Israeli Soldier Had ‘No Military Need’ to Shoot and Kill Wounded Palestinian – IDF Prosecutor

A prosecutor for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) says there was no military need for an Israeli soldier to shoot and kill a wounded Palestinian last week. The soldier is being held in custody as the investigation continues.

Prosecutor Lt. Col. Edoram Rigler made the comments during a hearing on Tuesday in Kastina, where the prosecution asked for nine additional days of pre-indictment detention for the soldier amid the ongoing investigation.

The prosecution could ask to detain the soldier longer once it files an indictment, the Jerusalem Post reported.

The soldier made international headlines after shooting and killing a wounded Palestinian on Thursday. The Palestinian, accused of stabbing another Israeli soldier, was immobilized on the ground and shot dead. A video of the incident quickly spread on social media.

Although the soldier maintains he “did the right thing at the right time,” the prosecution deemed the shooting a “grave offense” on Tuesday.

The soldier has claimed he feared for his life and the lives of his fellow soldiers, citing concerns that the wounded man could have tried to blow himself up.

However, reports have surfaced which state that the soldier was not an early responder to the scene, and that the Palestinian had already been checked for the possibility of having explosives by the time he arrived.

The prosecutor said investigations raise doubt about the soldier’s account of events and his claim that soldiers’ lives were in danger.

On Sunday, Army Radio reported that the shooter had told a friend the “terrorist needs to die” for stabbing a soldier, implying the shooting was not an act of self-defense.

The soldier’s defense lawyer, Ilan Katz, has argued that an autopsy of the Palestinian man could prove vital for his client, noting that the soldier could be saved from murder and manslaughter charges if the man was already fatally injured from his earlier wounds.

If this is proven to be the case, the soldier could face lesser charges of negligent homicide or violating the rules of engagement.

The case was initially to be heard in the Jaffa Military Court, but was moved to Kastina in an effort to reduce media coverage and the number of protesters.

(Source / 29.03.2016)

Israeli Knesset OKs first reading of controversial suspension bill

Arab lawmaker Jamal Zahalka is escorted to leave after he reacted to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech on May 14, 2015 at the Knesset. ©AFP

Arab lawmaker Jamal Zahalka is escorted to leave after he reacted to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech on May 14, 2015 at the Knesset

Israel’s Knesset approves suspending lawmakers accused of backing “terrorism” and seen to target Arab MPs as PM Benjamin Netanyahu orders Palestinian bodies held by the military not to be returned.

Fifty-nine lawmakers voted for the bill, widely seen as targeting the Arab-led bloc after three of its members met the families of Palestinian attackers.

The bloc accounts for 13 of Knesset’s 120 members, making it the chamber’s third-largest grouping.

The bill would give parliament the power to strip any lawmaker of the right to vote on draft legislation. It needs to pass a second and third reading in the Knesset before becoming a law.

Zouheir Bahloul, an Arab legislator, accused Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition of “quietly stealing Arab members’ right to a democratic discourse.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) talks with lawmakers during a meeting at the parliament, the Knesset, in al-Quds (Jerusalem), on May 13, 2015

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel also warned the law “is being promoted to harm the Arab MKs (Knesset members), whose statements and actions do not find favor with the political majority.”

The Israeli chamber already has the power to censure the lawmakers for what it deems “unseeingly behavior.”

The idea for the bill was originally suggested by Netanyahu after Arab lawmakers from Balad Party met with the families of the Palestinians killed by Israeli forces.

In February, the three were suspended from speaking in the Israeli parliament as punishment after they voiced support for the families of the Palestinian victims killed by Israeli military forces.

‘Stop returning Palestinian bodies’

On Monday, Netanyahu ordered a halt to returning the bodies of the Palestinians killed by Israeli forces as the regime fears subsequent mass funerals could trigger more protests.

Netanyahu ordered Moshe Ya’alon, Israeli minister for military affairs, not to hand over Palestinian bodies to their families until a comprehensive policy decision is reached on the matter, local media reported.

The Israeli military is currently holding an unspecified number of bodies belonging to the Palestinians shot dead for allegedly trying to stab regime forces.

Ya’alon’s ministry had resumed returning the corpses to their families on the condition that they were buried overnight and in a low-key funeral.

Israeli soldiers remove the body of a Palestinian they killed at the entrance to the heavily-guarded settler enclave of Tal Rumeda in al-Khalil (Hebron), occupied West Bank, on March 24, 2016

However, several Israeli officials, including Netanyahu, have voiced support for withholding the bodies to avoid mass funerals that could turn into large anti-occupation demonstrations.

Israel’s refusal to return the dead has drawn an angry reaction from several Palestinian officials and human rights bodies.

Earlier this month, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary General Saeb Erekat called on the international community to pressure Israel into releasing the bodies.

Tel Aviv’s “collective punishments are now being carried out against the living and the dead,” Erekat said.

Palestinian rights groups Addameer and Adalah condemned Israel’s refusal to return the Palestinian bodies as “a severe violation of international humanitarian law.”

So far, more than 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since the outbreak of fresh tensions in the occupied territories last October.

(Source / 29.03.2016)

Israel moves to sentence Palestinian children aged under 14

Palestinian school girl at an Israeli checkpoint

The bill seeks to impose prison sentences on minors if they are convicted. However, the sentences would be carried after the defendants reach the age of 14 [file photo]

Israel’s Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved a bill that seeks to allow the trial of Palestinian minors aged under the age of 14.

The decision came following a committee meeting held on Sunday evening to approve the bill that provides for tightening the punishment allowed to be imposed on the “perpetrators of operations” who are under the age of 14.

Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked proposed the draft legislation.

VIDEO: Israeli soldier shoots and executes wounded Palestinian

The bill seeks to impose prison sentences on minors if they are convicted. However, the sentences would be carried after the defendants reach the age of 14.

In October 2015, a similar bill passed a preliminary reading in the Knesset, providing for the sentencing of minors aged under 14 to jail terms. The reading passed in conjunction with the outbreak of the current intifada which is still raging in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.

Read: Israel sentences and fines 14-year-old girl Malak Al-Khatib

(Source / 29.03.2016)

Cancer patient prisoner moved to Ramla prison hospital

GAZA, (PIC)– The Palestinian cancer patient prisoner Yousri al-Masri was transferred on Monday evening to Ramla prison hospital after suffering serious health deterioration. Family sources affirmed to the PIC reporter that al-Masri’s health situation had severely deteriorated which led to his transfer to Ramla prison hospital. The Israeli Prison Service (IPS) refused for five months to allow medical tests for al-Masri who suffers from neck cancer and severe liver pains, his brother Yasser al-Masri said. Although he had remained in Ramla prison hospital for 40 days, al-Masri didn’t conduct any medical tests nor did he receive any medical treatment. Al-Masri’s family had earlier submitted a request demanding his release after he spent two-thirds of his sentence due to his serious health situation. However, the IPS refused to submit the family’s appeal to the court. The family held the IPS fully responsible for Yasser al-Masri’s safety. Al-Masri was arrested in 2003 and sentenced for 20 years imprisonment. While in prison, he suffered neck cancer which led to severe health deterioration. Meanwhile, Salem military court postponed on Monday the court session of the cancer patient prisoner Bassem al-Sayeh to April 21. The court also allowed a doctor to visit him on Tuesday and to check on his health condition. Al-Sayeh , 43, was arrested for allegedly being involved in Beit Furik anti-occupation attack during which two Israeli settlers were killed in early October last year. Family sources said that he was brought to court on a wheelchair as he was unable to move or to talk. Al-Sayeh suffers from blood and bone cancer, in addition to chronic pneumonia and severe heart problems.

(Source / 29.03.2016)

WikiLeaks: Google & Al-Jazeera Encouraged Civil War In Syria

Together with Al-Jazeera, Google developed a tool to track defections in Syria, hoping to encourage more former Assad allies to join the civil war.

FILE - In this Sunday, March 11, 2012 file photo, a man carries a boy who was severely wounded during heavy fighting between Syrian rebels and Syrian Army forces in Idlib, north Syria. More than two years into Syria's civil war, the once highly-centralized authoritarian state has effectively split into three distinct parts, each boasting its own flags, security agencies and judicial system. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd, File)

MENLO PARK, California — Tech giant Google collaborated with Al-Jazeera to develop an interactive online tool to encourage defections during the Syrian civil war, according to emails in WikiLeaks’ archive of Hillary Clinton’s emails.

“Please keep close hold, but my team is planning to launch a tool on Sunday that will publicly track and map the defections in Syria and which parts of the government they are coming from,” wrote Jared Cohen, the founder and director of Google Ideas, of the proposed online tool in a July 25, 2012 email sent to Jacob J. Sullivan, deputy secretary of state under Clinton.

“Our logic behind this is that while many people are tracking the atrocities, nobody is visually representing and mapping the defections, which we believe are important in encouraging more to defect and giving confidence to the opposition.”

“We believe this can have an important impact,” Cohen added.

The archive reveals that Sullivan forwarded the email onto Clinton, adding, “This is a pretty cool idea.” Clinton, in turn, sent it to an assistant with instructions for the email to be printed.

In his email, Cohen revealed that Google Ideas was collaborating with Al-Jazeera, which published the tracker in English and Arabic shortly after Cohen’s email was sent. Although it was offline when this report was written, an internal analysis by Google called it “one of the most viewed visualizations on their site” and the tool later won an Online Media Award for the TV news network based in Doha, Qatar.

Google Ideas, which was renamed Jigsaw in a major company reorganization last year, is a think tank which maintains close ties to the State Department, according to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in his 2014 book “When Google Met WikiLeaks.”

Before leading Google Ideas, Cohen served at the State Department from 2006 to 2010 under Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Clinton. Assange wrote:

“It was Cohen who, while he was still at the Department of State, was said to have emailed Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to delay scheduled maintenance in order to assist the aborted 2009 uprising in Iran. His documented love affair with Google began the same year when he befriended Eric Schmidt as they together surveyed the post-occupation wreckage of Baghdad. Just months later, Schmidt re-created Cohen’s natural habitat within Google itself by engineering a ‘think/do tank’ based in New York and appointing Cohen as its head. Google Ideas was born.”

An op-ed published on Saturday by RT criticizes Western media for largely ignoring the story of collaboration between Al-Jazeera, Google, and the State Department, although a few mainstream sites like U.K.’s The Independent did cover the story. Michael William Lebron, a media analyst that publishes under the name “Lionel,” told RT:

“I don’t expect a reaction from Western media because Western media hasn’t even read this, has no idea about this … But can you imagine if the same set of facts were involved with the different countries, different corporations around the world depending upon your frame of reference. This would either be an outrage or ‘well, maybe this is a delightful and benign cooperation, an independent tech giant … and all for the common good of liberty’ and whatever. It depends upon your perspective.”

(Source / 29.03.2016)

Why Israelis are defending IDF soldier who shot Palestinian attacker

Israeli soldiers carry the dead body of one of two Palestinians the Israeli military said were shot dead by Israeli troops after they attacked soldiers in Tel Rumeida in the West Bank city of Hebron, March 24, 2016

A short video filmed by a resident of the West Bank city of Hebron March 24 has been shaking Israel’s political, public and military foundations for four days now. The video ignited a battle between the Israeli right and the left, inflamed much of the Israeli public against the top brass of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), set six government ministers against Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot and generated another down-and-dirty confrontation between Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Defense Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon together with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Outside this inner circle, Yisrael Beitenu chair Avigdor Liberman mocked them both.

Above the fray hovers an emotional storm among millions of Israelis who refuse to accept international conventions while they trample on the rule of law and moral values. They defend an isolated soldier who shot a neutralized attacker in the head in Hebron and is now being indicted for murder.

This is not only a war between right and left, but between emotions and reason, between one’s boiling blood and political correctness.

On that morning, two Palestinians attacked IDF soldiers with knives as they ascended toward the Tel Rumeida neighborhood in Hebron. They managed to lightly wound one soldier before the others shot at them. One was killed on the spot and the other one lay motionless on the road, evidently dying (though there is no proof at the moment). At that stage, a B’Tselem activist who lives in a nearby apartment began to film the scene.

The video shows an IDF soldier lift his weapon, cock it, aim and shoot one bullet into the head of the assailant at a range of about 3 meters (9.8 feet). The man, Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, was killed on the spot.

As could be expected, the video generated a major storm as soon as it hit the networks. IDF spokesperson Brig. Gen. Moti Almoz reacted sharply. The chief of staff ordered an immediate investigation. The military police investigations unit arrested the soldier and took him handcuffed into custody as a suspect in a murder case. At this stage, the gates of hell opened on Israeli social networks, which are mainly dominated by the voice of the right. From there, the storm spread to the political system, the top military brass and the media.

The findings of the military investigation at this stage leave no room for doubt: The soldier did not act in self-defense and was not in any danger. The man did not pose a threat, as he was already subdued. He had even been examined and was found not to be booby-trapped and was not wearing a detonator belt. The soldier who shot the neutralized attacker had not been present at the site during the attack itself, but came afterward. He carried out the shooting 6 minutes after the incident had ended and the danger had passed. The area was quiet, with additional soldiers and medical staff circulating calmly. There was no atmosphere of emergency and no military procedure — the kind of drill that takes place when a dangerous agent is present in the vicinity — was active.

The left and the media accused the soldier of carrying out an execution without the authority or authorization of his superiors. The Facebook page of the soldier, a 19-year-old from the central Israeli town of Ramle, revealed that he has close connections with extreme right circles. In another video released two days after the incident, the soldier is seenshaking hands with Baruch Marzel, an especially radical right-wing activist who lives in Hebron. The handshake took place minutes after he had executed the attacker.

None of these incriminating details deterred the Israeli masses from siding with the detained soldier, whose identity is under a court-mandated gag order. A poll published on Channel 2 March 27 contained startling data: Most Israelis think that the soldier acted correctly and should not have been arrested. Only 21% of Israelis support Eizenkot’s public statements against him, and only 5% of the public thinks that his act constitutes murder, which was the bill of indictment given when the investigation was opened.

Support for the soldier crossed all political lines. Not only did the radical right and regular right-wingers join the protest wave, but the political center and even some on the left got on the bandwagon. Protests began on the social networks and mushroomed into petitions, demonstrations and protests throughout the country. Eizenkot, backed up by Ya’alon, were among the few to stand up against this wave. On the morning of March 28, at the Yedioth Ahronoth anti-boycott, divestment and sanctions convention, they were joined by President Reuven Rivlin, who had sharp words for those who incite against the chief of staff.

Usually, Israel’s chief of staff enjoys enormous popular support, much more than other political figures. There is no greater consensus in Israel than the one surrounding the chief of staff, no matter who he is. The fact that the chief of staff’s position this time was defeated by a tremendous public margin in favor of a young, anonymous soldier exemplifies the magnitude of the rupture. The Israeli public is consciously discarding dispassionate analysis of the event for raw emotion, siege mentality and tribal unity.

In the last half year, the Israelis have been victim of a difficult terror wave. So far, the terror has taken the lives of 34 policemen, soldiers and civilians. From the point of view of the Israeli public, the soldiers are doing their duty by protecting them with their bodies.

As far as most Israelis are concerned, all those who attack Jews deserve to die.

In the past, there were quite a few incidents in which Israeli policemen or soldiers spared wounded attackers and paid for this mercy with their lives. The fact that it was proven that the soldier faced no danger to his life hardly sways anyone in Israel. Overnight, the soldier became an Israeli hero, while Israel’s leaders and IDF heads were the subject of ridicule and scorn. This astounding phenomenon evokes memories of the tremendous sense of surprise at the results of the recent elections in 2015, when the polls had announced a clear trend toward Netanyahu. In both cases, it seems that many analysts did not foresee the prevailing public response.

There is reason for worry in the IDF as well. The military, like the people, is now divided. One section continues to adhere to the rule of law, moral values and following orders. The other part is mainly comprised of the forces with policing duties in Judea and Samaria. They are blending in with the settlers and becoming a kind of obscure police militia, not entirely controllable.

Something is happening to the Israeli public under the media radar, and something is happening to the IDF. And it doesn’t bode well for the State of Israel.

(Source / 29.03.2016)

The Palestinian Authority’s looming succession crisis

Mahmoud Abbas

There is no clear successor to Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas has said he will not stand for re-election – no problem when there are no elections to contest in the first place…

The octogenarian leader of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank will not be around forever.

Elected as president of the PA back in 2005, the democratic mandate of Mahmoud Abbas expired years ago. Armed putschist forces loyal to Abbas took over the West Bank back in 2007, several months after democratic elections to the PA’s legislative body did not go Abbas’s way.

The “Palestinian Authority” is a thorough misnomer: it has no real authority, and its ultimate loyalty is to Israel, not to the Palestinian people. Indeed, the entire raison d’être of the PA since its inception has been to act as a violent buffer between the Israeli occupation and popular Palestinian anger and resistance.

It is in fact a subcontractor for the occupation.

The PA, of course, does have some perfectly legitimate civilian functions, such as education and health. But these are dwarfed by its massive budget for “security” and policing, including of the feared mukabarat, or secret police. Some 31 per cent of the PA’s total budget is spent in this way. This far outstrips spending on health, education or agriculture. In proportionate terms, this is much more than the UK (10 per cent), India (16 per cent), Israel (20 per cent) and even the USA (23 per cent).

PA officials and military officers boast in the western press of the amount of Palestinians arrested in order to keep Israeli soldiers safe from acts of Palestinian resistance – both armed and unarmed. They know who they ultimately work for.

But the PA is facing a crisis at its very heart: there is no clear successor to Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas has said he will not stand for re-election – no problem when there are no elections to contest in the first place. But he has also proven to be something of a control freak, and rather paranoid about rivals. Many potential successors have been seen off. A recent New York Times article was most concerned about the prospects for preserving the PA after Abbas’s death and speculated who will next take charge and protect Israel with the PA’s supposedly (in Abbas’s phrase) “sacred” security collaboration.

Salam Fayyad, a thoroughly unelected former “prime minister” of the PA (whose vanity party won less than 3 per cent in the last election) was at first close to Abbas. But later, he became something of a scapegoat to figures in Fatah, who saw him as a rival to the Abbas cult of personality (surely the most dreary and unconvincing such cult in history). He was replaced by diktat with Rami Hamdallah, a dull Abbas loyalist.

Yassir Abed Rabbo too has now been cast out of the inner circle. Abed Rabbo did his best to genuflect to Israel over the years. Previously a leftist with the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, he often acted as Yassir Arafat’s man within the left, splitting from other leftists on issues such as two states verses one democratic state of Palestine. Abed Rabbo had one of his NGOs summarily shut by Abbas last year, before being sacked as PLO secretary-general.

In that role, he now been replaced by Saeb Erekat, who the Palestine Papers showeddescribing to a US State Department delegation the brutal and violent nature of his PA: “we have had to kill Palestinians to establish one authority, one gun”.

According to the New York Times, Abed Rabbo had been accused of conspiring with Muhammad Dahlan to overthrow Abbas. No figure has become more of an internal bugbear for Abbas than Dahlan in recent years.

A former head of the infamous torturers of the PA’s Preventative Security Forces in Gaza before Hamas was elected to power, Dahlan was blamed within Fatah for “losing” Gaza to Hamas. After months of internal violence on the streets of Gaza in 2007, Dahlan’s “Palestinian Contras” (as one apt analogy put it) attempted an outright coup to overthrow the elected government, backed by the CIA, Israel, Mubarak’s Egypt and Jordan. It failed.

After clashing with Abbas, he was exiled from the West Bank, accused of corruption. No wonder then that establishment journals of American imperial power like the New York Times see Dahlan as a potential future leader of the PA. He’s just the sort of corrupt, violent and anti-democratic thug that Western powers prefer to see installed as leaders in the Arab world – so long as he does their bidding.

The PA was a politically bankrupt project from the get-go. Its major function is to serve Israel occupation. It should be dismantled, and replaced with a democratic popular resistance movement which can begin to take forward the tasks of Palestinian liberation from Israeli occupation. The alternative is a potentially chaotic collapse, with highly unpredictable results.

(Source / 29.03.2016)

Occupation wants Palestinians to pay for homes’ demolition

Israeli authorities ask for $500,000 for seven out of 95 demolitions

Israeli occupation authorities have filed complaint against Palestinian Bedouins, demanding they pay expenses of demolishing their homes.

Al-Araqib is among 51 unrecognised villages. The Israeli occupation has been demolishing them and displacing their residents to build Jewish settlements

Days of Palestine, Al-Naqab -Israeli occupation authorities have filed complaint against Palestinian Bedouins, demanding they pay expenses of demolishing their homes.

Aziz Al-Araqib, a resident of Al-Araqib Village in south of Al-Naqab (Negev), said that the Israeli occupation authorities have been asking for a fine worth $500,000 as expenses for the Israeli bulldozers, which have razed the village 95 times.

Israeli authorities are “asking us to pay only for the first eight demolitions,” he said, adding that he expects authorities to ask for millions of dollars for the other 87 demolitions.

“The Israeli occupation failed to force villagers to leave their village,” Aziz said. “Therefore, it is using different ways, including the judiciary and requesting massive fines.”

In 2014, the Israeli occupation authorities imposed fines on the villagers under the pretext of “contempt of Israeli courts” because they failed to obey orders calling for them to leave the village.

Aziz said that the villagers have been moving from one court to another since 2010.

He said that the Israeli authorities accuse them of unjustly seizing state land and building houses without licenses.

Meanwhile, he reiterated that Al-Araqib residents have documents proving ownership of the land, but the Israeli occupation refuses to recognise them.

Al-Araqib is among 51 unrecognised villages. The Israeli occupation has been demolishing them and displacing their residents to build Jewish settlements.

(Source / 29.03.2016)

IOF confiscates equipment of blacksmith shop in al-Khalil

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) confiscated equipment of a blacksmith workshop and broke into and searched homes of both martyrs Amer Abu Aisheh and Abdulla al-Qawasmi at dawn hours on Monday in al-Khalil. Israeli forces claimed finding weapons in Ramallah and al-Khalil during search operations they conducted at night on Monday.  Israeli Maariv newspaper alleged that the Israeli army found two sniper rifles, Carl Gustav rifle and a hunting gun in al-Khalil city.

(Source / 29.03.2016)

Israeli settlers attack Palestinian cars in Nablus

NABLUS, (PIC)– The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) closed Sunday evening the bypass road south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus after a group of settlers attacked Palestinian passing-by vehicles. Eyewitnesses told the PIC reporter that a group of settlers attacked Palestinian vehicles with stones near Yitzhar illegal settlement. Windows of the attacked cars were smashed during the settlers’ attack. Palestinian vehicles were forced to take long alternative routes. Israeli settlers’ attacks against Palestinians and their properties, referred to as “price tag” attacks, are common in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem and are rarely investigated or prosecuted by Israel.

(Source / 29.03.2016)