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Israel forces ‘order 15 families to leave homes’

HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli forces on Monday ordered 15 families to evacuate their homes in the southern West Bank and said the area was a “closed military zone,” a resident facing eviction said.

Abed Shalalda said 15 families from his tribe were told they would be evicted from their homes in al-Ganoub, east of Sair, by force if they did not leave within days.

The families live in caves and ancient stone dwellings in an area with fruit trees and water wells. Shalalda said all the residents had land ownership deeds.

(Source / 11.03.2013)

Israeli forces incursion east of Gaza


Israeli occupation forces (IOF) mounting a number of armored vehicles and escorting bulldozers advanced east of Juhr Al-Deek to the south east of Gaza city on Monday. 


 Israeli forces incursion east of Gaza

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) – Israeli occupation forces (IOF) mounting a number of armored vehicles and escorting bulldozers advanced east of Juhr Al-Deek to the south east of Gaza city on Monday.
Local and security sources said that the IOF army vehicles advanced 200 meters from the border fence.
The sources told the PIC reporter that the bulldozers leveled land in the area while the vehicles combed its vicinity.
(Source / 11.03.2013)

Palestinians clash with Israeli forces in West Bank, Jerusalem

An Israeli police officer falls, engulfed in flames after Palestinian protesters threw firebombs during clashes after Friday prayers at a compound known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as Temple Mount, in Jerusalem's Old City March 8, 2013. Israeli police fired stun grenades to disperse Palestinian worshippers who had thrown rocks and firebombs at them after Friday prayers at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City, police said. REUTERS/Mostafa Alkharouf

(Reuters) – Clashes broke out between Israeli security forces and Palestinian protesters in the occupied West Bank and at a holy site in Jerusalem on Friday as tensions rose just weeks before a visit by U.S. President Barack Obama.

Trouble broke out after the funeral in the West Bank of Palestinian who died of wounds on Thursday after being shot by Israeli soldiers during a confrontation two weeks ago.

More than 5,000 people attended the ceremony but afterwards a group of about 100 mourners threw stones at Israeli soldiers, who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, a military spokeswoman said. 䀀 In Jerusalem’s Old City, Israeli police fired stun grenades at Palestinian worshippers who threw rocks and firebombs at them after Friday prayers at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Dozens of officers in riot gear entered the politically sensitive area, one of Islam’s holiest sites, to break up a crowd of several hundred protesters.

Palestinian medical workers said about 35 protesters were injured at the plaza, none seriously. A number of policemen were slightly hurt, a police spokesman said.

As well as the al-Aqsa Mosque, the plaza houses the golden Dome of the Rock shrine, which marks the spot from which Muslims believe the Prophet Mohammad made his night journey to heaven.

Jews revere the sacred compound as the site of their Biblical Temple, destroyed by Roman troops in the 1st Century.


Tension is rising before a visit by Obama to Jerusalem and Ramallah towards the end of the month and the possible resumption of peace talks that broke down in 2010.

A surge in violence in the occupied West Bank over the past several weeks has raised concern in Israel that a new Palestinian uprising could erupt.

The recent violence has focused around the plight of Palestinians held in Israeli jails but it largely subsided last week after Israel agreed to release two hunger-striking inmates in May and they ended their protest.

A Palestinian official said two people have died as a result of the clashes in the past few weeks.

At the West Bank funeral, Palestinian Minister of Prisoners Issa Qaraqea told mourners that Israel’s actions would lead to more protests.

“Instead of releasing prisoners Israel is committing more crimes, the blood of martyr Mohammed will escalate resistance,” Qaraqea said.

Palestinians seek a state in the West Bank and the Hamas-run Gaza Strip with Arab East Jerusalem as its capital – territories Israel captured in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War and which it still controls.

Peace talks broke down over Palestinian objections to Israel expanding settlements in the occupied land territories. Most of the world considers the settlements illegal.

Israel has called for a resumption of the talks without preconditions.

Predicting that Obama’s visit would fail to secure any desired results for the Palestinians, Gaza’s Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh called on his West Bank rival, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who leads the more secular Fatah movement, to choose Palestinian reconciliation over peace talks with Israel.

“As Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims we must not hold hopes on such visit and we must not sell our people illusions,” he told worshippers at Friday prayers in Gaza.

“I urge (Abbas) not to fall in the trap of illusion and not to close the door to Palestinian reconciliation,” he said.

(Source / 11.03.2013)

Israel going for one million Jews in the West Bank

Despite his disappointing results at the ballot box, Netanyahu has successfully leveraged his negotiating position to create a right-wing government that is outwardly aggressive and inwardly nationalistic.

Settlers and their supporters demonstrating in Ulpana in June against the evacuation.

Settlers and their supporters demonstrating in Ulpana in June against the evacuation of several families from their homes.

The election campaign season comes to its real conclusion this week with the formation of the government and an unadulterated victory for the right. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recovered from the blow he took at the ballot box and managed to extract the maximum out of the coalition negotiations he conducted with Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid and Habayit Hayehudi head Naftali Bennett. The old fox schooled the political greenhorns.

Netanyahu began the negotiations after a month of futile idling that was meant to weaken his partners’ negotiating positions: the highly publicized tiff with Bennett, the crocodile tears over separating from his Haredi former coalition partners, the offer of the Finance Ministry to Labor Party leader Shelly Yacimovich and the promise of renewed talks with the Palestinians to Hatnuah leader Tzipi Livni. When all the political spin had settled, the dice came out in Netanyahu’s favor: Foreign and defense policy will remain in the hands of Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu, Lapid has been kicked over to the Finance Ministry and Habayit Hayehudi will be a junior coalition partner.

The coalition negotiations were characterized by an excessive preoccupation with minor distractions like the hatred for Sara Netanyahu, the number of ministers in the new government or the production of a Lapid victory photo without Haredim. Substantive topics like foreign or defense policies were pushed aside in the discussions, except for Netanyahu’s weekly warning about the Iranian nuclear threat and the dangerous situation in Syria. Even economic policy was pushed aside to the margins, if it was discussed at all.

Netanyahu cut his rival and partner Lapid down to size. The prime minister presented him as a vacuous politician chasing after respect and ratings, as someone who wanted to be pampered at the Foreign Ministry instead of finding out “where the money” is going in the Finance Ministry, as he frequently asked ahead of the election. At the end of last week Lapid surrendered to the pressure campaign in the media and assumed the troublesome task he had tried to shirk. He also failed in ridding the government of unnecessary ministerial portfolios like “Jerusalem” and “Diaspora Affairs.”

Now the game has ended and real life will begin.  The third Netanyahu government has one clear goal: enlarging the settlements and achieving the vision of “a million Jews living in Judea and Samaria.” This magic number will thwart the division of the land and prevent once and for all the establishment of a Palestinian state. The defense, and housing and construction ministries that are relevant to this issue will be given to Likud MK Moshe Ya’alon and Habayit Hayehudi MK Uri Ariel. They won’t be assuming these positions in order to freeze settlement construction, but rather to implement the Levy report which determined that Israel was not legally-speaking an occupying power in the West Bank and the Habayit Hayehudi platform; or in other words, to gradually absorb the West Bank into Israel.

Netanyahu has used the term “the math” to explain the political difficulties that prevented him from being more flexible toward the Palestinians. That was in the previous Knesset term, when moderates like Ehud Barak and Dan Meridor were in senior government positions. In the new government, the math acts with abundant force against a compromise in the territories. The radical right wing is strengthened and united, and those who would claim Netanyahu’s mantle need the settlers’ support and will do everything in order to bribe them and make them happy.

Lapid and Livni are supposed to represent the foreign policy moderates, but they will have a tough time competing to be heard over ministers Ya’alon, Bennett, Gideon Sa’ar, Avigdor Lieberman and Yair Shamir. Lapid will be bought with trifles like the Sharing of the Civic Burden Law so that billions of shekels will continue to flow into the settlements, and Livni is too weak to have much influence.

Netanyahu’s key task will be buying some quiet on the Palestinian issue to permit the expansion of the settlements at the small price of international condemnation. He will continue with the successful ploy from his previous term: threatening an attack on Iran and Syria, which are drawing American attention. Barack Obama is busy with calming the Iranian front and preventing an eruption in and around Syria, and is ignoring Israel’s actions in the territories. This is the deal that Netanyahu will strive to achieve with Obama during their meetings next week in Jerusalem.

Netanyahu has lost his drawing power at the ballot box but leveraged to his benefit the rift in the opposing camp and formed a government that is outwardly aggressive and inwardly nationalistic. He has bound to himself the ambitious Lapid and Bennett, who will make an effort to prove themselves, and left out in the cold the hungry-eyed Haredim who will seek to utilize every crack in the coalition to crawl back into government. And as a final bonus, Netanyahu lowered the expectations of the Likud’s incumbent ministers, who gave up their dreams of an office upgrade and pleaded to be allowed to stay in their old ones. Impressive results in comparison with the disappointing election campaign of the “strong” Prime Minister Netanyahu.

(Source / 11.03.2013)

Resource: UNICEF report on Palestinian children in Israeli military detention

Following an increasing number of allegations of ill-treatment of children in Israeli military detention, UNICEF conducted a review of practices related to children who come into contact with the military detention system, from apprehension, to court proceedings and outcome. The report gives 38 recommendations for improving the protection of children.

It is understood that in no other country are children systematically tried by juvenile military courts that, by definition, fall short of providing the necessary guarantees to ensure respect for their rights. All children prosecuted for offenses they allegedly committed should be treated in accordance with international juvenile justice standards, which provide them with special protection.

The report has been assigned extra weight in the Israeli media because UNICEF is not one of the UN bodies regularly dismissed as having an anti-Israel bias.


(Source /11.03.2013)

New Jerusalem highway threatens Arabs’ homes

Highway project to connect illegal Israeli settlements threatens to destroy Palestinian neighbourhood in Jerusalem.

Palestinian residents of Beit Safafa, a neighbourhood in Jerusalem, have already begun protesting the project[Reuters]
A new Israeli highway project is threatening to add to tensions in Jerusalem by cutting through a quiet, middle class Arab neighbourhood to link a large bloc of illegal Jewish settlements to the city.

The project comes during a flurry of Israeli building in east Jerusalem, the section of the city lived in by Palestinians.

City officials say the road is meant to serve everyone.

Critics counter that the road is part of a grand scheme, including construction of thousands of apartments, to solidify Israel’s control over the area and sever the connection between the holy city and any future Palestinian state.

“It changes the geography and demography in ways that will make a two-state solution very, very difficult,” said Aviv Tatarsky of Ir Amim, an organisation that lobbies for equitable treatment of Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem.

The highway project is just four kilometres long and will complete a north-south route across the city.

It will link two of Israel’s most contentious roads, allowing Israeli Jews living in the southern West Bank to zip into Jerusalem and to the coastal city of Tel Aviv with barely a stop.

Israeli work crews have already moved into the Arab neighbourhood of Beit Safafa in southeast Jerusalem, and begun construction on the 1.5-km section through the neighbourhood.

City officials say the extension will improve transport for Jerusalem’s Arabs and Jews. They said they could not hold up infrastructure development while waiting for a resolution to the decades-old Mideast conflict.

Even if Jerusalem is divided to serve as the future capitals of Israel and Palestine, the road networks would likely be shared, said deputy mayor Naomi Tsur.

“Whatever the future status of Jerusalem, people have to have access from one end of the city to the other,” Tsur said.

“They still have to get to work, clinics, schools and universities … even if half the city is Palestine, they will have to have access.”

Destruction of community

Beit Safafa residents say the project is destroying their community by separating thousands of residents from the neighbourhood’s centre, where the schools and medical clinics are.

In an area where olive and almond trees still peek out among buildings, they also warn that the construction will remove what little remains of their rural past.

“Children will be cut off from school, the elderly from mosques,” said resident Alaa Salman.

“When somebody dies in our village we carry them with our hands to our cemetery. How will we do that after the road is built? All that will change,” he said.

Residents are meeting municipal officials, organising protests and petitioning Israel’s Supreme Court to move the highway underground.

The city is planning to bury 180 metres of the Beit Safafa route and build parks on top.

The road project appears to be part of a larger Israeli plan for Jerusalem.

The final stretch of the Begin highway, named after the late Prime Minister Menachem Begin, is crucial for consolidating Israeli control.

The decades-old project will link Route 60, a thoroughfare for West Bank settlements southeast of Jerusalem, to Route 443, a highway that links Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Route 443 has drawn criticism because part of it runs through the West Bank.

Along with the road, several thousand new apartments are in various stages of planning in the east Jerusalem area.

Much of the new construction is slated for settlements that surround Beit Safafa.

(Source / 11.03.2013)

IOF soldiers wreak havoc in Jordan Valley village


JORDAN VALLEY, (PIC)– Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed Annasariya village in the Jordan Valley at dawn Monday and wreaked havoc in a number of houses.

Eyewitnesses said that big numbers of IOF soldiers stormed the village and encircled the homes of two citizens and forced all inhabitants out of them including an old woman and children for three hours.

They said that an Israeli officer brought down Palestinian flags from the roof of the houses and stepped over them then threatened to raze the houses in the next time if those flags were raised anew.

(Source / 11.03.2013)

Israeli officials to pressure UN to negate Palestinian right of return

A group of right-wing Zionists met with the Israeli ambassador the the United Nations on Thursday in New York to put together a plan to pressure the United Nations to revoke the internationally-recognized right of return of Palestinian refugees who were forced from their homes in what is now Israel in 1948 and 1967.

Image by PRRN blog
Daniel Pipes, the head of the extreme right ‘Middle East Forum’ based in Philadelphia which helped organize the session, told participants in the meeting that the United Nations’ approach to the rights of Palestinian refugees “creates a narrative of victimhood” and “promotes extremism”. Despite the fact that Palestinian refugees have the same rights as any other displaced population in the world, Pipes did not make this claim about other refugee populations, but only about the Palestinians.

The strategy session came just ahead of a press conference planned to take place on Monday by Filippo Grandi, the commissioner-general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), in which Grandi will make the case that Palestinian refugees are a ‘forgotten population’, and will urge that action be taken to address the Palestinian refugee crisis.

According to a recent report by human rights group BADIL, which was published in December 2012 after ten years of research, “At the end of 2011, there were at least 7.4 million displaced Palestinians representing 66 percent of the entire Palestinian population (11.2 million) worldwide”. This makes the Palestinian refugees the largest refugee population in the world.

The report found that “The vast majority of Palestinian refugees (5.8 million) are those who were forced from their lands during the 1948 ethnic cleansing and their descendants. Of these, 4.8 million are registered with the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA). A further million Palestinians are refugees as a result of the 1967 War and there are more than half a million internally displaced Palestinians on both side of the Green Line (the 1949 armistice line marking the boundary between Israel and the occupied West Bank).”

At Thursday’s strategy session in New York, calling for the negation of the internationally-recognized right of return for Palestinian refugees, Ron Prosor, the Israeli representative to the United Nations, told the participants that “the real obstacle [to peace] is the right of return for millions of Palestinian refugees”, adding, “The refugee problem is the main obstacle to peace, not settlements.”

Former Israeli Knesset (Parliament) Member Einat Wilf also spoke at the meeting, telling participants that it is important to “debunk the myth” that there are Palestinian refugees living in tents, and criticized the European Union for promoting the Palestinian refugees right of return.

Palestinian refugees living in camps in Lebanon are forbidden from constructing permanent housing, and are denied jobs, freedom of movement and citizenship. Most camps in the West Bank and Gaza, which began as tents in the early 1950s, have become crowded tenements with housing constructed in a haphazard way, usually with new units built on top of existing structures.

In addition to putting together a plan to pressure the United Nations to deny Palestinian refugees their rights, the group that gathered Thursday in New York also promised to draft legislation to be introduced in the U-S Congress that would challenge the refugee status of any Palestinian born to refugee parents.

The participants in the meeting, while vehemently denying that Palestinian refugees have a right to return to homes that many still hold the deeds and keys for, did not question the Israeli law authorizing the ‘right of return’ to any person with a Jewish grandparent, from anywhere in the world, to Israel. This law is justified by the Israeli government based on the claim that Jewish people were expelled from what was then Palestine by the Romans nearly 2,000 years ago.

Thursday’s strategy session follows a statement issued in January by a group of prominent Jewish scholars and activists in the U-S, Europe, Australia and Israel called “Jews for the Palestinian Right of Return”, which calls for one democratic state in the land of Israel and Palestine, and says “supporters of social justice must ask themselves how they can defend a state whose very existence depends on structural denial of Palestinian rights.”

(Source / 10.03.2013)

Settlers attack 67-year-old farmer in Beit Ummar

HEBRON (Ma’an) — A group of 30 settlers attacked a 67-year-old farmer in north Hebron on Saturday, a local committee said.

Mohammad Abed al-Hamid Jabir Slaibi, 67, and his sons were working on their land adjacent to Bat Ayin settlement when a group of young settlers started swearing at them and throwing rocks, a popular committee in Beit Ummar told Ma’an.

Slaibi and his sons left the area to escape the attack.

Israeli soldiers were present at the time of the incident but did not intervene, the committee added.

Settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank is routine and rarely prosecuted by Israeli authorities.

(Source / 10.03.2013)

Israel: A De Facto Member of NATO


NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen received Israel’s president Shimon Peres at NATO headquarters in Brussels on March 7.

The order of the day: to enhance military cooperation between Israel and the Atlantic Alliance focusing on issues of counter-terrorism.

“Israel will be happy to share the knowledge it has gained and its technological abilities with NATO. Israel has experience in contending with complex situations, and we must strengthen the cooperation so we can fight global terror together and assist NATO with the complex threats it faces including in Afghanistan. “

Israel is already involved in covert operations and non-conventional warfare in liaison with the US and NATO.

This agreement is of particular significance because it deepens the Israel-NATO relationship beyond the so-called “Mediterranean Dialogue”.

The joint statement points to an Israel NATOpartnership “in the fight against terror and the search for peace… in the Middle East and the world”.

What this suggests is the participation of Israel in active theater warfare alongside NATO –i.e. as a de facto member of the Atlantic Alliance.

In other words, Israel would be directly involved were US-NATO to launch an outright military operation against Syria, Lebanon or Iran.

Israel offered to assist NATO in counter-terrorism operations directed against Hezbollah and Iran.

“The two agreed during their discussions that Israel and NATO are partners in the fight against terror…the statement said.

President Peres stressed the need to maintain and increase the cooperation between Israel and NATO and Israel’s ability to cooperation and provide technological assistance and knowledge from the vast experience Israel had gained in the field of counter-terrorism.

“Israel will be happy to share the knowledge it has gained and its technological abilities with NATO. Israel has experience in contending with complex situations, and we must strengthen the cooperation so we can fight global terror together and assist NATO with the complex threats it faces including in Afghanistan, ” Peres told Rasmussen.

History of Israel-NATO Military Cooperation

It is worth noting that in November 2004 in Brussels, NATO and Israel signed an important bilateral protocol which paved the way for the holding of joint NATO-Israel  military exercises. A followup agreement was signed in March 2005 in Jerusalem between NATO’s Secretary General and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

The 2005 bilateral military cooperation agreement was viewed by the Israeli military as a means to “enhance Israel’s deterrence capability regarding potential enemies threatening it, mainly Iran and Syria.”

The ongoing premise underlying NATO-Israel military cooperation is that “Israel is under attack”.

There is evidence of active military and intelligence coordination between NATO and Israel including consultations pertaining to the occupied territories.

“Before Operation Cast Lead was launched in Gaza, NATO was already exchanging intelligence with Israel, sharing security expertise, and organising military drills. …. Former NATO chief Scheffer visited Israel in the midst of Israel’s offensive on Gaza. And NATO officials were at the time of the opinion that cooperation with Israel was essential for their organisation. (Al Ahram, February 10, 2010)

The March 2013 Israel-NATO Brussels bilateral agreement is the culmination of more than ten years of Israel-NATO cooperation.

Does this agreement “obligate” NATO “to come to the rescue of Israel” under the doctrine of “collective security”?

The agreement tightens the ongoing process of US-NATO-Israel military planning and logistics relating to any future operation in the Middle East including an aerial bombing of Iran’s nuclear plants.

The Israeli presidential delegation consisted of several top military and government advisers, including Brigadier General Hasson Hasson, Military Secretary to President Peres (See image below: first from left) and Nadav Tamir, policy adviser to the president of Israel (first right of president Peres).

The text of the Israel NATO agreement following discussions behind closed doors (see image below) was not made public.


Following the meeting, a joint statement was released by NATO. Secretary-General Rasmussen stated in the press report:

“Israel is an important partner of the Alliance in the Mediterranean Dialogue. The security of NATO is linked to the security and stability of the Mediterranean and of the Middle East region. And our Alliance attaches great value to our political dialogue and our practical cooperation. Israel is one of our longest-standing partner countries. We are faced with the same strategic challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean.

And as we face the security threats of the 21st century, we have every reason to deepen our long-standing partnership with our Mediterranean Dialogue countries, including Israel. We all know the regional situation is complex. But the Mediterranean Dialogue remains a unique multilateral forum, where Israel and six Arab countries can discuss together with European and North American countries common security challenges. I see further opportunities for deepening our already close political dialogue and practical cooperation to our mutual benefit.”

(Source / 10.03.2013)