Palestinian children pay heavy toll in eight weeks of violence

Israeli forces shot dead Ayman Abassi, 17, from the Palestinian neighborhood of Ras al-Amud

Israeli forces shot dead Ayman Abassi, 17, from the Palestinian neighborhood of Ras al-Amud on November 29

Ramallah, December 9, 2015—Israeli forces killed four Palestinian teenagers in separate incidents in East Jerusalem and the West Bank over the past two weeks, raising Palestinian child fatalities to 23 since October 2015.

On November 11, Ibrahim Dawoud, 16, sustained a gunshot injury to the chest during clashes with Israeli forces near a military checkpoint at the northern entrance of the West Bank town of Al-Bireh. A Palestinian ambulance transferred the teenager to the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah.

According to Ibrahim’s medical report, the bullet penetrated the right part of his heart and wound up in his stomach. He was “totally dependent on ventilator,” and developed “multi-organ death.” Senior neuro and cardiac surgeons eventually declared him brain dead. On November 25, Ibrahim died of his wounds.

On November 29, Israeli forces shot dead Ayman Abassi, 17, from the Palestinian neighborhood of Ras al-Amud in East Jerusalem, near the newly installed military checkpoint, according to witnesses.

“I passed near the checkpoint around 9 p.m., and there were no clashes or throwing stones,” Samir Abassi told Defense for Children International – Palestine. “After 10 minutes, I heard a gunshot. Later on, we were informed that Ayman was killed near that checkpoint.”

Another witness told DCIP that Ayman was transferred to a medical center in the neighborhood, where doctors pronounced him dead due to a single gunshot to the chest.

“After a while, Israeli forces stormed the area to seize Ayman’s body, but Palestinian youth managed to hide the body and bury it in Silwan cemetery just after midnight,” Anwar Abassi told DCIP.

An Israeli spokeswoman said that Israeli forces stationed in the neighborhood opened fire at Palestinians after 10 firebombs had been hurled at them, but could not confirm if they had hit anyone.

On December 1, Israeli forces shot dead Mamoun Khatib, 16, after he allegedly attempted to stab an Israeli settler at the Gush Etzion settlement junction in the West Bank, south of Jerusalem. DCIP is still investigating the circumstances.

The Israeli settler sustained shrapnel wounds to the hand and chest from the bullets fired by the Israeli soldiers, the Israeli news website Ynetnews reported.

In Hebron, Israeli forces shot and killed two Palestinian teenagers on December 4, after they allegedly stabbed Israeli soldiers, the Palestinian news agency Maan reported. DCIP confirmed their identities as Mustafa Fanoun, 15, and his cousin, Taher Fanoun, 19, both from Tel Rumeida in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron.

“The failure to open investigations into the killings of Palestinian children and the refusal to conduct autopsy by Israeli authorities are the main factors behind the ambiguity in most of the fatalities that have taken place over the past two months,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at DCIP. “Withholding the bodies of 12 children has made independently verifying the details and circumstances of the incidents near impossible.”

Tensions across East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied West Bank escalated into lethal attacks since the start of October. At least 111 Palestinians and 19 Israelis have died over eight weeks of violence. DCIP has confirmed 23 Palestinian child fatalities, all except six while carrying out alleged stabbing attacks.

In response to escalating violence, Israeli forces appear to be implementing a ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy, which in some incidents may amount to extrajudicial killings. International law requires that intentional lethal force be used only when absolutely unavoidable. Where individuals allegedly carry out a criminal act, they should be apprehended in accordance with international law and afforded due process of law.

At least 283 Palestinian children have sustained injuries since the start of October, based on DCIP’s initial data. DCIP defines a child as anyone under the age of 18.

(Source / 09.12.2015)

THE RISE OF PSYCHOLOGICAL TRAUMA IN OCCUPIED PALESTINE

Riham-Dawabsha-Dies

On the morning of Monday 23rd November, Israeli forces raided Aida refugee camp and a children’s community centre and established a military outpost on the roof of an adjacent building. Once the military post was established, the soldiers also erected an Israeli flag, and didn’t vacate the rooftop until Tuesday in the early hours of the morning.
Inevitable clashes ensued Monday afternoon, and Palestinian youths who threw stones were met with a bombardment of tear gas, flash grenades, rubber bullets and according to local residents live ammunition. Local news agency Ma’an reported that a family of 18 suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation and a young male was hit with a rubber bullet.
Salah Ajarma, director of the Lajee center, spoke to Mondoweiss about the events. “They entered into the camp at 5:30am, then they bombed the door of the building next door”, he said, “We went up to the roof and they told us to go down, we said we didn’t want to because it is our home… an Israeli soldier told me “we can do what we want”.”
“So we stayed here until 3pm, and told the children not to come because it was dangerous. Everyday now you see a child hurt or killed – just now a 14-year-old boy was arrested outside in the street. Doing these things scares all the people, so they [the Israeli military] decide to do it”, he added.
The move to erect an Israeli flag in such an area hardly conforms to Israel’s usual claims of self-defense, and appears to be a direct and taunting provocation to the residents of the camp. On October 29th, less than a month prior, Israeli forces entered into Aida via a military jeep and issued disturbing messages through a loudspeaker in Arabic, threatening“we’re going to gas you until you die”.
Both incidents are extremely disconcerting, as it seems there is a lack of a clear motive other than to collectively punish, terrorize and exert psychological pressure on the Palestinian populace.
Shatha Alazzah, the director of the Environment Unit of the Lajee Center, was also present when the soldiers occupied both buildings on Monday.
“When I came to open the center there were more than 25 soldiers occupying the building”, she recounted, “the soldiers didn’t say anything, they just pointed their guns and stared at me. When I saw the flag I thought it means they will spend a long time in this place”.
Shatha spoke of how Lajee is now running a trauma workshop for children, to combat mental health issues. “First of all this is so bad for the body, there are bad health implications”, she said, “Inhaling tear gas inhaling may have long-term effects, and the same for the sewage and water. These are the physical effects, but then the psychological effects are so bad not just for the children but also for all the people here. Because when you are scared, everyday, it will affect your wellbeing”.

An increase of mental health patients

Considering events such as that which occurred on Monday, alongside raids of hospitalsand schools and an increasingly heavy military presence, it is unsurprising that cases of psychological trauma in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) seem to have risen since the recent outbreak of violence.
MSF released a statement revealing that the number of patients struggling with mental health issues has increased fivefold in Hebron, which has been bearing the brunt of violence in the West Bank, and where it has been reported that schools are also having to provide psychological first aid for students.

epa04867555 A photograph of 18-month-old Ali Dawabsha with his parents in the fire damage home in the West Bank village of Douma near Nablus City, 31 July 2015. The Palestinian infant was killed and several people injured when their home was set alight in the northern West Bank early 31 July 2015, an official said. A group of masked people believed to be Israeli settlers threw flammable bombs into two houses on the outskirts of the village of Doma, south of Nablus, said Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian Authority official. EPA/ALAA BADARNEH

The Dawabshe family who was burned alive in the "Douma Arson" 
by terrorist Israeli settlers whom the Israeli government 
still refuses to punish
“Under the current circumstances our patients are suffering from fear, anxiety, psychosomatic complaints, anger, frustration, and hopelessness. Children often suffer from bed-wetting; they are scared to leave their home and to go to school, they lack the energy to study and cannot concentrate,” explains Marcos Matias Moyano, MSF psychologist in Hebron.
“Many adults are facing sleeping and eating problems, crying, fear and despair. Although this is a protracted conflict, the level of acute stress we have seen among our patients in the past weeks is concerning. It will have a serious impact on people’s ability to cope,” he added.
However, it seems that it’s not just Israel’s military actions that are contributing to this worrying trend, but the lack of accountability for settlers whose violent attacks are rarely prosecuted and seem to operate in an environment of impunity. A report from Médecins du Monde France released last month assessed the psychological damage to 72 direct and indirect victims of the Duma arson, where a Palestinian family was burned alive inside their home. Their findings showed that 82% of the beneficiaries are at severe risk of developing PTSD, and 45% are unable to carry out daily activities such as cleaning and cooking.

Chronic conditions of instability

Souha Shehadeh, a child psychiatrist who works for the Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation (BASR), spoke to Mondoweiss to explain why psychological wounds take so long to heal in Palestine. “Here we are not in a situation where there is a war and everything returns back to normal”, she explained, “instead we have a chronic situation where from time to time there are explosions [of violence] and acute things happen, and then it comes down again, with things being relatively stable, albeit with the threat that things could explode again.”
Whilst the referral of mental health patients seems to have increased since the outbreak of the so-called ‘Third Intifada’, structural conditions that foster psychological fragility have been in place for years in the oPt, which has been under occupation since the 1960’s.
A recent report released by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, reveals there are currently over 11,000 ‘outstanding’ demolition orders against Palestinian-owned structures in Area C. However, from 1988 through to the end of 2014, of all of the demolition orders issued by Israel only 19.9% were carried out. Thus, home demolitions seem to be not only harnessed as a physical punishment and punitive deterrent, but the threat of a demolition order provides extensive psychological torment for the inhabitants, who live in constant dread that they will wake to an unannounced bulldozer on their doorstop every morning.
The application of administrative detention, where anyone can be arrested and detained without charge, is a method exploited especially to target children. Ayed Abu Eqtaish from Defence for Children International (DCI), told Mondoweiss about the treatment of Palestinian children in custody, stating, “Israel has moved from using physical methods of torture to psychological methods of torture… because they discovered using psychological torture is more efficient for extracting information.”
Night raids too, are a constant source of anxiety. Two videos released by Israeli rights-based organisation B’tselem in March this year, revealed harrowing scenes of fully armed Israeli soldiers holding rifles, invading a Palestinian home unannounced when the families were asleep, and raiding children’s bedrooms, with one child as young as four. According to DCI – Palestine, over half of Palestinian children detained were arrested in the middle of the night.
Thus, it appears that certain Israeli policies directly foster conditions in the oPt that make Palestinians particularly susceptible to mental health problems. The recent spate of violence has revealed burgeoning examples of the Israeli military flouting international standards, especially regarding what appear to be extra judicial executions, which prompted Amnesty International to claim that Israeli forces have “ripped up the rulebook and resorted to extreme and unlawful measures”.
Therefore, the repeated occurrence of unnecessary incidents such as those which occurred in Aida on Monday, raise grave concerns for the mental stability and wellbeing of Palestinians across the oPt, who have been suffering under an increasingly volatile and inequitable military occupation for almost half a century.

(Source / 09.12.2015)

Slain Palestinian teen’s mother: ‘They took all our happiness with one bullet’

Malik Shahin, 19, is the second young man from Dheisha refugee camp to be shot dead by Israeli forces in past two months

Thousands of mourners march at 19-year-old Malik Shahin’s funeral on Tuesday

BETHLEHEM, Occupied West Bank – For the second time in a little over two months, young men from Dheisha refugee camp gathered to carry their dead friend to the local cemetery.

When he was alive, the young men – dressed in red to signify their support of the revolutionary socialist group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) – would have called 19-year-old Malik Shahin their comrade. On Tuesday, they called him their martyr.

Shahin was shot dead while trying to protect his neighbours, Mahmoud Damsaa, the 19-year-old’s friend told Middle East Eye.

Locals said Shahin was killed when Israeli forces entered Dheisha refugee camp during the early hours of Tuesday morning on an arrest raid. The overcrowded camp was calm at first, with residents sleeping near heaters, piled under thick blankets during one of the coldest nights of the year.

The camp awoke abruptly, disrupting the quiet of the night, they said, as one-by-one residents became alerted to the soldiers’ presence. In minutes, chaos ensued as more than 400 young men left their homes and took to the rooftops, throwing rocks and sporadic Molotov cocktails at Israeli forces.

Mahmoud Damsaa, Shahin’s friend, said he saw the 19-year-old shot dead before his eyes

“Malik was on the roof throwing stones like the rest of the young guys, ready to stop the soldiers from arresting our neighbours,” Damsaa said, recalling the moment his friend was killed before his eyes just hours before.

“The soldiers threw a sound grenade up on the roof he was on and I saw him jump. He wasn’t expecting it and when he turned his head they shot him.”

Shahin was shot in the head, his skull cracked open. He died almost immediately, Damsaa said, describing the scene in gory detail.

Less than two months earlier, another young PFLP supporter from the camp, Mutaz Zawahra, was shot dead by Israeli forces during protests up the street from Dheisha.

Unlike Zawahra, who was the middle child of five boys, Shahin was his family’s only son.

His mother, who people refer to simply as Um Malik – the mother of Malik in Arabic – said she could not imagine what life will be like without her son.

“The killed my dream,” Um Malik said through tears. “I would not wish this feeling on anyone, they took the smile from my home. They took all our happiness with one bullet.”

Malik Shahin, 19, is the second young man from Dheisha refugee camp to be killed by Israeli forces in a little less than two months

After his death, the PFLP movement, designated a terrorist organisation by Israel and the US, issued a statement claiming Israeli forces entered the camp specifically to detain PFLP supporters.

The group condemned the raid and the killing, and insisted that violence against their supporters would not deter clashes.

“The ongoing ugly crimes by the Israeli occupation against our young men who lead clashes at the front line won’t prevent them from escalating the clashes with Israeli occupation soldiers and settlers,” the statement said.

While Shahin and most of his friends are respected as supporters of the PFLP, Damsaa said Shahin was not overly political.

“He was more into school and stuff. He was a smart guy. He was always studying for university,” Damsaa explained. “He wasn’t one of these guys at the front of the protests, but he was definitely a supporter of PFLP.”

Thousands attended the funeral at the camp on Tuesday following midday prayers at the local mosque, and stores in the city closed for the day out of respect for their fallen neighbour.

Clashes broke out in Bethlehem after Shahin’s funeral

After Shahin was laid to rest, young men turned from their grief, allowing rage to take hold as they raced to the Israeli separation wall at the end of the main street in the city.

Clashes broke out immediately, with protesters burning tyres and launching stones at the separation wall standing between the young men and an Israeli military base on the other side.

Most Palestinian TV news stations broadcast live from the clashes, where Israeli forces shot large amounts of tear gas. During clashes, two protesters were shot and injured with live fire, while dozens of others suffered from severe tear gas inhalation.

Since 1 October, almost daily attacks and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers have killed 112 Palestinians, 17 Israelis, an American and an Eritrean.

Many of the Palestinians killed have been alleged attackers, while others have been shot dead by Israeli security forces during clashes and raids.

(Source / 09.12.2015)

Palestinian child shot, seriously wounded in Ramallah clashes

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Israeli forces on Tuesday shot and seriously wounded a 10-year-old Palestinian boy during clashes in al-Jalazun refugee camp north of Ramallah, medics said.Medics said the child was shot in the stomach and evacuated to the Palestine Medical Complex, where he was in serious but stable condition.Israeli forces reportedly fired live and rubber-coated steel rounds at protesters during the clashes.The occupied Palestinian territory has seen a wave of unrest since the beginning of October, with Palestinians taking part in almost daily demonstrations.

Israel’s severe crackdown on the popular protests has left more than 10,000 Palestinians injured.
(Source / 09.12.2015)

FSA: Syrian rebel groups must unite to defeat Assad

Free Syrian Army spokesman tells Middle East Eye that summit in Saudi Arabia will build a united force from Syrian opposition groups

A member of the Syrian government forces looks at enemy positions from the Fatima north Daraa

The Syrian opposition is gathering in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to agree a unified political position based on removing President Bashar al-Assad from power, a senior member of the Free Syrian Army has told Middle East Eye.

Major Issam al-Reis, spokesman for the FSA Southern Front, said the two day conference in Riyadh was a “positive step” that can unite Syria’s fractured military and political opposition.

“Everyone who is attending has a vision of uniting Syria,” he said, from his base in Turkey. “They will discuss the problems [between groups] and end by agreeing on a unified position. Our message is that Syrians are united and Syria has a future together.

“I think we will have a document and a statement that will serve as a platform for any future initiatives of talks. This meeting is not about financial or any other kind of support.

“This is about agreeing on one statement, one position, one vision for the opposition – this is much more important than anything else.”

The Southern Front is the largest single Syrian opposition group, with 25,000 fighters based in south Syria.

Among the other groups expected to attend the Riyadh conference are Islamist movements Jaish al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham, who are supported by Saudi Arabia and Turkey respectively. These two groups together have an estimated 27,500 fighters battling Assad’s forces in central and northern Syria.

First meeting of its kind

The meeting in Riyadh is the first time in five years of war that there has been an attempt to bring together all the various factions that make up Syria’s opposition. One hundred and fifty delegates will try to find common ground and agree on a public statement, but, perhaps more significantly, they will aim to form a 25-man committee to represent the opposition.

However, a Western diplomat told Reuters that the meeting was not “all-encompassing”.

“I do not expect Riyadh to be a constructive step […] the whole thing has been very acrimonious and it looks like a Saudi-Turkey wish list,” the unnamed diplomat said.

Reis said an important reason for the Riyadh conference was to build a stronger voice for the opposition, in light of recent international talks in Vienna where international powers discussed ways to bring an end to the civil war.

“There were no Syrians in Vienna,” he said. “Everything that was decided there didn’t include our opinion. That’s why we are going to Riyadh to have one position [for any future talks].”

The Vienna talks in November saw Saudi Arabia and Iran sit together to discuss a war in which they have backed opposite sides – a move that many analysts have said may prove key in ending a conflict that has killed more than 200,000 people in five years.

After Vienna international powers announced a plan to begin on 1 January that would see local ceasefires announced, which will be monitored by the UN, and a transitional government formed that will include both President Assad and the opposition.

The plan to include Assad in Syria’s future was a marked turn for many of the participants at Vienna, including many Western countries who have repeatedly called for the Syrian president to be toppled due to his responsibility for the vast majority of civilian casualties in the war.

This policy change has come largely as a result of an increased international focus on the Islamic State group, particularly after it claimed responsibility for the recent attack in Paris that killed 130 people.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has suggested Assad’s army could be an ally in the fight against IS, a position backed up this week by Conservative MP and London Mayor Boris Johnson.

Assad ‘giving support to IS’

However, the FSA’s Reis said this change of heart is the result of a successful strategy by Assad to promote the threat of IS.

“There can be no doubt that Assad is giving support to IS,” he said. “He buys oil from them, he wants to make sure they can keep going.

“The only way he can convince the international community of his worth is to make them think he is fighting terrorism. He is using IS to strengthen his position – this is the only way Assad can stay in power.”

Reis said anyone who backs Assad is betraying the Syrian people because he is “using Iranians, Hezbollah, and Russia in a war against his own people”.

“He is using foreign powers to fight for him and keep him in power. The Syrians aren’t fighting with Assad.”

Defectors from the Syrian army recently told Middle East Eye that up to 70 percent of troops fighting in southern Syria are either Iranian or from the Lebanese movement Hezbollah.

Reis said the opposition will demand in Riyadh that Assad is removed at the beginning of the transition period, contradicting the plans announced after November’s Vienna talks.

Two groups who will not be in Riyadh are al-Qaeda affiliate the Nusra Front and the Kurdish YPG militia.

Reis said Nusra, who have a powerful presence in northern Syria, has not been invited to the conference because it does “not have legitimacy from the Syrians” and was full of foreign fighters.

He described the YPG as a “terrorist militia supporting Assad”, in a reference to the Kurdish militia’s priority to carve out a state in northern Syria rather than join in the wider battle to overthrow the president.

While the YPG is viewed by many in the West as a key partner in fighting IS, Reis said the Kurdish militia was “not considered part of the opposition” and would not work with it despite overtures from the international community.

“The groups representing the opposition now [in Riyadh] are 10 times stronger than any other group on the ground. They are enough, they represent the majority,” he said.

(Source / 09.12.2015)

Report: US Donors Have Pumped $220 Million Into Jewish Settlements In Israel

American donors are effectively subsidizing a policy opposed by U.S. administrations.

In this March 14, 2011, file photo, a general view of a construction site in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Modiin Illit. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty, File)

In this March 14, 2011, file photo, a general view of a construction site in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Modiin Illit

JERUSALEM — Private American donors have pumped more than $220 million into Jewish West Bank settlements in recent years through tax-deductible donations, effectively subsidizing a policy opposed by U.S. administrations for decades, according to an investigation published in an Israeli newspaper on Monday.

The Haaretz daily found that some 50 nonprofit organizations from across the U.S. were raising funds for settlements in the West Bank, an area the Palestinians want as part of a future state, along with east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Israel captured all three areas in the 1967 Mideast war.

The newspaper said the money’s tax-deductible status means the U.S. government “is incentivizing and indirectly supporting the Israeli settlement movement,” even though Washington opposes settlement construction and views it as an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians.

Peace talks collapsed last year and a wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence is entering its third month. Near-daily Palestinian attacks, mostly stabbings, have killed 19 Israelis, while more than 108 Palestinians have been killed. They include 73 people said by Israel to be attackers, with the remainder killed in clashes with Israeli troops.

In the latest violence, Israeli police said a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli outside a holy site in the West Bank city of Hebron on Monday, seriously wounding him before being shot and killed by officers at the scene. The site is holy to Jews, who refer to it as the Tomb of the Patriarchs, and to Muslims, who refer to it as the Ibrahimi Mosque.

Hebron, home to some 850 Israeli settlers who live in heavily guarded enclaves surrounded by tens of thousands of Palestinians, is a frequent flashpoint of violence. Many of the Palestinian attackers in the past months of bloodshed were from Hebron.

Israel accuses Palestinian political and religious leaders of inciting the violence. But the Palestinians say it is the result of nearly half a century of Israeli occupation and dwindling hope for gaining independence. They say the continued expansion of Jewish settlements on captured lands proves that Israel does not want peace. Israel says the issue of settlements should be dealt with in peace talks along with other thorny disputes.

The Palestinians and much of the international community view settlements as illegal and illegitimate. Nearly 600,000 Jewish settlers live in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Over the weekend, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned that continued settlement construction and other Israeli policies in the West Bank could endanger Israel’s future as a Jewish, democratic state.

The Haaretz investigation found that some of the money sent by American donors has gone toward providing legal aid to extremist Jews through an Israeli group called Honenu.

The report also said some of the money was spent on paying the salary of settler leader Menachem Livni, an Israeli jailed in connection with his activities in a radical Jewish group that carried out attacks against Palestinians in the 1980s. The money has otherwise gone to acquiring buildings in the West Bank and east Jerusalem and improving the living conditions of Jewish settlers, the report said.

The report reviewed funds donated between 2009 and 2013, the latest year for which there is extensive data, the newspaper said.

(Source / 09.12.2015)

Debunking the 3 D’s of Israeli hasbara – distortions, diversions and defamations

A Palestinian man overlooks the Jaramana Refugee Camp in Damascus, Syria in 1948. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

A Palestinian man overlooks the Jaramana Refugee Camp in Damascus, Syria in 1948

On November 27, 2015, a meeting was held in downtown Vancouver, Canada under the title “First Nations & Palestinians at the Frontline of Resistance” organized by the Seriously Free Speech Committee and supported by another 10 community groups (of which Canada Palestine Association-Vancouver was one). On the day of the meeting, the local Zionist apologist paper the Jewish Independent ran an editorial “Co-opting history”, full of the Israeli Hasbara 3 D’s – Distortions, Diversions and Defamations.

Their editorial stated: “The obvious intention is to equate the history of colonial settlement in North America, Canada in particular, with the actions of Israel toward Palestinians.”

Wrong. The editorial conveniently refuses to recognize the Zionist project as settler colonialism, and therefore will not acknowledge that the intention was to draw parallels between settler colonialism in North America and Zionist settler colonialism in Palestine, in addition to exposing “the actions of Israel toward Palestinians”.

The editorial went on to claim: “The concept is flawed at its core, of course, because, as the Palestinian narrative often does, it portrays the Jews as colonial occupiers of Arab land, while denying the legitimacy of ancient and modern claims to the Jewish homeland.”

Wrong again, and on more than one account.

First, the Palestinian narrative doesn’t “portray the Jews as colonial occupiers of Arab land”, it portrays the Zionists (not THE Jews) as settler colonial occupiers of Arab land. For a paper that claims to be opposed to anti-Semitism, conflating all Jews with Zionism and putting the ills of Zionism on the shoulders of all Jews is a dangerous slide into anti-Semitism.

Second, there is no legitimacy (not ancient nor modern) for Zionist claims to a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

Period.

• As Israeli historian Ilan Pappe simply puts it: “The secular Jews who founded the Zionist movement wanted paradoxically both to secularize Jewish life and to use the Bible as a justification for colonizing Palestine; in other words, they did not believe in God but He nonetheless promised them Palestine.”
• The first Zionist Congress held in Basle, Switzerland (in Europe) in 1897 listed as some of the aims of the movement: “Zionism strives to create for the Jewish people a homeland in Palestine secured by public law. The congress contemplates the following means to the attainment of this end – The promotion on suitable lines of the colonization (my emphasis) of Palestine by Jewish agricultural and industrial workers.”
• Theodor Hertzl and most European Zionists were willing to accept any other country for their settler colonialist project:- “Herzl turned to Great Britain and met with Joseph Chamberlain, the British colonial secretary and others high ranking officials who agreed in principle to Jewish settlement in East Africa.” The Sixth Zionist Congress then adopted the Uganda Proposal .
• Most European Jews who founded the idea of political Zionism have no relation to the original Jews (Hebrews) of the Holy Land. A recent report about a new DNA study, carried in leading newspapers like the NY Times and Haaretz, and highlighted in the prominent Jewish American journal Forward, found that “The maternal ancestry of Ashkenazi Jews comes mainly from Europe…”.
• Conversely, large numbers of Arab Muslims and Christians were originally part of the Hebrew tribe; many Palestinian Christians (the first believers) were, like Christ himself, Jewish. And, many of those first Christians, in addition to many Jews, converted to Islam. Where do these people fit in the Zionist ideology? Or are (Ashkenazi) Jews, who have no roots in Palestine, considered from the “Chosen people” simply because they are white and “CIVILISED” in colonialist terms? Theodor Herzl, considered the founder of political Zionism, wrote in his book The Jewish State in 1896: “We should there form a portion of the rampart of Europe against Asia, an outpost of civilization as opposed to barbarism.”

The Jewish Independent editorial then goes on to divert from the issue of settler colonialism to say:

“The anti-Israel movement insists on appropriating the historical experience of other people and using it in an attempt to fortify their narrative. The most obvious example is the apartheid libel, which tries to paint Israel as the ideological descendant of South African racism. This is offensive not only to Israelis. It debases the experience of black South Africans who suffered from genuine apartheid.”

Apartheid libel? Really?! Israel is the one who builds apartheid towns, roads and walls. Israel is the one who practices the brutal apartheid system against the occupied Palestinian territories and finally, Israel is the one that has enacted over 50 laws to discriminate against its Christian and Muslim Israeli citizens.

As for debasing “the experience of black South Africans”, it is the Jewish Independent who is debasing and ignoring “the experience of black South Africans” who have visited Palestine and stated unequivocally that the apartheid Palestinians are experiencing is similar or worse than what happened in South Africa. As former South African Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils noted, “Israel came to resemble more and more apartheid South Africa at its zenith — even surpassing its brutality…” (see “Israel and apartheid: A fair comparison?” by Edward C. Corrigan)

And the editorial is not yet finished with its outrageous claims, alleging: “Even more egregiously, the anti-Israel movement routinely uses the imagery of Nazism and the Holocaust against Israel, attempting to equate the victims of the Third Reich with its perpetrators. This deliberate rubbing of salt in Jewish historical wounds is common and…the objective is clearly to inflict pain rather than to resolve grievances.”

And again the editorial treats Israel, Zionists and the Jews as one and the same; the victims of the Third Reich were the Jews and not the Zionists, some of whom collaborated with the Nazis to fulfill the aims of Zionist immigration to Palestine. We in the support movement will never “equate the victims (the Jews) of the Third Reich with its perpetrators.”

For the record, the first one who coined the phrase Judeo-Nazis was the late Israeli philosopher professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz. And Avraham Shalom, former head of the Shin Bet has even stated in the documentary The Gatekeepers: “On the other hand, it’s a brutal occupation force, similar to the Germans in World War II. Similar, but not identical.”

Listen to what 327 Jewish Holocaust survivors and descendants stated in a letter that was published in the New York Times:

“We must raise our collective voices and use our collective power to bring about an end to all forms of racism, including the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people. We call for an immediate end to the siege against and blockade of Gaza. We call for the full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel. ‘Never again’ must mean NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE!”

The editorial, from beginning to end, sought desperately to discredit, slander and defame the Palestinian people and the Palestinian solidarity movement (and all the groups involved in the meeting). One might be forgiven for thinking the article was a template borrowed from the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

For the Zionist apologists in the Jewish Independent, genuine support and solidarity are foreign concepts. They do not and cannot understand the true meaning of support amongst the oppressed peoples of the world, because their main concern is the bottom line in pleasing their Zionist readership. Regrettably, in the process, they have become complicit in Israeli apartheid, ethnic cleansing and war crimes against the Palestinian people.

The fact is that Israel and its apologists are only in solidarity with imperial forces and despotic regimes, forces that Israel continuously supplies with crowd control weapons and assorted military hardware. One recent example is Israel’s sale of mass surveillance technology to Colombia.

An interesting footnote is that the Zionist editorial completely (perhaps intentionally) failed to mention the main organizer of the meeting, the Seriously Free Speech Committee.

Our final question is: Exactly who is co-opting history?

(Source / 09.12.2015)

Israel has deep intelligence ties with Daesh: Analyst

Daesh 091215

This file photo shows a Daesh terrorist

Press TV has interviewed Scott Rickard, a former American intelligence linguist, in Orlando, to discuss a footage released by British media, showing Israeli soldiers treating a wounded Takfiri terrorist in the occupied Golan Heights.  

The following is a rough transcription of the interview.

Press TV: As we have just mentioned, this is not the first time footage has emerged showing that Israeli officials or Israeli troops giving medical treatment to foreign-backed Takfiri insurgents that are wreaking havoc in Syria but now that more in depth reports are coming out, what do you make of it?

Rickard: Well, sadly this is a long-standing relationship that Israel has with any dissidents in the region against the Syrian government. This has actually been going on for decades behind the Muslim Brotherhood – that was around 20, 30 years ago – and certainly the support coming out of Jordan in Israel for these Takfiri Daesh, ISIS type of organizations.

These organizations have been tied to the smuggling and the arms dealing individuals in both Israel and Jordan and now also Turkey unfortunately and you have a huge organization of Israelis that are supported from an intelligence background and also from a logistics background. And what I have seen specifically myself is when you have individuals like say Steven Sotloff, who was posing as a journalist in Syria and was allegedly beheaded by Jihadi John, this individual was trained in the IDC Herzliya, which is basically the Quantico or training for the intelligence community in Israel. He was actually working within Syria as an Israeli agent posing as basically a journalist.

So the ties that go into Israel are far beyond the medical coverage and it goes way deep into the intelligence and logistics.

Press TV: So now later this month we are also going to have the talks on Syria as far as hammering out a political solution goes. For as long as we have Turkey or even Israel supporting these foreign-backed Takfiri terrorists, will there be peace in Syria?

Rickard: Well unfortunately not. Many of the Turkish intelligence and even the Turkish individuals, certainly as many people that are running the country, still remember the Sykes-Picot Act that was secretly held by the French and the British.

So part of the infrastructure within Turkey wants to see their borders go back down to Mosul and certainly does not want to have the trouble from the Kurdish regional government in Iraq or the PKK or YPG which is now actually aligning with the Americans and the Russians fighting for those resources at this point.

So it is quite strange to see that you have a Turkish government that is basically in NATO, that is really affecting and participating alongside NATO unfortunately, and making a huge effort to destroy Syria alongside [Persian] Gulf state, Israeli and Jordanian type of allies. So it is unfortunate that this is happening and no, I do not think that Turkey is a good example of any type of war stopping in the area because they certainly want to continue to try to destroy Syria and take the northern part of Iraq.

Press TV: So what about the air campaign that the West is launching against Daesh, like now we have Britain and France also joining, so this is all a farce in your opinion?

Rickard: Absolutely. In fact this is saving face because the Russians are making such great progress in Syria and what you see is they are taking out targets that will basically benefit Syria once the territory is regained by the Syrian military and the Syrian government. The British went in and bombed the oil fields unnecessarily because the Russians had already taken out all of the tankers that were capable of moving the oil and they exposed clearly the Turkish are involved in selling of stolen oil by ISIS through Turkey.

So I think what we see here is that people are being caught red-handed and they are trying to save face and in saving face unfortunately what they are doing is they are destroying resources that the Syrian government could use to rebuild and basically put them on the track to providing for their people and this is what the West has done, is they are trying to make the people of Syria suffer so they will turn against their leadership and thankfully the people of Syria understand the truth.

(Source / 09.12.2015)

In Gaza, another farmer shot by a sniper for working his land

Mohamed Abu Taima, 29, had to undergo two surgeries

Mohamed Abu Taima, 29, had to undergo two surgeries

A week ago Mohamed Abu Taima, 29 years-old and father of a small girl, was working his land 450m from the separation fence when an Israeli sniper shot him. At 4pm, he had arrived to his land in Al Faraheen, Khan Younees, South of the Gaza Strip. He was shot a few minutes after he started to work. The bullet passed through one of his legs and exploded inside the other one.

The bullet went through one leg and exploded in the other one

The bullet went through one leg and exploded in the other one

A few minutes after arriving in the hospital Mohamed underwent a first surgery, and days after a second one. Until now, the doctors don’t know if Mohamed will ever be able to walk properly again.

These kind of attacks have been frequent during the past two weeks. Several farmers were expelled from their lands by the Israeli snipers when they were working or intended to work their lands between 400 and 500m from the fence, meaning outside of the “buffer zone” imposed by the occupation.

(Source / 09.12.2015)

President Khoja Optimistic About Success of Riyadh Conference

President of the Syrian Coalition Khaled Khoja said he was optimistic the Syrian opposition will reach an agreement on a wide range of issues including laying out a unified vision of a political solution to the crisis. President Khoja expressed hope that participants will form a negotiating team and define the basic principles guiding the negotiation process.

“The Syrian opposition is willing to engage in a political solution to the crisis,” Khoja said. “We have the right to liberate our land form occupation by both the Russians and the Iranians. A political solution should not be only about ending the rule of Assad, but also about all invading forces withdrawing from all Syrian territory.”

President Khoja went on to say that the Riyadh meeting will be crucial in showing the true character of opposition figures taking part in the conference. He made clear the fact that as Saudi Arabia enjoys the confidence of all participants, it will play an important role in assisting the opposition with reaching an agreement.

President Khoja pointed out that the Syrian Coalition will submit the Document of Basic Principles for a Political Settlement with the hope of laying out a common document about the transitional period among all spectra of the opposition.

President Khoja stressed that the Syrian Coalition’s view of the solution has been in tune with that of the majority of rebel factions since the international envoy Staffan de Mistura began his mission. “The Syrian Coalition and rebel groups insist that a negotiated solution must be based on the 2012 of Geneva Communiqué,” President Khoja said.

(Source: Syrian Coalition + Al-Sharq al-Awsat / 09.12.2015)