Obama and Abbas’ fig leaf

Abbas and his colleagues have placed all their hopes on Obama instead of on the Palestinian people.

“There was something pathetic about Abbas standing by Obama’s side in Ramallah… Obama travels by private jet and armoured car, while Abbas cannot even move freely without Israel’s permission,” writes author
The dust is settling after US President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel, the occupied Palestinian territory and Jordan, and it is now easier to see the extent of the debris he has left behind. It is perhaps at the geopolitical level that Obama has done the most damage – and that to the weakest party, the Palestinian authority, he met. The surprise reconciliation he engineered between Israel and Turkey has reversed the only regional realignment in the Palestinians’ favour for years.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan clearly hopes to soften the blow of restoring normal relations with Israel, badly damaged after Israel’s lethal attack on the Mavi Marmara, by promising a solidarity visit to Gaza. Erdogan is also claiming, in the face of repeated Israeli denials, that he has secured an end to the siege of Gaza.

However, the fact remains that Turkey, Israel and the US have all made concrete political and economic gains while Palestinians gained some empty gestures.

The US gains better regional coordination in dealing with Syria and Iran. Israel and Turkey’s positions are strengthened in a turbulent neighbourhood, after losing strong allies in Egypt and Syria, respectively, with the fall of former dictator Hosni Mubarak and Syria’s brutal civil war. Israel is also hoping that the warming ties may ease its entry to NATO, which Turkey had previously blocked.

On the economic front, Israel and Turkey can again collaborate on the development of Israel’s offshore gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean, as the Financial Times reminds us. A Turkish official even said that the rapprochement will help the two countries’ “intelligence officials get in touch with each other”.

There is no mention of Turkey standing up for the right of the Palestinians to develop their own natural gas fieldsoff the coast of Gaza, a move Israel has blocked since the Palestinians refused to sell them the gas at knock down prices. Erdogan has an opportunity for a concrete expression of Turkish solidarity on this issue during his planned visit to Gaza, but Turkish state interests will no doubt prevail.

Follow the latest developments in the ongoing conflict 

Geopolitical loser

In short, the bifurcated Palestinian political leadership is the big geopolitical loser. This could not come at a worse time for both Hamas and Fatah. Iraq is still devastated by the US invasion of 2003, and Fatah lost a key ally in its efforts to maintain ascendancy over Hamas after the Mubarak regime fell.

The Syrian civil war has cost Hamas an important base and alliances with Iran and Hezbollah. Hamas hopes that the Muslim Brotherhood-led government in Egypt would redress those losses have been dashed. Egypt has eased the border crossing at Rafah for individuals, but still limits the number who can enjoy such freedoms in line with the defunct European-US-Israeli agreement. Nor has Egypt fully opened the Rafah border to goods, leaving Gaza at Israel’s mercy for imports and exports.

Worse, the Morsi government has recently cracked down on the underground tunnels serving Gaza’s economy much more forcefully than the Mubarak government ever did. Meanwhile, the Egyptian press has been waging a mini-campaign against Hamas and Gazans after the August 2012 attack on an Egyptian army base in Sinai that killed 16 soldiers, even though Hamas adamantly denies its involvement.

One would think that these developments would push Fatah and Hamas to finally reconcile, but Abbas put reconciliation efforts on hold again until after the Obama visit in hopes of a renewed US push for peace.

Unfortunately for Abbas, Obama used his remarks in Ramallah to insist the Palestinians enter direct negotiations without preconditions, not even the settlement freeze he himself had urged. At the same time, he insisted on preconditions for the Palestinians, who “must recognise that Israel will be a Jewish state”, effectively condemning the Palestinian citizens of Israel to perpetual second-class citizenship. His conversion has doubtless encouraged Israel’s most annexationist government to date to carry on with legislation to define itself as the national state of the Jewish people.

There was something pathetic about Abbas standing by Obama’s side in Ramallah with the press corps addressing both as “Mr President”. Obama travels by private jet and armoured car. Abbas cannot even move freely without Israel’s permission, as it reminded him by briefly reducing his travel permit in retaliation for his first attempt to secure state membership of the UN.

Way to broker negotiations

The Palestinian “Mr President” has no option to return to negotiations, his only remaining fig leaf, even though they cannot produce a sovereign state. Indeed, his negotiating team was reportedly trying hard to find some face-saving languagefor a return to talks in advance of the Obama visit.

“The Syrian civil war has cost Hamas an important base and alliances with Iran and Hezbollah.” 

 

It seems Obama will help Abbas preserve that fig leaf. Kerry has been assigned to find a way to broker negotiations. Israel has since said it will resume the transfer of taxes that it collects “on behalf” of the PA after withholding them for several punishing months. There are reports that a few Palestinian prisoners and of a mini-freeze on settlements.

Perhaps in expectation of just such a renewed “peace process” that the Palestinian delegation to the United Nations Human Rights Council this week accepted a watered down resolution, shorn of all mechanisms for implementation, after the Council discussed the report of the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, a move slammed by Palestinian human rights organisations.

The Fact-Finding Mission’s report had actually called on Israel to cease all settlement activity “without preconditions” and “immediately initiate a process of withdrawal of all settlers” or face prosecution before the International Criminal Court. Any Palestinian leadership worth its salt would have used its newly acquired non-member observer status at the UN to apply for membership of the ICC and criminalise Israel’s settlement enterprise.

Abbas and his colleagues have, however, placed all their hopes on Obama instead of on the Palestinian people, even though the US President has shown he is powerless to take on Israel and its lobby in Washington, DC.

By contrast, the Palestinian people have shown they can accumulate the power to fulfill their rights even in the most dire circumstances, whether it is the moral power of prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails, the steadfastness of villagers facing down the Israeli bulldozers clearing their land, or the Palestinian-led global movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel until it upholds international law.

No doubt Abbas will finally discover the magnitude of his mistake. Meanwhile, others will change the course of history.

(Source / 03.04.2013)

Zionists Make Great Homebuilders

No Money Down (No Palestinians Allowed)

With the conclusion of Barrack Obama’s recent trip to Israel and Palestine, the subject of protected lands from the 1967 border agreement comes to mind — and with it, we are reminded of the Israeli governments’ voracious appetite for new development opportunities in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

After the UN approved Palestine statehood in November in 2012, Israel announced plans to build 3,500 new homes in previously occupied Palestinian territory.

Giving credit where credit is due, Zionists make exceptionally prodigious homebuilders.  While it usually takes a team of planners, architects, and lawyers to wrangle your way through a labyrinth of zoning applications, hearings, and environmental impact reports, these guys know how to hurdle those bureaucratic hurdles and start building.

In an industry where supply and demand dictates developer outlays, these guys put the demand in “supply and demand.”  Why should the1967 Middle East War, which defined the borders of Palestine and Israel, and where 138 countries recently recognized Palestine as an Arab state, affect your decision making?  Agreements are made to be broken.  Right?   And the real coup d’état, the Zionists got the land with zero percent down.  In fact it was free.  This would even make the Merchant of Venice proud.

For definitional purposes, a Zionist in the true sense is a person with noble intentions; and Zionism, a noble cause.  However, in today’s xenophobic world, what has been created in its place is a strain of Zionism that is so totally exclusionary, that its underpinnings are now nearly recognized as unadulterated racism.  In short, if you think the Tea Party has hijacked the GOP, then the Zionists have man-handled the Likud party — which is currently lead by Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

As a real estate investor who has bought dozen of single tract homes over the past ten years in California, Nevada and Arizona, I can certainly relate to the bravado of claiming a parcel of land as one’s own and enjoying the pride of ownership that takes place. But this is different.

A Different Perspective

Israel’s other two leading political parties, the Kadima and Labor parties, have a decidedly different perspective on Palestinian Statehood — and essentially support it as it pertains to negotiating with its Arab neighbors.

In support of full statehood, there are at least half a dozen Israeli parties (i.e., Hadash, Ra’am, T’al, Balad, and Meretz), that have gone on record for a two-state solution. So even though Israel’s home building aspirations may appear to the world as vulgar, it only represents a small to medium fraction of the Israeli electorate.  Similar to the stranglehold the Republican far right has in this country’s own legislative process, so too does the Likud party in Israeli politics.

Notwithstanding the moral outrage that typically cascades from UN member states after an international event occurs that it disagrees with, the following came from the State Department:

“We’re very clear that continued Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank undermines peace efforts,” U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said. “We do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity.”

Counter Protests and Kitchen Counter Tops

As a sign of protest, a group of Palestinians squatted on a vacant piece of strip along the West Bank in January.  The initiative, which was supported by the PLO, was to prevent Israel colonialism.  One of the protest signs stated they were “occupying” occupied land.

Palestinians have shown extreme resilience, especially with the leadership of President Mahmoud Abbas.  In addition, you have to give the Palestinians credit for at least having a sense of humor.  As the red head stepchild of the Middle East, where support from neighboring Arabs is often just talk — and not action, it takes a lot to stay focused with the added indignation of aggressively being pummeled by the extreme right of the Israeli politic.

And despite the recklessness of Hamas, which is a hateful political enemy to Israel, the people of Palestinian are fairly optimistic. This is apropos for a Mel Brooks comedic treatment.  Think of the musical skit “Springtime for Hitler” from the Mel Brooks movie The Producers.   As a starter — and in terms of comedic relief, I’m thinking that the Zionist real estate development proposal was probably tweeted to Hamas in 140 characters or less.  Effective immediately.

What kinda marketing material do you pitch to an Israeli citizen to buy a condo in the settled land of the Palestinian people?  And what happens if there’s buyers’ remorse, and it’s past the 3-day right of rescission?  God forbid there by anything like a born again Jew.  All sales are final.

A $10,000 seller credit if you open escrow before the UN proposal for Palestinian Statehood is approved.  Special discount for military personnel and Mossad agents. (Who knew?)  Which brings a whole new meaning to Neighborhood Watch program.  In fact, somebody let George Zimmerman know their hiring.  Job requirements: Must know how to profile, with the ability to shot first, and ask questions later.

Other issues: Clear title not guaranteed.  Resettlement insurance available upon request.  Bomb shelters at no extra cost.   Investor special, buy two condos and get a standalone Casita (aka Grandma unit), for your rag-top hating mother in law.  A place to keep her quiet, while you enjoy a nightly view of improvised people who suffer in third world conditions.

And for those Zionists with a bit of a feisty streak — watch the sky light up at night as Israel F15’s (courtesy of American taxpayers) —- and cool looking drones, least we not forget (for daytime matinees of course), bomb Hamas hideouts on the Gaza Strip.  A fantastic multi-colored light show only comparable to your relatives at Disneyworld in Florida.   Not only do you get free cable, but every neighborhood comes with its new Iron Dome anti-missile system.  Thanks in part to US assistance of $3.1 billion in per annum military aid financing.

Walk of Shame for America and Israel

The Palestinians have been robbed of their dignity.  Robbed of their land.  Robbed of their minds.  And now their land, which is considered sacrosanct to their existence, has been deduced into a rich developers marketing plan?  Nice.

If it weren’t tragic, it would actually be pretty funny.  It would be interesting to watch the reaction of the Mexican government if Kaufman Homes — now KB Homes, had one of their sales office in El Paso, TX set up shop overnight across the border in Juárez, Mexico, and break ground on a new 5,000 home master planned community.  (The reaction: What the f—-k just happened).  Opps, I guess they didn’t get the email from Netanyahu?  Maybe they were taking a siesta!

To give a sense of political equivalence, an extreme Zionist would be similar to a Tea Party member that not only has a sense of contempt for anyone that doesn’t look like or think like them, but actually thinks that the Back-to-Africa movement in the 19th century was actually a pretty good idea.  Perhaps even a necessary evil.

Extremeness vs. Normalcy

Zionists, as opposed to peaceful Torah loving normal Israelis, which philosophically mirror a substantial portion of American Jews, find the zeal in which the Netanyahu led government treats Arab, brown skinned non-Jews as alarming, hypocritical and border line sick.

Zionists, which is meant in the pejorative as it relates to that small sliver of Israelis that believe they have a God given right to Jerusalem and the surrounding real estate, take a no prisoner approach towards economic development on the West Bank.  (Somehow, the planning commission missed that in their zoning application).   By comparison, the take charge manifesto of the Likud party in Israel makes US President Andrew Jackson’s triumphs over the Indians during the American Indian wars look like a friendly get together.

Even by dick-swinging, super macho American standards, building condos in East Jerusalem and in the West Bank by fait — is fairly embolden.

White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters soon after the UN passed resolution: “We urge Israeli leaders to reconsider these unilateral decisions and exercise restraint as these actions are counterproductive and make it harder to resume direct negotiations to achieve a two state solution.”

Viola! Your White Picket Fence in the West Bank

With marble kitchen counter tops, a Kosher kitchen, triple weaved Berber carpet, sound proof walls — for that occasional missile that just exploded overhead, roof top pools — to view brown skinned Palestinians throw rocks and bottles from three hundred yards away at your beautiful master planned community, is priceless.

These new settler homes bring new meaning to your friendly neighbored HOA.  Instead of being fined for breaching the CC&R’s for not removing your garbage bin within 24 hours after trash pickup day, Israeli citizens will now get fined for not turning off all house lights after dusk, for fear of becoming a visible target for Hamas snipers after nightfall.

Are there deed restrictions?  You betcha: No Palestinians allowed.  (The new Negro of the 21st century).  Unless of course it’s the kitchen help or landscapers to mow your lawn.    But even that may be a risk, since those domestics (in the true sense), may give locational coordinates to Hamas so they may personally send you a house opening gift — by air express of course.  But with Google satellite mapping, who needs Palestinian informants posing as Israeli new home buyers or job seeking domestics.

And who needs a home planning commission when you have the Torah and the backing of the United States as your pre-approved lender?  From a lending perspective, Israel has great credit, a superb FICO score, perfect payment history, steady employment profile, and great personal references from their next door neighbors!   And if they ever give a three notice to pay or quit, you could always count on Israeli commandos to complete the eviction in a steadfast manner.

Shalom.

(Source / 03.04.2013)

Israeli soldiers kill Palestinian youth: West Bank officials

A Palestinian protester peeks at Israeli troops from behind old doors used as cover during clashes in the West Bank city of Hebron April 3, 2013.

Israeli soldiers shot at and killed a 16-year-old Palestinian and wounded two others late Wednesday in the West Bank, Palestinian security officials said.

Amer Nassar took bullets to the head when Israeli soldiers opened fire in Tulkarem in the north of the Palestinian territory, after youths threw stones at an Israeli roadblock, they said.

Palestinian militants launched several rockets into southern Israel and Israeli aircraft struck targets in the Gaza Strip Wednesday in the heaviest exchange of fire between the sides since a cease-fire ended a major flare-up last year.

There were no casualties reported, but the violence nonetheless threatened to shatter the calm that has prevailed for more than four months. Israel’s new defense minister issued a stern warning.

“We will not allow shooting of any sort [even sporadic] toward our citizens and our forces,” Moshe Yaalon, a former military chief of staff, said in a statement.

By nightfall Wednesday, calm appeared to have returned. A small al-Qaida-influenced group was suspected. The rocket fire coincided with unrest in the West Bank over the death of a Palestinian prisoner.

Yaalon said he holds the Islamic militant Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007, responsible for all such attacks from the seaside strip.

Airstrikes in Gaza

Israel launched an offensive against Hamas last November in response to an increase in rocket fire from Gaza. During eight days of fighting, Israel carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Gaza, while Gaza militants fired hundreds of rockets into Israel. More than 160 Palestinians, including dozens of civilians, and six Israelis were killed in the fighting before Egypt brokered a truce.

In recent weeks, there have been several rocket attacks, including one as President Barack Obama was visiting Israel two weeks ago. Overnight Wednesday, Israel responded for the first time by striking a pair of empty fields in northern and eastern Gaza.

Around the time Yaalon was speaking on Wednesday morning, two more rockets exploded in the Israeli border town of Sderot, according to police. Air raid sirens sounded, and people on their way to work and school took cover. No injuries were reported.

The Israeli military said a total of five rockets were fired within 24 hours, including two that exploded prematurely inside Gaza.

Under the cease-fire, Israel pledged to halt its policy of attacking militant leaders and to ease a blockade it imposed on Gaza after the Hamas takeover in 2007. Hamas pledged to halt rocket attacks on Israel. A number of smaller militant groups also operate in Gaza, including groups that draw inspiration from the al-Qaida global terror network.

U.N. Mideast envoy Robert Serry appealed for calm in a statement. “It is of paramount importance to refrain from violence in this tense atmosphere and for parties to work constructively in addressing the underlying issues,” he said.

Ihab Ghussein, the Hamas government spokesman, accused Israel of using the airstrikes to “divert the attention” from unrest in Israeli prisons. “They think that through escalation on Gaza front they can hide the truth,” he said, and urged Egypt, the guarantor of the cease-fire, to intervene.

Hunger strikes

Palestinian prisoners have been rioting and hunger striking since a 64-year-old prisoner died of throat cancer on Tuesday. Palestinians blamed Israel for the man’s death, saying he was not given proper medical care. The prisoner, Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh, was serving a life sentence for his role in a foiled attempt to bomb a busy cafe in Jerusalem in 2002.

Einav Shimron Grinbaum, spokeswoman of Israel’s health ministry, said an autopsy performed Wednesday found a cancerous growth in Abu Hamdiyeh’s throat and secondary cancerous growths in his neck, chest, lungs, liver, and spinal cord. She said hospital records showed he was a heavy smoker. The head of the Palestinian pathological institute also participated in the autopsy, she said.

At protests across the West Bank Wednesday afternoon, hundreds of Palestinians threw rocks and rolled burning tires at soldiers, prompting a response with tear gas, the Israeli military said.

In Ramallah, protesters waved pictures of Abu Hamdiyeh and chanted “with our souls and blood we will redeem the prisoner.”

Israel’s chief military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, accused the Palestinian Authority, which governs in the West Bank, of exploiting the death to “resume popular protests.”

Prisons Authority spokeswoman Sivan Weizman said Abu Hamdiyeh was treated by Israeli specialists and died in a hospital in Beersheba. She said the prison service asked the parole board to release Abu Hamdiyeh last week after his cancer was diagnosed as terminal last, but the appeal was still being processed at the time of his death.

Weizman said almost all of the 4,600 Palestinian prisoners detained by Israel refused their breakfasts Wednesday morning in a symbolic act of protest.

After decades of conflict with Israel, the issue of prisoners is emotionally charged in Palestinian society. The Palestinians revere the prisoners as standing up to Israeli occupation. In Israel, the prisoners, who are serving time for crimes ranging from stone throwing to mass murder, are seen as terrorists.

In a separate development, Israel’s defense minister issued a tough warning to battling forces in Syria, saying Israel would respond to any cross-border provocations.

On Tuesday, the Israeli military said a mortar shell exploded on its side of the frontier in the Golan Heights. The military said its soldiers returned the fire and said they scored a direct hit.

Mortar shells and machine gun fire have sporadically hit Israeli territory in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights since Syria descended into civil war following its March 2011 uprising.

“Israel has no intention of ignoring fire from Syria toward Israeli territory, incidental or not, and will respond with a firm hand,” Yaalon said. “As far as we are concerned, the Syrian regime is to be held responsible for everything happening in its territory.”

Israel, which has warily watched the fighting in Syria raging close to its frontier, is concerned that al-Qaida-linked groups fighting alongside the rebels could set their sights on Israel after the civil war ends.

(Source / 03.04.2013)

Children beaten and blindfolded by Israeli troops

In February, the number of Palestinian children between 12 and 15 years who were detained by Israel rose from 31 to 39. Almost 60 percent of the 236 Palestinian child detainees of all ages have been unlawfully transferred to prisons inside Israel. Children were arrested and detained during the recent protests in support of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike.

These facts have been made public by Defence for Children International – Palestine Section (DCI-PS). The organization’s 2013 case summaries make for chilling reading.

Shoved to the ground

For example, Israeli soldiers used excessive force during the arrest of 15-year-old Jaber. In the middle of the night, dozens of soldiers raided the boy’s home when they came searching for him. Jaber’s mother witnessed how her son was dragged from his bed to the front yard of the family home in Beit Ur al-Tahta (near the West Bank city of Ramallah), DCI-PS reported on 28 March.

The soldiers shoved the boy to the ground, and kicked and punched him several times. Jaber trembled and cried when soldiers surrounded him with three dogs. The soldiers searched the home for several hours. All the time, Jaber was forced to stay outside in the cold without adequate clothing. After the soldiers had tied his hands behind his back and blindfolded him, he was taken away in a military jeep.

DCI-PS found that Jaber has been held at the Moskobiyyeh jail in West Jerusalem (also known as the Russian Compound). It is not the first time that Jaber was arrested. Last year, he already spent nine months in prison for throwing stones.

“Really scared”

On 5 March, nine-year-old Mo’men ran away from a demonstration in Hebron. Near his home, he ran into a group of Israeli soldiers. They grabbed him in the neck and by his left shoulder and took him to a room near Shuhada Street. “I was very scared of them especially when they grabbed me by my neck,” said Mo’men. “I was really scared and worried about what would happen to me.”

In the room, he was held with several teens. He was blindfolded and his hands were tied in front of him with two plastic cords. A military jeep took him to the police station in the settlement of Kiryat Arba, where he was forced to sit outside until 9:30 in the evening — all the time his hands were tied and he was blindfolded. He was brought back to Shuhada Street in a military jeep where he was turned over to the Palestinian Authority police. Soon after that, he was reunited with his father.

According to Israeli law, children under the age of twelve are not criminally liable and may not be arrested, interrogated as a suspect or brought to trial.

Punched and kicked

Seventeen-year-olds Ahmad and Moath were arrested by Israeli soldiers during a demonstration near Huwwara checkpoint (south of the West Bank city of Nablus) on 3 March. In their testimonies, they said that they were chased by four Israeli soldiers who punched and kicked and hit them with the stocks of their rifles. Their hands were tied behind their backs with a plastic cord and they were blindfolded. They were physically assaulted in the back of a military jeep on the way to Huwwara interrogation and detention center. While blindfolded they heard soldiers using mobile phones to take photos of them, both alone and with soldiers next to them.

Soldiers punched and kicked them before they were again put in a military jeep, still blindfolded and with their hands tied. They were taken to Ariel police station where they were interrogated without the presence of an attorney or family member. They were not informed of their rights. They both provided confessions and signed statements in Arabic without being allowed to read the statement or understand the contents. The following day, they were unlawfully transferred to Megiddo prison inside Israel.

Forced to sign statements

On 25 February, 14-year-old Hassan was arrested by Israeli soldiers during clashes between youths and soldiers near Huwwara checkpoint. Soldiers chased Hassan through a field and caught him because he had breathing problems from inhaling teargas. A soldier knocked him down from behind and hit him several times with a wooden stick on the legs.

Hassan testified that he was punched in the face and kicked in the stomach, then grabbed by the neck. His hands were tied tightly behind his back with a plastic cord, causing him pain. He was blindfolded and transferred to Ariel police station. In the interrogation room at the police station, he complained that his hands hurt; they were swollen and looked blue. The interrogator unbound his hands. Hassan denied he had thrown stones at the soldiers.

Hassan gave in after he was intimidated by the interrogator who promised to send him home if he confessed. “But if you don’t, I’ll lock you away for six months and forbid you to enter Israel.” Hassan had to sign a statement in Hebrew. On 28 February, he was released on a bail of 3,000 shekels (almost $650). However, the charges can be filed against him at any time within six months from his arrest.

On 25 February, 15-year-old Baha was arrested by three soldiers while he was on his way home from school. At Ariel police station, an interrogator forced Baha to sign papers written in Hebrew. Baha told DCI-PS that he had asked the interrogator “to explain what was written but he refused and shouted and made me sign the papers.” Baha testified that he did not confess, although the interrogator had pressured him to admit he had thrown stones.

Beaten for complaining

Two teens, Hendi and Majd, complained about abusive behavior by Israeli interrogators. (DCI-Palestine Section)

Meanwhile, DCI-PS has submitted two complaints about the abusive behavior of interrogators at Ariel police station in February. Sixteen-year-old Majd testified that one interrogator hit his face with a stick during his second interrogation. Another interrogator violently shook him until he was dizzy. Hurt, scared and tired, Majd confessed to throwing stones after enduring two hours of ill-treatment. The other complaint concerned verbal abuse of a sexual nature against a 16-year-old boy.

Both teens were arrested in an early morning raid on 9 February. The soldiers tied their hands tightly behind their backs and blindfolded them. Majd said the soldiers transferred them to different detention facilities — including Ariel police station — a number of times. Soldiers beat them when they complained that the plastic ties were too tight.

According to DCI-PS, children who are arrested arrive at Israeli interrogation centers blindfolded with their hands tied and deprived of sleep. They are denied the right to be accompanied by their parents and they have no access to a lawyer. They are seldom informed of their rights. The interrogations are in general mentally and physically coercive, often combining elements of intimidation, threats and physical violence. The interrogation techniques used are clearly aimed at obtaining a confession.

Instead of this abuse and ill-treatment, children should be entitled to have a parent present at all times during interrogation, have access to a lawyer of their choice prior to interrogation, and preferably throughout the interrogation process. Moreover, all interrogations of children should be recorded with audio-visual equipment.

The latest testimonies leave no doubt that Israel routinely violates the rights of the vulnerable.

(Source / 03.04.2013)

Switzerland to co-operate with Qatar on Palestine

Switzerland to co-operate with Qatar on Palestine

President of the Swiss Council of States (Senate) Filippo Lombardi, HE the Speaker of the Advisory Council (Majlis al Shura) Mohamed bin Mubarak al-Kholaifi and Swiss Ambassador Martin Aeschbacher cut the cake to mark the opening of the new Swiss embassy in Doha.

Switzerland is looking forward to co-operate with Qatar to seek a solution to the Palestine issue and find a way to push international humanitarian aid into Syria, president of the Swiss Council of States (Senate) Filippo Lombardi told the Gulf Times in an interview yesterday.

Speaking on the sidelines of a ceremony to mark the opening of the Swiss embassy in Doha, Lombardi said: “We look forward to co-operation in international peace conferences for all the Middle East. We are interested, for instance, for a solution to Palestine.
“And we’ve been talking once again about this Arab peace initiative, where Switzerland wanted to add some years ago, some additional initiatives, which is the Geneva initiatives and what can be done now together to go forward.”
At present, it is almost next to impossible to push the international humanitarian aid into Syria because of the explosive situation there.
“We are also very much present in the humanitarian level with the International Red Cross Committee in Syria. But it’s very difficult to enter Syria in the present condition. So we are looking at what can be done with Qatar’s support in order to improve the situation and allow the international humanitarian aid to come into Syria,” he said.
Switzerland is also interested in placing its bid in the Doha Metro project.
“There is a Swiss company which is now taking part in the bid for the Metro. We have great experiences with tunnels; I gave HH the Emir a stone this morning, which came from the heart of Switzerland, where we are boring a 57km-long tunnel for railway that will be opening in three years time where trains will be travelling 230km/hr.”
About Qatari investments in Switzerland, he said: “The important investments of Qatar in Switzerland have been in the hotel and tourism business.”
He added that there is co-operation in other sectors such as defence as well. A Swiss company already has a deal to sell trainer aircraft to Qatar.
According to the embassy, Swiss exports to Qatar in 2012 were valued at 587.9mn Swiss francs (or $621mn) and Qatari exports to Switzerland in 2012 were 228.6mn Swiss francs (or $241.6mn).
Explaining the reason for the need to open an embassy at this point in time in Qatar, he said that today there were more people travelling to Switzerland from Qatar than ever before. Many are going to Switzerland to study, while Qatari enterprises are also investing there.
Swiss Ambassador Martin Aeschbacher agreed that more than the Swiss nationals, it is the non-Swiss who will benefit the most. “The main advantage of the opening of the embassy would be for the non-Swiss nationals who want to visit Switzerland. Once we open the visa section in May, people will no longer have to go Kuwait for the visas and they will be able to do it from here.”
The embassy will start processing visas on May 12. Opening hours for consular affairs will be between 9am and 11am.
The number of Swiss citizens in Qatar is 210.
Earlier, at the ribbon cutting ceremony, Lombardi said in his speech that although Switzerland and Qatar are very far from each other geographically and also have different weather conditions, there are many aspects common to both countries. “They both are small countries, but both are peaceful and doing well at the economic level, who are developing and who are trying to make use of their neutrality in order to help others, to promote dialogue with other countries,” he said.
HE the Speaker of the Advisory Council (Majlis al Shura) Mohamed bin Mubarak al-Kholaifi was also present on the occasion. A song by schoolchildren was also present after the Swiss national anthem was played for the first time at the embassy.
Many Swiss nationals living in Doha were also present at the event. Catrine Sutter said she was overjoyed with having her country’s embassy in Doha, which would also help her and other Swiss nationals in renewing their passports.
The new embassy is located at Villa # 60, Wadi al Hamra Street 87, Area 66, Al Dafna area.

(Source / 03.04.2013)

Hunger striker Samer Issawi sends condolences to family of Abu Hamdiyeh

 

203770_345x230[1]RAMALLH (Ma’an) –Long-termhunger striker Samir Issawi on Tuesday sent his condolences to the family of Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh, who died in Israeli custody after a battle with cancer.

“Maysara died for the battle of dignity and pride, which is fought by thousands of steadfast Palestinians,” Issawi wrote in a letter passed to his lawyer Jawad Boulus.

“Here we walk the path that would either lead us to dignified freedom, or to martyrdom for the soil of our land,” wrote Issawi.

After nine months on hunger strike, Issawi’s heart muscles are dangerously weak, and the low levels of minerals and salts in his blood could cause brain damage, medics said, according to the lawyer.

Issawi, who was transferred to the Kaplan Medical Center on Feb. 27, is determined to continue his strike and refuses any supplements in his water, Bulous added.

Bulous called for international intervention in Issawi’s case “before it is too late,” warning that if no action was taken, Abu Hamdiyeh would not be the last to die in Israeli prison.

Palestinian leaders on Tuesday blamed Israeli prison authorities for Abu Hamdiyeh’s death, saying that the prisoner did not receive treatment until his cancer had spread.

Abu Hamdiyeh was admitted to Soroka Hospital in late March, after his cancer had spread from his throat to his spinal cord. Before his hospitalization, Abu Hamdiyeh had complained he was only receiving pain killers to treat his cancer.

News of his death sparked riots in several prisons in Israel and protests on Palestinian streets, as well as condemnations from across the political spectrum.

(Source / 03.04.2013)

ISRAEL LAUNCHES ATTACK TO NORTH GAZA

 The Israeli army on Tuesday morning (2/4) launched air strikes in northern Gaza. According to sources, there were no dead or injured casualties, only few buildings were destroyed. 

Palestinian Interior Ministry in Gaza said that the Israeli aircraft bombarded an open area in northern Gaza. “There are few buildings were destroyed by its missiles,”  the official said, according to Al Jazeera reports monitored by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA).

Meanwhile, the Israeli claimed that the attack was in retaliation with  Gaza rocket attack before, but Israel did not provide further explanation. So far there’s no Palestinian groups claimed responsibility for the rocket attacks.

Abu Hamdiyeh, a Fatah leader from the city of Hebron, died in an Israeli hospital Soroka, Israel. He allegedly impaired sore throat and after a further examined, it turns out to a type of cancer that has spread to his spine.

Some sources mentioned that Abu Hamdiyeh be given  a painkillers by the Israeli prison authorities. Delays of medical treatment delivery was the main reason for the death of Hamdiyeh.

Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad condemned Israel for its negligence. “The delay of the Israel Medical has caused the death of Abu Hamdiyeh,” said Abbas.

The attack is a major Israeli offensive on Gaza Strip after a peace treaty agreement between Israel and Hamas in late November, 2012.

Israel and Hamas agreed for a ceasefire brokered by Egyptian government after Israeli attack killed at least 170 Palestinians as well as hundreds of others were injured in eight day war. Between Israel and the Palestinians, there were dozens times of a peace treaty agreement has been held. But Israel always broke the treaty with the various reasons that they set up in such a way.

(Source /03.04.2013)

A Day After in Palestine: the Rights of a People

Thirty-seven years ago the “Israeli” Housing Minister stated: “If you want to develop an area you have to confiscate some lands. We have done this very slowly with extreme consideration and much patience.” It is doubtful that the average Palestinian was aware of these reassuring words, reported by the Associated Press on 31 March 1976. But after a day of deadly conflict, they woke to a very real understanding of “Israeli” “consideration.”

On 30 March 1976 Palestinians held a general strike to protest against the recently announced intention of the “Israeli” forces to further snuff out Arab viability in the Galilee region. The “Israeli” government intended to expropriate 5000 acres of land in order to build Jewish-only settlements. The government conceded that 1625 of those acres belonged to its Arab citizens and claimed that an additional 2000 were owned by the “”Israeli” Land Authority.” The Palestinian people knew there was a fundamental and ethical flaw in what has continued to be known as the “Judeaization of the Galilee.” Even the “Israeli” High Court would soon highlight the illegality of such political land-grabs.

The Palestinians formed a committee to address their concerns to the “Israeli” state which now claimed them as citizens. Just the week before the demonstration, a spokesman for the Arab committee stated:

“This is not a Palestinian issue, or an issue of Arab nationalist feeling. I look at this as a human rights issue, as a minority living in the country. We are not against development. We want development. We are the ones who need it. If the government wants to develop the Galilee, it should include Arabs in the plans. It should set up a committee to make plans that would serve both Jews and Arabs.”
The estimated 400,000 Palestinian people who participated in the strike protest knew the time had come to take a common stand. But the “Israeli” armed forces would not tolerate what they viewed as insubordination. They turned their weapons on the protestors, killing six outright, injuring dozens and arresting hundreds who persisted in their protest. While the Western media quickly put down the fatal day as an outbreak of rioting Arabs, the nature of “Israeli” “consideration” was revealed by the brute force of Zionism.

Far from being granted any semblance of democratic participation, the Arab voice was smothered. As one journalist described,

“Hundreds of “Israeli” troops backed by armored cars sealed off the violence-torn villages from the rest of “Israel” and refused to let reporters past the outskirts of Deir Hana. “Israeli” troops fanned out among the olive trees ringing the hilltop village as hundreds of chanting Arabs demonstrated inside Deir Hana. A large cloud of black smoke hung over the town. This reporter managed to get within 200 yards of the demonstrators before being forced by “Israeli” troops to leave the area. Dozens of gunshots could be heard amid the chants of the demonstrators. . . . At Kfar Kanna , a town between Nazareth and Tiberias, 1000 protesters demonstrated near the council building. Police used tear gas to break up a crowd of high school students, most of them girls, who set up roadblocks.”

Why such a show of force? Because the Arabs were viewed merely as a “fifth column,” as an “ominous new element confronting the Jewish state.” Then ‘Defense’ Minister Shimon Peres stated:

“We were wrong for 28 years in thinking we could ignore the ethnic difference between Arabs and Jews. . . . You can’t expect an Arab to be a Zionist, support Jewish immigration to “Israel” and sing the national anthem.”

As years of conflict have ensued, ‘Palestine Land Day’ has been a yearly reminder of the intentions that were so clearly exposed in 1976. “Israel” has boldly continued the policy of expanding Jewish-only land and of purging non-Jewish inhabitants. This “creeping form of annexation” has been identified and condemned by the United Nations not only just weeks ago, but over and over again for decades. Nothing has changed. Yet the Palestinian people refuse to be arbitrarily renamed “Israeli Arabs,” to be branded as terrorists and stomped into submission until they fade into a half-remembered history. Perhaps when they woke up after that day of deadly conflict, they realized that those who reduced them to dispensable pawns did not destroy the humanity of the Palestinian people, but forfeited their own.

(Source / 03.04.2013)

Facts on the ground loom over Bil’in as protests enter ninth year

I went to the weekly demo against the Wall in the Palestinian village Bil’in yesterday, after several months that I haven’t visited the West Bank at all (I try not to travel beyond the Green Line when it’s not for work). A colleague visiting from the U.S. joined me, and we arrived at the village shortly after noon.

Some internationals and a few Israelis gathered in the streets, and when the prayer ended we started walking towards the wall, a march which has become much longer since the army moved the route of the barrier closer to the ultra-Orthodox settlement Modi’in Ilit – the largest city in the West Bank – and returned the village some of its land. Beyond the wall lies “Green Park,” one of the two eastern neighbourhoods of Modi’in Ilit, also on farm land that belonged to Bil’in before it was confiscated by Israel in order to solve the housing crisis for the ultra-Orthodox population of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Even if Israel were to agree to leave the West Bank, Green Park would not be evacuated. Even Palestinian negotiators agreed to have it annexed to Israel in exchange for equal territory elsewhere. Thus, the Palestinian people might one day be compensated for the land that was taken from Bil’in, but the people of the village – its owners – will not. This fact also highlights the paradox of the settlements: on one hand, Israel claims that settlements do not affect the final status agreement and can be evacuated at any time – a notion recently backed by U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to give up the demand for a settlement freeze – yet in every round of negotiations, the Israeli government presents new facts on the ground as fait accompli, and demands that the proposed solution be adjusted to accommodate them.

Nothings seems further away from the diplomatic game than a walk through the hills surrounding Bil’in under a surprisingly bright sun. It wasn’t the State Department or the European Union that rescued some of the village’s land, only the struggle of the local farmers, which entered its ninth year this month. Two of the village’s residents – a brother and sister – have been killed, hundreds wounded, arrested and imprisoned. But the people of Bil’in did what almost nobody else could – they stopped the growth of a settlement and pushed the wall closer to the Green Line.

On Fridays, there is an almost tangible awareness of village’s history in the air, whether it’s the number of international activists and visitors – at least two dozen this week — or the shop selling Palestinian flags and scarves in the center of the village. Right next to the wall, almost a mile from the edge of the village, there is a playground for kids, new and brightly collored, undoubtedly a “fact on the ground,” that is meant to demonstrate the village’s connection to those hills. I also noticed new terraces and plantations, while the root of the old barrier, which once separated Bil’in from its land, is gradually fading, now no more than a dirt road.

The protest itself is like most I’ve seen – a peaceful march to the wall, some singing and waving of flags, and a few dozen meters away, some shabab (youths) throwing stones at soldiers on the other side of the road. The army sprays the infamous putrid ‘skunk’ liquid across the wall in the general direction of the protesters. Further east, on a tiny ramp beyond the wall, a group of ultra-Orthodox teenagers gather to watch the action. This has also become a kind of ritual.

After several stones get closer to the soldiers, the army starts shooting tear gas at the protesters, which spread across the field. Later, a convoy of several army vehicle pass through a gate in the wall, and some soldiers start chasing theshabab. More tear gas is shot, and a grenade lands right next to where I’m standing with my friend. The gas is unpleasant.

I am told that the army hasn’t crossed to the other side of the wall in a long time. The shabab are blocking the road with stones as army jeeps pass by the playground – now engulfed in tear gas – and drive over the newly-formed plantations, as if to insult the locals’ efforts to reclaim their land. We recover from the effect of the gas and head back towards the village.

The drive back to Tel Aviv takes 20 minutes. Entering the city with its Friday morning crowd packing into cafes and promenades used to be the most shaking part of the trip to the protests, but this effect is fading too.