Palestine/Israel: Archive 1

Last Updated September 7, 2015

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Washington post

Israel arrests Arab journalist over Lebanon visit

April 17, 2014

JERUSALEM — Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence service said on Thursday that it has detained a young Israeli Arab journalist for traveling to Lebanon, which Israel considers an enemy country. Majd Kayyal, a 23-year-old journalist for the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir, traveled to Beirut last month for a conference. Although Lebanon bars Israeli citizens from entering, the Shin Bet said Palestinian officials in the West Bank gave Kayyal Palestinian travel documents that allowed him to enter Lebanon. Kayyal was arrested last Saturday at the Israeli border on suspicion of being recruited by a militant organization. The Shin Bet said it dropped that suspicion, and is considering indicting him for traveling to Lebanon. Kayyal was held for five days before being allowed access to a lawyer. The Shin Bet said this is permitted in security cases.

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SOURCE = The Washington Post

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International Business Times

Bill Gates Criticised for Investment in G4S’ Israel Torture Prisons

April 17, 2014

Bill Gates’ philanthropic body, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has been accused of complicity in the torture of Palestinian prisoners through its investment in British security company G4S. G4S provides security services and equipment at Israeli prisons where allegations of child torture, forced confessions, overcrowding and medical neglect have been raised. The foundation, the largest in the world, last year purchased £110m ($172m) worth of shares in G4S, something that human rights charities, such as Addameer Prisoner Support, claim contradicted the foundation’s belief that “every life has equal value”.

A petition from the Addameer charity claims that “the Gates Foundation is legitimising and profiting from Israel’s use of torture, mass incarceration and arbitrary arrest to discourage Palestinians from opposing Israel’s apartheid policies”. The calls come as people around the world participate in protests against Israeli prisons and G4S’ role on Palestine Prisoner’s Day (17 April). More than 5,000 Palestinians, including 183 children, were in detention in Israeli prisons.

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SOURCE = International Business Times

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Morning Star

Israel hit Palestine with vicious sanctions late on Thursday in retaliation for the nation’s leadership signing international conventions. An Israeli official said it would take debt payments out of Palestinian tax money collected by Israel and limit access to Palestinian deposits in Israeli banks. The anonymous official didn’t put a figure on the sanction, but Israel collects about £59.5 million in tax on goods headed to Palestine — accounting for about two-thirds of the Palestinian budget. Israel is also pulling out of a gas project off the coast of Gaza. But senior Palestinian official Yasser Abed Rabbo said Palestine would not cave in to illegal bullying.
“These sanctions will not scare us. They’re evidence to the world that Israel is a racist occupation state that has resorted to the weapon of collective punishment, including settlements and their expansion and the denial of our most basic rights as a people,” he said. UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon accepted Palestinian applications on Thursday to join UN conventions. And Switzerland said Palestine could sign up to the Geneva Conventions — the international rules of war which cover occupations. Israel argues the conventions, which forbid colonisation of occupied land, shouldn’t apply to Palestine because it is not universally accepted as a state in its own right.  The UN general assembly voted 138-9 in 2012 to give Palestine non-member observer state status. Only Israel, the US, Canada, the Czech Republic, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Panama and Palau voted against.

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SOURCE = Morning Star

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Washington post

Israel irked by diplomat’s tacit Nazi remark

April 14, 2014

UNITED NATIONS — Israel’s U.N. ambassador on Monday denounced a U.N. agency head for tacitly comparing the Jewish state to Nazi Germany and has demanded her suspension. Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor castigated Rima Khalaf, the head of the Arab-oriented Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, and called on the Secretary-General to suspend her. In a speech in late February, Khalaf referred to “Israel’s adamancy that it is a Jewish State, which violates the rights of both the Muslim and Christian indigenous populations and revives the concept of state ethnic and religious purity, which caused egregious human suffering during the 20th century.”

U.N. diplomats generally refer to massive “human suffering during the 20th century” as a way of referring to the Holocaust without having to name Hitler in every speech, or gratuitously slur Germany, a major U.N. member state, every time the issue comes up. Khalaf, who is Jordanian, ‘did not name Nazi Germany or make a specific comparison. The Holocaust would be one obvious inference from her speech, though there were many ethnic and religious purges, massacres and wars in the 20th century. She clearly had issues with Israel, as she also said in her Feb. 25 speech in Tunis, “Foreign interference comes in various forms, such as violations of Arab rights and dignity, but its worst manifestation is the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the Syrian Golan Heights and Lebanese territories, in flagrant breach of international conventions and resolutions.”

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SOURCE = The Washington Post

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The Independent

Israel stakes claim on West Bank land for settlements

April 13, 2014

In their latest redrawing of the map of the West Bank at the expense of Palestinians, Israeli occupation authorities have declared about 250 acres of territory south of Bethlehem to be land belonging to the state, paving the way for it to be used to expand three Israeli settlements. The step, approved by the hard-line defence minister Moshe Ya’alon, comes at a particularly sensitive time in Israeli-Palestinian relations, with the peace process on the brink of expiry after Israel failed to fulfil a commitment to release a group of Palestinian prisoners on 29 March, and the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas subsequently applied for membership in 15 international treaties and conventions. It is the largest declaration of state lands in the West Bank since 2004, and draws on 19th-century Ottoman Turkish law to take over Palestinian land found to have been uncultivated for a decade. Palestinians, who are given 45 days to appeal, view the measure as tantamount to expropriation, with many of them saying that Israeli strictures on their movement make cultivation of the land impossible.

An Israeli official sought to play down the significance of the move, saying: “This is a process… that has been going on for years. It is not new.” He added that what Mr Ya’alon had approved was a “declaration of intention to turn the land into state land if there aren’t objections”. However, the declaration itself, obtained by The Independent, says the land in question “is government property”. Signs in Hebrew and Arabic have been posted on the land saying: “Government Property. No Trespassing”. Three Palestinian villages will lose land – Beit Omar, Naalin and al-Khader – and it’s thought that the territory will be used to expand Neve Daniel, Elazar and Alon Shvut settlements, and by residents of the Netiv Ha’avot settler outpost. “This is a big chunk of land that once allocated to settlers will give them big room for expansion,” said Dror Etkes, head of Kerem Navot, a dovish organisation specialising in West Bank land issues. Noting that the order was signed on 6 April at the height of the crisis in the peace talks, Mr Etkes said it was aimed “to make the whole thing collapse”.

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SOURCE = The Independent

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Reuters

Israel appropriates land in West Bank: newspaper

April 13, 2014

(Reuters) – Israel has carried out a new land appropriation in the occupied West Bank, the Haaretz daily said on Sunday, in a move that could complicate efforts to extend troubled peace talks with the Palestinians. Haaretz said the Defence Ministry declared nearly 250 acres (100 hectares) of territory in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc just south of Jerusalem “state land”. Asked by Reuters about the report, the ministry declined to comment but said it might have something to say in the coming days. The land appropriation, the left-leaning newspaper said, was the largest in years and could eventually lead to the expansion of several settlements and authorisation of a settler outpost built without Israeli government permission in 2001.

The measure, which falls short of annexing the land to Israel, is based on an Israeli interpretation of an Ottoman-era law that allowed the confiscation of tracts that had not been planted or cultivated for several years in a row. Haaretz said the heads of nearby Palestinian villages that claimed the land as theirs were informed of the move last week and have 45 days to appeal. It was not immediately clear whether the reported appropriation was part of sanctions that Israel has begun to impose in response to the April 1 signing by Palestinians of 15 international conventions and agreements during the current crisis in U.S.-brokered peace negotiations.

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SOURCE = Reuters

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LBC

Israel Imposes Sanctions On Palestinians

April 11, 2014

The Chief Palestinian negotiator has accused Israel of ‘theft’ after it imposed sanctions that will see millions of dollars withheld from the Palestinian Authority. Israel has frozen the transfer of tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in retaliation for President Mahmoud Abbas signing UN human rights conventions last week. Israel claims the unilateral approach to the UN agencies contravened an agreement undertaken by the Palestinian leadership ahead of the start of the current US-backed peace negotiations. An anonymous Israeli official told the Reuters news agency the sanctions would also limit access to bank deposits the PA holds in Israel.

Israel routinely collects taxes on behalf of the PA to the value of around $100m (£59.6m) per month. Palestinian chief negotiator Dr Saeb Erekat criticised the action as an “Israeli hijacking and the theft of the Palestinian people’s money”. President Abbas has defended his approach to UN agencies, saying it was his only option following Israel’s decision to block the release of a number of Palestinian prisoners – a commitment made when negotiations resumed last year.

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SOURCE = LBC News

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Israel’s seizure of EU-funded aid projects prompts compensation calls

April 12, 2014

Israel has seized three EU-funded humanitarian aid projects on the edge of a settlement construction zone that Europe views as a “red line”, spurring demands for compensation payments to Brussels at a crisis moment for John Kerry’s attempts to broker a Middle East peace deal. The three humanitarian aid shelters were dismantled on 8 April in Ras-a-Baba, also known as Jabal-al-Baba, which lies in the E1 corridor of the West Bank, linking the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim to Jerusalem. All three shelters were prefabricated caravans, built for families made homeless in severe storms that hit the region in December. They were funded by the EU’s humanitarian aid wing, DG Echo, and some were provided by the French development agency, Action contre la Faim. Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, told EurActiv that seizure was “more than a provocation, it is a crime”, and linked it to the deteriorating peace process.

“We ask the EU to apply their laws in relation to Israel,” he said. “This is consistent with the Israeli policy of forced displacement of the Palestinian population around occupied East Jerusalem.” EU officials contacted by EurActiv confirmed that they also saw the Israeli action as a “forced displacement of Palestinians” that breached international law and “must be halted immediately”. “While we acknowledge that these events come at a politically sensitive time, where parties to the conflict are currently negotiating a peace deal brokered by the US [secretary of state] John Kerry, we must nevertheless denounce the humanitarian consequences of such actions and try to prevent further demolitions from occurring by unreservedly condemning them,” a senior source said. Internal discussions are under way over proposals to demand compensation for such actions in future.

The dismantling of Palestinian homes in the E1 region has previously been followed by settlement construction. “The location is definitely an attractive area and when you go there it is easy to understand why it is coveted by the Israelis,” a European diplomat in the region told EurActiv. “It is quite beautiful and there’s a nice view of Jerusalem. It is also between Ma’ale Adumim and Jerusalem and is prime real estate.” In November 2012, the Netanyahu government announced a zoning plan to build 3,000 Jewish housing units in E1 that would create an urban bloc linking Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim, and disrupt the territorial coherence of any future state. An EU foreign affairs council in December 2012 expressed “deep dismay and strong opposition” to the plan, which would “seriously undermine the prospects of a negotiated resolution of the conflict” and “could also entail forced transfer of civilian population”.

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SOURCE = The Guardian

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International Business Times

Israel Bans Gaza Olympian from Running West Bank Marathon

April 8, 2014

An Israeli court has ruled against a Palestinian runner’s application to leave the Gaza Strip and run in a West Bank marathon. Olympic runner Nader al-Masri, who participated in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, wanted approval to run in a marathon in the West Bank town of Bethlehem but the request was rejected by Israeli defence minister Moshe Yaalon. The appeal court upheld the original decision. “The ban no doubt limits my ability to challenge other champions from elsewhere,” Masri told ABC News.

Masri, who trains daily in the streets of Gaza, had high hopes that he would be granted approval to leave the Gaza Strip to compete in the West Bank but he fell foul of Israel’s tough permission criteria, which were drawn up in line with the 2011 guidelines published by the Israeli military. Israeli defence official Maj Guy Inbar said that Masri’s request for entry to the West Bank was rejected because it “does not meet the rules for exceptions for sports events” and that the event itself had “political overtones”.  The majority of the enclave’s population, ruled by Hamas, which is classified by many Western governments as a terrorist organisation, are prohibited from travelling abroad.

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SOURCE = International Business Times

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RT

Over 1,500 Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces since 2000 – PA minister

April 6, 2014

More than 1,500 Palestinian children have died at the hands of Israeli forces since 2000, the Palestinian Authority’s minister of social affairs, Kamal Sharafi, said Saturday, on Palestinian Children’s Day. In addition to the 1,520 children that have been killed, another 6,000 have been injured and more than 10,000 arrested, Palestinian news agency Ma’an quoted Sharafi as saying. Two-hundred children are still in detention in Israeli prisons. “Protecting and supporting children should be a national responsibility,” Sharafi said, urging the Palestinian Authority to approve a law for the protection of minors. The international community has criticized Israel for the mistreatment of Palestinian minors. In March 2013, a United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) report concluded that Palestinian children detained by the Israeli military in the West Bank are “systematically” ill-treated, which is a violation of international law.

Each year, some 700 Palestinian children aged 12 to 17 – mainly boys – are arrested, interrogated, and detained by Israel’s army, police, and security agents, UNICEF said in the 22-page document. According to the report, the ill-treatment often begins at the point of arrest, when children are woken by heavily-armed soldiers and forcibly brought to an interrogation center “tied and blindfolded, sleep-deprived and in a state of extreme fear.” In June 2013, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) issued a report stating that thousands of Palestinian children were systematically injured, tortured, and used as human shields by Israel. During the 10-year period examined by UN human rights experts, up to 7,000 children aged 9 to 17 were arrested, interrogated and kept captive, CRC said in the report.

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SOURCE = Russia Today

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Washington post

Israel, Palestinians show desire to continue talks

April 6, 2014

JERUSALEM — Israel and the Palestinians angrily accused each other Sunday of undermining U.S.-led peace efforts in the region, but nonetheless signaled their readiness to find a way to revive the faltering talks. U.S. efforts to extend the talks past a late April deadline were thrown into disarray last week as Israel failed to carry out a planned prisoner release and the Palestinians responded by reviving a campaign for international recognition of the “state of Palestine.” Still, both sides indicated they were prepared to continue with the negotiations. Israeli and Palestinian negotiators were expected to meet Sunday with U.S. mediator Martin Indyk in a bid to get the talks back on track.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his weekly Cabinet meeting that “we are ready to continue talks,” while condemning the Palestinian moves. He said a Palestinian state only would come about through negotiations. “Unilateral steps on their part will be met with unilateral steps on our part,” Netanyahu said. “We are ready to continue the talks but not at any price.”

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SOURCE = The Washington Post

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Israel may take ‘unilateral action’ over Palestinians’ UN move, says PM

April 6, 2014

The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has said Israel may take “unilateral action” against the Palestinians after the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, signed 15 international conventions that could pave the way for a renewed attempt to gain United Nations statehood. Speaking at his weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said: “Unilateral actions from the Palestinians will be answered with unilateral actions from our side”. He blamed the Palestinians for the current impasse over the US-sponsored peace talks. He said Israel was not afraid of UN intervention and that the Palestinians had “a lot to lose” if they were to pursue their attempt to gain UN statehood, which was shelved last year as a concession to the Israelis, who released 104 Palestinian prisoners in return.

His comments come before a crucial Knesset debate on Monday, called by 25 members of the Israeli parliament, to discuss the progress – or lack of it – of the peace initiative sponsored by the US secretary of state, John Kerry, and the government’s failure to secure the release of the Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard. There is no clear indication yet of what form Israeli unilateral action could take, but the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported that it could include the withholding of taxes collected by Israel from the Palestinian Authority (PA). Israel last did so in 2012, sparking unrest in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

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SOURCE = The Guardian

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Middle East Online

After two stunning slaps in face, Kerry cancels plans to visit Ramallah

April 2, 2014

US Secretary of State John Kerry was scrambling Wednesday to save his faltering Middle East peace efforts, after both Israel and Palestinians delivered him a stunning slap in the face. The top US diplomat, who has made the quest for a long-elusive peace treaty his personal holy grail, was blindsided late Tuesday as minutes before a press conference at the NATO headquarters, both sides went rogue. The Palestinians, infuriated by Israel’s refusal to release some 26 Palestinian prisoners by a weekend deadline, announced out of the blue that they were planning to take their claim for statehood to 15 agencies. And Israel, having already broken the terms of a July deal to return to the negotiating table, unveiled tenders for 700 more homes in east Jerusalem.

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SOURCE = Middle East Online

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logoTimeSpecials

Watchdog: Israel Moving Forward with East Jerusalem Construction

April 3, 2014

Israel is set to build more than 700 homes in a Jewish area of east Jerusalem, a watchdog group said Wednesday, potentially complicating peace talks with Palestinians leaders that are already on life support. The group Peace Now said Israel renwed a call for contractor bids in the area of Gilo, the Associated Press reports. A spokesman for Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel said the timing was unrelated to the ongoing talks with the Palestinians. But the negotiations are currently at an extremely sensitive point, with the latest settlement news prompting fears the talks will veer off course. The report also came after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced on Tuesday that he would pursue a campaign for greater recognition of a Palestinian state, despite earlier promises that he would not do so. Hagit Ofran, a Peace Now spokeswoman, said the Israeli government’s move was designed to “make problems” in the negotiations.

SOURCE = Time

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International Business Times

Israel Bulldozers Flatten Palestinian Mosque and Medical Centre in East Jerusalem

March 30, 2014

Israeli bulldozers have destroyed a Palestinian-owned East Jerusalem complex that housed a mosque, apartments and a medical centre. Abu Ghaliya, the owner of the compound, said that the building was demolished “without prior notice” from Israeli authorities.  Witnesses told Maan News Agency that Israeli police and special forces stormed Khallat al-Ein square in the al-Tur neighbourhood east of Jerusalem’s Old City to prepare the building for demolition. The officers evacuated the building and turned off the gas and water before the bulldozers were sent in. The reason for the demolition is thought to be that Ghaliya did not have the required construction permit, though Ghaliya claims that he has been trying for 18 years to acquire a permit from the Jerusalem municipality.

The Mayor of Jerusalem “approved construction in the area…[but]…the Israeli ministry of interior opposed construction,” he said. Last month, a group of aid organisations expressed alarm at the rise in Israeli demolitions of Palestinian property. In a statement, 25 aid organisations revealed that Israeli demolitions had increased year on year by almost 50% in the second half of 2013. 112 of the 663 Palestinian properties demolished in 2013 were built using money from international aid.

SOURCE = International Business Times

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ABC News

Israel Allows Turkey to Import Goods to Gaza

March 27, 2014

Israel says it is allowing building materials into the Gaza Strip for the construction of a Turkish hospital in the crowded seaside strip. Thursday’s announcement is a new sign that Israel and Turkey could be close to ending a four-year rift. Relations broke down in 2010 after an Israeli naval raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla killed nine Turkish citizens. Reconciliation efforts have repeatedly stalled, but this week Turkey’s deputy prime minister said an agreement may be near. Israel has maintained a blockade of Gaza since Hamas militants took power in 2007. Turkey began construction of the Gaza hospital in 2011, smuggling in materials from Egypt. With the tunnels closed, Israel said Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon had agreed to ease the blockade to allow Turkey to ship in materials from Israel.

Copyright © 2014: Associated Press

The Independent

Israel delays release of Palestinian prisoners

March 27, 2014

The Middle East peace process appeared to be slipping into an even more critical condition, after Israel delayed its fourth and final tranche of agreed prisoner releases that have been long-awaited by the Palestinians. Just hours after a crucial meeting between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas raised hopes that all was not yet lost, Israel announced that the release, which was supposed to take place tomorrow, would be postponed. “There will be no release on Saturday,” Israeli Prison Authority spokeswoman Sivan Weizman said. Asked when it would take place, officials reiterated Israel’s demand that the Palestinians first pledge themselves to extending the deadline for agreeing on peace talks, which is due to expire at the end of April.

In advance of the preliminary negotiations, Israel last summer committed itself to freeing 104 long-serving prisoners. It has so far freed 78 in three previous batches. The Palestinians, meanwhile are setting their own conditions for extending the troubled negotiations, and for agreeing to refrain from taking their grievances against continued occupation to the UN. These terms are, according to a Palestinian official, a freeze on Israeli settlement building in the West Bank and a release from Israeli prison of a group of prisoners including Marwan Barghouti, the popular leader of the second intifada uprising who is serving life sentences after being convicted of the murder of Israelis and a Greek Orthodox monk.

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SOURCE = The Independent

news Yahoo

Israel at fault over West Bank teen’s death: NGO

March 26, 2014

Israeli troops who shot dead a Palestinian teenager in the West Bank last week used live fire, without warning, against innocent youngsters out foraging for roots, an Israeli rights group said Wednesday. After investigating the March 19 death of 15-year-old Yussef Sami Shawamreh, B’Tselem said it had found no evidence to support the army’s version of events that troops had opened fire at youths who had “sabotaged” the West Bank security barrier. But an army spokesman insisted troops had fired warning shots, adding that recent violence along the border with the Gaza Strip and on the Syrian frontier meant that anyone approaching the barrier was a cause for concern.

B’Tselem said the primary responsibility for the boy’s death rested with the commanders who approved the use of live fire at a site where villagers from Deir al-Asal al-Tahta are known to go out and pick wild plants on their own land. The army told AFP after the incident that soldiers had spotted three Palestinians vandalising the barrier, saying they had verbally warned them and then fired warning shots in the air before finally shooting at their lower extremities.

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SOURCE = Yahoo News 

Copyright © 2014: Agence France-Presse

International Business Times

Arab League Rejects Israel as Jewish State at Kuwait Summit

March 26, 2014

The Arab League denounced Syrian government “massacres” and declared that it would never recognise Israel as a Jewish state, at the group’s two-day summit in Kuwait this week. The group blamed Israel for the lack of significant progress in the Middle East peace process. “We hold Israel entirely responsible for the lack of progress in the peace process and continuing tension in the Middle East,” the Arab League’s communique said. “We express our absolute and decisive rejection to recognising Israel as a Jewish state.”

Arab leaders rejected “the continuation of settlements, Judaisation of Jerusalem and attacks in its Muslim and Christian shrines and changing its demographics and geography.” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the summit, declaring that Israel was working to perpetuate the occupation instead of finding a peaceful solution. “It is carrying out demolitions (of Palestinian homes), arrests, siege and strangling the Palestinian economy as a prelude to imposing a final settlement to the Palestinian issue that conforms with Israeli conditions and requirements,” Abbas said.

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SOURCE = International Business Times

news Yahoo

‘Israel to compensate Turkey’ over flotilla raid

March 25, 2014

A long-awaited compensation deal for Turkish victims of a deadly Israeli raid on a Gaza aid flotilla four years ago will soon be signed, Ankara said on Tuesday. The May 2010 Israeli assault on the Turkish ship the Mavi Marmara while it was in international waters on its way to Gaza triggered a severe diplomatic crisis between the two countries. “We have received a final agreement document from Israel,” Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc was quoted as saying by Hurriyet newspaper’s website. He said that after next Sunday’s local elections, “our first job will be making sure the compensation is bound by a legal document”.

Talks on compensation over the nine Turks killed in the raid began in March 2013 after Israel extended a formal apology to Turkey in a breakthrough brokered by US President Barack Obama. The amount of compensation to be paid was believed to be among the sticking points. In February, Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported that Israel had offered $20 million in compensation to the families of those killed and wounded in the flotilla raid. The local elections Sunday are seen as a test of the popularity of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been battling a damaging corruption scandal engulfing his inner circle since mid-December.

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SOURCE = Yahoo News 

Copyright © 2014: Agence France-Presse

Middle East Online

Israel kills three Palestinians in West Bank raid

March 22, 2014

Three Palestinians were killed in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank early on Saturday after Israeli soldiers launched an operation to arrest a militant, Palestinian officials said. Medical and security sources said that two of those killed were militants and the third was a civilian. They said 14 Palestinians were also wounded, with two in critical condition. The Palestinian sources said Israeli soldiers entered the camp in the northern West Bank city to arrest Hamza Abu Alheja, 20, a member of the military wing of Hamas, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades. Fire was exchanged, and “other gunmen gathered around the house” to help Abu Alheja, including Mohammad Abu Zena, 19, an Islamic Jihad militant who was killed along with Abu Alheja, the medical and security sources said.

A civilian named as Yazan Jabarin was also killed, the Palestinians said, and announced a day of mourning and a strike in Jenin. Israeli army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner called Abu Alheja “a ticking bomb” who was “directed by Hamas in Gaza”. “He had been previously involved in a terrorist attack in the region, and was in the advanced stages of the preparation of further attacks against IDF (Israeli military) personnel and Israelis,” Lerner told reporters. He said security forces shot Abu Alheja only after he shot and lightly wounded two Israelis while trying to escape from the building in which he had holed up.

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SOURCE = Middle East Online

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RT

‘Colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing’: UN rapporteur on Palestine blasts Israel

March 22, 2014

The UN Special Rapporteur on occupied Palestine accused Israeli authorities of conducting colonialist policies that constitute forms of apartheid and ethnic cleansing in the occupied territories in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Speaking at a news conference at the UN European headquarters in Geneva on Friday, the UN Special Rapporteur on occupied Palestine, Richard Falk, accused Israel of pushing Palestinians out of East Jerusalem and creating unbearable conditions for the minority to force them to immigrate. Falk, an ethnic Jewish expert in international law and professor emeritus at Princeton University, told journalists that Israeli policies have “unacceptable characteristics of colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing.”

In the present situation where talks between Israel and Palestinian authority remain in deadlock, the acceleration of Israeli settlement construction in the occupied territories is causing Palestinians to lose their faith that a state of their own could ever be created. “Every increment of enlarging the settlements, or every incident of house demolition is a way of worsening the situation confronting the Palestinian people and reducing what prospects they might have as the outcome of supposed peace negotiations,” the UN Special Rapporteur said.

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SOURCE = Russia Today

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Netanyahu orders IDF to prepare for possible strike on Iran during 2014

March 19, 2014

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon have ordered the army to continue preparing for a possible military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities at a cost of at least 10 billion shekels ($2.89 billion) this year, despite the talks between Iran and the West, according to recent statements by senior military officers. Three Knesset members who were present at Knesset joint committee hearings on Israel Defense Forces plans that were held in January and February say they learned during the hearings that 10 billion shekels to 12 billion shekels of the defense budget would be allocated this year for preparations for a strike on Iran, approximately the same amount that was allocated in 2013.

Some MKs asked the army’s deputy chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, and planning directorate official Brig. Gen. Agai Yehezkel whether they felt there was justification for investing so much money in those preparations, said the MKs present at the meetings, who asked that their names be withheld because of the sensitivity of the issue. They said some lawmakers also asked whether the interim agreement reached between Iran and the six powers in November 2013, and the ongoing negotiations for a full nuclear accord, had caused any change in the IDF’s preparations. The IDF representatives said the army had received a clear directive from government officials from the political echelon – meaning Netanyahu and Ya’alon – to continue readying for a possible independent strike by Israel on the Iranian nuclear sites, regardless of the talks now happening between Iran and the West, the three MKs said.

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SOURCE =Haaretz

The American Interest

Israel Prepares for Potential Iran Strike Despite Nuclear Talks

March 19, 2014

Yesterday, during a speech at Tel Aviv University, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon came out in support of potential unilateral military action against Iran. Reversing his previous opposition to the prospect, he said, “On this matter, we have to behave as though we have nobody to look out for us but ourselves.” The Israeli government is now putting money behind the principle: The IDF has been allocated $2.89 billion for the preparation of a unilateral attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. Haaretz reports:

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SOURCE = The American Interest

Al Arabiya News

Israel troops ‘kill Palestinian teen’ in West Bank

March 19, 2014

Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian teenager in the southern West Bank on Wednesday, a Palestinian security source told AFP. “Yussef Sami Shawamreh, 15, was killed by the Israeli army near the separation barrier, close to Al-Ramadin village,” the source said, indicating that the body was still with the army. He had no further details, and there was no immediate comment from the military, which said it was looking into the report. Al-Ramadin is located on the south-western edge of the West Bank, very close to Israel’s vast separation barrier.

SOURCE = Al Arabiya News

Reuters

Israel approves 184 new settlement homes

March 19, 2014

“It is has become evident that Israel has done everything possible to destroy the ongoing negotiations and to provoke violence and extremism throughout the region,” Ashrawi said in a statement.

(Reuters) – Israel’s Jerusalem municipality approved building plans on Wednesday for 184 new homes in two Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, drawing anger from Palestinians engaged in faltering statehood talks. A municipality spokeswoman said the local planning committee had approved requests by private contractors who purchased the land years ago for the construction of 144 homes in Har Homa and 40 dwellings in Pisgat Zeev. Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), accused Israel of trying to derail U.S.-sponsored peace talks in which the future of settlements on land that Palestinians want for a state is a major issue.

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SOURCE = Reuters

EI

Israel serves eviction orders to Palestinians in world heritage city

March 19, 2014

Alaa Moussa remembers a time when Akka’s old city looked much different. Over the last decade, he has watched his hometown’s fabric change significantly: new restaurants, bars, hotels and youth hostels are now wedged between the historic stone buildings, homes and cultural landmarks. Situated on the northern coast of the Mediterranean Sea in present-day Israel, Akka (known as Acre in English and Akko in Hebrew) “is different now,” Moussa, the 30-year-old owner of El-Mursa, a popular Palestinian seafood restaurant, told The Electronic Intifada. “From the alleys of the old city to the coastal line, everything is changing. There is no comparison to when I was young. Even the history is being changed.” Much of the city’s architecture dates back to the era when historic Palestine was under control of the Ottoman Empire.

The old city is also home to several mosques, khans (ancient inns), Turkish baths and a citadel, most of which are built atop structures that testify to Akka’s past as a crusader town. These cultural treasures led the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to designate the old city as a “world heritage site” in 2001. Yet local Palestinian residents accuse Israel of aiming to push them out of the old city so that it can be Judaized. State-owned housing management companies are dishing out eviction orders as Israeli and foreign development companies buy up blocks of homes and undertake development projects across the city.

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SOURCE = EI

MEM

Palestinians ordered to pay Israel to demolish their own homes

March 18, 2014

An Israeli court has not only ruled that a number of Palestinian homes in Haifa have to be demolished but also that the home owners must pay 20,000 shekels (just under $6,000) to the authorities to cover the costs. The buildings belong to Palestinian citizens of Israel who refused to be ethnically cleansed from their land when the state was created in 1948. Most of the owners belong to the long-suffering Hamid family, which has 65 members. The Israeli authorities want to displace the family and replace them with Jewish settlers.

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SOURCE = Middle East Monitor

RT

Israel airstrike on Golan Heights leaves 1 dead, 7 wounded – Syrian army

March 19, 2014

Retaliatory air strikes carried out by Israel against Syrian army positions killed one person and injured seven, according to Syria’s armed forces said. The strike came just hours after four IDF soldiers were wounded by a bomb attack in the Golan Heights. A Syrian armed forces statement said the strikes targeted three sites near the ruined city of Quneitra in southwestern Syria, including an army training facility, a military headquarters and artillery batteries. Damascus warned the strikes could further destabilize the already strife-torn region. The statement also warns Israel against escalating the situation by repeating such “hostile acts.” It says they “endanger the security and stability of the region.”

Israeli Military sources confirmed that the Israeli Air Force had carried out four strikes at around 3:00 am local time, AFP reports. “The [IOF] targeted several Syrian army positions which aided and abetted the attack against [IOF] personnel yesterday,” a military statement said, with a spokeswoman confirming the bombing raids included targets on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights plateau. The air raids took place 12 hours after four Israeli soldiers were wounded by a roadside bomb – one of them seriously – while patrolling along the ceasefire line in the occupied Golan. It was the third such incident in a fortnight along Israel’s northern frontier. Israeli brass has regularly blamed the Syrian military for being complicit in such attacks. On top of the airstrikes, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon warned Syrian President Bashar Assad that if he persisted in a course of action that caused harm to Israel, he would “regret his actions.”

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SOURCE = Russia Today

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Before Abbas recognizes the Jewish state, Israel must define it

March 19, 2014

I have a suggestion for Mahmoud Abbas. The next time Benjamin Netanyahu demands that you recognize Israel as a “Jewish state,” tell him that you’ll agree on one condition. The Israeli cabinet must first agree on what “Jewish state” means. That should get you off the hook for a good long while.

SOURCE = Haaretz

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MEM

Israeli official: Israel may release Palestinian prisoners to help peace talks

March 18, 2014

Israel would consider releasing a fourth group of Palestinian prisoners to press the Palestinian Authority if the settlement negotiations come to a standstill; Israel’s public radio Kol Israel Reshet Bet reported a senior official saying. The official said: “If the settlement talks with the Palestinians came to a standstill; Israel will reconsider liberating more Palestinian prisoners. The interest of all parties requires extending the negotiations for another year; even without the American framework agreement drafted by US Secretary of State John Kerry.” However he pointed out that “the issue of recognising Israel as a Jewish state is essential. If the US-drafted agreement includes establishing the future Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with land swaps, why not include a clause on recognising Israel’s Jewishness?” Meanwhile, a US source said that Kerry did not give Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas a formal framework document, pointing out that Kerry and his team will continue contacting all relevant parties in the coming days to develop a framework agreement which allows the continuation of the settlement process.

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SOURCE = Middle East Monitor

news Yahoo

Jordan condemns Israel ‘escalation’ in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa

March 17, 2014

Jordan Monday condemned what it called Israeli “escalation” in the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, after a far-right Israeli minister visited the plaza, warning it could cause further violence at the site. Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel, deputy leader of the hardline national religious Jewish Home party, briefly visited the plaza in Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday. After the visit, clashes broke out between stone-throwing Palestinian youths and Israeli police at the site, police spokeswoman Luba Samri told AFP. “Jordan rejects Israeli escalation in Al-Aqsa as well as measures that allow radicals to violate Al-Aqsa under protection of police and occupation forces,” Minister of Information Mohammad Momani said in a statement carried by state-run Petra news agency on Monday. “These actions will lead to more violence and religious extremism in the region. Jordan warns Israel not to try to impose anything new related to Al-Aqsa.”

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SOURCE = Yahoo News

MEM

Undercover Israeli agents dress and speak like Arabs

March 17, 2014

Israeli occupation forces use undercover agents to collect intelligence about Palestinians ahead of carrying out arrest campaigns and military operations or to secretly hunt Palestinian citizens throughout their places of residence. Information about these forces is still secret, but leaks by former servants to mass media disclosed some information about them and about the techniques of their work. There are several undercover units; each Israeli security service has one of these units. As these force wear and speak like Arabs, ahead of any Israeli operation, these forces mix with Arabs and take part in the operations. They give information, track individuals, kidnap or assassinate people. During their training, they learn how to master the different accents of Arabic cities, villages and Bedouins and study the traditions of the different tribes.

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SOURCE = Middle East Monitor

telegraph

Israel’s defence minister: ‘there’ll be no peace agreement in my lifetime’

March 16, 2014

A senior Israeli minister has predicted there will be no peace agreement with the Palestinians in his lifetime as Mahmoud Abbas flies to Washington to meet Barack Obama. Moshe Ya’alon, the hardline Israeli defence minister, said Mr Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president was not “a partner for a permanent agreement” in a wide-ranging television interview. He challenged the commonly-held notion that the Palestinians lived under occupation and asserted that they had “political independence”. “He’s a partner for receiving, not a partner for giving,” Mr Ya’alon, a close ally of Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, told Channel 2’s Meet The Press, referring to Mr Abbas. “He isn’t a partner for a permanent agreement, at the end of which there is recognition of the right of the State of Israel to exist as the nation-state of the Jewish people, which is the end of the conflict and an end of demands.”

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SOURCE = The Telegraph

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Mondoweiss

Journalist David Sheen delivers blistering indictment on Israel’s racist war on African migrants

March 14, 2014

For the past three weeks, journalist David Sheen has brought the reality of Israel’s war on African migrants into classrooms and lecture halls on North American college campuses.  The leading writer on the virulent racism engulfing African asylum seekers within Israel did the same on Tuesday night, delivering a blistering indictment of Israeli state racism to dozens of people at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center. Sheen’s videos and reports have become the go-to source for those looking to understand how a state founded to protect refugees has become a state systematically targeting refugees for indefinite imprisonment and deportation. A Canadian citizen who first moved to Israel in 1999, Sheen gradually turned away from Zionism as a result of the state’s policies of occupation and aggression, as Max Blumenthal documented in his book Goliath: Life and Loathing In Greater Israel.The details Sheen presents on his tour are downright chilling and devastating.  And as he notes, the climate for African asylum seekers has only gotten worse in recent months, with the passage of new laws authorizing indefinite imprisonment in a prison until they can be returned home.  The Israeli public strongly supports the detainment and deportation of Africans.

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SOURCE = Mondoweiss

Aljazeera

Israel fuel deliveries to Gaza to resume

March 16, 2014

Israel is to allow the resumption of diesel deliveries into Gaza, a day after the territory’s sole power plant stopped working due to a lack of fuel, officials have said. The announcement on Sunday came after the Defence Ministry had shut down the Kerem Shalom goods crossing into southern Gaza on Thursday following cross-border fire. The latest violence started after Israel killed three men associated with the Islamic Jihad armed group. Palestinian fighters then fired scores of rockets over the border, although no one was injured.  Israel hit back with air strikes, which also caused no injuries, and officials ordered the closure of the terminal, halting all deliveries, including fuel. The power station halted operation on Saturday. The fuel deliveries were to resume on Sunday following an order from the Defence Ministry, a statement from COGAT, the unit responsible for crossings into Gaza, said.

“Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon.. instructed to open the Kerem Shalom crossing for the transition of gas into the Gaza Strip,” it said. “The amount coordinated for today… is 500,000 litres of diesel and gasoline for the private sector, 160,000 tonnes of cooking gas, and 200,000 litres of diesel for the operation of the power plant in Gaza,” it said. Rafik Maliha, director of Gaza’s only power plant, told Al Jazeera that whatever fuel is expected to come only covers the “bare minimum.” “When this power plant is in complete shutdown that means there is only six hours of electricity supply for the consumers of Gaza,” Maliha said. “[Now] we will have partial operation of the power plant [which will] make the schedule to eight hours of power supply instead of six.”

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SOURCE = Aljazeera

Reuters

Lebanon to allow citizens to resist Israel -policy statement

March 15, 2014

BEIRUT, March 14 (Reuters) – Lebanon’s new government agreed to a compromise policy statement on Friday that fell short of explicitly enshrining the militant group Hezbollah’s role in confronting Israel but which would give all citizens the right to resist Israeli occupation or attacks. The agreement on the compromise language came after weeks of dispute brought the government to the verge of collapse, and now paves the way for Prime Minister Tammam Salam to put his government to a vote of confidence. Information Minister Ramzi Jreij told reporters that most ministers had agreed on a compromise statement that declares Lebanese citizens have the right to “resist Israeli occupation” and repel any Israeli attack. The deal was reached a few hours after Israel’s army said it fired tank rounds and artillery into southern Lebanon in retaliation for a bomb that targeted its soldiers patrolling the border. No injuries were reported on either side.

The Israel-Lebanon border has been mostly quiet since Israel and Hezbollah fought an inconclusive war in 2006, but Israeli forces still hold at least three pockets of occupied territory which are claimed by Lebanon. “Based on the state’s responsibility to preserve Lebanon’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity and the security of its citizens, the government affirms the duty of the state and its efforts to liberate the Shebaa Farms and Kfar Shouba Hills and the Lebanese part of Ghajar through all legitimate means,” the government statement said.

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SOURCE = Reuters

Washington post

Israel’s killing of judge spurs anger in Jordan

March 13, 2014

AMMAN, Jordan — The shooting death of a Jordanian judge by Israeli border guards this week has triggered an outpouring of anger in this kingdom, shaking ties between the two countries at a time when the United States is counting on Jordan’s help in brokering a Middle East peace deal. Raed al-Zaytar, a 38-year-old Amman magistrate of Palestinian origin, was fatally shot by Israeli border guards on Monday at the Allenby Bridge crossing that links Jordan and the West Bank. The Israeli military said the judge attacked its forces with a metal pole, attempted to seize one soldier’s rifle and shouted “Allahu Akbar,” Arabic for “God is great.” In a statement, the military referred to him as a “terrorist.” Israel on Tuesday issued a statement of regret and announced a joint investigation of the shooting in a bid to ease tensions between the neighboring nations. But the moves have done little to quell an eruption of anti-Israel sentiment across Jordan.

In the days since the shooting, hundreds of Jordanians across the country have held protests and candlelight vigils, and demonstrators in Amman attempted to storm the Israeli Embassy twice in a 24-hour period. “Judge Raed was a good and honest person minding his own business when the Israelis decided to take his life without a trial or real reason,” one protester, Mohammed al-Oathman, said Tuesday outside the embassy, where demonstrators were calling for an end to a 1994 peace treaty between the two countries. The incident occurs at a sensitive time for Jordanian-Israeli ties, which have been strained in recent months by growing fears in Jordan that U.S.-backed peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians could lead to the permanent settlement of Jordan’s 2-million-­strong Palestinian refugee population. Jordanians have also been angered by the debate among Israeli lawmakers about allowing Jewish prayer at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, which houses the al-Aqsa mosque, a Muslim holy site of which Jordan is the custodian. “Politically, Israel has been pouring gasoline on the Jordanian street,” said Saad al-Zuwaideh, a Jordanian lawmaker and tribal leader. “With Monday’s killing, they just lit the match.”

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SOURCE = Washington Post

JP

Israeli officials slam Kerry for remarks on Jewish state recognition

March 16, 2014

Various Israeli officials criticized on Sunday morning US Secretary of State John Kerry for saying it was a mistake in the diplomatic process for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to insist the Palestinians make a public declaration of Israel’s Jewish character. On Thursday, Kerry told members of Congress that international law already defined Israel as a Jewish state, and called Netanyahu’s continued call for a public declaration of Israel’s Jewish character from the Palestinians “a mistake.” Communications Minister Gilad Erdan told Israel Radio that it was unfortunate that the top US diplomat made the comments ahead of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s arrival to Washington on Monday.

Erdan charged that Kerry had erred in marking the statements and said they put pressure on the wrong side. Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin told Israel Radio that Kerry’s remarks represented a pattern that had developed over the past 20 years, in which the international community finds it easier to pressure Israel rather than the Palestinians, despite who it believes is in the right. Elkin called for Israel to stand up for its principles and bring an end to the “sad tradition.”

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SOURCE = Jerusalem Post

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 Jerusalem

UPDATE: Cease-Fire Reportedly Achieved in the South

March 14, 2014

The Islamic Jihad announced that a cease-fire with Israel was reached mediated by Egypt. “It will continue until Israel will break it,” the terrorist organization clarified. Almost simultaneous to the announcement, the IDF attacked seven smuggling tunnels in the Rafah area. A day after the beginning of another round of fighting, the Islamic Jihad announced that a lull agreement was reached that was mediated by Egypt. “The cease-fire will continue until Israel will break it,” the terrorist organization announced.

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SOURCE = Jerusalem Online

presstv

British PM visits occupied Palestine amid tension

March 14, 2014

David Cameron visited the West Bank City of Bethlehem during a two day visit, which is his first trip to the region as the British prime minister.Cameron’s trip came during an escalation in tensions and exchange of fire between Israeli forces and Gaza resistance fighters. Israel bombed nearly 30 targets in Gaza overnight. Tel Aviv says its airstrikes came after Gaza fighters fired rockets into occupied Palestine. During a press conference between Acting Chief of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas and David Cameron, Abbas condemned the escalation and called for a ceasefire between both sides. Cameron claimed that he was visiting Palestine to pledge 6 million pounds support for farmers living in area C and to support a 2 state solution.
However Cameron caused controversy by explicitly referring to Israel as a Jewish homeland. The Palestinian authority have refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, saying this negates the rights of the large Arab population living in Palestinian territories. ‘British PM David Cameron has arrived in Palestine, amid heightened tensions between Gaza and Israel, following an all night bombardment of Gazans who are responding with rocket fire towards Israel.Cameron claimed that although trust is at an all-time low between the two sides, Britain will support any attempts at a peace deal.

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SOURCE = Press TV

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Key witness aimed gun at Palestinian teen during police interview

March 13, 2014

A soldier who served as a key witness in an investigation against a 15-year-old Palestinian attended the police interview, where he trained his gun on the teen. The scene was captured in a video. Israeli soldiers in February arrested four Palestinian youths in the West Bank village of Nabi Salih, near Ramallah. Villagers have been demonstrating weekly against what they say is the takeover of a nearby spring by Jewish settlers from Neve Tzuf. The soldiers, who said the teens had thrown rocks at them four days before, arrested the suspects and brought them to the Binyamin police station and questioned about rock throwing. One of the soldiers, who served as a key witness against the minors, attended a considerable part of the police interview with one of them.

During the interview the soldier played with his weapon and at one point he trained it on the suspect, who was in restraints, for one minute. The station’s senior investigator, Haim Toledano, then entered the room and told the soldier to wait outside. The teen was charged with throwing rocks but the case was thrown out of court because the photos of the incident were blurry and had no timestamp. The Military Advocate General’s office next charged the teen with taking part in an illegal demonstration. He was sentenced to eight days in prison and released with time served. “This is part of the military authorities’ unacceptable treatment of Palestinian
minors,” The teen’s attorney, Neri Ramati, told Haaretz. “They are arrested at night, questioned without their parents’ presence and in the presence of the agent who incriminates them.”

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SOURCE = Haaretz

MEM

Isolating Gaza to justify Israel’s continuous state terror

March 13, 2014

The latest Israeli violent incitement against Palestinians in Gaza has been distorted into the usual rhetoric of defence. Following the murder of three resistance fighters in Khan Younis by Israeli soldiers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised further violence in the wake of Palestinian retaliation against the murders. “If there is no quiet in our south, no quiet for the residents of Israel, there will be noise, lots of noise in Gaza. And that’s putting it mildly,” he said. The threat was uttered in the presence of Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron, who upheld Netanyahu’s distorted reality and defended the settler-colonial state’s self-imposed right to defend itself. According to Cameron, Israeli aggression against Gaza’s legitimate resistance illustrates “the importance of maintaining and securing Israel’s future and the security threats you face, and you have Britain’s support in facing those security threats.” Cameron deemed legitimate resistance “indiscriminate, aimed at civilian populations” and a reflection of barbarism. The statement evokes an accurate depiction of Israel’s settler-colonial state and its constant refinement of atrocities to maintain its illegal presence in Palestine, supported by its imperialist allies.

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SOURCE = Middle East Monitor

Voice of Russia

Israeli ultra-Orthodox: we’d rather flee than go to the army

March 13, 2014

For the first time in 66 years, Israel’s Knesset parliament has approved legislation that will end exemptions from military service for ultra-Orthodox Jewish yeshiva seminary students. This means tens of thousands of young men who do nothing but study holy Jewish books will now join regular army. Ultra-Orthodox supporters have already staged numerous protests and claim they will do everything to save seminary students from army barracks. The exemption of ultra-Orthodox men has long caused resentment among Israel’s secular majority, leading to a demand for the ultra-Orthodox to share the so-called social burden. Two weeks ago, Orthodox Jews took to streets first in Jerusalem, and then in New York City but this didn’t work. The move was backed by 67 deputies and only 2 were against. Ultra-Orthodox politicians, who are now in the opposition, defiantly left the voting. Naftali Bennett, Israel’s Minister of Economy and leader of the Jewish Home party, who is one of the biggest supporters of the new law, tried to explain his stance to a half-empty Knesset.

“Throughout all our history the Torah has been saving the Jewish people. We wouldn’t exist without it. I am telling our ultra-Orthodox brothers, who are not present, that military service is also an important commandment!” But yeshivas of Jerusalem and Bnei-Brac didn’t listen to his calls and have already dubbed Bennett the villain of the generation, and the conscription law – anti-Semitic. Now, thousands of religious soldiers serve in the Israeli army – both women and men. However, distracting students from religious scripts is inacceptable says Yehonatan Oppenheim from Ponevezh Yeshivain Jerusalem.

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SOURCE = Voice Of Russia

Aljazeera

Gaza ceasefire claims crumble amid clashes

March 13, 2014

Israel has reported fresh rocket attacks from Gaza and confirmed it has attacked sites within the occupied strip, as a claim by a Palestinian armed group of a deal to end the clashes apparently crumbled. At least four rockets were reported by the Israeli military late on Thursday, hours after Israel said it carried out eight airstrikes inside Gaza near the Rafah area. Al Jazeera’s Safwat al-Kahlout reported Gaza-based medics as saying three people were injured, one of them seriously, in those Israeli strikes. That violence came after the Islamic Jihad movement, which has fired dozens of rockets into Israel in recent days, told Al Jazeera that it would abide by the terms of a ceasefire brokered by Egypt in 2012 from 12:00 GMT.

Khaled al-Batch, an Islamic Jihad leader in Gaza, told the AP news agency: “After the Egyptian brothers initiated contacts with us in the past few hours, we agreed to restore the calm. “As long as the occupation [Israel] honors the calm, we will honor the calm and instructions are being given right now to al-Quds brigades, our military wing, about this understanding.” Al Jazeera’s Kimberly Halkett, speaking in Washington, said the Israeli government was not commenting on the ceasefire.

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SOURCE = Aljazeera

Albawaba

Israel unveils four-year settlement plans in the Golan Heights

March 12, 2014

Israel has announced plans to build more illegal settlements over the next four years in the occupied Golan Heights, despite warnings by the international community, Press TV reports. Israeli authorities said that over the next four years, they would build some 400 new settlements in the Golan Heights for 23,000 settlers. Tel Aviv has also offered job opportunities and tax credits for settlers in a move aimed at expanding its settlement activities in occupied territories. The Israeli regime captured the Golan from Syria in 1967, during the Six-Day War of 1967, when it also took control of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Tel Aviv annexed the Golan Heights in 1981.  The move was not recognized by the international community. This is while, the United Nations regards the Golan Heights as an occupied territory. Analysts and activists say Israel is taking advantage of the current situation in Syria to go ahead with more settlement projects.

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SOURCE = Albawaba

Reuters

UPDATE 5-Israel bombs Gaza militants after intensive rocket fire

March 12, 2014

(Reuters) – Israel bombed 29 targets in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, the Israeli military said, after Palestinian militants in the coastal territory fired 60 rockets into Israel in the heaviest such barrage since 2012. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had ordered the military “to take any action necessary to restore calm” to Israel’s south, and that “if there is no quiet in the south then it will be noisy in Gaza, and that’s an understatement.” The rocket fire, which police said resulted in no casualties, was claimed by the Islamic Jihad group and came a day after Israel killed three of its members in a Gaza air strike. A military spokesman said 60 rockets hit Israel “in a simultaneous coordinated attack,” and five landed in built-up areas.

Israel bombed 29 militant targets in response, he said. Israeli forces fired tank shells in response at what the spokesman described as “two terrorist locations” in Gaza. Israeli warplanes bombed five militant training camps, Palestinian officials and witnesses said. There were no immediate reports from the Palestinian enclave of any casualties. “It’s a (rocket) barrage such as we haven’t seen for two years,” Haim Yellin, a local Israeli municipal official in the south, told Army Radio, referring to an eight-day war between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza in November 2012.

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SOURCE = Reuters

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telegraph

Amnesty accuses ‘trigger-happy’ Israeli troops of war crimes

February 27, 2014

Israel has reacted angrily to a report by Amnesty International which accused it of being “trigger happy,” saying that the study showed bias and a “skewed logic”. Amnesty has accused Israel of a “callous disregard for human life” after it documented the killing of dozens of Palestinian civilians in the West Bank over the past three years. The 87-page report, entitled “Trigger-happy: Israel’s use of excessive force in the West Bank” was published on Thursday and details what it described as “excessive force to stifle dissent and freedom of expression” since the beginning of 2011. The report documents the killing of 45 Palestinians and wounding of thousands “who did not appear to be posing a direct and immediate threat to life.” In the report, Amnesty International goes as far as to accuse Israel of “war crimes and other serious violations of international law” against Palestinians. The report notes that more Palestinians living in the West Bank had been killed last year than in 2012 and 2011 combined, and said that more than 8,000 Palestinians – including 1,500 children – have been wounded by rubber bullets and tear gas since 2011.

“The frequency and persistence of arbitrary and abusive force against peaceful protesters in the West Bank by Israeli soldiers and police officers- and the impunity enjoyed by perpetrators – suggests that it is carried out as a matter of policy,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa director at Amnesty International. Israeli officials have heavily criticised Amnesty’s report as a “public relations stunt” “removed from reality”, “unverifiable” and inaccurate. Daniel Taub, Israel’s Ambassador to the UK, said: “Amnesty’s obsessive focus on Israel, and its refusal to recognise the very real threat posed by deliberately-orchestrated violent demonstrations, suggests an agenda that has more to do with politics than human rights.” The Israeli Embassy in London said in a statement “Amnesty is in need of an urgent reality check”. Between 2011 and 2013, there were 247 people injured by rock throwing, while “scores of Israelis have been victimised by shootings, stabbings, and other forms of terror, none of which Amnesty sees fit to mention in its report”, noted the Embassy.

“The report brings together carefully selected, unverifiable and often contradictory accounts from clearly politically-motivated individuals, which it then reports as unquestioned facts”, said the Israeli Embassy. Hours after the report was published, Israeli forces killed a 24-year-old man that they were seeking to arrest, after he refused to turn himself in. Soldiers in the West Bank town of Bir Zeit bulldozed part of Muataz Washaha’s house after a standoff lasting several hours, and opened fire. His body was found shortly after. An Israeli military statement said that Washaha had been wanted for “suspected terror activity” and that the forces, which later found an AK-47 assault rifle in the house, were operating under the premise that he was armed.

Source = The Telegraph

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August 8,  2010

Displacing the Bedouin

Twice last week employees of the Israel Lands Administration, with the help of a large police contingent, demolished the homes of around 300 residents in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Al-Arakib in the Negev. Most of them, citizens of the State of Israel, including many children, were left not only without homes, but humiliated, frustrated and shocked. Both times the police were brutal, and neither time did the state offer an alternative, compensation or assistance, either material or psychological, for the people whose village was demolished and world was destroyed. That’s how a country treats its citizens. Even if there is substance to the state’s claims that the village’s lands belong to the state and not to the inhabitants, it should have offered other solutions besides sending in bulldozers again and again. There is a large cemetery at Al-Arakib and water wells that the residents say denote their possession of the land, along with old ownership documents. They claim they were forced to abandon the area after the War of Independence and that they returned in the 1990s because the land remained empty.

In the eyes of the state they are squatters. After a protracted legal battle, the state destroyed the village. When the residents tried, with the help of volunteers, to rebuild, the bulldozers arrived again on Wednesday. While the state has given sweeping approval to Jewish “individual farms” in the Negev, awarding huge areas to individual citizens, it treats tens of thousands of Bedouin harshly, presenting their settlement in the Negev as a “problem” and a “danger.” This attitude is infuriating. The Bedouin are the children of the Negev. Most of them were born there and some have lived there for generations. At least some of the inhabitants of Al-Arakib are well integrated into the economy and see Israel as their country. Destroying their homes and pushing them into the crowded and poor Bedouin cities creates a much more severe political and social problem than the danger of the Bedouin living on state lands.

The bulldozer cannot be the state’s only answer, especially not when it is used only against the Bedouin. It’s hard to understand why Israel is pushing a significant sector of its citizens toward extremism and crime. On the ruins of Al-Arakib a new generation of Bedouin will sprout that is alienated from the state, enraged and desperate. Neither they nor the state deserve this.

Source = http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/displacing-the-bedouin-1.306645

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Water in blockaded Gaza ‘not fit for human consumption’

June 15, 2012

As a matter of urgent priority for the health and well-being of Gaza’s children, Israel must lift the blockade in its entirety to enable the free movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza.”

The water in Gaza is too dangerous to drink as it is contaminated with fertilizers and sewage, says a new report. Several charitable organizations have called on Israel to immediately lift its blockade to allow crucial sanitation equipment in.  Sanitary conditions have reached crisis point in Gaza after five years of blockade. Authorities have warned inhabitants that the only source of running water is too dangerous to consume. A report by charities Save the Children and Medical Aid for Palestinians says that the levels of contamination are more often than not ten times what is safe for consumption. Many poor families have no choice but to drink the water. “The children of Gaza are living in prison-like conditions, entrapped on a strip of hostile land that prevents them from even dreaming of a better future. Since the beginning of the blockade in 2007, the number of children under 3 years of age being treated for diarrhea has doubled,” said Save the Children director Valerio Neri. He added that conditions were so dire in the region that “even a simple case of diarrhea can be fatal for a child.”

As well as the blockade, the report cites war damage and lack of investment as the root causes of the sanitary crisis. The charities highlighted the fact that Israel’s repeated bombing of Gaza had left the sewage system “completely broken.” The Israeli government maintains that it has eased up the blockade on the region over the past couple of months with a view curbing the crisis. It says that medical supplies and building materials are being allowed through to aid in Gaza’s reconstruction. However, the report says this is not enough and calls on the international community and the Palestinian Authority to do more.

Source = http://www.rt.com/news/water-dangerous-contaminated-gaza-909/

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Israel is new South Africa as boycott calls increase

June 3, 2012

Some of the world’s biggest stars – from Madonna to the Red Hot Chili Peppers – are being accused of putting profit before principle in a growing backlash against artists performing in Israel. Campaigners angry at human rights abuses against the Palestinian people – symbolised by Israel’s policy of demolishing the homes of Palestinians and allowing Israeli settlers to take over their land – are demanding a boycott of Israeli venues in a campaign that echoes the 1980s protests against South Africa and the infamous venue Sun City. Last week Madonna came under fire for her decision to perform in Israel to kick off her world tour last Thursday. “By performing in Israel, Madonna has consciously and shamefully lent her name to fig-leafing Israel’s occupation and apartheid and showed her obliviousness to human rights,” said Omar Barghouti of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.

Attempts by Madonna to deflect criticism by offering free tickets to local campaigners backfired, with a number rejecting the offer. Boycott from Within, an Israeli campaign group, accused the singer of “a blatant attempt at whitewashing Israeli crimes”. Mr Barghouti added: “As we’ve learned from the South African struggle for freedom, entertaining Israeli apartheid should never be mislabelled as singing for peace.” The star’s publicist did not respond to requests for comment. Acts such as alleged war crimes during Israel’s 2008 invasion of Gaza and the 2010 killing of peace activists by Israeli commandos on an aid ship are fuelling the return of an anti-apartheid campaign on a scale not seen in a generation. Saeed Amireh, 21, a peace activist from Nilin in the West Bank, said: “We don’t have freedom of movement. They don’t want peace; they just want us to disappear. They are suppressing our very existence.”

Calls for a boycott are supported by hundreds of artists around the world, from the film director Ken Loach to former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters and the author Alice Walker. Artists such as Carlos Santana and Elvis Costello have cancelled shows after pressure from campaigners in recent years; Coldplay, U2 and Bruce Springsteen have declined invitations to play in Israel without supporting the boycott publicly. Paul McCartney, Elton John, Rihanna and Leonard Cohen are among those to have ignored calls not to appear there.

Source = http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/news/israel-is-new-south-africa-as-boycott-calls-increase-7813538.html

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Mavi Marmara: Israeli officers face Turkish trial

May 28, 2012

A Turkish court has charged four senior Israeli military commanders over the killing of nine Turkish activists trying to reach Gaza in 2010. Ex-military chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi and former heads of military intelligence, the navy and air force are expected to be tried in absentia. The nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed after Israeli troops boarded their ship, the Mavi Marmara. They had been hoping to breach Israel’s naval blockade and deliver aid to Gaza.

A prosecutor at the court in Istanbul has called for each of the four Israeli officers to face nine life sentences, Turkish news agency Anatolia reported. The other three commanders are ex-naval chief Vice Admiral Eliezer Marom, former head of military intelligence Major General Amos Yadlin, and former head of the air force Brigadier General Avishai Lev. Israel has refused to co-operate with any prosecution of those who took part in the attack. If they are convicted, the Turkish court could issue a warrant for their arrest.

The Mavi Marmara was intercepted by the Israeli navy in international waters as it sailed towards Gaza’s coast on 31 May 2010. A UN inquiry found that Israel’s blockade of Gaza was “a legitimate security measure”. It said Israeli troops had faced “significant, organised and violent resistance” when they boarded the ship. But it said Israel’s decision to board the ship and the use of substantial force was “excessive and unreasonable”. The incident has led to a major rift in relations between Turkey and Israel.

Source = http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-18232886

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Ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, or, democratic Israel at work

May 5, 2011

It happened on the day after Independence Day, when Israel was immersed in praise of itself and its democracy almost ad nauseam, and on the eve of (virtually outlawed ) Nakba Day, when the Palestinian people mark the “catastrophe” – the anniversary of the creation of Israel. My colleague Akiva Eldar published what we have always known but for which we lacked the shocking figures he revealed: By the time of the Oslo Accords, Israel had revoked the residency of 140,000 Palestinians from the West Bank. In other words, 14 percent of West Bank residents who dared to go abroad had their right to return to Israel and live here denied forever. In other words, they were expelled from their land and their homes. In other words: ethnic cleansing. While we are still desperately concealing, denying and repressing our major ethnic cleansing of 1948 – over 600,000 refugees, some who fled for fear of the Israel Defense Forces and its predecessors, some who were expelled by force – it turns out that 1948 never ended, that its spirit is still with us. Also with us is the goal of trying to cleanse this land of its Arab inhabitants as much as possible, and even a bit more. After all, that’s the most covert and desired solution: the Land of Israel for the Jews, for them alone. A few people dared to say it outright – Rabbi Meir Kahane, Minister Rehavam Ze’evi and their disciples, who deserve a certain amount of praise for their integrity. Many aspire to do the same thing without admitting it.

The revelation of the policy of denying residency has proved that this secret dream is in effect the establishment’s secret dream. There one doesn’t talk about transfer, heaven forfend; nobody would think of calling it cleansing. They don’t load Arabs onto trucks as they once did, including after the Six-Day War, and they don’t shoot at them to chase them away – all politically incorrect methods in the new world. But in effect that’s the goal. Some people think it’s enough if we make the lives of the Palestinians in the territories miserable to get them to leave, and many have in fact left. An Israeli success: According to the Civil Administration, about a quarter of a million Palestinians voluntarily left the West Bank in the bloody years 2000-2007. But that’s not enough, so various and sundry administrative means were added to make the dream come true. Anyone who says “it’s not apartheid” is invited to reply: Why is an Israeli allowed to leave his country for the rest of his life, and nobody suggests that his citizenship be revoked, while a Palestinian, a native son, is not allowed to do so? Why is an Israeli allowed to marry a foreigner and receive a residency permit for her, while a Palestinian is not allowed to marry his former neighbor who lives in Jordan? Isn’t that apartheid? Over the years I have documented endless pitiful tragedies of families that were torn apart, whose sons and daughters were not permitted to live in the West Bank or Gaza due to draconian rules – for Palestinians only.

Israel’s ethnic cleansing

Israeli authorities are planning to launch a campaign of expulsion against thousands of Palestinians living in the West Bank. This ethnic cleansing will be carried out mainly under the pretext that the individuals are originally from the Gaza Strip or are resident in the occupied territory “illegally”. The military order for the arrest, imprisonment (for several years) or deportation of Palestinians came from the commander of Israeli forces, despite the protests of human rights organisations locally and internationally, and declarations of illegality by several civil courts. Targeting the people of Gaza in this way suggests that the Israelis intend to separate the Gaza Strip and its people formally from their kin in the West Bank, and treat them as citizens of a foreign country. This is a serious development in terms of the “peace process” and internal Palestinian reconciliation efforts. The people from Gaza who live in the West Bank do so because it is part of Palestine, under the control of the Palestinian Authority which supposedly represents all Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. The PA negotiates with the Israeli government on behalf of all Palestinians for the establishment of an independent Palestine on the territory of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with Jerusalem as its capital, alongside the State of Israel.

The Israeli military’s decision not only underlines a separation between the West Bank and Gaza, it also confirms the limitations of the Palestinian Authority in representing the people of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. President Abbas himself has no right to distinguish between the Palestinians of the West Bank and the Palestinians in Gaza. The Palestinian Authority duly denounced the Israeli decision, on the basis that it is totally incompatible with the agreements signed between the two parties, particularly the Oslo Accords. Yet PA officials know that the Israelis have basically bypassed the PA as if it did not exist and destroyed the last vestige of the Authority’s credibility; that assumes, of course, that it still had some left to lose. With such a racist decision, Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has declared another stage in the war of attrition against the people of Palestine, paving the way for a new round of dispossession and displacement. In doing so the Israelis are taking advantage of the weakness of the Arab states and the artificially induced inability of the international community to do anything concrete against the Zionist state’s scandalous violation of human rights law and conventions, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention concerning on prisoners of war and areas under occupation. The planned expulsion of Palestinians as “infiltrators” in breach of Israeli law, may well be the first step towards an even larger level of ethnic cleansing of the Arab citizens of Israel itself, on the basis that that they have no place in a Jewish state. Moreover, this decision will cancel unilaterally the refugees’ right to return not only to the cities and villages occupied sixty years ago, but also to any future state supposed to be established in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

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Barack Obama throws full US support behind Middle East uprisings

May 19, 2011

Barack Obama has sought to realign US policy on the Middle East, promising to shift from the long-held American backing for autocratic regimes to support for pro-democracy movements – and pledging to set out the shape of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal “The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines, with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognised borders are established for both states,” he said.

Although he prefaced this by saying that Israel’s security remained a core US aim in the Middle East, it marks a move towards the Palestinians. Obama is due to see the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, in Washington on Friday and address the American Jewish Lobby in Washington on Sunday. “As for Israel, our friendship is rooted deeply in a shared history and shared values,” Obama said. “Our commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable. And we will stand against attempts to single it out for criticism in international forums. But precisely because of our friendship, it is important that we tell the truth: the status quo is unsustainable and Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace.”

Barack Obama presses for Middle East reform

May 19, 2011

n a speech at the state department, Mr Obama said the future of the US was bound to the Middle East by forces of economics, security, history and fate. “It will be the policy of the US to promote reform, and to support transitions to democracy,” he said. The speech was Mr Obama’s first comprehensive response to revolts sweeping the Arab world, analysts say. “We face a historic opportunity,” he said. “We have a chance to show that America values the dignity of a street vendor in Tunisia more than the raw power of the dictator.” “As Americans have been seared by hostage taking, violent rhetoric, and terrorist attacks that have killed thousands of our citizens – a failure to change our approach [in the Middle East] threatens a deepening spiral of division between the United States and Muslim communities,” Mr Obama added.

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Israel urges UN to cancel Goldstone Report on Gaza war 

April 3, 2011

Israel has called on the UN to cancel a report that said it possibly committed war crimes during its 2008-2009 military offensive in Gaza. The report’s author, South African judge Richard Goldstone, said on Friday that new accounts indicated Israel had not deliberately targeted civilians. He said that if he had known what he knew now, “the Goldstone Report would have been a different document”. Israel’s prime minister said the remark meant the report “should be buried”.

Operation Cast Lead was launched in response to repeated rocket attacks on Israeli territory by militants in Gaza. Some 1,400 Palestinians were killed, including hundreds of civilians, as well as 13 Israelis. The Goldstone Report, published in September 2009, concluded that both the Israeli military and militants from the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which controls Gaza, had committed potential war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during the offensive.

The UN-appointed expert panel led by Mr Goldstone accused Israel of using disproportionate force, deliberately targeting civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure, and using people as human shields. Israel refused to co-operate with the investigation, accusing the panel of being biased, and rejected its accusations. It did, however, conduct independent investigations into more than 400 allegations of misconduct. In an opinion piece in the Washington Post on Friday, Mr Goldstone wrote that his conclusions about Israel appeared to have been wrong.

He said the Israeli investigations, which were recognised by a UN committee, indicated that “civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy”. “We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war,” he explained. “If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.” On Saturday, Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement: “Everything we said has been proven to be true.

“Israel does not purposely target civilians and its investigative institutions are competent, while Hamas intentionally fires at innocent civilians and does not investigate anything. “The fact that Goldstone has backtracked means the report should be buried once and for all.” Mr Goldstone also noted that Hamas had “done nothing” to examine its rocket attacks, which were “purposefully and indiscriminately aimed at civilian targets”. There was no immediate response from Hamas.

HUMAN RIGHTS IN PALESTINE AND OTHER OCCUPIED ARAB TERRITORIES

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

1. On 3 April 2009, the President of the Human Rights Council established the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict with the mandate “to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law that might have been committed at any time in the context of the military operations that were conducted in Gaza during the period from 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, whether before, during or after.”

2. The President appointed Justice Richard Goldstone, former judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa and former Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, to head the Mission. The other three appointed members were: Professor Christine Chinkin, Professor of International Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science, who was a member of the high-level fact-finding mission to Beit Hanoun (2008); Ms. Hina Jilani, Advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and former Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders, who was a member of the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur (2004); and Colonel Desmond Travers, a former Officer in Ireland’s Defence Forces and member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for International Criminal Investigations.

3. As is usual practice, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) established a secretariat to support the Mission.

4. The Mission interpreted the mandate as requiring it to place the civilian population of the region at the centre of its concerns regarding the violations of international law.

5. The Mission convened for the first time in Geneva between 4 and 8 May 2009. Additionally, the Mission met in Geneva on 20 May, on 4 and 5 July, and between 1 and 4 August 2009. The Mission conducted three field visits: two to the Gaza Strip between 30 May and 6 June, and between 25 June and 1 July 2009; and one visit to Amman on 2 and 3 July 2009. Several staff of the Mission’s secretariat were deployed in Gaza from 22 May to 4 July 2009 to conduct field investigations.

6. Notes verbales were sent to all Member States of the United Nations and United Nations organs and bodies on 7 May 2009. On 8 June 2009, the Mission issued a call for submissions inviting all interested persons and organizations to submit relevant information and documentation to assist in the implementation of its mandate.

7. Public hearings were held in Gaza on 28 and 29 June and in Geneva on 6 and 7 July 2009.

8. The Mission repeatedly sought to obtain the cooperation of the Government of Israel. After numerous attempts had failed, the Mission sought and obtained the assistance of the Government of Egypt to enable it to enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing.

9. The Mission has enjoyed the support and cooperation of the Palestinian Authority and of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations. Due to the lack of cooperation from the Israeli Government, the Mission was unable to meet members of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. The Mission did, however, meet officials of the Palestinian Authority, including a cabinet minister, in Amman. During its visits to the Gaza Strip, the Mission held meetings with senior members of the Gaza authorities and they extended their full cooperation and support to the Mission.

10. Subsequent to the public hearings in Geneva, the Mission was informed that a Palestinian participant, Mr. Muhammad Srour, had been detained by Israeli security forces when returning to the West Bank and became concerned that his detention may have been a consequence of his appearance before the Mission. The Mission is in contact with him and continues to monitor developments.

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Europe’s Israel romance is on the wane

March 14, 2011

In Europe, Israel has historically enjoyed a high level of support, not least because it was perceived as a progressive democracy in a sea of Arab backwardness. At the same time, most Europeans knew very little about the Israel-Palestine conflict: as recently as 2004, the Glasgow University Media Group found that only 9% of British students knew that the Israelis were the illegal occupiers of Palestinian land. Astonishingly, there were actually more people (11%) who believed that the Palestinians were occupying the territories. However, according to a new poll by ICM for the Middle East Monitor, Europeans’ perception of Israel has changed decisively, and their understanding of the Israel-Palestine conflict, while still giving some cause for concern, has improved significantly. The survey of 7,000 people in Germany, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and Britain reveals only a small minority (10%) now believe their countries should support Israel rather than the Palestinians, while many more, 39%, think they should not.

This shift in European public opinion may owe something to an improved understanding of the conflict; 49% of respondents were now able to identify Israel as the occupying power. However, 22% still didn’t know. This persistence of ignorance about issues that have been long established in international law may reflect media bias, or inadequate coverage of the conflict. It could also be a result of campaigns undertaken by the Israeli public relations machinery in Europe. Whatever the cause, the shift in public opinion is clearly not mainly due to the success of a pro-Palestinian lobby. This decisive shift appears to be primarily a consequence of Israel’s violation of international law, specifically its actions in Gaza, the 2010 attack on the humanitarian flotilla, its settlement expansion programme, and the construction of the separation wall.

There is, across Europe, a growing rejection of Israeli policies. Its blockade of Gaza was said to be illegal by 53% of those polled (16% thought it legal) – an appreciation of the international legal opinion that recognises the siege as a form of collective punishment and a violation of the Geneva conventions. While it is important to note that those polled saw fault on both sides, 31% considered Palestinians to be the primary victims of the conflict, while only 6% thought Israelis the primary victims. A third of respondents believe Israel is not a democracy, while fewer than half believe it is, and most of those surveyed (65%) agree Israel does not treat all religious groups the same, compared with 13% who believe it does.

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‘Abducted’ Palestinian engineer appears in Israel court

April 1, 2011

A Palestinian engineer has appeared in an Israeli court after being captured in Ukraine and jailed in Israel. No charges were laid, but the court extended Dirar Abu Sisi’s detention. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Mr Abu Sisi was “a Hamas man” who has provided “valuable information”. Mr Abu Sisi accuses Israel of “kidnapping him for no reason”. He also denies any knowledge about a captive Israeli soldier in the Gaza Strip – amid media speculation to that effect. Sgt Gilad Shalit was captured by Hamas-linked militants in June 2006.

Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine speculated this week that Israel may have seized Mr Abu Sisi to try to get information about the soldier. The authorities say they will charge Mr Abu Sisi – a manager at Gaza’s main power plant – next week, his Israeli lawyer Smadar Ben-Natan said on Thursday. The 43-year-old says he was forcibly removed from a train in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, on 19 February for interrogation by Israeli agents.  He said he was handcuffed, hooded and then held in an apartment before being flown to Israel. He said he went a total of 25 days before seeing a lawyer.

His wife – who is Ukrainian – says he had gone to Ukraine to apply for citizenship and move the family there. On Thursday, the Palestinian ambassador in Kiev, Mohammed al-Assad, called Israel’s arrest “an international crime that must be punished”. The Ukrainian government has said it was not involved in the operation and was waiting for an official Israeli explanation. A partial gag order by an Israeli court has prevented the publication of details relating to this case.

Palestinian engineer kidnapped in Ukraine appears in Israeli court

April 1, 2011

A Palestinian engineer who is believed to have been abducted from Ukraine by the Israeli secret service, Mossad, denied he had done anything wrong when he appeared in court on Thursday . Prosecutors asked the court in Petah Tikva in central Israel to allow the continued detention of Dirar Abu Sisi for five days after which he would be charged. No charges have been made public. Abu Sisi, who has not been seen since his abduction on 19 February, told the court that he had been abducted and that he denied all allegations against him. Referring to an Israeli solider abducted by Hamas in 2006, he said: “I don’t know anything about Gilad Shalit. I don’t know anything. I’m an engineer.”

Reports suggest Abu Sisi was taken forcibly from a train in Kharkov then flown to Israel. It later emerged that he was being held in Ashqelon prison in southern Israel. Abu Sisi works as an engineer for a power company in the Gaza Strip and is married to Veronika, a Ukrainian national with whom he has six children. His family said that he was in the Ukraine to apply for citizenship to enable his family to leave Gaza. While no charges have been made against the engineer, the German magazine Der Spiegel claimed that he was kidnapped because he had knowledge of the whereabouts of Gilad Shalit. However, Ehud Barak, Israel’s defence minister, said there was no direct link between Shalit and Abu Sisi.

“He didn’t organise the abduction or guard Shalit but he is a person with intimate internal information on Hamas. This has value,” he told Israel army radio. Smadar Ben Natan, Abu Sisi’s lawyer, said that she had general knowledge of the charges against her client which were out of proportion to the efforts made to bring him to Israel. “He is not a member of Hamas. He has a public position in the electricity distribution company. No one has said he is an essential person to any organisation, only that he has information. It’s impossible to live in Gaza and not have some knowledge of Hamas,” she told the Guardian.

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Israeli bulldozers have demolished part a hotel in East Jerusalem to make way for 20 new homes for Jewish settlers. The destruction of the Shepherd Hotel has angered Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas said Israel was destroying any chance of returning to peace talks by carrying out the demolition. Israel says it has a right to build homes in any part of the city. The Shepherd Hotel was built in the 1930s and was once home to Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem who became an ally of Adolf Hitler in WWII.

Its current ownership is disputed – Israel says it belongs to a Jewish-American property developer but Palestinians say it was seized illegally after Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967. “By doing this, Israel has destroyed all the US efforts and ended any possibility of a return to negotiations,” said Nabil Abu Rudeina, a spokesman for Mr Abbas. Attempts by the US to revive peace negotiations stalled last year, after Israel refused to end settlement building on occupied Palestinian land.  “Israel has no right to build in any part of east Jerusalem, or any part of the Palestinian land occupied in 1967,” said Mr Abu Rudeina. The Palestinian governor of Jerusalem, Adnan al-Husseini, said it was the latest in a line of demolitions of historic buildings and accused Israel of “trying to erase any Palestinian identity from the city of Jerusalem”.

The US had criticised the project as far back as 2009, when building approval was granted.  But Israeli officials said the demolition had been carried out legally and defended its decision. “This is something that every country does in its own domain without the necessity to give any report to any other government,” said the minister for national infrastructure, Uzi Landau. Nearly half a million Jews live in more than 100 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.  The settlements are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.

Syria on Tuesday blasted new Israeli military orders that pave the way for large-scale expulsions of Palestinians from the West Bank and warned the move was an “ethnic cleansing policy” in the occupied Palestinian territories. Under the new rules, which are to take effect on Tuesday, anyone caught in the West Bank without an Israeli permit could face expulsion within days or be sentenced to up to seven years in prison. This would include thousands of Gazans who have moved to the West Bank, foreign-born Palestinians married to West Bankers and foreigners who are in the West Bank on expired tourist visas. “This decision is the adoption of the ethnic cleansing policy and a step to the mass deportation aiming at emptying the land from its people,” a Syrian Foreign Ministry official said. “It also constitutes a flagrant violation of international law and human rights and disregard of the will and resolutions of the international community.

“Syria, while confirming the need for an urgent move at both Arab and international levels to condemn this decision and prevent its implementation, sees that it is extremely dangerous to continue providing immunity to Israel as this enables it to disdain international law and will of the whole international community,” the source added. His statement was carried by state-run Syrian Arab News Agency. The West Bank has attracted a growing number of foreign activists who have joined Palestinians in protests against Israeli military rule. In recent months, Israel seized two foreigners with expired visas in a West Bank town and then expelled them. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Arab League chief Amr Moussa on Monday condemned Israel’s decision and said after a set of talks in Damascus that the world had to take up an “urgent action” to stop the measure.

“For as long as this lasts, things will get worse, and it will be more difficult to bring true peace” to the region, Mussa said, adding that the Arab League council would hold an “urgent meeting” on Tuesday to discuss the issue. Israel seized the West Bank and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War. It is expected to form the main part of the Palestinians’ promised future state.

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A veteran British Jewish lawmaker, Sir Gerald Kaufman, has compared the Israeli offensive in Gaza to the Nazis who forced his family to flee from Poland.  Kaufman, who was brought up as an orthodox Jew and Zionist, said: “My grandmother was ill in bed when the Nazis came to her home town a German soldier shot her dead in her bed. “My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza. The present Israeli government ruthlessly and cynically exploits the continuing guilt from gentiles over the slaughter of Jews in the Holocaust as justification for their murder of Palestinians.” He said the claim that many of the Palestinian victims were militants “was the reply of the Nazi” and added: “I suppose the Jews fighting for their lives in the Warsaw ghetto could have been dismissed as militants.”

My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza.  He accused the Israeli government of seeking “conquest” and added: “They are not simply war criminals, they are fools.”  Kaufman called for a total arms ban on Israel. “It is time for our government to make clear to the Israeli government that its conduct and policies are unacceptable and to impose a total arms ban on Israel.” He also branded the Israeli PM, the foreign minister and defense minister as war criminals. “Is it not an incontrovertible fact that Olmert, Livni and Barak are mass murderers and war criminals?” In a BBC interview Kaufman said about the rising Palestinian death toll: “Four Jews against 1,000 Palestinians – that is Nazism.” Kaufman, 64, called Israel’s actions “not only barbaric but also stupid” because, he said, terrorism could not be defeated by force of arms. “It failed in Lebanon and it will fail here,” he said

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Seven people, including three children, have been killed by Israeli shells which hit a beach in the northern Gaza Strip, Palestinian officials say. At least 30 people were wounded in the shelling, they say.  The Israeli military says it has halted all shelling of Gaza and has launched an inquiry into whether ground-based artillery could have been involved. In a statement, the military wing of Hamas threatened to resume attacks on Israel in the wake of “massacres”. The group has been observing a self-imposed ceasefire for more than a year. Although there have been threats of a response to other attacks in recent months, the BBC’s Simon Wilson in Jerusalem says the move is significant because it appears on the official website of the armed wing of the group. There was no immediate word from the political wing of Hamas, which dominates the government in the Palestinian Authority.

Four other people were also killed in separate Israeli air strike in northern Gaza on Friday, Palestinians said. Palestinian officials say the seven people killed on the Gaza Strip beach included two women as well as the three children. The first television pictures revealed a terrible scene, the BBC’s Alan Johnston says. At least four figures lay unconscious on the ground, possibly dead, our correspondent says.  A little further away, a man was lying on a sand dune, perhaps fatally injured, while a child stood looking on in utter horror, our correspondent says. He says around the casualties were tables and chairs, and it looks very much as if this was a family enjoying their Friday afternoon off on the beach when disaster struck.

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CENSORED – Disasters Emergency Committee Appeal for Gaza

This was the DEC (Disasters Emergency Committee) appeal for the people of Gaza which was banned from BBC and Sky News (and other news agencies).  Their refusal to show an appeal citing impartiality demonstrates what little impartiality the BBC has.

“We are passionate about defending the BBC’s impartiality and we worry with such an emotive and such a political story – the United Nations this morning describing it as a political crisis with humanitarian consequences.  We do want to cover the humanitarian story, we want to cover it in our news programmes where we can put it in context, we can do it in an even, carefully balanced, objective way.  We worry about being seen to endorse something which could give people the impression that we were backing one side.” – MARK THOMPSON, BBC DIRECTOR GENERAL. “These are difficult judgements for all broadcasters, but particularly so for the BBC because of the way it is funded.  I am pleased this appeal will now be shown, that other broadcasters have decided to do so.  But as the man who does uphold the independence of broadcasters in this country, I think it is right that broadcasters come to their own judgement.

And the fact that Sky are obviously still considering these issues in the balance does demonstrate that for broadcasters that have an international presence, it is a difficult judgement call for them.” – ANDY BURNHAM, CULTURE SECRETARY. “This is not a row about impartiality but rather about humanity.  This situation is akin to that of British military hospitals who treat prisoners of war as a result of their duty under the Geneva convention.  They do so because they identify need rather than cause.  This is not an appeal by Hamas asking for arms but by the Disasters Emergency Committee asking for relief.  By declining their request, the BBC has already taken sides and forsaken impartiality.” – DR JOHN SENTAMU, ARCHBISHOP OF YORK.

“It’s an insult to the viewing public to suggest they can’t distinguish between the humanitarian needs of thousands of children and families in Gaza and the political sensitivities of the Middle East. It’s a distinction which anyone can make and to suggest the BBC should somehow not allow people to show their compassion because of the wider controversies in the Middle East is a case, in this instance, of the BBC totally getting its priorities upside down.” – NICK CLEGG, LIBERAL DEMOCRAT LEADER.

“I think the British public can distinguish between support for humanitarian aid and perceived partiality in a conflict.  I really struggle to see, in the face of the immense human suffering in Gaza at the moment, that this is in any way a credible argument.  They still have time to make a different judgement, to recognise the immense human suffering and to address the concern – which I think otherwise may develop – that somehow the suffering of people in Gaza is not taken as seriously as the suffering of people in other conflicts.” – DOUGLAS ALEXANDER, INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT SECRETARY.

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Main Page

Archive 2

Archive 3

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9 responses to “Palestine/Israel: Archive 1

  1. Pingback: Ethnic Cleansing by Israel |

  2. Right away I am going away to do my breakfast, when having my breakfast coming over again to read other news.

    • First of all, nobody fears Iran, Israel at least. Second, Yael is not posnitg these attacks trying to attract sympathy, only to inform worldwide individuals what are the reasons for the next war on Gaza when it will happen. Israelis as individuals and Israel as a state can take care of its own of its enemies. If it wasn’t for USA, Israel was(and is) ready to bomb the hell out of Iran.Third, if you try to read a little bit of Israel history, you’ll see that Israel as a state you do everything to protect its citizens and soldiers. FYI, the second war with Lebanon in 2006 started when Hizbollah killed 3 Israelis soldier, that was enough for the Israeli government and army to start an military operation on Hesbollah and Lebanon. Hassan Nasrallah is still hiding in an underground bunker since then and didn’t came out yet.Seal is gay.Either you are stupid or you pretend to be one.

  3. Pingback: Israel is new South Africa as boycott calls increase |

  4. Pingback: Israel: Cease-Fire Reportedly Achieved in the South |

  5. Pingback: #Journalist David Sheen delivers blistering indictment on #Israel’s #racist war on #African #migrants |

  6. Pingback: News Update – Ukraine, Israel, Syria and Egypt – April 18, 2014 |

  7. Pingback: Latest News (Israel, Ukraine, Egypt) – April 25, 2014 |

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