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Israeli Gaza strike kills 4 Palestinian militants

A Palestinian health official in Gaza says four men have been killed in an Israeli airstrike.

Ashraf al-Kidra says the airstrike hit the central Gaza district of Maghazi on Wednesday evening.

The Israeli military said the men were militants about to fire rockets toward nearby Jewish communities.

It was not known to which group the men belonged.

Israel and Gaza’s ruling Hamas have had a tenuous, unwritten truce since a three-week war more than three years ago. Despite that, militants _ some from Hamas and others from splinter groups _ continue to fire rockets at southern Israel, triggering Israeli airstrikes.

The frequency of the attacks is considerably lower than before the war, when Israel sent forces into Gaza to try to stop the barrages.

(qctimes.com / 05.09.2012)

Democratic Party’s one-sided platform on Israel/Palestine not enough for Israel supporters

Below is the portion of the just-released 2012 Democratic National Party Platformthat discusses the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Middle East. President Obama and the Democratic Party maintain an unshakable commitment to Israel’s security. A strong and secure Israel is vital to the United States not simply because we share strategic interests, but also because we share common values. For this reason, despite budgetary constraints, the President has worked with Congress to increase security assistance to Israel every single year since taking office, providing nearly $10 billion in the past three years. The administration has also worked to ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region. And we have deepened defense cooperation – including funding the Iron Dome system – to help Israel address its most pressing threats, including the growing danger posed by rockets and missiles emanating from the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Syria, and Iran. The President’s consistent support for Israel’s right to defend itself and his steadfast opposition to any attempt to delegitimize Israel on the world stage are further evidence of our enduring commitment to Israel’s security.

It is precisely because of this commitment that President Obama and the Democratic Party seek peace between Israelis and Palestinians. A just and lasting Israeli-Palestinian accord, producing two states for two peoples, would contribute to regional stability and help sustain Israel’s identity as a Jewish and democratic state. At the same time, the President has made clear that there will be no lasting peace unless Israel’s security concerns are met. President Obama will continue to press Arab states to reach out to Israel. We will continue to support Israel’s peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, which have been pillars of peace and stability in the region for many years. And even as the President and the Democratic Party continue to encourage all parties to be resolute in the pursuit of peace, we will insist that any Palestinian partner must recognize Israel’s right to exist, reject violence, and adhere to existing agreements.

Elsewhere in the region, President Obama is committed to maintaining robust security cooperation with Gulf Cooperation Council states and our other partners aimed at deterring aggression, checking Iran’s destabilizing activities, ensuring the free flow of commerce essential to the global economy, and building a regional security architecture to counter terrorism, proliferation, ballistic missiles, piracy, and other common threats.

Haaretz reports that “more than a few pro-Israeli party functionaries at the convention [are fuming]” that the platform left out a reference to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The 2008 platform read, “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel.” These same functionaries are also evidently upset that the “language on Iran wasn’t tough enough.”

Mitt Romney has responded with the following statement:

It is unfortunate that the entire Democratic Party has embraced President Obama’s shameful refusal to acknowledge that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. Four years of President Obama’s repeated attempts to create distance between the United States and our cherished ally have led the Democratic Party to remove from their platform an unequivocal acknowledgment of a simple reality. As president, I will restore our relationship with Israel and stand shoulder to shoulder with our close ally.

 (mondoweiss.net / 04.09.2012)

Israël beschuldigd van plundering hulpbronnen

JERUZALEM, 3 september 2012 (IPS) — Door natuurlijke hulpbronnen te ontginnen in de bezette Palestijnse gebieden en die voor eigen economische doeleinden in te zetten, pleegt Israël een oorlogsmisdaad. Dat stelt een rapport dat vandaag werd vrijgegeven door de Palestijnse mensenrechtenorganisatie Al Haq.
DeWereldMorgen.be -
Een Israëlische steengroeve in de industriezone van de Ma’ale Adumim-nederzetting in de Westbank, dicht bij Jeruzalem

“Israël is openlijk in strijd met zijn verplichtingen als bezettende macht. Het stimuleert en bevordert de exploitatie van de Palestijnse natuurlijke hulpbronnen en helpt actief mee aan de plundering door private initiatieven”, staat  in het Al Haq-rapport ‘Plundering van de Dode Zee: Israëls onrechtmatige exploitatie van natuurlijke hulpbronnen in de bezette Palestijnse gebieden’. Al Haq is een niet-gouvernementele organisatie die sinds 1979 de mensenrechten en de naleving van het recht in de Palestijnse gebieden beschermt.

Strafrechtelijke verantwoordelijkheid voor plundering strekt zich niet enkel uit tot de staat Israël, maar kan ook worden toegepast op individuen, namelijk Israëlische kolonisten die profiteren van de winsten uit grondstoffen uit de Dode Zee, zegt Al Haq.

Made in Israël

“Hoewel de exploitatie door kolonisten en bedrijven wordt aangemoedigd door de staat Israël, kan men niet negeren dat deze middelen als Palestijns worden beschouwd door het internationaal recht. Dit zou voldoende moeten zijn om de misdaad van plundering te onderbouwen, waardoor sommige Israëlische kolonisten als de directe daders van die misdaad kunnen worden beschouwd”, aldus het rapport.

Israël heeft volgehouden dat een aantal convenanten van het internationaal humanitair recht niet van toepassing is op de bezette gebieden, omdat deze gebieden niet onder de bevoegdheid van Israël vallen.

Toch beweren veel internationale juristen dat Israël de basisprincipes van het internationaal recht overtreedt. Artikel 47 van het Verdrag van Den Haag (1907) over oorlogsmisdaden zegt dat “plundering formeel is verboden”.

Activisten zijn begonnen met een boycot tegen Israëlische producten die vervaardigd zijn in de bezette Palestijnse gebieden en worden bestempeld als “made in Israël”. Onlangs heeft de Zuid-Afrikaanse regering een importstop afgekondigd tegen producten uit de bezette Westelijke Jordaanoever van Israëlische makelij. Ook de Verenigde Kerk van Canada, de grootste protestantse kerk van het land, heeft zich uitgesproken voor een boycot.

(www.dewereldmorgen.be / 03.09.2012)

Occupation forces stripped of a child clothes


Ahrar— Ahrar center  received a complaint about violent and humiliating strip searches from security guards andmembers of the special guard unit of the Israel Prison Service (IPS) against Palestinian child was visiting his father in Shata

Mohammad the son of  the prisoner Emad Abu Rayhan from Nablus was  going to the prison to visit his dad with other prisoner’s family because Mohammad’s family has been forbidden from visiting him since one year.

Before meeting his father, the Israeli soldiers took Mohammad inside a room and removed all his clothes, the child cried and was shocked.

Ahrar center demands that occupation prison service stop violent, invasive searches of Palestinian prisoners and their family visitors.

(www.ahrar.ps / 03.09.2012)

Israel accused of pillaging Dead Sea resources in occupied territory

Cosmetics firm Ahava singled out for criticism in report by Palestinian human rights organisation

Dead Sea

The Dead Sea. Almost two-thirds of the western shore is in the occupied West Bank.

Israel is “pillaging” the natural resources of the Dead Sea which lie in occupied Palestinian territory in violation of international law, a report which singles out the cosmetics firm Ahava for criticism.

According to the Palestinian human rights organisation al-Haq, the “appropriation and exploitation of Palestinian land and natural resources in the occupied Dead Sea area by Israeli settlers and companies … meet the requirements of the crime of pillage”.

Its report, Pillage of the Dead Sea, says Israeli restrictions on planning and movement “have severely hampered the ability of Palestinians to use and access their land and other natural resources in the region. The presence of settlers who directly utilise and profit from the Dead Sea wealth has severely exacerbated this situation and contributed to the over-exploitation of the area, resulting in severe environmental damage.”

Almost two-thirds of the western shore of the Dead Sea lies within the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since 1967. The remaining area is in Israel, and the eastern shore is in Jordan. At the lowest point on Earth, 410 metres below sea level, the inland sea is a magnet for tourists keen to float in its salt-saturated waters and for industries which extract its minerals.

Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories, which manufactures and markets beauty products based on Dead Sea minerals and mud, is located within the Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Shalem in the West Bank. It is licensed by the Israeli government to mine Dead Sea raw materials. According to al-Haq, almost 45% of its shares are owned by Mitzpe Shalem and another Israeli settlement on the Dead Sea shore, Kalia.

Within two decades of its launch in 1988, Ahava’s annual global sales had reached almost $150m (£95m). The company has been the target of boycott campaigns by anti-settlement activists, which contributed to its decision to close its store in Covent Garden, London, a year ago.

The al-Haq report says Ahava is “unlawfully utilising the Palestinian natural resources of the Dead Sea area for its own economic profits and therefore can be considered directly responsible for the pillage of the occupied territory’s natural resources in clear violation of customary international law”.

However, in a letter circulated in 2010, Ahava said: “The mud and minerals used in Ahava’s cosmetic products are not excavated in an occupied area. The minerals are mined in the Israeli part of the Dead Sea, which is undisputed internationally.”

Ahava did not respond to a request for comment on the al-Haq report.

The land along the Dead Sea shore was classified as “Area C” in the 1993 Oslo accords, in which Israel has full military and administrative control. Much of the land has been declared or registered as “state land”, which has “dispossessed Palestinians of extensive portions of the Dead Sea land, effectively depriving them of the possibility of benefiting from [its] natural resources,” according to the report.

Al-Haq says “Israel is openly in violation of its obligations under international and humanitarian law as an occupying power … because it is encouraging and facilitating the exploitation of Palestinian natural resources and actively assisting their pillaging by private actors.” It cites The Hague regulations and the statute of the international criminal court.

In a statement, the Israeli foreign ministry said that, under the Oslo accords, Israel had territorial jurisdiction that includes land, subsoil and territorial waters in Area C. It “therefore would be entitled to licence a company to excavate mud in that area if it chose to do so”.

The al-Haq report calls on the European Union to adopt restrictions on the import of Israeli products originating from settlements, and urges cosmetic retailers to provide clear information about the origin of products they sell to allow consumers to make an informed choice about purchases.

(www.guardian.co.uk / 03.09.2012)

Israel to Demolish Houses south of Hebron

HEBRON, September 3, 2012 (WAFA) – The Israeli authorities Monday handed residents of Khirbet Tuba, a locale east of the town of Yatta, south of Hebron, demolition orders of several houses and the solar cell in the area, according to a local activist.

The Popular Committee Coordinator in Yatta, Rateb al-Jabour told WAFA that Israeli forces stormed the locale and handed its residents demolition orders of several houses, in addition to the removal of a solar cell belonging to two families in the area.

(english.wafa.ps/ / 03.09.2012)

Settlers are to Occupy a Room in a Palestinian Home in Ras El-Amud

For the settlers of Ras El-Amud in East Jerusalem, even 15 sq.m. room in an inhabited Palestinian apartment is enough in order to create facts on the ground. According to the court’s ruling, starting from tomorrow, September 2, the settlers are allowed to occupy one room at the Hamdallah family house in East Jerusalem. One who doesn’t know the story of the settlement in East Jerusalem may ask why would the settlers insist on entering such a small room in a Palestinian house and spend thousands of Shekels in many years of legal struggle. However, in East Jerusalem, this is how it works: This way, the life of the Hamdallah’s will become even more miserable, and with time, so hope the settlers, they will give up and leave the house. As soon as they leave, the settlers may replace the house with 20 new housing units.

The Hamdallah house and the settlement in Ras El-Amud

The Hamdallah house is a strategic spot for the settlers, it is adjacent to Ma’ale Zeitim A, a settlement of 50 units, that was completed in 2003, and Ma’ale Zeitim B of another 60 units that was completed last year. The third phase of the settlement, Ma’ale Zeitim C, of another 20 units, is planned to replace the Palestinian home. As long as the Hamdallah family stays at home, this plan cannot be implemented.

Tomorrow, The war of attrition against the Hamdallah’s, is about to enter another very hard period for the family. Starting from tomorrow, there are going to be settlers in their house, coming in and out, bringing guards, maybe arranging events or provocations, and the family will need to digest and try to live normal life.

Implementing the “Right of Return” for Jews
The settlers base their claim on the fact the land was owned by Jews before 1948, and now should return to the original Jewish owners. The Palestinian family managed to convince the judge that they have full rights in the house due to the long time that passed since the settlers got the ownership and the date when they first started the eviction procedures in court. However, few years ago, the settlers claimed that one room of the house was built after the limitation time and therefore, should pass to their hands. Two weeks ago the court ruled that the 15 sq.m room and a few meters of the backyard, belongs to the settlers and starting of tomorrow, they are allowed to move in.

To me, it is another example of how the occupation affects our moral judgment and even threatens the very legitimacy of our basic claims. Israel has been rightfully claiming that the solution for the Palestinian refugees issue will not be solved by implementation of the full right of return to the properties they lost in the 1948 war, because this would undermine the right of the Jews for self determination. However, the settlers, with their messianic fight to take over Palestinian properties, are ready to use the “right of return” argument for Jewish properties that were lost during the 1948 war, while prevent such a right from the Palestinians.

(settlementwatcheastjerusalem.wordpress.com / 02.09.2012)

Military & Settler Vandalism Escalates as Court Battle over South Hebron Hills Heats Up

We continue to follow, report and support the struggle of the Palestinian residents of the West Bank’s southernmost region, to continue living on their ancestral lands which they legally own.

One would think that in an enlightened society such a simple request would be guaranteed beyond doubt. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. For an entire generation, the Occupation regime, aided and egged on by the settlers that regime has introduced into the region, has been trying to uproot a few thousand indigenous residents. The mechanisms have ranged from military edicts, bad-faith legalistic arguments in court, pressure on the ground, and naked violence and vandalism.

On the court front, residents have last week achieved what seems like a minor victory. The Occupation regime now insists that “only” 8 Massafer-Yatta villages be evacuated and destroyed, instead of the 12 that the original 1999 edict declared to be part of an IDF “firing range”. According to lawyers who represent the residents, during the court battle the regime offered this reduction from 12 to 8 in exchange for stopping the struggle. Now the regime has been (apparently) forced to do so in exchange for nothing. The regime probably sees now that its flimsy – no, outrageous – arguments that it can declare a “firing range” over an entire stretch of populated land and pretend the people there have never existed, has very little chance of winning the day, even in the skewed playing field of Israel’s own courts. Therefore, it perhaps tries to appear more “rational” and “reasonable” by excluding 4 villages from the count. The High Court has responded by erasing the original 12-village petition, and inviting plaintiffs to resubmit an adjusted one for the 8 villages within several months, without any impact on their petition rights.

That victory noted, the IDF still controls the region very tightly, and has continued to try and inflict misery and intimidation upon residents, in the hope that they leave of their own accord. This summer’s campaign has started, as reported here, withsweeping evacuation and demolition decrees, in apparent violation of the pending court case. Now, during the first week of August the IDF raided two of the 4 villagesremoved from its evacuation edict! Then, on August 7 it raided Jinba village, which is among the 8 still included in the court case. Images of this “heroic” use of military might and resources against defenseless civilians, are below.

The pictures were taken in Jinba by Btselem activists, and transmitted to us by Guy Butavia. The raids were implemented using helicopters, which landed and took off in the village 6 times.

The cave dwellers’ hamlet of Jinba is one of the largest and oldest of this type of locality in the cave region of the South Hebron Hills\Massafer Yatta region. This being summer, many children who normally stay in Yatta during the school year (because no adequate secondary school exists in the cave-dwelling region) were in the village. The residents’ sheep, as usual, were also around, receiving the military’s attention as well:

Intimidation alone was not enough for the brave soldiers, so they also tossed out the contents of some closets, and spilled large jugs of milk and cream.

Amira Hass reported this raid on Haaretz, but apparently that newspaper’s English mirror is now attempting again to charge a premium for reading the only somewhat-independent mainstream Israeli source for news on the Occupation.

Then, on August 16, the region’s settlers once again pitched in. As Operation Dove reports:

In the afternoon of August 16th some Palestinians discovered that an olive grove situated in Humra valley had been recently destroyed during the night, according to a Palestinian. Thirty olive trees were broken or severely damaged. The olive grove belongs to a Palestinian family that lives in Yatta, a Palestinian town close to At-Tuwani. The area in which the olives trees were cut is located in front of Havat Ma’on, an illegal outpost.

The amount of Palestinian trees tore down and damaged [in the region] since January 2012 rises to 97: a largest number is located in Humra valley. The olive grove’s destruction represents several problems of subsistence for Palestinians. Operation Dove has maintained an international presence in At-Tuwani and South Hebron Hills since 2004.

Once again, the settlers and the military Occupation prove in action that they are two arms of the same beast: the beast of nationalist supremacy, dispossession and violence. In addition, over the past few days the military has confiscated private Palestinian vehicles in the region, under the pretext of “unauthorized driving inside a firing range.” The Occupation makes a joke of the concept “issue pending court decision”, and uses its power on the ground to intimidate and forcibly drive people off their land.

So far, the residents, aided by concerned citizens of Israel and around the world, have remained determined to stand up for their rights.

(villagesgroup.wordpress.com / 01.09.2012)

IOF quells two marches in Beit Ummar and Yatta in al-Khalil


AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) suppressed on Saturday two marches against the segregation wall and settlements in the towns of Beit Ummar and Yatta in al-Khalil south of the occupied West Bank.

The IOF soldiers assaulted participants in the weekly march of Beit Ummar organized on the confiscated lands of the citizens near Karmi Tsur settlement, North of al-Khalil.

Ahmed Abu Hashem, the secretary of the National Committee against the Wall and the Settlements in the town, said in press releases that the Israeli soldiers used tear gas and stun grenades to attack the demonstrators injuring a number of them.

The demonstrators raised slogans in solidarity with the hunger striking prisoners, especially prisoner Hassan al-Safadi, and in rejection of the Jewish settlers continued attacks in different parts of the West Bank.

The Israeli troops also suppressed on Saturday another anti wall and settlements march in the region of Al Hamra in a village eastern Yatta, south of al-Khalil.

Ahmed Rabi, one of the participants in the march, told PIC’s reporter that “the residents of the village organized the march in collaboration with community organizations and foreign peace activists”.

He said that the residents wanted to protest the settlers’ recent attacks in Masafer Yatta after they had uprooted more than 100 olive trees and sprayed toxic substances on the citizens’ plantations under the protection of Israeli soldiers.

Ahmed added that the soldiers quelled the march and used force to disperse protestors.

(www.palestine-info.co.uk / 01.09.2012)

Arrigoni’s murder trial: Answers not just a verdict

Vittorio Arrigoni sent daily dispatches to Italian media from the Gaza Strip during Israel’s ‘Operation Cast Lead.’

There was once a young man from a very small Italian town called Bulciago who wished to change the world. As soon as he finished his exams, he began his quest. He traveled near and far, and when he arrived in Jerusalem in 2002, he knew he had found his calling.

In 2008, that young man, Vittorio Arrigoni, sailed the high seas on a small boat. His purpose was to help end the siege imposed on a long-suffering population living in the tiny Gaza Strip. In a journal entry that was recently published in a much anticipated book, Freedom Sailors, Arrigoni wrote:

“History is us; History is not cowardly governments; with their loyalty to whoever has the strongest military; History is made by ordinary people.”

Vittorio’s history sees “ordinary people” as actors who can change the world: courageous sailors who can challenge great military powers, doctors dashing through borders and saving lives, writers, teachers, speakers, musicians and people from all backgrounds.

Vittorio’s middle name was Utopia, but his was hardly a utopian undertaking. It was very much real, and Vittorio was himself charting the way for others.

Once in Gaza, he was determined to see his mission through to the very end, despite having many compelling reasons to leave. In September 2008, he was injured by the Israeli navy as he accompanied Palestinian fishermen in Gaza’s territorial waters. A month later he was arrested — or more likely, kidnapped — by the Israeli military, and subsequently deported.

A month later he returned, just in time to report on the so-called Operation Cast Lead. This was a one-sided war on Gaza between December 2008 and January 2009, following the failure of the siege to achieve Israel’s political objectives. The 22-day war killed over 1,400 people and wounded thousands more.

Vittorio was there to witness it all. As many turned the war off and on through their remote controls, Vittorio was accompanying ambulances in middle of the night, comforting the wounded, weeping with the bereaved, calling on the world to help, and surviving the war himself.

He sent daily dispatches to Italian media, blogged on his website and wrote to friends the world over. His book, Restiamo Umani (Stay Human) offers a glimpse into the courageous man’s experiences. In his first entry, he wrote as an Italian activist. By the end, he was a Palestinian man besieged in Gaza.

In the eyes of some, he was dangerous. A US-based far-right website called for his murder. It was not Vittorio the person that alarmed Israel, but the notion of what he and others like him symbolized — a challenge to the predictability of a conflict between a powerful oppressor and a powerless but defiant oppressed.

As far as Israel was concerned, an idealist from a northern Italian town had no business being in Gaza, where people are indefinitely caged in an open air prison. Neither Vittorio nor any other international activist was supposed to disturb the inhumane experiment.

Yet, Vittorio’s story had a most unexpected twist. In April 2011, he was kidnapped and murdered. His murderers were Palestinians from Gaza, commanded by a mysterious Jordanian character whose origins and motives remain unclear. It was a horrifying, anti-climactic end to a story that was never intended to turn so wrong.

It took Palestinian society a long time to reconcile with the fact that Vittorio’s murderers were in fact Gazans, while others gloated with triumph. Vittorio’s very detractors were leading a media war defaming Palestinians, international activists and the supposedly misguided Italian who believed that the ordinary could change history.

Writing in the Jewish Chronicle, historian Geoffrey Alderman stated: “Few events — not even the execution of Osama bin Laden — have caused me greater pleasure in recent weeks than news of the death of the Italian so-called ‘peace activist’ Vittorio Arrigoni.” Pleasure at the killing of a peace activist is fully consistent with Israel’s ceaseless efforts at “discouraging” international activists from showing solidarity to Palestinians.

Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since the breakup with rival Fatah in 2007, seemed genuine in its attempt to capture Vittorio’s killers. An investigation quickly pointed at Salafi groups, Tawhid and Jihad, Army of Islam and others.

A manhunt followed, leading to the killing of a Jordanian citizen, Abbad al-Rahman al-Brizat, and Palestinian refugee, Balal al-Omari. Others were captured, and in September 2011, a trial began.

The trial of Vittorio’s alleged killers has not exactly been a model of transparency. On Sept. 4, a verdict is scheduled to be handed down to four men accused of involvement in the murder. Al-Brizat, the Jordanian man, was perhaps the most important key in the trial. He is gone now, and allegations that his true aim was to exchange Vittorio for an imprisoned Salafi leader, Hisham al-Saedni remain unverified.

Just 11 days before Vittorio’s murder, another activist, Juliano Mer-Khamis, was murdered in Jenin, in the West Bank. The timing of the killings is puzzling and suggests a larger plot. Hamas and other Palestinian officials suggested hidden Israeli hands in both the vile acts, but the thread is yet to be found and unraveled.

Earlier this month, Hamas freed al-Maqdissi — the man the supposed Jihadists wanted to free — citing lack of evidence. A few days later, following the murder of Egyptian soldiers in Sinai, it cracked down on his group. The plot here starts to thicken beyond the ability of any straightforward narrative to explain all the missing links.

On Sept. 4, four men will be awaiting the verdict of a Gaza military court. But much more will be on trial that day, not least the credibility of Gaza’s legal system. Many questions will need to be answered to truly understand what is transpiring in the Gaza Strip, and who is behind the hidden agendas.

The killing of Vittorio was intended to not only kill him as a person. It was also meant to destroy the very idea that sailed with him and his friends to Gaza in 2008: that ordinary people are history and that they, and only they, will eventually make the difference in a world ruled by sheer interests and military might.

Yes, justice for Vittorio Utopia Arrigoni is paramount, but we expect the Gaza government to hand down more than a verdict, but answers to those trying to kill Vittorio’s dream — along with our humanity.

(www.maannews.net / 01.09.2012)