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Official report warns settler price tag attacks could inflame Mid-East

A dozen or so Israeli settlers were caught and held by Palestinian villagers after a "price tag" attack on Palestinian farmers in Nablus, Jan 7 2014A dozen or so Israeli settlers were caught and held by Palestinian villagers after a “price tag” attack on Palestinian farmers in Nablus, Jan 7 2014

Israel’s National Security Council (NSC) has issued a report warning that attacks perpetrated by illegal settlers against Palestinian residents in the occupied West Bank, known as “price tag” attacks, could inflame the whole Middle East. Sunday’s edition of Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper said that the price tag attacks are not the work of crazy individuals but are perpetrated by organised groups who have a military background.

The NSC report said that the perpetrators are well-informed about the Israeli authorities and law enforcement agencies. They receive instructions on how to deal with the official investigations and follow a certain process so that they cannot be incriminated. “The settlers do not cooperate with the authorities to prevent these actions,” said the report. “Instead, they provide support and cover-up for the perpetrators, so the state law enforcement agencies cannot convict them.”

Emphasising that it is the duty of the Israeli army to enforce the law in the West Bank [occupied Palestinian] territories, the report noted that past experience has shown that the army is “unenthusiastic about carrying out its duties when it comes to enforcing the law against the settlers”.

The NSC accused Israel’s politicians of leniency in dealing with the issue, saying that the government has failed to provide a clear policy on how to deal with the attacks or enough cover to the security and legal authorities to pursue those who carry them out.

The report recommends that the Israeli army should be responsible for enforcing the law on the settlers in the West Bank in cooperation with the police and the Shin Bet internal security agency. It should also train its personnel on how to enforce the law and work in a police investigation. “The army has to explain to its soldiers that they have the full power to arrest any Israeli settler suspected of committing hostile acts against the Palestinians,” insists the NSC, “and the state has to provide the police with drones to collect information from the air about the perpetrators.”

(Source / 12.01.2014)

Israeli court convicts Palestinian minor of stone throwing

Israeli court convicts Palestinian minor of stone throwing | PalestinaSummer | Scoop.it

Israeli authorities released a 12-year-old Palestinian boy after he was detained and tortured for 4 days. Mustafa Khatib was convicted of throwing stones at Israeli soldiers and sentenced to seven months in prison, but was released on bale. Mustafa explained to press TV that he was arrested on the 6th of January, in his hometown of Hizma along with 5 other youths all less than fourteen years old. He was then taken to a detention centre without the presence of a lawyer or guardian in Israel, where he was beaten until he confessed. Mustafa’s uncle explained that the family searched for Mustafa because nobody gave them any information about his arrest until the following day. Rights group Defense for Children International say Israel is violating the UN convention on the rights of a child, which outlines that no child should be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. According to the DCI, since September 2000, Israeli forces have arrested more than 9,000 Palestinian children under military orders. Israeli forces seem to be systematically targeting Palestinian minors like Mustafa Khatib in order to intimidate the Palestinian population.

(Source / 11.01.2014)

The immense cruelty of Ariel Sharon

Ariel Sharon authorized the construction of Israel’s apartheid wall.

If it wasn’t for a brief encounter with Ariel Sharon, I may never have become a Palestine solidarity activist.

It was towards the end of 2001. I was among a number of reporters accompanying aEuropean Union “peace mission” to the Middle East. On a Sunday afternoon, we waited for Sharon, then Israel’s prime minister, to give a press conference in Jerusalem’s King David Hotel.

When Sharon eventually appeared, I was struck by how venomous he was. My memory has — naturally enough — faded a little in the interim. But I’m fairly sure that there was a smirk on his face as he spoke of how Palestinians sometimes blew themselves up.

The gist of his lengthy monologue was that all resistance to the Israeli occupation amounted to “terrorism.” He seemed to be rejoicing in Palestinian suffering.

Mollycoddled

At the time, I wasn’t properly informed about how the West mollycoddled Israel. In my naivety, I was impressed that EU leaders did not appear intimidated by Sharon.

There was some tension between Israel and Belgium, which held the Union’s rotating presidency. Sharon was being sued in Brussels for his role in the Sabra and Shatilamassacre that took place in Lebanon in 1982 (when he was Israel’s defense minister).

Quizzed by Israeli journalists, Belgium’s then prime minister Guy Verhofstadt insisted that his country was a democracy, where the justice system was free from political interference. The following day — during a turbulent flight on the Belgian government jet — Verhofstadt briefed us about how Sharon had called him to a meeting that Sunday evening. To break the ice, Verhofstadt had joked with Sharon about how prison conditions in Belgium were improving.

It was only later that I realized that Verhofstadt was a really a pushover. Although a public prosecutor had accepted that the case against Sharon could go ahead, Verhofstadt’s government intervened in 2003 to scuttle the proceedings.

The “universal jurisdiction” law under which the case was taken was watered down at Israel’s behest. So much for Belgian “democracy.”

Travesty

Of course, I can’t claim to understand how Sharon’s mind worked from having once been in the same room as him. But I have studied his record in reasonable depth more recently. And I feel that I have learned enough to know that the articles now proliferating in the media about Sharon coveting peace are a travesty.

In a blog post for The Jerusalem Post, Eric Yoffie argued that Sharon was “the ultimate realist” as prime minister. “In order to assure Israel’s future as a Jewish state, he dismantled Jewish settlements and ended the occupation of 1.3 million Palestinians in theGaza Strip,” Yoffie added.

Only the first part of that sentence reflects the truth. Sharon did indeed strive to preserve Israel as a state where Jews have more rights than everyone else living there; the correct term for that system is “apartheid.”

Yet withdrawing Israeli settlers from Gaza in 2005 was not tantamount to ending the occupation there. Israel still controls Gaza’s air and sea borders. The “disengagement” paved the way for a siege and attacks on Gaza that have been enthusiastically supported by Sharon’s protégés such as Tzipi Livni.

Similar lies are being repeated elsewhere. Associated Press has reported that Sharon “directed a unilateral withdrawal of Israeli troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip, ending 38 years of military control of the territory.”

In The Guardian, Jonathan Freedland writes that Sharon was “acknowledging the truth that lay buried beneath the soil” through his “intriguing habit” of referring to places in present-day Israel with their original Arab names. According to Freedland, Sharon’s “final mission” could have been to close the wounds left by the Nakba, the forced displacement of Palestinians ahead of Israel’s foundation in 1948.

Pointless

Speculating about what Sharon might have done had a stroke not ended his political career in 2006 is, in my view, pointless. And besides, nobody has yet produced credible evidence that he was on the cusp of delivering justice to the Palestinians.

What can be said with certainty is that he displayed immense cruelty both as a soldier and as a politician.

For a guide to just how cruel he was, I’d recommend Baruch Kimmerling’s book Politicide. It recalls that when Sharon was a military general, he launched a brutal operation in Gaza in August 1970. Thousands of homes were demolished and swathes of citrus groves were destroyed; orders were given to kill — without trial — any Palestinian suspected of involvement in resistance.

Sharon’s penchant for war crimes continued during his stint as prime minister. Operation Defensive Shield involved the destruction of schools, universities, clinics, mosques and churches in the occupied West Bank during 2002. An estimated 4,000 people were left homeless because of the sustained shelling of Jenin refugee camp.

Sharon kept on exulting in the loss of life. Eight Palestinian children and nine other adults were killed in a bomb attack on the leading Hamas member Salah Shehadeh in 2002. Sharon praised the operation as “one of our greatest successes.”

To those who still think that Sharon really was readying himself for a historic compromise, I say two words: “the wall.” It was he who approved the construction of that monstrosity which was explicitly designed to strengthen Israel’s grip on the West Bank.

I don’t believe in taking pleasure from anyone’s pain or ill-health, even when the person in question is a mass-murder like Ariel Sharon. So I have no plans to celebrate his death, whenever it comes. Like many others, I’ll be too busy working to destroy the wretched system of apartheid that he helped to build.

(Source / 11.01.2014)

The situation at Ramon prison

prison-repressionThe situation at Ramon prison is potentially explosive at any moment, said Palestinian lawyer Rami al-Alami on January 11. Occupation prison administration continue to carry out raids, inspections of cells and sections of prisoners in light of the prisoners’ discovery of surveillance cameras planted in the walls of the cells.

Al-Alami said that this si the third consecutive week of brutal treatment of prisoners and harassing inspections accompanied by dogs and the attempted humiliation of prisoners.

Al-Alami reported that Palestinian political prisoner Shukri Abdul Salam reported that the “inspections” have included breaking electrical appliances, isolating prisoners in sections, forced strip searches and handcuffing, leading to clashes between prisoners and the intruding forces. The prisoners’ representative, Jamal Rajoub, has been isolated and several prisoners injured. Abdul Salam said that the situation may explode at any moment if the prison administration continues these steps.

He said that the prisoners began a gradual hunger strike on Saturday condemning the prison administration and that 49 petitions have been filed by prisoners about the assaults and destruction of personal property.

Meanwhile, on January 9, Israeli units stormed Palestinian prisoners’ sections in Ofer prison, reported Mohammed Abed of the Solidarity Foundation for Human Rights, who visited prisoners in Ofer.

He noted that an intense campaign of inspections claiming to be searching for mobile phones among the Palestinian prisoners has included confiscating and destroying prisoners’ personal belongings, including electrical appliances and collectibles.

Abed said that these inspections continue and that Palestinian political prisoners in Ofer are concerned that further attacks will continue in coming days.

Palestinian prisoners in Gilboa announced on January 10 that they will take steps to protest in solidarity with their comrades in Ramon prison following the vicious attack on prisoners there. In addition, prisoners in Gilboa donated 500 shekels of their salaries to support a relief campaign for Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk camp in Syria.

(Source / 11.01.2014)

Raghida Qawasmi detained after visiting her husband in Negev prison

raghida-qawasmiRaghida Qawasmi, 24, of al-Khalil, is being held in Hasharon prison, reported the Palestine Centre for Prisoners Studies.

She is the wife of Palestinian prisoner Moataz Qawasmi, being held in Negev prison and a mother of two children, the youngest being 18 months old. She was arrested on January 7, 2014 during her visit with her husband, accused of attempting to smuggle a mobile phone to her husband during the visit.

She was transferred to Hasharon prison but rather than being held with the other Palestinian women prisoners there, she is being held in a cell next to Israeli criminal prisoners, causing her fear and anxiety. She was brought for a hearing on Thursday, which was postponed.

Her family called for the immediate release of their daughter, arrested without charge, saying that her arrest was an act of revenge and that her husband has now been moved to an isolation cell. They demanded her release and her immediate transfer to the Palestinian prisoners’ area.

(Source / 11.01.2014)

Israel: concern over reports that British activist made to reveal phone contacts during airport detention in Israel

‘The UK must raise allegations that Gary Spedding’s privacy was blatantly breached’ – Patrick Corrigan
Amnesty International has raised concerns about the treatment of a British activist who has been detained by the Israeli authorities at Tel Aviv airport since yesterday.
Gary Spedding, 23, a well-known human rights activist, was detained on his arrival at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport on Thursday evening. According to Spedding’s account, he was questioned by security officials at the airport, who accessed his mobile phone’s contacts files without his permission.
Spedding is reportedly being deported from Israel later today and banned from re-entering Israel for ten years. The British embassy in Israel has reportedly been informed that Spedding is considered a security risk by the Israeli authorities because of the possibility that he could spark anti-government protests, aided by his high profile on social media.
Spedding, currently a Newcastle upon Tyne resident though with a well-established profile in Northern Ireland, is a former member of Queen’s University Belfast’s Palestinian Solidarity Society. He is known for his work on attempts to apply lessons learnt from the peace process in Northern Ireland to the situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Director Patrick Corrigan said:
“If Israeli security officials have accessed Gary Spedding’s mobile phone contacts list without his permission that would constitute a very worrying invasion of his privacy.
“There are now concerns that a number of Mr Spedding’s contacts in Israel or in the Occupied Palestinian Territories may be subjected to some form of harassment by the Israeli authorities.
“Israel has the right to police its airports and borders and even deny entry to individuals it deems a security risk, but it does not have the right to rifle though a private citizen’s address book without their permission.
“The UK government must raise allegations that Gary Spedding’s privacy was blatantly breached, and also seek assurances that his personal contacts will not suffer harassment or reprisal.”
(Source / 11.01.2014)

IPS isolates Ibrahim Hamed, leader in Qassam Brigades

 

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– The Israeli Prison Service (IPS) has isolated the leader in Qassam Brigades prisoner Ibrahim Hamed, sentenced to 57 life terms, claiming that he is registered dangerous.

The IPS has informed the Captive Movement of its decision to isolate Hamed for being “a dangerous person” that should not be kept among prisoners.

“Fidaa”, the prisoner support group, pointed out that a  state of tension has prevailed in Nafha prison following the Israeli decision, where Palestinian prisoners threatened to declare a hunger strike protesting Hamed’s isolation in violation to the Dignity Strike Agreement.

The IPS released Hamed from isolation in 2012, after serving 8 months in solitary confinement, as part of the agreement to end the mass prisoners’ hunger strike in April 2012 which lasted for 28 days.

Hamed was detained in May 2006, where he was sentenced to 57 life sentences, one of the longest sentences ever given to a Palestinian prisoner.

Meanwhile, Palestinian activists decided to launch an international electronic campaign that includes popular events and sit-ins in solidarity with Palestinian sick prisoners’ issue.

The three-day global electronic support of sick prisoners is going to take place on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday 19-21.1.2014 under the title: Campaign to support the sick prisoners.

Social media networks started promoting the campaign that will contain news and information concerning Palestinian sick prisoners held in Israeli jails that will be published for the first time.

(Source / 11.01.2014)

‘Sharon, most reviled man in Lebanon’

A picture dated September 19, 1982 shows a Palestinian woman crying while civil defence workers remove the body of one of her relatives from the rubble of her home in the Palestinian refugee camp of Sabra, in West Beirut. Palestinian survivors and victims mark in September 2012 the 30th anniversary of the massacre of hundreds of civilians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.

A picture dated September 19, 1982 shows a Palestinian woman crying while civil defence workers remove the body of one of her relatives from the rubble of her home in the Palestinian refugee camp of Sabra, in West Beirut. Palestinian survivors and victims mark in September 2012 the 30th anniversary of the massacre of hundreds of civilians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was not only a notorious figure for Palestinians but also ‘the most reviled man in Lebanon’ for his war crimes, the Lebanese Daily Star writes on the occasion of his death.

Ariel Sharon, who died Saturday aged 85, was widely reviled in Lebanon for his role in the invasion of the country in 1982 as well as the massacres at the Beirut-based Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila, The Daily Star wrote in an article reviewing Sharon’s crimes against Lebanese people.

Sharon was commonly dubbed the “Butcher of Beirut” for his association with some of the worst atrocities during Lebanon’s 1975-1990 Civil War.

He was a part of the Israeli military, as a member of the Jewish Haganah paramilitaries in the 1947-48 war that led to the “Nakba,” displacing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.

He rose through the ranks with his belligerent military strategies, leading a brigade in the 1956 Suez War, and engineering the capture of the Sinai Peninsula 11 years later during the Six Day War.

As Defense Minister he spearheaded the invasion of Lebanon in 1982, set up to route out Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Liberation Organization. The invasion morphed into a long occupation, and inadvertently helped to confirm Hezbollah’s status as the resistance party.

Hundreds of Palestinians, including many women and children, were brutally killed.

It was a massacre that Sharon was personally implicated in. A UN investigation the next year concluded that Israel was responsible for the attacks, and the Israeli-run Kahan Commission the same year determined that Sharon was personally accountable.

The Kahan report’s findings said that Sharon bore responsibility “for ignoring the danger of bloodshed and revenge” and “not taking appropriate measures to prevent bloodshed.”

The conclusions led many to dub Sharon the “Butcher of Beirut” and forced him to resign from the defense post but he refused to leave Cabinet, remaining minister without portfolio.

His bellicose reputation continued into his tenure as prime minister.

In 2000, he walked brazenly into the Temple Mount complex which houses the Dome of the Rock and the Aqsa mosque, some of the holiest sites in Islam world. The inflammatory move was widely attributed as sparking the Second Palestinian Intifada.

He was also associated with the widespread expansion of illegal outposts in the West Bank. As Housing Minister in the 1990s, he oversaw the biggest settlement drive in 20 years.

(Source / 11.01.2014)

Israel plans 1,400 new homes in occupied territories amid fragile peace talks

A crane is seen next to homes in a Jewish settlement near Jerusalem known to Israelis as Har Homa and to Palestinians as Jabal Abu Ghneim (Reuters / Ammar Awad)A crane is seen next to homes in a Jewish settlement near Jerusalem known to Israelis as Har Homa and to Palestinians as Jabal Abu Ghneim

Israel has published tenders for 1,400 new homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, once again putting the US-brokered push for a peace deal between the Jewish state and the Palestinians under threat.

The announcement was expected in December, after Israel freed 26 long-serving Palestinian prisoners as part of the US-brokered deal to secure the resumption of peace negotiations between the sides.

However, it was delayed till Friday in order to allow US Secretary of State John Kerry to conclude his visit to the region.

The American effort saw Israel and Palestine returning to the negotiation table after a three-year break in July last year. The talks are set to last until April.

But the Palestinians have numerous times warned that the expansion of settlements in territories, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war, could derail the peace process.

According to the list by Israel’s Housing Ministry, 801 housing units are planned to be constructed in the West Bank and another 600 in Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.

The ministry also re-issued tenders for 582 homes in East Jerusalem, which previously failed to attract bids from contractors.

Anti-settlement watchdog, Peace Now, said that in the six months since the resumption of the peace talks, Israel has already announced plans for 5,349 new homes in the occupied territories.

“These latest tenders could cause negotiations to break down and destroy Kerry’s efforts,” Yariv Oppenheimer, Peace Now general secretary, is cited as saying by Reuters.

 

Reuters / Baz Ratner The Palestinians, who want to build an independent state in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, abandoned by Israel in 2005, see settlements as a major obstacle.

It was the settlements issue, which led to a breakdown of the previous round of talks between the sides back in 2010.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has defended the recent expansion, saying the tenders deal with homes in blocs that would remain Israeli under any future peace accord.

Despite a major part of the international community considering settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem illegal, over 500,000 Jewish settlers live in the occupied territories.

Israeli Arabs outraged by foreign minister’s plan

A proposal that some of the towns and villages of Israel’s Arab minority should be handed over to a future Palestine in exchange for parts of the West Bank where Jewish settlers reside, may also hamper the peace process.

According to AP, the idea came from Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who is known as the leading voice in the country’s so-called nationalist camp, which is skeptical about the idea of even talking to the Palestinians.

Lieberman reputedly stressed that he won’t support any peace deal brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry, if it doesn’t include his demand.

Nobody will be uprooted from their homes as the border will simply be adjusted to put Arab towns inside Palestinian territory, the FM said.

However, the proposal was rejected by all the interested parties, which are the Palestinians, the Israeli Arabs and top Israeli politicians.

The Israeli Arabs “are citizens of Israel and stayed in their historical home land and no one has the right to change their reality,” Mohammad al-Madani from Palestine’s ruling Fatah party told AP. “The right wing Israeli wants to get rid of those people just because they are Arabs.”

 

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Reuters / Ariel Schalit)Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman

According to former adviser to Yasser Arafat, Ahmad Tibi, current Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, said Lieberman’s proposal didn’t come up during the peace talks and would have been immediately rejected if it had.

“Citizens are not chess pieces to be moved around at will and this just heightens our sense of estrangement from the state,” Tibi stressed.

 

Mohammad al-Madani, a member of Abbas’ Fatah party, said that while the movement represents Palestinians all over the world, Israeli Arabs were “a special case.”

Israeli President Shimon Peres and Interior Minister Gideon Saar have rejected the FM’s plan, with Prime Minister Netanyahu making no public comments on it.

Israel’s Arabs represent about 20 percent of the country’s population of 8 million people.

They come from those, who decided to remain in the Jewish state upon Israel’s establishment in 1948, in contrast to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who fled or were driven away.

West Bank landfill dispute

Israel is also reportedly blocking the operations of a brand-new landfill, which was funded by the World Bank to serve the Palestinian population of Jerusalem, Haaretz wrote.

The country’s Civil Administration demands the Jewish settlements in the area be allowed to use the waste deposit as well, the paper said.

The Al-Minya landfill was built east of Bethlehem over the last two years, but with the facility situated in the Israeli controlled West Bank’s Area C, it required the Civil Administration’s approval for construction.

It’s the first modern landfill in the southern West Bank, which has the capacity of sealing the earth to prevent waste from leaking into the ground waters.

Anti-settlement activist, Dror Etkes, told the Haaretz newspaper that he learned from one of the Al-Minya operators that the site’s construction is complete, but the Civil Administration is preventing it from working.

The Israeli authorities claim the Palestinians went back on the deal for the site to be operated as a regional landfill, despite the World Bank making it clear last year that Al-Minya should be used for Palestinian purposes only.

With the dispute ongoing, waste in the area is being dumped at environmentally hazardous private landfalls, or simply burnt in the streets.

(Source / 10.01.2014)

Israeli forces shoot 4 protesters in al-Jalazun camp clashes

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Four Palestinians were injured by live bullets during clashes with Israeli soldiers in al-Jalazun refugee camp north of Ramallah on Friday, locals said.

Israeli forces chased Palestinians down the alleys of the camp and fired live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets, and tear gas at Palestinians who threw stones and empty bottles in return.

No Palestinians were detained during the clashes, despite the attempts of Israeli forces.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said that “violence and illegal riots” had erupted in the camp and Israeli forces used “riot dispersal means” to contain them.

She said that Israeli forces subsequently resorted to opening fire with “22 caliber bullets towards the instigators’ lower extremities.”

“Four hits were confirmed,” she added.

In December, an Israeli sniper shot dead a 15-year-old Palestinian boy in the back in al-Jalazun refugee camp.

Human Rights Watch said on Sunday that there was no evidence of “any threat to life that would justify such a killing,” by Israeli forces.

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 / 10.01.2014)