Israel evacuates 100 families in occupied Jordan Valley

Israeli forces routinely carry out military excercises near Palestinian villages

Israeli forces routinely carry out military excercises near Palestinian villages

Israel has handed evacuation orders to 100 Palestinian families in the northern Jordan Valley so that its troops can carry out military exercises. The families were ordered to leave their homes by Monday morning.Palestinian officials and activists said that the area has been changed to a “military zone” by the Israeli occupation authorities. As such, the families will be living in a virtual prison, banned from moving around their own land until the manoeuvres end on Tuesday evening.

The head of Wadi al-Maleh village in the area, Aref Daraghmeh, said in a statement that the families being evacuated will have to stay out in the open for a few days. “A lot of military hardware has been brought into the district,” he said. “They have put us in a closed area and we are not allowed to move.” He pointed out that 120 children are not being allowed to go to school, adding that the villagers fear for their own safety and that of their livestock, farms and homes during the live-fire drills.

Hundreds of nomadic Palestinians live in a series of villages in the occupied Jordan Valley. They have been targeted by the Israeli occupation authorities on many occasions. In the past two years this has taken the form of evacuation orders. Their tents, very basic homes and byres, as well as their farms and greenhouses, have been destroyed several times. A number of Palestinian and international NGOs try to help the families after each Israeli incursion of their land.

(Source / 29.04.2013)

De visser

By Marianna Laarif

Er was een arme visser die per keer slechts één vis ving. Zijn principe was om pas een vis te gaan vangen als de vorige genuttigd is door zijn gezin. Dus zo ging hij door het leven, tot op een dag terwijl zijn vrouw de vis aan het bereiden was, ontdekte zij een diamant in de buik van de vis. Ze rende naar haar man: “lieverd, lieverd, kijk wat ik gevonden heb, een diamant!” De man zei met een glimlach op zijn gezicht: “wat ben jij een prachtige echtgenote, geef het, dan ga ik kijken of ik het kan verkopen, zodat wij vandaag wat anders gaan eten dan vis.”

Hij ging naar de juwelier op de volgende straat “Assalamoe ‘alaikoem”. “Wa ‘alaykoem Salaam” antwoordde de juwelier. De visser vertelde het verhaal en gaf het diamant aan de juwelier om te bekijken. “Dit is geen gewoon diamant, mijn broeder” hij vervolgde “er is geen prijs die dit diamant waardig is, ook al verkoop ik mijn juwelierszaak en mijn huis en die van mijn buurman en overbuurman, dan zou ik u de prijs van dit diamant niet bij elkaar kunnen brengen. Maar ga naar de grote juwelierszaak in de stad, misschien kan hij u helpen.”
Zo kwam hij aan in de stad en stapte de grote juwelierszaak binnen. Hij vertelde het verhaal aan de rijke juwelier, maar tevergeefs. Deze vertelde hetzelfde als de vorige juwelier en stuurde hem naar de prins van de stad die een groot paleis bewoont. Eenmaal aangekomen moest hij buiten wachten met zijn schat in zijn hand, totdat hij naar binnen werd geroepen door de wachters.
De prins bekeek het diamant nauwkeurig en zei: “Alhamdulillah, zoiets zocht ik. Ik weet niet hoe ik u kan belonen, maar u mag de kamer der schatten binnentreden, die slechts mij toebehoort. U kunt zes uur in verblijven en bovendien mag u meenemen wat u maar wilt.” De bescheiden visser zei: “mijnheer, zes uur is te lang, twee uur zal genoeg zijn.” De prins weigerde en zo trad de visser de kamer der schatten binnen, om zes uur lang in te vertoeven.
De visser stapte binnen en verbaasd keek hij rond. Een gigantische kamer, verdeeld in drie delen. Een deel zit vol diamanten, edelstenen en goudstukken. Een ander deel lag vol bedekt met de mooiste bedden en kussens, alleen het kijken ernaar brengt het rust en slaap. En een ander deel bezit allerlei lekkernijen en dranken.
De visser dacht bij zichzelf: “zes uur lang hier. Het is echt lang voor een gewone visser als ik. Vooruit, waar ga ik beginnen? ik begin bij de laatste deel met lekkernijen, ik ga eten tot mijn buik vol zit, zodat ik genoeg energie heb om zoveel mogelijk diamanten en goud te verzamelen.”
Onze vriend begon dus uren te eten en te drinken. Hij heeft van alle soorten geproefd. Nadat hij klaar is was hij van plan naar de eerste deel te gaan, waar diamanten en edelstenen lagen. Echter toen hij langs de tweede deel liep, zag hij de mooie bedden en kussens. Hij dacht weer bij zichzelf: “nu ik goed gegeten heb, is het niet verkeerd om een dutje te doen, zodat ik meer energie krijg. Dit is een kans die niet te verwaarlozen is.” Hij lag dus heerlijk op het bed en is vervolgens in een diepe slaap gevallen.
“Opstaan, de tijd is om…” riep de wachter van de kamer. De visser schrok wakker “huh… wat?!” “naar buiten, uw tijd is voorbij”. Verward smeekte de visser: “alstublieft, ik heb mijn kans nog niet benut. Ik moet nog diamanten, edelstenen, goud en en en… meenemen.”
De wachter antwoordde: “had je niet genoeg tijd om dat allemaal te verzamelen, mee te nemen naar buiten en daarmee eten, drinken en mooiste bedden te kopen? maar nee, u bent dom, u dacht alleen aan de omgeving waar u in was, breng hem naar buiten.”
Dit is het einde van ons verhaal, maar het moraal is nog niet geëindigd.
Weet u wat die gevonden diamant is? Dat is uw ziel. Uw ziel is een schat waarvan we de waarde niet kunnen schatten.
Weet u wat die kamer der schatten is? Dat is dit wereldse leven. Zie hoe groot het is en hoe wij gebruik van maken.
Wat de diamanten, edelstenen, juwelen en goudstukken betreft? Dat zijn de goede daden.
En het bed is onze achteloosheid en nalatigheid. De lekkernijen en dranken zijn de verleidingen van dit wereldse leven en de wachter is de Engel des doods.
Dus stel u zichzelf voor als de visser en word wakker uit uw achteloosheid en nalatigheid en verzamel zoveel mogelijk goede daden, alvorens de Engel des doods u wakker maakt.

Settlers Burn Greek Orthodox Church Land In Jerusalem

Sunday evening April 28, 2013, a group of extremist Israeli settlers burnt a land that belongs to the Greek Orthodox Church in Wadi Hilweh, in Silwan town, in occupied East Jerusalem.

File - Wadhi Hilweh Information Center
Wadhi Hilweh Information Center

The Wadi Hilweh Information Center reported that dozens of extremist Israeli settlers and soldiers gathered in the area, and that the armed settlers went on to burn the church land.

On Saturday, three Palestinians, member of the Al-Maghribi family, in Sheikh Jarrah, were injured after the settlers burnt the family’s land near their home, and the fire reached their residence.

The settlers’ attack also targeted gardens that belong the Al-Maghrebi, Ja’ouni and Al-Khatib families, in Silwan.

Furthermore, a group of extremist settlers burnt a Palestinian car, a home and trees in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in the city, several injuries have been reported.

Also on Saturday, settlers torched nine vehicles that belong to the UN in Jabal Al-Mokabbir, in Jerusalem, the Maan News Agency reported.

(Source / 29.04.2013)

Israel Approves 120 Units In Givat Ze’ev Settlement

Monday April 29 2013, Israeli “News One” news website reported that the “Lands Authority” of the Israeli Housing Ministry approved the construction of additional 120 units in the Givat Ze’ev illegal settlement, in occupied Jerusalem.

Israeli Settlement - File PNN
Israeli Settlement

The news agency said that an official at the Ministry stated that the Lands Authority announced bids for the construction of new units in the settlement, and that several construction agencies submitted applications before an Israeli company, known as “Nathaniel” won the new bids.

The plan includes the construction of 68 units that would be built in three structures, in addition to playgrounds and other structures.

On Thursday April 25, 2013, Israeli bulldozers uprooted dozens of trees on a hill close to the Jabal Abu Ghneim (Har Homa) illegal settlement, east of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, in order to pave a new road that leads to a planned settlement “neighborhood” of 3000 homes for Jewish settlers.

Bethlehem Governor, Abdul-Fattah Hamayil, stated that the new violation is part of a decision made by the Jerusalem City Council to build more illegal settlement units on Palestinian lands in the area.

Settlements Researcher at the Applied Research Institute (ARIJ) Suheil Khaliliyya, stated that the road Israel is preparing for is part of settlement neighborhood “C” that includes 3000 units, and that Israel is planning to construct 800 in the first phase.

He further stated that, two years ago, Israel built a water distillation plant in “Har Homa C”, as an apparent preparation for more construction and expansion of the settlements.

The researcher said that the current phase includes the construction of two settlement neighborhoods in the area, referred to as C and D, and that each neighborhood will include 3000 units. The project is also meant to link between Givat Hamatos, Gilo and Har Homa.

He added that the constructions are meant to boost the settlement belt that aims at isolating Jerusalem from Bethlehem, effectively preventing a viable “peace agreement” that would lead to an independent and contiguous Palestinian state.

Israel’s settlement in the occupied West Bank, including in and around occupied East Jerusalem are built in direct violation of International Law and the Fourth Geneva Convention to which Israel is a signatory.

(Source / 29.04.2013)

As Jews we say “Birthright” trips must end

Elderly woman sits in refugee camp

Israel claims all Jews have a “birthright” to the country, while Palestinian refugees are barred from return.

As the summer months approach, thousands of young Jews from more than 60 countries prepare to participate in the Taglit-Birthright program. Since 1999, Birthright has brought 340,000 young Jews to Israel on free ten-day trips. In the midst of the fervor to sign up for this bi-annual program, we have launched the website Renounce Birthright (renouncebirthright.org) with the aim of providing a space for potential participants to engage with critiques of Birthright and of Zionism.

We are non-Israeli Jews who oppose the program because it promotes and supports Israel’s ongoing colonialism and apartheid policies, and marginalizes Jewish experiences in the diaspora. We are calling for the end of the Birthright program, and encourage individuals to boycott the trips.

Birthright was created in response to concerns over increasing rates of intermarriage, the perceived “crisis of continuity” and the weakening of Jewish communal ties. Over the course of the last decade, the program has worked to create and maintain commitment to Zionism and Israel on the part of non-Israeli Jews.

Exclusive ideology

Birthright’s mission, according to the organization, is to “diminish the growing division between Israel and Jewish communities around the world; strengthen the sense of solidarity among world Jewry; and strengthen participants’ personal Jewish identity and connection to the Jewish people.”

The idea of strengthening “solidarity among world Jewry,” “personal Jewish identity,” and Israel’s “connection to the Jewish people” through trips to Israel is based on a conflation ofJudaism with Zionism. Judaism is a religion. Political Zionism is a movement based on the belief that Jews have a right to settle in modern-day Israel, to the exclusion of the indigenous Palestinians.

The term “Birthright” itself is telling. Like its American counterpart, the ideology of manifest destiny, it operates under the premise that all Jewish people have an exclusive “right” to Palestinian land. In both the American and Israeli contexts, the only way to secure that “right” is through violence, land theft and displacement.

Settler-colonialism must be opposed, no matter where it takes place. For non-Israeli Jews living in other settler-colonial countries, we must also be accountable to other processes of de-colonization. No group of people have the right to live anywhere that mandates the explicit exclusion of anyone else.

The establishment of the Israeli state, and the alleged Jewish “birthright,” involved the violent displacement of several hundred thousand indigenous Palestinians, and the destruction of hundreds of Palestinian villages. A Palestinian refugee population of nearly 7 million people is to this day excluded from returning to their lands by Israeli state discrimination.

In contemporary Israel — where approximately one-fifth of the population is Palestinian — the rights of citizenship (ezrahut) and nationality (le’um) are intentionally distinct. Palestinians born within the 1949 armistice line are considered citizens (and not nationals). Meanwhile a Jew born and raised in New York has a “birthright” to the Israeli state in Palestine, is considered a national, and can almost immediately become a citizen upon emigrating.

Maintaining a myth

Birthright in particular — as a part of the Zionist project — relies on the belief that non-Israeli Jews are national-citizens-in-waiting, a reality from which Palestinian refugees are forever excluded.

We would have no “Birthright” without Israeli occupation and apartheid — it is how Zionism sustains the myth of “a land without a people, for a people without a land.”

Birthright has spent more than $600 million since its inception in 1999. The organization has three major sources of funding: the Israeli government (which committed another $100 million to Birthright in 2011), wealthy donors such as Charles Bronfman, and Jewish federations across North America (“The romance of Birthright Israel,” The Nation, 15 June 2011).

In a 2012 speech delivered to Birthright participants, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “So when you go out and people tell you things about Israel, tell them about what you saw. Make sure when you go back home, tell them about the real Israel” (“PM Netanyahu’s speech at Taglit-Birthright Israel mega-event”).

Convincing non-Israeli Jews to defend Netanyahu’s “real Israel” is an integral part of Birthright, and helps explain the government’s investment in the program.

The program’s largest financial supporter, billionaire Sheldon Adelson — who has provided $140 million to the program — was described in The New York Times last year as having “disgust for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” (“What Sheldon Adelson wants,” 23 June 2012).

Beyond individual donors, non-Israeli Jewish community organizations and institutions — such as the Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Agency for Israel — support Birthright economically and politically.

Apolitical?

In the name of diasporic Jewish communities, these organizations invest millions of dollars into the promotion of Birthright’s political Zionism, rather than in local projects.

Despite all this, Birthright claims to be apolitical. In 2006, Birthright Director of Marketing Gidi Mark said: “I don’t think it’s political for Jews to support Israel” (“Come, see Palestine!” Salon.com, 5 June 2006).

However, the establishment and maintenance of an exclusively Jewish Israel — through forcible displacement, land theft, occupation, segregation, institutionalized racism and systemic discrimination — is political at its core, and is both supported and reinforced by the Birthright program.

For instance, during the trip, approximately 10,000 Birthright participants visit the Ahavacosmetics factory each year; Ahava is located in the illegally-occupied West Banksettlement of Mitzpe Shalem. Ahava directly profits from the exploitation of Palestinian Dead Sea resources.

Moreover, disturbing accounts of explicit racism have arisen in recent years; former participants often recount how the language used by Birthright personnel demonizes Palestinians. One past attendee said her Birthright tour guide told her group that “Arabs have wanted to kill Jews forever, that they are ‘like mosquitoes’ we must swat away” (“So you’re thinking of Birthright,” Mondoweiss, 20 December 2012).

Zionism is a political project, and Birthright is perhaps the most tangible manifestation of that political project outside Israel. As such, we must recognize our engagements with Birthright as a question of politics, and not just “a free vacation.”

Narrow confines

In reinforcing the belief that what it means to be Jewish is to be Zionist (particularly for non-Israeli Jewish youth), Birthright perpetuates a single narrative about what it means to be Jewish outside of Israel, and who can be a Jew.

Jewish people speak and have spoken an array of languages, live and have lived across the world, and possess different histories that extend beyond the narrow confines of political Zionism and the nation-state of Israel.

It is contemporary political Zionism that has “othered” Mizrahi/Arab-Jews, as New York University professor Ella Shohat explains, by urging Arab Jews “to see their only real identity as Jewish,” such that their “Arabness, the product of millennial cohabitation, is merely a diasporic stain to be ‘cleansed’ through assimilation” (“The invention of the Mizhahim,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Volume 29, No. 1, Autumn 1999).

Further, Israel’s policy towards Ethiopian Jews in recent years demonstrates how the limits of Jewishness are often defined through Zionism. There is a clear tension between Birthright’s claim to promote diasporic life, and the fact that it the program is so deeply rooted in Zionism, an ideology that homogenizes the experiences and identities of Jews.

Our alleged Birthright can only exist through the suppression and erasure of many Jewish identities, histories and experiences.

Liberation in Palestine is a question of land, colonialism and apartheid — not religion. The work of Jewish and Israeli organizations and collectives such as Zochrot, Boycott from Within, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, and Israeli Queers Against Apartheid attests to this fact.

As scholar Judith Butler has explained: “there have always been Jewish traditions that oppose state violence, that affirm multi-cultural co-habitation, and defend principles of equality, and this vital ethical tradition is forgotten or sidelined when any of us accept Israel as the basis of Jewish identification or values” (“Judith Butler responds to attack,” Mondoweiss, 27 August 2012).

No right to apartheid

We have founded Renounce Birthright because Birthright demands our complicity in two intersecting (but distinct) forms of violence: first, the occupation of Palestine and the Israeli government’s brutal regime of apartheid and second, the erasure and suppression of diverse Jewish experiences and communities across the world.

In organizing for Palestinian liberation, we are deeply committed to the belief that Jewish experiences and narratives — particularly North American Jewish experiences, including our own — should not be centered.

As Mezna Qato and Kareem Rabie explained in their recent article for Jacobin magazine: “the left often neglects these anti-colonial principles and seeks out Jewish voices to validate Palestinian claims. In turn, it privileges Jewish discourse, anxieties, and histories in ways that marginalize Palestinians in their own struggle” (“Against the Law,” Spring 2013).

We recognize that our struggles are greatly distinct yet related, and are engaged in this project first and foremost from a position of solidarity.

We call on non-Israeli Jews across the diaspora to join us in renouncing Birthright— and our privileged legal relationship to the Israeli state — because we have no right to apartheid and colonialism.

(Source / 29.04.2013)

Bedouins await Israel’s forcible relocation plan

Girl in school uniform holds book

Israel has placed the Khan al-Ahmar school under a demolition order.

KHAN AL-AHMAR (IPS) – Dozens of metal and wooden tents cling to the rocky hillside, just outside of Jerusalem along the road leading to the Dead Sea, while the unmistakable red roofs of Israeli settlements peak out from behind opposite hilltops.

For 49-year-old Eid Hamis Jahalin, this quiet spot symbolizes the potential center of peace in the region, and one thing is clear: his family must be allowed to stay in its community.

“The Bedouin are fighting to exist [here] since 1967. Israel has been trying to displace us since then,” Jahalin said, sipping tea in the shade of his family’s tent in the village of Khan al-Ahmar. The Bedouin are an indigenous people in Palestine.

“The whole world is talking about two states and two governments. If they get the Jahalin [Bedouin] out of here, the border of Jerusalem will be the Dead Sea and the Jordan Valley. After that, where can you have two states?” Jahalin said.

The Israeli defense ministry is soon expected to unveil a new relocation plan for almost two dozen Bedouin communities living in the Jerusalem periphery, including Khan al-Ahmar.

“Density too high”

This proposal involves forcibly displacing some 3,000 Jahalin Bedouin to an area in Nweimah near the city Jericho in the Jordan Valley, which would be under Palestinian Authority control.

“It would put them all together in blocks of 800 units, which of course were not created according to the needs of these communities. They are very small plots. The density is too high. There will be no area for grazing, and this area is already used by other Bedouin communities,” said Alon Cohen-Lifshitz, an architect with Israeli planning rights groupBimkom.

The new plan would also place the Jahalin community between numerous restricted areas, including an Israeli closed military zone, checkpoint and settlements, and a Palestinian Authority security forces training area.

The Israeli government, however, says moving the Bedouin from their current location will greatly improve the quality and level of services they receive.

“They are living there illegally and we are looking at a series of options,” Guy Inbar, spokesman for the Israeli Civil Administration told The Media Line, adding that no plan has been finalized yet.

“We want the Bedouin to live in an area where they get all the infrastructure they need, like water and electricity, instead of living in tents that could be demolished,” he added (“Jahalin Bedouins fear new Israeli transfer plan,” Ynet, 20 April).

The Israeli Civil Administration is an Israeli military body that governs Area C of the occupied West Bank, which accounts for 60 percent of all the West Bank. Area C is under full Israeli control, and the Civil Administration regulates all Palestinian building and planning therein.

According to Cohen-Lifshitz, numerous Israeli restrictions mean that Palestinian construction in Area C is only allowed on one percent of the land.

“Silent transfer”

“They are trying to create a huge pressure with the demolition orders, with other restrictions, and creating what’s called the silent transfer. If Palestinians understand that they cannot live freely in Area C, then people will move to Area A and B, where they can build and live without restrictions,” he said.

The Jahalin Bedouin tribe was evicted from its land near Tel Arad, in the southern Negevdesert region of present-day Israel, in the early 1950s. Since then, the community has lived on the outskirts of Jerusalem. It is now surrounded by a handful of Israeli settlements, including the mega-settlement Ma’ale Adumim, which has a population of 40,000.

No running water

Residents of Khan al-Ahmar don’t have access to running water or electricity, and each structure in the village, including the local school, is subject to an Israeli demolition order. Israeli settlement expansion – including construction in the E-1 corridor located near Khan al-Ahmar – also continues to threaten the village. The expansion would sever East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank.

In the late 1990s, in an earlier effort to expand Ma’ale Adumim, Israel displaced 200 Bedouin families living near Jerusalem to a new location near the municipal dumping grounds in Abu Dis, posing a serious health hazard for residents.

“Previously relocated families report negative consequences, including health concerns, loss of livelihood, deteriorated living conditions, loss of tribal cohesion and erosion of traditional lifestyles,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has stated (“Bedouin relocation: Threat of displacement in the Jerusalem periphery,” September 2011 [PDF]).

The latest round of expulsions was quietly unveiled in October 2011, with the Israeli Civil Administration hinting that approximately 27,000 Bedouins would be evicted from their homes in the Jordan Valley area within three to six years.

The first phase of this plan — which was met with staunch local and international condemnation — involved expelling the Jahalin near Ma’ale Adumim.

At the time, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) stated that efforts to move the Jahalin, “may amount to individual and mass forcible transfers and forced evictions contrary to international humanitarian and international human rights law” (“Bedouin Palestine refugees: The Jahalin tribe in the Eastern Jerusalem periphery,” January 2012 [PDF]).

According to Eid Jahalin in Khan al-Ahmar, the Israeli government must abandon its new plan to relocate the community. The state has only two options, he said: allow the Jahalin to live peacefully in their current location, or let them go back to their original lands in the Negev.

“I want to live in a Bedouin village,” Jahalin said. “It’s like being a sardine in a tin, one next to another. Take that [relocation] plan and show it to Israelis and see if they would want to live there. Nobody would live there.”

(Source / 29.04.2013)

IOF storms the prisoner Abdel Basset al-Haj’s house in Jenin

 

 

NABLUS, (PIC)– The Israeli Occupation Forces stormed on Sunday the house of the prisoner Abdel Basset al-Hajj, 40, in Jalqamus town in Jenin 17 days after his arrest.

The prisoner’s wife told Ahrar Center for Prisoners’ studies and Human Rights that an Israeli force has stormed the house at night and confiscated his computer.

Umm Hammam confirmed that the occupation forces refused to provide them with any information about the detainee’s conditions except that he will be presented before the court on Monday.

For his part, Fuad al-Khuffash, the director of Ahrar center, that Abdul-Basit Al-Haj was arrested on April 17 where he was taken to Al-Jalameh interrogation center without charge.

Fuad al-Khuffash added that Al-Haj, a father of three children, was arrested seven times, where he served 11 years in Israeli jails.

(Source / 29.04.2013)

Lawmakers press Obama to take action on Syria

A Free Syrian Army fighter takes up firing position in the Khan al-Assal area, near Aleppo April 27, 2013. REUTERS/Abdalghne Karoof

(Reuters) – Republican senators on Sunday pressed U.S. President Barack Obama to intervene in Syria’s civil war, saying America could attack Syrian air bases with missiles but should not send in ground troops.

Pressure is mounting on the White House to do more to help Syrian rebels fighting against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, which the Obama administration last week said had probably used chemical arms in the conflict.

Neutralizing the government forces’ air advantage over the rebels “could turn the tide of battle pretty quickly,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“One way you can stop the Syrian air force from flying is to bomb the Syrian air bases with cruise missiles,” the South Carolina senator said.

Graham said international action was needed to bring the conflict to a close but “You don’t need boots on the ground from the U.S. point of view.”

More than 70,000 people have died in Syria’s two-year-old civil war. So far, the United States has limited its involvement to providing non-lethal aid to rebels.

Obama said on Friday the use of chemical weapons in Syria would be a “game changer” for the United States, but made clear he was in no rush to intervene on the basis of evidence he said was still preliminary.

The U.S. fears anti-Assad Islamist rebels affiliated to al Qaeda could seize the chemical weapons, and Washington and its allies have discussed scenarios where tens of thousands of ground troops go into Syria if Assad’s government falls.

INTERNATIONAL FORCE

Senator John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate in 2008, said the United States should step up its support for Syrian rebels even if it turns out that Assad’s forces have not used poison gas in the conflict.

“We could use Patriot (missile) batteries and cruise missiles,” the Arizona lawmaker, an influential voice on military issues in the U.S. Senate, told NBC’s Meet The Press.

McCain said an “international force” should also be readied to go into Syria to secure stocks of chemical weapons.

“There are number of caches of these chemical weapons. They cannot fall into the hands of the jihadists,” he said.

At the same time, McCain said it would be a mistake for American ground troops to enter Syria because that “would turn the people against us.”

After fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, sending U.S. troops into another conflict would be politically unpalatable in America.

The Pentagon is also wary of U.S. involvement in Syria. The president’s top uniformed military adviser, General Martin Dempsey, said last month he could not see a U.S. military option with an “understandable outcome” there.

Syria in July acknowledged for the first time that it possessed chemical and biological weapons, saying they could be used if the country faced foreign intervention. However, Syria has denied any use of chemical arms in the civil war and has said it would not use them against its own citizens.

(Source / 29.04.2013)

Settlers plant trees in Palestinian fields near Nablus

NABLUS (Ma’an) — Israeli settlers on Monday planted trees on private Palestinian land in Nablus in the northern West Bank, a Palestinian Authority official said.

Settlers plowed land belonging to Palestinian farmers in Azmut, east of Nablus, and planted young olive, vine and prunus trees, said Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank.

He said the settlers used bulldozers to dig dirt roads, allowing tractors to access the fields.

Daghlas told Ma’an the attempt to take over the fields was unprecedented in the northern West Bank district.

“This assault is the most dangerous of its kind. Settlers took a step forward. First they used to damage fields, and now they want to occupy them,” he said.

(Source / 29.04.2013)

Bedouin Resist Israeli Shove

Eid Hamis Jahalin from Khan Al-Ahmar village warns of the dangers from the eviction of Bedouin people. Credit: Jillian Kestler-D’Amours/IPS.

Eid Hamis Jahalin from Khan Al-Ahmar village warns of the dangers from the eviction of Bedouin people.

KHAN AL-AHMAR, Occupied West Bank, Apr 29 2013 (IPS) – Dozens of metal and wooden tents cling to the rocky hillside, just outside of Jerusalem along the road leading to the Dead Sea, while the unmistakable red roofs of Israeli settlements peak out from behind opposite hilltops.

For 49-year-old Eid Hamis Jahalin, this quiet spot symbolises the potential centre of peace in the region, and one thing is clear: his family must be allowed to stay in its community.

“The Bedouin are fighting to exist (here) since 1967. Israel has been trying to displace us since then,” Jahalin said, sipping tea in the shade of his family’s tent in the village of Khan Al-Ahmar. The Bedouin are an indigenous people

“The whole world is talking about two states and two governments. If they get the Jahalin out of here, the border of Jerusalem will be the Dead Sea and the Jordan Valley. After that, where can you have two states?” Jahalin told IPS.

This proposal involves forcibly displacing some 3,000 Jahalin Bedouin to an area in Nwei’mah near the city Jericho in the Jordan Valley, which would be under Palestinian Authority control.

“It would put them all together in blocks of 800 units, which of course were not created according to the needs of these communities. They are very small plots. The density is too high. There will be no area for grazing, and this area is already used by other Bedouin communities,” said Alon Cohen-Lifshitz, an architect with Israeli planning rights group Bimkom.

The new plan would also place the Jahalin community between numerous restricted areas, including an Israeli closed military zone, checkpoint and settlements, and a Palestinian Authority security forces training area.

The Israeli government, however, says moving the Bedouin from their current location will greatly improve the quality and level of services they receive.

“They are living there illegally and we are looking at a series of options,” Guy Inbar, spokesperson for the Israeli Civil Administration, told The Media Line, adding that no plan has been finalised yet.

“We want the Bedouin to live in an area where they get all the infrastructure they need, like water and electricity, instead of living in tents that could be demolished.”

“It’s like being a sardine in a tin, one next to another.”

The Israeli Civil Administration is an Israeli military body that governs Area C of the occupied West Bank, which accounts for 60 percent of all the West Bank. Area C is under full Israeli control, and the Civil Administration regulates all Palestinian building and planning therein.

According to Cohen-Lifshitz, numerous Israeli restrictions have made it so that Palestinian construction in Area C is only allowed on one percent of the land.

“They are trying to create a huge pressure with the demolition orders, with other restrictions, and creating what’s called the silent transfer. If (Palestinians) understand that they cannot live freely in Area C, then people will move to Area A and B, where they can build and live without restrictions,” he told IPS.

The Jahalin Bedouin tribe was evicted from its land near Tel Arad, in Israel’s southern Negev desert region, in the early 1950s. Since then, the community has lived on the outskirts of Jerusalem. It is now surrounded by a handful of Israeli settlements, including the mega-settlement Ma’ale Adumim, which has a population of 40,000.

Residents of Khan Al-Ahmar don’t have access to running water or electricity, and each structure in the village, including the local school, is subject to an Israeli demolition order. Israeli settlement expansion – including construction in the E-1 corridor located near Khan Al-Ahmar – also continues to threaten the village. The expansion would sever East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank.

In the late 1990s, in an earlier effort to expand Ma’ale Adumim, Israel displaced 200 Bedouin families living near Jerusalem to a new location near the municipal dumping grounds in Abu Dis, posing a serious health hazard for residents.

“Previously relocated families report negative consequences, including health concerns, loss of livelihood, deteriorated living conditions, loss of tribal cohesion and erosion of traditional lifestyles,” the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) found.

The latest round of expulsions was quietly unveiled in October 2011, with the Israeli Civil Administration hinting that approximately 27,000 Bedouins would be evicted from their homes in the Jordan Valley area within three to six years.

The first phase of this plan – which was met with staunch local and international condemnation – involved expelling the Jahalin near Ma’ale Adumim.

At the time, the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which supports Palestinian refugees, stated that efforts to move the Jahalin, “may amount to individual and mass forcible transfers and forced evictions contrary to international humanitarian and international human rights law”.

According to Eid Jahalin in Khan Al-Ahmar, the Israeli government must abandon its new plan to relocate the community. The state has only two options, he said: allow the Jahalin to live peacefully in their current location, or let them go back to their original lands in the Negev.

“I want to live in a Bedouin village,” Jahalin said. “It’s like being a sardine in a tin, one next to another. Take that (relocation) plan and show it to Israelis and see if they would want to live there. Nobody would live there.”

(Source / 29.04.2013)