• There’s a mass Palestinian grave at a popular Israeli beach, veterans confess - Israel News -

    The Israeli veterans of the 1948 battle at Tantura village finally come clean about the mass killing of Arabs that took place after the village’s surrender

    #vitrine_de_la_jungle #sionisme

    • There’s a mass Palestinian grave at a popular Israeli beach, veterans confess

      The Israeli veterans of the 1948 battle at Tantura village finally come clean about the mass killing of Arabs that took place after the village’s surrender

      Adam Raz - Jan. 20, 2022-

      “They silenced it,” the former combat soldier Moshe Diamant says, trying to be spare with his words. “It mustn’t be told, it could cause a whole scandal. I don’t want to talk about it, but it happened. What can you do? It happened.”

      Twenty-two years have passed since the furor erupted over the account of what occurred during the conquest by Israeli troops of the village of Tantura, north of Caesarea on the Mediterranean coast, in the War of Independence. The controversy sprang up in the wake of a master’s thesis written by an Israeli graduate student named Theodore Katz, that contained testimony about atrocities perpetrated by the Alexandroni Brigade against Arab prisoners of war. The thesis led to the publication of an article in the newspaper Maariv headlined “The Massacre at Tantura.” Ultimately, a libel suit filed against Katz by veterans of the brigade induced him to retract his account of a massacre.

      For years, Katz’s findings were archived, and discussion of the episode took the form of a professional debate between historians. Until now. Now, at the age of 90 and up, a number of combat soldiers from the Israel Defense Forces’ brigade have admitted that a massacre did indeed take place in 1948 at Tantura – today’s popular Dor Beach, adjacent to Kibbutz Nahsholim. The former soldiers describe different scenes in different ways, and the number of villagers who were shot to death can’t be established. The numbers arising from the testimonies range from a handful who were killed, to many dozens. According to one testimony, provided by a resident of Zichron Yaakov who helped bury the victims, the number of dead exceeded 200, though this high figure does not have corroboration.

      According to Diamant, speaking now, villagers were shot to death by a “savage” using a submachine gun, at the conclusion of the battle. He adds that in connection with the libel suit in 2000, the former soldiers tacitly understood that they would pretend that nothing unusual had occurred after the village’s conquest. “We didn’t know, we didn’t hear. Of course everyone knew. They all knew.”

      Another combat soldier, Haim Levin, now relates that a member of the unit went over to a group of 15 or 20 POWs “and killed them all.” Levin says he was appalled, and he spoke to his buddies to try to find out what was going on. “You have no idea how many [of us] those guys have killed,” he was told.

      Another combat soldier in the brigade, Micha Vitkon, talked about an officer “who in later years was a big man in the Defense Ministry. With his pistol he killed one Arab after another. He was a bit disturbed, and that was a symptom of his disturbance.” According to Vitkon, the soldier did what he did because the prisoners refused to divulge where they had hidden the remaining weapons in the village.

      Another combat soldier described a different incident that occurred there: “It’s not nice to say this. They put them into a barrel and shot them in the barrel. I remember the blood in the barrel.” One of the soldiers summed up by saying that the his comrades-in-arms simply didn’t behave like human beings in the village – and then resumed his silence.

      These and other testimonies appear in an impressive documentation project of the director Alon Schwarz. His documentary film “Tantura,” which will be screened twice this weekend online as part of the Sundance Film festival in Utah, would seem to undo the version that took root following the libel suit and Katz’s apology. Even though the testimonies of the soldiers in the film (some of them recorded by Katz, some by Schwarz) were given in broken sentences, in fragments of confessions, the overall picture is clear: Soldiers in the Alexandroni Brigade massacred unarmed men after the battle had concluded.

      In fact, the testimony Katz collected was not presented to the court during the libel trial, which was settled midway through the proceedings. Listening to those recordings suggests that if the court had probed them at the time, Katz would not have been impelled to apologize. Often what the soldiers told him was only hinted at and partial, but together it added up to an unequivocal truth.

      “What do you want?” asked Shlomo Ambar, who would rise to the rank of brigadier general and head of Civil Defense, the forerunner of today’s Home Front Command. “For me to be a delicate soul and speak in poetry? I moved aside. That’s all. Enough.” Ambar, speaking in the film, made it clear that the events in the village had not been to his liking, “but because I didn’t speak out then, there is no reason for me to talk about it today.”

      One of the grimmest testimonies in Schwarz’s film is that of Amitzur Cohen, who talked about his first months as a combat soldier in the war: “I was a murderer. I didn’t take prisoners.” Cohen relates that if a squad of Arab soldiers was standing with their hands raised, he would shoot them all. How many Arabs did he kill outside the framework of the battles? “I didn’t count. I had a machine gun with 250 bullets. I can’t say how many.”

      The Alexandroni Brigade soldiers’ testimonies join past written testimony provided by Yosef Ben-Eliezer. “I was one of the soldiers involved in the conquest of Tantura,” Ben-Eliezer wrote, some two decades ago. “I was aware of the murder in the village. Some of the soldiers did the killing at their own independent initiative.”

      The testimonies and documents that Schwarz collected for his film indicate that after the massacre the victims were buried in a mass grave, which is now under the Dor Beach parking lot. The grave was dug especially for this purpose, and the burial went on for more than a week. At the end of May 1948, a week after the village was conquered, and two weeks after the declaration of statehood, one of the commanders who was posted at the site was reprimanded for not having dealt properly with the burial of the Arabs’ bodies. On June 9, the commander of the adjacent base reported: “Yesterday I checked the mass grave in Tantura cemetery. Found everything in order.”

      In addition to the testimonies and documents, the film presents the conclusion of experts who compared aerial photographs of the village from before and after its conquest. A comparison of the photographs, and the use of three-dimensional imaging done with new tools, makes it possible not only to determine the exact location of the grave but also to estimate its dimensions: 35 meters long, 4 meters wide. “They took care to hide it,” Katz says in the film, “in such a way that the coming generations would walk there without knowing what they were stepping on.”


      The confession of the Alexandroni Brigade troops casts a new light on the dismal attempt to silence Teddy Katz. In March 1998, while a graduate student at the University of Haifa, Katz submitted a master’s thesis to the department of Middle Eastern history. Its title: “The Exodus of the Arabs from the Villages at the Foot of Southern Mount Carmel in 1948.” Katz, then in his fifties, received a grade of 97. According to custom, the paper was deposited in the university’s library, and the author intended to proceed to doctoral studies. But his plan went awry.

      In January 2000, journalist Amir Gilat borrowed the study from the library and published an article about the massacre in Maariv. It touched off a firestorm. Besides the libel suit initiated by the Alexandroni veterans association, the university also went into a tizzy, and decided to set up a committee to reexamine the M.A. thesis. Even though the original reviewers found that Katz had completed the thesis with excellence, and even though the paper was based on dozens of documented testimonies – of Jewish soldiers and Arab refugees from Tantura – the new committee decided to disqualify the thesis.

      Katz’s paper is not fault-free, but probably the primary target of criticism is the University of Haifa, which accompanied the research and the writing in a deficient manner, and after approving it then reversed course and disowned its student. That made possible the years-long silencing and repression of the bloody events in Tantura. For Katz, one court hearing was all it took for him to sign a letter of apology in which he declared that there had not been a massacre in the village and that his thesis was flawed. The fact that just hours later he retracted this, and that his lawyer, Avigdor Feldman, was not present at the nighttime meeting in which Katz came under pressure to recant, was forgotten. The apology buried the findings the thesis had uncovered, and the details of the massacre were thereafter not subjected to comprehensive scrutiny.

      The historians who addressed the episode – from Yoav Gelber to Benny Morris and Ilan Pappé – reached different and contradictory conclusions. Gelber, who played a key role in the struggle to discredit Katz’s paper, asserted that a few dozen Arabs had been killed in the battle itself, but that a massacre had not occurred. Morris, for his part, thought that it was impossible to determine unequivocally what happened, but wrote that after reading several of the testimonies and interviewing some of the Alexandroni veterans, he “came away with a deep sense of unease.” Pappé, who engaged in a highly publicized debate with Gelber over Katz’s thesis, determined that a massacre had been perpetrated in Tantura in the straightforward sense of the word. Now, with the appearance of the testimony in Schwarz’s film, the debate would seem to be decided.

      In one of the more dramatic scenes in the documentary, Drora Pilpel, who was the judge in the libel suit against Katz, listens to a recording of one of Katz’s interviews. It was the first time she had encountered the testimony collected by Katz, whose speedy apology brought the trial to a quick end. “If it’s true, it’s a pity,” the retired judge tells the director after removing her headphones. “If he had things like this, he should have gone all the way to the end.”

      The Tantura affair exemplifies the difficulty that soldiers in the 1948 war had in acknowledging the bad behavior that was on display in that war: acts of murder, violence against Arab residents, expulsion and looting. To listen to the soldiers’ testimony today, while considering the uniform stand they demonstrated when they sued Katz, is to grasp the potency of the conspiracy of silence and the consensus that there are things one doesn’t talk about. It’s to be hoped that from the perspective of years, such subjects will be more readily addressed. A possibly encouraging sign in this direction is the fact that the film about Tantura received funding from such mainstream bodies as the Hot cable network and the New Fund for Cinema and Television.

      The grim events at Tantura will never be completely investigated, the full truth will not be known. However, there is one thing that can be asserted with a great deal of certainty: Under the parking lot of one of the most familiar and beloved Israeli resort sites on the Mediterranean, lie the remains of the victims of one of the glaring massacres of the War of Independence.

      Adam Raz is a researcher at the Akevot Institute for Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Research. The Akevot Institute assisted the filmmaker (without remuneration) .

  • The Uganda files: How Israel arms brutal dictators who recruit child soldiers
    Eitay Mack | Dec. 24, 2021 |

    G en. Tito Okello, left, commander of Uganda’s army, in 1979. Went on to rule the country with an iron fist, and Israel’s help. Credit: AFP

    Newly declassified Israeli Foreign Ministry documents show that Jerusalem has aided and abetted brutal leaders and military forces in Uganda for years

    It was a startling declaration. After all, it’s not every day that the U.S. Treasury Department announces that two Israeli companies – in this case, NSO and Candiru – are to be placed on the list of entities operating contrary to America’s national interest. That exceptional decision, about a month ago, did not come about in a vacuum. Washington discovered that the two offensive-cyber firms sold foreign governments means of surveillance that were used against government officials as well as political activists, journalists and business people in those countries.

    Shedding some light on the details, the Reuters news agency reported that NSO’s Pegasus software had been used to hack into the phones of nine American diplomats who deal with matters related to Uganda. The report did not say who purchased the spyware from NSO, but everything points to the Ugandan dictator Yoweri Museveni. It’s doubtful that there are many other leaders who might be desperate enough to risk breaching the phones of American officials. Museveni, who believed that Washington was fed up with him and acted to overcome vote-rigging efforts prior to last January’s presidential election and to assist the opposition movement to topple him – apparently saw no other way out.

    Added to the information involving that episode are recently declassified documents from Israel’s State Archives, which illuminate the aid that Israel gave Ugandan dictators over the years. There’s a fixed pattern behind this support: First, Israel’s government helps the ruler in his effort to crush whatever forces are revolting against him, but then if the attempt to topple the government succeeds, Israel immediately changes sides and supports the new regime, with no regrets for the government with which it had cooperated earlier. Moreover, Israel typically extends such aid, in the form of diplomacy and arms, even when the regime’s brutal acts, the iron fist it wields against opponents and even its use of children in battle are well known.

    The pattern repeated itself with Museveni. The archival documents reveal that in July 1985, the commander of the Ugandan army, Gen. Tito Okello, who was then also ruling the country with a brutal hand, requested military aid from Israel to quell the rebel forces opposing him. The strongest and best organized of the rebel groups was the National Resistance Army, the NRA, which was led by Museveni. According to reports filed by Foreign Ministry officials, Israel decided to assist Okello to stamp out Museveni’s uprising, in exchange for formal renewal of diplomatic relations between the two countries, which had been severed by President Idi Amin in 1972.

    To conceal the quid pro quo behind the thaw in relations, the Foreign Ministry and the Defense Ministry used the services of former diplomat and ex-coordinator of government activities in Lebanon, Uri Lubrani, who was a private businessman at the time. Companies he had ties with carried out the transactions on behalf of the Defense Ministry, and Lubrani himself visited Uganda on several occasions in order to coordinate weapons shipments from Israel. The connection between Israel and Okello is reflected in cables and minutes from a number of meetings held around that time. In November 1985, for example, Gen. Okello’s son visited Israel; the following month, Lubrani, a representative of the Mossad and the commander of the Border Police visited Uganda; on January 10, 1986, Okello’s defense minister arrived in Israel for a visit.

    Lubrani explained the importance of the arms deliveries in a now-declassified report he drew up on January 19, 1986: “Indeed, we carried out (fortunately without these facts having been leaked to date) three special flights of chartered planes to send to Entebbe three shipments of combat material, which were apparently important to the regime both substantively and in terms of the timing, and this helped us pave the way toward advancing the effort to renew relations.”

    ‘No great bargain’

    Officials at the two Israeli ministries knew that Okello’s government was tottering and that Museveni stood a good chance of toppling it with support he was receiving from Libya. However, they believed that in any case, Museveni would not easily be able to reverse the diplomatic progress achieved between the two countries. In a cable dated November 22, 1985, the director of the Africa Desk in the Foreign Ministry wrote: “There is no stability since the coup, and the government is not in control of the whole country. The rest is controlled by the rebels, and their forces are more united… We are being guided by the view that the establishment of relations will also be binding on the future governments of Uganda, and therefore we have an interest in diplomatic ties despite the instability of the present government.”

    Additional cables show that from December 1985 until early January 1986, Israel sent three planes full of weapons and that in exchange Gen. Okello agreed that the two countries would appoint nonresident diplomatic representatives.

    On December 19, Museveni agreed to sign a cease-fire agreement – which in Okello’s assessment was due to the deterrence provided by the Israeli arms. However, the agreement soon collapsed and the fighting resumed. Israel, too, continued to be involved in the goings-on in the African country. On January 19, 1986, Arye Oded, Israel’s representative to Uganda, visited the capital, Kampala, and on January 22, Okello’s helicopters fired Israeli-supplied rockets at Museveni’s rebels, forcing them to withdraw from several positions they had captured.

    But the Israeli assistance was of no avail. On January 26, Museveni’s forces took Kampala, and Gen. Okello’s junta fled to the north of the country to continue the fight from there.

    From January 24, when the foreign and defense ministries realized that Museveni stood a good chance of victory, they decided to halt the arms shipments and rejected every subsequent request for aid from Okello – who had now morphed from ruler to rebel. According to a cable sent by Arye Oded on January 26, a shipment of 2,000 rockets, payment for which had apparently already been transferred to Israel, was halted. In a cable he had sent two days earlier, Oded had noted that these were rockets “of the type they purchased in the third shipment, and which have proved their effectiveness.” The cessation of arms deliveries at this critical moment not only diminished the military capability of Okello’s forces, it was also a severe blow to their morale.

    According to a cable sent by Avi Primor, director of the Foreign Ministry’s Africa Desk, four days after the conquest of Kampala and the consequent takeover by the new regime, a representative from Museveni was already in contact with the Israeli Embassy in Washington. The next day, Israeli representatives met with his envoys in Nairobi, and contacts between the sides began. Museveni’s representatives complained that Israel had armed Okello’s faction and had ignored their requests for aid – to which the Israelis replied that Israel supports governments, not rebels. Henceforth the Israeli Defense Ministry would back Museveni’s regime, and train and arm his military forces.

    As the cables in the state archives show, the foreign and defense ministries were well aware that Libya, under Muammar Gadhafi, was supporting the new regime of Museveni and that the latter was using child soldiers in battles his forces were fighting. For example, in late August 1986 the Israeli ambassador to Swaziland, Shlomo Dayan, alerted his colleagues to the fact that Uganda was mobilizing children for the military. He also sent the director of the Foreign Ministry’s Africa Desk an article about children who had been deployed as combat personnel in the NRA, “which you may find of interest.” Apparently the director didn’t agree.

    Israel also knew that forces under the new government had killed thousands and that Museveni had arrested government ministers and political rivals, executed dozens of jailed detainees and was working to establish a one-party regime. None of this brought a halt to bilateral contacts, nor did Museveni’s decision to approve the opening of a Palestine Liberation Organization office in Kampala, or the visit by Libyan ruler Gadhafi to Uganda in September 1986.

    In early September 1987, senior Foreign Ministry figures met with representatives of the U.S. State Department. In the meeting, the head of the department’s Bureau of African Affairs noted that though Museveni “is no great bargain, he is Uganda’s last chance to stand on its feet.”

    Museveni was definitely not a “great bargain,” but he quickly became a useful dictator in the eyes of Israel and the United States. If there’s anyone in the world who’s entitled to a pension from Israel’s Defense Ministry, it’s Museveni. Not least, because he helped Israel and the United States in their struggle against the Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir. Museveni also tried to promote Israeli and American interests in Rwanda, and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo he was instrumental in the rise to power of the Kabila family, which had extensive security and economic ties with the Jewish state and many of its businesspeople.

    When an independent state was established in South Sudan under Salva Kiir in 2011, sparking a civil war two years later, Israel sought a way to continue supporting the new regime, even though it had perpetrated crimes against humanity and was using child soldiers. Again Museveni came to the rescue and sent Kiir shipments of Israeli arms, in 2014. Israeli officials later told an investigative team from the United Nations Security Council that they had not known about this shipment, but made no effort to look into the matter and did not halt the deliveries to Museveni, despite the suspicion that he was sending them on.

    Two birds with one stone

    In the past year, Museveni has realized that his role as a useful dictator has ended. Despite the violence and rampant corruption characterizing his regime, Uganda has seen the rise of one of the most impressive and vibrant opposition movements in Africa, one that is sweeping many young Ugandans in its wake. It’s difficult today to support suppression of this opposition movement without incurring international wrath. In addition, geopolitical shifts have made Museveni less relevant from the perspective of the United States. Omar al-Bashir is gone, South Sudan is under a Security Council embargo and President Kiir has become a pariah.

    But the Israeli Defense Ministry never misses an opportunity: If indeed Israeli-developed offensive cyber technology was sold to Uganda, the export can be assumed to have had ministry authorization. That green light would have been given even though ministry officials knew that Museveni was fighting for his political life and had become embroiled in disputes with the United States. The government in Kampala even dared on January 16 of this year to prevent the U.S. ambassador to the country from visiting the leader of the opposition, Bobi Wine, while he was being held under house arrest. Last February, The New York Times reported that President Joe Biden had lost patience with Museveni and was considering imposing sanctions on him and others responsible in Uganda for election-related violence and infringement of democracy, in January.

    As has been reported in the past, Israel’s NSO company apparently does not balk at selling surveillance systems to regimes that have no red lines with regard to their citizenry. As long as those affected by Pegasus are civilians, the company seems not to be concerned – although now even it is appalled that its technology was used against U.S. diplomats.

    This is an excellent opportunity for the United States to kill two birds with one stone – without sentiment: NSO and Museveni. But in contrast to the legal entanglements plaguing the company and the dictator, justice will likely skip over the Israeli Defense Ministry once more. Undoubtedly at some point in the future the ministry will authorize the sale of yet another company’s malware to the next dictator who will follow Museveni.

    #archives_israéliennes #Ouganda #IsraelOuganda

  • Israel’s ’most moral army in the world’ can’t keep running away from its past
    Haaretz Editorial | Dec. 12, 2021 |

    Soldiers of the Israeli army committed war crimes during the War of Independence, chief among them were massacres in Palestinian villages that were captured in the decisive battles in the lowland plain between the coast and Jerusalem, in the Galilee and in the Negev.

    People who were alive then described mass murders of Palestinian civilians by the troops who conquered their villages; execution squads; dozens of people being herded into a building that was then blown up; children’s skulls smashed with sticks; brutal rapes and villagers who were ordered to dig pits in which they were then shot to death.

    The massacres – the best-known of them in Deir Yassin, near Jerusalem, and the lesser-known ones in Al-Dawayima, Hula, Reineh, Salha, Meron, Al-Burj, Majd al-Krum, and Safsaf – are part of the Israel Defense Forces’ combat heritage and part of Israel’s history, no less than the heroic battles at the Mitla Pass, Ammunition Hill and the Chinese Farm, which were fought by regular armies.

    But Al-Dawayima isn’t taught in the public schools, and the cadets at the army’s officers’ training schools don’t take field trips to see the remains of the village on which Moshav Amatzia was established. They don’t read testimonies from the survivors of the massacre and they and don’t discuss the moral dilemmas of combat in a civilian environment – even though today, as in 1948, much of the military’s operations are directed at unarmed Palestinians.

    This silence is not coincidental, and it is dictated from above. The massacres were known at the time, discussed by the political leadership and investigated to some extent. One officer was even tried for the murder of civilians, convicted, given a ludicrously light punishment and eventually received an important public appointment. But official Israel has been fleeing from the story ever since, making every effort to prevent the crimes’ disclosure and to purge the archives of all remaining evidence.

    The historian Adam Raz was the first to disclose (Haaretz, December 10) the content of discussions in cabinet meetings devoted to “the army’s behavior in the Galilee and the Negev” in its major operations in October 1948. A few cabinet members expressed genuine shock and demanded punishment of those responsible. Prime Minister and Defense Minister David Ben-Gurion described the actions as “shocking,” but in practice he covered for the army and prevented a genuine investigation. In so doing, he laid the foundations for the culture of support and cover-up still prevalent in the IDF (and the Israel Police) regarding brutality against Palestinian and Lebanese civilians.

    A 73-year-old state has no need to run away from its past or cover it in the false blanket of “purity of arms” and “the most moral army in the world.” It is time to acknowledge the truth, and first to publish the report by the first attorney general, Yaakov-Shimshon Shapira, on the massacres of the dark autumn of 1948; to restore the redacted text to the minutes of the cabinet meeting in which Shapira presented his findings and to hold a penetrating public discussion of their implications today.

    Classified docs reveal massacres of Palestinians in ’48 – and what Israeli leaders knew
    Adam Raz | Dec. 9, 2021 |

    Testimonies continue to pile up, documents are revealed, and gradually a broader picture emerges of the acts of murder committed by Israeli troops during the War of Independence. Minutes recorded during cabinet meetings in 1948 leave no room for doubt: Israel’s leaders knew in real time about the blood-drenched events that accompanied the conquest of the Arab villages

    The discussions were fraught with emotion. Cabinet minister Haim-Moshe Shapira said that all of Israel’s moral foundations had been undermined. Minister David Remez remarked that the deeds that had been done remove us from the category of Jews and from the category of human beings altogether. Other ministers were also appalled: Mordechai Bentov wondered what kind of Jews would be left in the country after the war; Aharon Zisling related that he had had a sleepless night – the criminals, he said, were striking at the soul of the whole government. Some ministers demanded that the testimonies be investigated and that those responsible be held to account. David Ben-Gurion was evasive. In the end, the ministers decided on an investigation. The result was the establishment of the “committee to examine cases of murder in [by] the army.”

    It was November 1948. Testimonies of massacres perpetrated by Israel Defense Forces soldiers against Arabs – targeting unarmed men as well as elderly folk and women and children – were piling up on the cabinet table. For years these discussions were concealed from the public by the military censors. Now, an investigative report by Haaretz and the Akevot Institute for Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Research for the first time makes public the sharp exchanges between the ministers on this subject and reveals testimonies about three previously unknown massacres, as well as new details about the killing in Hula, Lebanon, one of the most flagrant crimes of the war.


    In October 1948, the IDF launched two large-scale operations: In the south, Operation Yoav, which opened a road to the Negev; and in the north, Operation Hiram. In the latter, within 30 hours, dozens of Arab villages in the north were overrun and tens of thousands of residents fled or were expelled from their homes. Within less than three days, the IDF had conquered the Galilee and also extended its reach into villages in southern Lebanon. The overwhelming majority of them took no part in the fighting. Most of the exchanges of fire were between the IDF and the Arab Salvation Army, consisting of volunteers from Arab countries.

    At the time of Israel’s campaign to conquer the Galilee, 120,000 Arabs remained in the area, half the number who had resided there on the eve of the United Nations’ adoption of the partition plan, in November 1947. The IDF’s rapid advance toward the northern border brought the soldiers into contact with the population that remained in the villages, among whom were elderly folk and women and children. The Palestinians’ fate was now in the hands of the Israeli forces. That was the background to the massacres that were perpetrated against civilians and against Arab soldiers who were taken captive. At the war’s end, some 30,000 Arabs remained in the north.

    The atrocities of the 1948 war are known from diverse historical documentation: soldiers’ letters, unpublished memoirs written in real time, minutes of meetings held by political parties, and from other sources. Reports about military and governmental investigations are for the most part classified, and the heavy hand of military censorship continues to obstruct academic research and investigative reporting. Still, the open sources provide a picture that is slowly becoming clearer. For example, testimonies about previously unknown massacres that took place in Reineh, at Meron and in Al-Burj, which are discussed below.

    Reineh killings

    The village of Reineh, near Nazareth, was conquered even before Operation Hiram, in July 1948. A few months later, Aharon Haim Cohen, from the department of the Histadrut labor federation that dealt with the Arab population, demanded that a representative of the parallel section in Mapam, a left-wing party that was part of the government, clarify the following: “Why were 14 Arabs murdered in the village of Reineh at the beginning of September, among them a Bedouin woman and also a member of the Land of Israel Workers Alliance, Yusuf al-Turki? They were seized next to the village, accused of smuggling, taken to the village and murdered.” Sheikh Taher al-Taveri, one of the leaders of the Palestinian community in the north, maintained that the Reineh massacre “is not the only one” and that these acts were “being carried out for the purpose of robbery.” The victim’s families claimed that those murdered had been carrying hundreds of liras, a very substantial amount.

    The village of Al-Burj (today Modi’in) was also conquered in July 1948, in Operation Dani. According to a document, whose author is unknown, that was found in the Yad Yaari Archive, four elderly men remained in the village after its capture: “Hajj Ibrahim, who helped out in the military kitchen, a sick elderly woman and another elderly man and [elderly] woman.” Eight days after the village was conquered, the soldiers sent Ibrahim off to pick vegetables in order to distance him from what was about to occur. “The three others were taken to an isolated house. Afterward an antitank shell (‘Fiat’) was fired. When the shell missed the target, six hand grenades were thrown into the house. They killed an elderly man and woman, and the elderly woman was put to death with a firearm. Afterward they torched the house and burned the three bodies. When Hajj Ibrahim returned with his guard, he was told that the three others had been sent to the hospital in Ramallah. Apparently he didn’t believe the story, and a few hours later he too was put to death, with four bullets.”

    According to the testimony of Shmuel Mikunis, a member of the Provisional State Council (predecessor to the Knesset) from the Communist Party, and reported here for the first time, atrocities were also perpetrated in the Meron region. Mikunis got around the censors in real time by asking the prime minister a parliamentary question, which ended up in the Knesset Archive. He demanded clarification from David Ben-Gurion about acts that Mikunis said had been done by members of the underground Irgun militia: “A. They annihilated with a machine gun 35 Arabs who had surrendered to that company with a white flag in their hands. B. They took as captives peaceful residents, among them women and children, ordered them to dig a pit, pushed them into it with long French bayonets and shot the unfortunates until they were all murdered. There was even a woman with an infant in her arms. C. Arab children of about 13-14 who were playing with grenades were all shot. D. A girl of about 19-20 was raped by men from Altalena [an Irgun unit]; afterward she was stabbed with a bayonet and a wooden stick was thrust into her body.”

    This is the place to emphasize that we have no additional testimony that reinforces the brutal descriptions of the events in Reineh, Al-Burj and Meron. This is not surprising, considering how much material remains locked away in the archives. With regard to Mikunis’ testimony, there are additional reasons to suspend healthy skepticism. In that same parliamentary question to Ben-Gurion, Mikunis provided a minutely detailed description of the massacre in the Lebanese village of Hula, and it turned out later, in court, that his sources were reliable. (There is no evidence of a response from the prime minister.)

    ‘Some still showed signs of life’

    The ministers appear to have been especially perturbed by the Hula massacre. The village was conquered by a company of the Carmeli Brigade, 22nd battalion, under the command of Shmuel Lahis. Hundreds of residents, a majority of Hula’s population, fled, but about 60 people remained in the village and surrendered without resistance. After the conquest, two massacres were perpetrated there, in two successive days. On the first day, October 31, 1948, 18 villagers were murdered, and on the following day the number of victims stood at 15.

    Lahis, the company commander, was the only combatant who was tried on murder charges in Operation Hiram. He was acquitted by reason of doubt in the first episode, but was convicted of the second day’s massacre, which he carried out himself. The Lahis verdict was later relegated to the law archive of Tel Aviv University, and a short excerpt from the ruling on his appeal is here published for the first time.

    Lahis ordered the removal “of those 15 Arabs from the house they were in and led them to an isolated house which was some distance from the village’s Muslim cemetery. When they got there, the appellant [Lahis] ordered the Arabs to be taken into one of the rooms and there he commanded them to stand in a line with their faces to the wall… The appellant then shot the Arabs with the Sten [gun] he held and emptied two clips on them. After the people fell, the appellant checked the bodies and observed whether there was life in them. Some of them still showed signs of life and the appellant then fired additional shots into them.”

    Lahis stated in his defense that he had operated in the spirit of the battalion commander, who told him that “there is no need to burden intelligence [personnel] with captives.” He explained that he felt a powerful need for revenge because of the death of his friends, even though his victims had not taken part in the fighting. He was sentenced to seven years in prison; on appeal the prison term was reduced to one year. He served it in quite comfortable conditions in a military base in the north.

    Over the years, the judges offered various explanations for the light sentence. Judge Gideon Eilat justified the sentence by noting that Lahis was the only person brought to trial, even though graver murders had been committed. Judge Chaim Dvorin said, “As a judge it was difficult for me to come to terms with a situation in which we are sitting behind a table and judging a person who behaved during battle as he behaved. Could he have known at the time who was innocent and who was an enemy?”

    Following his release, Lahis was pardoned by President Yitzhak Ben-Zvi. Three decades later he was appointed director general of the Jewish Agency. In that capacity he conceived the idea of Jerusalem Day, commemorating the re-unification of Jerusalem during the Six-Day War, which has since been marked annually.

    Deir Yassin

    Millions of documents from the state’s founding are stored in government archives, and banned from publication. On top of this there is active censorship. In recent years personnel of the Malmab unit (Hebrew acronym for “director of security of the defense establishment”) have been scouring archives around the country and removing evidence of war crimes, as an investigative report by Hagar Shezaf in Haaretz revealed in 2019. However, despite the efforts at concealment, the accounts of about massacres continue to accumulate.

    The groundwork was laid by the historian Benny Morris, who conducted comprehensive, pioneering research in archives, starting in the 1980s. To this was later added the work of another historian, Adel Manna, whose focus is oral history and who studied the history of the Arabs of Haifa and the Galilee. Manna described, among other events, the execution squad that massacred nine residents of Majd al-Krum (his own birthplace). Additional publications over the years, such as the testimonies reported here, are gradually filling in the missing pieces of the puzzle.

    Morris recorded 24 massacres during the 1948 war. Today it can be said that the number is higher, standing at several dozen cases. In some of them a few individuals were murdered, in others dozens, and there are also cases of more than a hundred victims. With the exception of the massacre in Deir Yassin, in April 1948, which has resonated widely over the years, this gloomy slice of history appears to have been repressed and pushed aside from the Israeli public discourse.

    Among the major massacres that took place during Operations Hiram and Yoav were the events in the villages of Saliha, Safsaf and Al-Dawayima. In Saliha (today Kibbutz Yiron), which lay close to the border with Lebanon, the 7th Brigade executed between 60 and 80 inhabitants using a method that was employed a number of times in the war: concentrating residents in a building in the village and then blowing up the structure with the people inside.

    In Safsaf (today Moshav Safsufa), near Safed, soldiers from the 7th Brigade massacred dozens of inhabitants. According to one testimony (subsequently reclassified by the Malmab unit), “Fifty-two men were caught, tied them to one another, dug a pit and shot them. Ten were still twitching. Women came, begged for mercy. Found bodies of 6 elderly men. There were 61 bodies. 3 cases of rape.”

    In the village of Al-Dawayima (today Moshav Amatzia), in the Lachish District, troops of the 8th Brigade massacred about 100 people. A soldier who witnessed the events described to Mapam officials what happened: “There was no battle and no resistance. The first conquerors killed 80 to 100 Arab men, women and children. The children were killed by smashing their skulls with sticks. There wasn’t a house without people killed in it.” According to an intelligence officer who was posted to the village two days later, the number of those killed stood at 120.

    An article published by an anonymous soldier in the journal Ner after the war indicates that the phenomenon of killing non-combatants was widespread in the IDF. The writer related how his comrades in the unit had murdered an elderly Arab woman who remained behind during the conquest of the village of Lubiya, in Lower Galilee: “This became a fashion. And when I complained to the battalion commander about what was going on, and asked him to put a stop to the rampage, which has no military justification, he shrugged his shoulders and said that ‘there is no order from above’ to prevent it. Since then the battalion just descended further down the slope. Its military achievements continued, but on the other hand the atrocities multiplied.”

    ‘This is a Jewish question’

    In November-December 1948, when the war pressure had abated somewhat, the government turned to discussing the reports of massacres, which reached ministers in different ways. A perusal of the minutes of these meetings leaves no room for doubt: The country’s top leaders knew in real time about the blood-drenched events that accompanied the conquest of the Arab villages.

    In fact, the minutes of cabinet meetings from this period were made available for public perusal as early as 1995. However, the sections of the discussions that were devoted to “the army’s behavior in the Galilee and the Negev” – the term on the cabinet’s agenda – remained redacted and censored until only a few days ago. The present report was made possible following a request to the state archivist made by the Akevot Institute.

    Even now, the transcripts are not available in full. It is evident that the direct mentions of war crimes remain redacted. However, the exchanges between the ministers about the question of whether to investigate the crimes or not – exchanges that were concealed for 73 years – are now available to researchers, journalists and curious citizens. Here, for example, is what the cabinet meeting of November 7, 1948, sounded like:

    Minister of Immigration and Health Haim-Moshe Shapira (Hapoel Hamizrahi): “To go that far is forbidden even in times of war. These matters have come up more than once in cabinet meetings, and the defense minister investigated and demanded, and orders were given. I believe that in order to create the impression that we take this matter very seriously, we must choose a committee of ministers who will travel to those places and see for themselves what happened. People who commit these acts must be punished. The matter was not a secret. My proposal is to choose a committee of three ministers who will address the gravity of the matter.”

    Interior Minister Yitzhak Gruenbaum (General Zionists): “I too intended to ask a question along these lines. I have learned that an order exists to cleanse the territory.” At this point Gruenbaum tells about an officer who transported residents in a bus to enemy lines, where they were expelled, and adds, “But apparently others lack the same intelligence and the same feeling. Apparently the order can be executed by other means.”

    At this point many lines are redacted.

    Labor Minister Mordechai Bentov (Mapam): “The people who did this claimed they had received orders in this spirit. It seems to me that we have not been as helpless about any issue as we are, apparently, about this issue. In my opinion this is not an Arab question, it is a Jewish question. The question is which Jews will remain in the country after the war. I see no way but to eradicate the evil with a strong hand. As we have not seen that strong hand in [army] headquarters or in the Defense Ministry, I support Mr. Shapira’s proposal for a committee to be chosen, which will be given the authority by the government to investigate every person it wishes. It’s necessary to investigate the chains of command, who received orders from whom, how things are being done without written orders. These things are done according to a particular method. It turns out that an order is one thing and procedure another.”

    Prime Minister and Defense Minister David Ben-Gurion (Mapai): “If they flee, there is no need to run after them. However, it is different with regard to residents who remain in their places and our armies chase them away. That can be prevented. There is no need to chase them away. In Lod and Ramle explicit orders were given not to chase away the inhabitants and it turned out that they were forced [to leave]. I wanted to go to Lod in the first days after the conquest, and I was given a few excuses as to why I shouldn’t go. The first time I accepted them naively. A more serious matter is that of the theft. The situation in that regard is horrible.”

    ‘Fools’ paradise’

    The November 7, 1948, meeting ended with a decision to appoint a committee of three ministers to examine the testimony about massacres. The committee consisted of Haim-Moshe Shapira, Bentov and Justice Minister Pinhas Rosenbluth (Rosen), from the Progressive Party. A week later they informed the cabinet that the meager powers they had been given did not enable them to get to the truth of the matter. Three more days passed, and the cabinet met again to discuss the investigation of the crimes.

    Bentov: “It is known to me that there are circles in the army who want to sabotage the government’s decisions.”

    Shapira: “We must find the best way to stop the plague. The situation in this matter is like a plague. Today the committee heard one witness, and I buried my face in my hands, in shame and disgrace. If this is the situation, I don’t know from which side a greater danger exists to the state – from the side of the Arabs or from our own side. In my opinion, all our moral foundations have been undermined and we need to look for ways to curb these instincts. We have reached this state of affairs because we did not know how to control things when this first started. My impression is that we are living in a fools’ paradise. If no shift occurs, then we are undermining the government’s moral basis with our own hands.”

    Agriculture Minister Aharon Zisling (Mapam): “I received a letter from a certain person about this matter. I have to tell you that I knew about the situation in this matter, and I placed the subject on this table more than once. After reading the letter I received, I couldn’t sleep the whole night. I felt that something was being done that was affecting my soul, the soul of my home and the soul of all of us here. I could not imagine where we had come from and where we are going. I know that this is not a chance thing but something that determines the nation’s standards of life. I know that this could have consequences in every area of our life. One transgression generates another, and this matter becomes people’s second nature.”

    Police Minister Bechor-Shalom Sheetrit (Sephardim and Oriental Communities): “Already in the first days of the People’s Administration [pre-May 1948 temporary legislative body], I demanded a stringent approach on this matter, and you didn’t listen to me. You are overwrought about their grave deeds. I put forward several proposals on this subject, and to this day not one of them has been accepted.”

    Transportation Minister David Remez (Mapai): “We have slid down a terrible slope – true, not the whole army, but if there are deeds like these and they are recurring in quite a few places, they are undoubtedly horrific to the point of despair.”

    Following the discussion, Ben-Gurion declared incisively: “Since the committee did not fulfill the role it was tasked with, it is hereby abolished.” To which Gruenbaum retorted, “We are burying the matter.” Minister Shapira, who had been the one to call for the committee in the first place, commented that he felt the earth give way beneath his feet.

    In fact, the ministers grasped very quickly that the prime minister had no interest in a through investigation of war crimes. He refused to grant the committee of three the authority to subpoena witnesses, and blamed its members’ laziness for its failure. Whereas some ministers demanded the establishment of a committee with teeth and urged that those responsible be brought to justice, Ben-Gurion pulled in a completely opposite direction. The meeting ended with the following decision: “The government assigns to the prime minister [responsibility for] investigating all of the claims made about the army’s behavior vis-a-vis Arabs in the Galilee and the south.”

    Two days after the meeting, on November 19, 1948, he appointed the attorney general, Yaakov-Shimshon Shapira, to investigate the events. The prime minister noted in the letter of appointment that the attorney general “is hereby requested to take it on himself to examine and investigate whether harm was inflicted by soldiers and the army on the life of Arab residents of the Galilee and the south, which was not in accordance with the accepted rules of war.”

    Two weeks later, the attorney general submitted his report to the prime minister. In the cabinet meeting of December 5, Ben-Gurion read out its main points, but this section of the minutes remains redacted. In the 1980s, historian Morris petitioned the High Court of Justice, requesting that the report be made available to him, but the petition was rejected. The Akevot Institute has been working for several years to have the report declassified.

    The report is mentioned only a few times in the academic literature – so few that some have questioned its very existence. The historian Yoav Gelber, the author of one of the most informative books about the War of Independence (“Independence Versus Nakbah: The Arab-Israeli War of 1948,” in Hebrew), wrote that he did not find “Shapira’s investigative report or any reference to it, or any other evidence to the effect that an investigation was conducted in the matter of the irregular actions that took place in the Galilee.” Nevertheless, the report does exist, and the minutes now made available show that the cabinet ministers were not at all pleased with its content or its recommendations.

    After reading out the main points of the report to the cabinet, Ben-Gurion said, “I do not accept everything he [Shapira] wrote, but I think he has done something important and has said things that others would not have dared say.” He then took the opportunity to criticize his fellow cabinet members. “Of course, it’s easy to sit here around this table and cast blame on a small number of people, on those who fought.”

    Haim-Moshe Shapira: “The attorney general has indeed presented a report from what he was told, but that is not his job. In my opinion, the only thing that it’s still possible to do, is to select on behalf of the government a public committee that will investigate the matter and go fully into its details. But if these deeds are covered up, the blame lies with the entire government if it does not being the offenders to justice.”

    Remez: “These deeds remove us from the category of Jews and from the category of human beings altogether. Precisely on these grave matters we have been silent to this day. We must find a way to put a stop to these deeds, but we must not silence our conscience by placing the whole gravity of the blame on boys who were dragged in the wake of deeds that were done earlier.”

    Bentov: “People get used to the fact of turning away and start to understand: there is no justice and no judge.”

    Code of silence

    Throughout the cabinet meetings, there were several mentions of a code of silence existing among soldiers about war crimes. Minister Shapira stated: “The fact is that the soldiers are afraid to testify. I asked one soldier whether he would be willing to appear before the committee. He asked me not to mention his name, to forget that he spoke with me and to consider him someone who doesn’t know a thing.”

    Ben-Gurion also addressed the difficulty of breaching the circle of silence: “In regard to the Galilee, a few things have been published. Not all the rumors fit the facts. Several things have been confirmed. What happened in Dawayima cannot be confirmed. There is a cover-up. The matter of the cover-up is extremely serious. I assigned someone to conduct a clarification about a certain matter, and an organized operation was mounted against him not to do the clarification. He was under great pressure.” Ben-Gurion asserted that it was impossible to ascertain the truth, not in the north and not in the south. He added that in the Negev, “deeds were done that are no less shocking than the deeds in the Galilee.”

    The code of silence helped those who wished to sweep the crimes under the carpet and avoid investigations and indictments. Indeed, Shmuel Lahis, the commander of the unit that perpetrated the Hula massacre, was among the few who were accused of murder in the War of Independence. Not even the Al-Dawayima massacre, which was investigated internally by the IDF, produced indictments.

    The intensity of the cover-up in the army comes through in a book by Yosef Shai-El, a soldier in Lahis’ company, who testified in the trial against his former commander. In his unpublished memoir from 2005, “The First Eighty Years of My Life,” Shai-El writes: ‘After the trial verdict was handed down, I went through hard times for a while. People would grab me in cafés and various places in the city and hit me. I made it a habit to go out with a pistol in my pocket. I’d found the pistol in an abandoned house in Acre long before. Everyone knew I was a sniper, and I enjoyed quiet for some time. The police informed my father that there was a plan to kidnap me from the house, and I hid in a friend’s home.”

    Even those who did not have the benefit of silence and a cover-up, and were tried for crimes committed in the war, were finally let off the hook. In February 1949 a retroactive general pardon was issued for any crimes committed during the war. The public at large appears not to have been disturbed by any of this. The events described above took place during the period when the military justice system was being created. This might explain why the military internalized an organizational culture that goes easy on the killing of Palestinians by soldiers during operations. The philosopher Martin Buber termed the frame of mind that dominated Jewish society at the time a “war psychosis.”

    Half a year later, the first Speaker of the Knesset, Joseph Sprinzak, appeared before the parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Mentioned in the meeting were two items that had appeared in the press that day, which epitomized the attitude toward the acts of murder during the war. One report referred to an officer who during the fighting had ordered the murder of four wounded individuals; the second report was about a person who sold stolen army equipment. The former was sentenced to six months in prison, the latter to three years. Sprinzak, in any event, was under no illusions. “We are far from humanism,” he told the committee. “We are like all the nations.”

    Adam Raz is a researcher at the Akevot Institute for Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Research .

    #nakba #Palestine #sionisme #1948 #archives_israéliennes

    • The ghosts haunting Israel’s wars, past and present
      Gideon Levy | Dec. 12, 2021 |

      The Haaretz editorial for Sunday calls for opening the archives to reveal the complete truth about what happened here in 1948, including all of the massacres and the war crimes committed by Israel Defense Forces soldiers in 1948-49. There is, of course, no demand for justice.

      After 73 years, the citizens of Israel are permitted to know what was done in their name during their country’s first war. The victims of that war are also permitted to know all about the travails of their families and the crimes perpetrated against them. A state that is proud of its past does not conceal it. Only a state that is ashamed of its deeds conceals them. An Israel that conceals its past is a state that knows, deep in its heart, that its righteous birth came about through a great and deep sin.

      In the wake of the shocking article by Adam Raz in Friday’s Haaretz, disclosing massacres that were reported to the cabinet and concealed ever since, without any of the criminals being punished appropriately, it is indeed time to face the truth, deal with its implications and learn its lessons. The editorial is convinced that when the truth comes to light, it will provoke penetrating public discussion throughout the country. The editorial is mistaken.

      That ship sailed a long time ago. Opening the archives and revealing the truth will neither help nor hinder. The process of repression and denial, of erasing reality and replacing it with an alternative reality, fabricating justifications for any iniquity and the spreading of lies and false propaganda, which began immediately after the war and has never stopped, has succeeded above and beyond all expectations.

      The door to the truth is closed to Israelis. Most do not see Palestinians as human beings like themselves, and therefore anything is permitted of the state. Tell them now about massacres, and most will shrug their shoulders. Only Haaretz will agree to publish the stories, and few readers will be shocked: They will be derided as “purists.”

      The vast majority will adhere to the “truth” that has been drilled into their heads: There was no choice, we don’t want to think about what would have happened had the situation been reversed, we were the few against the many, the Arabs started it, they rejected partition – and of course, the Holocaust. No massacre story, however barbaric, can change anything now. Israel has barricaded itself inside its narrative, and nothing can crack the wall. Penetrating public discussion? More like a penetrating public yawn.

      It is not by chance that Israel finds itself in this situation. It is not its past that haunts it. It is not the past it denies. Israel conceals its past in order to justify its present. The dark side of its past did not end in 1948 – it has never ended. Methods changed, as have the dimensions, but the policies, the moral standards and the attitude to Arabs haven’t changed an iota. If we admit to the 1948 Hula massacre, we would also have to admit to the criminal killing Friday of the ninth protester from the village of Beita. If we admit that we concealed and covered up the connection to the 1948 Al-Burj massacre, we would also have to admit to lying about the justification for executing the stabber at Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate on December 4th.

      Therefore, it’s best for Israel to keep on covering up the destruction and the killing by planting more and more Jewish National Fund groves, meant to ensure that the truth never peeks out through the pines. It would be hard to deal with, after so many years of being told that we are always right, that we are the victims, that we have the most moral army in the world, that we were the few against the many and that Arabs are natural-born killers.

      Had 1948 ended in 1948, had its crimes ceased then, there would have been no problem admitting the truth today, to regret, to apologize, even to pay restitution. But because 1948 never ends, and what we did then to the Palestinians we continue to do now, only more forcefully, we can’t get worked up over what happened then, lest it undermine the faith in what we are still doing. Therefore, dear editorial, the mechanisms of whitewash and justification will cover up any disclosure from 1948. No public discussion will be provoked. Please don’t disturb, we are carrying on – with the same crimes, or similar ones.

  • Updated: Israeli Soldiers Kill a Palestinian at Protest Near Nablus
    Dec 11, 2021 – – IMEMC News

    Israeli soldiers killed, on Friday, a young Palestinian man at the weekly protest in Beita town, southeast of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank, medical sources have confirmed.

    The head of the Emergency and Ambulance Department at the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS), Ahmad Jibril, told the Palestinian News & Information Agency (WAFA) that the army opened live fire at non-violent demonstrators on Sbeih Mountain, killing one young man, and causing at least sixty-eight cases of inhalation injuries from tear gas.

    The slain young man, identified as Jamil Abu Ayyash, 31 , was struck in the head with a live round, and transferred by ambulance to hospital, where he was pronounced dead due to his critical wounds shortly after arrival.

    Palestinian youths have been protesting for months in rejection of Israel’s expansion of its illegal colonies in the occupied West Bank in contravention of International Law.

    #Palestine_assassinée #Beita

    • In New Crime of Excessive Use of Force, IOF Kill Palestinian in Bita Village, Nablus
      Date: 11 December 2021 – Palestinian Centre for Human Rights

      In New Crime of Excessive Use of Force, IOF Kill Palestinian in Bita Village, Nablus
      In new crime of excessive use of force, Israeli occupation forces (IOF) killed yesterday afternoon a Palestinian civilian during the suppression of a peaceful protest Bita village, southeast of Nablus.
      As a result, the wounded was taken to the field hospital in Bita village and then referred to Rafidia Governmental Hospital in Nablus, where he was announced dead at 16:00. The murdered was later identified as Jamil Jamal Ahmed Abu ‘Ayyash (32), from Bita village.

      An eyewitness said to PCHR’s fieldworker that:

      “An Israeli soldier fired 2 bullets from 40 to 50 meters on the top of the Mount; one of the bullets was in the air while the other hit Jamil Abu ‘Ayyash, who was in front of the soldier trying to turn back and fled away. Meanwhile, Abu ‘Ayyash did not pose any imminent threat to the soldiers’ lives. Abu ‘Ayyash was shot in the back of the head and fell on the ground. Protesters carried him while his head was open and bleeding. He was put in a Palestinian ambulance and taken to the field hospital in the area. He was referred to Rafidia Governmental Hospital in Nablus, where he was announced dead at 16:00.” (...)

      This victim is the nineth Palestinian shot dead by IOF during suppression of peaceful protests in Bita village since the establishment of the settlement outpost. (...)

    • Jamil protested against the takeover of his family’s land, and was shot dead by the IDF
      Gideon Levy, Alex Levac | Dec. 24, 2021 |

      ? Ayyash and Rami at the place where their brother was killed.Credit: Alex Levac

      He was the eighth casualty in recent months from the village of Beita

      The car lurched from side to side as it ascended the rough dirt road, the wind swirling and howling around it. Israel Defense Forces bulldozers have already started to block this road, but it’s still navigable. When we stopped at the top of the hill, the car was rocking and the doors could barely be opened against the powerful blustery wind. Indeed, this week’s winter storm, dubbed Carmel, also pounded the remote hill the Palestinians call Huti, a rise of olive trees that is across from Mount Sabih, which, to their outrage, is the site of the settler outpost Evyatar. A few hundred meters separate the two hills – between the torn Israeli flag hoisted as a provocation on what the locals call “Jabal al-Sabih” amid the settlers’ buildings, and the flag of Palestine that residents of the village of Beita also hoisted as a provocation, across the way. Two flags tattered by the wind, one opposite the other. The outsize Hanukkah menorah planted by the encroaching settlers is still in place, along with the row of trailer homes and watchtowers.

      The soil on the Huti hilltop is saturated with the blood of Palestinian demonstrators, and scorched and sooty from the tires the protesters set ablaze here every Friday. Seven residents of the nearby village of Beita and one from the neighboring village of Yatma have been killed here by Israel Defense Forces soldiers in the seven months that have passed since the longtime activist-settler Daniella Weiss and her friends reestablished Evyatar in May. The site was once an IDF outpost called Tapuhit, built on Beita’s land. Afterward, in 2013, the original outpost of Evyatar was established there without authorization; it was subsequently evacuated and demolished. Today the structures erected by the settlers of the new Evyatar remain in place – the outpost is uninhabited at present, except for some army troops that are guarding there – and the blood continues to be shed.

      The last time we came here was in September, to tell the story of the killing of another demonstrator from Beita, Muhammad Khabisa, 28, the father of an 8-month-old daughter. Before that we were here in August, to tell the story of the killing of Imad Duikat, 37, father of a 2-month-old daughter. In July, we were here because of the killing of Shadi Shurafi, a village plumber, who was fixing the valve on a water main out near the highway when he was shot to death by IDF troops. And in June, we visited the neighboring village of Yatma, to tell the story of the killing, during the same series of ongoing demonstrations, of Tareq Snobar, 41, who was a father for just two days of his life before being killed. When he was shot by Israeli soldiers using live fire from about 100 meters away, he was on the way to the hospital to pick up his wife and their newborn son, Omar, to bring them home. He never got there.

      That is not the whole roster of those killed in the Evyatar demonstrations. On Friday, December 10, there was an eighth fatality: Jamil Abu Ayyash, a 31-year-old carpenter from Beita, married, no children.

      We drove this week with two of Jamil’s brothers, Ayyash, 43, and Rami, 41, to see the place where their brother was cut down. At first they were apprehensive about making the trip, for fear of the army. A few days earlier, when they had driven there with a field researcher for a Palestinian human rights organization, two army jeeps suddenly appeared and blocked their way; the soldiers ordered them to leave.

      “Do you have protection for me?” Ayyash asked us and Abdulkarim Sadi, a field researcher for the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, who was accompanying us. “We are trying now to avoid trouble, so that we can go on working in Israel,” Rami said. Finally the brothers, both still in mourning, summoned up the courage to go. They showed us where the soldiers had stood and where their brother had been on the hilltop, according to what they were told. Jamil had just gotten to the demonstration when he was shot in the head.

      The soldiers and their victim were a few hundred meters apart. The bullet penetrated Jamil’s forehead, created a narrow entry wound and exited from the back of his neck, creating a much more serious wound – a sign the bullet had exploded inside and decimated his brain. And yet he was still breathing when he was evacuated by an ambulance, which rushed him to Rafadiya Hospital in Nablus. At the time, his brother Ayyash, who lives in one of the last houses in the village, near the road leading up to the site of the demonstrations, was in his backyard, washing his car, together with his 2-year-old daughter, Sarah. The little girl, he relates, becomes upset at the wailing of sirens and they both got worried by the sight of the ambulance racing down the hill – and then someone in the vehicle gestured to him to follow them fast. Leaving Sarah behind, he sped in his car to Rafadiya, where he learned that the man who was dying of injuries in the ambulance was his brother Jamil. Another brother, Rami, in the nearby village of Huwara at the time, was summoned urgently to the hospital in Nablus. He also informed their parents, and they joined their sons.

      A boy is doing his homework on a table in the yard of his family’s home, in the biting cold. The house is at the edge of Beita, which lies south of Nablus. Jamal Abu Ayyash, the bereaved father, a 67-year-old farmer, is sitting in a corner of a room, his face grim, wearing a coat, a wool hat and several layers of clothes. In honor of the guests they turn on the small electric heater, which does little to stave off the cold. We very rarely see Palestinian homes with any heating systems. The bereaved mother, Hadara, 66, is wrapped in black, her face etched with agony. The couple had two daughters and four sons – until Jamil’s death. Ala, newly widowed, is not here.

      Jamil, a carpenter, worked in a large furniture-making workshop at the foot of the hill on which he was killed. Because he was the only one of the brothers who didn’t work in Israel, he went more often to the Friday demonstrations, while his brothers weren’t always in the village. But Jamil, too, wasn’t a regular at the demonstrations. The village’s previous fatal casualty, Muhammad Khabisa, was a member of the same hamula (clan), the Khabisa clan, but the two victims didn’t known each other.

      Jamal Abu Ayyash owns 20 dunams (5 acres) of farmland on the hill where Evyatar stands. The land was expropriated in the early 1980s for the establishment of the Tapuhit outpost, never to be returned, of course. From where we are now standing across the way, the brothers show us the spot on Jabal al-Sabih where their property is.

      On what would be the last day of his life, Jamil got up relatively late and went downstairs to his parents’ ground-floor apartment, as he did every morning. He then went into the village center to buy hummus and ful for breakfast, and at midday attended prayers in the mosque. He didn’t tell his parents that he intended to proceed to the demonstration, but taking part in the Friday protests is almost routine for most of the villagers.

      It was after 3 P.M. when Jamil was shot. Eyewitnesses told his family that he was standing on an elevated rock face, which made him an easy target for the soldiers. His wife, Ala, learned that he had been wounded on Facebook; the brothers and parents waited for news at the hospital. The efforts to revive Jamil went on until around 5 P.M., and then the physicians informed the family of his death. He was buried in the village cemetery that same evening.

      The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit initially denied – on the day of the incident – that the soldiers had used live fire and it made do with the generic announcement: “The claim about a Palestinian who was killed is known.”

      This week the spokesperson’s unit gave this response to a query from Haaretz: “On December 10, 2021, a violent disturbance took place adjacent to Evyatar Hill with the participation of hundreds of Palestinians who threw stones and rolled burning tires toward IDF and Border Police forces. Due to the event, a Military Police investigation was launched; upon its conclusion, its findings will be forwarded to the military prosecution. Understandably, no details can be provided about an investigation in progress.”

      This past Sunday, the bereaved brother Rami arrived for work on the construction of the light rail in Ramat Gan. He left home at 3 A.M., as usual, and arrived at 6, only to hear from the Druze foreman that he had been fired. Just like that, with no explanation. He told us he has no idea whether this has anything to do with the death of his brother. He asked no questions and returned home, mortified.

      On the way back from the hill where Jamil was killed, during our visit on Monday, as we drove down the dirt road toward the village, two young people, their faces unmasked, sprang out from behind the olive trees, a few meters away. One of them picked up a rock and aimed it at us. He was apparently intending to hurl it at our car, with its Israeli plates, from point-blank range. Then at the last minute he and his friend noticed the two bereaved brothers with us in the car – the pair rushed out of the vehicle to stop them. The rock fell to the ground and the youth smiled in embarrassment.

      We were told that they were from the “Guards of the Hill,” an activist group established by young people in Beita.

      As we drove away, we spied a pile of dozens of used tires, waiting by the roadside for the next demonstration.

  • Classified docs reveal #massacres of Palestinians in ’48 – and what Israeli leaders knew - Israel News -

    Testimonies continue to pile up, documents are revealed, and gradually a broader picture emerges of the acts of murder committed by Israeli troops during the War of Independence. Minutes recorded during cabinet meetings in 1948 leave no room for doubt: Israel’s leaders knew in real time about the blood-drenched events that accompanied the conquest of the Arab villages

    #Palestine #sionisme #vitrine_de_la_jungle #nakba

  • ’I showed Palestinians the footage that Israel looted. They started to cry’ - Israel News -

    Une terre avec un peuple avant la Nakba

    In the 1982 Lebanon War, the Israeli army raided the PLO archive in Beirut, confiscating numerous reels of film depicting Palestinian life. A new film by Karnit Mandel reveals her quest to find the mysterious footage


  • Palestinian Gunman Killed, One Israeli Dead, Police Injured in Jerusalem
    Nov 21, 2021– – IMEMC News

    During an armed confrontation, Sunday morning, one Palestinian gunman was shot and killed by Israeli forces, one Israeli was killed and three more were injured, at the Bab al-Silsila Gate of the sacred Al-Aqsa mosque in occupied East Jerusalem, according to the Jerusalem Press.

    Israeli forces blocked all movement of Palestinians into the area and initiated a search campaign for a Palestinian young man who fled the scene, after an alleged stabbing attempt.

    The Palestinian News & Information Agency (WAFA) identified the slain gunman as Fadi Abu Shukhedem , 42, from the Shu’fat neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem.

    Abu Shukhedem, armed with a “Carlo” submachine gun, opened fire at Israeli police officers, at the Bab al-Silsila or Chain Gate, who shot him dead during the armed encounter.

    This act of resistance comes just days after a 16-year-old child, identified as Omar Ibrahim Abu ‘Assab, was shot dead in Jerusalem after allegedly carrying out a stabbing attempt, Israeli authorities have have withheld the teen’s body, a common practice of the occupation.

    In 1948, the state of Israel was founded on the stolen lands of Palestine, and in 1967 Israel occupied the remainder of the West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip.


  • What the Israeli army does to soldiers who shoot Palestinians
    Gideon Levy, Alex Levac - Nov. 18, 2021 -

    From left to right: Izz a-Din al-Batash; Fehmiye Hrub; Fadi Washaha; Muhammad Khabisa’s funeral; Khabisa’s father holds his baby granddaughter.Credit: Nasser Nasser / AP, courtesy of the Hrub family, ISSAM RIMAWI / Anadolu Agency via AFP, Alex Levac

    In 18 shooting cases investigated by the Israeli army, no one has been brought to trial

    Two years ago, on November 11, 2019, 22-year-old Omar Badawi stepped out of his house in the Al-Arroub refugee camp in the southern West Bank. He wanted to douse a small fire outside, which had been ignited by a Molotov cocktail that teenagers threw at soldiers who invaded the camp, and that had missed its mark. Badawi went out with a towel, to extinguish the flames licking at the wall of his house. That was the mistake of his life. The instant he stepped outside, soldiers deployed in a nearby alley shot and killed him. Maybe they thought the towel posed a mortal threat; after all, they thought it justified lethal gunfire aimed at an innocent civilian. The sequence of events – Badawi’s emergence from the house, the towel, the shooting – was captured on video footage by journalists on the scene. It’s a grim spectacle, but unequivocal in what it shows.

    As is the custom, the Israel Defense Forces promised to launch an investigation, at the conclusion of which “the findings will be forwarded to the military advocate general.” That was two years ago. A year ago, on the anniversary of the shooting, Haaretz asked the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit how the investigation into Badawi’s death was coming along. It hasn’t yet concluded, they told me. Another year went by, and this week the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit issued the following information to Haaretz: “One of the fighters who was providing cover for the troops spotted a Palestinian in the alley who was holding a white rag, which the fighter identified as being part of a Molotov cocktail that hadn’t yet been lit, and fired one shot at him. The Palestinian died from his wounds. In the wake of the incident a Military Police investigation was launched, and following an examination of its findings it was found that the evidence that was collected does not justify taking legal action.”

    An unarmed young man who is not endangering anyone’s life steps out of his house, a soldier imagines that the towel he’s holding will be used for making a Molotov cocktail and decides to execute the innocent individual forthwith. Nothing in the executioner’s behavior aroused the army’s suspicion that an offense of some kind might have been committed – not manslaughter, not even causing death by negligence. Everything about the soldier’s behavior was, in the eyes of the army, impeccable, standard, perhaps even commendable, and the case was closed. The intolerable ease with which the life of a Palestinian was taken wasn’t worth even a reprimand in the eyes of the moral army.

    Let all soldiers see and know, lest they hesitate to shoot Palestinians armed with towels.

    According to the IDF’s moral criteria, the shooting death of an elderly, mentally unstable woman named Fehmiye Hrub who approached a checkpoint with hesitant, confused steps, holding a small kitchen knife loosely in one hand, her face attesting to distress, doesn’t even justify opening an investigation. Perhaps the soldiers were hasty in killing her? Maybe it was not necessary not to kill her? Perhaps there are more courageous and less cowardly soldiers who could have overcome this woman, approaching with an unsteady gait? Could it be that shooting doesn’t have to be the first, automatic reaction of soldiers, but the last? Why fuss or bother to open an investigation? “A preliminary examination of the circumstances was conducted, and when no reasonable suspicion arose that a criminal offense had been committed, a Military Police investigation was not launched in the wake of the event,” Haaretz was informed this week by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.

    We chose 18 cases from the past two-and-a-half years in which Palestinians were killed or seriously wounded by soldiers – cases this column documented – and asked the unit about the outcome of the preliminary examinations or in-depth investigations that were launched. In five instances, the IDF decided to close the investigations because the evidence that was collected did not, in its eyes, justify taking legal measures. With regard to the remaining 13 cases, the army stated, “The investigations and the handling of the other incidents enumerated is still continuing and no decision has yet been made about them.”

    In not one of the 18 cases involving the killing or wounding of Palestinians was it decided to try any of the soldiers on any sort of charge. Nothing was done. Taking human lives, including those of children, or wounding people and leaving them disabled for life, doesn’t always merit even a cursory investigation. So what else is new?

    Here are the 18 cases we asked the Spokesperson’s Unit about and the status of their investigations:

    1. The killing of Omar Badawi, the young man with the towel, at the entrance to his house in Al-Arroub refugee camp on November 11, 2019. Case closed.

    2. The shooting in the head of then-9-year-old Abd el-Rahman Shatawi in Kafr Qaddum on July 12, 2019. He remains in a vegetative state. The boy, who appeared even younger than his age, was standing at the entrance to a friend’s house when a soldier shot him directly in the head from a distance of some 100 meters. The IDF’s response after all the time that’s elapsed was: “… In the wake of a disturbance, the forces used stun grenades and fired rubber [rubber-coated metal] bullets and blank ammunition at those who were disrupting the order. In addition, two bullets were fired into the air, and no injury was identified from them. In the wake of the event, it was reported that a Palestinian minor had been wounded. The findings of the investigation did not make it possible to determine, to the extent required for initiating criminal proceedings, how the Palestinian was hit. In any event, an examination of the shooting during the event showed that [what happened] does not justify taking legal measures.”

    3. The shooting in the head of Mohammed Shatawi on January 30, 2020, in Kafr Qaddum. During the weekly demonstration, Shatawi, 14, hid behind a boulder and was shot by an Israeli soldier when he peeked out from his hiding place. He too is in a vegetative state. The investigation hasn’t yet concluded.

    4. The killing of Palestinian policeman Tarek Badwan at the entrance to the Jenin police station on February 6, 2020. Badwan was shot as he chatted with another police officer. The IDF first claimed that there had been shots from the direction of the station, but quickly dropped that mendacious account when a video clip showed Badwan standing and talking innocently to his colleague as he was shot to death. The investigation hasn’t yet concluded, we were told.

    5. The killing of Bader Harashi near the separation barrier at a crossing point adjacent to the village of Qaffin on February 7, 2020. Harashi, 20, had gone to the barrier to protest against the Trump Middle East peace plan. He criticized an Arabic-speaking Israeli soldier, apparently a Druze, for being there. The soldier left and then returned a few minutes later in a jeep, opened the door of the vehicle and shot Harashi. The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit’s comments, this week: “… During the disturbance the fighters spotted a Palestinian who intended to throw a Molotov cocktail at them and fired one shot at him. The Palestinian died of his wounds. Following the incident, a Military Police investigation was launched, and after an examination of its findings, it was found that the evidence that was collected does not justify taking legal measures.”

    6. The killing of Zeid Qaysiyah in the Al-Fawwar refugee camp on May 13, 2020. Qaysiyah was a 17-year-old who dreamed of becoming a singer and who sang in the streets of the refugee camp using a simple amplification device his mother had bought him. He lost his life when the elite, heroic, undercover Duvdevan unit invaded the camp order to arrest a mentally disabled youth who had written something improper in Facebook. The soldiers shot Qaysiyah from a significant distance as he stood on the roof of his house together with his young nieces, watching the events below. The bullet shattered his face. The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit: “… In response to disturbances, IDF soldiers responded with fire. Pursuant to that event, it was reported that a Palestinian minor was hit at a distance of some hundreds of meters from the area, and died of his wounds. In the wake of the incident a Military Police investigation was launched. Its findings did not make it possible to determine how the person killed had been hit, and whether he was hit by bullets fired by IDF soldiers or by gunfire at all. As such, it was found that the evidence collected does not justify taking legal measures.”

    7. The shooting and arrest of Ahmed Falana, then 17, next to the separation barrier at the village of Safa on February 26, 2021. Seriously wounded, Falana was hospitalized twice and taken into custody, without his parents being informed of his condition. The investigation of the incident hasn’t yet concluded.

    8. The killing of Osama Mansour, 35, when soldiers riddled his car with bullets on the road between Al-Jib and Bir Naballah, north of Jerusalem, on April 5, 2021. Mansour was driving with his wife when a soldier ordered them to stop, which they did, before being sent on their way. A minute later, soldiers rained dozens of bullets on the vehicle, killing Mansour, a vegetable peddler, before the eyes of his wife, who was injured. He left five children fatherless. The investigation hasn’t yet concluded.

    9. The shooting in the eye of Izz a-Din al-Batash in the Hebron market on April 9, 2021. The 14-year-old was standing at the entrance to a vegetable shop in the bustling market, and as he was arranging the produce a soldier shot him from a distance away, tearing out his right eye. The investigation hasn’t yet concluded.

    10. The killing of Fehmiye Hrub at the Gush Etzion junction on May 3, 2021. Hrub, 60 at the time of her death, was mentally unstable. Her condition deteriorated during the period of the coronavirus pandemic and she apparently wanted to die. After the soldiers shot her she lay bleeding for 40 minutes at the checkpoint before receiving medical aid. The IDF Spokesperson stated this week: “… The fighters launched the suspect-arrest procedure, and when the terrorist continued to advance toward them they shot in her direction. The terrorist died of her wounds. Considering the circumstances of the matter, a preliminary examination was conducted, and when no reasonable suspicion arose that a criminal offense had been committed, a Military Police investigation was not launched in the wake of the event.”

    11. The killing of Hussein Titi in the Al-Fawwar refugee camp on May 12, 2021. Titi, 28, went up to the roof of his house to see what was happening, after being certain that the soldiers who raided the camp and snatched his neighbor had left. He peeked out from the roof and was shot to death. The investigation hasn’t yet concluded.

    12. The killing of Tareq Snobar in the village of Yatma, in the central West Bank, on May 14, 2021. Snobar, 28, was shot two days after the birth of his first child as he was on his way to the hospital to bring his wife and son home. An IDF soldier was seen taking aim and shooting him from a distance of about 100 meters. The investigation hasn’t yet concluded.

    13. The killing of Fadi Washaha at the northern entrance to Ramallah on May 15, 2021. Washaha, a 24-year-old student activist, was shot to death during a demonstration on Nakba Day from a distance of 100 meters. His family is convinced that he was targeted because of his activity. The investigation hasn’t yet concluded.

    14. The killing of Islam Burnat in Bil’in on May 18, 2021. Burnat, 16, who was in the 11th grade, was shot in the head during a demonstration in the village. The investigation hasn’t yet concluded.

    15. The killing of Mohammed Tamimi in Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah, on July 23, 2021. Army forces were in the village, an IDF jeep passed by, a door suddenly opened and a soldier fired one bullet, wounding Tamimi, 17. After collapsing and then trying to flee for his life, despite being seriously injured, he was shot twice more by soldiers who were walking behind the jeep. The investigation hasn’t yet concluded.

    16. The killing of Shadi Shurafi at the entrance to the village of Beita, in the Nablus area, on July 27, 2021. Shurafi, the village plumber, was shot to death when he went to repair the village’s main water valve, near a highway. The soldiers apparently shot him because he was holding a monkey wrench, mistaken for a weapon. His body was confiscated by the Israeli authorities and to date has not been returned for burial. The investigation hasn’t yet concluded.

    17. The killing of Imad Duikat in Beita on August 7, 2021. The father of four daughters and an infant son, Duikat took part in a demonstration against the takeover of village lands by the settlement of Evyatar. Eyewitnesses related that he was shot to death while drinking a glass of water. The investigation hasn’t yet concluded.

    18. The killing of Muhammad Khabisa, 28, in Beita on September 26, 2021. Khabisa, the father of an 8-month-old daughter, was the seventh resident of Beita to be killed in the struggle against the illegal outpost of Evyatar. The investigation hasn’t yet concluded.

  • Israël a modifié le dossier qu’il a remis aux États-Unis sur le bombardement de la tour de Gaza qui abritait l’AP et Al Jazeera
    Yaniv Kubovich - Nov. 19, 2021 8:36 AM - Traduction : AFPS

    Le rapport a été remis à de hauts responsables américains après que M. Biden ait exigé une explication de l’attaque du 15 mai de la part du Premier ministre Netanyahu.

    Selon des sources israéliennes, le dossier de renseignement qu’Israël a remis aux États-Unis concernant la frappe aérienne d’une tour de Gaza abritant des agences de presse étrangères a été modifié rétroactivement.

    Cela a été fait afin de justifier l’affirmation d’Israël selon laquelle le bombardement de la tour Al-Jalaa pendant la dernière guerre de Gaza était nécessaire, après qu’il soit devenu évident que les renseignements des Forces de défense israéliennes étaient moins que solides, disent les sources.

    Le rapport a été remis à de hauts responsables américains après que le président Joe Biden eut exigé une explication de l’attaque du 15 mai de la part du premier ministre de l’époque, Benjamin Netanyahu. Les responsables israéliens ont exprimé leur inquiétude quant au fait que la présentation du rapport altéré pourrait nuire à la confiance entre les deux pays, notamment sur les questions de défense d’importance stratégique pour Israël.

    La tour Al-Jalaa, dans la ville de Gaza, abritait les bureaux des agences de presse Associated Press et Al Jazeera. Au cours de l’opération « Gardiens des remparts », Israël a détruit la tour, affirmant que le Hamas opérait depuis le bâtiment, ce qui justifiait la frappe. Immédiatement après l’attaque, les États-Unis ont exigé de voir les preuves de cette affirmation. Les FDI ont soumis des renseignements sur la tour aux États-Unis le lendemain, mais le secrétaire d’État Antony Blinken a déclaré par la suite que les informations qui lui avaient été communiquées ne prouvaient pas que l’attaque était nécessaire. Le même jour, M. Biden a eu une conversation téléphonique avec M. Netanyahu, au cours de laquelle le président a exigé des informations supplémentaires expliquant ce qui avait conduit à l’ordre de bombarder la tour. M. Blinken a confirmé que des informations supplémentaires ont été fournies, mais a déclaré qu’il ne pouvait pas en parler. (...)

    source :

  • Why do they hate him so much? My evening with the Netanyahus
    Gideon Levy | Nov. 11, 2021

    The most hated and most admired man in Israel today sat last Saturday night with his wife and two sons on an old couch in a small living room, chock-full of ornamental objects, constantly caressing his wife’s hand and charming nearly all his interlocutors.

    That night, he and she were almost the complete opposite of what is told of them. The opposite of what is thought of them. There is almost nothing said about them by their critics, consumed with revulsion, that was not revealed that evening as the opposite of the picture revealed for a few hours in the old stone house in Ra’anana.

    He was a good listener, and she touched no liquor. She was warm, a little insecure and vulnerable, his English is a little less perfect than most think. He’s sharp and full of energy, contrary to recent reports from the Knesset.

    She was, imagine it, soft. Nobody talked politics. No politicians were there, and the friends of the wife were stewardesses from her early days.

    Sara Netanyahu’s birthday was at author and Haaretz journalist Benny Ziffer’s house, attended by family, friends, and a few other guests. Those who despise Benjamin Netanyahu will say that it was just another evening of cult worship, sycophancy, and cozening.

    But the truth is, it was a pleasant, interesting, at times even moving evening. At this point, most Haaretz readers have lost their cool.

    The man fills the space around him. He is more intriguing than any current Israeli politician, even now, seemingly in the winter of his career. It is easier to comprehend the blind admiration toward him than the elemental hatred he inspires.

    On the most crucial topic for Israel – its turning into an apartheid state – his policies were no worse than those of his predecessors, or his successors. Many of his haters’ doomsday prophecies never came to pass.

    His harm to democracy, if there was one, is harm to a semblance of democracy, with a military dictatorship in its backyard. As to his lifestyle and the indictments he’s facing – the court shall speak. In the living room of the house in Ra’anana sat a former Prime Minister, energetic and interesting.

    So why do they hate him so much? And why do they have so much hate for anyone daring to say a word in his favor too?

    Ziffer, the host, found something that might serve as a partial explanation in the archive. It might be one of Netanyahu’s most fateful errors, not taking the advice given to him by author Moshe Shamir in his letter to Netanyahu on March 26th, 1993, before it all began: “Create as wide a circle of support as possible, beyond the confines of the party… in simple terms: Presence in cultural life, theater, literature, academia. Even in the most turbulent of times – not just politics.”

    When Ziffer finished reading the letter, Netanyahu said “Some advice I didn’t take.” The right-wing writer may have touched on something here.

    When you spend an evening with Netanyahu you can’t help but wonder once again at the incredible gap between his level and breadth of knowledge and the milieu in which he operates. He chose this environment. He didn’t listen to Shamir.

    Netanyahu gave up that other environment in exchange for working in right-wing politics, and there alone. He exchanged his natural fields of interest for an aggressive, alien, shallow, and at times ignorant environment, to realize his boundless political ambition.

    The repugnance felt towards him on the left stems from his lifestyle and his politics, with more than a dash of dual moralities and hypocrisy towards the members of their own side who sometimes behave similarly, but above all floats the way Netanyahu completely cut off all those who might criticize him.

    Perhaps if Netanyahu was more open to criticism and had stayed in touch with the circles Shamir suggested, he would have been less hated. Precisely because he is who he is, it is such a shame he didn’t take Shamir’s advice.

    • The Israeli left’s hatred for Netanyahu has driven it mad
      Gideon Levy | Nov. 14, 2021

      There’s nothing like the unbelievable fury that my op-ed (Haaretz, Nov. 11) about my encounter with Benjamin Netanyahu sparked to prove a long-standing claim: The Israeli left is ill. Very ill. Its hatred for Netanyahu has driven it mad. Comparisons were immediately made to meeting Hitler in the Eagle’s Nest. Others settled for Stalin, or at the very least the CEO of ExxonMobil.

      The personal insults, including from friends, are forgivable, albeit not without asking: Where does all this rage come from, what are its sources and, above all, what is it covering up? Something is hiding here, without which the depth of these feelings is incomprehensible. No approbatory essay about a different Israeli politician, dead or living, would have provoked a similar dance of hatred. It’s doubtful that anything else would have, with the possible exception of a meeting with Ariel Sharon the day after the Sabra and Chatila massacre, and in any event Sharon was forgiven for everything.

      People who have been silent about Israel’s apartheid for years, who yawn at news of the crimes of the occupation and turn a blind eye to them; who vote for Yesh Atid, the Labor Party and Meretz, say they oppose the occupation, worship the Israel Defense Forces, patronize the Palestinians and think themselves enlightened – yet their conscience is tortured by the impotence and the conceptual void to which they are subjected. Deep inside they know that they are no less proponents of Jewish supremacy than the right that they despise, and from which they struggle to differentiate themselves. They know that Israel’s left-center governments never did what they had to do in order to enable the Palestinians to exercise their rights. They know that at the end of the day, they themselves are the occupation’s greatest supporters and perpetrators, in their silence, their complacency, their disinterest and their inaction.

      Netanyahu fell into their hands like a ripe fruit, manna from heaven, 12 years of uninterrupted pleasure. The gift that keeps on giving. Suddenly they have an ideology, their life has meaning. Suddenly they can differentiate themselves from the right, they are fearless political warriors, Che Guevara each and every one. “Anyone but Bibi” became not only a unifying slogan and battle cry, but also the definer of their lost political identity.

      It’s verboten to play with the left’s new toy, or even to go near it. If this toy is taken from it, the left will once more sink into the void, into ennui and losing its way. It will mumble empty slogans and sing songs about peace and about tomorrow, and no one will see how it’s any different from the cruel and boorish right. Woe be it, then, to anyone who tries to cast doubt on the amount of hatred that Netanyahu deserves, the hatred that is now the left’s sole raison d’etre. Even when Netanyahu is no longer prime minister, he is the left’s only toy. The government of change is irrefutable proof of this: What has actually changed? Almost nothing, particularly in regard to the most important issue, from which the government flees as if from fire.

      Netanyahu was what he was. On the most critical issue he was no worse than his predecessors or his successors. He was also no better. That drives the left insane. Anyone who attempts to cast doubt on Netanyahu’s monstrosity is stepping out of line, and his fate is sealed. It is treason to say that Netanyahu is more complex than he seems. To say that he has positive sides is trolling. “The elderly you puts the you of your youth to shame,” wrote many people who did not know me or my youth but who know that one good word for Netanyahu is enough to make that claim.

      Had the same things been written about Naftali Bennett, Yair Lapid or Gideon Sa’ar, they wouldn’t have created even a small uproar. Benny Gantz, by the way, spilled much more blood than Netanyahu and is even proud of it. But it’s okay to write positive things about him without limits. The prohibition, and it is absolute, applies to just one person.

      A political camp that is no less tyrannical, intolerant and aggressive than that of the right, whose actions support the continuation of the occupation no less than those of the right, is horrified by someone who dares to disturb that which it most cherishes, its hatred for Netanyahu. After all, if Netanyahu is not Satan, what will it have left?

  • Son of Libyan strongman Haftar visited Israel, seeking diplomatic ties for military aid
    Yossi Melman | Nov. 7, 2021 |

    With Libyan presidential elections set for late December, Saddam Haftar touched down in Tel Aviv last week for a secret meeting. Could Israeli normalization with Libya be on the horizon?

    Last Monday, a private jet – a French-manufactured Dassault Falcon, registration P4-RMA – took off from Dubai and landed at Ben-Gurion Airport. The plane was on the ground for about 90 minutes, and then continued on to its final destination in Libya. The jet belongs to the Libyan warlord Gen. Khalifa Haftar and is used to fly his family and aides.

    On board the plane was the general’s son, Saddam Haftar. Father and son are seeking military and diplomatic assistance from Israel, and in exchange promise that if they head the national unity and reconciliation government to be established in Libya after the presidential elections on December 24, they will launch diplomatic ties with Jerusalem.

    Saddam Haftar is also being assisted by PR companies and strategic advisers from France and the United Arab Emirates. According to unconfirmed reports, employees representing the Haftar family are working in a firm registered in the UAE, including some Israelis.

    Gen. Khalifa Haftar is considered the strongest and most influential man in Libya. Until recently, he headed the rebel government, headquartered in Benghazi in the eastern part of the country, with the country’s largest and most important military force.

    Saddam Haftar is considered his father’s right-hand man, with the 77-year-old general’s health fragile. Three years ago, Gen. Haftar was rushed to a military hospital in Paris with a life-threatening condition. He made Saddam an officer and appointed him as a brigade commander in his army, granting him growing authority ever since.

    It is unclear whom Saddam Haftar met during his short stay at Ben-Gurion Airport. In the past, though, it was reported that Haftar Sr. had held secret contacts with Israel, especially through the Mossad’s Tevel department, whose representatives met with him on a number of occasions.

    Tevel is responsible for maintaining clandestine relations with Israel’s intelligence counterparts overseas, non-state organizations and governments that do not have official diplomatic relations with Israel. To date, it has established contact with nearly 200 entities.

    Reconciliation and unity

    Representatives of the Israeli National Security Council have maintained contacts with representatives of Libya for a number of years. These began under the council’s then-head, Meir Ben-Shabbat, who appointed a former Shin Bet operative, known only as R., to maintain ties with Arab countries. The real name of R., also code-named “Maoz,” is not allowed to be published under the Shin Bet Security Service Law. R., who frequently clashed with then-Mossad chief Yossi Cohen over the division of powers, retired last January.

    After Prime Minister Naftali Bennett appointed Dr. Eyal Hulata as head of the National Security Council, the Libyan “file” has been handled by Nimrod Gez, also a former senior Shin Bet official who commanded the Gaza unit in the organization’s southern district. Gez serves in the National Security Council as head of the branch covering the Middle East, Africa and diplomatic ties there.

    The reason for Saddam Haftar’s visit last week was connected to next month’s Libyan elections. The purpose of the elections is also to establish a reconciliation government that will bring together warring groups and tribes who are involved in the civil war that has been going on for about a decade, since the fall of Col. Muammar Gadhafi’s regime.

    Khalifa Haftar was among a group of young officers, headed by Gadhafi, who in September 1969 brought down the regime of King Idris and made Libya a republic. During the Yom Kippur War in 1973, Haftar headed a small expeditionary force that aided the Egyptians in the war against Israel.

    Gadhafi later granted Haftar the rank of colonel and in 1987 sent him to command the Libyan expeditionary force seeking to conquer parts of neighboring Chad. The military campaign, during which it was claimed the Libyan army used mustard gas against Chadian soldiers, utterly failed and Haftar was taken prisoner.

    During his imprisonment, and after Gadhafi disavowed him, Haftar and a few hundred of his soldiers – backed by the CIA – rebelled against Gadhafi and did not return to Libya. Haftar and his troops found asylum in the United States and from there, with CIA support and financial aid, a few unsuccessful attempts were made to overthrow Gadhafi.

    Haftar and his family were given U.S. citizenship and lived in Virginia, not far from CIA headquarters at Langley. After the uprising in 2011, which ended with the death of Gadhafi, Haftar returned to Libya and made failed efforts to lead the country. A civil war has been underway ever since, with various interludes. Armed militias have been founded, including jihadist groups fighting each other and trafficking in humans, drugs and commodities.

    The civil war went international after it drew in global and regional powers. Two rival governments operate in Libya. One is in Tripoli, and is recognized by the United Nations, the European Union and today, under President Joe Biden, by the United States. Turkey, which sees itself as a regional and Mediterranean power, established a large base in Libya with drone squadrons that attack Haftar’s army.

    The other government, headed by Haftar, is in Benghazi and Tobruk, is supported by a strange coalition of Egypt, Jordan, the UAE, Russia, and secretly, also by France.

    Intelligence agents of all these countries operate secretly in Libya and assist the efforts of the Haftar family to take over the entire country. The UAE funds arms deliveries including drones, which are essential to Haftar’s army. Egypt, which shares a long border with Libya and fears jihadists will cross into its territory, also supplies Haftar with weapons, as does Jordan, which even attempted to check the possibility of selling aircraft, but was warned against it by the United States.

    Haftar is also assisted by Russian mercenaries, members of the militia known as the “Wagner Group.” This is in theory a private security firm, but in fact it’s an auxiliary to Russian intelligence and the Russian army, which operates on the orders of President Vladimir Putin. The Wagner Group also receives orders from the Kremlin in Syria and various African countries.

    The Israeli connection

    Israel has always had an interest in Libya because of its geostrategic location in the Mediterranean and its proximity to the Egyptian border, and also because of the large community of Libyan Jews in Israel and their influence on Libyan Jews who emigrated to Italy.

    After Gadhafi’s rise to power, Israel became more interested in Libya because of his support for Palestinian terror groups, to whom he gave money, arms and training. Gadhafi’s attempts to secure chemical, biological and nuclear weapons also attracted the attention of Israeli intelligence, which placed Mossad agents in the country, landed commando forces like the Flotilla 13 and Sayeret Matkal elite units, and used technological measures of military intelligence.

    Simultaneously, Israeli representatives also conducted contacts of a diplomatic and humanitarian nature with Gadhafi’s regime. These contacts were managed by one of Gadhafi’s sons, Saif al-Islam, through Jewish businessmen of Libyan origin. One of these is Walter Arbib, whose operations are centered around Canada.

    As Haaretz reported a decade ago, Arbib was the main intermediary who assisted in the 2010 release of the Israeli photographer and artist of Tunisian origin Rafael Haddad, who was arrested in Libya on suspicion of espionage.

    At the same time that year, at the request of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Arbib persuaded Gadhafi’s son to drop his intention of sending a ship with humanitarian aid to Gaza. In exchange, it was agreed that the ship would dock at El-Arish, Sinai, and its cargo would be sent to Gaza through the Rafah crossing.

    As part of the deal, Libya built dozens of prefabricated buildings in Gaza and Israel released a number of Palestinian prisoners.

    After his father’s fall, Saif al-Islam, who was tried and imprisoned, tried to enlist advocates and lobbyists – including some of those same Jewish Libyan businessmen.

    His sister, Aisha, went even further in a bizarre-sounding proposal: After fleeing to Algeria, she asked associates close to her in Europe who had previously done business with her and her family to explore the possibility of obtaining asylum in Israel. She even hired an Israeli lawyer from Jerusalem who tried to check whether she could come to live in Israel under the Law of Return, due to rumors common over many years that Muammar Gadhafi’s mother was in fact Jewish and had converted to Islam.

    In recent years, Aisha has been living with her children in Oman, and complained to an Israeli acquaintance that she is frustrated because she lives in a “gilded cage.”

    Following Gadhafi’s death, Libya’s arms stores were plundered and a great deal of equipment found its way overland through Egypt and Sinai to Hamas in Gaza and by sea to Hezbollah in Lebanon. To plug these holes, and with the encouragement of Egyptian intelligence, the Mossad and Shin Bet held talks with Gen. Haftar to stop the shipments. According to various reports, Israel during that era sided with the general. But at a certain point, and so as not to put all its eggs in one basket, the Mossad decided to make contact with both Libyan governments. It can be assumed that these ties continue to this day.

    In recent weeks and as part of preparations for the elections, Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Mohammed Dbeibah (in the Tripoli government) has been in contact with Gen. Haftar and his son Saddam. With the encouragement of UAE intelligence, they are trying to form a national unity and reconciliation government. The U.S. and the EU are also seeking this, and Israel also supports the idea, which could help it move ahead the goal of diplomatic ties with Libya.

    Gen. Haftar would want to lead the new government. But he knows that his chances of doing so are slim, as are those of Saif al-Islam, who was released from prison in 2017 and is also toying with the idea. The latter is reportedly doing so because he is wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Meanwhile, civil lawsuits have been filed in U.S. federal courts against Gen. Haftar for war crimes, human rights abuses and torture.

    In contrast, the chances of Saddam Haftar are better than those of his father, despite the fact that he, like many Libyan leaders, is tainted with corruption and leads an ostentatious lifestyle. At his wedding a year ago, he gave out gifts to his guests to the tune of $10 million. The guests reportedly included 40 poets who sang his praises and those of his tribe.

    If Saddam Haftar plays a key role in the unity government (if any such government is indeed established), the chances will increase that Libya will launch diplomatic ties with Israel, with the encouragement of Egypt, the UAE and the Biden administration.

    The Prime Minister’s Office, which is in charge of the Mossad, Shin Bet and National Security Council, refused to comment for this story.


  • ’The job wasn’t completed in 1948. The land wasn’t emptied of Arabs’ - Israel News -

    Veteran Israeli filmmaker Avi Mograbi’s latest documentary draws on soldiers’ damning testimonies to expose the Israeli occupation. Don’t expect to see it on Israeli TV or at any local film festival


  • Bennett and Macron agree to deal with NSO scandal ’discreetly’ at climate talks
    Lee Yaron | Nov. 1, 2021 |

    Earlier at the Glasgow climate summit, Bennett asked Australia’s Morrison to designate Hezbollah a terror organization and condemn Iran at the board meeting of the UN’s nuclear watchdog

    GLASGOW – Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and French President Emmanuel Macron agreed on Monday to deal “discreetly” with the alleged hacking by Israeli firm NSO’s spyware on French targets, including the president himself, an Israeli source said.

    The company’s Pegasus software was reportedly used to surveil French phones, with Macron on a Moroccan list of targets, according to Le Monde.

    “It was agreed between the leaders that the subject will continue to be handled discreetly and professionally, and with the spirit of transparency between the two sides,” the unnamed official said.

    The two leaders discussed global challenges, including Syria and Lebanon, while Bennett’s office said that Iran was a priority in the talks at the Glasgow climate summit.

    Earlier on Monday, Bennett met with Australian counterpart Scott Morrison at the UN and discussed the Iranian threat and the Iran-backed group Hezbollah.

    Bennett asked Morrison to officially designate Hezbollah a terror organization, and both leaders discussed the Iranian threat at length. He also requested Morrison to harshly condemn Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Board of Governors meeting slated for later this month.

    The prime minister told Morrison he expects to further strengthen the ties between Israel and Australia and thanked him for Australia’s steadfast support of Israel in the international arena.

    Touching on climate change, Bennett told Morrison that “Israel had pledged to reduce its net carbon emissions to zero by 2050,” adding that “this matter should be politicized. We are talking about our children’s future.”

    Bennett also invited Morrison and his wife for an official visit in Israel.

    Reuters contributed to this report .

    #Pegasus #IsraelFrance #NSO

    • Scandale Pegasus : une rencontre franco-israélienne pour apaiser les tensions diplomatiques
      Publié le : 23/10/2021 | Avec notre correspondant à Jérusalem, Michel Paul

      Des pourparlers secrets ont eu lieu récemment entre la France et Israël pour tenter de désamorcer la crise provoquée par l’utilisation présumée de Pegasus, le logiciel espion développé par le groupe israélien NSO pour pirater les téléphones du président français Emmanuel Macron et d’autres responsables français, a révélé, vendredi 22 octobre, un site d’information israélien.

      Selon le portail Walla News, le conseiller israélien à la sécurité nationale, Eyal Hulata, aurait rencontré récemment Emmanuel Bonne, le conseiller diplomatique du président français. Une information confirmée à l’AFP par le palais de l’Élysée.

      Toujours selon la même source, la France a décidé depuis juillet dernier de geler ses liens diplomatiques et sécuritaires avec Israël jusqu’à la clarification de l’affaire. Et cela comprend notamment l’arrêt des visites réciproques entre les deux pays. Une enquête publiée à partir du 18 juillet par un consortium de 17 médias internationaux avait révélé que le logiciel Pegasus aurait permis d’espionner les numéros d’au moins 180 journalistes, 600 hommes et femmes politiques, 85 militants des droits humains ou encore 65 chefs d’entreprise de différents pays.

      Emmanuel Macron s’était entretenu par téléphone avec le Premier ministre israélien Naftali Bennett de cette affaire. Et ce dernier avait dépêché son ministre de la Défense Benny Gantz à Paris pour y présenter les premiers résultats de l’enquête.

      Les téléphones mobiles d’au moins cinq ministres français et un diplomate rattaché à l’Élysée auraient été infectés par le logiciel espion, avaient expliqué à l’AFP plusieurs sources proches du dossier fin septembre. Les téléphones ont été compromis en 2019 et 2020 et ont présenté des marqueurs d’infection par le logiciel espion commercialisé par la société israélienne NSO lors de leur examen par les services de sécurité français. NSO commercialise le logiciel mais explique ne pas l’exploiter, ce qui est fait par ses clients.

      À ce stade, Israël propose que les téléphones français soient à l’avenir déclarés intouchables dans les négociations du groupe NSO avec des clients potentiels, comme c’est déjà le cas pour les téléphones américains et britanniques. On ne sait pas si la France a accepté cette proposition de sortie de crise.

    • Les États-Unis placent NSO, le groupe israélien concepteur de Pegasus, sur sa liste noire
      RFI - Publié le : 03/11/2021

      La société informatique israélienne NSO est ajoutée à la liste noire américaine des sociétés interdites. C’est le département américain du Commerce qui l’annonce pour des raisons de sécurité nationale. La société est à l’origine du logiciel espion Pegasus qui s’est retrouvé au cœur de révélations, l’été dernier.
      Des journalistes, des militants, des chefs d’entreprise et des hommes politiques dont le président français Emmanuel Macron, la liste des personnalités espionnées via le logiciel installé dans leur téléphone est fournie.
      Ces programmes informatiques « ont permis à des gouvernements étrangers de faire de la répression au-delà de leurs frontières pour réduire au silence toute voix dissonante », indiquent les autorités américaines dans un communiqué.
      Concrètement, la société NSO n’a plus le droit de vendre ses produits aux États-Unis, d’importer certains produits américains ou de recevoir des transferts de technologies de sociétés américaines, explique notre correspondant à Washington, Guillaume Naudin,(...)

  • A nightmare season in the West Bank
    Gideon Levy | Oct. 22, 2021 |

    Settlers destroyed crops and vandalized olive trees belonging to a Palestinian couple in their 60s. The past two weeks have seen 18 attacks by settlers in the West Bank. Some 8,000 olive trees have already been victimized this year – and the season has just begun

    It could and should have been their finest hour. The olive harvest. A seasonal family celebration involving an encounter with nature, cultivation of the soil and a harvest in the grove, whose trees were planted by the family’s ancestors. It’s also supposed to be their surest source of income, in the face of an unstable, fragile economy, in which no one knows what the future holds or what a random soldier at a checkpoint will decide.

    This beautiful season has become a nightmare. Another nightmare. Practically no day goes by without attacks by settlers, or a morning without the discovery of trees that have been chopped down, battered or denuded of fruit. So far this year, 8,000 trees have already been vandalized in the West Bank, according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, by hundreds of settlers who have taken part in the pogroms. There have been 18 such incidents in the past two weeks alone, says Yesh Din-Volunteers for Human Rights, an Israeli nonprofit.

    With the entire West Bank painted now in the colors of the harvest – there isn’t a road without blankets or tarpaulins (on which the fruit falls), ladders and whole families gathered alongside and picking olives – there are apparently few who have not felt the brutal and evil arm of their Jewish neighbors. Those who steal sacks of olives from people who tended them for years and have very few other sources of income, if any; who strike the trunks and branches with axes; who burn groves and uproot trees.

    Eretz Israel – so beautiful, whole and undivided. The overwhelming nationalist hatred and wickedness is accompanied by the perpetrators’ hatred of the land and hatred of nature, of the earth and its fruit.

    We were the guests this week of two farmers in their 60s who haven’t enjoyed a peaceful harvest for years. But this year, the settlers’ plundering and acts of mutilation appear to be more intense than ever. These are people who know nothing bad will happen to them if they steal, uproot or burn. Jews they are – and the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces are in their thrall and will virtually always protect them, even in their lawlessness.

    Ibrahim Salah was standing on a ladder high up in a tree when we arrived at his grove in the village of Far’ata, west of the urban settlement of Ariel. His body and face hidden by branches, he was picking olive after olive and dropping them onto the blanket spread out below. His wife, Nada, sat on the ground sorting and tossing the olives, separating out twigs and leaves. Nada and Ibrahim, who are cousins, were born on the same night 68 years ago. They’ve been married since they were 18 and have seven children. Today they are at work in the family plot. The olives Nada puts into the sacks are green and shiny; it was a good year for olives.

    All his life Ibrahim worked as a tiler and in doing renovations in Israel. “But it was enough,” he says in Hebrew. Ibrahim knows the history of every tree in the grove of several dozen trees. He relates that one particular tree, withered and lowly, had been moved from a different location and is now acclimating to its new surroundings.

    In 2006, the Salahs’ son Basel was beaten badly on the head and shoulder by settlers during the olive harvest; he was hospitalized and still suffers from a permanent slight disability. In March 2019 , we visited Ibrahim after settlers from nearby Havat Gilad or its satellites dumped sheep carcasses into his well to poison the water. The sight of the carcasses, which he hoisted from the water before our eyes, was appalling, the stench unbearable. Since 2002 he hasn’t had a single quiet harvest. He recalls one occasion when he and his family had sat down to eat on their land and a settler complained about the smell of the labaneh and the fish they were eating; she demanded that soldiers nearby remove them. Another time they were resting during a coffee break and settlers complained that they were not at work, which was the reason they had received permit to be there; the army intervened and that was the end of the coffee break.

    The Salahs own 35 dunams (almost 9 acres) of olive groves close to Far’ata and another 18 near Havat Gilad, several hundred meters away. Because three of their plots are so close to the settlement, they must coordinate the plowing of the soil and the olive harvest with the IDF. It’s a world first: A person is allowed access to his land just a few days a year and only by permit – basically because his neighbors are violent. Every time Ibrahim is allowed to access his land, he’s thunderstruck.

    “Every year there is something new,” he tells us. This year he found that the fruit of some 50 trees that are 70 years old was stolen even before he got to the groves next to the settlement. “Seven or eight years ago,” he adds, “they built a house and a tent on my land. I filed a complaint, but nothing happened. They stayed. I filed more than 27 complaints, and nothing helped.

    “This year I’ve already filed three complaints. In one plot they didn’t leave me a single olive, in the second they cut down five trees and in the third they stole [the olives of] three trees and started to build a house there. We wanted to talk to them and tell them not to build, they started to shout at us and to chase us until the army came in an protected us.”

    That happened on Monday, October 11. Ibrahim wrings his hands, explaining that a settler woman and two youths, apparently her children, lay in wait for them on their way back home and started to pummel them – he and Nada, two people almost 70 years old. The soldiers helped to protect them that time. The following day a few Israeli volunteers arrived to help the Salahs and to protect them, and this time they weren’t attacked. But no one returned the harvest of the 50 trees the settlers had stolen beforehand.

    For his part, Yousef Hammoudeh, a 64-year-old resident of Yasuf, east of Ariel, has actually had the experience of soldiers returning to him what settlers had stolen, but of course no one was brought to trial for the theft. Like Ibrahim and Nada Salah, Hammoudeh has endured numerous attacks on his groves. He also tells us that some of his family’s land was expropriated years ago in order to establish the settlement of Kfar Tapuah.

    Previously Hammoudeh worked as a teacher; he was also employed by the Palestinian Authority as an expert in analyzing aerial photographs. Now retired, with eight children and 12 grandchildren, he depends on the olives for his livelihood. Sacks of them are in his yard, waiting to be taken to the olive press. He arrives to meet us driving an all-terrain vehicle.

    Last Thursday, October 14, Yousef went with his brother Ibrahim, 45, to their land, but settlers who had taken control of it chased them off as if they were stray dogs, with threats and stones. Their property is situated along Highway 60, at the foot of Rehelim, a settlement perched on a hill. The grove, which was purchased by the men’s grandfather, contains 70 trees scattered in the valley between the settlement and the highway. Violent, marauding settlers erected a few huts there seven or eight years ago. Settlers tried to steal the ladders the family had brought for the harvest, but they managed to rescue them and fled home, mortified.

    Last Friday, the Hammoudehs – Yousef and his wife, Hawla, 55, daughter Khanin, 33, and son Suheib, 23; and Ibrahim and his son, Salah, 15 – tried again to get to their grove, this time from above, from the hills. As they approached they met a woman, Juma’ana Abdel Raziq, who was harvesting her olives nearby. She told them that settlers had robbed her: They stole her cell phone and her handbag as well as the olives she had picked together with two workers she’d hired from the nearby town of Salfit; the workers had fled.

    As Juma’ana was telling her story, volleys of stones rained down on the members of the Hammoudeh family who were trying to get to their land. A stone struck Yousef in the head, another hit his wife’s leg and a third slammed into Suheib’s back. A few rocks hit their car, causing damage. All of this took place next to the main highway. Soldiers arrived on the scene and ordered the Palestinians to leave. Juma’ana lay down on the ground and said she would not leave until her property was returned to her. The Hammoudeh family joined her, saying: We will not budge either. They knew very well where the thief had come from – not far away, from one of the shacks that dot their land. In a rare, not to say unheard of gesture, a soldier went to the settler’s dwelling and brought back Juma’ana’s phone, bag and the olives.

    Last Saturday another attempt was made by the Hammoudeh brothers and their family to harvest their crop. This time Yousef’s son Hamzi, 30, a Palestinian policeman on leave, had joined them.

    The soldiers told the group they would not be able to work their land without coordinating it in advance with the army. “I’ll tell you the truth, the soldiers did not behave badly,” Yousef admits now. But then, he adds, a Border Police unit arrived and the picture changed. The family had even brought falafel balls for the soldiers (“I thought they were guarding us”), but the officers that had showed up crushed them underfoot. “It turned into a battlefield,” Yousef says.

    Border Police officers beat Hamzi, who tried to tell them that this was his family’s land, to protest and to argue with his counterparts, the Israeli police. They knocked Suheib to the ground, and he was cut by thorns. Finally, an officer grabbed Hawla by the throat. Video footage taken by Yousef shows the brawl between the family and the officers. The latter were about to arrest Hamzi, but Israeli volunteers accompanying the family were able to prevent that.

    The Hammoudehs went home after half an hour. Now, by order of the IDF, they have one day to harvest their olives, October 27, but it’s unlikely they will manage, even though about half the crop has been picked. The plan is to recruit help from their village. For now, of course, Yousef doesn’t dare approach the grove without coordination with the army.

    We, however, went by there later without him and saw the valley with the olive trees, the invaders’ shacks and the houses of Rehelim perched on the hill that overlooks his land.

    Meanwhile, back in the grove owned by Nada and Ibrahim in Far’ata, the couple had collected some small branches, lit a fire and brewed tea. The earth was covered with a green carpet of olives, Ibrahim was back in the tree and Nada was on the ground, tossing and sorting the olives.

    Everything could be so beautiful here.

  • Israeli Soldiers Kill A Palestinian Child, Abduct Another, Near Bethlehem
    Oct 15, 2021 – – IMEMC News

    Israeli soldiers killed, on Thursday at night, a Palestinian child, and abducted another near Beit Jala city, west of Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank.

    Local sources said the soldiers fired many live rounds at two Palestinian children in the Be’er Owna area in Beit Jala city, killing one.

    The slain Palestinian child has been identified as Amjad Osama Jalal Abu Sultan, 15 , from the Hindaza Mountain area, southeast of Bethlehem.

    They added that the soldiers abducted another child, identified as Mohammad Khalil ‘ Al-Arouj, 14, and took him to an interrogation facility.

    In a short statement, the Israeli army claimed the soldiers opened fire at the Palestinians when they “tried to hurl Molotov cocktails at the Tunnels Road,” connecting the Gush Etzion colony with occupied Jerusalem.


    • Killed By The Army On October 15; Israel To Release Corpse Of Slain Child
      Nov 16, 2021

      The Palestinian Detainees and Ex-Detainees Committee has reported, on Monday evening, that Israel intends to release the corpse of a Palestinian child from Bethlehem, who was killed by Israeli army fire on October 15, 2021.

      The Committee stated that it filed an appeal with an Israeli court to release the corpse of the slain child, and received Monday, a verdict that authorized the release but without setting an actual timeframe.

      It is worth mentioning that the child, identified as Amjad Osama Abu Sultan, 15, was killed by Israeli army fire in the Be’er Owna area, in Beit Jala city, west of Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank.

      The soldiers killed Amjad and injured another child, identified as Mohammad Khalil al-‘Arouj, 14, before taking him to an interrogation facility.

      After killing Amjad and wounding Mohammad, the army issued a statement claiming that the soldiers fired live rounds at Palestinians when they allegedly tried to throw Molotov cocktails at the “Tunnels Road,” connecting Gush Etzion illegal colony with occupied Jerusalem.

    • The premeditated killing of Amjad, a 14-year-old Palestinian
      Amira Hass | Dec. 6, 2021 |

      I’ve written here before about Amjad Abu Sultan, a 14-year-old boy who lived near Bethlehem. But his short life and the way he was lured to his death deserve more attention

      The soldiers waited in ambush in the dark for Amjad Abu Sultan, a 14-year-old child. Then they shot him dead. It is well known that one of the main sources of intelligence for the Israel Defense Forces is Shin Bet field officers. According to a spokesperson for the security service, Abu Sultan had written the field officer in the Bethlehem area that he planned to throw a firebomb and that he himself had carried out acts for which a friend of his, Adham, had been arrested. In an exchange of text messages found on the boy’s cellphone, the field officer wrote that unlike his friend who had been apprehended, Abu Sultan was a “nobody” and didn’t interest him.

      In short: The field officer provoked the boy and pushed him to do “something bigger.” Why did he provoke him? Why did he not order the army to arrest the boy? After all, the IDF and the Israel Police arrest Palestinians for making far less boastful pronouncements. Why did the soldiers kill the boy instead of arresting him before he could act? Is it only to me and the boy’s family that this sounds like a trap was being set in order to kill him? The Israeli organization Parents Against Child Detention should take note.

      From their hiding places the soldiers would have seen Amjad and another child, M., approaching the outskirts of Beit Jala on the evening of Thursday, October 14. How many soldiers were there? A dozen? Eight? Five? We don’t know. We can assume that they saw the two children descending the wadi between the olive trees, thistles and rocks, and observed them as they walked along the path and then climbed up, toward the wall. Amjad lit the way with the flashlight on his phone, according to M., who was caught, arrested and then released a few days later. The soldiers could have caught Amjad alive as well, before anything happened. This was no military conflict. There was no rioting crowd throwing stones and firebombs, appearing all of a sudden out of nowhere.

      Three bullets pierced Amjad’s back. Their trajectory was from below to above, and thus we understand the topography – a hilly slope. The soldiers were at the bottom of the hill, while the boy was higher up, but still far from the wall abutting the Tunnel Road. The boy, his back to the soldiers, was holding a firebomb. He lit it – and was shot instantly. The bottle fell from his hands. The small fire that was ignited burned itself out.

      Let’s replay the scenario. Well-trained, armed soldiers, skilled in weapons and combat, who outnumber the two children and are older, taller and stronger, killed the child, instead of overpowering him. They killed him and thus violated the international legal criteria that permit law enforcement officials to take a life: absolute necessity and proportionality. This is what’s called illegal execution.

      I have already written twice about Amjad Abu Sultan, but his premeditated killing is worthy of more attention – even if he was holding a firebomb. A boy who began his life in the Gaza Strip under Israeli bombardment, passed the rest of his short life in the Bethlehem area, between security barriers, barbed-wire fences, military guard towers, roads prohibited to Palestinians, and soldiers armed with guns who often enter residential neighborhoods. Yet, nevertheless, he would laugh and joke around, and explore the hilly terrain around the city, on foot and by electric bicycle. And yes, sometimes he would throw stones at a fortified military position in the wall. Once he was wounded by gunfire.

      A planned ambush is exactly what it sounds like: an ambush based on prior information, a great part of which was passed on to the army, we can assume, by the Bethlehem area field officer known as Captain Wissam Abu Ayoub. Like his Shin Bet colleagues, also this “Captain” had an active Facebook page by means of which he would contact his subjects directly, writing greetings and showing an interest in their well-being. In their responses, one should note, the subjects would mostly ridicule and curse him. It was through his Facebook page that so-called Captain Abu Ayoub corresponded with the boy Amjad. It began with comments that Amjad published following one of the Captain’s posts, and continued by means of personal correspondence via the messenger app.

      Pedophiles know that children frequent social media and that they can easily find their prey there. The Shin Bet knows that Palestinian children frequent social media, and the Shin Bet knows that Palestinian children (and older Palestinians as well) post curses there against the occupying state and its representatives, and praise those who they think fight against it and challenge it (for example, military figure Mohammed Deif). Those who are not familiar with the weapons of the military junta, and are not imprisoned between its walls, find it hard to understand, but verbal brawls with Shin Bet agents on Facebook is a way for Palestinian children – who do not understand the helplessness of their parents and the political leadership – to let off steam.

      Captain Abu Ayoub published his mobile phone number 052-4704465 on his Facebook profile. It was from that number, on October 15, that he called Amjad’s father, Osama, and informed him that the army had killed his son and was holding his body (which was returned, frozen, some five weeks later). Why did he not call the boy’s parents earlier, and why did he not warn them and tell them to keep Amjad from going near the wall? Why was it so important for the Shin Bet and the IDF to lure 14-year-old Amjad to his death?

  • Freed from Israeli prison, Khalida Jarrar is mourning her daughter but won’t stop speaking out against the occupation
    Gideon Levy, Alex Levac | Oct. 8, 2021 -

    A photo of Khalida Jarrar hugging her deceased daughter Suha, in the family’s home in El Bireh.Credit: Alex Levac

    Upon her release from prison last week, Palestinian legislator Khalida Jarrar visited the grave of her daughter, whose funeral Israel barred her from attending. ‘They think we have no feelings, that we are not human beings,’ she says

    A Nissan Juke straight out of the wrapper. Ghassan Jarrar bought the car three months ago for his daughter Suha. The subcompact SUV was driven 198 kilometers (123 miles) before Suha died suddenly, this past July, at the age of 31. Now her mother, Khalida, will drive it, following her release from prison last week. She was incarcerated for two years for “holding office in an illegal association” – this in a land where any organization, if it’s formed by Palestinians, is illegal.

    Still grieving for her daughter, Khalida was driven last Sunday directly from Damon Prison on Mount Carmel to Suha’s grave, while the new car remained parked next to the family’s home in El Bireh, adjacent to Ramallah, a sad memento of the deceased daughter.

    Israel displayed the full scale of its hardheartedness by not allowing Khalida Jarrar, a member of the Palestinian National Assembly and a political prisoner in every sense, to attend Suha’s funeral. At the time, she had two-and-a-half months left in her prison term, which she served in full, with no reduction. When we visited this week, she was sitting on the second floor of the family’s handsome stone house. Ghassan, as always, enveloped her with infinite warmth and love. Yafa, Suha’s sister and the couple’s only other child, had arrived from her home in Canada together with her husband, James Hutt, so they are finally able to mourn their tragedy together.

    Suha had suffered from problems in her digestive tract. On the day of her death, July 11, Yafa, who worried constantly about her sister’s health, had called her from Ottawa. When she got no response, Yafa quickly called a neighbor in El Bireh, who broke into the family’s house. Suha was in bed, lifeless. Her father was at work in Jenin, her mother was in prison. A postmortem, found that she had died of septic shock, caused by a perforated ulcer and the spread of fluid in the abdominal cavity. The ordeals of her mother, to whom Suha was very attached, certainly did nothing to improve her health.

    Four times the young woman was present when soldiers burst into their home in the dead of night to arrest her mother. Khalida Jarrar was jailed four times during the past few years. On the last occasion she was imprisoned, it was eight months after her release from a 20-month incarceration without a trial. This time, she was accused of being active in the political arm of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Right-wing circles in Israel successfully spread the lie – originally started by the Shin Bet security service – that Jarrar was involved in the August 2019 murder of Rina Shnerb, from the settlement of Dolev. However, that was completely groundless, and there is no mention of it in her indictment.

    Jarrar emerged from prison in elegant black attire. Now, at home, she is also dressed in black – T-shirt, pants and face mask – lending her the look of a young girl. She lost weight in prison, though nothing of her spirit. At 58, she has spend almost five years of her life in Israeli prisons. She suffers from several illnesses, and during her last imprisonment alone, she was taken three times to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa for tests. Each time, her hands and feet were shackled, but she says she received all her medications in prison.

    Her biggest complaints relate to the decrepit situation at Damon Prison – where the showers are not in the rooms, which makes things very difficult for the 36 Palestinian women incarcerated there – and to the fact that the prison canteen stopped selling radios; visits during the coronavirus crisis were stopped; it was impossible to phone home; and also to what she calls the “detention of books.” Books she had initially been permitted to read were confiscated by the guards. “Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison,” by the French philosopher Michel Foucault, in Arabic translation, was taken away. Incitement. Dictionaries were banned, too. More incitement. Also taken was Antonio Gramsci’s “Prison Notebooks,” though it was later returned with a different cover. Now the anti-fascist Italian thinker is in an Israeli prison.

    On July 9, a Friday, Jarrar’s two daughters took part in a program for prisoners broadcast on Palestinian radio. In this weekly program, family members of the thousands of Palestinians imprisoned in Israel, who are prevented from speaking with their loved ones, and sometimes also from visiting them, call the station and direct their comments to the inmates. Yafa and Suha were regular participants, Yafa via Skype from Ottawa, Suha from Ramallah. Their mother tuned in every week.

    On the last Friday of her life Suha did very little talking and quickly yielded the floor to Yafa, who as always had prepared a detailed written text for her mother. No one knew that this would be the last time that Khalida would hear the voice of her daughter, who apparently was already feeling unwell. The last time Khalida saw Suha was in February 2020, via video, in the courtroom, and the last time she hugged her was on the day of her arrest: October 31, 2019. Suha was scheduled to visit her mother in prison on August 4, but by then she was no longer alive.

    On the morning of July 11, Jarrar was listening to the radio, a regular habit. The radio is almost the prisoners’ only connection to the outside world. She was tuned to a current events program on Wattan FM, which broadcasts from Ramallah. At 8:40, shortly before the end of the program, the anchor stopped the discussion and said, “From here we send our condolences to Khalida Jarrar, on the death of her daughter.” Darkness abruptly descended on her. She was stupefied. All the inmates gathered around her. In the first moments she was torn between the faint hope that the announcement was a mistake and the awareness that it was apparently true.

    “I believed it and I didn’t believe it,” Jarrar recalled this week. By the time her three lawyers arrived, a short time later, having been sent by the family to convey the news, she already knew the awful truth.

    A public campaign was launched for her release to attend the funeral, but Jarrar held out few hopes. She knows the authorities, she says, and many Palestinian prisoners have been barred from attending funerals of their closest relatives – indeed she too had not been allowed to attend her father’s funeral, so why would they let her now?

    Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev (Labor) has said he tried to help her but was unsuccessful. As for the Israel Prison Service, no one expected anything from them, not even in light of the fact that Jarrar’s release from prison was approaching.

    “That is the attitude,” she said this week. “I don’t think they see us as human beings. They don’t think we have feelings. It’s part of our punishment and it is a very wicked punishment. Lacking any humanity.”

    She knew that under the circumstances on that fateful day, she was permitted to make one phone call. At 8 P.M. guards told her that she had the right to a call and asked her whether she wanted to make it in the evening or the morning. She wanted to call immediately, of course. She was told she had 10 minutes to speak with Ghassan. She thinks they spoke for 14 minutes, but he corrects her now: 17 minutes and seven seconds, exactly. He checked. A few days later the prison authorities also agreed to let her talk to Yafa, who was then on a beach in Canada that Suha loved. The two sisters were very close.

    A memorial prayer service for Suha was held in Damon Prison, and similar prayers were held in all the facilities where Palestinians are incarcerated. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshal called to offer their condolences. Two representatives of the 58 Palestinian minors who are also incarcerated in Damon were allowed to pay her a condolence visit, which moved her deeply. Sometimes they shouted to her from behind the cell walls.

    A year earlier, on Khalida’s birthday, her fellow inmates prepared a present for her. Without her knowledge, they took photographs of Yafa and Suha from her shelves, wrapped them in aluminum foil that they removed from the disposable food packaging used for the special meals of the diabetic prisoners, and presented her with the photos of her two daughters on a silver background. Now, she retrieves the pictures to show a visitor. A gift was also once made for Ajawi, a 7-year-old cat with thick brown fur that belonged to Suha. The women made a gray wool doll with a cat’s face that a released prisoner brought to the family’s home. Ajawi is now sprawled on an armchair, waiting for Suha, who will never come back.

    Khalida Jarrar, as impressive as ever, did not crack. Only once during our conversation did she break into tears, when we talked about the potatoes that “Susi” liked to prepare for her father. Ghassan quickly embraced his wife and gave her tissues. When we asked her later if she would continue with her political activity, Ghassan leaped in with the answer ahead of her: “There’s no question about that.”

    To which Khalida added, “I have started to teach at Bir Zeit University [near Ramallah] and I have started to write about the prisoners from the political aspect. They say that is politics. I am a legislator who represents my people. And my people lives under occupation. I am part of a people that lives under a colonialist regime. Is there any people that accepts its occupiers? This is what I have always done. I spoke about the occupation and its crimes against my people. No one should evade punishment in the International Criminal Court in The Hague, and no occupied people has accepted its occupier. I will continue to talk about these subjects, because that is my credo. They know that I have no connection with the murder of the settler. They only wanted to incite against me.”

    Ghassan asks to add: “During the eight months [between the two incarcerations] in which Khalida was free, she changed her life. She devoted her time to teaching at Bir-Zeit, and they know that. But they don’t want Khalida on the outside. They needed a victim after Ein Bubin [where Rina Shnerb was murdered]. They had to placate the settlers.”

    The guests are given a photograph of Suha on a plastic stand, with the words “I loved you, I will remember you” inscribed on it. When will you be arrested again? Khalida Jarrar: “With an occupation like this, there’s no way to know. But even so I ask: How can they not be ashamed? How can they not be ashamed? And when you’re not ashamed, you can do anything.”

  • L’attaque de colons dans les collines d’Hébron sert la politique israélienne d’expulsion des Palestiniens
    Amira Haas / Sep. 29, 2021 - Haaretz - Traduction : AFPS

    Depuis des années, Israël tente de déraciner les habitants des grottes des collines d’Hébron en les déclarant zone militaire. L’attaque de mardi est une nouvelle tentative de les chasser.

    Les descriptions données par les témoins oculaires de l’attaque qui aurait été menée par des citoyens juifs israéliens mardi, jour de la fête de Simhat Torah, contre les habitants du village palestinien de Khirbat al-Mufkara sont horrifiantes.

    Basel Adraa, un activiste du village voisin d’al-Tuwani, a écrit que des dizaines d’hommes masqués « sont allés de maison en maison, et ont cassé des fenêtres, brisé des voitures avec des couteaux et des marteaux. Une grosse pierre qu’ils ont jetée a touché à la tête un garçon de 3 ans, Mohammed, qui est maintenant à l’hôpital. Les soldats les ont soutenus avec des gaz lacrymogènes. Les habitants ont fui. Je ne peux pas oublier comment les villageois ont quitté leurs maisons, terrifiés, les enfants criant, les femmes pleurant, tandis que les colons entraient dans leurs salons, comme s’ils étaient possédés par la violence et la colère. »

    Al-Mufkara est l’un des villages troglodytes situés à la périphérie de la ville de Yatta, dans le sud des collines d’Hébron, où, depuis des décennies, Israël tente de déraciner les habitants et de démolir les villages. Les habitants, quant à eux, ont fait preuve d’une résistance et d’une endurance suprêmes et sont restés. Ils refusent de quitter leurs maisons malgré les conditions de vie difficiles que leur imposent les interdictions israéliennes : il leur est interdit de se raccorder aux infrastructures d’eau et d’électricité, de construire - y compris des cliniques, des écoles et des terrains de jeux. Il est interdit de paver ou de réparer les routes d’accès entre eux. Néanmoins, nombreux sont ceux, surtout des jeunes, qui partent précisément à cause de ces interdictions draconiennes et de la façon dont elles limitent leurs possibilités de développement. (...)

    source : Settler attack on Palestinians in Hebron Hills serves Israeli policy - Israel News -

    • Témoignage : Un autre pogrom horrible contre les Palestiniens
      29 septembre 2021

      Trouvez ci-dessous le témoignage en direct de Yuval Abraham, activiste israélien, présent dans le village Mufaqara, dans le sud des collines de Hébron, au moment du pogrom. Ce témoignage a été écrit le 28 septembre 2021.

      Dans un déchaînement d’une violence horrible, des dizaines de colons israéliens masqués ont commémoré un jour de fête en attaquant un village palestinien de Cisjordanie. Ils ont massacré des moutons, démoli des voitures, agressé sauvagement des résidents palestiniens, dont une douzaine au moins ont été blessés, parmi lesquels un petit garçon de trois ans. Ils ont également saccagé des maisons à l’aide de battes et de marteaux, pulvérisant les meubles et tout ce qui tombait à leur portée. Pendant tout ce temps, les soldats se tenaient derrière les agresseurs et n’ont rien fait pour les arrêter. Au contraire, ils ont lancé de grandes quantités de gaz ainsi que des grenades incapacitantes sur les Palestiniens. (...)

  • Documentary on Lea Tsemel, Israeli lawyer who defends Palestinians, wins Emmy
    Nirit Anderman - Sep. 30, 2021-

    The Israeli documentary film, “Advocate,” which follows noted human rights lawyer Lea Tsemel, who defends Palestinians in Israeli courts, won the award for Best Documentary on Wednesday at the 42nd Annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards.

    The film, directed by Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaïche and originally produced for Israel’s Hot 8, focuses on the personality of Tsemel, a human rights lawyer who represents Palestinians in Israeli courts. It was shortlisted for the Oscars in 2019. The film was also nominated for an Emmy in the Outstanding Politics and Government Documentary category.

    Following their win, the filmmakers released a statement referencing a part of the film, in which talk show host Judy Nir-Mozes tells Tsemel, “I can’t understand you at all.” To which Tsemel responds: “You should try to understand me, because…I am the future.”

    “It seems the future is already here,” the filmmakers said. “The next step is to give rise to justice and equality for everyone.” (...)

  • The illegal settler outpost has running water. Its Palestinian neighbors don’t. This is apartheid at its starkest
    Gideon Levy and Alex Levac | Sep. 24, 2021 - Twilight Zone -

    Ahmad Hamamdi at his farm.Credit: Alex Levac

    The activists who were attacked by Israeli soldiers in the South Hebron Hills were bringing water to the Hamamdi family – who are denied that resource by Israel. Opposite them are the water pipes and electric cables of an outlaw settler outpost

    The yellowish water in the large plastic jug is for irrigating the crops. The clear water in the 1.5-liter plastic bottles is for drinking. Ahmad Hamamdi, a 71-year-old farmer, displays the wretched water system of his well-tended and almost miraculous homestead. Up the hill is the half-wrecked pen he tried to build for his 10 sheep. Opposite the small cabin he resides in are the ruins of another room he built. Between them lie torn seats removed from old cars, along with other junk. The sight evokes a village in the Afghan mountains. But we’re not two hours from Kabul, we’re two hours from Tel Aviv, across from the unauthorized settler outpost called Avigayil, which is of course hooked up to the water system and the power grid, and to which an illegally built road leads, here in the South Hebron Hills.

    Umm al-Shukkhan is home to three elderly persons: Ahmad Hamamdi, a straight-backed, resilient man with a hearing aid; Halimi, his wife, 67; and her sister, Zarifi, a mentally disabled woman, aged 52. Zarifi is a pitiable sight. She doesn’t utter a sound, her gaze is mostly fixed on the ground, occasionally she clasps her face in her hands. Her sister and brother-in-law see to all her needs – she is wearing a fine, clean, striped robe. Ahmad and Halimi’s 12 children have all married and left home, and against all the odds and against the violence of the occupation authorities and the hostile local settlers, the couple have created a splendid single-family farm.

    Ahmad built a fence around the pomelo tree, and when troops of the military government’s Civil Administration arrived to uproot it, two years ago, he begged in the name of the tree’s soul, shouted haram – “have pity” – and succeeded in staying the executioner’s hand. Also spared were the tomato, okra and cucumber plants, along with the five beehives and the lemon tree. In place of the 150 olive trees that were uprooted two years ago, he quickly planted a few dozen new ones, which are now blooming. And all of this in the rocky desert land, in the heat of the summer, which so far has refused to abate.

    זה הסרטון.
    — نير حسون Nir Hasson ניר חסון (@nirhasson) September 18, 2021
    A video of the incident.

    Combatants for Peace, an Israeli-Palestinian NGO, chose to come here last Friday, not because this is the only place in the South Hebron Hills that is crying out for water (it isn’t), but because the apartheid here cries out to the heavens more starkly than elsewhere. Unlimited water and a hookup to the electricity grid for the unauthorized outpost of Avigayil, which also has a large, recreational wading pool, and opposite it the compound of the Hamamdi family, which clings to earth that belongs to Halimi’s parents, with no hookup to water or electricity.

    Combatants for Peace wanted to bring water to this family, but Maj. Maor Moshe – a deputy battalion commander in the Engineering Corps of the Israel Defense Forces – took a dim view of the plan. His soldiers fired stun and tear-gas grenades at them, one even by aiming at them directly, pushed them back violently and in a fit of unbelievable rage wounded six of them and arrested a few others, in one of the IDF’s ugliest and most repulsive displays in memory. All that remained on the ground from the incident this week were a few plastic bottles and plastic handcuffs.

    The Hamamdi family has lived here for the past five years, having moved from the village of Taban, to the west. The South Hebron Hills lie completely in Area C of the West Bank, in which the Palestinians are not allowed to build anything, and where Israel has declared almost everything either state land or a firing zone, the better to expel the Palestinians.

    Ahmad serves dark Argaman grapes from the vine under which we’re sitting – large, fleshy, honey-sweet. Last week he laid a screen on the stone pen he built, in order to create shade for his few sheep, but within a short time two Israeli soldiers appeared and ordered him to remove the screen or face arrest. The Avigayil settlers apparently reported this severe security infringement. The screen now lies folded, ashamed, in a corner of the improvised porch, and Ahmad moved the sheep to one of his children in the nearby town of Yatta until the heat lifts. He’ll bring them back after the olive harvest, in October. On the night after he was told to remove the screen, settlers showed up and demolished part of the pen’s walls – the stones now lie scattered on the ground.

    Umm al-Shukkhan is home to three: Ahmad Hamamdi, a farmer with a hearing aid; Halimi, his wife, 67; and her mentally disabled sister, Zarifi, 52. Credit : Alex Levac

    The Combatants for Peace group bought water for him, and Ahmad hauled the container with his tractor from the nearby village of Tawani. Usually he brings a container, spills the water into the cistern and from there pumps it into a raised container from which the water flows to his crops. It’s a very small tract of land, on which every tree and bush is extraordinarily well cultivated, like the urban vegetable patches in Israeli parks.

    Access here is via the paved road to Avigayil, illegally built by the settlers, and then via an extremely bad dirt path to Hamadi’s compound. Last Friday, a few meters before the turnoff to the dirt trail, the Israeli major stopped the tractor, attacked the driver, Ahmad, and confiscated the keys. Water he will not get, that’s an order, not even after MK Mossi Raz (Meretz), who was present, reached an agreement with the officer by which the demonstrators from Combatants for Peace would withdraw and the water container would be allowed to continue on its way. Immediately thereafter, however, the soldiers started to fire the grenades and then Maj. Moshe pounced on one of the demonstrators, and knocked him to the ground. Moshe was subsequently reprimanded. The IDF stated the next day that an investigation, which was carried out by Brig. Gen. Yaniv Alalouf, found that “the army force erred when it decided to use crowd dispersal means of the stun and gas type against the demonstrators, who were bent on carrying out provocations. The officer who was documented pushing a demonstrator was reprimanded by his commanders.”

    Hamamdi pays 500 shekels ($155) for 20 cubic meters of water, which lasts for barely two weeks. That’s 1,000 shekels a month for water, which in Avigayil is almost free. “Water is life,” says Nasser Nawaj’ah, a resident of the nearby village of Susiya and the local field researcher for the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem. Nawaj’ah was also present when the soldiers attacked the Combatants for Peace group. Nawaj’ah relates that he didn’t know that the new officer, who has been serving in the region for a few months, is named Maor Moshe – the Palestinians thought his name was Itai, because that’s how he introduced himself. There had already been several violent incidents with him, Nawaj’ah relates, adding that “he does not keep his word.” In this remote region, where every Palestinian hamlet is surrounded by a few outlaw outposts and the battle is for the cleansing of the indigenous inhabitants, every officer is a king.

    The illegal settlement of Avigayil.Credit: Alex Levac

    A police force that arrived on the scene took the tractor keys from the officer and returned them to Hamamdi, but didn’t allow him to head home. He was compelled to turn around and take the water back to Tawani and leave it there. He’s now very fearful of hauling the container to his home – since the incident he’s been using only plastic bottles. Last April, during Ramadan, the police confiscated his Toyota van, which was “mashtuba” – a vehicle without papers – and now he has a new mashtuba, a rickety Mitsubishi van about which Hamamdi says, “It almost drives.” The tractor and the container are now with his children in Yatta, as he’s afraid they will be confiscated here. Now he plans to find a different way, bypassing Avigayil and far longer, to haul the water. Instead of a quarter of an hour, when it’s in Tawani, it’ll take an hour – whatever it takes to get around his neighbors in Avigayil.

    Hamamdi gets electricity from the solar panels that were given to him by the wonderful NGO Comet-ME, which supplies such panels to the remote shepherd communities and villages that Israel doesn’t permit to hook up to the grid. Those panels haven’t been confiscated so far, as they have been in many other locales.

    A scrawny ginger cat prowls hungrily around the compound. The family’s living room resembles nothing so much as an especially crowded jail cell: 13 square meters (140 square feet), including a mini-kitchen. This is the space in which three adults, none of them young, one with special needs, live. Three steel beds are arranged in a U around the small room, in the center of which a bag of bread hangs from the ceiling from a rope secured by a hook. A few green tomatoes lie on a rusting tray. The room is dim, the ceiling is made of tin, the kitchen is meager, the clothes too hang on the walls, there is nothing like a closet. The diminutive cave a bit down the hill from this structure contains a chicken coop and a dovecote. Another room, closed off, is used for visits of the couple’s 12 children and their families. Havat Maon, Avigayil and Mitzpeh Yair surround them on three sides, all of them unauthorized outposts, some of their residents violent.

    Ahmad’s favorite spot is at the end of his small compound. There, in the shade of a young eucalyptus tree, stands a gray, three-legged plastic chair that is tied to the tree trunk. In place of the missing fourth leg, Ahmad has placed a gray brick. Here he sits solitary and silent, gazing at the desert landscape that is being despoiled before his eyes.