Caught between covid and settlers: How a West Bank school is struggling to survive

Across Palestine, schools are closed to try and stem the spread of the virus, but Al-Maleh Elementary has struggled to offer remote learning, because of the lack of internet and electricity in the village

By Laila Ahmet and Amelia Smith

For the 170 pupils in Al-Maleh village in the West Bank, the three-hour journey to school was arduous. Sometimes it took three hours after they had navigated the Israeli security checkpoints, some on foot and others on donkeys. Eventually, many of them simply stopped going.

In mid-2019 Mahdi Daraghma, chairman of the local council, set up two tents which served as a makeshift school for the children in the hope that having it close by would encourage pupils to attend classes.

It worked, but there were other challenges. In the winter months the pupils shivered and rubbed their hands together – so Mahdi appealed to international organisations for funding. When it arrived a year or so later, he used the money to build four classrooms, each room 15 by 20 square metres, with brick walls and a tin roof.

If you look north from Al-Maleh Mixed Elementary School, you can see the mountains of Khirbet Jabaris; to the south are the Salama Mountains and to the east is the Jordanian border. Fake grass lines the playground and a wire mesh fence surrounds it.

Inside, there are two grades to a classroom and the pupils share desks. There is no electricity or internet, but at least the children have access to lessons: “The school is very important for the students and the village community,” says Mahdi. “The students now wake up at a normal time and the parents can follow up on their children and go to speak to the teachers as it is near to their homes.”

READ: Americans suffer from Trump as much as the Palestinians, says activist Issa Amro

Hanan Dabak started in the school as a volunteer teacher, when it was still made up of tents, teaching Arabic, maths, English and National Education. Now she works there officially and receives her salary from the Palestinian Education Ministry.

For roughly one week, everything in the new school was going well. Then a notice arrived at Mahdi’s office from the civil administration of the Israeli army – Al-Maleh Elementary was set to be demolished on the pretext that it had been built on an archaeological area. With that, it became one of 44 schools across the occupied West Bank currently at risk of demolition.

Mahdi himself was arrested and detained for four hours and when he was released the army confiscated his car and tractor, which they have not yet returned. He has submitted an appeal to an Israeli court challenging the demolition order but has not heard anything back.

[Mahdi Daraghma/Middle East Monitor]
[Mahdi Daraghma/Middle East Monitor]
[Mahdi Daraghma/Middle East Monitor]
[Mahdi Daraghma/Middle East Monitor]
[Mahdi Daraghma/Middle East Monitor]

On 17 December 2020 a second demolition notice was issued informing Mahdi that in 96 hours the Israeli army would destroy the new building.

“We didn’t increase the size of the school. We just built a school in the same area as the tents. Just four classrooms with bricks and tinplate,” he says, pausing.

The aim is for the Palestinians to own nothing.

“The demolition order for the school is part of the settlement support policies because if they accept the school, they think that will give the citizens a motive to stay in the area,” adds Hanan. “Because if the school is far from where the people live, people would leave the area to go to places with services.”

After they received the notice, teachers erected a billboard outside the school and attached it to the fence, displaying the name of its funders. The EU, Belgium and Denmark are all on there. Hanan and the other two teachers hope this might dissuade the army from razing it.

“We as teachers felt very sad when we learnt that the school will be demolished, and that the future of many students will be in danger and there is nothing we can do,” says Hanan. “However sad we feel, we never show the students, and we encourage them and say we will stay here.”

[Mahdi Daraghma/Middle East Monitor]
[Mahdi Daraghma/Middle East Monitor]
[Mahdi Daraghma/Middle East Monitor]
[Mahdi Daraghma/Middle East Monitor]
[Mahdi Daraghma/Middle East Monitor]

“What danger would a six or nine-year-old student pose for the Israeli occupation to issue a demolition order to the only place they have to attend lessons, the only school they can reach?” she asks.

“The psychological state of the children, the fear and anxiety is worrying. Many students come to speak to me and say, ‘Miss Hanan, I’m afraid that the Israeli army will attack us, or the settlers will attack the area and harm us.”

READ: With high hopes of freedom, Palestinian girls get engaged to prisoners serving life sentences

Al-Maleh is a Bedouin village situated in the Governorate of Tubas and the Northern Valleys, which is registered as Area C and has been under the full control of Israel since the Oslo Accords.

The area has been classified as a military zone and nature reserve which means it is out of bounds for Palestinians. Mahdi says that whilst roughly 19 Palestinian structures, largely made of tents and tin, received demolition orders in 2020, Israeli settlements have expanded.

“Since 1967 until now, the Israeli occupation exercises the most heinous violations against Al-Maleh’s civilians,” says Mahdi. “Construction is banned, any infrastructure or services are banned, the people of the village live in camps.”

Al-Maleh is an agricultural area and the population relies on sheep and cows to make a living, yet it’s not easy because there are no essential services, including electricity. Residents import water for approximately 20 shekels a cup, explains Mahdi.

The village is surrounded by five settlement outposts and their inhabitants’ assault and attack the Palestinians on a daily basis, locals report, including preventing them from entering their fields to tend to their animals. The Israeli army has seized some 30 tractors from farmers in the community.

[Hanan Debek/Middle East Monitor]
[Hanan Debek/Middle East Monitor]
[Hanan Debek/Middle East Monitor]

“For the last two years, farmers have been prevented from cultivating their lands,” says Mahdi. “They confiscate any tractor that enters the land under the pretext that it is a military zone. Settlers, however, are allowed to farm and raise their livestock.”

Added to the challenges faced by these villagers is the global coronavirus pandemic, which has driven down the price of products as demand has eased. On top of this, it has made it harder to transport milk and cheese products amidst travel restrictions.

Across Palestine, schools are closed to try and stem the spread of the virus, but Al-Maleh Elementary has struggled to offer remote learning, because of the lack of internet and electricity in the village.

After the demolition notice, 30 of the original 50 students – 1st to the 3rd grade – were brought back to try and deter the Israeli army from demolishing the school. Mahdi explains that the number of schools being knocked down has increased as the army takes advantage of empty premises.

In the meantime, the teachers try to reassure their pupils that they will be able to continue with their education. “When will the Israeli army demolish our school?” they ask Hanan. “Where will we study if they do; will we continue our education, will we have to make the long journey in the morning again?”

The parents are worried also. The mother of Mahmoud Zamil, one of the pupils at the school, said she is deeply anxious about her child’s schooling and if he will once again have to make the difficult journey just so he can learn to read and write. Other mums and dads have asked Hanan and Mahdi if they have a plan for what will happen if the school really is demolished.

“If they demolish the school, we will build tents again in its place,” says Mahdi. “If they demolish the tents, we will teach them under trees. The students will stay there, and we will keep educating them.”

(Source / 15.01.2021)

Israel applies double standards in determining if violence is acceptable or not

Israel considers chaos and aggression on people as violence only when it is carried out against any other people except Jews

By Ramona Wadi

Israeli officials slammed the chaos happened in the Capitol Building as “violence;” however, they classify their aggression on the Palestinians as “security necessity” and “self-defence.”


“Shocking scenes of violence” was how the Jewish Insider described last week’s storming of the Capitol Building in Washington DC by supporters of outgoing US President Donald Trump. It is a dissociative statement, one that does not equate the US with violence, apart from glossing over the fact that Trump himself encouraged and incited such action in his own country.

But perhaps the greatest dissociation comes from Israeli diplomats, whose statements are bizarre. The article quotes the former Israeli Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren: “Israel has faced an impossible dilemma: how to embrace the historic achievements of the Trump White House while dissociating from its incendiary domestic acts.”

Briefly, Israel admires US violence and disregard for the law on foreign territory, especially when used to benefit Israel, such as the string of diplomatic concessions which have paved the way for the “postponed” annexation of more Palestinian land.

Former settler leader Dani Dayan called Trump “a diplomatic miracle” in relation to Israel. Meanwhile, former Knesset member Dov Lipman, asserted, “I still believe that Israelis are able to make a distinction between that [the violence] and being thankful for things that Trump has done for Israel.” Presumably this is because the violence inflicted upon the Palestinian people by Israel is not regarded as such in the settler-colonial narrative.

Yet having Israeli officials attempting to distance themselves from just one manifestation of violence does not constitute an absolute condemnation.

The truth is, Israel and the US only classify violence as abhorrent when this is turned inward; when the aggression taught and condoned by the state is used by its own citizens to influence or obstruct a particular political outcome within that state.

US violence in Latin America, for example, is explained away by claiming to be “bringing democracy” to the people. Never mind the thousands of people killed and disappeared by the US-backed dictatorships in the region. Meanwhile, Israel’s violence against the Palestinian people is classified as a “security necessity” and “self-defence” in the colonial narrative. Both Israel and the US have absolved themselves of any culpability and accountability.

However, if the settler-colonialists propping up Israel look at its existence in Palestine from a historical perspective, the bloody terrorism which begat the Zionist state is demonstrable. Violence created Israel and erased the Palestinian people through ethnic cleansing and forced displacement; the violence was given a veneer of legitimacy by the Zionist paramilitaries being incorporated later into the nascent Israel Defence Forces.

Today the IDF plays an intricate role in determining Israel’s political agenda. Besides the well-known military offensives against Gaza, the IDF provides settler-colonial perpetrators of violence with protection and impunity.

In terms of US-Israeli political violence, Trump’s record is by far the most overt, yet it builds upon the legacy of his predecessors. With the US promoting and financing the security narrative of Israel and its illegal settlers, it will take a complete overhaul of Israeli society to ponder its violence openly and honestly and accept that it is the violent product of a violent colonial project.

And that America, and those who work within the Capitol Building attacked last week, play a prominent role in supporting the Israeli state and its atrocities against the Palestinian people. The double standards applied when determining which violence is acceptable, or not, are clear for us all to see.

(Source / 13.01.2021)

The two-state solution: The opium of the Palestinian people

It is time for the de-Osloisation of the Palestinian struggle

A Palestinian artist draws a mural awareness campaign against Israel’s West Bank annexation plans, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 1, 2020. – The government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said it could begin the process to annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank as well as the strategic Jordan Valley from today. The plan — endorsed by Washington — would see the creation of a Palestinian state, but on reduced territory, and without Palestinians’ core demand of a capital in east Jerusalem

By Haidar Eid

Last month, Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator and secretary-general of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, passed away at the age of 65. His death has been seen by some Palestinians as a metaphor for the end of the Oslo era and its twisted logic.

Erekat and many Palestinian political functionaries of his generation have firmly stood by the so-called two-state solution, insisting that the Palestinians will be able to strike a fair deal with the Israelis and their American patrons to establish an independent Palestinian state on parts of historic Palestine.

The illusion that this is actually possible has been maintained through decades of continued colonisation and disastrous agreements. It is “the opium of the Palestinian people”.

The accords with Israel signed by Egypt in 1978 at Camp David, by the Palestinians in 1993 in Oslo and Jordan in 1994 in Wadi Araba were supposed to be necessary steps towards Palestinian self-determination and towards “peace” in the Middle East in general.

But all these agreements ignored the existence of the Palestinian people as a people and their basic rights, including the right of return of Palestinian refugees and equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Instead of insisting on those fundamental rights and following the example of South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement, which mobilised international civil society around the idea of one person, one vote and the establishment of a secular democratic, non-racial, non-sectarian state, the Palestinian political leadership reduced the Palestinian people to only those living in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.

This resulted in the formation of a Palestinian Bantustan of incongruous territories, where Palestinians live under the constant terror of a military occupation and where the Palestinian Authority does not actually exercise full authority.

The insistence on continuing down the Oslo path towards an illusory two-state solution has persisted even after Israel passed a Nation-State law, in which it explicitly declared the right to self-determination in “the Land of Israel” to be “unique to the Jewish People” – i.e. according to the Israeli state, the Palestinians cannot enjoy that right. And it has persisted even as Arab states have pressed forward with normalisation with Israel without any concessions along the formula “peace for land” and as the United States has put forward yet another “peace deal” in which it offers the Palestinians nothing more than humiliating subsistence.

Oslo and its derivative processes ignore the elephant in the room – the apartheid regime which Israel has effectively imposed on historic Palestine. They also do not pay attention to the consciousness of sumud that has emerged out of the Palestinian struggle. Nor do they take into account the long Palestinian legacy of civil and political resistance.

Over the years, many Palestinians have come to see Oslo for what it is and have opted to draw alternative paths to secure Palestinian rights.

In 2001, just a year after the Second Intifada erupted, the NGO forum of the World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) was held in Durban, South Africa. It offered a very clear diagnosis of the nature of the Zionist project and paved the way for a much more practical but also progressive path to a new intersectional cooperation between the oppressed Palestinians and other marginalised groups.

In 2005, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement was created and two years later the BDS National Committee was formed to map its forward trajectory. BDS, along with the establishment of the One Democratic State Campaign and the Great March of Return – to give but a few examples – all represent the beginning of a process of de-Osloisation of the Palestinian mind. And in this process, Gaza has played a central role.

Most events that have taken place in the strip since the 2006 legislative elections represent an outright rejection of the Oslo Accords and their consequences. When we bear in mind that 75-80 percent of Gaza residents are refugees, the anti-colonial and anti-Oslo context of the election results becomes that much clearer.

In the following years, the calls for an alternative paradigm that divorces itself from the fiction of the “two-prison solution” intensified. It is a paradigm that takes the sacrifices of the people of Gaza as a turning point in the struggle for Palestinian liberation, one that builds on the growing global anti-apartheid movement that has been given an impetus by the 2009, 2012, 2014 onslaughts on Gaza and by the Great March of Return.

The de-Osloisation of Palestine, for most Palestinian activists, has become a precondition for the creation of peace with justice. That requires a redefinition of the Palestinian cause as an anti-colonial struggle against a system of settler-colonialism and apartheid, and reunification of the three components of the Palestinian people, namely, Gaza and the West Bank residents, refugees, and Palestinian citizens of Israel.

The first steps of this process were taken in Durban in 2001. The WCAR declaration, in a very peculiar way, demanded from Palestinians to offer guidance to the most effective tool of international solidarity with their struggle to end apartheid in historic Palestine. The language used in the declaration was clear, diagnostic, strong, and – most importantly – uncompromising on basic human rights:

“We declare Israel as a racist, apartheid state in which Israel’s brand of apartheid as a crime against humanity has been characterized by separation and segregation, dispossession, restricted land access, denationalization, ‘bantustanization’ and inhumane acts.”

And this has, to all of us in Palestine, been the beginning of our South African moment, a step in our long walk to freedom, equality and justice.

(Source / 05.01.2021)

Analysis: The US Money Tree – The Untold Story of American Aid to Israel

By Dr. Ramzy Baroud

On December 21, the United States Congress passed the COVID-19 Relief Package, as part of a larger $2.3 trillion bill meant to cover spending for the rest of the fiscal year. As usual, US representatives allocated a massive sum of money for Israel.

While unemployment, thus poverty, in the US is skyrocketing as a result of repeated lockdowns, the US found it essential to provide Israel with $3.3 billion in ‘security assistance’ and $500 million for US-Israel missile defence cooperation.

Although a meager $600 dollar payment to help struggling American families was the subject of several months of intense debate, there was little discussion among American politicians over the large funds handed out to Israel, for which there are no returns.

Support for Israel is considered a bipartisan priority and has, for decades, been perceived as the most stable item in the US foreign policy agenda. The mere questioning of how Israel uses the funds – whether the military aid is being actively used to sustain Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine, finance Jewish settlements, fund annexation of Palestinian land or violate Palestinian human rights – is a major taboo.

One of the few members of Congress to demand that aid to Israel be conditioned on the latter’s respect for human rights is Democratic Senator, Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, who was also a leading presidential nominee for the Democratic Party. “We cannot give it carte blanche to the Israeli government … We have the right to demand respect for human rights and democracy”, Sanders had said in October 2019.

His Democratic rival, now President-elect, Joe Biden, soon countered: “The idea that I’d withdraw military aid, as others have suggested, from Israel, is bizarre,” he said.

It is no secret that Israel is the world’s leading recipient of US aid since World War II. According to data provided by the US Congressional Research Service, Israel has received $146 billion of US taxpayers’ money as of November 2020.

From 1971 up to 2007, a bulk of these funds proved fundamental in helping Israel establish a strong economic base. Since then, most of the money has been allotted for military purposes, including the security of Israel’s illegal Jewish settlement enterprise.

Despite the US financial crisis of 2008, American money continued to be channelled to Israel, whose economy survived the global recession, largely unscathed.

In 2016, the US promised even more money. The Democratic Barack Obama Administration, which is often – although mistakenly – seen as hostile to Israel, increased US funding to Israel by a significant margin. In a 10-year Memorandum of Understanding, Washington and Tel Aviv reached a deal whereby the US agreed to give Israel $38 billion in military aid covering the financial years 2019-2028. This is a whopping increase of $8 billion compared with the previous 10-year agreement, which concluded at the end of 2018.

The new American funds are divided into two categories: $33 billion in foreign military grants and an additional $5 billion in missile defence.

American generosity has long been attributed to the unmatched influence of pro-Israeli groups, lead among them American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The last four years, however, required little lobbying by these groups, as powerful agents within the administration itself became Israel’s top advocates.

Aside from the seemingly endless ‘political freebies’ that the Donald Trump Administration has given Israel in recent years, it is now considering ways to accelerate the timetable of delivering the remainder of US funds as determined by the last MOU, an amount that currently stands at $26.4 billion. According to official congressional documents, the US “also may approve additional sales of the F-35 to Israel and accelerate the delivery of KC-46A refuelling and transport aircraft to Israel.”

These are not all the funds and perks that Israel receives. Much more goes unreported, as it is channelled either indirectly or simply promoted under the flexible title of ‘cooperation’.

For example, between 1973 and 1991, a massive sum of $460 million of US funds was allocated to resettling Jews in Israel. Many of these new immigrants are now the very Israeli militants that occupy the West Bank illegal settlements. In this particular case, the money is paid to a private charity known as the United Israel Appeal which, in turn, gives the money to the Jewish Agency. The latter has played a central role in the founding of Israel on top of the ruins of Palestinian towns and villages in 1948.

Under the guise of charitable donations, tens of millions of dollars are regularly sent to Israel in the form of “tax-deductible gifts for Jewish settlement in the West Bank and East Jerusalem,” the New York Times reported. Much of the money, falsely promoted as donations for educational and religious purposes, often finds its way to funding and purchasing housing for illegal settlers, “as well as guard dogs, bulletproof vests, rifle scopes and vehicles to secure (illegal Jewish) outposts deep in occupied (Palestinian) areas.

Quite often, US money ends up in the Israeli government’s coffers under deceptive pretences. For example, the latest Stimulus Package includes $50 million to fund the Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Funds, supposedly to provide investments in “people-to-people exchanges and economic cooperation … between Israelis and Palestinians with the goal of supporting a negotiated and sustainable two-state solution.”

Actually, such money serves no particular purpose, since Washington and Tel Aviv endeavour to ensure the demise of a negotiated peace agreement and work hand-in-hand to kill the now defunct two-state solution.

The list is endless, though most of this money is not included in the official US aid packages to Israel, therefore receives little scrutiny, let alone media coverage.

As of February 2019, the US has withheld all funds to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, in addition to cutting aid to the UN Palestinian Refugees agency (UNRWA), the last lifeline of support needed to provide basic education and health services to millions of Palestinian refugees.

Judging by its legacy of continued support of the Israeli military machine and the ongoing colonial expansion in the West Bank, Washington insists on serving as Israel’s main benefactor – if not direct partner – while shunning Palestinians altogether. Expecting the US to play a constructive role in achieving a just peace in Palestine does not only reflect indefensible naivety but wilful ignorance as well.

(Source / 02.01.2021)

UNRWA and Palestinian refugees are the next targets of normalisation deals with Israel

Palestinians gathering in front of the United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) stage a demonstration against reducing UNRWA's services, in Khan Yunis, Gaza on 23 December 2020. [Ashraf Amra - Anadolu Agency]
Palestinians gathering in front of the United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) stage a demonstration against reducing UNRWA’s services, in Khan Yunis, Gaza on 23 December 2020

By Ramona Wadi

When US President Donald Trump leaves office in three weeks’ time, he will have laid the foundations for a further downgrading of the Palestinian struggle for freedom. It is, perhaps, little wonder that the Palestinian Authority was so eager to resume the illusion of “normal” in preparation for improved relations with the incoming Biden administration.

As a result of the normalisation agreements reached between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, the latter is following in America’s footsteps in halting its donations to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). UAE officials reportedly stated that the intention is for UNRWA to “gradually disappear”. If that happens, of course, the status of Palestinian refugees will also be history. UNRWA and Palestinian refugees, it seems, are the next targets of normalisation deals with Israel.

In 2019, Trump’s Senior Adviser Jared Kushner expressed his certain belief that Palestinian refugees will never return to their land. While the White House promoted this political shift that compromises the legitimate Palestinian right of return, the groundwork was laid by UN Resolution 194, which fails to make the case for decolonisation. Trump’s politics, in particular the defunding of UNRWA and the campaign to alter the definition of a Palestinian refugee in order to reduce their number and therefore dilute the extent of the Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine, exposed the international intent to discard the Palestinian people’s political rights. UNRWA, despite the undoubted necessity of its humanitarian work, has contributed to this exploitation.

READ: Refugee camps contain the hidden victims of Covid-19

The normalisation deals will facilitate even more corruption, and sooner. While the international community praised the agreements with Israel upon the premise of annexation being suspended, the UN has refused to conceptualise how Israel and the UAE have chartered an additional course of colonialist impunity in Palestine.

US decision to cut UNRWA funding - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]
US decision to cut UNRWA funding – Cartoon 

In 2019, UNRWA’s mandate was extended until June 2023. This was hailed as a victory in the context of the funding deficit which has plagued the agency since the US withdrew its support. However, the existence of UNRWA also points to the international community’s refusal to take the Palestinian right of return seriously. UN Resolution 194 is a convenient loophole for Israel’s existence and it has also played a role in turning the Palestinian people into a permanent, politicised humanitarian project. Taking away the rights of Palestinian refugees through humanitarian aid is a political manoeuvre that requires UNRWA to compensate for the loss of their land. Palestinians, and the agency itself – the latter promoting neutrality to the benefit of Israel – are backdrops to the normalisation agreements which the international community praised, while Israel moved on to its next step in throwing the refugees to the dogs.

Israel will have an easy time in moving forward and eliminating Palestinian representation at an international level. UNRWA’s existence depends upon voluntary donations which may dwindle further as a result of the normalisation agreements.

Yet the PA quickly forgot its opposition to normalisation when Joe Biden won the US Presidential election. How will the authority attempt to frame this latest chapter in Palestinian refugee history? The refugees are the key to Palestine’s liberation. Israel recognises this fact and works against it. In this regard, the same can be said of the PA, even before Trump became the convenient scapegoat. Before pointing fingers, the PA should embark upon a moment of introspection for all the times that it has failed the Palestinian refugees by diluting their right of return in “peace” negotiations for the two-state compromise.

READ: UNRWA, the EU and humanitarian aid all have a political agenda

(Source / 31.12.2020)

The US money tree: The untold story of American aid to Israel

According to data provided by the US Congressional Research Service, Israel has received $146 billion of US taxpayers’ money as of November 2020

By Ramzy Baroud

On December 21, US Congress passed COVID-19 Relief Package, as part of larger $2.3 trillion bill meant to cover spending for the rest of fiscal year. As usual, US representatives allocated massive sum of money for Israel.


While unemployment, thus poverty, in the US is skyrocketing as a result of repeated lockdowns, the US found it essential to provide Israel with $3.3 billion in ‘security assistance’ and $500 million for US-Israel missile defence cooperation.

Although a meager $600 dollar payment to help struggling American families was the subject of several months of intense debate, there was little discussion among American politicians over the large funds handed out to Israel, for which there are no returns.

Support for Israel is considered a bipartisan priority and has, for decades, been perceived as the most stable item in the US foreign policy agenda. The mere questioning of how Israel uses the funds – whether the military aid is being actively used to sustain Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine, finance Jewish settlements, fund annexation of Palestinian land or violate Palestinian human rights – is a major taboo.

One of the few members of Congress to demand that aid to Israel be conditioned on the latter’s respect for human rights is Democratic Senator, Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, who was also a leading presidential nominee for the Democratic Party. “We cannot give it carte blanche to the Israeli government … We have the right to demand respect for human rights and democracy”, Sanders had said in October 2019.

His Democratic rival, now President-elect, Joe Biden, soon countered: “The idea that I’d withdraw military aid, as others have suggested, from Israel, is bizarre,” he said.

It is no secret that Israel is the world’s leading recipient of US aid since World War II. According to data provided by the US Congressional Research Service, Israel has received $146 billion of US taxpayers’ money as of November 2020.

From 1971 up to 2007, a bulk of these funds proved fundamental in helping Israel establish a strong economic base. Since then, most of the money has been allotted for military purposes, including the security of Israel’s illegal Jewish settlement enterprise.

Despite the US financial crisis of 2008, American money continued to be channelled to Israel, whose economy survived the global recession, largely unscathed.

In 2016, the US promised even more money. The Democratic Barack Obama Administration, which is often – although mistakenly – seen as hostile to Israel, increased US funding to Israel by a significant margin. In a 10-year Memorandum of Understanding, Washington and Tel Aviv reached a deal whereby the US agreed to give Israel $38 billion in military aid covering the financial years 2019-2028. This is a whopping increase of $8 billion compared with the previous 10-year agreement, which concluded at the end of 2018.

The new American funds are divided into two categories: $33 billion in foreign military grants and an additional $5 billion in missile defence.

American generosity has long been attributed to the unmatched influence of pro-Israeli groups, lead among them American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The last four years, however, required little lobbying by these groups, as powerful agents within the administration itself became Israel’s top advocates.

Aside from the seemingly endless ‘political freebies’ that the Donald Trump Administration has given Israel in recent years, it is now considering ways to accelerate the timetable of delivering the remainder of US funds as determined by the last MOU, an amount that currently stands at $26.4 billion. According to official congressional documents, the US “also may approve additional sales of the F-35 to Israel and accelerate the delivery of KC-46A refuelling and transport aircraft to Israel.”

These are not all the funds and perks that Israel receives. Much more goes unreported, as it is channelled either indirectly or simply promoted under the flexible title of ‘cooperation’.

For example, between 1973 and 1991, a massive sum of $460 million of US funds was allocated to resettling Jews in Israel. Many of these new immigrants are now the very Israeli militants that occupy the West Bank illegal settlements. In this particular case, the money is paid to a private charity known as the United Israel Appeal which, in turn, gives the money to the Jewish Agency. The latter has played a central role in the founding of Israel on top of the ruins of Palestinian towns and villages in 1948.

Under the guise of charitable donations, tens of millions of dollars are regularly sent to Israel in the form of “tax-deductible gifts for Jewish settlement in the West Bank and East Jerusalem,” the New York Times reported. Much of the money, falsely promoted as donations for educational and religious purposes, often finds its way to funding and purchasing housing for illegal settlers, “as well as guard dogs, bulletproof vests, rifle scopes and vehicles to secure (illegal Jewish) outposts deep in occupied (Palestinian) areas.

Quite often, US money ends up in the Israeli government’s coffers under deceptive pretences. For example, the latest Stimulus Package includes $50 million to fund the Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Funds, supposedly to provide investments in “people-to-people exchanges and economic cooperation … between Israelis and Palestinians with the goal of supporting a negotiated and sustainable two-state solution.”

Actually, such money serves no particular purpose, since Washington and Tel Aviv endeavour to ensure the demise of a negotiated peace agreement and work hand-in-hand to kill the now defunct two-state solution.

The list is endless, though most of this money is not included in the official US aid packages to Israel, therefore receives little scrutiny, let alone media coverage.

As of February 2019, the US has withheld all funds to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, in addition to cutting aid to the UN Palestinian Refugees agency (UNRWA), the last lifeline of support needed to provide basic education and health services to millions of Palestinian refugees.

Judging by its legacy of continued support of the Israeli military machine and the ongoing colonial expansion in the West Bank, Washington insists on serving as Israel’s main benefactor – if not direct partner – while shunning Palestinians altogether. Expecting the US to play a constructive role in achieving a just peace in Palestine does not only reflect indefensible naivety but willful ignorance as well.

(Source / 29.12.2020)

Gaza is ready to vaccinate Israeli prisoners

By: Youssef Rizqa

Coronavirus is not a sane organism, as it does not differentiate between nationalities, religions, or between free and captive. It affects the Chinese like Americans, and it enters the lungs of an Arab or a foreigner, as well as threatening the lives of Muslims and Jews. Therefore, the World Health Organization advises states and governments to vaccinate their citizens and residents without distinguishing between male and female.

Coronavirus was classified as a pandemic, and it carried this classification because it strikes all countries of the world, and enters all places and quarters, in different ways explained by the World Health Organization.

Read More: Israel is starting to vaccinate, but Palestinians may have to wait months

 It enters the wedding halls as the cells of prisoners and detainees, with the same transmission mechanisms, so we wonder why I distinguished it. The occupation government is between a Jew and a Palestinian prisoner, so it decided to vaccinate the Jews, and to leave the vaccination of Palestinian prisoners!

If the decision is based on the concepts of racial discrimination that permeate the cells of decision-making centers in the Israeli occupation state, then there is no solution to this dilemma with the logic of reason and wisdom because racial and religious racism contradicts the logic of reason and wisdom, and there is no solution to the problem except by the occupation leaders getting rid of their racism and subjecting their measures to the requirements of International law regulating the responsibility of the occupying state for prisoners.

Read More: Ministry of Prisoners: 4,300 prisoners being held in Israeli prisons

If the decision not to vaccinate Palestinian prisoners is due to financial or technical reasons, the problem can be solved through the World Health Organization, or other humanitarian organizations, and if the reason is due to a request for reciprocity, then Hamas is – in all probability – ready to vaccinate Shaul, Hadar, and the others if the vaccine is available. 

In fact, it is more likely that Hamas will vaccinate them even if Tel Aviv insists on not vaccinating Palestinian prisoners, because Hamas adheres to the teachings of Islam, which has arranged for the prisoner to be treated reciprocally with those who are arrested, without discrimination or racial discrimination, and it must adorn them with treatment the good deed of Islam.

Hamas does not endanger the life of the Israeli prisoners because they are a prisoner and not a citizen, even if the captive is a Jew, so Hamas does not fight the Jews, nor does it capture the Jew, but rather it fights the Zionist who occupies the land of Palestine, and the Zionist who imprisons the men of Palestine and takes them as hostages. 

Hamas has the right to denounce the occupation’s decision not to vaccinate prisoners in its prisons, and it is the right of Hamas and the leadership of the Authority to submit a complaint to the international authorities to nullify the discrimination decision and the racist Netanyahu government’s decision.

(Source / 29.12.2020)

Britain should end, not extend, its military cooperation with Israel

Israel has interfered in the British electoral process for years. Israel’s covert activities reached their apex a year ago when Jeremy Corbyn, after a distortion campaign, was prevented from becoming prime minister

By Asa Winstanley

Following the news about signing secret military cooperation with Israel, British people were asked to rise up against their government’s increasing military cooperation with the occupation state of Israel due to its dirty plans and intentions.


Earlier this month, Israeli and British military officials signed a joint agreement to formalise and increase their “defence relationship”. The full terms of the pact are secret, but it seems that it will involve joint training exercises and other forms of military cooperation.

The agreement came only one month after senior Israeli officers met with their French counterparts to discuss similar arrangements. As my colleague at The Electronic Intifada, David Cronin, pointed out, there is more than a century of precedents for such British and French meddling in Palestine.

In 1916, for example, the two imperialist powers signed a secret document known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement. Between them, they divided up swathes of the Arab world into British and French “spheres of influence”.

As a classic imperialist carve-up, Sykes-Picot received the assent of Tsarist Russia. However, when the Bolsheviks came to power in the 1917 Revolution, Lenin and his comrades published and exposed the agreement, which was deeply embarrassing for the British.

Cronin notes that Sykes-Picot “was followed the next year by pledges of support from Paris and London to support Zionist colonisation in Palestine. France was first to do so, although Britain’s pledge – the Balfour Declaration – had greater consequences.”

Britain agreed in 1917 – in Balfour’s infamous letter – to essentially hand Palestine over to the European Zionist movement for its colonisation project. The indigenous Palestinian Arabs were not consulted.

Throughout 1917 and 1918, the British fought a war in Palestine against the Ottoman Empire. This ended with the latter’s defeat and Britain’s military occupation of Palestine.

Today, direct French and British imperialism is no more. We are now in the era of neo-colonialism.

Despite the decline of the British Empire, the UK still has a military presence across the globe. Journalist Phil Miller revealed for Declassified UK recently that Britain has 145 military bases in 42 countries around the world. America’s overwhelming military superiority makes it the sole global empire today, with hundreds of military bases. As key US allies, France and Britain bow down to the global hegemon.

The Middle East remains an important area of the globe in geo-political terms, according to the calculations of imperial planners in Washington, London and Paris. Israel has long sold itself as a useful tool of Euro-American control in the region; a “little loyal Jewish Ulster in a sea of potentially hostile Arabism” in the words of Britain’s first military governor of Palestine. It is a key tactic of imperialist control in the modern era to use such regional clients.

There’s no doubt that – from the perspective or the brutal realpolitik that regrettably holds sway among political and military elites in the West – Israel performs useful services in this regard. This is because the “national interests” of these countries are defined so narrowly that they do not mean the actual interests of the nation as a whole – of the people – but those of private corporations, of capital and of the managerial elites of state power.

A recent example of Israeli services to British elite interests was the announcement a few months ago that British police had tested an Elbit drone off the Welsh coastline. The announcement made it clear that the police intend to use the military drone for surveillance of the British populace. Elbit is Israel’s largest private arms maker. The same Hermes 900 drone that was tested in Wales has also been used to murder Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip indiscriminately for years.

Nevertheless, in my view, such ties are more about Israel forging political rather than military links with its Western allies. After all, there is nothing particularly unique about the Hermes 900 or Elbit’s other products that Britain needs to use them above the products of all other weapons manufacturers in the world.

Moreover, Israel has not been above attacking and spying on its Western “allies”, as in the case of the Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard. A US naval intelligence analyst, Pollard spent almost three decades in a US jail after stealing military secrets and selling them on to Israel.

The Obama administration freed Pollard in 2015. Restrictions preventing him from leaving the US recently came to an end, and reports suggest that he and his wife could move to Israel soon. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Pollard on the phone last month and asked him to move there.

In Britain, Israel has interfered in the British electoral process for years. These covert activities reached their apex a year ago when Jeremy Corbyn – after a five-year sabotage campaign under the mask of “combatting anti-Semitism” – was effectively prevented from winning the General Election and entering 10 Downing Street. As far as the ruling Conservative Party and Britain’s deep state elite were concerned, that was another useful service performed by “the little loyal Jewish Ulster”.

The British people should take note. And then let their government know that it should end, not extend, its military cooperation with Israel.

(Source / 26.12.2020)

Palestine’s resistance.. internationally legitimate but not allowed

By Robert Inlakesh

Palestinians who attack armed occupation forces are not terrorists under international law and in order for the violence to end, we have to learn to understand why armed attacks against Israeli occupation forces occur.

This Monday evening in East Jerusalem, at one of the entrance gates to Masjid al-Aqsa, seventeen year old Mahmoud Kamil attempted to attack armed Israel occupying police forces. The teenager was then fired at with over 15 bullets and killed.

Following the incident, the Israeli media shamefully dubbed the 17 year old from Qabatia, Jenin (West Bank), as a child “terrorist”. This demonstrates the complete lack of empathy shown towards Palestinian children and the complete dismissal of why an ordinary 17 year old would be driven to knowingly put his own life on the line to attack militirized Israeli forces.

The story of Mahmoud Kamil symbolises the pure despair shared amongst many Palestinian teens living under brutal military occupation. In the media, we will undoubtedly hear more reports depicting the scene of a “terrorist” being “neutralised”, as if to say Mahmoud was some sort of killer robot. The Israeli policy of collective punishment, bulldozing the family home of “terrorists”, will also be enacted, as well as the holding of young Mahmoud’s body so that he will not have a legitimate burial. These acts condemned by leading, international and local, Human Rights Organisations such as Amnesty International and B’Tselem rarely end up reported in the Western corporate Press.

Also, another key element to this case which is in need of address, is the right to armed resistance for Palestinians in general. When discussing this issue, it is key to note that the event in Jerusalem is a tragic issue and should be addressed as an individual case, especially as a minor had been involved. As the attack and subsequent execution of young Mahmoud has unfortunately been linked to the question of armed resistance, due to the nature of the scenario, it is a case that should not be lumped in carelessly with legal discourse on armed resistance. This is key to understand, as lumping a minor in with the discourse on liberationist struggle, often prompts the opposition to mount a counter argument as to why the act is in fact terrorism.

A minor is a minor and so we should take great care, understanding the psychological torment which drove this teenager to such a point. The tragedy which occurred in Jerusalem, in which a Palestinian teen felt there was no other option than to attack an enemy, which he knew would take his life, is the result of a seemingly never ending illegal military occupation. That is where the debate should be focused on this case and not surrounding the following issue.

Legal Right To Resist Or Terrorism?

Reality is often flipped on its head during debate on the Palestine-Israel conflict, with the armed occupation forces presented as the innocent party and the occupied people fighting colonisation presented as the blood-thirsty savages. So let’s set the record straight, a Palestinian living under occupation has the legal right to resist the occupying force, this remains the fact irrespective of whether you support or oppose violent resistance.

When we look at the issue of armed resistance broadly, according to ‘Additional Protocol 1’ to the ‘Geneva Conventions’ (1949) all Peoples are entitled, under international humanitarian law, to the right to armed national liberation struggles. The Palestinian people were even mentioned by named in ‘United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 2787’ in 1971:

“[The Resolution] Confirms the legality of the peoples’ struggle for self-determination and liberation from colonial and foreign domination and alien subjugation, notably in southern Africa and in particular that of the peoples of Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola, Mozambique and Guinea (Bissau), as well as of the Palestinian people, by all available means consistent with the Charter of the United Nations.”

It is also clear that according to International Law, tracing back to UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 3314, in 1974, that it was unacceptable for any State to engage in military occupations of foreign territory.

On November 29, 1978, with ‘United Nations General Assembly Resolution A/RES/33/24’, the right to armed struggle was again reaffirmed, as it was stated that the body recognised; “…the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial and foreign domination and foreign occupation by all available means, particularly armed struggle”. This legitimate and defensible right under international law, again confirmed in UNGA resolution 37/43 in 1982, is not in line therefore with any reasonable definition of terrorism.

To deny Palestinians their right to resist a foreign settler-colonialism occupying force, means that you are arguing against International Law. This is not a matter of opinion.

When it comes to attacks committed against Israeli occupying forces inside of East Jerusalem, this legal right to resist using armed struggle, also applies. East Jerusalem has been since 1967 illegally occupied by Israel. Despite Israel having illegally annexed East Jerusalem in 1980, therefore claiming it and applying a different legal system there, the International Community still considers the territory as occupied. Israel is obligated under UN Security Council Resolution 242 to withdraw from all the territories it occupied in the June 1967 war, this includes East Jerusalem.

The daily brutality endured by Palestinians under occupation, is what fuels these sort of attacks and the refusal to confront that fact by Israel, shows that it doesn’t seek to change the reality at all.

Palestinians maintain their legal right to armed resistance and if you disagree with that right, then you are in disagreement with International Law and the majority opinion of the United Nations. This is not advocacy for armed struggle to state this, but instead a categorical fact.

(Source / 25.12.2020)

The international narrative about Gaza, the illegal blockade and Covid-19

By Ramona Wadi

Politicians are portraying Palestine in terms of a state of emergency, while avoiding any public recognition of the fact that colonialism has created permanent instability there that is exacerbated whenever humanitarian needs are amplified.

Israel’s illegal blockade on Gaza is once again the subject of a petition, signed by 24 members of the European Parliament. Calling upon Israel to end the blockade, the petition states, in part, “The Israeli government has to end its siege of Gaza now, and WHO should make sure that Palestinians, whose healthcare system is collapsing, have access to decent healthcare.”

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Read More: Israeli blockade has cost Gaza $16.7 billion: UN

The coronavirus pandemic forms the premise behind this renewed plea to Israel, which will not be heeded. Indeed, as long as the Palestinian people’s humanitarian needs are highlighted only in terms of temporary, albeit lengthy, exceptions, such as during the Covid-19 pandemic, politicians are merely accepting that such deprivation stems from the normalised colonial occupation, from which the violations originate.

Two weeks ago, Gaza ran out of coronavirus testing kits which cannot be supplied by the Palestinian Authority, as it has a shortage as well. The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) warned of the “collapse” of Gaza’s healthcare system if the virus spreads further in the densely-populated area.

Read More: 24 MEPs call for ending Gaza’s siege, allowing COVID-19 medications in

Haaretz recently ran an article discussing how the pandemic has prompted Hamas leaders to negotiate with Israel. Even before Covid-19, and prior to the US withdrawal of financial aid for the Palestinian people, Hamas relied heavily on external aid to provide basic necessities within the enclave. For Israel, Gaza’s complete isolation is a bargaining platform, and one that it will use to grant the fewest possible concessions — if any at all —that have nothing to do with a political framework. No matter how much the term “negotiations” is thrown about, Israel intends to cripple Gaza permanently, and any concession that Hamas negotiates will come at a high price, even in terms of humanitarian assistance.

As well-intentioned as such pleas might be, there is no negating the fact that the situation in Palestine is not disseminated accurately, and the international community is to be blamed for this. The most prominent of the inaccuracies was that Gaza would be unliveable by 2020. How many times has Gaza been on the brink of collapse, according to international rhetoric, only for the phrase to be shelved temporarily while humanitarian aid makes its way back into the spotlight to portray Palestinians as thriving under difficult circumstances?

Lifting the blockade should be tied to the Palestinian people’s political and human rights, not Covid-19. The international community has forced a situation upon Palestinians where their rights are not recognised, even at crucial junctures such as this. Lifting the blockade because of the pandemic is not an unequivocal assertion highlighting the forced deprivation orchestrated by the Israeli government. When the pandemic is over, Gaza’s restrictions will once again be subject to two-state diplomacy, relegated to being a topic which the international community knows it will only raise occasionally to save face when it comes to human rights rhetoric. For the UN, the EU and their institutions, Gaza is an important commodity in terms of extending the two-state rhetoric and so it must be left to battle the political consequences of the blockade on its own.

(Source / 25.12.2020)