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Saturday, December 10, 2011

PA officials dismayed by Gingrich comment on 'invented' Palestinians

  • Published 15:27 10.12.11 Latest update 15:27 10.12.11
Saeb Erekat says comment by U.S. Republican presidential candidate is 'despicable'; Hanan Ashrawi says Gingrich's 'very racist comments' show he was 'incapable of holding public office.'

By Reuters
Palestinian leaders said on Saturday U.S. Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich had invited more conflict in the Middle East by calling the Palestinians an "invented" people who want to destroy Israel.

Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian official, described his comments in an interview as "despicable". Hanan Ashrawi, another top official, said Gingrich's "very racist comments" showed he was "incapable of holding public office."

"This is the lowest point of thinking anyone can reach," Erekat, a close advisor to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, told Reuters. Such comments served only to "increase the cycle of violence", he added.

"What is the cause of violence, war in this region? Denial, denying people their religion, their existence, and now he is denying our existence," said Erekat, for years a leading figure in peace talks aimed at the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

In an interview on Friday with the Jewish Channel, Gingrich predictably sided with Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians, who are seeking a state of their own on land occupied by Israel in a 1967 war.

But the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives departed from official U.S. policy that respects the Palestinians as a people deserving of their own state based on negotiations with Israel.

"Remember, there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire" until the early 20th century, said Gingrich, who has risen to the top of Republican polls with voting to start early next year to pick a nominee to challenge Democratic President Barack Obama in the November 2012 election.

No "contribution to peace”
"I think that we've had an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs, and who were historically part of the Arab community. And they had a chance to go many places, and for a variety of political reasons we have sustained this war against Israel now since the 1940s, and it's tragic," he said.

There are around 11 million Palestinians around the world, Palestinian officials say. They include refugees and their descendants who left or were forced to flee their homes during the 1948 war that led to the creation of Israel. More than 4 million of them live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The 1948 war erupted after Arab states rejected a UN plan that would have divided British mandate-ruled Palestine into Arab and Jewish states.

Gingrich along with other Republican candidates are seeking to attract Jewish support by vowing to bolster U.S. ties with Israel if elected.

He said both the Hamas militant group, which controls the Gaza Strip, and the Palestinian Authority, which receives financial backing from the United States, represent "an enormous desire to destroy Israel."
While Hamas remains committed to armed "resistance" and will not recognize Israel, the Palestinian Authority based in Ramallah states that only peaceful means can deliver Palestinian statehood and its security forces cooperate with Israel

Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee, said Gingrich's remarks harked back to days when the Palestinians' existence as a people was denied by Israelis such as Golda Meir, prime minister from 1969 to 1974.

"It is certainly regressive," she said. "This is certainly an invitation to further conflict rather than any contribution to peace."

 "This proves that in the hysterical atmosphere of American elections, people lose all touch with reality and make not just irresponsible and dangerous statements, but also very racist comments that betray not just their own ignorance but an unforgivable bias," she said.

Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said the Gingrich remarks "were grave comments that represented an incitement for ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians.

Newt Gingrich - Reuters - 08122011 Newt Gingrich
Photo by: Reuters

Ron Paul: U.S. money won't help Israel

A wrap-up of this week in Washington: angry rabbi supports ambassador despite 'anti-Semitic' remarks; U.S. ambassador returns to Syria; Obama set to address Reform movement biennial.

By Natasha Mozgovaya 

1. Republican presidential candidate, Congressman Ron Paul, undaunted by the Republican Jewish Coalition shunning him at their Presidential Candidates Forum in Washington D.C. this week, continues pursuing his view of what it means to be pro-Israel. At the "Newsmax" interview conducted by his advisor, Paul said of Israel, "We should be their friend and their trading partner. They are a democracy and we share many values with them. But we should not be their master. We should not dictate where their borders will be nor should we have veto power over their foreign policy."

Paul repeated that he objects to all foreign aid because the U.S. does not "have the money anymore," and that money is not what's going to help Israel – not as much as intelligence sharing and a U.S. commitment not to sell arms to anyone else.

Ron Paul - Reuters - November 4, 2011 U.S. Republican presidential candidate and Congressman Ron Paul holds a town hall meeting in Des Moines, Iowa, November 4, 2011.
Photo by: Reuters

2. The controversy over remarks on anti-Semitism by U.S. Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman led some Republican presidential hopefuls calling for Gutman's resignation. But it left others sympathetic - and angry.

Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Chabad representative in Washington, told "Haaretz" he was "very upset" that Gutman was labeled anti-Semitic.

"He said things that might be controversial, and he admitted that. But to call him an anti-Semite? He goes to shul, he is well liked among the Belgium Jewish community, he has a lifelong history of support for Jewish causes - even on a personal level, not only as an ambassador," said Shemtov.

"An anti-Semite is someone who hates Jews because they are Jewish. He is as much of an anti-Semite as I am an astronaut… Once you start calling everyone you don't agree with an anti-Semite, we are in trouble."
3. On the 2012 elections front, the Republican front-runner Newt Gingrich continues stirring controversy. This time, in an interview with The Jewish Channel, in which he called the Palestinians an "invented people".
"There was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire. And I think that we’ve had an invented Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs, and were historically part of the Arab community - and they had a chance to go many places," he said. (check the video over here

It would be interesting to see whether this and Gingrich's other arguments (such as a plan to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem, which failed with the two previous administrations, despite similar pre-elections claims), could survive the test of reality.

4. The U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford, who returned to Damascus despite the violence in Syria, "picked up where he left off, continuing to meet with opposition leaders", according to the State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

"He's also working very closely with other ambassadors, in particular the French and the Turks, who are in Syria to compare information about what we're hearing to the situation on the ground, particularly our shared grave concerns about the humanitarian situation, the situation in Homs in particular," said Nuland, adding, "Robert's conversations inside Syria, our conversations with the external Syrians, and our encouraging of them to continue to concert efforts".

Nuland said the U.S. is "encouraged" by the efforts of the various opposition groups to work together "on concrete proposals for how a democratic transition could move forward."

The U.S., despite Asad's somewhat apologetic (or denial) interview to Brabara Walters, continues to see him as the major responsible figure for the deeds of the security forces.

"What kind of leader goes on television while his army and security forces are committing the horrific kinds of atrocities that are already going on in Syria against his own citizens and claims he has no responsibility for them?" Nuland asked. "We obviously hold him responsible for them. I can't speak for how the military chain of command works in Syria - and frankly, it's irrelevant. He's the president of the country. He bears responsibility for what his security forces do. And the president (Obama) has said that he needs to go.

5. State Department also tried to downplay the voices of the Islamists in Egypt following the elections, with Nuland saying, "We've only had one round of three rounds of these elections." In addition, she said, "We are not going to judge these parties or these political actors by the names they call themselves. We are going to judge them by how they behave".

Rabbi Levi Shemtov Rabbi Levi Shemtov at the White House Hanukkah reception.
Photo by: Natasha Mozgovaya  

Conditioning the foreign aid, she said, "won't be helpful," for the people who the U.S. is trying to help are those Egyptian citizens seeking a democratic future, so cutting foreign aid would backlash.

6. Finally, what is happening with the aid to the Palestinian Authority? Palestine Liberation Organization representative to Washington, Maen Rashid Arekat, can't get through to those withholding the funds, and Representative Kay Granger, the chairperson of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State-Foreign Operations in the House, said this week at the Council on Foreign Relations Meeting that she can't give the exact number of how much money is still being frozen.

Lawmakers seem to be at a loss when it comes to interpreting the funding laws and unsure of how they should act with the money. But she said the U.S. is trying to use the frozen funds as a way to pressure the Palestinians into returning to negotiations.

"There are several things that have affected our relationship and our funding with the Palestinians. One is the talk about the unity government with Hamas… The other of course is the attempt to go to the UN for recognition" – an act, she says, "means they walked away from the negotiating table."

7. These days the widespread assumption both in Washington and Jerusalem is that the Americans pulled out of the peace process - at least until the 2012 elections. Last of the Mohicans - or the peace brokers - Middle East Envoy David Hale is still going back and forth - and next week there will be additional separate meetings with both sides. With regards to the situation, there are two interesting things to follow next week - the first appearance of the former special advisor to the President Dennis Ross, who will talk about America's upcoming challenges in the Middle East.

It's interesting to see what he'll have to say, now that he's free of West Wing pressures.

Another thing to watch for is President Obama's speech next Friday at the Reform movement biennial. Will it be all about elections and an all-nice agenda? Or will he talk about whether there's still some practical vision left for the troubled region?

Nationalism is isolating Israel

Published 02:28 09.12.11 Latest update 02:28 09.12.11

Even long-time and consistent supporters of Israel have despaired and are distancing themselves from what they view as Israel's abandonment of their "shared values."

Haaretz Editorial

The growing nationalist and religious extremism in Israel is not just a domestic problem. Over the last week, it has become clear that the efforts of the Netanyahu-Lieberman coalition to suppress freedom of expression, left-wing organizations and the Arab community, combined with growing religious coercion in the public arena and the Israel Defense Forces, are also endangering Israel's relations with its supporters in the West, and especially the American political establishment and Jewish community. The competition among right-wing politicians hungry for headlines over who can scream louder has turned into a strategic threat. 

American support has been vital to Israel's security, its growth and its very existence ever since the state was established. The "special relationship" between the two countries was always justified by the shared values of the world's greatest power and "the only democracy in the Middle East." Even when they criticized the settlements and human rights violations in the territories, the Americans respected the democratic system of government within the Green Line. And the Jewish community supported Israel and its policies without reservation. 

But now it seems that even long-time and consistent supporters of Israel have despaired and are distancing themselves from what they view as Israel's abandonment of their "shared values" in favor of nationalism, the silencing of criticism and religious zealotry. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton voiced great concern over the wave of anti-democratic legislation, especially the bills to restrict foreign governments' donations to nongovernmental organizations, and compared the battle against women's singing in the IDF to what goes on in Iran. And the Jewish Federations of North America lambasted an advertising campaign to lure Israelis back from the United States because it cast doubt on the ability to preserve Jewish life outside of Israel. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came to his senses, quickly canceled the ad campaign and postponed discussion of the NGO bills. But his government's general direction remains what it was: Israel, fearful of the Arab Spring and Islamic movements' growing power in the Arab states, and disappointed by America's weakness in the face of Iran's nuclear program, feels abandoned. And it is gradually adopting Middle Eastern norms of behavior, thereby distancing itself from its bases of support in the democratic West. 

What Israel needs is a leadership that will rescue it from its threatening isolation and restore it to the family of nations.

In Exile: Families relate stories of prisoner exiles

by Alistair George

10 December 2011 | International Solidarity Movement, West Bank

Although Palestinian prisoners endure harsh conditions in Israeli prisons, including and physical and psychological torture, their families are also severely punished through the policies of the Israeli authorities.

The prisoner release deal brokered between Hamas and the Israeli authorities saw the release of 477 Palestinian ‘security’ prisoners on 18 October 2011 (with a further 550 to be released in a second phase thought to be in December) in exchange for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, captured by Hamas in 2006.

The joy experienced by many of the prisoners and their families was tempered by the fact that many prisoners from the West Bank were released but sent into exile.  Of the 477 Palestinian prisoners released, at least 40 were sent abroad toTurkey, Syria or Qatar; 18 were sent toGaza or abroad for a period of three years, whilst 146 were forcibly relocated toGaza on a permanent basis away from their homes.

According to a joint statement by prisoner rights group Addameer and legal rights group Al-Haq, “These terms violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits forcible transfers and deportations of protected persons, a proscription that is part of customary international humanitarian law. Unlawful deportation or transfer also constitutes a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention (GC IV) and qualifies as one of the most serious war crimes. Given the stark asymmetry in power, resulting from the belligerent occupation, between the Palestinian and Israeli parties involved, neither the potential “consent” of the prisoners nor the fact that the deal was negotiated by a Palestinian authority can serve as justification for the deportations as this contravenes the spirit of articles 7, 8 and 47 of the GC IV concerning the inviolability of the protections afforded by the Convention.”

Addameer’s director, Saher Francis, notes that, as Gaza has been hermetically sealed off by Israel, the release of the prisoners “effectively serves as an extension of their previous isolation from their homeland and families and in many cases can be seen as a second prison sentence.”

Families of the prisoners spoke of their mixed feelings about the release and exile of their loved ones and revealed their fears and hopes for their family members.

The Assab family, Hebron

 Ahmad Abu Assab, 18, spoke of his father Ataiah Assab, 47,  who has been released after serving 18 years in prison and sent to Gaza City.
He was a member of the Hamas movement and he participated in three operations to kill Israelis, though he did not directly kill anyone.  I was five months old at the time of his arrest.  For the last two years I couldn’t visit him in prison, before that I visited him maybe around once every 2 months. When I heard he was being released I was very happy but when we heard he was going to be sent to Gaza our happiness was not complete. I was upset.  They didn’t mention for how many years he has been sent to Gaza,  I think they are making an example of him or testing him.
 Ahmad was able to visit his father on his release, travelling through Jordan and Egypt to reach Gaza.
I hadn’t seen him for two years and when I met him I burst into tears.  We hugged and kissed, and my father also cried.  My father was in jail for 18 years and it was the first time I had touched him since I was five months old.  I spent 13 days in Gaza with my father, but in Egypt I was detained for 2 days and they interrogated me – I didn’t tell them why I was going to Gaza.
 Ahmad has two sisters and a brother and described the impact of Ataiah’s imprisonment.
Our family missed the pillar in our lives, someone who used to solve our problems, with whom we could share our problems, or give us advice – no one can replace your father, not even your uncle.  Your father should be sharing your life and supporting the family, so it was hard.  In spite of that we were steady and looked forward to the future. My mother divorced him whilst he was in jail 10 years ago.    We haven’t seen her for 6 years – we don’t know if she is married or where she is.  Our grandparents and uncles looked after me.  But now my father will marry a girl in Gaza– his friends in Gaza have found a girl for him.
Despite being absent for nearly his entire life, Ahmad insists he bears no anger or resentment towards his father.  “I am proud of my father for what he did but for some people, the resistance is not good.  Some Palestinians think the resistance is useless and they don’t care.”

He says that his father will adapt well to life in Gaza. “My father knows some people who used to have a business with him before he was arrested – traders and businessmen.  He is waiting for a job – we will open a branch of this shop [a toyshop in Herbon's old city] in Gaza!  He has to rest for 4-5 months, and after that he can start work.”

Despite the pain of exile, Ahmad says that his father is bearing up well.

“My father is happy to be released -Gaza is better than jail!  Anything is better than jail.”

Al-Natsheh family, Hebron

Arafat Al-Natsheh, 39, was imprisoned in 1994 for participating in the Palestinian resistance in Hamas.  His brother, Chaban, 37, says  “he participated in three operations in Hebron in which three settlers were killed, but he didn’t directly kill anyone.”

When asked why he thought his brother was exiled to Gaza, Chaban replied, “Hamas wants to send as many prisoners as possible back to their homes but Israel wants to send as many as possible outside.  The Israeli government wants to look better in front of the Israeli people.” Chaban suggested that as Gaza is a closed area, Israeli may think it is safer to send released prisoners there.
There is no time limit [on his exile] he will stay there until something changes” said Chaban, “When they were in prison it was like they were already deported, inside the jail there was really hard punishment.  ButGazais part ofPalestine, they [the released prisoners] will start their lives there again; they will get married and choose to start another life.  I wish they could come home [toHebron] but what can we do?  Nothing.  It’s better than being inside the jail!
Nevertheless, Chaban worries that life in Gaza will be hard for his brother. “For a prisoner who’s spent 18 years in jail it will be very difficult to start his life there, he will be completely confused.  But he will start his life, he will forget politics, he will start looking for work but he will need time first to adjust.  The first thing he will do is look for a wife.  I will visit him if I get the chance.”  Chaban’s mother and some of his siblings (there are five sons and seven daughters in the family) have visited him, travelling through Jordan and Egypt to reach Gaza.

 Chaban said, “When I heard the news [that he would be released] I couldn’t believe it.  I was so happy, but I couldn’t relax until he was actually released. I was always worried that something would change.”

 Chaban was not allowed to visit his brother in prison – he had spent a year in jail himself and was denied visits for “security reasons.” He spoke to his brother once on the phone after their father had died.  “[When he was released] I spoke to him on the phone and I had such strong feelings, but it is nothing like when you can touch someone and hug him,” said Chaban. “My mother is very old and she is ill – she has very high blood pressure.  Whenever she got any news of my brother, like if there was a hunger strike, her health deteriorated. But when he was released, my mother said she felt like she could  climb 1001 stairs!”
Chaban has a high opinion of the exchange deal.
It was great because my brother was also released.  I wished for Shalit to be released and to go to his family because Shalit also had a mother and father waiting for him for 5 years.  We know what it’s like to wait for the release of your son, so we understand Shalit’s family and how they feel.  I wish all the Palestinian prisoners could be released in normal circumstances – without killing, or kidnapping soldiers.  If there is no prisoners I don’t think the resistance would kidnap soldiers.  I hope thatIsraellets the prisoners have a normal life now.  Arafat has been punished – now let him have a normal life.
 The Qafishih family, Hebron

 Ala’a Qafishih was released after serving 8 years of a 30 year sentence.  Ala’a's family attempted to visit him in Gaza but the Israeli government prevented them from reaching Jordan.  His father Mohammed says,  ”We have talked to him by phone– he says he is happy but at the same time he wishes the be in Hebron.  He wants his wife and kids to be with him.”

Mohammad said,  ”Gaza’ s government welcomed him, they arranged some place to stay and the Hamas government is going to give each prisoner an apartment.  Ala’a is very sociable and likes to meet people, and he’ll make friends easily there.”
Mohammed continues,
I was upset because I heard he was being released but sent toGaza.  But I feel glad that they released him and I was surprised that he was released at all.  I feel like it is now us who is in jail now he has been released but we can’t see him.  They didn’t give any reason or explanation for why he was sent toGaza.  Maybe because he was arrested many times before, so maybe it was a kind of punishment.
 Ala’a is married and has a 12 year old son and a 7 year old daughter.  His wife, Manal, said that her plan is “to take the children and move to Gaza to be with my husband.  But the Israelis won’t let me go.”

Ala’a was imprisoned for participating in a group which was foiled in its attempt to carry out a bombing inIsrael.  Despite this, the family insists they are proud of Ala’a.

“I only feel proud about what my son did,” said Mohammed. “I feel proud of anyone that resists the Israeli occupation, no matter what their political party.  As Palestinians, we live in an unjust situation and we are supposed to fight the occupation in any way.  We never thought he would be released, but thanks be to God he was.  I wish the same for the other prisoners.”

 The Wazwaz family, Hebron

 Moussa Wazwaz, 29, was in prison for 8 years.  He has three brothers and three sisters and is not married.
His mother Khowla describes her feelings at the circumstances of her son’s release. ”Something hurt in my heart when I heard he would be sent to Gaza.”

Moussa had been serving a 792 year sentence (8 life sentences) as he was charged for his role in killing Israelis, a charge that he and his family has always denied.  “I expected that all the family would die and he would stay in the jail” said Khowla.

The family says they have not attempted to visit him yet but they will try soon.  Moussa’s brother Mohammed said, “There are two ways to get to Gaza– the first is to get permission and go through Israel to get to Gaza. 

The second is to go through Jordan,Egypt and Rafah to Gaza.  We worry that they will stop us – there are a lot of families who have been prevented from going.”  Kowla added,  ”When I met him [in prison] my son was like a lost person.  So imagine how I will feel when I see him in front of me and feel him in my arms.”
Khowla worries what life will be like for him in Gaza. “He doesn’t know anyone there, there is no family, no friends.  Our family doesn’t know anything about Gaza.  It’s in God’s hands.  We want him to have a normal life, a good life.  We don’t know why he was sent there, Israel will fight to send all prisoners toGaza, it’s a kind of punishment.”

When Moussa’s father died he was 10 years old, so he had to start work, to sell products in the city centre.  Mohammed went to Ramallah to study and “Moussa just kept working and studying” said Khowla. “He brought money to the whole family.  He was everything in this house.”

Moussa’s younger brother Iyad, 22, is keen to talk about Moussa’s character.

“There are 8 years between me and Moussa.  When I was a little boy he treated me in a very gentle way and as a friend, even when I was going to work with him.  My brother had a very special character, he is a really unique guy.”

Iyad  does consider the change in his brother after a prison sentence.  ”Sure he’s changed but I think he has changed for the better.  He was jailed when he was 19 for 14 months – he could study in jail,and he came out better educated.”

His brother Mohammed is angry about the way the exchange deal was covered in the media. “When Gilad Shalit was arrested all the world knew about him.  My brother has been released but there are still a lot of prisoners inside and a lot of people will be arrested in the future.  Nothing will change.  Always there is hope, but Shalit is one person and there are thousands of Palestinian prisoners.  This family was suffering a lot and we don’t want another family just to keep suffering.  Where is the world?  The world started to talk about Gilad Shalit – when will they start to talk about our prisoners?”

Circumstances of arrest

 The manner in which Palestinian suspects are arrested by the Israeli security forces is often a terrifying ordeal for the prisoner and their family.

Khowla Wazwaz recounts the night when her son Moussa was arrested.
 It was around 6pm, it was raining.  The soldiers surrounded the house and started to throw sounds bombs.  When Moussa went outside – every gun has a laser – it was like there were hundreds of laser dots on his body.  They asked him to remove all his clothes.  They threw him this [a jumpsuit]. He took it and after that they arrested him.  After that they told me to go inside and turn all the lights on and open all the windows.  They entered the house and they started to check it.

They took my other sons and put them in another shop and Moussa in a different shop.  After that they started to interrogate me – he asked me ‘Where does Moussa go, when does he come back.’ All these questions.  I told him everything I knew but he told me ‘Look, the soldiers are beating him, so tell me where the gun is.’  I said ‘He doesn’t have any gun.’  I was interrogated for 3 or 4 hours. I heard someone screaming ‘Mother, mother!’  from the next room.  I don’t know if they were beating Moussa or not, I think that perhaps it was someone acting.”
After that he told me, ‘You have been a widow since 1993, and you built this house. But now we are going to demolish it.’  They destroyed the inside of the house.  We have a library in the house – they started to open fire [with live ammunition] at the books, they destroyed the computer and took the hard drive.”
Khowla has kept the spent bullet casings and a white jumpsuit thrown on the ground as mementoes; “We keep these just to remember that time.”

Amer Ahmad Al-Qwasmah, 45, was released as part of the exchange deal on 18 October 2011, after serving 23 years in prison for his part in a PFLP operation to kill an Israeli man in Jerusalem in 1987.  He says, “I used to live in Jerusalem and came back to Hebron once a week to visit my parents.  One day I was visiting my parents and the Israelis came to the home and they arrested me.  They demolished the house, and they prevented my parents from building a new house until the PA [Palestinian Authority] was established here in 1997.  This was common at the time.”

Mohammed Qafishih recalls that after his son Ala’a was arrested,
The Israeli army tried to demolish the home but it was almost like a miracle prevented it from happening.  They arranged the dynamite but something happened and the Israeli army had to leave – [in that time] we got a lawyer to represent us and they managed to stop the demolition.”  Mohammed says that the arrest was a traumatic experience for the family; “The Israeli army and intelligence arrived around 3am in the morning,  they tried to destroy the main door – they gathered all of us and they started searching the house.  They turned everything upside down, it took a long time to clean it up.
In a speech given in Jerusalem last month, newly released prisoner Ibrahim Mish’al recounted his arrest.
I was captured on the 28 March 1990.  The Israelis entered my house with explosives and dogs; they didn’t care about the fact that there were children in the house.  My son was two years old then and my daughter was one years old.  My wife was three months pregnant.  It was really horrifying for them and my daughter couldn’t speak for one year afterwards.  I will never forget those moments or the look on my family’s faces when the whole house, the walls, everything, was demolished.
At the same event, Nasser Abed Rabbo said,
I was arrested from my house and they destroyed everything in the house.  I was handcuffed and blindfolded.  My arrest was not usual, I was not taken straight from my house to the police car; they took me through several neighbourhoods in my village, a very long distance, almost 2km, in order for the people in the village to see.  I was hit repeatedly on the head and everyone saw me bleeding.  I think the purpose of this was to make me an example for any other person who tries to resist occupation.
Denial of family visiting rights

The restrictions in place on Palestinians attempting to visit family members in Israeli jails often constitutes a form of psychological abuse and punishment for the families.

Chaban Al-Natsheh spoke of his frustration at being denied visits to see his brother, Arafat, in prison
Normally, the family should be able to visit every 15 days but there are problems with getting permission.  My mother would get permission sometimes every 2 months, sometimes every 5 or 6 months.  My other brothers would often get permission to visit only once a year.  I couldn’t visit my brother at all in jail – I spent one year in jail – I was denied permission for ‘security reasons’.  It was a really hard but this was destiny and I had to face it.
Chaban claimed that it was also extremely difficult to communicate with his brother by phone;
When people are given long sentences the military is very worried about them and they are not allowed phones.  For people sentenced to 2, 3, or 5 years it is different; they have phones and they call their families all the time.  But my brother could hardly ever call, I spoke to him just once – he was allowed one call when our father died.  My brother started to talk but I couldn’t answer, I was so shocked, it was such a long time since I’d spoken to him.
Manal Qafishih was often denied visits to see her husband Ala’a,
There weren’t regular times to visit   Sometimes it used to be every four months, sometimes every six months.  They often refused to allow me and the family to visit my husband for ‘security reasons’ – this is all they would say.  Family visits with the Red Crescent should be every 18 days.  When we could visit, we were supposed to have 45 minutes but sometimes it was only for 30 minutes. It’s difficult to find the words to express how hard it is. During the visiting itself, you lose your dignity – they search you naked, they make you wait a long time – all this is routine.”
The Israeli authorities only allowed Ala’a's brothers to visit him once during his eight-year incarceration, although his sisters were granted permission more freely.  Manal says that “When they refuse someone to visit, they start with someone very close – if the prisoner is married they refuse the wife permission to visit, like they did with me.  If they are not married, they refuse his mother permission.  So it was easier for his sisters to visit than it was for me.”
 In the first year of his sentence, no one was able to visit him – only the lawyer.  We couldn’t even talk to him on the phone.  There are many radio stations here inHebronand there are special programs, like ‘A Message for the Prisoners by the Families’ so we can say hello and pass messages, this was one of the ways to keep in touch, if prisoners are able to listen to the radio station.  Another way to keep in touch is by the Red Crescent post but it is limited.  You have to only write a few words, without an envelope.  Ala’a used to send some letters from the jail but it used to take a long time.They put Ala’a in isolation two or three times – the last time he was in isolation for more than 100 days.  Our only connection with him was through the lawyer, who only visited him once in 100 days.  The problem is to visit him now he is in Gaza.
Khowla Wazwaz was often denied permission to see her son Moussa in prison and the family was frequently subjected to ill treatment during attempts to visit him.
I couldn’t get permission to see him [in prison] for the first year; I wasn’t even allowed to call him.  After he was sentenced I could visit him and talk to him.  To visit him we were leaving Hebron at 5AM to the Red Crescent, from there we take a bus and go to the prison checkpoint.  In that time we were checked in a very bad way – if the soldiers feel like you have something strange then they check you in a closed room and often do strip searches.  If you have food with you and it is not Israeli they will throw it away.  If you take water and it’s frozen, they will throw it away.  Once I brought stuffed olive leaves and they just smashed them.  During the winter they don’t care about old men or women, many times women had jackets on during the winter and they told them to remove it outside.

We had 45 minute visits.  Sometimes every 2 weeks, sometimes once a month, sometimes longer.  Once I went to visit my son and I reached the prison they said that he was in a special truck in the prison waiting to be transferred, so I asked to see him.  They refused and told me to leave.  The Red Crescent sends the names to the Israelis and after that they give permission, so the Israelis knew that I was coming to visit.

We could send clothes and books but under really strict conditions.  It was not permitted to send trousers with pockets, so I removed the pockets but they still refused!”  Khowla has a suitcase full of clothes and books that she wanted to give to Moussa – “I tried many times to send these things.  The authorities always lied and tried to confuse us – if you take black clothes they say ‘no – clothes have to be grey’.  They wanted to make us suffer as much as we could.    Now, if prisoners want clothes they have to buy them from the prison and they are very expensive.  If you want to send a book they will check it and if you’ve directly written anything yourself in the book they will not accept it.  I tried for three years to send some books but I couldn’t, they kept returning them.  They’re religious books not political – how you should pray.  I managed to send him just two or three books when he was in prison.
 Mohammed added that, “It’s forbidden to send cologne to prisoners, so we sprayed it on books or clothes and tried to send it that way!”

Moussa’s brother Mohammed says that, “All the brothers and sisters were refused permission at first by the Israelis to visit our brother because of ‘security reasons.’ There is no real reason but they say ‘security reasons’ and that’s it.  If we knew some prisoners visiting the same jail then we asked them to ask about him –if he needed clothes or anything like that.”

Eventually the restrictions were slightly relaxed; in six years Mohammed visited twice, his brother Iyad visited once and Fahed, another brother couldn’t visit at all.  Moussa’s sisters were able to visit three or four times.
 Mohammed is angry at the family’s treatment by the Israeli authorities.  “If Moussa did something wrong, he got punished in the jail.  But why punish all the family?  Why did we not get permission to visit him?  They don’t just punish the prisoner they punish all the family with him.”

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

UN General Assembly Passes Nine Resolutions On Israel-Palestine

author Saturday December 10, 2011 09:21author by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC News Report post
On Friday, the United Nations General Assembly passed nine resolutions related to Palestine as part of a set of 24 resolutions and two texts related to human rights and decolonization.
UN General Assembly (image from Alls Media Monitoring blogspot)
UN General Assembly (image from Alls Media Monitoring blogspot)

The resolutions were passed by the General Assembly after the recommendation of the Special Political and Decolonization Committee. Several of the resolutions were passed almost unanimously, with only Israel voting against them.

Among these were a resolution that called for an accelerated return of displaced persons who became refugees in 1967, and called on donor countries to assist the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) in meeting the needs of the Palestinian refugees. This resolution was passed by a vote of 160 in favor to 1 opposed (Israel), with 9 abstentions.

Another resolution urged Israel to reimburse UNRWA for all transit charges incurred and other financial losses sustained as a result of delays and restrictions on movement and access, and to cease obstructing the movement and access of the staff, vehicles and supplies of the Agency. That resolution passed with a vote of 163 in favour to 7 against (Israel, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 2 abstentions (Cameroon, Vanuatu).

Of the other Israel-Palestine related resolutions passed by the United Nations General Assembly on Friday, five were part of the report from the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, and related to Israel’s practices and obligations as an Occupying Power under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

One of these resolutions demanded that Israel accept the de jure (by law) applicability of the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, and that it comply scrupulously with the provisions of the Convention. The text was approved by a recorded vote of 162 in favour to 7 against (Israel, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 3 abstentions (Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Vanuatu).

In another of the five resolutions originating from the special committee, the Assembly, bearing in mind the “extremely detrimental” impact of Israeli settlement policies, decisions and activities on efforts to resume and advance the peace process, reiterated its demand for the immediate and complete cessation of all Israeli settlement activities in all of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan.

It was adopted by a recorded vote of 162 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall islands, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 4 abstentions (Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Panama, Vanuatu).

Since the recommendation that Palestine be split in half to create a Jewish state in 1947, the United Nations has passed hundreds of resolutions on the issue of Israel-Palestine, all of which have been voted against by the Israeli UN delegate. These resolutions have repeatedly called on Israel to adhere to its obligations under international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention. But the UN General Assembly has no enforcement capability to ensure that its resolutions are carried out.

The Palestinian Authority attempted in September to achieve recognition as a state at the United Nations, to be able to participate in proceedings at the General Assembly, but that petition was not approved by the United Nations Security Council.

Israeli tank shell hits northern Gaza

Sat Dec 10, 2011 3:17PM GMT
Palestinian youths stand at the door of a house damaged by an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on early Friday, Dec. 9, 2011.
An Israeli tank has attacked an animal farm in the northern Gaza Strip city of Beit Lahiya amid intensifying attacks by Israeli troops against Palestinians.

No casualties have yet been reported in the Saturday attack.

However, the farm was destroyed and several of its animals were killed, the Palestinian WAFA news agency reported.

Meanwhile, a 28-year-old Palestinian man lost his life earlier on Saturday after he was hit in the face with a tear gas canister fired by an Israeli soldier.

Also on Saturday, a 12-year-old Palestinian boy died of injuries he sustained in an Israeli airstrike on the Gaza strip on Thursday.

Tel Aviv justifies its attacks on the Gaza Strip by saying they are measures taken in response to rockets fired into the occupied territories from the Gaza Strip.


IOA court sentences young woman to 28 months imprisonment

[ 10/12/2011 - 10:40 AM ]

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– The Israeli military court in Ofer on Friday sentenced the Palestinian young woman Haneyya Nasser, 20, to 28 months behind bars for allegedly attempting to stab an Israeli soldier.

Local sources in El-Bireh, the hometown of Haneyya, said that she was arrested on 12 September this year while crossing the Nilin roadblock when the soldiers manning the barrier claimed that she had a knife in her possession and that she tried to stab one of them.

The defense lawyer called for her release since she was a university student and no concrete evidence was found against her. However, the Israeli military prosecutor refused and passed the sentence along with a 2000 shekels fine.

Source and more at the Palestinian Information Center

UN official, ambassadors visit protest tent of Jerusalem officials

[ 10/12/2011 - 10:47 AM ]

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Palestinian MP Mohamed Toteh and former minister Khaled Abu Arafa on Friday morning met in their sit-in tent in occupied Jerusalem with Frank La Rue, the UN Rapporteur of the right to freedom of opinion.

MP Toteh briefed La Rue on the violations committed by Israel against the native people of Jerusalem and their legitimate representatives.

The lawmaker conveyed his dismay at the silence of UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon who did not reply to the messages sent to him by the lawmakers and the former minister regarding the illigal Israeli decision to expel them from their native city.

UN official La Rue, for his part, hailed the Jerusalemite officials for their admirable way in defending themselves and their people in the holy city.

He described their steadfastness as a brave work and urged them to keep it up until all their demands are met.
For his part, former minister Khaled Abu Arafa told the UN official that the blows received by Jerusalem people from the Israeli occupation are expected, but the ones received from the UN and the international quartet on the Middle East cannot be understood and explained.

Abu Arafa added that the UN and the quartet rejected the democratic choice of the Palestinian people in 2006 election, contributed to Israel’s blockade on Gaza and justified its arrogance and Nazi behavior against the Palestinian people.

The Jerusalemite official also met with Swiss ambassador Ronald Steininger who made a brief visit to their sit-in tent at the Red Cross headquarters.

The ambassador expressed his solidarity with the steadfast officials as well as his grave concern over the violations committed by Israel against them in particular and the people of Jerusalem in general.

The two officials also received earlier in their tent Egyptian ambassador Yasser Othman who conveyed Egypt’s rejection of any Israeli action restricting their freedom and violating their rights.

In a related context, Islamic Jihad official Khader Adnan called on Jerusalem people to form a human shield to defend their compatriots MP Toteh and former minister Abu Arafa who are resisting the Israeli attempts to detain and exile them from the holy city.

Adnan, in a statement to the Palestinian information center (PIC), said the Palestinians in Jerusalem should take action on their own without the help of others and defend their existence in their holy city.

“The Arab-Islamic silence and modest reaction as well as the western injustice against our people and their cause and the differences in priorities at the Palestinian level have added to the inherent arrogant nature of the occupation and given it an appetite for more bully acts against our holy sites, our land and the trees and stones above it and the deceased people beneath it,” the Islamic Jihad leader emphasized.

Source and more at Palestinian Information Center

Hamas is right in insisting on election guarantees

[ 09/12/2011 - 09:48 PM ]

Hamas’ demands for meaningful guarantees that would ensure free and fair elections, to be conducted throughout the occupied territories of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem as part of the national reconciliation process, have drawn some consternation among Palestinian Authority (PA) officials, especially Fatah leaders.

Hamas’ demands include guarantees that the elections must be conducted in East Jerusalem, which the Zionist regime considers an integral part of its “eternal and undivided capital.”

The Islamist liberation movements also demands guarantees against arbitrary arrest or detention by the Israeli occupation army which controls every nook and cranny in the West Bank as well as guarantees against flagrant interference with free campaigning and electioneering.

Some PA officials have admitted that the Ramallah regime is in no position to give such guarantees since it has no real control on the ground.

Well, if the PA can’t give these manifestly logical guarantees for conducting free and transparent elections, then what is the point of holding such elections in the first place?

Hamas is not creating unnecessary obstacles for Palestinian reconciliation. The Islamist liberation movement has every right under the sun to make sure that its candidates and nominees won’t be rounded up by the Gestapo-like Israeli security agencies and dumped in dark Jewish dungeons and concentration camps for years on concocted and frivolous charges stemming from their affiliation with “a terrorist organization.”

Indeed, in calling Hamas a terrorist organization, Israel and her criminal supporters are effectively fornicating with language. Can any honest person under the sun imagine a more terrorist, more racist and more evil regime on earth? Yes, there are criminal regimes that slaughter people deemed inimical, but Israel, which mendaciously claims to be the only truly democratic state in the Middle East, has a systematic policy based on ethnic cleansing targeting an entire religious-ethnical community, namely the Palestinian people.

In order to be truly democratic, any elections must be held in an absolutely free atmosphere. If various contenders are not granted an equal opportunity, this means that the elections won’t be free and therefore won’t be democratic.

Some Fatah people, whose tongues function much more swiftly than their brains do, argue that Hamas has no right to insist on guarantees which everyone knows, are impossible.

Their argument goes like this: Hamas took part in the 2006 elections; it should accept the same conditions and stop making excuses.

Well, in 2006, hundreds of Hamas’ candidates in both the municipal and general elections were summarily detained by the Israeli occupation army. Many of these candidates, who had done absolutely nothing wrong apart from taking part in the polls, were arrested and given hefty jail sentences even before the Election Day.

Some, actually dozens, were held as hostages by the Israeli security establishment for prolonged periods extending to 60 or 70 months. I know that at least 25 elected officials, including some 15 Islamist Legislative Council members, are still languishing in Israeli concentration camps for the fifth consecutive year.

For example, Nayef Rajoub, who in the 2006 elections won the largest number of votes in the Hebron District, was detained for fifty months, without charge or trial. Moreover, a few months after he was released in autumn 2009, he was rearrested for no reason. He is still languishing in Zionist dungeons and concentration camps.
The same story can be replicated in numerous other cases where Islamist politicians, including nearly all the elected lawmakers, are haunted, hounded, and rounded up as if they were thieves and common criminals when these esteemed people actually represent the crème de la crème in their respective communities.

Indeed, the fact that these people have won the trust of their people is strong damning evidence vindicating Hamas and incriminating the Nazi-like Israeli occupation regime.

Hence, the question begs itself whether it is fair and wise for Hamas to embark, one more time, on a feat that would lead nowhere.

Hamas is not reluctant to go to elections. Hamas and other Palestinians are watching Islamist forces win elections almost everywhere in the Arab world from Casablanca to Cairo. However, going to elections under existing circumstances where Israel, not the Palestinian people, has the final say with regard to everything pertaining to elections, would be a great disservice to the Palestinian people and their enduring just cause.
More to the point, it is not true that the PA is totally powerless to secure free and democratic elections, regardless of the Israeli factor.

We all know that the survival of the PA is a paramount American and European foreign policy interest. Hence, the PA can enlist these key world powers to pressure Israel to respect the right of Palestinians to conduct democratic elections without being haunted by Israeli bullying, encroachment and provocations.

Indeed, if the PA won’t do that then its very existence should be rendered redundant since an entity that is subject to the Israeli will can’t achieve Palestinian national goals, especially deliverance from the clutches of Jewish Nazism.
We, who closely monitor the political behaviors of the PA regime, do suspect that the Ramallah regime is not really interested in conducting truly democratic elections six months from now. We also suspect that the PA is actually more than comfortable with the draconian Israeli measures against Hamas since these measures would eventually militate against the Islamist movement in any elections.

Fatah knows well that Israeli restrictions targeting Hamas’ people would lead to effective immobility if not paralysis, which would be converted to election assets for the secular group.

Hamas doesn’t seek preferential treatment; it only seeks equality for all. Therefore, going to elections under current circumstances would be a grave miscalculation for Hamas. It would be akin to having a man thoroughly in fetters and then throwing him in the water. He wouldn’t survive even if he were the best of swimmers.

Source and more at the Palestinian Information Center

Army Bombards Qassam Center In Rafah

Saturday December 10, 2011 07:50 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies
The Israeli Air Force bombarded, on Saturday at dawn, a training center that belongs to the Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, west of Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.
Home Bombarded On Friday - Image By
Home Bombarded On Friday - Image By

Local sources reported that the Air Force fired at least one missile at the center located in Tal Al-Sultan neighborhood, west of Rafah; excessive damage was reported, no injuries.

Four Palestinians, including a father and his child, were killed and more than twenty residents were injured, since Thursday at noon, as the army carried out several air strikes targeting Gaza.

Palestinian resistance groups retaliated by firing more than 16 homemade shells and mortars into Israeli settlements adjacent to the Gaza Strip.

Hamas, along with other resistance groups in Gaza, and the Egyptian government, held Israel responsible for the latest escalation, and warned of further tension should Israeli continue its strikes.

Israel, on the other hand, held Hamas responsible for the escalation, claiming that Hamas and other armed factions are seeking further escalation.

In its Weekly Report on Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for the week of 01- 07 December 2011, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights found that a Palestinian resistance fighter was killed and 3 others were wounded by Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip by Israeli troops.

Israeli war planes fire on south Gaza

 Published yesterday (updated) 10/12/2011 17:07

Palestinians survey the site of a Hamas training camp after it was hit in an
sraeli air strike in Gaza City on Dec. 9, 2011. Israeli warplanes fired on an
open area west of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip near the border with
Egypt on Saturday morning. (REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli warplanes fired on an open area west of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip near the border with Egypt on Saturday morning.

No injuries have been reported.

The Israeli army said it confirmed a "direct hit" on a "terror-affiliated site."

Two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip hit southern Israel after the strike, an Israeli military spokeswoman said.

Violence flared between Gaza and Israel after Israeli airstrikes killed an Islamic Jihad fighter on Wednesday, and two affiliates of Fatah and Hamas' armed wings on Thursday.

A further airstrike on Gaza City on Friday morning hit a site of Hamas' armed group, and flattened a nearby house killing the owner; the man's 12-year-old son was pronounced dead hours later. The man's wife and five other children were wounded, medics said.

Militants responded with a barrage of rockets that struck southern Israel on Thursday and Friday, without causing injuries.

Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister in Gaza, said Friday he was "pursuing intensive contacts with several Arab and international parties, and we stress the necessity of this aggression being stopped immediately".

Cairo is trying to renew a truce to restore calm between its neighbors, Egypt's ambassador to the Palestinian Authority Yasser Othman told Ma'an on Thursday.

Turkey slams Israel's settlement expansion in O. Jerusalem

[ 10/12/2011 - 10:38 AM ]

ISTANBUL, (PIC)-- Turkey strongly denounced the Israeli government for building and expanding settlements in occupied Jerusalem, saying such action would undermine the efforts to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinian side.

In a press release, the Turkish ministry of foreign affairs expressed its strong condemnation of Israel's new settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian lands especially its plan to build 650 housing units in Pisgat Ze'ev, east of Jerusalem, and 119 other units in Shiloh settlement in occupied West Bank.

The foreign ministry stressed that Israel's persistence in settlement activities in defiance of the international law and the international community's appeals is the biggest obstacle to reviving the peace process and torpedoes the two-state solution efforts.

The foreign ministry demanded Israel, as an occupation force ,to meet its obligations according to international law and cease immediately all its acts that kill peace chances.
Source and more at the Palestinian Information Center

Army Bombards, Sheep, Chicken Farm In Beit Hanoun

Saturday December 10, 2011 15:27 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies

Israeli soldiers fired, On Saturday, artillery shells targeting a chicken and sheep farm in Beit Hanoun, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, dozens of livestock died in the attack; excessive damage was reported.

The Maan New Agency reported that the shelling targeted the farm of resident Ramadan Abu Ghazala, located east of Beit Hanoun. The shelling led to no human casualties.

The attack is the latest in Israeli recent military escalation against the Gaza Strip.

On Saturday, the Israeli Air Force bombarded a training center that belongs to the Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, west of Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

Four Palestinians, including a father and his child, were killed and more than twenty residents were injured, since Thursday at noon, as the Israeli army carried out several air strikes targeting Gaza.

Palestinian resistance groups retaliated by firing more than 16 homemade shells and mortars into Israeli settlements adjacent to the Gaza Strip.

Gaza Attack: “My Uncle Died in my Arms”

(Photo: Ruqaya Izzidien)

Published Friday, December 9, 2011
“My uncle was breathing when I found him under the rubble,” said Migdad Elzalaan. “He told me, ‘Look after our family, look after the children. Look after them,’ and then he died, right in my arms.”

At around 2am on Thursday night, Israeli forces bombed the area beside the Elzalaan household in northern Gaza City, injuring thirteen members of his family and killing his uncle. Migdad’s 12-year-old cousin, Ramadan, died in hospital from his injuries less than a day after the attack.

As 20-year-old Elzalaan stood recalling the night’s attack, he dislodged blocks of rubble poking through large holes in the roof, fearing that they might fall on our heads. He stumbled through the remains of his home while rubble cracked and snapped underfoot, small pieces of house falling occasionally while a drone buzzed heavily, circling above the ruins of the house.

Elzalaan was sitting at the computer before the first bomb hit.

“I brought my younger sisters, Samaa and Samar into the living room, with my grandmother. I tried to shield them and as the first bomb hit, I was injured in my back and leg by pieces of falling rubble. Afterwards, I took my family out of the house to safety.”

After the second bomb struck, Elzalaan headed to his uncle’s house, which shares a wall with his own. “My uncle, his wife and their baby were under the rubble. My aunt told me to leave her, just to take her baby, Ahmed, to safety. I picked him out of the rubble and handed him to someone.”

As soon the 6-month-old was taken to safety, Israeli forces dropped a third bomb. “I shielded my aunt during the third bomb, and then afterwards helped her out of the house.” Elzalaan then returned for his uncle, Bahjat, who was buried underneath the rubble.

The 33-year-old father-of-five told Migdad to look after his family before dying in his nephew’s arms.
“I carried my uncle out of the building and then we brought a jeep to take everyone to hospital, because no ambulances came. By the dawn call to prayer, we were on our way to hospital.”

“During the bombing I was yelling and pulling my hair out,” Elzalaan explained, “Absolutely everyone was injured – thirteen members of my family. My two cousins are still in hospital, they are critically wounded. They are ten and twelve years old.” Hours later, Ramadan, the elder of Elzalaan’s cousins, died of his injuries.
Elzalaan’s neighbor passed through the house, pointed to the rubble and yelled, “This is what Israel does. There were no fighters here, just children and a family. This isn’t a home anymore.”

Migdad Elzalaan’s home was also badly damaged in an Israeli airstrike during the 2008-2009 war and repaired by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

British government regrets death of Mustafa Tamimi

Published yesterday 19:17
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The British government expressed regret at the death of Mustafa Tamimi, who died on Saturday after being fatally wounded by a gas canister fired by an Israeli soldier.

"On behalf of the Government of the United Kingdom, I express our deepest regret at the tragic death of Mustafa Tamimi of Nabi Saleh," a statement from Consul General in Jerusalem Sir Vincent Fean said.

"The British Government strongly supports the right to peaceful protest anywhere in the world, including the Occupied Palestinian Territories. We deprecate the disproportionate use of force under any circumstances."

Fean added that demonstrations should be policed unprovocatively on the basis of mutual respect for "human dignity

World must act on Israeli crimes

 Thu Dec 8, 2011 7:35PM GMT
Israel is planning to construct more settlement units in East Jerusalem al-Quds.

According to Israel's channel one TV, 14 settler units will be built in a Palestinian neighborhood near another settlement. The plan --which was approved on Wednesday-- is expected to spark fresh international condemnation of Israel's settlements activities.

Last month, Tel Aviv announced plans for building more than 800 settler units in East al-Quds. The announcement was made in response to Palestinian efforts to join UNESCO.

Tel Aviv continues its settlement expansions despite international pressure. The international community considers all settlements built on occupied Palestinian land as illegal.

Bruce Katz, co-president of Palestinian and Jewish Unity (PAJU), joins Press TV to further explore the issue. What follows is the transcription of the interview:

Press TV: After UNESCO's admission of Palestine, Israel responded by approving more settlements knowing that the US will remain silent. Where does Palestine go from here in such a situation?

Katz: First, I think that Israel would have built its settlements whether Palestine was in UNESCO or not. This is simply part of an ongoing ethnic cleansing program which started in 1948. There is no difference between the perspective of 48 and the present perspective.

The fact is that, yes, it is because of the fact that not simply the United States but essentially most of the Western world simply goes along with it and denounces it but does nothing about it in terms of sanctions which is why I think that the answer can only be the boycott. In terms of what this means about a Palestinian state, at the outset, if there is no possibility of a capital for a Palestinian state in al-Quds because of the fact that the Palestinians in East Jerusalem simply be driven out, encircled and driven out, then at the outset there is no possibility of a viable Palestinian state and they will have no capital; will have no real borders, no real airspace, etcetera.

In such case, the solution is one, one single state, perhaps a federated state with autonomous regions which would, in that way, deal with the worries for Israelis of a Jewish majority in a certain region and would give the Palestinians a possibility of controlling their own institutions. In the actual situation that we see evolving, it is quite obvious that the possibility of an independent viable Palestinian state under the present circumstances is an impossibility.

Press TV: Settlements have been spoken about for many years, with no tangible results as of yet. You have mentioned boycotts, what needs to really be done, or can realistically be done at this time including boycotts, to stop Israel's encroachment on these Palestinian lands?

Katz: Obviously, besides boycotts, there would have to be divestment campaign and there has to be pressure exercised against corporations that do business with Israel.

There has to be a campaign to prevent Israeli goods from being sold abroad and there needs to be sanctions, but again I am quite sure that Netanyahu has measured support for what he has announced, in terms of building more settlements, with his Republican friends in Washington, his Conservative friends in Ottawa and essentially he has the entire US Congress both Republican and Democrat that will simply jump on the bandwagon, even though what we are talking about here is institutionalized racism.

So if we were to make a logical extension of this, then we would say that it is surprising that they did not continue to support apartheid in South Africa since it is essentially the same situation.


Report: Netanyahu says 9/11 terror attacks good for Israel

 Published 00:00 16.04.08 Latest update 00:00 16.04.08

According to Ma'ariv, Netanyahu said Israel is 'benefiting from attack' as it 'swung American public opinion.'

By Haaretz Service and Reuters
The Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv on Wednesday reported that Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu told an audience at Bar Ilan university that the September 11, 2001 terror attacks had been beneficial for Israel.

"We are benefiting from one thing, and that is the attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon, and the American struggle in Iraq," Ma'ariv quoted the former prime minister as saying. He reportedly added that these events "swung American public opinion in our favor."
Netanyahu reportedly made the comments during a conference at Bar-Ilan University on the division of Jerusalem as part of a peace deal with the Palestinians.

Meanwhile, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad cast doubt over the veracity of the September 11 attacks Thursday, calling it a pretext to invade Afghanistan and Iraq.

"Four or five years ago, a suspicious event occurred in New York. A building collapsed and they said that 3,000 people had been killed but never published their names," Ahmadinejad told Iranians in the holy city of Qom.

"Under this pretext, they [the U.S.] attacked Afghanistan and Iraq and since then, a million people have been killed only in Iraq."

Speaking Wednesday at a news conference on the Iran threat, Netanyahu compared Ahmadinejad to Adolf Hitler and likened Tehran's nuclear program to the threat the Nazis posed to Europe in the late 1930s.

Netanyahu said Iran differed from the Nazis in one vital respect, explaining that "where that [Nazi] regime embarked on a global conflict before it developed nuclear weapons," he said. "This regime [Iran] is developing nuclear weapons before it embarks on a global conflict."

Likud chairman and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu. (Limor Edrey / Archives)

With surgical precision Israel shot a non violent protester & deliberately delayed medical aid

Picture via @Tweet_Palestine

Today a weekly “non-violent demo”, unarmed civilain, 28 year old Mustafa Tamimi, worker from Nabi Saleh was shot at close range (less than 10according to eyewitness) and with precision and intent right in the face with a tear gas projectile and mutilated him for the rest of his life.

Mustafa Tamimi, a 28 year-old Palestinian from Nabi Salih is seen critically injured in the head after he was shot by an Israeli soldier with a tear gas canister from a short distance during the weekly demonstration in the West Bank village of Nabi Salih, 09.12.2011. Mustafa is in intensive care in an Israeli hospital. Photo by: Anne Paq/

Pictures by Tamimi Press

Mustafa Tamimi shortly after ''using non-lethal #IOF weapon'' - Photo by Lazar Simeonov

He may loose his eye and is in a critical condition.

Mustafa Tamimi, a 28 year-old Palestinian from Nabi Salih is seen critically injured in the head after he was shot by an Israeli soldier with a tear gas canister from a short distance during the weekly demonstration in the West Bank village of Nabi Salih, 09.12.2011. Mustafa is in intensive care in an Israeli hospital. Photo by: Anne Paq/

The friends of Mustafa we’re not allowed to take him to the hospital
neither was family not allowed to see him when IOF took him to an ambulance for treatment, telling them an helicopter would come, which not turned up according to an eyewitness he was driven away in an ambulance to Petah Tikva.

Mustafa Tamimi, a 28 year-old Palestinian from Nabi Salih is seen critically injured in the head after he was shot by an Israeli soldier with a tear gas canister from a short distance during the weekly demonstration in the West Bank village of Nabi Salih, 09.12.2011. Mustafa is in intensive care in an Israeli hospital. Photo by: Anne Paq/

A delegation of United Nations which was passing by the incident saw everything happening but did not even stop to see if any aid or assistance was required.

The Lies of Tzahal

Spokesperson for the army Captain BarakRaz denies there was use of rubber bullets while Bisan Tamimi, daughter of Naji Tamimi broke an arm due to a rubber coated bullet and Wa’d Tamimi, 14 year old son of Bassem and Nariman Tamimi broke a leg due to a rubber coated bullet.

According to Israel defense forces Lt. Col. Avital Leibovitch, spokesperson on payroll of Tzahal to propagate lies via twitter (the twitter-commander in charge) Mustafa would have done this: (for the record she tweeted this at 18:40 exactly)

So let’s behold the footage of the Jeep and the attack by Tzahal, no slingshot in the picture at all

Mustafa Tamimi (left) a moment before his injury. Circled in red are the barrel of the gun and the projectile that hit him. A photo of the incident shows Tamimi at a distance of less than 10 meters behind the semi-open door of an army jeep with the gun aimed directly at him. Clearly visible in the photo is also the tear-gas projectile flying in his direction. Picture credit: Haim Scwarczenberg via @PSCC_Palestine

Mustafa Tamimi, a 28 year-old Palestinian from Nabi Salih is seen seconds after he got hit with a tear gas canister shot by an Israeli soldier with a tear gas canister from a short distance during the weekly demonstration in the West Bank village of Nabi Salih, 09.12.2011. Mustafa is in intensive care in an Israeli hospital. Photo by: Anne Paq/

Here you see the Jeep still on breaklights, although the army insists the Jeep was driving. Even standing in the middle of the road, while another vehicle is approaching, Mustafa Tamimi falls to the ground

Here falling on the ground, the Jeep still on breaklights

Here the jeep OFF BREAKLIGHTS, moving ahead, without giving medical care or without checking the wounded for injuries which is a clear violation of human rights and every law imaginable in case of wounding non violent civilians.

The Illegal use of Riot Dispersal Ammunition as lethal weaponry

Article 14 of the UN Basic Principles provides:
“In the dispersal of violent assemblies, law enforcement officials may use firearms only when less dangerous means are not practicable and only to the minimum extent necessary.”
Firing a person from 1 meter range, in the face with a tear gas projectile is no use of “riot dispersal” but a direct attempt to manslaught.

Soldiers are expected to know targeting tear gas projectiles at the face can be deadly, esp from short range. Nevertheless did it not bother the soldier to act this way. The deliberate targeting, weekly of especially the Tamimi family, as well the  facts that today 3 of them got wounded may be a clear sign that Israel is not using it’s “riot dispersal methods” to disperse only a NON VIOLENT (!) demo, but uses it definitly to kill or at least to attempt to kill.

In procedures, “minimum extent necessary” a soldier, sitting inside an armored jeep like in this situation could have made, in case of alleged violence of a protester, many more other choices than shooting in short range a projectile of which is known to be deadly or possible cause such.
  1. He could have taken a hide behind the one closed door
  2. He could have closed the open door
  3. Or he could have told the driver to drive away and get out of reach
(Reminder, all these options were open, please keep in mind we are talking here about a full armored Jeep and soldiers armored and armed untill their teeth while the protester is not wearing any protection not arms.)

Tzahal claimed at one point today, that the protester “was running after the Jeep”. This can not be true because on the pictures is clearly visible that the break lights of the military vehicle are burning, so break is pushed in.

In the archive of videos on this blog you can see many videos of the weekly demos in Nabi Saleh. All of them show, the NON VIOLENT demos of the people in Nabi Saleh are turned into violent ones by Israel Occupation Forces themselves. The videos also leave nothing over for  imagination on the violence of the occupier towards non violent protesters. (

The spokesperson told Ma’an they investigating at the moment, but called their  act legitimate, as they decided to suppress “a violent and illegal riot” with justifies according to them the use of riot dispersal. This would be the case if there was any violence of protesters, which wasn’t the case. And if so, it does not justify this kind of use of riot dispersal ammunition on this range.

One photographer of Activestills and 2 friends of Mustafa Tamimi were detained at the Beilinson Hospital to which Mustafa was taken for urgent life saving surgery.

This is a picture of the Palestinian flag covered in Mustafa's blood - @MariamBarghouti

Ola Tamimi is seen shouting after she saw her brother, Mustafa Tamimi, a 28 year-old Palestinian resident from Nabi Saleh who was hit in the face by a tear gas projectile shot directly at him from only a few feet away during the weekly demonstration in Nabi Saleh, 09.12.2011. Photo by: Anne Paq/

Begging Israeli soldiers to let Mostafas sister see him begging to let the Israeli army take him to hospital via @Tweet_Palestine


Only three persons are allowed a permit to visit Mustafa who is (17:29 Pal Time) in a too critical condition for surgery

17:47 – Mustafa is not in a hospital, latest update

Mustafa is currently anesthetized, breathing through tubes, and his condition is described as serious. Tamimi is undergoing treatment in the trauma ward of the hospital, and is expected to undergo surgery later tonight. (source PSCC)


Dec 10, 2011 11:20

انّا للہ و انّا الیه راجعون

‘Inna Lillahi wa ‘Inna ‘Ilayhi Raji’un, Allahu Akbar

May Allah Subhana wa Ta’ ala grant the Shaheed Jannatul Firdaus,
and ease it for his families, loved ones and anyone around him. Allahumma Ameen ya Rabbil ‘Alameen.

The funeral of Mustafa Tamimi will leave Ramallah at Sunday Dec 11, 10AM reaching Nabi Saleh at 11AM


(Source PSCC)

Late in 2009, settlers began gradually taking over Ein al-Qaws (the Bow Spring), which personally belongs to Bashir Tamimi, the head of the Nabi Saleh village council. The settlers, abetted by the army, erected a shed over the spring, renamed it Maayan Meir, after a late settler, and began driving away Palestinians who came to use the spring by force – at times throwing stones or even pointing guns at them, threatening to shoot.
While residents of Nabi Saleh have already endured decades of continuous land grab and expulsion to allow for the ever continuing expansion of the Halamish settlement, the takeover of the spring served as the last straw that lead to the beginning of the village’s grassroots protest campaign of weekly demonstrations in demand for the return of their lands.

While the model of regularly held protests around the construction of Israel’s Separation Barrier became a common one in recent years, the protests in Nabi Saleh mark a significant break from that tradition, in that protest there is entirely unrelated to the Barrier. This expansion of the popular resistance model symbolizes the growing support the model enjoys among Palestinians, and the growing positive discourse around it across the Palestinian political spectrum.

Protest in the tiny village enjoys the regular support of International and Israeli activists, as well as that of Palestinians from the surrounding areas. Demonstrations in Nabi Saleh are also unique in the level of women participation in them, and the role they hold in all their aspects, including organizing. Such participation, which often also includes the participation of children mirrors the village’s commitment to a truly popular grassroots mobilization, encompassing all segments of the community.

The Israeli military’s response to the protests has been especially brutal and includes regularly laying complete siege on village every Friday, accompanied by the declaration of the entire village, including the built up area, as a closed military zone. Prior and during the demonstrations themselves, the army often completely occupies the village, in effect enforcing an undeclared curfew of sort. Military nighttime raids and arrest operations are also a common tactic in the army’s strategy of intimidation, often targeting minors.

In order to prevent the villagers and their supporters from exercising their fundamental right to demonstrate and march to their lands, soldiers regularly use disproportional force against the unarmed protesters. The means utilized by the army to hinder demonstrations include, but are not limited to, the use of tear-gas projectiles, banned high-velocity tear-gas projectiles, rubber-coated bullets and, at times, even live ammunition.

The use of such practices have already caused countless injuries, several of them serious, including those of children – the most serious of which is that of 14 year-old Ehab Barghouthi, who was shot in the head with a rubber-coated bullet from short range on March 5th, 2010 and laid comatose in the hospital for three weeks.

In complete disregard to the army’s own open fire regulations, soldiers often shoot tear-gas projectiles directly at groups of protesters or individuals and rubber bullets are indiscriminately shot at protesters from short distances. The army has also resumed using high velocity tear-gas projectiles in Nabi Saleh, despite the fact that they have declared banned for use after causing the death of Bassem Abu Rahmah in Bil’in in April 2009, and the critical injury of American protester Tristan Anderson in Ni’ilin in March of the same year.

Tear-gas, as well as a foul liquid called “The Skunk”, which is shot from a water cannon, is often used inside the built up area of the village, or even directly pointed into houses, in a way that allows no refuge for the uninvolved residents of the village, including children and the elderly. The interior of at least one house caught fire and was severely damaged after soldiers shot a tear-gas projectile through its windows.

Since December 2009, when protest in the village was sparked, hundreds of demonstration-related injuries caused by disproportionate military violence have been recorded in Nabi Saleh.

Between January 2010 and June 2011, the Israeli Army has carried 76 arrests of people detained for 24 hours or more on suspicions related to protest in the village of Nabi Saleh, including those of women and of children as young as 11 years old. Of the 76, 18 were minors. Dozens more were detained for shorter periods.

Footage of the attack will be uploaded later this evening as well as continuous updates of this post as news is available so keep checking this post for updates.