Man forced to demolish own home in East Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — A Palestinian from Jerusalem was forced to demolish his own home on Sunday after Israeli authorities declared that the property was unlicensed.

Ziad Ameira told Ma’an that he built his home in the Sur Bahir area of East Jerusalem 15 years ago on land inherited from his father.

Nine family members lived on the property.

“Despite the difficult situation for the members of my family, today and yesterday I demolished the house that I lived in for 13 years as a result of the decision of the occupation’s municipal court,” Ameira told Ma’an.

He chose to demolish his home to avoid a 73,000 shekel ($20,400) fine imposed by the Jerusalem municipality for destruction costs.

Ameira still had to pay 25,000 shekels ($7,000) to hire a bulldozer and trucks to transport the rubble.

Israel’s Jerusalem municipality issued a demolition order for the home 20 days after the family first moved in, but Ameira was able to postpone it by paying multiple fines and mounting several legal challenges.

Last May, Israeli authorities issued a final decision to demolish the home on the pretext that it was built without a permit.

Israeli forces demolished 412 housing units in East Jerusalem between 2004-2012, according to B’Tselem, leaving 1,636 Palestinians homeless.

Palestinian homes are usually demolished under the pretext of not having a building permit. Figures from Israeli NGO Bimkom show that 95 percent of Palestinian applications for a building permit are rejected.

Rights groups say that Israel implements a series of discriminatory practices in housing, planning, residency rights and budget allocation in East Jerusalem, with the aim of reducing the number of Palestinians living in the city.

(Source / 18.08.2013)

“We derive our energy to persist from you,” Hassan Karajah writes from Israeli prison

Hassan Karajah

Eight months ago, during a night raid in January 2013, 29-yr-old Hassan Karajah was arrested by Israeli occupation forces.

Karajah, a youth coordinator for the Stop the Wallcampaign, has been accused of actively supporting Palestinian prisoners and participating in a student group affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

Human rights advocates insist his arrest and imprisonment is just another example of Israeli intimidation of Palestinians who speak out and work for organizations that highlight abuses by the occupation.

Friends and fellow activists add that such intimidation is, of course, not reserved for those who work formally in nongovernmental organizations, but extends to countless individuals, not least of whom are charismatic and active Palestinian youth who inspire courage in those around them. It would seem Hassan Karajah falls in to both categories.

Sending strength from behind bars

Despite health concerns and lack of access to his family, Karajah, seems to be taking on the role of so many prisoners who write open letters. From behind bars and with freedom snatched away, it is Hassan who is sending his friends, family, and community reassurance, encouragement, and positivity.

But those who know Karajah are not surprised. Yassmine Hamayel, a friend of Hassan’s, describes his “creativity and optimism” as so present in his energy that he makes one feel “as if Palestine was not lost.”

Whether through reading and quoting the Palestinian writer Ghassan Kanafani, hiking in beautiful valleys under threat of confiscation for settlements, or being vocal about prisoners’ rights, Hamayel explains that Hassan gave his friends hope to continue resisting in any way available, that “everything will be ok, as long as we do something for Palestine.”

Others describe him as someone who is fiercely principled, dedicated to those he works with, yet inviting of new people and ideas.

A brief meeting

I didn’t know Hassan well at all really, and met him only briefly before my departure from Ramallah. He was officially announcing his engagement to some friends I had stopped by to see, and so we had a cup of coffee with him and whatever sweets we could find nearby as a small token of congratulations.

Hassan and I both walked out to leave around the same time, and so he offered to give me a ride home. It didn’t take long for him to inquire how I had come to the decision to move to Palestine to teach, and before we could even get to that, suddenly our entire conversation shifted.

He was overjoyed at my fallahi Gazan dialect and even more so that I was speaking in it when teaching young kids in Ramallah.

Unfortunately our conversation was cut short, as I spotted a friend I needed to see walking in the market, thanked him for the ride, and hopped out early.

He said when I returned from my trip, we’d set up a plan for him to do a guest lecture on theApartheid wall to my class, a good topic for their spring paper I thought to myself. I heard of his arrest while in Amman, grading Fall semester finals, a week or two after my entry denial.

By all accounts, it is apparent that Karajah has an eye (and ear) for detail, for seeing every part of what we choose to do and how we choose to do it as a potentially positive link to how to contribute to the Palestinian struggle.

Though his joyful engagement that we congratulated him on that day has been indefinitely extended, though his lecture to a high school class cancelled, though his very freedom to embrace life threatened, he – like so many Palestinian prisoners – is the one that tells usto have hope and move forward, reminding himself and his community that each draws strength from the other.

Hassan Karajah’s letter

To my friends across the world, to everyone who has pledged solidarity with me, to everyone who cares about the prisoners’ cause, to all who believe in justice for Palestine: I send you peace and love, entwined with the steadfastness of the prisoners and scented with freedom. For you, I say:

“When seeds of wheat are sown in the earth, some are trampled to death, some are eaten by birds, and some remain under the soil to have raindrops fall on them. And with the first radiance of the sun, rays rise, promising us the continuation of life…”

To all, know that I miss you and I’m eager to see everyone. However, I am prevented from doing so by the Zionist occupation, which has imprisoned not just me but all of my people for 65 years. Nonetheless my dears, if all of this has been done for Palestine’s freedom, the land and its people, then I am ready to bear its weight, and I am certain you have carried it also and are ready to continue this way.

As I write you, I have gathered your souls around me to address you with my spirit in order to not exclude any of you. If I neglect to mention you by name, it is for a simple reason: the shortage of stationery in prison, the lack of pen and paper. This scarcity is intentional, a form of siege warfare used by Israeli Prison Services against Palestinian prisoners, used as a method to deprive us of education. And I’m sure you know this is only a drop in the ocean of Israel’s practices to suppress and break our steadfastness, a goal they have not yet and never will achieve.

To each of you, I have written private messages in notebooks—notebooks which were confiscated by the Israeli Prison Service before the letters could ever reach your hands. Therefore, I am sending you my greetings everyday through the rays of sunshine. Please embrace them.

If you want to know about me, I assure you I am fine and healthy, thank God. I am fine despite the denial of adequate medical treatment—part of the systematic medical negligence inflicted on all prisoners without exception. My spirit flies above the wind, and that is in large part due to your standing with me, as always.

I have not forgotten any of you, friends everywhere. It is true that I cannot meet you now, but you faces have not disappeared from my mind. Your principles cannot be separated from mine, and your convictions remain united with mine—what you believe in is what I believe in. These prison walls have not and cannot change that. They have not and cannot stop me from loving you more. I still meet with you in ‘The Land of Sad Oranges’, and ‘Um Saad’ is still our mother. I am sure you still hear the “knocking on the walls of the tank.” We will not stop knocking back until all the refugees return to their homes and to their grandfathers’ houses. We will not stop knocking the walls of the tanks until every friend is able to visit us in Palestine—all of Palestine, its land, its waters, its air, and the whole national territory.

This dark period will not last long. We must keep faith. Faith begets hope, and hope begets work, and work is the road to freedom. Freedom is priceless, it is the prize. This work must be done collectively, however small the impact, because the small steps meet to become an army. One noble morning, we will become a noble army, the army of the idea, the army which believes in its people, like my own belief in my people—it is limitless.

We leave our cells and the prison walls only through the world of literature. We read books to the point of becoming part of the characters that tell their stories and novels. We make them one of the doors that takes us out of the darkness of the prison. The occupation finds all kinds of ways and procedures to prevent and complicate reaching out to prisoners.

When I heard the news that many of my thoughts and dreams have become a reality—because you have achieved them on my behalf—I became certain that I am not in fact imprisoned. I see my continuation in each of you. I see my freedom in your eyes. I have heard my voice in your cries. They imprisoned our bodies, but they cannot and will never be able to imprison our ideas.

Here in prison, we derive our energy to persist from you, when you persist. Many of us are only recently detained, and our hearts are filled with joy when we meet prisoners who we have heard stories about for decades, whose pictures we have held high countless times, prisoners who stirred our own passion since the days of our childhood and who fortify our hearts as we move from our cells to the occupation’s courtrooms.

I assure you: we are far from being brought to our end. We are stronger than they are able to weaken us. We are deeper than they are able to cut us. We are boundless. Let me say finally, I will see you soon. I will emerge as you have always known me and better yet, and I will meet you at the behest of a single word: freedom.

Hassan Karajah, Beersheba Prison, Occupied Palestine


(Source / 18.08.2013) 

Fatah, Hamas hold reconciliation talks

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A meeting will be held on Sunday night between Fatah and Hamas in Gaza to discuss the possibility of holding presidential and legislative elections, a Fatah official said.

Amin Maqboul, secretary-general of Fatah’s revolutionary council, told Ma’an that “the meeting will be held at 8 p.m. in the Gaza Strip between a delegation of Fatah and Hamas leaders, with the exception of Gaza premier Ismael Haniyeh.”

Fatah spokesman Fayez Abu Atiya said the party’s delegation led by Maqboul is committed to reconciliation and aiming to implement it and end the tension between the two factions.

Any elections held will be in Gaza and the West Bank, he added.

(Source / 18.08.2013)

Qatar says it gives aid to Egypt, not Muslim Brotherhood

PARIS (AFP) — Qatar’s foreign minister said Monday his country had never given aid to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and that all assistance went to Egypt as a whole.

“As far as Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood, there are some wrong impressions about the aid Qatar is providing,” said Foreign Minister Khalid ben Mohammad al-Attiya, whose country is perceived as a backer of the embattled Islamist group.

“Qatar has never given aid to an Egyptian group or an Egyptian political party. The aid has always been provided to Egypt.”

(Source / 18.08.2013)

Haidar Eid: holding our breath in Gaza

haidar eid

Dr. Haidar Eid 

Dr. Haidar Eid speaks about opposition in Gaza to the renewed peace negotiations, the need for Palestinian self-critique concerning the current politica, waning support for Hamas and the current situation in Gaza. Eid: what is happening now in Gaza is a slow genocide.

Dr Haidar Eid is Associate Professor in the Department of English Literature, Al-Aqsa University, Gaza Strip, Palestine. Dr Eid is a founding member of the One Democratic State Group (ODSG) and a member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.

The world looks to a new round of negotiations under US Secretary of State Kerry – where is Gaza in those talks?

Gaza is diverse and I cannot speak for Gaza as one, but clearly most here are opposed to negotiations. Hamas laid out its official position on Tuesday: officials expressed their dismay at the resumption of talks. Most organizations within the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) – among them the Popular as well as the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP and DFLP) – oppose the talks. Only some members of Fatah have fallen for the lie that negotiations might bring a viable solution.

Speaking for myself, as an advocate for one democratic state of Palestine, I oppose the talks, which aim at a two-state solution. We believe that creating two states is no true solution but a racist one. Two viable states have become impossible to achieve – mainly because Israel has created facts on the ground that subvert the whole concept.

But more than that: the two state solution doe not guarantee even a minimum of rights for the Palestinians. There is no talk anymore of the right of return for those refugees from villages and towns that were ethnically cleansed in 1948. 75-80 % of Gaza’s population are refugees and international law provides for their return – what’s for them?

The Oslo accords never incorporated international law. And most importantly: they never dealt with Israel’s racist measures and apartheid system against Palestinians.

What alternative would you favor?

Fatah is the only force officially supporting negotiations. When I oppose them, I do not represent only Gazans but the majority of Palestinians. Our alternative? Stick to the call supported by most organizations in 2005: Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)! The campaign calls on the international community to boycott Israel, divest from its economy and impose sanctions until Israel complies with international law. Then, when there is pressure, we can negotiate.

In South Africa the ANC did not negotiate before it had substantial backing. We cannot negotiate about basic rights: equal rights must be the basis for negotiations about any kind of state! The only just solution is one like in Northern Ireland and South Africa, meaning a secular, democratic state for all.

How can this be achieved?

The first step: serious self-critique. Palestinians have to publicly consider what the leadership of PLO and Hamas have done to the Palestinian cause since the Oslo accords were struck. The past 20 years have led us nowhere. Instead, settlements have expanded and Gaza has been transformed into the largest concentration camp on earth.

Serious self-critique will, secondly, lead to dismantlement of the PA. The institution of the PA gives the wrong impression to the international community of an equality of sides. As if Palestinians had an army and occupied a people! We as Palestinians should have a local administration to organize daily life and the resistance, not undermine it.

Thirdly, we have to forget about the two-state solution. It is a complete waste of time and energy. We should all be talking about one democratic state, because two states are a fiction.

What is the situation in Gaza like at the moment? How isolated is the population?

The situation has deteriorated. Israel has tightened its closure. Things turned worse in the last days of Morsi’s government in Egypt, when it was decided to destroy all tunnels [on the Egyptian-Gazan border] that are vital for the supply of all basic goods here. After Morsi was ousted the destruction of tunnels continued, and now most are closed.

Furthermore, the only official crossing to Egypt, Rafah, is frequently closed, for example today. Rafah is vital! As all crossing points to Israel are virtually closed, Rafah is the bottleneck out of Gaza.

Hamas first renounced the Syrian regime and Hezbollah, now it lost the Muslim Brotherhood as a mighty ally in Egypt. What does this mean for the Hamas government?

Hamas is in a limbo now. It lost its most important strategic alliances with Iran and Hezbollah, which it gave up for closer relations with the Muslim Brotherhood and Qatar. Now that the Muslim Brothers are deposed from the government in Egypt, Hamas is left hanging in the air. And the new Emir in Qatar is showing a new style of diplomacy, increasing pressure on Hamas.

Hamas, as a matter of fact, does not have a clear-cut political vision. You keep hearing different, contradictory positions from various officials. This has also affected talks for reconciliation with Fatah in the West Bank, which have effectively come to a halt.

Gaza is controlled by Hamas, yes, but Hamas is no more than the leading prisoner among the 1.7 million prisoners of Gaza.

What are the current topics of Gaza’s internal politics?

First is the need to end this deadly, medieval siege imposed on Gaza in 2006. A slow genocide is happening here that has already caused the death of over 200,000 who did not receive vital medical treatment. The rate of malnutrition in Gaza is the highest worldwide.

The end of this siege will only come within a political solution to the Palestinian question as a whole. When we talk about negotiations, we are talking about Gaza’s fate as well. That is also why us activists in Gaza promote BDS so strongly.

We are highly affected by what is happening in Egypt. We are holding our breath right now. We want Egypt to open the Rafah crossing 27/7. It is our only option right now so as to not make us utter hostages to Israel’s will.

And how much support does Hamas enjoy in Gaza today?

Hamas has lost a lot of its popularity as it resorted to repressive tools and tactics against its opponents. Most people who voted for Hamas did so not because they were for Hamas, but because they were against the corruption of the PA and the concept of a two-state solution. As such, Hamas was the only option.

Now people are questioning everything that Hamas said before the election. It promised resistance, but in fact since the agreements with Israel it does not allow any kind of independent and popular resistance anymore.

Is there a vision for Gaza?

For me, there is one proper vision: A solution for Palestine as a whole that implements UN Resolution 194 which calls for the right of return for all refugees and compensation for their decades in exile. Gaza should become part of one secular democratic state called Palestine.

Israel has another vision: it wants to get rid of Gaza. It wants Gaza to become part of Egypt like it was before 1967 to get rid of all its Gaza problems. The Egyptians do not want and will not allow that. Instead, what is happening now is a slow genocide in Gaza.

(Source / 18.08.2013)

waardevoller dan diamanten

By Marianna Laarif

Hanan vertelde… mijn vader had ik al 6 jaar niet gezien hij was terug gegaan naar het land waarvan we vandaan kwamen…en toen kreeg ik een bericht dat ie ziek zou zijn en hij ons graag nog wilde zien..we namen de eerste vliegtuig zusje en ik… als ik het me herinner had ik een zwarte topje aan en een korte rokje..ik werd streng islamitisch opgevoed..en ik had nooit zulke kleding aan in het bijzijn van me vader… ik en mijn zusje Leila kwamen eindelijk aan bij de kamer van me vader en zoals altijd wilde hij ons laten schrikken…hij verstopte zich achter de deur ..we gaven elkaar een omhelzing en kuste hem op zijn hand en op zijn wang ..mijn vader keek eens goed naar ons….zag dat ie blij was om ons te zien maar zag wel verdriet in zijn ogen ….en hij ging op het bed zitten en we moesten naast hem gaan zitten..en toen zei me vader iets wat ik nooit meer vergeet… hij keek recht in me ogen..en zei “Hanan Leila luister…alles wat Allah heeft gemaakt en waarde heeft op aarde is verborgen en moeilijk te krijgen…waar vind je diamanten?..diep onder de grond, beschermd en verborgen waar vind je parels? diep in de bodem van de zee..verborgen beschermd door een mooie schelp.. waar vind je goud? diep in de mijnen beschermd en verborgen onder lagen van steen…” en toen keek hij met een serieuze blik en recht in mijn ogen en zei: “je lichaam is heilig en je bent veel waardevoller dan diamanten, parels en goud en daarom zou je jezelf moeten bedekken”

PHOTO: Israeli settlers prevent Palestinians from working their land

A private Israeli security guard tries to stop Palestinians from working their land in the West Bank village of Sinjil, near the Israeli outpost of Givat Ha’Roe.

Three years after settlers invaded their land, and following a High Court injunction issued in a petition filed by the landowners through Yesh Din, landowners from the village of Sinjil arrived at their land. Israeli settlers, accompanied by private security company armed men, came to the land and interrupted the work, which lead to the arrival of Israeli soldiers who issued a “close military zone” order and forced the Palestinians and activists out.

(Source / 18.08.2013)

Islamists cancel Cairo rallies for ‘security reasons’

Supporters of Egypt’s deposed Islamist President Mohammed Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood wave Turkish and Egyptian flags during a rally in protest against the recent violence in Egypt, outside of the Eminonu New mosque in Istanbul August 17, 2013.

Citing “security reasons,” an Islamist alliance opposed to the Egyptian military’s ousting of former President Mohammed Mursi called off rallies planned for Sunday, Agence France-Presse reported.

“Several marches in Cairo have been cancelled for security reasons,” AFP quoted Yasmine Adel, a spokeswoman of the Anti-Coup Coalition, as saying.

Adel added that some other marches were taking place but it was not immediately possible to confirm her statement.

According to an AFP correspondent, residents took over a mosque in central Cairo’s Dokki neighborhood for use as a starting point for a march.

The correspondent added that vigilantes in the area stopped cars with bearded people and forcibly removed them from their vehicles.

On Sunday, the Muslim Brotherhood received a blow when Egyptian prosecutors placed 250 of their supporters under investigation for murder, attempted murder and terrorism, Reuters reported the state MENA news agency as saying.

The 250 Brotherhood supporters were arrested by police after Friday clashes that pitted followers of Mursi against security forces.

The clashes, dubbed the “Friday of Anger” by Brotherhood supporters, saw more than 170 people killed.

Egypt has also intensified its clampdown against the Islamist movement by arresting four Brotherhood leaders in the Damanhor province on Saturday.

(Source / 18.08.2013)

Israel bans ex-prisoner from entering West Bank

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces have banned a recently freed Palestinian prisoner from entering the West Bank, citing security concerns.

Alaa al-Ali said he received a warrant this week from Israeli forces prohibiting him from entering the West Bank, reportedly to protect the “security of the state.”

Al-Ali, from Jerusalem, was released three months ago after spending 12 years in an Israeli prison.

(Source / 18.08.2013)

BBC to censor violinist Nigel Kennedy’s statement about Israeli apartheid from TV broadcast

Nigel Kennedy

The BBC has confirmed that it will censor a statement made by violinist Nigel Kennedy from its television broadcast of his performance with the Palestine Strings at a prestigious music festival last week. In his statement at the Proms, Mr. Kennedy used the word “apartheid” to describe the world in which his Palestinian colleagues live.

Click here for a recording of the actual statement the BBC is excising from its broadcast[1]. The following is a transcript:

“It’s a bit facile to say it, but we all know from the experience of this night of music, that giving equality and getting rid of apartheid gives a beautiful chance for amazing things to happen.”

According to The Jewish Chronicle[2], BBC governor Baroness Deech called for an apology from Mr. Kennedy and said that “the remark was offensive and untrue. There is no apartheid in Israel.” Not only is there no apartheid in Israel, she claimed, but nor is there any in Gaza or the West Bank. (She made no mention of East Jerusalem.)

In fact, nearly all aspects of Apartheid, as defined by the UN, apply to Israel in all four of its guises: domestically, its military occupation of the West Bank, its military ‘annexation’ of East Jerusalem, and its siege of Gaza.

This legal definition includes [3]:

• Any measures including legislative measures, designed to divide the population along racial lines by the creation of separate reserves and ghettos for the members of a racial group or groups, theprohibition of mixed marriages among members of various racial groups, the expropriation of landed property belonging to a racial group or groups or to members thereof;

• Any legislative measures and other measures calculated to prevent a racial group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country and the deliberate creation of conditions preventing the full development of such a group or groups, in particular by denying to members of a racial group or groups basic human rights and freedoms, including the right to work, the right to form recognised trade unions, the right to education, the right to leave and to return to their country, the right to a nationality, the right to freedom of movement and residence, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association;

• Denial to a member or members of a racial group or groups of the right to life and liberty of person;

• The infringement of their freedom or dignity, or by subjecting them to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;

• Arbitrary arrest and illegal imprisonment of the members of a racial group or groups;

• Deliberate imposition on a racial group or groups of living conditions calculated to cause its or their physical destruction in whole or in part;

• Inhumane acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

1. The volume of Mr. Kennedy’s voice has been raised slightly for clarity.

2. Marcus Dysch, “BBC to cut Kennedy slur from Proms broadcast“, The Jerusalem Chronicle Online, August 16, 2013.

3. Source: UN, International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. Bold emphasis added.

(Source / 18.08.2013)

Inline afbeelding 1