Norway’s capital Oslo bans Israel settlement goods, services

Oslo City Council building

Oslo’s newly installed City Council is banning Israeli settlement goods and services from public contracts, reported the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) National Committee.

Norway’s capital and largest city has become the sixth Norwegian municipality to ban settlement goods and services, along with one county council.

In their 2019-2023 plan, the Socialist Left, Green and Labour parties commit to ensuring that public procurement does not include “goods and services produced on territory occupied in violation of international law by companies operating under the permission of the occupying power.”

The ban on settlement products and services does not distinguish between Israeli and international corporations that operate in Israel’s illegal settlements.

The resolution called on Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Ease Jerusalem, and that it fully respects all of its legal obligations in this regard.”

READ: Israel’s top court rejects petition seeking disclosure over government’s anti-BDS efforts

Israel captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the Six-Day War in 1967.

Last week, the UN independent expert on human rights in the Palestinian territories, Michael Lynk, called for an international ban on all Israeli settlement products, as a step towards ending Israel’s 52-year-old illegal occupation.

Sunniva Eidsvoll, leader of the Oslo chapter of the Socialist Left Party, said: “The Palestinian people, who have to deal with the illegal occupation of their territory every single day, deserve international attention and support.”

“It is a shared global responsibility to help ensure that human rights and international law are not violated. I am proud that the Oslo City Council is now taking steps to prevent goods and services purchased by the city from supporting an illegal occupation of Palestine or other territories.”

The Socialist Left Party of Norway has been a long-time supporter of the BDS movement.

The recent ban on Israeli settlement products came with a declaration by the Oslo City Council that it is committed to “investigating the scope of action in the procurement regulations to not trade goods and services produces on territory occupied in violation of international law by companies operating under the permission of the occupying power.”

READ: Episcopal Church in America boycotts pro-Israeli companies

(Source / 29.10.2019) 

Israel closes investigations into killings of 3 Palestinian civilians, no one held to account

Israeli forces fire tear gas at Palestinian protesters who had gathered in solidarity with Palestinians whose home was being demolished in the Bedres town of Ramallah, West Bank on January 4, 2017 [Issam Rimawi / Anadolu Agency]

Israeli forces fire tear gas at Palestinians in the West Bank on 4 January 2017

Israeli authorities have closed three separate investigations into the killing of Palestinian civilians – including two children – by occupation forces in the West Bank, with no one held to account.

According to human rights group B’Tselem, the decision by the Military Attorney General (MAG) to close the case files was communicated by the Israeli military spokesperson to the Associated Press.

In one incident, Layth Haitham Fathi Abu Na’im, aged 16, was shot in the head with a rubber-coated metal bullet by an Israeli soldier from just 20 metres away, during confrontations in his village Al-Mughayir on 30 January 2018.

B’Tselem noted that “the soldiers left the scene without providing him any medical assistance.”

READ: Israel killed Palestinian civilians deliberately, so why is the UNHRC speculating about it? 

In another incident, 17-year-old ‘Ali ‘Omar Nimer Qinu was shot in the head by soldiers in a military jeep at which ‘Ali and his friends had thrown stones, at the entrance to his village ‘Iraq Burin.

The third case saw Israeli occupation forces kill 35-year-old Yassin Omar Sliman Al-Saradih during a raid in Jericho on 22 February 2018.

As B’Tselem described, “in video footage of the incident, soldiers are seen kicking a-Saradih and beating him with their rifles as he lay injured on the ground, dragging him to a nearby alley and offering him no medical assistance for about 30 minutes.”

The human rights group slammed the Israeli authorities for, once again, ending “so-called investigations…in whitewashing”, adding: “It is no accident that all three case files were closed.”

“The system does not truly seek to uncover the facts and promote justice for the victims,” B’Tselem stated. “Rather, it is primarily aimed at defending the perpetrators, while creating the illusion of a functioning system so as to deflect criticism.”

READ: Gas bombs have become the Israeli weapon to kill ‘great march of return’ protestors

The NGO concluded with the grim assessment that the entire “military law enforcement system” is “based on the understanding that condoning – even implicitly – soldiers’ blatant breach of orders without holding anyone accountable is what allows the continued use of lethal force.”

“This force is crucial to Israel’s ability to carry on its violent control over millions of Palestinians.”

(Source / 29.10.2019) 

Airbnb complicit in ‘plunder of Palestinian refugee properties’ says new report

Airbnb Office [FlickR]

In aiding and abetting this project, Airbnb is complicit in ongoing war crimes. Airbnb Office 

Online accommodation and tourism giant Airbnb has been accused of “complicity in the plunder of Palestinian refugee properties”, in a new report published last week.

According to Who Profits, an independent research centre focused on exposing corporate involvement in the “ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestinian and Syrian lands”, their new update sheds light on a “largely overlooked” dimension of Airbnb’s “complicity”.

Taking the Old City of Yafa (Jaffa) as a case study, the new report “aims to highlight the ways in which Israel confiscated and controlled Palestinian properties, leading to their privatisation”.

“Israel has transformed properties into economic assets that benefit both the state and private actors, thus undermining Palestinians’ legally enshrined Right of Return,” stated the research centre.

“Serving as a platform for showcasing the homes that once belonged to Palestinians, Airbnb plays a role in strengthening the Israeli hold over Palestinian refugee properties,” Who Profits added.

READ: Palestinians call for NGOs to reject donations from Airbnb

During the Nakba of 1948, more than 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes and lands – property that was subsequently appropriated by the Israeli state “through legal mechanisms that formalise their confiscation and turn them into economic assets”, Who Profits explained.

According to the centre, this “privatisation” of refugee properties has benefitted market actors and Jewish Israelis, “whilst further threatening the possibility of Palestinians reclaiming ownership of their properties in the future”.

In the case of Jaffa, what was once the largest Palestinian city was almost entirely ethnically cleansed during the Nakba (five per cent of its Palestinian residents remained post-1948). Today, the Old City is one of the most popular sites in Israel for tourists, where Airbnb lists more than 40 properties.

In its new report, Who Profit notes that “while the issue of listing settlement properties [in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem] has gained worldwide attention, the issue of listing refugee properties ‘abandoned’ in 1948 remains largely overlooked.”

READ: Palestinians to sue Israel settlers in US court over Airbnb listing

“The act of plundering and privatizing refugee properties by the Israeli state, which started during the Nakba and continues to this day, has transformed the refugee properties in Yafa into commodities that can now be listed by hosts on platforms such as Airbnb,” the report concluded.

“In serving as a platform for these properties, as well as those in settlements in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, Airbnb is profiting from the ongoing dispossession of Palestinians.”

(Source / 29.10.2019) 

Israeli Settlers Attack Civilian Homes in Central West Bank

Israeli settlers today attacked Palestinian homes with rocks in the village of Kifl Haris, to the north of the occupied central West Bank city of Salfit, local sources told The Palestinian News and Info Agency (WAFA).

Dozens of illegal, colonialist settlers reportedly snuck into the village and threw rocks at the homes causing panic in the village. Israeli soldiers in the area did not intervene, instead, they closed off the main and side roads of the village to prevent movement of its residents.

Extremist Israeli settler violence against Palestinians and their property is routine in the West Bank and is rarely, if ever prosecuted by Israeli authorities.

Settler violence may include property and mosque arsons, stone-throwing, uprooting of crops and olive trees, among others.

(Source / 29.10.2019) 

Israeli Tanks, Bulldozers, Invade Palestinian Lands in Central Gaza

Three Israeli military tanks and two armored bulldozers invaded, earlier Tuesday, Palestinian agricultural lands, east of the al-Maghazi refugee camp, in central Gaza, and bulldozed sections near the perimeter fence.

Media sources said the vehicles came from a nearby military base, across the fence, and that they also fired sporadic bursts of live ammunition.

They added that the military bulldozers uprooted sections of the invaded lands, close to the fence, and withdrew shortly afterward.

The Israeli army frequently invades and bulldozes Palestinian lands near the fence, in border areas across the eastern parts of the coastal region, and repeatedly opens fire on the farmers to force them away.

The attacks also include constant violations, including the use of live ammunition, against the fishermen in Palestinian territorial areas.

On Tuesday at dawn, the soldiers abducted two young Palestinian men, after shooting and wounding one of them, reportedly after they breached the perimeter fence, east of Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

In the occupied West Bank, the soldiers abducted fifteen Palestinians after storming and ransacking dozens of homes.

(Source / 29.10.2019) 

ISRAEL’S ONGOING WAR AGAINST HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

By Ben Jamal

Recently, Israel announced that it intends to revoke the residency rights of Omar Barghouti – a Palestinian human rights defender and co-founder of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The lack of international response speaks to the extent to which Israel’s violation of fundamental democratic norms has become normalised and not led to any re-evaluation of its standard characterisation as a functioning liberal democracy.

Omar Barghouti has enjoyed permanent residency status in Israel since 1993. Since he came to prominence in 2005 as a co-founder of the BDS movement he has had his rights and freedoms routinely denied. In 2016 Israel’s intelligence minister threatened him with “targeted civil elimination”, a statement described by Amnesty International as alarming. Since then he has been subjected to regular restrictions to his freedom of movement including in Autumn 2018 when he was denied permission to travel to Amman to attend his late mother’s funeral.

These attacks are just one manifestation of Israel’s intensifying war on BDS. The BDS movement seeks to apply non-violent tactics against the Israeli state until it complies with international law by ending the occupation, recognising the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel and upholding Palestinian refugees’ fundamental right to return to the homes from which they were expelled. Ever since its inception, the Israeli state has sought to delegitimise and even criminalise the movement.

Internally, this has meant the passing of Israel’s “Anti-Boycott Law” in 2011, which means that individuals or organisations who endorse a call to use BDS tactics against Israel are liable to have legal action brought against them. It also stipulates that Israeli businesses that publicly choose not to purchase goods from occupied Palestinian land are liable to have their state-sponsored benefits revoked.

In 2015 the Israeli government branded BDS a “strategic threat” to the state, and appointed Gilad Erdan as Minister of Strategic Affairs with a brief to coordinate global efforts to oppose BDS. Since then, the Netanyahu regime has significantly ramped up its attempts to suppress the movement. This has included passing a law in 2017 barring supporters of BDS from entering the country, with Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s then chair Hugh Lanning being the first to be denied entry under the legislation. The law was controversially used against US Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib in August of this year.

On top of a repressive domestic agenda, Israel has invested resources into developing “lawfare” strategy whereby global allies can be persuaded to introduce repressive anti BDS laws. More than 20 US states have passed bills and orders that penalise support for BDS. In France in 2010 the Justice Minister issued an instruction to state authorities to consider calls for boycott illegal, citing an obscure law passed in 1881. This has led to more than 30 activists being charged with criminal activity for participating in BDS actions. Here in the UK in 2017 the UK government passed regulations that prevented Local Government Pension Schemes from divesting from companies complicit in Israel’s human rights abuses; regulations that Palestine Solidarity Campaign has challenged in the courts with a final determination to be reached by the Supreme Court in November.

A key tactic in this global campaign has been to seek to define BDS as an inherently antisemitic enterprise. Earlier this year, the German Parliament passed a resolution defining BDS in this way, a move which was applauded by the UK’s Foreign Secretary. Citing the resolution, the German city of Dortmund a few weeks ago withdrew its decision to award Pakistani British author Kamila Shamsie a literature prize, after finding out that the writer has supported BDS – a move which drew outrage and condemnation across the world.

Israel’s use of antidemocratic measures to silence dissent is not only directed at those advocating BDS. It has more broadly targeted human rights defenders; restricting their freedom of movement and deploying tactics of violence and intimidation.

A recent UN survey of global treatment of human rights defenders found that Israel “regularly bars activists, journalists, and protestors from travelling into Israel and the OPT, limiting the ability of local defenders from participating in the global discussion of human rights. The administrative detention that is often associated with restricting (and ultimately deporting) defenders has been described by defenders as amounting to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”. Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have had staff refused entry or ordered to leave Israel in the past two years. Last month staff at the Palestinian NGO Addameer, which advocates for Palestinian prisoners, were subjected to an unannounced overnight office raid by Israeli forces, described by Amnesty International as “chilling” and a demonstration of Israel’s “determination to crush peaceful activism”.

Furthermore, in 2016 Israel introduced the controversial “NGO Transparency Law”. This law requires NGOs registered in Israel that receive 50% or more of their funding from foreign government entities to report to the NGO registrar and to mention such funding in all their official letters and publications, with failure to do so resulting in large fines. The International Federation for Human Rights argued at the time that this law would “in effect discriminatingly target non-governmental organisations (NGOs) critical of government policy and in particular human rights NGOs, which receive a majority of their funding from foreign governments”.

By all of these measures Israel fails crucial tests of a liberal democracy. The call for BDS is at its core a response to this reality that Israel, far from being a state upholding liberal democratic norms, is a state employing increasingly repressive laws within the context of an institutionalised system of discrimination.

Such states must be held to account – not enabled – by the international community, yet the UK government is in fact lending its support to the crackdown on human rights campaigners. Last month, UK Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick wrote that he would not tolerate local authority approved BDS campaigns in the UK. Just a few days later, it was reported that the UK Home Office had unjustifiably delayed Omar Barghouti’s travel visa to the UK, thus preventing him from speaking at fringe events of Labour Party Conference.

Omar Barghouti has now belatedly been granted his visa, and Palestine Solidarity Campaign will host him in the New Year including at meetings in the UK Parliament. His key message will be that which is at the heart of the BDS call – that it is incumbent upon international bodies, including governments, not to be complicit in supporting Israel’s ongoing denial of Palestinian collective rights. These include the right to bring the facts of their oppression into the public domain and to campaign for non violent resistance to the injustices to which they are subject.

Israel’s war against BDS and all of those defending Palestinian rights draws upon a strategy of delegitimisation. Israel believes it can persuade the world that the BDS movement is an attempt to undermine a liberal democracy from motivations rooted in bigotry. To win this argument it needs to persuade progressive world opinion of its own democratic credentials. But given its authoritarian approach to those who seek to reveal its human rights abuses, it will and must ultimately fail.

(Source / 29.10.2019) 

WHY DID MICROSOFT FUND AN ISRAELI FIRM THAT SURVEILS WEST BANK PALESTINIANS?

By Olivia Solon

Microsoft has invested in a startup that uses facial recognition to surveil Palestinians throughout the West Bank, in spite of the tech giant’s public pledge to avoid using the technology if it encroaches on democratic freedoms.

AnyVision, which is headquartered in apartheid Israel but has offices in the United States, the United Kingdom and Singapore, sells an “advanced tactical surveillance” software system, Better Tomorrow. It lets customers identify individuals and objects in any live camera feed, such as a security camera or a smartphone, and then track targets as they move between different feeds.
According to five sources familiar with the matter, AnyVision’s technology powers a secret military surveillance project throughout the West Bank. One source said the project is nicknamed “Google Ayosh,” where “Ayosh” means occupied Palestinian territories and “Google” denotes the technology’s ability to search for people.

The American technology company Google is not involved in the project, a spokesman said.

The surveillance project was so successful that AnyVision won the country’s top defense prize in 2018. During the presentation, Israel’s defense minister lauded the company — without using its name — for preventing “hundreds of terror attacks” using “large amounts of data.”

Palestinians living in the West Bank do not have Israeli citizenship or voting rights but are subject to movement restrictions and surveillance by the Israeli government.

The Israeli army has installed thousands of cameras and other monitoring devices across the West Bank to monitor the movements of Palestinians and deter terror attacks. Security forces and intelligence agencies also scan social media posts and use algorithms in an effort to predict the likelihood that someone will carry out a lone-wolf attack and arrest them before they do.

The addition of facial recognition technology transforms passive camera surveillance combined with the list of suspects into a much more powerful tool.

“The basic premise of a free society is that you shouldn’t be subject to tracking by the government without suspicion of wrongdoing. You are presumed innocent until proven guilty,” Shankar Narayan, technology and liberty project director at the American Civil Liberties Union, said. “The widespread use of face surveillance flips the premise of freedom on its head and you start becoming a society where everyone is tracked no matter what they do all the time.”

“Face recognition is possibly the most perfect tool for complete government control in public spaces, so we need to treat it with extreme caution. It’s hard to see how using it on a captive population [like Palestinians in the West Bank] could comply with Microsoft’s ethical principles,” he added.

When NBC News first approached AnyVision for an interview, CEO Eylon Etshtein denied any knowledge of “Google Ayosh,” threatened to sue NBC News and said that AnyVision was the “most ethical company known to man.” He disputed that the West Bank was “occupied” and questioned the motivation of the NBC News inquiry, suggesting the reporter must have been funded by a Palestinian activist group.

In subsequent written responses to NBC News’ questions and allegations, AnyVision apologized for the outburst and revised its position.

“As a private company we are not in a position to speak on behalf of any country, company or institution,” Etshtein said.

Days later, AnyVision gave a different response: “We are affirmatively denying that AnyVision is involved in any other project beyond what we have already stated [referring to the use of AnyVision’s software at West Bank border checkpoints].”

AnyVision’s technology has also been used by Israeli police to track suspects through the Israeli-controlled streets of East Jerusalem, where 3 of 5 residents are Palestinian.
AnyVision said this did not reflect an “ongoing customer relationship,” referring to the Israeli police.

“Many countries and organizations face a diverse set of threats, whether it is keeping students and teachers safe in schools, facilitating the movement of individuals in and out of everyday buildings, and other situations where innocents could face risk,” the company said in a statement. “Our fundamental mission is to help keep all people safe with a best-in-class technology offering, wherever that threat may originate.”

When AnyVision won the prestigious Israel Defense Prize, awarded to entities found to have “significantly improved the security of the state,” the company wasn’t named in the media announcement because the surveillance project was classified. Employees were instructed not to talk about the award publicly.

However, NBC News has seen a photo of the team accepting the prize, a framed certificate that commends AnyVision for its “technological superiority and direct contribution to the prevention of terror attacks.”

(Source / 29.10.2019) 

Israel Detains 2 Palestinians In Gaza

The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) at dawn Tuesday arrested two Palestinian citizens and injured one of them during their presence in the east of Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip.

According to local sources, Israeli soldiers in the military post of Sufa, east of Rafah, spotted two young men during their attempt to infiltrate into Israel, fired illumination flares and opened fire at them.

The sources added that the soldiers subdued and arrested the young men after wounding one of them.

(Source / 29.10.2019) 

Israeli Forces Kidnap 4 Palestinians Including Child

The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Monday evening kidnaped four Palestinian young men from Qalqilya city in the West Bank and one child in Jerusalem.

According to local sources, some Israeli soldiers stationed at the military gate in the west of Qalqilya stormed the area between al-Naqqar neighborhood and the separation wall and rounded up four young men.

Two of the detainees were identified as Adem Dawoud and Laith Ridwan.

In Jerusalem, Israeli police forces stormed as-Sawaneh neighborhood  and kidnaped 16-year-old Ahmed Qadmani from his home.

(Source / 29.10.2019) 

Hamas Says Its Ready For Elections

Hamas today informed Palestinian factions and the head of the Central Election Committee, Hanna Nasser, that it is ready for the elections and agrees to hold them and facilitate the requirements for their success.

“Hamas is ready for a partnership and alliance with all those who agree and meet with it in the face of the Israeli occupation and the advancement of our Palestinian national project,” the movement’s spokesman Abdel Latif Al-Qanu said.

He stressed that managing Palestinian affairs and facing the challenges that afflict the Palestinian cause requires “our people’s voice”.

For his part, the head of Hamas in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar stressed his movement’s readiness for elections.

Sinwar said: “We are always ready for elections and we will make them a lever to correct strategic paths in the history of our people.”

He added: “We have been and will continue to be with the choices of our people,” and “we will never disagree with them”.

 (Source / 29.10.2019)