Israeli forces execute Palestinian boy in West Bank

He was just 16 years and was shot while he was 70 metres away from the Israeli soldiers

Israeli occupation forces executed on Friday evening Palestinian boy near West Bank city of Ramallah.

Palestinian ministry of health confirmed the death and identified the boy as Mahmoud Sha’lan, 16, from the village of Deir Dibwan east of Ramallah

Days of Palestine, West Bank -Israeli occupation forces executed on Friday evening Palestinian boy near West Bank city of Ramallah.

Witnesses said that the Israeli occupation forces stationed at the Israeli checkpoint of Beit El shot the Palestinian boy from a distance of about 70metres.

Israeli media reported an Israeli army spokesperson saying that the Palestinian boy was shot dead after he had attempted to stab an Israeli soldier at that checkpoint.

However, the accounts of the witnesses, who spoke to Days of Palestine, proved the distrust of the Israeli claims of a stabbing attempt as how could someone pose danger on someone else while he is about 70metres away from him.

Palestinian ministry of health confirmed the death and identified the boy as Mahmoud Sha’lan, 16, from the village of Deir Dibwan east of Ramallah.

(Source / 26.02.2016)

In Israel, racism is the law

By Ben White

Successive Israeli governments since 1948 are responsible for the institutionalised discrimination against Palestinians.

Some 4.5 million Palestinians live under an Israeli military regime in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, an occupation that has lasted for 49 of the state's 68-year history, writes White [EPA]

Some 4.5 million Palestinians live under an Israeli military regime in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, an occupation that has lasted for 49 of the state’s 68-year history, writes White

On January 3, two Palestinians were removed from an Aegean Airlines flight from Athens to Tel Aviv, after Jewish Israelis claimed that they constituted a “security risk”. The incident made headlines worldwide. A month later, a Tel Aviv-based cleaning company sparked outrage with a flyer that priced its staff based on ethnicity. The story was also covered around the world.

For some, these kinds of episodes are proof of the racism that critics claim permeates Israeli society; for others, they are examples of isolated bigotry and idiocy. In fact, neither interpretation is quite right. While stories resonate and go viral, they can mask the fact that in Israel racism is the law.

Institutionalised inequality

First, inequality in Israel is institutionalised. Contrary to a widely held perception, there is no guarantee of full equality for Jewish and Palestinian citizens; as the Association for Civil Rights in Israel put it, “the right to equality is not yet enshrined in law regarding most aspects of life.”

“Equality cannot be recognised on the constitutional level,” wrote legal academic Aeyal Gross, since that would challenge “the inequality created by the complete identification of the state with only one group.”

The nearest that Israel’s foundational legislation comes to a specific commitment to equality is Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, adopted in 1992 – Israel does not have a formal, written constitution but a number of “Basic Laws” passed over the years deal with key issues.

Yet even here, equality is not “recognised as an independent right that stands on its own”. In fact, just in the past month, the Knesset voted against a draft bill that called for the inclusion of an equality clause in Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty.

The Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, under military rule within this de facto single state, are subjected to severe policies of discrimination and segregation, as well as military brutality and repression.

Furthermore, the Basic Law allows for rights to be violated “by a law befitting the values of the State of Israel”, a caveat thatprovides a basis “for giving significant weight to the nature of Israel as a Jewish state and its goals, at the expense of the fundamental rights concerned”.

In the words of former Supreme Court President Aharon Barak: “Israel is different from other countries. It is not only a democratic state, but also a Jewish state.” In other words, Israel is not a state of all its citizens, something freely admitted by senior officials.

Second, Palestinian citizens of Israel face systematic discrimination in law and policy – as these examples in land and housing, family life, and immigration demonstrate.

In 43 percent of Israeli towns, residential admission committees filter out applicants on the grounds of “incompatibility with the social and cultural fabric”. These committees, which operate by law, are “used to exclude Arabs from living in rural Jewish communities”, as Human Rights Watch has noted.

In 2014, the Supreme Court rejected a petition against the committees, a ruling slammed for having legalised “the principle of segregation in housing”. These small communities also “exercise control over a significant amount of land” through the regional councils of which they are part.

Palestinian citizens also face discrimination when it comes to family life. The Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law, first adopted in 2003 (PDF), “imposes severe restrictions on the right of Israeli citizens … to apply for permits for their Palestinian spouses and children from the Occupied Palestinian Territory to enter and reside in Israel for purposes of family unification”.

OPINION: Israel – This isn’t how you defend democracy

This law, which has the effect of dividing Palestinian families and separating spouses, has been described by a senior European Union official as establishing “a discriminatory regime to the detriment of Palestinians in the highly sensitive area of family rights”.

Israel’s Supreme Court upheld the law in 2012, stating (PDF): “human rights are not a prescription for national suicide”, putting its stamp of approval – not for the first time – on a “racist law“.

For the former Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, the law was about “demographics”. “There is no need to hide behind security arguments,” he admitted. “There is a need for the existence of a Jewish state.”

Perpetual status quo

While Palestinian citizens of Israel suffer under restrictions on family unification, Jewish citizens benefit from Israel’s discriminatory immigration laws.

Israel’s Law of Return, Absentee Property Law, and the Citizenship Law, passed in 1948-1950, created a reality whereby any Jew in the world can move to Israel and claim citizenship, while expelled Palestinian refugees were stripped of citizenship and are still unable to return.

Israel’s law “creates three tracks of naturalisation“: the highest track for Jews, a second track “for non-Jewish foreigners, who can apply for Israeli residency status through a process of individualised interviews and background checks”, and the lowest track for “Palestinian/Arab/Muslim spouses of Palestinian citizens of Israel who are prohibited from entry for the purpose of family unification”.

OPINION: Israeli Labor Party adopts the apartheid mantra

Third, 4.5 million Palestinians live under an Israeli military regime in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, an occupation that has lasted for 49 of the state’s 68-year history. In other words, one in three of the population in territory under Israel’s control is not a citizen and is subject to military, not civil, law.

It is important to remember that the territory occupied by Israel since 1967 is not, in practice, distinct from the rest of the state: land has been expropriated, 600,000 Jewish Israelis live in more than 200 colonies, natural resources are exploited, and basic infrastructure – water, telecommunications, transport – all bind the West Bank to pre-1967 territory.

The Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, under military rule within this de facto single state, are subjected to severe policies of discrimination and segregation, as well as military brutality and repression. This is no secret: as Human Rights Watchstated in 2010.

“Palestinians face systematic discrimination merely because of their race, ethnicity, and national origin, depriving them of electricity, water, schools, and access to roads, while nearby Jewish settlers enjoy all of these state-provided benefits.”

To enforce this “two-tier system”, the Israeli military conducts nightly raids, detains Palestinians without trial or charge, tortures detainees, and represses any kind of resistance – including unarmed protests – with lethal violence.

Who is responsible for all of the above – for the institutionalised discrimination, the racist laws, and military rule over 4.5 million Palestinians? Successive Israeli governments since 1948.

The crude racism of private individuals – whether on a Greek plane or at a Tel Aviv cleaning company – might get the headlines, but it is the Israeli state and its institutions that created and perpetuates the colonial status quo, and which must be held to account.

(Source / 26.02.2016)

Clashes erupt as IOF breaks into Nablus village

NABLUS, (PIC)– The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) stormed Thursday afternoon Beita town south of Nablus, which led to the outbreak of violent clashes. The PIC news reporter quoted local sources as saying that a number of Israeli troops broke into the town and deployed in its neighborhoods amid heavy fire of teargas bombs at local houses. Locals responded by throwing stones and empty bottles at the invading soldiers. During the raid, Israeli forces closed the main road between Nablus and Ramallah and prevented locals’ movement in both directions.

(Source / 26.02.2016)

Two Palestinians Injured In Beit Ummar

Israeli soldiers shot two Palestinians, on Thursday evening, in Beit Ummar town, north of the southern West Bank city of Hebron; many residents suffered the effects of teargas inhalation.

Beit Ummar

Several Israeli military vehicles invaded the town and clashed with dozens of local youths, who hurled stones at them, while the army fired rubber-coated metal bullets and gas bombs.

Medical sources said two Palestinians were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets; one in his leg and the other in his arm, and were moved to a clinic in the town.

They added that medics rushed to the area of clashes, and provided treatment to many Palestinians, who suffered severe effects of tear gas inhalation.

The soldiers also invaded the home of resident Saqr Bader, searched the property and used it rooftop as a monitoring tower.

(Source / 26.02.2016)

Saudi jets to arrive in Turkey to strike ISIS

Saudi F-15 warplanes were involved in recent bombing raids over Yemen

Saudi jets are due to arrive at a Turkish base this week take part in the air campaign against ISIS in Syria, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday.

“We are expecting the planes to arrive today or tomorrow (Friday),” Cavusoglu told the state-run Anatolia news agency, adding that Saudi equipment and personnel had already arrived on the ground.

The planes are to be stationed at the Incirlik base, which is already hosting US, British and French war planes taking part in the strikes against IS fighters in Syria.

Private NTV television said four Saudi F-15 jets would arrive at Incirlik on Friday. It said that 30 ground personnel and equipment had already arrived aboard C-130 Hercules military transport planes on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia and Turkey both see the ousting of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as essential for ending Syria’s five-year civil war and are bitterly critical of Iran and Russia’s support of the Syrian regime.

The two countries have in recent months moved to considerably tighten relations that had been damaged by Riyadh’s role in the 2013 ousting of Egyptian president Mohammed Mursi, a close ally of Ankara.

Ankara has said it is in favor of a ground operation in Syria, but only if it is conducted in coordination with Saudi Arabia and other Western and Gulf members of the anti-ISIS coalition.

“We have since the beginning argued for the necessity of ground operations and all kinds of strategic moves to be carried out in addition to the air campaign,” Cavusoglu said.

(Source / 26.02.2016)

US Airstrikes In Afghanistan Killing Civilians At Greatest Rate In Seven Years

The rate at which civilians are being killed by US airstrikes in Afghanistan is at its highest point since 2008, an analysis of newly published UN data reveals.

Mourners after alleged US drone strike kills 14 in Khost, June 2015 (Photo: Gul Marjan Farooqzoi)

Mourners after alleged US drone strike kills 14 in Khost, June 2015

Research by the Bureau shows that on average a civilian was killed every fourth drone or jet strike in 2015 – up from one in 11 attacks the year before and the first time the casualty rate has risen since 2011. The rate was last at such levels at the height of the Afghan war in 2008.

The rates are calculated by using civilian death tolls compiled by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (Unama) for its annual report and from official US Air Force data on the number of strikes it carries out in the country.

In its latest annual report published at the weekend, Unama said there had been 103 civilian deaths from US air actions in Afghanistan in 2015. Although these deaths are slightly more than the 101 recorded in 2014, they came from a third as many airstrikes. While there were 1,136 airstrikes in 2014, this number fell to 411 in 2015, the first year after the withdrawal of most US troops.

The sudden rise after so many years of falling casualty rates has raised concerns that military targeting is becoming less accurate or that there might have been an unannounced change in the rules of engagement.

With mounting pressure on the US to increase the number of air attacks in Afghanistan, observers feel these concerns are particularly urgent.

Chris Woods, director of the monitoring group Airwars, said “hard-won” lessons from 2009 onwards, when serious efforts to reduce the civilian casualty rate from international airstrikes began, were being lost.

He said: “What this [the UN data] indicates to me is that they are not taking the same care. This is not just about accuracy, it’s about politics.

“Bluntly, how many civilians is the US prepared to kill in Afghanistan to achieve its goals?”

In 2009, the US made targeting rules far more stringent after then commander US General Stanley McChrystal regarded soaring casualty rates as hugely damaging to the war effort. Apart from a brief spike in 2011, the average number of UN-recorded civilian casualties per airstrike has fallen every year since.

A US army spokeswoman in Kabul declined to tell the Bureau whether there had been any change in targeting policies in 2015, citing operational security.

Of the 103 civilian deaths recorded by the UN in 2015, the gunship attack on a Medecins Sans Frontieres hospital in Kunduz in October accounted for 42 of the total.

In addition, as a highly detailed four-month investigation published by the Bureau today shows, the UN has also classified 14 people killed in a counter-terrorism strike in Khost province in June as civilian deaths. The US disputes the UN’s account of Khost.

Locals in Khost claim vehicle struck by US missile, June 2015

Excluding these two single attacks from the casualty total would 47 dead in 409 attacks – a rate of one civilian dead for every nine strikes.

It is also possible that the UN’s 2015 figures were produced by a handful of bloody attacks which indicate a propensity for error but not necessarily a systematic change in targeting procedure or intelligence.

The UN report does not specify how many individual incidents produced 2015’s death toll of 103.

Since combat operations were declared over at the end of 2014, the US has been carrying out three types of strikes in Afghanistan – counter-terrorism strikes against al Qaeda and Islamic State, actions in defence of US or Nato forces, and, in extremis, air support to Afghan forces. Prior to 2014, the figures provided by the US Air Force for airstrikes included a relatively small number by its coalition allies.

Most US troops were withdrawn from Afghanistan by the start of 2015. Around 6,000 US troops remain there as part of a multinational operation training mission, along with a 3,000-strong counter-terrorism force.

The Taliban pressed forward in 2015, capturing towns and killing large numbers of Afghan security forces. There is now growing pressure on the Pentagon to start offering air support to Afghan forces.

Corpses of men killed by US airstrike in Khost, according to villagers

Experts fear the Afghanistan conflict will intensify in 2016.

Sahr Muhammedally from the Center for Civilians In Conflict, an NGO, warned that Resolute Support (RS), the Nato mission in Afghanistan, needed to ensure its systems were ready for 2016.

“I think its going to be a difficult year,” she said. “In 2016 the fight’s going to be ugly… RS has to ensure that all policies and guidance have been disseminated and are being adhered to by all troops.”

When asked about the shifting civilian casualty rate, Colonel Michael Lawhorn, of Resolute Support’s Kabul headquarters, said: “We continue to take all reports of civilian casualties seriously and thoroughly review each one. We remain absolutely committed to doing everything possible to avoid civilian casualties.”

(Source / 26.02.2016)

Family blame PA for Israel’s assassination of Nayef

AMMAN/GAZA, (PIC)– The brother of Omar Nayef, Hamza, held on Friday the Israeli Intelligence Service responsible for his brother’s assassination at the Palestinian embassy in Bulgaria, blaming, at the same time, the Palestinian embassy for not providing enough protection for him. Hamza Nayef told the PIC reporter that “a group of unidentified persons raided the embassy and assassinated Omar.” Omar was in the garden inside the embassy headquarters when he was brutally beaten, which led to his death, Hamza said. Omar’s wife received a call from the embassy informing her that he had been found dead in the garden covered with blood, and that an investigation was opened into the incident, he added. “We hold Israel fully responsible for Omar’s assassination and we also blame the Palestinian embassy for not protecting him and facilitating his murder”, according to his statements. “My brother was being directly and indirectly threatened along the past three months by some individuals at the embassy, especially the ambassador, who repeatedly asked him to leave the headquarters where he was taking cover after being threatened by the Mossad,” he continued referring to Israel’s overseas intelligence agency. Hamza accused security guards present at the embassy of “collusion” in his brother’s assassination. Earlier in December, the Israeli ambassador to Sofia asked the Bulgarian authorities to hand over the Palestinian former prisoner Omar Nayef who lives with his family in Bulgaria since 1994. In a serious move, the Bulgarian authorities detained Omar’s older son in order to exert more pressure on him after he refused to hand himself in to the police. Since then, Omar Nayef has taken refuge in the Palestinian embassy to escape extradition to Israel.  Born in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, Omar was convicted and sentenced by an Israeli court to life in prison in 1986 for carrying out an anti-occupation attack in occupation Jerusalem. During his detention, Omar “had been beaten and tortured in prison. He was once put in solitary confinement for 60 days”.  Yet, in 1990, Nayef was able to escape from his guards during a hospital visit and eventually made it out of the country. After living in various other Arab countries for four years, he moved to Bulgaria in 1994 and was later granted permanent residency.

(Source / 26.02.2016)

What worries the Israeli army about the current uprising?

Palestinian protestors burn tires during clashes with Israeli security forces in Ramallah after a Palestinian was shot and killed.

Palestinian protestors burn tires during clashes with Israeli security forces in Ramallah after a Palestinian was shot and killed

The statement by General Gadi Eizenkot, the Chief of General Staff of the Israeli army, in which he called on security forces not to be hasty in shooting at Palestinian children as long as they do not pose an immediate threat, was not a slip of the tongue or a reflection of his conscience, or even the “purity of arms” ethics of the army (as if occupation is an ethically-sound action). His statement actually stems from an in-depth study conducted by the army regarding the events that accompanied the youth-led uprising and attacks targeting Israelis in occupied Jerusalem, as well as other areas, including some inside Israel. Eizenkot’s can be added to other statements by his colleagues which have provoked some Israeli politicians to criticise what they call “the army’s interference in politics”.

Reports in the Israeli media appreciating the position expressed by Herzi Halevi, chief of the Israeli Military Intelligence Directorate, in January are consistent with the line adopted by the army. He admitted that the occupation forces have exhausted all of their military measures in confronting the uprising. He also said that if political negotiations do not resume, matters will deteriorate further, as Fatah will join the operations against the occupation.

Before these statements were made, senior officials in the Civil Administration and the army’s Central District leadership said that the situation will not calm down in the near future, and the uprising could last a long time unless a political breakthrough is made. Without the latter, there will be more violence and chaos.

Eizenkot has apparently realised that the killing of Palestinian children and youth will not achieve the degree of deterrence expected by the Israeli government, which has given the army, police and armed civilians the political cover, legitimacy and even absolute freedom to kill Palestinians if they are suspected of threatening Israeli lives.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan has expressed the government’s position most clearly; he supports the immediate killing of Palestinians if they dare to attack Israelis. In addition, the settler groups are not happy to hear anyone calling for caution before killing Palestinians, which they do in the form of field executions witnessed by Israeli officials and civilians. Any killing provokes a reaction, as can be seen by what happens in towns and villages energised by the shooting of a local child or youth.

The Israeli army has also realised its mistake in withholding the bodies of those killed in these attacks and the potential consequences of this. That is why the army no longer holds on to the bodies, which is contrary to the positions of Erdan and the Israeli police.

The truth is that the Israeli army feels the change in the temperature more than anyone else, and senses what developments may occur. The army has failed, despite all of its strength and measures taken, to put an end to this uprising and the attacks by the youth. It has realised that the issue is more than just an uprising fanned by incitement from the PA, as claimed by the Israeli media and politicians, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Hence, army officers are worried about the potential for escalation of the uprising if the Israeli reaction is limited to military means and punishments against the Palestinians.

These concerns are accompanied by fears that the uprising may become linked to the current wars and unrest across the region and the effect that this will have on Israel’s security. There is less certainty about how these will pan out, particularly in Syria, so Israel is monitoring the regional situation carefully. It has also resorted to bombing selected Syrian army targets and convoys of arms en route to Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

Israel does not know what may happen with the Syrian army if the Assad regime stays in power and is able to impose a settlement on its opponents. The army in Syria has been able to restore part of its capabilities during the war, and is receiving highly advanced weaponry, as well as other support, from Russia. Iran and Hezbollah are also in the frame, and we do not know what will happen ultimately to all of the Jihadist and Salafist groups.

Israel’s concerns, though, must not divert us from worrying about our youth and children who are being killed in cold blood. In this context, everyone must fulfil their duty to preserve the lives of the young people who are our future and the generation that will take over the Palestinian leadership.

Perhaps no one will be able to stop a young person who has already decided to die as a martyr, but there is a need to guide the people towards a more politically-centred and broad national struggle that embarrasses Israel and increases its isolation. This is the responsibility of the various political forces that are still weak in terms of influencing what is happening on the ground. They need to renew their activity, attract the youth and determine a realistic vision to bring about the desired change.

(Source / 26.02.2016)

IOF abuses four Palestinians at arrest time

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– Lawyer of Palestinian Prisoners Society Jacklyn Fararjeh who visited captives in Etzion jail revealed on Thursday that four Palestinian detainees were abused during their arrest. She said that two captives from al-Khalil were exposed to severe beating whose signs are obvious on their bodies. A third detainee, from al-Dehaishe refugee camp in Bethlehem, was hit on his head by an iron helmet when he was arrested from his home. The lawyer added that Israeli soldiers detained a captive from Kafr Nima town near Ramallah inside an iron container in Hallamish settlement with no food or drink for several hours.

(Source / 26.02.2016)

255 Palestinian schools attacked during 2015

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– A Palestinian report revealed that Israeli violations against the educational process had notably increased in 2015. The report, issued by Quds Press, revealed that 53.998 Palestinian students and 3,840 teachers were subjected to Israeli attacks including detention, assaults, house arrest, restriction of movement at checkpoints, and denial of safe access to schools. According to the report, nearly 255 Palestinian schools were subjected last year to different attacks at the hands of Israeli forces and settlers including violent raids and teargas bomb attacks.  Over the past year, Israeli forces killed 22 students and teachers and arrested 265 others. The report pointed out that 75 students and 30 teachers were stopped and investigated last year at military checkpoints. 1,019 Palestinian students and teachers were injured by either live or rubber bullets, according to the report. During 2015, Israeli forces imposed house arrest on 32 Palestinian students in occupied Jerusalem. Education was partially suspended in 35 schools and 9,322 courses were canceled due to Israeli military restrictions and attacks, the report said.

(Source / 26.02.2016)