organization:israel defense forces

  • Burying the Nakba: How Israel systematically hides evidence of 1948 expulsion of Arabs
    By Hagar Shezaf Jul 05, 2019 - Israel News - Haaretz.com
    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium.MAGAZINE-how-israel-systematically-hides-evidence-of-1948-expulsio

    International forces overseeing the evacuation of Iraq al-Manshiyya, near today’s Kiryat Gat, in March, 1949. Collection of Benno Rothenberg/Israel State Archives

    Four years ago, historian Tamar Novick was jolted by a document she found in the file of Yosef Vashitz, from the Arab Department of the left-wing Mapam Party, in the Yad Yaari archive at Givat Haviva. The document, which seemed to describe events that took place during the 1948 war, began:

    “Safsaf [former Palestinian village near Safed] – 52 men were caught, tied them to one another, dug a pit and shot them. 10 were still twitching. Women came, begged for mercy. Found bodies of 6 elderly men. There were 61 bodies. 3 cases of rape, one east of from Safed, girl of 14, 4 men shot and killed. From one they cut off his fingers with a knife to take the ring.”

    The writer goes on to describe additional massacres, looting and abuse perpetrated by Israeli forces in Israel’s War of Independence. “There’s no name on the document and it’s not clear who’s behind it,” Dr. Novick tells Haaretz. “It also breaks off in the middle. I found it very disturbing. I knew that finding a document like this made me responsible for clarifying what happened.”

    The Upper Galilee village of Safsaf was captured by the Israel Defense Forces in Operation Hiram toward the end of 1948. Moshav Safsufa was established on its ruins. Allegations were made over the years that the Seventh Brigade committed war crimes in the village. Those charges are supported by the document Novick found, which was not previously known to scholars. It could also constitute additional evidence that the Israeli top brass knew about what was going on in real time.

    Novick decided to consult with other historians about the document. Benny Morris, whose books are basic texts in the study of the Nakba – the “calamity,” as the Palestinians refer to the mass emigration of Arabs from the country during the 1948 war – told her that he, too, had come across similar documentation in the past. He was referring to notes made by Mapam Central Committee member Aharon Cohen on the basis of a briefing given in November 1948 by Israel Galili, the former chief of staff of the Haganah militia, which became the IDF. Cohen’s notes in this instance, which Morris published, stated: “Safsaf 52 men tied with a rope. Dropped into a pit and shot. 10 were killed. Women pleaded for mercy. [There were] 3 cases of rape. Caught and released. A girl of 14 was raped. Another 4 were killed. Rings of knives.”

    Morris’ footnote (in his seminal “The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949”) states that this document was also found in the Yad Yaari Archive. But when Novick returned to examine the document, she was surprised to discover that it was no longer there.

    Palestine refugees initially displaced to Gaza board boats to Lebanon or Egypt, in 1949. Hrant Nakashian/1949 UN Archives

    “At first I thought that maybe Morris hadn’t been accurate in his footnote, that perhaps he had made a mistake,” Novick recalls. “It took me time to consider the possibility that the document had simply disappeared.” When she asked those in charge where the document was, she was told that it had been placed behind lock and key at Yad Yaari – by order of the Ministry of Defense.

    Since the start of the last decade, Defense Ministry teams have been scouring Israel’s archives and removing historic documents. But it’s not just papers relating to Israel’s nuclear project or to the country’s foreign relations that are being transferred to vaults: Hundreds of documents have been concealed as part of a systematic effort to hide evidence of the Nakba.

    The phenomenon was first detected by the Akevot Institute for Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Research. According to a report drawn up by the institute, the operation is being spearheaded by Malmab, the Defense Ministry’s secretive security department (the name is a Hebrew acronym for “director of security of the defense establishment”), whose activities and budget are classified. The report asserts that Malmab removed historical documentation illegally and with no authority, and at least in some cases has sealed documents that had previously been cleared for publication by the military censor. Some of the documents that were placed in vaults had already been published.
    An investigative report by Haaretz found that Malmab has concealed testimony from IDF generals about the killing of civilians and the demolition of villages, as well as documentation of the expulsion of Bedouin during the first decade of statehood. Conversations conducted by Haaretz with directors of public and private archives alike revealed that staff of the security department had treated the archives as their property, in some cases threatening the directors themselves.

    Yehiel Horev, who headed Malmab for two decades, until 2007, acknowledged to Haaretz that he launched the project, which is still ongoing. He maintains that it makes sense to conceal the events of 1948, because uncovering them could generate unrest among the country’s Arab population. Asked what the point is of removing documents that have already been published, he explained that the objective is to undermine the credibility of studies about the history of the refugee problem. In Horev’s view, an allegation made by a researcher that’s backed up by an original document is not the same as an allegation that cannot be proved or refuted.

    The document Novick was looking for might have reinforced Morris’ work. During the investigation, Haaretz was in fact able to find the Aharon Cohen memo, which sums up a meeting of Mapam’s Political Committee on the subject of massacres and expulsions in 1948. Participants in the meeting called for cooperation with a commission of inquiry that would investigate the events. One case the committee discussed concerned “grave actions” carried out in the village of Al-Dawayima, east of Kiryat Gat. One participant mentioned the then-disbanded Lehi underground militia in this connection. Acts of looting were also reported: “Lod and Ramle, Be’er Sheva, there isn’t [an Arab] store that hasn’t been broken into. 9th Brigade says 7, 7th Brigade says 8.”
    “The party,” the document states near the end, “is against expulsion if there is no military necessity for it. There are different approaches concerning the evaluation of necessity. And further clarification is best. What happened in Galilee – those are Nazi acts! Every one of our members must report what he knows.”

    The Israeli version
    One of the most fascinating documents about the origin of the Palestinian refugee problem was written by an officer in Shai, the precursor to the Shin Bet security service. It discusses why the country was emptied of so many of its Arab inhabitants, dwelling on the circumstances of each village. Compiled in late June 1948, it was titled “The Emigration of the Arabs of Palestine.”

    Read a translation of the document here (1)

    This document was the basis for an article that Benny Morris published in 1986. After the article appeared, the document was removed from the archive and rendered inaccessible to researchers. Years later, the Malmab team reexamined the document, and ordered that it remain classified. They could not have known that a few years later researchers from Akevot would find a copy of the text and run it past the military censors – who authorized its publication unconditionally. Now, after years of concealment, the gist of the document is being revealed here.

    The 25-page document begins with an introduction that unabashedly approves of the evacuation of the Arab villages. According to the author, the month of April “excelled in an increase of emigration,” while May “was blessed with the evacuation of maximum places.” The report then addresses “the causes of the Arab emigration.” According to the Israeli narrative that was disseminated over the years, responsibility for the exodus from Israel rests with Arab politicians who encouraged the population to leave. However, according to the document, 70 percent of the Arabs left as a result of Jewish military operations.

    Palestinian children awaiting distribution of milk by UNICEF at the Nazareth Franciscan Sisters’ convent, on January 1, 1950. AW / UN Photo

    The unnamed author of the text ranks the reasons for the Arabs’ departure in order of importance. The first reason: “Direct Jewish acts of hostility against Arab places of settlement.” The second reason was the impact of those actions on neighboring villages. Third in importance came “operations by the breakaways,” namely the Irgun and Lehi undergrounds. The fourth reason for the Arab exodus was orders issued by Arab institutions and “gangs” (as the document refers to all Arab fighting groups); fifth was “Jewish ’whispering operations’ to induce the Arab inhabitants to flee”; and the sixth factor was “evacuation ultimatums.”

    The author asserts that, “without a doubt, the hostile operations were the main cause of the movement of the population.” In addition, “Loudspeakers in the Arabic language proved their effectiveness on the occasions when they were utilized properly.” As for Irgun and Lehi operations, the report observes that “many in the villages of central Galilee started to flee following the abduction of the notables of Sheikh Muwannis [a village north of Tel Aviv]. The Arab learned that it is not enough to forge an agreement with the Haganah and that there are other Jews [i.e., the breakaway militias] to beware of.”

    The author notes that ultimatums to leave were especially employed in central Galilee, less so in the Mount Gilboa region. “Naturally, the act of this ultimatum, like the effect of the ’friendly advice,’ came after a certain preparing of the ground by means of hostile actions in the area.”
    An appendix to the document describes the specific causes of the exodus from each of scores of Arab locales: Ein Zeitun – “our destruction of the village”; Qeitiya – “harassment, threat of action”; Almaniya – “our action, many killed”; Tira – “friendly Jewish advice”; Al’Amarir – “after robbery and murder carried out by the breakaways”; Sumsum – “our ultimatum”; Bir Salim – “attack on the orphanage”; and Zarnuga – “conquest and expulsion.”

    Short fuse
    In the early 2000s, the Yitzhak Rabin Center conducted a series of interviews with former public and military figures as part of a project to document their activity in the service of the state. The long arm of Malmab seized on these interviews, too. Haaretz, which obtained the original texts of several of the interviews, compared them to the versions that are now available to the public, after large swaths of them were declared classified.

    These included, for example, sections of the testimony of Brig. Gen. (res.) Aryeh Shalev about the expulsion across the border of the residents of a village he called “Sabra.” Later in the interview, the following sentences were deleted: “There was a very serious problem in the valley. There were refugees who wanted to return to the valley, to the Triangle [a concentration of Arab towns and villages in eastern Israel]. We expelled them. I met with them to persuade them not to want that. I have papers about it.”

    In another case, Malmab decided to conceal the following segment from an interview that historian Boaz Lev Tov conducted with Maj. Gen. (res.) Elad Peled:
    Lev Tov: “We’re talking about a population – women and children?”
    Peled: “All, all. Yes.”
    Lev Tov: “Don’t you distinguish between them?”
    Peled: “The problem is very simple. The war is between two populations. They come out of their home.”
    Lev Tov: “If the home exists, they have somewhere to return to?”
    Peled: “It’s not armies yet, it’s gangs. We’re also actually gangs. We come out of the house and return to the house. They come out of the house and return to the house. It’s either their house or our house.”
    Lev Tov: “Qualms belong to the more recent generation?”
    Peled: “Yes, today. When I sit in an armchair here and think about what happened, all kinds of thoughts come to mind.”
    Lev Tov: “Wasn’t that the case then?”
    Peled: “Look, let me tell you something even less nice and cruel, about the big raid in Sasa [Palestinian village in Upper Galilee]. The goal was actually to deter them, to tell them, ‘Dear friends, the Palmach [the Haganah “shock troops”] can reach every place, you are not immune.’ That was the heart of the Arab settlement. But what did we do? My platoon blew up 20 homes with everything that was there.”
    Lev Tov: “While people were sleeping there?”
    Peled: “I suppose so. What happened there, we came, we entered the village, planted a bomb next to every house, and afterward Homesh blew on a trumpet, because we didn’t have radios, and that was the signal [for our forces] to leave. We’re running in reverse, the sappers stay, they pull, it’s all primitive. They light the fuse or pull the detonator and all those houses are gone.”

    IDF soldiers guarding Palestinians in Ramle, in 1948. Collection of Benno Rothenberg/The IDF and Defense Establishment Archives

    Another passage that the Defense Ministry wanted to keep from the public came from Dr. Lev Tov’s conversation with Maj. Gen. Avraham Tamir:
    Tamir: “I was under Chera [Maj. Gen. Tzvi Tzur, later IDF chief of staff], and I had excellent working relations with him. He gave me freedom of action – don’t ask – and I happened to be in charge of staff and operations work during two developments deriving from [Prime Minister David] Ben-Gurion’s policy. One development was when reports arrived about marches of refugees from Jordan toward the abandoned villages [in Israel]. And then Ben-Gurion lays down as policy that we have to demolish [the villages] so they won’t have anywhere to return to. That is, all the Arab villages, most of which were in [the area covered by] Central Command, most of them.”
    Lev Tov: “The ones that were still standing?”
    Tamir: “The ones that weren’t yet inhabited by Israelis. There were places where we had already settled Israelis, like Zakariyya and others. But most of them were still abandoned villages.”
    Lev Tov: “That were standing?”
    Tamir: “Standing. It was necessary for there to be no place for them to return to, so I mobilized all the engineering battalions of Central Command, and within 48 hours I knocked all those villages to the ground. Period. There’s no place to return to.”
    Lev Tov: “Without hesitation, I imagine.”
    Tamir: “Without hesitation. That was the policy. I mobilized, I carried it out and I did it.”

    Crates in vaults
    The vault of the Yad Yaari Research and Documentation Center is one floor below ground level. In the vault, which is actually a small, well-secured room, are stacks of crates containing classified documents. The archive houses the materials of the Hashomer Hatzair movement, the Kibbutz Ha’artzi kibbutz movement, Mapam, Meretz and other bodies, such as Peace Now.
    The archive’s director is Dudu Amitai, who is also chairman of the Association of Israel Archivists. According to Amitai, Malmab personnel visited the archive regularly between 2009 and 2011. Staff of the archive relate that security department teams – two Defense Ministry retirees with no archival training – would show up two or three times a week. They searched for documents according to such keywords as “nuclear,” “security” and “censorship,” and also devoted considerable time to the War of Independence and the fate of the pre-1948 Arab villages.
    “In the end, they submitted a summary to us, saying that they had located a few dozen sensitive documents,” Amitai says. “We don’t usually take apart files, so dozens of files, in their entirety, found their way into our vault and were removed from the public catalog.” A file might contain more than 100 documents.
    One of the files that was sealed deals with the military government that controlled the lives of Israel’s Arab citizens from 1948 until 1966. For years, the documents were stored in the same vault, inaccessible to scholars. Recently, in the wake of a request by Prof. Gadi Algazi, a historian from Tel Aviv University, Amitai examined the file himself and ruled that there was no reason not to unseal it, Malmab’s opinion notwithstanding.

    According to Algazi, there could be several reasons for Malmab’s decision to keep the file classified. One of them has to do with a secret annex it contains to a report by a committee that examined the operation of the military government. The report deals almost entirely with land-ownership battles between the state and Arab citizens, and barely touches on security matters.

    Another possibility is a 1958 report by the ministerial committee that oversaw the military government. In one of the report’s secret appendixes, Col. Mishael Shaham, a senior officer in the military government, explains that one reason for not dismantling the martial law apparatus is the need to restrict Arab citizens’ access to the labor market and to prevent the reestablishment of destroyed villages.
    A third possible explanation for hiding the file concerns previously unpublished historical testimony about the expulsion of Bedouin. On the eve of Israel’s establishment, nearly 100,000 Bedouin lived in the Negev. Three years later, their number was down to 13,000. In the years during and after the independence war, a number of expulsion operations were carried out in the country’s south. In one case, United Nations observers reported that Israel had expelled 400 Bedouin from the Azazma tribe and cited testimonies of tents being burned. The letter that appears in the classified file describes a similar expulsion carried out as late as 1956, as related by geologist Avraham Parnes:

    The evacuation of Iraq al-Manshiyya, near today’s Kiryat Gat, in March, 1949. Collection of Benno Rothenberg/The IDF and Defense Establishment Archives

    “A month ago we toured Ramon [crater]. The Bedouin in the Mohila area came to us with their flocks and their families and asked us to break bread with them. I replied that we had a great deal of work to do and didn’t have time. In our visit this week, we headed toward Mohila again. Instead of the Bedouin and their flocks, there was deathly silence. Scores of camel carcasses were scattered in the area. We learned that three days earlier the IDF had ‘screwed’ the Bedouin, and their flocks were destroyed – the camels by shooting, the sheep with grenades. One of the Bedouin, who started to complain, was killed, the rest fled.”

    The testimony continued, “Two weeks earlier, they’d been ordered to stay where they were for the time being, afterward they were ordered to leave, and to speed things up 500 head were slaughtered.... The expulsion was executed ‘efficiently.’” The letter goes on to quote what one of the soldiers said to Parnes, according to his testimony: “They won’t go unless we’ve screwed their flocks. A young girl of about 16 approached us. She had a beaded necklace of brass snakes. We tore the necklace and each of us took a bead for a souvenir.”

    The letter was originally sent to MK Yaakov Uri, from Mapai (forerunner of Labor), who passed it on to Development Minister Mordechai Bentov (Mapam). “His letter shocked me,” Uri wrote Bentov. The latter circulated the letter among all the cabinet ministers, writing, “It is my opinion that the government cannot simply ignore the facts related in the letter.” Bentov added that, in light of the appalling contents of the letter, he asked security experts to check its credibility. They had confirmed that the contents “do in fact generally conform to the truth.”

    Nuclear excuse
    It was during the tenure of historian Tuvia Friling as Israel’s chief archivist, from 2001 to 2004, that Malmab carried out its first archival incursions. What began as an operation to prevent the leakage of nuclear secrets, he says, became, in time, a large-scale censorship project.
    “I resigned after three years, and that was one of the reasons,” Prof. Friling says. “The classification placed on the document about the Arabs’ emigration in 1948 is precisely an example of what I was apprehensive about. The storage and archival system is not an arm of the state’s public relations. If there’s something you don’t like – well, that’s life. A healthy society also learns from its mistakes.”

    Why did Friling allow the Defense Ministry to have access the archives? The reason, he says, was the intention to give the public access to archival material via the internet. In discussions about the implications of digitizing the material, concern was expressed that references in the documents to a “certain topic” would be made public by mistake. The topic, of course, is Israel’s nuclear project. Friling insists that the only authorization Malmab received was to search for documents on that subject.

    But Malmab’s activity is only one example of a broader problem, Friling notes: “In 1998, the confidentiality of the [oldest documents in the] Shin Bet and Mossad archives expired. For years those two institutions disdained the chief archivist. When I took over, they requested that the confidentiality of all the material be extended [from 50] to 70 years, which is ridiculous – most of the material can be opened.”

    In 2010, the confidentiality period was extended to 70 years; last February it was extended again, to 90 years, despite the opposition of the Supreme Council of Archives. “The state may impose confidentiality on some of its documentation,” Friling says. “The question is whether the issue of security doesn’t act as a kind of cover. In many cases, it’s already become a joke.”
    In the view of Yad Yaari’s Dudu Amitai, the confidentiality imposed by the Defense Ministry must be challenged. In his period at the helm, he says, one of the documents placed in the vault was an order issued by an IDF general, during a truce in the War of Independence, for his troops to refrain from rape and looting. Amitai now intends to go over the documents that were deposited in the vault, especially 1948 documents, and open whatever is possible. “We’ll do it cautiously and responsibly, but recognizing that the State of Israel has to learn how to cope with the less pleasant aspects of its history.”
    In contrast to Yad Yaari, where ministry personnel no longer visit, they are continuing to peruse documents at Yad Tabenkin, the research and documentation center of the United Kibbutz Movement. The director, Aharon Azati, reached an agreement with the Malmab teams under which documents will be transferred to the vault only if he is convinced that this is justified. But in Yad Tabenkin, too, Malmab has broadened its searches beyond the realm of nuclear project to encompass interviews conducted by archival staff with former members of the Palmach, and has even perused material about the history of the settlements in the occupied territories.

    Malmab has, for example, shown interest in the Hebrew-language book “A Decade of Discretion: Settlement Policy in the Territories 1967-1977,” published by Yad Tabenkin in 1992, and written by Yehiel Admoni, director of the Jewish Agency’s Settlement Department during the decade he writes about. The book mentions a plan to settle Palestinian refugees in the Jordan Valley and to the uprooting of 1,540 Bedouin families from the Rafah area of the Gaza Strip in 1972, including an operation that included the sealing of wells by the IDF. Ironically, in the case of the Bedouin, Admoni quotes former Justice Minister Yaakov Shimshon Shapira as saying, “It is not necessary to stretch the security rationale too far. The whole Bedouin episode is not a glorious chapter of the State of Israel.”

    Palestinian refugees leaving their village, unknown location, 1948. UNRWA

    According to Azati, “We are moving increasingly to a tightening of the ranks. Although this is an era of openness and transparency, there are apparently forces that are pulling in the opposite direction.”
    Unauthorized secrecy
    About a year ago, the legal adviser to the State Archives, attorney Naomi Aldouby, wrote an opinion titled “Files Closed Without Authorization in Public Archives.” According to her, the accessibility policy of public archives is the exclusive purview of the director of each institution.
    Despite Aldouby’s opinion, however, in the vast majority of cases, archivists who encountered unreasonable decisions by Malmab did not raise objections – that is, until 2014, when Defense Ministry personnel arrived at the archive of the Harry S. Truman Research Institute at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. To the visitors’ surprise, their request to examine the archive – which contains collections of former minister and diplomat Abba Eban and Maj. Gen. (res.) Shlomo Gazit – was turned down by its then director, Menahem Blondheim.

    According to Blondheim, “I told them that the documents in question were decades old, and that I could not imagine that there was any security problem that would warrant restricting their access to researchers. In response, they said, ‘And let’s say there is testimony here that wells were poisoned in the War of Independence?’ I replied, ‘Fine, those people should be brought to trial.’”
    Blondheim’s refusal led to a meeting with a more senior ministry official, only this time the attitude he encountered was different and explicit threats were made. Finally the two sides reached an accommodation.
    Benny Morris is not surprised at Malmab’s activity. “I knew about it,” he says “Not officially, no one informed me, but I encountered it when I discovered that documents I had seen in the past are now sealed. There were documents from the IDF Archive that I used for an article about Deir Yassin, and which are now sealed. When I came to the archive, I was no longer allowed to see the original, so I pointed out in a footnote [in the article] that the State Archive had denied access to documents that I had published 15 years earlier.”
    The Malmab case is only one example of the battle being waged for access to archives in Israel. According to the executive director of the Akevot Institute, Lior Yavne, “The IDF Archive, which is the largest archive in Israel, is sealed almost hermetically. About 1 percent of the material is open. The Shin Bet archive, which contains materials of immense importance [to scholars], is totally closed apart from a handful of documents.”

    A report written by Yaacov Lozowick, the previous chief archivist at the State Archives, upon his retirement, refers to the defense establishment’s grip on the country’s archival materials. In it, he writes, “A democracy must not conceal information because it is liable to embarrass the state. In practice, the security establishment in Israel, and to a certain extent that of foreign relations as well, are interfering with the [public] discussion.”

    Advocates of concealment put forward several arguments, Lozowick notes: “The uncovering of the facts could provide our enemies with a battering ram against us and weaken the determination of our friends; it’s liable to stir up the Arab population; it could enfeeble the state’s arguments in courts of law; and what is revealed could be interpreted as Israeli war crimes.” However, he says, “All these arguments must be rejected. This is an attempt to hide part of the historical truth in order to construct a more convenient version.”

    What Malmab says
    Yehiel Horev was the keeper of the security establishment’s secrets for more than two decades. He headed the Defense Ministry’s security department from 1986 until 2007 and naturally kept out of the limelight. To his credit, he now agreed to talk forthrightly to Haaretz about the archives project.
    “I don’t remember when it began,” Horev says, “but I do know that I started it. If I’m not mistaken, it started when people wanted to publish documents from the archives. We had to set up teams to examine all outgoing material.”
    From conversations with archive directors, it’s clear that a good deal of the documents on which confidentiality was imposed relate to the War of Independence. Is concealing the events of 1948 part of the purpose of Malmab?

    Palestinian refugees in the Ramle area, 1948. Boris Carmi / The IDF and Defense Establishment Archives

    “What does ‘part of the purpose’ mean? The subject is examined based on an approach of whether it could harm Israel’s foreign relations and the defense establishment. Those are the criteria. I think it’s still relevant. There has not been peace since 1948. I may be wrong, but to the best of my knowledge the Arab-Israeli conflict has not been resolved. So yes, it could be that problematic subjects remain.”

    Asked in what way such documents might be problematic, Horev speaks of the possibility of agitation among the country’s Arab citizens. From his point of view, every document must be perused and every case decided on its merits.

    If the events of 1948 weren’t known, we could argue about whether this approach is the right one. That is not the case. Many testimonies and studies have appeared about the history of the refugee problem. What’s the point of hiding things?
    “The question is whether it can do harm or not. It’s a very sensitive matter. Not everything has been published about the refugee issue, and there are all kinds of narratives. Some say there was no flight at all, only expulsion. Others say there was flight. It’s not black-and-white. There’s a difference between flight and those who say they were forcibly expelled. It’s a different picture. I can’t say now if it merits total confidentiality, but it’s a subject that definitely has to be discussed before a decision is made about what to publish.”

    For years, the Defense Ministry has imposed confidentiality on a detailed document that describes the reasons for the departure of those who became refugees. Benny Morris has already written about the document, so what’s the logic of keeping it hidden?
    “I don’t remember the document you’re referring to, but if he quoted from it and the document itself is not there [i.e., where Morris says it is], then his facts aren’t strong. If he says, ‘Yes, I have the document,’ I can’t argue with that. But if he says that it’s written there, that could be right and it could be wrong. If the document were already outside and were sealed in the archive, I would say that that’s folly. But if someone quoted from it – there’s a difference of day and night in terms of the validity of the evidence he cited.”

    In this case, we’re talking about the most quoted scholar when it comes to the Palestinian refugees.
    “The fact that you say ‘scholar’ makes no impression on me. I know people in academia who spout nonsense about subjects that I know from A to Z. When the state imposes confidentiality, the published work is weakened, because he doesn’t have the document.”

    But isn’t concealing documents based on footnotes in books an attempt to lock the barn door after the horses have bolted?
    “I gave you an example that this needn’t be the case. If someone writes that the horse is black, if the horse isn’t outside the barn, you can’t prove that it’s really black.”

    There are legal opinions stating that Malmab’s activity in the archives is illegal and unauthorized.
    “If I know that an archive contains classified material, I am empowered to tell the police to go there and confiscate the material. I can also utilize the courts. I don’t need the archivist’s authorization. If there is classified material, I have the authority to act. Look, there’s policy. Documents aren’t sealed for no reason. And despite it all, I won’t say to you that everything that’s sealed is 100 percent justified [in being sealed].”

    The Defense Ministry refused to respond to specific questions regarding the findings of this investigative report and made do with the following response: “The director of security of the defense establishment operates by virtue of his responsibility to protect the state’s secrets and its security assets. The Malmab does not provide details about its mode of activity or its missions.”

    Lee Rotbart assisted in providing visual research for this article.

    (1) https://www.haaretz.co.il/st/inter/Heng/1948.pdf

  • Le directeur du musée juif de Berlin démissionne après une polémique sur l’antisémitisme
    Mis à jour le 15/06/2019
    https://www.francetvinfo.fr/monde/europe/allemagne/le-directeur-du-musee-juif-de-berlin-demissionne-apres-une-polemique-su

    Le directeur du musée juif de Berlin, Peter Schäfer, a démissionné, vendredi 14 juin, sur fond de polémique. En cause : un tweet controversé de son établissement recommandant la lecture d’un article critique de la décision, en mai, du Parlement allemand de considérer comme « antisémites » les méthodes du mouvement BDS (Boycott Désinvestissement Sanctions). Peter Schäfer a remis sa démission à la ministre de la Culture allemande, Monika Grütters, « pour éviter de nouveaux préjudices au musée juif de Berlin », a indiqué ce dernier.

    #BDS

    • Berlin Jewish Museum Director Resigns After Tweet Supporting BDS Freedom of Speech

      Peter Schäfer steps down days after sharing of petition calling on German government not to adopt motion defining anti-Israel boycotts as anti-Semitic
      Noa Landau - Jun 14, 2019 8:48 PM
      https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/europe/berlin-jewish-museum-director-resigns-after-tweet-supporting-bds-freedom-of

      The director of Berlin’s Jewish Museum has resigned, the museum announced Friday, days after it was criticized for endorsing a petition against a parliamentary motion defining anti-Israel boycotts as anti-Semitic and banning the boycott movement from using public buildings.

      The resignation of museum Director Peter Schäfer comes after Israeli Ambassador to Germany Jeremy Issacharoff called the museum’s sharing of the petition “shameful.”

      The petition, asserting that “boycotts are a legitimate and nonviolent tool of resistance,” was signed by 240 Jewish intellectuals.

      The signatories, among them Avraham Burg and Eva Illouz, called on the German government not to adopt the motion, to protect freedom of speech and continue funding of Israeli and Palestinian organizations “that peacefully challenge the Israeli occupation, expose severe violations of international law and strengthen civil society. These organizations defend the principles and values at the heart of liberal democracy and rule of law, in Germany and elsewhere. More than ever, they need financial support and political backing.”

      An Israeli guide at the Berlin museum told Haaretz he planned to resign in protest of “the crude interventions by the Israeli government and Germany in the museum’s work.”

      Professor Emeritus Yaacov Shavit, former head of the department of History of the Jewish People at Tel Aviv University, told Haaretz that “this whole story is nothing more than a cause to displace Prof. Sheffer, a researcher of international renown of the Second Temple period, Mishna, and Talmud.”

      “Community leaders in Berlin needed to be grateful that someone like him agreed to serve as manager of the museum. This foolish act by community leaders is outrageous and bothersome,” he added.

      Last year, it was reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded from Chancellor Angela Merkel that Germany stop funding the museum because it had held an exhibition about Jerusalem, “that presents a Muslim-Palestinian perspective.” Merkel was asked to halt funding to other organizations as well, on grounds that they were anti-Israel, among them the Berlin International Film Festival, pro-Palestinian Christian organizations, and the Israeli news website +972, which receives funding from the Heinrich Böll Foundation.

      Netanyahu did not deny the report and his bureau confirmed that he had raised “with various leaders the issue of funding Palestinian and Israeli groups and nonprofit organizations that depict the Israel Defense Forces as war criminals, support Palestinian terrorism and call for boycotting the State of Israel.”

      The Bundestag’s motion last month marked the first time a European parliament had officially defined the BDS movement as anti-Semitic. The motion, which is a call to the government and isn’t legally binding, won broad multiparty support from Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, the Social Democrats and the Free Democratic Party. Some members of the Greens Party also supported the motion, though others abstained at the last minute. The motion stated that the BDS movement’s “Don’t Buy” stickers on Israeli products evoke the Nazi slogan “Don’t buy from Jews.”

  • Off-duty Israeli Soldier Caught on Video Torching Palestinian Farms– May 28, 2019 11:16 AM - IMEMC News
    https://imemc.org/article/off-duty-israeli-soldier-caught-on-video-torching-palestinian-farms

    Off-duty Israeli Soldier Caught on Video Torching Palestinian Farms
    May 28, 2019 11:16 AM IMEMC News Human rights, Israeli attacks, Israeli Settlement, Nablus, News Report, West Bank 0

    A video released by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem shows a group of Israeli settlers attacking Palestinian villagers and setting their farms on fire on May 17th – and today, the group managed to identify one of the arsonists in the video as an off-duty Israeli soldier.

    According to B’Tselem, on Friday, 17 May 2019, Israeli paramilitary settlers torched Palestinian farmers’ fields in Burin and ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah. In both villages, the settlers threw stones at the residents’ homes.

    In ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, where the area is controlled by military watchtowers, a settler even fired shots in the air. Soldiers nearby did not arrest the attackers and prevented the Palestinians from approaching their burning land.

    The Israeli military followed the attack with a public statement containing the absurd and easily disproved claim that Palestinians had started the fires – a version of events that was then unquestioningly repeated by the Israeli and US media.

    The attack took place about a kilometer away from the Giv’at Ronen settlement point, and the Israeli paramilitary settlers involved in the attack apparently came from the settlement of Yitzhar.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=kAgYyaHvNuc

    “““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““"
    Israeli Army Blamed Palestinians for West Bank Arson, but Settler Soldier Is Behind It
    Yotam Berger - May 27, 2019 12:20 PM

    One of the two settlers filmed setting fire to a field is an Israeli soldier who was on leave at the time ■ IDF initially blamed Palestinians, then admitted soldiers were involved too

    One of the two Jewish settlers caught on video setting West Bank fields on fire last Friday is an Israel Defense Forces soldier, Haaretz has learned.

    The army knows the identity of the settler, who was filmed by Israeli human rights nonprofit organization B’Tselem, and two security sources confirmed the details, saying that the soldier was on leave when the arson took place.

    Selon l’armée, la police israélienne devrait gérer l’incident. La police a déclaré qu’elle n’avait pas encore arrêté le soldat.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ob4AJ5sVXyc

  • Nasrallah reveals new details about ambush, killing of 12 Israeli commandos
    Lebanon in 1997 and offers hints about a mysterious murder of a militant leader in Syria
    Amos Harel
    May 13, 2019 5:32 PM

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-nasrallah-reveals-new-details-about-ambush-killing-of-12-israeli-c

    Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah revealed new details earlier this month about the disaster in September 1997, when 12 members of Israel’s elite naval commando unit were killed in southern Lebanon.

    Nasrallah claims that Hezbollah had been tracking Israel’s preparations for the mission and ambushed the commandos from the Shayetet 13 unit of the Israel Defense Forces – a scenario that some Israeli sources have also suggested over the years.

    Nasrallah spoke on May 2 at a memorial ceremony for Mustafa Badreddine, a senior Hezbollah figure who died under mysterious circumstances three years ago in Syria, and had been involved in the 1997 incident.

    Nasrallah’s remarks have been translated and analyzed in an article by Dr. Shimon Shapira, a brigadier general in the IDF reserves and an expert on Iran and Hezbollah. The article was published on the website of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, a research institute.

    On the night of September 4, 1997, 16 Shayetet fighters, under the command of Lt.-Col. Yossi Korakin, were tasked with laying bombs along the coastal road in Lebanon between Tyre and Sidon. After landing on the beach, an explosive device was detonated that caused serious casualties and severed the force into two. Korakin and 10 commandos were killed. Those who survived reported they were fired upon after the blast.
    Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah addresses his supporters during a public appearance October 24, 2015
    Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah addresses his supporters during a public appearance October 24, 2015\ REUTERS

    The survivors and the bodies of their comrades-in-arms were evacuated by helicopter, with great effort, during which an IDF doctor was killed by Lebanese gunfire. The body of one of those killed, Sgt. Itamar Ilya, remained behind and was returned to Israel in a swap with Hezbollah nine months later.

  • The Future Is Here, and It Features Hackers Getting Bombed – Foreign Policy
    https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/05/06/the-future-is-here-and-it-features-hackers-getting-bombed


    Smoke billows from a targeted neighborhood in Gaza City during an Israeli airstrike on the Hamas-run Palestinian enclave on May 5.
    MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

    Israeli armed forces responded to a Hamas cyberattack by bombing the group’s hacking headquarters.

    With an airstrike on Sunday, the Israeli military provided a glimpse of the future of warfare.

    After blocking a cyberattack that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said was launched by operatives working on behalf of the militant group Hamas, the IDF carried out an airstrike in Gaza targeting the building in which the hackers worked, partially destroying it. The strike appears to be the first time that a nation’s military has responded in real time to a cyberattack with physical force.

    In a tweet, the IDF declared victory, saying: “We thwarted an attempted Hamas cyber offensive against Israeli targets. Following our successful cyber defensive operation, we targeted a building where the Hamas cyber operatives work.

    HamasCyberHQ.exe has been removed,” the tweet added, in what appears to have been a macabre attempt at a joke using an invented file name.

    For years, countries have used policy documents and strategy white papers to warn that they reserved the right to choose the method by which they respond to cyberattacks, either in kind through cyberspace or with physical force, said Catherine Lotrionte, an expert on international law and a professor at Georgetown University. Now, Israel has made those warnings concrete.

    You’ve got a physical operation against a building that was in response to an ongoing cyberattack or at least a cyberattack that Hamas was planning—that’s the interesting part,” Lotrionte said.

    Key questions remain about the Israeli operation, and IDF officials declined to answer questions from Foreign Policy about the nature of the attack launched by Hamas against Israel.

    In a press statement, the IDF said Hamas “attempted to establish offensive cyber capabilities within the Gaza Strip and to try and harm the Israeli cyber realm.” These “efforts were discovered in advance and thwarted,” and following the operation to thwart the cyberattack, “the IDF attacked a building from which the members of Hamas’ cyber array operated.

    The decision to bomb a Hamas hacking unit comes as armed forces are increasingly integrating cyberoperations into their militaries, and the Israeli decision to target such a unit was completely unsurprising to scholars and practitioners of cyberwarfare.

    It’s no surprise that in a digital age marked by heightened risk of cyberwarfare a nation-state engaged in a noninternational armed conflict would regard the cyber-capabilities of its adversary as valid military targets under international law,” said David Simon, a lawyer at the law firm Mayer Brown who worked on cybersecurity policy and operations as a special counsel at the U.S. Defense Department.

    And even if the notion of bombing hackers appears surprising on its face, Israel was likely on solid legal footing when it did so, provided that the hackers were in fact carrying out an offensive operation on behalf of a militant group engaged in armed conflict with Israel.

    Legal experts emphasized that the context of Sunday’s strike was key in understanding Israel’s calculus to carry it out. The strike came amid a renewed period of fighting that saw Palestinian militants fire hundreds of rockets into Israeli territory, with Israel responding with an intense artillery and aerial barrage of Gaza.

    Militaries around the world have recognized cyberspace as a domain of military operations, and that leaves hackers participating in an armed conflict in a highly exposed position. “Hackers who are engaged in military attacks are legitimate targets,” said Gary Brown, a cyberlaw professor at the National Defense University.

    Militant groups such as Hamas have invested heavily in their online operations in recent years, using them as a way to poke at far more powerful, better resourced opponents. Cyberspace serves as a key way to distribute propaganda and gain intelligence about adversaries.

    In one notorious example, a hacker working on behalf of the militant group Islamic Jihad pleaded guilty in 2017 to charges of hacking into the video feeds of IDF drones carrying out surveillance over Gaza.

    Sunday’s bombing is not the first time hackers have been targeted in airstrikes—though it is believed to be the first time hackers engaged in an ongoing operation have been hit. In 2015, a U.S. airstrike in Syria killed the Islamic State hacker Junaid Hussain, who had become a prolific propagandist and recruiter for the group.

    Hussain hacked into the personal accounts of hundreds of U.S. service members and posted their personal information online and helped recruit the men who opened fire in 2015 on a cartoon exhibition in Garland, Texas. As he ascended the ranks of the Islamic State’s leadership, he was singled out to be killed.

    Hussain’s killing arguably laid the groundwork for Sunday’s strike, which experts argue sends a message to hackers engaged in offensive activity.

    It’s kind of a wake-up call for people who thought they were going to be able to engage in cyberactivity with impunity,” Brown said. “It now looks like states are willing to reach behind the lines and strike hackers.

    • Si je lis bien le communiqué des Forces de défense israéliennes, il ne s’agit pas du tout d’une riposte comme cela est repris partout, mais bien d’une attaque préemptive, pour parler comme un précédent président états-unien.

      https://twitter.com/IDF/status/1125066395010699264

      CLEARED FOR RELEASE: We thwarted an attempted Hamas cyber offensive against Israeli targets. Following our successful cyber defensive operation, we targeted a building where the Hamas cyber operatives work.

      HamasCyberHQ.exe has been removed.

      Je ne trouve pas le communiqué de presse du porte-parolat de l’armée israélienne. Mais celui-ci semble sans ambiguïté.

      IDF : Hamas cyber attack against Israel foiled - Israel National News
      http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/262717

      Over the course of the weekend, a joint IDF and Israel Security Agency (ISA) operation thwarted an attempted cyber attack by Hamas targeting Israeli sites, according to a press release by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit on Sunday.

      The Hamas terrorist organization attempted to establish offensive cyber capabilities within the Gaza Strip and to try and harm Israeli cyber targets.

      All of Hamas’ efforts were discovered in advance and thwarted. Hamas’ cyber efforts, which included an attempt in recent days, failed to achieve its goals.

      Following Israel’s technological activities to stop Hamas’s cyber efforts, the IDF attacked a building from which the members of Hamas’ cyber array operated.

      Israel’s cyber efforts and defensive capabilities have led Hamas’ cyber attempts to fail time and time again," a senior ISA official said.

    • On se demande vraiment comment David Israël, associé à David etats-unis, david Union européenne, david Canada, david Australie, david Nouvelle-Zélande, sans oublier les divers arabes modérés de la région, on se demande donc comment ces David et modérés réussissent à faire en sorte que les « cyber-efforts et les capacités défensives d’Israël » conduisent les « cyber-tentatives du [GOLIATHISSIME] Hamas à échouer à plusieurs reprises. »

  • Settlers ’executed’ a Palestinian, and the Israeli army covered it up, rights group reports - Israel News - Haaretz.com
    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-settlers-executed-a-palestinian-and-idf-covered-it-up-human-rights

    Abed al-Muneim Abdel Fattah. Explained repeatedly to investigators that his son had no family or other problems and was never active in any group. Credit : Alex Levac

    It’s a very busy traffic circle on Highway 60, the major route in the West Bank, between the Hawara checkpoint and the Tapuah settlement intersection, not far from Nablus. As you drive toward the spot, which the Palestinians call Beita Circle and the settlers call Beitot Circle, garbage is piled up along the roadside. This is the industrial zone of the town of Hawara, where there is no industry other than garages and workers’ restaurants that look out onto the highway.

    On April 3, three men, all of them on the way to work, arrived at the traffic circle separately. Only two of them left the site alive. The third was shot to death. The B’Tselem Israeli human rights organization asserted this week that the shooting was an execution and that the Israel Defense Forces destroyed evidence and whitewashed the findings.

    It all happened in a flash. A little before 8:30 A.M., Mohammed Abdel Fattah arrived at the circle. He was 23 years old, married and the father of 7-month-old daughter, on the way from his apartment in his uncle’s house in the village of Beita to his job at the uncle’s brick factory in the village of Jama’in. He had apparently been traveling in a shared taxi. Eyewitnesses saw him standing by the side of the road and smoking two cigarettes, one after the other. What was going on in his mind? What was he planning? What made him act? We are unlikely to know.

    He then crossed the road, to the west. He stood on the shoulder, within touching distance of the vehicles proceeding from north to south, a few meters from the circle, where traffic has to slow down. The road was very busy at that time of the morning. He threw two or three stones, not very big ones, at passing cars, hitting no one.

    Even a visit to the home of Mohammed’s family did not provide an explanation for why he threw the stones. He was not a teenager and had never been arrested. He was married with a child, had a steady job and was on the way to work. A few days earlier he’d been to Israel for the first time in his life; together with his wife he visited Jerusalem and they later ate fish at a restaurant in Jaffa. Perhaps that trip holds the key to what drove the young married father to throw stones or try to stab a settler that morning.

    One of the cars he’d thrown a stone at stopped. It was a white Renault with a blue poster of the Union of Right-Wing Parties displayed in the rear window. The driver was Yehoshua Sherman, from the settlement of Elon Moreh, who was working as a field director for the Union of Right-Wing Parties during the election campaign, which had then entered its final week. A blurry video clip from a security camera shows Sherman’s car, which had been traveling from north to south, stopping. Fifteen seconds later, Sherman gets out of the car and apparently shoots Mohammed Abdel Fattah, who’s seen kneeling behind the vehicle. We don’t know what happened in those 15 seconds – the car blocks the view.

    In the meantime a truck with Israeli plates also stops and the driver gets out. B’Tselem field researchers Salma a-Deb’i and Abdulkarim Sadi cite witnesses as saying that they heard two shots. They think Sherman fired them before leaving his car. Abdel Fattah apparently tried to seek refuge behind a dumpster, which this week was still there, overflowing with refuse, at the edge of the road. A second video clip shows him lying on the road on his stomach, and being turned over onto his back by soldiers trying to ascertain if he was carrying explosives.

    According to the testimonies B’Tselem took from four people, who all saw similar things, the two drivers fired a number of shots from close range even after Abdel Fattah lay wounded on the ground. B’Tselem also claims the Israel Defense Forces deleted footage from security cameras in the area of the shooting of the wounded man. Israeli media reported that “a Palestinian terrorist was shot and subdued by two drivers after trying to stab a father and his daughter near Hawara, south of Nablus.”

    From the B’Tselem report, on its website: “At that point, Abdel Fattah was crouching among the dumpsters. Sherman approached him and fired several more shots at him. A truck driving along the road also stopped, and the driver got out. He came over to stand next to Sherman, and the two men fired several more shots at Abdel Fattah, who was lying wounded on the ground… Abdel Fattah succumbed to his wounds a short while later, at Beilinson Hospital in Israel.”

    One of the shots hit Khaled Hawajba, a young man who works in a nearby store, in the abdomen. He was treated in Rafidiya Hospital in Nablus and discharged a few days later.

    Minutes after the shooting by the two settlers, military jeeps arrived at the scene. The soldiers used stun grenades to disperse the crowd that had begun to gather at the site. According to B’Tselem, immediately afterward a group of about eight soldiers entered two of the nearby businesses to check their security cameras. They dismantled a digital video recorder in one of the stores and left. About 20 minutes later, the soldiers returned to the store, reinstalled the DVR and watched the footage.

    “Two soldiers filmed the screen with their mobile phones. They then erased the footage from the DVR and left,” the B’Tselem report states.

    In one of the clips that was uploaded to social networks in Israel, the photographer can be heard saying in Hebrew: “The terrorist tried to jump onto the Jew’s car and stab him. Our heroic soldiers eliminated him, may his name be blotted out. There are no casualties.”

    After the incident, Sherman told Srugim, a website that calls itself “the home site of the religious sector”: “At Beitot junction a terrorist with a knife jumped on the car and tried to open the door. I got out and as the terrorist tried to go around the car in my direction I subdued him with gunfire with the aid of another resident of a nearby settlement who was driving behind me.”

    The media reported that Sherman’s daughter was in the back seat; the allegation was that Abdel Fattah tried to open the car door and stab her. In the clip B’Tselem attached to its report, her father is seen moving relatively coolly toward the young man who is hiding behind the car. What happened there?

    The human rights group is convinced, on the basis of the accounts it collected, that the shooting continued from close range as the wounded man lay on the ground. Moreover, B’Tselem believes that the two drivers shot Abdel Fattah with no justification, after he had moved away from the car and was kneeling behind the dumpster. According to the organization, the security forces who arrived at the scene made no attempt to arrest the two settlers, quickly dispersed the Palestinians and then proceeded to go to the stores and delete the documentation of the event “to ensure that the truth never comes to light and the shooters would not face any charges or be held accountable in any way.”

    It was reported this week that the Samaria Regional Council has decided to award citations to the two settler-shooters.

    The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit this week sent Haaretz this response: “On April 3, 2019 there was an attempted stabbing attack at the Beitot junction, which is [within the purview of] the Samaria Division of the IDF Central Command. The terrorist was shot by citizens and subdued after he threw stones at Israeli cars and then approached one of the cars in order to perpetrate a stabbing attack in the area. At the site of the incident a knife used by the terrorist was found. We would like to point out that the cameras that were dismantled by the security forces as part of their investigation of the incident were returned to their owners. The incident is under investigation.”

    Khirbet Qeis. A small village below the town of Salfit, in the central West Bank, where Abdel Fattah’s parents live. His father, Abed al-Muneim Abdel Fattah, 50, is a night watchman in Ramallah, who has five other children in addition to Mohammed. The house is well kept. Mohammed, the eldest, completed high school, but “regrettably,” his father says, he did not pursue his studies and went to work. In October 2017, he married his cousin, Rada Awadala, from the village of Ein Ariq, near Ramallah, and their daughter Jawan was born last fall. They visited every second Friday, rotating weekends between Rada’s parents in Ein Ariq and Mohammed’s in Khirbet Qeis.

    On the last Friday of Mohammed’s life they were at the home of his in-laws. The next day, when he and Rada went on an organized tour to Jerusalem and Jaffa, they left Jawan with her maternal grandparents. When they got back, Rada went to her parents’ home to collect the baby and stayed there for a few days. Mohammed remained alone in their apartment in Beita, close to his place of work.

    Mohammed’s father was on the job in Ramallah the day his son died. A relative called to inform him that Mohammed had been wounded. Shortly afterward, a Shin Bet security service agent called and ordered him to come to the IDF base at Hawara, Abed tells us now. The agent informed him that his son had tried to stab a soldier and afterward corrected himself to say that his son had thrown stones. The father replied that it was unimaginable for his son to have done that.

    Abed was asked in his interrogation whether Mohammed had been active in any sort of movement, whether anyone had tried to persuade him to throw stones or carry out a stabbing attack, whether he suffered from mental problems or problems at home or at work, or whether perhaps he’d quarreled with his wife. The father replied that his son had no family or other problems and was never active in any group. The interrogator repeated the questions twice, then a third time.

    At this point Abed still didn’t yet know that his son was dead. The Shin Bet agent said he’d been wounded and taken to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva. He recommended that Abed get in touch with the Palestinian District Coordination and Liaison Office to arrange an entry permit to visit his son in Israel. Finally the agent said to the father, “From now on, you and your children are under surveillance. Dir balak [Watch your step]. Take this as a warning, as a red light. Anyone who lifts his head – we’ll cut it off.”

    Abed was at the base in Hawara for nearly three hours. By the time he got home, almost the whole village had gathered next to his house, and he understood that his son was dead. The social networks said he had been killed by settlers.

    Why was he throwing stones, we asked. Abed: “I don’t believe he did anything like that. He was on the way to work. But even if he did, sometimes the settlers provoke people who are standing on the road, spit at them or curse them or try to run them over. Even if he threw stones, by then he wasn’t endangering anyone. After all, the law says that it’s forbidden to shoot someone who is lying on the ground. Arrest him. But why did you kill him?”

    Israel has not yet returned Mohammed Abdel Fattah’s body; all the family’s efforts to claim it have been rebuffed. His grave has already been dug in the village’s small cemetery. There’s a mound of earth there now, but the grave is empty.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/771991

  • Palestinian youth killed by Israeli forces near Bethlehem
    March 21, 2019 11:15 A.M.
    http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?ID=782937

    BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A 22-year-old Palestinian succumbed to wounds he had sustained after Israeli forces opened heavy fire towards a vehicle that he was riding in, near the al-Nashash checkpoint in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem, on late Wednesday.

    The Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed that Ahmad Jamal Mahmoud Munasra, 22, a resident from Wadi Fukin village, in the Bethlehem district, was shot with Israeli live fire in the chest, shoulder, and hand.

    The ministry said that Munasra was transferred to the Beit Jala Governmental Hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds.

    The ministry mentioned that another Palestinian was shot and injured in the stomach.

    #Palestine_assassinée

    • Gideon Levy // Even for the Wild West Bank, This Is a Shocking Story

      A young Palestinian’s attempt to help a stranger shot by Israeli troops costs him his life
      Gideon Levy and Alex Levac Mar 28, 2019
      https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-even-for-the-wild-west-bank-this-is-a-shocking-story-1.7066087

      Jamal, Ahmad Manasra’s father. A mourning poster for Ahmad is in the background. Credit : Alex Levac

      It was appallingly cold, rainy and foggy on Monday of this week at the southern entrance to Bethlehem. A group of young people stood on the side of the road, gazing at something. Gloomy and toughened, they formed a circle around the concrete cube in which are sunken the spikes of a large billboard – an ad for Kia cars that stretches across the road. They were looking for signs of blood, as though they were volunteers in Zaka, the Israeli emergency response organization. They were looking for bloodstains of their friend, who was killed there five days earlier. Behind the concrete cube they found what they were looking for, a large bloodstain, now congealed. The stain held fast despite the heavy rain, as though refusing to be washed away, determined to remain there, a silent monument.

      This is where their friend tried, in his last moments, to find protection from the soldiers who were shooting at him, probably from the armored concrete tower that looms over the intersection a few dozen meters away. It was to here that he fled, already wounded, attempting to take cover behind the concrete cube. But it was too late. His fate was sealed by the soldiers. Six bullets slashed into his body and killed him. He collapsed and died next to the concrete cube by the side of the road.

      Even in a situation in which anything is possible, this is an unbelievable story. It’s 9 P.M. Wednesday March 20. A family is returning from an outing. Their car breaks down. The father of the family, Ala Raida, 38, from the village of Nahalin, who is legally employed paving roads in Israel, steps out of his Volkswagen Golf to see what has happened. His wife, Maisa, 34, and their two daughters, Sirin, 8, and Lin, 5, wait in the car. Suddenly the mother hears a single shot and sees her husband lean back onto the car. Emerging from the car, she discovers to her astonishment that he’s wounded in the stomach. She shouts hysterically for help, the girls in the car are crying and screaming.

      Another car, a Kia Sportage, arrives at the intersection. Its occupants are four young people from the nearby village of Wadi Fukin. They’re on the way home from the wedding of their friend Mahmoud Lahruv, held that evening in the Hall of Dreams in Bethlehem. At the sight of the woman next to the traffic light appealing for help, they stop the car and get out to see what they can do. Three of them quickly carry the wounded man to their car and rush him to the nearest hospital, Al-Yamamah, in the town of Al-Khader. The fourth young man, Ahmad Manasra, 23, stays behind to calm the woman and the frightened girls. Manasra tries to start the stalled car in order to move it away from the dangerous intersection, but the vehicle doesn’t respond. He then gets back out of the car. The soldiers start firing at him. He tries to get to the concrete cube but is struck by the bullets as he runs. Three rounds hit him in the back and chest, the others slam into his lower body. He dies on the spot.

      The army says that stones were thrown. All the eyewitnesses deny that outright. Nor is it clear what the target of the stones might have been. The armored concrete tower? And even if stones were thrown at cars heading for the settlement of Efrat, is that a reason to open fire with live ammunition on a driver whose car broke down, with his wife and young daughters on board? Or on a young man who tried to get the car moving and to calm the mother and her daughters? Shooting with no restraint? With no pity? With no law?

      We visit the skeleton of an unfinished apartment on the second floor of a house in Wadi Fukin. It’s an impoverished West Bank village just over the Green Line, whose residents fled in 1949 and were allowed to return in 1972, and which is now imprisoned between the giant ultra-Orthodox settlement of Betar Ilit and the town of Tzur Hadassah, which is just inside the Green Line. A wood stove tries to rebuff the bitter cold in the broad space between the unplastered walls and the untiled floor. A grim-looking group of men are sitting around the fire, trying to warm themselves. They are the mourners for Manasra; this was going to be his apartment one day, when he got married. That will never happen now.

      Only the memorial posters remain in the unbuilt space. A relative and fellow villager, Adel Atiyah, an ambassador in the Palestinian delegation to the European Union, calls from Brussels to offer his shocked condolences. One of the mourners, Fahmi Manasra, lives in Toronto and is here on a visit to his native land. The atmosphere is dark and pained.

      The bereaved father, Jamal, 50, is resting in his apartment on the ground floor. When he comes upstairs, it’s clear he’s a person deeply immersed in his grief though impressive in his restraint. He’s a tiler who works in Israel with a permit. He last saw his son as he drove along the main street in Bethlehem as his son was going to his friend’s wedding. Jamal was driving his wife, Wafa, home from another wedding. That was about two hours before Ahmad was killed. In the last two days of his life they worked together, Jamal and his son, in the family vineyard, clearing away cuttings and spraying. Now he wistfully remembers those precious moments. Ahmad asked to borrow his father’s car to drive to the wedding, but Jamal needed it to visit the doctor, and Ahmad joined the group in Wahib Manasra’s SUV.

      Wahib Manasra, who witnessed the gunfire. Credit: Alex Levac

      Quiet prevails in the shell of the unfinished apartment. Someone says that Manasra was already planning the layout of his future home – the living room would be here, the kitchen there. Maisa Raida, the wife of the wounded driver, is at her husband’s bedside at Hadassah Medical Center, Ein Karem, Jerusalem, where he’s recovering from his severe stomach wound. He was brought there from Al-Khader because of the seriousness of his condition. Major damage was done to internal organs in his abdomen and he needed complicated surgery, but he seems to be on the mend.

      Maisa told a local field investigator from a human rights group that at first she didn’t realize that her husband was wounded. Only after she stepped out of the car did she see that he was leaning on the vehicle because of the wound. She yelled for help, and after the young men stopped and took her husband to the hospital, she got back into the car with Manasra, whom she didn’t know. While they were in the car with her daughters, and he was trying get it started, she heard another burst of gunfire aimed at their car from the side, but which didn’t hit them.

      She had no idea that Manasra was shot and killed when he got out of the car, moments later. She stayed inside, trying to calm the girls. It wasn’t until she called her father and her brother-in-law and they arrived and took her to Al-Yamamah Hospital that she heard that someone had been killed. Appalled, she thought they meant her husband but was told that the dead person had been taken to Al-Hussein Hospital in Beit Jala.

      Eventually, she realized that the man who was killed was the same young man who tried to help her and her daughters; he was dead on arrival. Before Maisa and her daughters were taken from the scene, an officer and soldiers from the Israel Defense Forces came to the stalled car and tried to calm them.

      Manasra was dead by then, sprawled next to the concrete cube. He was a Real Madrid fan and liked cars. Until recently he worked in the settlement of Hadar Betar, inside Betar Ilit. His little brother, 8-year-old Abdel Rahman, wanders among the mourners in a daze.

      After Jamal Manasra returned home, his phone began ringing nonstop. He decided not to answer. He says he was afraid to answer, he had forebodings from God. He and his wife drove to the hospital in Beit Jala. He has no rational explanation for why they went to the hospital. From God. “I was the last to know,” he says in Hebrew. At the hospital, he was asked whether he was Ahmad’s father. Then he understood. He and his wife have two more sons and a daughter. Ahmad was their firstborn.

      We asked the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit a number of questions. Why did the soldiers shoot Ala Raida and Ahmad Manasra with live ammunition? Why did they go on shooting at Manasra even after he tried to flee? Did the soldiers fire from the armored watchtower? Do the security cameras show that stones were indeed thrown? Were the soldiers in mortal danger?

      This was the IDF’s response to all these questions: “On March 21, a debriefing was held headed by the commander of the Judea and Samaria Division, Brig. Gen. Eran Niv, and the commander of the Etzion territorial brigade, Col. David Shapira, in the area of the event that took place on Thursday [actually, it was a Wednesday] at the Efrat junction and at the entrance to Bethlehem. From the debriefing it emerges that an IDF fighter who was on guard at a military position near the intersection spotted a suspect who was throwing stones at vehicles in the area and carried out the procedure for arresting a suspect, which ended in shooting. As a result of the shooting, the suspect was killed and another Palestinian was wounded.

      T he West Bank settlement of Betar Ilit is seen from the rooftop of Wadi Fukin, a Palestinian village. Credit : \ Alex Levac

      “The possibility is being examined that there was friction between Palestinians, which included stone-throwing.

      “The inquiry into the event continues, parallel to the opening of an investigation by the Military Police.”

      After the group of young people found what they were looking for – bloodstains of their friend, Ahmad – they reconstructed for us the events of that horrific evening. It was important for them to talk to an Israeli journalist. They’re the three who came out alive from the drive home after the wedding. One of them, Ahmad Manasra – he has the same name as the young man who was killed – wouldn’t get out of the car when we were there. He’s still traumatized. Wahib Manasra, the driver of the SUV, showed us where the stalled VW had been, and where they stopped when they saw a woman shouting for help.

      Soldiers and security cameras viewed us even now, from the watchtower, which is no more than 30 meters from the site. Wahib says that if there was stone-throwing, or if they had noticed soldiers, they wouldn’t have stopped and gotten out of the car. Raida, the wounded man, kept mumbling, “My daughters, my daughters,” when they approached him. He leaned on them and they put him in their car. By the time they reached the gas station down the road, he had lost consciousness. Before that, he again mumbled, “My daughters.”

      Wahib and the other Ahmad, the one who was alive, returned quickly from the hospital, which is just a few minutes from the site. But they could no longer get close to the scene, as a great many cars were congregated there. They got out of the car and proceeded on foot. A Palestinian ambulance went by. Looking through the window, Wahib saw to his horror his friend, Ahmad Manasra, whom they had left on the road with the woman and her girls, lying inside. He saw at once that Ahmad was dead.

  • A young, daring Palestinian hoped to smug his ‘masters’. He erred - Amira Hass | Mar 19, 2019 1:59 PM | Haaretz.com
    The Israeli Army and Shin Bet were quick to hunt down the Palestinian who killed Rabbi Ahiad Ettinger and Staff Sgt. Gal Keidan and declare his guilt. Not so for Israeli killers of Palestinians
    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-the-courage-to-challenge-the-smug-masters-1.7039169

    The Palestinian man who carried out the stabbing and shooting attack in the West Bank on Sunday was very daring. It would behoove Israelis to understand where this came from, rather than making do with labeling him a “terrorist.”

    His gutsiness fills many Palestinians with wonder, with pride. It somewhat mitigates those many moments of humiliation they all suffer, if only because they are all dependent on permits from the Israeli military for even the most basic human activities. Even though the overwhelming majority of them won’t emulate him, Palestinians identify with what his act expressed: A deep loathing of Israeli soldiers and civilians, the masters and rapists of their land, who have settled in their midst. And yet the question, from their perspective, has to be whether this courage will, or could, lead to any concrete accomplishment in their struggle for freedom.

    He couldn’t have guessed that the soldiers at the bus stop would not know how to react to his daring. From his perspective, the most likely scenario was to be shot dead or to be seriously wounded by a soldier, not to jump into a rental car that a frightened tourist abandoned. He couldn’t have known that Gal Keidan, the soldier he stabbed with a knife, was more comfortable with musical instruments than with a loaded rifle. He wasn’t interested in the personal backgrounds of the Israeli civilians — settlers or otherwise — whom he shot at because they were at the junction, in a part of the West Bank that is under full Israeli control. They wandered around, as they wander around there every day, like lords of the estate. That’s what he saw. That’s the view that stings the eyes of every Palestinian, every day.

    His disappearance also testifies to his daring and resourcefulness. Unlike those who opted for suicide attacks, or the Gazan youth who approach the border fence expecting to be shot and killed by soldiers, his escape suggests he wasn’t dead-set on dying.

    The Shin Bet security service and the Israel Defense Forces revealed his supposed identity within hours. We should recall that 50 days have passed since an Israeli civilian killed Hamdi Na’asan in the West Bank Palestinian village of Al-Mughayyir, and we haven’t heard anything from the IDF, the Shin Bet or the police about the suspect’s identity or place of residence. We haven’t heard that he was arrested and that soldiers from the Engineering Corps were sent to survey his family’s home to prepare for its demolition. As a deterrent.

    As usual, the Shin Bet and the IDF have already convicted the man they’ve decided carried out the attack. In their wake, Israeli journalists and media outlets don’t use the word “suspect” when speaking about a Palestinian, a second- or third-generation survivor of the arrogant, violent Israeli military occupation. Journalistic ethics go out the window; reporters don’t even keep up the pretense of not convicting someone before his trial. Their obedient keyboards call him a terrorist, whose full name and place of residence must be published immediately as additional proof of the efficiency of the Shin Bet and the IDF.

    Even before he’s been captured, the bulldozer blades are being sharpened so they can take revenge on his family and destroy his home. As a deterrent. The Shin Bet and the IDF and their commanders don’t ask whether their collective vengefulness is what draws in additional young Palestinians “without a record” who “have no ties to any organization.”

    Young Israeli soldiers are sent to risk life and limb to protect the lordly normality of Jewish settlers on stolen land. This abhorrent normality forces upon the local Palestinians a life without a trace of normality, from cradle to grave.

    So a young Palestinian man hoped to stir the masters from their smug satisfaction. He erred. Now the masters, with the covert or overt funding of government ministries and local councils, will establish more unauthorized settlement outposts, whose purpose is to further expand the armed normality of a Land of Israel for Jews only.

    • Israeli settler succumbs to injuries from Salfit attack
      March 18, 2019 10:52 A.M. (Updated: March 19, 2019 2:42 P.M.)
      http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=782899

      SALFIT (Ma’an) — An Israeli settler succumbed to injuries, on Monday, that he had sustained after an alleged shooting attack at the Gitai Junction, north of Salfit City, in the northern occupied West Bank.

      Hebrew-language news outlets confirmed that Rabbi Ahiad Ettinger, 47, who was critically injured in an attack on Sunday, succumbed to his injuries.

      Sources said that the Palestinian suspected of carrying out the attack, in which an Israeli soldier was killed, was identified as Omar Abu Leila, 19, from Salfit City, in the northern West Bank.

      Israeli forces are conducting wide-scale searches for Abu Leila.

  • Israeli TV says Hamas ’accidentally’ launched rockets at Tel Aviv
    https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/israeli-tv-says-hamas-accidentally-launched-rockets-at-tel-aviv

    The launch of two rockets from the Gaza Strip prompted Israel to launch a massive airstrike in retaliation Thursday evening. The Israel Defense Forces seem to agree with the assessment, while the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank doubts the Israeli TV report.

    The two rockets that were fired from the Gaza Strip towards Tel Aviv and almost started a war were launched by “accident,” Israel’s Channel 13 reported Friday.

    According to the report, the launch happened after low-level Hamas operatives “messed with” the rocket launcher, which was set up to fire at Tel Aviv in case of a future conflict. The Jerusalem Post reports that the rockets could have accidentally gone off during a routine maintenance operation.

    Personne n’est obligé d’y croire...

  • ’Endless trip to hell’: Israel jails hundreds of Palestinian boys a year. These are their testimonies - Israel News - Haaretz.com

    (C’est sous paywall)

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium.MAGAZINE--1.7021978

    They’re seized in the dead of night, blindfolded and cuffed, abused and manipulated to confess to crimes they didn’t commit. Every year Israel arrests almost 1,000 Palestinian youngsters, some of them not yet 13

    #palestine #israel #enfants #violence

    • ’Endless trip to hell’: Israel jails hundreds of Palestinian boys a year. These are their testimonies
      They’re seized in the dead of night, blindfolded and cuffed, abused and manipulated to confess to crimes they didn’t commit. Every year Israel arrests almost 1,000 Palestinian youngsters, some of them not yet 13
      Netta Ahituv | Mar. 14, 2019 | 9:14 PM | 2

      It was a gloomy, typically chilly late-February afternoon in the West Bank village of Beit Ummar, between Bethlehem and Hebron. The weather didn’t deter the children of the Abu-Ayyash family from playing and frolicking outside. One of them, in a Spiderman costume, acted the part by jumping lithely from place to place. Suddenly they noticed a group of Israeli soldiers trudging along the dirt trail across the way. Instantly their expressions turned from joy to dread, and they rushed into the house. It’s not the first time they reacted like that, says their father. In fact, it’s become a pattern ever since 10-year-old Omar was arrested by troops this past December.

      The 10-year-old is one of many hundreds of Palestinian children whom Israel arrests every year: The estimates range between 800 and 1,000. Some are under the age of 15; some are even preteens. A mapping of the locales where these detentions take place reveals a certain pattern: The closer a Palestinian village is to a settlement, the more likely it is that the minors residing there will find themselves in Israeli custody. For example, in the town of Azzun, west of the Karnei Shomron settlement, there’s hardly a household that hasn’t experienced an arrest. Residents say that in the past five years, more than 150 pupils from the town’s only high school have been arrested.

      At any given moment, there are about 270 Palestinian teens in Israeli prisons. The most widespread reason for their arrest – throwing stones – does not tell the full story. Conversations with many of the youths, as well as with lawyers and human rights activists, including those from the B’Tselem human-rights organization, reveal a certain pattern, even as they leave many questions open: For example, why does the occupation require that arrests be violent and why is it necessary to threaten young people.

      A number of Israelis, whose sensibilities are offended by the arrests of Palestinian children, have decided to mobilize and fight the phenomenon. Within the framework of an organization called Parents Against Child Detention, its approximately 100 members are active in the social networks and hold public events “in order to heighten awareness about the scale of the phenomenon and the violation of the rights of Palestinian minors, and in order to create a pressure group that will work for its cessation,” as they explain. Their target audience is other parents, whom they hope will respond with empathy to the stories of these children.

      In general, there seems to be no lack of criticism of the phenomenon. In addition to B’Tselem, which monitors the subject on a regular basis, there’s been a protest from overseas, too. In 2013, UNICEF, the United Nations agency for children, assailed “the ill treatment of children who come in contact with the military detention system, [which] appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized.” A report a year earlier from British legal experts concluded that the conditions the Palestinian children are subjected to amount to torture, and just five months ago the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe deplored Israel’s policy of arresting underage children, declaring, “An end must be put to all forms of physical or psychological abuse of children during arrest, transit and waiting periods, and during interrogations.”

      Arrest

      About half of the arrests of Palestinian adolescents are made in their homes. According to the testimonies, Israel Defense Forces soldiers typically burst into the house in the middle of the night, seize the wanted youth and whisk him away (very few girls are detained), leaving the family with a document stating where he’s being taken and on what charge. The printed document is in Arabic and Hebrew, but the commander of the force typically fills out the details in Hebrew only, then hands it to parents who may not be able to read it and don’t know why their son was taken.

      Attorney Farah Bayadsi asks why it’s necessary to arrest children in this manner, instead of summoning them for questioning in an orderly way. (The data show that only 12 percent of the youths receive a summons to be interrogated.)

      “I know from experience that whenever someone is asked to come in for questioning, he goes,” Bayadsi notes. She’s active in the Israeli branch of Defense for Children International, a global NGO that deals with the detention of minors and promotion of their rights.

      “The answer we generally get,” she says, “is that, ‘It’s done this way for security reasons.’ That means it’s a deliberate method, which isn’t intended to meet the underage youth halfway, but to cause him a lifelong trauma.”

      Indeed, as the IDF Spokesman’s Unit stated to Haaretz, in response, “The majority of the arrests, of both adults and minors, are carried out at night for operational reasons and due to the desire to preserve an orderly fabric of life and execute point-specific actions wherever possible.”

      About 40 percent of the minors are detained in the public sphere – usually in the area of incidents involving throwing stones at soldiers. That was the case with Adham Ahsoun, from Azzun. At the time, he was 15 and on his way home from a local grocery store. Not far away, a group of children had started throwing stones at soldiers, before running off. Ahsoun, who didn’t flee, was detained and taken to a military vehicle; once inside, he was hit by a soldier. A few children who saw what happened ran to his house to tell his mother. Grabbing her son’s birth certificate, she rushed to the entrance to the town to prove to the soldiers that he was only a child. But it was too late; the vehicle had already departed, headed to an army base nearby, where he would wait to be interrogated.

      By law, soldiers are supposed to handcuff children with their hands in front, but in many cases it’s done with their hands behind them. Additionally, sometimes the minor’s hands are too small for handcuffing, as a soldier from the Nahal infantry brigade told the NGO Breaking the Silence. On one occasion, he related, his unit arrested a boy “of about 11,” but the handcuffs were too big to bind his small hands.

      The next stage is the journey: The youths are taken to an army base or a police station in a nearby settlement, their eyes covered with flannelette. “When your eyes are covered, your imagination takes you to the most frightening places,” says a lawyer who represents young Palestinians. Many of those arrested don’t understand Hebrew, so that once pushed into the army vehicle they are completely cut off from what’s going on around them.

      In most cases, the handcuffed, blindfolded youth will be moved from place to place before actually being interrogated. Sometimes he’s left outside, in the open, for a time. In addition to the discomfort and the bewilderment, the frequent moving around presents another problem: In the meantime many acts of violence, in which soldiers beat the detainees, take place and go undocumented.

      Once at the army base or police station, the minor is placed, still handcuffed and blindfolded, on a chair or on the floor for a few hours, generally without being given anything to eat. The “endless trip to hell” is how Bayadsi describes this process. Memory of the incident, she adds, “is still there even years after the boy’s release. It implants in him an ongoing feeling of a lack of security, which will stay with him for his whole life.”

      Testimony provided to Breaking the Silence by an IDF staff sergeant about one incident in the West Bank illustrates the situation from the other side: “It was the first night of Hanukkah in 2017. Two children were throwing stones on Highway 60, on the road. So we grabbed them and took them to the base. Their eyes were covered with flannelette, and they were handcuffed in front with plastic cuffs. They looked young, between 12 and 16 years old.”

      When the soldiers gathered to light the first candle of the Hanukkah holiday, the detainees remained outside. “We’re shouting and making noise and using drums, which is a kind of company thing,” the soldier recalled, noting that he assumed the kids didn’t know Hebrew, although maybe they did understand the curses they heard. “Let’s say sharmuta [slut] and other words they might know from Arabic. How could they know we aren’t talking about them? They’ll probably thought that in another minute we were going to cook them.”

      Interrogation

      The nightmare can be of differing duration, the former detainees relate. Three to eight hours after the arrest, by which time the youth is tired and hungry – and sometimes in pain after being hit, frightened by threats and not even knowing why he’s there – he’s taken in for interrogation. This may be the first time the blindfold is removed and his hands freed. The process usually starts with a general question, such as, “Why do you throw stones at soldiers?” The rest is more intense – a barrage of questions and threats, aimed at getting the teen to sign a confession. In some cases, he’s promised that if he signs he’ll be given something to eat.

      According to the testimonies, the interrogators’ threats are directed squarely at the boy (“You’ll spend your whole life in jail”), or at his family (“I’ll bring your mother here and kill her before your eyes”), or at the family’s livelihood (“If you don’t confess, we’ll take away your father’s permit to work in Israel – because of you, he’ll be out of work and the whole family will go hungry”).

      “The system shows that the intention here is more to demonstrate control than to engage in enforcement,” suggests Bayadsi. “If the boy confesses, there’s a file; if he doesn’t confess, he enters the criminal circle anyway and is seriously intimidated.”

      Imprisonment

      Whether the young detainee has signed a confession or not, the next stop is prison. Either Megiddo, in Lower Galilee, or Ofer, north of Jerusalem. Khaled Mahmoud Selvi was 15 when he was brought to prison in October 2017 and was told to disrobe for a body search (as in 55 percent of the cases). For 10 minutes he was made to stand naked, along with another boy, and in winter.

      The months in detention, waiting for trial, and later, if they are sentenced, are spent in the youth wing of the facilities for security prisoners. “They don’t speak with their families for months and are allowed one visit a month, through glass,” Bayadsi relates.

      Far fewer Palestinian girls are arrested than boys. But there is no facility specially for them, so they are held in the Sharon prison for women, together with the adults.

      The trial

      The courtroom is usually the place where parents have their first sight of their child, sometimes several weeks after the arrest. Tears are the most common reaction to the sight of the young detainee, who will be wearing a prison uniform and handcuffs, and with a cloud of uncertainty hovering over everything. Israel Prisons Service guards don’t allow the parents to approach the youth, and direct them to sit on the visitors’ bench. Defense counsel is paid for either by the family or by the Palestinian Authority.

      At a recent remand hearing for several detainees, one boy didn’t stop smiling at the sight of his mother, while another lowered his eyes, perhaps to conceal tears. Another detainee whispered to his grandmother, who had come to visit him, “Don’t worry, tell everyone I’m fine.” The next boy remained silent and watched as his mother mouthed to him, “Omari, I love you.”

      While the children and their family try to exchange a few words and looks, the proceedings move along. As though in a parallel universe.

      The deal

      The vast majority of trials for juveniles ends in a plea bargain – safka in Arabic, a word Palestinian children know well. Even if there is no hard evidence to implicate the boy in stone-throwing, a plea is often the preferred option. If the detainee doesn’t agree to it, the trial could last a long time and he will be held in custody until the proceedings end.

      Conviction depends almost entirely on evidence from a confession, says lawyer Gerard Horton, from the British-Palestinian Military Court Watch, whose brief, according to its website, involves “monitoring the treatment of children in Israeli military detention.” According to Horton, who is based in Jerusalem, the minors will be more prone to confess if they don’t know their rights, are frightened and get no support or relief until they confess. Sometimes a detainee who does not confess will be told that he can expect to face a series of court appearances. At some stage, even the toughest youth will despair, the lawyer explains.

      The IDF Spokesman’s Unit stated in response: “The minors are entitled to be represented by an attorney, like any other accused, and they have the right to conduct their defense in any way they choose. Sometimes they choose to admit to guilt within the framework of a plea bargain but if they plead not guilty, a procedure involving hearing evidence is conducted, like the proceedings conducted in [civilian courts in] Israel, at the conclusion of which a legal decision will be handed down on the basis of the evidence presented to the court. The deliberations are set within a short time and are conducted efficiently and with the rights of the accused upheld.”

      Managing the community

      According to data of collected by the British-Palestinian NGO, 97 percent of the youths arrested by the IDF live in relatively small locales that are no more than two kilometers away from a settlement. There are a number of reasons for this. One involves the constant friction – physical and geographical – between Palestinians, on the one hand, and soldiers and settlers. However, according to Horton, there is another, no less interesting way to interpret this figure: namely, from the perspective of an IDF commander, whose mission is to protect the settlers.

      In the case of reported stone-throwing incidents, he says, the commander’s assumption is that the Palestinians involved are young, between the ages of 12 and 30, and that they come from the nearest village. Often the officer will turn to the resident collaborator in the village, who provides him with the names of a few boys.

      The next move is “to enter the village at night and arrest them,” Horton continues. “And whether these youths are the ones who threw the stones or not, you have already put a scare into the whole village” – which he says is an “effective tool” for managing a community.

      “When so many minors are being arrested like this, it’s clear that some of them will be innocent,” he observes. “The point is that this has to be happening all the time, because the boys grow up and new children appear on the scene. Each generation must feel the strong arm of the IDF.”

      According to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit: “In recent years, many minors, some of them very young, have been involved in violent incidents, incitement and even terrorism. In these cases, there is no alternative but to institute measures, including interrogation, detention and trial, within the limits of and according to what is stipulated by law. As part of these procedures, the IDF operates to uphold and preserve the rights of the minors. In enforcing the law against them, their age is taken into account.

      “Thus, since 2014, among other measures, in certain instances, the minors are invited to the police station and are not arrested at home. In addition, proceedings relating to minors take place in the military court for juveniles, which examines the seriousness of the offense that’s attributed to the minor and the danger it poses, while taking into consideration his young age and his particular circumstances. Every allegation of violence on the part of IDF soldiers is examined, and cases in which the soldiers’ actions are found to be flawed are treated sternly.”

      The Shin Bet security service stated in response: “The Shin Bet, together with the IDF and the Israel Police, operates against every element that threatens to harm Israel’s security and the country’s citizenry. The terrorist organizations make extensive use of minors and recruit them to carry out terrorist activity, and there is a general tendency to involve minors in terrorist activity as part of local initiatives.

      “Interrogations of suspected terrorists are conducted by the Shin Bet under the law, and are subject to supervision and to internal and external review, including by all levels of the court system. The interrogations of minors are carried out with extra sensitivity and with consideration of their young age.”

      Khaled Mahmoud Selvi, arrested at 14 (October 2017)

      “I was arrested when I was 14, all the boys in the family were arrested that night. A year later, I was arrested again, with my cousin. They said I burned tires. It happened when I was sleeping. My mother woke me up. I thought it was time for school, but when I opened my eyes I saw soldiers above me. They told me to get dressed, handcuffed me and took me outside. I was wearing a short-sleeved shirt and it was cold that night. My mother begged them to let me put on a jacket, but they didn’t agree. Finally, she threw the jacket on me, but they didn’t let me put my arms in the sleeves.

      “They took me to the Karmei Tzur settlement with my eyes covered, and I had the feeling that they were just driving in circles. When I walked, there was a pit in the road and they pushed me into it, and I fell. From there they took me to Etzion [police station]. There they put me in a room, and soldiers kept coming in all the time and kicking me. Someone passed by and said that if I didn’t confess, they would leave me in jail for the rest of my life.

      “At 7 A.M., they told me the interrogation was starting. I asked to go to the toilet before. My eyes were covered and a soldier put a chair in front of me. I tripped. The interrogation went on for an hour. They told me that they saw me burning tires and that it interfered with air traffic. I told them it wasn’t me. I didn’t see a lawyer until the afternoon, and he asked the soldiers to bring us food. It was the first time I had eaten since being arrested the night before.

      “At 7 P.M., I was sent to Ofer Prison, and I remained there for six months. In that period, I was in court more than 10 times. And there was also another interrogation, because a friend of mine was told while being questioned that if he didn’t confess and inform on me, they would bring his mother and shoot her before his eyes. So he confessed and informed. I’m not angry at him. It was his first arrest, he was scared.”

      Khaled Shtaiwi, arrested at 13 (November 2018)

      Khaled’s story is told by his father, Murad Shatawi: “On the night he was arrested, a phone call from my nephew woke me up. He said the house was surrounded by soldiers. I got up and got dressed, because I expected them to arrest me, on account of the nonviolent demonstrations I organize on Fridays. I never imagined they’d take Khaled. They asked me for the names of my sons. I told them Mumen and Khaled. When I said Khaled, they said, ‘Yes, him. We’re here to take him.’ I was in shock, so many soldiers showed up to arrest a boy of 13.

      “They handcuffed and blindfolded him and led him east on foot, toward the settlement of Kedumim, all the while cursing and hitting him a little. I saw it all from the window. They gave me a document showing that it was a legal arrest and I could come to the police station. When I got there, I saw him through a small hole in the door. He was handcuffed and blindfolded.

      “He stayed like that from the moment they arrested him until 3 P.M. the next day. That’s a picture that doesn’t leave me; I don’t know how I’ll go on living with that picture in my head. He was accused of throwing stones, but after four days they released him, because he didn’t confess and there was no other evidence against him. During the trial, when the judge wanted to speak to Khaled, he had to lean forward in order to see him, because Khaled was so small.

      “What was it like to see him like that? I am the father. That says it all. He hasn’t talked about it since getting out, three months ago. That’s a problem. I’m now organizing a ‘psychology day’ in the village, to help all the children here who have been arrested. Out of 4,500 people in the village, 11 children under the age of 18 have been arrested; five were under the age of 15.”

      Omar Rabua Abu Ayyash, arrested at age 10 (December 2018)

      Omar looks small for his age. He’s shy and quiet, and it’s hard to talk to him about the arrest, so members of his family recount the events in his place.

      Omar’s mother: “It happened at 10 A.M. on Friday, when there is no school. Omar was playing in the area in front of the house, he threw pebbles at birds that were chirping in the tree. The soldiers, who were in the watchtower across the way here, picked up on what he was doing and ran toward him. He ran, but they caught him and knocked him down. He started to cry, and he wet his pants. They kicked him a few times.

      “His grandmother, who lives here below, immediately went out and tried to take him from the soldiers, which caused a struggle and shouts. In the end, they left him alone and he went home and changed into dry pants. A quarter of an hour later, the soldiers came back, this time with their commander, who said he had to arrest the boy for throwing stones. When the other children in the family saw the soldiers in the house, they also wet their pants.”

      Omar’s father takes up the story: “I told the commander that he was under 12 and that I had to accompany him, so I rode with him in the jeep to the Karmei Tzur settlement. There the soldiers told him not to throw stones anymore, and that if he saw other children doing it, he should tell them. From there they took him the offices of the Palestinian Authority in Hebron. The whole story took about 12 hours. They gave him a few bananas to eat during those hours. Now, whenever the children see a military jeep or soldiers, they go inside. They’ve stopped playing outside since then. Before the incident, soldiers used to come here to play soccer with the children. Now they’ve stopped coming, too.”

      Tareq Shtaiwi, arrested at 14 (January 2019)

      “It was around 2 P.M. I had a fever that day, so Dad sent me to my cousin next door, because that’s almost the only place in the village with a heating unit. Suddenly soldiers showed up. They saw me watching them from the window, so they fired shots at the door of the building, knocked it down and started to come upstairs. I got scared, so I ran from the second floor to the third, but they stopped me on the way and took me outside. The soldiers wouldn’t let me take my coat, even though it was cold and I was sick. They took me on foot to Kedumim, handcuffed and blindfolded. They sat me on a chair. I heard doors and windows being slammed hard, I think they were trying to scare me.

      “After a while, they took me from Kedumim to Ariel, and I was there for five-six hours. They accused me of throwing stones a few days earlier with my friend. I told them I hadn’t thrown any stones. In the evening they moved me to the Hawara detention building; one of the soldiers told me I would never leave there. In the morning I was moved to Megiddo Prison. They didn’t have prisoners uniforms in my size, so they gave me clothes of Palestinian children who had been there before and left them for the next in line. I was the youngest person in the prison.

      “I had three court hearings, and after 12 days, at the last hearing, they told me that it was enough, that my father would pay a fine of 2,000 shekels [$525] and I was getting a three-year suspended sentence. The judge asked me what I intended to do after getting out, I told him I would go back to school and I wouldn’t go up to the third floor again. Since my arrest, my younger brother, who’s 7, has been afraid to sleep in the kids’ room and goes to sleep with our parents.”

      Adham Ahsoun, arrested in October 2018, on his 15th birthday

      “On my 15th birthday, I went to the store in the village center to buy a few things. Around 7:30 in the evening, soldiers entered the village and children started to throw stones at them. On the way home with my bag, they caught me. They took me to the entrance of the village and put me in a jeep. One of the soldiers started to hit me. Then they put plastic handcuffs on me and covered my eyes and took me like that to the military base in Karnei Shomron. I was there for about an hour. I couldn’t see a thing, but I had the feeling that a dog was sniffing me. I was afraid. From there they took me to another military base and left me there for the night. They didn’t give me anything to eat or drink.

      “In the morning, they moved me to the interrogation facility in Ariel. The interrogator told me that the soldiers caught me throwing stones. I told him that I hadn’t thrown stones, that I was on my way home from the store. So he called the soldiers into the interrogation room. They said, ‘He’s lying, we saw him, he was throwing stones.’ I told him that I really hadn’t thrown stones, but he threatened to arrest my mother and father. I panicked. I asked him, ‘What do you want from me?’ He said he wanted me to sign that I threw stones at soldiers, so I signed. The whole time I didn’t see or talk to a lawyer.

      “My plea bargain was that I would confess and get a five-month jail sentence. Afterward, they gave me one-third off for good behavior. I got out after three months and a fine of 2,000 shekels. In jail I tried to catch up with the material I missed in school. The teachers told me they would only take into account the grades of the second semester, so it wouldn’t hurt my chances of being accepted for engineering studies in university.”

      Muhmen Teet, arrested at 13 (November 2017)

      “At 3 A.M., I heard knocking on the door. Dad came into the room and said there were soldiers in the living room and wanted us to show ID cards. The commanding officer told my father that they were taking me to Etzion for questioning. Outside, they handcuffed and blindfolded me and put me in a military vehicle. We went to my cousin’s house; they also arrested him. From there we went to Karmei Tzur and waited, handcuffed and blindfolded, until the morning.

      “In the morning, they only took my cousin for interrogation, not me. After his interrogation, they took us to Ofer Prison. After a day there, they took us back to Etzion and said they were going to interrogate me. Before the interrogation, they took me into a room, where there was a soldier who slapped me. After he hit me in one room, he took me to the interrogation room. The interrogator said I was responsible for burning tires, and because of that the grove near the house caught fire. I said it wasn’t me, and I signed a document that the interrogator gave me. The document was also printed in Arabic, but the interrogator filled it out in Hebrew. I was taken back to Ofer Prison.

      “I had seven hearings in court, because at the first hearing I said I hadn’t intended to confess, I just didn’t understand what I signed and it wasn’t true. So they sent me back for another interrogation. Again I didn’t confess. Then they sent me to interrogation another time and again I didn’t confess. That’s what it was like in three interrogations. In the end, my lawyer did a deal with the prosecutor that if I confessed in court – which I did – and my family would pay 4,000 shekels, they would release me.

      “I’m a good student, I like soccer, both playing and watching it. Since the arrest I hardly wander around outside.”

      Khalil Zaakiq, arrested at age 13 (January 2019)

      “Around 2 A.M. someone knocked on the door. I woke up and saw a lot of soldiers in the house. They said we should all sit in the living room sofa and not move. The commander called Uday, my big brother, told him to get dressed and informed him that he was under arrest. It was the third time they arrested him. My father was also once under arrest. Suddenly they told me to put my shoes on too and go with them.

      “They took us out of the house and tied our hands and covered our eyes. We went like that on foot to the base in Karmei Tzur. There they sat me on the floor with hands tied and eyes covered for around three hours. At about 5 A.M., they moved us to Etzion. On the way there in the jeep they hit us, they slapped me. In Etzion, I was sent to be checked by a doctor. He asked if I had been beaten and I said yes. He didn’t do anything, only checked my blood pressure and said I could stand up to an interrogation.

      “My interrogation started at 8 A.M.. They asked me to tell them which children throw stones. I said I didn’t know, so the interrogator gave me a slap. The interrogation went on for four hours. Afterward, they put me into a dark room for 10 minutes and then took me back to the interrogation room, but now they only fingerprinted me and put me into a detention cell for an hour. After an hour, Uday and I were moved to Ofer Prison. I didn’t sign a confession, neither about myself nor about others.

      “I got out after nine days, because I wasn’t guilty of anything. My parents had to pay 1,000 shekels for bail. My little brother, who is 10, has been really afraid ever since. Whenever someone knocks at the door, he wets his pants.”

  • Israeli Arab slate, far-left candidate banned from election hours after Kahanist leader allowed to run
    Jonathan Lis and Jack Khoury Mar 07, 2019 7:07 AM
    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/elections/.premium-far-left-lawmaker-banned-from-israeli-election-for-supporting-terr

    Arab political sources say the move is evidence of racism and the delegitimization of Arab society in Israel, accusing Netanyahu’s Likud party of anti-Arab incitement

    The Central Election Committee disqualified the Arab joint slate Balad-United Arab List and Ofer Cassif, a member of politicial alliance Hadash-Ta’al, from running in the election on Wednesday, opposing the opinion of Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit.

    Michael Ben Ari and Itamar Ben-Gvir from the Kahanist, far-right Otzma Yehudit party had petitioned against both lists. The committee approved Ben Air to run in the election earlier Wednesday.

    The decisions will be referred to the Supreme Court on Sunday for approval. A ban against a party slate may be appealed in the Supreme Court, which holds a special “election appeals” process, while a ban on an individual candidate automatically requires approval by the Supreme Court if it is to take effect.

    Arab political sources described the disqualification of the Balad-United Arab List slate as evidence of racism and the delegitimization of Arab society in Israel and accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party of anti-Arab incitement.

    MK David Bitan petitioned on behalf of Likud against Balad-United Arab List, and Yisrael Beitenu chairman Avigdor Lieberman petitioned against Cassif. Petitioners claimed both lists and Cassif supported terror and ruled out Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and Democratic state. Mendelblit said he opposed all the petitions.

    Ben-Gvir presented the committee with findings he claimed should disqualify the Hadash-Ta’al slate. He mentioned a call from Ta’al chairman Ahmed Tibi to annul the Declaration of Independence, and quoted a Facebook post by Ayman Odeh, the head of Hadash.

    In the post, written following a meeting with Fatah member Marwan Barghouti at an Israeli prison, Odeh compared Barghouti to Nelson Mandela. “The meeting was moving, as well as speaking to a leader who shares my political stances.” Ben-Gvir noted Odeh defined Ahed Tamimi as an “excellent girl,” and said she showed “legitimate resistance.” Tamimi, a Palestinian teenage girl, served time in prison for slapping an Israeli soldier in 2018.

    Cassif was accused of equating Israel and the Israel Defense Forces with the Nazi regime, and it was noted that he called to fight “Judeo-Nazism,” expressed support for changing the anthem, and called Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked “Neo-Nazi scum.” He did not attend the session, but was called after committee chairman Justice Hanan Melcer insisted on his presence.

    “I come from an academic background, and my area of expertise is among other things the subject of Fascism, Nazis and nationalism in general,” said Cassif, explaining his comments. “When I speak to a friend or write a post as a private person, I use metaphors. When I used the aforementioned terms – they were metaphors.”

    In an interview last month, Cassif said Israel conducts a “creeping genocide” against the Palestinian people.

    The top candidate on the slate, Mansour Abbas, said he had expected that most of the representatives of the Zionist parties on the election committee would support the move to disqualify the slate, but added: “We are a democratic Arab list that is seeking to represent Arab society with dignity and responsibility.”

    Commenting on Benny Gantz, the leader of Kahol Lavan, which is ahead of Likud in recent polls, Abbas said: “There’s no difference between Benjamin Netanyahu and Benjamin Gantz.”

    Mtanes Shehadeh, who is No. 2 on the Balad-United Arab list slate said the decision to disqualify his slate was expected because he said the Central Election Committee has a right-wing majority and “is also controlled by a fascist, right-wing ideology.”

    His Balad faction, Shehadeh said, “presents a challenge to democracy in Israel” and challenges what he called “the right-wing regime that is controlling the country.”

    Sources from the Balad-United Arab list slate said there is in an urgent need to strip the Central Election Committee of the authority to disqualify candidates and parties from running in elections. The considerations that go into the decision are purely political, the sources said.

    Balad chairman Jamal Zahalka said the decision to disqualify the slate sends a “hostile message to the Arab public” in the country. “We will petition the High Court of Justice against the decision and in any event, we will not change our position, even if we are disqualified.”

    Earlier Wednesday, the Central Elections Committee approved Ben Ari, the chairman of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, to run for the Knesset.

    Meretz, Stav Shaffir (Labor) and the Reform Movement, who filed the petition to the Central Elections Committee to ban Ben Ari from running for Knesset, all said they would file a petition with the High Court of Justice against the committee’s decision.

    Prior to deliberations, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit submitted his opinion to the comittee, stating he was in favor of disqualifying Ben Ari from running for Knesset on the grounds of incitement to racism.

    In November 2017, for instance, at an annual memorial for Rabbi Meir Kahane, Ben Ari gave a speech in which he said of Israeli Arabs, “Let’s give them another 100,000 dunams [of land] and affirmative action, maybe they’ll love us. In the end, yes, they’ll love us when we’re slaughtered.”

    In May 2018, Ben Ari gave another speech in which he said, “The Arabs of Haifa aren’t different in any way from the Arabs of Gaza. How are they different? In that they’re here, enemies from within. They’re waging war against us here, within the state. And this is called – it has a name – it’s called a fifth column. We need to call the dog by its name. They’re our enemies. They want to destroy us. Of course there are loyal Arabs, but you can count them – one percent or less than one percent.”

    #Hadash

    • Outlaw Israel’s Arabs
      They are already regarded as illegitimate citizens. Why not just say so and anchor it in law?
      Gideon Levy | Mar 10, 2019 3:15 AM
      https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-outlaw-israel-s-arabs-1.7003010

      The time has come to put an end to the stammering and going around in circles: Outlaw the Arabs, all of them. Make them all illegal dwellers in their land and have the Border Police hunt them down like animals, as they know how to do. They are already regarded as illegitimate citizens. It’s time to say so and to anchor it in law.

      Discerning the differences among them is artificial: What’s the difference between the United Arab List–Balad ticket and between the Hadash–Ta’al ticket (acronyms for the Arab political parties)? Why is only the first one on this list being disqualified? And what is the difference between the Palestinians who are Israeli citizens and those living under occupation?

      Why does one group have rights while the others don’t? The time has come to rectify the situation: Ta’al should be treated like Balad; citizens of the state should be treated like those under occupation. Anything less is like paying lip service to the guardians of political correctness, to a supposed semblance of fairness, to a deceptive image of democracy. Outlawing all the Arabs is the way to ensure you have a Jewish state. Who’s against that?

      Whoever thinks what I’ve written is wrong or an exaggeration isn’t reading reality. Disqualifying the Arabs is the issue that has the broadest consensus of the current election campaign. “I’ll put it simply,” Yair Lapid, the democrat, said. “We won’t form a blocking majority with the Arabs. Period.”

      Now I, will humbly put it simply, too: This is a revolting display of racism. Period. More than the torture of the residents of Gaza and the West Bank under the guise of security concerns, in this we see a broader Israeli racism in all its glory: Pure, unadulterated and acceptable racism. It’s not Balad, but the Arabs who are being disqualified. It’s not Ofer Kassif but the left that’s being disqualified. It’s a step-by-step slide down the slope and we can no longer shut our eyes to it.

      If this discourse delegitimizing our Arab citizens isn’t driving Israeli democrats mad – then there is no democracy. We don’t need any studies or institutes: A regime that disqualifies voters and elected officials because of their blood and nationality is not a democracy.

      You don’t need to cite the occupation to expose the lie of democracy – now it’s also apparent at home, within. From Benny Gantz to Bezalel Smotrich – all of them are Ben-Zion Gopsteins. The laws against racism and all the rest are only lip service. The Israeli Knesset has 107 lawmakers; thirteen of them, most of them among the best there are, are outside the game, they have less say than the ushers.

      Now we must try to imagine what they’re going through. They hear everyone trying to distance themselves from them, as though they’re a contagious disease, and they’re silent. They hear nobody seeking to get near them as though their bodies stink, and they avoid comment. The Knesset is like a bus that has segregated its Jewish and Arab passengers, an arena of political apartheid, not yet officially so, which declares from the outset that the Arabs are disqualified.

      Why even bother participating in this game that’s already been decided? The response should have been to boycott the elections. If you don’t want us, we don’t want you. The fig leaf is torn and has long been full of holes. But this is exactly what Israel wants: A country only for Jews. Therefore Arab citizens must not play this game and must head in their masses to the polling stations, just like the prime minister said, to poke Israeli racism painfully in the eye.

      For avowed racists, it’s all very clear. They say what they think: The Jews are a supreme race, the recipients of a divine promise, they have rights to this land, the Arabs are, at best, fleeting guests.

      The problem is with the racists in masquerade like Gantz and Lapid. I have a question for them: Why are Hadash and Ta’al not eligible to be part of a bloc? Why can’t you rely on their votes and why shouldn’t their representatives belong to the government? Would Ayman Odeh be any worse a culture minister than Miri Regev? Would Ahmad Tibi be any less skillful a health minister than Yaakov Litzman? The truth is this: The center-left is as racist as the right.

      Let’s hope no Gantz-Lapid government can be formed, just because of the Arab votes that it fails to have. That would be the sweetest revenge for racism.

    • La Cour suprême israélienne invalide la candidature d’un leader d’extrême droite
      La justice a interdit la candidature du chef d’Otzma Yehudit. Elle a approuvé la liste arabe, les présences d’un candidat juif d’extrême gauche et de Ben Gvir d’Otzma Yehudit
      Par Times of Israel Staff 18 mars 2019,
      https://fr.timesofisrael.com/la-cour-supreme-israelienne-invalide-la-candidature-dun-leader-dex

      (...) Les juges ont en revanche fait savoir que Itamar Ben Gvir, qui appartient également à la formation d’extrême-droite, est autorisé à se présenter.

      Ils ont aussi donné le feu vert à une participation au scrutin du 9 avril à Ofer Kassif ainsi qu’aux factions de Balad-Raam. Kassif est le seul candidat juif à figurer que la liste Hadash-Taal et il avait été disqualifié par la commission centrale électorale en raison de déclarations controversées faites dans le passé, notamment une dans laquelle il avait qualifié la ministre de la Justice Ayelet Shaked de « racaille néo-nazie ». (...)

      #Ofer_Kassif

  • Old Palestinian photos & films hidden in IDF archive show different history than Israeli claims

    Palestinian photos and films seized by Israeli troops have been gathering dust in the army and Defense Ministry archives until Dr. Rona Sela, a curator and art historian, exposed them. The material presents an alternative to the Zionist history that denied the Palestinians’ existence here, she says.

    The initial reaction is one of incredulity: Why is this material stored in the Israel Defense Forces and Defense Ministry Archive? The first item is labeled, in Hebrew, “The History of Palestine from 1919,” the second, “Paintings by Children Who Go to School and Live in a Refugee Camp and Aspire to Return to Palestine.” The third is, “Depiction of the IDF’s Treatment and Harsh Handling of Palestinians in the Territories.”

    Of all places, these three reels of 16-mm film are housed in the central archive that documents Israel’s military-security activities. It’s situated in Tel Hashomer, near the army’s National Induction Center, outside Tel Aviv.

    IDF archive contains 2.7 million photos, 38,000 films

    The three items are barely a drop in an ocean of some 38,000 films, 2.7 million photographs, 96,000 audio recordings and 46,000 maps and aerial photos that have been gathered into the IDF Archive since 1948, by order of Israel’s first prime minister and defense minister, David Ben-Gurion. However, a closer perusal shows that this particular “drop in the ocean” is subversive, exceptional and highly significant.

    The footage in question is part of a collection – whose exact size and full details remain unknown – of “war booty films” seized by the IDF from Palestinian archives in raids over the years, though primarily in the 1982 Lebanon War.

    Recently, however, following a persistent, protracted legal battle, the films confiscated in Lebanon, which had been gathering dust for decades – instead of being screened in cinematheques or other venues in Israel – have been rescued from oblivion, along with numerous still photos. The individual responsible for this development is Dr. Rona Sela, a curator and researcher of visual history at Tel Aviv University.

    For nearly 20 years, Sela has been exploring Zionist and Palestinian visual memory. She has a number of important revelations and discoveries to her credit, which she has published in the form of books, catalogs and articles. Among the Hebrew-language titles are “Photography in Palestine/Eretz-Israel in the ‘30s and ‘40s” (2000) and “Made Public: Palestinian Photographs in Military Archives in Israel” (2009). In March, she published an article in the English-language periodical Social Semiotics on, “The Genealogy of Colonial Plunder and Erasure – Israel’s Control over Palestinian Archives.”

    Now Sela has made her first film, “Looted and Hidden: Palestinian Archives in Israel,” an English-language documentary that surveys the fate of Palestinian photographs and films that were “captured” and deposited in Israeli archives. It includes heretofore unseen segments from films seized by the IDF from Palestinian archives in Beirut. These documentary records, Sela says, “were erased from consciousness and history” for decades.

    Sela begins journey in 1998

    Getting access to the films was not easy, Sela explains. Her archival journey began in 1998, when she was researching Zionist propaganda films and photos that sought to portray the “new Jew” – muscular, proudly tilling the soil – in contradistinction, according to the Zionist perception, to the supposedly degenerate and loutish Palestinian Arab.

    “After spending a few years in the Central Zionist Archive in Jerusalem and in other Zionist archives, researching the history of Zionist photography and the construction of a visual propaganda apparatus supporting the Zionist idea, I started to look for Palestinian visual representation as well, in order to learn about the Palestinian narrative and trace its origins and influence,” she says.

    That task was far more complicated than anyone could have imagined. In some of the Zionist films and photos, Sela was able to discern, often incidentally, episodes from Palestinian history that had “infiltrated” them, as she puts it. For example, in Carmel Newsreels (weekly news footage screened at local cinemas) from 1951, showing the settlement of Jews in Jaffa, demolished and abandoned Arab homes are clearly visible.

    Subsequently, Sela spotted traces and remnants of a genuine Palestinian visual archive occasionally cropping up in Israeli archives. Those traces were not immediately apparent, more like an elusive treasure concealed here and there beneath layers of restrictions, erasures and revisions.

    Khalil Rassass, father of Palestinian photojournalism

    Thus, one day she noticed in the archive of the pre-state Haganah militia, stills bearing the stamp “Photo Rissas.” Digging deeper, she discovered the story of Chalil Rissas (Khalil Rassass, 1926-1974), one of the fathers of Palestinian photojournalism. He’s unknown to the general public, whether Palestinian or Israel, but according to Sela, he was a “daring, groundbreaking photographer” who, motivated by a sense of national consciousness, documented the pre-1948 Palestinian struggle.

    Subsequently she found hundreds of his photographs, accompanied by captions written by soldiers or Israeli archive staff who had tried to foist a Zionist narrative on them and disconnect them from their original context. The source of the photographs was a Jewish youth who received them from his father, an IDF officer who brought them back with him from the War of Independence as booty.

    The discovery was unprecedented. In contrast to the Zionist propaganda images that exalted the heroism of the Jewish troops and barely referred to the Palestinians, Rissas’ photographs were mainly of Palestinian fighters. Embodying a proud Palestinian stance, they focused on the national and military struggle and its outcome, including the Palestinians’ military training and deployment for battle.

    “I realized that I’d come across something significant, that I’d found a huge cache of works by one of the fathers of Palestinian photography, who had been the first to give visual expression to the Palestinian struggle,” Sela recalls. “But when I tried to learn more about Chalil Rissas, I understood that he was a forgotten photographer, that no one knew the first thing about him, either in Israel or elsewhere.”

    Sela thereupon decided to study the subject herself. In 1999, she tracked down Rissas’ brother, Wahib, who was working as a photographer of tourists on the Temple Mount / Haram a-Sharif in Jerusalem’s Old City. He told her the story of Chalil’s life. It turned out that he had accompanied Palestinian troops and leaders, visually documenting the battles fought by residents of the Jerusalem area during the 1948 War of Independence. “He was a young man who chose the camera as an instrument for changing people’s consciousness,” Sela says.

    Ali Za’arur, forgotten Palestinian photographer

    Around 2007, she discovered the archive of another forgotten Palestinian photographer, Ali Za’arur (1900-1972), from Azzariyeh, a village east of Jerusalem. About 400 of his photos were preserved in four albums. They also depicted scenes from the 1948 war, in which Za’arur accompanied the forces of Jordan’s Arab Legion and documented the battle for the Old City of Jerusalem. He photographed the dead, the ruins, the captives, the refugees and the events of the cease-fire.

    In the Six-Day War of 1967, Za’arur fled from his home for a short time. When he returned, he discovered that the photo albums had disappeared. A relative, it emerged, had given them to Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek as a gift. Afterward, the Jerusalem Foundation donated them to the IDF Archive. In 2008, in an unprecedented act, the archive returned the albums to Za’arur’s family. The reason, Sela surmises, is that the albums were captured by the army in battle. In any event, this was, as far as is known, a unique case.

    Sela took heart from the discoveries she’d made, realizing that “with systematic work, it would be possible to uncover more Palestinian archives that ended up in Israeli hands.”

    That work was three-pronged: doing archival research to locate Palestinian photographs and films that had been incorporated into Israeli archives; holding meetings with the Palestinian photographers themselves, or members of their families; and tracking down Israeli soldiers who had taken part in “seizing these visual spoils” and in bringing them to Israel.

    In the course of her research Sela met some fascinating individuals, among them Khadijeh Habashneh, a Jordan-based Palestinian filmmaker who headed the archive and cinematheque of the Palestinian Cinema Institute. That institution, which existed from the end of the 1960s until the early ‘80s, initially in Jordan and afterward in Lebanon, was founded by three pioneering Palestinian filmmakers – Sulafa Jadallah, Hani Jawhariyyeh and Mustafa Abu Ali (Habashneh’s husband) – who sought to document their people’s way of life and national struggle. Following the events of Black September in 1970, when the Jordanian army and the Palestine Liberation Organization fought a bloody internecine war, the filmmakers moved to Lebanon and reestablished the PCI in Beirut.

    Meeting with Habashneh in Amman in 2013, Sela heard the story of the Palestinian archives that disappeared, a story she included in her new documentary. “Where to begin, when so much material was destroyed, when a life project falls apart?” Habashneh said to Sela. “I can still see these young people, pioneers, bold, imbued with ideals, revolutionaries, who created pictures and films and documented the Palestinian revolution that the world doesn’t want to see. They refused to be faceless and to be without an identity.”

    The archive established by Habashneh contained forgotten works that documented the Palestinians’ suffering in refugee camps, the resistance to Israel and battles against the IDF, as well as everyday life. The archive contained the films and the raw materials of the PCI filmmakers, but also collected other early Palestinian films, from both before and after 1948.

    Spirit of liberation

    This activity reflects “a spirit of liberation and revolt and the days of the revolution,” Habashneh says in Sela’s film, referring to the early years of the Palestinian national movement. That spirit was captured in underground photographs and with a minimal budget, on film that was developed in people’s kitchens, screened in tents in refugee camps and distributed abroad. Women, children, fighters, intellectuals and cultural figures, and events of historic importance were documented, Habashneh related. “As far as is known, this was the first official Palestinian visual archive,” Sela notes.

    In her conversation with Sela, Habashneh nostalgically recalled other, better times, when the Palestinian films were screened in a Beirut cinematheque, alongside other works with a “revolutionary spirit,” from Cuba, Chile, Vietnam and elsewhere. “We were in contact with filmmakers from other countries, who saw the camera as an instrument in the hands of the revolution and the people’s struggle,” she recalled.

    “Interesting cultural cooperation developed there, centering around revolutionary cinema,” Sela points out, adding, “Beirut was alive with an unprecedented, groundbreaking cultural flowering that was absolutely astonishing in terms of its visual significance.”

    IDF confiscates film archive

    But in 1982, after the IDF entered Beirut, that archive disappeared and was never seen again. The same fate befell two films made by Habashneh herself, one about children, the other about women. In Sela’s documentary, Habashneh wonders aloud about the circumstances in which the amazing collection disappeared. “Is our fate to live a life without a past? Without a visual history?” she asks. Since then, she has managed to reconstruct a small part of the archive. Some of the films turned up in the United States, where they had been sent to be developed. Copies of a few others remained in movie theaters in various countries where they were screened. Now in her seventies, Habashneh continues to pursue her mission, even though, as she told Sela during an early conversation, “the fate of the archive remains a puzzle.”

    What Habashneh wasn’t able to accomplish beginning in 1982 as part of a worldwide quest, Sela managed to do over the course of a few years of research in Israel. She began by locating a former IDF soldier who told her about the day on which several trucks arrived at the building in Beirut that housed a number of Palestinian archives and began to empty it out. That testimony, supported by a photograph, was crucial for Sela, as it corroborated the rumors and stories about the Palestinian archives having been taken to Israel.

    The same soldier added that he had been gripped by fear when he saw, among the photos that were confiscated from the archive, some that documented Israeli soldiers in the territories. He himself appeared in one of them. “They marked us,” he said to Sela.

    Soldiers loot Nashashibi photos & possessions, take photo from corpse

    Another former soldier told Sela about an unusual photo album that was taken (or looted, depending on one’s point of view) from the home of the prominent Nashashibi family in Jerusalem, in 1948. The soldier added that his father, who had served as an IDF officer in the War of Independence, entered a photography studio and made off with its archive, while other soldiers were busy looting pianos and other expensive objects from the Nashashibis. Another ex-soldier testified to having taken a photo from the corpse of an Arab. Over time, all these images found their way to archives in Israel, in particular the IDF Archive.

    Sela discovers IDF archive

    In 2000, Sela, buoyed by her early finds, requested permission from that archive to examine the visual materials that had been seized by the army in the 1980s. The initial response was denial: The material was not in Israel’s hands, she was told.

    “But I knew what I was looking for, because I had soldiers’ testimonies,” she says now, adding that when she persisted in her request, she encountered “difficulties, various restrictions and the torpedoing of the possibility of perusing the material.”

    The breakthrough came when she enlisted the aid of attorneys Michael Sfard and Shlomi Zacharia, in 2008. To begin with, they received word, confirmed by the Defense Ministry’s legal adviser, that various spoils taken in Beirut were now part of the IDF Archive. However, Sela was subsequently informed that “the PLO’s photography archive,” as the Defense Ministry referred in general to photographic materials taken from the Palestinians, is “archival material on matters of foreign affairs and security, and as such is ‘restricted material’ as defined in Par. 7(a) of the Archives Regulations.”

    Then, one day in 2010, Sela received a fax informing her that Palestinian films had been found in the IDF Archive, without elaboration, and inviting her to view them. “There were a few dozen segments from films, and I was astonished by what I saw,” she says. “At first I was shown only a very limited amount of footage, but it was indicative of the whole. On the basis of my experience, I understood that there was more.”

    A few more years of what Sela terms “endless nagging, conversations and correspondence” passed, which resulted in her being permitted to view dozens of segments of additional films, including some that apparently came from Habashneh’s archive. Sela also discovered another Palestinian archive that had been seized by the IDF. Established under the aegis of the PLO’s Cultural Arts Section, its director in the 1970s was the Lod-born painter and historian Ismail Shammout (1930-2006).

    One of the works in that collection is Shammout’s own film “The Urgent Call,” whose theme song was written and performed by the Palestinian singer Zainab Shathat in English, accompanying herself on the guitar. “The film was thought to be lost until I found it in the IDF Archive,” says Sela, who describes “The Urgent Call” as “a cry about the condition of Palestine, its sons and its daughters.”

    Viewing it takes one back in time to the late 1960s and early ‘70s, when the cinema of the Palestinian struggle briefly connected with other international revolutionary film movements.

    Legendary French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard

    For example, in 1969 and 1970 Jean-Luc Godard, the legendary filmmaker of the French New Wave in cinema, visited Jordan and Lebanon several times with the Dziga Vertov Group of French filmmakers (named after the Soviet pioneer documentarian of the 1920s and ‘30s), who included filmmaker Jean-Pierre Gorin, who worked with Godard in his “radical” period. They came to shoot footage in refugee camps and in fedayeen bases for Godard’s film “Until Victory.” Habashneh told Sela that she and others had met Godard, assisted him and were of course influenced by his work. [Ed. note: Godard’s work on Palestine caused him to be accused of antisemitism by the Washington Post’s Richard Cohen and others. “In Hollywood there is no greater sin,” the Guardian reported.]

    Along with “The Urgent Call” – excerpts from which are included in her “Looted and Hidden” documentary – Sela also found another Shammout work in the IDF Archive. Titled “Memories and Fire,” it chronicles 20th-century Palestinian history, “from the days depicting the idyllic life in Palestine, via the documentation of refugeehood, to the documentation of the organizing and the resistance. To use the terms of the Palestinian cinema scholar and filmmaker George Khleifi, the aggressive fighter took the place of the ill-fated refugee,” she adds.

    Sela also found footage by the Iraqi director Kais al-Zubaidi, who worked for a time in the PLO’s Cultural Arts Section. His films from that period include “Away from Home” (1969) and “The Visit” (1970); in 2006 he published an anthology, “Palestine in the Cinema,” a history of the subject, which mentions some 800 films that deal with Palestine or the Palestinian people. [Ed. note: unfortunately it appears this book has never been translated into English.]

    IDF seals the archive for decades

    Some of the Palestinian movies in the IDF Archive bear their original titles. However, in many other cases this archival material was re-cataloged to suit the Israeli perspective, so that Palestinian “fighters” became “gangs” or “terrorists,” for example. In one case, a film of Palestinians undergoing arms training is listed as “Terrorist camp in Kuwait: Distribution of uniforms, girls crawling with weapons, terrorists marching with weapons in the hills, instruction in laying mines and in arms.”

    Sela: “These films and stills, though not made by Jewish/Israeli filmmakers or military units – which is the central criterion for depositing materials in the Israeli army archive – were transferred to the IDF Archive and subordinated to the rules of the State of Israel. The archive immediately sealed them for many decades and cataloged them according to its terminology – which is Zionist, Jewish and Israeli – and not according to the original Palestinian terminology. I saw places where the word ‘terrorists’ was written on photographs taken by Palestinians. But after all, they do not call themselves as such. It’s part of terminological camouflaging, which subordinated their creative work to the colonial process in which the occupier controls the material that’s captured.”

    Hidden Palestinian history

    Sela’s discoveries, which are of international importance, are not only a research, documentation and academic achievement: They also constitute a breakthrough in regard to the chronicling of Palestinian history. “Palestinian visual historiography lacks many chapters,” she observes. “Many photographs and archives were destroyed, were lost, taken as spoils or plundered in the various wars and in the course of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

    From her point of view, the systematic collecting of Palestinian visual materials in the IDF Archive “makes it possible to write an alternative history that counteracts the content created by the army and the military archive, which is impelled by ideological and political considerations.” In the material she found in the army archive, she sees “images that depict the history of the Palestinian people and its long-term ties to this soil and this place, which present an alternative to the Zionist history that denied the Palestinians’ existence here, as well as their culture and history and the protracted tragedy they endured and their national struggle of many years.”

    The result is an intriguing paradox, such as one often finds by digging deep into an archive. The extensive information that Sela found in the IDF Archive makes it possible to reconstruct elements of the pre-1948 existence of the Palestinians and to help fill in the holes of the Palestinian narrative up until the 1980s. In other words, even if Israel’s intention was to hide these items and to control the Palestinians’ historical treasures, its actions actually abet the process of preservation, and will go on doing so in the future.

    Earlier groundbreaking discovery – confiscated Palestinians books & libraries

    Sela’s research on visual archival materials was preceded by another groundbreaking study – dealing with the written word – conducted by Dr. Gish Amit, an expert on the cultural aspects of Zionism at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Amit chronicled the fate of Palestinian books and libraries that, like the photographs and films Sela found, ended up in Israeli archives – including in the National Library in Jerusalem.

    In his 2014 book, “Ex-Libris: Chronicles of Theft, Preservation, and Appropriating at the Jewish National Library” (Hebrew), Amit trenchantly analyzes the foredoomed failure of any attempt to conceal and control the history of others. According to him, “an archive remembers its forgettings and erasures,” “documents injustice, and thus makes it possible to trace its paths” and “paves a way for forgotten histories which may, one day, convict the owners” of the documents.

    However, Amit also sees the complexity of this story and presents another side of it. Describing the operation in which the Palestinian books were collected by Israeli soldiers and National Library personnel during the War of Independence, he raises the possibility that this was actually an act involving rescue, preservation and accessibility: “On the one hand, the books were collected and not burned or left in the abandoned houses in the Arab neighborhoods that had been emptied of their inhabitants. Had they not been collected their fate would have been sealed — not a trace of them would remain,” he writes, adding, that the National Library “protected the books from the war, the looting and the destruction, and from illegal trade in manuscripts.”

    According to the National Library, it is holding about 6,500 Palestinian books and manuscripts, which were taken from private homes whose owners left in 1948. The entire collection is cataloged and accessible to the general public, but is held under the responsibility of the Custodian of Absentees’ Property in the Finance Ministry. Accordingly, there is no intention, in the near future, of trying to locate the owners and returning the items.

    Israeli control over history

    Sela views the existence of these spoils of war in Israel as a direct expression of the occupation, which she defines, beyond Israel’s physical presence in the territories, as “the control of history, the writing of culture and the shaping of identity.” In her view, “Israel’s rule over the Palestinians is not only geographic but extends also to culture and consciousness. Israel wants to erase this history from the public consciousness, but it is not being successful, because the force of the resistance is stronger. Furthermore, its attempts to erase Palestinian history adversely affect Israel itself in the end.”

    At this point, Sela resorts to a charged comparison, to illustrate how visual materials contribute to the creation of personal and collective identity. “As the daughter of Holocaust survivors,” she says, “I grew up in a home without photographic historical memory. Nothing. My history starts only with the meeting of my parents, in 1953. It’s only from then that we have photos. Before that – nothing.

    “I know what it feels like when you have no idea what your grandmother or grandfather looked like, or your father’s childhood,” she continues. “This is all the more true of the history of a whole people. The construction of identity by means of visual materials is very meaningful. Many researchers have addressed this topic. The fact is that Zionist bodies made and are continuing to make extensive and rational use of [such materials too] over a period that spans decades.”

    Sela admits that there is still much to be done, but as far as she’s concerned, once a crack appeared in the wall, there was no turning back. “There is a great deal of material, including hundreds of films, that I haven’t yet got to,” she notes. “This is an amazing treasure, which contains information about the cultural, educational, rural and urban life of the Palestinian people throughout the 20th century – an erased narrative that needs to be restored to the history books,” she adds.

    Asked what she thinks should be done with the material, she asserts, “Of course it has to be returned. Just as Israel is constantly fighting to retrieve what the Nazis looted from Jews in the Holocaust. The historical story is different, but by the same criterion, practice what you preach. These are cultural and historical materials of the Palestinian people.”

    The fact that these items are being held by Israel “creates a large hole in Palestinian research and knowledge,” Sela avers. “It’s a hole for which Israel is responsible. This material does not belong to us. It has to be returned to its owners. Afterward, if we view it intelligently, we too can come to know and understand highly meaningful chapters in Palestinian history and in our own history. I think that the first and basic stage in the process of conciliation is to know the history of the Other and also your own history of controlling the Other.”

    Defense Ministry response

    A spokesperson for the Defense Ministry, which was asked to comment on the holdings in the IDF Archive, the archive contains 642 “war booty films,” most of which deal with refugees and were produced by the UNRWA (the United Nations refugee relief agency) in the 1960s and 1970s. The ministry also noted that 158 films that were seized by the IDF in the 1982 Lebanon War are listed in orderly fashion in the reading-room catalog and are available for perusal by the general public, including Arab citizens and Palestinians.

    As for the Palestinian photographs that were confiscated, the Defense Ministry stated that there is no orderly record of them. There are 127 files of photographs and negatives in the archive, each of which contains dozens of photographs, probably taken between the 1960s and the 1980s, on a variety of subjects, including visits of foreign delegations to PLO personnel, tours of PLO delegations abroad, Palestinian art and heritage, art objects, traditional attire and Palestinian folklore, factories and workshops, demonstrations, mass parades and rallies held by the PLO, portraits of Arab personalities and PLO symbols.

    The statement adds that a few months ago, crates were located that were stamped by their original owners, “PLO/Department of Information and National Guidance and Department of Information and Culture,” during the evacuation of the archive’s storerooms in the Tzrifin base.

    https://israelpalestinenews.org/old-palestinian-photos-films-hidden-idf-archive-show-different-
    #historicisation #Israël #Palestine #photographie #films #archive #histoire #Khalil_Rassass #Ali_Za’arur
    ping @reka @sinehebdo @albertocampiphoto

  • For six months, these Palestinian villages had running water. Israel put a stop to it
    For six months, Palestinian villagers living on West Bank land that Israel deems a closed firing range saw their dream of running water come true. Then the Civil Administration put an end to it

    Amira Hass Feb 22, 2019 3:25 PM

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-why-doesn-t-israel-want-palestinians-to-have-running-water-1.69595

    The dream that came true, in the form of a two-inch water line, was too good to be true. For about six months, 12 Palestinian West Bank villages in the South Hebron Hills enjoyed clean running water. That was until February 13, when staff from the Israeli Civil Administration, accompanied by soldiers and Border Police and a couple of bulldozers, arrived.

    The troops dug up the pipes, cut and sawed them apart and watched the jets of water that spurted out. About 350 cubic meters of water were wasted. Of a 20 kilometer long (12 mile) network, the Civil Administration confiscated remnants and sections of a total of about 6 kilometers of piping. They loaded them on four garbage trucks emblazoned with the name of the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan on them.

    The demolition work lasted six and a half hours. Construction of the water line network had taken about four months. It had been a clear act of civil rebellion in the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King against one of the most brutal bans that Israel imposes on Palestinian communities in Area C, the portion of the West Bank under full Israeli control. It bars Palestinians from hooking into existing water infrastructure.

    The residential caves in the Masafer Yatta village region south of Hebron and the ancient cisterns used for collecting rainwater confirm the local residents’ claim that their villages have existed for decades, long before the founding of the State of Israel. In the 1970s, Israel declared some 30,000 dunams (7,500 acres) in the area Firing Range 918.

    In 1999, under the auspices of the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the army expelled the residents of the villages and demolished their structures and water cisterns. The government claimed that the residents were trespassing on the firing range, even though these were their lands and they have lived in the area long before the West Bank was captured by Israel.

    When the matter was brought to the High Court of Justice, the court approved a partial return to the villages but did not allow construction or hookups to utility infrastructure. Mediation attempts failed, because the state was demanding that the residents leave their villages and live in the West Bank town of Yatta and come to graze their flocks and work their land only on a few specific days per year.

    But the residents continued to live in their homes, risking military raids and demolition action — including the demolition of public facilities such as schools, medical clinics and even toilets. They give up a lot to maintain their way of life as shepherds, but could not forgo water.

    “The rainy season has grown much shorter in recent years, to only about 45 days a year,” explained Nidal Younes, the chairman of the Masafer Yatta council of villages. “In the past, we didn’t immediately fill the cisterns with rainwater, allowing them to be washed and cleaned first. Since the amount of rain has decreased, people stored water right away. It turns out the dirty water harmed the sheep and the people.”

    Because the number of residents has increased, even in years with abundant rain, at a certain stage the cisterns ran dry and the shepherds would bring in water by tractor. They would haul a 4 cubic meter (140 square foot) tank along the area’s narrow, poor roads — which Israel does not permit to have widened and paved. “The water has become every family’s largest expense,” Younes said.

    In the village of Halawa, he pointed out Abu Ziyad, a man of about 60. “I always see him on a tractor, bringing in water or setting out to bring back water.”

    Sometimes the tractors overturn and drivers are injured. Tires quickly wear out and precious work days go to waste. “We are drowning in debt to pay for the transportation of water,” Abu Ziyad said.

    In 2017, the Civil Administration and the Israeli army closed and demolished the roads to the villages, which the council had earlier managed to widen and rebuild. That had been done to make it easier to haul water in particular, but also more generally to give the villages better access.

    The right-wing Regavim non-profit group “exposed” the great crime committed in upgrading the roads and pressured the Civil Administration and the army to rip them up. “The residents’ suffering increased,” Younes remarked. “We asked ourselves how to solve the water problem.”

    The not very surprising solution was installing pipes to carry the water from the main water line in the village of Al-Tuwani, through privately owned lands of the other villages. “I checked it out, looking to see if there was any ban on laying water lines on private land and couldn’t find one,” Younes said.

    Work done by volunteers

    The plumbing work was done by volunteers, mostly at night and without heavy machinery, almost with their bare hands. Ali Debabseh, 77, of the village of Khalet al-Daba, recalled the moment when he opened the spigot installed near his home and washed his face with running water. “I wanted to jump for joy. I was as happy as a groom before his wedding.”

    Umm Fadi of the village of Halawa also resorted to the word “joy” in describing the six months when she had a faucet near the small shack in which she lives. “The water was clean, not brown from rust or dust. I didn’t need to go as far as the cistern to draw water, didn’t need to measure every drop.”

    Now it’s more difficult to again get used to being dependent on water dispensed from tanks.

    The piping and connections and water meters were bought with a 100,000 euro ($113,000) European donation. Instead of paying 40 shekels ($11) per cubic meter for water brought in with water tanks, the residents paid only about 6 shekels for the same amount of running water. Suddenly they not only saved money, but also had more precious time.

    The water lines also could have saved European taxpayers money. A European project to help the residents remain in their homes had been up and running since 2011, providing annual funding of 120,000 euros to cover the cost of buying and transporting drinking water during the three summer months for the residents (but not their livestock).

    The cost was based on a calculation involving consumption of 750 liters per person a month, far below the World Health Organization’s recommended quantity. There are between 1,500 and 2,000 residents. The project made things much easier for such a poor community, which continued to pay out of its own pocket for the water for some 40,000 sheep and for the residents’ drinking water during the remainder of the year. Now that the Civil Administration has demolished the water lines, the European donor countries may be forced to once again pay for the high price of transporting water during the summer months, at seven times the cost.

    For its part, the Civil Administration issued a statement noting that the area is a closed military zone. “On February 13,” the statement said, “enforcement action was taken against water infrastructure that was connected to illegal structures in this area and that were built without the required permits.”

    Ismail Bahis should have been sorry that the pipes were laid last year. He and his brothers, residents of Yatta, own water tankers and were the main water suppliers to the Masafer Yatta villages. Through a system of coupons purchased with the European donation, they received 800 shekels for every shipment of 20 cubic meters of water. But Bahis said he was happy he had lost out on the work.

    “The roads to the villages of Masafer Yatta are rough and dangerous, particularly after the army closed them,” he said. “Every trip of a few kilometers took at least three and a half hours. Once I tipped over with the tanker. Another time the army confiscated my brother’s truck, claiming it was a closed military zone. We got the truck released three weeks later in return for 5,000 shekels. We always had other additional expenses replacing tires and other repairs for the truck.

    Nidal Younes recounted that the council signed a contract with another water carrier to meet the demand. But that supplier quit after three weeks. He wouldn’t agree to drive on the poor and dangerous roads.

    On February 13, Younes heard the large group of forces sent by the Civil Administration beginning to demolish the water lines near the village of Al-Fakhit. He rushed to the scene and began arguing with the soldiers and Civil Administration staff.

    Border Police arrests

    Border Police officers arrested him, handcuffed him and put him in a jeep. His colleague, the head of the Al-Tuwani council, Mohammed al-Raba’i, also approached those carrying out the demolition work to protest. “But they arrested me after I said two words. At least Nidal managed to say a lot,” he said with a smile that concealed sadness.

    Two teams carried out the demolition work, one proceeding toward the village of Jinbah, to the southeast, the second advanced in the direction of Al-Tuwani, to the northwest. They also demolished the access road leading to the village of Sha’ab al-Butum, so that even if Bahis wanted to transport water again, he would have had to make a large detour to do so.

    Younes was shocked to spot a man named Marco among the team carrying out the demolition. “I remembered him from when I was a child, from the 1980s when he was an inspector for the Civil Administration. In 1985, he supervised the demolition of houses in our village, Jinbah — twice, during Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr [marking the end of the Ramadan holy month],” he said.

    “They knew him very well in all the villages in the area because he attended all the demolitions. The name Marco was a synonym for an evil spirit. Our parents who saw him demolish their homes, have died. He disappeared, and suddenly he has reappeared,” Younes remarked.

    Marco is Marco Ben-Shabbat, who has lead the Civil Administration’s supervision unit for the past 10 years. Speaking to a reporter from the Israel Hayom daily who accompanied the forces carrying out the demolition work, Ben-Shabbat said: “The [water line] project was not carried out by the individual village. The Palestinian Authority definitely put a project manager here and invested a lot of money.”

    More precisely, it was European governments that did so.

    From all of the villages where the Civil Administration destroyed water lines, the Jewish outposts of Mitzpeh Yair and Avigayil can be seen on the hilltops. Although they are unauthorized and illegal even according to lenient Israeli settlement laws, the outposts were connected almost immediately to water and electricity grids and paved roads lead to them.

    “I asked why they demolished the water lines,” Nidal Younes recalled. He said one of the Border Police officers answered him, in English, telling him it was done “to replace Arabs with Jews.”

    #Financementeuropéen

    • Under Israeli Occupation, Water Is a Luxury

      Of all the methods Israel uses to expel Palestinians from their land, the deprivation of water is the most cruel. And so the Palestinians are forced to buy water that Israel stole from them
      Amira Hass
      Feb 24, 2019 9:45 PM
      https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-under-israeli-occupation-water-is-a-luxury-1.6962821

      Water pipes cut by the Israeli military in the village of Khalet al-Daba, February 17, 2019. Eliyahu Hershkovitz

      When I wrote my questions and asked the spokesperson’s office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories to explain the destruction of the water pipelines in the Palestinian villages southeast of Yatta, on February 13, my fingers started itching wanting to type the following question: “Tell me, aren’t you ashamed?” You may interpret it as a didactic urge, you can see it as a vestige of faith in the possibility of exerting an influence, or a crumb of hope that there’s somebody there who doesn’t automatically carry out orders and will feel a niggling doubt. But the itching in my fingers disappeared quickly.

      This is not the first time that I’m repressing my didactic urge to ask the representatives of the destroyers, and the deprivers of water, if they aren’t ashamed. After all, every day our forces carry out some brutal act of demolition or prevent construction or assist the settlers who are permeated with a sense of racial superiority, to expel shepherds and farmers from their land. The vast majority of these acts of destruction and expulsion are not reported in the Israeli media. After all, writing about them would require the hiring of another two full-time reporters.

      These acts are carried out in the name of every Israeli citizen, who also pays the taxes to fund the salaries of the officials and the army officers and the demolition contractors. When I write about one small sampling from among the many acts of destruction, I have every right as a citizen and a journalist to ask those who hand down the orders, and those who carry them out: “Tell me, can you look at yourself in the mirror?”

      But I don’t ask. Because we know the answer: They’re pleased with what they see in the mirror. Shame has disappeared from our lives. Here’s another axiom that has come down to us from Mount Sinai: The Jews have a right to water, wherever they are. Not the Palestinians. If they insist on living outside the enclaves we assigned to them in Area A, outside the crowded reservations (the city of Yatta, for example), let them bear the responsibility of becoming accustomed to living without water. It’s impossible without water? You don’t say. Then please, let the Palestinians pay for water that is carried in containers, seven times the cost of the water in the faucet.

      It’s none of our business that most of the income of these impoverished communities is spent on water. It’s none of our business that water delivery is dangerous because of the poor roads. It’s none of our business that the Israel Defense Forces and the Civil Administration dig pits in them and pile up rocks – so that it will be truly impossible to use them to transport water for about 1,500 to 2,000 people, and another 40,000 sheep and goats. What do we care that only one road remains, a long detour that makes delivery even more expensive? After all, it’s written in the Torah: What’s good for us, we’ll deny to others.

      I confess: The fact that the pyramid that carries out the policy of depriving the Palestinians of water is now headed by a Druze (Brig. Gen. Kamil Abu Rokon, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories) made the itching in my fingers last longer. Maybe because when Abu Rokon approaches the faucet, he thinks the word “thirsty” in the same language used by the elderly Ali Dababseh from the village of Khalet al-Daba to describe life with a dry spigot and waiting for the tractor that will bring water in a container. Or because Abu Rokon first learned from his mother how to say in Arabic that he wants to drink.

      Water towers used by villages due to lack of running water in their homes. Eliyahu Hershkovitz

      But that longer itching is irrational, at least based on the test of reality. The Civil Administration and COGAT are filled with Druze soldiers and officers whose mother tongue is Arabic. They carry out the orders to implement Israel’s settler colonial policy, to expel Palestinians and to take over as much land as possible for Jews, with the same unhesitant efficiency as their colleagues whose mother tongue is Hebrew, Russian or Spanish.

      Of all the Israeli methods of removing Palestinians from their land in order to allocate it to Jews from Israel and the Diaspora, the policy of water deprivation is the cruelest. And these are the main points of this policy: Israel does not recognize the right of all the human beings living under its control to equal access to water and to quantities of water. On the contrary. It believes in the right of the Jews as lords and masters to far greater quantities of water than the Palestinians. It controls the water sources everywhere in the country, including in the West Bank. It carries out drilling in the West Bank and draws water in the occupied territory, and transfers most of it to Israel and the settlements.

      The Palestinians have wells from the Jordanian period, some of which have already dried up, and several new ones from the past 20 years, not as deep as the Israeli ones, and together they don’t yield sufficient quantities of water. The Palestinians are therefore forced to buy from Israel water that Israel is stealing from them.

      Because Israel has full administrative control over 60 percent of the area of the West Bank (among other things it decides on the master plans and approves construction permits), it also forbids the Palestinians who live there to link up to the water infrastructure. The reason for the prohibition: They have no master plan. Or that’s a firing zone. And of course firing zones were declared on Mount Sinai, and an absence of a master plan for the Palestinian is not a deliberate human omission but the act of God.

    • Pendant six mois, ces villages palestiniens ont eu de l’eau courante. Israël y a mis fin
      25 février | Amira Hass pour Haaretz |Traduction SF pour l’AURDIP
      https://www.aurdip.org/pendant-six-mois-ces-villages.html

      Pendant six mois, des villageois palestiniens vivant en Cisjordanie sur une terre qu’Israël considère comme une zone de feu fermée, ont vu leur rêve d’eau courante devenir réalité. Puis l’administration civile y a mis fin.

  • The Knesset candidate who says Zionism encourages anti-Semitism and calls Netanyahu ’arch-murderer’ - Israel Election 2019 - Haaretz.com
    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/elections/.premium.MAGAZINE-knesset-candidate-netanyahu-is-an-arch-murderer-zionism-e

    Few Israelis have heard of Dr. Ofer Cassif, the Jewish representative on the far-leftist Hadash party’s Knesset slate. On April 9, that will change
    By Ravit Hecht Feb 16, 2019

    Ofer Cassif is fire and brimstone. Not even the flu he’s suffering from today can contain his bursting energy. His words are blazing, and he bounds through his modest apartment, searching frenetically for books by Karl Marx and Primo Levi in order to find quotations to back up his ideas. Only occasional sips from a cup of maté bring his impassioned delivery to a momentary halt. The South American drink is meant to help fight his illness, he explains.

    Cassif is third on the slate of Knesset candidates in Hadash (the Hebrew acronym for the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality), the successor to Israel’s Communist Party. He holds the party’s “Jewish slot,” replacing MK Dov Khenin. Cassif is likely to draw fire from opponents and be a conspicuous figure in the next Knesset, following the April 9 election.

    Indeed, the assault on him began as soon as he was selected by the party’s convention. The media pursued him; a columnist in the mass-circulation Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, Ben-Dror Yemini, called for him to be disqualified from running for the Knesset. It would be naive to say that this was unexpected. Cassif, who was one of the first Israeli soldiers to refuse to serve in the territories, in 1987, gained fame thanks to a number of provocative statements. The best known is his branding of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked as “neo-Nazi scum.” On another occasion, he characterized Jews who visit the Temple Mount as “cancer with metastases that have to be eradicated.”

    On his alternate Facebook page, launched after repeated blockages of his original account by a blitz of posts from right-wing activists, he asserted that Culture Minister Miri Regev is “repulsive gutter contamination,” that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is an “arch-murderer” and that the new Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, is a “war criminal.”

    Do you regret making those remarks?

    Cassif: “‘Regret’ is a word of emotion. Those statements were made against a background of particular events: the fence in Gaza, horrible legislation, and the wild antics of Im Tirtzu [an ultranationalist organization] on campus. That’s what I had to say at the time. I didn’t count on being in the Knesset. That wasn’t part of my plan. But it’s clear to me that as a public personality, I would not have made those comments.”

    Is Netanyahu an arch-murderer?

    “Yes. I wrote it in the specific context of a particular day in the Gaza Strip. A massacre of innocent people was perpetrated there, and no one’s going to persuade me that those people were endangering anyone. It’s a concentration camp. Not a ‘concentration camp’ in the sense of Bergen-Belsen; I am absolutely not comparing the Holocaust to what’s happening.”

    You term what Israel is doing to the Palestinians “genocide.”

    “I call it ‘creeping genocide.’ Genocide is not only a matter of taking people to gas chambers. When Yeshayahu Leibowitz used the term ‘Judeo-Nazis,’ people asked him, ‘How can you say that? Are we about to build gas chambers?’ To that, he had two things to say. First, if the whole difference between us and the Nazis boils down to the fact that we’re not building gas chambers, we’re already in trouble. And second, maybe we won’t use gas chambers, but the mentality that exists today in Israel – and he said this 40 years ago – would allow it. I’m afraid that today, after four years of such an extreme government, it possesses even greater legitimacy.

    “But you know what, put aside ‘genocide’ – ethnic cleansing is taking place there. And that ethnic cleansing is also being carried out by means of killing, although mainly by way of humiliation and of making life intolerable. The trampling of human dignity. It reminds me of Primo Levi’s ‘If This Is a Man.’”

    You say you’re not comparing, but you repeatedly come back to Holocaust references. On Facebook, you also uploaded the scene from “Schindler’s List” in which the SS commander Amon Goeth picks off Jews with his rifle from the balcony of his quarters in the camp. You compared that to what was taking place along the border fence in the Gaza Strip.

    “Today, I would find different comparisons. In the past I wrote an article titled, ‘On Holocaust and on Other Crimes.’ It’s online [in Hebrew]. I wrote there that anyone who compares Israel to the Holocaust is cheapening the Holocaust. My comparison between here and what happened in the early 1930s [in Germany] is a very different matter.”

    Clarity vs. crudity

    Given Cassif’s style, not everyone in Hadash was happy with his election, particularly when it comes to the Jewish members of the predominantly Arab party. Dov Khenin, for example, declined to be interviewed and say what he thinks of his parliamentary successor. According to a veteran party figure, “From the conversations I had, it turns out that almost none of the Jewish delegates – who make up about 100 of the party’s 940 delegates – supported his candidacy.

    “He is perceived, and rightly so,” the party veteran continues, “as someone who closes doors to Hadash activity within Israeli society. Each of the other Jewish candidates presented a record of action and of struggles they spearheaded. What does he do? Curses right-wing politicians on Facebook. Why did the party leadership throw the full force of its weight behind him? In a continuation of the [trend exemplified by] its becoming part of the Joint List, Ofer’s election reflects insularity and an ongoing retreat from the historical goal of implementing change in Israeli society.”

    At the same time, as his selection by a 60 percent majority shows, many in the party believe that it’s time to change course. “Israeli society is moving rightward, and what’s perceived as Dov’s [Khenin] more gentle style didn’t generate any great breakthrough on the Jewish street,” a senior source in Hadash notes.

    “It’s not a question of the tension between extremism and moderation, but of how to signpost an alternative that will develop over time. Clarity, which is sometimes called crudity, never interfered with cooperation between Arabs and Jews. On the contrary. Ofer says things that we all agreed with but didn’t so much say, and of course that’s going to rile the right wing. And a good thing, too.”

    Hadash chairman MK Ayman Odeh also says he’s pleased with the choice, though sources in the party claim that Odeh is apprehensive about Cassif’s style and that he actually supported a different candidate. “Dov went for the widest possible alliances in order to wield influence,” says Odeh. “Ofer will go for very sharp positions at the expense of the breadth of the alliance. But his sharp statements could have a large impact.”

    Khenin was deeply esteemed by everyone. When he ran for mayor of Tel Aviv in 2008, some 35 percent of the electorate voted for him, because he was able to touch people who weren’t only from his political milieu.

    Odeh: “No one has a higher regard for Dov than I do. But just to remind you, we are not a regular opposition, we are beyond the pale. And there are all kinds of styles. Influence can be wielded through comments that are vexatious the first time but which people get used to the second time. When an Arab speaks about the Nakba and about the massacre in Kafr Kassem [an Israeli Arab village, in 1956], it will be taken in a particular way, but when uttered by a Jew it takes on special importance.”

    He will be the cause of many attacks on the party.

    “Ahlan wa sahlan – welcome.”

    Cassif will be the first to tell you that, with all due respect for the approach pursued by Khenin and by his predecessor in the Jewish slot, Tamar Gozansky, he will be something completely different. “I totally admire what Tamar and Dov did – nothing less than that,” he says, while adding, “But my agenda will be different. The three immediate dangers to Israeli society are the occupation, racism and the diminishment of the democratic space to the point of liquidation. That’s the agenda that has to be the hub of the struggle, as long as Israel rules over millions of people who have no rights, enters [people’s houses] in the middle of the night, arrests minors on a daily basis and shoots people in the back.

    "Israel commits murder on a daily basis. When you murder one Palestinian, you’re called Elor Azaria [the IDF soldier convicted and jailed for killing an incapacitated Palestinian assailant]; when you murder and oppress thousands of Palestinians, you’re called the State of Israel.”

    So you plan to be the provocateur in the next Knesset?

    “It’s not my intention to be a provocateur, to stand there and scream and revile people. Even on Facebook I was compelled to stop that. But I definitely intend to challenge the dialogue in terms of the content, and mainly with a type of sarcasm.”

    ’Bags of blood’

    Cassif, 54, who holds a doctorate in political philosophy from the London School of Economics, teaches political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Sapir Academic College in Sderot and at the Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yaffo. He lives in Rehovot, is married and is the father of a 19-year-old son. He’s been active in Hadash for three decades and has held a number of posts in the party.

    As a lecturer, he stands out for his boldness and fierce rhetoric, which draws students of all stripes. He even hangs out with some of his Haredi students, one of whom wrote a post on the eve of the Hadash primary urging the delegates to choose him. After his election, a student from a settlement in the territories wrote to him, “You are a determined and industrious person, and for that I hold you in high regard. Hoping we will meet on the field of action and growth for the success of Israel as a Jewish, democratic state (I felt obliged to add a small touch of irony in conclusion).”

    Cassif grew up in a home that supported Mapai, forerunner of Labor, in Rishon Letzion. He was an only child; his father was an accountant, his mother held a variety of jobs. He was a news hound from an early age, and at 12 ran for the student council in school. He veered sharply to the left in his teens, becoming a keen follower of Marx and socialism.

    Following military service in the IDF’s Nahal brigade and a period in the airborne Nahal, Cassif entered the Hebrew University. There his political career moved one step forward, and there he also forsook the Zionist left permanently. His first position was as a parliamentary aide to the secretary general of the Communist Party, Meir Wilner.

    “At first I was closer to Mapam [the United Workers Party, which was Zionist], and then I refused to serve in the territories. I was the first refusenik in the first intifada to be jailed. I didn’t get support from Mapam, I got support from the people of Hadash, and I drew close to them. I was later jailed three more times for refusing to serve in the territories.”

    His rivals in the student organizations at the Hebrew University remember him as the epitome of the extreme left.

    “Even in the Arab-Jewish student association, Cassif was considered off-the-wall,” says Motti Ohana, who was chairman of Likud’s student association and active in the Student Union at the end of the 1980s and early 1990s. “One time I got into a brawl with him. It was during the first intifada, when he brought two bags of blood, emptied them out in the university’s corridors and declared, ‘There is no difference between Jewish and Arab blood,’ likening Israeli soldiers to terrorists. The custom on campus was that we would quarrel, left-right, Arabs-Jews, and after that we would sit together, have a coffee and talk. But not Cassif.”

    According to Ohana, today a member of the Likud central committee, the right-wing activists knew that, “You could count on Ofer to fall into every trap. There was one event at the Hebrew University that was a kind of political Hyde Park. The right wanted to boot the left out of there, so we hung up the flag. It was obvious that Ofer would react, and in fact he tore the flag, and in the wake of the ruckus that developed, political activity was stopped for good.”

    Replacing the anthem

    Cassif voices clearly and cogently positions that challenge the public discourse in Israel, and does so with ardor and charisma. Four candidates vied for Hadash’s Jewish slot, and they all delivered speeches at the convention. The three candidates who lost to him – Efraim Davidi, Yaela Raanan and the head of the party’s Tel Aviv branch, Noa Levy – described their activity and their guiding principles. When they spoke, there was the regular buzz of an audience that’s waiting for lunch. But when Cassif took the stage, the effect was magnetic.

    “Peace will not be established without a correction of the crimes of the Nakba and [recognition of] the right of return,” he shouted, and the crowd cheered him. As one senior party figure put it, “Efraim talked about workers’ rights, Yaela about the Negev, Noa about activity in Tel Aviv – and Ofer was Ofer.”

    What do you mean by “right of return”?

    Cassif: “The first thing is the actual recognition of the Nakba and of the wrong done by Israel. Compare it to the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions in South Africa, if you like, or with the commissions in Chile after Pinochet. Israel must recognize the wrong it committed. Now, recognition of the wrong also includes recognition of the right of return. The question is how it’s implemented. It has to be done by agreement. I can’t say that tomorrow Tel Aviv University has to be dismantled and that Sheikh Munis [the Arab village on whose ruins the university stands] has to be rebuilt there. The possibility can be examined of giving compensation in place of return, for example.”

    But what is the just solution, in your opinion?

    “For the Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland.”

    That means there will be Jews who will have to leave their home.

    “In some places, unequivocally, yes. People will have to be told: ‘You must evacuate your places.’ The classic example is Ikrit and Biram [Christian-Arab villages in Galilee whose residents were promised – untruly – by the Israeli authorities in 1948 that they would be able to return, and whose lands were turned over to Jewish communities]. But there are places where there is certainly greater difficulty. You don’t right one wrong with another.”

    What about the public space in Israel? What should it look like?

    “The public space has to change, to belong to all the state’s residents. I dispute the conception of ‘Jewish publicness.’”

    How should that be realized?

    “For example, by changing the national symbols, changing the national anthem. [Former Hadash MK] Mohammed Barakeh once suggested ‘I Believe’ [‘Sahki, Sahki’] by [Shaul] Tchernichovsky – a poem that is not exactly an expression of Palestinian nationalism. He chose it because of the line, ‘For in mankind I’ll believe.’ What does it mean to believe in mankind? It’s not a Jew, or a Palestinian, or a Frenchman, or I don’t know what.”

    What’s the difference between you and the [Arab] Balad party? Both parties overall want two states – a state “of all its citizens” and a Palestinian state.

    “In the big picture, yes. But Balad puts identity first on the agenda. We are not nationalists. We do not espouse nationalism as a supreme value. For us, self-determination is a means. We are engaged in class politics. By the way, Balad [the National Democratic Assembly] and Ta’al [MK Ahmad Tibi’s Arab Movement for Renewal] took the idea of a state of all its citizens from us, from Hadash. We’ve been talking about it for ages.”

    If you were a Palestinian, what would you do today?

    “In Israel, what my Palestinian friends are doing, and I with them – [wage] a parliamentary and extra-parliamentary struggle.”

    And what about the Palestinians in the territories?

    “We have always been against harming innocent civilians. Always. In all our demonstrations, one of our leading slogans was: ‘In Gaza and in Sderot, children want to live.’ With all my criticism of the settlers, to enter a house and slaughter children, as in the case of the Fogel family [who were murdered in their beds in the settlement of Itamar in 2011], is intolerable. You have to be a human being and reject that.”

    And attacks on soldiers?

    “An attack on soldiers is not terrorism. Even Netanyahu, in his book about terrorism, explicitly categorizes attacks on soldiers or on the security forces as guerrilla warfare. It’s perfectly legitimate, according to every moral criterion – and, by the way, in international law. At the same time, I am not saying it’s something wonderful, joyful or desirable. The party’s Haifa office is on Ben-Gurion Street, and suddenly, after years, I noticed a memorial plaque there for a fighter in Lehi [pre-state underground militia, also known as the Stern Gang] who assassinated a British officer. Wherever there has been a struggle for liberation from oppression, there are national heroes, who in 90 percent of the cases carried out some operations that were unlawful. Nelson Mandela is today considered a hero, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, but according to the conventional definition, he was a terrorist. Most of the victims of the ANC [African National Congress] were civilians.”

    In other words, today’s Hamas commanders who are carrying out attacks on soldiers will be heroes of the future Palestinian state?

    “Of course.”

    Anti-Zionist identity

    Cassif terms himself an explicit anti-Zionist. “There are three reasons for that,” he says. “To begin with, Zionism is a colonialist movement, and as a socialist, I am against colonialism. Second, as far as I am concerned, Zionism is racist in ideology and in practice. I am not referring to the definition of race theory – even though there are also some who impute that to the Zionist movement – but to what I call Jewish supremacy. No socialist can accept that. My supreme value is equality, and I can’t abide any supremacy – Jewish or Arab. The third thing is that Zionism, like other ethno-nationalistic movements, splits the working class and all weakened groups. Instead of uniting them in a struggle for social justice, for equality, for democracy, it divides the exploited classes and the enfeebled groups, and by that means strengthens the rule of capital.”

    He continues, “Zionism also sustains anti-Semitism. I don’t say it does so deliberately – even though I have no doubt that there are some who do it deliberately, like Netanyahu, who is connected to people like the prime minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, and the leader of the far right in Austria, Hans Christian Strache.”

    Did Mapai-style Zionism also encourage anti-Semitism?

    “The phenomenon was very striking in Mapai. Think about it for a minute, not only historically, but logically. If the goal of political and practical Zionism is really the establishment of a Jewish state containing a Jewish majority, and for Diaspora Jewry to settle there, nothing serves them better than anti-Semitism.”

    What in their actions encouraged anti-Semitism?

    “The very appeal to Jews throughout the world – the very fact of treating them as belonging to the same nation, when they were living among other nations. The whole old ‘dual loyalty’ story – Zionism actually encouraged that. Therefore, I maintain that anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are not the same thing, but are precisely opposites. That doesn’t mean, of course, that there are no anti-Zionists who are also anti-Semites. Most of the BDS people are of course anti-Zionists, but they are in no way anti-Semites. But there are anti-Semites there, too.”

    Do you support BDS?

    “It’s too complex a subject for a yes or no answer; there are aspects I don’t support.”

    Do you think that the Jews deserve a national home in the Land of Israel?

    “I don’t know what you mean by ‘national home.’ It’s very amorphous. We in Hadash say explicitly that Israel has a right to exist as a sovereign state. Our struggle is not against the state’s existence, but over its character.”

    But that state is the product of the actions of the Zionist movement, which you say has been colonialist and criminal from day one.

    “That’s true, but the circumstances have changed. That’s the reason that the majority of the members of the Communist Party accepted the [1947] partition agreement at the time. They recognized that the circumstances had changed. I think that one of the traits that sets communist thought apart, and makes it more apt, is the understanding and the attempt to strike the proper balance between what should be, and reality. So it’s true that Zionism started as colonialism, but what do you do with the people who were already born here? What do you tell them? Because your grandparents committed a crime, you have to leave? The question is how you transform the situation that’s been created into one that’s just, democratic and equal.”

    So, a person who survived a death camp and came here is a criminal?

    “The individual person, of course not. I’m in favor of taking in refugees in distress, no matter who or what they are. I am against Zionism’s cynical use of Jews in distress, including the refugees from the Holocaust. I have a problem with the fact that the natives whose homeland this is cannot return, while people for whom it’s not their homeland, can, because they supposedly have some sort of blood tie and an ‘imaginary friend’ promised them the land.”

    I understand that you are in favor of the annulment of the Law of Return?

    “Yes. Definitely.”

    But you are in favor of the Palestinian right of return.

    “There’s no comparison. There’s no symmetry here at all. Jerry Seinfeld was by chance born to a Jewish family. What’s his connection to this place? Why should he have preference over a refugee from Sabra or Chatila, or Edward Said, who did well in the United States? They are the true refugees. This is their homeland. Not Seinfeld’s.”

    Are you critical of the Arabs, too?

    “Certainly. One criticism is of their cooperation with imperialism – take the case of today’s Saudi Arabia, Qatar and so on. Another, from the past, relates to the reactionary forces that did not accept that the Jews have a right to live here.”

    Hadash refrained from criticizing the Assad regime even as it was massacring civilians in Syria. The party even torpedoed a condemnation of Assad after the chemical attack. Do you identify with that approach?

    “Hadash was critical of the Assad regime – father and son – for years, so we can’t be accused in any way of supporting Assad or Hezbollah. We are not Ba’ath, we are not Islamists. We are communists. But as I said earlier, the struggle, unfortunately, is generally not between the ideal and what exists in practice, but many times between two evils. And then you have to ask yourself which is the lesser evil. The Syrian constellation is extremely complicated. On the one hand, there is the United States, which is intervening, and despite all the pretense of being against ISIS, supported ISIS and made it possible for ISIS to sprout.

    "I remind you that ISIS started from the occupation of Iraq. And ideologically and practically, ISIS is definitely a thousand times worse than the Assad regime, which is at base also a secular regime. Our position was and is against the countries that pose the greatest danger to regional peace, which above all are Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and the United States, which supports them. That doesn’t mean that we support Assad.”

    Wrong language

    Cassif’s economic views are almost as far from the consensus as his political ideas. He lives modestly in an apartment that’s furnished like a young couple’s first home. You won’t find an espresso maker or unnecessary products of convenience in his place. To his credit, it can be said that he extracts the maximum from Elite instant coffee.

    What is your utopian vision – to nationalize Israel’s conglomerates, such as Cellcom, the telecommunications company, or Osem, the food manufacturer and distributor?

    “The bottom line is yes. How exactly will it be done? That’s an excellent question, which I can’t answer. Perhaps by transferring ownership to the state or to the workers, with democratic tools. And there are other alternatives. But certainly, I would like it if a large part of the resources were not in private hands, as was the case before the big privatizations. It’s true that it won’t be socialism, because, again, there can be no such thing as Zionist socialism, but there won’t be privatization like we have today. What is the result of capitalism in Israel? The collapse of the health system, the absence of a social-welfare system, a high cost of living and of housing, the elderly and the disabled in a terrible situation.”

    Does any private sector have the right to exist?

    “Look, the question is what you mean by ‘private sector.’ If we’re talking about huge concerns that the owners of capital control completely through their wealth, then no.”

    What growth was there in the communist countries? How can anyone support communism, in light of the grim experience wherever it was tried?

    “It’s true, we know that in the absolute majority of societies where an attempt was made to implement socialism, there was no growth or prosperity, and we need to ask ourselves why, and how to avoid that. When I talk about communism, I’m not talking about Stalin and all the crimes that were committed in the name of the communist idea. Communism is not North Korea and it is not Pol Pot in Cambodia. Heaven forbid.”

    And what about Venezuela?

    “Venezuela is not communism. In fact, they didn’t go far enough in the direction of socialism.”

    Chavez was not enough of a socialist?

    “Chavez, but in particular Maduro. The Communist Party is critical of the regime. They support it because the main enemy is truly American imperialism and its handmaidens. Let’s look at what the U.S. did over the years. At how many times it invaded and employed bullying, fascist forces. Not only in Latin America, its backyard, but everywhere.”

    Venezuela is falling apart, people there don’t have anything to eat, there’s no medicine, everyone who can flees – and it’s the fault of the United States?

    “You can’t deny that the regime has made mistakes. It’s not ideal. But basically, it is the result of American imperialism and its lackeys. After all, the masses voted for Chavez and for Maduro not because things were good for them. But because American corporations stole the country’s resources and filled their own pockets. I wouldn’t make Chavez into an icon, but he did some excellent things.”

    Then how do you generate individual wealth within the method you’re proposing? I understand that I am now talking to you capitalistically, but the reality is that people see the accumulation of assets as an expression of progress in life.

    “Your question is indeed framed in capitalist language, which simply departs from what I believe in. Because you are actually asking me how the distribution of resources is supposed to occur within the capitalist framework. And I say no, I am not talking about resource distribution within a capitalist framework.”

    Gantz vs. Netanyahu

    Cassif was chosen as the polls showed Meretz and Labor, the representatives of the Zionist left, barely scraping through into the next Knesset and in fact facing a serious possibility of electoral extinction. The critique of both parties from the radical left is sometimes more acerbic than from the right.

    Would you like to see the Labor Party disappear?

    “No. I think that what’s happening at the moment with Labor and with Meretz is extremely dangerous. I speak about them as collectives, because they contain individuals with whom I see no possibility of engaging in a dialogue. But I think that they absolutely must be in the Knesset.”

    Is a left-winger who defines himself as a Zionist your partner in any way?

    “Yes. We need partners. We can’t be picky. Certainly we will cooperate with liberals and Zionists on such issues as combating violence against women or the battle to rescue the health system. Maybe even in putting an end to the occupation.”

    I’ll put a scenario to you: Benny Gantz does really well in the election and somehow overcomes Netanyahu. Do you support the person who led Operation Protective Edge in Gaza when he was chief of staff?

    “Heaven forbid. But we don’t reject people, we reject policy. I remind you that it was [then-defense minister] Yitzhak Rabin who led the most violent tendency in the first intifada, with his ‘Break their bones.’ But when he came to the Oslo Accords, it was Hadash and the Arab parties that gave him, from outside the coalition, an insurmountable bloc. I can’t speak for the party, but if there is ever a government whose policy is one that we agree with – eliminating the occupation, combating racism, abolishing the nation-state law – I believe we will give our support in one way or another.”

    And if Gantz doesn’t declare his intention to eliminate the occupation, he isn’t preferable to Netanyahu in any case?

    “If so, why should we recommend him [to the president to form the next government]? After the clips he posted boasting about how many people he killed and how he hurled Gaza back into the Stone Age, I’m far from certain that he’s better.”

    #Hadash

    • traduction d’un extrait [ d’actualité ]

      Le candidat à la Knesset dit que le sionisme encourage l’antisémitisme et qualifie Netanyahu de « meurtrier »
      Peu d’Israéliens ont entendu parler de M. Ofer Cassif, représentant juif de la liste de la Knesset du parti d’extrême gauche Hadash. Le 9 avril, cela changera.
      Par Ravit Hecht 16 février 2019 – Haaretz

      (…) Identité antisioniste
      Cassif se dit un antisioniste explicite. « Il y a trois raisons à cela », dit-il. « Pour commencer, le sionisme est un mouvement colonialiste et, en tant que socialiste, je suis contre le colonialisme. Deuxièmement, en ce qui me concerne, le sionisme est raciste d’idéologie et de pratique. Je ne fais pas référence à la définition de la théorie de la race - même si certains l’imputent également au mouvement sioniste - mais à ce que j’appelle la suprématie juive. Aucun socialiste ne peut accepter cela. Ma valeur suprême est l’égalité et je ne peux supporter aucune suprématie - juive ou arabe. La troisième chose est que le sionisme, comme d’autres mouvements ethno-nationalistes, divise la classe ouvrière et tous les groupes sont affaiblis. Au lieu de les unir dans une lutte pour la justice sociale, l’égalité, la démocratie, il divise les classes exploitées et affaiblit les groupes, renforçant ainsi le pouvoir du capital. "
      Il poursuit : « Le sionisme soutient également l’antisémitisme. Je ne dis pas qu’il le fait délibérément - même si je ne doute pas qu’il y en a qui le font délibérément, comme Netanyahu, qui est connecté à des gens comme le Premier ministre de la Hongrie, Viktor Orban, et le chef de l’extrême droite. en Autriche, Hans Christian Strache. ”

      Le sionisme type-Mapaï a-t-il également encouragé l’antisémitisme ?
      « Le phénomène était très frappant au Mapai. Pensez-y une minute, non seulement historiquement, mais logiquement. Si l’objectif du sionisme politique et pratique est en réalité de créer un État juif contenant une majorité juive et de permettre à la communauté juive de la diaspora de s’y installer, rien ne leur sert mieux que l’antisémitisme. "

      Qu’est-ce qui, dans leurs actions, a encouragé l’antisémitisme ?
      « L’appel même aux Juifs du monde entier - le fait même de les traiter comme appartenant à la même nation, alors qu’ils vivaient parmi d’autres nations. Toute la vieille histoire de « double loyauté » - le sionisme a en fait encouragé cela. Par conséquent, j’affirme que l’antisémitisme et l’antisionisme ne sont pas la même chose, mais sont précisément des contraires. Bien entendu, cela ne signifie pas qu’il n’y ait pas d’antisionistes qui soient aussi antisémites. La plupart des membres du BDS sont bien sûr antisionistes, mais ils ne sont en aucun cas antisémites. Mais il y a aussi des antisémites.

  • Reminder: Israel is still holding a Palestinian lawmaker as political prisoner indefinitely
    Haaretz.com - Palestinian lawmaker Khalida Jarrar has been incarcerated in an Israeli jail without a trial for 20 months. Another period of ‘administrative detention’ will soon expire. Will she come home?
    Gideon Levy and Alex Levac Feb 14, 2019 5:20 PM
    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-reminder-israel-is-holding-palestinian-lawmaker-as-political-priso

    Ghassan Jarrar, the husband of Khalida Jarrar, holds a portrait of her on April 2, 2015 at their home in the West Bank city of Ramallah.AFP PHOTO / ABBAS MOMANI

    Ghassan Jarrar says his life is meaningless without Khalida. In his office at the children’s toys and furniture factory he owns in Beit Furik, east of Nablus, its chairs upholstered with red fake fur, the face of the grass widower lights up whenever he talks about his wife. She’s been incarcerated in an Israeli prison for 20 months, without trial, without being charged, without evidence, without anything. In two weeks, however, she could be released, at long last. Ghassan is already busy preparing himself: He knows he’s liable to be disappointed again, for the fourth successive time.

    Khalida Jarrar is Israel’s No. 1 female political prisoner, the leader of the inmates in Damon Prison, on Mt. Carmel, and the most senior Palestinian woman Israel has jailed, without her ever having been convicted of any offense.

    The public struggle for her release has been long and frustrating, with more resonance abroad than in Israel. Here it encounters the implacable walls of the occupation authorities and the startling indifference of Israeli public opinion: People here don’t care that they’re living under a regime in which there are political prisoners. There is also the silence of the female MKs and the muteness of the women’s organizations.

    Haaretz has devoted no fewer than five editorials demanding either that evidence against her be presented or that she be released immediately. To no avail: Jarrar is still in detention and she still hasn’t been charged.

    She’s been placed in administrative detention – that is, incarceration without charges or a trial – a number of times: She was arrested for the first time on April 15, 2015 and sentenced to 15 months in jail, which she served. Some 13 months after she was released from that term, she was again put under administrative detention, which kept getting extended, for 20 consecutive months, starting in mid-2017: two stints of six months each, and two of four months each.

    The latest arbitrary extension of her detention is set to end on February 28. As usual, until that day no one will know whether she is going to be freed or whether her imprisonment will be extended once again, without explanation. A military prosecutor promised at the time of the previous extension that it would be the last, but there’s no way to know. Typical of the occupation and its arbitrariness.

    In any event, Ghassan is repainting their house, replacing air conditioners and the water heater, hanging new curtains, planting flowers in window boxes, ordering food and sweets in commercial quantities, and organizing a reception at one checkpoint and cars to await her at two other checkpoints – you can never know where exactly she will be released. A big celebration will take place in the Catholic church of Ramallah, which Ghassan has rented for three days on the last weekend of the month. Still, it’s all very much a matter of if and when.

    Reminder: On April 2, 2015, troops of the Israel Defense Forces raided the Jarrar family’s home in El Bireh, adjacent to Ramallah, and abducted Khalida, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

    She was placed in administrative detention. In the wake of international protests over Israel’s arrest without charges of a lawmaker who was elected democratically, the occupation authorities decided to try her. She was indicted on 12 counts, all of them utterly grotesque, including suspicion of visiting the homes of prisoners’ families, suspicion of attending a book fair and suspicion of calling for the release of Ahmad Saadat, a leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine who has been in prison for years.

    The charge sheet against Jarrar – an opponent of the occupation, a determined feminist and a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee – will one day serve as the crushing proof that there is not even the slightest connection between “military justice” and actual law and justice.

    We saw her in the military court at Ofer base in the summer of 2015, proud and impressive, as her two daughters, Yafa and Suha, who returned from their studies in Canada after their mother’s arrest, wept bitterly with their father on the back benches of the courtroom. No one remained indifferent when the guards allowed the two daughters to approach and embrace their mother, in a rare moment of grace and humanity, as their father continued to cry in the back. It was a scene not easily forgotten.

    Three months ago, she was transferred, along with the other 65 female Palestinian prisoners, from the Sharon detention facility where she’d been incarcerated to Damon, where the conditions are tougher: The authorities in Damon aren’t experienced in dealing with women and their special needs, Ghassan says. The showers are separate from the cells, and when a prisoner is menstruating, the red fluid flows into the yard and embarrasses the women. But at the same time, he says, the prison authorities are treating Khalida’s health situation well: She suffers from a blood-clotting problem and needs weekly medications and tests, which she receives regularly in her cell.

    “You are my sweetheart” is inscribed on some of the synthetic-fur toys in the production room in Beit Furik. There are dolls of Mickey Mouse and of other characters from the cartoon world, sporting bold colors, along with padded rocking chairs and lamps for children’s rooms, all designed by Ghassan and all bespeaking sweet innocence and creativity. He’s devoted much less time to his factory since his wife’s incarceration. Of the 19 employees he had, only seven remain, one of whom, a deaf woman, is his outstanding worker. It’s a carpentry shop, an upholstery center and a sewing workshop all under one roof. Ghassan sells most of his products to Israel, although he’s been denied entry to the country for years.

    Now his mind is focused on his wife’s release. The last time he visited her in prison was a month ago, 45 minutes on a phone through armor-plated glass. During her months in prison, Jarrar became an official examiner of matriculation exams for the Palestinian Education Ministry. The exam papers are brought to the prison by the International Red Cross. Among others that she has graded were Ahed Tamimi and her mother, Nariman. Ahed called Ghassan this week to ask when Khalida’s release was expected. She calls her “my aunt.”

    The clock on the wall of Ghassan’s office has stopped. “Everything is meaningless for me without Khalida,” he says. “Life has no meaning without Khalida. Time stopped when Khalida was arrested. Khalida is not only my wife. She is my father, my mother, my sister and my friend. I breathe Khalida instead of air. Twenty months without meaning. My work is also meaningless.”

    A business call interrupts this love poem, which is manifestly sincere and painful. What will happen if she’s not released, again? “I will wait another four months. Nothing will break me. I don’t let anything break me. That is my philosophy in life. It has always helped me.”

    Ghassan spent 10 years of his life in an Israeli prison, too. Like his wife, he was accused of being active in the PFLP.

    In the meantime, their older daughter, Yafa, 33, completed her Ph.D. in law at the University of Ottawa, and is clerking in a Canadian law firm. Suha, 28, returned from Canada, after completing, there and in Britain, undergraduate and master’s degrees in environmental studies. She’s working for the Ramallah-based human rights organization Al-Haq, and living with her father.

    Both daughters are mobilized in the public campaign to free their mother, particularly by means of the social networks. Khalida was in jail when Yafa married a Canadian lawyer; Ghassan invited the whole family and their friends to watch the wedding ceremony in Canada on a large screen live via the Internet. Ghassan himself is prohibited from going abroad.

    During Khalida’s last arrest, recalls her husband, IDF soldiers and Shin Bet security service agents burst into the house by force in the dead of night. They entered Suha’s room and woke her up. He remembers how she shouted, panic-stricken at the sight of the rifles being brandished by strange men in her bedroom wearing black masks, and how the soldiers handcuffed her from behind. As Ghassan replays the scene in his mind and remembers his daughter’s shouts, he grows distraught, as if it had happened this week.

    Not knowing know what the soldiers were doing to her there, and only hearing her shouts, he tried to come to his daughter’s rescue, he recalls. He says he was almost killed by the soldiers for trying to force his way into Suha’s bedroom.

    After the soldiers took Khalida, preventing Ghassan from even kissing her goodbye, despite his request – he discovered his daughter, bound by plastic handcuffs. After he released her, she wanted to rush into the street to follow the soldiers and her captive mother. He blocked her, and she went to the balcony of the house and screamed at them hysterically, cries of unfettered fury.

    Last Saturday was Khalida’s 56th birthday. It wasn’t the first birthday she’d spent in prison, maybe not the last, either. Ghassan’s face positively glows when he talks about his wife’s birthday. He belongs to a WhatsApp group called “Best Friends” that is devoted to Khalida, where they posted his favorite photograph of her, wearing a purple blouse and raising her arms high in the courtroom of the Ofer facility. The members of the group congratulated him. Umar quoted a poem about a prisoner who is sitting in his cell in complete darkness, unable even to see his own shadow. Hidaya wrote something about freedom. Khamis wrote a traditional birthday greeting, and Ghassan summed up, “You are the bride of Palestine, renewing yourself every year. You are the crown on my head, al-Khalida, eternal one.”

    #Khalida_Jarrar

  • Israel starts construction on 20-foot-high fence surrounding #Gaza

    Covered in barbed wire and sensors, new fence to sit atop tunnel-blocking subterranean wall and connect to sea barrier.
    The Defense Ministry has begun the final phase of construction of a 20-foot high galvanized steel fence that will completely surround the Gaza Strip, Israeli officials said Sunday.

    The barrier will extend 65 kilometers (40 miles) miles around the enclave and sit atop the subterranean concrete wall Israel is constructing around the Gaza Strip to block terrorist groups’ attack tunnels from the coastal enclave.

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the barriers were needed to “prevent the infiltration of terrorists into our territory,” at the start of weekly cabinet meeting.

    The fence will connect to the barrier recently built out into the Mediterranean Sea from north of Gaza, the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

    The overall Gaza barrier project is due to be completed by the end of 2019, according to the army.

    “On Thursday, we began work on the final component of the Gaza Strip border barrier project. The obstacle is unique and specially designed to protect against the threats from the Strip and to give a superior solution to preventing infiltration into Israeli territory,” said the head of the project, Brig. Gen. (res.) Eran Ofir.

    The barrier project is expected to cost approximately NIS 3 billion ($833 million), with each kilometer of the underground portion of the barrier costing approximately NIS 41.5 million ($11.5 million). The above-ground fence is significantly cheaper, at just NIS 1.5 million ($416,000) per kilometer.

    The new fence surrounding the Gaza Strip will be constructed within Israeli territory, a few dozen meters east of the current shorter, more easily penetrable fencing. The old barrier will not be removed.

    According to the Defense Ministry, the new galvanized steel fence will weigh approximately 20,000 tons and comes equipped with a number of sensors and other “modern security components.”

    The barrier is being constructed jointly by the Israel Defense Forces-Defense Ministry Borders and Security Fence Directorate, run by Ofir, who has overseen the construction of barriers along Israel’s borders with Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

    In 2016, Israel began construction of the new barrier around the Strip, focusing first on the underground portion, following the 2014 Gaza war in which Hamas used subterranean attack tunnels to deadly effect against Israeli troops.

    Over the past two years, work has persisted on the underground sensor-studded concrete wall, despite regular riots and clashes along the border and occasional attacks on the construction sites.

    In addition, the Defense Ministry built a barrier extending out from Israel’s coast aimed at preventing maritime infiltration from Gaza, as occurred in the 2014 war when a team of Hamas naval commandos landed on the beach near the community of Kibbutz Zikim before they were killed by Israeli forces. Construction of the undersea wall and breakwater was completed last month.

    The new above-ground fence will begin at the Egyptian-Israeli-Gaza border, near Kerem Shalom, and will continue out to the sea barrier, according to the Defense Ministry.

    “The above-ground barrier… is another important element in the defense of the [Israeli] communities surrounding Gaza, which already includes: the sea barrier, which provides a response to terrorist infiltration from the sea to the west, and the underground barrier that surrounds the Strip and is meant to prevent the digging of terror tunnels into Israel,” the ministry said.

    The military proposed building the barrier following the 2014 Gaza war, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge. During the fighting, Hamas made extensive use of its tunnel networks to send fighters into Israel as well as to move its terrorist operatives and munitions within the Gaza Strip.

    Hundreds of people, some Israeli and others from abroad, are involved in the project, wearing flak jackets and under guard by IDF soldiers as protection against attack from terror groups in the Strip.

    Concrete factories were built next to the Gaza Strip to speed up construction.

    To build the underground wall, the workers use a hydromill, a powerful piece of drilling equipment that cuts deep, narrow trenches into the earth, which was brought to Israel from Germany.

    In addition to opening up the ground where the barrier will be constructed, the hydromill also exposes any previously undiscovered or newly dug Hamas tunnels that enter Israeli territory. The space left behind by the hydromill — and any Hamas tunnels that get in the way — is then filled with a substance known as bentonite, a type of absorbent clay that expands when it touches water.

    This is meant to prevent the trenches from collapsing, but also has the additional benefit of indicating the presence of a tunnel, as the bentonite would quickly drain into it. Workers then pour regular concrete into the trench. Metal cages with sensors attached are then lowered into the concrete for additional support.


    https://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-starts-construction-on-20-foot-high-fence-surrounding-gaza/amp
    #murs #barrières_frontalières #frontières #Israël
    ping @reka

  • Palestinian teen hiking with friends was killed in Israeli army ambush. He posed no danger
    Gideon Levy, Alex Levac | Feb. 1, 2019
    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-palestinian-teen-hiking-with-friends-was-killed-in-idf-ambush-he-p

    The soldiers hid behind the tallest oak tree in the valley. That’s where the six teenagers were headed, as they descended from their town, Silwad, northeast of Ramallah, into the deep, steep valley to hang out together on that Friday afternoon. On the way, they bought potato chips, sunflower seeds and chocolate, and they planned to boil water for tea over a campfire. Suddenly, without warning, a gunshot rang out. The teens had no idea where it came from. Ayman collapsed, rolling over and landing on his back. A bullet had sliced through his chest from the left, below his neck, and exited from his hip. When Mohammed tried to approach, to pull him out of the line of fire, another shot rang out. Mohammed was hit in the arm and ran for his life.

    Ayman lay on the ground, dying.

    The firing grew more intense. The shooters emerged from the ambush site behind the oak tree. They were joined by two more soldiers who came out of an Isuzu jeep parked on the other side of Highway 60. Bursts of automatic gunfire, aimed at the teens who were fleeing for their lives, echoed through the valley. The group rushed up the hill on which Silwad – meaning “above the wadi” in Arabic – is perched.

    That evening, the Israel Defense Forces returned Ayman Hamad ’s body to his family. He was 17 years old and was buried the next day in the town.

    Not far away, on that same day, last Saturday, January 26, settlers from the outpost of Adei Ad, and/or soldiers who joined them – it is still not clear – killed Hamdi Na’asan , 38, as he was plowing his field next to his village, Al-Mughayyir. Last weekend was particularly lethal for the Palestinians. Four of them were killed by Israelis, in the Gaza Strip, Jerusalem and the West Bank.

    It was raining when we visited Silwad on Monday, and the killing field in the valley that separates the town from Highway 60 was draped in thick fog. Through the fog a stunning view could be made out – of olive trees, the towering oak and the verdant valley. The last house in town, on the wadi’s edge, belongs to Qadura Fares, head of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, a former cabinet minister and prisoner. Fares, fluent in Hebrew, is one of the more impressive leaders in the Palestinian Authority, an associate and good friend of the jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti.

    The Silwad community center – above which looms the turret of the local mosque that locals say is the tallest in Palestine – had been turned into a venue of mourning and condolences. The dead teenager was a relative of Fares’, who, in an elegant wool coat, was among those welcoming the guests who had come to comfort the family. Next to him was the bereaved father, Ahmed Hamad, 44, a metalworker who once had four daughters and two sons. Now, he has four daughters and one son.

    According to the dead teen’s history teacher, Aouni Fares, Ayman, a high-school senior, was well-informed and knew a lot about the Nakba, the Palestinians’ suffering and the history of the occupation that began in 1967. Ahmed Hamad says his son promised him that he would always be proud of him. Ayman’s uncle Mohammed Othman was the first fatal casualty in Silwad during the first intifada; two other uncles, Akram Hamad and Rifat Hamad, are serving life sentences in Israeli prisons.

    Last Friday morning, Ayman had coffee with his father and then attended prayers in the mosque. At midday the family drove to its olive grove in the valley for a picnic, not far from the place where their firstborn would be killed a few hours later. The weather was ideal, under the winter sun, and Ayman was in high spirits, the mourners recall. The family ate stuffed vegetables prepared by the mother, Inas; Ayman cleared away the dishes.

    When they got home, around 2:30 P.M., Ayman asked his father, who was driving to the nearby village of Rammun to shop, for money to buy snacks; he was given 20 shekels ($5.60). At the end of the day, two shekels would be found in the teen’s cellphone case.

    Almost every Friday they would head out to the valley, Ayman and his buddies, all of them about the same age. There, amid the olive trees, about a kilometer or two from their homes, is the local gathering place.

    When they arrived, the group split up. Ayman and two friends went on ahead, the other three stayed behind for some reason. Later on some of the eyewitnesses, among them the wounded Mohammed Hamad, would say that the group did not throw any stones, although one authoritative source admitted that they had. Iyad Hadad, a field researcher for the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, noted that Ayman was shot at around 4:30 that afternoon – almost Shabbat – so there were certainly no religious settlers’ cars on Highway 60 at the time. Candle-lighting time in the nearby settlements was 4:31 P.M. in Beit El, 4:40 P.M. in Shiloh and 4:49 P.M. in Ofra.

    Many questions remain about what happened this week, and they are very disturbing – even if stones were thrown. The Israel Defense Forces soldiers shot Ayman Hamad from a distance of between 50 and 100 meters, from which he could not have posed any threat. When he was shot, he was also more than 100 meters from the highway, again a distance from which no stone could have hurt anyone traveling on the road. The soldiers fired live ammunition from an ambush with no prior warning, hitting him directly in the chest. They shot to kill, of that there’s no doubt. A teenager, a high-school student, who maybe did throw stones (which hurt no one), or maybe didn’t throw stones, was executed. The soldiers went on shooting even after they had hit him. Fortunately, they didn’t kill anyone else.

    The IDF Spokesman’s Unit made do with a laconic, dry response to Haaretz’s query, one that only raises additional questions: “A Military Police investigation has been launched into the matter, and at its conclusion the findings will be conveyed for further examination to the office of the military advocate general.” We’re unlikely to hear any more about this incident – either about the conclusion of the “investigation” or about a trial of those deemed responsible for the killing of the teen from Silwad.

    After the incident, the wounded Mohammed Hamad made his way into town, where he was taken to the local clinic and from there by ambulance to the Government Hospital in Ramallah. Ayman was still on the ground, with the soldiers gathered around him. A Palestinian ambulance driver who happened to pass by and saw what was going on offered to evacuate Ayman, but the soldiers told him to leave. It’s not clear whether Ayman was still alive at that point. Mohammed said he saw him take a few heavy breaths before he himself fled the scene, as did the third one in their group. The other teens were far off and didn’t see what was going on.

    After almost an hour, after an Israeli ambulance evacuated Ayman, the soldiers left the site. The boy was taken to a military guard tower next to the nearby village of Ein Yabroud, where an intensive care ambulance arrived, lingered for about 10 minutes and then drove off, according to the testimonies. Ayman was apparently already dead.

    In the meantime, one of the friends phoned Ayman’s father to report that his son had been wounded and was with the soldiers. A few minutes later, he called back to say that Ayman had not been wounded, only arrested. Then Qadura Fares phoned to tell Ahmed to drop everything in Rammun and get back to Silwad fast. When Ahmed reached Fares’ house, he saw the crowd that had gathered there, among them his brother, Suheil, who was weeping bitterly, and he realized what had happened.

    Fares meanwhile contacted the District Coordination and Liaison unit in order to get Ayman’s body back; at about 7:30 that evening, the family were instructed to go to the military base at Beit El to retrieve the body. At the Government Hospital in Ramallah, where they brought the body, Ahmed saw the bullet’s entry hole in his son’s chest and the exit wound in the hip.

    While we are visiting, Mohammed Hamad, the survivor of the shooting, enters the community center. His entire arm is bandaged. This is his first encounter with Ahmed since the incident. The teenager had undergone surgery in the Government Hospital shortly after arriving there, but walked out the next day, against his doctors’ instructions, to attend Ayman’s funeral.

    Mohammed is clearly still in a state of shock. Ayman, he relates, walked about 30 meters ahead of the rest of the group toward his family’s olive grove. He denies that they threw stones. After Ayman collapsed on the ground, Mohammed says he saw that he was still moving his fingers, even as blood spilled out of his chest, but doesn’t remember anything else because he was then shot himself. At first, he didn’t feel anything as he was fleeing for his life, with bullets whistling around him. He didn’t feel any pain until a few minutes later. Now he tells us he’ll have to return to the hospital in a few days for additional surgery.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/755175
    #Palestine_assassinée

  • Israel just admitted arming anti-Assad Syrian rebels. Big mistake - Middle East News
    Haaretz.com - Daniel J. Levy Jan 30, 2019 5:03 PM
    https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/.premium-israel-just-admitted-arming-anti-assad-syrian-rebels-big-mistake-1

    In his final days as the Israel Defense Forces’ Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot confirmed, on the record, that Israel had directly supported anti-Assad Syrian rebel factions in the Golan Heights by arming them.

    This revelation marks a direct break from Israel’s previous media policy on such matters. Until now, Israel has insisted it has only provided humanitarian aid to civilians (through field hospitals on the Golan Heights and in permanent healthcare facilities in northern Israel), and has consistently denied or refused to comment on any other assistance.

    In short, none other than Israel’s most (until recently) senior serving soldier has admitted that up until his statement, his country’s officially stated position on the Syrian civil war was built on the lie of non-intervention.

    As uncomfortable as this may initially seem, though, it is unsurprising. Israel has a long history of conducting unconventional warfare. That form of combat is defined by the U.S. government’s National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 as “activities conducted to enable a resistance movement or insurgency to coerce, disrupt or overthrow an occupying power or government by operating through or with an underground, auxiliary or guerrilla force in a denied area” in the pursuit of various security-related strategic objectives.

    While the United States and Iran are both practitioners of unconventional warfare par excellence, they primarily tend to do so with obvious and longer-term strategic allies, i.e. the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance fighters in Afghanistan, and various Shia militias in post-2003 Iraq.

    In contrast, Israel has always shown a remarkable willingness to form short-term tactical partnerships with forces and entities explicitly hostile to its very existence, as long as that alliance is able to offer some kind of security-related benefits.

    The best example of this is Israel’s decision to arm Tehran during the Iran-Iraq War, despite the Islamic Republic of Iran’s strong anti-Zionist rhetoric and foreign policy. During the 1980s, Iraq remained Jerusalem’s primary conventional (and arguably existential) military threat. Aiding Tehran to continue fighting an attritional war against Baghdad reduced the risk the latter posed against Israel.

    Similarly, throughout the civil war in Yemen in the 1960s, Israel covertly supported the royalist Houthi forces fighting Egyptian-backed republicans. Given Egypt’s very heavy military footprint in Yemen at the time (as many as a third of all Egyptian troops were deployed to the country during this period), Israelis reasoned that this military attrition would undermine their fighting capacity closer to home, which was arguably proven by Egypt’s lacklustre performance in the Six Day War.

    Although technically not unconventional warfare, Israel long and openly backed the South Lebanon Army, giving it years of experience in arming, training, and mentoring a partner indigenous force.

    More recently, though, Israel’s policy of supporting certain anti-Assad rebel groups remains consistent with past precedents of with whom and why it engages in unconventional warfare. Israel’s most pressing strategic concern and potential threat in Syria is an Iranian encroachment onto its northern border, either directly, or through an experienced and dangerous proxy such as Hezbollah, key to the Assad regime’s survival.

    For a number of reasons, Israel committing troops to overt large-scale operations in Syria to prevent this is simply unfeasible. To this end, identifying and subsequently supporting a local partner capable of helping Israel achieve this strategic goal is far more sensible, and realistic.

    Open source details of Israel’s project to support anti-Assad rebel groups are sparse, and have been since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war.

    Reports of this first arose towards the end of 2014, and one described how United Nations officials had witnessed Syrian rebels transferring injured patients to Israel, as well as “IDF soldiers on the Israeli side handing over two boxes to armed Syrian opposition members on the Syrian side.” The same report also stated that UN observers said they saw “two IDF soldiers on the eastern side of the border fence opening the gate and letting two people enter Israel.”

    Since then, a steady stream of similar reports continued to detail Israeli contacts with the Syrian rebels, with the best being written and researched by Elizabeth Tsurkov. In February, 2014 she wrote an outstanding feature for War On The Rocks, where she identified Liwaa’ Fursan al-Jolan and Firqat Ahrar Nawa as two groups benefiting from Israeli support, named Iyad Moro as “Israel’s contact person in Beit Jann,” and stated that weaponry, munitions, and cash were Israel’s main form of military aid.

    She also describes how Israel has supported its allied groups in fighting local affiliates of Islamic State with drone strikes and high-precision missile attacks, strongly suggesting, in my view, the presence of embedded Israeli liaison officers of some kind.

    A 2017 report published by the United Nations describes how IDF personnel were observed passing supplies over the Syrian border to unidentified armed individuals approaching them with convoys of mules, and although Israel claims that these engagements were humanitarian in nature, this fails to explain the presence of weaponry amongst the unidentified individuals receiving supplies from them.

    Writing for Foreign Policy in September 2018, Tsurkov again detailed how Israel was supporting the Syrian rebel factions, stating that material support came in the form of “assault rifles, machine guns, mortar launchers and transport vehicles,” which were delivered “through three gates connecting the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights to Syria - the same crossings Israel used to deliver humanitarian aid to residents of southern Syria suffering from years of civil war.” She also dates this support to have begun way back in 2013.

    The one part of Israel’s involvement in the Syrian Civil War which has been enthusiastically publicised, though, has been its ongoing humanitarian operations in the Golan. Dubbed “Operation Good Neighbor,” this was established in June 2016, and its stated aim is to “provide humanitarian aid to as many people as possible while maintaining Israel’s policy of non-involvement in the conflict.”

    Quite clearly, this is - at least in parts - a lie, as even since before its official commencement, Israel was seemingly engaging with and supporting various anti-Assad factions.

    Although Operation Good Neighbor patently did undertake significant humanitarian efforts in southern Syria for desperate Syrian civilians (including providing free medical treatment, infrastructure support, and civilian aid such as food and fuel), it has long been my personal belief that it was primarily a smokescreen for Israel’s covert unconventional warfare efforts in the country.

    Although it may be argued that deniability was initially necessary to protect Israel’s Syrian beneficiaries who could not be seen to be working with Jerusalem for any number of reasons (such as the likely detrimental impact this would have on their local reputation if not lives), this does not justify Israel’s outright lying on the subject. Instead, it could have mimicked the altogether more sensible approach of the British government towards United Kingdom Special Forces, which is simply to restate their position of not commenting, confirming, or denying any potentially relevant information or assertions.

    Israel is generous in its provision of humanitarian aid to the less fortunate, but I find it impossible to believe that its efforts in Syria were primarily guided by altruism when a strategic objective as important as preventing Iran and its proxies gaining a toehold on its northern border was at stake.

    Its timing is interesting and telling as well. Operation Good Neighbor was formally put in place just months after the Assad regime began its Russian-backed counter-offensive against the rebel factions, and ceased when the rebels were pushed out of southern Syria in September 2018.

    But it’s not as if that September there were no longer civilians who could benefit from Israeli humanitarian aid, but an absence of partners to whom Israel could feasibly directly dispatch arms and other supplies. Although Israel did participate in the rescue of a number of White Helmets, this was done in a relatively passive manner (allowing their convoy to drive to Jordan through Israeli territory), and also artfully avoided escalating any kind of conflict with the Assad’s forces and associated foreign allies.

    Popular opinion - both in Israel and amongst Diaspora Jews - was loud and clear about the ethical necessity of protecting Syrian civilians (especially from historically-resonant gas attacks). But it’s unlikely this pressure swung Israel to intervene in Syria. Israel already had a strong interest in keeping Iran and its proxies out southern Syria, and that would have remained the case, irrespective of gas attacks against civilians.

    Although Israel has gone to great lengths to conceal its efforts at unconventional warfare within the Syrian civil war, it need not have. Its activities are consistent with its previous efforts at promoting strategic objectives through sometimes unlikely, if not counter-intuitive, regional partners.

    Perhaps the reason why Eisenkot admitted that this support was taking place was because he knew that it could not be concealed forever, not least since the fall of the smokescreen provided by Operation Good Neighbor. But the manner in which Israel operated may have longer-term consequences.

    Israel is unlikely to change how it operates in the future, but may very well find future potential tactical partners less than willing to cooperate with it. In both southern Lebanon and now Syria, Israel’s former partners have found themselves exposed to dangers borne out of collaboration, and seemingly abandoned.

    With that kind of history and record, it is likely that unless they find themselves in desperate straits, future potential partners will think twice before accepting support from, and working with, Israel.

    For years, Israel has religiously adhered to the official party line that the country’s policy was non-intervention, and this has now been exposed as a lie. Such a loss of public credibility may significantly inhibit its abilities to conduct influence operations in the future.

    Daniel J. Levy is a graduate of the Universities of Leeds and Oxford, where his academic research focused on Iranian proxies in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Palestine. He lives in the UK and is the Founding Director of The Ortakoy Security Group. Twitter: @danielhalevy

    #IsraelSyrie

  •  » Israeli Soldiers Kill One Palestinian, Injure 30, Near Ramallah
    IMEMC News - January 26, 2019 6:39 PM
    http://imemc.org/article/israeli-soldiers-kill-one-palestinian-injure-30-near-ramallah

    Israeli soldiers killed, Saturday, one Palestinian and injured at least 30 others, after a group of illegal colonialist settlers attempted to invade the northern part of the al-Mughayyir village, east of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and were intercepted by the villagers.

    The Palestinian Health Ministry said the Palestinian, identified as Hamdi Taleb Sa’ada Na’san , 38, was shot with a live round in his back, and the bullet was logged in the upper abdomen.

    The Palestinian was rushed to Palestine Medical Complex, in Ramallah, but died from his very serious wounds.

    The soldiers also injured at least thirty other Palestinians, among them six who were shot with live fire, including one who suffered a very serious injury.

    One of the wounded Palestinians was shot with a live round in his mouth, before he was rushed to the Istishari hospital, in Ramallah, in a moderate-but-stable condition.

    ““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““
    PCHR
    https://pchrgaza.org/en/?p=11937

    A Palestinian Civilian Killed by Israeli Settlers

    At approximately 15:30 on Saturday, 26 January 2019, a group of Israeli settlers moved into al-Moghayer village, northeast of Ramallah, and rioted on the streets while opening fire at several houses; 2 of them belonged to Jamal ‘Ali al-Na’asan and ‘Abdullah al-Na’asan, breaking all the houses’ windows.
    Meanwhile, dozens of Palestinian young men gathered to throw stones, empty bottles and Molotov Cocktails at them. In response, the settlers immediately and randomly fired a barrage of bullets, wounding Hamdi Taleb al-Na’asan (38) with a bullet that entered his lower back, hit the lungs and then exited from the chest. As a result, Hamdi fell on the ground and was immediately taken via an ambulance belonging to the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) to Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah, where his death was declared in the ED due to arriving in a very critical condition.

    Following that, the Israeli forces moved into the village to provide protection for settlers and opened fire at the Palestinian protestors. As a result, 22 civilians were wounded with bullets and shrapnel; 8 of them were taken to the Palestine Medical Complex, 6 were taken to the Istishari Arab Hospital in al-Rihan Suburb, north of Ramallah, and 8 were taken to the medical center in nearby Termes’aya village. It should be mentioned that Hamdi al-Na’asan was a former prisoner in the Israeli jails, where he served an 8-year sentence. He was also married with 4 children; the youngest is only 1 year old.

    #Palestine_assassinée

    • Welcome to the Palestine Circus
      Gideon Levy Jan 27, 2019 3:38 AM
      https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-welcome-to-the-palestine-circus-1.6874241

      A lethal weekend for Palestinians — four killed, from Rafah in the Gaza Strip to Ramallah in the West Bank — ended Saturday with the death of a farmer in his olive orchard, in the central West Bank village of Al-Mughayyir.

      It was the afternoon. Hamdi Na’asan and a few fellow villagers were about to finish tilling their fine olive orchard, downhill from the virulent outpost of Adei Ad. It is plowing season and the farmers were turning over the earth on their beautifully terraced orchard. At around 4 P.M., a group of armed settlers approached from the direction of Adei Ad and began attacking them in an effort to chase them off their land.

      That is the routine here in the land of the outposts, especially in Al-Mughayyir. I was in the village last week, and I saw the still and bleeding remains of 25 olive trees planted 35 years ago, cut down by electric saws, tree after tree, on Friday January 11, three days before the Jewish holiday of Tu Bishvat, sometimes called Jewish Arbor Day.

      Footprints led to the Mevo Shiloh outpost, whose residents took over a half-abandoned army barracks on the hill above Al-Mughayyir’s fields. For the past two months, villagers had gathered every Friday at their land to demand the removal of Mevo Shiloh. Its settlers graze their flocks on the village’s land and have carried out so-called price tag attacks in the village, vandalizing cars.

      On Saturday they came from Adei Ad. A few days before, villagers said they had somehow learned to live with Adei Ad, and their problem was with Mevo Shilo. This weekend it became clear to them that it was a choice between plague and cholera. One week the evil came from the east, from Mevo Shilo, a week later from the north, Adei Ad — a rotation of hate crimes coming from the outposts. You should have seen the fear of the residents as we drove to their orchards last week as we approached Mevo Shilo, to see the atmosphere of threats and terror with which they live.

      After the settlers came down and attacked them, the farmers phoned for help. They were utterly helpless: The army will always side with the settlers, of course. The residents also called the Palestinian liaison bureau but didn’t get any help. Military forces arrived, and soldiers and settlers began shooting live ammunition toward the farmers.

      Villagers deny claims that the settlers were attacked by farmers. Anyone familiar with the Shiloh Valley knows how difficult, impossible really, it is to believe such claims. The settlers descend upon fields that aren’t theirs for the sole purpose of evicting residents from their land and striking fear. That’s the aim, that’s the goal.

      The farmers and villagers who rushed to help them fled south, toward the village, as soldiers and settlers fired first tear gas, that enveloped the homes, and then live ammunition. They shot at them as they fled. Na’asan was shot in the back. The Israel Defense Forces said Saturday night that he was shot by a settler. It took an hour to bring him to the government hospital in Ramallah. An additional 15 villagers were wounded. Nine were admitted to the Ramallah hospital; three needed surgery.

      The view from Al-Mughayyir is gorgeous this time of year, a fertile valley, cultivated amazingly. Brown earth sprouting blossoming olive orchards and green fields. And here are the photographs of Na’asan’s death: His dead face and closed eyes, the small hole in his back, near his spine. He was 38, a father of four, a relative of Abed al Hai Na’asan, the owner of the orchard whose trees were cut down, with whom we went last week to witness the damage and his pain.

      Thus fell the village’s first victim since the start of its popular protest, and he will probably not be the last.

    • UN Mladenov condemns Israeli settler killing of Palestinian father
      Jan. 27, 2019 12:36 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 27, 2019 1:08 P.M.)
      http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=782366

      BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nikolay Mladenov, condemned in a tweet the Israeli settlers’ killing of a Palestinian father during an attack on al-Mughayyir village, on Saturday.

      Mladenov posted in a tweet, “Today’s violence in al-Mughayyir is shocking and unacceptable!”

      He added, “Israel must put an end to settler violence & bring those responsible to justice.”

      “My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the #Palestinian man killed and those injured… All must condemn violence, stand up to terror,” he stressed.

    • Hamdi Naasan, un père de quatre enfants, assassiné par les colons
      Annelies Keuleers - 28 janvier 2019 – Al-Jazeera – Traduction : Chronique de Palestine
      http://www.chroniquepalestine.com/hamdi-naasan-un-pere-de-quatre-enfants-assassine-par-les-colons

      Nikolay Mladenov, l’envoyé des Nations Unies au Moyen-Orient, appelle Israël à traduire en justice les assassins du Palestinien Hamdi Naasan.

      L’envoyé de l’ONU au Moyen-Orient a qualifié le meurtre d’un Palestinien par les colons israéliens en Cisjordanie occupée de « choquant et inacceptable ».

      Nikolay Mladenov a appelé dimanche Israël à « mettre fin à la violence des colons et à traduire les responsables en justice ».

      Hamdi Naasan, âgé de 38 ans, a succombé à ses blessures samedi près du village d’Al Mugheir après que des colons israéliens de la colonie illégale d’Adei Ad, située à proximité, aient tiré des coups de feu.

      Selon le ministère palestinien de la Santé, Naasan aurait reçu une balle de fusil dans le dos. Selon l’agence de presse Maan, au moins 30 autres Palestiniens ont été blessés, dont six par des tirs à balles réelles.

      Des milliers de personnes se sont rassemblées dans le village d’al-Mugheir pour assister aux funérailles de Naasan.

      L’armée israélienne a temporairement empêché les personnes en deuil d’atteindre le lieu de sépulture en érigeant un barrage routier entre l’autoroute et une route menant au village. Lors d’un affrontement qui a suivi, l’armée israélienne a kidnappé deux adolescents palestiniens.

  • The sadists who destroyed a decades-old Palestinian olive grove can rest easy
    Another Palestinian village joins the popular protest, its inhabitants no longer able to bear attacks by settlers. Vandals have butchered a grove of 35-year-old olive trees in the village. The tracks led to a nearby settler outpost
    Gideon Levy and Alex Levac Jan 24, 2019
    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/the-sadists-who-destroyed-a-decades-old-palestinian-olive-grove-can-rest-ea

    Vandalism in an olive grove in the West Bank village of Al-Mughayyir. Credit Alex Levac

    Who are the human scum who last Friday drove all-terrain vehicles down to the magnificent olive grove owned by Abed al Hai Na’asan, in the West Bank village of Al-Mughayyir, chose the oldest and biggest row, and with electric saws felled 25 trees, one after another? Who are the human scum who are capable of fomenting such an outrage on the soil, the earth, the trees and of course on the farmer, who’s been working his land for decades? Who are the human scum who fled like cowards, knowing that no one would bring them to justice for the evil they had wrought?

    We’re unlikely ever to get the answers. The police are investigating, but at the wild outposts of the Shiloh Valley, and Mevo Shiloh in particular, where the perpetrators’ tracks led, they can go on sleeping in peace. No one will be arrested, no one will be interrogated, no one will be punished. That’s the lesson of past experience in this violent, lawless, settlers’ country.

    The story itself makes one’s blood boil, but only the sight of the violated grove brings home the scale of the atrocity, the pathological sadism of the perpetrators, the depth of the farmer’s pain upon seeing that his own God’s little acre was assaulted by the Jewish, Israeli, settlers, believers, destroyers – just three days before Tu B’Shvat, the Jewish Arbor Day, the holiday of the trees celebrated by the same people who destroyed his grove. This is how they express their love for the land, this is a reflection of the encroacher’s fondness for the earth and for nature.

    And on a boulder at the far end of the grove they left their calling card, smeared on a rock: a Star of David smeared in red, shamefaced, shameful, a Mark of Cain that stigmatizes everything it stands for, and next to it, the word “Revenge.” Revenge for what?

    The 25 felled trees lie like corpses after a massacre on the fertile brown, plowed earth. Twenty-five thick trunks stand bare and decapitated, their roots still deep in the earth, their tops gone, the work of a malicious hand – now mere dead lumber after years of having been tended, cultivated and irrigated. It was the most impressive row of trees in the grove; the destroyers moved along it with satanic deliberateness, sawing mercilessly. When, walking amid the stumps in the grove, the distraught owner Na’asan said that for him the act was tantamount to murder, his words made perfect sense. When we were just arriving there, his wife had phoned and begged him not to visit the grove, for fear he would not be able to abide the sight. Na’asan has cancer.

    In the briefcase of documents he always carries with him is a copy of the official complaint he submitted to the Binyamin district station of the Israel Police, despite the fact that he knows nothing will ever come of it, that it will be buried like every such complaint. Anyone who wanted to apprehend the rampagers could have done it that same day: Mevo Shiloh, where the tracks of the all-terrain vehicles led, is a small settler outpost – violent and brazen.

    The way to Al-Mughayyir, located south of Jenin, passes through the affluent town of Turmus Ayya, many of whose residents live most of the year in the United States, only visiting their splendid homes in the summer. The village, with a population of 3,500, is separated from the town by pasture land where sheep are now grazing. Everything is lushly green.

    Abed al Hai Na’asan, with a butchered olive tree. The people of Al-Mughayyir say their problems have never been with the army, only with the settlers. Credit : Alex Levac

    In the center of Al-Mughayyir, a few men are standing next to an official vehicle of the Palestinian Authority. Personnel from the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture have arrived to assess the damage suffered by the farmers; at best the ministry gives them a symbolic amount of compensation. Such is the deceptive semblance of a government that supposedly protects helpless farmers.

    Everyone in the village knows that the PA can do nothing. So, about two months ago, the residents launched a popular protest, just as citizens of other villages before them have done – from Kaddoum, Nabi Saleh, Bil’in, Na’alin and others. Every Friday, they gather on their land, which lies on the eastern side of the Allon Road, and are confronted by a large number of army and Border Police forces, who disperse them with great quantities of tear gas that hangs like a pall over Al-Mughayyir, and with rubber bullets, rounds of “tutu” bullets (live 0.22-caliber bullets). Then come the nighttime arrests. Overnight this past Sunday, the troops arrested another seven villagers who took part in the demonstrations; 35 locals are currently in detention. This is the method Israel uses to suppress every popular protest in the territories.

    According to the villagers, their sole demand is removal of the Mevo Shiloh outpost, which was established without a permit on a half-abandoned Israel Defense Forces base that overlooks their fields. The settlers burn the Palestininans’ fields, allow their sheep to graze on their land without permission, chase away the villagers’ flocks and perpetrate various “price tag” operations – hate crimes – against them.

    In the previous such assault, on November 25, eight cars were damaged. The graffiti, documented by Iyad Hadad, a field researcher for the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, leave little to the imagination: “Death to the Arabs,” “Enough administrative orders,” “Revenge,” “Price Tag” – and also the unfathomable “Regards to Nachman Rodan.”

    The people of Al-Mughayyir say their problems have never been with the army, only with the settlers. Here the war is for control of the land. It is a primeval, despairing war in which law, property rights and ownership play no part – what counts is the violence that can be perpetrated, under the aegis of the occupation authorities. When, one day, these people are forced to give up their land in the wake of the violence, the settlers will chalk up yet another impressive achievement in their effort to chop up the West Bank into separate and disconnected slices of territory. This week, when we drove across village land toward Mevo Shiloh, the villagers who rode with us begged us to turn around at once. So great is their fear of the settlers, that even when they crossed their fields in a car with Israeli plates, accompanied by Israelis, they were seized by dread.

    The home of Amin Abu Aaliya, head of the village council, is perched atop a high hill, overlooking all the houses in his village and the fertile valley where his lands lie. In the winter sun that shines on the holiday of the trees, he serves a local pastry stuffed with leaves of green za’atar (wild hyssop), baked by his wife, who doesn’t join us. When we ask him to “Tell her it was delicious,” he replies, “She mustn’t get a swelled head.”

    The view from the roof of his elegant home is indeed stunning. Scratchy music that blares from an old Citroen Berlingo down below heralds the arrival in the village of a vendor selling the sweet cotton candy known here as “girls’ hair.” In the middle of the village, young people are decorating one of the houses with flags of Fatah and Palestine: A resident of the village is due to return home today after serving two years in an Israeli prison, and a festive welcome is being prepared for him.

    The Allon Road, which was paved in the 1970s and runs north to south in the eastern part of the West Bank, with the aim of severing its territories from the Kingdom of Jordan, also separated Al-Mughayyir from most of its land, about 30,000 dunams (7,500 acres), located east of the road. The villagers grew used to that over the years. They also forgave the expropriation of land for the road and afterward for its widening. There is no safe place for them to cross the Allon Road with their herds, to access their land but they grew used to that, too. Sometimes the army blocks the dirt road that leads from the village to their land and they are cut off from it, unless they decide to take a long bypass route there. A matter of routine.

    The people of Al-Mughayyir also learned how to live with the former existence of the military base of Mevo Shiloh, which dominated their land. They even came to terms with the Adei Ad outpost, whose members also assaulted them. But then the IDF evacuated the base and the settlers seized it. An internet search reveals that the settlers were ostensibly removed from this outpost a few years ago. But mobile homes sprout from the high hill that overlooks the village’s fields, and alongside them, large structures used for farming. Mevo Shiloh is alive and kicking.

    The villagers say that the Civil Administration, a branch of the military government, promised them in the past that the outpost would be evacuated, but that didn’t happen. Lacking the funds to wage a legal battle, and not believing it would produce results anyway, they embarked on their Friday demonstrations.

    I asked whether they had first consulted with other locales that have waged similar struggles. “There was no need to,” the council head said. “You don’t need consultation when you are in the right. We feel unsafe on our own land. How are we to protect ourselves and our lands? It’s a natural reaction: Either to turn to violence or to popular protest. We chose the path of popular protest.”

    The dirt path that leads east from the village toward the Allon Road reflects the events here in the past two months. Empty canisters of the tear gas fired at the demonstrators hang from electrical cables, the ground is strewn with the remnants of scorched tires and with stone barriers. During the Friday protest two weeks ago, 30 villagers were wounded by rubber-coated metal bullets. The troops film the demonstrators and raid the village at night to arrest them – standard procedure in the villages of the struggle. Close to 100 residents have been detained during the past two months.

    A dense cloud of tear gas hangs over Al-Mughayyir during the demonstrations and, according to council head Aaliya, even wafts upward to his house high on the hill. In some cases the settlers join the security forces to disperse the demonstrations, throwing stones at the protesters.

    Na’asan, whose trees were ravaged, arrives at Aaliya’s house and shows him a copy of the complaint he filed with the Binyamin police: “Confirmation of submission of complaint.” The space for the details of the incident is empty. The space for the place of the event contains the following, word for word: “Magir RM in the forest, nursery, grove, field.” The charge: “Damage to property maliciously.” Hebrew only, of course. “File No. 31237.”

    The police arrived at the grove last Friday, two hours after Na’asan discovered what had happened and reported it to the Palestinian Coordination and Liaison office. They said the ATV tracks seemed to lead to Mevo Shiloh. According to Na’asan, while the police were in the grove, a few settlers stood on the hill opposite and watched. The police are now investigating.

    About 20 members of Na’asan’s extended family subsist thanks to this grove, which before the attack boasted a total of 80 trees of different ages, all meticulously cultivated. Standing here now, he says he’ll have to clear away those that were felled and bandage the stumps against the cold. That’s the only way they will perhaps sprout new branches, which he will have to tend. It will take another 35 years for the grove to return to its former state. Na’asan is 62. This grove grew together with his children, he says. He knows there’s little chance he’ll be around to see it recover.

  • A Day, a Life: When a Medic Was Killed in Gaza, Was It an Accident?
    The New York Times - By David M. Halbfinger - Dec. 30, 2018
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/30/world/middleeast/gaza-medic-israel-shooting.html

    KHUZAA, Gaza Strip — A young medic in a head scarf runs into danger, her only protection a white lab coat. Through a haze of tear gas and black smoke, she tries to reach a man sprawled on the ground along the Gaza border. Israeli soldiers, their weapons leveled, watch warily from the other side.

    Minutes later, a rifle shot rips through the din, and the Israeli-Palestinian drama has its newest tragic figure.

    For a few days in June, the world took notice of the death of 20-year-old Rouzan al-Najjar, killed while treating the wounded at protests against Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. Even as she was buried, she became a symbol of the conflict, with both sides staking out competing and mutually exclusive narratives.

    To the Palestinians, she was an innocent martyr killed in cold blood, an example of Israel’s disregard for Palestinian life. To the Israelis, she was part of a violent protest aimed at destroying their country, to which lethal force is a legitimate response as a last resort.

    Palestinian witnesses embellished their initial accounts, saying she was shot while raising her hands in the air. The Israeli military tweeted a tendentiously edited video that made it sound like she was offering herself as a human shield for terrorists.

    In each version, Ms. Najjar was little more than a cardboard cutout.

    An investigation by The New York Times found that Ms. Najjar, and what happened on the evening of June 1, were far more complicated than either narrative allowed. Charismatic and committed, she defied the expectations of both sides. Her death was a poignant illustration of the cost of Israel’s use of battlefield weapons to control the protests, a policy that has taken the lives of nearly 200 Palestinians.

    It also shows how each side is locked into a seemingly unending and insolvable cycle of violence. The Palestinians trying to tear down the fence are risking their lives to make a point, knowing that the protests amount to little more than a public relations stunt for Hamas, the militant movement that rules Gaza. And Israel, the far stronger party, continues to focus on containment rather than finding a solution.

    In life, Ms. Najjar was a natural leader whose uncommon bravery struck some peers as foolhardy. She was a capable young medic, but one who was largely self-taught and lied about her lack of education. She was a feminist, by Gaza standards, shattering traditional gender rules, but also a daughter who doted on her father, was particular about her appearance and was slowly assembling a trousseau. She inspired others with her outward jauntiness, while privately she was consumed with dread in her final days.

    The bullet that killed her, The Times found, was fired by an Israeli sniper into a crowd that included white-coated medics in plain view. A detailed reconstruction, stitched together from hundreds of crowd-sourced videos and photographs, shows that neither the medics nor anyone around them posed any apparent threat of violence to Israeli personnel. Though Israel later admitted her killing was unintentional, the shooting appears to have been reckless at best, and possibly a war crime, for which no one has yet been punished. (...)

    Rouzan al-Najjar, 20, was killed by an Israeli sniper on June 1 while she was treating the wounded at protests at the Gaza border.CreditIbraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters
    #Razan_al-Najjar

  • Palestinian teen shot, killed by Israeli forces in al-Bireh
    Dec. 14, 2018 5:39 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 14, 2018 5:55 P.M.)
    http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?ID=782092

    RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — A 16-year-old Palestinian was shot and killed by Israeli forces during clashes that erupted in the al-Jalazun refugee camp north of al-Bireh in the central occupied West Bank, on Friday evening.

    The Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed that a Palestinian from the al-Jalazun refugee camp arrived to the Palestine Medical Center in a critical condition.

    Sources added that the teen was injured with live bullets in the abdomen.

    The ministry identified the killed teen as Mahmoud Youssef Nakhleh.

    Israeli forces opened fire at the teen from a very close range; from less than 10 meters away.

    Israeli soldiers attempted to detain Nakhleh afterwards, however, Palestinian Red Crescent paramedics were able to take him and transfer him to the Palestine Medical Center after having to quarrel Israeli soldiers for more than 30 minutes.

    Nakhleh was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

    #Palestine_assassinée

    • After Shooting a Palestinian Teen, Israeli Troops Dragged Him Around – and Chased an Ambulance Away

      A Palestinian from the Jalazun refugee camp was shot in the back and died after soldiers kept him from receiving medical care
      Gideon Levy and Alex Levac Dec 20, 2018
      https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium--1.6765800

      What goes through the head of soldiers, young Israelis, after they shoot an unarmed Palestinian teenager in the back with live ammunition, prevent him from getting medical treatment, move him around, putting him on the ground and then picking him up again – and chase away an ambulance at gunpoint? For 15 minutes, the Israel Defense Forces soldiers carried the dying Mahmoud Nakhle , pulling him by his hands and feet, it’s not clear why or where, before allowing him to be evacuated. They had already shot him and wounded him badly. He was dying. Why not let the Palestinian ambulance that arrived at the site rush him to the hospital and possibly save his life? Nakhle died from a bullet in his liver and loss of blood. He was two weeks after his 18th birthday, the only son of parents who are descendants of refugees, and he lived in the Jalazun refugee camp adjacent to Ramallah, in the West Bank.

      Nakhle was killed last Friday, December 14.

      Getting to Jalazun took a long time this week; it was a long and stressful trip. Overnight, terror attacks and other sights of the intifada had returned simultaneously: innumerable surprise checkpoints, such as we hadn’t seen for years; long lines of Palestinian vehicles, forced to wait for hours; drivers emerging from their cars and waiting in desperation by the side of the road, anger and frustration etched on their faces; roads blocked arbitrarily, with people signaling each other as to which was open and which was closed; some cars making their way cross-country via boulder-strewn areas and dirt paths to bypass the roadblocks, until those options, too, were sealed off by the army. And also aggressive, edgy, frightened soldiers, carrying weapons that threatened just about anyone who made a move near them.

      Welcome back to the days of the intifada, welcome to a trip into the past: Even if only for a moment, the West Bank this week regressed 15 years, to the start of the millennium.

      The wind blows cold at the Jalazun camp. A throng of thousands of children and teenagers is streaming down the road, heading home from their schools run by UNRWA, the United Nations refugee agency. The two schools, one for boys and one for girls, are situated at the camp’s entrance, on both sides of the main Ramallah-Nablus road. We were here a year and a half ago, after IDF soldiers shot up a car stolen from Israel when it stopped outside the settlement of Beit El, spraying it with at least 10 rounds, and killing two of its passengers. About half a year ago, we returned to the camp to meet Mohammed Nakhle, the bereaved father of 16-year-old Jassem, one of those fatalities. The father cried through our entire meeting, even though this was a year after he had lost Jassem.

      Mahmoud Nakhle, who was killed last week, was a relative of Jassem’s.

      Last Friday, there was stone throwing in the valley between Jalazun’s boys’ school and the first houses of Beit El, across the way. The soldiers fired tear-gas canisters and rubber-coated bullets at the young Palestinians. Quite a few of the camp’s residents have been killed at this spot, which has become a main arena of the struggle against the large, veteran settlement that looms through every window in poverty-stricken, overcrowded Jalazun, situated below.

      The stone throwing had slowed down in the afternoon and had just about stopped when an IDF force, arriving in two vehicles, began chasing after the youths, who were now on their way back to the camp, at about 4 P.M. The latter numbered about 15 teens, aged 14 to 18. Suddenly the soldiers started shooting, using live ammunition – even as calm was apparently about to be restored. A video clip, one of several that captured the event, shows the soldiers walking along the road and firing into the air.

      The wail of an ambulance slashes the air now, as we stand at the site of the incident with Iyad Hadad, a field investigator for the Israeli human-rights organization B’Tselem, who collected testimony from eyewitnesses. Nakhle chose to return home by way of a dirt path that passes above the camp. The soldiers ran after him and one of them shot him once, in the lower back. Nakhle fell to the ground, bleeding.

      The occupant of the first-floor apartment in the closest building in Jalazun, just meters from the site of the incident, heard the shot, the groans and a call for help. She assumed someone had been wounded, but wasn’t sure where or who he was. From her window she saw a group of soldiers standing in a circle, though she couldn’t see the wounded person who lay on the ground between them. A second eyewitness saw one soldier nudge Nakhle with his foot, apparently to see if the teen was still alive. They then pulled up his shirt and pulled down his pants, apparently to check whether the stone-throwing youth was a dangerous, booby-trapped terrorist. As the video accounts show, he was left lying like that, exposed in his blue underwear. The woman from the apartment rushed out to summon help, but the soldiers fired toward her to drive her off. One bullet struck her husband’s car.

      The soldiers lifted Nakhle up and carried him a few dozen meters from where he’d fallen, laying him down at the side of the road. One of the eyewitnesses related that they carried him “like you haul a slaughtered sheep.” The video clip shows them carrying him not in the prescribed way for moving someone who is seriously wounded, but by his hands and his feet, his back sagging.

      Before the soldiers shot at the first eyewitness – whose identity is known to the B’Tselem investigator – to scare her off, she shouted at them to let the wounded person be and to allow him to be taken to hospital in an ambulance. “Leave him alone, do you want to kill him… give him aid.” She also shouted at the soldiers that she was his mother – apparently hoping that the lie would stir pity in them – but to no avail. In the video shot by her daughter on her cell phone, the woman sounds overwrought, gasping for breath as she cries out, “In God’s name, call an ambulance!”

      After five to seven minutes, the soldiers again lifted Nakhle, once more by his extremities, and carried him a few dozen meters more, in the direction of the main road, and again laid him by the roadside. A Palestinian ambulance that had arrived at the scene was chased off by the soldiers, who threatened the driver with their rifles. As far as is known, the soldiers did not give Nakhle any sort of medical aid. The woman from the house again shouted, now from her window: “In God’s name, let the ambulance take him away.” But still to no avail.

      It was only after a quarter of an hour, during which Nakhle continued to bleed, that the soldiers allowed an ambulance to be summoned. A video clip shows Nakhle raising one hand limply to the back of his neck, proof that he was still alive. Half-naked, he’s placed on a stretcher and put in the ambulance, which speeds off, its siren wailing, to the Government Hospital in Ramallah.

      The teen apparently breathed his last en route, arriving at the hospital with no pulse. Attempts were made to resuscitate him in the ER and to perform emergency surgery, but after half an hour, he was pronounced dead. Dr. Muayad Bader, a physician in the hospital, wrote on the death certificate that Mahmoud Nakhle died from loss of blood after a bullet entered his lower back, struck his liver and hit a main artery, damaging other internal organs.

      A group of children is now standing at the site where Nakhle fell, practicing stone throwing on the way back from school. They hurl the stones to the ground in a demonstrative fit of anger. In the mourning tent that was erected in the courtyard of the camp, adorned with huge posters of the deceased, the men sit, grim-faced, with the bereaved father, Yusuf Nakhle, 41, in the center. Disabled from birth, he is partially paralyzed in his left arm and leg. We asked him to tell us about Mahmoud’s life.

      “What life? He hadn’t yet lived his life, they robbed him of his life,” he replies softly. Mahmoud attended school until the 10th grade and then studied electrical engineering at a professional college in Qalandiyah. He completed his studies and afterward a year of apprenticeship, and was waiting to find a job as an electrician. His father was waiting for him to help provide for the family. Yusuf is a technician at a pharmaceuticals company in Bir Zeit, near Ramallah. He and his wife, Ismahan, 45, have two more daughters, aged 14 and 4. Mahmoud was their only son.

      In response to an inquiry, the IDF Spokesman’s Office gave Haaretz the following statement this week: “On December 14, 2018, there was a violent disturbance adjacent to Jalazun, during which dozens of Palestinians threw rocks at IDF soldiers. The soldiers responded with demonstration-dispersal measures.

      “During the disturbance, a Palestinian holding a suspicious object approached one of the soldiers. The soldier fired at him. Later, it was reported that the Palestinian had been killed. The Military Police have launched an investigation into the incident. Upon its completion, the findings will be transferred to the military advocate general’s office.”

      The spokesman’s office did not respond to a question regarding the denial of medical assistance to Mahmoud Nahle.

      Last Friday, the hours passed normally in the home of Nakhle family in the Jalazun camp. Breakfast, a shower; the son asks his father if he needs anything before going out around midday. Never to return. At 4:30, Yusuf’s brother called to inform him that his son had been wounded and was in the Government Hospital. By the time his father arrived, Mahmoud had been pronounced dead.

      “We are human beings and it is our right to live and to look after our children. We too have feelings, like all people,” says Rabah, Mahmoud’s uncle, the brother of his father. Yusuf has watched the video clips that document the shooting and the hauling of his dying son dozens of times, over and over. Ismahan can’t bring herself to look at them.

  • Botched Israeli operation in Gaza endangers human rights groups - Palestinians

    If it turns out that the IDF invented a fictitious aid group for the operation, from now on it can be expected that every real new organization will find it difficult to be trusted by the authorities and residents in the Gaza Strip

    Amira Hass
    Nov 25, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/palestinians/.premium-botched-israeli-operation-in-gaza-endangers-human-rights-groups-1.

    If members of the Israeli special operations force that Hamas exposed in the Gaza Strip this month indeed impersonated aid workers, as Walla news and the Israel Television News Company reported, it will reinforce and even retroactively justify Hamas’ longtime suspicions.
    Hamas has in the past claimed that, consciously or not, international humanitarian organizations assist Israel’s Shin Bet security service and the Israeli military.
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    This is exactly what the employees of foreign aid organizations, as well as Palestinian ones with some foreign staff, fear. A senior employee in one of these organizations told Haaretz that if Israel has abused the network of international or local aid groups, it could undermine the critical activities of organizations large and small: The Hamas government that controls the Gaza Strip might take precautions that will interfere with their entry into the Strip and their work.
    “No one will listen to the protest of a small organization on the exploitation of humanitarian activity,” he said. “Large organizations need to make their voices heard.”

    The bodies of four of the six men killed during an Israeli raid on Khan Younis in a hospital morgue in Gaza, on Sunday, November 11, 2018AFP
    Foreigners who entered the Gaza Strip last week reported more exacting questioning than usual at Hamas’ border control position and strict identity checks of passengers at checkpoints within the Strip.

    A Westerner who visits the Strip frequently told Haaretz they sense some suspicion on the part of ordinary Gazans toward foreigners — and not for the first time.
    What is interesting is that Palestinian media outlets did not publish the suspicions about the Israel special force impersonating aid workers: In other words, Hamas did not raise this claim publicly.
    According to versions heard in the Gaza Strip, the members of the unit carried forged Palestinian ID cards, presumably of Gazans, and said they had food distribution coupons. It also seems they spent a number of days in the Strip before they were exposed.
    Working for an aid organization is a logical and convenient cover story. As part of the strict limits on movement by Israel, foreigners and Palestinians who are not residents of the Strip, who work for international aid organizations (and foreign journalists) are among the few who receive entry permits into the Gaza Strip.

    Palestinian militants of Hamas’ military wing attend the funeral of seven Palestinians, killed during an Israeli special forces operation in the Gaza, in Khan Younis, on November 12, 2018.AFP
    Hamas senior official Moussa Abu Marzouk was quoted as hinting that the entry of the unit was made possible through a checkpoint of the Palestinian Authority, at the Erez border crossing.
    His statement fed the constant suspicions against the PA’s security services of cooperation and help for the Israeli security forces. But knowing how the official entry process into the Gaza Strip from Israel works raises doubts about the feasibility of this scenario.
    In addition to navigating the bureaucracy of Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories to obtain an entry permit from Israel, foreigners seeking to enter the Gaza Strip must also coordinate their travel in advance with the Hamas authorities.
    To enter officially through the Erez crossing, you must submit full identification details, including details on the purpose of the visit and the organization and identity of contact persons inside the Gaza Strip.
    >> How Hamas sold out Gaza for cash from Qatar and collaboration with Israel | Opinion
    The military unit’s entry through Erez would have required Israel to use the name of a well-known aid organization, which would not raise any suspicions. Did the Israel Defense Forces use the name of an organization such as UNRWA or an Italian aid group funded by the European Union, for example?
    And if it turns out that to carry out the mission, the IDF invented a fictitious aid group a long time ago, and in doing so received the help of COGAT, from now on it can be expected that every real new organization will find it difficult to be trusted by the authorities and residents in the Gaza Strip.
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    On entry to the Gaza Strip, those who receive permits go through four checkpoints: On the Israel side of the crossing, at the first registration position of the PA on the other side of the crossing, at the checkpoint of the PA police, which was once the Hamas checkpoint and was handed over to the PA about a year ago when it was attempted to establish a reconciliation government, and at the new registration position of Hamas, which has restarted operations these last few months.
    Even those bearing Palestinian identity cards — which according to reports the members of the unit carried — must pass through the posts of the PA and Hamas and answer questions. At the Hamas position, suitcases are not always checked, but a person who often enters the Gaza Strip told Haaretz that the check — even if only to search for alcohol — is always a risk to be taken into account.
    It is hard to believe that the members of the Israeli military unit would have entered Gaza without weapons, on one hand, or would have risked exposure, on the other, he said. 
    One gets the impression from media reports that Hamas and the IDF are both busy competing over who was humiliated more by the exposure of the unit’s operations. What is certain is that making humanitarian aid into a tool in the service of Israeli military intelligence contributes to the feeling of vulnerability and isolation of the Strip.

  • Putin’s interests in Syria and Lebanon are limiting Israel’s military options
    Playing chess with Hezbollah is one thing. Trying to figure out what Putin wants, in Syria and perhaps also in Lebanon, even as Hezbollah is trying to manufacture weapons there, is a completely different challenge
    Amos Harel - Nov 18, 2018 9:39 AM
    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-putin-s-interests-in-syria-and-lebanon-is-limiting-israel-s-milita

    One reason for Israel’s exceptional caution in dealing with Hamas in the Gaza Strip is its growing concern over the northern front. Though it may sound like a threadbare excuse, this seems to be one of the considerations driving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to decide, time after time, to try to reach a cease-fire in Gaza.

    The problem Israel faces in the north, in a nutshell, is the real danger that its operational window of opportunity is closing. In recent years, Israel has exploited the upheaval in the Arab world to expand its offensive activity, most of which is secret.

    Via hundreds of airstrikes and special operations, the army and the intelligence agencies have worked to distance the danger of another war and reduce the enemy’s operational capabilities in the event that war does break out.

    In Syria and Lebanon, the campaign initially focused on preventing Iran from smuggling advanced weaponry to Hezbollah. But over the last year or so, a new mission has been added – preventing Iran’s military entrenchment in Syria. This peaked with a flurry of incidents between the Israel Defense Forces and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards last winter and spring.

    A problem may also be developing in Lebanon. In his address to the United Nations General Assembly in September, Netanyahu warned of efforts by Iran and Hezbollah to set up missile production facilities in the Beirut area. Given the problems its smuggling operations had encountered, the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds force apparently decided it had to shorten the distance between the manufacturer and the customer by moving its efforts to improve the accuracy of Hezbollah’s rockets to Lebanon.

    Netanyahu’s speech did its job. In the three days between that speech and the tour of Beirut the Lebanese government conducted for diplomats to rebut it, someone worked hard to get rid of the evidence. But over the long run, Iran seems unlikely to abandon this effort.

    What’s even more worrying is that Putin has recently displayed increased interest in events in Lebanon. In the worst-case scenario, the defensive umbrella — both real and symbolic — that Russia has spread over northwest Syria would be expanded to Lebanon, further complicating Israel’s calculus.

    Even now, at least according to Arab media reports, Israel hasn’t conducted an airstrike in Lebanon since February 2014, when the IAF, apparently pursuing an arms convoy that had crossed the border from Syria, bombed a target in Janta, a few hundred meters to the Lebanese side of the Lebanon-Syria border.

    Hezbollah, which was willing to pretend the spit was rain as long as its convoys were being bombed on the Syrian side, immediately responded with a series of attacks by Druze residents of the Syrian Golan Heights.

    The cell’s commander, Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar, and his successor, Hezbollah’s Jihad Mughniyeh, were both subsequently killed in attacks attributed to Israel. Since then, Israel has confined its attacks to Syria.

    But playing chess with Hezbollah is one thing. Trying to figure out what Putin wants, in Syria and perhaps also in Lebanon, even as Hezbollah is trying to manufacture weapons there, is a challenge of a completely different order of magnitude.

    Netanyahu was presumably hinting at this problem, among others, when he spoke about security considerations that he can’t share with the public, at the memorial for Paula Ben-Gurion earlier this week.

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  • Netanyahu likely to extend secrecy of some 1948 war documents 20 more years

    Defense establishment asked to lengthen classification period to 90 years, from 70, for material on Deir Yassin massacre, among other events

    Jonathan Lis and Ofer Aderet Oct 04, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-netanyahu-likely-to-extend-secrecy-of-some-1948-war-documents-20-m

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to sign regulations extending the period of confidentiality for information in the defense archives from 70 years to 90 years. The Defense Ministry and other organization requested the extension to prevent the release this year of some materials relating to the period of the War of Independence in 1948.
    The extension is intended to prevent the exposure of intelligence sources and methods that are still in use today by security forces. The archives also include information that was received from foreign sources under the condition that it would not be released, say defense officials. The draft regulations state that even after 70 years have passed, exposure of some of the archival materials could harm national security. In 2010, Netanyahu extended the period of confidentiality for security archives from 50 years to 70 years.
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    The legal adviser to the Israel State Archives, Naomi Aldubi, circulated a draft of the new regulations to the relevant government ministries Wednesday. The document states that the new regulations will apply to materials held by the Shin Bet security service, the Mossad and the archives of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, nuclear research centers and the Israel Institute for Biological Research. The new rules would also prevent the publication of raw intelligence from Military Intelligence as well as information concerning intelligence gathering for materials classified as secret and higher, along with materials concerning certain Israel Defense Forces and Defense Ministry units.
    The decision is expected to make life much more difficult for historians, other researchers and journalists and would also limit the public’s access to valuable historical information of public interest. For example, the new regulations would prevent the release of certain materials concerning the massacre at Deir Yassin in 1948.
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    In practice, the government will be able to prevent the release of any document related to the War of Independence that it wishes to keep secret. The new rules also contradict the recommendations of the supreme advisory council overseeing the Israel State Archives, which recommended extending the confidentiality of only some of the documents for five years.

    The Archives Law states that any person has the right to examine documents stored in the state archives, but also grants the government authority to restrict access according to the level of classification — for example, materials classified as “secret” — and according to the amount of time that has passed since the materials were created. This period ranges between 15 and 75 years, in accordance with the materials’ source and contents. For example, the classification period for the minutes of classified sessions of Knesset committees is limited to 20 years; for foreign policy documents the period is 25 years; for police archives, 30 years and for minutes of the security cabinet 50 years. Intelligence materials, including those of the Shin Bet, Mossad, Atomic Energy Commission and Biological Institute, remain classified for 70 years.
    Even after this period expires, the state archives and other archives, such as the IDF Archives, have not acted on their own initiative to release the materials. In practice, the end of the classification period alone is not sufficient for automatic declassification of the material. First, the chief archivist must examine the materials. After that, a special ministerial committee, headed by the justice minister, has the right to apply additional restrictions on access to them.
    The committee used its power to prohibit access to the so-called Riftin report on extrajudicial executions carried out by the Haganah pre-independence army. In 1998, half a century after the report was written, its confidentiality period expired, after which it should have been unsealed. In the 20 years that have passed since then, two state archivists requested, and received, extensions of the classification period from the ministerial committee.
    The draft proposal does stipulate that the relevant organizations must draw up new protocols that would enable the unsealing of classified materials after 50 years, on their own initiative. In addition, they would be instructed to conduct an annual review of their classified documents in order to determine whether they can be declassified.