Israel tramples on religious sentiments


An Israeli soldier points his gun at a Palestinian demonstrator at Al-Aqsa mosque compound, Friday. Palestinians were enraged by reports that an Israeli policeman showed disrespect to the Holy Qur’an.

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – Palestinians enraged by reports that an Israeli policeman showed disrespect to the Holy Qur’an battled riot officers at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound after Friday prayer.

The clash was triggered by reports that a policeman at the compound Sunday kicked the Holy Qur’an and trampled on it.

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

Palestinian medical workers said about 35 protesters were injured at the plaza.

Anger was stoked further at the funeral in the West Bank of a Palestinian who died of wounds Thursday after being shot by Israeli soldiers during a confrontation two weeks ago.

More than 5,000 people attended the ceremony.

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

A surge in violence in the occupied West Bank over the past several weeks has raised concern in Israel that a new Palestinian uprising could erupt. The recent violence has focused around the plight of Palestinians held in Israeli jails but it largely subsided last week after Israel agreed to release two hunger-striking inmates in May and they ended their protest.

A Palestinian official said two people have died as a result of the clashes in the past few weeks. At the West Bank funeral, Palestinian Minister of Prisoners Issa Qaraqea told mourners that Israel’s actions would lead to more protstests.

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

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

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

(Source / 08.03.2013)

Iraqi minister resigns after protesters shot

Izzeddin al-Dolah’s resignation marks the second high-profile Sunni departure from the government this month.

Fatal shootings have been comparatively rare during two months of anti-government rallies, and the protester’s death is likely to heighten Sunni demonstrators’ anger against the Shiite-led government.

The shooting happened in the city of Mosul, some 360 kilometers (225 miles) north of Baghdad, as angry protesters demanding the release of a local tribal sheik who was arrested earlier in the day, police officials said. Hospital officials confirmed the casualties. Both spoke anonymously as they were not authorized to speak to the press.

Al-Dolah linked his resignation to the shooting, saying the blood of those who voted for him is now being shed. Al-Dolah made the announcement at a news conference in Mosul, the capital of Ninevah province, where he is from.

“There is no way I can continue my work in a government that does not care about the demands of my people,” al-Dolah said.

Al-Dolah is a member of the opposition Iraqiya bloc, which draws on Sunnis for much of its support. His announcement comes just weeks after Finance Minister Rafia al-Issawi announced his own resignation at an anti-government rally elsewhere in the country.

Minority Sunnis frustrated over what they claim is second-class treatment have taken to the streets across Iraq since late December.

In Baghdad, security forces prevented worshippers from holding Friday prayers at a prominent Sunni mosque in northern Baghdad, a cleric there said.

“This is sectarian escalation by the government that should listen to the people’s demands instead of pushing the people to extremism,” said Dawoud al-Alousi, the imam of Abu Hanifa mosque in the primarily Sunni neighborhood of Azamiyah.

Al-Alousi and witnesses said security forces blocked traffic on roads leading to the mosque. He said it was the first time that prayers at Abu Hanifa have been cancelled during the current unrest.

Meanwhile, demonstrators in the western cities of Fallujah and Ramadi blocked the main highway to Jordan and Syria to perform Friday prayesr. Others gathered in the northern city of Samarra.

Sunnis have staged mass protests since late December following the arrest of bodyguards assigned to a Sunni finance minister, the latest action by the Shiite-led government that Sunnis believe target prominent members of their sect.

In a previous incident on Jan. 25, security forces shot dead five demonstrators, but in general the protests and the security response have been less deadly than those in other Arab countries over the past two years.

Iraq also witnesses attacks by hardline Sunni insurgent groups, some of whom are believed to be trying to exploit anti-government anger to re-establish themselves in strongholds from which they were driven by U.S. forces and allied anti-al-Qaida Sunni militias in 2006 through 2008. Insurgents have often targeted members of those militias, known also as the Sahwa, whom they consider traitors.

Gunmen shot dead five Sahwa militiamen late Thursday after abducting them from their house south of Baghdad, police said on Friday.

The bodies of three brothers and their two cousins were found in a nearby orchard with bullets in their heads, they said.

(Source / 08.03.2013)

Israel has detained 15,000 Palestinian women since 1967


Thirteen female Palestinian prisoners are currently in Israeli custodyThirteen female Palestinian prisoners are currently in Israeli custody.

Israel has detained more than 15,000 Palestinian women since 1967, the Palestinian Minister of Women’s Affairs said on Thursday. On the eve of International Women’s Day, Jamila Al-Shanti condemned the international silence over Israel’s systematic abuse of Palestinian women. “Nobody who claims to be fighting for women’s rights has ever taken any action on this issue,” she said.

“The Israeli occupation authorities practice physical and psychological torture against Palestinian female prisoners,” the Minister said in a press statement. “They lock them up with Israeli criminals who always attack and injure them.”

The Minister’s statement included details of the Palestinian woman who was forced to give birth while she was handcuffed in an Israeli prison clinic. Another had to breastfeed her baby behind bars.

Thirteen female Palestinian prisoners are currently in Israeli custody, including Lina al-Jarbouni, who is serving a 16 year sentence. She was arrested in 2002.

Ignoring all national and international human rights conventions, Israeli is also detaining a female minor; Hadeel Abu-Treeki is aged 17 and from the occupied West Bank.

“On the occasion of International Women’s Day, we call for the free world to work on emptying Israeli jails of Palestinian female prisoners,” Minister Al-Shanti concluded.

(Source / 08.03.2013)

Croatia transit point for Syrian rebel arms: report

Local Croatian paper said the transport of some 3,000 tons of weapons and ammunition was organized by the United States using Turkish and Jordanian air cargo companies.

The Croatian capital has served for months as a transit point for Saudi-financed weapons for Syrian rebels, a local newspaper said on Friday, but the report was swiftly denied by the government.

Some 75 civilian transport planes carrying weapons for the rebels battling the regime of President Bashar al-Assad took off from Zagreb airport between last November and February, the influential Jutarnji List reported citing unnamed diplomatic sources.

It said the transport of some 3,000 tons of weapons and ammunition was organized by the United States using Turkish and Jordanian air cargo companies.

The weapons originated from Croatia — notably guns, rocket and grenade launchers — as well as from several other European countries including Britain, it reported.

The Jutarnji List wrote that the weapons, financed by Saudi Arabia, were transported to Jordan and later transferred to Syria.

A foreign ministry spokeswoman denied the report.

“Croatia was not selling or donating weapons to Syrian rebels,” Danijela Barisic told AFP.

The New York Times reported in late February that Saudi Arabia was supplying Syrian rebels with weapons bought from Croatia.

The Times, citing unnamed U.S. and Western officials, said the Saudi-financed “large purchase of infantry weapons” was part of an “undeclared surplus” of arms left over from the Balkans wars in the 1990s and that they began reaching anti-regime fighters via Jordan in December.

Since then, The Times added, officials said “multiple planeloads” of weapons have left Croatia, with one quoted as saying the shipments included “thousands of rifles and hundreds of machine guns,” as well as an “unknown quantity of ammunition.”

The Croatian foreign ministry also denied that report.

Rebels have been fighting Assad’s regime since an uprising against his rule erupted in March 2011.

(Source / 08.03.2013)

EU-funded Israeli theft


Thursday, March 07, 2013

A LEAKED report commissioned by the European Union (EU) has concluded that Israeli settlement construction “remains the single biggest threat” to peace in the Middle East.

The confidential, 15-page report outlines 10 recommendations for the 27 EU states to consider regarding Israel’s wanton activities in occupied Palestine.

It describes proposals by the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – to build more “Jewish-only” colonies – as “systematic, deliberate and provocative”.

The document raises alarm about current construction efforts around East Jerusalem, new plans effectively bisecting the West Bank into two separate geographical entities and isolating the future capital of Palestine from the rest of the Palestinian population – “making it impossible” to achieve peace.

In addition to settlements, the report warns of systemic institutional racism “undermining the Palestinian presence” in East Jerusalem. It highlights two unequal systems of government: one for native Palestinians and another for Jews.

For example, city zoning changes and construction permits are issued frequently to accommodate structures dedicated for new Jews in the eastern part of the city.

Another system is imposed on taxpaying native Jerusalemites in “zoning and planning, demolitions and evacuations”.

The report highlights “discriminatory access to religious sites”, as well as an “inequitable education policy” and denial of the same “access to health care”.

The internal report calls on EU member states to voluntarily review direct or indirect assistance that might enable Israel to further colonise occupied areas, especially those which could contribute to “settlement activities, infrastructure and services” – including, but not limited to, financial transactions and foreign direct investment.

Undoubtedly, the report is more candid and progressive than previous EU-commissioned reviews discussing the occupation.

But it still falls short of adopting tangible measures that would end the Israeli “threat” to a viable Palestinian state.

One major, yet feeble, recommendation was to stop settlements getting the same “preferential tariffs” on imports as goods originating from within the green line, as well as the labelling of products from settlement industries.

Through such labelling, the EU would relegate responsibility to European consumers to make an “informed choice” when purchasing goods from Israeli settlements.

But this combined with a nominal tax somehow renders it OK for Israel to continue “laundering” profits from goods and resources stolen from Palestinian land.

Soon after the “managed” leak of the report, European leaders were in a hurry to defend the report’s weak recommendations.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague last week said the report contained “incentives and disincentives” for peace talks, while a French diplomat described it as a tool to persuade Israel.

Responding to earlier EU criticism, the mayor of the “Jewish only” colony of Maale Adumim, Benny Kashriel, told The Daily Beast that Europeans “know that we (Israeli settlers) will continue to build”.

Meanwhile, the EU report was sharply criticised by European legislator Daniel Cohn-Bendit, who said it effectively told Israel “do what you want”.

The EU can’t possibly be sincere in opposing Israeli colonies when it only taxes their theft.

Israeli companies operating within the green line will likely take advantage of the EU’s “preferential tariffs” to subsidise the extra levy imposed on products originating from settlements.

Israel’s Supreme Court ruled in January last year that Israeli companies were entitled to exploit the West Bank’s natural resources for economic gain.

The EU’s non-binding recommendations are hypocritical at best.

While it continues to provide formal “preferential treatment” for other Israeli goods, informally it wants an informed public to decide on purchases violating international trade.

The EU should instead use the report as justification for banning products and boycotting Israeli companies that invest in “Jewish only” colonies, while forbidding its licensed institutions from collaborating with organisations benefiting from Israeli settlement industry.

By leaving the EU market open for “taxed” settlement products, Europe is in effect subsidising “the single biggest threat” to peace in the Middle East.

* Mr Kanj ( writes  weekly newspaper column and publishes on several websites on Arab world issues. He is the author of “Children of Catastrophe,” Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America. A version of this article was first published by the Gulf Daily News newspaper.

(Mail / 08.03.2013)

My Mother Inspired Us to Fight For Palestinian Rights

A Jordanian activist and relative of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons who are on a hunger strike holds a placard during a protest outside the Red Cross offices in Amman, Feb. 21, 2013. The placard reads: “Name of Palestinian prisoner: Samer Al Issawi, date of his hunger strike: Aug, 1, 2012.”
 On March 8 every year, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate their achievements for International Women’s Day. Today I would like to take the opportunity to celebrate my mother, Laila Issawi, and share her story.

I was raised by a very empowered, inspiring mother, who endured not only her own suffering but the suffering of her children, in the struggle for our freedom and dignity as a people. From as far back as I can remember I have always been in awe of my mother, her passion, dignity and resilience. She was raised on the love of Palestine, and has raised us with those same values; to love our country, defend our rights and fight for them until they are achieved.

Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967. Suddenly, a foreign military force was controlling and oppressing the lives of all of the Palestinian people. My mother was strong from the beginning. She was a newlywed in the early ’70s when she was arrested for treating the wounded revolutionaries in Jericho hospital. She was imprisoned for six months without ever standing in front of a court of law.

During the first intifada, the Israeli military forces used to regularly raid our house and turn everything inside it upside down. They once delivered a blow to my mother’s back and, until today, she suffers with chronic back pain as a reminder of that day. She never complained, however, and fought her pain to stay strong for her children. And with every day that passes, she endures much more pain, both physical and emotional.

Despite her fears, she raised us with great love, dignity and strength. I have six brothers and one sister. One of my brothers was killed a year after his release from an Israeli jail: Fadi died on the spot when an Israeli soldier fired a bullet into his throat in 1994; he was 16. My brothers Ra’fat, Firas and Shadi have spent a combined 25 years in Israeli prisons. Midhat and Samer are still in Israeli jails, having already served a number of years of their lives in prison and still counting. I also spent one year in jail (in Hasharon prison back in 2010). I guess I was the lucky one in my family.

There are 15 women in Israeli jails, alongside 200 children and about 4,500 men. My brother Samer has now been on hunger strike for a staggering 222 days. During that time, the Israeli occupying forces have tried numerous tactics to put an end to my brother’s protest, including the harassment of my family. I was recently arrested as part of this attempt to persuade my brother to abandon his strike. All I could think, when they put me in that filthy cold isolation cell, was how amazing my brother Samer is, not only for enduring the injustice and humiliation of being wrongly imprisoned by a foreign country occupying our land, but for enduring the horrible conditions of prison while having the sheer strength and willpower to refuse food as a form of peaceful protest.

Like my mother, I was raised to fight against injustice. For this reason, I decided to study law. I studied law to defend my brothers, as well as all our freedom fighters in Israeli jails, who are resisting the occupation and remaining steadfast under severe conditions. And despite the recent suspension of my lawyer’s license for six months by Israel, a country who should have no authority over me or my license, I will continue to campaign for international support to demand the release of my brother Samer and all Palestinian political prisoners. I shall continue to be strong until all of my brothers are free and our beloved country, Palestine, is free.

We suffer an ugly military occupation of our land, our lives and our very existence in Palestine. But like my mother, I shall endure the pain and agony for the liberation of my motherland. On this day, when we celebrate women’s achievements worldwide, I ask you to join me in celebrating the incredible pillar of strength that is my mother, Laila Issawi. She continues to give me the hope that, one day, we will live in dignity and in freedom. My only wish is that my brother Samer will live to see that day.

Shireen Issawi is a peace activist and the sister of imprisoned Palestinian hunger striker Samer Issawi. Follow her on Twitter @shireenessawi

(Source / 08.03.2013)

“Graffiti was my education”: interview with Palestinian designer Hafez Omar

Demonstrators in Nablus carry posters with Hafez Omar’s designs in support of hunger strikers, April 2012.

Last year, Palestinian designer and activist Hafez Omar posted an illustration of an anonymous Palestinian in an Israeli prison on Facebook. Within hours, the image had spread across the Internet.

The image was a simple one: a featureless face with a brown line through it against a green background. Its simplicity was arguably its greatest strength as it provided campaigners hoping to draw attention to hunger strikes being undertaken by political prisoners with a neat illustration.

Based in the West Bank town of Tulkarem, Omar’s work is inspired by the popular resistance movement in Palestine.

Omar recently spoke to The Electronic Intifada contributor Daryl Meador.

Hafez Omar’s image of an anonymous Palestinian prisoner became the avatar of countless Facebook and Twitter users.

Daryl Meador: How did you get started in design? Were you educated in it?

Hafez Omar: I was educated in the Fine Arts School of An-Najah University in Nablusfrom 2000 to 2005. I originally studied interior architecture, but I never worked with it; I always worked with graphic design. In university I was part of the student movement, and I used to draw and design posters for the student political movements. This is how I started; it was part of my engagement with the situation. It was the beginning of the [second] intifada, and in Nablus it was really intense politically and a kind of warfare. Many people got really involved in politics, especially students, because An-Najah is one of the biggest universities in Palestine.

DM: What kind of things did the student movement take part in?

HO: At the beginning of the intifada, the student movement took a big role in the demonstrations that happened. We organized demonstrations at checkpoints, and after that there were internal activities in the university around the intifada and for the different political parties. Each party was trying to mobilize people around its ideology and its approach to the struggle.

I was in charge of publishing a monthly leftist magazine, called Handala. Each month we would write some articles and print some photographs, and each month I would design and edit it.

DM: How was it printed?

HO: We used to photocopy it. We were not a rich group of students, we didn’t have any resources, we basically donated each month to photocopy about 1,000 copies to spread around the university.

DM: Do you still have any copies?

HO: No, when we left Nablus we had to get rid of them, because the Israelis were entering houses and looking for students and if you got caught with that magazine it would be a problem. I think I have a file of one of the designs in my hard drive but no hard copies.

DM: When you do design work now, it’s always related to political situations on the ground. How do you see the relationship between design and political activism?

HO: Well this is an old tradition in Palestine and many places in the world. The discourse is given to the people in many ways, one of the most interesting kinds being posters and political images. In Palestine we have a tradition in making political posters for different parties, and if you look at the history of the Palestinian posters, you can see the differences between the different parties, ideologies, and what were they calling for. So I consider what I do as a continuation of something that happened before. Early in the ’60s, parties began to mobilize people through posters and magazines.

Imagery of armed struggle features prominently in Hafez Omar’s work, as do references to revolutionary posters.

DM: I notice references in the imagery of your work to historical Palestinian posters; is this deliberate?

HO: It’s a kind of statement I’m trying to make, to bring back the old tradition, because the values that these posters stood for are still there. They were used to mobilize people around liberation and return and self-determination. These are still the same goals of the people. But what happened afterOslo, the official discourse has changed from these principles to state building, which is something I stand against. I still believe that we’re not in the proper time and conditions to start this, we’re still under occupation, 70-80 percent of the Palestinian population is still living as refugees in surrounding countries or elsewhere in the world. Settlementsethnic cleansinghouse demolitions continue. I’m trying to bring the memories that were there with these posters with this kind of visual language.

DM: What is some of the specific imagery you take from the historical poster art and why?

HO: One is the image of the full map of Palestine. Politically, there is confusion between the one and two-state solutions and there is a reflection for that in visual communication tools, like when news agencies have a map of Palestine with the West Bank and Gaza, and now with the images used in state-building. So the full map is coming from the history of Palestinian visual communication. Also, images of armed struggle are some of the visual items that I’ve revived from the old posters. It comes under political explanations for what is homeland and what are we fighting for.

Basically, I use these two items but I also try to focus on people over political parties. I have a lot of posters for leaders, but most are approaching people, just as the posters before. Today, political groups are producing posters for allies or members, but I don’t see much poster or visual art that approaches people as Palestinians. What I do should talk to everybody, not just talk to someone.

DM: But now — unlike the 1960s — we have the Internet so posters are physically printed less. Do you always just publish your work online?

HO: Well the nice thing is that I design them and put them online, and people download, print them, and use them in demonstrations. I don’t control that process, sometimes people ask for some printed but generally I just publish online. And I take it as a sign that I’m still with the people when I see people [have] printed and [are] using things that I design. Then I can measure the public atmosphere and opinion about things. This is how I get my posters into a physical status, it’s the people who download and use them.

DM: I remember the brown hunger striker design being used all over my Facebook. Was this one of the most widely used images you made?

HO: Yeah, this was the biggest actually. No one knows the statistics on how much it was shared, but you could see all of Facebook going brown. That was not my most beautiful, but my most successful design.

DM: What does the brown represent?

HO: It’s from the prisons, this is the costume that prisoners have to put on because of the jail administration. They are forced into these clothes, with these logos. A week ago I was visiting my brother in prison and he was wearing this. They have little mattresses where we sit, and they are also the same color. These are the colors the prisoners have to deal with on a daily basis.

Arabic-language poster translates to “Hail The Heroes of the Electronic Resistance.”

DM: How long has your brother been imprisoned?

HO: Eight years; he was sentenced for nine years so he will be out next year.

DM: Why is your Facebook page called Hitan, the Arabic for walls?

HO: When I used to be a little kid, this was how I learned. We didn’t have an education system about Palestine or the political life. It was the first intifada and I used to walk to school and look at the walls, at the posters and the graffiti. It wasn’t street art, but more like a communication tool. From there I learned about the political parties at a young age. The flag of Palestine was forbidden, the Israelis used to control that. So the walls were always important as a communication tool. So my Facebook page is a kind of homage to this tradition in Palestine.

DM: One of the most recent designs you made was for Bab al-Shams (the tent “village” set up by Palestinians in protest at Israeli settlements), how were you involved in that?

HO: The guys called me a week before and asked for a design for this popular resistance camp, which had nothing to do with Bab al-Shams. And they gave me like zero information. Actually it was cover for them, they called for that camp as a cover for their action. Because at the last moment they changed all of their plans and went to Bab al-Shams and called for a Palestinian village. But I didn’t know before. So it was Friday, I woke up and I saw the news and that the same guys from the popular resistance camp did Bab al-Shams, so I understood at that moment what I should do for that event. I made that poster that morning. Then I went Saturday evening to join the guys in Bab al-Shams; we were evacuated and I got my nose broken, my leg badly injured and had to stay home for two to three weeks.

DM: The Israeli “public relations” machine is attempting to stifle Palestine having an image that people around the world can relate to. As a designer, are you targeted by Israel?

HO: I don’t know if I get targeted because of the posters, because other than the posters I’m so active in the movements so I can’t differentiate. Sometimes I get harassed because of posters I make talking about the Palestinian Authority — that I can tell. Once I was beaten by the PA, but this was because I was in a demonstration. So again it’s hard to tell [what I am being targeted for].

Facebook is so open that it’s hard for Israel to stifle image-making there. They still use social media in similar ways, trying to build images for themselves. In the last war on Gazathey had a big failure, though. They worked as an institute that hires designers and writers to advocate, while the Palestinian part was individuals, normal people who were not being paid. People in the world believed our narrative because it was more natural.

Hafez Omar’s images kept the hunger strikers’ cause visible on social media.

DM: Sometimes there is a theme in your posters about digital resistance, like one with an image of a rifle made up of digital code.

HO: In that one specifically, which says “Hail The Heroes of the Electronic Resistance,” I was talking about the hacker who hacked Israeli banks and financial systems. It was a salute to this. But what he did is electronic resistance because he caused physical damage. But what I do comes at the back of the movement, I don’t actually make a physical change, but I encourage and mobilize. So I don’t consider my work to be the same as people who are throwing rocks in the streets and going to demonstrations. It’s support for them, but you can’t say it is electronic resistance. Visual communication inspires people to think, but then it is their decision to act.

DM: You used to work for al-Mahatta Gallery in Ramallah, which was the first professional arts exhibition space in Ramallah. Can you talk a little about the gallery and fine art in Palestine?

HO: I initiated the place with a bunch of friends, maybe six years ago, and I worked as projects director for the gallery for a year, and then I quit. I decided to get off the NGO [non-governmental organization] scene in Palestine because it’s all part of the neoliberal policies that are trying to make people forget the realities of the occupation. Al-Mahatta is a really nice initiative, but I decided to quit the NGO scene.

In general, I think the cultural scene in Palestine doesn’t have any relation to the Palestinian reality. Palestinian art today is not produced for the Palestinian people. It’s either produced about them, or it doesn’t have any relation but is produced inside Palestine, so it becomes something sexy.

The Palestinian people are stuck with the failed Oslo project, and the Israelis are building more settlements, confiscating more land, killing more people. And the Palestinian people still don’t have a new project, and they’re scattered and not united. They don’t have a way to design a new national strategy. I think that is reflected in the cultural scene. Everyone is doing whatever they want, there is no national cultural scene.

Everyone is running after his own or her own project. I think once there is a new Palestinian movement that people are mobilizing around, then you will see the culture change. For me, in this crazy panoramic scene, I’m just trying to show that the movement isn’t dead, it’s not completely neoliberal and apologetic to the West. I’m trying to say that we’re still trying to produce art for the people, that approaches the people and makes them think and challenges what is happening.

Hafez Omar’s work can be seen on his Facebook page:

(Source / 08.03.2013)

Israel marks International Women’s Day with violent assault on worshippers at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque


Israeli occupation forces violently stormed the al-Aqsa mosque compound in eastern occupied Jerusalem today as Palestinians had gathered for Friday prayers.

The above video, posted on the YouTube account FreeQudss, shows Palestinian youths attempting to ward off the massive Israeli invasion force with stones and later attempting to push them back with other projectiles including plastic furniture, pieces of wood and a molotov cocktail.

Palestinian news photographer Atta Awisat is assisted by a medic as he bleeds from his mouth during an Israeli raid on the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem on 8 March

Palestinian news photographer Atta Awisat was injured in the Israeli attack. Medical sources said several dozen others were hurt.

Also, at 5:37 in this video Israeli soldiers can be seen violently shoving Palestinian women.

Later in the video, worshippers can be seen continuing to pray as Israeli soldiers mill around firing sound bombs. Eventually the occupation forces retreated as worshippers chanted “God is Great.”

Twitter user @BDS4Justice, who visits the al-Aqsa compound several times a week, was there and posted tweets and images of what happened.

BDS4Justice also sent this personal account of what happened with some context:

As you know, things are charged up in the West Bank for the past few weeks. Same in Jerusalem. Samer Issawi, Palestinian prisoner in Israeli jail currently on hunger strike is a Jerusalemite from the neighborhood of Issawiya and his struggle has resonated with Palestinians in general and with Jerusalemites in particular.

During the past three Fridays there have been protests after prayers at Aqsa. Two weeks ago the Israelis invaded with their usual brutal force and as is usual an arrest campaign followed after. Two of my friends were arrested, one released and the other one remained in jail.

To compound the tensions above, this week Israeli fanatic Knesset memberMoshe Feiglin not only entered Aqsa, as he has done before, but attempted to force himself inside the Dome of the Rock.

There were protests during the week against activities of Jewish extremists like Feiglin who openly call for the destruction of al-Aqsa and the building there of a Jewish Temple in its place.

Note that Israeli incursions (“visits”) to al-Aqsa are daily, under police escort, and they have become larger. This appears to be a repeat of the tactic used in Hebron to force Palestinians to give up on al-Aqsa, as is currently the case in Hebron with the Ibrahimi mosque, where Israeli settlers already control two-thirds of the building.

After prayers today, worshippers began protests with chants against these settler provocations and incursions into al-Aqsa. As you can see from the video, the Israeli forces invaded with brutal force.

Unlike on previous occasions where people disperse, this time the clashes lasted for longer than usual. It is a sign that people are fed up by Israeli attempts to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from Jerusalem and deny their historical attachment, as the indigenous population, to the city.

Being International Women’s Day today, the Israeli army was notably brutal against women. As I witnessed and photographed, one elderly woman had a grenade thrown at her while posing no threat to the soldier. She had to receive medical attention. I also saw the Israeli army pushing other elderly worshippers and punching anyone they saw in front of them.

Some youth were arrested and there were many injured including a journalist.

As is common, after the al-Aqsa unrest, the Israeli army will likely begin a campaign of arrests and intimidation against the people present at the mosque today. This is the exact same harassment that Samer Issawi went through while growing up in Jerusalem motivating his fight for dignity for all Palestinians and in particular for their right to live and pray their capital, under Israeli occupation.

Also to note, today for the first time since the second intifada the youth used Molotov cocktails against the soldiers inside Aqsa. This is an important change in tactics, it shows that they are willing to risk more for what is becoming an unsustainable situation with regular Israeli attacks and humiliation against their dignity and rights.

(Source / 08.03.2013)

Palestinian Cartoonist Mohammad Saba’aneh Jailed (but not Charged) by Israel

Cartoon: Mohammad Saba'aneh, Palestinian Territories, (Courtesy: Cartoon Movement)

Cartoon: Mohammad Saba’aneh, Palestinian Territories,

Aaron Schachter speaks with Israeli cartoonist Uri Fink about the case of fellow cartoonist Mohammad Saba’aneh, a Palestinian who is one of some 4,800 Palestinians being held in Israeli jails.

Saba’aneh was detained by Israeli authorities on February 16th, 2013 while crossing back into the West Bank from Jordan, where he had been on a four-day trip. Like many Palestinians in Israeli jails, Saba’aneh is being held without charge and cartoonists around the globe as well as journalist and human rights groups are demanding his release.

Saba’aneh is a cartoonist for Al-Hayat al-Jadida, the official newspaper of the Palestinian Authority. He also works at the Arab American University in Jenin on the West Bank.

According to Israel’s military laws in the occupied West Bank, Palestinians can be held for 90 days without charge. In cases that prosecutors believe are especially sensitive, detention can be indefinite.

(Source / 08.03.2013)



Afikim bus | Ariel Settlement | Jan 2010 | Photographed by Who Profits

A bus services company. The company provides public transportation services to West Bank settlements and holds an official racial segregation policy.

On August 2012, NRG website published an article, which described  how one of the comapny’s drivers refused to allow Palestinians on the line from Tel Aviv to the West Bank settlement of Ariel.

Afikim CEO – Ben Hor Ahvat, confirmed the segregation policy. “The Palestinians make their lives easy when they travel with us via the Cross Samaria Highway, which is meant for Israelis only”, and added “it is the authority of every driver to decide that a Palestinian is suspicious and to call the police”. He also explained the legal system applied in the OPT, which enables the company to practice this policy: “Within Judea and Samaria the situation is different as it is prohibited for Palestinians to enter Israeli communities without a permit from the security officer and an armed person accompanying them”.

Afikim operates 35 bus lines to dozens of settlements, including remote outposts.
The company owns a fleet of 80 armored buses, which serves the settlements in the regional councils of Shomron and Jordan Valley.

Additionally, company’s lines serve Israeli Army bases along the West Bank, the Barkan industrial zone and the Ariel University Center of Samaria.