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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

House Demolished, Trees Uprooted in Anata

25.10.11 - 23:03

On Tuesday, Israeli forces demolished a 120-square foot house in the village of Anata, northeast of Jerusalem, as well as uprooted trees and removed barbed wires placed on village land.

(PNN Archive)
A group of Israeli soldiers entered the village from the northeast and imposed a military blockade of the village before it began demolitions. According to Palestinian official news wire Wafa, the Israeli forces claimed that the Palestinian buildings were illegally constructed in an Israeli area.

Unconfirmed sources reported limited confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli forces, who allegedly used excessive force.

Israel plans building 4000 new housing units south of occupied Jerusalem

[ 25/10/2011 - 09:27 AM ]
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– The Israeli government has recently endorsed the building of a new Jewish suburb south of occupied Jerusalem that envisages the construction of 4000 housing units, Hebrew press reported on Monday.
Yediot Ahronot said on its website on Monday that the construction and planning committee has endorsed the first stage, which includes the building of 2610 housing units, of the three-stage project.
It added the committee would meet again early next December to endorse the second and third stages of the project, which on completion would be the biggest since the establishment of Jabal Abu Ghuneim suburb.
The report noted that the project would complete the isolation of the southern part of eastern Jerusalem from the West Bank.

Hamas official: Shalit was not beaten while in captivity

  • Published 15:05 26.10.11
  • Latest update 15:05 26.10.11

Senior Hamas official in Damascus tells Israel Radio that Shalit was allowed to watch television and listen to the radio and at times would even talk and 'laugh' with his captors.By DPA

Gilad Shalit, the Israel Defense Forces soldier held hostage in the Gaza Strip for more than five years, did not face violence while in captivity, an official from the Palestinian Hamas movement said Wednesday.
For most the period of his captivity, the conditions under which Shalit was held were good, Salah al-Arouri, a senior member of the radical Islamist movement's Damascus-based leadership in exile, told Israel Radio.
Gilad Shalit on phone to family - IDF spokesman - October 18 2011
Gilad Shalit phoning his family moments after being returned to Israeli hands, October 18, 2011.
Photo by: IDF Spokesman

He said he was allowed to watch television and listen to the radio for most of the period, and at times would even talk and "laugh" with his captors.
Al-Arouri is one of the four Hamas members who negotiated Shalit's release.
The telephone interview was the first of a Hamas politburo member in Damascus with an Israeli media outlet.
Jailed in Israel in the past for orchestrating armed attacks against Israelis, he spoke in almost fluent Hebrew, but with a heavy Arabic accent.
Hamas' political leadership, aware of the asset the soldier was for the Islamist movement ruling Gaza, had instructed Shalit's captors not to harm him.
"The situation, for most of the period it was good," al-Aurori said.
"Nobody hit him," he said.
Asked why Shalit emerged malnourished, pale and weak, he said it was because of the mental stress of his captivity, being allowed no visits or contacts with his family or the outside world.
Shalit had coped mentally with ups and downs, al-Aurori said.
"Sometimes he would think of his family," he said. "That is a difficult situation."
Shalit was released last week in exchange for 477 Palestinian militants. Another 550 Palestinians jailed in Israel are to be released in about two months, under the deal mediated by Egypt.
Shalit himself has as revealed little about his captivity, saying only that conditions were tough at first and then gradually improved, especially during the final years.

Netanyahu posts his own 'Bibi-bomb' on Facebook

  • Published 17:18 26.10.11
  • Latest update 17:18 26.10.11

PM responds with humor to a wave of photoshopped images showing him looking on to various historical events and smiling; own 'Bibi-bomb' includes speech bubble, saying 'Doogri, you made me laugh'.

By Haaretz
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded with humor on Wednesday to the "Bibi-bomb" images being circulated on Facebook, by posting a similar image on his own Facebook page.
The image includes a photo of Netanyahu addressing the 66th UN General Assembly at the UN headquarters this year, upon which lies a superimposed image of the smiling prime minister. A speech bubble emerges from Netanyahu's smiling mouth saying, "Doogri, you made me laugh." The word "Doogri" means "honestly", or "straightforward".

Netanyahu photoshop image on UN speech - 26.10.11
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's own version of the 'Bibi-bomb'.

The superimposed image was taken from the iconic photo in which Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit embraces his father, Noam, as the two are reunited upon the soldier's return from more than five years in captivity.
The image of the smiling prime minister served as a perfect photo opportunity for the prime minister's office, as it emphasized the fact that Netanyahu was the leader that decided to bring the soldier home, but it also inspired a wave of cynicism and photoshopped images that flooded Facebook.
The figure of the smiling prime minister turned into a kind of “Forrest Gump,” that was cut from the image and pasted into photographs of key moments in history. These images – coined the "Bibi-bomb" – include Maccabi Tel Aviv’s 1977 European Cup win, the signing of Israel’s Declaration of Independence in 1948 and the signing of the peace treaty with Egypt in 1979, and the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton – now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Not only did Netanyahu's own version of the "Bibi-bomb" play on the images circulating online, but it also expressed self-humor at his use of the word "doogri" in his UN speech. "Let's talk "doogri". That means straightforward, I'll tell you my needs and concerns. You'll tell me yours. And with God's help, we'll find the common ground of peace," the prime minister had said in his speech, addressing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Former Shin Bet chief: Abbas is against terror, but not because he loves Israel

  • Published 13:28 26.10.11
  • Latest update 13:28 26.10.11

Yuval Diskin says Israel is losing international support by not conducting peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

By Gidi Weitz and Yanir Yagna
Former Shin Bet security service director Yuval Diskin defended Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday, saying that Abbas is against terrorism.
"[Abbas] is against terrorism, although not because he loves us," Diskin told a student conference in southern Israel.
On Monday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman severely criticized the Palestinian president, telling reporters that Abbas was the "greatest obstacle" to regional order and it would be a "blessing" if Abbas were to resign.
"Since 2007, [the Palestinian Authority] in the West Bank has made great efforts to fight terrorism," Diskin said on Wednesday. " As someone who was involved for many years in what was happening there, from 1993, I don't remember a time during which the Palestinians have fought terrorism as seriously as they are today."
Diskin said that Abbas is "not inherently a leader, but rather a statesman."
Yuval Diskin Oct. 26, 2011 (Ilan Assayeg)
Yuval Diskin, Oct. 26, 2011.
Photo by: Ilan Assayeg
Diskin also said that Israel is losing international support by not conducting peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
Regarding the recent Israel-Hamas prisoner exchange deal that included the release of Gilad Shalit, Diskin said that "it would be better for Israel not to conduct these deals. These deals are not good for Israel"
Diskin said that Hamas "received oxygen" from the Shalit deal but that Hamas was concerned about its international isolation and the unrest in Syria.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ahead of UNESCO Meeting, Archaeologists Demand Protection for Mamilla Cemetery

24.10.11 - 20:41

Days before the beginning of the 36th session of UNESCO—the body expected to approve Palestinian membership and grant protection to Palestinian heritage sites—a group of 84 international archaeologists signed a petition calling Israel to stop building the planned Museum of Tolerance on the site of the Mamilla Cemetery in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem's Dome of the Rock is slated to be a Palestinian UNESCO World Heritage Site, if Palestine is granted membership (Brendan Work, PNN).

Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reported that the archeologists’ petition was sent on October 20 to the Jerusalem municipality, the Israeli Department of Antiquities, and the Wiesenthal Center—a major American funder of the project—asking to halt work on the museum.

"The bulldozing of historic cemeteries is the ultimate act of territorial aggrandizement: the erasure of prior residents. Desecration of Jerusalem's Mamilla cemetery is a continuing cultural and historical tragedy," said Yale University Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology Harvey Weiss, a signatory to the petition.

The archeologists also said they would also go to UNESCO and the Human Rights Council to intervene and demand Israeli not build the museum over the cemetery. UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, is due to vote to upgrade Palestine’s status with the organization from an observer to a member state sometime between today and November 10.

The general conference vote will follow an initial vote of the UNESCO Executive Board in which 40 nations voted in favor of taking the issue of Palestine’s membership status to the General Assembly. Only four nations at the Executive Board voted against the proposal – the United States, Germany, Latvia and Romania. The remaining 14 nations, including Belgium, France, Italy and Spain, abstained from voting.
If admitted to UNESCO as a member state, Palestinian officials would be able seek UNESCO protection of significant cultural sites within its territories. As well as seeking protection for sites in places such as Jericho and Bethlehem, Palestinian officials could also use UNESCO membership to seek protection for endangered sites within East Jerusalem. Whether this list could include the Mamilla Cemetery, which includes significant pre-Islamic tombs and was declared a “historic site” by the Supreme Muslim Council in 1927.
If the vote to include Palestine as a full member is successful, UNESCO may suffer severe funding cuts. The United States currently provides up to 22% of UNESCO’s funding. But under existing US legislation, the country cannot provide funding to any UN body that grants full membership to any group that “does not have the internationally recognized attributes of statehood.” The USA previously withdrew funding from UNESCO from 1984 – 2003 after disputes over mismanagement and politics, but since rejoining under George W. Bush, the USA has forged strong ties with the organization and provided strong praise for its programs. If the USA were to withdraw funding, it could maintain its UNESCO membership for two years. However both its influence, and the ability of UNESCO to implement its programs would be severely undermined.

UN official : Lieberman remarks 'deeply troubling'

Published yesterday (updated) 25/10/2011 10:02
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Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman gestures as he speaks during an
Yisrael Beiteinu party meeting ahead of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year,
in Jerusalem on Sept. 26. (Reuters/Ronen Zvulun)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's remarks Monday calling for President Mahmoud Abbas' resignation were "deeply troubling," said UN spokesman Richard Miron.

Miron, spokesman for UN special envoy for the peace process Robert Serry, told Ma'an that Lieberman's statement "appears to be an attempt to delegitimize President Abbas."

Lieberman told reporters in Jerusalem that Abbas' resignation would be a "blessing," and that the president was the "greatest obstacle" to peace in the region.

"Anyone who succeeds him would be better for Israel. If Abu Mazen goes, there would be a chance to reignite the peace process," Lieberman added, using the president's nom-de-guerre.

Miron criticized Lieberman's "inflammatory remarks," adding that such statements "undermine trust at a time when the Quartet is working towards the resumption of negotiations."

Lieberman has frequently criticized the president in the past, and according to leaked US government cables the far-right minister suggested in 2006 that Mohammad Rashid should replace Abbas as president.

Rashid, an advisor to late President Yassar Arafat, shares a close business associate with Lieberman in the Austrian millionaire Martin Sclaff.

Meanwhile, Lieberman is facing the prospect of being indicted for corruption in Israel over a range of graft allegations including "fraud, breach of trust, receiving something by deception, money-laundering and tampering with a witness," a statement from the Israeli attorney-general said in April.

The Moldovan-born foreign minister has frequently found himself in the headlines for his sometimes undiplomatic language, but is the most powerful partner in Netanyahu's conservative coalition government.

Hamas leader: Israel threatens to kill freed prisoners to boost public

Published Sunday 23/10/2011 (updated) 24/10/2011 11:16
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Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahhar (MaanImages/Wissam Nassar, File)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli government threats to assassinate prisoners freed under an exchange deal with Hamas are an attempt to satisfy their public, Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahhar told reporters on Sunday.

The senior Hamas figure downplayed Israel's intention to extend its tactic of targeted killings to the prisoners released in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Israel is "making these threats in an attempt to lighten the heavy price they paid" for agreeing to free over 1,000 Palestinians detained in Israeli jails for Shalit.

The deal, which in its first stage saw Shalit return to Israel and 477 Palestinians freed on Tuesday, was broadly supported by the Israeli public but provoked fierce debate over the release of those jailed for attacks on Israelis.

On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that if any of the freed prisoners return to terrorism, they "do so at their own risk," Israeli daily The Jerusalem Post reported.

Zahhar said such statements show "how desperate (Israel) felt in the face of the Palestinian resistance's accomplishment in forcing (the government) to yield to the conditions" set out by the Hamas negotiators for the exchange.

He warned Israel that resistance fighters are able to respond "promptly and appropriately" to any attempt to harm the freed prisoners.

On Saturday, deputy commander Hamas's armed wing Ahmed Jabari said his al-Qassam brigades would continue plans to capture Israeli soldiers "until all Palestinian prisoners were freed from Israeli occupation jails," Hamas-affiliated news site Palestine Information Center reported.

According to latest estimates, around 5,000 Palestinian prisoners will remain in Israeli jails after the second phase of the deal frees 550 more prisoners within two months.

As settlers disrupt olive harvest, Israeli officer declares: “I am the law, I am God.” – in pictures


22 October 2011 | International Solidarity Movement, West Bank
Intimidation of Palestinians in the Israeli-controlled H2 section of Hebron continued today as the Israeli military and settlers harassed Palestinians and international observers as they attempted to pick olives on their land in Tel Rumeida.
Around 40 students from different Palestinian universities marched onto the land at 11AM Saturday morning and began to pick olives along with local families, activists from Youth Against Settlements (YAS) and international observers.
At 12:30 PM the Israeli police confiscated identity passes for 20 Palestinians and, whilst checking their details, forced the group to stand together and individually filmed their faces.
The police declined to justify their actions, only insisting that they had a right to check the details of those present.  The Israeli military became increasingly belligerent as protesters challenged the legality of the actions and began to push and shove Palestinians and international observers.  After around 20 minutes the police returned the passes and allowed the detained Palestinians to leave.  They then ordered international observers to leave the olive groves or be arrested, claiming that the Palestinian-owned olive grove is “Israeli land” and that it was illegal to be on the land and “illegal to be in a group.”
Rafi Dagan, an Israeli commanding officer, stated “I am the law.  I am God” when asked to explain why he was flouting Israeli law by forcing people to leave Palestinian land under threat of arrest, without any paperwork to show that it was a closed military zone.
Earlier in the day, Israeli soldiers had pushed photographers attempting to document the olive harvest and confiscated an international observer’s passport for several minutes.  Under Israeli law, passports may be shown to the Israeli military but it is illegal for them to be taken away.  The Israeli military also briefly detained a young Palestinian man, apparently for running through the olive groves with a Palestinian flag, although he was released after around 10 minutes.
In addition to intimidation by the military, Israeli settlers arrived on the Palestinian land within minutes of the olive harvest beginning and began to harass people picking olives.  A group of around 10 settlers gathered in the lower olive groves in Tel Rumeida at 11:55am where Palestinians were busy picking olives.  Baruch Marzel, a prominent extremist settler, stood on a Palestinian flag in an obvious attempt to provoke olive harvesters.  The military intervened as anger flared between the two groups and sent settlers back to their settlement.
Badia Dwaik, 38, is the Deputy Coordinator of Youth Against Settlements, a nonviolent Palestinian group campaigning against Israeli settlements.  He stressed that olive harvesting in Tel Rumeida is not just about economic necessity; it is a form of political defiance and a way to “confirm our existence and to encourage the people to resist”.
The Palestinian land in Tel Rumeida is surrounded by four illegal Israeli settlements.  A Palestinian educational centre overlooks steep, dusty terraces to the south which contain around 200 olive trees.  The centre, established in 2006 after the building was reclaimed from Israeli military control, and the olive groves below have been subject to repeated attacks and incursions by settlers in recent years.  Anti-Palestinian graffiti and the Star of David is clearly visible under fresh coats of paint on the walls at the back of the building, only metres away from a settlement.
The olive groves contain around 200 olives trees and olives were picked on around 70 trees today.  Badia Dwaik lamented the poor quality of the olives and the sparse fruit on many of the trees, saying that Palestinians are often unable to tend the land for fear of settler attacks.  There is also a chronic shortage of water in Hebron and the owners of the trees are denied permits to dig the land. For example, the YAS reported having problems with water circulation for three days and discovered today that the water lines had been deliberately cut.
According to Badia Dwaik, the YAS intend to continue picking the olives in the coming weeks as “people are scared to come and pick olives alone.  And it gives a message: we will continue and never give up.”

Baruch Marzel, not a fan of Israeli soldiers after they told him to leave

Israeli soldiers, armed with live ammunition attempting to stop media filming the detainment of a Palestinian Teenager

Israeli soldiers as seen in photographs and video, pushing media correspondents as they filmed a Palestinian being detained

Soldiers questioning a Palestinian teenager after they detained him, for running through the olive grove with a Palestinian Flag

Israeli police officer filming the crowd of Palestinian students, activists, and media correspondents

After Police pulled every ID from Palestinians present for the olive harvest, one was detained and questioned by Israeli soldiers and police.

Badia, member of Youth Against Settlements, being pushed away by angry Israeli soldier who continued to shove other activists nearby

Live ammunition in Israeli soldier's guns

Israeli police filming detained Palestinians

Baruch Marzel, extremist Israeli settler, standing on the Palestinian flag he ripped of an olive tree

Baruch Marzel standing on the Palestinian flag with other Israeli Settlers

Bahr warns Israel of intended violence against ex-prisoners

[ 24/10/2011 - 04:06 PM ]

GAZA, (PIC)-- First deputy speaker of the Palestinian legislative council Ahmed Bahr warned the Israeli government and its settlers that they would pay dearly if any hostile acts were carried out against the Palestinian ex-detainees who were released following a swap deal with Hamas Movement.

In a press release on Sunday, Bahr noted that Jewish groups and societies declared financial rewards  for anyone who murders some of the ex-prisoners freed as part of the recent exchange deal, but he warned that any kind of violence against them would not go unpunished.

He also pointed that some Knesset members also incited against them and demanded the freed prisoners to be more careful  in the occupied lands of the West Bank and Jerusalem following these threats.

The lawmaker stressed that any malicious acts against those ex-detainees must be confronted with a serious national position at the highest levels