Categorized | Middle East






Demonstrators ‘return’ tear gas canisters to US ambassador’s home

Jan 01, 2011


Joseph Dana

Israeli activists protesting the killing of Bil’in’s Jawaher Abu Rahmah ‘returned’ spent tear gas canisters to the residence of the American ambassador to Israel late Saturday evening. Jawaher Abu Rahmah, 36, was evacuated to the Ramallah hospital yesterday after inhaling massive amounts of tear-gas during the weekly protest in Bil’in, and died of poisoning this morning. The tear gas used by the Israeli forces in Bil’in is manufactured by Combined Systems Inc.; a United States company based in Jamestown, Pennsylvania. This is the first protest where empty tear gas canisters have been returned to an ambassador’s home.

Approximately twenty five Israeli protesters gathered in front of the residence of American ambassador to Israel, James B. Cunningham around 1am local time. The protesters ‘returned’ loads of spent tear gas canisters collected in the West Bank village of Bil’in in protest of the murder of Bil’in’s Jawaher Abu Rahmah. The demonstrators also made noise throughout the Ambassador’s neighborhood informing residents of how American military aid to Israel is being used to kill unarmed and nonviolent demonstrators in the West Bank. They chanted, “one, two, three, four stop the occupation stop the war. Five, six, seven, eight end the funding (US) end the hate.”


Five demonstrators were arrested in the action and are currently being held in detention. It is unclear when they will be released and on what charges. The action in front of the American ambassador’s residence completed a day of protest throughout Israel and the West Bankstemming from Abu Rahmah’s death. On Saturday evening, hundreds demonstrated across from the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv. Protesters manged to block Kaplan street, a main artery, for over one hour. Eight people were arrested including a former minster of Knesset from the left Meretz Party, Mossi Raz.

This post originally appeared on +972 as part of the site’s in depth coverage of the death of Jahawer Abu Rahmah.

Scenes from Jawaher Abu Rahmah’s funeral


Jan 01, 2011


Adam Horowitz

All photos by Hamde Abu Rahmah:


IMG 0950

IMG 1003


IMG 1022

IMG 1035


Tear-gas killing in Bil’in is ‘war crime’– says Palestinian negotiator, Erekat


Jan 01, 2011



and other news from Today in Palestine:


Land, property & resource theft and destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlers

Israel forces Palestinians to demolish their own homes
More than 100 Palestinian protesters and their supporters blocked a main street in the city ofLyd on 28 December, demonstrating against the recent demolition of Palestinian homes and what residents say is a rise in racism and police brutality.

Settlers set fire to home as seven Palestinians sleep inside
(with two videos) In the incident which occurred on 29 December 2010, there were seven members of a family asleep in the tent when settlers set fire to the structure.  Fortunately, a hajji (an elderly matriarch [?patriarch, or was it hajja?]) was awake and heard the dogs warning of the intruders.  Nasser Nawa’jah, a field researcher for B’tselem and a resident of Susiya, said that the villagers were unsure whether the intruders had poured petrol on the tent and then lit the flammable liquid or whether they had thrown a molotov cocktail at the tent, the latter a tactic which settlers have used previously in Susiya.

Center: Escalation in Israeli violations in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli violations of human rights in Jerusalem escalated in December, particularly in the Silwan neighborhood, according to a study by a community center.

Friday prayers canceled, clashes continue throughout Silwan
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) —  The weekly public prayer in al-Bustan protest tent was canceled yesterday due to heavy rain. Residents made their Friday prayer in al-Aqsa Mosque instead … Clashes continued throughout Silwan despite weather conditions yesterday, although less intense than previous days. A Palestinian resident of Silwan was hit by an Israeli military vehicle and assaulted last night. The jeep sped off as residents gathered at the site of the attack.

More than half of Palestinians live in the Diaspora at the end of 2010
RAMALLAH (Ahlul Bayt News Agency) – A press release issued by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) stated that the projected number of Palestinians in the world at the end of 2010 is 11 million, more than half of whom live in the diaspora. The distribution of the Palestinians according to the report is as follows: 4.1 million Palestinians were in the 1967-occupied Palestinian territory (of which 2.5 million were in the West Bank and 1.6 million in Gaza), 1.4 million Palestinians in 1948-occupied Palestine, 5 in Arab countries and 600 thousand in other countries. The report also stated that 44% of Palestinians living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are refugees (18% in the West Bank and 26% in the Gaza Strip).

Activism / Solidarity / Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions

Bil`in protester dies after inhaling tear gas
…Palestinian medical sources in Ramallah said 36-year-old Jawahir Abu Rahmah, from Bil`in, died at Ramallah medical compound. Abu Rahmah inhaled large amounts of tear gas fired by Israeli forces who forcibly dispersed a non-violent rally protesting the separation wall [Friday]. The local popular committee said doctors fought through the night to save Abu Rahmah’s life. She was diagnosed as suffering from poisoning caused by the active ingredient in the tear-gas, and did not respond to treatment, the committee said in a statement.

Bil`in protester laid to rest
Jawaher Abu Rahma, who died less than 24 hours after participating in a protest against the West Bank separation fence at Bil`in, was buried Saturday afternoon in her village. Abu Rahma was the sister of Bassem, who was killed at similar Bil`in protest in 2009, and Ashraf, who was shot by an IDF soldier when his hands were cuffed.,7340,L-4007411,00.html

Report from Bil`in and meeting Jawaher Abu Rahmah / Ahmed Moor
(with video) …‘tear gas’ is a bad name for it. It feels like a million blue shards of glass tearing at your alveoli and shredding your eyes. You can’t see and double over, trying not to breathe. Acid tears are streaming down your face, but the overwhelming sensation is of being bombarded and suffocated. You’re ensconced in darkness and your thoughts are disrupted – you only want to get away. And every breath tears at your insides; vicious animals live in your lungs. I’d rather not breathe than take one more anguished, searing, charred breath. Then, you don’t have a choice; you can’t breathe. You’re struggling to run and are overcome by dizziness. Other people help you escape. Only Jawaher Abu Rahmah didn’t escape. She protested, dignified and unwavering for hours. She refused to yield and for that she died. [see more articles about this and much else on]

Palestinian tear gas death is ‘war crime’
RAMALLAH – THE death of a Palestinian woman who inhaled tear gas fired by Israeli troops at a West Bank protest is a ‘war crime,’ the Palestinian leadership said on Saturday. ‘We condemn this abominable crime by the Israeli occupation army in Bilin against people taking part in a peaceful demonstration and consider it an Israeli war crime against our people,’ chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP.

List of demonstrators killed during protests against the Wall
[Jawaher Abu Rahmah is the 21st]

Protesters breached the wall in Bil`in
Over a thousand protesters responded to the Bil`in Popular Committee’s call to march on the Wall in the village today, in what they announced to be “the last day of the Wall” … Despite the siege laid on the village by the Israeli army, activists – Palestinians, Israelis and internationals – swarmed the hills and valleys surrounding Bil`in by the hundreds and managed to join those already in the village … An overwhelming number of Israeli soldiers and Border Police officers spread along the path of the Wall, but were not able to stop demonstrators equipped with bolt-cutters from breaching through the Wall in three places. In one place, the protesters actually managed to carry a rather significant chunk of the Wall back to the village. One protester was hit in the face with a tear-gas projectile shot directly at him, and required hospitalization.

Fayyad attends ‘Last Day of the Wall’ protest [roundup of Friday protests]
… South of Ni`lin, at least 50 villagers were said to have erected a road block demanding access to lands taken over for settlement expansion. The spokeswoman said troops declared the area a closed zone and dispersed the protesters. In An Nabi Saleh, Israeli officials said forty came out to protest land confiscations. That protest was also dispersed. In the southern West Bank, organizers said 150 participated in a call by the Ma`asara popular committee to join villagers in their protest of Israeli land confiscations.

Army shuts down Beit Ummar rally
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli soldiers used forces to shut down a peaceful rally in Beit Ummarnorth of Hebron on Saturday, protest organizers said. Palestinian Solidarity Project spokesman Mohammad Ayyad Awad said Israeli soldiers occupied the roof of resident Sami Abed Al-Hamid Abu Maria’s home. From the rooftop, soldiers fired rubber-coated steel bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at protesters, injuring dozens, the spokesman said.

Humanitarian aid sails on final leg of its journey to Gaza, Palestine
(with photos) Latakia, Syria, 1 Jan 2011: The Asia to Gaza caravan arrived to a grand welcome by the Governor of Latakia, Dr. Khalyl Mashhaddya, a cardio-thoracic surgeon, on 25th December, in the port city of Syria, with school children playing their band and raising pro-Palestine and pro-Syria placards on the street … While awaiting the clearance from Egyptian authorities for entering Gaza, the caravan members were invited by a host of organizations – of students, farmers, workers and engineers. The caravan members also visited the Al-aa-Deen camp of Palestinian refugees, some of whom came as far back as in 1948. This camp is also host to Syrian refugees from Golan Heights and some Palestinian refugees from Iraq.


Canadian boat to Gaza campaign is legal, ethical and necessary / Heap & O’Keefe
The Canadian Boat to Gaza initiative continues to be a target for a smear campaign that has little regard for law or facts. Rather incredibly, the executive of the University of British Columbia’s Alma Mater Society has subjected a routine donation for our campaign from the student Social Justice Centre to an “investigation” into potential “links to terrorism” A final decision on this so-called investigation is expected at the January 12 AMS meeting.

Strains in Egypt-Iran ties affect Gaza aid
31 Dec …the relief material that is to be shipped from the Syrian port of Latakia to Al Arish in Egypt cannot be moved because of Cairo’s refusal to grant visas to Iranian nationals who are part of the caravan, said a statement from the New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI), the organisers of this trans-Asia event. Egypt and Iran have a tense political relationship, which had once led Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to accuse the Egyptian government of being a “partner in crimes in Gaza”.

Siege / Restriction on movement / Rights violations

Sheikh Saleh visits Jerusalem’s Old City
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Head of the Islamic movement in Israel Sheikh Ra’ed Saleh delivered a speech to crowds of Palestinians in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Al-Joz on Friday. The visit was the second for the official following a ban on his entering the holy city which expired in November.

Gaza crossings close
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israel enforced its curtailed crossings opening for the final week of 2010, telling Gaza officials that all goods transfer terminals would be closed on Friday, and re-open on Sunday.

PA detains 20 at Jordan crossing
PA police arrested 20 Palestinians wanted on various criminal charges at the Allenby Bridge crossing between the West Bank and Jordan, a weekly round-up of activity at the crossing said … The report added Israeli authorities at the border denied passage to 54 Palestinians citing security concerns

Unexplained recorders behind arrest of US national at Rafah
EL-ARISH (Ma’an) — Egyptian authorities on the Rafah crossing said Thursday that officers detained a Palestinian woman with a US passport for failing to explain why she carried six camera-pens with her. The woman, a resident of the American state of Florida, did “not given a clear reason” for why she was carrying the pens, officials said, adding that she was transferred to the public prosecution by Egyptian state security.

Overcrowded schools in Gaza hit education
Gaza: Palestinians have traditionally fallen back on education as they have been inundated with obstacles since the Nakba (day of the catastrophe) in 1948 forced them from their homes into the diaspora. However, of late, the Palestinian education system is undergoing major problems of overcrowding which is weakening it. Approximately 53 per cent of the population [is] under the age of 18 and nearly half a million children in Gaza attend schools that are overcrowded and dilapidated, according to the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics.

War crimes

Video: Gaza hosts photo exhibition
A picture is worth a 1000 words, this is the motto of this exhibition showcasing 100’s of photos taken by journalists during the Israel’s onslaught against Gaza during the winter of 2008-2009. Some bombs, dropped on the Strip during the three-week war, are on display. Talented artists have also pitched in by using materials like Styrofoam to create these warplanes, tanks and gunboats, which were part of the Israeli war machine.

Gaza war victims live in sorrow and silence
Gaza: It has become clear that not even two whole years after the war on Gaza are enough to either heal the pain or reduce the sorrow of those residing in this afflicted strip. One of such families is that of Al Haddad. In southern Tel Al Hawa, 26-year-old Mohammad Al Haddad lives in a four-storey building along with his 18-year-old brother, Salam. In the 2008 Israeli offensive in Gaza, the rest of his family members were killed. There is complete silence in the normally chaotic house, with the only sound of a chirping canary coming from one of the rooms.

Gaza assault: the 27 Dec 2008 attack on the police station
Shock and awe
The surprise missile attack on a Gaza police station that launched the Cast Lead operation set off waves of international condemnation and a concerted Israeli effort to justify the strike. Now, two years later, Gaza eyewitnesses and IDF sources reopen old wounds.

Polished his shoes, saved his life
An eyewitness account of the attack on a Gaza police station by Hussein Mahmoud Ahmad

Mistaken identity
An eyewitness account of the attack on a Gaza police station by Hana’a al-Mabhouh.

In Pictures / Hamas stages mock Israeli attack to mark Gaza war anniversary
Hamas rulers staged a mock attack by Israel on Thursday to commemorate Israel’s 2008 Gaza offensive. The re-enactment included loud booms, clouds of smoke, fake blood and rubble. Only the rubble was real.

Ginning up for war again?

Militant groups in Gaza to halt rocket attacks
31 Dec – Armed Palestinian groups in Gaza have decided to halt rocket attacks on Israel, a senior Islamic Jihad commander announced yesterday. “We agreed to halt one of the means of armed resistance — which is firing rockets at Israel — to avoid Israeli threats,” said Daoud Shihab, an Islamic Jihad spokesman, “but the armed resistance will keep active by confronting [Israeli] raids and incursions.” The decision to suspend rocket attacks, however, was “temporary” and “linked to the situation on the ground”. The agreement among smaller factions based in Gaza, reached on Wednesday at a meeting called by Hamas, coincides with rising tensions due to an escalation of Palestinian rocket strikes on Israel and Israeli retaliatory action.

Israel: Gaza projectile lands in south
1 Jan – Israeli military officials reported Thursday shortly before midnight that a projectile launched from Gaza exploded in an open field in the Ashkelon Regional Council … The announcement comes one day after reports in the Israeli media saying militant factions in Gaza had agreed to stem the flow of projectiles toward Israel in an effort to prevent an Israeli escalation. Gaza analysts have said they fear a new offensive.

PFLP wing: 4 shells fired at army post
In a statement, the Abu Ali Mustafa brigades said fighters fired four mortar shells at Sofa and Kisufim military installations [Saturday] … An Israeli military spokeswoman was not aware of any attacks on military posts

Israel’s military chief: We will not allow citizens to be fired on
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) 30 Dec — “We will not allow a situation in which our citizens and towns are being fired at from a safe area among citizens,” Israel’s military chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi told a group of Israeli high school students in Jerusalem on Sunday, the military reported. The official’s speech came amid increased concern, expressed by both Palestinians and the international community, over escalations in war rhetoric from Israeli officials.

Shin Bet warns of Hamas attack despite quiet 2010
JERUSALEM (AFP) 1 Jan — The year 2010 saw the fewest militant attacks against Israel and the least number of casualties since the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising a decade ago, the Shin Bet security agency said Thursday. Despite the announcement, the report added a caution, saying the Gaza Strip’s Hamas rulers had intensified efforts to smuggle in advanced weapons as they prepare for a future conflict with Israel. Palestinian officials have accused Israel of stepping up its war rhetoric in recent weeks … The Shin Bet said that 9 Israelis were killed in attacks by Palestinian militants in 2010, down from 15 in 2009 and a high of 452 in 2002. [Palestinians killed by Israelis in 2010: 69;  27 Dec ’08-Dec ’09: 1,457; in 2002: 1,030. Source: B’]

Detention / Deportation

PA forces say ‘wanted’ Hamas member detained
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Palestinian Authority security forces detained a Hamas leader from Hebron overnight on Thursday, the man was said to have been wanted by PA security. The source, who requested anonymity, said Ayoub Al-Qawasmi has been on the PA’s “most wanted” list since 1998.

Gaza ministry demands release of Hamas member
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Gaza’s Interior Ministry on Saturday demanded the immediate release of Hamas affiliate Ayoub Al-Qawasmi from Palestinian Authority custody.

PA pays Nativity deportees’ rent in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — The Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Finance has paid rent on behalf of all Palestinians deported to the Gaza Strip after the 2002 siege of the Nativity Church, a Gaza spokesman for the deportees said Saturday … Twenty-six Palestinians who took refuge in the church were expelled to Gaza and 13 were expelled to Europe following Operation Defensive Shield in April 2002, during which Israeli forces besieged the church and Bethlehem in a bid to locate Palestinian combatants.

Racism / Discrimination

Israelis resist their own Arabs / Mel Frykberg
RAMALLAH, Jan 1, 2011 (IPS) – A number of recent incidents discriminating against Israel’s Palestinian minority has prompted Israeli Knesset (parliament) members to debate whether Israel is becoming increasingly racist. Ronit Sela from the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (Acri) has no doubts. “Israel’s democracy is under threat as an increasingly large racist element raises its collective head. A number of racist occurrences have taken place in a climate conducive to racism. This wouldn’t have happened prior to the current right-wing Israeli government,” Sela told IPS.

Village pleads for electricity, water
As 2011 approaches, one Palestinian village appears stuck in the Middle Ages. Jub al-Dib, located in the section of the West Bank under Israel’s jurisdiction, has no running water or electricity, and the authorities don’t seem to care … Jub al-Dib has been asking Israel to connect it to electricity and water since 1988, but the appeals were rejected.,7340,L-4007221,00.html

Report: Millions needed to upgrade East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (AFP) – More than $500 million are needed to upgrade infrastructure in Palestinian neighborhoods of occupied East Jerusalem, the results of an official Israeli study published on Friday showed. Some $559 million are needed to upgrade Palestinian districts if they are to be at par with Jewish neighborhoods of the the Holy City, the report carried by Yediot Aharonot newspaper said.

Police summon Safed rabbi over racist letter
Chief Rabbi of Safed Shmuel Eliyahu has been summoned by police over a letter he published urging the public to refrain from renting and selling homes to Arabs. However Eliyahu told Ynet Friday he would not answer the summons. Police are seeking to interrogate the rabbi on suspicion of incitement to racism, and he was summoned to Jerusalem on Sunday.,7340,L-4007188,00.html

A bit more about the rabbis / Adam Keller
…This week Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu and his rabbinical colleagues held a conference in Be’er Sheva, expressing their determination not to allow the state authorities to persecute them or gag their mouths or deny them the right to continue issuing fiery racist manifestos fully paid by this country’s Jewish and Arab taxpayers … If, God forbid, one of them gets fired or prosecuted, all his colleagues would then and there resign, with the specific aim of bringing about “The total collapse of the entire rabbinical system.” … A total collapse of the entire rabbinical system? Yes, please.

Political/Diplomatic news

Brazil hosts first Palestinian ’embassy’ in Americas (Reuters)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas lays foundation stone for future embassy in capital Brasilia … Brazil became the first of several South American countries in recent weeks to recognize a Palestine state along pre-1967 borders. Since then Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia and Ecuador have done the same. Chile, Mexico, Peru and Nicaragua are reported to be considering recognition.

Palestinian leader wants US backing in UN proposal (AP)
JERUSALEM — The Palestinian president said a new attempt by the Palestinians to get the United Nations to condemn Israeli settlements was specifically designed to win U.S. support. As part of a new emphasis on winning international support for their cause, the Palestinians have drafted a proposal and are lobbying for a Security Council resolution that would declare West Bank settlements illegal and an “obstacle to peace.” The U.S. has said it doesn’t support the move, but it remains unclear if it will veto the measure or abstain should the draft come to a vote. Israel says it is an attempt by the Palestinians to avoid negotiations.

US prefers negotiation to Palestinian UN drive
WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States reacted Friday to a Palestinian and Arab draft resolution set to go to the United Nations urging Israel to halt Jewish settlements, saying only that it preferred negotiations.

Abbas urges Quartet to draft new peace plan
After laying cornerstone for future Palestinian embassy in Brazil, the PA president calls upon UN, U.S., Europe and Russia to devise a new vision for Mideast peace.

Hamas says new cabinet shuffle proceeding
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A new Gaza government cabinet is on its way, head of the committee charged with assembling the team of new ministers Khalil Al-Haya told Ma’an on Thursday. The update came late in the day, after Islamic Jihad officials publicly declined a spot in the body, saying they would prefer to continue to remain outside of government. Days earlier, the independent PLO faction the Popular Struggle Front said it would not participate in the government for ideological reasons.

Gaza PM meets representative of the Jordanian chief of staff
The delegation which met Ismail Haniyeh was headed by Major General Mahmoud Forayhat, the head of military operations in Jordan. Mr. Haniyah told his Jordanian visitors that the Palestinian cabinet in Gaza “cannot accept what is claimed to be the Palestinians’ alternative homeland” by Israelis wanting to complete the ethnic cleansing of Palestine by “transferring” the population across the River Jordan. “There can be no solution for the Palestine question at the expense of Jordan or Jordanian territory under any circumstances,” he added.

Dahlan faces partial boycott of press conference
An Egyptian journalist specialising in the Palestine issue has claimed that key Palestinian and Egyptian journalists in Cairo boycotted a press conference held by Fatah’s Mohammed Dahlan on 29 December. Ibrahim El-Darawy said that a number of journalists refused to attend the event at which Dahlan intended to respond to the stance against him taken by Fatah’s Central Committee; the former Fatah minister then said that he would return to Ramallah.

PA forces arrest bureau director of Fatah’s Dahlan
Sources say Mu’taz Khdeir, who has been working with former Fatah security commander for past few years, arrested for “security reasons.” The arrest is part of a massive crackdown on Dahlan loyalists in the West Bank. Dozens of Palestinians suspected of being affiliated with Dahlan have been arrested by PA security forces in recent weeks.

Hamas bars Fatah commemoration in Gaza
GAZA CITY: Hamas movement which controls the Gaza Strip prevented on Saturday Fatah supporters here from commemorating the 46th anniversary of the start of the revolution. In a statement, Abdullah Abu Samhdana, a senior Fatah leader based in Gaza, said: “No one can banish the Fatah movement from history because it has been written by the blood of martyrs.”

Other news

East Med gas bonanza has many perils
BEIRUT, Lebanon, Dec. 31 (UPI) — Confirmation that the Leviathan natural gas field off Israel contains reserves of at least 16 trillion cubic feet, the largest gas discovery of the decade, could trigger an exploration boom across the eastern Mediterranean, but those who take part face many perils … The problem is that these riches, lying up to 3 miles beneath the seabed, are inextricably woven into the seemingly intractable conflicts that plague the region, especially the Arab-Israeli struggle that now encompasses Iran as well … The Palestinians, struggling to achieve an independent state in land still occupied by Israel, found gas off the Gaza Strip in 2000. But Ariel Sharon, who became Israel’s prime minister in February 2001, refused to allow them to develop the find, dubbed the Gaza Marine Field, which was awarded to the Palestinian Authority under the 1993-94 Oslo Accords.

Haniyeh: We don’t pursue journalists in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Gaza government Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Thursday denied that security forces persecuted Palestinian journalists for political or professional reasons.

Palestinian orchestra to hold debut concert in Ramallah
The first Palestinian orchestra of professional classical musicians since 1948 is due to perform its debut concert in Ramallah in the West Bank … All of the musicians are of Palestinian origin, and many have played with orchestras around the world. The group is an initiative of the Edward Said Conservatory of Music, named after the late Palestinian writer and academic, and was formed in 1994.The programme also consists of a piece by the modern Hungarian Jewish composer, Gyorgy Ligeti, both of whose parents were sent to Auschwitz.

Couples who divorce recklessly to face fine
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Sheikh Yousif Ed’is, acting supreme judge of Palestine, said the Supreme Judge’s office decided to impose a penalty of 100 Jordanian Dinars ($140) or more to married couples who recklessly utter the word divorce outside religious courts. The step, he explained was an attempt to prevent married couples, particularly men, who are usually in charge of the marriage bond, from divorcing their partners in a moment of anger.

Jordan Valley rattled by 3.6 magnitude earthquake
No injuries or damage reported; Beit She’an area felt quake the strongest but actual source has yet to be identified.

Israel to compensate PA for Paz fuel theft scandal
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — A Palestinian Authority lawsuit against Israeli fuel company Paz Oil for stealing fuel will be settled by the Israeli government, officials said on Thursday, and will see the PA compensated for losses. The suit came after workers accused Paz Oil transporters of siphoning profits from the daily petrol it is contractually required to deliver under a two-year deal with the PA that expires in September.

Analysis / Opinion/ Human interest

Gaza doctor’s story: a painful legacy of occupation / Jane Eisner
The public pain suffered by Izzeldin Abuelaish, the Gaza doctor who lost three of his daughters and a niece when their house was bombed by the Israel Defense Forces in the closing days of Operation Cast Lead two years ago, is by now well known, his horrifying cries — broadcast live on Israeli television — symbolizing the worst human outcome of that complicated military campaign. But I want to share with you another terrifying moment in Abuelaish’s story.

The US Congress’s pet pariah / Franklin Lamb
…As never before. the international community, increasingly appalled and angered by Israeli crimes is pulling back from supporting or trying to justify Israel’s actions and is shifting attention to the rights of Palestinians to live in their own country, to return from their Nakba-caused refugee “sanctuaries”  in more than 60 countries and to recognize the state of Palestine; this as  some in the international community prepare to  escort Israel before the bar of international justice. But not in the US Congress which is some ways has become a grotesque  caricature  of what James Madison and the founding fathers wanted and, perhaps naively, as it has turned out, believed they had created.

A blink of Israeli pride amid our anti-democratic fest / Gideon Levy
One could breathe a sigh of relief after Moshe Katsav was convicted; the prosecution did not frame, the media did not tell tales and the public did not lynch; the judges carried out their task.

Right for the wrong reasons / Rannie Amiri
The foreign policy mantra of Israel’s radical, Moldovan-born foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, can be accurately summarized in just four words: always blame the victim … But in the midst of his speech to Israeli ambassadors, two rare statements of truth emerged from the mendacious Lieberman. “It is forbidden for us to reach a comprehensive deal today with the Palestinians. To put it clearly, you have to understand that their government is not legitimate … It is a government that has postponed elections three times, that lost elections, that does not hold elections, does not plan to hold elections and there are no guarantees that next time they do hold elections, that Hamas won’t win again.”

Married to the revolution
Raymonda Tawil, the militant Palestinian feminist and peace activist whose daughter married Yasser Arafat, is taking a break from politics. At 70, she says she’s become a full-time grandmother … She was known as “the tigress from Nablus,” a coinage, probably, of the peace activist Uri Avnery.


Friday: 1 Iraqi killed, 3 wounded
Only one violent incident was reported today. In it, gunmen attacked a Garma checkpoint, where they killed a soldier and wounded three others. Several stories about Iraq’s future prospects surfaced as well. For women and Christians the future looks bleak, but it may be thechildren of Fallujah who will suffer the most in the coming years as a surge in birth defects looms over them. Meanwhile, Anbar has tightened security ahead of the New Year’s Day, particularly in Christian areas,

Iraq Body Count 2010: how many died and who was responsible?
Iraq Body Count has produced its annual comprehensive look at deaths in Iraq. Download the data – and see how it compares to the Wikileaks war logs — Iraq Body Count compiles the world’s most comprehensive set of casualty figures for deaths in Iraq since the invasion in 2003. And while the war has slipped from the political debate since forces began their withdrawal, the latest annual report from IBC provides a fascinating insight into a conflict in which over 150,000 people have died. The figures show that 2010 was relatively peaceful for Iraq: ‘only’ 3,976 people died from violence in the country in 2010 – the lowest figure since the year began. But, as the report says: “For those who have lost loved ones in 2010, there is no sense in which the year can represent an “improvement” on 2009.” For more Guardian stories on Iraq see

Four polygamous families with congenital birth defects from Fallujah, Iraq
Abstract: Since 2003, congenital malformations have increased to account for 15% of allbirths in Fallujah, Iraq. Congenital heart defects have the highest incidence, followed byneural tube defects … Our findings point to sporadic, untargeted events, with different phenotypes in each family and increased recurrence …We present here the analysis of  four cases of fathers with two lineages of progeny

Bradley Manning: one soldier who really did ‘defend our freedom’ / Kevin Carson
…I’ll tell you what Manning’s really impaired government’s ability to do. He’s impaired the U.S. government’s ability to lie us into wars where thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of foreigners are murdered … He’s impaired its ability to seize good, decent people who —  unlike most soldiers —  really are fighting for freedom, and hand them over to thuggish governments for torture with power tools.

Other Mideast / Arab world

Palestinian leader in Lebanon urges unified response to any Israeli aggression (AP)
BEIRUT – A Palestinian leader in Lebanon says the country’s factions should show a united force against any Israeli aggression. Munir Maqdah of Fatah spoke Friday during a parade in Lebanon’s largest refugee camp, Ein el-Hilweh. Hundreds of heavily armed fighters wearing masks marched through the cramped shantytown, where rival Palestinian groups such as Fatah and Hamas have carved out separate territories.

Report: US in secret talks with Syria over peace accord with Israel (dpa)
Kuwaiti newspaper al-Rai reports U.S. believes Syria ready to distance itself from Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas.

Egypt bomb kills 21 at Alexandria Coptic church
(with video) More than 70 others were injured in the attack, during a new year’s service at the al-Qiddissin (Saints) Church in the northern port city of Alexandria. Coptic Christians and Muslims clashed after the attack, but police moved in and used tear gas to restore order. President Hosni Mubarak urged Egyptians to unite against “terrorism”.In a televised statement, he blamed “foreign hands” for the bombing … The mosque was also damaged by the bomb and the casualties included eight injured Muslims, the health ministry said.

Egypt officer shot dead in clashes with smugglers
EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma’an) — An Egyptian security officer was shot dead Saturday in a fierce exchange of fire between human smugglers and security forces near the borders with Israel, security sources said. Border policeman Rami Ahmad Abdul-Latif, 20, was killed by a bullet to the head during clashes with smugglers attempting to transport African migrants across the border to Israel, security officials said.

Tunisia’s inspiring rebellion / Nesrine Malik
…While eyes have long been fixed on opposition movements in Iran and Egypt, suddenly Tunisia has provided one of the most inspiring episodes of indigenous revolt against a repressive regime. Following the self-immolation of an unemployed man, riots and demonstrations have swept through the country. Lebanese journalist Octavia Nasr wrote on Thursday: “I never thought this day would come. Certainly not in Tunisia.


WikiLeaks: US frustrated with Egypt military
Egypt’s military, the biggest recipient of US military aid after Israel, is in decline, according to American diplomats, who blame the Arab nation’s top brass for failing to modernize and adapt to deal with new threats.,7340,L-4007169,00.html

Many Arab officials have close CIA links: Assange
DOHA – Top officials in several Arab countries have close links with the CIA, and many officials keep visiting US embassies in their respective countries voluntarily to establish links with this key US intelligence agency, says Julian Assange, founder of the whistle-blowing website, WikiLeaks. “These officials are spies for the US in their countries,” Assange told Al Jazeera Arabic channel in an interview yesterday.

Pentagon whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg: Julian Assange is not a terrorist
…We speak to one of the signatories, Daniel Ellsberg, the famous whistleblower who leaked the Pentagon Papers about the Vietnam War in 1971. “If I released the Pentagon Papers today, the same rhetoric and the same calls would be made about me,” Ellsberg says. “I would be called not only a traitor—which I was then, which was false and slanderous—but I would be called a terrorist… Assange and Bradley Manning are no more terrorists than I am.” [includes rush transcript]

US, other world news

Guantanamo is ‘a piece of hell that kills everything’; a bleak New Year message from Yemeni prisoner Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif / Andy Worthington
Despite being cleared for release in 2007 by the Bush administration, and winning his habeas corpus petition in the District Court in Washington D.C. in July 2010, Latif remains in Guantánamo, as, distressingly, the Obama administration has chosen to appeal against his successful habeas petition … With just ten days to go before the 9th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, Latif’s attorney, David Remes, has released an unclassified letter from his client, in which Latif expresses his despair at his abandonment by the US justice system — and by his own country. I am cross-posting the letter below

Drone strikes lead to disaster in Pakistan / Misbah Saba Malik
ISLAMABAD, Dec. 31 (Xinhua) — In the year 2010, the United States has launched the greatest number of air strikes from unmanned aerial drones into the inaccessible tribal regions of northwest Pakistan, killing many people including suspected militants and innocent civilians. During the year, a total of 995 people had been killed in 122 drone strikes launched in northwestern tribal agencies of Pakistan, as compared to 53 drone strikes in 2009 which killed almost 500 people.

63 percent of Americans oppose war in Afghanistan
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Opposition to the war in Afghanistan is at an all-time high, with 63 percent of the public now opposed to U.S. involvement there, according to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey. Just 35 percent of survey respondents say they still support U.S. involvement.

Bulgaria’s border police capture 18 illegal immigrants
Two separate attempts by foreign citizens to enter Bulgaria illegally have been dealt with by the Bulgarian border police on Friday. Six Palestinian citizens were apprehended by the police close to the Kapitan Andreevo border checkpoint at about 12:15 p.m. on Friday.


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On New Year’s Day, we’ve wrapped up Mondo Awards with, wow, 34 entries


Jan 01, 2011


Annie and Phil Weiss

Happy new year! We’ve done a last groggy sweep and have now published the last of theMondo Awards submissions for inspiring compositions/people of 2010– four entries published on New Year’s Day, at the bottom of today’s page. We’ll be getting them all to the judges, and will announce winners and prizes before long.

We want to thank you, all of you who entered, those of you who read, those who cried and those smiled, mostly it’s just very empowering we’re in this together and we will prevail, we will.


We did not publish all submissions; we excluded some because the author had another piece, because the work was too casual, or because it seemed inappropriate for the criteria, etc. In that vein, we wrestled with Entry 32, Jerry Hoyt’s play, because it appears at times to rationalize suicide bombing– we’re against it– and includes what struck our (anglo) ears as inappropriate Arabic family names, but the overall impression of the piece was that a westerner was trying to fathom the Palestinian experience with empathy and so we publish it.

A piece or two was promised and not delivered; if we find them, we will put them up in days to come…

As a parting shot there are a few haikus, from annie…please add your own in the comments or send them in and we will compile them in a haiku post when the awards are announced.


Lubna sumud heart

silk of moonlight goddess free

flotilla madness


Sara spellbinds me

wild gushing hope tears

Young Brave standing there


Frailty shut the door

her She=ness Medea Roars

walks thru courage arch

Report from Bil’in and meeting Jawaher Abu Rahmah


Jan 01, 2011


Ahmed Moor


Jawaher Abu Rahmah is laid to rest next to her brother Bassem Abu Rahmah, who was also killed during a peaceful protest in Bil’in. (Photo: Joseph Dana via twitter)

Bilin was cold yesterday. It rained and the wind and damp got to everything.

About a thousand of us showed up – Palestinians, Israelis and internationals – to protest the apartheid barrier in the village. The Israeli army knew we were coming so flying checkpoints were thrown up on the main road into town. Most of us hiked around the apartheid abscesses and made it to the village where I was surprised (not really) to see Salaam Fayyad. I assume he applied in advance for an entry permit.

The march got underway after the Old Guard finished posturing for the cameras. We advanced about fifty or sixty meters when Fayyad abruptly stopped, shook a few hands, and bowed out. I heard a few jokes and sniggers as we marched on.

It wasn’t long before the Jewish People’s Liberation Army began to gas people. Sorry: It wasn’t long before the Israeli Defense Forces employed riot dispersal methods.

Photo from the Bil’in protest (Photo: Ahmed Moor)

The Israelis used two types of gas canisters. The first, which you can see in this short videoI took (below), is a fist-sized bulbous rubber projectile. It begins to dispense gas in air, causing it to spin wildly and change directions before it hits the ground. Its trajectory is very hard to predict.

The second type of canister is the more deadly kind – the kind that killed Bassem Abu Rahmah in 2009. It’s also used liberally by the young supremacists in uniform. Yesterday the steel canisters, about fifty percent larger than a neat stack of quarters, were fired directly at protesters. Their trajectory is more or less straight, but they come at you much faster.

And the gas. Well, ‘tear gas’ is a bad name for it. It feels like a million blue shards of glass tearing at your alveoli and shredding your eyes. You can’t see and double over, trying not to breathe. Acid tears are streaming down your face, but the overwhelming sensation is of being bombarded and suffocated. You’re ensconced in darkness and your thoughts are disrupted – you only want to get away. And every breath tears at your insides; vicious animals live in your lungs. I’d rather not breathe than take one more anguished, searing, charred breath. Then, you don’t have a choice; you can’t breathe. You’re struggling to run and are overcome by dizziness. Other people help you escape.

Only Jawaher Abu Rahmah didn’t escape. She protested, dignified and unwavering for hours. She refused to yield and for that she died. She was 36 and was killed for peacefully protesting The Jewish People’s Right to Self-Determination in Palestine. Her body now rests in the cold, red earth they deify.

We exchanged a few words of encouragement before I snapped her picture, when she was still someone’s mother.

I wish I knew how distressed she was.

At scene of gasing, journalist Goldman discredited IDF, Ynet and NYT (which wasn’t there)


Jan 01, 2011


Philip Weiss

The Israeli army, the New York Times and Ynet all said or suggested yesterday that the Israeli army was teargassing demonstrators, including Jawaher Abu Rahmah, 36, who was killed, because of demonstrator violence; and the outlets were all quickly discredited by people on the scene on twitter–and in this wrapup by Alex Kane. What follows are a series of tweets from yesterday’s Bil’in demonstration from Israeli-Canadian journalist Lisa Goldman. Mixed in are some tweets from Alex Kane, Joseph Dana (ibnezra), Noam Sheizaf and Aarondover. (Go to Goldman’s twitter feed to get a real feel for what the teargas experience was like.)

Bulleted tweets are Goldman’s: 

 Aarondover: I do admire your bravery Lisa. Jews gassing jews gives me the horn. Is that wrong? (@lisang)

Lisa Goldman: @aarondover I guess just gassing civilians – kids, old people – who are demonstrating for their civil rights, is wrong. 

Wow, I hope you read that one. Here’s Goldman again: Ynet reporter slurs non-violent movement. 

nsheizaf IFD spokesperson lies: tear gas was fired in Bil’in yesterday before protest came even close to the fence. I have seen it myself

Alex Kane: Disingenuous for @nytimes 2 report on stone throwing at Bil’in when @ibnezrareports that no such thing hppened ystrdy 

[Here’s an excerpt of the Times account by Isabel Kershner: “The Palestinians say the protests are meant to be nonviolent, but they inevitably end in clashes, with young Palestinians hurling stones and the Israeli security forces firing tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets.”]

Goldman again: @alexbkane That’s because NYT did not have a reporter on the scene.

ibnezra We must call this what it is: murder. The israeli army has murdered a nonviolent demonstrator in bilin 

The teargas grenades that killed Jawaher Abu Rahmah were most likely ‘made in the USA’


Jan 01, 2011


Jeff Klein


Jeff Klein and a tear gas grenade in Bil’in.

Regarding Ahmed Moor’s report from Bil’in:

Those rubber teargas grenades (rubber so they bounce along spreading the gas rather than get stuck in one place) are “Made in USA.” I believe that the 40mm teargas shells are also made in USA.

This is one of the tear gas grenades thrown at us by the Israeli Army at a demonstration against the Apartheid Wall outside the West Bank village of Bil’in. It is made by the Defense Technology Corporation of America, headquartered in Casper, Wyoming –

Stinger® Rubber Ball Grenade - CS

First ResponseCrowd ManagementTactical Deployment
Stinger® Rubber Ball Grenade
1088 CS
1089 OC
1090 Rubber Pellet Only

To psychologically and physiologically maximize less-lethal force against the most stubborn of crowds, the Stinger® rubber ball grenade offers the multiple stimulus of light, sound, rubber pellets and optional CS or OC chemical agents.


cid:image007.gif@01C7033E.15167F001088 CS
cid:image007.gif@01C7033E.15167F001089 OC
cid:image007.gif@01C7033E.15167F001090 Rubber Pellet Only



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