Palestinians undermine theft of land in occupied West Bank

Israeli forces intervene in Palestinians reacting to Jewish settlers for trying to seize agricultural lands of Palestinians in al-Ras region in Selfit, West Bank on 30 November 2020. [Issam Rimawi - Anadolu Agency]
Israeli forces intervene in Palestinians reacting to Jewish settlers for trying to seize agricultural lands of Palestinians in al-Ras region in Selfit, West Bank on 30 November 2020

Dozens of Palestinians undermined attempts by Israeli Jewish settlers on Monday to steal agricultural land in Salfit, in the north of the occupied West Bank, Anadolu has reported. The Palestinians set fire to the equipment being used by the settlers to steal the land, before Israeli occupation forces arrived to protect the thieves.

According to the Head of Salfit Municipality Abdul Karim Zubaidi, the Palestinians protested against the theft and destruction of 12 acres of their farmland. The protesters were alerted to the settlers’ move by the PLO and municipality officials.

“This is private land owned by Palestinian farmers who use it,” Zubaidi told Anadolu. “It is not state-owned land as they claim. The settlers are working to impose a new status quo in this area in order to connect the industrial settlement of Ariel in the west with the residential one in the south.”

Action against the theft of the land will continue until the settlement plans are thwarted and the settlers have given up, he added.

Israeli rights group Peace Now has revealed that the Israeli occupation government is planning to “legalise” the settlement outposts built on private Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank.

Sources in occupied Palestine and Israel say that there are about 650,000 Jewish settlers living in 164 settlements and 124 settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. All of Israel’s settlements are illegal under international law.

READ: The UN’s Day of Solidarity for the Palestinians exposes its own impotence 

(Source / 01.12.2020)

Gaza awaits approval to export strawberries to Europe

The strawberries or “red gold”, are undergoing laboratory tests to ensure quality and require Israeli approval for export

Gaza’s red gold season is in full swing, with strawberries being picked and prepared for export and sale, however farmers are still waiting for the necessary approvals to allow the fruit to be sent to Europe [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Gaza’s red gold season is in full swing, with strawberries being picked and prepared for export and sale, however farmers are still waiting for the necessary approvals to allow the fruit to be sent to Europe [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Gaza’s red gold season is in full swing, with strawberries being picked and prepared for export and sale, however farmers are still waiting for the necessary approvals to allow the fruit to be sent to Europe [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Gaza’s red gold season is in full swing, with strawberries being picked and prepared for export and sale, however farmers are still waiting for the necessary approvals to allow the fruit to be sent to Europe [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

Gaza’s red gold season is in full swing, with strawberries being picked and prepared for export and sale, however farmers are still waiting for the necessary approvals to allow the fruit to be sent to Europe

The fruits are undergoing laboratory tests to ensure quality and require Israeli approval for export.

For farmers, this is another period of unease as during previous seasons strawberries were only allowed to be sold in the West Bank, reducing the value of the crop.

It costs $5,000 to harvest one dunam (0.01 square kilometres) of strawberries and produce three tonnes of the fruit. The process takes five months.

READ: MEMO photographer starts to document Gaza’s marine life

Farmers, including Abdullah Muslim, work the land fearful that crops from Spain and the Netherlands will lead them to suffer a loss at the end of the season.

The head of the Gaza Agricultural Cooperative Society, Ahmed Al-Shafei, confirmed in media statements that if foreign markets are not opened for the export of strawberries, farmers would face a problem in marketing their products in light of the unprecedented recession and stagnation in the local market.

Al-Shafei expects this season to produce a higher quantity of strawberries than the last due to the increase in the area being cultivated.

Gaza’s red gold season is in full swing, with strawberries being picked and prepared for export and sale, however farmers are still waiting for the necessary approvals to allow the fruit to be sent to Europe [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Gaza’s red gold season is in full swing, with strawberries being picked and prepared for export and sale, however farmers are still waiting for the necessary approvals to allow the fruit to be sent to Europe [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Gaza’s red gold season is in full swing, with strawberries being picked and prepared for export and sale, however farmers are still waiting for the necessary approvals to allow the fruit to be sent to Europe [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Gaza’s red gold season is in full swing, with strawberries being picked and prepared for export and sale, however farmers are still waiting for the necessary approvals to allow the fruit to be sent to Europe [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

(Source / 01.12.2020)

122 academics, journalists express deep concern over IHRA definition of anti-Semitis

Protest against the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism in London, UK on 4 September 2018 [Dan Kitwood/Getty Images]
Protest against the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism in London, UK on 4 September 2018 

A group of 122 Palestinian and Arab academics, journalists and intellectuals have expressed their concerns over the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism and the way this working definition has been applied, interpreted and deployed in several countries in Europe and North America.

The definition, and specifically seven of the 11 illustrative examples that conflate racism towards Jews with criticism of the state of Israel, has been severely criticised by a range of bodies, including the Institute of Race Relations; eminent lawyers; civil rights organisation Liberty; leading academic experts on anti-Semitism; 40 global Jewish social justice organisations; and more than 80 UK-based BAME groups.

In addition, Kenneth Stern, one of the drafters of the working definition, has expressed deep concern over its misuse and warned of its “chilling effect” on free speech. According to Stern the code he drafted 15 years ago as the American Jewish Committee’s anti-Semitism expert, is being used for a completely different purpose than the one he intended.

READ: Students urge UK universities not to adopt controversial definition of ant-Semitism

The 122 Palestinian and Arab academics echoed these concerns in an open letter published in the Guardian. After warning of the rise of anti-Semitism and the need to combat racism towards Jews, the group argued that the IHRA threatened to undermine this effort by turning anti-Semitism “into a stratagem to delegitimise the fight against the oppression of the Palestinians.

Laying out their opposition to the IHRA, the signatories debunked many of the claims made by proponents of the “working definition” and highlighted the ways in which it undermined free speech, notably through the definition’s suggestion that “claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour” was tantamount to racism towards Jews. This is one of the seven examples within the working definition that conflates anti-Semitism with criticism of Israel.

The letter argued that such examples ignore the reality on the ground; supress the ability of Palestinians to speak about Israel’s history of occupation and ethnic cleansing and its many policies that are designed to privilege Jews over non-Jews.

The IHRA definition, claimed the signatories, made it impossible to point to Israel as an occupier power without being labelled an anti-Semite. This is “odd”, said the letter, pointing to the fact that under international law, Israel is seen as being an occupying power for over half a century.

READ: The definition of anti-Semitism has been weaponised for Israel’s benefit

This fact is also recognised by the governments of countries where the IHRA definition is being upheld, the letter pointed out.

Pointing to the chilling effect of the working definition on discussions about political resolutions, the letter said that “the IHRA definition potentially discards as antisemitic all non-Zionist visions of the future of the Israeli state, such as the advocacy of a binational state or a secular democratic one that represents all its citizens equally. Genuine support for the principle of a people’s right to self-determination cannot exclude the Palestinian nation, nor any other.”

The group insisted that “the charge of antisemitism against anyone who regards the existing state of Israel as racist, notwithstanding the actual institutional and constitutional discrimination upon which it is based, amounts to granting Israel absolute impunity.”

(Source / 01.12.2020)

Israel dismisses Arab lawsuit by citing Jewish Nation-State Law

Tents and shacks used as habitats by Palestinians are pictured in the village of Um al-Kheir in "area C", in front of the Jewish settlement of Karmiel, near the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, on June 14, 2020. - Israel intends to annex West Bank settlements and the Jordan Valley, as proposed by US President Donald Trump, with initial steps slated to begin from July 1. "Area C" is a stretch of land accounting for 60 percent of the West Bank over which Israel has control under the terms of the Oslo Accords signed between Israel and the Palestinians in the 1990s. It is extremely difficult for Palestinians to receive building permits from Israeli authorities for that area. (Photo by HAZEM BADER / AFP) (Photo by HAZEM BADER/AFP via Getty Images)
Tents and shacks used as habitats by Palestinians are pictured in the village of Um al-Kheir in “area C”, in front of the Jewish settlement of Karmiel, near the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, on June 14, 2020

An Israeli court used the country’s nation-state law to reject a lawsuit by two Arab schoolchildren yesterday, further dividing the country along lines of ethnic and religious identity.

The lawsuit, representing siblings aged 6 and 10, was filed by their uncle, Nezar Bakri, who demanded that the municipality of Karmiel pay them 25,000 shekels ($7,500) as reimbursement for travel expenses incurred by having to travel to an Arabic-language school outside the city.

The lawsuit was dismissed yesterday on the grounds that to take such action would have an impact on the city’s “Jewish character” by initiating a demographic change. The plaintiffs were ordered to pay costs.

“Karmiel, a Jewish city, was meant to establish Jewish settlement in the Galilee,” said the chief registrar of the Krayot Magistrate’s Court, Yaniv Luzon. The establishment of an Arabic-language school and the funding of school rides for Arab students, he claimed, “could change the demographic balance and damage the city’s character.”

READ: Israel’s ‘Nation-State Law’ merely confirms its lifelong racist nature

Luzon added that an administrative petition should have been filed instead, addressed to the Education Ministry rather than the municipality. There is, apparently, no legal obligation to provide transportation funding.

The main reason cited for the dismissal, though, was the nation-state law introduced in 2018, which says that only Jewish citizens have the right to self-determination and that judges are permitted to prioritise Jewish ethnicity and national character in their rulings. That law was controversial among Israel’s non-Jewish citizens and condemned internationally.

According to Haaretz, the siblings’ father, Qassem Bakri, was shocked at “such racism under the auspices of the law” and expressed his concerns that it would be one of the first such incidents that would have an impact on Israeli Arabs. “What’s terrible is the explanation that ‘It’s a Jewish city,’ as though there aren’t other residents in Karmiel. There are first-class residents and second-class residents. It’s the rotten fruit of [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and the nation-state law.”

The Bakris said that they will be appealing against the decision to dismiss the lawsuit.

READ: Israel’s one-state reality is facilitated by the international community

(Source / 01.12.2020)

Home raids against Palestinians are dehumanising, aim to break their spirit, Israel rights groups say

Palestinians react to Israeli forces during demolishing of four improvised houses belonging to Palestinian families due to allegedly unlicensed construction, in Hebron, West Bank on November 25, 2020

report published last week by Israeli human rights groups condemned the Israeli military’s illegal invasions of Palestinian homes, suggesting the practice is in violation of international law.

Based on two years of research carried out by Yesh Din, Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHRI) and Breaking the Silence, the study reveals extensive documentation and testimonies of soldiers and evicted families.

“The nights pass without my being able to close my eyes, and I couldn’t stay here at home. For a long time, I couldn’t sleep at home, and I would sleep at my parents’. They [the soldiers] came and broke down our door. I still haven’t been able to process it to this day,” the report quotes a woman from Beit Ummar saying.

Attacks, assaults and acts of vandalism are frequently carried out on Palestinian towns and villages in the Israeli-occupied West Bank both by illegal settlers and soldiers.

READ: Journalist arrested after exposing the plight of Palestinians in Israeli prisons

According to the report entitled “A Life Exposed: Military invasions of Palestinian homes in the West Bank“, hundreds of Palestinian teenagers are arrested by the Israeli military every year in nightly raids, violating the military’s own regulations with regards to issuing summons for interrogation prior to detention.

“What comes to my mind,” Dr Jumana Milhem, a psychologist who works with Physicians for Human Rights Israel, said, “is that the process involves the dehumanisation of a whole society. [Its] point is to break their human spirit.”

There are several risk factors for the PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] that we see in high percentages in Palestinian society in general. Here we are not talking about a single trauma but a facet of the continuous trauma of occupation. The feeling of being imprisoned in your own country. This feeling of being constantly exposed.

Palestinian Luay Abu ‘Aram from Yatta told Yesh Din: “It was really scary that they came into the house in the middle of the night with weapons, faces covered, dogs in the yard and everyone walking around in the yard.”

“Thoughts go through your brain. It had a terrible impact on the girls, and for what? Why do they do a search like that on the whole family and the neighbors? If there’s information – they should just go for the information.”

For some, like Fadel Tamimi, the 59-year-old imam at a mosque in Nebi Salih on the West Bank, the raids have become familiar over the past 20 years. He says he has lost count of the number of times soldiers have entered his home, suggesting it could be more than 20 – most recently in 2019, just before the coronavirus pandemic.

READ: Aberdeen flies Palestinian flag on Day of Solidarity

The report highlights how Palestinian civilians need protection from Israel’s frequent and deadly military offensives and incursions.

It also highlighted the affect of such raid on occupation soldiers, two described their experience of raiding Palestinian homes as representing a turning point for them, not least in how they saw themselves as “nice” or “good” soldiers and individuals.

“We were shown an aerial image with each house numbered. We were told to choose four homes at random to enter and ‘flip’, which means turn over everything for anything suspicious. I thought it was strange I was getting the choice,” Ariel Bernstein, 29, who served in an elite infantry unit, the Sayeret Nahal, explained.

The Israeli army denies accusations that home raids are carried out at random and says they are a matter of security.

(Source / 01.12.2020)

Peace will come through decolonisation, not rhetoric on annual Palestine Solidarity Day

RABAT, MOROCCO - NOVEMBER 29: Moroccans protest the normalization deal with Israel to mark the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People in Rabat, Morocco on November 29, 2020. ( Jalal Morchidi - Anadolu Agency )
Moroccans protest the normalization deal with Israel to mark the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People in Rabat, Morocco on November 29, 2020

By Ramona Wadi

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres never misses an opportunity to illustrate how the international community has failed Palestine and its people. On 29 November, the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People — or to be more accurate, the anniversary of the UN conspiracy to allow Israel to be established as a colonial project in Palestine through the 1947 Partition Plan, established in UNGA Resolution 181 — his introductory remark was, “As the United Nations marks its 75th anniversary, the question of Palestine remains distressingly unresolved.”

The UN Partition Plan date was chosen for this “International Day…” — according to the organisation’s website — “because of its meaning and significance to the Palestinian people.” There’s no mention of the negative meaning and significance that it has for Palestinians. In a bout of unrivalled hypocrisy, the UN describes the Day of Solidarity as providing “an opportunity for the international community to focus its attention on the fact that… the Palestinian people have yet to attain their inalienable rights as defined by the General Assembly, namely self-determination without external interference.”

In UN rhetoric, the Partition Plan does not constitute “external interference”. Neither does the fact that such UN interference favoured Zionist colonialism which turned the Palestinians into colonised people and refugees. Decades down the line, the UN has completely dissociated the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians from those responsible and, more importantly, from the international accomplices of such colonial violence.

READ: The EU reaction to settlements and security coordination reflects the PA betrayal of Palestine

Oblivion accomplished, the UN’s duty on this particular day is merely to act as an information booth as per its own admission, with rhetoric to mark the occasion, meetings and film screenings. It displays all the trappings of a marketing and PR agency rather than an international body that wields the political power to stop Israel if it really wanted to. Which, of course, it has no intention of doing.

So, while Guterres and his hierarchy preside over the current destruction of Palestine, thus perpetuating the cycle of land appropriation and dispossession of the Palestinian people, is it not time for everyone opposed to the UN’s machinations to stop marking this symbolic occasion as if it is something really meaningful and positive? Stop exploiting Palestinians by participating in a commemoration orchestrated by an international organisation that refuses to distinguish between the coloniser and the colonised, and which has normalised the lack of a just resolution in order to accommodate Israel’s presence in Palestine, as well as its false “self-defence and security” narrative.

There is nothing honourable about a day in which the international community celebrates its complicity against the Palestinian people and the theft of their homeland. If Palestinians are to be truly celebrated, the UN’s comment about “self-determination without external interference” needs to be taken seriously, to the point that 29 November becomes an annual opportunity to hold the international community to account for perpetrating major violations of international law against the Palestinian people, under the auspices of the same law which it is so fond of quoting.

The Palestinians need the relevant spaces for their narratives to create the politics for their own land and people. The UN will not comply, of course, but there is no reason not to create new initiatives by the Palestinians, for the Palestinians; initiatives which recognise that peace starts with decolonisation, not the dissemination of Israel’s colonial security narrative – “without external interference” – as the UN itself declared so unwittingly.

READ: The EU has played a waiting game to Israel’s advantage

(Source / 01.12.2020)

Palestinian Forced To Demolish His Home In Jerusalem

A Palestinian was forced to demolish his own home, late on Monday at night, in Jabal al-Mokabber town, in occupied Jerusalem, after the city council refused to grant him a permit.

The Palestinian, Fawwaz Abdo, said he had to demolish his property, located in the Schools Neighborhood after all appeals with Israeli courts were denied.

He added that he built the 100 square/meter property on his land more than five years ago, to provide shelter for his six-member family.

According to data from the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (B’Tselem) Israel has demolished 107 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem between January 1, 2020, and October 31st, 2020.

72 of the demolished homes were destroyed by their owners, who wanted to avoid further excessive fines and fees.

The demolitions left more than 340 Palestinians, including 176 children, without a shelter.

Earlier Monday, the soldiers demolished a Palestinian home in the al-Khader town, south of Bethlehem, south of occupied Jerusalem in the West Bank.

On Sunday, a Palestinian man was forced to demolish his home in Wadi al-Jouz neighborhood, after all attempts to license the property were denied by Israeli courts, despite paying high fines.

(Source / 01.12.2020)

Israeli Soldiers Abduct Eleven Palestinians In West Bank

Israeli soldiers abducted, on Tuesday at dawn, eleven Palestinians from their homes in several parts of the occupied West Bank, after the soldiers invaded many communities, searched and ransacked homes, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported.

The PPS said the soldiers abducted Moath Ka’bi, and Nidal Khalaf al-Haj Mohammad, from their homes, and added that Nidal is the brother of Monther, a political prisoner who was sentenced by Israel to thirty years in prison.

In occupied Jerusalem, the soldiers abducted a former political prisoner and a student at Birzeit University, identified as Bakr Oweiss, in addition to Montaser Barbar, the son of Majd Barbar, who is also a political prisoner serving a 20-year sentence, in addition to Faisal Luay, from the al-‘Isawiya town.

The soldiers also abducted Ayman Abu Eid, Hashem Hmeidan, Ziad Taha, Jouda Houshiyya and Sharif Khdour, from the towns of Biddu and Qotna, near Jerusalem.

In Salfit, in central West Bank, the soldiers abducted Rawdi Ma’zouz Yassin, from his home.

In related news, the soldiers invaded the al-Khader town, south of Bethlehem, and summoned Ahmad Salah for interrogation in the nearby Etzion military base and security center.

It is worth mentioning that Salah is a former political prisoner, who was only released a few months ago, after spending 11 years in Israeli prisons.

(Source / 01.12.2020)

Soldiers Demolish A Cave And An Agricultural Shed, Near Hebron

Israeli soldiers invaded, Tuesday, Zeev village, south of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, before demolishing a cave and an agricultural shed, and confiscated three mobile homes.

Fuad al-‘Amour, the coordinator of the Protection and Steadfastness Committees, said the soldiers demolished an agricultural shed near the archeological area in Zeev hill, north of Yatta town.

He added that the sheds is owned by members of Shatat local Palestinian family, and stated the demolition is the second in recent months.

The army claims the shed is close to the bypass road, used by the illegal Israeli colonialist settlers.

On His part, the coordinator of the Popular and National Committees against the Annexation Wall and Colonies, said the soldiers also demolished a cave, owned by Aziz Shatat.

He added that the soldiers also confiscated three mobile homes, owned by Jamal Radwan Qawasma, Mahmoud Abu Sbeih and Rami al-Mohtaseb.

(Source / 01.12.2020)

Soldiers demolish A Home In Sur Baher, Jerusalem

Israeli soldiers invaded, Tuesday, Sur Baher town, in occupied Jerusalem, and demolished a Palestinian home.

Media sources said the soldiers, and undercover officers, invaded the town, and demolished one home, owned by Mohammad Shawkat Khatib.

They added that the army claims the property was built without a permit from the City Council, in occupied Jerusalem.

In related news, the soldiers invaded Zeev village, south of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, before demolishing a cave and an agricultural shed, and confiscated three mobile homes.

In addition, the soldiers demolished three agricultural structures in the al-Mas’udiyya area in Sebastia town, northwest of the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

On Monday at night, a Palestinian was forced to demolish his own home in Jabal al-Mokabber town, in Jerusalem, after the city council refused to grant him a permit.

While Israel continues to build and expands illegal colonies, and retroactively “legalizes” colonialist outposts in the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem, it continues to deny construction permits to the Palestinians and refuses to grant permits to existing structures.

(Source / 01.12.2020)