Saudi king calls for protecting Palestinian people

RIYADH, (PIC)– Saudi King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz called the international community to assume its responsibilities and take the necessary measures to protect the Palestinians from the “antagonistic Israeli actions that are a provocation to the feelings of Arabs and Muslims”.

In his first address to the Shura (Consultative) Council since he became the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques in January, King Salman said that Saudi Arabia was determined to tackle challenges faced by Arabs and Muslims in international forums.

“We are also determined to defend the Palestinian people till restoring their legitimate rights and establishing an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital,” he added.

King Salman strongly condemned the Israeli escalated and irresponsible crimes against Palestinian children, women, and unarmed civilians.

He concluded by calling for putting an end to Israeli daily break-ins into al-Aqsa Mosque and settlement construction.

(Source / 23.12.2015)

Dozens of injuries reported during clashes in Ramallah, al-Khalil

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– At least nine Palestinians were injured with rubber bullets while dozens suffered tear gas inhalation as clashes broke out Wednesday between Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) and Palestinian citizens east of Ramallah.

The clashes erupted when IOF soldiers stormed al-Mughir town east of Ramallah amid heavy fire of tear gas bombs and live and rubber bullets.

During the raid, IOF seized a local home and turned it into a military barrack in total provocation to local residents. Several other homes were raided and searched.

Meanwhile, dozens of secondary school students were injured as IOF brutally fired tear gas bombs inside their school on Wednesday morning.

The PIC reporter affirmed that Tariq ibn Ziyad secondary school was subjected to an Israeli tear gas bombs attack.

Following the violent attack, clashes erupted in surrounding areas between Israeli forces and Palestinian students who responded by throwing stones and empty bottles.

(Source / 23.12.2015)

The Mossad accelerates its strategy against BDS

Asa WinstanleyAsa Winstanley

One year ago I wrote about the Mossad’s strategyto combat the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. In part, I based my argument on the analysis of former Mossad director Shabatai Shavit, who had written an important, and under-noticed, opinion piece about it inHaaretz, Israel’s liberal daily newspaper.

In that piece Shavit had argued, in a most sinister fashion, that “in this age of asymmetrical warfare” Israeli spy agencies are not yet “using all our force, and this has a detrimental effect on our deterrent power.” To me, this seemed tantamount to a declaration of war on the BDS movement. I maintain that in the long term, as Israel becomes more and more desperate in its (mostly failed) attempts to combat BDS, the more likely it is to carry out some sort of violent attack on BDS activists.

It’s already very difficult for Israel to combat BDS. It’s something akin to trying to against fight a shifting sand dune. BDS is a diffuse and broad movement, which, although it has popular and influential figures supporting it, has no central leadership or cadres that Israel could remove through its various nefarious means. More fundamentally, it’s pretty hard to force people to buy Israel products, or make them participate in Israeli propaganda initiatives against their will or interest. Furthermore, although some people can be bought-off, intimidated, or otherwise coerced into silence, it’s pretty much impossible to stop everyone talking about an idea or a strategy.

Nonetheless, that doesn’t stop Israel trying.

How has the strategy of the Mossad and other Israeli spy agencies to combat BDS developed over the course of the last year? An excellent investigative report by dissident Israeli journalist Amira Hass this week gave us a new insight.

Hass discovered the existence of a covert sabotage campaign targeted against Al Haq, likely Palestine’s most important human rights organization. Hass refrains from commenting on who the culprits were, but my own suspicions lie firmly with the Shin Bet (Israel’s secret police force which targets Palestinians and Israeli dissidents at home). In this case, the Shin Bet was most likely working jointly with the Mossad.

A series of emails were spread around accusing Al Haq of corruption and fraud. The anonymous signatories (the emails were signed only by “Fadi” and “Kathy”) posed as a concerned Palestinian Authority employee and a European NGO worker. Hass looked into their claims and found that they were baseless, including the claim that international accounting firm Ernst & Young was investigating Al Haq due to allegations of “financial irregularities … and misuse of donations and funds.” But nonetheless, Al Haq requested that the PA’s audit bureau look into their accounts and do a complete audit, so as to be above suspicion.

It seems clear that whoever was behind this whispering campaign against Al Haq did it as part of a wider campaign against the movement for Palestinian liberation. Al Haq has long been involved in the campaign to have Israel prosecuted for war crimes against the Palestinian people, especially during its various recurring wars against the population of Gaza. Just this week Al Haq delivered its detailed submission, in person, to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on Israel’s war against Gaza last year.

Another key reason for the timing of this disinformation campaign was the fact that Al Haq has long been involved in the effort to get the European Union to ban goods imported from Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank (which are illegal under international law). Earlier this month, the EU finally adopted its guidelines on labelling settlement goods sold in European supermarkets as such (so that they now have to read “Israeli settlement goods”). Al Haq correctly said the move was too little too late.

The emails seemed deliberately timed to try and cast doubt on Al Haq at the very moment its efforts to bring Israel to account were starting to bare fruit.

I myself learned earlier this year from reliable sources about a similarly shady sabotage campaign against two BDS-supporting groups in Europe, carried out by more mysterious persons posing as supporters of Palestinian human rights.

Back in August we learned that the Aman, another Israeli spy agency, has for years now had a “delegitimzation department,” specifically set up to combat BDS around the world, as well as to fight disinformation campaigns against Palestinian armed resistance groups.

This pattern of conflating BDS, a purely non-violent act of political protest and education, with armed struggle, is emblematic of how crudely Israel fights its wars against Palestinian human rights and, indeed, the very existence of the Palestinian people.

The Mossad’s strategy against BDS is not particularly competent or well thought through. It is still unlikely to meet with much success.

(Source / 23.12.2015)

Egypt jails Brotherhood head Badie for 10 years over clashes

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Cairo (AFP) – An Egyptian military court Tuesday sentenced Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie to 10 years in prison over deadly clashes following the 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, judicial officials said.

Ninety other defendants who were tried in absentia were sentenced to life terms, which in Egypt means 25 years.

Badie and dozens of others were found guilty of participating in clashes that killed 31 people in the canal city of Suez between August 14 and 16, 2013.

The clashes erupted after police brutally broke up two pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo on August 14 that year.

The charges in the military trial included vandalism, inciting violence, murder, assaulting military personnel and setting fire to armoured personnel carriers and two Coptic churches in Suez.

Badie, the Brotherhood’s spiritual guide, was sentenced to 10 years along with fellow Brotherhood leader Mohamed Beltagy and Safwat Hegazy, a pro-Brotherhood Islamist, army and judicial officials said.

Forty-one defendants were sentenced to serve between three and seven years, 90 others were handed down life sentences and 59 others were acquitted.

Tuesday’s sentences can be appealed.

Badie is facing several trials and has been sentenced to death in a separate case along with Morsi for plotting jailbreaks and attacks on police during the 2011 uprising that ousted president Hosni Mubarak.

The Brotherhood chief has also been handed life sentences in five other cases.

Hundreds of Morsi supporters were killed on August 14, 2013 when police stormed their camps in Cairo, just weeks after the Islamist president was ousted by then army chief and now President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Military tribunals in Egypt have faced criticism for their harsh and swift verdicts.

Egypt’s constitution allows military trials of civilians accused of violence against military targets — which include public infrastructure such as highways and bridges as well as universities.

Since Morsi’s overthrow, the authorities have launched a brutal crackdown against his supporters, leaving hundreds dead and thousands jailed after often speedy mass trials.

Morsi himself is facing several trials and has already been sentenced to death in one case. The Brotherhood has been outlawed as a “terrorist organisation”.

(Source / 23.12.2015)

Israel’s sea blockade of Gaza motivated by gas finds

Israel has accelerated the militarization of Gaza’s waters, barring Palestinians from accessing resources that lie offshore

When Benjamin Netanyahu waived anti-monopoly laws to allow the development of large offshore gas reserves last week, the prime minister dismissed criticism by describing his action as imperative for Israel’s “national security.”

Calling the gas under the Mediterranean Sea “a gift from God,” Netanyahu vowed his decision would lead Israel to energy independence.

Fifteen years ago, the late Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat made a similar declaration as he stood aboard a fishing vessel in the Mediterranean, while British Gas confirmed the presence of natural gas less than 20 nautical miles off the coast of the Gaza Strip, within the occupied territory’s maritime zone.

“It’s a gift from God to us, to our people, to our children,” Arafat said. “This will provide a solid foundation for our economy, for establishing an independent state with holy Jerusalem as its capital.”

But fifteen years later the discovery of many rich gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean has reaped no benefits for Palestinians – and is likely the motive for Israel’s devastating maritime blockade on Gaza.

“Israel has closed off access to Palestine’s territorial waters to protect Israeli gas platforms and export pipelines,” according to “Annexing Energy,” a new report from the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq.

At the same time, Israel has forcibly blocked Palestinians from developing gas fields in Gaza’s waters.

“Israel’s unlawful appropriation, exploitation and prevented development of oil and gas resources constitute plunder and further breach Palestine’s right to self-determination,” Al-Haq states.

It also points out that Israel is not acting alone: “By their actions, international corporations and states, including EU members, concluding pipeline agreements to export gas from Israel’s Tamar and Leviathan fields … will effectively support and profit from Israel’s continued illegal closure of Palestinian maritime waters.”

Gas finds

In 2000, around the same time that the Gaza gas fields were found, Israel discovered Mari-B, a gas field located at the maritime border with Gaza.

Since then, Israel has accelerated the militarization of Gaza’s waters, ostensibly to protect its own valuable resources – while sabotaging any possibility that Palestinians can access theirs.

Israel’s violent restriction of Gaza’s maritime zone to 3 to 6 nautical miles beyond the coast began in 2000, the report states, though it was not officially established until January 2009.

In August 2008, Al-Haq notes, fishing restrictions were placed on Palestinians and in December of that year Israel invaded the tiny strip of land in what it dubbed Operation Cast Lead.

When Israel ended the assault that killed more than 1,400 Palestinians, it kept its maritime blockade on Gaza in place.

Militarizing Gaza’s waters

In 2014 the, Israeli navy told an Israeli business newspaper that all Palestinian fishing boats that sail within seven miles of drilling platforms will be “intercepted.”

Today, not a week goes by that Palestinian fishermen are not fired on by Israeli forces while they attempt to work the waters off Gaza.

So while Israel prepares to tap the Leviathan gas field, the largest field at the center of the current energy debate, it is arming its already lethal navy with additional weaponry.

In May, Israel signed a $470 million contract with Germany for four armed patrol vessels to guard its offshore gas rigs.

The same month, it signed a defense cooperation agreement with Greece’s left-wing pro-Israel government, motivated in part by concerns over “maritime security” in the Mediterranean gas fields.

And earlier this month, the Israeli army announced it was installing Iron Dome missile interceptors on warships to protect its drilling platforms.

Meanwhile Al-Haq says that Israel’s underwater pipeline, which transports gas between Israel and Egypt, lies “at the heart” of Israel’s illegal naval blockade of Gaza.

Built in 2005, the El-Arish pipeline cuts directly through Gaza’s waters. Beginning in February 2008, Egypt used the pipeline to pump gas to Israel, supplying 40 percent of Israel’s gas at a fraction of the market rate.

Israel has proceeded to illegally enforce buffer zones around the pipeline and its Mari-B gas field, preventing Palestinian fishermen from entering their own waters.

Al-Haq says that this exclusion zone extending deep inside Palestinian waters breaches international law, which allows countries to maintain a maximum 500-meter “security zone” outside their territorial waters.

Untapped

Meanwhile, Gaza’s gas fields remain untapped. British Gas, which had signed a 25-year contract with the Palestinian Authority, attempted to secure a deal with Israel to export Palestinian gas.

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and the Israeli government of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had agreed secretly that the Palestinian share of revenues would be funneled through an offshore account inaccessible to the official PA government which was led by Hamas after it won the 2006 legislative elections.

Ultimately, however, Israel blocked the export of any Palestinian gas.

Since 1967, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have been entirely dependent on Israel for their energy, a power dynamic which has proved extremely lucrative for Israel.

Indeed, the Palestinian Authority’s energy bill is the biggest contributor to its trade deficit with Israel.

On the same day that Netanyahu set the development of the gas fields in motion, Israel and Turkey took more steps toward normalizing their ties. According to Israeli officials and reports in Turkish media, Turkey seeks to buy Israeli gas for its own use and could become the main hub for distributing it to Europe.

Israel is using the gas fields as an opportunity to strengthen ties with Egypt too, as well as with European governments anxious to reduce their dependency on Russian gas.

No wonder pro-Israel commentators are celebrating the happy “convergence of interests” arising from Israel’s offshore fossil fuel windfall.

Meanwhile, the discovery of gas in Gaza’s waters has only given Israel more pretexts and opportunities, with international complicity, to keep Palestinians as prisoners on their own land.

(Source / 23.12.2015)

Israel holds Palestinian student under administrative detention

Israeli forces detaining a young Palestinian

In the past five years, Israel has arrested about 500 male and female students from Birzeit University

An Israeli Military Court in the Ofer Prison has issued an administrative arrest order against a female student at Birzeit University for a period of three months. The order has been made even though Asmaa Abdul Hakim Al-Kadah, 21, is already in detention.

Her brother told Quds Press that the ruling was issued in absentia at a time when his sister was detained in Hasharon Prison. She was arrested on Saturday at the Za’atara military barrier on her way to her university in Ramallah, explained Islam Al-Kadah. The occupation forces, he added, assaulted the driver of the public vehicle in which his sister was a passenger because he refused to take her out of the car. After arresting Asmaa, they transported her to an unknown destination.

Read: Israel arrests 90 students at West Bank university

Asmaa Al-Kadah’s father is also being held in an Israeli jail. She is a member of the student council at Birzeit University, representing the Islamist bloc. Israeli security forces have arrested a number of Muslim student activists recently.

In the past five years, Israel has arrested about 500 male and female students from Birzeit University. Seventeen have been detained since the start of the Jerusalem Uprising at the beginning of October. Administrative detention orders allow Israel to hold Palestinians indefinitely with neither charge nor trial. They are a relic of the British Mandate period.

Also read: The university where Israeli soldiers train on campus and shoot Palestinian protesters

(Source / 23.12.2015)

UN adopts resolution on Palestinian sovereignty over natural resources

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — The United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday adopted a resolution demanding Palestinian sovereignty over natural resources under Israeli occupation.The draft solution, “Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources,” was adopted with 164 votes in favor and five against.Member states that voted against the measure included Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, and the United States. Ten other states abstained from the vote.The resolution is the latest to be adopted through ongoing efforts by Palestinian leadership to take measures against Israel in the international arena following decades of failed peace talks.The adopted resolution demands that Israel cease the exploitation, damage, cause of loss or depletion and endangerment of Palestinian natural resources, and recognize the right of Palestinians under military occupation to claim restitution.A recommendation report for the resolution discussed Israel’s “extensive destruction” of Palestinian agricultural land and the economic and environmental repercussions of the policy.The report cited the destruction of Palestinian water pipelines, sewage networks and electricity networks, noting that the elimination of “vital infrastructure” was at its most severe in the Gaza Strip during Israel’s military operations in the summer of 2014.The UN General Assembly reiterated the illegality of Israeli settlement enterprise and its monopoly over Palestinian resources citing the “detrimental impact of the Israeli settlements on Palestinian and other Arab natural resources, especially as a result of the confiscation of land and the forced diversion of water resources.”Water resources in the occupied Palestinian territory almost entirely under Israeli control under the Oslo Accords, and around 85 percent of water is allocated to Israelis, according to the Palestinian Water Authority.The resolution comes as the European Union last month targeted Israeli exploitation in the occupied West Bank by boycotting products made in illegal settlements.Palestinian policy network Al-Shabaka released a report shortly after the EU decision, citing that in addition to water, Israeli settlement activity has also dispossessed Palestinians from quarries, mines, Dead Sea resources, and other non-renewable natural resources.Israeli leadership has long condemned attempts by Palestinian leadership to rely on international mechanisms in the place of negotiations, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referring to the move in the past as “diplomatic terrorism.”

(Source / 23.12.2015)

Bulgaria sells arms to Saudi and UAE, likely for use in Syria war

Former military official says the weapons were transported to Syria by plane with some possibly destined for Yemen

Fighters from Nureddine al-Zinki unit, a Syrian opposition faction, armed with Soviet-era sniper rifles near Aleppo

SOFIA – Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bought large quantities of Soviet-style weapons and ammunition from Bulgaria in the past two years, almost certainly destined for factions in Syria and possibly also Yemen, an investigation has revealed.

Bulgaria’s annual report on defence industry exports shows the government approved munitions and military equipment sales to Saudi Arabia worth more than $92.7mn last year, with deals to the value of almost $31.6mn completed by the end of 2014, according to research by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN).

The Bulgarian government has also told BIRN that it issued permits for the sale this year of weapons to the UAE. It declined to state the value of these deals.

Bulgaria makes and stockpiles mainly Soviet-style arms. Analysts say it is highly unlikely Saudi Arabia or the UAE would buy these for their own forces, which use modern Western weapons, and it is therefore much more plausible they bought the munitions for local factions they back in Syria and Yemen, where Soviet-style arms are widely used.

A well-connected Bulgarian former military officer told BIRN the Saudi purchases were transported from Sofia by plane and were intended for Syrian fighters, with later shipments possibly also being used for Yemen.

Opposition fighters and independent analysts have also told BIRN that Bulgarian weapons are being used in Syria.

The Bulgarian government’s report, which was published in August this year but has received no media coverage, says it issued permits for the sale of $71.3mn million worth of ammunition, $13.6mn of large calibre weapons and $5.4mn of small calibre weapons to Saudi Arabia.

A UN report listed 827 light machine guns and 120 SPG-9 recoilless anti-tank guns as part of Bulgaria’s arms exports to Saudi Arabia in 2014.

“This type of weapon is very unlikely to be used by the Saudi military, but it is very heavily used in Yemen, in Iraq and in Syria,” said Ben Moores, a senior analyst at defence consultancy IHS Janes.

The Bulgarian government has also issued licences for the export of ammunition, firearms and defence equipment to the UAE this year, Bulgaria’s Economy Ministry told BIRN.

Pieter Wezeman, a researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, said “it doesn’t make sense” that the UAE would buy weapons and ammunition from Bulgaria for its own forces. He said he suspected these munitions would be diverted to either Syria or Yemen.

The Saudi and UAE embassies responsible for their affairs in Bulgaria did not respond to questions from BIRN. Bulgaria’s Economy Ministry said it would not issue licenses for arms deals when concerns were raised about the possible diversion or re-export of the weapons.

A diplomatic cable in January 2010 from the US embassy in Sofia, published by WikiLeaks, said that Bulgaria consults with the US embassy on potentially controversial arms deals. Contacted by BIRN, the embassy declined to say whether it was aware of other countries buying Bulgarian weapons for use in Syria.

In the past year, the United States has itself purchased arms from Bulgaria as part of a $500-million programme to train and equip Syrian opposition forces that has now been abandoned. In June, the US embassy in Sofia admitted to the presence of US subcontractors for the train and equip programme in Bulgaria after an incident with an RPG-7 killed one of them at an arms testing ground near the Bulgarian city of Sopot.

A US government procurement database shows that Special Operations Command (SOCOM), which was in charge of the US military effort to assist Syrian fighters, awarded the subcontractors’ employer Purple Shovel (a US-based defence contractor) a contract worth more than $26.7mn in December 2014 to supply foreign weapons and ammunition. Their country of origin is listed as Bulgaria.

The former Bulgarian military officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the weapons purchased by Saudi Arabia were meant for Syrian armed groups opposed to Assad’s regime. They were airlifted to the northern Saudi city of Tabuk and then transported to Jordanian-Syrian border, where they were passed on to the Syrian opposition armed groups, he said.

“Some of these weapons may have also been used for Yemen, as the later flights coincided with the beginning of the Saudi operation there,” the former officer said.

Both Saudi Arabia and the UAE are part of a coalition in Yemen that has conducted air strikes, deployed ground forces and supplied weapons to local fighters with the aim of battling Shia forces known as Houthis. Riyadh was also involved in supplying weapons to Yemen before its own forces intervened there, Wezeman said.

(Source / 23.12.2015)

Former prisoners opening Palestinians’ eyes onto Israel

The Atlas Center for Israeli Studies holds a political forum at its headquarters in Gaza City, Dec. 2, 2015

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Many Palestinians follow the Israeli media on a daily basis because developments in Israel directly affect their lives. Those Palestinians who have learned Hebrew through contact with Israelis in the course of work in Israel or integration into Israeli society, can access the gamut of Israeli media outlets, while those who do not understand Hebrew can follow Kol Israel radio, which broadcasts in Arabic. In recent years, the return of released Palestinian prisoners to Gaza has sparked Gazans’ interest in learning Hebrew and more about Israeli society.

Although there are no official statistics available, it is probably safe to say that the number of Gazans who understand Hebrew has declined since 2000, when the second Palestinian intifada broke out and Israel tightened restrictions on Palestinians being able to work there. Later, in 2007, Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza after Hamas seized control from Fatah. As a result, Palestinians and Israelis lost touch with each other, and the former lost interest in Israeli affairs.

In 2011, some 1,000 Palestinians were released from Israeli prisons in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal between Hamas and Israel. Detention in Israel was a defining experience in the lives of many of the former prisoners, and through their confinement they were introduced to Israeli society. Some of them learned Hebrew on their own and then taught it to their fellow inmates. After their release, some detainees established centers specializing in Hebrew-Arabic translation and research on Israeli affairs. Al-Monitor spoke to several such prisoners, all of them released in the Shalit deal.

In a 2010 report published by the Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies, Raafat Hamdouna, a former prisoner and researcher on Palestinian detainee affairs, explored cultural and educational life in Israeli prisons. Hamdouna wrote, “The detainees got their right to university education from the prison administration as a compromise during the hunger strike starting Sept. 27, 1992. At the time, the detainees demanded the right to enroll in Arab universities, but Israel denied them this request to keep them disadvantaged. The detainees learned Hebrew through personal effort and the help of their inmates. Hundreds of them enrolled in universities, and some received bachelor’s degrees, while others received master’s degrees.”

During their hunger strike, the detainees had asked to enroll in Arab universities via correspondence courses, but Israeli prison administrators denied their request. The compromise was to allow them to pursue distance education through the Open University of Israel. They submitted their assignments by mail and took their final exams under the supervision of a university representative in coordination with prison administrators. Each detainee was personally responsible for covering their tuition costs. After their release, these detainees became Gaza’s window into Israel.

Mahmoud Mardawi was arrested in 1992 on the grounds of being affiliated with Hamas and participating in the first Palestinian intifada, which broke out in 1987. While in prison, he learned Hebrew and enrolled in the Open University, receiving his bachelor’s degree in Middle Eastern history and a master’s degree in political science. He currently works as freelance researcher on Israeli affairs.

Mardawi told Al-Monitor that he is driven by a desire to enrich Palestinians’ knowledge of Israel, saying, “We have a limited and superficial knowledge of Israel, and it is restricted to transmitting information without really knowing the sources of this information and how to verify it.” Mardawi contends that the way to know Israel is through learning Hebrew.

Abdul Rahman Chehab was arrested in 1988 for being affiliated with Islamic Jihad and also participating in the first intifada. Chehab enrolled in the Open University after learning Hebrew from fellow inmates. He received a bachelor’s degree in management and sociology and a master’s degree in political science while in jail.

In 2012, six months after his release, Chehab and other former prisoners established the Atlas Center for Israeli Studies, which specializes in Hebrew-Arabic translation. The center works on documents concerning the Israeli-Palestine conflict and conducts studies and research on Israeli affairs. Chehab told Al-Monitor that he had come up with the idea of establishing the center while in detention, because he felt Palestinians did not know enough about Israel and Israeli society, unlike Israelis, who have access to knowledge about Palestinians.

In addition to translating news and analysis into Arabic as well as publishing original content, Chehab said, “[Atlas seeks] Palestinian interaction with information and raising awareness about Israeli society. Palestinians must realize that Hebrew is a vital and effective language that constitutes a cultural base for an entire society. We cannot access Israeli culture except through it.”

Chehab went on, “Some basic words [in Arabic] are derived from Hebrew. Palestinians use these words on a daily basis. For instance, most tools used in construction have names derived from Hebrew, and so do most agricultural pesticides. Besides, the Palestinian and Israeli economies are connected. Therefore, we must learn Hebrew to be able to understand what is produced in Hebrew in various fields, be it politics, economics, sciences or literature. This would help us understand the structure of the Israeli state and society, and we can develop a Palestinian rhetoric directed at Israeli society.” Chehab said that it is important for Palestinian intellectuals to engage with Israeli society in their rhetoric.

Ahmed al-Falit was arrested in 1992 for carrying out a military operation in the Kfar Darom settlement and received a life sentence for premeditated murder. After his release, he established the Nafha Center for Studies on Israeli Affairs.

Nafha Center Director Israa al-Umrani told Al-Monitor, “The center is for profit, providing translation services from Hebrew to Arabic and vice versa in return for a fee. It also offers a Hebrew-language certificate. Falit teaches the language, and the center will soon announce another program related to the study of Israeli affairs.”

Today, as a result of Palestinians’ interest in Hebrew and in learning about Israeli society and how Israelis think, most Palestinian media outlets have dedicated space for news from Israeli media sources. It appears the former prisoners will have a receptive audience for some time.

(Source / 23.12.2015)

UN: Saudis Killing ‘Disproportionate’ Number Of Yemeni Civilians

The US insists that they’ve urged their Saudi Allies to stick to ‘lawful’ targeting. America is providing both logistical support to the Saudi-lead coalition attempting to defeat the Houthis in Yemen.

A child who was injured in Saudi Arabia's ongoing assault on Yemen is brought to a hospital by her father, in Taiz, Yemen, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015. The U.N. says at least 2,577 civilians were killed since the Saudi-led air campaign began in March, while 5,078 have been injured. (AP Photo/Abdulnasser Alseddik)

A child who was injured in Saudi Arabia’s ongoing assault on Yemen is brought to a hospital by her father, in Taiz, Yemen, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015

UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Raad al-Hussein, addressing the Security Council today, warned that Saudi Arabia seems to be disproportionately responsible for civilian deaths in the ongoing Yemen war, a nine month conflict that’s led to enormous civilian casualties.

Saudi Arabia began airstrikes against Yemen back in March, and has repeatedly faced reports from human rights groups of enormous civilian death tolls in airstrikes against residential areas. During the UN General Assembly, however, Saudi officials managed to block efforts to investigate the killings, rather getting the UN to empower them to investigate themselves.

US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power told reporters that the US has been urging Saudi Arabia to “ensure lawful and discriminate targeting,” though this has not stopped the US from providing much of the weaponry used in the strikes, and to help coordinate the war.

The Saudi war has from the start been faulted for its horrendous impact on human rights, which has included not just airstrikes on populated areas, but also a full naval blockade of Yemen, which has brought food imports to the nation, which historically has had to import 90% of its food, to a comparative halt.

(Source / 23.12.2015)