Israeli Restictions at Al-Aqsa Could Spark Violence

Israeli policemen react during clashes with Palestinians on the compound known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City, Sept. 6, 2013.
 The world’s preoccupation with Syria and the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli peace talks have provided radical Israelis with the long-awaited opportunity to establish a regular Jewish presence on land around Islam’s third-holiest mosque, which they consider the holy Jewish Temple Mount. What was a once-in-a-season infiltration by radical Jews has now become a nearly daily affair often involving mainstream Israelis.

Israeli security forces are also carrying out unprecedented closures of the entire mosque area to accommodate the growing interest of mainstream Jews rather than a few radicals. As extreme political forces within Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and the Knesset have cemented their power, the Israeli police have raised the security flag less and less often. The chief of Israeli police has the right to judge whether he feels that the entry of Jews into the mosque compound would cause a security risk.

One of the most active opponents of the constant Israeli actions is an Israeli citizen. Sheikh Raed Salah, the former mayor of the Arab-Israeli city of Um al Fahm, has created an organization to defend the rights of Muslims and their properties in Jerusalem and Israel at large.

Initially, every time Jewish groups announced that they intended to visit what they call the Temple Mount, Jerusalem Palestinians, as well as other Palestinian Israeli citizens like Salah, would make calls to their supporters to be vigilant and stand up to the invaders of the mosque area. However, with time and with a consistent Israeli strategy of arrests and court orders, the Palestinian opposition has weakened. This gave Israeli radicals an appetite to further challenge the Palestinians and create a new de facto situation on the ground.

One of the ways to weaken the Palestinian resolve was simply to arrest some of the more vocal leaders. Another was to issue restraining orders preventing them from entering the mosque compound, the Old City or even the entire city of Jerusalem.

The visits to the mosque compound normally escalated during the Jewish holidays. But now, instead of merely arresting Palestinian leaders or issuing a restraining order, the Israelis have carried out an unprecedented act. They practically closed off the entire mosque area by banning the entry of men under the age of 50 for the period that Jewish visitors were planning to stay on the mosque compound.

Al-Haram al-Sharif, “Noble Sanctuary,” is a sacred space in Jerusalem’s Old City that contains Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest mosque, the Dome of the Rock, the Islamic Museum and other historic buildings and courtyards. Israel, which occupied Jerusalem in 1967, has had a implicit understanding with the Jordanian-run Islamic waqf department that regulates how this sacred area is to be used. Every gate to the compound except one is guarded by both an armed Israeli police officer and an unarmed Palestinian guard on the Jordanian Waqf Ministry payroll.

The exception is the controversial Mughrabi gate, which was initially used very little but has become the only gate for Jews and other tourists, causing major problems for the regulation of tourist visits to the mosque compound. The main gates allow a set time for tourist visits, which are arranged so as not to coincide with Islamic prayers. Tourists using all gates except the Mughrabi gate are obliged to dress modestly and pay an entrance fee. None of these conditions apply to Jews and others entering the mosque compound using the exclusively Jewish-controlled gate connected to the Western Wall area by a controversial bridge that UNESCO has complained about. A planned visit by a UNESCO delegation to review the status of the bridge was abruptly denied by Israel with no explanation. The visit had been arranged as a compromise to avoid an anti-Israel decision by the Paris-based international cultural organization.

For Palestinians and Muslims, what is happening in regard to the frequent unregulated and provocative visits to the Haram al-Sharif compound is a sign that Israel is planning to press ahead with more unilateral arrangements.

The experience in Hebron, where the Israeli army has divided the historic Ibrahimi mosque grounds in a time-sharing system, is a worrisome precedent. International volunteers in Hebron report regularly that Israeli troops are violating even their own stated policy of keeping the Ibrahimi mosque grounds open exclusively for Jews and Muslims for 10 days a year each, during their important holidays. Last Ramadan, Israelis violated that regulation and cut short the Palestinian Islamic presence at their own mosque.

The absence of any arrangements to resolve problems that suddenly arise has played into the hands of the Israelis, who regularly push for changes while the security forces and courts are working overtime to ensure that Palestinian resistance to these infringements is weak. The current situation on Al-Aqsa mosque is a loose cannon which begs attention. If no agreement takes place soon, another violent eruption will occur.

(Source / 05.10.2013)

Israelis destroy olive trees in WB: Palestinian farmer

A Palestinian farmer from the village of Qaryut inspects the remains of his olive trees on October 9, 2012, after they were uprooted overnight by Israeli settlers.

A Palestinian farmer from the village of Qaryut inspects the remains of his olive trees on October 9, 2012, after they were uprooted overnight by Israeli settlers.
A Palestinian farmer says Israeli settlers have destroyed nearly 130 olive trees in the occupied West Bank.

Yasser Fukha said on Saturday that he saw a group of residents from a nearby Israeli settlement of Shavei Shomron driving near the farm in the village of Deir Sharaf and later found trees uprooted and damaged.

It came as the Palestinian farmers are set to start the 40-day harvest of olive, which is regarded as the backbone of the Palestinian economy.

Palestinians also consider the crop as a symbol of their connection to their occupied land.

Israeli settlers, mostly armed, regularly attack Palestinian villages and farms and set fire to their mosques, olive groves and other properties in the West Bank under the so-called “price tag” policy. However, the Tel Aviv regime rarely detains the assailants.

The extremists say the “price tag” attacks are carried out against any Israeli policy “to reduce the presence of settlers and settlements on the occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank and East al-Quds (Jerusalem).”

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 United Nations 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 forbid construction on occupied lands.

(Source / 05.10.2013)

Israeli forces detain Palestinians in Hebron

Israeli soldiers arresting a Palestinian man in the West Bank city of Hebron Aug. 3, 2005.
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli forces detained three Palestinians from Hebron district and took them to unknown locations on Friday morning, family members told Ma’an.

Hazim Syouri said that an Israeli military force raided his house in the old city of Hebron and carried out an extensive search that caused much damage to their furniture. Israeli forces then detained his two brothers, Basem, 33, and Ismael, 30.

Syouri added that the Israeli army had raided his building after midnight and subsequently turned the entire house into a military base. The house consists of five residential apartments. In the morning, the Israeli forces left and took Syouri’s two brothers with them.

Palestinian security sources told Ma’an that Israeli forces also detained Hamed Kamel Shwaika, 33, from ad-Dahriya village south of Hebron at a temporary military checkpoint near the Israeli settlement of Beit Hjai south of Hebron.

Five-hundred Israeli settlers live in the Old City of Hebron, many of whom have illegally occupied Palestinian houses and forcibly removed the original inhabitants. They are protected by thousands of Israeli forces. Settlers and Israeli forces regularly target local Palestinians for harassment, and many have been forced from their homes as a result.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said two people were detained overnight in Hebron.

She said soldiers found improvised weapons and two improvised explosive devices in Hebron.

Overall seven Palestinians were detained in the West Bank, she said. One was detained from a village southeast of Nablus, three from inside the city, and another from a village southwest of Nablus.

(Source / 04.10.2013)

Israeli Minister: “West Bank will be Under Israeli Control Forever”

Uri Ariel_

Israeli housing minister, Uri Ariel, has said that the West Bank will be under Israeli control forever.

Ariel was addressing settlers near the Shilafim settlement in the occupied West Bank. “All the area located to the west of the Jordan River is owned by Israel and it will continue to be under Israeli control forever,” he said.

The remarks came as Palestinian-Israeli peace talk meetings continued and Palestinian Authority officials expected Israel to offer some concessions on land and settlement issues.

Previously, former chief of the Israeli Shin Bet, had said that he did not believe Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu’s, intentions for a two-state solution.

Analysts said that such remarks proved that Israel’s leaders were not interested in the peace process and that they were only buying time to ‘Judaise’ more lands in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem.

This article was originally posted on Middle East Monitor.

(Source / 04.10.2013)

Israeli forces injure 9 Palestinians in clashes in al-Ram

A Palestinian youth throws a tire towards an Israeli soldier during clashes in the West Bank city of Hebron, Friday, Sept. 27, 2013, on the 13th anniversary of the second Palestinian “Intifada,” or uprising against Israeli occupation.
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Nine Palestinians were injured when Israeli forces opened fire on protests in al-Ram with live and rubber bullets on Friday.

Dozens also suffered tear-gas inhalation in the clashes which occurred at the east entrance of al-Ram. Al-Ram is in an area of East Jerusalem near Ramallah that is completely encircled by the Israeli separation wall and Israeli settlements.

Three Palestinians were injured with live bullets that hit their legs and stomachs, while six others were struck with rubber-coated steel bullets in different body parts, medics at the Palestinian Medical Complex said.

Dozens of Palestinian passersby also suffered tear-gas inhalation.

Israel began building the separation wall in 2002, and the route has been the target of regular demonstrations by border towns whose land is cut off by its path. Israel has confiscated large plots of Palestinian land in order to build the wall. When the 435-mile barrier is complete, 85 percent of it will have been built inside the occupied West Bank.

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.

In 2004 the International Court of Justice ruled that the separation wall was illegal and “tantamount to annexation.”

(Source / 04.10.2013)

Palestinian man and his 3-year-old niece assaulted by Israeli soldiers

On Tuesday 2nd October local Khalil shop owner Abed Sider and his 3-year-old niece were hospitalised after being assaulted by several soldiers.

On the day of his birthday at 6:30pm, Abed had his home invaded by five Israeli soldiers who had come to interrogate his three year old niece on allegations of stone throwing. The Israeli forces dragged Abed from his home into the street; this aggressive action caused injury to his arm which later necessitated hospital treatment. Additionally the Israeli soldiers injured Abed’s three-year-old niece who also required hospitalisation.

The soldiers alleged that nearby illegal settlers from Beit Hadassah had made several complaints of stone throwing from the little girls’ bedroom window that overlooks the settlement playground. The window in question is sealed and caged to protect the Sider family from the constant attacks from the settlers.

Israeli soldiers at the Sider family home after the violent incident occurred

Israeli soldiers at the Sider family home after the violent incident occurred

An Israeli commander later came to the Sider family home and was convinced by Abed’s brother, Shadi, to view footage of the incident that showed the soldier’s aggressive actions. After viewing the video, the commander stated that the soldiers had been acting “out of accordance” with Israeli army policy and that they will be reprimanded and moved to a new post out of Hebron.

This is another incident in a long line of harassment and intimidation that Abed has had to endure; his seven-year-old son was recently blinded by an acid attack from settlers, and is in Jordan awaiting surgery to restore his vision. The Israeli government has refused Abed and his family the necessary travel permits to visit their son and pay for the treatment.

(Source / 04.10.2013)

Settlers confront Palestinians picking olives in Salfit

SALFIT (Ma’an) — Israeli settlers from attacked Sami Yousef Radad, 60, from al-Zawya in western Salfit while he was picking olives on his land Thursday, Radad said.

He told Ma’an that settlers attacked him and his wife while picking olives on his own land near Qanah settlement and verbally assaulted him before asking him to leave and stop picking olives.

“After I refused to stop picking olives, settlers called the Israeli police and kicked me and my wife off my land at gunpoint,” he said, adding that the settlers insisted the land belonged to them.

(Source / 03.10.2013)

Ethnic Cleansing by Bureaucracy: Israel’s policy of destroying Palestinian homes

Last week, as negotiations continued between Israeli and Palestinian officials, both Human Rights Watch and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) issued statements condemning Israel’s ongoing destruction of Palestinian homes and other structures, particularly in the occupied West Bank and the Negev desert in southern Israel. Israel’s policy of destroying Palestinian homes, usually under the pretext of demolishing structures built without permission from Israeli authorities, is a highly sensitive subject for Palestinians, as home demolitions have played a central role in Israel’s attempts to dispossess the native, non-Jewish Palestinian population of Israel and the occupied territories since the creation of the state in 1948.

Underpinning most home demolitions is Israel’s strategic goal of limiting the non-Jewish Palestinian population, or removing it altogether, from areas of the occupied territories and Israel proper. In particular, Israel wants to cement its hold over occupied East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley in the West Bank, and to “Judaize” East Jerusalem and areas such as the Negev desert in southern Israel. Other bureaucratic tools used to achieve this goal include: the revocation of residency rights for Palestinians in East Jerusalem; evictions of Palestinians from their homes and land; and severe restrictions on the ability of non-Jewish citizens to own and rent land in Israel, and of Palestinians to build in the 60% of the West Bank under complete Israeli control according to the terms of the Oslo Accords. 

The Occupied Territories

  • Since militarily occupying the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza in 1967, Israeli authorities have demolished tens of thousands of Palestinian structures using three bureaucratic justifications: Military necessity; to punish or deter militants (an act of collective punishment, and therefore a war crime); and to destroy structures built without permission from Israeli authorities.
  • In occupied East Jerusalem and the approximately 60% of the West Bank over which Israel retains total control under the terms of the Oslo Accords, it is nearly impossible for Palestinians to get permission to build new homes or additions to old ones. According to Human Rights Watch’s 2012 World Report: “Israel usually carries out demolitions on the grounds that the structures were built without permits, but in practice such permits are almost impossible for Palestinians to obtain in Israeli-controlled areas.”
  • While making it almost impossible for Palestinians to build homes or other structures in East Jerusalem and most of the West Bank, Israel actively encourages the building of Jewish settlements in these areas, often tacitly supporting the creation of so-called “outposts,” built in violation not only of international law, but Israeli law as well.

Israel

  • Inside Israel’s pre-1967 borders, authorities carry out home demolitions against Palestinian citizens of the state in cities such as Ramle and Lyd (Lod), and in villages that are “unrecognized” by the Israeli government.
  • While Palestinian Arabs comprise approximately 20% of the population of Israel, as non-Jews they are confined by law and zoning policies to just 3.5% of the land.
  • Approximately 100,000 internal refugees from Israel’s creation in 1948 live in more than 100 “unrecognized villages” near their original homes, destroyed in 1948, where they “suffer from inadequate living conditions and constant threats of demolition,” according to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD).
  • There are currently entire Bedouin villages in the Negev desert, numbering as many as 70,000 people in total, which are threatened with demolition under the so-called “Prawer Plan.” If carried out, Prawer would result in the largest displacement of Palestinian citizens of Israel since the 1950s, shortly after the state was created. 

 Home Demolitions: By the Numbers

  • Since 1967, Israel has destroyed approximately 27,000 Palestinian structures in the occupied territories (the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip), including more than 24,000 homes, according to ICAHD.
  • Since the renewal of negotiations in August 2013, Israel has destroyed approximately 25 Palestinian homes, in addition to dozens of other structures, leaving approximately 200 people homeless.
  • According to the UN, between January and September 2013, 862 Palestinians were displaced by Israeli demolitions, compared to 886 (including 468 children) in all of 2012.
  • In 2012, a total of 600 Palestinian structures were demolished by Israel in the occupied territories, including at least 189 homes, according to ICAHD. This figure doesn’t include “self-demolitions” whereby Palestinians destroy their own homes rather than have Israel do it and charge them an additional fine.
  • One Bedouin village, Al-Araqib, in the Negev desert in the south of Israel, has been destroyed more than 50 times by Israel since July 2010.
  • Between 2005 and 2012, Israel demolished approximately 1500 Palestinian homes due to owners lacking hard-to-obtain construction permits.
  • Between 1993 and 2000, when the Oslo Accords were being negotiated between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, Israel destroyed almost 1700 Palestinian homes in the occupied territories.
  • Immediately following Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza in 1967, approximately 6000 Palestinian homes were demolished, including four entire villages in the Latrun area, along with dozens of homes in the Mughrabi Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, which were destroyed to make way for a plaza for the Western Wall. In 1971, between 2000 and 6000 Palestinian homes were destroyed in Gaza in an effort to pacify the newly occupied territory.
  • During Israel’s creation (1948-49), Zionist and then Israeli forces expelled approximately 750,000 Palestinian Arabs from their ancestral lands in order to create a Jewish majority state of Israel. In the process, more than 400 Palestinian population centers were systematically destroyed, including thousands of homes, businesses, and houses of worship. (See here for more on the Nakba.)

(Source / 03.10.2013)

Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces in Hebron

Gaza, ALRAY – The Israeli soldiers shot and injured on Wednesday evening five Palestinians during clashes erupted between the Palestinian youths and the Israeli forces at the entrance of Al-Fawar camp south of Hebron, locals said.

Witnesses reported that the Israeli forces shot the demonstrators with rubber bullets, leaving five injuries.

A Large number of the Palestinian citizens suffered gas inhalation due to the teargas fired by the Israeli forces toward houses.

Al-Fawar camp is located near the bypass road that connects between Beersheba and Hebron. A  military barracks established at its entrance to serve the settlers and Israeli soldiers  .

(Source / 03.10.2013)

Call for Saudi Arabia to cancel deal with G4S

G4S has won contracts to offer security services to Muslim pilgrims in Makkah for the next year.G4S has won contracts to offer security services to Muslim pilgrims in Makkah for the next year.

Palestine, Agencies – The National Committee for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel has called upon Saudi Arabia to stop dealing with G4S because the security company is involved in Israel’s violations of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories. According to the BDS Committee, G4S has won contracts to offer security services to Muslim pilgrims in Makkah for the next year.

The Committee affirmed its belief that the British company is complicit in maintaining the Israeli occupation. It accused G4S of supplying “torture equipment” used by Israeli investigators on Palestinian prisoners inside the Zionist state’s jails, including children.

Many Palestinian and international human rights organisations have proved that G4S is involved in human rights abuses based on evidence that it supplies the Israeli occupation authorities and illegal Jewish settlers with equipment used in violating the rights of Palestinians.

Other organisations lobbying for justice for the Palestinians, including Britain’s Friends of Al-Aqsa, have also written to the Saudi authorities calling on them to cancel the G4S contract.

(Source / 03.10.2013)