population in Chile live in a state of exception imposed on them by the colonizers, and under which the colonized people are [seen as] neither citizen-holders of rights nor political subjects but rather a threat — bodies [to be] ruled by violence that is normalized in law.”
The Israeli arms which forcibly kept Pinochet in power were used disproportionately on the Mapuche, who had supported left-wing efforts such as the election of socialist Salvador Allende in 1970. Today many Indigenous people are taking part in the demonstrations, and have become many of the casualties at the hands of the military.
Outside of Chile and Israel, it’s important that we call out military partnerships that perpetuate the oppression of marginalized indigenous people. Such ties between the IDF and other countries’ armed forces should be investigated and questioned. Further militarization of communities does not produce peace, but further brutality and injustice — and it’s time we talked about why we’re ignoring that fact.
Hundreds of Israelis arrived at Ein Haniya, a natural spring on the outskirts of Jerusalem and the Palestinian village of al-Walajeh, last Tuesday, one of the early days of the week-long Jewish holiday of Sukkot. The site is part of a national park, technically open to all, which Israel declared on Walajeh’s agricultural land.
Less than a mile away from Ein Haniya, however, idled an Israeli Border Police jeep, stationed to ensure that no Palestinians could approach the spring. At the height of the olive harvest season, Palestinians were completely shut out from the site — including the residents of Walajeh, to whom 1,200 dunam (297 acres) of the barred area belongs.
Border Police officers have arrested several Palestinian farmers in their own olive orchards over the past few weeks. The decision to operate Ein Haniya as a leisure area for Israelis is directly linked to the expulsion of Walajeh’s residents from their own lands and from the village’s own spring.
The Bible’s strongest stories, most famously “Naboth’s Vineyard” and “The Poor Man’s Lamb,” call out against the abuse of power, including dispossession by the strong. Still, dispossession is the reality in this land, certainly since 1948. Jerusalem itself, on both sides of the Green Line, sprawls across sites of dispossession. At Ein Haniya on Tuesday, I saw this phenomenon in real time: how, in under an hour, Israeli visitors entered the site and as if it were the most natural thing in the world, yet another piece of Palestinian land turned Israeli.
The separation barrier started encroaching on Walajeh in 2010, when Israel placed a fence along a route designed to expropriate the village’s land. Instead of being built along the Green Line, based on the 1949 armistice agreements, the fence stretches close to Walajeh’s residential areas, cutting them off from 1,200 dunams of pastures and olive groves — private land that belongs to the villagers. Ein Haniya is at the heart of this sequestered area, and is also a central part of Walajeh’s heritage.
As the barrier was being built, the Jerusalem Municipality and the Nature and Parks Authority advanced a plan that would eventually see Walajeh’s agricultural land declared a national park called Nahal Refaim. The planning documentation contains no mention of the Palestinians who own the land and who cultivate the olive terraces — the same terraces whose beauty is cited as the reason for declaring the land they’re on as a national park. Instead, the plan announces that the site “will be used for the benefit of Jerusalem residents.”
The throngs of Israelis at Ein Haniya on Tuesday did indeed benefit from the spring, utterly indifferent to the fact that they were enjoying themselves on stolen land. They were blind, too, to the prominent separation fence that was about 70 meters (230 feet) above them and, behind it, the residents of Walajeh who had been excluded from the site.
I watched a father hugging his baby son. I was unable to reconcile the gap between this expression of a most innocent love, and the fact that they were taking part in land theft, denial of the villagers’ livelihood, and cultural destruction.
The national park was inaugurated at the start of 2018, a few months after the separation barrier between the spring and Walajeh was completed. Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Ze’ev Elkin, along with the previous and current mayors of Jerusalem — Nir Barkat and Moshe Lion, respectively — attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony, along with several senior officials from the Nature and Parks Authority and the Israel Antiquities Authority. Yet the park remained closed off for almost two years following its inauguration.
The reason for the extended closure is that the checkpoint between Jerusalem and Walajeh leaves the spring and the grounds of the national park on its Palestinian side. Even though the separation barrier now blocks direct access from Walajeh homes to the olive terraces and the spring, Palestinian landowners can still get to the area by taking a detour around the barrier. The Israeli authorities are therefore unsatisfied with turning Walajeh’s land into “a natural site for the benefit of Israeli residents,” but rather want to completely deny Palestinian access to the area.
And it’s for this reason that the Jerusalem Municipality and the Nature and Parks Authority want to move the checkpoint from its current location toward the village. The army is not opposed to this change, although from its perspective, the checkpoint is doing its job as it is. Since the military is not willing to fund the checkpoint’s transfer, the move has been delayed nearly two years, Ein Haniya remains closed, and Walajeh’s residents are still able to farm their land.
Now, Israelis have been given access to the spring for three days during the Sukkot holiday. In the course of preventing any Palestinians from visiting Ein Haniya during that time, the Border Police have also stopped farmers from tending to their land. The Jerusalem Municipality anticipates that the Department of Transportation will shortly provide the millions of shekels needed to move the checkpoint, after which the residents of Walajeh will be completely barred from reaching their land.
In the meantime, Border Police has arrested Palestinian farmers in recent weeks while working in their own groves, because they were on the ‘wrong’ side of the barrier. They were threatened and told not to return to their lands. One farmer has been arrested three times in the last month. Israeli forces also destroyed expensive farming equipment he owns, and uprooted eight olive trees that had been planted over 10 years ago.
None of this was of any interest to the Israeli visitors who were at Ein Haniya on Tuesday. As more and more people crowded around the water under the trees, I could envisage the next steps: people overflowing from the packed-out spring, spreading over more and more of the surrounding land. Over the next few years, Walajeh’s land will likely become Israeli picnic spots. The Jerusalem Municipality has already hired planners to develop bike paths, picnic stations, and even a large campsite.
Walajeh’s residents did not protest the takeover of Ein Haniya. This is understandable: they have been living under occupation for 52 years and as refugees since 1948, when their village was destroyed. They have tried repeatedly to engage in non-violent opposition to the separation fence, the demolition of their homes, and to advocate for their basic rights — all while absorbing violence that the state dishes out without batting an eyelid, year after year.
UN: Olive oil industry supports the livelihoods of more than 100,000 families
Israeli settlers stole on Wednesday olive harvest of Palestinian farmers in village of Deir Sharaf, northwest of occupied West Bank City of Nablus, local sources said.
Member of Deir Saharaf village council Murad Nasser said that the Israeli settlers had destroyed olive trees and stole olive harvest from Palestinian farms near the illegal Jewish settlement of Shavei Shomron.
Every year, without fail, much of the olive harvest is characterised by attacks on Palestinian farmers by Israeli settlers and armed Israeli occupation soldiers.
Over the past two weeks, the West Bank witnessed a wave of settler attacks and agricultural terrorism as Palestinian farmers began the year’s olive harvest.
Attacks were mainly in northern villages near Nablus and Salfit, governorates with the largest concentration of illegal Israeli Jewish settlements.
With more than 12 million olive trees planted across 45 per cent of the West Bank’s agricultural land, the olive harvest constitutes one of the biggest sources of economic sustainability for thousands of Palestinian families.
A Palestinian worker spends more than 70 per cent of his earnings on illegal trade of Israeli work permits
Some 20,000 Palestinian workers paid $140 million to brokers and Israeli employers in order to get permits allowing them to work in Israel, Israeli newspaper Haaretz revealed on Tuesday.
The workers make up 33 per cent of all Palestinian labourers in Israel, the paper added.
According to the report, workers paid $400 and $700 a month to get a permit, but field activists in the Israeli rights groups Kav La’Oved and Machsom Watch said they “heard of higher amounts being charged for each permit.”
In December 2016, the Israel government decided to implement reforms that would gradually eliminate the link between Palestinian workers and specific employer in order to make it easy for the workers to get work permits without brokers.
However, Haaretz said: “Implementation has been slower than promised.”
According to the website of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Haaretz said, “before the autumn Jewish holidays this year, 81,000 Palestinians were working in Israel.”
“Some 27,000 of them bought their work permits, and the profits accruing to the permit trading network in the first nine months of the year reached 122 million shekels [$34.5 million].”
Each worker, Haaretz said, paid between $425 and $700 a month, stating that this amount was estimated about “one-third and one-half of their potential earning power in Israel.”
In some cases, the cost of work permits and the lack of regular employment meant Palestinians were taking “home only a few hundred shekels each month,” which amounts to under $200.
Palestinian workers who buy permits also do not enjoy social benefits, including medical care of insurance which leaves them vulnerable to loss of earnings if they suffer an injury at work.
One worker who, “for four months now, he has been stuck at home after suffering an accident at an Israeli construction site.
“His employer and the broker have turned their backs on him. He says his employer even threatened to fire the workers who witnessed the accident to prevent them from testifying in court.”
A list of blocked websites includes Arab48, Wattan TV, Shehab News Agency, Quds News Network, Gaza Now, Metras and others.
No Israeli websites have been blocked.
Groups condemn PA decision
Palestinian political parties and journalist syndicates condemned the PA’s decision.
“The Palestinian Authority is burying its head in the sand by trying to prevent freedom of expression and returning national media to the darkness that the Israeli occupation sought to return it to and couldn’t,” Husam Badran, member of Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, stated on Monday.
“The new ban can only mean that the Palestinian Authority and the occupation are fighting on the same side against Palestinian national expression and its exposure of the occupation’s violations, and of corruption and crime.”
The Committee to Support Journalists in Palestine also condemned the PA’s “unjust” decision and demanded it be reversed.
The Palestinian Youth Media Group called the ban a “massacre of freedom” that only serves “the Israeli narrative.”
Prisoners solidarity group Samidoun said the ban revealed the PA’s “fear of a popular explosion against it similar to the Arab revolutions, the latest of which is Lebanon.”
Meanwhile, Facebook took down the page of the news website Palestinian Information Center on its platform earlier this month.
The publication said Facebook gave it no prior notice or justification.
The Arabic-language page had some five million followers, according to its website.
The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) reported an increase in violations against media freedoms in September, mostly done by Facebook.
Facebook closed 34 Palestinian news pages and accounts of journalists based in the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip that month claiming that they “violate the rules of the Facebook community,” MADA reported.