Archive | March 13th, 2012

Mondoweiss Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

MSM jailbreak: Chris Hayes devotes 2 hours to conflict with panel of 2 Zionists and 2 Palestinians
Mar 11, 2012

Philip Weiss

Chris Hayes and Mustapha Barghouti
Chris Hayes and Mustafa Barghouti

This morning marked a historic day in the mainstream discourse: Chris Hayes devoted two hours of his MSNBC show “Up With Chris Hayes” to a discussion of the Israel/Palestine conflict,with a balanced roundtable. Let me repeat, with a balanced roundtable.

I’ve watched about half the show so far and I’m blown away by the fact that in the discourse Hayes established, two Zionists, Jeremy Ben-Ami at the center-left and Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahiat the far right, must share the forum with Palestinians Rula Jebreal, the author of Miral, andLeila Hilal of the New America Foundation.

Jebreal repeatedly takes on Laszlo Mizrahi for distorting her views, once puts her head in her hands as Laszlo Mizrahi talks; while Laszlo Mizrahi looks like she has a stomach ache.

Some of the highlights: in segment 1, Jebreal says the whole debate over Iran is “irrational,” driven by Jewish fears; Hayes seems to endorse this view when he describes Netanyahu’s gift to Obama of the Purim chapter of the bible, and Netanyahu’s reported comment, “Even then they [Persians] wanted to wipe us out”;  Hilal also says the bias in the U.S. debate is the contention that Iran won’t behave as a rational actor; Ben-Ami boldly chimes in that it doesn’t make any sense to contend that Iran will drop a bomb on Tel Aviv, because it would be destroyed if it did so…

In segment 3, Hayes insists on talking about the settlements. He brings on a surprisingly refreshing retired Israeli general, Shlomo Gazit, who says he thinks there is no likelihood of a two state solution. “I don’t see the possibility of an Israeli government capable of taking the decision of removing [60-80,000 settlers so as to achieve a] border that can allow the establishment of a viable Palestinian state… It will be literally a civil war in Israel.”

For his part, Hayes says that the political consensus for a two state solution has been “vastly eroded,” and Ben-Ami says that this is the right wing’s doing (ignoring the liberals and leftists who support a one state solution). And Gazit does little to promote the two-state solution when he says it is necessary to preserve a strong Jewish majority, of 80 percent Jews in Israel…

More to come tomorrow. Meantime, we really must applaud Hayes, who states in segment two that the debate over Israel and Palestine “is grounded within the special relationship” — which means, no Palestinians get to speak. He has done a ton to reverse that. Let’s hope his bravery is contagious.

(I guess this means I have to apologize to David Cohen of Comcast? No; I’m still waiting for the other Chris.)

Israel is sucking up all the oxygen in the White House

Mar 11, 2012

Bruce Wolman

NETANYAHU OBAMA HP 2
Obama had his 9th meeting with the leader of which state of 7 million people last week?

Editor: Last weekend at Occupy AIPAC, Bruce Wolman remarked that the lobby demands so much diplomatic attention from the White House that it takes away Obama’s ability to deal more assertively with China– say, by insisting that it reinvest its dollars here so as to grow American jobs. Oh no: Obama must use his diplomatic capital to get China on board with our Iranian agenda. A few days later we saw the two ads produced by Israel lobby groups making Obama’s supposed betrayal of Israel the only issue in the forthcoming campaign. We sent them to Wolman, and asked him to expound his theory. 

Besides political discourse and the blatant hypocrisy between expressed values and actual deeds, what about actual diplomatic horse-trading or the utilization of capital in our soft-power account? I believe the latter has a great deal to do with the Israel government and Israel lobby’s hold over Congress and the Democratic Party, and thus in turn on the Executive Branch itself.

In all the issues I raise below, how many lobby-approved appointees are now in executive positions that deal with those issues? Even non-Jews appointed must have pro-Israel/Wall Street cred.

And consider a leading lobby organization, the American Jewish Committee. It runs its own foreign policy. There is probably not a government in the world that would refuse the request for an AJC meeting if asked for one. They are too afraid to say no. Look at these testimonials:

“AJC remains today an important partner for Germany-both in terms of dialogue with American Jewry and transatlantic relations in general.”

Angela Merkel, German Chancellor

“Let me acknowledge those who have substantially contributed to the creation of an order of security and peace in Europe, such as the American Jewish Committee.”

Václav Havel, President of the Czech Republic (1993-2003)

“AJC is the most effective, most influential, and most respected of American Jewish organizations…. My door will always be open to AJC.”

Nicolas Sarkozy, French President

Whether the lobby has power or not, the outside world thinks it does and foreign governments are constantly trying to get lobby support for their own issues in Washington.

Now some of the costs:

1. Many segments of US industry realize that they are not benefiting from US-China trade policy. Some industries such as solar power and telecom systems are getting decimated. Illegal copying pervades software, entertainment and gaming. Other industries are not getting agreed access to Chinese markets, and those that are do not earn profits or realize they are being forced to transfer their technology and marketing skills at an alarming rate. Let’s say finance, Walmart, agriculture and Boeing still benefit.
Are the rest without political influence? How much is US willingness to suffer enormous persistent trade deficits and Chinese exchange rate control due to a quid-pro-quo for a relatively free-hand carrying out our self-defeating ME policies, including the full-court press on Iran? (The trade deficit is a much more serious and immediate problem than the fiscal deficit. In fact, most of the fiscal deficit would go away if we could get our trade in balance.)
2. How much has defending Israel in the UN and reshaping the management at the IAEA cost us with respect to soft-power flexing? Besides the coercion applied, what did we give up or agree to in order to buy votes on the Security Council or other organs?
3. How much have we damaged ties with Turkey by taking Israel’s side on the dispute between them and by insisting Turkey make-up with Israel?
4. How much is our relationship with Egypt being damaged by our insistence that any new rulers maintain the status quo with respect to the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty?
5. How much is our unshakeable support of Israel preventing any reconciliation with Iran?
6. How much is our unflappable defense of Israel’s nuclear weapon program preventing non-proliferation in the MidEast? (We are not even allowed to mention the notion of a Nuclear Free Zone in the Middle East, something every country in the world except one favors.)
7. How much do we concede to the ME authoritarian/royal dictatorships to buy their cooperation with our Israeli bias?
8. How much is our beefing up of Colombia and the deep freeze in relations with Venezuela due to Israel’s relationship with both countries?
9. What trade concessions have we conceded to Japan, South Korea, and the other Asian tigers to keep them in line with respect to our Mideast policies?

Israel’s bogus case for bombing Gaza obscures political motives

Mar 11, 2012

Max Blumenthal

 

images
Max Blumenthal

In the last two days, Israeli forces have killed at least 15 residents of the Gaza Strip and wounded over 30. Among the dead are two young boys (see here and here), while the wounded included a reporter from the Ma’an News Agency and his pregnant wife. Militant factions in Gaza have responded to the Israeli assault by launching several homemade rockets at Southern Israel, leaving two injured and no one dead.

The Israeli army claimed that it initiated the assault on Gaza in order to kill two alleged militants who supposedly “masterminded” a brazen and deadly terror attack near the Israeli city of Eilat in August of last year. The army also claimed the two were planning a new operation. According to Al Jazeera English’s Jerusalem correspondent Paul Brennan:

The Israeli army is saying these two people it targeted with its clinical airstrike on Friday night were senior militants who were plotting an attack.

The Israeli army says that last year’s attack on the road that runs alongside the Egyptian border, where eight people were killed and 25 Israeli soldiers were wounded, was masterminded by the two men they targeted.

“Zuhair Al-Qaissi and Mahmoud Al-Hannani were said to have been behind these attacks, and the Israeli army said that these two men were planning a similar attack and that is why they launched their aerial clinical attack.

The Jerusalem Post, which functions as a virtual bulletin board for the Israeli army, told asimilar story: “The IDF said it decided to bomb Qaisi’s car due to intelligence that he was plotting a large terrorist attack along the border with Egypt,” the paper reported, “similar to the one the [Popular Resistance Committee] carried out last August that killed eight Israelis.”

As is so often the case, the Israeli army is lying through its teeth. According to the army’s own investigation of the Eliat attack last year, the attackers were not from Gaza as Israeli government spokespeople initially claimed — they were Egyptian. The army’s investigative findings were first reported by Alex Fishman, the military correspondent for the Israeli daily Yedioth Aharanoth, who had treated the earlier attempts to blame Gaza’s Popular Resistance Committees for Eilat with extreme skepticism. Bloggers Idan Landau [Hebrew only], Richard Silverstein and Yossi Gurvitz also marshaled evidence shredding the army’s case against Gaza.

Finally, in November, Egyptian security forces arrested the suspected mastermind of the Eilat plot, shattering the Israeli army’s initial claims about Gazan culpability. By then, however, Israeli forces had already killed 30 Gazans in retaliation for an attack they had absolutely nothing to do with.

This weekend, the Israeli army reverted to falsely blaming Gazans for last August’s Eilat attacks, contradicting its own investigation and heaps of evidence proving the attacks were planned in Egypt and carried out by Egyptians. The army has no proof that the men it assassinated on Friday — Al-Qaissi and Al-Hannani — were involved in the Eilat attacks, or that they were planning any military operations. So in order to manufacture a violent confrontation, the Israeli military simply concocted a lie that conceals what appears to be political considerations.

The renewed assault on Gaza coincided with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s return to Israel after days of discussions in Washington with President Barack Obama about Iran’s nuclear program. Netanyahu had hoped to secure a solid commitment from Obama to authorize an attack on Iran, or to at least support an Israeli strike in the near future. Instead, he was rebuked, with Obama condemning Netanyahu’s “loose talk of war” and warning himnot to strike Iran. During his speech at AIPAC, Netanyahu was forced to mute his demand for Obama to agree to “red lines” on Iran’s nuclear program that would trigger a US attack, and he descended instead into an incoherent, demagogic rant about a “nuclear duck” and the Holocaust. If Bibi accomplished anything during his visit to Washington, it was keeping the Palestinians off the discussion table, guaranteeing his government a free hand to build expand settlements in the West Bank and attack Gaza with impunity.

Almost as soon as he limped back to Jerusalem in frustration, Netanyahu gathered with his generals to gin up a case for pounding Gaza. The Gaza Strip, with its warehoused population of stateless refugees, would serve as their punching bag and pressure release valve. They could not have their war on Iran — not yet, at least — but they could assault Palestinians in Gaza without fear of repercussions from Washington.

Yesterday, as the Gazan death toll climbed into the teens, US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice took to Twitter to declare: “We thoroughly condemn terrorist rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israeli towns & cities and call on both sides to restore calm.”

(Originally published on Al Akhbar)

#USWeaponBombGaza trends globally

Mar 11, 2012

Today in Palestine

She tweeted…

We thoroughly condemn terrorist rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israeli towns & cities and call on both sides to restore calm.

— Susan Rice (@AmbassadorRice) March 11, 2012

and we responded by trending globally and carrying the lead story on Twitter Discover

#USWeaponsBombGaza and kill invisible children twitter.com/MaxBlumenthal/…

— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) March 11, 2012

#USWeaponBombGaza is number ONE in stories. twitter.com/imNadZ/status/…

— Nader  (@imNadZ) March 11, 2012

War on Gaza & Other Violence and Aggression

A fresh Israeli air raid on Gaza early Sunday killed a 12-year-old, bringing the death toll from strikes since Friday to 17 and dashing Hamas hopes of restoring a tacit truce. The killing of the leader of the ultra-hardline Popular Resistance Comittees and a slew of other militants in Israeli raids on Friday unleashed a spiral of tit-for-tat violence on the Israel-Gaza border that has made for the highest death toll in more than three years. The European Union and the United States urged both sides to restore calm but Palestinian militants vowed to avenge their dead and Israel threatened to hit back if its citizens came under renewed rocket attacks from the coastal enclave.

At least 15 killed as Israel pounds Gaza
Israeli air strikes on Gaza killed 15 Palestinians, including the leader of a resistance group, medics said on Saturday. These have been the deadliest 24 hours of attacks on the area in more than three years. Two men riding a motorcycle in the town of Khan Yunis were killed in a raid on Saturday, medics said. Israeli media said three of the casualties were Thai agricultural laborers working on a farm near the border with Gaza. The Israeli military said an aircraft attacked “a terrorist squad” planning to fire rockets, but provided no evidence for these claims.
link to english.al-akhbar.com

Israel assassinated the leader of a Palestinian resistance faction on Friday in a targeted attack on a car in the Gaza Strip, an Israeli official said. A former prisoner released last year in an Israeli-Hamas prisoner exchange deal also died in the blast, while a third person was injured. The blast set a small metallic blue car ablaze. At least two of the victims were inside the vehicle when the explosion occurred, witnesses said. Reuters television footage showed one charred body being carried away from the scene.
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — The Popular Resistance Committee that militants from the group’s armed wing had survived an Israeli airstrike on Saturday evening. The group said that one militant from the An-Nasser Salah Addin Brigades sustained light injuries in the attack, which targeted the Beit Hanoun area of northern Gaza.
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli forces opened fire on mourners near the Gaza Strip’s eastern cemetery on Saturday and injured four people, a government medical official said.

Egyptian FM asks for immediate end to the Israeli aggression on Gaza
Egyptian foreign minister Mohammed Amr has condemned the Israeli military escalation against the Gaza Strip that killed 14 Palestinians and wounded 21 others since Friday.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday approved the transfer of medical supplies to the Gaza Strip. Medical spokesman Adham Abu Salmiya said that he received a call from the presidents office to confirm that medical supplies will be sent to Gaza by Sunday.  Nathmi Mhanna, head of border crossings for the Palestinian Authority, contacted the president’s office to make the request after the medical spokesmen called on the PA to send supplies. Fifteen people have been killed and 26 injured since Friday evening as Israeli airstrikes targeted the Gaza Strip. The army say that about 90 rockets had been fired toward Israeli territory at the weekend, injuring eight people including one seriously in southern Israel.
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A correspondent for Ma’an-Mix satellite TV and his pregnant wife sustained injuries late Friday in Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.  Muamin Shrafi was injured by shrapnel and his wife Iftikhar sustained bruises when a missile landed near their home in Gaza City’s Shujaiyyah area. Muamin said the house next door to his also sustained material damage. Israeli warplanes continued to strike several targets across the Gaza Strip overnight and early morning for the second day bringing the death toll to 14 and more than 20 injured. Islamic Jihad’s military wing the Al-Quds Brigades said in a statement that 10 of their fighters were killed since Friday. Eight people have been injured in southern Israel, news reports said.
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma’an) — The Israeli minister for Home Front Defense said Saturday Hamas was trying to avoid a new military assault on the Gaza Strip, but it depended on Gaza to bring an end to violence that has killed 15 Palestinians since Friday. “It began, as previous rounds, with our decision to hurt a man worthy of hurting. As for how it ends, that depends on the other side,” Matan Vilnai said on a visit to Beersheba, Israeli news site Ynet reported.  An Israeli airstrike assassinated the leader of the Popular Resistance Committees on Friday, sparking a series of deadly airstrikes and volleys of rockets into southern Israel, which have injured eight Israelis.  “Hamas is doing everything in its power to avoid a ‘Cast Lead 2’ … We’ll see where it’s going later on tonight,” Vilnai added.
In the last two days, Israeli forces have killed at least 15 residents of the Gaza Strip and wounded over 30. Among the dead are two young boys (see here and here), while the wounded included a reporter from the Ma’an News Agency and his pregnant wife. Militant factions in Gaza have responded to the Israeli assault by launching several homemade rockets at Southern Israel, leaving two injured and no one dead.
I am writing to all people of the world in solidarity with the oppressed and suppressed around the world. Right here, in Gaza, right now, being under attack, I have no place to polish my language; I have no time to choose my words. I am just being spontaneous, for every second counts. One hour later, I may have no chance to write you, lest being dead — I have the same things in mind now all Gazans have. (I am Gazan at the end of the day).
Imagine living years under deplorable isolated siege conditions. Imagine also enduring regular Israeli land, sea and air attacks. Gazan resistance groups launch Grad missiles, home-made rockets, and mortar shells in self-defense. Israel calls them “unprovoked” attacks. Palestinian freedom fighters vow to continue their liberating struggle. Under international law, it’s their right, and for them a duty. The latest Israeli attacks came Friday and Saturday. Expect more to follow. Deaths so far number at least 15. Over two dozen others were injured, some seriously, according to Gaza medical services spokesman Adham Abu Salmiya. Israel falsely claimed only militants and weapons manufacturing sites were struck.
Settlers Attack Two Towns Near Hebron
A number of armed extremist Israeli settlers attacked, on Saturday, the outskirts of the towns of Yatta and Bani Neim, near the southern West Bank city of Hebron, while the residents were ordered by the army to stay home.

Between the years 2000 and 2009, the US transferred “more than 670 million weapons, rounds of ammunition and related equipment,” according to a new report.
Gaza Siege 

Miles of Smiles 10 Makes It Into Gaza
The Miles of Smiles 10 humanitarian convoy managed to enter the Gaza Strip on Saturday via the Rafah border terminal, between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, carrying humanitarian supplies.
link to www.imemc.org

Gaza power plant shuts down for third time in a month
The Gaza Strip’s sole power plant shut down on Saturday for the third time in a month due to a shortage of fuel, the territory’s energy authority said.

Hana Shalabi

The parents of Hana al-Shalabi, who has been on hunger strike since 16 February to protest Israel’s holding her without charge or trial, are pleading for action to save their daughter’s life.

Active Stills has posted an amazing series of photographs from the Women’s Day demonstration against the occupation at Qalandiya checkpoint Thursday.

Activism / Solidarity / BDS

Declaration of Support for the Global March to Jerusalem
We, the Advisory Board of the Global March to Jerusalem, are alarmed and deeply troubled by the continuing repression of Palestinians in Jerusalem and by the deliberate and systematic attempts to expel and reduce the Christian and Muslim Palestinian population of the city as part of the policy called “Judaisation,” which is being applied to every part of historic Palestine.
link to palsolidarity.org

Welcome Home Naji Tamimi
Naji Tamimi, the 49 year-old father of five from the tiny village of Nabi Saleh, is finally back at home again, after spending almost a year within the Israeli prison system.
Analysis / Op-ed
Women have been at the heart of liberation struggles in the Middle East and North Africa, contrary to Orientalist misrepresentations.
Yesterday we did a piece hammering on the fact that obits of Anthony Shadid, the New York Times correspondent who died in Syria last month, have elided the fact that the Israelis nearly killed him in 2002. The obits say he was shot in 2002. A little like saying Rachel Corrie was killed by a bulldozer. This is from Dave Kindred’s fine piece on Anthony Shadid in GQ.

Another indication of the inevitable demise of the state of Israel
“That number fell by 70 percent the following decade, as the number of Jews living in threatened communities dwindled. Last year, only 17,500 immigrated to Israel, one of the lowest totals in the state’s history.”
link to angryarab.blogspot.com

Palestinian plight no longer on world agenda 
At the American Israel Public Affairs Committee or AIPAX conference this week, it was Iran, not Palestine that dominated proceedings. World leaders may be looking elsewhere, but the clashes at Israeli checkpoints are on the rise. Palestinian prisoners are on hunger strike in Israeli detention centres, and a growing sense of impotence and frustration is fuelling talk of a third intifada. The Palestiniand Liberation Organisation executive are finalizing a letter, listening all the ways, over the last 20 years, that they say Israel has blocked peaceful progress. They will deliver it first, out of courtesy, to the Israeli government, and then circulate it to the international community. Al Jazeera’s Paul Brennan reports from the Occupied West Bank.
The Canadian government’s close relationship with the Israel lobby is the topic of a new book on academic freedom.

Flying into Tel Aviv? ‘Welcome to Palestine!’
The other day someone kindly sent me an old link to an aviation forum where an irate passenger had written: ‘This morning (6 May 2003) on a flight from Rome to Tel Aviv, after landing the pilot announced in the microphone: ‘Welcome to Palestine’. I think this is the most disgusting thing for a pilot to say.’
link to palestinechronicle.com

Back to Basics in Palestine: Redefining Our Relationship to a People’s Struggle, Ramzy Baroud
The Winter 2012 edition of Palestine News features a photograph of an old man. His white beard and traditional jalabiya give him the appearance of any Palestinian grandfather. His name is not given; he could be a Muslim or a Christian. We know that he comes from the West Bank village of Qusra, and that he is holding the broken branches of his olive trees.
Bahrain
At least a 100,000 Bahrainis took to the streets of the capital Manama on Friday demanding democratic reforms from the government. Event leaders estimated the figure at over 250,000 people, but wire agencies and some activists put the figure closer to 100,000.
Saudis must end occupation of Bahrain
In Bahrain, hundreds of thousands of anti-government demonstrators have taken to the streets across the country to demand an end to the rule of Al Khalifa dynasty.

Human rights expert on Bahrain torture report 
The head of the fact-finding committee formed to investigate the protests in Bahrain says all torture there has stopped. Egyptian human rights expert Mahmoud Sherif Basyouni published his report in November. He told Al Jazeera’s David Frost that crimes against humanity are no longer being committed.

A Bahraini youth died on Saturday of a police gunshot wound sustained at the start of the month, opposition activists said. Condemning state “repression of demonstrations calling for political reforms,” a statement from the opposition Al-Wefaq political party said Saida Fadhel Mirza al-Obeidi, 22, was struck in the head on March 1 in Diraz, a village east of the Bahraini capital Manama. Doctors said his skull was fractured and he died later of his wounds, with fresh protests expected following the announcement.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia: At least six men held for a year for intending to protest
A year after the planned “Day of Rage” demonstration in Riyadh, at least six men are languishing in jail for their involvement in the event, Amnesty International said today in a new briefing paper.
Students at a women’s university in Saudi Arabia said on Friday they planned to boycott classes after dozens were hurt during a campus protest following the intervention of security forces. Students at King Khalid University in the town of Abha told Reuters by telephone that a strike was planned for Saturday, the start of the week in the conservative Muslim kingdom. The students had begun a protest on Tuesday, attracting at least 8,000 on Wednesday, to criticize the university management for allowing the campus to deteriorate and against ongoing corruption in the country.
Syria

Annan Syria comments spark anger
Syrian opposition activists angrily reject calls by Kofi Annan, the UN and Arab League envoy to Syria, for dialogue with the government.

Israel mulls charity concert for Syrian insurgents
Foreign Ministry source confirms that singer-songwriter Arkadi Duchin called and volunteered to recruit leading Israeli performers for a charity rock concert.

Filippo Grandi, commissioner general for the UN Relief and Works Agency, said Syria violence had so far spared the 500,000 Palestinian refugees in the country because of their neutrality.
Qatar told Arab ministers on Saturday it was time to recognize the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) as the nation’s legitimate representative, and suggested planning an international intervention in the crisis-hit country. Arab and Western states have till now held off from recognizing the SNC, in part because the body has only limited support inside Syria, where rival opposition forces are dominant. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, whose country vetoed a UN Security Council resolution based on an Arab peace plan, joined the Arab meeting.
www.TheHeadlines.Org

US attack on Iran would alienate Muslims worldwide — NPR

Mar 11, 2012

Philip Weiss

Paul Pillar
Paul Pillar

In the last week or so, Robert Siegel at National Public Radio has raised American blood pressure with three interviews of hawks on Iran: American-Israeli ambassador Michael Oren, Atlantic correspondent and former Israeli soldier Jeffrey “Point of No Return” Goldberg, and Israeli security analyst Amos Yadlin. Not a lot of bandwidth, huh.

Well, NPR hosts have also interviewed two American realists who disparage the idea of war. One of them, Steve Walt, even stated the heretical belief that Israel can live with a nuclear Iran.

Steve Inskeep interviewed Paul Pillar on Morning Edition a couple days ago:

PILLAR: As my friend Richard Bass of Columbia puts it: Anyone who talks about a surgical strike ought to get a second opinion. That’s a euphemism for war with Iran. No one knows exactly what the consequences of such a war would be, whether it was started by Israel or by the United States. Iran would find ways to strike back. The economic consequences are literally incalculable, but no doubt would be immense.

And then there are hosts of other consequences. Internally, in Iran, this would no doubt lead the Iranians to make that decision they don’t seem to have made yet, which is to move full speed ahead and try to make a bomb. It would also further color views of the United States throughout the Muslim world, and this would be referred to again and again as yet another instance in which the United States is against the interests of Muslims worldwide and, if anything, is out to kill them.

You know, I’m thinking as you’re talking, President Obama has warned of the costs of war, but has also said all options are on the table. Republican presidential candidates have not specifically called for war, but have certainly said they would be very, very tough on Iran. Why do you think that there are so many people across the political spectrum who are willing to entertain the thought of military action here?

Guy Raz spoke with Stephen Walt yesterday:

Though it is still unknown whether the Iranians plan to develop a nuclear weapon, Walt says the question that should be considered is just how significant it would be if they did.

“People who are opposing military action now would argue that even if Iran did get a nuclear weapon, it is not a very militarily powerful state,” he says. “Israel has a sizeable nuclear arsenal and could retaliate if it were attacked.”

Walt doesn’t believe the drumbeat of war with Iran in the media will lead to any sort of “self-fulfilling prophecy” and says that ultimately the decision for war is a conscious choice.

“We are talking about a preventive war, an unprovoked war,” he says. “That’s not a decision you get driven to by articles and op-eds. Ultimately, leaders in question have to make that choice and that means they always have the option of deciding to pursue a different course.”

Obama victory over Netanyahu gained support, time

Mar 11, 2012

Philip Weiss

Chris McGreal in the Guardian says that Obama slam-dunked Netanyahu this week, and that the world applauds it, even Israel. By doing so, Obama has gained time, McGreal says.

In his speech to Aipac, Obama took aim at Israel for “too much loose talk of war”.

The Jewish state’s more ardent supporters in the west, ever ready to play down differences between the White House and the Israeli leadership, tried to deny Obama’s comments were aimed at Netanyahu’s government. But the president’s warning that such talk was driving up oil prices and so helping fund Iran’s nuclear programme suggested he wasn’t talking about the armchair generals in the Republican party but the real ones in Jerusalem.

Levy argues that Obama’s stand will strengthen the hand of influential voices inside Israel, such as the former heads of Israel’s intelligence service, Meir Dagan and Efraim Halevy, who are opposed to an attack on Iran in the near future.

Dagan this week crossed Netanyahu by saying it is wrong to portray the Iranian government as irrational and that he trusts the US to make the call on whether or not to attack.

“An attack on Iran before you are exploring all other approaches is not the right way,” he told CBS. “[Obama] said openly that the military option is on the table and he is not going to let Iran become a nuclear state and from my experience, I usually trust the president of the US.”

That view is shared by many Israelis. A poll by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz this week showed that 58% of the population opposes a strike on Iran without US backing.

There has also been strong criticism inside Israel of Netanyahu’s invoking of the Holocaust. The opposition leader, Tzipi Livni, called it “hysterical” and said that it scared Israelis and cast the Jewish state as weak.

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NOVANEWS

 

That rare beast; Palestinians talking freely on mainstream US TV

 

Posted: 11 Mar 2012

 

Visit msnbc.com for breaking newsworld news, and news about the economy

Please remember to close the door behind you in Afghanistan

 

Posted: 11 Mar 2012

 

“The country is in a state of slow decline”, says Jennifer Rowell, advocacy coordinator for CARE in Afghanistan, in the New York Times.

The country’s reliance on foreign aid has made the situation dire and as security deteriorates it appears many programs will disappear. Relying on mercenaries to protect civilian work creates a whole range of problematic equations. Here’s the Times:

The management at a company that does aid and development work for the American government knows that some of its employees in Afghanistan are keeping weapons in their rooms — and is choosing to look the other way. At another company in the same business, lawyers are examining whether the company can sue theUnited States Agency for International Development for material breach of contract, citing the deteriorating security in Afghanistan.

An Afghan government plan to abolish private security companies at the end of this month, along with the outbreak of anti-American demonstrations and attacks in the past month, has left the private groups that carry out most of the American-financed development work in Afghanistan scrambling to sort out their operations, imperiling billions of dollars in projects, officials say.

That, in turn, threatens a vital part of the Obama administration’s plans for Afghanistan, which envision a continuing development mission after the end of the NATO combat mission in 2014.

The recent upheaval, set off by the burning of Korans by American military personnel on Feb. 20, cast sudden doubt on nearly every facet of the American presence in Afghanistan, including a long-term strategic partnership deal. On Friday, some progress was made when the United States and Afghanistan reached an agreement for the Afghans to take control of the main coalition prison in six months.

But the fallout on the civilian development side of the mission is having an immediate effect, development workers and experts said. In particular, it is magnifying concerns about the new security arrangements being dictated by the Afghan government, which by March 20 aims to replace the private security companies that now guard aid workers with a hastily raised Afghan force.

Faced with the prospect of sudden change in their security arrangements, with no assurance that the Afghan force can be arranged in time or meet their specific needs, organizations are weighing the future of their operations in the country.

Through U.S.A.I.D., the American government contracts billions of dollars in projects to private companies based in the United States. The companies provide for their own security in Afghanistan as required under their contracts with the agency.

Until now, that has meant hiring private security companies, which in most cases provide expatriate managers — usually former American or British soldiers — to oversee Afghan guards. Private security companies also provide security for embassies and the United Nations, all of which are being allowed to keep their existing security arrangements.

The expatriate and Afghan guards, armed with handguns and assault rifles, have long been a fixture on the streets of Kabul, and President Hamid Karzai has railed against their presence as an affront to Afghan dignity and a threat to law and order for almost as long. In 2010, he abruptly ordered the security companies disbanded and replaced by a new force that he said the Afghan government would raise.

The plan that has since taken shape calls for private Afghan guards to become part of the new force, known as the Afghan Public Protection Force, which will be responsible for guarding everything from aid projects to NATO supply convoys.

The force has already trained 8,000 new guards, said Siddiq Siddiqi, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry. He carries his own sidearm for protection.

The roughly 11,000 Afghan guards working for the 45 private security companies operating in Afghanistan will be subsumed into the force this month, he said. They will then be sent back to the same places they worked before, and the companies that had formerly paid a private security company for the guards would instead pay the Interior Ministry to cover their salaries, plus a 20 percent fee for overhead and to provide a profit — in itself, a useful arrangement for the financially strained government.

MSM has duty not to replay Iraq 2003 with Iran 2012

 

Posted: 10 Mar 2012

 

While some in the corporate media, such as this article in the LA Times, question how the US has any idea about Iran’s actual nuclear program, the bigger question is how journalists report the information given by military and government sources. Do they become, like in Iraq in 2002 and 2003, propagandists for war?

The New York Times’ Public Editor asks some questions (which virtually no other MSM outlets are doing) even though I personally disagree with his findings (being far too soft on his superiors over war-mongering):

“We talk about generals fighting the last war,” said Tim McNulty, who served as foreign editor for The Chicago Tribune during the Iraq war. “I think journalists also do.”

Nine years after the start of the Iraq war, the scene has shifted to Iran, and Mr. McNulty has a more detached view of events, as co-director of the National Security Journalism Initiative at Northwestern University. Now he cautions journalists against falling again for a kind of siren song: “the narrative of war.”

“The narrative of war, or anticipating war, is a much stronger narrative than the doubters have,” he said. “It is an easier story to write than the question of, well, is it really necessary?”

In recent months I have heard from many readers concerned that The New York Times is falling for this siren song, the narrative of war, in its coverage of Iran’s nuclear program. Not infrequently, readers and critics invoke Judith Miller’s now-discredited coverage in The Times of Saddam Hussein’s supposed weapons of mass destruction, as if to say it is all happening again.

Among the criticisms are that The Times has given too much space to Israeli proponents of an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities; has failed to mention often enough that Israel itself has nuclear arms; has sometimes overstated the findings of the International Atomic Energy Agency; has repeated the questionable assertion that Iran’s leaders seek the eradication of Israel; has failed to analyze the Iranian supreme leader’s statement that nuclear weapons are a “sin”; and has published misleading headlines.

William O. Beeman, author of “The ‘Great Satan’ vs. the ‘Mad Mullahs’: How the United States and Iran Demonize Each Other,” told me he believes The Times’s coverage has contributed to a dangerous public misunderstanding of the situation.

“The conventional wisdom with regard to Iran is that Iran has a nuclear weapons program and that they are going to attack Israel and going to attack the United States,” said Mr. Beeman, who is chairman of the anthropology department at the University of Minnesota. “But all these things are tendentious and highly questionable.”

Mr. Beeman faulted The Times for mischaracterizing I.A.E.A. reports and for a “disconnect between headline and the actual material in the stories that really affects public opinion,” saying these problems raised a question about the “civic responsibility of The Times.”

This bill of particulars against The Times’s coverage weighs heavily, but it is clear to me that this is not a replay of the Judith Miller episode. I do find examples that support the complaints mentioned above, but also see a pattern of coverage that gives due credence to the counternarrative — not of war but of uncertainty and caution.

Jill Abramson, executive editor of The Times, told me the paper is “certainly mindful that some readers may see an echo of the paper’s flawed coverage of Iraq,” but she also noted distinct differences. This time, she said, the United States government is expressing doubts about weapons of mass destruction, not leading the drumbeat for war. And there is no question that Iran has a nuclear program; it’s just unclear whether it is for civilian or military use.

Times journalists “are mindful of our responsibility to be vigilant, skeptical and fair,” she said. “Last month, when the calls for striking Iran began to grow louder, we brought together the foreign and Washington desks and came up with a run of stories designed to examine closely the statements made by those on both sides of the argument, especially the rising calls for a military strike.

Hooman Majd, an Iranian-American journalist who spent much of 2011 in Iran, observed that news coverage has left Americans with a caricatured understanding not only of Iran’s leaders but of its people “as being completely oppressed or completely lunatic.”

“Neither is accurate,” said Mr. Majd, author of “The Ayatollah Begs to Differ” and “The Ayatollahs’ Democracy.”

What is needed from The Times, he added, is more effort not only to get ordinary Iranian voices into the coverage but also to reach across the cultural divide to fully understand significant statements from the Iranian leadership, like the fatwa against nuclear weapons by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader.

I share this view and believe the West’s inability to understand the other side’s leadership may have a parallel with the run-up to the Iraq war. Once again, the stakes are high for all involved, including The Times, which has an opportunity to get it right this time.

The anti-Zionist view by Haredi Jews Neturei Karta

 

Posted: 10 Mar 2012

 

Posted in Nova NewsletterComments Off on A. Loewenstein Online Newsletter

Civil Disobedience


NOVANEWS

By: Nurit Peled-Elhanan

10 March 2012

Speech at Beit Omar

I would like to dedicate my words to the memory of a five-year-old boy, Milad, the nephew of Wael Salame, one of the founders of the Combatants for Peace movement, who perished in a burning bus at the Adam settlement junction. The residents of the settlement did not send a rescue team and they refused to send ambulances. Nobody has brought them to justice for that. Nobody judged them and nobody arrested them. The land-thieves’ indifference to pre-school children burning to death at the gates of their home did not become the main headline in any newspaper or news broadcast. The reason is that racist behaviour of Israelis is not `news`. Rather it has been the norm for sixty years and more. Israel’s children are educated to it. We have all been educated to it – at school, at home, in the youth movements, in literature and theatre, art and music. The more than twenty racist laws that were passed last year with hardly any opposition except that of their victims did not strike us like a bolt of lightning from a clear blue sky. Those laws are the most callous Establishment expression of the norms that have been in effect in this place for four generations now. Already in 1948 the poet Natan Alterman was decrying the Hebrew public’s apathy in the face of “‘delicate incidents’ for which the true name, incidentally, is murder”. The present Israeli Knesset merely ripped the disguise off the face of the State when it made its repeated declarations that there will be no more pretending.

For decades now the Zionist project of colonizing the land and judaizing it has required the removal of the Palestinians one way or another, either by law or by the sword, and there is no longer any need to cover up those supreme objectives and to disguise them with empty words about democracy or security or historic rights. All of us are mobilized, willingly or unknowingly, in the project of the judaization of the land and all of us have memorized, since we began to memorize, the absolute necessity of a Jewish state with a Jewish majority in the Land of Israel. And the Land of Israel, as we all know, includes the State of Israel, the Palestinian territories and a lot more. There is no map in Israel that is called “The State of Israel”. All the maps are called “The Land of Israel”. Already three or four generations of Israeli children have been learning from books that contain maps that show the Palestinian territories as part of the Land of Israel which is devoid of colour, empty of institutions and empty of people ; an ancient area that is waiting and longing to be colonized by Jews – or at least by non-Arabs. Israeli children have been learning for generations now that their neighbours – whether they be Palestinian citizens of Israel or subjects of the State of Israel stripped of human rights – are nothing but a terrifying demographic problem and a security threat. Those very children have meanwhile grown up, their senses of truth and justice and human brotherhood have been dulled by racist education and they have risen to be the politicians and generals who now declare openly and with the arrogance of all-powerful masters what was once concealed with hypocrisy: that the other face of the judaization project is the elimination of the Palestinian people, whether by rubber bullets or by bullets without rubber, by bombs or by laws: As the fundamental principle of Jewish Kibbutzim states: Every member of the community is required to contribute to the Zionist project according to his or her ability, as needed. In recent years the Judaization project has taken on more momentum than ever before, mainly due to the undisguised and unrestrained support of the United States and rich countries in Europe.

In 2009 the Russell Tribunal on Palestine was established in order to demand that the countries of Europe stop being partners in crime with the Occupation state and thereby perhaps avoid a Third World War. In October 2011 the Tribunal, which had symbolically convened in Cape Town, ruled that Israel has established an institutionalised regime of domination amounting to apartheid as defined under international law. Israel is discriminating against and eliminating an entire nation on racial grounds in a systematic and institutionalized way, and therefore all collaboration with Israel should cease.

The legal definition of apartheid is a situation in which 3 components are present: 1) Two separate racial groups can be identified; 2) “acts of inhumanity” are committed by the ruling group against the subject group, and 3) Those acts are committed in a systematic way, with an institutionalized administration in which one of the groups is ruled over by the other.
The Tribunal heard testimony on acts that constitute “acts of inhumanity” towards the Palestinian people by the Israeli authorities:

• Control of their lives by military means.

• Arbitrary imprisonment and protracted illegal administrative detentions.

• Violations of human rights that negate their right to participate in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the State.

• The Palestinian refugees are prevented from returning to their homes, and the laws of Israel facilitate the confiscation of their property and the denial of their human rights.

• The civil and political rights of the Palestinians are denied or arbitrarily restricted.

• Since 1948 Israel has maintained a policy of Occupation and colonization and accordingly of the expropriation of Palestinian land.

• The siege and blockade of the Gaza Strip, as a collective punishment of the civilian population of the area.

• Attacking civilians by means of large-scale military operations.

• The destruction of the homes of civilians without any security justification.

• The grave harm caused to the civilian population by the Separation Wall in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem

• The forcible evacuation of and destruction of houses in unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev.

• Continuing practices of torture and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons.

• Various forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, including restrictions on movement that subject Palestinians to humiliation by Israeli soldiers and Palestinian women being forced to give birth at checkpoints, and house demolitions as a form of inhuman and degrading treatment with severe psychological consequences for men, women and children.

• The entire Israeli legal system establishes an enormous gap between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs, with legislation typically designed to favour Israeli Jews and keep Palestinian Arabs in a situation of inferiority.

All the foregoing are defined by the Tribunal as crimes against humanity. And the Tribunal further found that unlike the overt legislation that was passed in South Africa, Israeli law is characterized by the ambiguity and inaccessibility of many laws, military orders and regulations. But we know that all the laws and regulations of the State of Israel, be they ambiguous or clear, are intended to change the face of this place from a beautiful and fertile Middle Eastern country, a land of green hills, pomegranates and olives, to a monstrous conglomerate of supposedly Western housing developments, built in the image of their residents: ugly and brutal, their sole objective being to cover with asphalt, steel and concrete all the hills that have long withstood the tests of time. The only way to fight this tendency is through a blanket rejection of the racist laws of the democratic Jewish state, and especially to teach our children of their democratic right to say no to evil, no to ignorance, no to apartheid, no to service in the Occupation army and no to collaboration with ethnic cleansing.

We must reject the very term “Jewish and democratic state” and especially, remove the conjunction “and”, which is not merely a conjunction but a sequential “and” – that is: “Jewish” comes first, and only afterwards comes “democratic” – or an “and” of conditionality, i.e. only when the state is completely Jewish can it be democratic.

Meanwhile we are living in a state that has absolutely nothing to do with democracy. We who have not grown up with democracy and whom no one taught the values of democracy, who have been educated to think that exploitation, plunder, lies, discrimination and slaughter are the very essence of democracy, need to admit openly that we are living and have always lived in an apartheid state that is a danger to all of us. A state that educates its boys and girls to unlimited violence and indifference to the agonies of children trapped in a burning bus. If we do not do this, then we ourselves will turn into the settlers from Adam, we will become those who flung the wounded Omar Abu Jariban by the side of a road to die of thirst, and we too will be thrust into the category of war criminals.

If we do not raise the banner of rebellion today, in a few more years people like us – if we remain like as such – will be herded into detention camps or prisons. The freedom of speech that already now is dangerously restricted will be eliminated altogether, and then, as Sami Chetrit wrote: the poet will no longer versify, he will no longer sing, he won’t even chirp.

In conclusion, an anecdote: When Archbishop Desmond Tutu took the podium to welcome the Russell Tribunal to Cape Town, the chairman Pierre Galand announced that under the regulations of the Tribunal, there was to be no applause. Tutu, calling for an exception to be made to permit applause for the Tribunal’s honourary Chairman Stיphane Hessel, turned to the audience with a smile and said, “it is because we disobeyed laws like this one` that South Africans have come as far as they have. Let us hope that we too can get that far.

Translated from Hebrew for Occupation Magazine by George Malent

Posted in Human RightsComments Off on Civil Disobedience

IOF Continued Offensive on Gaza for 4th Consecutive Day: 5 Palestinians, Including a Child and an Old Man and His Daughter, Killed and 38 Others Wounded Since Yesterday Afternoon, Raising Deaths to 23 and Injuries to 73

NOVANEWS

Ref: 34/2012

 

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have continued the military offensive on the Gaza Strip, which they initiated on Friday evening, 09 March 2012.  Today, 3 Palestinian civilians (a child and an old man and his daughter) have been killed and 36 others, including 19 children and 7 women, have been wounded. Two members of resistance have been killed, and two others have been also wounded by a series of Israeli air strikes.  Thus, the number of Palestinians killed since the beginning of this offensive has risen to 23 and the number of those wounded has risen to 73, most of them civilians.

 

Investigations conducted by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) into alleged crimes committed by IOF from Friday evening, 09 March 2012 until Monday noon, 12 March 2012, indicate as follows:

 

At approximately 01:40 on Monday, 12 March 2012, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at an agricultural plot on ‘Oujan Street in the east of al-Shuja’iya neighborhood in the east of Gaza City.  A number of nearby houses were damaged, and Ahlam ‘Arraf Jundiya, 18, was injured in her forehead by fragments of glass while she was at home.

 

At approximately 02:00 also on Monday, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at a house belonging to Bahjat Mohammed Hammad near Jabalya Martyrs Elementary School in ‘Izbat ‘Abed Rabbu in the northern Gaza Strip town of Jabalya.  The missile hit the first floor of the three-storey house, where 9 individuals, including 3 children live.  As a result, the house was completely destroyed and 7 members of the family, including 3 children and 3 women, were wounded.  Eighteen neighboring houses were also affected by the missile, 3 of them sustained heavy damages.  Twelve members of the Abu al-‘Eish family, including 3 children and two women, and 7 members of the Sukkar family, including 5 children, were also wounded.  The houses of the two families are adjacent to the targeted house.  In addition, 350 windows, 7 wooden and 3 iron doors in the above school were damaged.  Two windows from the Palestine Red Crescent Society premises were also destroyed.

 

At approximately 02:30, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at a empty area in ‘Abassan village, east of the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Yunis.  No casualties were reported.

 

At approximately 05:40, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at Hamada Salman Ahmed Abu Mutlaq, 20, from ‘Abassan village east of Khan Yunis, a member of the al-Quds Brigades (the armed wing of Islamic Jihad), when he was near Abu Bakr al-Siddiq Mosque in ‘Abassan village.  Abu Mutlaq was instantly killed by shrapnel throughout the body.  Additionally, windows of three nearby houses were destroyed, injuring the head of two-year-old Muhannad Eyad Abu Hamad.

 

At approximately 06:10, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at Sara Hill in the east of al-Shuja’iya neighborhood in the east of Gaza City.  No casualties were reported.

 

At approximately 06:40, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at a empty area in al-Shuja’iya neighborhood in the east of Gaza City.  No casualties were reported.

 

At approximately 07:00, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at 3 members of the al-Quds Brigades (the armed wing of Islamic Jihad), who were traveling on a 3-wheel motorcycle near al-Radwan Mosque in al-Qarara village, northeast of Khan Yunis.  One of the members of resistance, Ra’fat Jawad Adeeb Abu ‘Eid, 25, was killed by shrapnel throughout the body, while the two other members of resistance were wounded, one of them is in a serious condition as his legs were amputated.

 

At approximately 09:25, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at a gathering of Palestinian civilians, mostly children, near al-Khuzondar fuel station in the west of the northern Gaza Strip town of Jabalya.  As a result, Nayef Sha’ban Nayef Qarmout, 14, was killed, and another 5 children were wounded by shrapnel.

 

At approximately 13:30, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at Mohammed Mustafa al-Hussoumi, 65, and his daughter Faiza, 30, when they were on their agricultural plot near Tal al-Za’tar School in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia.  The old man was instantly killed, and his daughter died a few minutes after her admission in Kamal ‘Edwan Hospital in Beit Lahia.

 

PCHR reiterates condemnation of these crimes and expresses utmost concern over such escalation, especially in light to continuous Israeli threats, and:

 

1. Stresses that the IOF is committing grave breaches of international humanitarian law for using excessive and disproportional force in disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians.

 

2. Calls upon the international community to immediately take an action to stop such crimes and reiterates its call for the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations under Article 1 which stipulates “the High Contracting Parties undertake to respect and to ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances,” and their obligations under Article 146 which requires that the Contracting Parties prosecute persons alleged to commit grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention.  These grave breaches constitute war crimes under Article 147 and Protocol I Additional of the Geneva Conventions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in GazaComments Off on IOF Continued Offensive on Gaza for 4th Consecutive Day: 5 Palestinians, Including a Child and an Old Man and His Daughter, Killed and 38 Others Wounded Since Yesterday Afternoon, Raising Deaths to 23 and Injuries to 73

Mondoweiss Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

Burying Ayoub Assalya

Mar 12, 2012

Kate
Video: Burying Ayoub
ISM 11 Mar by Nathan Stuckey — Twelve year old Ayoub Assalya was murdered today.  He was walking to school when an Israeli missile landed next to him.  It was seven A.M.  He is another casualty of Israel’s latest attack on Gaza.  For three days now Gaza has been under bombardment.  Eighteen people have been killed.  Dozens have been injured. His funeral was held today in Jabalia, the refugee camp where he lived.  We waited outside the mosque for midday prayers to end.  The street outside was crowded with people waiting for the funeral.  A bus was parked to carry those who could not walk the several kilometers to the cemetery … As we approached the cemetery you could see the border.  This is the same border where the Israel shot four men yesterday. The four men had been attending the funeral of yesterday’s martyrs.  The land leading up the border is barren, there are no trees, Israel bulldozed them all years ago
link to palsolidarity.org

Medics: 2 killed in Israeli airstrike east of Gaza City
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 Mar 22:15 — Two Palestinians were killed Monday evening in Israeli shelling east of Gaza City, bringing the death toll in Gaza to 25 since Friday, medics said. Bassam al-Ajla and Muhammad Thaher were killed in an airstrike on the Shujaiyeh neighborhood, medical officials told Ma‘an. They were members of the Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, a Ma‘an reporter said. [Keep up on Twitter using #GazaUnderAttack.  The attacks are continuing as of this writing.]
link to www.maannews.net

PCHR: IOF continues offensive on Gaza for 4th consecutive day: 5 Palestinians, including an old man and his daughter, killed and 38 others wounded since yesterday afternoon,raising deaths to 23 and injuries to 73
12 Mar — Investigations conducted by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) into alleged crimes committed by IOF from Friday evening, 09 March 2012 until Monday noon, 12 March 2012, indicate as follows: At approximately 01:40 on Monday, 12 March 2012, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at an agricultural plot on ‘Oujan Street in the east of al-Shuja’iya neighborhood in the east of Gaza City.  A number of nearby houses were damaged, and Ahlam ‘Arraf Jundiya, 18, was injured in her forehead by fragments of glass while she was at home. At approximately 02:00 also on Monday, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at a house belonging to Bahjat Mohammed Hammad near Jabalya Martyrs Elementary School in ‘Izbat ‘Abed Rabbu in the northern Gaza Strip town of Jabalya.  The missile hit the first floor of the three-storey house, where 9 individuals, including 3 children live.  As a result, the house was completely destroyed and 7 members of the family, including 3 children and 3 women, were wounded.  Eighteen neighboring houses were also affected by the missile, 3 of them sustained heavy damages….
link to www.pchrgaza.org

5 killed, 46 injured in fourth day of Gaza airstrikes
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 Mar — Israeli airstrikes killed two Islamic Jihad militants and three civilians on Monday, bringing the death toll since Friday to 23 people, medics and Ma‘an’s correspondent said. An airstrike on Monday afternoon in Beit Lahiya killed Muhammad al-Hasoumi, 65, and his daughter, 30, medical spokesperson in Gaza Abu Salmiya said.
Earlier, hospital officials said a 15-year-old schoolboy was killed in a separate air strike during the day on Monday. Nayif Shaaban Qarmout was killed in Beit Lahiya, north Gaza, Ma‘an’s correspondent said. Witnesses said that the 15-year-old was playing with friends in a play ground near his school when an Israeli missile hit the area. Five others were injured and taken to Shifa hospital in Gaza City…
Earlier, Israeli airstrikes had hit two homes in the northern Gaza Strip, injuring 33 civilians, most of whom were women and children, Abu Salmiya said….
A 17-year-old girl and another man were also injured as Israeli missiles struck a home in Gaza City, Abu Salmiya said.
An Israeli military spokeswoman said aircraft had carried out six strikes on Monday. At least 20 rockets have been fired at Israel on Monday, she said.
link to www.maannews.net

Lessons canceled in northern Gaza amid Israeli strikes
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 Mar — The Ministry of Education in Gaza announced Monday that afternoon classes will be canceled after Israeli forces bombed a school playground killing a student … Officials at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City told Ma‘an that Nayif Shaaban Qarmout, 15, was killed and five were injured Monday in an Israeli airstrike on Beit Lahiya. Witnesses said the teenager was playing with friends in a playground near his school when an Israeli missile hit the area … On Saturday, an Israeli missile killed Mahdi Abu Shawish, 24, and injured three others near Rabia al-Adawiya school in southern Gaza.
link to www.maannews.net

Gaza militants claim rocket fire into Israel
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 Mar — Militant groups in Gaza announced responsibility for firing rockets across the border as the Israeli army said 42 projectiles landed in Israel. The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, said it fired 30 rockets into Israel. The armed wing of Islamic Jihad, the Al-Quds Brigades, said it fired four Grad rockets toward Ashdod, while the An-Nasser Salah Ad-Din Brigades — affiliated with the Popular Resistance Committees — said it launched three Nasser rockets and four projectiles at Israeli targets … The projectiles caused no casualties but Israeli police said three people were wounded.
link to www.maannews.net

Netanyahu: Israeli is prepared to step up fighting against Gaza if rockets continue
Haaretz 12 Mar — Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that Israeli is prepared to step up its activities in the Gaza Strip if rocket fire continues. Speaking in the morning at a Likud faction meeting, the Prime Minister said, “The Israel Defense Forces is prepared to expand its activities [in the Gaza Strip] as much as is necessary.”… Labor faction chairman Isaac Herzog on Monday also expressed support for the decision to assassinate Zuhir al-Qaisi, the Popular Resistance Committee leader, on Friday, which ignited the current flare-up. “We hope that the current round of violence will end soon,” he added.
link to www.haaretz.com

IDF official: Army ready for ground op in Gaza
Ynet 12 Mar — Iran encouraging Islamic Jihad to fire rockets at Israel, escalation could prompt ground incursion, senior officer says. IDF hasn’t used all measures at its disposal, he says
link to www.ynetnews.com

‘Iron Dome has its failings’
Ynet 11 Mar — With Beersheba suffering two direct hits in less than an hour, Air Force tries to lower public’s expectations of rocket interception system. ‘There is no hermetic seal’
link to www.ynetnews.com

Egypt negotiating between Israel and Gaza factons for ceasefire, diplomats say
Haaretz 12 Mar — Egyptian diplomats in talks to bring about a ceasefire by Tuesday morning; Strategic Affairs Minister Ya’alon: Hamas approached Egypt to pass message to Israel about renewal of calm — …”We do not carry out negotiations with Hamas,” Ya’alon said. “Our response through the Egyptians was very simple, this is basically our policy since the beginning of the current administration: if you are quiet, we will be quiet, if you shoot, or plot attacks, we will hit you, and so the ball is certainly in their court.”
link to www.haaretz.com

Hamas: Egypt offered fuel in exchange for calm
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 Mar — Egypt offered to provide fuel to Gaza if militants agree to a ceasefire with Israel, Hamas-affiliated MP Younis al-Astal said Monday. The Gaza Strip has faced up to 18-hour blackouts per day since Egypt cut fuel supplies through an underground tunnel network … Speaking at a sit-in protest in Gaza, al-Astal said the Hamas-led government told Egyptian mediators that Israel had initiated the escalation and must also end it, echoing senior Hamas official Mahmoud Zahhar, who said earlier the timing of a ceasefire would depend on Israel … Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees said that they would not accept a ceasefire with Israel while Israeli warplanes continued to kill Palestinians.
link to www.maannews.net

8 trucks of medicine arrive in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 Mar – Eight truckloads of medicine arrived in the Gaza Strip on Monday from the West Bank, a crossings official said. Amidst Israeli airstrikes that have killed 23 Palestinians and wounded more than 80 in four days, Gaza medical spokesman Adham Abu Salmiya had appealed for medical supplies to the blockaded coastal enclave.
link to www.maannews.net

Rights group says targeted killing a crime
GENEVA (WAFA)10 Mar – The Euro-Mediterranean Observatory for Human Rights (EMOHR) Saturday stressed that the continued Israeli policy of what it called ‘assassination of wanted people’ is a blatant violation of international law, describing it as a murder outside the law and without trial, said a press release issued by EMOHR … The center added that the Israeli killing of the two activists was similar to previous assassinations; where the victims were not in a situation of armed confrontation with the Israeli forces but were tracked down and pursued while they were exercising their ordinary life.
link to english.wafa.ps

Ashrawi: Israel is committing extrajudicial executions”
IMEMC 11 Mar — Member of the Executive Committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, stated Saturday that Israel is committing crimes and extrajudicial assassinations against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, and that Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is seeking further provocation in order to destabilize the region, and to provoke the Palestinians into further retaliation.
link to www.imemc.org

China calls on Israel to cease fire in Gaza
BEIJING (WAFA) 12 Mar – The Chinese government Monday called on Israel to stop its airstrikes on Gaza, demanding an immediate cease-fire, according to a statement by China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Liu Weimin.
link to english.wafa.ps

British Foreign Office urges restraint in Gaza
LONDON (WAFA) 12 Mar – British Foreign Office Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt Monday urged restraint following four days of Israeli airstrikes on Gaza and rocket attacks by armed Palestinian groups on Israel
link to english.wafa.ps

Opinion on / Analysis of Gaza attacks

‘Mowing the lawn’: On Israeli’s latest massacre in Gaza and the lies behind it / Ali Abunimah
EI 11 Mar — By this Sunday evening in Gaza, a weekend of relentless Israeli bombing has left 18 people dead and dozens wounded. Israeli propaganda insists that the attacks are about preventing ‘terrorism’ and stopping ‘rockets’. But in fact, Israel provoked this violence and according to some Israeli commentators its goals are to escalate pressure for war with Iran and to drag Hamas away from diplomacy and back into violence. The latest of Israel’s victims today include Ayoub Useila, 12, of Jabalya refugee camp, whose seven year-old cousin was injured, and Adel al-Issi, 52, a farmer near Gaza City. Others suffered horrifying injuries, as recounted by doctors at Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital.
link to electronicintifada.net

Way to go, IDF! / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 11 Mar — The cyclical ritual of bloodletting between Israel and Gaza always prompts two questions: ‘Who started it?’ and ‘Whose is bigger?’ — Here we go again – a targeted killing; retaliation; retaliation to the retaliation. Here we go again – The reflexive act; the harsh rhetoric; the blindness. The Israel Defense Forces carries out a targeted killing. The Palestinian organizations avenge it – and it’s the Palestinians instigating war and terrorism. MK Danny Danon (Likud) has, of course, already called for “all of those in possession of weapons in the Gaza Strip” to be targeted because of the “million people living under fire.” Those million people, in case you failed to get it, are the residents of southern Israel. Only they live under fire.
link to www.haaretz.com

Tolerable savagery: Israeli killing of Palestinians / As‘ad AbuKhalil
Al Akhbar 11 Mar — The carnage continues. Israel, or more accurately the Zionist movement, has not stopped its brutality and repression of Palestinians since the advent of the Zionist movement in Palestine in the late 19th century. Lately, we have been able to watch with disgust. Western hypocrisy knows no bounds in the Middle East …Western governments never expressed sympathy for the Syrian people: as victims of the Assad regime and as victims of Israeli occupation and brutality. Yet, Western governments were quick to call for arming the Syrian people only months after the uprising began. The Palestinians, however, have never been treated with such permissiveness. No matter how much massive violence is inflicted on them, and no matter how many massacres they suffer, Western governments insist that the Palestinian people (and any other people living under Israeli occupation) have no right to resort to arm to liberate their lands and to “protect their civilians.”
link to english.al-akhbar.com

Escalation is good for Israel / Zvi Bar’el
Haaretz 11 Mar — Hamas’ continued preference for diplomatic action in the face of Israel’s attacks on Gaza is less than convenient for those who desire an Israeli strike on Iran — …There is no alternative to striking Iran and there is no better time than the present, when the weather permits and world diplomacy is preoccupied with Syria. For Israelis, there is no better proof that no harm will come to them as a result of an attack on Iran than the performance of the Iron Dome anti-rocket system, which has demonstrated a 95% rate of effectiveness. The escalation in Gaza is good for Israel – that is, for that part of Israel that wants to strike Iran.
link to www.haaretz.com

Israeli forces – West Bank

Israeli officer ‘can’t remember’ why Palestinian was left to die by side of road
Haaretz 12 Mar — A policewoman in the trial of two colleagues charged with dumping a Palestinian car thief on the side of a road, where he died of dehydration, on Sunday repeatedly responded to questions in court by saying she did not remember. The testimony phase in the trial over the death of Omar Abu Jariban in 2008 began in Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Sunday.  The policewoman, who was the main witness on Sunday, replied more than 100 times to questions by stating that she did not remember, and her testimony in court conflicted with prior statements given to investigators.
link to www.haaretz.com

Watch: YouTube video purports to show Israeli border police tossing gas grenade at Palestinians
Haaretz 12 Mar — In the video shot by freelance photographer, a tear gas grenade is tossed out of a Border Police jeep at a group of Palestinians who were apparently not involved in demonstrations; Border Police claims clip was staged … In early February, a French woman was injured during the weekly demonstration. After initially claiming that her injury was caused by rocks thrown by other protesters, the IDF later admitted that they may have been caused by a tear gas canister shot by the army after a video of the event was published.. 
link to www.haaretz.com

Israeli forces storm Palestinian house, attack its residents
HEBRON (WAFA) 11 Mar – Israeli forces Sunday stormed a Palestinian house in the old city of the Southern West Bank city of Hebron and attacked its residents, according to security sources. They said that Israeli forces stormed the house of Ishaq al-Maharbeh, fired tear gas bombs inside it before storming the house and locking the family inside while searching it.
link to english.wafa.ps

Settlers

Caught on tape: Drunk settlers in Al Khalil assault two international women; Israeli military admits special relationship with violent settlers
ISM 11 Mar — On March 9 2012, 6 volunteers of International Solidarity Movement were walking down Shuhada Street near Checkpoint 55 at approximately 11 AM, when drunk settlers attacked the group and injured one international volunteer. About 5 drunk male settlers began to scream at and surround the internationals, yelling “keffiyah,” the traditional Palestinian scarf, that two internationals were wearing.  Settlers were visibly carrying bottles of alcohol. The drunk settlers shoved one woman from the back and then threw wine on her. At the point the group began filming the settlers continued to hit, shove and try to grab the cameras of all 6 people.  A police car drove by and did not stop the attack.  One settler, wearing a dinosaur tail costume on his back put a towel on his face before trying to grab the camera of a Canadian ISM volunteer and then punched a British ISM woman in the face. They then fled shouting.
link to palsolidarity.org

IDF brass clash over how to deal with settlers on West Bank farmland
Haaretz 11 Mar — In 2007, then GOC Central Command Maj. Gen. Yair Naveh signed an order authorizing the Civil Administration to remove agricultural encroachments by Israelis from Palestinian land — Two top officials in the Central Command of the Israel Defense Forces are at loggerheads over how to address encroachment by Jewish settlers in the West Bank on land farmed by Palestinians. The legal adviser for Judea and Samaria, Col. Eli Bar On, recently accused the head of the Civil Administration, Brig. Gen. Motti Elmoz, of dereliction of his legal duty to end the encroachments. In a kind of punitive measure, Bar On also informed Elmoz that his office would begin referring Palestinian complainants to Elmoz’ office so that it could exercise its authority in the matter.
link to www.haaretz.com

Settlers attack Palestinian shepherds, international activists near Nablus
NABLUS (WAFA) 11 Mar – A group of masked Jewish settlers Sunday attacked a group of Palestinian shepherds along with International solidarity activists in Khirbat Yanun, a village southeast of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, according to an official. Ghassan Daghlas, in charge of settlements file in the Palestinian Authority in the northern part of the West Bank, told WAFA that a group of masked settlers from the settlements of Givat Ollam and Gidonim accompanied by dogs attacked the shepherds and the activists and threw stones at them.
link to english.wafa.ps

Israeli flags hanged in Yanoun are a reminder of settler violence
ISM 7 Mar by ‘Ramon Garcia’ —  The illegal settlement of Itamar, constructed illegally on the land of Aqraba,  Awarta,  and Beit Furik, has taken a provocative step of incitement in the village of Yanoun, from which Zionists have also stolen land. On 7 March 2012 illegal  settlers entered the village of Yanoun and rose the flag of Israel over the home of village elder Abu Muhmad al Ajoori, who resides in the lower part of the village. Another flag was suspended over a water reservoir in the upper part of the village. The settlers were then seen by locals wandering off into the hills … Residents of Yanoun have suffered many years of terrifying violence at the hands of Itamar settlers — the murder of villagers, slaughter of their livestock, desecration of crops, property destruction and daily invasions and intimidation by armed settlers. The increasing brutality climaxed in 2002 … Unable to stand the fear – and indeed reality – of terrorism any longer, the entire village evacuated at the time, mostly families fleeing to the nearby village of Aqraba … Over the 2002-06 period the entirety of the village’s families eventually came back to their homes and attempted to start their life  in the shadow of Itamar’s ever-increasing outposts that dot the hills surrounding the village.
link to palsolidarity.org

Report from the Saturday morning settler ‘real estate tour’ in Hebron
Mondo 12 Mar by JoAnne Lingle, Christian Peacemaker Teams  — …Every Saturday there is a “settler tour”. 100 plus Israeli settlers and their invited guests come through the Old City where our Palestinian friends live. The Israelis are escorted by a like number of IDF soldiers. I call this a “real estate tour” because they stop and ooh and ahh at the beautiful rehabilitation work that has been done by the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee (HRC). There is no doubt they expect to take ALL of Hebron’s Old City. During this ‘tour’, the Palestinian residents are not permitted to walk to or from their homes. We follow the soldiers to observe that Palestinians are not mistreated. At one point, we yelled at a soldier to stop pointing his gun at us, and others who were waiting to pass. A small Palestinian girl walked by me and suddenly became aware of the soldiers – she almost walked right up to a soldier’s gun. She looked up at him and wailed, crying for her mama.
link to mondoweiss.net

Settlers destroy dozens of trees in Beit Ummar
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 12 Mar — Settlers uprooted dozens of trees in the town of Beit Ummar, Hebron on Monday, local officials said. Muhammad Awad, spokesman of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements, said settlers destroyed more than 31 grape trees and 15 olive trees, together with other shrubbery. The land belongs to Hamad Salibi and his family. It is the tenth time in three years that his land has been damaged by settler attacks. Israeli forces were aware of the attack but did not intervene, Awad said. The land provides a source of livelihood for more than 70 people.
link to www.maannews.net

Hebron man, teen ‘hospitalized after soldiers break up settler clash’
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 11 Mar — Israeli forces broke up a dispute between Palestinians and Israeli settlers near Hebron on Sunday, briefly detaining three Palestinians. Izhaq Izzat Jaber, 40, said Israelis from the Kiryat Arba settlement seized his mule and cart, prompting a heated argument between him and his son, and the group from the settlement. Israeli soldiers arrived and violently apprehended Jaber, his 16-year-old son, and neighbor Nimir Ghaleb, 26, who came to help, Jaber told Ma‘an. The three were taken to Etzion detention center, and Jaber suffered heart problems when transferred to Ofer jail, he said.
link to www.maannews.net

Settlers agree to leave illegal West Bank outpost (Reuters)
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 12 Mar — Settlers signed an agreement with the Israeli government on Sunday to leave the biggest illegal outpost in the occupied West Bank and move to a nearby site after months of negotiations to avoid their forced removal. But campaigners against settlements described the deal as a disgrace, as the families had been allowed to relocate to another already-established West Bank settlement a few kilometers away. Despite publicly endorsing the notion of an independent Palestinian nation, successive Israeli governments have nurtured settlements on the very land that the Palestinians claim as theirs. Over the past decade the government has spent at least 4 million shekels ($1.1 million) on establishing and maintaining the cluster of squat, prefab bungalows at Migron.
link to www.maannews.net

Hanaa’ al-Shalabi

#HanaShalabi – Health of hunger striker badly deteriorates
RAMALLAH (PIC) 12 Mar – Palestinian captive Hana’ al-Shalabi who has been on hunger strike over the past 26 days is suffering a serious deterioration to her health according Physicians for Human Rights. A medical examination of the captive revealed a low heartbeat rate, low blood sugar, suffering stomach aches and headaches. In addition Shalabi lost a lot of weight and she cannot stand up. Lawyer Sherin Iraqi who visited the captive said that Dr. Metyal Nassar of PHR visited Shalabi and examined her and found that her condition was serious.
link to occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com

Addameer –الضمير ‏ @Addameer_ps
Physicians for Human Rights-Israel doctor able to visit #HanaShalabi for the second time today.  Updates to come on her health condition.
https://twitter.com/#!/Addameer_ps

Hana Shalabi: A brave act of Palestinian nonviolence / Richard Falk
10 Mar — No sooner had Khader Adnan ended his 66-day life-threatening hunger strike than new urgent concerns are being voiced for Hana Shalabi, another West Bank hunger strikernow without food for more than 24 days. Both strikes were directed by Palestinian activists against the abusive use of administrative detention by Israeli West Bank occupying military forces, protesting both the practice of internment without charges or trial and the degrading and physically harsh treatment administered during the arrest, interrogation, and detention process. The case of Hana Shalabi should move even the most hardhearted. She seems a young tender and normal woman who is a member of Islamic Jihad, and is dedicated to her family, hopes for marriage, and simple pleasures of shopping.
link to occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com

Political detention

Study: Children struggle to cope after Israeli detention
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 12 Mar — Thousands of Palestinian children struggle with mental health problems and reintegration into society after they are detained by Israel, a new report on child detention says. According to the study released by Save the Children Sweden and YMCA-East Jerusalem on Monday, 90.6 percent of detained children suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after release. Released minors often are unable to return to school, experience bed-wetting, anxiety attacks and nightmares, the report says. Families and communities suffer from stigmatization, and become increasingly conservative as fear grows of further detentions, it adds.
link to www.maannews.net

Two teenagers arrested without evidence amidst clashes in Ras al-Amoud
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 12 Mar — Confrontations erupted in Ras al-Amoud district of Silwan on 8 March, as a heavy build-up of Israeli forces triggered a Molotov cocktail thrown at an Israeli settler compound. Two young brothers, Basel al-Zagal (14) and Ismail al-Zagal (15) were arrested by Israeli forces, despite no evidence of their involvement in the clashes. The two boys were running through the neighborhood to reach a maths tutorial … The Zagal brothers are only the most recent youngsters amongst 11 that have been arrested in the past 4 days in Silwan.
link to silwanic.net

Israeli forces summon released prisoners near Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 12 Mar — Israeli forces raided the southern West Bank city of Yatta on Saturday evening, and delivered summons to three former prisoners to appear for questioning … All three were released under the October 2011 deal in exchange for a captured Israeli soldier in Gaza. Soldiers also raided the home of Muhammad Rashid, a 18-year-old detained on Thursday when forces surrounded the home of another released prisoner, Khaled Makhamreh … Since the prisoner swap last year, 16 of those released have been rearrested and at least seven are still in jail, according to latest figures from prisoners groups.
link to www.maannews.net

Prisoners refuse strip search, clash with police
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 12 Mar – Israeli police Monday clashed with Palestinian prisoners held in Asqalan prison, south of Israel, after police tried to force prisoners to strip for search, according to Minister of Prisoners Affairs Issa Qaraqi. He said 11 prisoners were injured, including one seriously. Qaraqi told WAFA that prison police brought dogs along with them as they entered the prisoners’ cells early Monday and ordered them to strip for search. Prisoners refused and clashed with the police who attacked them with gas bombs and clubs.
link to english.wafa.ps

Israeli forces arrest five Palestinians in the West Bank
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 12 Mar — Mohammad Awad, an activist with the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in Hebron area, said forces arrested four Palestinians from Beit Ummar, north of Hebron, during a late night raid on the town. Three of the arrested were minors under 16 years of age. Israeli forces also arrested one Palestinian from the town of Arrabeh, south of Jenin, after raiding his house and tampering with his belongings, said Palestinian security sources.
link to english.wafa.ps

Political detainee in PA jail rushed to hospital
RAMALLAH (PIC) 11 Mar – The PA intelligence apparatus carried political detainee Anas Abu Markhia to hospital after one week of going on hunger strike, local sources in Al-Khalil said on Sunday. The sources said that Abu Markhia had gone on hunger strike a week ago to protest his continued incarceration despite a ruling ordering his release passed by the Palestinian higher court. The intelligence apparatus had moved Abu Markhia, 24, to Jericho jail to pressure him to end his strike, but his relatives quoted him as saying that he would not end his strike until his release.
link to occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com

Fatah: Hamas responsible for militant leader’s life
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) 12 Mar — Fatah on Monday accused Hamas of detaining militant leader John Misleh and called for his immediate release. Misleh is a leader in the Fatah-affiliated al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. He was detained by Hamas authorities as he returned to Gaza from Egypt on Sunday, Fatah said.
link to www.maannews.net

Land theft and destruction / Apartheid

I was born here, this is my land, if I die, I will die here
JVS 10 Mar — You can see our photos of IOF training on Palestinian land on Flickr here During the night of 8th March 2012, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) destroyed Palestinian agricultural land in the village of Al Farisiya. As women around the world celebrated International Women’s Day, the women of this community had their livelihoods destroyed. This was not an isolated incident – during the last week Israeli soldiers have been training extensively with tanks and armored vehicles in the northern Jordan Valley … The majority of families in Al Farisiya sustain themselves by raising animals. There are also farmers who grow vegetables and palm trees. For years they depended on a spring called Asshek in El Malih valley for irrigation. In 2008 the Occupation Authority stopped them from using Asshek spring, despite the spring being located on the villagers’ land and them having documentation to prove that they used the spring for generations. The Occupation Authority then issued demolition orders against everyone in the village.
link to www.jordanvalleysolidarity.org

Al Walajeh: Tunneling to get home
ISM 8 Mar by ‘Ramon Garcia’ — …The Apartheid Wall under construction in the village will leave the home of Omar and his family on the “wrong” side and separate it from the rest of the village. The Israeli military has thus constructed a ‘private’ tunnel for the family to use in order to access their home from the village.  This tunnel is being dug up at the moment, and due to the heavy rains of last week, the family home was severely flooded. This is the price the family has to pay for having refused to leave their house. When the wall is finished, they will be surrounded by 4 electric fences. The constant harassment from the occupation forces and the construction of the wall seriously affected the health of a woman residing in the house. She had a nervous breakdown, and the stress made her lose her sight for 3 months. When asked what her biggest fear was, she responded, “The kind of men my children will grow up to be in these circumstances.” … As Al Walajeh is officially part of Jerusalem, military law does not apply here. The situation of the village is quite special, as the land was annexed to Jerusalem, but not the people, who are therefore considered as “present absentees”, staying illegally in their own houses. Two weeks ago, 14 demolition orders were handed out, and the village counts at least 100 in total.
link to palsolidarity.org

The strangulation of a village
ISM 10 Mar by ‘Sylvia’ — Sheikh Nasri looks resigned as he describes his home as “the most terrorised village in the country”. With 34,000 uprooted trees in the last two years and some 4,800 dunams of land stolen, the village of Al Jab‘a has little to smile about. Eighteen of the one hundred houses in Jab‘a have demolition orders on them, their inhabitants unsure of when the Israeli army will storm their homes with bulldozers. Even the Mosque has a demolition order. Homes with licenses from the Israeli courts are none-the-less destroyed to make way for the ever expanding Israeli borders. Nasri laughs as he points out the demolished “Welcome to Al’ Jab‘a” sign … In 1997 Nasri’s wife was turned away from a checkpoint whilst in labor, forcing her to give birth at home. His 14 year old son was badly beaten by a soldier 6 months ago when he ask him not to turn his jeep around on his fathers crops. His 15 year old son was held for over 6 months in an Israeli prison for attempting to farm part of Nasri’s confiscated land. [with video interview uploaded to YouTube 10 Oct]
link to palsolidarity.org

Idhna: A family without windows
ISM 12 Mar by ‘Peige’ — After three years of marriage Amani and Hussein Batran wanted a house of their own, somewhere to raise their two children, 4 year old Khalil and 3 year old Layali.   They took out two loans from the bank and construction began. Now, three years later, the house is still unfinished and no new work has been done for over a year. One year ago, shortly after the Batran family moved into their nearly finished house, they received an order from the Israeli military forbidding further construction, followed seven months later by a demolition order.  The reason given is that their house blocks the view of a camera mounted on the illegal segregation wall Israel has constructed inside of the West Bank. The sight of glass-less windows and wires protruding from half-sanded walls speaks of dreams put on hold, a family living in limbo.
link to palsolidarity.org

Israel orders Jordan Valley ponds demolished
JORDAN VALLEY (WAFA) 12 Mar – The Israeli military authorities in the West Bank Monday handed Palestinian farmers orders to demolish two ponds used for collecting rain water in the northern Jordan Valley, according to local sources. Aref Daraghme, head of Al-Maleh village council, said Israeli soldiers ordered the village residents to demolish the ponds that benefit local farmers and shepherds by the end of the month.
link to english.wafa.ps

New military gate limits access to Beit Iksa land
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 12 Mar – A new military-controlled road gate the Israeli army had set up on Monday in the village of Beit Iksa, northwest of Jerusalem, raised concern of possible takeover of almost 2000 dunums of land as it limits access to agricultural land, according to residents. The soldiers also took over a house in the area and turned it into a military outpost, said residents.
link to english.wafa.ps

Activism / Solidarity

After much injustice, Beit Dajan debuts its peaceful resistance
ISM 9 Mar by ‘Jonas Weber’ — Several hundred villagers gathered today in Beit Dajan to the first ever demonstration against the roadblock that has been obstructing access to the village since the beginning of the second Intifada. The peaceful demonstration was met with a heavy tear gas from the Israeli military. Since 2000, the main road from Beit Dajan to Nablus [9 km away] has been blocked by the military …  It wasn’t until 2009 that anyone could go to Nablus after 5 pm without coordination with the District Coordination Office, the link between the PA and the Israeli military. Not even ambulances have been let through at the checkpoint which has led to a lot of complications with the health care in the village. Education has also become a problem because of the logistical difficulties set by these Apartheid roads and checkpoints. And water supplies are cut because of the roadblock, forcing the village to now import expensive water from the Jordan Valley. And as if this is not enough, the village has suffered four deaths at the roadblock.
link to palsolidarity.org

Al Ma‘sara demonstrates the meaning of peace
ISM 9 Mar by ‘Ramon Garcia’ — The people of Al Ma‘sara gathered after praying time to march to their land, confiscated for the nearby illegal settlement. Approximately 70 internationals were present, most of them Christians coming back from a conference in Bethlehem titled, “Christ at the Checkpoints.” The crowd marched peacefully to the end of the village, where occupation forces were waiting. As they outnumbered the military present, they were able to pass through the soldiers and march towards the land of locals. The marchers advanced peacefully and were stopped when reinforcement arrived. The crowd stood their ground, facing the army. Slogans against the occupation were chanted, and many demonstrators started talking to the soldiers. “A good way to start building bridges instead of walls,” said one of the activists. [a naive one, it appears]
link to palsolidarity.org

Political / diplomatic news

US, Jordan urge Abbas to refrain from threats to dismantle Palestinian Authority
Haaretz 12 Mar — Both the U.S. and Jordan are working tirelessly to prevent Abbas from sending Netanyahu a letter that would put the burden of the occupation back in hands of the Israelis and could lead to a third intifada.
link to www.haaretz.com

There can be no election without Jerusalem and Hamas / Oraib Rantisi
MEMO 11 Mar — It looks as if Israel intends to put many obstacles in the way of the proposed Palestinian election, not least that it does not want polling stations in Jerusalem – “the eternal capital of the unified state for Jews only” and it does not want Hamas to participate, directly or indirectly, until the movement accepts the Quartet’s conditions. In 1996 and 2006, Israel allowed the inclusion of occupied Jerusalem as a Palestinian electoral district; in 2006 it even allowed Hamas to take part. Nobody, especially the Israelis, expected Hamas to win, but win it did, taking a majority of seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council. Will, therefore, the Netanyahu government prohibit what previous Israeli governments have permitted?
link to www.middleeastmonitor.org.uk

Egyptian parliamentary committee urges recall of Israel envoy in response to IDF strikes on Gaza
Haaretz 12 Mar – Egyptian parliamentary committee for Arab affairs decides to urge government to recall ambassador to Israel from Tel Aviv, deport Israel’s ambassador in Egypt.
link to www.haaretz.com

Israel MK delegation cannot travel to US after Ben Ari denied entry visa
Haaretz 12 Mar — Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin announced Monday he is banning a delegation of MKs from attending a women’s conference in Washington this month because the United States has denied entry to MK Michael Ben Ari (National Union) … The U.S. refusal to grant entry to Ben Ari because of what it said are his ties to a terrorist  group amounts to “an assault on the Knesset as a whole,” Rivlin said Monday. “The United  States’ allegation that an MK is a terrorist is unacceptable.” Ben Ari is a long-time follower of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, whose Kach party is outlawed in Israel and is considered a terrorist organization in the United States.
link to www.haaretz.com

Other news

Report: Cairo airport officials warn Israeli bodyguard carrying weapon
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 12 Mar — Egyptian security officials at Cairo airport remonstrated the bodyguard of the Israeli ambassador for flying on a civilian air carrier while carrying weapons, Egyptian press said on Monday. Israeli embassy staff arrived in Egypt from Tel Aviv on the Air Sinai airline on Sunday, when a gun and live ammunition were found in the possession of the bodyguard to Amb. Yakov Amitai, Egyptian news site Akbar Masr reported.
link to www.maannews.net

Al-Quds TV resumes broadcast
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 8 Mar – Al-Quds Educational Television resumed on Thursday broadcast, a week after Israeli soldiers raided the Ramallah-based TV station and seized its transmitters and other equipment. The resumption of broadcast was done in the presence of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who praised the station for resuming broadcast within a short time.  Soldiers raided Al-Quds Educational Television, which is part of Al-Quds University and its media campus, and Wattan TV during the same night and seized their broadcast equipment … Wattan has not yet resumed broadcast.
link to english.wafa.ps

The multiple deaths of Nisreen Karim
Al Akhbar 9 Mar by Qassam Qassam — Her name is Nisreen Karim. Her Nationality: Lebanese, from the village of Deir Siryan. She is 34 years old. Family status: Married to Palestinian Kamal Sulayman and mother of four. Social status: Died on the road traveling between hospitals. Her husband, Sulayman, accuses UNRWA of “negligence.” Um Hussein is not the first patient, and certainly not the last, to die because of the delay “by the UNRWA doctor in giving her a transfer slip to get into a hospital,” her husband said.
link to english.al-akhbar.com

Other opinion / analysis

Israel’s Red Riding Hood and the Arab wolf / Akiva Eldar
Haaretz 12 Mar — The prime minister is certainly correct that Israel has the right to defend itself. But don’t we have the right to know at long last which Israeli state he is referring to? — During a quiz show on Channel 2 television last week, a contestant was asked which of three towns – Kalansua, Tul Karm or Jenin – was located within the Green Line. The contestant, a nurse with an M.A., hesitated for quite a while and then said she thought the answer was Tul Karm. In order to verify her answer, she requested the assistance of 71 fellow contestants. Seventeen of them – almost one in four – responded that either Tul Karm or Jenin was an Israeli town. Kalansua, Tul Karm, Ariel, Hebron – they are all the same to them. Give us the Iron Dome missile defense system from the sea to the Jordan River, shell Gaza even harder and tell us the fable about the good Israeli that the wicked Palestinian wolf is waiting to devour.
link to www.haaretz.com

Hillary Clinton, Gaza, and the right of civilians to self-defense / Ali Abunimah
EI 12 Mar — …It was however on Gaza that Hillary’s hypocrisy truly shone. Here’s what she said regarding Syria: “Now the United States believes firmly in the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all member-states, but we do not believe that sovereignty demands that this council stand silent when governments massacre their own people, threatening regional peace and security in the process. And we reject any equivalence between premeditated murders by a government’s military machine and the actions of civilians under siege driven to self-defense.” Clinton was explicitly supporting the right of Syrians to use armed struggle to resist the government, and even claimed that such armed struggle is morally superior. Very well. What did she say about Gaza, which has been under unprovoked Israeli bombardment for five days killing more than twenty people and injuring dozens? “And let me also condemn in the strongest terms the rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel which continued over the weekend. We call on those responsible to take immediate action to stop these attacks. We call on both sides – all sides – to make every effort to restore calm.” That was it. Not one word of sympathy for the families of Palestinian civilians killed in the Israeli attacks. She failed to mention that Israel began the round of violence on Friday with the premeditated murders by its military machine of Palestinians Israel accuses of ‘masterminding’ attacks.
link to electronicintifada.net

groups.yahoo.com/group/f_shadi (listserv)
www.theheadlines.org (archive)

 

Report from the Saturday morning settler ‘real estate tour’ in Hebron

Mar 12, 2012

JoAnne Lingle

golaniGolani Brigade in Hebron/al-Khalil. (Photo: Alternative Information Center)

Friday, March 9: first full day on team

On the way to join Friday prayers at a protest tent in Tel Rumeida, three of us stopped to stand with a Palestinian man who was being detained by a soldier on Shuhada Street near Beit Hadassah, an Israeli settlement. The soldier immediately said to us, “Go, you cannot stay here!”. We told him it was our job to stay until he released the man. At that, he threatened to arrest us. We said “OK, call the police if you like. We are not leaving.” He picked up his phone, then immediately gave the Palestinian his ID back so he could go on his way. We left.

(Note: Soldiers cannot arrest internationals, they have to call the Israeli police to make the arrests).

We learned that one and a half hours after we were on Shuhada Street, two women from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) were assaulted by settler men. One woman was punched in the face, the other was pushed to the ground, and had wine poured over her while soldiers stood by and did not intervene.

The protest tent was set up after a car owned by the Abu Heikal family was set afire by settlers while soldiers watched. The family filed over 200 complaints with the Israeli police, but has received no response to date. A female member of the family fasted for forty days in the protest tent.

On mats scattered on the ground, 50 plus men and youth with hands held toward the sky offered praise to Allah and implored Allah’s aid. As we watched from the tent, we were moved by their implicit trust in their God. After prayers, a friend translated the imam’s message for us. He thanked the people for their steadfastness, talked about the IDF’s escalation of violence—the 16 year old boy who was shot in the back by an Israeli soldier in Yatta village in the south Hebron Hills and the two 11 year olds who were killed by an unexploded ordinance left by IDF soldiers in Sa’ir village near Hebron.

In the afternoon, Hamed Qawasmeh from the UN, invited the Christian Peacemaker Team and ISM for lunch to thank them for the report about the Golani Brigade’s abuses of Hebron Palestinians. We have had word from the U.S. Consulate and TIPH (Temporary International Presence in Hebron, an NGO created by the Olso Peace Process) that the Golanis will be leaving in a few dates. They were supposed to be here until the end of May. Il’humdilla (thanks be to God) !!!

Saturday, March 10

Every Saturday there is a “settler tour”. 100 plus Israeli settlers and their invited guests come through the Old City where our Palestinian friends live. The Israelis are escorted by a like number of IDF soldiers. I call this a “real estate tour” because they stop and ooh and ahh at the beautiful rehabilitation work that has been done by the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee (HRC). There is no doubt they expect to take ALL of Hebron’s Old City.

During this “tour”, the Palestinian residents are not permitted to walk to or from their homes. We follow the soldiers to observe that Palestinians are not mistreated. At one point, we yelled at a soldier to stop pointing his gun at us, and others who were waiting to pass. A small Palestinian girl walked by me and suddenly became aware of the soldiers—she almost walked right up to a soldier’s gun. She looked up at him and wailed, crying for her mama. I took her hand and began to walk with her to look for her mother or someone who might know her. We waited until finally a young girl (maybe her sister) picked her up. Later, I thought about the soldier and wondered if his heart was moved when he saw the beautiful little Palestinian girl terrified of him and his gun.

We hosted two lovely guests for the night. I took them on a tour of the old city and they were amazed at the friendliness and hospitality of our friends in the souq (market).

Around 9:30pm, soldiers knocked down the door of the Palestinian Municipality Inspectors Office, which is across the street from us. They detained two of the men, took them to Beit Hadassah where they beat them badly. After the men were released around midnight, they went to the hospital for treatment of their injuries.

‘I refuse to join an army that has, since it was established, been engaged in dominating another nation’: Interview with Israeli refuser Noam Gur

Mar 12, 2012

Annie Robbins

Friend and contributor Dena Shunra put us in contact with Noam Gur, currently undergoing the process of refusing to serve in the Israeli army. Noam is an 18 years old, queer feminist vegan activist currently living in Kiryat Motzkin, near Haifa, but was born and raised in Nahriyya, near Akka and the Lebanese border.

4
Noam Gur Hebron Photo:Eshraq Hajo

Annie: When did you first realize you didn’t want to serve in the military?

Noam: When I was about 15 years old I started understanding what was really happening in Palestine and Israel, after years of being told scary stories and lies by the educational system, the family, and Israeli society in general. At that stage, I believed that something like “enlightened occupation” could actually exist – in other words, that I’d go to the army and serve anywhere I’m sent, but that I’d do that with pity, compassion and “a smile”, that I wouldn’t hurt anyone without cause, and I’d refuse to obey illegal orders, etc.

That stage passed pretty quickly, when I understood there was not really any such thing as an enlightened occupation, and that in order to stop the occupation and work for peace I had to decide not to operate in the Occupied Territories. That phase passed pretty quickly, too.

When I was about 16, I understood that the only right way to act was to refuse completely to take part in the military, for the reasons I indicated in the declaration that I have attached.

Annie:  Are your parents activists or are they supportive in your decision?

Noam:  To tell you the truth, my parents are really not activists. Both my parents served in the army, my father was even a warrior and was wounded in the first Lebanon War. My big sister also served in the army, in a Border Patrol unit, at the Erez Crossing. My parents do not support the decision, but they are thoroughly aware of the fact that it is my decision, and that they cannot influence it. I do not know what will happen when the date of my imprisonment approaches and if the issue becomes one of public interest – that could hurt the, and turn them into a target. It is also entirely possible that my mother would decide that as long as I’m refusing, I don’t belong in her household.

Annie: Dena references the process of refusal as “torturous”, can you elaborate? Are you still in this process? It repeats itself from what I understand, is that correct?

Noam: Ok, this is a bit on the long side. The process of refusing is indeed long and tiresome, as Dena said it was. About a year ago I got the first call-up date. That’s a day when youths come [to a draft board-style of location] and the question of whether they are fit for [military] service is determined. It was decided that I am fit for military purpose. Then I went to a thing called a Conscience Board [ethics or conscientious objection board], a committee that on principle releases only radical pacifists, but I thought I should give it a try even if I’m not a pacifist. The army has recently refused my application to be seen by the board.

The date of my enlistment is April 16th. On that day I will go to the Ramat Gan Draft Bureau and declare my refusal to be drafted. In the course of that day I’ll be judged by a minor officer, in a kind of shortened trial that is primarily for show, and I’ll be sent to military prison for a period of between 7 days and a month. Then I’ll be released from prison, and I’ll have to go back to Ramat Gan, declare again that I refuse to be drafted, be judged to serve another week to a month, and again and again, until either I or the army gives up. If I give up first, I’ll have to see a military psychologist, and persuade him that I am not mentally capable of service. If the army gives up force (which is what I hope will happen, of course, but hasn’t happened for quite a lot of time) I’ll be released for “unsuitability” [or “failing to fit in” or “adjustment failure”]. There is a small chance that the army will decide to send me to court, which would mean that I could be imprisoned for a long time (the most time refusers were sentenced two was two years, in 2003). By the way, repeated jailing for the same offense is considered unlawful by the U.N., and it constitutes gross violation of human rights. So yes, we’ve repeated go-arounds in prison, which could take a lot of time. The last of the well-know refusers, a Druze guy from Beit Jan, was sent to seven rounds of prison before the army released him.

Phil: I admire you and want to believe I might have been as courageous as you, in similar circumstances…
Maya and Neta spoke of the incredible social isolation they face. They were making a hugely unpopular decision in a society that believes it needs a strong military to survive. Can you speak at all about your social isolation? Have you lost friends? Who has given you support? Have you been scorned/attacked?

Noam: It’s a little hard for me to respond to this, because I have only recently decided to make a public declaration of refusal, but yes – Israeli society does not greet this with a smile at all. The opposite is true.

I haven’t run into any actual violence, but I did indeed come across silencing, at school, for example. Not serving in the military was a subject that could not even be discussed. I assume that I’ll start running across violence the closer I come to refusing, and if and when the story makes it into the media or the social media. I don’t know if people broke off contact with me, but since everyone in my class is in the army now, or about to be drafted, I did not see much point in keeping in touch with most of them. So yes, there is no doubt that there’s a feeling of isolation from society. I get quite a bit of support from activists, Jews and Palestinians, but unfortunately there are only few such activists, so that the support is limited.
There’s also the organization New Profile, which is important for me to note: it accompanies refusers in the refusal process, and helped me a lot, from the beginning of the road to this day, with lawyers, information, support, etc.

Annie:  Noam, when you say it could turn your parents into a target what do you mean? Is there a precedence for this? Do you mean society shuns them? Your mother possibly deciding you do not belong in her household sounds devastating.

Noam: I think that society will eventually blame them for my refuse, “how could they have a daughter that “betray” her own society”? It happened in past years, families of refusniks received hate letters, hate graffiti on the house walls etc. To be honest, Israel is becoming less tolerance for other views, “price tags” are now common against individuals and that’s something I’m keeping in mind, that someone can choose to target me or my family. My mom basically told me that she’d rather I leave the house if I’m going to get involved with jail and the army police, since she does not support this. That happened two years ago too, one of the refusnik’s was kicked out of the house short while before his jail time.

I used to laugh with mom (she did not find that funny though) that she’ll be so much prouder if I die or be kidnapped during a war. The Israeli society still worship the dead far more the the living. I’m not sure if I mentioned that but the refuse date is pretty bad – it’s the month of the Holocaust Remembrance Day, Memorial Day for IDF soldiers and the Israeli independence day. April is always a month when you can see how much Israel invests in the dead.

Annie: The more I know, the more daunting it seems to me, what you are going through.

Noam: I just wanna point out that I’m not going through this process as an heroic action. I really do believe that this kind of public action and support for the non-violent resistance could make a (small) difference. I could, indeed, just go to a mental officer and be released in a few days, but that would mean cooperating with the army silencing system.

Annie: What is the army silencing system?

Noam: The Israeli army is doing everything it can in order to silence any kind of criticism. Sending refusniks to mental officers, for example. People feel like they can just go to a mental officer without jail and it will have the same effect and final result – getting a release of the army. I will not be silenced, I will let people know that I oppose this terrible crimes and make my refuse public, instead of just getting out of the army in the easiest way possible.

Annie: Thank you very much Noam. It’s very brave what you are doing. We look forward to hearing more from you in the future.

Below is Noam Gur’s refusal statement published here for the first time:

אני מסרבת לקחת חלק בצה”ל, כי אני מסרבת להצטרף לצבא שמאז הקמתו עסוק בשליטה בעם אחר, גזל, והטלת טרור על אוכלוסייה אזרחית הנמצאת תחת שליטתו. ההרס והנישול השיטתי כחלק ממדיניות טרנספר ארוכת שנים, רצח מפגנים לא אלימים, חומת האפרטהייד, “מבצעי” הטבח שצה”ל בוחר לבצע ושאר הפרות זכויות האדם היומיות של הפלסטינים הובילו וממשיכים להוביל למעגל דמים ארוך וסתמי שניתן למניעה.

במשך שנים נאמר לי ששליטה זו אמורה להגן עליי, אך המידע אודות הסבל הנגרם כתוצאה מהטרור המופעל על האוכלוסייה הפלסטינית נשמט מהסיפור. הדרך לפירוק האפרטהייד והשגת שלום אמיתי וצודק היא ארוכה וקשה, אך פעולות אלו של צה”ל רק מרחיקות אותו, לתפיסתי. העם הפלסטיני מתחיל להיאבק יותר ויותר בעשור האחרון בדרכים לא-אלימות מתוך הבנה זו, ואני בוחרת להצטרף לדרך זו, ולפנות למאבק עממי לא אלים בפלסטין, במקום לשרת בצה”ל ולהמשיך את האלימות.

I refuse to take part in the Israeli army because I refuse to join an army that has, since it was established, been engaged in dominating another nation, in plundering and terrorizing a civilian population that is under its control. The systematic destruction and dispossession that form part of a long-established policy of population-transfer, murder of non-violent demonstrators, the Apartheid wall, the massacre “operations” that the Israeli army chooses to carry out, and the rest of the daily violations of the human rights of the Palestinians have led, and continue to lead, to a long, indefinite, and preventable cycle of bloodshed.

For years I have been told that this control is supposed to protect me, but information about the suffering caused due to terrorizing the Palestinian population is omitted from the story. The road to dismantling this Apartheid and achieving true and just peace is long, and hard, but as I see it, these actions by the Israeli army only push it further away. Over this past decade, the Palestinian people have been increasingly choosing the path of nonviolent resistance, and I choose to join this path and to turn to a popular, nonviolent struggle in Palestine – this, rather than to serve in the Israeli army and continue the violence.

أنا ارفض الخدمة في جيش الدفاع الإسرائيلي لأني ارفض الانضمام لجيش الذي عمل منذ قيامه على الهيمنة على شعب أخر, سرقته وعلى فرض الإرهاب على الناس العزل الموجودون تحت سيطرته. وعمل على الهدم, السلب المنهجي كجزء من سياسة التهجير المتبعة منذ سنين, قتل متظاهرين عزل, بناء جدار الفصل العنصري, “حملات” القتل التي يتبعها جيش الدفاع الإسرائيلي والعديد من انتهاكات أليوميه لحقوق الإنسان الفلسطيني التي قادت وما زالت تقود نحو سكب المزيد من الدماء وبشكل متواصل الذي لا يمكن إيقافه.

قيل لي على مر السنين أن هذا هيمنة وجدت لحمايتي, لكن المعلومات عن الإرهاب الذي يمارس ضد الشعب الفلسطيني لم تصل إلى أذني. الطريق إلى تفكيك نظام الفصل العنصري وتحقيق السلام الحقيقي والعادل هو طويل وصعب, ولكن في وجهة نظري, الأعمال التي بقوم بها جيش الدفاع الإسرائيلي تبعدنا أكثر وأكثر عن تحقيق هذا الهدف.

في العقد الأخير بدأ الشعب الفلسطيني في النضال أكثر وأكثر في طرق سلميه انطلاقا من فهمه لهذا الأمر, وأنا اخترت للانضمام في هذا الاتجاه, نحو مناهضه شعبية سلميه, بدلا من الخدمة في جيش الدفاع الإسرائيلي، ومواصلة العنف.

(Hat tip Dena Shunra)

Israel kills 23 in Gaza, wounds 73, most of them civilians –PCHR

Mar 12, 2012

Alex Kane

Gazawoman
(Photo: Reuters/Ma’an)

Israeli airstrikes on Gaza have continued into their fourth day, and reports from sources on the ground say that today’s bombings have killed three civilians.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), which holds consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations, has been producing detailed dispatches on the Israeli airstrikes’ toll. Its latest dispatch reports:

Today, 3 Palestinian civilians (a child and an old man and his daughter) have been killed and 36 others, including 19 children and 7 women, have been wounded. Two members of resistance have been killed, and two others have been also wounded by a series of Israeli air strikes. Thus, the number of Palestinians killed since the beginning of this offensive has risen to 23 and the number of those wounded has risen to 73, most of them civilians.

Ma’an News is also reporting that “Israeli airstrikes killed two Islamic Jihad militants and three civilians on Monday.”

The PCHR report contains more on the impact the latest Israeli raids are having on civilians in Gaza:

At approximately 02:00 also on Monday, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at a house belonging to Bahjat Mohammed Hammad near Jabalya Martyrs Elementary School in ‘Izbat ‘Abed Rabbu in the northern Gaza Strip town of Jabalya. The missile hit the first floor of the three-storey house, where 9 individuals, including 3 children live. As a result, the house was completely destroyed and 7 members of the family, including 3 children and 3 women, were wounded. Eighteen neighboring houses were also affected by the missile, 3 of them sustained heavy damages. Twelve members of the Abu al-‘Eish family, including 3 children and two women, and 7 members of the Sukkar family, including 5 children, were also wounded. The houses of the two families are adjacent to the targeted house. In addition, 350 windows, 7 wooden and 3 iron doors in the above school were damaged. Two windows from the Palestine Red Crescent Society premises were also destroyed…

At approximately 09:25, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at a gathering of Palestinian civilians, mostly children, near al-Khuzondar fuel station in the west of the northern Gaza Strip town of Jabalya. As a result, Nayef Sha’ban Nayef Qarmout, 14, was killed, and another 5 children were wounded by shrapnel.

At approximately 13:30, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at Mohammed Mustafa al-Hussoumi, 65, and his daughter Faiza, 30, when they were on their agricultural plot near Tal al-Za’tar School in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia. The old man was instantly killed, and his daughter died a few minutes after her admission in Kamal ‘Edwan Hospital in Beit Lahia.

The current fighting was sparked by Israel’s assassination of a leader of the Popular Resistance Committees. This round of attacks is even deadlier than what occurred in August 2011, when Israel falsely blamed a murderous attack in Eilat on Gazans, then killed five PRC members, igniting another flare-up in which at least eight Palestinian civilians died, according to Human Rights Watch.

And even though the Israeli military itself has acknowledged that what happened in Eilat was carried out by Egyptians, it has reverted to lying about who perpetrated the attack to justify this latest assault on Gaza.

’60 Minutes’ goes in for casual racism about ‘Arabs’

Mar 12, 2012

Philip Weiss

Lesley Stahl1
Lesley Stahl1

I was very pleased that “60 Minutes” used its lead piece last night, an interview by Lesley Stahl of former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, to try and stop war on Iran. Dagan is against it.

But I was disgusted by the talk about “Arabs.” Just read the transcript below. Beheading Arabs, eating Arabs for breakfast, the Arab world. Would any American network speak about black people in such repulsive terms? Stahl says, “Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon used to say Dagan’s expertise was, quote, ‘separating an Arab from his head.'” Sorry but the quotation marks don’t justify quoting racism.

And then there are what Stahl describes as “exquisitely” executed assassinations of Israel’s enemies. She tries to get Dagan to talk about it with a coy smile on her face. Oh, I know: Israel lives in a very tough neighborhood. But how do Arabs feel, listening to such talk? (I can’t help pointing out, Lesley Stahl and Dagan are Jewish, and I’m betting the producer, Shachar Bar-On, also is. So, an argument against war from an Israeli is deemed to be more powerful than such an argument from Paul Pillar or Stephen Walt. Boy, this sure feels like an entre-nous Jewish conversation, with a lot of traditional racism.)

Stahl: Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon used to say Dagan’s expertise was, quote, “separating an Arab from his head.”

Dagan: I never ever killed nobody or we were engaged in killing somebody who was unarmed.

Stahl: Here are some of the things that have been said and written about you. “Hard charging.” “Stop at nothing.” Somebody who, quote, “eats Arabs for breakfast.”

Dagan: I am not responsible for what you are describing.

Stahl: But have you killed a lot of people?

Dagan: Unfortunately, I was involved in some engagement that people were killed.

Stahl: Any with your bare hands?

Dagan: Never. I know the stories. It’s simply not true. Look, there is no pleasure in killing. There’s no joy in killing people.

[Stahl voice-over] Sitting in his apartment, we were surprised that the walls were covered with pictures that he himself had painted.

Stahl: I see a lot of humanity in your paintings and I see paintings of Arabs.

Dagan: I know it would sound anti-Semitic if I said some of my best friends are Arabs, but I truly, really admire some of the qualities of Arabs…

[Stahl voiceover] And then, one by one, Iranian nuclear scientists started disappearing and getting killed, blown up by shadowy men on motorcycles. But no matter how hard we tried, whenever we asked about any of this, he stonewalled.

Dagan: I’m not going to discuss anything about this issue.

Stahl: Okay, but that’s pretty well known.

Dagan: Nice try.

Stahl: Nice try! That must kill you not to take credit for it. I mean, even in the Arab world, do you know what they call you? They call you Superman!

Dagan: I don’t have my costume.

Stahl: In Superman’s time, Mossad was credited with a string of daring, exquisitely executed, covert missions and assassinations from Damascus to Sudan.

MJ Rosenberg: why he is trying to stop the next war

Mar 12, 2012

Philip Weiss

MJ Rosenberg says he won’t be using the term Israel Firster but it was an effective tool in the work to stop a war on Iran.

It has proven to be a distraction, allowing the pro-war lobby to focus on my choice of words rather than the substance of my arguments. I will not be using it again, for many reasons including the fact that some good people were genuinely offended by it. That was not my intention. My intention is to focus like the proverbial laser on the threat posed by war with Iran and the 45 year occupation.

Perhaps I feel that threat more than some. My wife was born in a Displaced Persons camp in Germany to Polish Jews who survived the Holocaust. Many in the family didn’t including my wife’s uncle, for whom our oldest son is named, who was caught by the Nazis putting up posters in Warsaw urging resistance. He was gassed in Maidanek along with his young sister, just engaged to be married. They were both Zionists who dreamed of living in Israel. How amazed and happy they would be to know that a vibrant Israel exists. How horrified they would be to know that its existence is jeopardized by an unnecessary war, one that can be avoided by diplomacy….

My message is this.

Many of the same people who pushed us into Iraq are doing the same thing with Iran. They are pressuring Congress to prevent the president of the United States from negotiating with the Iranian government. They are banning diplomatic contacts. They are (as they have for a decade) hyping the Iranian threat, in part because they want a war and, in part, because they want to use President Obama’s reluctance to jeopardize lives as a tool to defeat him In November. And they are demanding that should Iran develop a nuclear bomb, we must not contain the threat (as we did with the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, Pakistan, etc) but should immediately go to war.

I have been fighting to help achieve a secure Israel, at peace with its neighbors, for more than 43 years.  I continue to do that by fighting against a war that could eradicate Israel and endanger Jewish security in the United States and throughout the world. This war has to be prevented. The issue must not be what label I use to describe the war agitators. It is what the Iran war agitators are doing. They must be stopped.

Israeli right wing’s vision for West Bank annexation (to ‘pull the rug out from under apartheid accusation’)

Mar 12, 2012

Philip Weiss

Today Avigdor Lieberman says that there will be no corridor between Gaza and the West Bank. That is part of the rightwing’s new vision for breaking up Palestinian life into cantons. Under this plan, Israel would annex 60 percent of the West Bank containing the settlements and allow Palestinian freedom of movement within the remaining areas, but cut the West Bank Palestinians off from Gaza.

The plan was recently offered in Hebrew by Naftali Bennet, a former chief of staff to Netanyahu and former general manager of the Yesha Council, the political organization of West Bank settlers. It was published in Makor Rishon and translated at a settlers’ site.

Gaza would be left to be absorbed by Egypt; and Israel would maintain full military control over the West Bank. (So much for the end of occupation.) And no refugees would be allowed to return to any Palestinian area. Though Israel would grant full citizenship for the 50,000 Palestinians inside the annexed areas. “This will pull the rug out from under the Apartheid accusation.”

During the two years I spend at the Council of Judea and Samaria [the Yesha Council], not a day passed without someone saying to me: Okay, we understand that a Palestinian state is a terrible idea. But what is your solution? What do you suggest?

They had a point.

In the market of ideas today there are only two solutions for sale: The establishment of a Palestinian state on most of the area of Judea and Samaria, or total annexation of the area and its two million Arabs.

By now, the public understands  that the two solutions are untenable and that both endanger the future of the state of Israel for security reasons as well as demographic and ethical ones.

The time has come to suggest a solution that is feasible, level-headed and that serves the interests of the state of Israel.

The idea presented here, one that is now being formulated in detail, does not pretend to solve the entire gamut of problems once and forever, because there is no solution that can do that.

This initiative, whose goals are modest, gives Israel three advantages: retaining the vital areas, strengthening international standing by neutralizing the ‘apartheid’ issue – and it creates stable conditions on the ground for the next several decades.

And most important: it is achievable and doable.

The following is a brief summary of the plan: “The 7 Point Program for Administering the Arab-Israeli Cpnflict in Judea and Samaria:

1. Israeli will extend full sovereignty over Area C. By doing this, Israel will take the initiative and ensure its vital needs: security for the coast and Jerusalem, keeping the settlements intact and sovereignty over national heritage sites.

The world will not recognize our sovereignty in the area, just as it does not recognize our sovereignty at the Western Wall, in the Ramot and Gilo neighborhoods of Jerusalem and in the Golan Heights. Not to worry, the world will get used to it.

Area C forms a contiguous Israeli land mass and includes the Jordan Valley, the Dead Sea, Ben Gurion airport and surrounding area, Maaleh Adumim and all the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

Residents of Tel Aviv, the coastal plain, and the entire country will live in security and be protected from the threats from the east.

2. Full citizenship for the 50,000 Arabs who live in Area C.  That is all the Arabs who are there, just 4% of the Arabs in Judea and Samaria. This will pull the rug out from under the Apartheid accusation. There are 350,000 Jews in Area C today and only 50,000 Arabs. Those Arabs can become full-fledged Israeli citizens.  And they will all realize that no Arab or Jew will be expelled from his home there.

3. The PA will have full autonomy and contiguous public transportation in the areas under its control. Arabs there will be able to go from one place to another without roadblocks and soldiers. Arabs hate long lines and traffic jams as much as Israelis do. This contiguous route is not easy to achieve but can be done for a one time investment of a few hundredmillion dollars.

We can improve Arab lives and at the same time, remove the international humanitarian pressure on Israel.

4. No ‘refugee’ from Arab countries will be allowed to enter Judea and Samaria. This negates the PA state concept that allows for millions of  ‘refugees’ and their descendants to flow into the area from Arab countries. It is unfortunate that Netanyahu, in his Bar Ilan speech, said that the “refugees” could return to the Palestinian State he envisaged.

That is an egregious mistake that would lead to an irreversible demographic catastrophe. From the moment that millions of “refugees” from Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and other Arab countries flood Judea and Samaria, there is no turning back the clock, so we cannot allow that to occur. The descendants of the refugees must be absorbed by the nations wherein they reside, and in no case west of the Jordan River.

5. Israel will keep an IDF security “umbrella” open over all of Judea and Samaria.

The necessary condition for the plan’s success is tranquillity. Quiet is possible only if the IDF is in charge of security. If the IDF leaves, Hamas will take its place. That is what Hamas did in Gaza and it is what Hizbullah did in Lebanon [once the IDF left, ed.]

6. Gaza will be separate from Judea and Samaria.

The “secure passage” idea between Gaza and Yesha is passé. It would only lead to all of Gaza’s troubles stirring  up  violence in quiet Judea and Samaria.

Gaza is joining Egypt little by little. It is already happening. We have no responsibility for Gaza. We expelled 8,000 Israelis from their Gush Katif homes there, we left every centimeter of land on which we had built communities there and in return, we got Hamastan. Let Egypt deal with it.

7. There will be massive economic investment to help Jews and Arabs live together in Area C: better infrastructure, highway interchanges, shared industrial areas. Peace begins with day to day living, with ordinary citizens. Instead of useless diplomatic cocktail parties in Oslo, Geneva and Camp David, there has to be an improvement on the ground, helping ordinary people.

For example, an interchange at the Hizme checkpoint in Binyamin is long overdue. Every morning, thousands of Jews and Arabs sit out an unnecessary traffic jam together there. The roads also cause accidents because of their condition. I would transfer the money from the Geneva Proposal to the Department of Public Works and build this interchange.

In Conclusion:

We must admit that there is no great love between Arabs and Jews in Judea and Samaria. But both sides realize by now that the other side is not going to evaporate Therefore, instead of wasting our time, money and blood on solutions that lead only to frustration and violence, we should concentrate on realistic plans that lead to stability and improved conditions.

It is time for a fresh approach in which we give up – at present – on the maximum in order to obtain the optimium, the perfect for the good. It is also time for the state of Israel to take the initiative.

Beinart: Time for a Jewish conversation about Jewish power and responsibility

Mar 12, 2012

Philip Weiss

Beinart
Beinart

Peter Beinart rolls out the “Zion Square” blog at Daily Beast today with a fabulous post about Jewish power and responsibility. The two state solution is probably dead, and Jews are capable of massacre.

The most important part of Beinart’s intervention is his acknowledgement of Jewish power. He is obviously going to talk about Jewish power in the U.S. establishment and surely will do some counting of Jews in prominent places. Good for him. Though the obvious problem with his “Zion Square” is that he calls this a “Jewish conversation.” This cannot be a Jewish conversation– particularly when it is hosted by Newsweek; no, it is an American conversation. Yes Jews are powerful; but are we so powerful that we must exclude all the other Americans who are affected by these policies? Including war! Help. Such framing only solidifies the problem it would address. (Jews cannot do this on their own. They need the strong voices of the people we victimized: the Palestinians. As Chris Hayes demonstrated yesterday. Beinart would seem to be rationalizing the fact that 7/10 speakers at his site are Jewish.)

My Beinart excerpt begins with Netanyahu’s gift of the Purim story to Obama last week.

But the Purim story doesn’t end with Haman’s plot being foiled; that’s the Disney version. It actually ends with Persia’s Jews retaliating with a massacre of their own.

Why didn’t Netanyahu tell that part of the story? Why don’t most American Jews know about it? For the same reason the American Jewish establishment doesn’t talk about [the settlement] Ariel: because in official Jewish discourse, the Jewish story begins with victimhood and end with survival. On the one hand, Jews delight in our newfound power. What could be more exhilarating for a people that seven decades ago were impotent to stop the Holocaust than seeing a Jewish state with nuclear weapons and an American Jewish community capable of making politicians pander in the most obsequious of ways? What is the AIPAC Conference if not a celebration of our own Purim-like transformation from terrifying weakness to intoxicating strength?

But because the Jewish establishment still depicts Jews as victims, this celebration of power comes without the burden of responsibility. Again and again, Jewish power is described merely as a vehicle for Jewish survival. As if Jewish history means that Jews—unlike other human beings—can use power only to survive and not to destroy…

The US-led peace process is dead, perhaps permanently. The Zionist consensus that once undergirded diaspora Jewish life is collapsing. The two state solution for which many of us yearn grows ever more remote. Israel, America and Iran may soon be at war. It is time for a Jewish conversation that faces—rather than evades—the realities of our time.

P.S. Will Beinart talk about the Jewish (neocon/neolib) role in fomenting the Iraq war? I am holding my breath.

Massacre in Afghanistan
Mar 12, 2012

Annie Robbins

Afghan residents with bod 007
Afghan police and residents gather around a van containing the bodies of civilians killed in the shooting. Photograph: I Sameem/EPA

The news of a horrific brutal massacre of civilians in Afghanistan arrived in spurts yesterday accompanied with the news one lone soldier had come forward to turn himself in.

16 people, 9 of them children murdered in the middle of the night.

Not long after the initial report Reuters included some horrific witness accounts claiming the victims were murdered by a group of drunken American soldiers. This second account has traveled far and wide.

The online versions from multiple sources seem to have morphed so fast it’s difficult keeping track of changes but blogger b at Moon of Alabama copied a segment of the early Washington Post article that mentioned nothing of the witness accounts now included in their report .

U.S. military officials stressed that the shooting was carried out by a lone, rogue soldier, differentiating it from past instances of civilians killed accidentally during military operations.

But that story made little sense to me. Why would someone go out into the dark of the night and break into three houses and deliberately kill everyone there with shots to the head? That didn’t sound like a panic reaction. And why then return to the base?

The Reuters report first carried witness accounts along with an official denial:

A senior U.S. defense official in Washington rejected witness accounts that several apparently drunk soldiers were involved. “Based on the preliminary information we have this account is flatly wrong,” the official said. “We believe one U.S. service member acted alone, not a group of U.S. soldiers.”

“I saw that all 11 of my relatives were killed, including my children and grandchildren,” said a weeping Haji Samad, who said he had left his home a day earlier.

BLOOD-SPATTERED WALLS

The walls of the house were blood-splattered.

“They (Americans) poured chemicals over their dead bodies and burned them,” Samad told Reuters at the scene.

Neighbors said they had awoken to crackling gunfire from American soldiers, who they described as laughing and drunk.

“They were all drunk and shooting all over the place,” said neighbor Agha Lala, who visited one of the homes where killings took place.

“Their (the victims’) bodies were riddled with bullets.”

A NATO spokesperson has confirmed no military operations were taking place in the area when the massacre occurred.

The New York Times article ‘U.S. Sergeant Is Said to Kill 16 Civilians in Afghanistan’  offered an account that, if true, confirmed the bodies had been burned:

In Panjwai, a reporter for The New York Times who inspected bodies that had been taken to the nearby American military base counted 16 dead, and saw burns on some of the children’s legs and heads. “All the family members were killed, the dead put in a room, and blankets were put over the corpses and they were burned,” said Anar Gula, an elderly neighbor who rushed to the house after the soldier had left. “We put out the fire.”

I’m not really understanding the logic in a bunch of witnesses claiming there were multiple soldiers if there weren’t but I can see the logic in one man taking the fall for the team.

Mr. Hadi said there was more than one soldier involved in the attacks, and at least five other villagers described seeing a number of soldiers, and also a helicopter and flares at the scene. But that claim was unconfirmed — other Afghan residents described seeing only one gunman — and it was unclear whether extra troops had been sent out to the village after the attack to catch the suspect.

This reminds me of similar attacks in Iraq — the burning cover up of the rape of Abeer andexecution of her and her family, along with those in Haditha, and Ishaqi. As Olbermann’s Ishaqi clip explains:

Wikileaks releases a diplomatic cable bolstering claims that US military personnel executed Iraqi civilians then called in an air strike to cover up evidence of that. The Pentagon today again denying those claims as it has since they first surfaced 5 years ago…. all corpses were shot in the head and handcuffed.

There is a commonality here with these latest executions in Afghanistan:

“They entered the room where the women and children were sleeping, and they were all shot in the head,” Esaqzai said, adding that he was doubtful of the U.S. account suggesting that the killings were the work of a lone gunman. “They were all shot in the head.”

Shot in the head. The burning of the bodies..will we ever know? Was this carried out by multiple drunken soldiers or one rogue crazed man? Were soldiers called in to cover up the crime which may explain why witnesses viewed multiple soldiers or was every single witness who saw multiple soldiers…delusional or lying? Did one man take the fall for a massacre committed by a group of drunken soldiers or did one man act alone? The chance we will ever know the answers is slim to none. What we do know is, for the most part, our military’satrocities are covered up and go unpunished. The lives of civilians in the regions in which our military operates are, for the most part, not cherished by most Americans. We are not there to protect the lives of these innocents, we are there to exploit strategic geopolitical opportunities.

I cannot stand this, and yes there will be an investigation. My apology means nothing. In the crazed ‘privileged’ world we live in we are brainwashed not to consider the devastation, pain and loss of people who will wake up tomorrow knowing they will never see their loved ones again. Somehow perhaps we imagine their pain is less than ours would be if it was our child or mother or father or lover or best friend who was violently ripped from our lives, forever. There is a dehumanization taking place and it begins with us.

I pray for the healing.

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Mondoweiss Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

Burying Ayoub Assalya

Mar 12, 2012

Kate

 

Video: Burying Ayoub
ISM 11 Mar by Nathan Stuckey — Twelve year old Ayoub Assalya was murdered today.  He was walking to school when an Israeli missile landed next to him.  It was seven A.M.  He is another casualty of Israel’s latest attack on Gaza.  For three days now Gaza has been under bombardment.  Eighteen people have been killed.  Dozens have been injured. His funeral was held today in Jabalia, the refugee camp where he lived.  We waited outside the mosque for midday prayers to end.  The street outside was crowded with people waiting for the funeral.  A bus was parked to carry those who could not walk the several kilometers to the cemetery … As we approached the cemetery you could see the border.  This is the same border where the Israel shot four men yesterday. The four men had been attending the funeral of yesterday’s martyrs.  The land leading up the border is barren, there are no trees, Israel bulldozed them all years ago
link to palsolidarity.org

Medics: 2 killed in Israeli airstrike east of Gaza City
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 Mar 22:15 — Two Palestinians were killed Monday evening in Israeli shelling east of Gaza City, bringing the death toll in Gaza to 25 since Friday, medics said. Bassam al-Ajla and Muhammad Thaher were killed in an airstrike on the Shujaiyeh neighborhood, medical officials told Ma‘an. They were members of the Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, a Ma‘an reporter said. [Keep up on Twitter using #GazaUnderAttack.  The attacks are continuing as of this writing.]
link to www.maannews.net

PCHR: IOF continues offensive on Gaza for 4th consecutive day: 5 Palestinians, including an old man and his daughter, killed and 38 others wounded since yesterday afternoon, raising deaths to 23 and injuries to 73
12 Mar — Investigations conducted by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) into alleged crimes committed by IOF from Friday evening, 09 March 2012 until Monday noon, 12 March 2012, indicate as follows: At approximately 01:40 on Monday, 12 March 2012, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at an agricultural plot on ‘Oujan Street in the east of al-Shuja’iya neighborhood in the east of Gaza City.  A number of nearby houses were damaged, and Ahlam ‘Arraf Jundiya, 18, was injured in her forehead by fragments of glass while she was at home. At approximately 02:00 also on Monday, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at a house belonging to Bahjat Mohammed Hammad near Jabalya Martyrs Elementary School in ‘Izbat ‘Abed Rabbu in the northern Gaza Strip town of Jabalya.  The missile hit the first floor of the three-storey house, where 9 individuals, including 3 children live.  As a result, the house was completely destroyed and 7 members of the family, including 3 children and 3 women, were wounded.  Eighteen neighboring houses were also affected by the missile, 3 of them sustained heavy damages….
link to www.pchrgaza.org

5 killed, 46 injured in fourth day of Gaza airstrikes
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 Mar — Israeli airstrikes killed two Islamic Jihad militants and three civilians on Monday, bringing the death toll since Friday to 23 people, medics and Ma‘an’s correspondent said. An airstrike on Monday afternoon in Beit Lahiya killed Muhammad al-Hasoumi, 65, and his daughter, 30, medical spokesperson in Gaza Abu Salmiya said.
Earlier, hospital officials said a 15-year-old schoolboy was killed in a separate air strike during the day on Monday. Nayif Shaaban Qarmout was killed in Beit Lahiya, north Gaza, Ma‘an’s correspondent said. Witnesses said that the 15-year-old was playing with friends in a play ground near his school when an Israeli missile hit the area. Five others were injured and taken to Shifa hospital in Gaza City…
Earlier, Israeli airstrikes had hit two homes in the northern Gaza Strip, injuring 33 civilians, most of whom were women and children, Abu Salmiya said….
A 17-year-old girl and another man were also injured as Israeli missiles struck a home in Gaza City, Abu Salmiya said.
An Israeli military spokeswoman said aircraft had carried out six strikes on Monday. At least 20 rockets have been fired at Israel on Monday, she said.
link to www.maannews.net

Lessons canceled in northern Gaza amid Israeli strikes
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 Mar — The Ministry of Education in Gaza announced Monday that afternoon classes will be canceled after Israeli forces bombed a school playground killing a student … Officials at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City told Ma‘an that Nayif Shaaban Qarmout, 15, was killed and five were injured Monday in an Israeli airstrike on Beit Lahiya. Witnesses said the teenager was playing with friends in a playground near his school when an Israeli missile hit the area … On Saturday, an Israeli missile killed Mahdi Abu Shawish, 24, and injured three others near Rabia al-Adawiya school in southern Gaza.
link to www.maannews.net

Gaza militants claim rocket fire into Israel
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 Mar — Militant groups in Gaza announced responsibility for firing rockets across the border as the Israeli army said 42 projectiles landed in Israel. The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, said it fired 30 rockets into Israel. The armed wing of Islamic Jihad, the Al-Quds Brigades, said it fired four Grad rockets toward Ashdod, while the An-Nasser Salah Ad-Din Brigades — affiliated with the Popular Resistance Committees — said it launched three Nasser rockets and four projectiles at Israeli targets … The projectiles caused no casualties but Israeli police said three people were wounded.
link to www.maannews.net

Netanyahu: Israeli is prepared to step up fighting against Gaza if rockets continue
Haaretz 12 Mar — Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that Israeli is prepared to step up its activities in the Gaza Strip if rocket fire continues. Speaking in the morning at a Likud faction meeting, the Prime Minister said, “The Israel Defense Forces is prepared to expand its activities [in the Gaza Strip] as much as is necessary.”… Labor faction chairman Isaac Herzog on Monday also expressed support for the decision to assassinate Zuhir al-Qaisi, the Popular Resistance Committee leader, on Friday, which ignited the current flare-up. “We hope that the current round of violence will end soon,” he added.
link to www.haaretz.com

IDF official: Army ready for ground op in Gaza
Ynet 12 Mar — Iran encouraging Islamic Jihad to fire rockets at Israel, escalation could prompt ground incursion, senior officer says. IDF hasn’t used all measures at its disposal, he says
link to www.ynetnews.com

‘Iron Dome has its failings’
Ynet 11 Mar — With Beersheba suffering two direct hits in less than an hour, Air Force tries to lower public’s expectations of rocket interception system. ‘There is no hermetic seal’
link to www.ynetnews.com

Egypt negotiating between Israel and Gaza factons for ceasefire, diplomats say
Haaretz 12 Mar — Egyptian diplomats in talks to bring about a ceasefire by Tuesday morning; Strategic Affairs Minister Ya’alon: Hamas approached Egypt to pass message to Israel about renewal of calm — …”We do not carry out negotiations with Hamas,” Ya’alon said. “Our response through the Egyptians was very simple, this is basically our policy since the beginning of the current administration: if you are quiet, we will be quiet, if you shoot, or plot attacks, we will hit you, and so the ball is certainly in their court.”
link to www.haaretz.com

Hamas: Egypt offered fuel in exchange for calm
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 Mar — Egypt offered to provide fuel to Gaza if militants agree to a ceasefire with Israel, Hamas-affiliated MP Younis al-Astal said Monday. The Gaza Strip has faced up to 18-hour blackouts per day since Egypt cut fuel supplies through an underground tunnel network … Speaking at a sit-in protest in Gaza, al-Astal said the Hamas-led government told Egyptian mediators that Israel had initiated the escalation and must also end it, echoing senior Hamas official Mahmoud Zahhar, who said earlier the timing of a ceasefire would depend on Israel … Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees said that they would not accept a ceasefire with Israel while Israeli warplanes continued to kill Palestinians.
link to www.maannews.net

8 trucks of medicine arrive in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 Mar – Eight truckloads of medicine arrived in the Gaza Strip on Monday from the West Bank, a crossings official said. Amidst Israeli airstrikes that have killed 23 Palestinians and wounded more than 80 in four days, Gaza medical spokesman Adham Abu Salmiya had appealed for medical supplies to the blockaded coastal enclave.
link to www.maannews.net

Rights group says targeted killing a crime
GENEVA (WAFA)10 Mar – The Euro-Mediterranean Observatory for Human Rights (EMOHR) Saturday stressed that the continued Israeli policy of what it called ‘assassination of wanted people’ is a blatant violation of international law, describing it as a murder outside the law and without trial, said a press release issued by EMOHR … The center added that the Israeli killing of the two activists was similar to previous assassinations; where the victims were not in a situation of armed confrontation with the Israeli forces but were tracked down and pursued while they were exercising their ordinary life.
link to english.wafa.ps

Ashrawi: Israel is committing extrajudicial executions”
IMEMC 11 Mar — Member of the Executive Committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, stated Saturday that Israel is committing crimes and extrajudicial assassinations against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, and that Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is seeking further provocation in order to destabilize the region, and to provoke the Palestinians into further retaliation.
link to www.imemc.org

China calls on Israel to cease fire in Gaza
BEIJING (WAFA) 12 Mar – The Chinese government Monday called on Israel to stop its airstrikes on Gaza, demanding an immediate cease-fire, according to a statement by China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Liu Weimin.
link to english.wafa.ps

British Foreign Office urges restraint in Gaza
LONDON (WAFA) 12 Mar – British Foreign Office Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt Monday urged restraint following four days of Israeli airstrikes on Gaza and rocket attacks by armed Palestinian groups on Israel
link to english.wafa.ps

Opinion on / Analysis of Gaza attacks

‘Mowing the lawn’: On Israeli’s latest massacre in Gaza and the lies behind it / Ali Abunimah
EI 11 Mar — By this Sunday evening in Gaza, a weekend of relentless Israeli bombing has left 18 people dead and dozens wounded. Israeli propaganda insists that the attacks are about preventing ‘terrorism’ and stopping ‘rockets’. But in fact, Israel provoked this violence and according to some Israeli commentators its goals are to escalate pressure for war with Iran and to drag Hamas away from diplomacy and back into violence. The latest of Israel’s victims today include Ayoub Useila, 12, of Jabalya refugee camp, whose seven year-old cousin was injured, and Adel al-Issi, 52, a farmer near Gaza City. Others suffered horrifying injuries, as recounted by doctors at Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital.
link to electronicintifada.net

Way to go, IDF! / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 11 Mar — The cyclical ritual of bloodletting between Israel and Gaza always prompts two questions: ‘Who started it?’ and ‘Whose is bigger?’ — Here we go again – a targeted killing; retaliation; retaliation to the retaliation. Here we go again – The reflexive act; the harsh rhetoric; the blindness. The Israel Defense Forces carries out a targeted killing. The Palestinian organizations avenge it – and it’s the Palestinians instigating war and terrorism. MK Danny Danon (Likud) has, of course, already called for “all of those in possession of weapons in the Gaza Strip” to be targeted because of the “million people living under fire.” Those million people, in case you failed to get it, are the residents of southern Israel. Only they live under fire.
link to www.haaretz.com

Tolerable savagery: Israeli killing of Palestinians / As‘ad AbuKhalil
Al Akhbar 11 Mar — The carnage continues. Israel, or more accurately the Zionist movement, has not stopped its brutality and repression of Palestinians since the advent of the Zionist movement in Palestine in the late 19th century. Lately, we have been able to watch with disgust. Western hypocrisy knows no bounds in the Middle East …Western governments never expressed sympathy for the Syrian people: as victims of the Assad regime and as victims of Israeli occupation and brutality. Yet, Western governments were quick to call for arming the Syrian people only months after the uprising began. The Palestinians, however, have never been treated with such permissiveness. No matter how much massive violence is inflicted on them, and no matter how many massacres they suffer, Western governments insist that the Palestinian people (and any other people living under Israeli occupation) have no right to resort to arm to liberate their lands and to “protect their civilians.”
link to english.al-akhbar.com

Escalation is good for Israel / Zvi Bar’el
Haaretz 11 Mar — Hamas’ continued preference for diplomatic action in the face of Israel’s attacks on Gaza is less than convenient for those who desire an Israeli strike on Iran — …There is no alternative to striking Iran and there is no better time than the present, when the weather permits and world diplomacy is preoccupied with Syria. For Israelis, there is no better proof that no harm will come to them as a result of an attack on Iran than the performance of the Iron Dome anti-rocket system, which has demonstrated a 95% rate of effectiveness. The escalation in Gaza is good for Israel – that is, for that part of Israel that wants to strike Iran.
link to www.haaretz.com

Israeli forces – West Bank

Israeli officer ‘can’t remember’ why Palestinian was left to die by side of road
Haaretz 12 Mar — A policewoman in the trial of two colleagues charged with dumping a Palestinian car thief on the side of a road, where he died of dehydration, on Sunday repeatedly responded to questions in court by saying she did not remember. The testimony phase in the trial over the death of Omar Abu Jariban in 2008 began in Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Sunday.  The policewoman, who was the main witness on Sunday, replied more than 100 times to questions by stating that she did not remember, and her testimony in court conflicted with prior statements given to investigators.
link to www.haaretz.com

Watch: YouTube video purports to show Israeli border police tossing gas grenade at Palestinians
Haaretz 12 Mar — In the video shot by freelance photographer, a tear gas grenade is tossed out of a Border Police jeep at a group of Palestinians who were apparently not involved in demonstrations; Border Police claims clip was staged … In early February, a French woman was injured during the weekly demonstration. After initially claiming that her injury was caused by rocks thrown by other protesters, the IDF later admitted that they may have been caused by a tear gas canister shot by the army after a video of the event was published.. 
link to www.haaretz.com

Israeli forces storm Palestinian house, attack its residents
HEBRON (WAFA) 11 Mar – Israeli forces Sunday stormed a Palestinian house in the old city of the Southern West Bank city of Hebron and attacked its residents, according to security sources. They said that Israeli forces stormed the house of Ishaq al-Maharbeh, fired tear gas bombs inside it before storming the house and locking the family inside while searching it.
link to english.wafa.ps

Settlers

Caught on tape: Drunk settlers in Al Khalil assault two international women; Israeli military admits special relationship with violent settlers
ISM 11 Mar — On March 9 2012, 6 volunteers of International Solidarity Movement were walking down Shuhada Street near Checkpoint 55 at approximately 11 AM, when drunk settlers attacked the group and injured one international volunteer. About 5 drunk male settlers began to scream at and surround the internationals, yelling “keffiyah,” the traditional Palestinian scarf, that two internationals were wearing.  Settlers were visibly carrying bottles of alcohol. The drunk settlers shoved one woman from the back and then threw wine on her. At the point the group began filming the settlers continued to hit, shove and try to grab the cameras of all 6 people.  A police car drove by and did not stop the attack.  One settler, wearing a dinosaur tail costume on his back put a towel on his face before trying to grab the camera of a Canadian ISM volunteer and then punched a British ISM woman in the face. They then fled shouting.
link to palsolidarity.org

IDF brass clash over how to deal with settlers on West Bank farmland
Haaretz 11 Mar — In 2007, then GOC Central Command Maj. Gen. Yair Naveh signed an order authorizing the Civil Administration to remove agricultural encroachments by Israelis from Palestinian land — Two top officials in the Central Command of the Israel Defense Forces are at loggerheads over how to address encroachment by Jewish settlers in the West Bank on land farmed by Palestinians. The legal adviser for Judea and Samaria, Col. Eli Bar On, recently accused the head of the Civil Administration, Brig. Gen. Motti Elmoz, of dereliction of his legal duty to end the encroachments. In a kind of punitive measure, Bar On also informed Elmoz that his office would begin referring Palestinian complainants to Elmoz’ office so that it could exercise its authority in the matter.
link to www.haaretz.com

Settlers attack Palestinian shepherds, international activists near Nablus
NABLUS (WAFA) 11 Mar – A group of masked Jewish settlers Sunday attacked a group of Palestinian shepherds along with International solidarity activists in Khirbat Yanun, a village southeast of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, according to an official. Ghassan Daghlas, in charge of settlements file in the Palestinian Authority in the northern part of the West Bank, told WAFA that a group of masked settlers from the settlements of Givat Ollam and Gidonim accompanied by dogs attacked the shepherds and the activists and threw stones at them.
link to english.wafa.ps

Israeli flags hanged in Yanoun are a reminder of settler violence
ISM 7 Mar by ‘Ramon Garcia’ —  The illegal settlement of Itamar, constructed illegally on the land of Aqraba,  Awarta,  and Beit Furik, has taken a provocative step of incitement in the village of Yanoun, from which Zionists have also stolen land. On 7 March 2012 illegal  settlers entered the village of Yanoun and rose the flag of Israel over the home of village elder Abu Muhmad al Ajoori, who resides in the lower part of the village. Another flag was suspended over a water reservoir in the upper part of the village. The settlers were then seen by locals wandering off into the hills … Residents of Yanoun have suffered many years of terrifying violence at the hands of Itamar settlers — the murder of villagers, slaughter of their livestock, desecration of crops, property destruction and daily invasions and intimidation by armed settlers. The increasing brutality climaxed in 2002 … Unable to stand the fear – and indeed reality – of terrorism any longer, the entire village evacuated at the time, mostly families fleeing to the nearby village of Aqraba … Over the 2002-06 period the entirety of the village’s families eventually came back to their homes and attempted to start their life  in the shadow of Itamar’s ever-increasing outposts that dot the hills surrounding the village.
link to palsolidarity.org

Report from the Saturday morning settler ‘real estate tour’ in Hebron
Mondo 12 Mar by JoAnne Lingle, Christian Peacemaker Teams  — …Every Saturday there is a “settler tour”. 100 plus Israeli settlers and their invited guests come through the Old City where our Palestinian friends live. The Israelis are escorted by a like number of IDF soldiers. I call this a “real estate tour” because they stop and ooh and ahh at the beautiful rehabilitation work that has been done by the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee (HRC). There is no doubt they expect to take ALL of Hebron’s Old City. During this ‘tour’, the Palestinian residents are not permitted to walk to or from their homes. We follow the soldiers to observe that Palestinians are not mistreated. At one point, we yelled at a soldier to stop pointing his gun at us, and others who were waiting to pass. A small Palestinian girl walked by me and suddenly became aware of the soldiers – she almost walked right up to a soldier’s gun. She looked up at him and wailed, crying for her mama.
link to mondoweiss.net

Settlers destroy dozens of trees in Beit Ummar
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 12 Mar — Settlers uprooted dozens of trees in the town of Beit Ummar, Hebron on Monday, local officials said. Muhammad Awad, spokesman of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements, said settlers destroyed more than 31 grape trees and 15 olive trees, together with other shrubbery. The land belongs to Hamad Salibi and his family. It is the tenth time in three years that his land has been damaged by settler attacks. Israeli forces were aware of the attack but did not intervene, Awad said. The land provides a source of livelihood for more than 70 people.
link to www.maannews.net

Hebron man, teen ‘hospitalized after soldiers break up settler clash’
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 11 Mar — Israeli forces broke up a dispute between Palestinians and Israeli settlers near Hebron on Sunday, briefly detaining three Palestinians. Izhaq Izzat Jaber, 40, said Israelis from the Kiryat Arba settlement seized his mule and cart, prompting a heated argument between him and his son, and the group from the settlement. Israeli soldiers arrived and violently apprehended Jaber, his 16-year-old son, and neighbor Nimir Ghaleb, 26, who came to help, Jaber told Ma‘an. The three were taken to Etzion detention center, and Jaber suffered heart problems when transferred to Ofer jail, he said.
link to www.maannews.net

Settlers agree to leave illegal West Bank outpost (Reuters)
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 12 Mar — Settlers signed an agreement with the Israeli government on Sunday to leave the biggest illegal outpost in the occupied West Bank and move to a nearby site after months of negotiations to avoid their forced removal. But campaigners against settlements described the deal as a disgrace, as the families had been allowed to relocate to another already-established West Bank settlement a few kilometers away. Despite publicly endorsing the notion of an independent Palestinian nation, successive Israeli governments have nurtured settlements on the very land that the Palestinians claim as theirs. Over the past decade the government has spent at least 4 million shekels ($1.1 million) on establishing and maintaining the cluster of squat, prefab bungalows at Migron.
link to www.maannews.net

Hanaa’ al-Shalabi

#HanaShalabi – Health of hunger striker badly deteriorates
RAMALLAH (PIC) 12 Mar – Palestinian captive Hana’ al-Shalabi who has been on hunger strike over the past 26 days is suffering a serious deterioration to her health according Physicians for Human Rights. A medical examination of the captive revealed a low heartbeat rate, low blood sugar, suffering stomach aches and headaches. In addition Shalabi lost a lot of weight and she cannot stand up. Lawyer Sherin Iraqi who visited the captive said that Dr. Metyal Nassar of PHR visited Shalabi and examined her and found that her condition was serious.
link to occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com

Addameer –الضمير ‏ @Addameer_ps
Physicians for Human Rights-Israel doctor able to visit #HanaShalabi for the second time today.  Updates to come on her health condition.
https://twitter.com/#!/Addameer_ps

Hana Shalabi: A brave act of Palestinian nonviolence / Richard Falk
10 Mar — No sooner had Khader Adnan ended his 66-day life-threatening hunger strike than new urgent concerns are being voiced for Hana Shalabi, another West Bankhunger striker now without food for more than 24 days. Both strikes were directed by Palestinian activists against the abusive use of administrative detention by Israeli West Bank occupying military forces, protesting both the practice of internment without charges or trial and the degrading and physically harsh treatment administered during the arrest, interrogation, and detention process. The case of Hana Shalabi should move even the most hardhearted. She seems a young tender and normal woman who is a member of Islamic Jihad, and is dedicated to her family, hopes for marriage, and simple pleasures of shopping.
link to occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com

Political detention

Study: Children struggle to cope after Israeli detention
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 12 Mar — Thousands of Palestinian children struggle with mental health problems and reintegration into society after they are detained by Israel, a new report on child detention says. According to the study released by Save the Children Sweden and YMCA-East Jerusalem on Monday, 90.6 percent of detained children suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after release. Released minors often are unable to return to school, experience bed-wetting, anxiety attacks and nightmares, the report says. Families and communities suffer from stigmatization, and become increasingly conservative as fear grows of further detentions, it adds.
link to www.maannews.net

Two teenagers arrested without evidence amidst clashes in Ras al-Amoud
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 12 Mar — Confrontations erupted in Ras al-Amoud district of Silwan on 8 March, as a heavy build-up of Israeli forces triggered a Molotov cocktail thrown at an Israeli settler compound. Two young brothers, Basel al-Zagal (14) and Ismail al-Zagal (15) were arrested by Israeli forces, despite no evidence of their involvement in the clashes. The two boys were running through the neighborhood to reach a maths tutorial … The Zagal brothers are only the most recent youngsters amongst 11 that have been arrested in the past 4 days in Silwan.
link to silwanic.net

Israeli forces summon released prisoners near Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 12 Mar — Israeli forces raided the southern West Bank city of Yatta on Saturday evening, and delivered summons to three former prisoners to appear for questioning … All three were released under the October 2011 deal in exchange for a captured Israeli soldier in Gaza. Soldiers also raided the home of Muhammad Rashid, a 18-year-old detained on Thursday when forces surrounded the home of another released prisoner, Khaled Makhamreh … Since the prisoner swap last year, 16 of those released have been rearrested and at least seven are still in jail, according to latest figures from prisoners groups.
link to www.maannews.net

Prisoners refuse strip search, clash with police
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 12 Mar – Israeli police Monday clashed with Palestinian prisoners held in Asqalan prison, south of Israel, after police tried to force prisoners to strip for search, according to Minister of Prisoners Affairs Issa Qaraqi. He said 11 prisoners were injured, including one seriously. Qaraqi told WAFA that prison police brought dogs along with them as they entered the prisoners’ cells early Monday and ordered them to strip for search. Prisoners refused and clashed with the police who attacked them with gas bombs and clubs.
link to english.wafa.ps

Israeli forces arrest five Palestinians in the West Bank
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 12 Mar — Mohammad Awad, an activist with the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in Hebron area, said forces arrested four Palestinians from Beit Ummar, north of Hebron, during a late night raid on the town. Three of the arrested were minors under 16 years of age. Israeli forces also arrested one Palestinian from the town of Arrabeh, south of Jenin, after raiding his house and tampering with his belongings, said Palestinian security sources.
link to english.wafa.ps

Political detainee in PA jail rushed to hospital
RAMALLAH (PIC) 11 Mar – The PA intelligence apparatus carried political detainee Anas Abu Markhia to hospital after one week of going on hunger strike, local sources in Al-Khalil said on Sunday. The sources said that Abu Markhia had gone on hunger strike a week ago to protest his continued incarceration despite a ruling ordering his release passed by the Palestinian higher court. The intelligence apparatus had moved Abu Markhia, 24, to Jericho jail to pressure him to end his strike, but his relatives quoted him as saying that he would not end his strike until his release.
link to occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com

Fatah: Hamas responsible for militant leader’s life
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) 12 Mar — Fatah on Monday accused Hamas of detaining militant leader John Misleh and called for his immediate release. Misleh is a leader in the Fatah-affiliated al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. He was detained by Hamas authorities as he returned to Gaza from Egypt on Sunday, Fatah said.
link to www.maannews.net

Land theft and destruction / Apartheid

I was born here, this is my land, if I die, I will die here
JVS 10 Mar — You can see our photos of IOF training on Palestinian land on Flickr hereDuring the night of 8th March 2012, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) destroyed Palestinian agricultural land in the village of Al Farisiya. As women around the world celebrated International Women’s Day, the women of this community had their livelihoods destroyed. This was not an isolated incident – during the last week Israeli soldiers have been training extensively with tanks and armored vehicles in the northern Jordan Valley … The majority of families in Al Farisiya sustain themselves by raising animals. There are also farmers who grow vegetables and palm trees. For years they depended on a spring called Asshek in El Malih valley for irrigation. In 2008 the Occupation Authority stopped them from using Asshek spring, despite the spring being located on the villagers’ land and them having documentation to prove that they used the spring for generations. The Occupation Authority then issued demolition orders against everyone in the village.
link to www.jordanvalleysolidarity.org

Al Walajeh: Tunneling to get home
ISM 8 Mar by ‘Ramon Garcia’ — …The Apartheid Wall under construction in the village will leave the home of Omar and his family on the “wrong” side and separate it from the rest of the village. The Israeli military has thus constructed a ‘private’ tunnel for the family to use in order to access their home from the village.  This tunnel is being dug up at the moment, and due to the heavy rains of last week, the family home was severely flooded. This is the price the family has to pay for having refused to leave their house. When the wall is finished, they will be surrounded by 4 electric fences. The constant harassment from the occupation forces and the construction of the wall seriously affected the health of a woman residing in the house. She had a nervous breakdown, and the stress made her lose her sight for 3 months. When asked what her biggest fear was, she responded, “The kind of men my children will grow up to be in these circumstances.” … As Al Walajeh is officially part of Jerusalem, military law does not apply here. The situation of the village is quite special, as the land was annexed to Jerusalem, but not the people, who are therefore considered as “present absentees”, staying illegally in their own houses. Two weeks ago, 14 demolition orders were handed out, and the village counts at least 100 in total.
link to palsolidarity.org

The strangulation of a village
ISM 10 Mar by ‘Sylvia’ — Sheikh Nasri looks resigned as he describes his home as “the most terrorised village in the country”. With 34,000 uprooted trees in the last two years and some 4,800 dunams of land stolen, the village of Al Jab‘a has little to smile about. Eighteen of the one hundred houses in Jab‘a have demolition orders on them, their inhabitants unsure of when the Israeli army will storm their homes with bulldozers. Even the Mosque has a demolition order. Homes with licenses from the Israeli courts are none-the-less destroyed to make way for the ever expanding Israeli borders. Nasri laughs as he points out the demolished “Welcome to Al’ Jab‘a” sign … In 1997 Nasri’s wife was turned away from a checkpoint whilst in labor, forcing her to give birth at home. His 14 year old son was badly beaten by a soldier 6 months ago when he ask him not to turn his jeep around on his fathers crops. His 15 year old son was held for over 6 months in an Israeli prison for attempting to farm part of Nasri’s confiscated land. [with video interview uploaded to YouTube 10 Oct]
link to palsolidarity.org

Idhna: A family without windows
ISM 12 Mar by ‘Peige’ — After three years of marriage Amani and Hussein Batran wanted a house of their own, somewhere to raise their two children, 4 year old Khalil and 3 year old Layali.   They took out two loans from the bank and construction began. Now, three years later, the house is still unfinished and no new work has been done for over a year. One year ago, shortly after the Batran family moved into their nearly finished house, they received an order from the Israeli military forbidding further construction, followed seven months later by a demolition order.  The reason given is that their house blocks the view of a camera mounted on the illegal segregation wall Israel has constructed inside of the West Bank. The sight of glass-less windows and wires protruding from half-sanded walls speaks of dreams put on hold, a family living in limbo.
link to palsolidarity.org

Israel orders Jordan Valley ponds demolished
JORDAN VALLEY (WAFA) 12 Mar – The Israeli military authorities in the West Bank Monday handed Palestinian farmers orders to demolish two ponds used for collecting rain water in the northern Jordan Valley, according to local sources. Aref Daraghme, head of Al-Maleh village council, said Israeli soldiers ordered the village residents to demolish the ponds that benefit local farmers and shepherds by the end of the month.
link to english.wafa.ps

New military gate limits access to Beit Iksa land
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 12 Mar – A new military-controlled road gate the Israeli army had set up on Monday in the village of Beit Iksa, northwest of Jerusalem, raised concern of possible takeover of almost 2000 dunums of land as it limits access to agricultural land, according to residents. The soldiers also took over a house in the area and turned it into a military outpost, said residents.
link to english.wafa.ps

Activism / Solidarity

After much injustice, Beit Dajan debuts its peaceful resistance
ISM 9 Mar by ‘Jonas Weber’ — Several hundred villagers gathered today in Beit Dajan to the first ever demonstration against the roadblock that has been obstructing access to the village since the beginning of the second Intifada. The peaceful demonstration was met with a heavy tear gas from the Israeli military. Since 2000, the main road from Beit Dajan to Nablus [9 km away] has been blocked by the military …  It wasn’t until 2009 that anyone could go to Nablus after 5 pm without coordination with the District Coordination Office, the link between the PA and the Israeli military. Not even ambulances have been let through at the checkpoint which has led to a lot of complications with the health care in the village. Education has also become a problem because of the logistical difficulties set by these Apartheid roads and checkpoints. And water supplies are cut because of the roadblock, forcing the village to now import expensive water from the Jordan Valley. And as if this is not enough, the village has suffered four deaths at the roadblock.
link to palsolidarity.org

Al Ma‘sara demonstrates the meaning of peace
ISM 9 Mar by ‘Ramon Garcia’ — The people of Al Ma‘sara gathered after praying time to march to their land, confiscated for the nearby illegal settlement. Approximately 70 internationals were present, most of them Christians coming back from a conference in Bethlehem titled, “Christ at the Checkpoints.” The crowd marched peacefully to the end of the village, where occupation forces were waiting. As they outnumbered the military present, they were able to pass through the soldiers and march towards the land of locals. The marchers advanced peacefully and were stopped when reinforcement arrived. The crowd stood their ground, facing the army. Slogans against the occupation were chanted, and many demonstrators started talking to the soldiers. “A good way to start building bridges instead of walls,” said one of the activists. [a naive one, it appears]
link to palsolidarity.org

Political / diplomatic news

US, Jordan urge Abbas to refrain from threats to dismantle Palestinian Authority
Haaretz 12 Mar — Both the U.S. and Jordan are working tirelessly to prevent Abbas from sending Netanyahu a letter that would put the burden of the occupation back in hands of the Israelis and could lead to a third intifada.
link to www.haaretz.com

There can be no election without Jerusalem and Hamas / Oraib Rantisi
MEMO 11 Mar — It looks as if Israel intends to put many obstacles in the way of the proposed Palestinian election, not least that it does not want polling stations in Jerusalem – “the eternal capital of the unified state for Jews only” and it does not want Hamas to participate, directly or indirectly, until the movement accepts the Quartet’s conditions. In 1996 and 2006, Israel allowed the inclusion of occupied Jerusalem as a Palestinian electoral district; in 2006 it even allowed Hamas to take part. Nobody, especially the Israelis, expected Hamas to win, but win it did, taking a majority of seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council. Will, therefore, the Netanyahu government prohibit what previous Israeli governments have permitted?
link to www.middleeastmonitor.org.uk

Egyptian parliamentary committee urges recall of Israel envoy in response to IDF strikes on Gaza
Haaretz 12 Mar – Egyptian parliamentary committee for Arab affairs decides to urge government to recall ambassador to Israel from Tel Aviv, deport Israel’s ambassador in Egypt.
link to www.haaretz.com

Israel MK delegation cannot travel to US after Ben Ari denied entry visa
Haaretz 12 Mar — Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin announced Monday he is banning a delegation of MKs from attending a women’s conference in Washington this month because the United States has denied entry to MK Michael Ben Ari (National Union) … The U.S. refusal to grant entry to Ben Ari because of what it said are his ties to a terrorist  group amounts to “an assault on the Knesset as a whole,” Rivlin said Monday. “The United  States’ allegation that an MK is a terrorist is unacceptable.” Ben Ari is a long-time follower of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, whose Kach party is outlawed in Israel and is considered a terrorist organization in the United States.
link to www.haaretz.com

Other news

Report: Cairo airport officials warn Israeli bodyguard carrying weapon
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 12 Mar — Egyptian security officials at Cairo airport remonstrated the bodyguard of the Israeli ambassador for flying on a civilian air carrier while carrying weapons, Egyptian press said on Monday. Israeli embassy staff arrived in Egypt from Tel Aviv on the Air Sinai airline on Sunday, when a gun and live ammunition were found in the possession of the bodyguard to Amb. Yakov Amitai, Egyptian news site Akbar Masr reported.
link to www.maannews.net

Al-Quds TV resumes broadcast
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 8 Mar – Al-Quds Educational Television resumed on Thursday broadcast, a week after Israeli soldiers raided the Ramallah-based TV station and seized its transmitters and other equipment. The resumption of broadcast was done in the presence of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who praised the station for resuming broadcast within a short time.  Soldiers raided Al-Quds Educational Television, which is part of Al-Quds University and its media campus, and Wattan TV during the same night and seized their broadcast equipment … Wattan has not yet resumed broadcast.
link to english.wafa.ps

The multiple deaths of Nisreen Karim
Al Akhbar 9 Mar by Qassam Qassam — Her name is Nisreen Karim. Her Nationality: Lebanese, from the village of Deir Siryan. She is 34 years old. Family status: Married to Palestinian Kamal Sulayman and mother of four. Social status: Died on the road traveling between hospitals. Her husband, Sulayman, accuses UNRWA of “negligence.” Um Hussein is not the first patient, and certainly not the last, to die because of the delay “by the UNRWA doctor in giving her a transfer slip to get into a hospital,” her husband said.
link to english.al-akhbar.com

Other opinion / analysis

Israel’s Red Riding Hood and the Arab wolf / Akiva Eldar
Haaretz 12 Mar — The prime minister is certainly correct that Israel has the right to defend itself. But don’t we have the right to know at long last which Israeli state he is referring to? — During a quiz show on Channel 2 television last week, a contestant was asked which of three towns – Kalansua, Tul Karm or Jenin – was located within the Green Line. The contestant, a nurse with an M.A., hesitated for quite a while and then said she thought the answer was Tul Karm. In order to verify her answer, she requested the assistance of 71 fellow contestants. Seventeen of them – almost one in four – responded that either Tul Karm or Jenin was an Israeli town. Kalansua, Tul Karm, Ariel, Hebron – they are all the same to them. Give us the Iron Dome missile defense system from the sea to the Jordan River, shell Gaza even harder and tell us the fable about the good Israeli that the wicked Palestinian wolf is waiting to devour.
link to www.haaretz.com

Hillary Clinton, Gaza, and the right of civilians to self-defense / Ali Abunimah
EI 12 Mar — …It was however on Gaza that Hillary’s hypocrisy truly shone. Here’s what she said regarding Syria: “Now the United States believes firmly in the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all member-states, but we do not believe that sovereignty demands that this council stand silent when governments massacre their own people, threatening regional peace and security in the process. And we reject any equivalence between premeditated murders by a government’s military machine and the actions of civilians under siege driven to self-defense.” Clinton was explicitly supporting the right of Syrians to use armed struggle to resist the government, and even claimed that such armed struggle is morally superior. Very well. What did she say about Gaza, which has been under unprovoked Isra

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Dorothy Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

Dear Friends,

 

Just 4 items below, except that there are many reports in ‘Today in Palestine” that I hope you will read.  These include details about what is happening in Gaza that you will not find in your local press, nor in all Israeli newspapers.  Some details might find their way into the commercial media, as, for instance, the fact that a father in his 60s and his daughter in her 30s were killed in Gaza.  But to learn that they were blown to bits one has to read the Palestinian press.  Not that that is the most important detail, but it is a detail.  The IOF has come up with an excuse for the killing of civilians in Gaza: human shields.  That is to say, the so-called terrorists are using civilians as human shields (http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4201948,00.html ).  That is absolute hog wash and propaganda!  Please do read at least some of the reports in ‘Today in Palestine’ about what is happening in Gaza.  ‘Today’ carries the PCHR press release for today, which I am not sending separately in hopes that you will read it here.  Also of interest in the compilation is Hana Shalabi, who is not doing too well.  She is getting weaker.

 

As for why Israel brought on this episode—now even Israeli commentators see it as connected with the onslaught to come on Iran—now Israel’s elected officials can rest in peace, because they know that the Iron Dome will catch in the air about 90% of the missiles that will be flying over our heads.  Let the other 10% fall where they will—on you or me or on someone else!
“Small change,” as Bibi said the other day.  What a country, this Israel!

 

Item 1 is an opinion piece by Akiva Eldar about what Israel’s leaders are presently doing regarding Gaza, and what they hope to attain.  Very strong piece.

 

Item 2 reports that Arab Knesset members are highly critical of Israel’s attacks on Gaza.

 

Item 3 relates that a young Israeli woman prefers being a CO, and why she intends to refuse to enlist in the IOF.

 

Last but by no means least, item 4, ‘Today in Palestine.’

 

May tomorrow be a better day.

 

Dorothy

++++++

1 Haaretz

March 12, 2012

 

Israel’s Red Riding Hood and the Arab wolf

The prime minister is certainly correct that Israel has the right to defend itself. But don’t we have the right to know at long last which Israeli state he is referring to?

 

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/israel-s-red-riding-hood-and-the-arab-wolf-1.417909

 

By Akiva Eldar

During a quiz show on Channel 2 television last week, a contestant was asked which of three towns – Kalansua, Tul Karm or Jenin – was located within the Green Line. The contestant, a nurse with an M.A., hesitated for quite a while and then said she thought the answer was Tul Karm. In order to verify her answer, she requested the assistance of 71 fellow contestants. Seventeen of them – almost one in four – responded that either Tul Karm or Jenin was an Israeli town.

 

Kalansua, Tul Karm, Ariel, Hebron – they are all the same to them. Give us the Iron Dome missile defense system from the sea to the Jordan River, shell Gaza even harder and tell us the fable about the good Israeli that the wicked Palestinian wolf is waiting to devour.

 

If I believed in conspiracy theories, I would suspect that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the rocket fire on the communities in southern Israel at the weekend. After all, it isn’t possible that Bibi hasn’t learned that after every assassination of a senior terrorist leader, the residents of the south will feature in the television news headlines. Against the backdrop of a sad little girl from Sderot who remained at home with her Red Riding Hood costume for the Purim festival, the fable of “We gave them Gaza and we got Qassam rockets” sounds much more convincing. Dear children, this is further proof that there is no connection whatsoever between territories, peace and security. Only an American president whose middle name is Hussein could claim that withdrawal from Kalansua – sorry, Tul Karm – would help him put a stop to the Iranians’ nuclear plans.

 

The Israeli public is religiously safeguarding its right not to know. It does not want to know that Netanyahu rejected a Palestinian offer to hold negotiations on a two-state solution to the conflict within the 1967 borders, with agreed-upon territory swaps and the deployment of an international force in the West Bank. After watching “Big Brother” on TV it’s easier to fall asleep with the story about Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas not responding to former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s offer of the entire West Bank.

 

So why, in fact, does Netanyahu not repeat that offer and reveal the Palestinians’ true face? Who really cares? People who are scared of “a second Holocaust” don’t want to hear that, in two weeks’ time, the 10th anniversary will be marked of the missed opportunity of the Arab League’s peace plan. The plan that offered us normal relations with the Arab states in return for withdrawal from the territories and a just and agreed-upon solution to the Arab refugee problem on the basis of UN Resolution 194.

 

The prime minister is certainly correct that Israel has the right to defend itself. But don’t we have the right to know at long last which Israeli state he is referring to? A Jewish state with agreed-upon and recognized borders? A binational and democratic state between the sea and the Jordan? A Jewish, pseudo-democratic and despised state that perpetuates its conquest of another people and steals its land? Who cares? Labor Party leader Shelly Yachimovich, who is more concerned about the riches of a number of Israeli tycoons than about the enrichment of uranium in Iran? Political newcomer Yair Lapid, who said last week at a closed meeting that of course he supports peace with the Palestinians but that, to his very deep regret, there is no one with whom to talk? That prophesy is getting closer than ever before to fulfilling itself.

 

True, peace and Israel’s identity bother opposition leader Tzipi Livni, but everyone knows she’s a sucker. Otherwise she would not have missed the opportunity to join the Netanyahu-Avigdor Lieberman, Ehud Barak government simply because of her principles. Zahava Gal-On of Meretz also has something to say about this, but who gives a hoot about the talk of left-wingers? And what about those good people who don’t remain in their armchairs facing the TV and instead go out to demonstrate in the streets or on Facebook? They are busy closing ranks in an “apolitical” struggle over the price of cottage cheese and chocolate bars.

 

We are leaving the struggle over the image of the country in which our children will grow up in the hands of right-wing organizations Yisrael Sheli and Im Tirtzu. Their activists are very well aware of whether Tul Karm is inside or outside the Green Line. They drive past it every day on their way to their settlements. For them, that line was erased a long time ago, together with the basic boundaries of an enlightened democracy. The same will happen to us soon.

             

2 Ynet

March 12, 2012

 

Bodies of Gaza terrorists Photo: AFP

 

Arab Knesset member: Jewish blood no purer

 

Emotions run high as Arab Knesset members accuse Israel of instigating Gaza fighting

 

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4202018,00.html

 

Moran Azulay

 

Arab Knesset members slammed the government Monday, accusing it of instigating the latest round of fighting in the Gaza region and suggesting that Israel has little regard for Palestinian lives.

 

Speaking at a heated Knesset discussion, MK Jamal Zahalka directly addressed Minister for Home Front Defense Matan Vilnai, slamming Israel’s military operations in the Gaza Strip.

 

“Your army is killing in Gaza. There is no difference between Israeli or Palestinian blood. Israeli blood is no purer than Palestinian blood,” he said. “You’re pouring oil on the fire…those who sow hatred reap violence. You’re missing the goal of achieving peace and quiet, and you’re at fault for it.”

 

Meanwhile, MK Talab el-Sana accused the government of staging a provocation in Gaza, charging that” Israel brought the recent round of violence upon itself due to an unnecessary assassination.”

 

‘Israel guilty of hypocrisy’

MK Mohammad Barakeh also slammed the government, charging that Israel is being hypocritical in its operations vis-à-vis Gaza.

 

 

“What we have here is hypocrisy, when trying to play dumb or pretending to be a surprised victim,” he said. “By carrying out an assassination, one initiates escalation.”

 

“My heart goes out to the citizens of Gaza and Israel who are now paying the price for the Israeli government’s actions,” he said. “Both the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas government in Gaza want to secure a lull in the fighting and are working towards it.”

+++++

3  An Israeli female explains why she refuses to enlist in the IOF and prefers jail instead of being an accomplice to crimes against the Palestinians.

 

http://972mag.com/jaccuse-israeli-youth-headed-towards-prison-for-refusing-the-draft/37690/

 

4 Today in Palestine

March 12, 2012

 

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/f_shadi/message/3426

 

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A. Loewenstein Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

 

Pre 9/11, Pakistan knew a thing or two about private occupation

 

Posted: 12 Mar 2012

 

What a fascinating piece of history, via the Washington Post, and an indication that mercenaries and private contractors have been part of war well before the “war on terror”:

As U.S.-funded Afghan jihadists battled the Soviets in the late 1980s, the unassuming American-run bar in this ancient frontier city bulged with gossiping foreigners. Today, with another Afghan conflict winding down, the watering hole practically echoes with emptiness.

Through it all, Khan Afsar, the Khyber Club’s unlikely bartender, had a front-row seat.

Except Afsar did not actually have a seat in his spot behind the bar, and all the standing recently became too much to bear. So he has stepped down after nearly 25 years of six-day workweeks that he says left him with admiration for Americans, a rare sentiment in Peshawar and in Pakistan at large.

“They are good people” — not to mention good tippers, Afsar said. “They are helping us.”

As a recent Saturday evening shift began, a lone Canadian patron sipped beer at the bar and predicted that the crowd was unlikely to improve. The scene seemed a metaphor for U.S.-Pakistan relations, which boomed with cooperation during the Afghan resistance but now gape with mistrust.

Yet Afsar himself is a symbol of the ground-level relations between Americans and Pakistanis, which, despite the diplomatic tensions, are typically far more amiable than sour. Over the decades, Afsar — a devout Muslim who never tried alcohol — served as a steadfast and good-natured ambassador for Pakistan, building a trail of admirers now scattered around the globe.

“For a modest fellow from a mountain village . . . he supervised and served the foreign lunatics with kindness, merriment and unflappable aplomb,” Stephen Masty, who managed the bar in the early 1990s, wrote in an e-mail.

Things began changing about five years ago, as Islamist militants expanded their reach and launched attacks in northwest Pakistan. Hostility toward Americans rose, and many international organizations withdrew foreign workers to Islamabad, the capital. The club’s security walls multiplied, and more American customers sported beards and tattoos, said Yusuf Ghaznavi, a Pakistani American who has been a fixture at the club for two decades.

“I presume they were contractors,” Ghaznavi said. “Their main concern was A, how soon they are going to get out, and B, how much money they are making.”

As bilateral tensions soared, Pakistan ordered the departure of most U.S. military representatives, many of whom had been based in Peshawar. The American mission in Peshawar now has a skeleton staff whose security guidelines prohibit much movement in the city. 

False lure of mining riches in Papua New Guinea

 

Posted: 11 Mar 2012

 

My following investigation appears in New Matilda today:

Papua New Guinea has a new leader but the country’s relationship to mining remains complex. Locals who aren’t happy about the growth of the industry are left with few options, reports Antony Loewenstein from Port Moresby

At Port Moresby international airport in Papua New Guinea sits piles of free brochures labelled, “Map and Handy Mining/Petroleum Guide.” Inside are emergency phone numbers alongside a foldout map that lists countless projects in more than a dozen places across the impoverished nation. The $15 billion, Exxon-Mobil LNG project dominates the page, with a red line representing proposed pipelines from the Southern Highlands straight to the capital.

The glossy pamphlet is one of the first thing visitors see as they arrive in the resource-rich state and it speaks volumes about how Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and his government view the future prospects of the country.

Minister for Petroleum and Energy William Duma, in comments given at the February opening of Shell offices in Port Moresby, proudly told the assembled crowd that, “in a small way and through consistent political leadership at the national level, PNG has been able to attract international interest for the exploration and development of our under-developed hydrocarbon resources.”

It’s early days in the O’Neill era but there are few tangible differences between the previous Michael Somare regime and the new leaders in relation to welcoming multinationals to develop and exploit PNG’s resources.

James Arvanitakis, cultural researcher at the University of Western Sydney who has spent time working in PNG and the Pacific, tells the New Matilda that, “PNG has a long history of relying on extractive industries and a change of government won’t alter that. Unless there’s a shift in development philosophy, power relationships with these industries will continue to fund political campaigns.”

There’s no doubt, however, recently travelling across various provinces, that Somare is widely viewed with suspicion for failing to wisely invest the billions received from foreign companies. Somare’s legacy is disastrous, with his years in power contributing to a deeply corrupt state and under-resourced services. Nobody interviewed by New Matilda wanted the “father of the nation” to return.

The main advocates for Somare over the last years have been Australia and China, two nations competing for PNG’s affections. AusAid recently announced the slashing of more than $90 million by cutting the numbers of advisers it employs for PNG programs but it remains arguably Port Moresby’s financial saviour.

Australia’s High Commissioner to Port Moresby, Ian Kemish, recently told the National Times that Canberra fully backed exploitation of natural gas, arguing that it would assist the people themselves. The evidence for this is virtually non-existent.

Washington is watching. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admonished both Beijing and Somare during a visit to Port Moresby in November 2010, warning of a “resource curse”.

In later statements to the US congressional foreign relations committee, Clinton was moredirect. “Let’s put aside the moral, humanitarian, do-good side of what we believe in and let’s just talk straight, real politics,” she said. “We are in a competition with China. Take Papua New Guinea — huge energy find.”

Clinton accused Beijing of attempting to “come in under us” and stated that it would be a “mistaken notion” to think that America would retreat from “the maintenance of our leadership in a world where we are competing with China.”

The human face of modern PNG can be found on the tranquil province of Madang. The site of the Chinese-run Ramu Nickel Mine, the $1.5 billion investment was challenged in the Supreme Court to stop the deep sea dumping of millions of tonnes of waste that contain traces of metallic elements and solvents used to extract them. Monash University’s mine tailings expert Gavin Mudd argued that there were far safer ways to dispose of waste on land as opposed to contaminating the seafloor.

The land-owners lost in a decision late last year and one of them, Terry, wearing a floppy white hat and dark blue polo shirt, tells New Matilda that, “this is how our country works. Corrupt government, courts and media.”

He already sees discoloured water and other pollutants in the water next to his village near the mine and knows the problems will only get worse.

Terry’s village, with around 500 people, doesn’t have an electricity supply, relying on battery-powered lights. When the memorandum of understanding between Chinese company MCC and the landowners was signed in 2006, one of the conditions was that the company would connect them to the power grid. Six years later, this is yet to happen despite the firm using its own power supply.

A few months ago the company dumped one solitary solar cell and it now lies on the ground in the village. “The frogs sit in it at the end of the day”, Terry says. Although he loathes what he sees as an “arrogant” Chinese corporation destroying his country, Terry says his daughter is applying for a scholarship through Beijing’s embassy in Port Moresby and his son is already studying in China.

They are poor people with few financial options. For the sake of education, it would be pig-headed, he implies, to not take some Chinese money for “good” instead of seeing it merely used for exploitation of resources.

Like many New Matilda met in PNG, Terry opposes Chinese investment — “At least with Australians we can talk with them about things, even if we disagree. The Chinese aren’t like us, they speak a different language” — but has no other places to find even the possibility of higher education funding for his children.

This is Chinese-style soft-power, a trend repeated across the Pacific.

On the ground, however, more mundane problems exist. The over-stretched police force in Madang is forced by direction from Port Moresby to protect foreign resource projects at the expense of local concerns. A representative of Madang-based NGO, Bismarck Ramu Group (BRG), says officers are often living in squalor while the national government demands they prioritise mining and forestry interests.

For the Exxon LNG project, this staff shortage has been fixed by the hiring of multinational firmG4S. The largest foreign and private company in the country, with close to 5000 staff, New Matilda heard in Bougainville, Madang and Port Moresby, though was not furnished with hard evidence, that the corporation with a troubling human rights record across the world has essentially taken over PNG’s military.

A leading NGO with close ties to the central PNG government, who requested anonymity, tells New Matilda that after years of depleting the military’s strength, Exxon Mobil and other Western multinationals have invested heavily in private security. The source argues that these forces are now loyal more to a company than a state and wonders if the plant will even open with sabotage of pipes a serious concern.

Stanley Mamu of the LNG Watch blog, a man close to the landowners in the Southern Highlands, confirms this view, arguing that anger towards Exxon and G4S is only growing due to its failure to consult with local communities and lack of cultural sensitivity. Violence is a real possibility.

New Matilda asked G4S to comment on its PNG operations. A spokesman in the country said: “G4S has no role in managing the LNG project. The PNG government do not employ G4S to manage security in the country.”

These problems go far deeper than just the LNG project. Barely a week goes by when a report from a PNG blogger or tweeter doesn’t highlight a village somewhere in the country disrupting a mining or forestry project because they feel ignored by the companies running them and angry at the pollution. Stable governance is impossible in such circumstances.

Leading local blogger Martyn Namorong more blunt, telling New Matilda: “The Government and Exxon Mobil will do whatever is necessary to ensure that the project is not derailed. But as history on Bougainville has shown us, people can still have the upper hand. This is our land, not Exxon Mobil or the state.”

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Israel Doing What it Does Best

NOVANEWS

Yesterday, Mona El Farra wrote from Gaza:

Gaza 11-3-2012 4pm

The Israeli army continues its military attacks against the Gaza Strip. The attacks started Friday, March 10 at 5:30pm. I heard the first terrible explosion as I drove back to Gaza City from Khan Younis. There was a lot of smoke, shattered windows, and a fire in this blue car that was targeted by a missile from an Israeli drone. These offensive acts, though supposedly targeting Palestinian armed resistance men, are illegal according to international law. Every human is entitled a trial.

As usual, the entire civilian population including women and children, pays the highest price and bears the brunt of this terrible situation. Already several children have been killed, one was on his way to school when he was hit by shrapnel.

Our concern is not just the attacks but also the lack of medications and supplies. If Israel continues this operation, the number of causalities will increase. The toll is 16 dead and 30 injured until this minute.

Gaza’s population already lives in a dire humanitarian situation. We are still under Israel’s military occupation and the internal conflict between Palestinian political groups is not solved. But worst of all, the governments of the world are silent and indifferent.

We at the Red Crescent Society of the Gaza Strip and the Middle East Children’s Alliance appeal to the international community, and to our friends and supporters to spread the word about what is happening now in Gaza and pressure your governments to stop these attacks soon.

The humanitarian situation in Gaza is on the verge of collapse, the military attacks continue while we lack electricity and our medical facilities and hospitals have little amounts of fuel to operate their backup generators. We have insufficient medications. 186 basic medications are lacking in our pharmacies. Besides the insufficient medical supplies, children in the special neonatal intensive care units as well as renal dialysis patients are in great danger due to the power outage. Our cancer patients are dying unnecessarily, unable to have their treatments. Our diabetic and asthmatic patients, as well as many others with chronic illnesses who need their medications regularly cannot get it. The list of the victims is too long to mention.

Please act immediately to stop this attack against Gaza population. You have been always great supporters and showed your solidarity, at the most difficult times.

Yours sincerely

Dr. Mona ElFarra

Vice President, Red Crescent Society for the Gaza Strip

As usual, Israel started the assault by assassinating Palestinian militants. I will use the Israeli terminology, as there is nothing wrong with it. The men Israel assassinated in the ongoing counterinsurgency campaign that is euphemistically called the Israel-Palestine conflict were people who, when they are not living with their families, are militantly defending their homeland. There is nothing wrong with that.

The usual rogue’s gallery, ever-eager to aggravate the race war, has weighed in to condemn the retaliatory rocket fire out of Gaza. Their words are worthless when their deeds make that rocket fire almost inevitable. One result of the Egyptian insurrection is that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces now has to make an occasional gesture to popular sentiment to take the boil off the social pressure that is slowly building against its collaborationist policies. Thus Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr said that “Egypt is highly distraught by the Israeli attacks…Egypt is currently exerting efforts and making crucial calls for an immediate end to this Israeli escalation to end bloodshed of our brothers.” Translated into English that means, Israel, when you bomb a territory full of Arabs right next to our own our people notice. The Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi-dominated parliament passed a motion calling for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador to Egypt and the halting of gas exports to Israel.

Neither will happen, as the parliament is powerless. But the pressure is not just building in Cairo but elsewhere: in El Arish solidarity marches took place today and more are planned for later this week. El Arish is a medium sized city an hour from the Egyptian border with Gaza. There, Muslim Brotherhood cadres are also more sympathetic to the Palestinian struggle than they are in places further afield where the impacts of Egyptian policies lack such clear immediacy. The Egyptian leadership, trying to calm the situation, offered Palestinians in Gaza fuel if a “ceasefire” takes hold. The Popular Resistance Committees are rejecting a “ceasefire” until they can extract a promise that Israel will refrain from targeting their militants and leadership. They will never get that promise merely from negotiations. Indeed, Israel insists that it will not stop “preventive targeting” operations: “The Israeli army will continue to attack the terrorists in Gaza with strength and determination,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In other words, Israel will attack at will and reject on principle any ceasefire with the Palestinians in Gaza. Meanwhile the death toll inches upwards: 25 since Friday, with over thrice that injured.

Posted in GazaComments Off on Israel Doing What it Does Best

Dorothy Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

Dear Friends,

 

Every time I listen to the news these past days (only three times today, so far) the number of Palestinians killed rises, and also the number of missiles shot into Israel.  The government is very proud of its ‘Iron Dome,’ but not only is it very costly, but also it is not all together safe.  When it destroys missiles in flight, the pieces of metal from it and the missile that it hits when falling to the ground can, potentially, be as dangerous as the missile exploding on the ground.  I hope that by tomorrow all this will be done with.

 

I don’t understand how it is that there is not a mass exodus from here, what with Bibi’s desire to go to war if not with Iran then with Gaza, and given Ehud Barak’s estimate of ‘only’ 500 Israelis to be killed in a war with Iran,” you would think that people would be making a bee line to the airports to get out.   But many apparently don’t believe that Israel will attack Iran.  I have heard several people using the barking dogs analogy (they don’t bite, supposedly).  But I don’t trust our leaders.  No, I don’t.  And as for Gaza and missiles flying, I guess that so long as no Israeli is hurt, people won’t see the danger.  But I can’t stop thinking about the parents and family of the 12 year old and 7 year old Palestinian boys who were killed by Israeli weapons and soldiers today.

 

The 8 items below of course include items on Gaza–items 1 and 4 are reports on the situation in Gaza and in Israel.

 

Item 2 reveals present goals in education (in brief–Zionism first, foremost, and always).

 

Item 3 argues that “A better understanding of Iran might save us from catastrophe.”

 

Item 4 is, as I said, about the situation in Gaza and the south of Israel.

 

In item 5 an angry Gideon Levy states “The cyclical ritual of bloodletting between Israel and Gaza always prompts two questions: ‘Who started it?’ and ‘Whose is bigger?’ “

 

Item 6 is a Haaretz editorial that insists that ‘Israel-Palestinian peace needed now more than ever.’  Well, I’m not sure that peace is needed now more than before.  But am perfectly certain that it, and its predecessor, justice (especially for the Palestinians), are needed now and always.

 

In item 7 Harriet Sherwood tries to depict Israelis via 5 sketches.  I’m not fond of generalizations.  Moreover, her sketches do not cover all Israeli types.  They do not cover, for instance, Ethiopians, nor do they cover people like myself—that is activists against the occupation.  True, activists in support of Palestinians and against the occupation are the fringe of society, but we nevertheless are.  Others have also been omitted from the sketch.  But so far as it goes, it is interesting.

 

Item 8 is Today in Palestine.  Lots of noteworthy material in it.  Please don’t neglect Max Blumenthal’s “Israel’s bogus case for bombing Gaza obscures political motives.”  Also special is “A letter from under attack.”  And of course you will want to know the latest updates on Hana Shalabi, who is now in her 40th (or more) day of hunger strike.  Actually, everything in ‘Today in Palestine’ is worth reading, and I hope that even though it is unlikely that you will read every report in full, I hope that you at least glance through the summaries.

 

That’s it for today.

 

Hopefully no more killings, no more injuries, no more destruction, not in Gaza not in Israel.  Please.

 

Dorothy

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1PCHR
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights

Press Release

Ref: 32/2012

Date: 11 March 2012

Time: 11:30 GMT

 

7 Palestinians, Including a Child, Killed and 24 Others Wounded, Raising Number of Victims of Ongoing Israeli Military Escalation against the Gaza Strip to 18 Deaths and 35 Injuries

 

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have continued the military offensive on the Gaza Strip, which they have initiated since Friday evening, 09 March 2012.  This morning, two Palestinian civilians, including a child, were killed by an Israeli air strike.  Thus, the number of Palestinians killed since the beginning of this offensive has risen to 18 and the number of those wounded has risen to 53.

 

Subsequent to investigations conducted by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) into crimes committed by IOF from Friday evening, 09 March 2012 until Saturday noon, 10 March 2012, investigations conducted by PCHR into the latest incidents indicate:

 

At approximately 12:45 on Saturday, 10 March 2012, an Israeli warplane fired two missiles at a motorcycle that was traveling on a branch road in ‘Abassan village, east of Khan Yunis.  Two activists of the Nasser Saladin Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, who live in Bani Suhaila village, east of Khan Yunis, were traveling on the motorcycle.  The missiles hit the motorcycle, killing the two activists who were identified as:

 

1-  Hussein Saleem Hassan Barham, 52; and

2- Mansour Kamal Abu Nussaira, 21, who died shortly after having been admitted to the European Gaza Hospital in Khan Yunis.

 

At approximately 14:00 also on Saturday, Israeli soldiers stationed at observation towers at the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel to the east of the northern Gaza Strip town of Jabalya opened fire at a number of Palestinian civilians who got close to the border and threw stones, during the funeral procession of a number of victims of Israeli air strikes.  Five civilians were wounded by gunshots, including two ones who were in serious conditions.

 

At approximately 15:10 on the same day, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at a training site of the ‘Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, to the west of al-Maqqoussi apartment buildings in the north of Gaza City.  A number of nearby houses were damaged, and as a result, 6 Palestinian civilians were injured by fragments of glass.

 

 

At approximately 15:50 also on Saturday, an Israeli warplane fired two missiles at Mahdi Ahmed Abu Shawish, 26, from Rafah, an activist of the Nasser Saladin Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, when he was getting ready to ride his motorcycle in Block J in the south of Rafah refugee camp.  Abu Shawish was instantly killed by shrapnel throughout the body.  Additionally, 5 civilian bystanders, including a 15-year-old child, were wounded.

 

At approximately 22:15 on the same day, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at a space area in the east of al-Zaytoun neighborhood in the east of Gaza City.  No casualties were reported.

 

At approximately 01:20 on Sunday, 11 March 20122, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at a number of activists of the Nasser Saladin Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, who were near Doula intersection in the east of al-Zaytoun neighborhood in the east of Gaza City.  An activist, Ahmed Nafez Saber Deeb, 23, was killed and two others were wounded.

 

At approximately 07:10 also on Sunday, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at a number of Palestinian civilians, mostly children who were playing near their houses in ‘Assaliya Street in the northern Gaza Strip town of Jabalya.  As a result, Ayoub ‘Aamer Mohammed ‘Assaliya, 13, was killed, and two of his relatives, including a 7-year-old child, were wounded.

 

At approximately 08:20, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at a number of Palestinian resistance activists to the east of the Car Market in al-Zaytoun neighborhood in the southeast of Gaza City.  Two activists were moderately wounded.

 

At approximately 11:45, a missile fired by an Israeli warplane landed near an agricultural plot belonging to the al-Wehaidi family in al-Fakhoura area in al-Nafaq Street in the northeast of Gaza City.  As a result, the guard of the plot, ‘Aadel Saleh Fares al-Essi, 63, from al-Tuffah neighborhood in Gaza City, was killed by shrapnel throughout the body.  Additionally, two resistance activists were seriously wounded.

 

PCHR reiterates condemnation of these crimes and expresses utmost concern over such escalation, and:

 

1- Stresses that these crimes are part of the escalation of crimes committed by IOF in the occupied Palestinian territory, especially in the Gaza Strip, in which IOF have used excessive and disproportional force in disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians.

2- Calls upon the international community to immediately take an action to stop such crimes and reiterates its call for the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations under Article 1 which stipulates “the High Contracting Parties undertake to respect and to ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances,” and their obligations under Article 146 which requires that the Contracting Parties prosecute persons alleged to commit grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention.  These grave breaches constitute war crimes under Article 147 of the same Convention and under Protocol I Additional to Geneva Conventions.


Public Document

**************************************

For more information please call PCHR office in Gaza, Gaza Strip, on +972 8 2824776 – 2825893

PCHR, 29 Omer El Mukhtar St., El Remal, PO Box 1328 Gaza, Gaza Strip. E-mail: pchr@pchrgaza.org, Webpage http://www.pchrgaza.org

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2 – March 11 2012

Independent commentary and news from Israel & Palestine

March 11 2012

http://972mag.com/education-goals-for-2012-zionism-first-math-failures-second/37607/

|Ami Kaufman

Education goals for 2012: Zionism first, math failures second

The government ministries have set their goals for 2012. It’s good to know the Education Ministry has got its priorities straight.

http://972mag.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/saar.jpg

Minister of Education Gideon Sa’ar (photo: Wikimedia Commons)

With so many people dealing with Iran, it’s a wonder anything actually gets done in this country. But yes, next week the CEOs of all of the Israeli government’s ministries will present the goals they set for the year 2012. Not to be the eternal party-pooper, but shouldn’t this have been done in late 2011? Just a tad before 2012…? Oh well, what do I know about running a country.

But anyway, amidst all the bombs and rockets flying just a few dozen kilometers south of me, I tried to my best to read the goals that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his colleagues have planned for moi, the loyal taxpayer. As someone who has written often on the dire situation of Israeli education (you can read here some very disconcerting data), how happy was I to read Lior Dattel’s item in the financial daily The Marker [Heb]. Finally, it looks like Bibi and Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar have finally got the priorities set straight.

Not.

The first goal that the Ministry of Education has set for the coming year is “strengthening the education of Zionist, Jewish, democratic and social values,” which also includes the struggle against violence. Only after this, second on the list, does the ministry address improving student achievments – by raising the number of those who pass Bagrut (matriculation – A.K.) exams (which is now less than half), improving the results in international tests, and narrowing the gaps of students based on geographic and economic background.

The plan to strengthen values includes raising the number of students who tour Jerusalem this year as part of the “Let’s go up to Jerusalem” plan from 50 thousand children to 550 thousand. The ministry has recieved criticism of this plan, through which some of the students also visited the Templ Mount. Furthermore, the ministry plans to raise to 17 thousand the number of students who will take part in the “Israeli voayge” program – a trip that lasts 7 days going all over Israel and run by an organization called “Genesis”, which was founded by Rabbi Moti Elon, who has been accused of sexual harrassment.

The Ministry of Education also plans to raise the number of schools in which the program to strengthen Jewish-Zionist education from 40 to 142, to raise from 713 to 913 the number of schools that allocate study hours to teaching the topic of Israeli culture and heritage, and to raise the number of schools who run the program that encourage service in the IDF, which is mainly run in schools with low draft numbers.

Something tells me even Theodore Herzl wouldn’t be happy.

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3  The Observer

11 March 2012

 

A better understanding of Iran might save us from catastrophe

As Israel plays up the country’s nuclear threat, the west should be seeking active dialogue with Tehran

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/mar/11/peter-beaumnont-iran-nuclear-threat

 

Peter Beaumont

 

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Photograph: Caren Firouz/Reuters

 

“Actions,” said Samuel Johnson in his life of the English poet Abraham Cowley, “are visible.” What are secret, Johnson added pointedly, are “motives”.

 

In the case of Iran’s nuclear programme what we know of Tehran’s actions and motives are the following.

 

With some degree of “overall credibility” – according to the 2011 board of governors’ report from the International Atomic Energy Agency – we know that Tehran, in all likelihood, made active studies of technologies associated with nuclear weapon design and payload design. By and large, the report believes, that activity ceased in 2003, coincident with the US-led invasion of Iraq.

 

We know, too, because it has been even more visible, that Iran has come close to mastering the nuclear fuel cycle as well, including enrichment of uranium up to 20%.

 

The problem with the present dangerous debate, as it has been framed ever-more closely through the exclusive prism of Israel’s security concerns and its ever-louder threats to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities, is that far from illuminating what actually motivates Iran in its nuclear ambitions, it has tended to obscure Tehran’s motives instead.

 

So what does Iran really want?

 

Writing in 2009, Kayhan Barzegar, an expert on Iran who has taught both in Tehran and in the US, described what he called the “paradox of Iran’s nuclear consensus”. He was attempting to lay bare the complex and competing historical, political and strategic considerations behind the theocratic regime’s nuclear decision-making processes.

 

Referencing two centuries of internal criticism of Iran’s failure “to acquire substantial power, influence and wealth”, Barzegar cites more recent history that has persuaded many Iranians, not least in the country’s elites, that the west, and Britain and America in particular, have long conspired to throw obstacles in the way of Iran’s development both economically and as a major regional player.

 

From an Iranian point of view, there is ample evidence of this: from the overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh’s government in a CIA and MI6-led coup in 1953, after he nationalised the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, to western resistance to the shah’s Esfahan steel manufacturing project to President Clinton’s killing off a $1bn deal for the US energy company Conoco to develop offshore oil fields. It is a suspicion that has been amplified by the country’s post-Islamic revolution politics.

 

Indeed, one of the bleakest of historical ironies is that the early revolution under Ayatollah Khomeini actually halted the western-supported civil nuclear programme in place under the shah and it was only persuaded that it needed to acquire nuclear weapons technology because of Iran’s massive losses in the war with Iraq, then supported by the US, which saw Iran targeted with chemical weapons.

 

It is these twin considerations – a combination of desire for deterrence in a neighbourhood where there are five nuclear powers and a sense of frustrated regional ambitions – that have long driven Iran’s pursuit of nuclear technology, summed up in its 20-year strategic plan, ratified by its powerful expediency council, which calls for Iran to “rank first in the region”.

 

Iran’s decision-making over its nuclear programme, not least its pursuit of weapons technology, is complicated by a number of other factors. Indeed, the 2010 US National Intelligence Estimate, in agreement with other analysts, argued that far from having already concluded it would build a bomb at any cost, Tehran is more flexible on the issue, “guided by a cost-benefit approach”, a judgment recently endorsed by 16 US agencies that have studied the issue and concluded there is no evidence Iran is actively trying to build a bomb.

 

Indeed, as Barzegar argued: “There are quite a number of reasons why, from the perspective of the Iranian leadership, weaponisation is untenable, unnecessary and unwise.”

 

If Iran’s deliberate policy of ambiguity is one complicating factor, a second and equally important issue is how the nuclear programme, and the consequent international pressure on Tehran, has become ever more politicised in both the factional wrangling within the regime and the country’s wider politics.

 

That has meant, counterintuitively perhaps, that as international pressure on Iran over its nuclear ambitions has increased, it has made it harder, not easier, for the regime to come to an accommodation as even some leading members of the Green opposition have criticised President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for any perceived concessions.

 

If the motivation of Iran is far more complex than that described by the present, simplistic debate, a question needs to be asked, too, about the motivation of Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, and those of his Israeli allies who have been pushing most vigorously for military action.

 

With not even 20% of Israelis believing that Israel should launch a unilateral attack against Iran, according to one poll, and the country divided over how effective a joint Israeli-US strike would be (Israel is not in a position to act alone), Netanyahu, even as he lectured American supporters, has failed to convince his own public.

 

More cynically, as a recent column in the Economist argued, Netanyahu’s promotion of the threat posed by Iran, described in evermore apocalyptic terms, has been a convenient piece of “displacement” by an Israeli leader absolutely determined to avoid any meaningful engagement with the Palestinian peace process or bring an end to the occupation of the West Bank.

 

Because of this, a debate that should be about Iran’s real nuclear ambitions and motives, and about how to engage with the regime constructively to prevent further proliferation, has been hijacked by a largely false premise.

 

For those of us who were intimate observers of the headlong charge to war against Iraq, it seems nothing more than a dispiriting rerun, not least in David Cameron’s hyperbolic claim – counter to the weight of all current available evidence – that Iran is actively pursuing the construction of a intercontinental ballistic missile that could threaten the west, an assertion eerily reminiscent of Tony Blair’s untrue claim that Iraq could strike British interests within “45 minutes”.

 

A war with Iran is not inevitable, but it might yet become so if the debate does not become both more honest and realistic. Indeed, the west has misread Iran for the best part of a century and more, not least since the country’s revolution.

 

To go to war twice in the Gulf within the space of a decade based on rhetoric, lies and misunderstanding would not simply be a tragedy but an utter catastrophe that would shame the west.

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4 The Guardian

11 March 2012

 

Gaza strikes leave 18 Palestinians dead

Militants fire rockets into Israel in exchange of fire that Israeli defence minister warns is ‘far from over’

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/11/gaza-strikes-18-palestinians-dead

 

Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem

 

 

A rocket is launched from the Israeli anti-missile system known as Iron Dome in order to intercept a rocket fired by Palestinian militants. Photograph: Ariel Schalit/AP

 

A 12-year-old boy was among those reported to have been killed in Gaza on Sunday amid a spiralling round of militant rocket attacks and Israeli air strikes over the weekend that left at least 18 Palestinians dead and four people in Israel injured.

 

A further 26 Palestinians were injured, five seriously, in a string of Israeli air strikes, Gaza medical services spokesman Adham Abu Salmiya told the Palestinian news agency Maan. He named the dead child as Ayoub Useila, who was killed in Jabalia refugee camp in an air strike that also injured his seven-year-old cousin.

 

The weekend death and injury toll was the highest since Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s three-week military assault on Gaza just over three years ago.

 

As the attacks and counterattacks continued on Sunday morning, the Israeli authorities ordered schools in southern towns to remain closed. More than 130 rockets have been fired from Gaza since Friday. Thousands of Israelis in cities such as Be’er Sheva, Ashdod and Ashkelon spent part of the weekend in bomb shelters.

 

The cycle began with the targeted assassination by Israel of a Palestinian militant who it says was planning an attack within Israel. Zuhair el Qaisi, 49, the secretary general of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), was killed along with his son-in-law Mahmoud Hanani, 44, when the car in which they were travelling was hit by a missile. A civilian bystander was seriously injured.

 

The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said Qaisi had “led and directed plans to carry out a terror attack within Israel, which was in its final stages of preparation”. The IDF also said Qaisi was behind an attack last August, in which militants crossed the border from the Sinai to kill eight Israelis.

 

Militants in Gaza responded to Qaisi’s death with a barrage of Qassam and Grad rockets. Israel deployed its Iron Dome missile defence system to intercept at least 28 rockets – 90% of those targeted – since Friday. According to the IDF, 17 separate air strikes had been carried out by Sunday morning. Apart from the 12-year-old, all those killed were militants.

 

Ehud Barak, Israel’s defence minister, said the hostilities were expected to continue. “This current round … is far from over, and we must remain vigilant and alert in the face of a potential terror attack from the Sinai,” he said while visiting an Iron Dome battery near Ashdod on Saturday. “We will act against anyone who attempts to send rockets or perpetrate terror attacks. Anyone attempting such an attack will pay the full price. Immunity will be granted to nobody.”

 

Militants from Islamic Jihad and the PRC are believed to have launched the rockets. However, Israel maintains that Hamas, the group which controls Gaza, is responsible for all rocket fire and, according to the IDF, “will bear the consequences of these actions in any future operation embarked upon by the IDF in order to eliminate the terror threat and restore the relative calm to the area”.

 

However, both Hamas and Israel are thought to be anxious to avoid a major confrontation. Hamas fears that in the event of a sustained military operation, Israel would seek to destroy its infrastructure and arsenal and wipe out its leadership. Israel fears inflaming hostile sentiment in the region, particularly in Egypt, where the politically ascendant Muslim Brotherhood is close to Hamas.

 

Egypt has mediated between Israel and Hamas in previous confrontations, most notably in the aftermath of last August’s cross-border attack which sparked a similar round of violence.

 

On Friday, Israel closed Route 12, the scene of last August’s incident, which runs along the Israel-Egypt border, to civilian traffic amid warnings of a possible attack. It had reopened only two weeks ago.

 

US officials condemned the latest round of rocket fire from Gaza. The secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, said Israel had the right to defend itself, and a state department statement called on both sides to restore calm.

 

“We condemn in the strongest terms the rocket fire from Gaza by terrorists into southern Israel in recent days, which has dramatically and dangerously escalated in the past day,” the statement said. “We call on those responsible to take immediate action to stop these cowardly acts. We regret the loss of life and injuries, and we call on both sides to make every effort to restore calm.”

 

The EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, said the EU was concerned about “the recent escalation of violence in Gaza and in the south of Israel”. “I very much deplore the loss of civilian life,” she said. “It is essential to avoid further escalation and I urge all sides to re-establish calm.”

 

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, held emergency consultations with the Egyptian leadership, the European Union and the Middle East Quartet, according to his office. Abbas also called on Israel to “stop its aggressive acts, which include assassinations, invasions and destruction of infrastructure”.

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5 Haaretz

March 11, 2012

 

The cyclical ritual of bloodletting between Israel and Gaza always prompts two questions: ‘Who started it?’ and ‘Whose is bigger?’

 

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/way-to-go-idf-1.417750

 

By Gideon Levy

Tags: IDF Likud Palestinians Gaza

Here we go again – a targeted killing; retaliation; retaliation to the retaliation. Here we go again – The reflexive act; the harsh rhetoric; the blindness. The Israel Defense Forces carries out a targeted killing. The Palestinian organizations avenge it – and it’s the Palestinians instigating war and terrorism. MK Danny Danon (Likud) has, of course, already called for “all of those in possession of weapons in the Gaza Strip” to be targeted because of the “million people living under fire.”

 

Those million people, in case you failed to get it, are the residents of southern Israel. Only they live under fire. By yesterday afternoon, the bodies of 15 Palestinians were already laid out on the other side of the Gaza border. There were eight people injured on this side, and the Iron Dome antimissile system chalked up the successful interception of 25 rockets.

 

This cyclical ritual of bloodletting always prompts two questions: “Who started it?” and “Whose is bigger?” It’s as if both questions were straight from some preschool playground. The response to the first question is always mired in uncertainty, while the answer to the second is always razor-sharp.

 

Who started it? The IDF and the Shin Bet security service did. The impression is that they carry out the targeted killings whenever they can, and not whenever it is necessary.

 

When are they necessary? Do you remember the debate on targeted killings sometime in the distant past? Then, it seemed the targets had to be “ticking time bombs” en route to carry out their attacks. In any event, such a vague standard no longer applies. In 2006, in his last court ruling handed down before his retirement, then Supreme Court President Aharon Barak barred such killings when they were meant to be “a deterrent or punishment.”

 

The latest target killed was Zuhair al-Qaissi, the secretary general of the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza. IDF sources said he was responsible for the terrorist attack on the Egyptian border last August – which would make his killing an act of “deterrence or punishment.” But to be on the safe side, it was also noted that he had “led and directed plans to carry out a terror attack within Israel, which was in its final stages of preparation.”

 

This convoluted announcement by the IDF spokesman was enough to get the Israeli public to accept this latest regular dose of targeted killing with automatic understanding and sympathy. And who knows what the late al-Qaissi had planned? Only the Shin Bet does, so we accept his death sentence without unnecessary questions.

 

Did he really lead and direct plans? And what are “the final stages of preparation”? The military reporters said so, and the military reporters know. Even the question of the effectiveness, rather than the legality of the killings, is no longer a subject for debate. What benefit will it bring Israel, other than more people injured, and additional days of fear in the south? Did this targeted killing really head off a terrorist attack? We won’t know. It’s enough for the news presenters to know. (And they don’t. They just obediently spout what they get from the defense establishment. )

 

The second question – “Whose is bigger?” – is even more ridiculous and superfluous, of course. It’s the best equipped army in the world against a ragtag army of rocket launchers. Nonetheless, this has to be proven to everyone, both to them and us, over and over.

 

You have the score right here in front of you. As of yesterday afternoon, it was 15-0 in Israel’s favor. If we measure it by the results of the IDF’s Cast Lead operation in Gaza at the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009 – when it was one Israeli killed per 100 Palestinians – then from a statistical standpoint there’s been backsliding.

 

And imagine if, God forbid, there were 15 Israelis killed over the weekend? Cast Lead 2 and regional war, with a politically different Egypt as a backdrop. But the killing of 15 Palestinians is allowed, eliciting just a yawn. In another day or two, we should hope that calm will again prevail. And actually, the commentators have been saying that “neither side is interested in a confrontation.” A nameless mediator will handle the negotiations and the weapons will again be locked up.

 

Until the next round. At that point, the juvenile questions will be asked all over again. Again, Israel will not restrain itself from carrying out additional targeted killings. Again, the Palestinians will not restrain themselves from avenging the killings, both sides locked in their stupidity. Because that’s the routine in this insane asylum.

 

For those on the inside, everything appears normal and routine – as is always the case among such psychotic patients. So Iran is compared to Auschwitz and, in a blind reflex, a target killing is carried out in Gaza in the middle of a period of calm that had benefited everyone.

 

The rising star candidate as head of the opposition, Shaul Mofaz (Kadima), who is the winning alternative to the current government, has already welcomed the targeted killing, as did Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar. And Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already contacted the mayors in the south in a show of support. This, too, is part of the standard ritual. Residents of the south sit in shelters while the rest of the country cluck their tongues and tell themselves “That’s how it is”; “Nothing else can be done”; and “Way to go, IDF!” And then they take an afternoon snooze in the wonderful springtime weather.

+++++++++

6 Haaretz

March 11, 2012

 

Israel-Palestinian peace needed now more than ever

Postponing the settlement of Israel-Palestine conflict is bad for Israel. The belief that the leaders of the region and the world have given up and set the issue aside is a dangerous illusion.

 

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/israel-palestinian-peace-needed-now-more-than-ever-1.417747

 

Haaretz Editorial

Tags: Gaza IAF IDF Palestinians Benjamin Netanyahu

Get Haaretz on iPhone Get Haaretz on Android The southern front suddenly ignited this weekend. A coordinated terror attack on Israel’s border with Egypt is planned in the Gaza Strip; the militants are attacked, and retaliate by firing rockets at Israeli towns. Israel launches more air strikes. The brief, fragile calm is disturbed. The Iron Dome antimissile system is fairly effective, but most of the population is not protected. Anyway, in the event of war the batteries will be redeployed to intercept rockets aimed at Israel Air Force bases. You couldn’t ask for better proof of last week’s remarks by Gen. James Mattis, head of U.S. Central Command.

 

While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu celebrated, with his natural partners in the Israeli right, his imaginary achievement in Washington, D.C. – to replace the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the dangers of a nuclear-capable Iran in the public awareness – Mattis restored to its proper place the importance of ending the conflict.

 

Mattis is not a politician, campaigning for Congress or a presidential nomination. He does not care about the votes, or the money, of American Jews. He does not conceal his affinity with the Israel Defense Forces and his friendship with Israel, which go back a long way. Any attempt to portray him as hostile to Israel or as kowtowing to the Arabs, who predominate in many of the important countries in his purview, is bogus. Like his predecessors in the post, Mattis refuses to ignore the link between the Arab-Israeli conflict, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and other issues in the Middle East.

 

Not everything is rooted in this conflict. There are other factors in the deadly confrontations between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims, between Iran and Gulf states, as well as in the “Arab Awakening,” to use Mattis’ term. But, Mattis said, the absence of a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a “preeminent flame that keeps the pot boiling in the Middle East, particularly as the Arab Awakening causes Arab governments to be more responsive to the sentiments of their populations,” who are hostile to Israel. This affects the Americans’ ability to promote regional cooperation against the threats the moderate Arab states have in common with Israel – the chief one being a nuclear-capable Iran.

 

Postponing the settlement of the conflict with the Palestinians is bad for Israel. The belief that the leaders of the region and the world have given up and set the issue aside is an illusion; the price of waking up from it grows constantly dearer.

++++++

7 – The Observer

11 March 2012

 

Israelis–Portrait of a people in tense times

 

Talk of an existential threat to Israel from the Iranian nuclear programme echoed around Washington last week. Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, described the world’s failure to prevent the Holocaust and Barack Obama spoke of the country’s sovereign right to defend its people. But what is the nature of the state that has become central to global diplomacy? Harriet Sherwood listens to Israelis across this diverse nation

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/11/israel-living-in-worlds-spotlight

 

Harriet Sherwood

 

‘This could be paradise’: Shay and Sigal Shoshany with three of their sons, Shayzaf, 11, top, Shahaf, 23, bottom left, and Snir, 20, bottom right. Photograph: Gali Tibbon for the Observer

 

 

THE KIBBUTZNIK

NAME: Sigal Shoshany

 

AGE: 45

 

OCCUPATION: college administrator

 

LIVES: Degania Alef kibbutz, Galilee

 

FAMILY: married, four children

 

RELIGIOUS IDENTITY: secular

 

 

Sigal Shoshany was born on Israel’s oldest kibbutz, Degania – now 101 years old – and has lived all her life among its banana and avocado trees on the southern shores of the Sea of Galilee.

 

Degania has changed since she was a child and there is now more individual freedom. “The kibbutz doesn’t tell you how to live your life any more,” she says. It’s a good thing, she adds; the world has changed and Degania has changed with it. “You can’t stay still.”

 

She and her non-kibbutznik husband, Shay, decided to stay at Degania to raise their family amid the security of kibbutz life. “The community holds you together,” says Sigal.

 

The kibbutz movement “symbolises what is best about Israel,” says Shay. The family watched last year’s nationwide demonstrations demanding social justice, knowing that “it already exists here”. Both say that national security is the most important issue facing Israel. At the start of the Arab spring, they welcomed the calls for freedom and democracy but now fear the rise of the “fundamental Islamism” in the region – which they describe as a “crazy neighbourhood”.

 

The Syrian border is not far from Degania, and they are worried about the outcome of the uprising there. But Iran is the biggest threat, says Shay. “[Ahmadinejad] is not a crazy guy – he is very clear about his intention, and very soon he will get the tools to make practical his ideology. The issue of survival should belong to the era of the Holocaust, but now Israel is again talking about it,” he says, adding that the issue is “not only for Israel but for the entire democratic world”.

 

The couple have four boys, aged from 23 years to 21 months. “Four sons – four soldiers,” Sigal says ruefully. The eldest, Shahaf, has completed his three-year military service; Snir, 20, will start his this month. “It’s not easy for me to send my boys to the army, but it’s something we must do to defend our country,” says Sigal. “It’s not something you want as a mother, that your son will fight, but it has to be done.”

 

“This is the meaning and the reality of being Israeli,” adds Shay. He points out that 90% of young people living on kibbutzim serve in the army, compared to only 50% living in Tel Aviv. “It’s part of our sense of public duty.”

 

Snir, who has been accepted into an elite combat unit, says: “I grew up in an environment that gives me the feeling it is an honour to go to the army. My parents and grandparents served their country. I’m very proud to be Israeli, it’s a special country. People outside only see the bad things, but there are many more good things.”

 

Both he and his older brother insist the Israeli army has strong humanitarian principles, but its first duty is to protect Israeli citizens.

 

The Shoshanys have encouraged their children and their community to have contact with Palestinians to overcome mutual suspicions and stereotypes. “It’s possible to live here without being connected to the issue of the Palestinians – apart from through the army,” says Sigal. They are in favour of a two-state solution based on 1967 borders.

 

The couple are proud of what Israel has achieved in almost 64 years. “It’s a kind of miracle – what we have done in the fields of medicine, agriculture and the economy,” says Shay. “If we could be at peace, it could be a paradise.”

 

THE RABBI

NAME Moshe Weiss

 

AGE: 52

 

OCCUPATION: businessman

 

LIVES: Jerusalem

 

FAMILY: married, 10 children, seven grandchildren

 

RELIGIOUS IDENTITY: ultra-orthodox Jewish

 

 

Rabbi Moshe Weiss, born in New York to Holocaust survivors from Hungary, came to Israel at the age of 18. “I grew up in a home which was haredi [ultra-orthodox] but my father was a passionate Zionist. For us, the state of Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people after thousands of years of exile and a place where Jewish people with all their dimensions finally have a home.”

 

Weiss originally came to study for a year in a yeshiva, a religious school. “I was going to become a corporate lawyer or an architect, but I fell in love with the country. I wanted to be part of Jewish history.” Now he runs a hi-tech company, Netspark, which filters internet content.

 

The most important issue facing Israel is, he says, the security threat, especially from Iran which is “threatening to wipe us off the map”. He hopes for peace with the Palestinians, but fears “the extremists among them are fighting against compromise. Nevertheless, our leaders are patiently trying to work things out.”

 

But he speaks mainly of divisions within Israeli society. In the past, he says, Israelis were too busy building and protecting their new state to focus on internal differences. In recent months the Israeli haredi community has come under particular scrutiny following calls by some of its more extreme sects for greater gender segregation and female modesty. The ultra-orthodox have also attracted criticism because many men choose religious study over paid work, relying on state benefits and evading compulsory military service.

 

Weiss is scathing of the extremists within the community. “The vast majority of haredi people are tolerant, respectful, and totally abhor the behaviour of – I wouldn’t call them zealots or fanatics – they are criminals.” But he says the attention given to the minority has been damaging to the community.

 

“It comes at a time when we see great effort by the new generation of ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel to integrate, to contribute, so that the secular part of society considers the haredi community as an equal partner.” The current hostility to the ultra-orthodox was counter-productive to that effort, he says, encouraging the community to withdraw.

 

Ultra-orthodox women are not second-class citizens, he insists. Religious women have a different lifestyle to secular women, but it is chosen by them, not forced on them.

 

Israel is becoming a more religious society, he says, citing a survey showing 80% of respondents believe in God. But he hopes the country will find a “common denominator” both within its own society and with the Palestinians. “But each part of this multi-dimensional nation and people needs to look inward to see how they relate to other parts of society with more appreciation and respect.”

 

 

THE UKRAINIAN

NAME: Alex Yamnitzky

 

AGE: 50

 

OCCUPATION: mechanical engineer

 

LIVES: Sderot

 

FAMILY: married, one child

 

RELIGIOUS IDENTITY: secular Jewish

 

 

Alex Yamnitzky came to Israel at the age of 28 from Ukraine. “It wasn’t anything ideological or religious. There was antisemitism, but it wasn’t a major factor. Once the borders began to open, people around us started moving in search of a better life.”

 

The Jewish National Fund paid for tickets and helped support the new beginnings of Alex and a group of Jewish friends who made aliyah [immigrated to Israel] together. Alex worked in construction while learning Hebrew for a year, before finding a job as a mechanical engineer.

 

He has lived in Sderot for more than 20 years, a town in southern Israel, close to the border with Gaza, which has a big community of immigrants from the former Soviet Union. “We tend to stick together,” he says.

 

“Now I think of myself as Israeli, not Ukrainian. Being Israeli is not a religious identity for me but a national one – the fact that I’m in my own country. Religion is not part of our daily lives.”

 

Alex says his economic hopes have been fulfilled, but that the cost of living in Israel is high. “The economy worries me more than the political situation,” he says, meaning the conflict with the Palestinians. “The economy has to do with our everyday lives, whereas the political situation is much further away.”

 

This is despite living within the target range of rockets and missiles fired into Israel from Gaza. “Of course the qassams [rockets] are part of our lives, but what can you do about it?” He says things have eased in Sderot as the reach of the missiles has extended – “the rockets fly further now”.

 

He dismisses the Palestinians’ claim to the land, saying “they didn’t really take care of it, and it only started to develop when the Jews came”.

 

His 18-year-old daughter, Vika, is about to start her two-year military service, which Alex feels is an important process in helping to cement national identity. “The army is a page in every Israeli’s life and it makes you stronger,” he says.

 

The family is disillusioned with elected politicians. Alex’s wife, Inessa, says they expected more of Avigdor Lieberman, the hardline rightwing leader of Yisrael Beiteinu, a party which has a strong Russian base, “but he does nothing now”.

 

“The time when Russians would vote for someone because he is Russian is over,” says Alex. “We’ve been here too long.”

 

 

THE SETTLER

NAME: Natalie Hershkowitz

 

AGE: 49

 

OCCUPATION: settlement secretary

 

LIVES: Barkan

 

FAMILY: married, six children

 

RELIGIOUS IDENTITY: ‘connected to God’ but not traditionally observant

 

 

Natalie Hershkowitz moved from Tel Aviv to Barkan 15 years ago because she needed a big house to raise her family in and wanted to live in a “good community”. “The fact that it was across the Green Line [in the West Bank] was a benefit. We come from the right side of the political map, so it was our duty to come here. It was the right thing to do according to our beliefs,” she says.

 

But the distance – 25 minutes in the car – from Tel Aviv, and the “quality of the air”, helped the decision to move from the city in which she was born and raised. The price of land and property in West Bank settlements was cheap then, she says; now Barkan – which was founded in 1981 – “is very exclusive”.

 

She describes it as a “village” not a settlement – “although we are not ashamed of the word settlement. But the connotation today of ‘settler’ is someone who came to conquer a foreign land. This is our land. We are not colonialists. God gave us this land.”

 

Natalie and her husband, Itzhak, say they have a strong connection to and belief in God, but are not conventionally observant Jews. “We go to the synagogue regularly but not every week. We celebrate holy days. We don’t keep a kosher kitchen, but we don’t eat ham or oysters.”

 

Barkan is a mainly secular settlement. “It’s very important to say that,” says Natalie, “because people think once you cross the Green Line everyone is a religious fanatic. People don’t know that a third of the [Jewish] population across the Green Line is secular.”

 

The essence of being Israeli, she says, is “to be here on the biblical land of Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]”. The Palestinians who were born on the land should have the right to live there, “but to live in peace with us. They can’t make us disappear, we can’t make them disappear.” She points out that 3,000 Palestinians – or “local Arabs” – work in the settlement’s industrial zone. “We are working together, living together. It’s impossible to divide us.”

 

She believes a separate Palestinian state is not possible “even if the whole world recognises one. You can never draw a border because it’s all too mixed up now. This land has to be one Israeli Jewish state, but with an Arab minority with human rights. This is meant to be ours, we were here before. I don’t want to drive them away, but I want to live with them in peace.”

 

She includes Iran among the most important issues facing Israel, but says “it’s not only our problem, it’s a problem of the whole western world”.

 

The settlement movement is getting stronger, she says. “This situation will be for ever. No politician will ever be able to make a peace [with the Palestinians] without leaving us here.”

 

 

THE PALESTINIAN

NAME: Youssef Asfour

 

AGE: 40

 

OCCUPATION: history teacher

 

LIVES: Jaffa

 

FAMILY: married, one child, triplets due in May

 

RELIGIOUS IDENTITY: Muslim

 

 

Youssef Asfour’s relatives were displaced in the 1948 war, with some scattering to Lebanon and Gaza and his mother and father ending up in Ajami, an area of Jaffa he describes as a ghetto.

 

“On both sides, the families lost property and land,” he says. “My grandfather used to be a journalist. He finished his life cleaning at a butcher’s shop in Carmel [the main Tel Aviv market].”

 

Despite his Israeli citizenship, Youssef does not consider himself as Israeli, but a Palestinian who lives in Israel. He shows his Israeli identity card. Until 2005, it used to categorise him as an “Arab”, but after many court battles ID cards now show a row of asterisks for all Israeli citizens. However, Jews are identified as such by their date of birth, shown according to the Hebrew as well as Gregorian calendar.

 

“I don’t feel part of Israel,” he says. “I’m a native here. Why is it OK for someone who comes from America or Morocco or Russia to be here, but not me?”

 

He points to laws passed in the Israeli parliament, including one permitting communities to bar individuals who don’t “fit the social fabric” from buying property and another outlawing the commemoration by public bodies of the Nakba, or catastrophe, suffered by the Palestinians in 1948. “Look at these laws, and you will find the discrimination we suffer,” says Youssef.

 

As a history teacher, he says he is expected to teach a version of events which is disputed by Palestinians. “I think it’s a duty to teach both [Israeli and Palestinian] narratives. We need to teach that the Palestinians were here [before 1948], and that the Jews were victims of persecution in Europe. It is a mistake for both sides to ignore the other.”

 

Reaching a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the most important issue, he says. “Then all the money that now goes on weapons could be spent on education. If you want real democracy, start by building schools and teaching people how to read and write. This is the real revolution. Violence is never a solution; the solution is in education.”

 

 

THE HEDONIST

NAME: Omer Gershon

 

AGE: 37

 

OCCUPATION: marketing consultant and events producer

 

LIVES: Tel Aviv

 

FAMILY: single

 

RELIGIOUS IDENTITY: none

 

 

Omer Gershon is “a true Tel Avivian”, born and raised in the city, unlike many of its transient residents, and is a standard-bearer for its hedonistic, nihilistic, gay-friendly reputation.

 

He is, he admits, “the epitome of the bubble boy”, referring to the city’s insulation from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and dedication to partying. As a professional party-thrower, networker and partner in several clubs and bars, he says he is known as the king of nightlife.

 

Tel Aviv, he says, is “a country within a country – it’s so separate from the rest of Israel. Everyone expects Israel to be a country in conflict, and then they come to Tel Aviv and everyone is partying or sitting in cafes and bars. We have a heightened sense of escapism because we’re aware of life’s fragility. The sense of carpe diem is very strong here.”

 

Gershon says his Jewishness is part of who he is and part of his family history, but not a big deal. He laughs when asked if he considers himself a Zionist. But he concedes he is a patriot, which he defines as loving his country while hating those who run it.

 

“I’m proud of my heritage and proud to be Israeli, despite its infamous reputation. But I do realise every now and again that Israel is not so good if you’re not Jewish – and if you’re Arab, it’s one of the worst places to be.”

 

Tel Aviv “divides between activists who give a shit about everything and the rest of us who don’t give a shit about anything”.

 

As a gay man, he says, Tel Aviv is a “paradise”. “There is no feeling of ghettoisation. The gay scene is very integrated with the straight scene. There are very few gay bars because there are gay people in every bar.”

 

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has little relevance to his life, but he insists “the majority of people – both us and them – want peace. There’s no reason for hate. But somehow the government fucks it up. That’s how it feels.”

 

ISRAEL: FACTS AND FIGURES

Population

 

7.8 million – 75% Jewish; 20% Arab.

 

About 70% of the Jewish population is Israeli-born; the rest are immigrants, mainly from Europe and the Americas, but also from Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

 

 

Religion

 

Jewish (75.5%), Muslim (16.8%), Christian (2.1%), Druze (1.7%).

 

 

Language

 

Hebrew, Arabic. English is common; Russian is spoken in areas dominated by immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

 

 

Main centres

 

Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa. About 90% of people live in urban areas. About 325,000 Jews live in West Bank illegal settlements and 200,000 in east Jerusalem.

 

 

Compulsory military service

 

Three years for men; two years for women, beginning at 18. Arabs and most ultra-orthodox Jews are exempt.

 

 

Economy

 

Main industries are electronics, biotech, agriculture, tourism and diamonds.

 

 

National anthem

HaTikvah (The Hope) includes the words, “The 2,000-year-old hope will not be lost: To be a free people in our land, The land of Zion and Jerusalem.”

 

++++++++

8  Today in Palestine

March 11, 2012

 

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/f_shadi/message/3425

 

 

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