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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Home and Garden

Date posted: December 01, 2011
By Mitchell Plitnick

This week, Iceland became the first European country to recognize the State of Palestine. The declaration had a curious clause: “Iceland recalls also the right of Palestinian refugees to return to former homes in accordance with numerous UN resolutions.”

To be sure, this carries little weight; Iceland is a country of less than 320,000 people. It’s a political maverick, frequently charting its own course, and is not a member of the EU. While it’s unlikely that other European states will follow Iceland’s lead, the fact remains that a first world country has formally endorsed the return of Palestinian refugees.

Coincidentally, the issue of the Palestinian Right of Return (RoR), made some waves a few days earlier when the noted Zionist dove, Bernard Avishai, published a piece in Harpers (print only, but available here) which took on the issue directly and tried to find some resolution to it that both Israelis and Palestinians can live with.

This was no small task Avishai took on. For the overwhelming majority of Israelis, including most of the Israeli left, Right of Return is nothing more than code for the end of Israel as a Jewish state. For most as well, this has connotations of mass expulsions or fleeing the country at best, violent dangers at worst. Thus, even among most supporters of peace and withdrawal from all the Occupied Palestinian Territories, RoR is anathema to Israelis.

For Palestinians, the Right of Return is not just a negotiating point. It is the very heart of their nationalism, the focus of their historical claim to lands from which they were driven. It is both a national right, which can be negotiated by their leaders, but also an individual right, which cannot. It is at once the key elderly Palestinians still keep with them to the homes from which their families were driven more than 60 years ago; it is also the grievance they feel must be addressed, the fact of that expulsion, if there is ever to be reconciliation between Palestinians and Israelis.

In more than a decade of activism, including many visits to Palestinian towns, cities and refugee camps, I have spoken with Palestinians from all parts of the political, cultural, religious and economic spectrum. I have heard many views regarding the implementation of RoR. But not a single man, woman or child has ever said they would give it up.

Except for the tiny minority of Israeli Jews who support the Right of Return, the mere mention of the idea casts a pall of terror across their faces. Many Israelis will withdraw from the West Bank, abandon the settlements and in smaller numbers, share Jerusalem. But RoR is an absolute non-starter.

It is little wonder, then, that there has been virtually no serious discussion about the Right of Return, in or outside of Israel/Palestine. There have been repeated declarations by both sides of the heartfelt, and absolutist, stances, but little real discussion. In peace proposals, the “refugee issue” is left to vague wording that promises nothing to the Palestinians, yet still raises Israeli anxiety to a boiling point. For this reason, both Iceland’s declaration and Avishai’s article are extremely important.

The Icelandic statement is a reminder to the West that this issue cannot be skirted around. The well-worn cliché about the only resolution being negotiations between the parties conducted in a fair and balanced atmosphere (that is, one where outside parties strive to balance the skewed power dynamics between the regional superpower, Israel, and the occupied, stateless and powerless Palestinians) is absolutely true in this case.

But instead of taking that on, the United States, Europe, and all the other major players have tried their best to avoid it. Frankly, this is absurd, and always has been.

No peace deal yet devised has ever taken a real look at RoR. Discussions ensue about what “the people” will accept, and it is usually, if quietly, assumed that the Palestinian position is so weak that they will swallow forgoing the Right of Return in order to end the occupation and build their state. Those making that assumption have never bothered to talk to an actual Palestinian. Whether in a café in Ramallah, a workshop in Gaza City, a refugee camp in Lebanon or an organizers’ meeting in Paris, they would have gotten a clear message that RoR must be seriously addressed if any peace proposal is to garner even moderate Palestinian support.

Avishai, who has come under some justifiable criticism for an approach to this issue reflective of his privileged Israeli position, must be applauded for finally bringing this question into mainstream US discourse.

It is the discourse, in the US, Europe and most of all in Israel and the Occupied Territories that has been missing for all these years. On all other issues, there have been the stated demands on both sides and then public discussion, within and across borders, about how to reconcile pragmatism with ideology, historical wrongs with present-day realities. But on RoR, there has been only the tense exchange of absolutism.

Avishai’s proposed solution may not seem realistic to many. However, the solution isn’t the point right now. Opening a discussion about this, allowing Palestinians to make their case in a public forum, and Israelis and their advocates to respond, like every other issue, is the task at hand.

Already, Avishai’s piece stirred up intense debate on the very nature of Zionism and the Jewish State. And that is precisely the discussion that Right of Return is going to provoke. Instead of running away from that discussion, it should be embraced.

More than any other issue, RoR both challenges the status quo and stirs serious legal and ethical questions of history. Until they are grappled with, we are likely to see a continuation of the polarization we have seen in recent years and an ongoing stalemate which only leads to more violence and insecurity.

The Right of Return is the very heart of the conflict, the definition of Palestinian dispossession and the cause of the fear, born (for the many Israelis of conscience) of historical guilt in Israel. Resolving it in a manner that both sides can live with is indispensable. Who knows. Maybe Avishai is right, and the road to resolving it, whether on his path or some other, contains the key to resolving the conflict as a whole.

By: Daoud Kuttab
Date: 01/12/2011
By: Gideon Levy
Date: 01/12/2011
By: Mitchell Plitnick
Date: 01/12/2011
Source: Souciant, 30 November. 2011

Take Apartheid off the Menu

Date posted: November 30, 2011
By Julie Holm for MIFTAH

For as long as I can remember I have checked every grocery item I ever bought to see where it came from. If the label said “Israel” or if the first three numbers of the barcode were “729” it was almost like I had picked up something I shouldn’t have touched, and I would hurry to put it back on the shelves. Boycotting Israeli products is a given to me. If my local supermarket in Norway or Denmark did not offer alternatives to Israeli products, I would let them know that they should. And if, at Christmas for example, the oranges where not labelled with a country I would ask the store employees, and if the oranges turned out to be Israeli, I would ask them to make sure there was a visible label. People have a right to know and a right to make a choice. Not everyone, however, thinks of this every time they go to the store. It is not everyone who cares either. When confronted with my boycott habits, many people react by saying “but does it actually make a difference?” My answer is always the same: It doesn’t make a difference if only I boycott Israeli products, but if we all did, it could change at least this tiny corner of the world.

Luckily I am far from the only one who boycotts Israel. Last Saturday, November 26, activists in 10 European countries had a day of action under the banner “Take Apartheid off the Menu”. Using flash mobs, demonstrations and lobby actions the human rights campaigners, trade unionists and NGOs created 60 events throughout Europe. In events staged outside supermarkets the activists called on consumers to boycott products made in Israeli settlements, urging the supermarkets to stop carrying such products.

The Israeli products found on the shelves in European supermarkets are often produced on occupied Palestinian soil, in the Jordan Valley for example. That means that buying these products helps finance illegal Israeli settlements and facilitates the violation of Palestinian rights and international law. The agriculture industry is one of the most important sources of income for the illegal settlements in the West Bank. Israeli agricultural export companies like Mehadrin and Agrexco deprive Palestinians from access to land and water and directly profit from this theft of resources.

Since 1948 the Israeli agriculture industry has been one of the most important tools in the occupation of Palestine. It has led to the loss of land and income for many Palestinians who have been forced to live a life marked by poverty and oppression. The Jordan Valley is the most agriculturally utilized area of the West Bank. Here Israel controls 96% of the area through closed military zones where large farms are owned and controlled by Israeli settlers. Civil business as a method of occupation is a violation of the Geneva Conventions and international organisations have documented severe violations of human rights in this area.
If anyone asks why I boycott Israeli products, this is what I tell them. The fact that some people profit from oppressing others, forcing them into poverty is not something that I want to support.

The actions in Europe this Saturday show that there are tools for anyone who wants to pressure Israel into stopping the occupation of Palestine. The boycott actions are growing and more and more consumers are making a conscious choice not to buy products that support the occupation. This could force the supermarket chains and importers to take action as well. The bankruptcy of Agrexco, Israel’s leading flower exporter shows that boycotting does actually make a difference.

There is really no reason why people everywhere shouldn’t take apartheid off the menu. First of all, it is a personal, ethical choice: Who would want to support the oppression of Palestinians, deprive them of land, water and rights every time they buy an orange? Secondly, it is not a matter of accessibility. The European supermarkets are bulging with products and it is always possible to find an alternative to an Israeli product. And third: Yes, it does make a difference. It is all about the numbers. If enough people make a conscious choice not to buy Israeli products, it can be a powerful tool against illegal settlements and Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Julie Holm is a Writer for the Media and Information Department at the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH). She can be contacted at

Rabbi: Why should Arabs live in Akko?

Safed's Chief Rabbi Eliyahu views decision to launch probe against him as unjust. 'Journalists have freedom of press. Am I the only one subject to the law?'
Published: 12.01.11, 08:35 / Israel Jewish Scene
Safed's Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu has gained a lot of respect in his own city, but in light of his recent statements and activities – many in the general public consider him a racist.
The State authorities believe he may have crossed the line too, and last week the attorney general decided to launch a criminal investigation against the rabbi on suspicion of incitement to racism.

Ancient Custom

Rabbi calls for sacrifice on Temple Mount  / Kobi Nahshoni

Jews evading Passover mitzvah are risking supernatural punishment, warns Safed's Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu
Full story

Did he really break the law by saying that "a Jew should not escape from Arabs, a Jew should drive Arabs away" or "the Arab culture is very cruel"?

We'll know the answer once the State Prosecutor's Office receives the results of the investigation, but in the meantime, Rabbi Eliyahu himself believes he is being discriminated against.
"It's unthinkable that journalists have the freedom of press and are above the law, academics have academic freedom, actors have artistic freedom, every person in this country has some kind of freedom from the law – and only I have to be subject to the law? In your dreams!" the rabbi says in a special interview to Orot – Jewish Television.
"An unfair trial is not a trial. It's nothing," he adds.

According to Rabbi Eliyahu, there is an Arab attempt "to occupy the country with money" and Israel must not give in.

Asked where an Arab who wants to live in Safed or Akko should go to, he replies: "There are enough villages. Do we have to turn Arab into an Arab city? What for?",7340,L-4154328,00.html

Book review: Putting occupation’s profiteers in the dock

David Cronin

1 December 2011
Earlier this year, Israel’s embassy in Brussels resorted to moral blackmail in trying to muzzle debate about Palestine. It complained about how some members of the European Parliament held a video conference with representatives of Hamas on the same day as an event commemorating the Holocaust (“Israel’s Mission to the EU intimidates critics says INFORM,” International Forum on the Middle East, 8 February 2011).

Perhaps the best riposte to the embassy (or “mission,” to use its formal title) would have been to send it a copy of “On Israel and bombing,” a statement written by Bertrand Russell shortly before his death in 1970.
We are frequently told, ‘We must sympathize with Israel because of the suffering of the Jews in Europe at the hands of the Nazis,’” the British intellectual stated. “What Israel is doing today cannot be condoned, and to invoke the horrors of the past to justify those of the present is gross hypocrisy.”

Since its inception in 2009, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine has meticulously documented the horrors of the present (and recent past). Edited by The Electronic Intifada contributors Asa Winstanley and Frank Barat, Corporate Complicity in Israel’s Occupation is a transcript of the tribunal’s November 2010 session in London. It is also required reading to understand how some enterprises are accomplices to murder. And I mean that literally.

Caterpillar is probably the first name that springs to mind for Western human rights activists when the subject of corporate crimes in Palestine is broached. We remember, in particular, the courage of American peace activist Rachel Corrie, who was crushed to death by an Israeli soldier driving a Caterpillar bulldozer in 2003. Corrie was trying to save a home from demolition in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. This book alerts us to how vehicles made by that firm (and exported as US military aid to Israel) are still enabling war crimes.

Palestinians killed with the aid of Caterpillar have included Samir al-Sh’obi, his pregnant wife Nabia, their three children, Anas, Azzam and Abdallah, and Samir’s father Umar. Their home in the old city of Nablus was attacked in the middle of the night in 2002 (136). Two years later, Ibrahim Khalafallah died when Caterpillar was the quasi-official sponsor for the destruction of more than seventy homes in the Gaza refugee camp of Khan Younis (137).

Ignorance is no defense

None of the corporations listed in this book can plead ignorance. Those who have bothered to obtain independent legal advice know that what they are doing lacks any justification. Veolia, the French transport, waste management and water company, has hired Ove Bring, a retired professor of international law from Stockholm University, for an opinion about the light rail system it is building to connect Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem with the Western part of the city. Bring stated that because the occupation is illegal, the light rail system can be presumed as illegal, too (80).

The aforementioned Caterpillar, as well as other suppliers of heavy vehicles to the Israeli military (such as Volvo and Daewoo), would be well-advised to read the contribution of Hocine Ouazraf, a political scientist based in Belgium. It makes clear that — under the Fourth Geneva Convention — civilian property can only be damaged by an occupying power when doing so is “rendered absolutely necessary by military operations” (6).
In precise and analytical fashion, one “witness” after another at the London session identified the occupation’s profiteers. The evidence draws extensively from the work of Who Profits from the Occupation? — a project set up by the Tel Aviv-based Coalition of Women for Peace in response to Naomi Klein’s brilliant dissection of modern capitalism, The Shock Doctrine. The group’s researchers tell of how Group4Securior (G4S), the Danish-British private security firm, has installed surveillance equipment in several prisons used by Israel to detain and torture Palestinians, as well as in military checkpoints in the West Bank (145).

Banning settlement trade inadequate

One of the most important messages of this book is that campaigners should not merely take action against products emanating from Israeli settlements. Dalit Baum, a Who Profits? coordinator, explains succinctly why a narrow emphasis on such products betrays a fickle grasp of the relationship between settlements and the Israeli economy.

Just thinking about how to ban settlement trade is not enough, because the settlement production is actually tiny,” Baum said. “It’s not the main support of the settlements in their economy. Most settlers do not work in the settlement industrial zones. Their sustenance is actually based on the general Israeli economy. And this, I think, is what we have tried to show here. The main point would be to try and look at companies that are involved in the occupation, or profit from the occupation in a significant way (58).”

Other witnesses illustrate the strong bonds between political and corporate elites. Mario Franssen from the Belgian organization Intal has a deep knowledge of how the bank Dexia has provided loans and other financial services to Israeli authorities located in settlements. The bank is chaired by Jean-Luc Dehaene, a former Belgian prime minister who has tried to placate inquisitive shareholders by claiming that providing services to settlements in East Jerusalem was not in any way problematic. And Pierre Mariani, Dexia’s chief executive, is a close associate of Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president (121).

The section in the book relating to the arms industry is especially strong. John Hilary from the campaign group War on Want cites data indicating that the EU’s governments approved licenses for exporting more than €1 billion ($1.3 billion) worth of weaponry to Israel between 2003 and 2008 (134). The same governments have helped the Israeli arms industry to flourish by enthusiastically buying its wares. Elbit, Israel’s leading military firm, is benefiting from a $1 billion contract to provide the British Army with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Branded the Watchtower, such warplanes will be an even more sophisticated and lethal version of those tested out against Gaza’s civilian population during the 2008-09 Operation Cast Lead (133).

Highlighting activism to confront corporations

The litany of crimes in this book can make for grim reading. Yet an antidote is provided by highlighting instances where activists have directly confronted some of the corporations in the dock. In January 2009, one group tried to break into a factory then run by the bomb-maker Raytheon in the Irish city of Derry (the same factory had previously been the target of direct action when Israel attacked Lebanon in 2006). When they were called to a police station, the activists said they had intended to cause damage in the factory because they believed Raytheon was aiding war crimes in Gaza (156).

Five days after that attempt, a different group succeeded in breaking into a plant of the arms company EDO in Brighton, England, where they smashed up facilities used in weapons production with hammers and threw computers out a window. During a subsequent trial, EDO admitted that it was responsible for installing triggering devices to bombs in Israel’s arsenal. All of the six activists involved stated that they wished to prevent war crimes from being committed and were eventually found not guilty of criminal damage (162-163). Their action was heroic.

Salma Karmi-Ayyoub from the Palestinian human rights group Al Haq, meanwhile, shows that it is possible to make an impact by taking lawsuits. She is involved in litigation against Riwal, a Dutch company that has supplied cranes to Israel’s wall in the West Bank. The case, which invokes a Dutch law on “international crimes,” remains ongoing. But raids of the company’s offices carried out last year on the order of prosecutors handling the case has at the very least brought unwelcome publicity for a firm that usually enjoys more favorable exposure; Riwal’s logo is emblazoned on jerseys worn by the soccer team FC Dordrecht (102).
As the reader is required to digest a lot of information, some of it abstruse, I was glad that the book has the occasional lyrical touch. A moving preface by The Color Purple author Alice Walker describes the uprising in Egypt during February this year as a “human sunrise (xiii).”

A rousing speech by Stéphane Hessel, the Holocaust survivor and author of the pamphlet Time for Outrage, ends the session’s proceedings: “In no case, must we allow ourselves to be intimidated by propaganda that is trying to make the struggle for the freedom of the Palestinian people appear to be anti-Semitic,” he says. “That word should be banished once and for all from our vocabulary (177).”

Despite my enormous admiration for Hessel, I have to register unease at how he uses his wrapping-up comments to implicitly make the case for a two-state “solution.” This is all the more unfortunate, given how evidence presented to the tribunal by Fayez al-Taneeb from the Palestinian Farmers Union indicates that it is almost impossible to envisage a viable Palestinian state.

Al-Taneeb recalls that the West Bank “is divided into three cantons, isolated from each other,” before drawing parallels with the 14 Bantustans set up for black people by the apartheid regime in South Africa (73).

No serious advocate of justice would have regarded an attempt to turn those Bantustans into a state as a substitute for ending apartheid. Similarly, it strikes me as insulting to tell Palestinians they should accept a few slivers of historic Palestine as their new country. As Hessel is a genuine friend of the Palestinian people and a passionate defender of human rights, I wish he was more open to a one-state solution, which had respect for rights at its core.

Leaving aside my difference of opinion with Hessel on that issue, I salute his work with the tribunal and strongly recommend Corporate Complicity in Israel’s Occupation.

David Cronin’s book Europe’s Alliance with Israel: Aiding the Occupation is published by Pluto Press

Israeli Forces Demolish Commercial Buildings in Husan, West of Bethlehem

01.12.11 - 22:08

On Thursday morning, Israeli bulldozers demolished five commercial buildings and arrested three people in the village of Husan, west of Bethlehem.

The aftermath of an Israeli home demolition in the Bedouin village of al-Araqib in the Negev desert (Wafa Image).
Locals told Palestinian government news wire Wafa that an “enormous force” of Israeli troops accompanied by bulldozers raided the western area of the village nearby the settlement of Beitar Illit, which stands on Palestinian lands belonging to Husan, Nahhalin and Wadi Fukin.

During the operation, Israeli forces demolished an irrigation pond and support wall belonging to Hasan Mohammed Hamamreh, as well as a plant nursery and a store belonging to Sabri Ahmed Shawasheh. A nearby restaurant was also demolished, as well as a car wash owned by Firas Sabri Shawasheh and a grocery belonging to his brother.

Husan village council head Jamal Sabatin told Wafa that Israeli soldiers did not limit demolitions to Husan but also stole six tons of construction iron belonging to Fou’ad Sabatin. He said Israeli procedures against Husan had been increasing lately, with another operation taking place last week in which soldiers burnt a greenhouse.

Sabatin said that the Israeli forces also arrested three brothers, the twins Abdul Hay and Ibrahim Abbdul Aziz Shawasheh, in their forties, and Mahmoud, 30.

Arrest Wave Targets 23 Palestinians in West Bank

 01.12.11 - 19:51

The Israeli army conducted a widespread arrest campaign on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, resulting in the arrests of 23 Palestinians aged between 15 to 67.

Israeli soldiers raid Qalandia refugee camp (Brendan Work, PNN).

Nine of the arrested Palesetinians were from Jenin. Secure sources told Palestinian government news wire Wafa that the soldiers arrested Ahmed Saleh Abu Mashhour, 67, Nasser Abdulafo Abu Aziz, 55, Abdullah Afif Zakarna, 44, Silah Abdullah Zoghaibi, 50, Samah Abdullah Zoghaibi, 45, Zaher Nafes Abu Sakha, 48, Zuhair Ra’oof Zoghaibi, 61, Fada’ Ra’oof Zoghaibi, 48, Alem Sami Masad, 44, and Mohammed Abu Sharar Abu al-Haija’, 36. 

In the northern West Bank city of Tubas, Israeli troops arrested 35-year-old Ashraf Muhye al-Deen Hamama during a midnight home raid, while in Bethlehem, two teens were arrested and taken to unknown locations: Zaid Mohammed Ali al-Hreimi , 17, and Mohammed Atef Abu Aker, 15. The house raids included a “huge military unit,” according to local sources reporting to the Palestinian government news wire Wafa.

An Israeli military raid in Beit Fourik, west of Nablus, ended with the arrests of Sajid Abdullatif Miletat, 40, Ayman Aref Haj Mohammed, 44, and Yousif Mohammed Yousif Abu Ghalmi, 38, while troops detained Munthir Mohammed Abu Atwan, age unknown, in the village of Dura near Hebron as well.

On Wednesday evening, Israeli soldiers arrested a 23-year-old girl, Ola Ahmed Hassan al-Rajoub of al-Koum village near Hebron, in front of the Ibrahimi Mosque in the Old City. Her brother Jaber said she was taken to the settlement of Kiryat Arba for interrogation, but no reason was given for her arrest.

Israeli army targets PFLP in dawn raids

Published yesterday (updated) 01/12/2011 20:36
Israeli soldiers take position during a raid in Qabatiya village near Jenin.
(MaanImages/Mohamad Torkoman, File)
JENIN (Ma'an) -- Israeli troops detained 22 people in dawn raids across the West Bank on Thursday, including nine leaders of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said 22 people were taken for questioning, including 10 in the northern West Bank city of Jenin.

PFLP officials said a large force of 20 army jeeps raided Jenin and detained nine PFLP leaders. Among them are student union chief Nasser Abu Aziz, 57, local councilor Alam Sami Masad, 45, popular committee member Fada Zgheebe, 46, and his 61-year-old brother Salah Abdullah Zgheebe, a lawyer, as well as Mohammad Abu al-Haija, 35.

Witnesses told Ma'an that Israeli soldiers ransacked homes without regard for women's privacy, the presence of children or the health of those detained. Abu Aziz is sick and Abu Abu al-Haija is disabled, they added.

The raid was the second operation targeting the leftist faction in the last month. In November, 13 PFLP leaders were detained in Ramallah and Jenin.

Israeli navy shoots Palestinian fisherman who sued Israel, kidnaps at least nine others in Gazan waters Israeli navy shoots Palestinian fisherman who sued Israel, kidnaps at least nine others in Gazan waters

Posted on: December 1, 2011 |

by Radhika Sainath
30 November 2011 | Notes from Behind the Blockade

Nahad Rajab Mohamed Al-Hesy in his home (Photo: Radhika Sainath, Notes from Behind the Blockade) - Click here for more images

The Israeli navy violently seized two Palestinian trawlers in Gazan waters yesterday, shooting one fisherman in the arm, and ultimately forcing at least ten men to Ashod, Israel, where they were interrogated for several hours. Israel released all of the fishermen at 2 a.m. this morning.

Twenty-eight year old Nehad Mohamed Rajab Al-Hesy reported that his boat, along with six others, were fishing in the same area  at about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday morning when he suddenly saw five Israeli naval ships—three large and two small—approach his boat, along with that of Omar al Habil.  According to Al-Hesy, both men had sued Israel for destroying their boats in the past.

“The Israelis told four boats to go back to Gaza. All six boats tried to pull up their nets, but they prevented us. The Israelis started to shoot at us a lot and I got shot in the arm.  The bullet entered and went out of my arm,” he added holding out his left arm wrapped in white gauze and bandages.

The Israeli navy then asked who was in charge of the boat and Al-Hesy answered that the boat was his.  Next, the Israeli navy commanded him to take off his clothes, jump into the sea and swim until he reached the Israeli naval boats, then asked the three others—Mohamed Rajab Mohamed Al-Hesy, 18, Jarrimal Jehad Rajab Al-Hesy, 22 and Mohamed Jehad Rajab Al-Hesy, 19—to do the same.

“It was a terrible thing. It was a scary thing,” said 22-year-old Jarrmal. “Now we are all sick from the cold water they forced us to swim in.”

Once on the ship, Al-Hesy was blindfolded and Israeli forces tied his arms behind his back and forced him to sit in a painful position for several hours. “My back, shoulders and my arm that was shot were hurting a lot,” he said, “but I was thinking about my boat which my family depends on for income.”

In Ashod, Israeli forces began questioning Al-Hesy at 5 p.m.

“Why did you break the 3 mile limit?” an Israeli soldier asked him.

“During Oslo, we were allowed to reach 20 miles so why do you prevent us from going past 3 miles? These 3 miles not enough,” Al-Hesy responded.

“I’m not the Israeli army,” the soldier responded, according to Al-Hesy.  “But there is something wrong with you. Why don’t you fishermen gather and ask the United Nations and go to the human rights centers so you can go more than 3 miles?”

The soldier subsequently changed the subject of the interrogation, asking Al-Hesy the names of the policemen working at the port.  When the interrogation finished, Al-Hesy was told that he would be sent back to Gaza, but he refused to go without his boat.

He explained how in 2003, the Israeli navy took his boat along with about $10,000 worth of equipment. He told the soldier “All my family depends on this boat. We can’t live without this boat. If I don’t go back I can eat and drink here.  If I go back without my boat I will not eat.”

When Al-Hesy saw the other fishermen he told them he wouldn’t go back to Gaza without his boat.  The other fishermen agreed to do the same and refused to get on the bus to the Eretz border crossing.  Israeli forces eventually forced all the fishermen on the bus.

Al-Hesy and the other men were eventually released at 2 a.m., but his trawler, along with that of Omar al Habil, remains in Israeli custody.  Al-Hesy has been fishing since he was 13 and makes about 20 shekels a day, or $5.70.  He recalls making 1000 shekels ($285) when Israel permitted fishing up to 20 miles. In addition to sustaining a bullet wound to the army, Al-Hesy also had scabs around his right ankle from the ankle cuffs.

His lawsuit stems from an incident in 2007 when the Israeli navy destroyed another boat of his.  That case is still ongoing.

“We fishermen never do anything bad. We don’t send rockets from our boats, we don’t touch any of them, but they kill fishermen, arrest fishermen; they took so many boats.”

A wave of demolitions as Israel targets the Jordan Valley – in pictures

by Lydia| 30 Nov 2011 | International Solidarity Day, West Bank

This morning at 7am the Israeli army entered the village of El Beida in the northern Jordan Valley with  10 military jeeps and one bulldozer. Israeli military proceeded towards Abu Tarek Fracka’s land where he houses a honey farm on the land where his father’s house once stood.

The bee farm was shared by 50 families. Previous harvest has been known to produce 900 kilos of honey with recent prices of honey, yielding 60-100 NIS per kilo. Abu Tarek is in possession of paper work permitting him to build on this land and also forbidding demolishment. Time was not granted to him to produce this paperwork, nor was a demolition notice given to him prior, as the military rushed to unjustly destroy Abu Tarek’s property, the first time he and his family experienced a demolition.

At 9:00 AM in the village of El Himma, Hassan Ahmad had the barracks of his sheep demolished. The barracks held 200 sheep. There was no prior warning of the demolition given to the family. Back in 2008 the family received orders to stop building on the land. This order was abided by with no recent additions made. The family has rented the land for 6 years from Palestinians. In the past week Israel has demolished three animal barracks within this area, accruing damages costing in excess of 15,000 NIS.

In Al Farisiya, of the Northern Jordan valley, at 9:00 AM soldiers entered the land of Ali Zuhed. No communication was made with the family; instead, the bulldozer went straight to work tearing down the barracks of the sheep. An order was also given to dismantle the remaining animal barracks within hours. The soldiers stated that if these barracks are still standing when they return they would demolish the rest of their properties including their home.

Lydia is a volunteer with International Solidarity Movement (name has been changed).