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Israel demolishes more homes in East al-Quds

Israeli forces have demolished four more Palestinian homes in East al-Quds (Jerusalem) neighborhoods of Issawiya and Beit Hanina.

Israeli bulldozers demolished a two-storey 300-square-meter building in Issawiya on Monday, an activist said.

He said residents clashed with police, who fired stun grenades at people in the area. A 70-square-meter house belonging to a Palestinian was also demolished in Issawiya.

Two more houses were razed by Israeli troops in al-Ashqariya area of Beit Hanina, to the north of East al-Quds.

A total of 20 people lived in the buildings.

According to the United Nations humanitarian affairs agency, Israel destroyed some 100 Palestinian homes in East al-Quds in 2013. The agency says the demolitions left around 300 people homeless.

Rights groups say Tel Aviv’s demolitions are aimed at grabbing more land for construction of illegal settlements and launching military projects in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The presence and continued expansion of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine has created a major obstacle for the efforts to establish peace in the Middle East.

More than half a million Israelis live in over 120 illegal settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds in 1967.

The UN and most countries regard the Israeli settlements as illegal because the territories were captured by Israel in a war in 1967 and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbids construction on occupied lands.

(Source / 27.01.2014)

Signs of disarray at Oxfam over “ambassador of oppression” Scarlett Johansson

Screenshot of the statement tweeted and deleted by Oxfam GB.

Yesterday, the grandson of an Oxfam founder called on the charity to dissociate itself from “ambassador of oppression” Scarlett Johansson, over the Hollywood actress’ endorsement deal with Israeli-settlement firm SodaStream.

On 24 January, Johansson responded to criticism of the deal by reaffirming her backing of SodaStream and putting a wholly positive spin on Israel’s illegal land theft and colonization in the occupied West Bank.

Meanwhile, the negative publicity for Johansson and Oxfam continues to mount with growing, global media interest.

Oxfam tweets and deletes statement

Yet despite the growing calls on Oxfam to dump Johansson – who also serves as one of its “global ambassadors” – the charity shows only signs of disarray.

This morning, for instance, the official Twitter account of Oxfam GB tweeted this statement – and then a short time later deleted it:

For those asking about Scarlett Johansson, rest assured that we are taking this situation extremely seriously. Following Scarlett’s statement over the weekend, we’ve been talking to her and we’re currently considering what this means in terms of her role as an ambassador for Oxfam International. However, as is the nature of such situations, they do take some time to resolve, but please be assured that we’re working on this right now and will be in a position to make a fuller statement very soon.

It’s baffling what could be taking so long for Oxfam to “resolve” – and who is ordering that tweets be deleted?

After all, Johansson has made her position crystal clear: she’s on the side of SodaStream, Israeli occupation and settlements and, of course, the millions of dollars fattening her bank account.

I can only conclude that the debate is no longer between Oxfam and Johansson but within Oxfam itself: between those staffers, on the one hand, determined to throw Palestinian rights and international law under the bus and stick with a discredited celebrity at any cost, and those, on the other, who still think the charity ought to demonstrate minimal adherence to principle.

Today, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation issued a new action alert asking people to contact Oxfam and to sign a petition to be delivered to Johansson, with the message that “shilling for occupation and human rights abuses is unacceptable!”

(Source / 27.01.2014)

Israeli forces fire towards residential area in Shijaiyeh

Gaza, ALRAY – Israeli occupation forces(IOF) on Saturday evening opened gunfire towards citizens’ houses lying in al-Shijaiyeh neighborhood east of  Gaza City.

According to ALRAY correspondent, the eastern borders of  Shijaiyeh witnessed unusual movement of Israeli military vehicles, coupled with shooting fires towards the west area.

Earlier on the same day, the IOF fired shells towards east of the Khan Younis governorate town of al-Qarara and towards fishing boats off the ​Gaza City coast.

Local media reported that machine guns of the Israeli artillery in the vicinity of the Ahrash outpost east of al-Qarara opened fire toward agricultural land of the bordering town.

No one was reported injured in the firing.

The escalation comes amid Israeli threats directed to Gaza with a full-scale offensive, while the later says it’s committed to maintaining Egypt-mediated cease-fire agreement which followed an eight-day aggression that led to 167 Palestinians mostly civilians killed.

(Source / 26.01.2014)

BDS: SODASTREAM UPDATE | MAY 2013

Soda Stream’s main production facility still operates in the settlement industrial zone of Mishor Edomim. However, recent publications suggest that the company is preparing the ground for a future withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories.

The Origin of SodaStream Products

In the last few months, SodaStream representatives have repeatedly claimed that the company’s products distributed in Western Europe are manufactured within Israel and not in the SodaStream’s main factory in the settlement of Mishor Edomim.

As Who Profits demonstrated before, in 2012 the Alon Tavor site in the northern part of Israel was mainly a warehouse that handled the painting and assembly of the machines, while the Ashkelon site solely manufactured the flavored syrups. This didn’t prevent the company from spreading disinformation.

Comparing SodaStream annual reports for 2011 and 2012 to the American Stock Exchange, revels what seems to be a new strategy (see: http://bit.ly/PrnAQx |  http://bit.ly/12ZZ4h1).

While the 2011 report’s production section opens with the statement: “Most of our products are manufactured at our two Israeli facilities, in Mishor Edomim, east of Jerusalem, and in Ashkelon, on the Mediterranean coast”(P. 36), the 2012 report declares: “We now manufacture our products in over 20 locations around the world”. Immediately afterwards the company elaborates:

“Most of our products are manufactured at our facilities in Mishor Edomim, in disputed territory sometimes referred to as the”West Bank,” in Alon Tavor, in northern Israel, and in Ashkelon, on the Mediterranean coast of Israel […] We also outsource theproduction of certain components of our products to subcontractors in Israel and in China. In addition, we conductCO2 refilling in Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden and the United States (P.20).

Thus, SodaStream doesn’t operate 20 manufacturing facilities worldwide, but two in Israel and one in the OPT. The missing 17 production sites are allegedly the anonymous outsourced sites in Israel and in China (that only produce “certain components” of the soda stream products) and CO2 refilling stations. This misleading description creates the impression that the main factory in Mishor Edomim is a relatively negligible part in an international production chain, while in fact it is still Soda Stream’s core factory.

What really happens in the Alon Tavor Site?

The main new addition to Soda Stream manufacturing system as described in the 2012 report is the Alon Tavor site. In an interview to the Israeli newspaper – Globes (April 2013), CEO – Daniel Birnbaum declared:

“The products we manufacture at the Alon Tavor plant are sold in countries such as Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Finland, and France, even though we have another plant at Mishor Adumim, because of the sensitivity in these countries to Israeli products manufactured beyond the Green Line.”

Yet, a thorough reading in the 2012 report refutes Birnboum’s claims, as the vast majority of SodaStream’s production process remains in the Mishor Edomin factory. The report details the various manufacturing functions taking place in Mishor Edomin, which include “metals, bottle blowing, machining, assembly, cylinder manufacturing, CO2 refills and cylinder retesting.” Comparing the scope of these activities with the plastic injection, painting, printing and assembly taking place in Alon Tavor, exposes a simple fact: full SodaSream products can’t be manufactured in the Alon Tavor site. Therefore, products distributed in Europe and elsewhere must originate in the West Bank.

Developing Manufacturing Capabilities within Israel

 Although at the moment SodaStream’s claims’ on full manufacturing capabilities within Israel are false, there are indications that the company is starting to develop production lines inside the Green line. At the third quarter of 2012, SodaStream started constructing a new factory within Israel, in the Lehavim Industrial zone in Negev desert. The company evaluates that the first stage of the construction will be completed in approximately 18 to 30 months. The 2012 annual report emphasizes, “Upon completion of the first phase, the new site will have all production capabilities necessary to produce all of our products”.

In addition, during April 2013, Birnbaum announced that the company is tripling the size of the Alon Tavor site, even as it continues to build a plant at the Lehavim industrial zone in the Negev (See, Globes: http://bit.ly/XTcadR).

Only time will tell if the construction of the new factory in the Negev and the expanding of the Alon Tavor site will mature into a full withdrawal from commercial activity in the occupied Palestinian territories. Until then, Who Profits research team will continue to monitor SodaStreams’ activities and to publish periodic updates on the developments.

(Source / 26.01.2014)

Settlers attack Palestinian farmers in Beit Ummar

Israeli settlers take pictures of an elderly Palestinian shepherd after he was pushed on the ground near the southern hills of the West Bank city of Hebron on Jan. 25, 2014
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian farmers and their families in the Wadi Abu al-Reesh area in the southern West Bank near Beit Ummar on Saturday evening, a local spokesperson said.

Muhammad Ayyad Awad, a spokesman for Beit Ummar’s local committee against settlement activities, told Ma’an that settlers wearing masks and white uniforms threw stones at farmers and swore at them both in Arabic and Hebrew.

Awad highlighted that some of the attackers carried rifles.

The farmers had to leave their fields immediately because many of them were accompanied by their children and they were worried for their safety, added Awad.

Israeli troops arrived, he said, to protect the attackers.

The soldiers watched as settlers vandalized olive trees and instead of stopping them, the soldiers inspected the identity cards of the Palestinian farmers and prevented them from taking photos with their mobile phones.

The mayor of Beit Ummar Nasri Sabarnah arrived along with officers from the Palestinian military liaison who documented the attack and received an official complaint from the mayor.

In 2012, there were 353 incidents of settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Over 90 percent of investigations into settler violence by Israeli police fail to lead to an indictment.

More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.

The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.

(Source / 26.01.2014)

FPJ: Israel fabricates claims about Gaza to justify the targeting of civilians

 

GAZA, (PIC)– The forum of Palestinian journalists (FPJ) warned against the gravity of the media campaign that was launched recently by the Israeli occupation to prepare the world’s public opinion to accept its justifications to bomb civilian areas and structures in any intended war on the Gaza Strip.

In a press release on Sunday, the forum said that this campaign included alleged press remarks made by Israeli military officials and unnamed sources, amplifying the military capability of the Palestinian resistance and claiming that it uses mosque minarets to set up surveillance cameras to monitor the movement of the Israeli army in border areas.

The resistance is also propagated to cache its rockets and weapons in places beneath residential buildings and use civilian areas for its resistance activities, among other claims intended to justify Israel’s intents to bomb mosques, populated areas and civilians.

The forum urged the Palestinian media outlets to launch counter campaigns exposing such Israeli media claims and provide the true picture of the situation in Gaza.

(Source / 26.01.2014)

Russell Tribunal slams West on Israeli crimes

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine has criticized Western powers for ignoring Tel Aviv’s organized crimes and complicity in Israeli inhuman acts against Palestinians, a report says.

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine is an International People’s Tribunal created by a large group of citizens involved in the promotion of peace and justice in the Middle East.

The tribunal discussed the issue of Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories during a conference in the French capital, Paris, Press TV reported on Saturday.

The conference has been critical of the way Western powers and the United Nations have been overlooking the Israeli occupation.

“The European Union betrayed Palestine first in 2006 when it did not recognize the outcome of the election in which Hamas gained the legitimate victory. Later on despite (Israeli) Operation Cast Lead, it renewed business ties with Israel,” Veronique De Keyser, a Belgian Member of the European Parliament, said.

The Russell Tribunal also supported the international campaign for sanctions against the Tel Aviv regime.

Israel is very likely to overlook the recommendations made by the Russell Tribunal in Paris. However, there is little doubt that resentment against the regime is growing.

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine has also held sessions in Spain, the UK, South Africa and the United States in the past.

The Russell Tribunal is highly critical of the West’s overlooking of the violations of international law and war crimes committed by Israel and views political pressure as necessary to end the occupation of Palestine.

The Israeli regime has defied the international demand to end occupation of the Palestinian lands and recognize the rights of Palestinian refugees to return home.

(Source / 26.01.2014)

Army Invades Various West Bank Communities, Kidnaps Three Palestinians

[Sunday, January 26, 2014] Israeli soldiers invaded various Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank, conducted military searches of homes and property, and kidnapped three Palestinians.

Israeli Soldiers - FIle, Radio Bethlehem 2000
Israeli Soldiers

Local sources in Bethlehem have reported that soldiers invaded a bakery in the Aida refugee camp, in Bethlehem, and conducted searches.

The soldiers kidnapped Ahmad Ma’moun, who works at the bakery, after breaking into his home and searching it.

Another resident was also kidnapped from his home in the Al-Obeydiyya town, near Bethlehem, and was taken to an unknown destination.

Furthermore, dozens of soldiers invaded the As-Samoa’ town, south of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, broke into homes and searched them, kidnapping one Palestinian.

Local sources said that the soldiers broke into the home of resident Odah Al-Mahareeq, age 31, and kidnapped him.

Also in Hebron, soldiers invaded Yatta town, south of the city, invaded several homes and searched them before handing a number of Palestinians military orders to head to a nearby military base for interrogation.

Furthermore, an Israeli military jeep installed a roadblock on a bypass road close to the Al-Fawwar refugee camp, south of Hebron, stopped and searched several Palestinian cars.

In related news, medical sources in Hebron said that a Palestinian child, identified as Yazan Zeidan Sharabaty, 13 years of age, was injured after being attacked by a number of fanatic Israeli settlers.

His father told the Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) that a number of settlers of the Beit Hadassah illegal settlement, installed on Palestinian lands, assaulted his son as he was heading to a nearby bakery.

Following the attack, Israeli soldiers detained the father and his child, and moved them to a police station near Keryat Arba’ settlement in the city.

The police alleged that the father and his child “attempted to attack settlers and soldiers”. The two were released later on, but had to sign an affidavit to go to court if ordered.

Dozens of soldiers also invaded the Qabatia and Ejja towns, south of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, broke into and searched several homes.

Palestinian security sources in Qabatia said that the army invaded the homes of Nasser Khuzaymiyya and his brother, Makhzoom, interrogating them and their families.

The sources added that the soldiers also invaded homes in Ejja town, photographing their exterior and interior before invading Jaba’ town, nearby.

(Source / 26.01.2014)

Group of settlers assaults two Palestinians in East Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — A group of Israeli settlers cornered and assaulted two young Palestinian men from the Beit Hanina neighborhood of Jerusalem on Friday night as they drove past the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Pisgat Zeev.

A family member told Ma’an that a group of settlers armed with clubs blocked their vehicle and attacked 18-year-old Yazan Hani Ramadan and 18-year-old Majd Zaki Ramadan as they were driving just before midnight.

The young men’s uncle Amjad Ramadan told a Ma’an reporter that the two young men left the Wadi al-Jouz neighborhood near the old city of Jerusalem around 11 p.m. in order to return to their homes in Beit Hanina.

As they passed a mall near the Pisgat Zeev settlement in East Jerusalem, a vehicle obstructed their car and two other vehicles closed their way from behind.

Fifteen settlers then stepped out and started to beat the two young Palestinians.

“They attacked them while they were inside the car, then again while they were outside, causing bruises and fractures all over their bodies,” he said.

“After they fainted, the settlers fled the scene and passersby called an ambulance which evacuated the victims to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital,” he added.

(Source / 25.01.2014)

Netanyahu: “Will Not Remove A Single Settlement”

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, stated that Tel Aviv would not remove a single Israeli settlement in the occupied territories, and that any ideas proposed now to advance peace talks, “are just proposals.”

Benjamin Netanyahu - PNN

His statements came during the Davos Conference, on Friday, when he responded to a question about Israel’s settlements in the Jordan Valley, in the occupied West Bank. His response referred to Israel’s settlements and settlement blocs, in the occupied territories, and not only the Jordan Valley.

“I will not remove any settlement”, he said, “I will not uproot any Israeli”.

Netanyahu stated that the United States just presented ideas and suggestions regarding a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Following the conference, Netanyahu held a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry, and discussed the political “process” between Tel Aviv and Ramallah.

He said Kerry is not talking about a framework
agreement for a peace deal, but only presented ideas to Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

The statements came after Kerry said a frame agreement is closer than ever, and after a statement by the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, who said that peace talks are based on a full Israeli withdrawal from the territories Israel captured in 1967, including Jerusalem.

Commenting on BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaigns around the world, the Israeli Prime Minister alleged that more international companies “are showing interest in investing in Israel.”

On his part, Kerry said that should direct peace talks collapse, the Israelis and Palestinians will be harmed by ongoing violence.

He also “warned” that, should the talks fail, “it will be impossible for Israel to continue its future as a Jewish democratic state”.

Kerry stated that the core issues the U.S. is working for are establishing an “independent” Palestinian state, security for Israel, a withdrawal of the Israeli army, and “an agreed solution to the issue of Palestinian refugees”.

He said that ending the conflict should be final; a full Palestinian recognition of the “Jewish State”, and an Israeli recognition of the “nation-state of the Palestinians”, Israeli daily, Haaretz, has reported.

The US official also said that Israel will become a strong state after achieving peace with the Palestinians, and that his government has a security plan for the borders between the occupied West Bank and Jordan.

There are more than 11.679 Jewish settlers living in the Jordan Valley, and more than 400.000 Jewish settlers living in Israel’s illegitimate settlements in the occupied West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem.

Israel’s settlements, built on Palestinian lands in the occupied West Bank, including in and around occupied East Jerusalem, are illegal under International Law, and, along with the Annexation Wall, have turned the Palestinian communities into isolated cantons separating the Palestinians from each other, and from their farmlands and orchards.

Settlements are also built in vital areas in Palestine, including hilltops, water and natural resources, especially in the Jordan Valley, depriving the Palestinians from basic rights, including the right to their own land.

(Source / 25.01.2014)