Israel warns of possible attack during Eid

Israel’s Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilnai said on Tuesday that a cell of more than 10 militants is dwelling in Sinai ahead of a plan to attack Israel, the Jerusalem Post reported.

“Islamic Jihad is trying for a long time to perpetrate the attacks from the Sinai and the Eid al-Fitr is a good time for attacks. The defense establishment has concrete intelligence regarding plans by a terror cell from the Sinai consisting of more than 10 people,” Vilnai was quoted as saying by the Post.

Israel’s warning follows rising alerts after eight Israelis were killed in Eilat when militants – who allegedly crossed in from Sinai – attacked the area on 18 August.

Israeli forces have been touring the border area and, on the same day of the attack, crossed into Egypt and killed five Egyptian officers in friendly fire. The event spurred a diplomatic crisis between the two countries.

“This morning we are on high alert in the south, against a possible attack, similar in part to the attack which occurred 10 days ago. Readiness is very high. We are determined to strike at those carrying out the attacks, to take action as much as possible to intercept the attack and we are reiterating that responsibility stems from the Gaza Strip. It is not just Islamic Jihad but also Hamas,” the Israeli daily Haaretz quoted Defense Minister Ehud Barak as saying.

Israel reinforced its border presence on Monday, according to the Post and other Israeli media, and informed the Egyptian military of its new deployment. Israeli roads running alongside the border were also closed in anticipation of potential attacks.

Haaretz also reported defensive preparations in case attackers launch their strikes from the Gaza Strip through a tunnel. Israeli forces also strengthened their naval presence in the Gulf of Eilat in case attacks are launched from the Red Sea Front.

Haaretz added that it is rare that such intelligence information is leaked to the media, but it is perhaps meant to preempt the militants.

The Post reported that Israel is restraining itself from taking action against the Islamic Jihad militants in Gaza by not launching a high-scale campaign in the area, in respect for Egypt’s interim rulers.

(www.almasryalyoum.com / 30.08.2011)

“FIQH OF RAMADAN” Class 9 – ‘Fiqh of Eid’

 

 

FIQH OF EID

This is a little longer than usual but InshaAllah very beneficial and useful for every muslim around the world. This is our Last class for “FIQH OF RAMADAN” InshaAllah we will have the Final Exam on the Complete course on Frday the 29th of July’11.

ZAKATUL-FITR

There is a Zakat payment due at the end of the month of fasting, called Ramadhan. The day that it is due is called ‘Eidul-Fitr, which is a day of celebrating the end of the fast. One of the Prophet’s Companions named Ibn ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with them both, said:

“Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon Him) enjoined the payment of one Sa’ of dates or one Sa’ of barley as Zakatul-Fitr on every Muslim, slave or free, male or female, young or old, and he ordered that it be paid before the people went out to offer the ‘Eid prayer.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Rulings on zakaat al-fitr

The correct view is that it is fard (obligatory), because Ibn ‘Umar said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) made zakaat al-fitr obligatory,” and because of the consensus of the scholars (ijmaa’) that it is fard.

(Al-Mughni, part 2, Baab Sadaqat al-Fitr).

The Wisdom Behind Zakatul-Fitr

Zakatul-Fitr purifies the fasting person from whatever shortcomings, such as foul or unnecessary speech, that he might have indulged in during his fast. It also saves the poor people from the humiliation of asking people for help on the day of the ‘Eid. One of the Prophet’s Companions named Ibn ‘Abbas, may Allah be pleased with them both, said: The Messenger of Allah enjoined Zakatul-Fitr as a redemption for the fasting person from unnecessary or foul speech and as a food for the poor.” (Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah)

Who is obliged to pay it?

A man has to pay on behalf of himself and his wife – even if she has money of her own – and his children and parents if they are poor, and his daughter if she is married but the marriage has not yet been consummated. If his son is rich, he does not have to give zakaat al-fitr on his behalf. A husband has to give zakaat al-fitr on behalf of a divorced wife whose divorce (talaaq) is not yet final (i.e., she is still in the ‘iddah of a first or second talaaq), but not in the case of a rebellious wife or one whose divorce is final. A son does not have to give zakaat al-fitr on behalf of a poor father’s wife because he is not obliged to spend on her.

[When giving zakaat al-fitr], one should start with the closest people first, so he gives it on behalf of himself, then his wife, then his children, then the rest of his relatives in order of closeness, following the pattern laid out in the rules governing inheritance.

What Should be Given as Zakatul-Fitr

The amount to be given is one saa’ of food, according to the measure of saa’ used by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), because of the following hadeeth.

– Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: At the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) we used to give it in the form of a saa’ of food…” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 1412).

A saa’ is approximately equivalent to three kilograms of rice.

As for giving zakaat al-fitr in the form of money, this is not permissible at all, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said that it must be given in the form of food, not money. He clearly stated that it is to be given in the form of food, so it is not permissible to give it in any other form and Islam wants it to be given openly, not secretly. The Sahaabah gave zakaat al-fitr in the form of food, and we should follow, not innovate.

 

 

The time for giving zakaat al-fitr

It should be given before the Eid prayer, as is stated in the hadeeth that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) “commanded that it should be given before the people went out to pray.”

(Al-Bukhaari, 1407).

The best time to pay Zakatul-Fitr is the time from dawn on ‘Eid until just before the ‘Eid prayer. However, those who give it before the morning of the ‘Eid (i.e. a day or two before the ‘Eid) have properly fulfilled the obligation. Those who give it away after the ‘Eid prayer, it is considered as a voluntary charity (Sadaqah) only. In other words it is not counted as Zakatul-Fitr.

It is disliked (makrooh) to delay giving it until after Salaat al-‘Eid; some scholars said that this is haraam and is counted as qadaa’ (making up a duty that has not been performed on time), on the basis of the hadeeth, “Whoever pays it before the prayer, it is an accepted zakaat, and whoever pays it after the prayer, it is just a kind of charity.”

(Reported by Abu Dawood, 1371).

The Recipients of Zakatul-Fitr

Zakatul-Fitr is paid to the same eight categories of people who are eligible to receive the Zakat on wealth, as we explained before. The poor and the needy are the most deserving people for Zakatul-Fitr.

 

EID PRAYER

Sunnahs of Idul-Fitr Prayer

On the first day of Shawwal (the month that follows Ramadan) the person goes to the ‘id Mosque or praying ground having undertaken the following recommended acts:

  • Total ablution (Ghusl).
  • Dressed in the best of clothes (preferably new clothing).
  • Assumed a breaking of the Fast by eating at least a few pieces of dates. This is in accordance with the tradition of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and an odd number is preferred i.e. 3, 5, 7, 9 and so on.
  • It is Sunnah to say Takbeer loudly when leaving our homes to go to Eid Prayer.
  • The Sunnah for Eid Prayers is to pray in the Musallah (that is in an uncovered place) and not in the Masjid. The Prophet [pbuh] never prayed Eid Prayer in the Masjid
  • It is the practice (Sunnah) to head to the ‘id praying center by walking. Upon arrival at the place of prayer the person sits and waits for the prayer to begin.

Prayer of Eid ul-Fitr

1. After about 20 minutes from clear sun rise, the imam stands up for the prayer and loudly signifies the entering into prayer by reciting the “Takbiiratil lhraam” that is “ALLAHU AKBAR”. The whole congregation also follows suit by reciting the “Takbiiratil-lhraam”.

2. As usual, with any other prayer, the person thereafter comes up with the opening supplication known as “DUA AL ISTIFTAAH”.

3. After that, the Imam says “ALLAHU AKBAR” 6 more times and the congregation would follow likewise.

4. After completing the recitations of the words of greatness which total up to seven, the Imam would then seek the protection of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) from the cursed satan in a low voice by saying “AUTHU B’LJBILLAHI MINASH SHAYTANIRRRAJIIM”. He would thereafter silently invoke Allah’s name by saying: “BISMILLAHIR- RAHMANI-R–RAHIIM” and then recite “AL FATIHAH” (the opening chapter of the Holy Qur’an) in a loud voice. The followers (congregation) would then say “Ameen” together loudly after the Imam completes reciting the “Al Fatihah”. Each follower would then recite “Al-Fatihah” silently. It is recommended that the Imam thereafter recites the whole of chapter 87 of the Holy Qur’an i.e. “SA BIHISMA ” (Glorified be the name of thy Lord, the Most high). The followers are required to listen to the Imam’s recitation.

5. The Imam then raises his hands up to the level of his shoulders or ears performs “Rukuu” saying “ALLAHU AKBAR.” ‘Thereafter he raises his head up from bowing saying “SAMI’A ALLAHU LIMAN HAMIDA” followed by the congregation saying “RABBANNA WALAKAL HAMD”. The Imam and the congregation thereafter proceed to prostration saying “ALLAHU AKBAR”.

6. After the prostration, the Imam would resume the standing position for the second rakaat and the congregation would follow him up accordingly.

7. Thereafter, the Imam would say “ALLAHU AKBAR” 5 times and the congregation would perform likewise, and would recite the private supplication between each “Takbiir” as already discussed in point 4 above.

8. Then, the Imam recites “AL-FATIHAH” and for this second rakaat it is preferred that he thereafter recites the whole of chapter 88 of the Holy Qur’an i.e. “Al Ghasiya”, (The Disaster) and the congregation would listen attentively.

9. Thereafter, the Imam completes the Rukuu (bowing) and Sujuud (prostration) positions in the manner already discussed and sits back for the words of witness “At-Tashahud”. Then, the Imam concludes the prayer with the words of peace i.e. “ASSALAMU ALEYKUM WA RAHMATULLAH” and of course, the entire congregation would follow the Imam in all these acts as is the custom in all prayers.

  • After concluding the prayer, the Imam would climb the pulpit to deliver the ‘Festival Sermon’, and starts the same with nine recitations of “ALLAHU AKBAR” with the congregation saying after him the same. After listening to the sermon, the congregation disperses. Listening to the sermon is not obligatory but is recommended.
  • Jabir reported: “The Prophet [pbuh] used to come back from Eid-al-Fitr on a path other than the one used in going to it.” [Bukhaari]

Idul-Adha Prayer

“IDUL ADHA”, (Feast of Immolation) prayer is performed on the 10th day of the 12th month of Islamic “Hijra” Calendar and is performed exactly in the same manner as enumerated and discussed above for the ‘Idul Fitr Prayer

Women going for Eid Prayer

It is not obligatory for women, but it is Sunnah. Women should offer this prayer in the prayer-place with the Muslims, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) enjoined them to do that.

According to a report narrated by al-Tirmidhi: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to bring out the virgins, adolescent girls, women in seclusion and menstruating women on the two Eids, but the menstruating women were to keep away from the prayer place and witness the gathering of the Muslims. One of them said, “O Messenger of Allaah, what if she does not have a jilbaab?” He said, “Then let her sister lend her one of her jilbaabs.” (Agreed upon).

Based on the above, it is clear that for women to go out and attend the Eid prayers is a confirmed Sunnah, but that is subject to the condition that they do not go out unveiled or making a wanton display of themselves, as is known from other evidence.

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TIPS FOR TEST

1. Very important note for all of us to know before Eid.

2. Remember the rulings of Zakat-ul-Fitr.

3. Remember the Sunnahs of Salatul Eid-ul-Fitr.

Happy Learning… JazakAllah Khair…As Salam  Alaikum Wa Rahmatullaahi Wa Barakaatuhu 🙂

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Please Share the note on your walls so that our Brothers & Sisters who are not part of the course can also benefit InshaAllah.

(Facebook / Learn Islam (Short Courses) op maandag 25 juli 2011 / 30.08.2011)

The Survivor

In a region beset by conflict and revolution, the enigmatic king of Morocco has managed to retain control, even as his subjects protested.

As Arab rulers go, Mohammed VI, the 48-year-old king of Morocco, seems at times like the region’s most reluctant autocrat. When inheriting power from his repressive father 12 years ago, he refused to move to the royal palace, preferring his own private home. In the first years of his reign, he fired the regime’s most hated government figures and released high-profile dissidents. So when the king promised a new constitution earlier this year in response to protests, many Moroccans believed he might actually deliver what demonstrators were demanding: a real parliamentary democracy with a figurehead monarch, as in Spain or the U.K. “It felt like things were shifting,” says Ali Amar, a journalist and the author of an unsanctioned biography of Mohammed VI.

But appearances in the royal palace can be deceiving, as Moroccans told me repeatedly during a visit to the country recently. The new constitution Mohammed unveiled earlier this summer fell short of expectations. To critics, it mostly seemed to reinforce what Moroccans call the makhzen system of royal privilege—leaving the king firmly in control.

Seven months after Arabs across the region began rising up against their leaders, the regimes touched by the upheaval can be divided into two groups: those that crumbled quickly (Tunisia, Egypt) and those still fighting back (Libya, Yemen, Syria). Morocco represents a third category, a regime that promised to embrace the demands of the protesters, bought time by forming a committee, and ultimately withheld real democracy. For now, at least, the strategy is working. The protests across the country have mostly subsided, and the king’s new constitution won huge support in a national referendum last month. “In terms of short-term maneuvering, it was very clever,” says Karim Tazi, a businessman and outspoken critic of the king.

At the center of it all is a figure who remains largely an enigma at home and abroad, who gives almost no interviews (he turned down Newsweek’s repeated requests), and whose lifestyle, as depicted in the pages of Morocco’s small but feisty independent press, seems like an imperial rendering of the American television show Entourage. Mohammed surrounds himself with former high-school buddies, throws million-dollar parties for American celebrities such as Sean Combs, and travels with his personal bed in tow. He also owns much of Morocco’s economy, either outright or through holding companies. A 2007 study by Forbes listed him as the world’s seventh-wealthiest monarch, with an estimated fortune of $2 billion. By comparison, Queen Elizabeth II is worth $600 million.

And yet Mohammed is unquestionably different from his Arab counterparts. For one thing, he is genuinely popular in Morocco, where the monarchy dates back 400 years and is respected for, among other things, having negotiated the country’s independence from France. He’s also less repressive than most Arab leaders. In a region of police states, his regime prefers co-opting opponents to jailing them. Even his excessive wealth seems to generate less resentment than other kleptocracies, though poverty and unemployment run high. “He’s very close to his people,” says Andre Azoulay, a top adviser to the king whom I met one morning at a hotel in Rabat. “He’s not a clone of his father. He’s doing very well.”

In many ways, Mohammed VI is in fact the opposite of his father. Slim, eloquent, and ruthless, Hassan II ruled Morocco for nearly four decades, jailing thousands and surviving both coups and assassination attempts. To his countrymen, Hassan was the towering figure who stabilized the country—often brutally—after Morocco won its freedom from France. To Mohammed, he was an abusive son of a bitch, Amar the biographer told me during a recent walk through the Rabat royal palace, where the prince was raised. When the son acted out, the king had him beaten in front of his harem at the palace, a walled compound with arched gateways and rows of bronze cannons. When, as a teenager, he crashed one of his father’s cars, Hassan threw him in the royal jail for 40 days.

Malika Oufkir witnessed the relationship between the father and his young son up close. The daughter of a top palace official, Oufkir lived in the Rabat palace until Mohammed turned 7. She says Hassan’s harsh discipline made the young prince turn inward. “He was this very sweet, very shy little boy,” Oufkir told me. “His father was an extrovert, but he grew up to be just the opposite.” And she personally experienced Hassan’s brutality. Oufkir’s father was a general in Morocco and later served as the interior minister, a position that made him the second-most-powerful man in the country. When he organized a coup in 1972—ordering military jets to strafe the king’s plane on its return from Paris to Rabat—Hassan had him executed. The king then jailed the 19-year-old Oufkir, her mother, and her five younger siblings in secret prisons for more than 15 years. In her memoir, Oufkir described near starvation, beatings, and a suicide attempt. “We had no part in the coup, we were just kids,” she says. “The king was extremely vengeful.”

He was also extremely controlling. Hassan handpicked Mohammed’s classmates, choosing the smartest and most well connected in the country, plucking them from their families to live in the palace. The separation, Amar told me, helped create a lifelong fealty to the future king. It was also a way of consolidating the crown’s alliances with disparate clans and regions.

For the prince, by now rebellious against his father and increasingly spiteful, this band of orphans became his crew. Some of them followed him to France where, in his 20s, Mohammed was a regular at the nightclubs. “He was quiet, but he could [also] be very witty, very engaging,” one friend who regularly attended parties with the prince told me on condition of anonymity. “He would tell these interesting stories about his life as a child, about meeting the Kennedys and attending de Gaulle’s funeral.” When Mohammed VI ascended to the throne in 1999, the friends came along.

The succession raised expectations. As king, Mohammed seemed to distance himself from his father’s policies. He talked about promoting democracy and made some changes, including an unprecedented expansion of women’s rights. But the new spirit was quickly eclipsed by an old institution. “At some point, the king just shrank back into the makhzen system,” says Tazi, the businessman, who likens the layers of advisers, friends, and assorted opportunists around the king to a large octopus with enough tentacles to reach into the pockets of all Moroccans. “When King Hassan died, the octopus lost its head, because the new king refused to join the body. The system was dying,” he says. “And then setbacks happened and the body took back its head and the two merged very harmoniously.”

Mohammed is neither a gifted orator nor a political strategist, two areas in which his father excelled. Instead, he’s focused on expanding the crown’s investments and his own personal wealth. Though precise figures are hard to come by, his holding companies are known to have large stakes in nearly every sector of the Moroccan economy from the food and banking industries to real estate, mining, and manufacturing, according to analysts who study Morocco’s financial structures. As the portfolios have expanded, so have the allegations of corruption.

An American diplomat in Casablanca wrote in a cable to the State Department in 2009 about the “appalling greed” of those close to Mohammed. Made public by WikiLeaks last year, the cable said the royal family used state institutions to “coerce and solicit” bribes. When I visited Tazi at the office of his mattress company in Casablanca, he told me he regularly pays bribes just to get his merchandise delivered to customers around the county. “It’s a multimillion-dollar business taking place every day, and the profits trickle up to the top of the ladder.”

People close to the king say his investments help the country by conveying confidence in the Moroccan economy. That may well be true. Foreign investment is up in Morocco, and the country’s GDP growth has averaged 5 percent since Mohammed was enthroned, according to Communications Minister Khalid Naciri, who acts as the Moroccan government’s spokesman. “Morocco remains a country of great political and economic openness,” he wrote me in an email.

But economic growth can sometimes hide the real story. In a report issued this year, Transparency International ranked Morocco 85 on its corruption scale, with higher numbers indicating greater corruption. By comparison, it listed Tunisia at 59. While some Moroccans have certainly benefited from the growth spurts, the rising disparity between rich and poor has left many more people frustrated. “If only a few people are better off as a result of economic growth, then strong GDP figures don’t make a country stable,” says Shadi Hamid, a Mideast expert with the Brookings Institution. “On the contrary, they can actually contribute to a revolutionary situation.”

Among Moroccan businessmen, the king’s direct involvement in the economy is no secret. (One of his holding companies is called Siger—an inversion of the Latin word regis, meaning “of the king.”) Many prefer to avoid investing in areas where the royal palace already has holdings, fearing the king’s power and influence would put them at a disadvantage. As a result, companies owned by the crown are often monopolies or near monopolies, says Aboubakr Jamai, who published the weekly Le Journal Hebdomadaire until it folded last year. “So even if you set aside the political aspect, the moral aspect, the ethical aspect, it’s not optimal economically,” he says. (Naciri responded that “the new constitution has also provided serious mechanisms to protect free competition and private initiatives.”)

The first big demonstrations in Morocco occurred on Feb. 20, five weeks after Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali fled Tunisia and just nine days after Egyptians ousted Hosni Mubarak—a particularly euphoric moment that preceded fighting in Syria and Libya. Several Moroccan protesters told me they felt a little embarrassed about coming late to the party. Though firmly rooted in the Arab world, many Moroccans pride themselves on the fact that their country is more open and liberal than most others in the region. On more than one occasion while there, I heard people describe the Straits of Gibraltar, which separate Morocco from Spain, as a geographical accident. That other Arab countries might embrace a European-style democracy before Morocco seemed like an affront to many protesters.

In his speech just two and a half weeks after that first protest, Mohammed promised a new constitution that would guarantee “good governance, human rights, and the protection of liberties.” Members of the drafting committee he appointed took a full three months to formulate the document. By the time it was ready, Moroccans could see the results of other protests in the region: stalled revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia and bloody wars of attrition elsewhere. On July 1, Mohammed’s revised constitution sailed through a referendum vote. In an email, Naciri described the reallocation of powers in the constitution as “very deep and serious.” But an issue of the privately owned magazine TelQuel summed it up with this cover line: “New constitution—more king than ever.”

Whether the vote marks the end of the revolutionary spasm in Morocco is now hotly debated. Tahar Ben Jelloun, the country’s most celebrated poet and writer, believes the protests have left an indelible mark on Morocco. He also thinks the king is committed to changing the system. “People are impatient. It’s normal they would want the kind of reforms that will rapidly change their lives. But democracy is a culture that needs time and education.” But Hamid, the Brookings analyst, disagrees. “I’m not going to deny there are reforms, but that’s the strategy these regimes use,” he told me. “They never end up redistributing power away from the king.”

On one of my last days in Morocco, Amar drove me to a parking lot in downtown Rabat to see Mohammed’s car collection. Behind the eucalyptus trees, I glimpsed a three-story building of marble and glass where hundreds of cars were kept, including Mohammed’s favored Ferrari and Aston Martin. When the Aston Martin needed servicing two years ago, Amar told me, Mohammed ordered the air force to fly it to London in a cargo plane, though there are plenty of able mechanics in his own country. We lingered for a few moments until a policeman emerged from a guard booth and motioned for us to leave. The details of Mohammed’s wealth are well covered in Amar’s book, a fact that led the regime to ban it. Yet incredibly, it has sold 30,000 copies in France, which has a large Moroccan population. Whenever Amar’s abroad, he lines his suitcase with copies and brings them back to Morocco, in a private battle against the government censor. A few months ago, a customs agent caught sight of the books in a scanner. But the punishment he imposed was reasonable—and perhaps telling: all he asked for was a copy of the book.

(www.thedailybeast.com / 30.08.2011)

Jewish settlers attack Qasra village and damage hundreds of olive trees

NABLUS, (PIC)– Jewish settlers attacked on Monday evening the village of Qasra to the south east of the northern West Bank city of Nablus and inflicted damage  on a number of fields planted with olive trees.

Ghassan Daghlas, in charge of settlements file in the northern West Bank, said in a press statement that settlers from the Aish Kodesh settlement outpost attacked the village and started inflicting damage to fields planted with olive trees.

He pointed out that this was the second attack by the settlers on the village in 48 hours, as the settlers attacked the village two days earlier and damaged dozens of olive trees before the villages confronted them and chased them away.

Local sources also said that settlers Monday night uprooted 270 olive saplings from villagers fields at the edge of the village and that the settlers’ attacks increased since evening hours.

The sources also said that settlers were throwing stones at Palestinian cars on the road between Nablus and Ramallah and managed to break some car windows.

(occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com / 30.08.2011)

Swedish chain kicks out drink machines made in Israeli settlements

 

Sodastream lists pressure on companies to leave the West Bank as a “risk factor” in its SEC filing.

The summer of 2011 has been a long, hot one for Israeli and international companies complicit in human rights violations in the occupied West Bank.

Facing an intense Europe-wide boycott campaign, Israel’s largest produce exporter, Agrexco, filed for bankruptcy. French multinational Veolia, an urban systems corporation contracted with the Israeli government to provide light rail services for Israeli settlers in the West Bank, announced massive losses due to sustained pressure by activists around the world.

Meanwhile, in Sweden, the Israeli maker of home carbonation devices, Sodastream, took a direct hit when the Coop supermarket chain announced on 19 July that it would stop all purchases of its products due to the company’s activity in illegal Israeli settlements. This marked another important victory for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, as Sweden is Sodastream’s largest market, with an estimated one in five households owning a Sodastream product (“Coop Sweden stops all purchases of Soda Stream carbonation devices,” 21 July 2011).

The Israeli company has been the target of a two-year campaign by Swedish activists who seek to highlight the company’s complicity with the Israeli occupation. The main production facilities for Sodastream are located at Mishor Adumim, the industrial zone of the Israeli settlement Maaleh Adumim in the occupied West Bank.

Sodastream, whose products are sold in 41 countries, has repeatedly attempted to deflect attention from the factory in the occupied West Bank, claiming that it is just one of many around the world.

In an interview last March with the Israeli financial daily The Marker (published by Haaretz), Sodastream CEO Daniel Birnbaum went so far as to say that “all Sodastream products sold in Sweden are made in China, not Israel” (“Sodastream setting up plant within Green Line,” 3 March 2011).

Sodastream’s documents disprove its claims

Sodastream’s own annual report demonstrates Birnbaum’s claims to be patently false. On 30 June, the company filed a report with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), as required for publicly traded companies (Sodastream is listed on NASDAQ). That report describes that the 164,214-square-foot facilities at Mishor Adumim include “a metal factory, plastic and bottle blowing factory, machining factory, assembly factory, cylinder manufacturing facility, CO2 refill line and cylinder retest facility,” while two subcontractors in China produce nothing more than “certain components” for Sodastream products (“Sodastream International Ltd.; Annual report,” 30 June 2011 [PDF]).

The widely-trumpeted “factories around the world” — namely Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden and the United States — are shown in the annual report to be limited to carbon dioxide refilling services.

Coop Sweden initially tried to defend its ties with Sodastream, repeating claims that the products on Swedish retailer shelves were made in China. However, as highlighted in a report presented to Coop by the Palestine Solidarity Association of Sweden (PGS) last January, the main issue was that the company had partnered with Israeli firms complicit in violations of international law (“PGS urges Coop to stop supporting the occupation,” 14 January 2011 [Swedish]).

As the PGS report emphasizes, “[A] product is part of a firm, and if you buy a product from a firm with an unethical operation, then you support the firm’s operation.”

The decision by Coop Sweden, with 21.5 percent of the Swedish grocery retail sector, came after a nationally televised report covering Sodastream’s ongoing operations in Mishor Adumim aired on 4 July. Using information from Israeli journalists and human rights organizations as well as Sodastream’s own corporate data, the TV4 report showed that despite claims to the contrary by both Sodastream and its Swedish distributor, Empire, products sold in Sweden were produced in an illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank. Promises had been made by Empire three years ago that production in the settlement would cease (“TV report: Continued production on occupied land,” 4 July 2011 [Swedish]).

Sodastream taxes finance settlement

Sodastream was a natural choice for the case study in corporate activity in illegal Israeli settlements in the detailed report released in January 2011 by the Who Profits project of the Coalition of Women for Peace in Israel (“Sodastream: A case study for Corporate Activity in Illegal Israeli Settlements,” January 2011 [PDF]).

The report underscores how purchasing Sodastream products directly supports the Maaleh Adumim settlement. In its report Who Profits states that the municipal taxes the company pays are used exclusively to “support the growth and development of the settlement.”

Created in 1974, the illegal industrial park at Mishor Adumim was integral to the establishment of the Maaleh Adumim settlement. The ministerial committee tasked with executing the plan to create the industrial park expropriated an area seven times that originally recommended, stealing lands from the surrounding Palestinian towns of Abu Dis, Azarya, al-Tur, Issawiya, Khan al-Ahmar, Anata and Nabi Moussa. The Who Profits report notes this is “considered the largest single expropriation in the history of the Israeli occupation.”

In addition to the industrial park, the ministerial committee also added a camp to the plan “for workers whose work is in the area.” One year later, the workers’ compound was erected and declared the settlement of Maaleh Adumim, and in 1977 as the Likud party gained power, the Israeli government officially recognized Maaleh Adumim as a “civilian community,” according to a report by Israeli human rights groups B’Tselem and Bimkom (“The Hidden Agenda: The Establishment and Expansion Plans of Ma’ale Adummim and their Human Rights Ramification,” December 2009 [PDF]).

Today, it is Israel’s largest settlement in terms of geographical area and, with 35,000 settlers, third in population. Strategically positioned to link settlements in East Jerusalem to the Jordan Valley, Maaleh Adumim effectively bisects the West Bank, cutting off the north from the south.

Sodastream whitewashes exploitation of Palestinian workers

Meanwhile, the company’s leadership has attempted to paint Sodastream as an attractive place at which Palestinians would be lucky to work.

Sodastream Italy’s marketing director, Petra Schrott, responded with corporate talking points to a question posted on Yahoo Answers last June regarding the company’s West Bank location. Schrott described Sodastream as “a wonderful example of peaceful coexistence” where “160 Palestinians are employed and receive full social and health services” not to mention “daily hot meals” (“A question about Sodastream“ [Italian]).

As the Who Profits report points out, Palestinian workers, left with few choices other than working in settlements due to high unemployment in the West Bank, are “occupied subjects and thus they do not enjoy civil rights, and depend on their employers for work permits.” Efforts by Palestinian workers to organize and demand their due rights often result in the revocation of work permits, leading few to make any requests of their employers at all.

According to the Israeli workers rights organization Kav LaOved, Palestinian workers in Israeli settlements are underpaid, subjected to extensive security checks, exposed to workplace hazards and are left to fend for themselves if injured on the job (“Palestinian Workers in Israeli West Bank Settlements – 2009,” 13 March 2010).

Kav LaOved has assisted workers at the Sodastream factory in their struggle to obtain improved working conditions, better salaries and, at times, unpaid wages.

In 2008, workers complaining of pay far below the required minimum wage and twelve-hour workdays organized a protest at the factory after their appeals for better wages had met with no results. Seventeen workers were fired. It was only after Kav LaOved intervened via letters and meetings with Sodastream management and after Sodastream earned itself unflattering publicity in the Swedish press that the company — begrudgingly — rehired the Palestinian workers and granted them their due rights. However, as Kav LaOved noted, they remain “at the bottom of the hierarchy in the factory and constantly fear their dismissal.”

The story repeated itself in April 2010, when 140 Palestinian workers were fired and not paid their wages for the previous month. Kav LaOved again succeeded in obtaining back pay and in having the workers rehired, except for the two who led the struggle. Since that time, Kav LaOved has been unable to gather any information on working conditions at the Sodastream factory (“Employees at Soda Club fired without wages (follow up report),” 27 April 2010).

Unsurprisingly, the Palestinian workers at the Sodastream factory come from some of the very villages whose land was stolen to create Maaleh Adumim, including Abu Dis and Azarya — Azarya alone lost 57 percent of its village lands.

Greenwashing the occupation

Sodastream markets its products as “eco-friendly.” That’s an idea that is difficult to reconcile with the fact that the very settlement the company financially supports is responsible for “managing” the infamous Abu Dis landfill. That landfill is built on expropriated land from the village of the same name, where garbage from areas in Jerusalem and the surrounding settlements is dumped.

In June 2011, the Jerusalem municipality finally agreed to comply with an order from the Ministry of the Environment filed in October 2010 to reduce the 1,100 tons of waste per day being sent to Abu Dis because the dump was “polluting nearby streams and land” (“J’lem trash crisis solved, Abu Dis dump to be phased out,” The Jerusalem Post, 17 June 2011).

The Abu Dis landfill sits atop the Mountain Aquifer, the primary water source in the occupied West Bank. Under the Oslo accords, the agreement signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in the mid-1990s, Israel is granted four times more of the water from the aquifer than are Palestinians.

Furthermore, Palestinians are required to obtain approval for the development and maintenance of their own water resources from the Joint Water Committee. This joint Israeli-Palestinian committee, however, deals only with water and sewage-related issues within the West Bank, effectively giving Israel exclusive veto power on all decisions on water resource and infrastructure development, including in Oslo-designated areas A and B, areas of the West Bank ostensibly under Palestinian administrative control.

Since Oslo, not one new permit for agricultural wells has been issued and 120 existing Palestinian wells are not functioning for lack of approval for repairs, according to water rights organization Ewash. Palestinians are forced to purchase their own water from the Israeli water utility, Mekerot (“Water resources in the West Bank“ [PDF]).

Settlement investment a “risk factor”

In disclosing risk factors as required in SEC filings, Sodastream listed both remaining in and transferring from Mishor Adumim as potential liabilities. The risks associated with staying include “negative publicity, primarily in Western Europe, against companies with facilities in the West Bank” and “consumer boycotts of Israeli products originating in the West Bank.”

Complying with international law and leaving the illegal settlement, on the other hand, would “limit certain tax benefits” enjoyed by companies in industrial parks in illegal settlements.

However, for more and more companies, those tax incentives fail to compensate for the negative publicity. On 19 July, the multinational corporation Unilever, after unsuccessfully attempting to sell its shares in the company, formally announced plans to move its Bagel and Bagel pretzel factory from the Barkan industrial zone in the Ariel settlement bloc to within the green line, Israel’s internationally-recognized armistice line with the occupied West Bank (“Bagel Bagel leaving territories,” 19 July 2011).

And while the Israel Lands Administration announced tenders for six new factories in Mishor Adumim, Israeli settlement watchdog group Peace Now points out that this is a recycled tender issued under the Olmert administration in 2008, which failed to find any takers (“Boycott Law Passes Knesset – Now Govt Establishes New Factories in Settlements,” Peace Now, 14 July 2011).

Sodastream itself has exhibited signs of bowing to international campaigns against the company. A press release on 6 July announced the groundbreaking of a new factory within the green line. The new facility is expected to begin operations in 2013, the same year the lease on the Mishor plant is due to expire (“SodaStream Announces the Groundbreaking of a New Primary Manufacturing Facility,” 6 July 2011).

In the press release, CEO Birnbaum says the company looks forward to leveraging “free trade agreements with the EU and North America.” In 2010, Sodastream was at the center of a European Court of Justice ruling that declared products originating in the settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories ineligible for preferential trade tariffs under the EU-Israel Agreement. Though several other legal actions were included in Sodastream’s SEC filings, this particular case was conspicuously missing.

Sodastream looking to expand but meets protest

Sodastream is largely an export company with only three percent of sales made in Israel, according to an article published last February on the Israeli promotional site Israel 21c (“Putting the ‘pop’ back into soda pop,” 22 February 2011).

While Sweden is currently Sodastream’s largest market, the advertising blitz taking place in several European countries and the US indicates the company is looking to expand. On 12 July Sodastream announced a 3.4-million euro ($4.9 million) TV ad campaign in the UK, and in Italy a 1.8-million euro ($2.6 million) campaign was announced in June.

Sodastream’s annual report shows its advertising budget more than doubled from 10.5 million euros ($15 million) in 2009 to 21.5 million euros ($31 million) in 2010.

Sodastream identifies the US as its “most important target market” in its annual report and US activists are gearing up to meet the challenge. In a coordinated action last March, a petition with more than 2,500 signatures calling on Bed Bath & Beyond to stop selling Sodastream products (as well as products from Ahava, the settlement-based cosmetics company), was delivered to 15 locations up and down the West Coast, from Seattle to Los Angeles (“Tell Bed Bath & Beyond to Stop Carrying Illegal Settlement Products!”, CodePink).

Earlier this month, a group of activists dressed as brides held a mock wedding inside Bed Bath & Beyond in Los Angeles calling on concerned brides everywhere to strike Sodastream (and Ahava) off their bridal registries (“BDS Brides Boycott SodaStream and Ahava Sales at Bed Bath & Beyond,” YouTube, 12 August 2011).

The recent decision by Coop Sweden, as well as the financial woes of occupation-complicit companies, will give BDS campaigns around the world a boost. And the comments sections for online Sodastream promotional pieces provide a prime space for activists to get the word out on Sodastream’s complicity in human rights violations.

(electronicintifada.net / 30.08.2011)

‘Westerse bedrijven hielpen Kaddafi met web-spionage’

Nog tijdens de opstand tegen kolonel Kaddafi waren westerse bedrijven betrokken bij de spionage door het Libische regime van opstandelingen.

// Dat meldt The Wall Street Journal op basis van gesprekken en bevindingen in Tripoli. De afgelopen maanden maakte Kaddafi de spionage op vermeende opstandelingen via bijvoorbeeld Skype en YouTube topprioriteit, aldus de Amerikaanse krant. Daarbij maakte het regime gebruik van technologie die werd aangeboden door onder meer  Amesys, een onderdeel van het Franse technologiebedrijf Bull en Narus, een bedrijf gespecialiceerd in web-monitoring.

Ook het Chinese ZTE zou diensten en producten die spionage mogelijk maken hebben geleverd aan Kadaffi, evenals het Zuid-Afrikaanse VASTech.

Dossiers

Verslaggevers van The Wall Street Journal in Tripoli beschrijven hoe zij in het gebouw dat het zenuwcentrum vormde voor online spionage,  van plint tot plafond opgestapelde dozen vol dossiers vinden over Libische dissidenten. Zo liggen er prints met letterlijke mailwisseling tussen twee wat bekendere dissidenten, een in Londen en een in Libië, over de hervormingen die een van Kaddafi’s zoons had aangekondigd.

Geen van de westerse bedrijven was bereid commentaar te geven, aldus The Wall Street Journal.

(www.parool .nl / 30.08.2011)

Israeli military arms settlers in preparation for Palestinian protests

West Bank settlers are given training before protests predicted to coincide with a Palestinian petition for UN recognition

The Israeli military is arming and training West Bank settlers in preparation for mass protests by Palestinians that it expects to erupt around the time that the UN is asked to recognise a Palestinian state, according to a leaked document.

Teargas and stun grenades are being distributed and training sessions held with settlement security teams, according to the document obtained by Haaretz.

The army has also drawn lines on maps around Jewish settlements close to Palestinian villages to guide troops, police and settlement security chiefs. Protesters who breach the first line will be subject to teargas and other methods of crowd dispersal. If a second “red line” is crossed, soldiers will be permitted to open fire at protesters’ legs.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) confirmed it was liaising with settlers over Operation Summer Seeds, its codename for the military response to the expected protests. However, Palestinian leaders vigorously deny that violent protests are planned, and the Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, has said he expects September to pass quietly.

In a statement the IDF said: “The IDF maintains an ongoing, professional dialogue with the community leadership and security personnel throughout Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] while devoting great efforts to training local forces and preparing them to deal with any possible scenario.

“Recently, central command has completed training the majority of the first response teams; these exercises are ongoing. Beyond the aforementioned training, the IDF cannot comment further regarding its operational preparedness.”

According to Haaretz, the army has held training sessions for settlement security officers at a military installation near the West Bank settlement of Shiloh.

Settlers are pressing the IDF to issue specific instructions on how they should respond to Palestinian protests, the paper says, but the military advocate general is concerned that such instructions could be interpreted as rules of engagement.

Hagit Ofran, of Peace Now, an Israeli organisation which monitors settlement activity, said: “We hope the army is making clear that non-violent protest is legitimate and no settlers should use any violence against unarmed demonstrators.”

Arik Ascherman of Rabbis for Human Rights said there were already “serious questions and problems” with settlement security officials acting outside their designated boundaries. “We’re very concerned that [the IDF move] will not reduce conflict but increase it,” he said.

Preparation for anticipated protests has been under way for weeks, with extra training given to thousands of police officers and soldiers. The Israeli authorities have allocated funds for training exercises and the purchase of additional equipment.

The military has reportedly stockpiled around 200,000 litres of foul-smelling liquid to be fired from water cannon at protesters, or possibly dropped from planes. Supplies of stun grenades, rubber bullets and riot gear are also being topped up.

According to the leaked document, the IDF expects demonstrations to turn into “mass disorder”. It says the protests may include “marches towards main junctions, Israeli communities and education centres; efforts at damaging symbols of [Israeli] government. Also there may be more extreme cases like shooting from within the demonstrations or even terrorist incidents. In all the scenarios, there is readiness to deal with incidents near the fences and the borders of the state of Israel.”

Earlier this month, Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s rightwing foreign minister, said the Palestinians were preparing for “bloodshed the likes of which we’ve never seen before”. Some commentators believed his remarks were aimed at inflaming the situation and stoking fears among the Israeli population.

The Palestinian spokesman Ghassan Khatib said Israel was “trying to fuel a fake picture of what will happen in September”, adding: “These Israeli predictions of violence aren’t true.”

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has called for peaceful demonstrations in September to coincide with the Palestinians’ petition to the UN for recognition of their state. But he has repeatedly said protests should be peaceful. “I insist on popular resistance and I insist that it be unarmed popular resistance so that nobody misunderstands us,” he told the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s central committee.

The Palestinian leadership is expected to present their request to be admitted to UN membership when the general assembly meets in September. Membership of the UN requires security council approval, which the US has already said it will veto.

The Palestinians are then expected to request an enhanced “non-member state” status, which needs a two-thirds majority in the general assembly. They claim to have the backing so far of 124 of the UN’s 193 members, and expect to get a majority by the time of a vote.

(www.guardian.co.uk / 30.08.2011)

Ashrawi Urges Denmark to Support Palestine’s Membership to UN

RAMALLAH, August 30, 2011 (WAFA) – PLO Executive Committee Member, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, stressed the importance of
Denmark’s support for Palestine’s application for UN membership, and urged Denmark’s recognition of the State of Palestine.

PLO Department of Culture and Information said in a press release that Ashrawi today met with a Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs delegation to discuss the PLO’s intention to seek admission as a member state of the United Nations this September.

The delegation was headed by the Permanent Secretary of State for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Mr. Claus Grube.

During the meeting, Dr. Ashrawi stressed the importance of Denmark’s support for Palestine’s application for UN membership, and urged Denmark’s recognition of the State of Palestine.

“Denmark has long been at the forefront of support for international law and human rights. As September approaches, it is important that the Danish government maintain its principled position and support Palestine’s membership to the United Nations,” Dr Ashrawi said.

Dr. Ashrawi said that the  prolonged bilateral negotiations process had run its course. A return to more of the same would lead only to the same failures that have plagued the last twenty years of negotiations, and further endanger prospects for peace.

“September signifies a new and corrective approach to peace based on multilateralism and international law. It is both a responsible and constructive move intended to redress the serious shortcomings of the “peace process” and its failure to put an end to illegal and unilateral Israeli measures, including settlement activity and other violations of international law. Bilateral negotiations became a way for Israel to perpetuate its occupation with impunity. This move to the UN provides an alternative that will help restore hope and prevent a breakdown and a breakout of violence.”

Dr. Ashrawi stressed that the right of Palestinians to self-determination, freedom and dignity was non-negotiable, and that Palestinians were well within their rights to pursue these within the international community and under international law.

“Whether individually or in the context of the EU, Denmark can make a positive and substantive contribution to peace by its favorable UN vote, and its recognition of a Palestinian state,” Dr Ashrawi concluded.

(english.wafa.ps / 30.08.2011)

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Recognizes Palestinian State

The Palestinian Mission at the United Nations received, on Monday evening, a letter from the country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines officially recognizing an independent Palestinian State.

The official letter was sent by St. Vincent and the Grenadines envoy to the United Nations, and was handed to the Palestinian ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour.

It stated that the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines officially recognizes Palestine as an independent and sovereign state.

The official Palestine News and Info Agency, WAFA, reported that this decision is coherent with the historic stances of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in its support the legitimate Palestinian cause, and the aspirations for independence.

The letter also stated that St. Vincent and the Grenadines hopes that this will help in increasing the number of countries that recognize Palestine, and in ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by achieving a real and a comprehensive peace agreement.

So far, 126 countries around the world have officially recognized the Palestinian state, the Palestinian right to independence and self-determination.

Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, who initiated an extensive international campaign in this regard, thanked St. Vincent and the Grenadines, its officials and leaders.

The Palestinian Authority intends to seek UN recognition of statehood and a full UN membership this September, and initiated a worldwide campaign to garner support to its move.

Israel considers the move as counterproductive and an effort to avoid direct talks with Tel Aviv. It voiced strong condemnations against it, in addition to threatening to isolate the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

The United States is waving its veto power to topple the UN vote, especially since it is expected to be in favor of the Palestinian move.

The Palestinian Authority had to quit peace talks with Israel due to its ongoing escalation and violations, such as invasions, assassinations, and the construction and expansion of Jewish settlements in occupied Palestine, including in occupied East Jerusalem

(www.imemc.org / 30.08.2011)

Israeli court rejects al-Walaja’s appeal against wall

Al-Walaja residents have been arrested and met with brutal force in their attempt to stop confiscation of village land.

For Sheerin al-Araj, the Israeli plan for the occupied West Bank village of  al-Walaja is clear: make daily life impossible for its Palestinian residents in an effort to force them off their ancestral lands and empty the village entirely.

“They cannot afford [to displace] people by force, in front of cameras with little children and women crying and screaming. So they have to do it more strategically. And the way to do it is by making life impossible for us, and making life impossible is actually building a wall, building a settlement, [building] a gate where we will all be hostage to one 18-year-old [Israeli soldier who] will decide for us when to leave and when to come in,” al-Araj, a member of the Walaja Village Council, explained.

“We will eventually have nowhere to go because they are already taking [away] our natural growth areas. So if not [in] twenty years, it will be forty years and this place will be empty. It’s an ethnic cleansing process. It’s a clear-cut ethnic cleansing
process,” she said.

The village straddles the green line — the internationally-recognized armistice line between Israel and the occupied West Bank — and located both within the southern boundaries of the Jerusalem municipality and in the occupied West Bank. Residents of al-Walaja have been fighting for years against home demolitions, the confiscation of land, the expansion of the nearby Jewish-only settlements of Gilo and Har Gilo and construction of a new Israeli settlement called Givat Yael.

Israel’s wall threatens to imprison village residents

The most pressing problem, however, has been the proposed route of Israel’s wall — commonly referred to as the apartheid wall — which would cut al-Walaja off from over 1,000 dunums of land (a dunam is the equivalent of 1,000 square meters), a water well and an ancestral cemetery.

The wall would effectively turn the village of 2,500 residents into an open-air prison, as al-Walaja would only be connected to Beit Jala, Bethlehem and the rest of the West Bank through a series of tunnels. Farmers would only be able to access their agricultural land with a permit from the Israeli authorities and by passing through a gate in the wall operated by the Israeli army.

Despite these severe restrictions, on 22 August the Israeli high court rejected the village residents’ appeal against the route of the wall, and gave the green light to the Israeli authorities to finish construction. The court cited security considerations as a major factor for why the route couldn’t be changed.

“We believe that the damage the security barrier will do to the petitioners is in fair proportion to the tremendous security benefits the barrier affords,” wrote Israeli high court President Dorit Beinisch in the ruling, according to a report in The Jerusalem Post. “We are persuaded that the protection afforded to Israeli residents by the security barrier is very great. It is one of the last obstacles standing in the way of terrorists on their way into the city [sic] to carry out their murderous plans” (“Top court turns
down Palestinian case on barrier
,” 24 August 2011).

However, Sheerin al-Araj, argues that security has nothing to do with it. “The wall is not for security. The wall is planned to seal the village from all sides and install a gate at the entrance,” she said.

“We are a few hundred meters away from the green line, so why are they sealing us in one jail when they can actually do this on the green line? Why do they build it so close to us when the green line is a few hundred meters down the valley? They can just build
the safest, longest, more sustainable wall ever on that line.”

History of displacement, annexation

Before the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1947-48, in which more than 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly expelled or fled from their homes, approximately 1,600 individuals lived in the village of al-Walaja. All of the residents were displaced, with most ending up in refugee camps in the Jerusalem and Bethlehem areas, or in Jordan and Lebanon.

According to information gathered by the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA), approximately a hundred residents remained in the immediate area following 1948. This area became known as the “new” al-Walaja — the al-Walaja of today — and sat two kilometers from the original village, on the other side of a steep valley.

Due to their forced displacement, the residents of al-Walaja lost about 70 percent of the lands they originally owned before 1948. Shortly after the 1967 War, the Israeli authorities annexed approximately half of al-Walaja’s remaining land to the Jerusalem municipality, while in the 1970s, more land was confiscated to build the illegal, Jewish-only settlements of Gilo and Har Gilo.

Today, the completion of Israel’s wall will be another chapter in the history of annexation and displacement in al-Walaja. Construction continues apace despite the fact that in July 2004, the International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion that the wall in the West Bank is against international law and should be dismantled.

“Israel … is under an obligation to cease forthwith the works of construction of the wall being built in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, to dismantle forthwith the structure therein situated, and to repeal or render
ineffective forthwith all legislative and regulatory acts relating thereto,” the court found.

Israel’s wall “part of the colonial system”

Jamal Juma’ is the coordinator of the Stop the Wall campaign, which aims to stop construction of the wall, dismantle the current structure, return all lands confiscated by the wall and compensate individuals for all losses incurred by its construction.

“[The wall is] controlling the Palestinian people, oppressing the Palestinian people and destroying the possibility for them [to build] a better future. It’s facilitating the occupation, and it’s a part of the colonial system,” Juma’ told The Electronic Intifada.

In the specific case of al-Walaja, Juma’ explained that despite assurances from the Israeli authorities that farmers would be able to access their lands through a gate in the wall, experience proves that this is highly unlikely.

“It is a dangerous lie because they want to show the world that they have a sense of humanity when they talk about walls and [that] they care about the human beings. That’s not true. Experience proves, from Qalqilya to Tulkarem to Jenin, all the gates along the
wall, the vast majority of them [have been] closed in front of the people,” Juma’ said.

“The ones that are still there, the movement through them [is] very restricted and [the Israelis] aren’t giving permissions like they should. They use it as a tool, step by step and day after day, to make the people give up on reaching their lands. It’s a big joke.”

He added that al-Walaja represents the greater tragedy of the Palestinian people that began with their expulsion from their homeland in 1948.

“Al-Walaja represents the catastrophe, the tragedy of the Palestinian people that started in 1948,” Juma’ said. “Their existence is threatened. Palestinians feel that they are chased and it’s clear that the colonial project that the Israeli-Zionists started in 1948
is still [continuing]. It’s following the Palestinians.”

Al-Walaja resists

In recent weeks, Palestinian, Israeli and international activists have demonstrated against the wall and annexation of al-Walaja lands, and the uprooting of olive trees for its construction, on an almost weekly basis. The Israeli military has responded with the use force, shooting tear gas, sound grenades and even live ammunition at demonstrators, and arresting dozens.

According to Sheerin al-Araj, despite this onslaught of Israeli violence and the disappointment of the Israeli high court’s ruling, the residents of al-Walaja will continue to fight against their forced displacement and for their basic rights.

“They do not want us here and everything they do contributes to this goal that we [will] all somehow vanish or disappear, which is not going to happen. They’re just dreaming. They’re digging in their own grave by [doing] this. This means that they only generate more hatred and are pushing the whole region into a bloodshed war instead of a peaceful solution that can be good for both sides,” she said.

“We will continue everything that we are doing and we’re working on different aspects of popular resistance. I don’t think that we will stop even after they close the wall. This is a continuing struggle.”

(http://ht.ly/6fZ3t  / 29.08.2011)