Firing Zone 918

In October and November of 1999 the Israeli military expelled the approximately 700 Palestinian residents of a dozen small villages in the southeastern Hebron Hills, east of Route 317. The residents of these villages have lived there in natural and man-made caves – some on a permanent basis, others only seasonally – even before the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. The expulsion orders noted they were given on the grounds of “illegal residence in a live-fire zone.” Firing Zone 918, which encompasses approximately 30,000 dunams [3,000 hectares], was declared a restricted military zone as far back as the 1970s.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Attorney Shlomo Lecker filed a petition to the High Court of Justice on behalf of some two hundred village families. In March 2000, the High Court of Justice issued an interim injunction permitting the villagers to return to their homes and cultivate their fields pending a ruling in the case. However, an additional appeal to the Court was necessary for the Civil Administration to accept that the injunction was universal and included all of the villagers, not only the petitioners. In December 2002 an attempt was made to define the status of the residents of these villages in a process of arbitration headed by Brigadier General (res.) Dov Tzedaka, former head of the Civil Administration. During the arbitration, Israel offered to move the villagers to a different, far small area south of the city of Yatta. The villagers rejected the offer. Early in 2005, the process ended with no operative results. Since that time, Israel has filed 27 requests to the Court to defer the date for submitting its position. For years the villagers’ petitions remained open and the interim injunction in effect.

The area defined as Firing Zone 918
The area defined as Firing Zone 918

For all those years the villagers continued to live in their expanding communities and to cultivate their land, in accordance with the court order. Yet they lived under the constant threat of demolition, expulsion and expropriation. The Civil Administration continuously tried to prevent the development of the villages, through interpreting the court’s injunction restrictively, as prohibiting any new construction in the villages in the firing zone. For example, in January 2005, the Civil Administration ordered the demolition of 15 cisterns and 19 outhouses built in the villages with the help of the British government’s Department for International Development (DFID). These structures served some 320 people in three villages in the firing zone. Following a petition filed by Rabbis for Human Rights, in February 2005, the High Court of Justice ruled that the demolition orders be suspended as long as the villagers pledge that the “status quo be preserved,” that there be no new construction of outhouses and that those structures not be inhabited.

Palestinian resident of Khirbet Jenbah, South Hebron Hills, in residential cave, 7 August 2012. Photo: Sharon Azran, B'Tselem. It was not until April 2012, twelve years after the expulsion of the residents from their villages had been deferred – twelve years in which development and construction were prohibited – that the High Court of Justice resumed deliberations on all the petitions that address the restricted military area. In May 2012, for the first time in years, the military conducted live-fire exercises in the restricted area and erected concrete slabs along the area’s perimeter warning against entering “a firing zone.” Israeli soldiers who served in the area told theBreaking the Silence organization that in recent years the military had conducted no live-fire training exercises in the restricted area and had held only driver-training exercises with armored vehicles.

On 19 July 2012, Israel submitted the current position of Defense Minister Ehud Barak in this matter to the High Court of Justice: the state plans to demolish eight villages inside the firing zone – Khirbet al-Majaz, Khirbet a-Taban, Khirbet a-Safai, Khirbet al-Fakhit, Khirbet al-Halawah, Khirbet al-Markez, Khirbet Jenbah and Khilet a-Dabe’. Over 1,000 people live in these communities. According to the Israeli position, residents of these villages will be able to work their lands inside the firing zone only on weekends and Jewish holidays, as well as during two one-month periods each year. The state added that four villages could remain in the firing zone – Khirbet a-Tuba, Khirbet al-Mufaqarah, Khirbet Sarura and Sirat ‘Awad Ibrahim– and the military would conduct exercises without live fire in that area. The latter two villages were abandoned years ago, so that in effect, Israel permitted the 254 residents of only two, not four, villages to remain in the area. According to the map Israel submitted to the High Court of Justice, in the area designated as “permitted” there is another village, Maghayir al-‘Abid. The village is not listed together with the villages that Israel permitted to remain in the firing zone. Therefore, unless Israel makes an announcement to the contrary, the villagers of Maghayir al-‘Abid appear to be slated for expulsion as well.

In view of Israel’s statement, the High Court of Justice dismissed the petitions on 7 August 2012, after deciding that the statement signifies “a change in the normative situation” and therefore, the petitions have been “exhausted.” Justice Fogelman ruled that the petitioners could file new petitions and that the interim injunctions that compel the military to permit the villagers to live on site and farm their lands will be valid until 1 November 2012. The Court stressed that the dismissal of the petitions in no way reflects a position regarding the residents’ claims. Subsequently, the interim injunctions were extended until 16 January 2013.

On 16 January 2013 the Association for Civil Rights in Israel filed a new petition to the High Court of Justice on behalf of 108 villagers facing expulsion. The petition appealed to the court that it prevent the forcible transfer of the villagers from their homes, legalize their residence in the area declared a firing zone and rescind its declaration. That very day, the court issued an interim injunction, forbidding the Israeli military to forcibly evict the petitioners and their families. The State was informed it must file its response within 60 days. In February, Att. Shlomo Lecker filed a petition on behalf of an additional 143 villagers slated for expulsion. The two petitions were merged into a single case.

(Source / 09.03.2013)

ROZENMAN: Ban Ki-Moon is wrong about Israeli settlements

Settlements not illegal under international law

There he goes again. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon erroneously has asserted, for the fourth time in two years, that “all [Israeli] settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, is illegal under international law.”

The Washington Post headlined its Feb. 1 Associated Press dispatch “U.N. panel criticizes Israel on settlements; Report says ‘creeping annexation’ violates rights of Palestinians.” AP noted that Mr. Ban was “reiterating his often-stated view.” He sure was.

Visiting Lebanon last year, Mr. Ban alleged that “settlements, new and old, are illegal. They work against the emergence of a viable Palestinian state.”

Speaking to a U.N. committee in 2011, the secretary-general charged that “settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are illegal under international law.”

On a trip to Israel and the West Bank in 2010, Mr. Ban asserted that “the world has condemned Israel’s expansion plans in East Jerusalem. Let us be clear: all settlement activity is illegal anywhere in occupied territory and must stop.”

The BBC relayed this sweeping declaration by the secretary-general in a dispatch that, like most news media coverage of such claims, lacked context. Yet context would show that Mr. Ban — ineffectual in bigger Middle East problems including the Syrian civil war and Iran’s race to nuclear weapons — is quite mistaken on the legality of Jewish settlements.

The San Remo Treaty of 1920, in which the victorious World War I allies dealt with the remnants of the defeated Ottoman Turkish Empire, created an entity called Palestine along both sides of the Jordan River. The powers intended it as the land on which Great Britain would turn its 1917 Balfour Declaration from aspiration to reality, assisting the Zionist movement in re-establishing the Jewish national home.

The Franco-British Boundary Convention of 1920 demarcated the French mandate for what would become Syria and Lebanon from that of the British in Palestine. This was in part to prepare for the Jewish state.

Article 6 of the League of Nations’ 1922 Palestine Mandate encouraged “close Jewish settlement” on the land west of the Jordan River. The mandate encouraged settlement only west of the river because Great Britain in the same year unilaterally severed Transjordan (today’s Jordan) from Palestine, creating a new Arab country.

The Anglo-American Convention of 1924 saw the United States endorse British administration of the remaining Palestine Mandate lands, so long as London helped bring a Jewish state into being.

The 1945 U.N. Charter, Chapter XII, Article 80, continues Jewish rights recognized under the Mandate. It protects “the rights whatsoever of any states or any peoples or the terms of existing international instruments” and is sometimes known as “the Palestine article.”

So regardless of Mr. Ban’s invocation of “world condemnation” or political debates about settlements and the peace process, Jews building communities west of the Jordan River do so in accord with relevant international laws. Nor does Mr. Ban apply a consistent legal yardstick to Arab municipalities in the Jewish state, which he does not denounce as illegal.

By insisting on settlements’ illegality, Mr. Ban says in effect there is nothing for Palestinian Arabs and Israelis to negotiate on this score. He thereby also undermines U.N. Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973). These highlight requirements for Arab-Israeli peacemaking and do not call for Israeli withdrawal from all the West Bank.

Mr. Ban’s recent statements on settlements were echoing a report by the obsessively anti-Israel U.N. Human Rights Council. The council, dominated by Islamic states, made the usual charge that Israeli West Bank villages and towns violate the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.

The convention prohibits forced transfer of people out of or into occupied territory. It was adopted to prevent crimes like the Nazi deportations of European Jews from conquered countries to death camps.

In the West Bank, however, Israel is the legal military occupational authority, pending a negotiated settlement. That’s because it gained the territories in 1967 in a war of self-defense. Further, it has not forcibly transferred Arabs out or Jews in, and the land itself is not an occupied part of a sovereign country but an unallocated, disputed remnant of the Mandate.

Perhaps the secretary-general feels like a prisoner of the institution he heads. Many U.N. members have targeted Israel for delegitimation with countless unsubstantiated—and unauthoritative—measures. Regardless, the press has an obligation to expose rather than parrot Mr. Ban’s errors. Settlements are not illegal under international law.

Eric Rozenman is Washington, D.C. director for Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).

(Source / 09.03.2013)

PRESS RELEASE | Palestinian village under demolition threat, Firing Zone 918



Palestinian village under demolition threat, Firing Zone 918, South Hebron Hills

At-Tuwani – On March 6 the Israeli army and District Coordination Office (DCO) delivered 20 stop working orders in the Palestinian community of Khallet Athaba’, in the Firing Zone 918, South Hebron hills.

At around 9 am DCO officials, escorted by an army jeep, entered the Palestinian hamlet of Khallet Athaba’ and delivered 20 stop working orders. The orders concern four water cisterns, four houses (three of concrete and one house-tent), two tents, three toilets, three stables and four additional buildings. The owners will appeal to prevent the stop working orders from turning into demolition orders.

Five families and about fifty people live in the Palestinian village of Khallet Athaba’. Almost all the buildings of the village are now under threat of demolition and all five families of the village are affected.

Khallet Athaba’ is located in Area C, within Firing Zone 918, and currently faces the threat of eviction, just like an additional seven villages of Firing Zone 918 (Isfey, al Fakheit, al Majaz, at Tabban, Jinba, Mirkez and Halaweh). The Israeli army -designated Firing Zone, located in the South Hebron Hills, includes 12 Palestinian villages and 1300 people. On July 19, 2012 the Israeli state, following instructions from the Ministry of Defense, filed a notification to the High Court claiming eviction of eight of these 12 villages for military needs, declaring that the 1000 Palestinians living in the villages are not “permanent residents”. The inhabitants of the area filed two petitions to the High Court in this matter and are now waiting for Israel’s response.

According to an August 2012 fact sheet produced by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs – occupied Palestinian territory (OCHA-oPt), (The humanitarian impact of Israeli-declared “Firing Zones” in the West Bank), “Firing zone residents are among the most vulnerable in the West Bank”. These residents suffer from a lack of services and infrastructures whilst facing human rights violations such as harassment by soldiers or access and movement restrictions. “These conditions contribute to a coercive environment that creates pressure on Palestinian communities to leave these areas”.

Operation Dove has maintained an international presence in At-Tuwani and South Hebron Hills since 2004.

Pictures of the incident:

For further information:
Operation Dove, 054 99 25 773

(Source / 09.03.2013)

Saudi Arabia jails two prominent activists

Founding members of the banned Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association are sentenced to 10 years in prison.

A Saudi Arabian court has sentenced two prominent political and human rights activists to at least 10 years in prison for offences that included sedition and giving inaccurate information to foreign media.

Mohammed Fahd al-Qahtani and Abdullah Hamad are founding members of the banned Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association, known as Acpra, that documents human rights abuses.

Qahtani was sentenced to 10 years. Hamad was told he must complete the remaining six years of a previous jail term for his political activities and serve an additional five years.

They will remain in detention until a judge rules on their appeal next month.

Saturday’s trial was open to the press and public, in what Saudi activists had described as a step forward for rights even as they decried the verdict.

More than 100 people attended the hearing on Saturday morning, mostly supporters and relatives of the defendants.

More than 20 security officers were also present in the room, prompting a protest from the defendants’ lawyer.

‘Politically motivated’

Acpra will also be disbanded and its funds confiscated, the judge ruled.

Last year a court in Jeddah sentenced Acpra member Mohammad al-Bajadi to four years in prison.

Another of the group’s founders, Abdulkarim al-Khathar is on trial in Buraidah.

After the verdict, the police cleared the public from the court room as supporters of Qahtani and Hamad shouted that the trial was politically motivated.

On Thursday, an Interior Ministry spokesman said that activists, whom he did not name, had tried to stir up protests in the world’s top oil exporting country by spreading “false information” on social media.

Qahtani said in January he had never been to prison but thought he was “psychologically ready” for it, and that his family, who are in the United States where his wife is attending university, were also prepared.

(Source / 09.03.2013)

Israel breaks up checkpoint wedding to challenge citizenship laws

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Israeli forces on Saturday broke up a wedding procession organized at a West Bank checkpoint to challenge Israeli laws preventing Palestinians in the West Bank from living with their spouses in Israel.

Two buses left from Jaffa and Ramallah to meet at opposite sides of Hizma checkpoint, northeast of Jerusalem, for the wedding of Hazim, from Abu Dis and his bride, who is from Nazareth.

Both buses were stopped by Israeli forces before reaching the checkpoint and Israeli forces fired sound bombs at guests who had begun singing and dancing on the West Bank side of Hizma, an organizer told Ma’an.

“While they were dancing and singing for the groom, Israeli occupation forces started throwing sound bombs and pushing people back. They then fired tear gas, forcing people to run away,” organizer Najwan Berekdar said.

Over 200 people participated in the wedding, including founder of the Palestinian National Initiative Mustafa Barghouthi and Palestinian author Rima Nazzal Kitana.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said that “100 rioters at Hizma threw stones at security services, who used riot dispersal means, including tear gas, to disperse the riot.”

The wedding was organized by the “Love in the Time of Apartheid” campaign, a grassroots initiative set up by Palestinian youth to challenge the Citizenship and Entry into Israel law, which denies residency status in Israel for West Bank Palestinians married to Israeli-Palestinians.

“This Israeli law challenges Palestinian national unity and prevents Palestinians from even considering marrying another Palestinian from the other side,” Berekdar said.

“It divides Palestinians not only geographically but nationally, socially and culturally and has a severe economic and psychological effect on Palestinian families.

“We are calling for international pressure from the UN and civil society groups to put pressure on Israel to revoke this racist law, which interferes with basic human things like choosing a future life partner,” Berekdar added.

The Citizenship and Entry into Israel law was enacted by the Israeli Knesset in 2003, and prohibits granting residency or citizenship to Palestinians from the occupied territories who are married to Palestinian citizens of Israel, Adalah says.

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs website says the temporary order is “security orientated” and enacted after people took advantage of Israeli identity to carry out “terrorist attacks.”

Human Rights Watch has said that “the law violates Israel’s obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which applies not only to race but also to national or ethnic origin.”

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in 2003 called on Israel to revoke the law.

(Source / 09.03.2013)

The Real Identity of Israel

I am Israel. I came to a land without a people for a people without a land. Those people who happened to be here, had no right to be here, and my people showed them they had to leave or die, razing 480 Palestinian villages to the ground, erasing their history.

I am Israel. Some of my people committed massacres and later became Prime Ministers to represent me. In 1948, Menachem Begin was in charge of the unit that slaughtered the inhabitants of Deir Yassin, including 100 men, women, and children. In 1953, Ariel Sharon led the slaughter of the inhabitants ofQibya, and in 1982 arranged for our allies to butcher around 2,000 in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila.

I am Israel. Carved in 1948 out of 78% of the land of Palestine, dispossessing its inhabitants and replacing them with Jews from Europe and other parts of the world. While the natives whose families lived on this land for thousands of years are not allowed to return, Jews from all over the world are welcome to instant citizenship.

I am Israel. In 1967, I swallowed the remaining lands of Palestine – the West Bank and Gaza – and placed their inhabitants under an oppressive military rule, controlling and humiliating every aspect of their daily lives. Eventually, they should get the message that they are not welcome to stay, and join the millions of Palestinian refugees in the shanty camps of Lebanon and Jordan.

I am Israel. I have the power to control American policy. My American Israel Public Affairs Committee can make or break any politician of its choosing, and as you see, they all compete to please me. All the forces of the world are powerless against me, including the UN as I have the American veto to block any condemnation of my war crimes. As Sharon so eloquently phrased it, “We control America”.

I am Israel. I influence American mainstream media too, and you will always find the news tailored to my favor. I have invested millions of dollars into PR representation, and CNN, New York Times, and others have been doing an excellent job of promoting my propaganda. Look at other international news sources and you will see the difference.

I am Israel. You Palestinians want to negotiate “peace!?” But you are not as smart as me; I will negotiate, but will only let you have your municipalities while I control your borders, your water, your airspace and anything else of importance. While we “negotiate,” I will swallow your hilltops and fill them with settlements, populated by the most extremist of my extremists, armed to the teeth. These settlements will be connected with roads you cannot use, and you will be imprisoned in your little Bantustans between them, surrounded by checkpoints in every direction.

I am Israel. I have the fourth strongest army in the world, possessing nuclear weapons. How dare your children confront my oppression with stones, don’t you know my soldiers won’t hesitate to blow their heads off? In 17 months, I have killed 900 of you and injured 17,000, mostly civilians, and have the mandate to continue since the international community remains silent. Ignore, as I do, the hundreds of Israeli reserve officers who are now refusing to carry out my control over your lands and people; their voices of conscience will not protect you.

I am Israel. You want freedom? I have bullets, tanks, missiles, Apaches and F-16s to obliterate you. I have placed your towns under siege, confiscated your lands, uprooted your trees, demolished your homes, and you still demand freedom? Don’t you get the message? You will never have peace or freedom, because I am Israel.

(Source / 09.03.2013)

Deadly Egypt riots follow football verdicts

At least one person killed as football fans protest over sentences handed down over riots at Port Said match last year.
At least one person has been killed as fans of rival football teams take to the streets in Egypt, angered by verdicts over last year’s deadly stadium riots in Port Said.

Fans of the Cairo club Al-Ahly, angered by the acquittal of seven police officers, set fire to a police officers’ club and the football federation’s headquarters in the capital.

Follow spotlight coverage of the struggling young democracy

Hundreds of people also took to the streets in Port Said to protest against a Cairo court’s upholding of the death sentences of 21 fans accused of sparking the riots that left 74 people – most of them Al-Ahly supporters – dead.

The death sentences, passed on January 28, have been a flashpoint for protests across the country.

The football stadium deaths occurred in February 2012 at the end of a match between Al-Ahly and local side Al-Masry.

Spectators were crushed when panicked crowds tried to escape from the stadium after a pitch invasion by supporters of Al-Masry.

Two senior policemen – the former head of police security General Essam Samak and Brigadier General Mohammed Saaed – were sentenced to 15 years in prison. Saaed had the keys to the stadium gates, which were locked at the time of the riot.

Witnesses have said that police deployed at the stadium were passively staying on the sidelines and did not interfere to stop the violence.

Bridge blocked

Thousands of Al-Ahly fans gathered at their club in Cairo to hear the verdicts being announced on live television.

Naval units were deployed to secure the Suez canal after protesters from Port Said headed there

Reacting to the acquittals of the seven policemen, dozens of fans headed to the police building closest to their stadium – the officers’ club.

Another crowd set the headquarters of the Egyptian Football Federation ablaze. Tharwat Sueilam, the director of the federation, told Al Jazeera that there were no injuries..

Al-Ahly supporters also briefly blocked the capital’s October Bridge, one of the most vital bridges in the city.

Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros, reporting from Cairo, said the situation had calmed down after senior fans urged those gathered at the club to accept the verdicts and go home.

Most of those condemned to death were fans of Port Said’s Al-Masry. In the city, several hundred people, many of them relatives of the defendants, gathered outside the local government offices to vent their anger over the verdicts.

Some protesters headed to the Suez canal, apparently in a bid to block movement of ships, but were stopped by the army.

Witnesses said protesters untied speedboats used to supply shipping, hoping the boats would drift into the waterway and disrupt passing vessels.

The January verdicts led to protests in the city that left about 40 people dead, most of them shot by police.

Many residents of Port Said, have seen the trial as unjust and politicised.

Football fans in the city say they feel the authorities were biased in favour of Al-Ahly, Egypt’s most powerful club.

(Source / 09.03.2013)

Iran slams Israeli attack on Palestinian worshippers

Palestinian worshippers hold up the Qur’an at al-Aqsa Mosque compound following Friday Prayers on March 8, 2013, to protest against an Israeli soldier’s insult to the holy book.

Palestinian worshippers hold up the Qur’an at al-Aqsa Mosque compound following Friday Prayers on March 8, 2013, to protest against an Israeli soldier’s insult to the holy book.

On Friday, Israeli forces clashed with Palestinian worshippers near the al-Aqsa Mosque in East al-Quds (Jerusalem), leaving over a dozen protesters and several Israeli policemen injured.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast has slammed the Israeli forces’ aggression against Palestinian worshippers near the al-Aqsa Mosque and called for international action against Israel’s sacrilegious acts.

In a Friday statement, Mehmanparast called on regional and international bodies, particularly human rights institutions, to show serious reaction to Israel’s abusive measures and the regime’s growing trend of blasphemous acts against Islamic sanctities.

“On Friday, Israeli forces clashed with Palestinians near the al-Aqsa Mosque in East al-Quds (Jerusalem), injuring over a dozen worshippers.”

The Israeli forces fired stun grenades to disperse the Palestinian worshippers who were protesting against the recent desecration of the Muslims holy book, the Qur’an, by an Israeli soldier.

“The weak response of the international community to these kinds of aggression, including the insult against the worshippers and sacrilege of the holy Qur’an at the al-Aqsa Mosque, will undoubtedly embolden the Zionists to commit more sacrilegious acts,” Mehmanparast pointed out.

On Sunday, Israeli forces stormed a session of Qur’an recitation in al-Aqsa Mosque and an Israeli soldier kicked a copy of the holy book and trampled on it.

In a Monday statement, the Lebanese resistance movement, Hezbollah, called on all Muslim nations to take a harsh stance against the blasphemous move.

(Source / 09.03.2013)

Israeli doctors accused of collusion in torture

Questions are being raised about the involvement of Israeli doctors in the suspected torture of a young Palestinian detainee who died in custody last month. Sharmila Devi reports.

The death of a Palestinian prisoner in disputed circumstances in an Israeli prison has reignited a longstanding controversy over alleged physician complicity in torture as well as sparking renewed Palestinian anger over the estimated 4600 prisoners held by Israel.

The Israeli Medical Association (IMA) denied that medical professionals were involved in torture or abuse and said that as far as it knew, torture was not approved or used by Israeli security forces or prisons. However, human-rights campaigners say Palestinian prisoners have long suffered from beatings, sleep deprivation, prolonged and painful handcuffing, humiliation, and medical neglect—considered torture under international standards.
Arafat Jaradat, a 30-year-old petrol attendant with two children, was arrested on Feb 18 on suspicion of throwing stones and Molotov cocktails during a West Bank demonstration held last November against Israeli military action in the Gaza strip. Palestinians say his arrest, months after the demonstration, and his interrogation was part of a longstanding Israeli policy to coerce prisoners to become informants after their release.

Palestinian leaders say some 800 000 Palestinians have been detained by Israeli forces since 1967, and Jaradat was the 203rd prisoner to die. He died after several days of interrogation by Israeli’s Shin Bet internal security service on Feb 23 at Israel’s Megiddo prison. An autopsy was held the next day at Israel’s Institute of Forensic Medicine in the presence of Saber Aloul, the Palestinian Authority’s chief pathologist, who said bruising on the body was evidence of torture.
Israel’s health ministry said on Feb 28, after examining new findings from the autopsy that there was no evidence Jaradat was physically abused or poisoned, nor was it possible to determine his cause of death.

Israeli officials had originally attributed his death to a heart attack and said bruising and broken ribs were “characteristic findings of a resuscitation, which the medical crew from the Israel Prison Service and Magen David Adom engaged in for 50 minutes in an effort to save his life”.

Additional samples taken from the body were still undergoing microscopic and toxicology tests and results were not expected for several weeks. “The signs that appeared during the autopsy show clearly that he was subjected to severe torture that led immediately to his death”, Issa Qaraka, the Palestinian Minister of Prisoner Affairs said at a Ramallah press conference after being briefed by the Palestinian pathologist who attended the autopsy.

Kamil Sabbagh, Jaradat’s lawyer, told an Israeli military judge a couple of days before his client’s death that he was being forced to sit for long periods during interrogation, had complained of back pain, and seemed terrified of returning to the Shin Bet detention centre where he was being held. The judge ordered an examination by a prison doctor. Jaradat died at Megiddo prison and it was not known when he was moved there.

Derek Summerfield, an honorary senior lecturer at the University of London’s Institute of Psychiatry and campaigner against what he called Israeli physicians’ violations of human rights, says he wanted to know what part doctors played in the circumstances of Jaradat’s death. “By Israel’s own admission, Jaradat was seen by Israeli doctors 2 days earlier and they found him in good health. The key medical ethical question is what were these doctors examining him for, if not to assess whether he could withstand torture”, he tells The Lancet. “This is precisely what the campaign regarding medical collusion with torture in Israel was launched for in 2009 and it continues to run.”

The IMA said in a statement: “The IMA vociferously objects to the claim that medical professionals are involved in torture or abuse, and we will continue to do everything possible with the tools available to us to inform doctors about their obligation to report and to conduct themselves appropriately.”

The IMA and human rights organisations have called for responsibility for prisoners’ health to be taken away from the Israel Prison Service (IPS) and given to an outside body, such as health maintenance organisations (HMO) or the health ministry, which a year ago set up a standing committee to which doctors can report suspicions of torture. “It’s true that every doctor has a conflict of interest between the patient and the system in the HMOs and also in the army”, Avinoam Reches, who heads the IMA’s Ethics Board, told Ha’aretz newspaper. “But in the case of the IPS, the problem is severe because the treatment is given to people who have no freedom of choice whatsoever.”

Palestinians and human-rights groups demanded an independent investigation into Jaradat’s death.
(Source / 09.03.2013)

Palestinian activists: Obama non grata in Palestine

Group called “Palestinian For Dignity” plan demonstrations in protest of Obama’s planned visit to the West Bank.

Obama and Airforce One 521

Obama and Airforce One 521

Palestinian activists said over the weekend that they would hold demonstrations in protest against US President Barack Obama’s planned visit to the West Bank later this month.

A group called “Palestinian For Dignity” called for “huge demonstrations” against Obama and US policies “supportive of the occupation.”

“We call upon our people to demonstrate against receiving he who considers himself Israel’s number one ally,” the group said in a statement. “We also call for demonstrations against the idea of returning to the negotiations [with Israel.”

The group said that Obama’s planned visit to Ramallah “comes at a time when our prisoners are on hunger strike and weeks after the death of prisoner Arafat Jaradat in interrogation cells.”

The group said that it was naive to think that US policy toward Israel has changed  during Obama’s term.

It also reminded Palestinians that the US had voted against the PA request for upgrading the Palestinians’ status to non-member observer at the UN in November last year.

In a related development, Hamas and Islamic Jihad called on Palestinians to prevent Obama from visiting the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

The two groups said they were opposed to Obama’s visits, especially if he is accompanied by Israeli security officials.

(Source / 09.03.2013)