Shin Bet confirms that almost all Palestinian ‘attacks’ occur in occupied territories

By Ben White

File photo of a Palestinian minor being arrested by Israeli occupations forces

87 per cent of stabbings or alleged stabbings carried out by Palestinians from October to January took place within the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), according to Israeli authorities.

In their latest monthly summary, the Israeli Security Agency (ISA or Shin Bet) recorded 166 “attacks” by Palestinians in the month of January (excluding Gaza), only one of which occurred “within the Green Line”, the internationally-recognised division between Israel and the OPT.

Read: Israel denies European Parliament delegation access to Gaza

While the vast majority of these ‘attacks’ were in the form of “firebombs” (i.e. Molotov cocktails), Shin Bet also logged nine stabbings, all taking place in the OPT.

The sole attack within the Green Line during January, according to Shin Bet, was the January 1 shooting at a Tel Aviv café; the perpetrator was a Palestinian citizen of Israel. Thus there were no attacks in January within the Green Line by Palestinians from the OPT.

Out of five Israeli fatalities in January, three were killed in the Tel Aviv attack (two at the café, and a taxi driver). The other two were both West Bank settlers. Uniformed occupation forces accounted for 36 per cent of the Israelis wounded during January.

Aslo read: The extrajudicial killings of Palestinians: untangling the inner conflict

These trends are consistent with the pattern over the previous three months, as I wroteabout last week in an article on the data being missed out in Western media coverage.

Based on Shin Bet’s figures, out of 1,336 attacks and alleged attacks conducted by Palestinians from October 1 to January 31, just 15 of them took place within the Green Line. When it comes to stabbings, 82 out of a total 94 attacks and alleged attacks have occurred in the OPT.

For Palestinians, meanwhile, January was another bloody, violent month under Israeli military occupation, with 18 Palestinians killed, and a further 582 injured. According to UN OCHA, January also saw Israeli forces demolish 85 structures in the OPT, displacing 108 Palestinians.

Ben White1

(Source / 12.02.2016)

IOF arrests 2 jounalists in Qalqilia

QALQILIA, (PIC)– The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) arrested two Palestinian journalists while covering the weekly peaceful march in Kafer Qaddum village east of Qalqilia. The two journalists Ayman Noubani and Muhammad Turabi were detained for nearly two hours before being released. They were prevented from covering the weekly protest march in the village of Kafr Qaddum, the PIC reporter said.  Their equipment were also confiscated during the events. Noubani said that they were transferred handcuffed and blindfolded to Kedumim settlement camp, illegally built in the area, where they were brutally assaulted and beaten with riffle butts.

(Source / 12.02.2016)

Event in Maastricht highlights experiences, struggles of Palestinian refugees

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Mohammed Khatib of Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network spoke at an event organized by Students for Justice in Palestine – Maastricht and Not Just a Number on 4 February, on the situation of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Syria and Europe.

Khatib, a member of the International Coordinating Committee of the International League of People’s Struggle representing Samidoun, discussed the struggle of Palestinian and other refugees in Europe, confronting institutional policies of exclusion, militarization and a “security” framework, as well as a growing extreme right and fascist threat. He discussed institutional racism and oppression as manifestations of colonialism and imperialism, directed towards marginalized communities within Europe.

The growing militarization and securitization of life in Europe is a process that cannot be disconnected from European support for and joint projects with the Israeli state, Khatib said, highlighting European-Israeli cooperation on security and military technology. He noted that militarization is never rolled back without a massive popular struggle; the placement of soldiers on the streets for “security” quickly becomes normalized and “states of emergency” become the framework of daily life. Police brutality and oppression experienced by communities in Europe is the product of a institutional racism and oppression that is developing its technologies in coordination with the racist state of Israel, he noted, pointing out the US-Israeli joint police training and information sharing being used against Black communities.  He noted that these technologies are frequently first tested on Palestinians under occupation, emphasizing that the struggle against militarization should come hand in hand with the struggle for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

He also discussed the situation of Palestinian refugees in Syria, Lebanon and everywhere in diaspora, providing an overview of the crises and siege faced by Palestinians in exile and emphasizing that the cause of the Palestinian refugees’ crisis and the goal of their struggle is the right of return to Palestine which has been denied them for the past 68 years, and the liberation of Palestine, not merely humanitarian reforms or accommodations.

SJP-Maastricht is planning future events to continue educating the university community about Palestine and the struggle of the Palestinian people for liberation.

Soldiers Attack The Weekly Protest In Kafr Qaddoum

Several Palestinians have been injured, Friday, after Israeli soldiers used excessive force against the weekly protest in Kafr Qaddoum town, east of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia.

Kafr Qaddoum Solidarity

The Popular Committee against the Wall and Colonies in Kafr Qaddoum said the Palestinians marched from the center of the village, demanding the army to reopen the main road, that was blockaded more than 13 years ago, before the soldiers assaulted them.

Coordinator of the Popular Committee Morad Eshteiwy said the soldiers invaded the town, accompanied by several bulldozers and armored vehicles, and fired dozens of gas bombs and concussion grenades.

Eshteiwy added that the soldiers also sprayed the protesters, and many homes, with waste-water mixed with chemicals, and fired many gas bombs, causing several mild injuries.

The soldiers also detained a cameraman, working for the WAFA Palestinian News Agency, identified as Ayman Noubani, 24, and another cameraman, identified as Mohammad Torabi, and only released them after the protest ended, several hours later.

In addition, the soldiers attacked the weekly nonviolent protest against the Annexation Wall and Colonies, in Ni’lin village, west of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, wounding many Palestinians, including a young man suffered a serious injury, after the soldiers shot him with a rubber-coated steel bullet in his head.

Also on Friday, the soldiers attacked the weekly nonviolent protest in Bil’in village, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, causing dozens to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation.

Kafr Qaddoum Solidarity1

(Source / 12.02.2016)

Obama to sign trade agreement that equates settlements with Israel

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — US President Barack Obama intends to sign a sweeping trade agreement including provisions that fail to differentiate between Israel and illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, as well as discourage the boycott of Israeli goods.The agreement — H.R. 644: Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 — was passed 75-20 on Thursday, and includes a provision that no US court can enforce judgement from a foreign court on a US citizen who “conducts business operations in Israel, or any territory controlled by Israel.”The provision in effect allows US citizens immunity from conducting trade with illegal Israeli settlements, while its terminology fails to distinguish Israeli settlements from the state of Israel, violating the US’ official line against the construction of settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.The White House in a statement released Thursday regarding the agreement said: “As with any bipartisan compromise legislation, there are provisions in this bill that we do not support.”Of those provisions that the Obama administration did not support was a provision that “contravenes longstanding US policy towards Israel and the occupied territories, including with regard to Israeli settlement activity,” the statement said.Despite the contravention, Obama plans to sign the agreement into law “to help strengthen enforcement of the rules and level the playing field for American workers and businesses.”The agreement also includes a provision that in creating commercial partnerships with foreign countries, the US should “discourage politically motivated boycotts of, divestment from, and sanctions against Israel.”The US government opposes the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, and while US law requires that products made in illegal Israeli settlements may not be labeled “Made in Israel,” the law is rarely enforced.Israel has been struggling to tackle a growing Palestinian-led boycott campaign which has had a number of high-profile successes abroad.The BDS movement aims to exert political and economic pressure over Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories in a bid to repeat the success of the campaign which ended apartheid in South Africa.However, BDS initiatives have also faced pushback abroad, notably in France, where a court ruled in October that a group of activists advocating for BDS were guilty under French hate speech legislation.

(Source / 12.02.2016)

Will Washington Give Blessing To A Saudi Invasion Of Syria?

Controversy is still simmering around Riyadh’s plan to send ground troops to Syria; Ron Paul and Daniel McAdams have weighed the pros and cons of the prospects of a Saudi intervention.

Saudi security forces take part in a military parade in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. (Mosa’ab Elshamy/AP)

Saudi security forces take part in a military parade in Mecca, Saudi Arabia

Last week Saudi Arabia announced that it was seriously mulling a ground operation in Syria aimed against Islamic extremists. The news came as a surprise: it is no secret that Riyadh has been sponsoring the region’s Sunni Islamists for years.

Ahead of the move Riyadh asked the Obama administration to give its blessing to the plan.

US State Department spokesperson Mark Toner confirmed Thursday that Washington is discussing the deployment of ground troops with Riyadh.

“As to the offer of ground troops [from Saudi Arabia], we’re still in discussion with that… I think we’re still in discussion with how those ground forces would be deployed on the ground,” Toner said during a press briefing.

In their Liberty Report program former Republican congressman Ron Paul and Daniel McAdams of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity call attention to the fact that if the invasion goes forward “it would pit Saudi forces directly against Iranian, Syrian, and probably Russian forces.”

“Is the US really ready to unleash WWIII over whether or not [Bashar] Assad stays in office?” they asked.

“Common sense would dictate that this should not happen. We shouldn’t be there. But common sense does not prevail,” Ron Paul noted.

However, the former Republican congressman stressed, in the case of Saudi Arabia common sense should be taken into consideration: “You know, their bank accounts are getting smaller, their income is going way down, they started to pinch pennies.”

Indeed, the tremendous oil price slump has dealt a heavy blow to the kingdom’s economy. Furthermore, the Saudi-led Arabian intervention in Yemen that began in 2015 has become a quagmire for the Gulf state.

According to Dr. Paul, people who have the advantage in war are not always those who possess the most powerful weapons: “Sometimes, it’s the one who has the moral high ground and the support of the people.”

“One example we are most familiar with is Vietnam… This is the same thing here. It looks like Assad may have the moral high ground,” the former congressman emphasized.

According to Paul, if Syrians really abhorred Bashar al-Assad, as the US media used to say, there would be an overwhelming uprising in Syria that wiped the government out. But it is clear that the Syrian President still enjoys a high level of support in the country.

The experts pointed out that the so-called “moderate” rebel forces are comprised not only of Syrians. There are lots of foreign jihadi fighters on the ground involved in the conflict.

The concept of “moderate” uprising is falling apart at the seams as it turns out that major driving forces of the Syrian insurgency are Islamists and al-Qaeda affiliates.

In this context “the whole idea of the Saudi invasion is absurd on the face of it,” McAdams remarked, “because they claim they are going to invade Syria to get rid of ISIS [Daesh] and the terrorists. But everyone who has been paying attention knows [that] for years they [Saudi Arabia] have been backing and funding al-Qaeda and ISIS.”

While Riyadh is trying to pressure Washington into a joint invasion of Syria, Russia and Iran warned the parties against the potentially dangerous move.

“They [Saudi Arabia] claim they will send troops (to Syria), but I don’t think they will dare do so. They have a classic army and history tells us such armies stand no chance in fighting irregular resistance forces. This will be like a coup de grace for them. Apparently, they see no other way but this, and if this is the case, then their fate is sealed,” Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) told journalists last week.

While commenting on the issue Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev stressed that a ground military operation in Syria could lead to yet another “permanent war.”

“A ground operation would involve all participants in a war. Therefore, the Americans and our Arab partners must consider well whether they want a permanent war. They are wrong if they think they could win this war quickly, especially in the Arab world where everybody fights against everybody,” Medvedev told Germany’s Handelsblatt newspaper Thursday.

It still remains unclear whether or not Washington would to give its blessing to the impulsive and warmongering Saudi leadership.

(Source / 12.02.2016)

An interview with Robert Fantina: Islamophobia, Palestine, Zionism, Militarism and more

Robert Fantina

Milena Rampoldi: Which are the most problematic aspects of Islamophobia in the USA?

Robert Fantina: There are many problems with this ugly issue, but the most significant is the physical threats to Muslims. Although not endemic, it seems to be growing. And as government officials, and those seeking election, such as Donald Trump, along with the corporate-owned media, continue to equate terrorism with Islam, this danger will only grow.

We see this in the wide acceptance of armed picketing of mosques. In the U.S., if an armed group of Muslims were to surround a Christian church or Jewish synagogue during services, all government officials would be outraged. When the reverse occurs, it is reported as news, but the perpetrators are seen as brave Americans standing up for the U.S.

MR: I think that pro-Palestinian activism is special in the USA, because of the huge support the USA offers to Israel. How can we write against it?

RF: The U.S. supports Israel unquestioningly, mainly, if not exclusively, because of the power of the American Israel Political Affairs Committee. This lobby group funnels millions of dollars into the campaigns of government officials, all who agree to overlook Israeli violations of human rights and international law.

But there has been a shift, starting mainly with reaction to Israel’s genocidal bombing of the Gaza Strip during the summer of 2014. Previously, citizens of the U.S. only received information about Israeli oppression of the Palestinians from the news, presented by the corporate-owned media. But social media has provided an entirely new outlet for news. Anyone with a camera and access to the Internet is able to widely distribute information. Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites have grown tremendously in the last few years, and this is now where people can see what is actually happening in the world. People suffering in Gaza were able to broadcast pictures of dead and mangled children, whose only crime was playing on a beach. They could show scenes of anguished parents, bombed hospitals and murdered journalists, all information previously available only on a few, small, alternative news programs, but now widely seen on social media. In the West Bank, pictures of checkpoints, sounding benign when there is no photo of them, become real, along with the untold suffering they cause.

The use of social media has been and continues to be a vital tool in the struggle of the Palestinian people for human rights and justice.

MR: What does Zionism and Anti-Zionism mean to you personally?

RF: Zionism is the belief, partly religious but mostly political, that the land of Palestine should be the homeland of the Jewish people. Those who hide behind any religious aspect of Zionism demonstrate an incredibly hypocrisy, since there can be no justice is killing and ethnically-cleansing people.

Anti-Zionism is the knowledge, and related activities, that recognize that ethnic cleansing is wrong; that all people are entitled to basic human rights and dignity; that Biblical statements are open to wide interpretation and cannot be used to justify destroying one country to create another. It involves a commitment to assist suffering people, and opposing those who are causing the suffering.

MR: Which are the most important subjects you treat in your articles and why?

RF: All of my work can be seen as supporting human rights. I write extensively on the oppression of the Palestinian people by Israel, and about U.S. militarism. Both of these issues involve the gross violation of human rights. I have already mentioned some few factions of the Israeli occupation. U.S. militarism brings death, destruction and unspeakable suffering throughout the world. In additional, Israel’s brutal, decades-long oppression of the Palestinian people is financed and fully supported by the United States.

On April 4, 1967, civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King said that the U.S. was “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.” In the nearly fifty years since that statement was made, it remains true. The only change is the technology now available that makes killing so much easier. Soldiers can sit in an office thousands of miles away and kill targeted people. Countless innocent people die with every drone strike. The current so-called ‘war’ against Daesh (still commonly referred to as ISIS or ISIL) is killing and displacing hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children. 

MR: For ProMosaik militarism is a general problem in civil society. How can we explain to people that we have to struggle against militarism in all day life?

RF: There are many factors to this answer. The U.S., and much of the world, glorifies soldiers and war. In the United States, soldiers are seen as heroes, men and women who risked their lives for cherished freedoms. This myth must be destroyed. Soldiers are pawns in games played by politicians and others who profit from war. What the U.S. calls the defence industry, which is really just the manufacture of weaponry to sell to other countries, or use on them, makes huge profits, and defence contractors donate millions of dollars to the campaigns of officials who will continue to wage war, so their profits will continue unabated.

Secondly, the various ‘enemies’ that the U.S.  is forever fighting must be seen as creations of the U.S, excuses to buy and use the weapons of the ‘defence’ industry. Sometimes, as in the case of Iraq under Saddam Hussein or Afghanistan under the Taliban, the U.S. has put these governments into power and then, when these governments refused to follow the dictates of the U.S., the U.S. called them the ‘enemy’ and when to war against them. In other cases, the U.S. focuses on some perversion of a belief or philosophy, and sees that as the enemy. During the Cold War era, this was Communism, with the U.S. looking at repressive Communist governments and saying that they, and Communism itself, threatened the U.S. way of life. Today, the government sees some people who pervert Islam, and says that Islam is the enemy.

Finally, people in the U.S. need to understand that the people being bombed are no different from themselves. These innocent victims only want to live quiet lives, going to school and work, raising families, etc. They bleed the same way U.S. citizens bleed; they love their children as much as U.S. citizens love theirs. Their language may be different; their style of clothing not what U.S. citizens are accustomed to seeing, and their houses of worship may not have steeples, but these are superficial differences. Yet the government fosters xenophobia, and an ignorant populace accepts it.

MR: Human rights, justice, and peace, seem to be gone these days… what gives you hope?

RF: Yes, it is true; human rights, justice and peace seem to be absent in much of the world today. But I gain hope from the strength and resilience I see in the Palestinians I know. When I am able to talk to my friends who live in either the Gaza Strip or the West Bank, using social media, and I hear of their bravery in all the little things of life, I have hope. For example, they continue to attend school, despite the sporadic availability of electricity. They marry, have children and strive to teach them just principles. They work when they can, despite the destruction, by Israeli bombs provided by the U.S., of homes, business, schools and hospitals.

I also gain hope from the many, many people who are working for peace and social justice throughout the world. People who want war may, at present, be more powerful than those who want peace, but they are not more numerous. Increasingly, people who believe in peace and human rights are making their voices heard.

I am among that number, and will continue to write and speak, so my voice, and the voices of suffering people around the world, will be heard.

(Source / 12.02.2016)

Israeli police arrest Palestinian youth for allegedly planning attack

NAZARETH, (PIC)– Israeli police announced the arrest of a Palestinian youth in Beersheba in the Negev on Friday at the pretext he was planning an attack. Luba al-Sumri, the Israeli police spokeswoman, said that the police received a warning that a Palestinian young man was planning an attack against “Israeli targets” in the central bus station in Beersheba. She added that police units were sent to the station and arrested the Palestinian, who was not identified.

(Source / 12.02.2016)

40 Palestinian children diagnosed with illnesses in Ofer lock-up

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– 40 Palestinian children locked up in the Israeli Ofer jail have been suffering from various diseases, a rights group reported Thursday. The Civil Liberties Defense Center said following a visit paid by lawyer Ibtissam Anati to the Ofer lock-up that 40 Palestinian children have been diagnosed with diseases, including critical health disorders. 276 children are held in the Ofer prison, 17 among whom aged between 14 and 15 years old. 17-year-old Mus’ab Ghneimat, held in the Ofer jail, was injured with three bullets in his right leg. Other detained minors have been diagnosed with hypertension and diabetes, along with stomach and pancreas disorders. The center raised alarm bells over the critical health condition of prisoner Azam Shalalda, who was kidnapped by an Israeli undercover unit from al-Khalil’s public hospital. Shalada was hit with 10 bullets in his leg, stomach, and neck. He underwent a surgery of artificial artery transplantation and got part of his stomach removed. The lawyer also sounded the alarm over the various illnesses endured by 20 Palestinian detainees in the Ramla prison clinic.

(Source / 12.02.2016)

Israeli forces open fire on Palestinian farmers in Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinian farmers east of al-Buriej refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip on Friday afternoon, locals said.The farmers were forces to leave the area, with no injuries reported.Meanwhile, locals said that four Palestinians were reportedly detained after crossing the border fence between the besieged enclave and Israel.An Israeli army spokesperson said she was looking into the reports.Palestinians frequently face fire from Israeli forces inside of or near the military-imposed “buffer zone” along the borderline between Gaza and Israel, although the exact limits of the zone are often unclear.The Israeli army often says the use of live fire is necessary to deter potential “security threats,” a practice that has in effect destroyed much of both the agricultural and fishing sectors of the impoverished coastal enclave.The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported at least 13 incidents of Israeli forces opening fire on Palestinians in the “buffer zone” on both land and sea during the second week of February. No injuries were reported in any of the incidents.

(Source / 12.02.2016)