Prisoners Ashraf Halaiqa taken to hospital after health deterioration

 

 

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– Family of captive Ashraf Mousa Halaiqa, held in an Israeli jail, appealed to human rights and humanitarian organizations and media to save their son, who was transferred to hospital after deterioration of his health condition.

The family expressed on Thursday morning real concern about the life of Ashraf and feared he might meet the same fate of prisoner Arafat Jaradat, who died in the occupation jails.

Ashraf, 27 from the town of Shyoukh in al-Khalil, was arrested by the occupation authorities at dawn Sunday, and was transferred to interrogation dungeons. He suffers from an injury in one of his legs which he had sustained in a car accident some time ago, and is taking many types of therapeutic drugs.

The prisoner’s family said that Israeli soldiers raided on Wednesday night their house and demanded that the family hand them over Ashraf’s medical reports and medicines.

A responsible officer in the Israeli army told the family on Thursday morning that Ashraf was taken to an Israeli hospital, and is receiving treatment there.

(Source / 30.03.2013)

Israeli forces clash with Palestinian protesters in West Bank

Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip carry a Land Day protester wounded by Israeli forces on March 30, 2012.

Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip carry a Land Day protester wounded by Israeli forces on March 30, 2012.
Israeli soldiers have clashed with Palestinian protesters as they demonstrated in the occupied West Bank ahead of the 37th anniversary of Land Day on March 30.

The clashes erupted on Friday in the city of al-Khalil (Hebron) and Israeli forces fired tear gas and dyed water to disperse the protesters.

Thousands of Israeli police reinforcements have been dispatched to al-Quds (Jerusalem) ahead of demonstrations that are slated to mark Land Day on Saturday.

March 30 is commemorated because of a deadly incident on that day in 1976 in which Israeli troops killed six Palestinians during a protest against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian lands.

During 2012 Land Day protests one person was killed and more than two dozen others were wounded after Israeli forces opened fire on demonstrations in the northern Gaza Strip.

On the same day in the West Bank, Israeli forces beat up the crowd of peaceful demonstrators in al-Quds and arrested a number of protesters. Israeli police also fired rubber bullets, and tear-gas, and used stun grenades to disperse the protesters.

(Source / 30.03.2013)

ISRAEL DESTROYS 1,124 HOMES IN EAST JERUSSALEM

 The Israeli occupation has destroyed at least 1,124 Palestinian houses in East Jerusalem area. They also expelled the entire households without any compensation given.
It was disclosed by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) in a press conference and his official website on Thursday (28/3), in order to welcome the World Land Day on every March 30.

Since 2000, the organization began working and recording violations committed by the Israeli occupation to Palestinian land, especially in East Jerusalem. PCBS also reported that the Israeli government complicated to provide the establishment and renovation of building permits for residents of Jerusalem who are still persisting in the region.

The same report also revealed by Al-Maqdisi Institute. The agency reported that from 2000 to 2012, as many as 1124 homes and buildings were destroyed in East Jerusalem (an annexed area of Israeli occupation since 1967). It has resulted population displacement as many as 4966 people, including 2586 children and 1311 women.

The total ammount of losses from the destruction of Palestinian buildings in East Jerusalem up to now are more than three million dollars.

 

UN human rights organizations based in Israel also reported that the Israeli government has destroyed at least 25,000 Palestinians houses since 1967. The agency also noted that in 2009, there were 49 cases of house demolitions and the expulsion of its residents in East Jerusalem. Whereas in 2010 this number increased to 70 cases. 20 cases in 2011 and 14 cases in 2012.

PCBS explained at this time Israel has controlled more than 85% of the land in East Jarussalem.

UN human rights organizations condemned the ongoing houses destruction of Palestinians by Zionist Israel. It was clearly a violation of international law, and Amnesty International stated that the Israeli government actually seized properties  belongs to Palestinians than later, they  used it to expand their settlements.

Jerusalem which is known as Al-Quds composed of central and eastern Jerusalem.  It is a holy city of Islam, Christianity and Judaism. The city is claimed as the capital of Israel, although it is not recognized by international community because it is a part of Palestinian land. Right now, the city is controlled by Israeli occupation. The elite Israel considers this holy city is part of the country and it is a form of Zionism ideology among the countries that have diplomatic relations with Israel, only Costa Rica and El savador are putting their embassies in Jerusalem.

(Source / 30.03.2013)

Irish activist injured by IDF in West Bank

601362_443135225763984_1710482249_n (2)

Irish activist, Tommy Donnellan  was shot in the arm today by Israeli forces,  while he was filming in Nabi Salah, West bank. Tommy is a well known activist in Ireland and has been instrumental in many activities such as the highlighting of the mislabelling of Goods by Israel, speaking out against Human Right abuses, calling for safe passage of ships to Gaza , BDS etc…. He is always on the front line and I  am sure will continue to be , We wish Tommy a speedy recovery and will update when possible.

486253_517126405000347_818073968_n

 

Speaking from Nabi Saleh, Tommy Donnellan said: “I was filming the protest when suddenly I was shot in the arm by a rubber-coated steel bullet, fired by an Israeli soldier from about forty feet away. I think I was deliberately targeted as a journalist as my video camera was plainly visible, and there was no stone throwing going on anywhere near me. After being hit I remonstrated with the soldier who fired on me. He then went back down on onto his knee adopting a firing position; luckily I was able to run to the cover of a nearby wall.”

Mr. Donnellan also said that: “It’s important to stress that while today I was hit, Palestinians are injured by these bullets almost every day. Many are also killed by these so-called non-lethal weapons, while the international community looks on and does absolutely nothing.”

Also in Nabi Saleh today, there were reports of many injuries due to tear gas inhalation and several other professional journalists were attacked with rubber bullets, concussion grenades and forced out of the area by the Israeli military.

(Source / 29.03.2013)

More than 100 Jerusalemite detainees within 3 months, including 20 children

 

images_News_2013_03_28_arrest7_300_0[1]OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) arrested since the beginning of 2013 about 105 Jerusalemites, including 20 minors, Palestinian human rights sources revealed.

The arrests came during protests and marches in solidarity with the prisoners on hunger strike, and demonstrations that have recently emerged to address the settlers’ breaking into al-Aqsa mosque, in addition to the recent events that took place at Shu’fat checkpoint and many parts and Jerusalemite villages.

The Israeli Public Prosecution have charged 85 out of 105 Jerusalemites with stone-throwing, participating in demonstrations, affiliation to Palestinian factions, shooting and attacking Israeli soldiers and settlers, PPS explained.

The PPS added that 34 detainees were released to house arrest after being tried out of jail and 15 detainees were released unconditionally after being tried in jail.

About 20 detainees were released unconditionally for lack of evidence, while 36 detainees were arrested until completion of all judicial proceedings against them.

(Source / 29.03.2013)

PCHR Weekly Report: 4 wounded, 30 abducted by Israeli troops this week

In its Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for the week of 21- 27 March 2013, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) found that Israeli forces continued to use excessive force against peaceful protests in the West Bank. 4 protesters were wounded in the center and south of the West Bank, including a Norwegian human rights defender and a Palestinian one.

beit_hanoun[1]
Trucks stopped at Beit Hanoun crossing, which was closed by Israeli forces this week

In addition, Israeli forces conducted 37 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. 26 Palestinian civilians, including 6 children, were abducted in the West Bank, and a Palestinian child was abducted while attempting to cross the borders into Israel in the Gaza Strip. 3 Palestinian children were abducted at checkpoints.

The Israeli forces closed Karm Abu Salem and Beit Hanoun (Eirez) crossings into the Gaza Strip for seven consecutive days.

Israeli attacks in the West Bank:

During the reporting period, the Israeli forces wounded 4 protestors, including a Norwegian human rights defender and member of the board of directors of Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center, in the West Bank.

During the reporting period, the Israeli forces continued to systematically use excessive force against peaceful protests organized by Palestinians and Israeli and international activists against the construction of the annexation wall and settlement activities in the West Bank and other protests in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in the Israeli jails. As a result, dozens of protesters suffered from tear gas inhalation and other sustained bruises.

During the reporting period, the Israeli forces conducted at least 37 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During these incursions, the Israeli forces abducted at least 26 Palestinians, including 6 children. In one example of this week’s 37 incursions, on Wednesday, 27 March 2012, at approximately 01:00, the Israeli forces moved into Hebron. They raided and searched a number of houses and abducted 3 civilians affiliated with Hamas movement and a Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member.

The Israeli forces have continued to impose severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians throughout the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem. Thousands of Palestinian civilians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip continue to be denied access to Jerusalem.

The Israeli forces established dozens of checkpoints in the West Bank.

Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip:

The Israeli forces have continued to attack the Palestinian fishermen in the sea. Israeli forces fired at Palestinian fishing boats, but no casualties were reported. The Israeli forces reduced the allowed fishing area to 3 nautical miles. PCHR’s fieldworkers documented 4 shooting incidents on Palestinian fishing boats that were sailing 3 nautical miles off al-Waha resort, northwest of Beit Lahia in the north of the Gaza Strip. As a result of the attacks, the fishermen were obliged to flee back to the shore fearing of being wounded or abducted. However, neither casualties nor material damage were reported.

It should be noted that on Thursday, 21 March 2013, the Israeli forces announced reducing the allowed fishing area from 6 to 3 nautical miles. Israel had allowed the Palestinian fishermen to sail 6 nautical miles off the Gaza Strip’s shore following the cease-fire agreement between Hamas and Israel last November.

In the Gaza Strip, on 24 March 2013, the Israeli forces stationed along the border fence, east of al-Musaddar village to east of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, abducted Zeyad Sami Abu Ghuraba, 17, from al-Mussader village, when he attempted to cross the border into Israel.

In the Gaza Strip, the Israeli forces continued to chase the Palestinian fishermen in the sea. PCHR’s fieldworkers documented 4 shooting incidents on Palestinian fishing boats that were sailing 3 nautical miles off al-Waha resort, northwest of Beit Lahia in the north of the Gaza Strip. As a result of the attacks, the fishermen were obliged to flee back to the shore fearing of being wounded or abducted. However, neither casualties nor material damage were reported.

It should be noted that on Thursday, 21 March 2013, the Israeli forces announced reducing the allowed fishing area from 6 to 3 nautical miles. Israel allowed the Palestinian fishermen to sail 6 nautical miles off the Gaza Strip’s shore following the cease-fire agreement between Hamas and Israel last November.

The illegal Israeli-imposed closure of the Gaza Strip, which has steadily tightened since June 2007, has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation in the Gaza Strip. The illegal closure has caused not only a humanitarian crisis, but a crisis of human rights and human dignity for the population of the Gaza Strip. Recently-declared measures to ease the closure are vague, purely cosmetic and fail to deal with the root causes of the crisis; the root causes can only be addressed by an immediate and complete lifting of the closure, including lifting the travel ban into and out of the Gaza Strip and the ban on exports. Palestinians in Gaza may no longer suffer from the same shortage of goods but, as long as the closure is allowed to continue, they will remain economically dependent, unable to care for themselves, and socially, culturally and academically isolated from the rest of the world.

During the reporting period, the Israeli forces completely closed the commercial border crossings between the Gaza Strip and Israel. They closed Karm Abu Salem crossing from Sunday, 24 March 2013 – Wednesday, 27 March 2013, because of the Jewish holidays. This closure negatively affected the entry of goods, construction materials and medical consignments in the Gaza Strip. It also had a negative impact on the living conditions of the Palestinian civilians. The Israeli forces also imposed comprehensive security restrictions due to the Jewish Holiday of Passover. As a result, dozens of thousands of Palestinian workers were denied access to their work in Israel and occupied East Jerusalem. Moreover, the Palestinian traders were denied access to Israel and/or travel via the border crossings between the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

Israeli settlement activities:

The Israeli forces have continued settlement activities in the West Bank, and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.

On 21 March 2013, dozens of settlers, coming from a number of settlement outposts established in the center of the old city of Hebron in the center of the town, erected big tents and amusement park games in the Ibrahimi Mosque’s garden in the center of the old city, for celebrations of the Jewish holiday, Passover.

On the same day, Israeli forces started bulldozing tracts of land of approximately 550 dunums in area, belonging to members of Salah family in Batten al-Ma’si area, southern of al-Khader village, south of Bethlehem. The Israeli forces issued a decision two months ago ordering that 114 settlement units be built in the area in order to expand “Tel Hitamar” settlement outpost, established on lands of al-Khader village.

On 22 March 2013, Israeli forces issued a decision confiscating approximately 3 dunums of the lands of al-Jalama village, northern Jenin, approximate to the commercial crossing between the West Bank and Israel, under pretext of expanding the crossing and also for security necessities. The land is the property of Saleh Abu-Farha.

On 23 March 2013, Israeli forces, accompanied by military vehicles, raided the agricultural lands surrounding “Susiya” settlement, established on Palestinian civilians’ lands eastern of Yatta, southern of Hebron. The soldiers were deployed in the area and banned Palestinian farmers from accessing their lands under pretext that these areas are closed military zones. The Israeli forces assaulted Palestinian civilians after they refused to leave their lands, and abducted one of them.

On the same day, a number of settlers from “Havat Gilad” settlement outpost, established on Palestinian civilians’ lands western of Nablus, gathered by Nablus – Qalqilya road. The settlers threw stones at Palestinian vehicles as they were passing by the aforementioned road.

On Sunday, 24 March 2013, dozens of settlers, coming from a number of settlement outposts established in the center of the old city of Hebron, central Hebron, raised Israeli flags on historical monuments and ancient ruins in the old city as well as al-Sahla, al-Shuhada Street and the Ibrahimi Mosque’s playground.

On Sunday, 24 March 2013, the Israeli authorities issued a military decision ordering that dozens of dunums in Kherbat al-Dair area, southwestern of Bethlehem, be confiscated. The goal of the confiscation of these lands is for the construction of 70 new housing units, in order to link “Betar Illit” settlement, established on lands of Housan, Nahalin and Foukein valley villages, to “Jfot” settlement, which would lead to an almost comprehensive closure of the village, depriving dozens of families from accessing their agricultural lands in Kherbat al-Dair area.

On 26 March 2013, the Israeli forces prohibited Palestinian civilians from reconstructing the eastern entrance to Yatta village, south of Hebron, which is linked to bypass road (60), under pretext that it falls under area (C) which goes under Israeli jurisdiction according to the Oslo Accords of 1993 and it is forbidden to make any changes in these areas without obtaining prior permission from the concerned Israeli authorities.

Israeli attacks on non-violent demonstrations:

Following the Friday Prayer on 22 March 2013, dozens of Palestinian civilians and international and Israeli human rights defenders organized a peaceful demonstration in Bil’ein village, west of Ramallah, in protest to the construction of the annexation wall and in solidarity with the prisoners on hunger strike inside Israeli jails. The demonstration was held in commemoration of Mohammed ‘Assfour, who had died of his wounds, sustained on 22 January 2013 in the clashes between Palestinian civilians and the Israeli forces at the eastern entrance of ‘Aboud village, on 07 March 2013. The demonstrators marched in the streets of the village, chanting slogans calling for national unity. The protesters aimed to stress the need to adhere to national principles and the right of return, to resist the occupation and to call for the release of all Palestinian prisoners. The protesters raised Palestinian flags and pictures of prisoners and made their way towards the lands adjacent to the annexation wall. The Israeli forces closed all ways and entrances to the village since early morning hours, to prevent Palestinians, journalists and international activists from joining the protest. The protesters raised Palestinian flags and made their way towards the wall. They called through megaphones for Israeli settlers in “Mitityahu” settlement to leave Palestinian land. Israeli soldiers stationed in the area fired rubber-coated metal bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at the demonstrators. As a result, Norwegian solidarity activist, Harold Hawka, 64, was hit by a tear gas canister to the right leg, and dozens of demonstrators suffered from tear gas inhalation and others sustained bruises.

Also following the Friday Prayer, dozens of Palestinian civilians and international and Israeli human rights defenders organized a peaceful demonstration in Ne’lin village, west of Ramallah, in protest at the construction of the annexation wall and settlement activities. The demonstrators moved towards areas of the annexation wall. Immediately, Israeli soldiers stationed in the area fired rubber-coated metal bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at the demonstrators. As a result, dozens of demonstrators suffered from tear gas inhalation and others sustained bruises.

Around the same time on Friday, 22 March 2013, dozens of Palestinian civilians and Israeli and international human rights defenders gathered in the Martyrs Square in Nabi Saleh village, northwest of Ramallah, to organize a weekly peaceful protest against the construction of the annexation wall and settlement activities and in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners inside Israeli jails. The protesters walked towards the gate erected by Israeli forces near the entrance of the village, which leads to Palestinian lands that Israeli settlers from the nearby “Halmish” settlement are trying to seize. Israeli soldiers fired live and rubber-coated bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at the protesters. As a result, dozens of demonstrators suffered from tear gas inhalation and others sustained bruises.

Following the Friday Prayer, dozens of Palestinian civilians from ‘Aboud village, international and Israeli human rights gathered in the center of ‘Aboud village, northwest of Ramallah, for a demonstration in protest to the construction of the wall, settlement activity and in solidarity with prisoners on hunger strike inside Israeli jails. The demonstrators marched in the streets of the village, raised the flag of Palestine and headed towards the western entrance of the village, approximate to the annexation wall. The demonstrators threw stones and empty bottles at the Israeli forces, who were deployed at the entrance of the village and across the adjacent settlers street. In response, the forces fired live bullets, rubber-coated metal bullets, tear gas canisters and sound bombs at the demonstrators, sprinkled them with waste water and chased them inside of the village. As a result, two Palestinian civilians sustained wounds, and others suffered tear gas inhalation; others sustained bruises. The wounds’ of the two civilians were as follows: the first, a 25-year-old civilian sustained a bullet wound to the chest; and the second, a 31-year-old civilian sustained three bullet wounds in both legs.

At approximately 12:15 on Friday, dozens of Palestinian civilians and international human rights defenders organized a peaceful demonstration in the center of Kufor Kadoum village, northeast of Qalqilya, in protest to the continuous closure of the eastern entrance of the village since the outbreak of al-Aqsa Intifada. The demonstrators chanted against the occupation and raised flags before the Israeli forces, who unusually, did not fire any sound bombs or tear gas canisters. The demonstrators found a number of ambushes set by the Israeli forces to arrest them, as a number of Israeli soldiers hid behind bushes and between houses. The demonstration ended at approximately 14:00; no abductions were reported.

At approximately 13:00 on Thursday, 22 March 2013, dozens of Palestinian civilians, activists of the Popular Committees against Settlement Activity and the Hebron Defense Committee and international human rights activists gathered in al-Haraiek area, southeast of Hebron, for a peaceful demonstration calling for opening the route linking Hebron to it southern villages, which has been closed for the past 12 years. These villages are, al-Rayhia, al-Thaheria, Doura and al-Fawar Refugee Camp. Upon their arrival to the steel gate which closes the road leading to bypass road (60), the Israeli forces surrounded the area and declared it a closed military zone, ordering the demonstrators to leave immediately. The soldiers fired tear gas canisters and sound bombs at the demonstration. A number of protesters fainted as a result of tear gas inhalation. As a result, Amin Abdel-Majid Ahmed al-Bayed, 50, was hit by a tear gas canister to the right side of his face; the canister was shot by an Israeli soldier from a distance of less than 30 meters, this resulted in damaging the bones of his jaw. Mr. al-Bayed was evacuated al-Ahly Hospital in Hebron where he underwent three surgeries, it should also be mentioned that he is a board member of Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC). In his testimony to a PCHR fieldworker, Mr. al-Bayed said, “We went to al-Haraiek area to participate in the weekly demonstration demanding that the routes, closed by cement blocks and steel gates, be opened. We were surprised to find a large unit of the Israel forces stationed in the area. These forces started to fire tear gas canisters and sound bombs indiscriminately at us and the civilian houses in the area. In the meantime, I was standing close to the scene and an Israeli soldier was standing less than 30 meters from me. When I looked at him, he fired a tear gas canister directly at me and it hit me in the jaw and I fell to the ground. I was taken via a private car to al-Ahly Hospital in Hebron for treatment, where I underwent three surgeries because I sustained damages to the arteries and the jaw bones.”

At noon on Friday, 22 March 2013, dozens of Palestinian civilians and dozens of prisoners’ families demonstrated in front of “Ofer” prison, southwest of Ramallah, in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike. The demonstration moved towards the prison gate. The Israeli forces closed the gate before the demonstrators could enter and started shooting live fire, rubber-coated metal bullets, tear gas canisters and sound bombs at them. As a result, dozens of civilians suffered from tear gas inhalation and others sustained bruises after being severely beaten.

Also following the Friday Prayer, dozens of Palestinian boys and teenagers gathered near the annexation wall, established on the southern side of Beit Loqia village, southwest of Ramallah. The demonstrators threw stones at the Israeli soldiers stationed behind the wall, who in response fired rubber-coated metal bullets, tear gas canisters and sound bombs at them and chased them across the olive fields. As a result, a number of Palestinian civilians suffered from tear gas inhalation; others sustained bruises.

Following the Friday Prayer on 15 March 2013, dozens of Palestinian civilians gathered in Um Rokba area, at the southwestern entrance of al-Khader village, south of Bethlehem, for a demonstration in solidarity with the prisoners inside Israeli prisons. The demonstrators set fire to rubber tires and threw stones at the Israeli forces stationed at the aforementioned entrance. Immediately, the Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters and sound bombs at the demonstration and civilian houses; as a result, some fainted due to tear gas inhalation. Also, Israeli soldiers used the roofs of a number of civilian houses in the area as military watchtowers.

Recommendations to the international community:

Due to the number and severity of Israeli human rights violations this week, the PCHR made several recommendations to the international community. Among these were a recommendation that the international community act in order to stop all Israeli settlement expansion activities in the West Bank through imposing sanctions on Israeli settlements and criminalizing trading with them.

The PCHR calls upon the UN General Assembly to transfer the Goldstone Report to the UN Security Council in order to refer it to the International Criminal Court in accordance with Article 13(b) of the Rome Statute.

For the full text of the report, click on the link below:
http://www.pchrgaza.org/portal/en/index.php?option=com_…d=183

(Source / 29.03.2013)

Israel ‘to allow’ settlers accompanied by army forces into Bethlehem

15971_345x230[1]BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israel’s army will accompany settlers into the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Sunday, Israeli media reported Thursday.

The Israeli military has approved a request by a school in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc to visit Solomon’s Pools, Maariv reported.

“Thanks to the cooperation with the army we will return to a land of ancestors that was given to the Palestinians after the Oslo accords,” the school’s principal Yaron Rosenthal said.

Israel has only rarely approved settler visits to the pools since 1995, when the Palestinian Authority took control of the area.

Solomon’s Pools are located in Area A — the 17 percent of the West Bank under the full control of the Palestinian Authority.

(Source / 29.03.2013)

The Jerusalem Issue

 

 The issue of Jerusalem has always been a hot topic at Arab summits. If there were a Guinness Book record for the number of times the city of Jerusalem was mentioned at these meetings – not of the actual support, however – this would probably be a winner.

The Arab summit, which ended in the Qatari capital Doha on Tuesday, vowed to support Palestinians in Jerusalem with a $1 billion special fund. The oil-rich Qatari emirate donated $250 million towards this fund, which reportedly will be collected through the Islamic Development Bank.

A quick reading of the comments of Jerusalemites reflects a high degree of scepticism that such promises will ever be carried on or that, if paid, they will actually reach their intended goals.

Jerusalemite columnist Khalil Assali, who has been writing regularly about the status of Jerusalem, sheds a very negative view on what is happening in Jerusalem. From his column that appears regularly on sites such as pnn.ps, akhbarelbalad.net and ammannet.net, one gets a very dark view of what is happening in the holy city.

Assali does not spare any single group from criticism. He blames the Palestinian leadership for all but abandoning what is supposed to be the capital of Palestine.

The Islamic waqf, which is one of the biggest institutions in Jerusalem, is also regularly criticized for barely doing anything of importance for the city, in general, and for protecting the Islamic sites, such as Al Aqsa Mosque, in particular.

Palestinians who boycotted voting in the unilaterally annexed “unified” Jerusalem have been unable to muster any serious political alternative to defend the Palestinian sector of Jerusalem.

During this week, Al Aqsa Mosque was repeatedly the scene of provocative visits by ultra-religious Jewish groups, many of whom have been working around the clock trying to revive the ancient Jewish temple on the site of the mosque.

During the Jewish Passover season, there were attempts to revive the traditional act of offering animal sacrifices in the area that some say is the location of the Jewish temple.

The problems have intensified recently with the elections of more pro-settler members of Knesset, the most pro-settler government in the history of Israel.

The incursions are no longer limited to fringe and extremist Jewish groups, but also of the mainstream Israeli politicians. Likud MK Moshe Figlin, who is now deputy speaker of the Knesset, has called on Jewish worshipers to storm and pray at Al Aqsa Mosque for the Passover holiday.

Just outside the walls of Jerusalem in the nearby Palestinian town of Silwan, the struggle is to try to safeguard the town from clear attempts to Judaise it. Radical Jewish groups are trying to take over Palestinian homes using the carrot and stick.

Huge amounts of money are used to try and purchase Palestinian homes, and when this fails, land deeds are forged and settler groups simply break in and take over strategic homes.

The Israeli police often responds with protecting the newly created situation, claiming that the issue should be solved in the courts of law. By the time the courts get around to deal with these issues, the status quo is entrenched and they often rule in favour of the new realities.

Palestinian, Arab and Islamic responses to this strong campaign in Jerusalem have not been up to par. No serious political strategy has been implemented at local or national levels. Activist Palestinians are regularly rounded up and put in Israeli jails.

Recently Palestinians received a boost from their brethren from Galilee and the Negev, but even such support is being restricted.

Sheikh Raed Salah, from the Israeli-Palestinian town of Um Al Fahm, was ordered to stay away from Jerusalem by court order simply because he has been outspoken against the Israeli attempts to Judaise the holy city.

Arab and Muslim countries have given plenty of lip service, but not much more. An attempt by Palestinian leaders to adopt a new approach to Jerusalem by inviting supporters from around the world to visit the city has been rebuffed by an ill-advised campaign that considers visiting Jerusalem an act of normalisation with the occupiers.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas insisted that solidarity with and visits to a prisoner do not legitimise the imprisonment, to no avail.

Palestinians in Jerusalem are waiting to see if the latest attempt to solve the Jerusalem issue through money will yield any serious results.

(Source / 29.03.2013)

Israeli soldiers force nine-year-old to act as human shield

Mustafa Wahdan (9), forced to act as a human shield.

Israeli soldiers used nine-year-old Mustafa Wahdan as a human shield during confrontations with Palestinian demonstrators on 17 February, Defence for Children International-Palestine Section has reported. The soldiers forced the boy at gunpoint to walk among them to protect themselves from the anger of the protestors.

Mustafa testified that he was on his way home from his brother’s car-wash service, which is located about 300 meters from a checkpoint near Ofer, an Israeli prison in the West Bank, when clashes intensified. After he took shelter in a nearby store, Israeli soldiers rushed after him.

Mustafa was taken into custody and ordered to raise his hands behind his head. The soldiers allegedly used him as a human shield for several hours while firing tear gas canisters and rubber bullets at stone-throwing protestors, according to DCI-PS. All the time, one of the soldiers kept his rifle pointed at Mustafa’s back.

“Whenever they wanted to fire tear gas or shoot bullets at the protesters, they would take me with them. I was really scared that a stone might hit me or something,” said Mustafa.

Mustafa was released after his father, Mohammad, arrived on the scene and pleaded with the soldiers for his son’s release. “At home, Mustafa was still very scared. He was silent and did not have his dinner. In the morning, my wife told me that Mustafa was shaking while he was sleeping. The following night, he wet himself,” Mohammad Wahdan told DCI-PS.

The use of human shields is prohibited by international humanitarian law. Since 2004, DCI-Palestine has documented 20 cases of Palestinian children being used as human shields by Israeli forces. Nineteen of these cases occurred after 2005, the year the Israeli high court prohibited the practice under Israeli domestic law.

Settler injures nine-year-old boy in Hebron

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=jEqO7hlinLA

Meanwhile, the video above shows images of another nine-year-old called Yassin, who was attacked recently by  Israeli settlers. DCI-PS has reported that a settler pelted Yassin and his younger brother with rocks on 12 March after spotting them on the roof of their home in Hebron.

One stone hit Yassin near his eye and caused him to fall on the concrete below him. The same day, Yassin was admitted to hospital with a severely swollen face. Yassin’s younger brother was unharmed. Eyewitnesses described the perpetrator as a tall, bearded man in his thirties, who was crouching behind a plastic bin filled with stones on a nearby rooftop in the al-Qazazin neighborhood of Hebron’s old city.

According to Ayed Abu Eqtaish, DCI-PS’ accountability program director, a small, but extremely violent, settler presence in Hebron routinely torments the Palestinian residents, subjecting them to all forms of abuse and harassment. “This highly abnormal situation instills a deep-grounded fear in children who grow up witnessing settler attacks carried out with complete impunity.”

Detentions increase

Islam, a nine-year-old girl, was the target of settlers’ violence last month. On 13 February, a group of approximately six female settlers attacked the girl and her mother while they were standing on the sidewalk at Salfit junction close to Zaatara checkpoint near Nablus.

Islam and her mother tried to flee but the settlers chased them, pushing and knocking Islam’s mother to the ground. The February Violations Bulletin, published by DCI-PS notes:

As the settlers kicked her mother, Islam screamed and tried to push them away. Two more settlers soon arrived and shoved Islam against a fence. Then one of them grabbed her by the neck and choked her while the other slapped her in the face. She was then shoved to the ground.

“I was shaking because I was very scared and worried about my mother,” said Islam. “I burst into tears.” The settlers ran off as a Palestinian man approached to help. Israeli soldiers in military jeeps arrived shortly after and ushered the settlers back to Tappuah settlement.

DCI-PS has documented more than 100 cases of settler violence such as stone throwing, beatings, shootings and destruction of property since 2005.

The number of child detainees held by Israel is increasing, DCI-PS has found. In September last year, 189 Palestinian children were in detention.  Although this figure dropped to 164 in October, it then began to climb again. In November, the number stood at 178, rising to 195 in December 2012 and to 223 in January this year.

A total of 236 Palestinian children were behind Israeli bars last month.

(Source / 29.03.2013)

Settlers in Hebron Celebrate ‘Freedom’ While Palestinians Suffer

An Israeli settler (front) and Palestinian demonstrators, one wearing a mask depicting US President Barack Obama, scuffle during a protest against the continued closure by the Israeli army of Shuhada Street to Palestinians in the West Bank city of Hebron March 20, 2013.

“Passover is a celebration of the freedom our ancestors dreamed of, fought for and ultimately won,” the president said in a greeting he issued to the people in Zion. “I saw once again how the dream of true freedom found its full expression in those words of hope from [the national Israeli anthem] Hatikvah, ‘lihyot ‘am chofshi be’artzeinu,’ ‘To be a free people in our land,'” Obama waxed poetic, having just completed a successful visit to the Holy Land.

His call to view life through the eyes of Palestinians resonated among the young Israelis who convened last week [March 21] at the Jerusalem conference center to hear him speak. This exercise, simple and obvious as it may sound, is not easy. It runs counter to our indoctrination, which included years of education and the continuous dehumanization of the Palestinians. It’s hard to find a young Israeli who does not repeat the mantra, “There’s no one to talk to on the other side,” and few are bothered by the reality of the Israeli occupation in the West Bank.

Speaking to the students, Obama described the special bond he feels with the Passover holiday and the message it conveys.

“It is a story of centuries of slavery and years of wandering in the desert,” he told his young listeners. “To African-Americans, the story of the Exodus told a powerful tale about emerging from the grip of bondage to reach for liberty and human dignity — a tale that was carried from slavery through the civil-rights movement.”

The president may have meant to compare the struggle of blacks in the United States for freedom from the chains of slavery to the struggle of the Palestinians for freedom from the shackles of occupation. Perhaps. If this is the case, the president could have found a clear illustration of his words in the small parade that made its way through the ancient Palestinian city of Hebron shortly after Air Force One landed at Ben-Gurion airport. A small group of Palestinian, Israeli and foreign peace activists, wearing masks depicting the faces of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and of President Obama, marched together through Shuhada Street, for years the heart of the Arab city from which Palestinians have been banned for the past two decades.

The marchers’ black T-shirts bore the words “I have a dream,” a portrait of Rosa Parks and other symbols of the American civil-rights movement. A small megaphone played, “Woke up this morning with my mind set on freedom,” one of the songs which symbolized the struggle of blacks in America. One the demonstrators said that he and his friends wished to remind Obama that had it not been for the struggle for equality, today the United States would not have had a black president.

“Martin Luther King fought against the segregation in buses and cafes,” said another. “We are fighting for our ability to survive in the houses and on the streets of Hebron.”

Several minutes later, local Jewish settlers attacked the peace activists, lashing out at them and trying to tear the signs they held. In the manner befitting the “lords of the land” in the occupied territories, the settlers gave orders to the soldiers who arrived on their heels. Nine protesters were detained. Once again, the violence of the Hebron settlers remained unanswered.

There is no place in the West Bank where the discrimination is more blatant than the on streets of Hebron, where the city’s 800 Jewish residents celebrated Seder evening this week for the 45th time. While they did so, the city’s 160,000 Palestinian residents were under curfew. That’s the way it is every Jewish holiday.

In fact, the story of the Jewish settlement in Hebron is the story of all Israeli settlement activity — and it is connected to the Passover holiday. The “freedom holiday” celebrated this week in Israel and around the world is also the birthday of the first and only settlement to have been established within the heart of a Palestinian city.

It happened in 1968. Several days before Seder, the Palestinian owner of the Park Hotel in old Hebron acceded to the request by a group of Jews headed by Rabbi Moshe Levinger, one of the founders of Gush Emunim (the main settlement movement), to rent the hotel’s 14 rooms for the holiday. When the holiday was over, the residents of the “temporary” settlement sent a cable to then-defense minister Moshe Dayan, saying “Happy holidays from the settlers of Hebron.” The minister’s response — “I thank you for your wishes and have a happy holiday” — was interpreted as official recognition of their action. And the rest is history.

Twenty-six years later, in 1994, this time on the holiday of Purim, Baruch Goldstein, a settler from Kiryat Arba (adjacent to Hebron), entered the Cave of Patriarchs in Hebron and massacred 29 Muslims in cold blood. In order to prevent acts of vengeance, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin ordered severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinians in the city center, especially Shuhada Street. As a result, more than 1,000 Palestinian families left their homes and the vast majority of Palestinian businesses in the neighborhood closed down. The restrictions are still in force to this day.

The carnage in the Cave of Patriarchs set off the spree of suicide-bombing attacks by Hamas. They peaked in March 2002 with the murder of 30 Seder participants in the heart of Netanya, at a hotel with the chilling name of “Park,” just like the Hebron hotel where the Jewish settlement began in the city. The massacre took place in the midst of the Seder meal, several hours after the Arab League announced its historic peace initiative. The following day, then-prime minister Ariel Sharon ordered the IDF to capture the towns of the West Bank in what became known as “Operation Defensive Shield” and to damage the infrastructure of the Palestinian Authority. The reports of the dead and the destruction in the territories pushed reports of the Arab peace initiative to the back pages.

Another seed of violence was planted at Goldstein’s funeral, held in Kiryat Arba, which was to change the course of history. Yigal Amir, who was among the crowd of mourners, swore on that occasion to follow in the footsteps of his dead hero and to murder then-prime minister Yitzak Rabin, thereby destroying the Oslo process.

Back to our times. While Obama was giving his “Jerusalem speech” to an enthusiastic young audience, Israeli security forces in Hebron were arresting 27 Palestinian minors, among them 14 children under the age of 12, members of the “Youth Against Settlements” Palestinian movement (YES). On the eve of Obama’s visit, they had watched a tape of the famous Million Men March on Washington. Amro, their counselor, told the boys: “Look how hundreds of thousands of people are marching and not a single stone is being thrown. That’s how one wins.” He promised them that if they follow in the footsteps of Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks and others like them in the United States, “we will eventually reach the Promised Land.” But as Obama said in his Passover greeting to the people of Israel, “responsibility does not end when we reach the promised land, it only begins.” These words sound good in English and in Hebrew — and in Arabic, too.

(Source / 28.03.2013)