Archive | November 19th, 2017

Zimbabwe: President Robert Mugabe told to resign from office in 24 hours after being stripped of party leadership

NOVANEWS

The ruling ZANU-PF party stripped Mugabe of his party powers while issuing him an ultimatum to vacate the office of President within 24 hours.

Embattled Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has been formally removed from his leadership of the ZANU-PF party which before its merger with rival Zimbabwe African People’s Union in 1987, he helped to lead during the period of UDI Rhodesia, as the Zimbabwe African National Union. Later, he was told by ZANU-PF that if he did not relinquish the Presidency in 24 hours, his safety could not be guaranteed.

This represents a seismic blow to  Mugabe whose leadership of ZANU-PF was seen as all but permanent in the eyes of many Zimbabweans and international observers. Additionally, Mugabe’s wife Grace has been expelled from the party, thus officially affirming that she will likely not ever become the President of the country, even though the 93 year old Mugabe had effectively chosen her as his hand picked successor. It has been reported that Grace Mugabe fled Zimbabwe days ago.

ZANU-PF moved quickly to instate Emmerson Mnangagwa as the party’s new leader, while also putting him back into office as Zimbabwe’s Vice President, thus reversing his earlier firing at the hands of Robert Mugabe. Should Mugabe step down or be forced out of power, Mnangagwa would almost certainly assume the Presidency.

Last week, when units of the Zimbabwean Army flooded the street of the capital Harare, an announcement was made by General Constantino Chiwenga that the leaders of the events many called a “coup”, sought not to remove Mugabe nor to harm him. He further stated that their intention was to merely “remove criminals” surrounding Mugabe.

Subsequent statements from the Army, along with photos of a healthy looking Mugabe negotiating with Army leaders at his home, give the appearance that intense negotiations were taking place.

At the time, it could be reasonably assumed that the Army leaders sought the reinstating of Emmerson Mnangagwa as Vice President and a commitment from President Mugabe to remove Grace Mugabe from her de-facto position as heir apparent to Mugabe.

Today’s events however signify a change in strategy. There are only three logical explanations for this.

1. It was always the intention of the Army to truly shake Mugabe’s once unassailable position, but early statements refrained from making this clear in order not to arouse opposition.

2. The Army entered into negotiations with Mugabe in good faith, but Mugabe’s intransigence led the Army to seeing no other option other than to begin stripping him of his power.

3. A combination of scenarios one and two, wherein the elites of ZANU-PF actually took a more hard-line against Mugabe than many in the Army, thus leading to a stand-off rather than a compromise situation.

For the moment, Mugabe remains the legal President of Zimbabwe, but this could change within hours.

At this point, it becomes necessary to restate that although many media outlets are broadcasting  anti-Mugabe protests, Mugabe still retains wide amounts of often militant support from his ethnic base and his ideological base. Furthermore, many influential South African politicians remain staunchly in favour of Mugabe.

Unless Mugabe voluntarily agrees to the demands of ZANU-PF, further chaos could break out between Mugabe supporters and members of the ZANU-PF seeking his ouster.

Posted in Africa, ZimbabweComments Off on Zimbabwe: President Robert Mugabe told to resign from office in 24 hours after being stripped of party leadership

This new book shows the future of the US

NOVANEWS

Review of a collection of essays on Russian-American relations 2015 – 2017 by one of the US’s top Russia experts

One of the most deeply frustrating things for anyone with any knowledge of Russia who has been following the Russiagate saga is the staggering ignorance of basic facts about Russia which is so prevalent amongst elites in the US.

What makes this especially frustrating is that there is actually no shortage of knowledgeable and erudite experts about Russia who could be called upon if any true desire for knowledge about Russia actually existed.

Of those one who who stands out is Gilbert Doctorow, who has been a professional Russia watcher since 1965.

Gilbert Doctorow has now offered us a new book – “Does the United States have a Future” – which brings together his splendid collection of essays about Russia and about Russian-American relations which he has been writing since 2015.

This is of course the same period when in the aftermath of the Ukrainian crisis and because of Russia’s intervention in Syria Russian-American relations entered upon their present catastrophic downward spiral, with the US rolling out successive sanctions against Russia, and deploying ever greater numbers of its troops ever closer to Russia’s border.

In this heavy atmosphere of heightened Russian-US tensions, and amidst a shrill media campaign, the Russian side of the story rarely gets told.  What we get instead is an exaggerated focus on the largely misunderstood doings of one man – Vladimir Putin – who is not just routinely blamed for everything that goes wrong – be it Trump’s election, the Brexit vote, the 2015 European refugee crisis, the secessionist outbreak in Catalonia and the rise in Germany of the AfD – but who has become dangerously conflated with Russia itself.

The huge achievement of Gilbert Doctorow’s essays is that they put entirely behind them this disastrous paradigm.

For someone fixated on psychoanalysing Putin’s personality and on learning the gossip about the internal squabbles of the Kremlin this collection of essays has little to offer.  Doctorow has as little patience for this sort of thing as do I.  Suffice to say that one of the essays, which goes by the dismissive title “Kremlinology is alive and well in Russia”, turns out to be focused not on mythical Kremlin power struggles but on the impact on the people of St. Petersburg of a visit by Putin to their city.

For anyone interested in Putin what anyone reading these essays will get instead is detailed and erudite analyses of his speeches, of his massive and truly astonishing Q&A sessions, of his media interviews, and of the effect of all these doings on Russian public opinion and what they tell us about Russian policy.

Not by chance, the only reference to me in the whole collection is when Doctorow disagrees with me about an interview Putin gave to the German newspaper Bild-Zeitung.  I gave the German interviewers high marks for their conduct of the interview.  Doctorow politely expresses his incredulity.

Ultimately far more interesting to anyone genuinely interested in understanding the rapidly recovering Great Power which is Russia, and who wants to get a genuine grasp of the sort of things that move its people, are those essays which touch on topics other Western reporters of Russia tend to ignore.

Here Doctorow’s immense knowledge of Russia and of Russian history is essential, and it shines through every essay.

Thus we find masterful discussions of works about tsarist history by the historian Dominic Lieven, and an outstanding discussion – the best I have come across – of Henry Kissinger’s insights and  limitations as they concern Russia.  There is even a remarkable essay which takes Tolstoy’s novel Anna Karenina as a starting point to discuss war.

However the single thing which sets the essays which are specifically about Russia apart is the extraordinary rapport Gilbert Doctorow has with Russia’s ‘everyman’.  Take a comment like this one from the very first page of the very first essay in the book, which is dated 30th May 2015.  Against a background of a deepening recession Gilbert Doctorow tells us this

I say assuredly that the mood across the social spectrum of my “sources” is uniformly patriotic and uncomplaining.  These sources range from the usually outspoken taxi drivers; through the traditionally critical journalists, academics, artists and other intelligentsia who are family friends going back many years, to former business contacts and other elites.

How many of those who report from Russia are able to speak to a wide range of contacts like this?  How many of them pay heed to the opinions of Russia’s “usually outspoken taxi drivers”, reliable purveyors of the public mood though those people are?  How many of those who report from Russia even know how to talk to such people? (confession here: I don’t).

Or take Gilbert Doctorow’s deeply moving account from 10th May 2016 of the March of the Immortal Regiment, held now every year on 9th May to commemorate Russia’s sacrifice in the Second World War.  What other Western reporter of Russia has both the erudition and the common touch necessary to write a passage like this?

Given the manifestly patriotic nature of Victory in Europe Day celebrations, which open in Moscow and cities across Russia with military parades, precise marching columns, displays of military hardware on the ground and in the air, I was uncertain how possibly strident the Immortal Regiment component might be.  As it turned out, the crowd was uniformly good humoured and focused on its private obligations to be met: the celebration of parents, grandparents, even great grandparents’ role in the war and reconfirmation of their status as family heroes whatever their military or civil defence rank, whether they survived or were among the countless fatalities.

Elsewhere Gilbert Doctorow is able to talk knowledgeably in two different essays about the state of the Russian shopping basket – a matter of fundamental importance to Russians and therefore given Russia’s power and importance to everyone – of Russian responses to the Trump-Clinton debate, of the Russian public’s response to one of Putin’s mammoth annual Q&A sessions, and of the steely response – utterly free of sentimentality and hysteria – of the people of St. Petersburg and of Russia generally to a terrorist attack on the city.

Of the essays specifically about Russia it is however what Doctorow writes about the Russian media which Western readers may find most surprising.

It is now generally conceded even in the West that Russia does have a public opinion, something which tended not to be admitted in Soviet times, though there still seems to be little genuine interest in finding out what it is.

The lazy assumption is anyway that in Russia public opinion is effectively manipulated by the government through its supposedly all-encompassing control of the news media.

Though it is sometimes grudgingly admitted that the printed media does have some independent voices, and that the Russian media now has a degree of sophistication unknown in Soviet times, the prevailing opinion in the West is that it remains every bit as propagandistic and mendacious as it was in Soviet times.  The classic statement of this view is Peter Pomorantsev’s “Nothing is True and Everything is Possible: Adventures in Modern Russia”.

Doctorow’s essays are an important corrective to this bleak and distorted picture.

Doctorow does not sugarcoat the reality.  He concedes that the television media has a bias favouring the Kremlin and that ‘non-system’ politicians whose parties are not represented in the Duma like Kasyanov and Navalny have difficulty gaining access to it.

I would say in passing that Russia’s television media is not exceptional in this.  In my opinion Russian television today is much less controlled by the government than was French television during Charles De Gaulle’s and Georges Pompidou’s time in France, when I was in Paris as a child.

In any event, as a regular participant in Russia’s extraordinarily extended and elaborate political talk-shows – a vital and massively popular information tool for the Russian population – Doctorow shows that the common Western view that Russian television viewers get no exposure to the Western view-point and hear only the Kremlin’s view is simply wrong.  Here is one passage where Doctorow describes them

The regulars of these talk shows are a mix of Russians and foreigners, pro-Kremlin and anti-Kremlin voices.  There inevitably is at least one American who can be counted on to purvey the Washington Narrative.  A reliable regular in this category has been Michael Bohm, who was for a long-time op-ed manager at The Moscow Times and now is said to be teaching journalism in Moscow….

From among Russians, the talk show hosts bring in one or more representative of opposition parties.  On the 11th it happened to be a personality from the Yabloko Party (Liberals).  But at other times there will be the leader of the Communist Party, Gennady Zyuganov, the founder of the right nationalist LDPR, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, or the leader of the social democratic party, Just Russia, Sergei Mironov.  They all get their time on air in these shows.

Elsewhere Doctorow gives vivid accounts of these sprawling and at times chaotic talk shows, which have no precise analogue anywhere else that I know of.

Doctorow’s book, as its title shows, is not only about Russia.  Rather it is about the collapse of any sort of dialogue based on mutual respect and understanding between the US and Russia.

In essay after essay Doctorow pinpoints the cause: at a time when the Russian mind is becoming increasingly open, the American mind is becoming increasingly closed.

The title of the book – “Does the United States have a future?” – is in fact an intentional exercise in reverse imaging.

At its simplest it refers back to Doctorow’s previous book: “Does Russia have a future?” published in 2015.

However the title of both books must also be seen as a comment on the ‘disaster literature’ about Russia which has become so prevalent in the West, and which continues unabated to this day even as it is repeatedly proved wrong.

Basically what Doctorow is saying is that it is in the US not Russia that the suppression of debate and independent voices is putting the future in jeopardy.

It is in these essays that look at the situation in the US where Doctorow dissects the evolution or rather regression of US policy towards an increasingly strident Russophobia, and where one senses Doctorow’s growing exasperation and alarm.

Take for example what Doctorow has to say about one of the most outspoken Americans calling for ever more confrontation with Russia: NATO’s former military chief General Breedlove

Most everything is wrong with what Breedlove tells us in his article.  It is a perfect illustration of the consequences of the monopoly control of our media and both Houses of Congress by the ideologists of the Neoconservative and Liberal Interventionist school: we see a stunning lack of rigour in argumentation in Breedlove’s article coming from the absence of debate and his talking only to yes men.

Perhaps the biggest mistakes are conceptual: urging military means to resolve what are fundamentally political issues over the proper place of Russia in the European and global security architecture.  Whereas for Clausewitz war was ‘a continuation of politics by other means’, for Breedlove politics, or diplomacy, do not exist, only war.

The alarm in the last paragraph finds still greater emphasis in the essay which immediately precedes ot.  This has the ominous title “The Nuclear Clock is at Two Minutes to Midnight”.

It is however in the closing of the American mind where Doctorow pinpoints the danger

My point is not to ridicule the very earnest and well-intentioned anti-war campaigners whose ranks I joined that day.  It is to demonstrate how and why the highly tendentious reporting of what we are doing in the world and what others are doing to us, combined with the selective news blackouts altogether by major media has left even activists unaware of real threats to peace and to our very survival that American foreign policy has created over the past 20 years and is projected to create into the indefinite future if the public does not awaken from its slumber and demand to be informed by experts of countervailing views.  We are living through a situation unparalleled in our history as a nation where the issues of war and peace are not being debated in public.

Along with the alarm and frustration there is also very real disappointment.

Like most people who lived through the later stages of the Cold War Doctorow remembers a world where the US’s European allies acted as a force of restraint on the US.

Based now in Brussels at the very epicentre of the European Union Doctorow is shocked at the extent to which this is no longer the case, and at the degree to which the same attitudes of hubris, belligerence and hysteria which have gained such a hold in the US have now also managed to gain a hold in Europe.

Like many others Doctorow is totally unimpressed by the current crop of European politicians, and as someone able to remember the likes of Charles De Gaulle and Helmut Schmidt Doctorow does not balk from expressing his scorn in withering terms.  A good example is to be found in the title of one of his essays: “News flash: Europe is brain dead and on the drip”.

It is in his discussions of Europe that Doctorow allows himself his brief flashes of anger.  Take these comments he makes about Elmar Brok, the truly dreadful chairman of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs

I remember with a shudder an exchange I had with Elmar Brok on 5 March 2015 on The Network, a debate program of Euronews. Brok, a German, is the chairman of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs. He comes from Angela Merkel’s CDU party and within the Parliament is in the European People’s Party bloc, on the center right, the bloc which really calls the shots in the EP.

Brok is big, brash and does not hesitate to throw his weight around, especially when talking with someone outside the Establishment whom he has no reason to fear. We were discussing the shooting of Boris Nemtsov, which occurred just days before. Brok insisted the murder was the responsibility of Vladimir Putin. Not that Putin pulled the trigger, but he created the atmosphere where such things could happen, etc., etc. One way or another the talk shifted to the allegedly autocratic nature of the Putin ‘regime,’ with its crackdown on freedoms, and in particular ever tightening control of media.

At that point, I objected that the Russia media were very diverse editorially, with many different points of view expressed freely. Brok shot back that this was patently untrue, and he did not hesitate to cross all red lines and indulge in libel on air by asking how much the Kremlin paid me to say that.

Apart from the obvious truth that an authoritarian like MEP Brok would not know freedom of speech if he tripped on it, I think back to that exchange every week whenever I turn on Russian state television and watch one or another of the main political talk shows.

Doctorow’s strongest feelings of disappointment however remain firmly focused on the US.

Doctorow’s essays show that like many people he entertained very cautiously worded hopes about Donald Trump.

Hillary Clinton after all was the self-styled ‘war candidate’ and the preferred choice of the Neocons, whilst Trump at least spoke of the need for better relations with Russia.

Not for nothing is one of Doctorow’s essays entitled “War or Peace: the essential question before American voters on November 8th”.

Doctorow’s hopes were never very high and like many others he was appalled by the conduct of the 2016 election, which he calls disgraceful.  His essays which follow Trump’s election victory show the speed of his disillusionment.  Not only has Trump proved completely incapable of fulfilling any of Doctorow’s hopes; he seems to have no idea of how to conduct foreign relations, and is rapidly reverting to the aggressive belligerence which is now the default position of all US Presidents.

In the meantime his election has heightened partisan tensions within the US to unheard of levels.

In his final chapter, which has the same title – “Does the United States have a future?” – as the whole book, Doctorow sets out the consequences.

A US which twenty years ago bestrode the world is now incapable of governing itself, whilst its increasingly reckless conduct is spreading conflict and alarm around the world.

Not only has trust in “American leadership” as a result all but collapsed but the two other Great Powers – Russia and China – have been completely alienated, and are busy forging an alliance whose combined resources will soon dwarf those of the US.

About all that the US however remains in denial, as it is about the world crisis its actions are generating.  In a political system where all dissenting opinions are excluded it cannot by definition be otherwise.  Thus the US looks set to continue on its present ruinous course, with no ability to change direction

….a still greater threat to our democracy and to the sustainability of our great power status has come from the inverse phenomenon, namely the truly bipartisan management of foreign policy in Congress.  The Republican and Democratic Party leaderships have maintained strict discipline in promotion of what are Neoconservative and Liberal Interventionist positions on every issue placed before Congress.  Committees on security and foreign affairs invite to testify before them only those experts who can be counted upon to support the official Washington narrative.  Debate on the floor of the houses is nonexistent.  And the votes are so lopsided as to be shocking, none more so than the votes in August on the “Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act”….

It would be comforting if the problems of our political culture began and ended with the elites operating in Washington DC.  However that is patently not the case.  The problem exists across the country in the form of a stifling conformism, or groupthink that is destroying the open marketplace for ideas essential for any vital democracy.

I recognise the accuracy of this picture and am prey to no illusion.  However in my opinion it is still too early to give up hope.

Trump’s victory, if it shows nothing else, shows that there is more resistance to the ‘groupthink’ in the US than Doctorow in these passages perhaps allows.  What is the Russiagate hysteria after all if not the expression of a collective nervous breakdown on the part of the US elite at the discovery that the American people as a whole do not share their obsessions?

A state of hysteria of the sort we are going through now cannot be sustained indefinitely.  Eventually a reaction will set in, at which point those at the forefront in spreading the hysteria will be exposed as the charlatans that they are, whilst many of those they fooled will feel ashamed.

When that point comes it is good to know from this outstanding collection of essays that there are still genuine experts available that the US can call upon to guide its policies like Gilbert Doctorow.

Posted in USA, RussiaComments Off on This new book shows the future of the US

Russian Federation SITREP

NOVANEWS

” … the side that mostly lies wants to stop its population hearing the side that mostly tells the truth.”

The best SITREP out there

WESTERN VALUES™. So now RT America is a “foreign agent“. (Remember all the faux outrage about Russia’s FARA imitation law? No? But it was only a year ago: “Russia: Four years of Putin’s ‘Foreign Agents’ law to shackle and silence NGOs“. Hard to keep up, isn’t it?) In case you think this reflects poorly on the “champion for free speech and free press”, John McCain, channelling Brezhnev, explains why it doesn’t. In the Cold War they blocked us but we didn’t bother to block them.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out: the side that mostly lies wants to stop its population hearing the side that mostly tells the truth. One reason is that telling (mostly) the truth is just easier. For example, Russian propaganda for the home audience lets the Western side say whatever it wants as long as it wants. Why? “the Russians have no need to lie, their propaganda is fundamentally truthful, fact based and logical…. unlike their American counterparts, the Russians are not engaging in policies which they cannot justify before their own public opinion or before the public opinion of the rest of the planet”.

In Syria the Russians are doing what they say they are doing; no need to explain why Russian troops supposedly in Ukraine can’t be seen; there are no Pokemon stories in Russia. In short, Russian propaganda is all made in the West and every idiotic story is re-played. “So yes, the Russians are using the immense arrogance and poorly-concealed hatred for Russia of some of the more pompous and least intelligent representatives of the West to paint an absolutely fair and accurate representation of the western ruling elites”.

SPEAKING OF THINGS HARD TO JUSTIFY before the Western public. “Raqqa’s dirty secret…. a secret deal that let hundreds of IS fighters…. escape from Raqqa, under the gaze of the US and British-led coalition…“. “Some of the U.S.-made weapons available on these markets likely first entered Syria as part of an ill-fated Pentagon program to train and equip fighters in northern Syria to take on the Islamic State.” Are these bugs or features? Either way, the West isn’t doing what it says it is doing.

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RELIGION. I found this video interesting: Putin and most of the Russian religious establishment (named here, but not the RC Ordinary for some reason) honour Minim and PozharskyThat’s diversity.RUSSIA INC. Inflation fell to 2.7% in October; this is a post USSR record low. Slowly but surely.

BOMB SCARES. There have been a series of hoax bomb scares across Russia lately. Phoned in from abroad we are told. Wondered that myself: I’m not suggesting it was governments but the panic is constantly pumped higher and there are a lot of excitable people out there.

REMITTANCES. A study shows that all FUSSR states except Russia and Kazakhstan are “intensely dependent” on remittances. Author’s summary: “a new system of transnational, cross-border dependency, unprecedented in its intensity”. The two “magnets” are the EU and Russia. An interesting take on the post-Soviet reality; at the end of the day, you’re either a dependent of one or of the other.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Best summary of the story so far: “The two sources that originated the allegations claiming that Russia meddled in the 2016 election… were both paid for by the Democratic National Committee…“. Even the MSM is starting to notice (WSJ): “The Clinton campaign commissioned a foreign ex-spy to gin up rumors, which made it to U.S. intelligence agencies, and then got reporters to cite it as government-sourced.” Crowdstrike and Fusion GPS are the ur-sources. We get closer: a Fusion GPS exec spent seven hours with the House Committee on Tuesday. Bershidsky, no friend to Putin & Co, points out how ludicrous the theories have become. This was never expected to become public; it was supposed to stay in the background of her march to the White House.

PUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. Spreading fast. “How the Russian meddling machine won the online battle of the illegal referendum” (El Pais). “Putin’s lying machine: Revealed, how Russia’s spewing out ruthless propaganda… “. Enjoy the map which shows how the Kremlin is “stoking discord” around the world. Again we see that lying takes more effort. And a constant effort too: always plugging holes in the narrative which gets ever more preposterous. (But read the comments: the story isn’t selling well).

MAYBE FILE. “American” LNG delivered to Europe is actually purchased in RussiaSame sourcesaid “American” coal for Ukraine also came from Russia. It wouldn’t surprise me, but I await confirmation.

SYRIA. The Syrians have liberated Abu Kamal, the last urban hold of Daesh in Syria; 25 months after Russia intervened. Some American talking heads are still in denial (more convolution).

UKRAINE. Maidan II continues but the WMSM doesn’t see it. On Sunday Saakashvili led a march demanding Poroshenko’s impeachment. Couldn’t make this stuff up.

Posted in RussiaComments Off on Russian Federation SITREP

The Jews, The Poles, and the History of Western Ukraine (Galicia)

NOVANEWS

WW2 drove hundreds of thousands of Orthodox Slavic peoples who identified as part of the Russian world off of lands they had been inhabiting for 1000 years, beginning with the original Russian nation state of Kievan Rus’. These lands are now part of Poland.

Understanding the historical backdrop to this, going back hundreds of years, is critical to understanding what is happening today in the region, especially to understanding relations between Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia.

Galicia – a land trapped between east and west.

Galicia was part of Kievan Rus’ dating back to the year 1,000. For almost 700 years it was under the control of Poland or Austro-Hungry.

A migration to the United States took place from there in the late 1890s and up to the onset of WWI in 1914.  At that time Galicia was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire from 1773 to 1918.

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The Austro-Hungarian empire took over Galicia from Poland in 1773 as part of the portioning of Poland by Russia, Germany and the Austro-Hungarian empire. At the end of WWI in 1918 the Austro-Hungarian empire was broken up. The Curzon line was established by Lord Curzon to accurately demark the boundaries between Polish and Ukrainian populations.During the Russian revolution in 1918, Poland attacked and moved their border east of the Curzon line by about 130 miles thereby enslaving 6,000,000 Ukrainians/Russians/Byelorussians for a period of about 20 years until the onset of WWII.

A small but influential group of people contributed to the conflicts over the centuries. They were the Szlachta (pron: ShlAKH-ta) and their Jewish financiers. Szlachta were the wealthy Polish landlords whose actions and lifestyle contributed to much of the turmoil in the 16th century until 1939.

Polish Nobility (Szlachta) were ideally considered social equals regardless of what titles they held in the Elective Monarchy that was the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Above is a painting of them in costumes of the different Viovodeships (provinces) of Poland). 


When the Red Army moved into Galicia in 1939, the Szlachta were eliminated for good. This happened when the local Ukrainian population took revenge against the Szlachta , some were executed by the KGB and others shipped off to Siberia.

The Jewish population perished in WWII at the hand of the Nazis. The Szlachta and their Jewish financiers and their actions had much to do with what happened to Poland in what has been described as the “Paradise of Nobility & Jews” period.

This period came to an abrupt end in 1939 when the Szlachta was wiped out by Red Army and soon afterward the Jews by the German army. The peasants of all nationalities (including Poles) lived in POVERTY.

The Szlachta actually regarded themselves as being biologically unique. This was the Sarmatism theory that the Szlachta were special descendants of Sarmatians This happened 4 centuries before the Nazi’s took up the idea.

While the archetypical Polish Szlachtic (noblemen) is dressed in red Zupan and coat as shown on the far left holding the Hetman’s mace, the man in the blue, almost far eastern inspired silk robes exemplifies Polish-Sarmatian fashion. 


The Jewish alliance with the Szlachta remained constant. The Ukrainians denounced the Jews as the selected accomplices of the Szlachta . This was long before the Nazi Holocaust. This information comes from a noted historian who wrote a 2 volume book about the history of Poland.

The Ukrainian conflict with Poles and Jews is centuries old. An example of Ukrainian rage was the  Cossack-led  Koliyivshchyna battles in 1768/1769 against the Szlachta and Jews in which over 100,000 were killed.

Poland came back into existence in 1918 after being divided between Russia, Germany, and Austro-Hungry starting in the 1700s for about 150 years. In the 1600s Poland was militarily aggressive having invaded Moscow twice. The first time being 1610.  In addition, the Polish forces starting in the 1500s  controlled a large part of the Ukraine up to the area of Kiev which has been the capital of the Ukraine back to the start of the Kievan Rus’ in about the year 990.

The Intervention of Polish King Boleslaw the Brave in the Kievan Interregnum. King Boleslaw is depicted with Russian Prince Svatopolk the Accursed who betrayed the city to Poland as the King famously damages his sword on the Golden Gate of Kiev. 


The dismemberment of Poland in the 1700’s was a result of Poland’s aggressive behavior in the previous centuries. There were 3 divisions of Poland in the 1700’s  The first 2 involved taking back Russian, Ukrainian and Byelorussians territory that Poland had occupied. It is only the last partition in 1795 that the Russians took over truly Polish lands.

The repressions by the Russians were less than the Poles inflicted on Russians, Ukrainians and Byelorussians when they occupied their lands.  While Poland held the upper hand, in 1596, they imposed the Uniate Catholic religion on the Ukrainians.

“You can still have your Slavonic Orthodox liturgy, your priests can be married, but you must accept the Pope as your supreme leader.” The same dictate was imposed on the Galician’s when under the Austro-Hungarian rule.  What the Poles inflicted on others in their heydays of the 1500’s and mid-1600s, resulted in their being partitioned in the 1700s for a period of about 150 years.

When I speak of the Poles, I do NOT include the masses of the Polish population, they are just like any other population. I speak ONLY of the Polish Szlachta (landowner gentry). These are the landowner Polish gentry that lorded over as many as they could, for as long as they could. Their unraveling started in 1648 when the Cossack Bohdan Khmelnitsky led his forces against the Polish Szlachta and their Jewish financiers and inflicted heavy casualties on these 2 groups.

The Victorious entry into Kiev of Hetman Khmelnitsky


During WWII, there was a Khmelnitsky medal for valor issued by the Red Army. Jews refused this medal.  One needs to know that in the 19th century 80% of the world’s Jews lived in the Pale of Settlement that included Poland, western Ukraine and Belarus and surrounding areas. They were not biblical Jews but simply a tribe of Khazar Turks that converted to Judaism about 1,000 years ago.

Orthodox Christians had to pay rent to Jewish merchants to attend their own churches.  What happened to the Szlachta also happened to the Polish nation.

Khmelnitsky aligned his forces with Orthodox Russia from which he and the Ukrainian people gained support to this day.

Hetman Bogdan Khmelnitsky leads the reunification of Ukraine with Russia at the Pereslav Rada in 1654. Painting by famous Ukrainian artists Mikhail Khmelko “Forever with Moscow, Forever with the Russian People!”


When Napoleon invaded Russia in 1812, a significant number of Poles joined his army. He was defeated and Poland suffered many casualties.

The Austro-Hungarian empire lasted for several hundred years until it fell apart in 1918 and the end of WWI. During that time the majority Slavic population were treated as second-class citizens.

Vienna was a happy city. Most of the Ukrainians ( many call themselves Russian or made no distinction between Russian or Ukrainian and the term Halychyna Rus was common). were happy to move on to America and seek a new life.

In so doing they avoided the tragedies that befell those who remained in Europe during the two World Wars.

Between WWI and WWII, the Galician’s  were ruled by a Polish fascist military dictatorship. This dictatorship was in negotiations with the Japanese in the early 1930s with plans to invade the Soviet Union. Japan invaded China in 1931. Japan fought a war with the Soviet Union in 1938 on the border between Manchuria and Mongolia. The Japanese were defeated.

Simply, the Ukrainians were oppressed to the point that they killed the Polish Interior minister and other Polish officials. In the years between 1918 to 1939, the Poles sent in hundreds of thousands of Polish “settlers”  with the intent of eventually getting rid of the Ukrainians from lands they have lived on for a thousand years. The Polish leaders spoke openly of expelling every Ukrainian from Polish occupied Galicia. Ethnic cleansing in today’s terminology.

In September 1939 Galicia was liberated by the Red Army and remains part of the Ukraine to this day. What happened in Galicia from the time of their liberation from Polish rule in September 1939 and the onset of WWII when the Germans attacked the Soviet Union in June 1941 and their eventual liberation from the Nazi’s in 1944 needs clarification and quantification.

From mid-September 1939, when the Soviet army liberated Galicia, to mid-June 1941 when Germany invaded the Soviet Union, corrections had to be made to the Polish rule. In this 21 month period, the wrongs inflicted on the Galician population from 1921 till 1939 had to be and were corrected. Sentences were carried out and some 200,000 Poles were deported to Siberia. The Soviets encouraged revenge against the Polish landlords and state officials. Between 1939 and 1941 tens of thousands of Poles fled West Ukraine to the Nazi General Government.

War with Germany was on the horizon and getting rid of potential collaborators had to be done. No doubt there were errors in the sentences, but when the Germans attacked in June of 1941, the Germans found few collaborators.  So the purges carried out from September 1939 to June 1941 were effective. The Soviets won World War II in Europe almost single-handed.

Much has been made of the massacre at Katyn where 4500 Polish officers were executed by the Soviets. The Russians took 400,000 Polish soldiers captive. 380,000 continued to fight for the Allied cause in WWII, some under the command of General Anders and General Berling. Six Polish divisions were part of the Red Army that took Berlin. The 20,000 “unaccounted for” were reserve officers who in civilian life were public officials, police and other professional people the Russians had good reason not to trust. All were sworn enemies of Soviet authorities and full of hatred of the Soviet system. They had to be eliminated.

The Soviet system won WWII in Europe almost single-handedly. No one speaks of what happened to the Polish army that the Germans captured. WHY? Nor the 5,000,000 citizens that were killed in WWII. 3,000,000 Jews killed is well known. But the 2,000,000 Poles killed by the Germans is given little or no acknowledgment.

In the 3 year period from June 1941, when the Germans invaded the Soviet Union, to June 1944, when they were driven out, there was much turmoil in Galicia among various factions of Ukrainians, Poles and Jews. The German army moved through Galicia quickly in 1941 and was expelled from there quickly in 1944. During the war, there were 3 Slavic countries in which small segments of the population collaborated with the Nazi’s. Complicit in this activity was the Catholic Church and clergy.

The Ustashe (Fascists) in Croatia ( cardinal Stepanic and the Franciscan order), Monsignor Tiso in Slovakia who was executed after the war and  Ukrainians. The leaders of the Ukrainian collaborators were children of Ukrainian Catholic priests. There were about 30,000 collaborators and several hundred thousand sympathizers out of a population of 5,000,000. The reasons why some Ukrainian people collaborated vary. Some were forced to do so or face death, others looked upon this as an opportunity to rid themselves of Polish rule and some did it out of anti-Semitic feelings.

The leaders of the collaborationists looked upon this as an opportunity to assert themselves and gain control which they never had under Polish rule. That was understandable. Germany would help them achieve their aspirations. Simply put, the collaborators were WRONG.

As the war turned against Germany, they had to change their outlook.  Neither Poland or Germany had any good intentions for the people of Galicia or the Ukraine.  The turbulence experienced by the Galician’s during this period were horrific. When liberated by the Red Army in 1944, for the first time in about 700 years the people of Galicia were reunited with the entire Ukraine as they had been in the times of Kievan Rus’. Foreign domination ended!

However, west of the Polish/Ukrainian border established at the end of WWII the Ukrainian population continued to suffer under Polish rule. Ukrainians were being driven off the lands they have occupied for a thousand years. Ukrainians were a demographic majority in many areas in southeast Poland west of the border established after World War II from a depth of 20 to 30 miles and a stretch of about 120 miles.

Cities currently west of the border such as Yaroslav, Peremyshl, Przeworsk, Sienawa and Sanok were ancient towns that were part of Kievan Rus’. For centuries these cities and towns were populated by Ukrainians /Russians. The Carpatho-Russians (sometimes called Rusyns) always had a strong feeling for Russia as their protector.

Carpatho-Russian Women


In the spring of 1945, many of these Ukrainians had no choice but to be repatriated to the Soviet Ukraine. Soviet authorities took the necessary steps to relocate these people into villages inside the Ukraine. Ukrainians were forced to leave their native cities and villages and went into the Ukraine.

During the entire period of “repatriations” from October 1944 to June 1946, 482,000 Ukrainians departed to the Soviet Union from areas west of the border. These numbers are from a recent book.

The Polish state murdered & criminalized the Ukrainian population and set about redistributing the properties it had taken from resettled Ukrainians in southeast Poland which included churches.

So ended the one thousand years of continuous  Ukrainian settlement in ancient Kievan Rus’ cities and towns that are now under Polish rule.


REFERENCES

BLOODLANDS Europe between Hitler & Stalin by Timothy Snyder. Publisher: Basic Books 

GODS Playground, History of Poland (2 volumes) by Norman Davies. Columbia University Press

 Curzon Line, from Bing Web Search or Wikipedia

 Operation Vistula from Bing Web Search

Posted in EuropeComments Off on The Jews, The Poles, and the History of Western Ukraine (Galicia)

Hezbollah – Capabilities And Role In The Middle East

NOVANEWS

…from SouthFront

Hezbollah is a social and political movement with a strong armed wing. It was formed in 1980s. Hezbollah’s creation was conditioned by the aspiration of the Shia population of Lebanon to meet the challenges of Israeli expansion and Western “new-style” colonialism.

The Hezbollah (“Party of God”) movement was formed in 1982 in Lebanon by a segment of the Shia community displeased with the secular, in their view, nature of the Amal moderate Shia party. There were also disagreements concerning whether Israel should be confronted using new organizational forms and methods of warfare. According to its General Secretary Hasan Nasrallah, since its formation, Hezbollah was a purely intra-Lebanese creation, relying on the support and aid from the Palestinian and Lebanese parties, while the support from Iran and Syria came later.

Since the very beginning, Hezbollah’s activities have been based on three principles. First, Islam is declared an ideological, doctrinal, and practical basis for the organization’s functions. Secondly, its main aim is the struggle against Israeli occupation of Lebanon and Palestine and against Zionist domination. Third, it recognizes the Iranian Shia thesis concerning the necessity of Vilayat-e-Fakih. This Shia doctrine asserts that during the era of the 12th Great Reappearance of Imam Muhammad al-Mahdi the leadership over the Shia is transferred to high-ranking Shia clerics.

Structure and Decision Making

Hezbollah, as an organization, has a structure based on certain ideological principles and exists within the framework of a state, that has no actual influence on the movement’s activities. The party is led by the Shura Council consisting of 7 members (six spiritual leaders—ulemas—and one secular leader). The members are elected by the Central Council (Al-Majlis al-Markazis), consisting of the 200 most authoritative members of the movement. Shura Council elections consist of three phases. The first is the candidate selection (usually 70-80), both clerics and secular individuals who satisfy the criteria set by the top leaders. Those who pass this stage have the right to participate in the second stage. In other words, they become candidates for the Shura Council. As a rule, 10-15 people make it to the second round. The final phase consists of the direct election of the 7 Shura Council members.

Council decisions are final and religiously binding for all party members. They are adopted either unanimously or by the majority of votes. If there is a deadlock or a split within Shura Council, issues are decided by the party leader, whose decisions are final and obligatory on all administrative institutions, and cannot be challenged. This is how the principle of Vilayat-e-Fakih is observed and splits within the ruling elite are averted.

The actual operations of the party are conducted by the administrative executive apparatus, known as Shura Tanfiz. It consists of five councils:

  1. Executive Council (oversight over political and organizational matters, including social, cultural, and educational activities);
  2. Politburo (addresses intra-movement matters);
  3. Parliamentary Council (concerns itself with Hezbollah activities in the Lebanese legislature);
  4. Judicial Council (issues religious resolutions and carries out arbitration on matters of disagreement, relying on Islamic law); and
  5. Jihad Council (directs the movement, including oversight, recruitment, training, equipment, security).

Each council is usually headed by a Shura Council member.

The movement General Secretary is Hasan Nasrallah, who is also the supreme commander of its armed formations. Leadership also includes his deputy, a spiritual leader who is also the supreme judge, some Lebanese legislators, the military formation commander for Southern Lebanon, and regional leaders of the organization. The Executive Council has various departments responsible for specific areas of activity: welfare, healthcare, information, press, finance, external communications, coordination.

Armed Formations and Their Peculiarities

Assessments of Hezbollah’s armed strength vary. Iran’s FARS news agency data from October 2016 put Hezbollah’s armed strength at no less than 65,000 troops, including reserves. Of them, 21,000 are professional soldiers with constant training. According to the 2017 Military Balance, currently 5-8 thousand Hezbollah troops are fighting in Syria.

Bekaa Valley: the commander’s responsibilities include control over arms shipments from Iran through Syria for the “Sheikh Abdallah” military camp that’s under joint command by the Hezbollah and the Syrian army. According to various sources, this region’s forces consist of at least 7 infantry battalions with 252 people each. Three of them are motorized.

South Beirut: according to various sources, this region includes at least two battalions of 252 troops, one of them motorized.

South Lebanon: after the Taif treaty of 1989, Hezbollah formations were reorganized and placed under a unified command. The current commander is responsible for Hezbollah military and Special Security formations and may also command Lebanese Army units in South Lebanon. This region includes at least 7 battalions of 252 troops each, five of them motorized.

Moreover, one should note the nontrivial fact of the existence of a full-scale, by Iranian, NATO, and Russian measures, tank regiment. In November 2016, near the city of al-Quiseir (Homs province, Syria), there was an inspection of Hezbollah equipment. The photos showed T-55, T-62, and some T-72 tanks, some 2S1 Gvozdika howitzers, BMP-1, and -2, M113 APCs with 14.5mm machine-guns, ZSU-57-2 SPAA. Most of this equipment apparently came from SAA arsenals and was obtained from the Lebanese Army and possibly Iran.

Of most interest are the hybrids assembled using Kvadrat (SA-6) SAM tracked chassis and Soviet-era KS-12 85mm and Ks-19 100mm AA guns. While their effectiveness against modern aircraft and drones is doubtful, they are useful as direct fire support against land targets. Other interesting weapons are the modern Kornet ATGMs mounted on quadricycles. These self-propelled ATGMs are able to effectively fight any modern tank, including Israeli.

By all appearances, this unit was formed to prosecute the war in Syria, where thousands of Hezbollah fighters are constantly on the front lines. The absence of direct fire support such as tanks and artillery undermines the success of operations. Therefore it’s logical to assume that Hezbollah decided to assemble an arsenal of its own armor and accompanying artillery to ensure battlefield success.

Being a fully-fledged political and military organization, Hezbollah understands that it is surrounded by enemies such as Israel and radical Sunni Islamists. Therefore having a tank regiment with experienced crews is of vital importance, as the unit represents a serious force by the standards of Lebanon and the adjacent countries. The prolonged civil war in Lebanon, the permanent stand-off with Israel, and now also the struggle against Sunni Islamists, in other words, the constant balancing on the edge between war and peace, makes the movement flexible in its command arrangements and able to quickly and appropriately react to emerging problems.

One can also draw the conclusion that the paramilitary wing of the Hezbollah, in spite of external attributes of a partisan movement, which it was 20-30 years ago, is gradually becoming a fully-fledged army with a training establishment, a command structure, and a logistical segment.

Cadre Selection and Training

The preparation of a future fighter starts at a very young age. Kids aged 6 are involved in discussions and as they grow, they receive more advanced political and religious preparation. A sample training regimen includes: Studying Koran, A day at the mosque, I love my country, How to run a household, Summer camp, I submit to my leader. Younger kids’ uniform, as a rule, includes blue shirts with epaulettes, white scarves, and pins with the image of Khomeini.

Older boys spend several weeks during the summer in camps in the south and in Bekaa Valley, where they train and acquire survival skills while obtaining more in-depth religious preparation and studying their native language and culture.

Then they transfer to the Imam al-Mahdi Scouts. One of the scouts’ missions is helping the poor. According to the Scouts head, if kids who lost their father or their brothers were left to their fate, they would withdraw inwardly and develop psychological problems such as aggression.

At the age of 17, those who excelled at the Scouts become members of Taabia, or the reserves.

At the same time, education does not seek to promote absolute hatred toward Israel, despite what Western journalists love to depict. The education system is first and foremost based on developing a national and religious identity, the context in which the Shia community of Lebanon exists.

In an interview provided by a Hezbollah fighter, it was noted that those who choose political independence become social pariahs. Such people can’t even visit their villages, given that the family and the society hate them.

Cadre troops are focused on combat training, and each receives a specialty such as an ATGM gunner, a sniper, or demolitions. Regular Hezbollah fighters undergo training in specialized camps in Lebanon, Syria, and Iran (under IRGC officer leadership). They conduct training for the rank and file and select outstanding individuals for special units. Some of them become commanders, others are selected for the Special Security Apparatus.

Taabia reservists are engaged in protecting villages and are selected from the Scouts. Cadre fighters and reservists undergo service in one of the districts: Israel-Lebanon border and the Litania river area—Nasr Brigade, north of Litania—Badr Brigade, Bekaa Valley—Haidar Brigade.

Each Hezbollah brigade in south Lebanon has a sector in northern Israel that it is supposed to occupy. Combat and special training in each brigade take into account local geography. One should also note that border terrain is fortified: there is a large-scale network of tunnels, bunkers, minefields. Using the tunnels, Hezbollah can concentrate large number of troops on the needed attack sector without being spotted and attacked from the air

Due to fighting in Syria, Hezbollah opted to conduct training courses with reservists lasting 60-90 days. Commanders are also sent to the battle zone to obtain experience. Intensive operations and unavoidable losses have forced commanders and troops to remain in the war zone (murabata) for longer than their rotation periods. For the reservists, it was 15 days a year. Before the Syrian war, the border with Israel was considered such a zone. Currently, the rotation period in the Syrian war zone is 20 days and may be increased if the situation demands it. This is considered optimum, as it allows for having trained and rested troops available in case of any escalation on Israel border, and in Syria.

Here’s an example of a news report regarding deployment of Hezbollah units from May 20, 2017. The Radwan special unit and others were fully withdrawn from Syria and replaced by the Badr Brigade which is stationed in the eastern and northern part of the Aleppo province. Aziz Brigade was withdrawn from the outskirts of Palmyra and al-Qaem Brigade temporarily replaced it there.

Moreover, the Radwan unit was brought to an elevated alert level and sent to south Lebanon (Litania river and Shebaa farms on Israel border). Al-Jalil Brigade, intended for operations in Galilee in case of war with Israel, remained on its permanent positions in south Lebanon. Nasr Brigade, which is directly under Hasan Nasrallah, remained in reserve.

The Radwan unit was named after the head of Special Security department Imad Mugniyeh (pseudonym al-Hadja Radwan) who was killed in 2008. The unit has much experience in raids and is the most prepared for urban warfare, which makes it irreplaceable in Syria. If there is a new war between Hezbollah and Syria, it will be in the first line of attack.

Military Doctrine. Specifics of Fighting in Syria

Hezbollah leadership reviewed its concept of operations after the start of the Syria war. Before the war, the emphasis was placed on defensive ops in built-up areas with small units to inflict maximum troop and equipment losses on the IDF while simultaneously shelling Israel using large numbers of short- and medium-range rockets.

In Syria, Hezbollah realized that it had to wage offensive ops in cities. Therefore it reconsidered its training system, increased its rocket arsenal, and provided more heavy weapons and recon systems.

The first operation where Hezbollah took offensive using large units was the battle for el-Quseyr in April-June 2013. Some 1200-1700 best-trained Hezbollah troops took part in the battle. They were divided into 17 detachments, with later division into teams of 3-5 troops. Prior to the attack, the command performed recon of the city and its approaches, then divided the city into 16 sectors, one for each detachment. Each region had its codename. During the battle, this allowed for command of forces using open channels of communication without the enemy being able to take any countermeasures. Hezbollah command undertook the direction of SAA tank and artillery units near the city. Considering that the city was in the Islamist hands for over a year and was well-fortified, the ratio of losses was nevertheless 5:1 in favor of Hezbollah. The battle showed that with proper organization, a fortified city can be effectively attacked by a small force.

As far as the military direction of Hezbollah units in Syria by Iran is concerned, it seems probable that Iran directs Hezbollah units down to battalion level (sometimes down to company) using IRGC specialists from the al-Quds Force. It can’t be ruled out that IRGC specialists coordinate Hezbollah and local self-defense forces like the Kataib Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq. Units smaller than a battalion don’t warrant the provision of specialists. There is a need for a large number of trained cadres able to command and provide assistance. One of the factors influencing cooperation in this instance is the language barrier—Arabic in Lebanon, versus Farsi in Iran.

Hezbollah became one of the factors which allowed to turn around the war in Syria, since its troops were able to fight in cities. The SAA, in 2011-12 was organized along 1970-80 lines to fight combined arms battles mainly against Israel. New realities have shown that this army was unable to fight as small units in the cities. Moreover, the SAA has not fought for a long time. Its last significant operations took place in 1982. Therefore it had no commanders with urban warfare experience. Hezbollah, on the other hand, has constantly fought Israel since the moment of its creation. Generations of commanders have honed their skills in the years of clashes and battles with the IDF, causing it serious losses during the 2006 war. Israel was forced to retreat from south Lebanon, and Hezbollah’s reputation has risen to unprecedented heights.

Israel’s military command is worried about Hezbollah’s operations in Syria, since its paramilitary wing will now be able to wage offensive ops using heavy weapons and a huge number of short-, medium-, and long-range rockets.

The fact that Hezbollah has become akin to a regular army is confirmed by IDF’s rethinking of its approach to the fight against it. First, IDF is preparing for fighting big formations, up to a brigade, whose task will be invading Israel and capturing villages or military bases. Second, it is paying special attention to combating tunnels, including technical and psychological preparation of its troops to fight in tunnels.

Rocket Arsenal

The movement’s distinguishing characteristic is the enormous rocket arsenal which, by various estimates, contains between 50 thousand and 120 thousand weapons. And not merely an arsenal, but a whole system, from rocket part and fuel factories to storage facilities and camouflaged launch sites.

The existing land-based arsenal includes various short-range ballistic missiles, surface-to-surface missiles and multiple rocket launchers.

The existing land-based arsenal is reflected by the following table:

Click to see the full-size image

* –depending on the specific variant.

MRL – multiple rocket launcher

SSM – surface-to-surface missile

SRBM – short-range ballistic missile

Most of the weapons come from Iran and Syria. The possession of Scud-Ds is doubted, including doubts of the Western media. This system requires qualified personnel and specialized equipment, since the rocket uses liquid fuel.

To assess Hezbollah’s effectiveness, let’s look at the shelling of Israel in 2005. At the start, according to Nasrallah, there were over 12 thousand rockets. Official Israeli police reports noted 3770 rocket strikes on the country, including 901 strikes in the cities. Thanks to civil defense, only 44 were killed and 1384 were wounded. One is also tempted to note that Hezbollah mostly used rockets with ranges under 100km and small warheads, as no SRBM strikes were noted. This was due the small number of SRBMs and Israeli effort to destroy them, which was partly successful. Hits by 600-980kg SRBM warheads would have had catastrophic consequences on cities. The presence of SSMs proved a surprise for Israel. On July 14, 2006, Israeli corvette Hanit was hit by a Chinese-made C-802 SSM launched from the short. The ship’s air defense was turned off since nobody expected an SSM attack. 4 sailors were killed and the corvette was incapacitated for 3 weeks. The 165kg warhead most likely failed to explode, otherwise, the corvette would have sunk.

Having a large rocket arsenal made in Iran, PRC, and Syria, raises the question of whether Hezbollah has its own factories of rockets. If it does, they manufacture certain numbers. It’s been a long time since the last war with Israel. Launching a rocket after lengthy storage could be dangerous to its launch crew. It would seem that the war in Syria is being used to use up old Russian and Chinese rockets of which it has large numbers. The situation is more complex with SRBMs. They are very expensive to make. It would make no sense to establish their production on territory which at any moment could be bombed by Israel. With proper servicing, such rockets can be stored for up to decades. It’s likely that some assistance here is provided by Iranian civil and military specialists.

Building a rocket plant on the territory of another country is a whole different matter. In August 2017, Israeli media reported that Iranians are building a ballistic missile plant in north-west Syria. It is built near the coastal city of Banias, tens of kilometers from Tartus where the Russian base is located, and south of Hmeimim where Russian aircraft are based, protected by S-300 and S-400. Therefore the factory can be protected against Israeli strikes. According to experts, the plant will produce Fateh-110 rockets for the SAA and, possibly, Hezbollah.

The rocket arsenal has been modernized and expanded. At the start of the next war, Hezbollah will be able to launch 1500 rockets a day, instead of 200 in 2006, covering the whole territory of Israel and not only the border regions. There are reports that Hezbollah has Russian Yakhont SSMs obtained from Syria, instead of the unreliable C-802.

Therefore Hezbollah rocket arsenal is not a network of warehouses full of artisanal rockets, dangerous to own crews. It’s a whole range of industrially produced weapons capable of destroying land and naval targets at various ranges.

All of the above does not mean Hezbollah seeks war with Israel, whose leadership should be aware that if there is another war in south Lebanon, Israel’s civilians will face unprecedented threats.

Intelligence and Counter-Intelligence

Hezbollah’s Special Security department is responsible for both intel and counter-intel, and implements several missions, one of the most important being professionally carried out operations abroad at the behest of Shura Council. Imad Fayez Mughniyeh was a head of Special Security department until 2008 when he died in a car bomb blast in Kafr Sousa neighborhood of the Syrian capital, Damascus.

Responsibilities of the department’s head in Shura include overseeing the following departments:

  1. National preventive security apparatus, which provides personal security to high-level spiritual leaders.
  2. Internal security and intelligence apparatus, which tracks political and religious reliability of the Hezbollah members.
  3. National central security apparatus, which observes, tracks, infiltrates, and if necessary eliminates military or political individuals or groups seeking to interfere with Hezbollah in Lebanon.
  4. Foreign combat cells and intel apparatus. This department partly overlaps with the central security council, depending on types of requests received by cell leaders.

Imad Mugniyeh is the individual who made this department one of the most powerful secret services in the world. He was born in 1962 in the Tayr Debba village in south Lebanon. He started his career in the mid-1970s in the FATH organization. In 1977-82 he was a member of its intelligence and special units (Force 17, Unified Security Directorate, etc.). After an advanced course under IRGC instructors at the Imam Ali base in Bekaa province, he headed the personal security team for prominent Shia cleric Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah.

Before 2005, Hezbollah was to a large extent integrated into Lebanese intel services, including Amn al-Amn Main Directorate for Common Security which expanded its ability to carry out intelligence and counter-intelligence ops. After Hezbollah was accused of being complicit in the death of former Lebanese PM, Rafik Hariri in February 2005, Hezbollah members were forced to leave Lebanese secret services, which affects the movement’s intel work.

The Special Security department studies Iranian and Israeli experience. According to Israeli intel members, Hezbollah has a large agent network in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and AMAN military intelligence. This opinion is supported by the presence of limited access Israeli MOD maps, manuals, and documents on captured Hezbollah members.

The movement’s intel successes are largely based on exploiting familial and criminal ties between Israeli and Lebanese Arabs, and the well-oiled cooperation between Hezbollah intel and Palestinian Authority armed formations. Moreover, Hezbollah intelligence often uses interrogations of captured officers and soldiers, and data obtained through recruitment of senior Israeli officers. For example, Hezbollah was able to recruit IDF Lt. Col. Omar el-Haiba, a Bedouin. This officer occupied a high post in the Western district HQ. He was one of the most capable Bedouin officers in the IDF. After a serious wound, he was disabled but nevertheless returned to the IDF and earned awards for his agitation among the Bedouins. This officer was arrested on suspicion of giving Hezbollah secret information on IDF forces on Lebanon border and the schedule of patrols. On June 18, 2006 a court martial sentenced him to 15 years in prison for espionage, contact with enemy agents, and drug trade.

Due to the secrecy regime in Special Security Apparatus, little is known about foreign terrorist and intel cells. As a rule, they become known only after major events. Hezbollah selects people for special ops from among its own special units. These people are believed to be well trained and prepared to die for the sake of the mission. Some of them are from Arab and Islamic organizations that have ceased to exist. All of Hezbollah’s special ops are handled by Special Security apparatus, with support from Iranian and Syrian intel and special ops forces, and from the IRGC.

Members of the overseas cells are thoroughly trained. They have knowledge and information about the country where they work. They speak the language of the country. This attracts less attention from civil and military authorities.
Infiltration unit equipment in includes Israeli or other military uniforms, depending on the mission. Units infiltrating Israel speak Hebrew, use Israeli weapons and equipment as camouflage, and are familiar with all types of weapons used in the region. Members of special infiltration units and members of the suicide units differ, among other things, by their uniforms. For example, Jihad Detachments wear green or black clothing, carry Semtex, C-4, or C-9 charges, and usually wear masks on operations.

The following Jihad Detachments are known:

  1. Islambula Brigade: assassination of political activists.
  2. Al-Quds Brigade: two units of suicide bombers consisting of 56 each, the Fathi Shkaki Company and the Ihye Ayasha Company.

On Imad Mugniye’s initiative, in the early ‘90s a special unit of Hebrew-speaking Lebanese Palestinians was formed. It had the task of eavesdropping on IDF army frequencies. Later, SSA sought to improve their language and professional skills at the Center of Islamic Science and Culture and its branches in Iran, Cyria, and Lebanon.

One should note that the Hezbollah units and controlled territories are targets of Israeli human intelligence efforts. Israeli Border Police (MAGAV) includes the YAMAS unit which camouflages its members to look like Arabs. During the 2006 war, Hezbollah counterintelligence located and destroyed an Israeli agent network in south Lebanon and Beirut. The network conducted espionage in Hezbollah HQ and transmitted this data to the IDF. Agents from among local population set up equipment to monitor Hezbollah military installations and used GPS devices to guide munitions, spread glow-in-the-dark powder around buildings and command centers, rocket warehouses and launch sites. Still, IDF and Israeli intel was not able to kill or capture a single senior Hezbollah official or destroy the command system, since the shelling of Israel continued no matter what.

The Media: Agitation and Propaganda

Hezbollah places particular importance on the media. It owns a satellite TV channel (al-Manar), four radio stations, and five newspapers. Without any doubt, Hezbollah’s image was to a large extent formed by al-Manar, which has been broadcasting since June 1991, and has gone satellite in 2000. It has become Hezbollah’s face to the world. The channel is unique, before its existence Arab media consisted of newspapers and radio stations. Experts believe its audience is second only to al-Jazeera. Al-Manar became the official channel of the movement, demonstrating accomplishments, particularly in the realm of fighting Israel. Its broadcasts consist mainly of news and political programs, broadcasts dedicated to the memory of martyrs, informational and entertainment shows. It is also unique in that it broadcasts in Hebrew for the Israeli population. While Western media depict the al-Manar as propaganda for a terror group, the channel does not broadcast any information on making bombs, executions of Israeli soldiers, blowing up of checkpoints, and other forms of cruelty.

Hezbollah radio stations al-Nour and al-Iman broadcast from southern Beirut. Al-Islam broadcasts in south Lebanon, and Sawt al-Mustad’afin broadcasts in the area of Bekaa river valley. There are also newspapers: Al-Bilad, al-Ahd, al-Muntalaq, al-Sabil, and Baquitou Allah.

The movement has a website, www.moqawama.org. Its content includes the most important news from Lebanon and the world, video addresses by movement leader, respecting the memory of martyrs, opinion polls, and memorable dates in the movement’s history. Agitation video broadcast by TV and web channels are of high artistic and directorial quality and take into consideration the preference of the audience and Arab mentality not only in Lebanon but the world.

Social Work

Even though the Hezbollah is known in Western media as a terror organization, it defies that label by the multifaceted aspect of its activities. Apart from fighting in Syria and against Israel, it is part of Lebanon’s legislature, provides education and medical services to the Lebanese. In 2000-2010 Hezbollah spent several billion dollars on humanitarian efforts in Lebanon. The organization builds kindergartens and schools, hospitals and clinics, and even supermarkets. Its fighters and their family members can take advantage of many services with major discounts. Education in Hezbollah-built schools is cheaper than in public schools. The poor obtain stipends. Of course, the education focuses on the Arabic language, Islam, and Shia traditions. But English language and physical sciences are also taught. These schools provide a very high level of instruction by ME standards.

The media also focus on those who fell for the freedom and independence of Lebanon. As a sign of respect for the martyrs, which is how Shia community views them, the funerals are attended by senior officials. They also participate in any funerals of people who perished in battle or in other circumstances. This is apparently due to Hasan Nasrallah’s having suffered a personal loss. His eldest son Hadi became a martyr during fighting in south Lebanon.

If the killed fighter had children, they are taken under care, receive education or jobs. In spite of financial problems, providing money for cadre soldiers and for the families of the dead is the top priority.

Mu’assasat Jihad al-Bina’ or the Fund for Sacred Struggle was founded by the Hezbollah in 1988. It quickly became one of the most visible NGOs in Lebanon. Although it is autonomous, its activities fall under the purview of the social services department of the movement. Its main aim is to “lessen the burdens faced by the poor families by relying on God’s aid in fulfilling their moral and Islamic obligations.” The Fund operates in southern districts of Beirut, Bekaa Valley, and south Lebanon. The fund provides more than half of population of those regions with water, helps farmers with procuring livestock, fertilizers, fuel. It carries out electrification of the most backward villages.

Mu’assasat al-Shahid, or the Martyrs’ Fund, supports the children of killed or captured fighters and civilians. It provides housing, jobs, and support for widows and runs a job placement office for the youth.

Lujnat Imdad al-Khomeini, or the Khomeini Support Committee, was formed right after Israeli aggression of 1982. It helps poor families, particularly those which suffered from Israeli occupation. The aid includes monthly benefits, food parcels, basic necessities, clothing, health services, and education. The committee provides medical assistance, including through medications, diagnoses, surgeries, and rehabilitation, to tens of thousands of patients a year. The financial and technical incapacity of the Lebanese government, particularly the Ministry of Health, forced the movement to take under the control of the Islamic Health Unit the hospitals of south Lebanon.

Hezbollah education department is headed by an office titled al-Ta‘bia’ al-Tarbawiyya, or the Education Directorate. It provides financial aid to needy Hezbollah members. Its expenditures are extremely important to the movement, because public schools suffer from lack of funds for construction and education technology.

The education department also provides needy students higher education in applied sciences, and religious studies in various institutions such as Technical Institute of the Great Prophet, the Technical Institutes of Sayyid Abbas al-Musawi, the Institute of Sayydat al-Zahra’, the Institute of Shaykh Raghib Harb, and the Islamic Shari’ah Institute.

Other types of aid include paying for textbooks and school materials, and part of the tuition in public and private schools.

Economic and Financial Activities

A variety of sources of funding—donations, business, and Iran’s support—ensure the party’s independence and economic stability. Its assets are held in the Saderat Bank of Iran or in other banks in accounts of front individuals, to prevent the US and the West from freezing its assets. The party is a huge corporation whose assets belong to the whole party, not just specific individuals.

The main sources of funding are:

  • Direct subsidies from Iran, no more than $100 million per year, though $200 million before the fall of oil prices.
  • Contributions by Shia community in and outside of Lebanon
  • Profits from economic and banking activity.

Income from smuggling, illegal sale of weapons and drugs, are not taken into consideration in this context

According to Pew Research Center and the World Factbook (CIA), Shia Muslims represent a high percentage in about 25 countries.

Click to see the full-size image

Total: approx. 200 million worldwide.

One should keep in mind that Pew data have often been criticized by Western experts and Shia diasporas for underestimating Shia numbers.

According to World Labor Organization, average salaries in these countries in 2016 were:

Click to see the full-size image

The Islamic concept of Zakat states that when it comes to deeds performed in God’s name, including supporting warriors waging jihad, the poor, or people propagating Islam, the average worker should contribute 2.5% of theirsalary.

Considering the multi-child families which are the rule in Muslim countries (one does not consider non-working wives and children), zakat may be paid by up to 10% of the community.

In this case, contributions by country look as follows:

Click to see the full-size image

Thus, the Shia diaspora may contribute no more than 1/5, or 120 million USD, for financing Hezbollah.

This calculation does not include income tax, since each country has a different tax law. One should also keep in mind that not all Shia in the West and Persian Gulf are supportive of Hezbollah’s military aid to Syria. For example, NGO surveys of Shia in the Persian Gulf states in the second half of 2013 suggests that the percentage of supporters fell to 30-50%. This is apparently due to the Hezbollah being given an image of the aggressor by the media of these countries, which can’t help but influence financing. After IS was proclaimed in 2014, India’s Shia issued a statement proclaiming readiness to send 30,000 volunteers to Iraq to fight radical Islam. There is no information concerning the Shia of India or neighboring countries providing aid for Syria.

More than 100,000 Lebanese have permanent residence in African countries, including 60,000 in Cote d’Ivoire, 25,000 each in Senegal and Sierra Leone, 16,000 in Nigeria, 6,000 in DRC, 5,000 each in Gabon and Cameroun. The majority of Lebanese in Africa are not Christians but Shia. They have concentrated control of much profitable business, which allows them not only live well but support their historical motherland. In 2008 alone, money transfers from African Lebanese exceeded $1 billion. It is difficult to assess Lebanese Shia affluence in Africa due to the never-ending financial crisis. Since it is Hezbollah that runs active social programs in Lebanon, one can assume the majority of remittances ends up on the organization’s accounts.

Overall, the movement collects no more than $500 million a year. It’s not much, considering it is waging a war in Syria and is financing the social sector of the whole country.

Why Hezbollah became a Middle East powerhouse and its transition to a quasi-state

After the IDF withdrawal from most of Lebanon in 1985, Hezbollah with active support from the IRGC began to create its own weapons arsenals, and the January 1989 Damascus-Tehran agreement allowed Hezbollah to restore its military infrastructure and resume operations in south Lebanon. Thus by 1991 Hezbollah became the leading Lebanese resistance force, operating in the country’s south against the IDF.

Starting in early ‘90s, Hezbollah began a transition away from being a purely paramilitary formation. In the summer of ’92, Iran’s leaders recommended Hezbollah transform itself from an openly extremist organization into an active Lebanese political force. Hezbollah reached an internal compromise between the “moderates” and “radicals”, established a ceasefire with Amal, and began active preparation for parliamentary elections. Hezbollah today acts as the leading political force in Lebanon and as a major Shia social and humanitarian organization (Lebanon has an estimated 2.5 million Shia out of 6.2 million total population). IDF withdraw from south Lebanon in 2006 was a huge victory in the eyes of the Arab world. Hezbollah has truly become a significant regional factor. Growing its influence in Lebanon and Syria and the region with Iran’s help, Hezbollah has become a base for recruitment, training, and preparation of volunteers for battling Israel and radical Sunni organizations. Hezbollah units often fight like regular army nits.

One of the reasons for the rise of Hezbollah’s regional influence is the strategic coordination between the Lebanese and Iraqi Shia, and also Syrian Alawites due to the continuous war in the Middle East. It’s important to note that the organization has proved its worth even in the darkest hours of Lebanon’s history, such as the many years of almost uninterrupted slaughter, but also during the perennial clashes with its external adversaries, even dangerous ones like Israel.

Opinions of Iran’s influence vary. Some experts claim Iran’s aid is so important that it fully affects all aspects of Hezbollah’s decision making process. Naturally, Iran’s authority as the leader of the Shia around the world is near-absolute. It also provides Hezbollah with tremendous military aid. Moreover, the movement has suffered losses in Syria, it’s most professional and best trained fighters have perished there, which weakens the organization. Therefore Hezbollah leaders have to show more flexibility and care in its dealings with Iran if differences of opinion arise.

The most likely explanation is that Hezbollah maintains considerable independence due to its exceptional political standing in the country, and of its nature as a strike force against Israel and Syria’s Sunni. Since the start of conflicts in Syria in 2011, Nasrallah tried to maintain neutrality. Hezbollah became involved only in 2013 when the situation grew out of control and there was a danger of combat spreading to Lebanon. Nasrallah stated in one of his announcements that” Iran should be viewed as the center of strategic influence in the region, as the model of a sovereign state which supports nations in their search for independence and as a force which helps countries and nations of the Middle East become stronger. Syria and Iran can’t force Hezbollah to act against its own plans. They can only argue with us and try to convince us.”

Since its independence, Lebanese government paid little attention to the problems of the southern parts of the country. Therefore Hezbollah has assumed the role of helping the poor and developing infrastructure not for self-promotion, but because it was an objective necessity. Practically since birth, a Lebanese Shia is under Hezbollah’s care. Kindergartens, clinics, schools, and institutions—all of that has been built and is financed by the movement. So it’s no surprise that the movement is hugely popular and service within its ranks is considered honorable.

One should especially note that today Hezbollah is more than a movement. Even though it has not declared sovereignty over part of the country, it has every attribute of a state. It has legislative, executive, judicial authority, institutions for the collection and distribution of taxes, its own education system, a military, intelligence and counter-intelligence, media—all of that exists and functions within the movement’s framework. Moreover, it has control over its subjects, the totality of information about them and, most importantly, it relies on their good will to work with the movement in some form. The concept of citizenship is not after all defined by a passport but by the individual’s willingness to associate to a state or a movement and be loyal to it.

Here’s what is written about it by one of Hezbollah’s ideologues and the deputy general secretary, sheikh Naim Kassem: “From the theoretical point of view, we are calling for an Islamic state, we are drawing others into that process, since only an Islamic state may facilitate the maximum of human happiness. But on the practical level this question depends on the free human choice, in addition to the Quran Ayat 2.257: There is no compulsion in religion. The correct way is quite separate from the false one. Whoever does not believe in idol worship but believes in God, has found a reliable foundation which cannot be crumbled. Verily, God is all-hearing and all-knowing.”

The victory of radical Sunni groups in Syria would mean the possibility of merciless annihilation of all other religious groups, following the Iraq scenario. After the US invasion of Iraq triggered a civil war and later the appearance of ISIS, which proved unspeakably cruel toward all other beliefs, it sent the message that in these conditions of ethnic and religious warfare, only paramilitary organizations like the Hezbollah can ensure their own survival.

Conclusion

Hezbollah’s popularity among Lebanese Shia is based on several factors: its military campaign against Israel, its wholly Lebanese nature, its role as a defender of the historically repressed Shia community, its religious nature and its wide range of social services.

Hezbollah has done more for the Shia community in Lebanon than the official government. Since the very start of its involvement in the war in Syria, the movement leaders that its fighters are defending Lebanon, Lebanese Shia, and Shia holy sites from the spread of extremist Sunni Islam, represented first and foremost by Jabhat al-Nusra and IS. According to Nasrallah, this was not a war of choice but of necessity.

Lebanese NGOs which carried out a survey in 2015 noted that 57% of respondents view the threat of radical Islam to Lebanon as real, and 80% view Hezbollah as making the life in Lebanon calmer. Lebanon today, just as the Middle East as a whole, is experiencing renewed inter-religious and inter-communal slaughter.  People living in unstable and unpredictable countries are trying to find protection and support among their own national or religious community. Therefore it is no surprise that Hezbollah enjoys such unconditional support among the Shia of Lebanon and Syria, even if they don’t fully support the movement’s aims and mission.

Posted in LebanonComments Off on Hezbollah – Capabilities And Role In The Middle East

Nazi pressures Palestinians into exile through foreign spouse visas

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Families as pawns: Israel pressures Palestinians into exile through foreign spouse visas.

Like many young married couples across the world, Claire and her husband have a five-year-plan. But instead of their main concern being how to deal with the imminent arrival of their first child, Claire’s family is facing the very real possibility of expulsion and exile.

Like scores of other foreigners married to Palestinians in the occupied territory, Claire — whose name has been changed to protect her identity, like all other women interviewed for this article — has struggled to navigate the labyrinthine Israeli bureaucratic process to obtain the necessary paperwork to reside in the West Bank with her husband.

While foreign spouses, both Arab and non-Arab, have long described the process as opaque, the situation has worsened for Western spouses since 2016 with more and more women and men being denied visas, leading many to fear for the fate of their families amid ever-increasing Israeli policies targeting both Palestinians and foreigners standing in solidarity with the Palestinian cause.

‘Destroying My Family In The Span Of 30 Minutes’

Despite the Palestinian Authority (PA) being the ruling power in the West Bank on paper, Israel remains in charge of giving foreigners residing there visas — a power which foreign spouses told Mondoweiss has been increasingly abused in the past two years.

Spouses interviewed by Mondoweiss spoke of being issued ever-shorter visas ranging from two weeks to six months instead of the usual one-year visa, dragging them into a near-constant process of visa renewals, appointments with Israeli officials from the Israeli Civil Administration, and administrative fees — every new application costing some 450 shekels ($128), and security deposits reaching up to 50,000 shekels ($14,215).

The financial burden of repeated visa applications, coupled with lawyer fees for those appealing visa denials, is only compounded by the fact that many spouses have been told that working — even in Area A of the West Bank, which is officially under full Palestinian Authority control — could constitute grounds for rejection.

Numerous spouses mentioned being pressured into signing documents written only in Hebrew despite them not speaking the language, or being asked to provide a number of seemingly irrelevant documents, such as medical certificates of pregnancy or children’s school reports, only to see their applications denied over clerical errors or reasons they said were inaccurate or outright wrong.

“There are enough cases for us to deduce that there is a change in policy happening, and it is much more restrictive for foreign nationals to get visas or visa renewals,” Sam Bahour, an activist with the Right to Enter campaign that notably fights for the right to family reunification in the occupied Palestinian territory, told Mondoweiss.

Julie, a foreign spouse, recounted how she spent almost two years living on tourist visas while trying to regularize her situation, forced to leave with her baby every three months, “each time not knowing whether we would be allowed back.”

For the past two years, her case has been bogged down in appeals, leading Julie to reside in the occupied Palestinian territory without any residency documents.

“To be ‘illegal’ is not a lifestyle choice for me. I wasn’t given a choice,” she said. She deplored the “dehumanizing” treatment during interrogations, mentioning one particular instance with a female Israeli official.

“Her questions, her way of interrogating us, it was very clear that she thought she was doing her national duty, but at no moment did she see in me a woman like her, a mother, someone who just wants to live a normal life.” Julie said. “She was completely destroying my life and my family in the span of a 30-minute meeting, but I’m sure that thought did not occur to her and that she slept well that night.”

Anna, another foreign spouse, told Mondoweiss that Israeli officials would regularly accuse her of lying or yelling when she asked for clarifications about her case.

“They throw ‘You’re lying’ at you to see how you will react. It’s psychological warfare,” she said.

“When they find out that you are associated with Palestinians, they look down on you,” she added. “I’ve asked them ‘Why are you going after me?’ and I was told: ‘You’re associated with the enemy, what else do you expect?’”

Left In The Dark

Throughout the whole ordeal, spouses have said that at no point were they given a clear set of instructions to follow in order to obtain a visa.

“They told me ‘Don’t cross the line,’” Claire said, recalling one instance when she was allowed back in the occupied West Bank after being refused entry for several months. At no point was Claire told exactly where that line stood.

The Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the subsection of the Israeli Civil Administration responsible for the occupied Palestinian territory, remained vague when contacted by Mondoweiss.

“We work in a variety of ways in order to make the permit and approval process more efficient, while preserving the security as first and foremost a priority alongside assisting the population in Judea and Samaria,” a COGAT spokesperson said.

COGAT did not respond to requests for further details on what documents were necessary to confirm their status, or if certain factors, such as whether a foreign spouse was employed, would affect one’s ability to obtain a visa.

COGAT also declined a request by Mondoweiss to interview the Israeli official in charge of spousal visas in the West Bank in the past two years, Diana Ben Haim, who several spouses have speculated could be one of the main reasons why the visa process has become much more arduous since 2016.

“Diana has become the poster child of the Civil Administration as it relates to foreign visas,” Bahour of Right to Enter said. “People have begun to ask themselves whether a Diana policy or Israeli policy is being applied. But as far as we’re concerned, she’s an employee of the Civil Administration. It’s the state of Israel’s policies that we are worried about.”

Meanwhile, the stress of the situation has taken a psychological toll on the foreign spouses and their families.

“Israeli bureaucracy is a crushing machine,” Julie said. “It crushes Palestinians first and foremost, and I can see at a smaller scale the consequences it has on my couple, my family, and my mental health.”

“The situation has certainly made me stronger, but at a price: lots of anxiety, lots of fear and tension,” Anna said.

Diplomatic Letdown

Many spouses expressed disappointment and anger towards the PA and their respective consulates for their apparent inability to assist them throughout the process or to intercede on their behalf with Israeli authorities.

“They’ll tell us this sucks but there’s nothing they can do,” Claire said of her own country’s diplomatic services in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. “I feel that applies to all the embassies here, they don’t really sympathize.”

“It’s an incredible violence for our own consulate to say that they can’t do anything for us,” Julie said. “You are basically given the choice between staying illegally or leaving your children behind.”

But members of the international diplomatic community told Mondoweiss that they too were being left in the dark by the Israeli government.

“There isn’t necessarily information transparency for us either,” an official for a Western consulate told Mondoweiss on condition of anonymity. “It is frustrating for government workers when there are limits to how effectively we can intercede.”

Spouses also said that PA officials gave them contradictory information on how to proceed with the visa process, on at least one occasion telling a spouse that she needed to apply for visa renewal three weeks prior to her current document’s expiration, despite her only having been given a two-week visa.

Pressuring Families Out Of Palestine

Without answers, the spouses and their families are left guessing as to what the desired outcome of such policies might be.

“They’re targeting anyone for anything. They just want to find any little thing and kick you out, because if we stay here and keep making babies, there’s more Palestinians here,” Claire said. “But if we aren’t allowed to stay, we’re gone, and hopefully we’ll take our families with us.”

“An Israeli official told me that it would get easier once I gave birth — but will it be easier for me to stay, or easier for them to kick me out?”

Bahour pointed out that while “separation of family is a crucial humanitarian issue,” the recent crackdown “falls in line with the larger Israeli policy regarding the (Palestinian) ‘demographic threat.’”

Recent reports of visas petering out for NGO workersBDS activists, and journalist sseeking to work in the occupied Palestinian territory, in addition to spouses, are likely, in Bahour’s view, tied to other longstanding policies such as the revocation of East Jerusalem Palestinians’ residency.

“I think the entire policy is to empty Palestine of its brains, of its capacities, in a voluntary manner,” Bahour said. “One family at a time has to take the decision that’s it’s too costly or too volatile of an environment from an administrative point of view to be worth staying here.”

Bahour said that Right to Enter was launching a new campaign in November to denounce the crackdown and get foreign countries to take a stand for their citizens, a move that spouses believed could be their only hope to resolve their situation.

“If we don’t do anything, they will get bolder and bolder,” Anna said. “They count on our fear and silence.”

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on Nazi pressures Palestinians into exile through foreign spouse visas

Action Alert: Support Historic Bill on Palestinian Human Rights

NOVANEWS

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Defend Palestinian Children!

ADC strongly commends Congresswoman Betty McCollum’s (D-MN) for introducing the first-ever legislation on Palestinian human rights in Congressional history. The Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act, H.R. 4391, will “prevents the use of United States tax dollars for the Israeli military’s ongoing detention and mistreatment of Palestinian children.” (Click here to read the full bill.) H.R. 4391 has nine Democratic cosponsors, including the co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

ACT NOW TO DEFEND PALESTINIAN CHILDREN 

Since 2000, an estimated 10,000 Palestinian children have been detained by Israeli occupation forces and often subject to abuse and torture. Those worst abuses, of course, are the lethal attacks on Palestinian children: 2022 Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli soldiers or illegal settlers since 2000.

According to Defense of Children Internationa, this year 10 Palestinian children have been killed:

Yousef Salameh 16 years old

Mohammed Khattab, 17 years old

Jasem Nakhleh, 16 years old

Yousef Abu Athra, 15 years old

Murad Abu Ghazi, 17 years old

Fatima Hjeiji, 17 years old

Abdel-Rahman Abu Hamisa, 16 years old

Mohammed Lafi, 17 years old

Nour Abd-Jabar, 14 years old

Oday Nawaja’a, 16 years old

Above, many of the Palestinian children killed or injured this year.

ACT NOW TO DEFEND PALESTINIAN CHILDREN 

Tragically, injuries are an even more frequent occurrence. On Sept. 11, 15-year-old Osama Daghlas was dragged and beaten by Israeli settlers before he was thrown off a stone fence.

There can be no doubt that the pro-Israel lobby will now target McCollum and the cosponsors. And there will be tremendous pressure on other Democrats to not sponsor the bill. It is imperative that Arab-American make their voices heard to support McCollum and the other cosponsors: Representatives Mark Pocan, Earl Blumenauer, André Carson, John Conyers, Jr., Danny K. Davis, Peter A. DeFazio, Raul Grijalva, Luis V. Gutiérrez, and Chellie Pingree.

We must build momentum for this historic bill. Let us rally our community so that even more Congresspersons find the courage to stand up for Palestinian human rights. We may not win this battle, but if we support H.R. 4391 and successfully encourage more Congresspersons to sign-on, then next time we will be that much closer to raising awareness on Capitol Hill and turning the tide toward a foreign policy based on human rights and international law.

Call your Congressional representatives, send e-mails and letters, and urge them to stand with McCollum and Palestinian children!

ACT NOW TO DEFEND PALESTINIAN CHILDREN 

***

McCollum deserves special thanks and to know that her brave actions are appreciated by many. Click here if you’d like to thank McCollum on her Facebook page

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Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on Action Alert: Support Historic Bill on Palestinian Human Rights

Palestinian *** News

NOVANEWS


Israel to expropriate Palestinian land for settlement expansion in northern West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) — Israeli authorities on Tuesday reportedly notified Palestinian farmers that they intend to expropriate plots of land near the village of Shofeh, southeast of Tulkarem in the northern occupied West Bank, in order to expand the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Avnei Hefetz. Official Palestinian Authority-owned Wafa news agency reported that Israeli authorities informed the Palestinian liaison office that the state intends to use land in the village in order to open roads and build playgrounds and other recreational facilities for Avnei Hefetz. The farmers were reportedly given 60 days to appeal the decision in Israeli courts. According to Wafa, the farmers of Shofeh “expressed real concern over the decision” to “rip them off the land that is their only source of income.” The farmers told Wafa that while they have the papers to prove their ownership of the land, “they do not expect the Israeli courts to be fair to them.” Wafa added that the Israeli army seized lands from the village in March to build a power station and industrial area….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=779481

Watchdog fears Israel will seize more Palestinian land

JERUSALEM (AFP) 16 Nov — An Israeli settlement watchdog Thursday denounced a legal opinion by the attorney general, saying it could pave the way for the seizure of more Palestinian land in the West Bank. Attorney general Avichai Mandelblit said in a legal opinion that Israel could, in certain circumstances, confiscate private Palestinian land for the benefit of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories. Settlement watchdog Peace Now denounced the development in a statement. “It appears that the AG is attempting to remove the last legal (and moral) barrier on the road to turn theft and expulsion into a formal way of establishing settlements in the occupied territories,” it said. Peace Now and other observers said Mandelblit’s opinion, which was made public on Wednesday, breaks with former positions the confiscation of private Palestinian land for state use….
https://www.yahoo.com/news/watchdog-fears-israel-seize-more-palestinian-land-192123761.html

Israel minister: We must plan for a million settlers in the West Bank

MEMO 15 Nov — An Israeli minister said yesterday that the state must start planning for a million settlers in the West Bank, according to a report in the Jerusalem Post. This will happen – it is only a question of when,” Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin said, “adding that it could be anywhere between the next 10 to 20 years, depending on the pace of construction.” The minister also dismissed the idea of a Palestinian state in the occupied Palestinian territory. “Halas [‘enough’ in Arabic] with the story of two states. There is no other option but the state of Israel, certainly between the Jordan [River] to the [Mediterranean] sea there will be one state.” The minister made the remarks at a conference on settler population growth in the West Bank titled “On the Way to a Million”. Elkin urged settler leaders to prepare plans for expansion. “If everyone does this, I believe that the numbers will become the reality of our lives,” he said. The head of Amana, which supports settlement construction, claimed that Ariel settlement could double in size to reach 40,000 residents, and Efrat could more than double, hitting 20,000 settlers. Meanwhile, the paper reported, Peace Now has released new figures on settlement activity in 2017, noting that, “to date, plans had been advanced for 6,742 new settler homes and 3,154 tenders had been issued”. In 2016, the figures were 2,613 and 42 respectively. “Without any official declarations, the Israeli government is preventing the viability and contiguity of a future Palestinian state, while treating lands in Area C as its own,” Peace Now said.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171115-israel-minister-we-must-plan-for-a-million-settlers-in-the-west-bank/

Opinion: Transfer of Palestinians, in word and deed / Amira Hass

Haaretz 14 Nov — The legacy of Rehavam Ze’evi (“voluntary transfer”) is commemorated all the time in the Jordan Valley. Highway 90 there is named after him, using his irritating nickname, Gandhi. On every large sign with the words “Gandhi Highway,” the hardly secret Israeli desire to get rid of the Palestinians is linked to the appropriation of one of the international symbols of liberation from colonialism.
And now comes housing and construction minister Yoav Galant, and with the help of Kan, the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation, transfers the Palestinians with a thrust of his tongue. “In the Jordan Valley after 50 years there’s a total of 5,000 people,” he said on the morning news program Thursday. He didn’t say Jews, he didn’t say Israelis. He said “people.” And the experienced presenter didn’t interrupt and say: “Just a minute, there are at least 70,000 Palestinian living in the Jordan Valley, and they’ve been there since before 1967. In Ouja alone there are about 5,000 people. And a similar number in Jiftlik, and let’s not forget the city of Jericho, which has a population of about 35,000, and thousands of families of shepherds for whom the valley is home.”
On the previous evening, Kan’s television news publicized Galant’s plan to persuade more Jews to commit a crime and migrate to the Jordan Valley. “Today only about 6,000 people live in the Jordan Valley,” explained the reporter, and nobody corrected her. This is repeated on the Kan website, with a slight change: “Today only about 6,000 human beings live in the region,” according to the item that sums up the televised report. Galant and the TV reporters showed an extreme lack of awareness of the significance of the word that they chose or allowed to be used, in the above-mentioned context. Even if the reporters themselves are probably opposed to expulsion, they implemented a mental transfer of tens of thousands of Palestinians while internalizing the ultimate Zionist vision … And here is a coincidence that did not happen by chance: About an hour after Galant’s radio interview, soldiers sent by their commander, Maj. Gen. Roni Numa, came to carry out more than a verbal removal: They placed an expulsion order for about 300 Palestinian shepherds and their families on the highway, in the area of the Al Maleh rural council….
https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.822635

Israel to cut Palestinian village from water source in order to take control of farming land

Haaretz 16 Nov by Nir Hasson — After a checkpoint moves deeper into the Palestinian area, residents of al-Walaja will no longer be able to visit the local spring or their fields beyond it — Israel has told residents of the Palestinian village of al-Walaja south of Jerusalem that they are to be cut off from their farmland and farming terraces because of the relocation of a checkpoint, shifting a large segment of land from the Palestinian side to the Israeli one. A Jerusalem district planning panel said that the Ein Yael checkpoint on road between Jerusalem and Har Gilo would move deeper into the Palestinian area, where it will become part of the Jerusalem metropolitan park. This land includes Ein Hanya, the second-largest spring in the Judean Hills; for the residents of al-Walaja, the site also provides recreation, bathing, and water for their livestock. Palestinian families from farther afield in the West Bank, such as Beit Jala and Bethlehem, regularly visit the spring and the two deep pools in the area for bathing and picnicking. Part of al-Walaja falls under Jerusalem’s jurisdiction, but the recent completion of the separation fence has cut the village off from Jerusalem entirely. The fence also separates the village from extensive farming areas owned by the residents…
Ironically, the well-groomed, carefully tended terraces that al-Walaja’s residents have nurtured over the years were one of the reasons given by the Israeli authorities for setting up a park in the area. However, once the checkpoint is moved, the farmers will be denied access to them….
https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.823113

Israel to demolish an entire neighborhood in Jerusalem

IMEMC 15 Nov –The Israeli authorities, including the City Council of occupied Jerusalem, have decided to demolish an entire Palestinian neighborhood in Kafr ‘Aqab, northeast of Jerusalem, under the pretext of being built without a permit. The neighborhood is close to Qalandia terminal, and became isolated from the rest of occupied East Jerusalem after Israel built the illegal Annexation Wall, and now intends to demolish the neighborhood, due to “its proximity to the wall, and for being built without a permit from the City Council,” although Israel’s wall isolated Kafr ‘Aqab from Jerusalem. The demolition plan targets six residential buildings, each consisting of six floors, of around 140 flats, in addition to a mosque, and is slated to be carried out in one month. Many families already inhabited apartments. Israel intends to destroy the buildings by using controlled explosions to turn them into rubble, while the Palestinians insist on remaining in their homes, especially since they have no other alternatives. Hundreds of Palestinians will be removed from their homes a few days before the demolition starts, while the City Council in occupied Jerusalem is claiming that it intends to pave a new road in the area, “to reduce traffic congestion.” There are approximately 50,000 Palestinians living in Kafr ‘Aqab, all are bearers of Israeli-issued Jerusalem ID cards, and are deprived of basic rights, such as public services and maintained roads.
http://imemc.org/article/israel-to-demolish-an-entire-neighborhood-in-jerusalem/

Two more Palestinian schools under threat of destruction, says aid group

JERUSALEM (WAFA) 16 Nov — Two new Palestinian schools in the occupied West Bank which are funded by European governments are under threat of destruction and seizure, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s (NRC) said in a report on Wednesday. An Israeli court has already ordered students not to attend class in one of them. The schools in Wadi as Seeq and Al Muntar were built over the last year with European donor funding as humanitarian relief for Palestinian Bedouin communities struggling to access basic services. They serve displaced and refugee communities who have already suffered destruction of their property over many years. The schools are now the subject of Israeli court proceedings that could lead to their destruction and seizure. The hearings are scheduled for 20 November and 10 December. The NRC Information Counselling and Legal Aid Program (ICLA) provides humanitarian legal assistance to represent the communities in court. “Once again, Palestinian children are facing the traumatic prospect of turning up for school and finding that it no longer exists,” said the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Country Director in Palestine, Kate O’Rourke. “Once again we have to ask: Why are children being denied their fundamental right to education? This attack on schools is part of a wider drive to forcibly transfer Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem to create space for illegal settlement expansion.” Al Muntar’s school headmaster, Wisam Merei, said: “If the school is demolished, most of the children will drop out.” … Earlier this year, Israeli authorities destroyed and damaged three other schools in the West Bank funded by international assistance; just before children were due to go back to school after the summer break.  More than 60 schools in the West Bank are currently at risk of demolition….
http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=w9yMzma94358695926aw9yMzm

Israel demolishes Palestinian Bedouin village for 121st time

NEGEV (Ma‘an) 16 Nov — Israeli authorities on Thursday morning demolished the Bedouin village of al-‘Araqib in the Negev desert in southern Israel for the 121st time, leaving all the families in the village homeless, according to locals. Residents of the al-‘Araqib have rebuilt the village 120 times after each demolition, the latest of which was October 25th. An Israeli court ruled in August that six residents of al-‘Araqib must pay 262,000 shekels (more than $72,000) for previous demolition costs, in addition to 100,000 shekels ($27,693) to cover the costs of the state’s lawyer. It was only the latest payment in which the village has had to compensate Israel for its routine demolitions in the village. According to al-‘Araqib residents, before the latest court ruling, the village was ordered to pay more than two million shekels (approximately $541,000) for the cumulative cost of Israeli-enforced demolitions carried out against the village since 2010. Al-‘Araqib is one of 35 Bedouin villages considered “unrecognized” by the Israeli state. According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), more than half of the approximately 160,000 Bedouins in the Negev reside in unrecognized villages….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=779483

Israeli municipality demolishes building in Jerusalem despite pending permit application

JERUSALEM (WAFA) 15 Nov – Israeli municipality of Jerusalem demolished on Wednesday morning a two-storey building under construction in the neighborhood of al-‘Issawiya, in occupied East Jerusalem, according to local sources. Locals told WAFA that staff from the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem accompanied by an Israeli police escort raided the neighborhood and demolished the building, under the pretext of lacking an Israeli permit of construction. Mohammad Abu Rayala, a local rights activist, said the owners of the building had earlier received a notification to stop the construction of the building. He said though the owners stopped the construction upon notification and started the process of obtaining a construction permit, they were astonished that the building was demolished without a warning. Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in East Jerusalem, though the Jerusalem municipality has claimed that compared to the Jewish population, they receive a disproportionately low number of permit applications from Palestinian communities. For Israeli settlers living in occupied Jerusalem, the planning, marketing, development, and infrastructure are funded and executed by the Israeli government. On the other side, in Palestinian neighborhoods, all the burden falls on individual families to grapple with a lengthy permit application that can last for several years and cost tens of thousands of dollars.
http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=66VYYba94351081902a66VYYb

Jerusalem store owner demolishes own shop to avoid Israeli fines

BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Nov — A Palestinian store owner was forced to demolish his own shop in occupied East Jerusalem on Tuesday, after Israel issued an order and demolition fee against the shop under the pretext that it was built without a nearly impossible-to-obtain building permit. The Wadi Hilweh Information center, based in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, reported that Amin Abbasi was told by Israel’s Jerusalem Municipality two weeks ago that if he did not demolish his shop within 30 days, crews from the municipality would carry out the demolition and force him to pay for the costs, which typically are extremely high. The center said that the shop was built two years ago. Abbasi’s demolition was the second recorded self-demolition to take place in Silwan in 48 hours, after a Palestinian from the neighborhood destroyed his own home on Sunday for the same reasons, leaving his family of four homeless. A spokesman of a Silwan-based committee formed to fight demolitions, Fakhri Abu Diab, previously told Ma‘an that all 100 residential structures in the al-Bustan area are slated for demolition, and that the 1,570 residents of the area have exhausted all legal options….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=779482

Israeli soldiers demolish a home, hand out demolition order against another, near Ramallah

IMEMC 16 Nov —  Israeli soldiers invaded, on Thursday at dawn, the village of Ni‘lin, west of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, demolished one home, and handed out a demolition order against another home. The WAFA Palestinian News Agency has reported that the soldiers demolished the home of Mohammad Adel Awad, in the al-Mhallel area, in Ni‘lin, rendering him and his six other family members homeless .It added that the family only managed to remove some of their furniture and belongings, before the soldiers leveled their homes. The army also handed a demolition order against a neighboring home, under the pretext of being built without a permit.
http://imemc.org/article/israeli-soldiers-demolish-a-home-hand-demolition-order-against-another-near-ramallah/

Israel to demolish rooms south of Hebron

HEBRON (WAFA) 14 Nov – Israeli forces Tuesday handed demolition notice for two rooms in Khillet al-Dabe in Masafer Yatta, south of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, said a local activist. Anti-settlement activist, Rateb al-Jabour, told WAFA Israeli forces handed a demolition notice for two brick rooms belonging to Jaber Dababseh. The notice gave the owner seven days to tear down the house or else the military will demolish it at his expense.
http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=66VYYba94346323137a66VYYb

Settlers in East Jerusalem lose battle to get power from Israeli company

JERUSALEM (WAFA) 14 Nov – The Israeli High Court ruled on Tuesday that power supply to all residents of East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood is the responsibility of the Jerusalem District Electricity Company (JDECO), a private Palestinian venture, defeating as a result attempts by Israeli settlers who moved into the area by force to get power from the Israel Electricity Company (IEC). JDECO general manager, Hisham Omari, said the High Court issued a final order confirming the right of his company to maintain supplying the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of power as part of its concession area and that the IEC has no right to provide power to any household in that neighborhood … A handful of Jewish settlers who took over Palestinian homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood after forcing their Palestinian residents to leave them have petitioned the Israeli High Court to allow them to get electric current from the Israeli company instead of the Palestinian one, which Omari said was intended to create a precedent in occupied East Jerusalem neighborhoods as a prelude to ending the Palestinian company’s operation in the city.
http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=66VYYba94344419631a66VYYb

Israel blocks Palestinian from visiting father’s grave in Christian cemetery

HAIFA (WAFA) 13 Nov — For years, Israel has been preventing Salwa Salem-Copty from visiting the grave of her father killed by Israeli troops in his Galilee village, Ma‘alul, in 1948, just a few months before she was born. Israeli forces occupied Ma‘alul in July 1948, expelled its Palestinian residents, and destroyed the entire village with the exception of two churches and a mosque. Israel has since prevented the village’s displaced residents from returning. An Israeli military base was built around the village’s Christian cemetery and the displaced residents, whose loved ones are buried in the cemetery, have been barred by Israeli authorities from visiting family graves since 1948. Adalah–The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel said in a press release on Tuesday that it has sent a letter to senior Israeli political and military officials demanding that Salem-Copty and other internally displaced Christian Palestinian residents and their descendants be allowed to visit the graves of family members in Ma‘alul. Adalah sent the letter on 24 September to Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and the Israeli military’s head of Northern Command, Yoel Strick, on behalf of Salem-Copty….
http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=my3uika94334902101amy3uik

Ghost village perched in Jerusalem hills may soon vanish

JERUSALEM (AFP) 16 Nov — Near the stone ruins of the home where he says he lived as a boy, Yacoub Odeh laments that his native village on Jerusalem’s hillside may soon be transformed forever. “I want to come back to my home, to my house, to my village, to my land,” the 77-year-old said. Lifta, an abandoned former Palestinian village in a bucolic spot at the entrance to Jerusalem, is at the centre of a preservation fight over an Israeli plan to build villas there. It is a rare example of a village that still exists after its Palestinian inhabitants fled in the 1948 war surrounding the creation of Israel, though its history extends much farther back in time. The village, in mainly Jewish west Jerusalem, is on a tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage sites, and the World Monuments Fund organisation has put it on its list of sites under threat. No one lives there anymore, but the remains of stone homes with arched entryways still stand, along with idle olive presses and the ruins of a village mosque. A natural pool in the village’s centre continues to be used for swimming during the sweltering Jerusalem summer, while almond, fig and olive trees dot the surrounding hillsides. In the face of plans to develop villas, commercial space and a hotel there, a coalition of Israelis and Palestinians have come together to try to preserve it — sometimes for differing reasons. Palestinians like Odeh who were chased from their homes in 1948 hope to one day have their land back. Others also want the village to stand as testimony of what happened to Palestinians in 1948 — what they call the Nakba, or catastrophe. For Israelis involved in the Save Lifta Coalition, including at least one man who lived there after the Palestinians fled, the village must be preserved as a unique, historic site.
https://www.yahoo.com/news/ghost-village-perched-jerusalems-hills-may-soon-vanish-032241479.html

VIDEO: In the Galilee, Palestinians and Israelis grapple with a dark past

Israeli Social TV 15 Nov — A joint trip by Israeli Jews and internally displaced Palestinians to the village of Mi‘ar, which was destroyed and depopulated during the 1948 War, brings up the ghosts of the past.
https://972mag.com/in-the-galilee-palestinians-and-israelis-grapple-with-a-dark-past/130713/

Gaza

Palestinian hopes for Egypt border opening dashed for now

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 15 Nov — Palestinian leaders hoped a recently signed reconciliation agreement would lead to Egypt reopening its border with the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, but those hopes seem to have been dashed. Egypt has kept its crossing with Gaza largely closed in recent years, while the territory has also been under an Israeli blockade for more than a decade … Hamas and rival Palestinian faction Fatah, which is based in the occupied West Bank, signed a landmark reconciliation deal last month aimed at ending their decade-long split. The agreement mediated by Egypt led to president Mahmud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority retaking control of Gaza’s borders on November 1. The PA is supposed to retake full civil control of the Gaza Strip by December 1. Palestinian leaders had said they hoped one result of the deal would be the opening of Egypt’s Rafah border with the Gaza Strip on November 15. On Wednesday, Palestinian officials said they were still awaiting word from Egypt. “We don’t have any information about when Rafah border will reopen again,” Nazmi Muhanna, in charge of border crossings for the Palestinian Authority, told AFP. Cracks have emerged in the reconciliation deal, particularly over security control of the Gaza Strip….
https://www.yahoo.com/news/palestinian-hopes-egypt-border-opening-dashed-now-095800799.html

Delay in opening Rafah crossing was due to internal Egyptian reasons – official

RAMALLAH (WAFA) 16 Nov – Member of Fatah Central Committee Azzam al-Ahmad said on Wednesday that postponement of the opening of Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt was due to internal Egyptian reasons, noting that the Palestinian are ready to open the crossing at any time. According to the reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas, which was signed in Cairo in October, the Rafah crossing, which is closed most of time except for few days every three or four months, was supposed to officially open on November 15.  However, Ahmad said that while the reconciliation agreement discussed opening of Karm Abu Salem/Kerem Shalom and Beit Hanoun/Erez border crossings between Gaza and Israel, reopening of the Rafah border crossing was delayed until after all measures between the Palestinians and Egypt are completed….
http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=66VYYba94354888914a66VYYb

EU to hold further talks on deployment of mission at Rafah crossing

BRUSSELS (WAFA) 16 Nov – The European Union (EU) said on Wednesday that it will be  holding further talks with the various parties on the deployment of its mission at Rafah crossing with Egypt. An EU spokesperson said that in continuing its support for Palestinian reconciliation, the EU is deploying a high level mission this week “to discuss with key interlocutors on the ground the political and security conditions and the expectations of the relevant parties in view of a possible redeployment of the EU Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) at Rafah, including possible EU financial assistance.” Following the agreement signed by Fatah and Hamas in Cairo on 12 October and in the run-up to a meeting of all Palestinian factions in Cairo on 21 November, “the European Union is continuing its support to current efforts to reunite Gaza and the West Bank under one single and legitimate Palestinian Authority,” said the spokesperson. “Opening all crossing points, under the management and control of the Palestinian Authority, will be crucial for freedom of movement for the people of Gaza and for enabling the Palestinian Authority to resume it….
http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=66VYYba94359647679a66VYYb

Palestinian factions unite, hold military parade in Gaza

MEMO 15 Nov — The military wings of six Palestinian factions yesterday held a military parade in Gaza to commemorate the 5th anniversary of Israeli assassination of Al-Qassam Commander Ahmed Al-Ja‘bari, the Anadolu Agency reported. The parade set off from Al-Ja‘bari’s house. Speaking to Anadolu, Abu-Mujahid, the spokesman of Salahuddin Brigades, the military wing of the Popular Resistance Movement, said: “We send a message throughout this united parade, which commemorates Al-Ja‘bari’s assassination, that we keep the pledge of resistance.” He added: “The common participation reiterated that all guns are united to resist the occupation and confront any Israeli aggression in the light of its latest intimidations against Gaza.” In November 2012, the Israeli occupation air force targeted Al-Ja‘bari’s car, killing him and one of his drivers in the middle of Gaza City. The assassination was the start of a major Israeli offensive on Gaza that lasted eight days, during which Israel killed 160 Palestinians and wounded approximately 1,500 others. Al-Ja‘bari was responsible for reorganising Hamas’ military wing at the start of the Second Intifada along with Sheikh Salah Shehada, who Israel assassinated in 2002. He was the prime negotiator during a prisoner swap deal between Hamas and Israel in 2011 which saw the resistance release Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for 1,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171115-palestinian-factions-unite-hold-military-parade-in-gaza/

3,000 Gaza merchants banned from traveling

IMEMC/Agencies 15 Nov —  About 3.000 merchants and businessmen from Gaza are still banned from travelling since Israeli occupation authorities suspended their travel permits. For two years, now, only 800 merchants are allowed to travel, the head of civil affairs department Saleh al-Zeq said. Al-Zeq stressed the importance of the efforts that the department paid to facilitate the movement of the merchants from and to Gaza Strip. The task of overcoming obstacles and challenges imposed by the Israeli side on the movement of businessmen and traders is the top priority of the Civil Affairs Authority, al-Zeq said. He added, according to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency, that the authority recognizes the important role that the private sector plays in developing the national economy. He explained that there are instructions from the head of the Civil Affairs Authority, Hassan Ashiekh, to address the problems of the movement of people and goods to and from the Strip. He pointed out that the Israeli side has, for two years, raised the age group of traders and businessmen who are subjected to security from 35 to 55 years. This means that every applicant for a travel permit under the age of 55 is subject to a security check and Israeli approval to grant a travel permit….
http://imemc.org/article/3000-gaza-merchants-banned-from-travelling/

Israeli forces open fire on lands in southern Gaza Strip

GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 13 Nov– Israeli forces opened fire at Palestinian agricultural lands in the eastern part of the Khan Younis district in the southern Gaza Strip on Monday morning. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli forces opened fire from inside the border fence towards agricultural lands. No injuries were reported. An Israeli army spokesperson said they were looking into reports. Israeli military incursions inside the besieged Gaza Strip and near the “buffer zone,” which lies on both land and sea sides of Gaza, have long been a near-daily occurrence.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=779473

Israeli soldiers invade Palestinian lands in northern Gaza

IMEMC 15 Nov — At least three D9 armored Israeli military bulldozers and three tanks invaded, on Tuesday evening, Palestinian lands near the border fence in Beit Lahia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, and bulldozed sections close to the fence. The invasion was also accompanied by army drones that hovered overhead while the bulldozers uprooted the lands.
http://imemc.org/article/israeli-soldiers-invade-palestinian-lands-in-northern-gaza-2/

Israel cancels permits for Gazan families to visit imprisoned relatives

GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 13 Nov — Israeli authorities reportedly cancelled the permits of Palestinians from Gaza to visit their imprisoned relatives inside Israel’s Nafha prison for the remainder of November. Spokeswoman of the Red Cross in Gaza, Suheir Zaqqout, told Ma‘an that the permits were scheduled to be issued on Monday, adding that the cancellation was allegedly due to reparations inside the jail and the visitors hall. Zaqqout added that out of the 6,198 Palestinians inside Israeli prisons, some 300 are from the Gaza Strip.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=779474

Israel to lift tight controls over Gaza reconstruction materials

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (Al Monitor) 13 Nov by Khaled Abu Amer — Israel has agreed to suspend on Jan. 1 the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism (GRM), a deal Palestinian contractors say has put many of them out of business and cost the Contractors Union millions of dollars a month, according to a representative of the new consensus government … The GRM allows Israel to restrict construction materials entering the Gaza Strip. It has been in place since September 2014, under UN supervision, following the war between Israel and Hamas that summer. The agreement established a system of inspections and monitoring of imports into Gaza, ostensibly to enable the Palestinian government to lead reconstruction efforts, empower the private sector in Gaza, reassure donors that their investments in reconstruction work in Gaza would be implemented without delay and address Israeli security concerns about potential “dual use” materials, to prevent the Palestinian resistance from getting its hand on any of the materials. Under the GRM, builders present a list of all their reconstruction requirements to the PA Ministry of Works. The UN then supervises as Israeli authorities hand the materials over to Gaza. However, Israel sometimes takes up to three months to provide entry permits, resulting in heavy losses for the contractors. In addition, the quantities of construction material Israel allows to pass through are insufficient….
https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/11/suspension-grm-system-gaza-crossings-contruction-material.html

UNRWA celebrates graduation of 1246 Palestine refugees from the Gaza Training Centre

UNRWA 14 Nov — Equipped with knowledge, skills and hope for a better future, 1246 Palestine refugee graduates are prepared to take their first step in the labour market. On 4 November, the UNRWA Gaza Training Centre (GTC) organized a graduation ceremony to celebrate the creativity and innovation of its students who completed various technical and vocational training courses in over 39 specializations … Telecommunications graduates Lama Khattab, Amal Arayshi, Falesteen Basyouni, Samah Al-Qishawi and Dina Al Halabi produced a voice-controlled robot integrated within a traditional wheelchair. The goal of their project is to enhance self-mobility by enabling people with motor disabilities to control their wheelchair using a voice-recognition system. The voice commands, such as “forward”, “back”, “right” and “left”, sent to the robot through a mobile application, are transformed to actions. This cost-effective system was built with local materials within a period of four months. The project took first place in 2016 competition, held on the occasion of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. “We are very proud to have produced this device, which will make the life of many persons with disabilities much easier. Not only does it cost just US$50 per unit, it is also user-friendly … said Samah Al-Qishawi, one of the female graduates working on the project.
https://www.unrwa.org/newsroom/features/unrwa-celebrates-graduation-1246-palestine-refugees-gaza-training-centre

UK charity funds water treatment for 4 Gaza schools

MEMO 15 Nov — Four schools in central Gaza have been provided with desalination units, after funding from a UK charity allowed the project to go ahead, according to the Palestinian Information Centre. An opening ceremony was held yesterday by the Nour Al-Marifa Association at Al-Arouba High School in Al-Nuseirat refugee camp. Dozens of people and officials from the education ministry, including Minister for Education Sabri Saidam, attended to express their support and gratitude for the project. In a speech, the head of the association Abdul-Jalil Ghurab said that students’ use of dirty water was damaging to their health, and that it was this concern that had prompted his organisation to seek funding for equipment to provide safe drinking water. The project was funded by UK Islamic Mission, a charity based in London that has been active in granting funds to developing countries since 1962.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171115-uk-charity-funds-water-treatment-for-4-gaza-schools/

Hamas alleges Israeli spies used Bosnian passports for assassination

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 16 Nov — Hamas on Thursday alleged Israeli spies used Bosnian passports to enter Tunisia and assassinate one of its drone experts as the Palestinian movement announced details of its probe into the December incident. Tunisian engineer Mohamed Zaouari was shot dead in his car in December 2016 by unknown gunmen, with Hamas accusing Israel of responsibility at the time. Senior Hamas figure Mohamed Nazzal made the allegations on Thursday in a statement and at a press conference in Beirut. He said an investigation concluded a number of agents from Israeli intelligence agency Mossad had operated in Tunisia over several months, including pretending to be foreign journalists in order to get close to Zaouari. The main two assassins who entered the country before the killing were using Bosnian passports, Nazzal said. Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon declined comment. Israel also had not previously commented on the killing. Israel has previously faced criticism after its agents reportedly used British, Irish, Australian and other passports to assassinate a Hamas leader in the United Arab Emirates in 2010 … The engineer and drone expert had worked for a decade with Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip, the group said at the time.
https://www.yahoo.com/news/hamas-alleges-israeli-spies-used-bosnian-passports-assassination-131722108.html

Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem

Israeli settlers throw rocks at Palestinian cars, injure 2 Palestinians

NABLUS (Ma‘an) 14 Nov — Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian vehicles with stones as the cars passed near the Huwwara Israeli military checkpoint in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told official Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency that a group of settlers gathered near Huwwara checkpoint hurled stones at Palestinian license-plated vehicles, resulting in the injury of two people. The injured were all reportedly treated at the scene. Meanwhile, Wafa reported that other settlers attacked farmers tending their land in the village of Kufr Qalil village, to the south of Nablus near the Huwwara checkpoint. No injuries were reported …
Palestinian stone throwers face harsh penalties by Israeli authorities, with Israel passing laws in 2015 allowing for up to 20 years in prison if charged with throwing stones at vehicles and a minimum of three years for the act of throwing a stone at an Israeli — legislation rights groups say was designed specifically to target Palestinians, as Israelis and settlers are rarely prosecuted under the same standards of the law….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=779480

Israeli forces punitively seal Palestinian village over stone-throwing

RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 13 Nov — Israeli forces on Monday punitively sealed off a Palestinian village in the central occupied West Bank, reportedly in retaliation for continuous stone-throwing by youth from the area. Locals in the Ramallah-area village of Deir Nitham told Ma‘an that Israeli forces closed the main entrances to the village, preventing anyone from going in or out. The Israeli army said in a statement that the closure was due to continuous rock-throwing by youths of the village at Israeli settlers’ vehicles passing by on a main road. Israeli forces stopped searched residents of Deir Nitham, reportedly warning them that they will be raiding the village daily “in order to protect settlers.”
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=779477

Palestinian lawyer attempted to report being attacked by settlers. Then he was detained over back taxes.

Haaretz 16 nov by Yotam Berger — A Palestinian lawyer said that when he went to an Israeli police station to report being attacked by a group of young Jewish settlers near a West Bank settlement, he ended up not having his statement taken, but instead being detained for taxes he owed the city of Jerusalem. Tariq Bargut told Haaretz that the policewoman he tried to file his complaint at the Ma’aleh Adumim police station last week quickly shifted to questioning him about municipal taxes he allegedly owed and issued him a court summons. Bargut recounted that he became angry that he was being asked about taxes and not what he alleged was a violent attack. He said he and a friend were approached in the dark along a walking path near a stream by six young Israelis who began hurling stones at them. He said he and his friend ran away, slipping and falling along the way. But no statement about the alleged attack was taken by the policewoman he met with, Bargut said, and instead he was detained briefly….
https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.823119

Israeli forces carry out live fire training near Palestinian homes

NABLUS (WAFA) 14 Nov – Israeli forces have been conducting live fire training in the village of Khirbet Tawil, to the south of Nablus, since Monday night after imposing a curfew on local residents, according to local sources. Yousef Deriya, a local activist, told WAFA that Israeli military ordered local residents not to leave their homes during the period of the training, which includes live fire and heavy artillery exercises. Deriya said the Israeli military did not inform the village’s residents about how long the training would last. In May 2014, a senior Israeli commander admitted that training exercises in the occupied West Bank involve live fire and are used to drive local Palestinian residents out of their land.
http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=66VYYba94347274890a66VYYb

Army injures a Palestinian near Bethlehem

IMEMC 15 Nov — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Tuesday evening, Teqoua‘ town, southeast of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank, and injured a young man with live fire. The soldiers invaded the town before stopping and searching a few Palestinians, and cars, leading to clashes with youngsters, who hurled stones at the military jeeps. Medical sources said a young man, in his twenties, was shot with live fire in his thigh, and was moved to a local clinic for treatment.
http://imemc.org/article/army-injures-a-palestinian-near-bethlehem/

Two Israelis, one Palestinian injured near Bethlehem

IMEMC 17 Nov — Israeli sources have reported, on Friday morning, that a Palestinian allegedly rammed and injured two Israeli settlers with his car, at Efrat Junction and Gush Etzion Junction, south of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank, and drove towards Israeli soldiers before they shot him, causing serious injuries. Update: The Palestinian has been identified as Ezzeddin Abu Rmeishan, 17, from Halhoul town, north  of Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank. According to a statement by the Israeli army, the Palestinian first rammed a settler at the Efrat South Junction, and continued driving towards nearby Gush Etzion Junction, where he rammed another Israeli. Israeli daily Haaretz said that the Palestinian then exited his car, and reportedly ran towards a group of soldiers at Etzion Junction, “in an attempt to stab them,” but they shot him inflicting serious wounds. Haaretz added that the settler who was injured at the Efrat Junction is an elderly male, approximately 70 years of age, and suffered a mild injury, and that the second is also a male, who suffered moderate wounds.
http://imemc.org/article/two-israelis-one-palestinian-injured-near-bethlehem/

Raised to rebel

‘ISSAWIYEH (Electronic Intifada) 13 Nov by Budour Youssef Hassan — The Issawis are a family of fighters where no one backs down …The Issawi family is as deeply engaged in this grassroots resistance effort as any in ‘Issawieyh. Tareq, 77, and Layla Issawi, 70, have a large family. Six of their children – Rafaat, Medhat, Samer, Firas, Shireen and Shadi – have been imprisoned by Israel at different times; another, Fadi, was shot dead by Israeli soldiers when he was 16. Fadi was killed during protests in Jerusalem in response to the 1994 Ibrahimi mosque massacre in Hebron …Tareq Issawi, Shireen’s father, is relieved that with her release, the family has one less prison to visit. “Each of my children was held in a different facility,” Tareq said. “Samer is held in Gilboa, Medhat in the Ketziot prison in the Naqab [Negev desert], and Shireen was either in Hasharon or in Damon.” “The long journeys take a huge emotional and physical toll on us,” he said. Medhat was just 14 when he was first arrested. Now 43, he has spent more than half his life — nearly 23 years – in Israeli lockup. “His 5-year-old daughter keeps asking about him,” Layla said. “She wants him to buy her ice cream and take her to the swimming pool and be with her during her first day at school.” Layla remembered her son as “an incredibly bright” student with dreams of becoming a nuclear scientist. His life, she said, has been “squandered behind bars.”…
https://electronicintifada.net/content/raised-rebel/22261

Israel arrests top Islamic Jihad leader as tensions rise

JERUSALEM (AFP) 13 Nov — Israel’s army said Monday it had arrested a senior Islamic Jihad militant as tensions with the group rose after the army blew up one of its tunnels from Gaza. The army arrested overnight the “senior operative” in Arraba near Jenin in the north of the occupied West Bank, Israel’s military said. A source with Islamic Jihad confirmed that one of its leaders, Tareq Qadaan, was detained as part of an “arrest campaign”. There were no immediate details on whether others were arrested….
https://www.yahoo.com/news/israel-arrests-top-islamic-jihad-militant-tensions-rise-082738933.html

Israeli forces detain 19 Palestinians from West Bank, Jerusalem

RAMALLAH (WAFA) 14 Nov – Israeli forces Tuesday detained 19 Palestinians, including children, in multiple overnight raids across the West Bank, said the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) and WAFA correspondents. Israeli forces detained two Palestinians after storming their family homes in Qaffin, northeast of Tulkarem. They detained four others during similar raids across the Tulkarem district in the northern West Bank.
Elsewhere in the northern West Bank, forces raided Qabatiya town, south of Jenin, where they detained three Palestinians, including a former prisoner. This came as troops briefly held two minors during a raid into the Jenin district village of Taybeh. The minors, aged 11 and 14, were briefly held and interrogated at a military outpost near the village purportedly for hurling stones at the troops during the raid. Troops also conducted a similar raid that sparked clashes in Anzah village, southwest of Jenin. During the raid, troops deployed near a local secondary school, where they fired tear gas canisters at residents causing several light suffocation cases.
Another Palestinian was detained as he attempted to pass a flying military checkpoint to the north of Toubas. The detainee was reportedly a resident of Toubas.
In the central West Bank, troops detained two Palestinians during raids across Ramallah district.
In Jerusalem city, Israeli police detained four minors after breaking into and ransacking their family homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.
Three others were handcuffed and detained during subsequent raids across the Hebron district.
http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=66VYYba94345371384a66VYYb

Israel detains 25 Palestinians in raids, places 24 others in administrative detention

RAMALLAH (WAFA) 16 Nov – The Israeli army detained 25 Palestinians, including a woman, during overnight [Wed-Thurs]raids across the West Bank and placed 24 others in administrative detention, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said on Thursday. It said seven Palestinians were rounded up from the Nablus district, seven others from the Jenin area and six from the Bethlehem area. Three from Qalandia refugee camp,  north of Jerusalem, were also detained along with two students from the Hebron district, including one woman identified as Bayan Khamayseh.
The PPS said also that the Israeli military authorities have issued 24 administrative detention orders against Palestinians since the beginning of November that included one woman. PPS attorney Mahmoud Halabi said Bushra Tawil, a released prisoner from al-Bireh, received a six month administrative detention order. She was detained on November 1. He said 10 of the orders were passed against Palestinians detained for the first time or re-detained after they were released. The rest were renewed for the second or more times. Palestinians held in administrative detention are not charged nor [do they] receive a trial.
http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=w9yMzma94360599432aw9yMzm

Prisoners

Palestinian detainees to be moved to tents due to overcrowding

IMEMC/Agencies 16 Nov — Israeli occupation authorities are preparing to move number of Palestinian detainees from prison cells to tents, Israeli media revealed, citing a bill proposed by the Israeli Minister of Internal Security, Gilad Erdan. Israeli TV Channel 7 said, according to Days of Palestine, that the proposal is one of the solutions that the ministry is considering, to overturn the implementation of a High Court ruling on the issue. In the middle of June, the Israeli High Court ruled that occupation authorities had to find alternatives to mitigate the overcrowding of Palestinian inmates in Israeli jails. The High Court’s ruling came in response to a petition filed by several Israeli human rights organisations, in which they demanded increasing the cell space for each inmate to four square metres. Currently, each cell in the Israeli occupation prisons is less than three square metres, including bed and bathroom.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz recently reported the High Court as saying that the Israeli prisons are “not fit for human habitation.” The newspaper compared the space in the Israeli prisons to that space in the European prisons, stating that each prisoner in the European prisons has a space of 8.8 square metres. Some 6,500 Palestinians are currently held in Israeli jails, 57 of whom are women while 350 are children, according to the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs.
http://imemc.org/article/palestinian-detainees-to-be-moved-to-tents-due-to-overcrowding/

*Fourth Palestinian prisoner joins hunger strike

Samidoun 14 Nov — Four Palestinian prisoners are currently on hunger strike in Israeli prison. Salah al-Khawaja, 50, of the village of Ni‘lin, launched a hunger strike on Monday, 13 November after his administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial, was renewed only one day before he was scheduled for release. Administrative detention orders, which last for one to six months at a time, are indefinitely renewable, and Palestinians routinely spend years at a time jailed under administrative detention. Khawaja is also suffering a delicate health condition. Within days after he was detained, he was taken for a heart catheterization procedure at the Shaare Tzedek hospital, where he was told that an open heart surgery was necessary. The Israel Prison Service refused to authorize the operation and his imprisonment without charge or trial, while needing serious health treatment, continues. He joins three more Palestinian prisoners on open hunger strike – Hassan Shokeh, 29, on strike for 34 days against his imprisonment without charge or trial, and Hamza Marwan Bouzia, 27, on strike for 23 days against administrative detention. Bajis Nakhleh has been on hunger strike for seven days, a strike he launched immediately upon his arrest by Israeli occupation forces on 8 November, only 2 months after his release on 1 September. In particular, Bouzia and Shokeh have been on hunger strike for an extended period of time, in which they not only are suffering from extensive weight loss, fatigue and pain but also cognitive difficulties. Prior to and after the third week of hunger strike is one of the most dangerous times for a person on strike….
http://imemc.org/article/fourth-palestinian-detainee-joins-hunger-strike/

*Salah Hamouri’s letter from Negev prison: Solidarity with prisoners is a ‘real hope’ for Palestinians

Samidoun 15 Nov — The Committee to Support Salah Hamouri released a letter from the imprisoned Palestinian-French lawyer and human rights defender detained by the Israeli occupation without charge or trial since 23 August 2017. Written in the Negev prison, Hamouri’s letter greets his supporters in France and around the world. Hamouri is a former prisoner whose case became widely known throughout France; after his release in the 2011 Wafa al-Ahrar agreement several months before his sentence was scheduled to end, he spoke throughout France about the struggle of Palestinian prisoners. He studied law in order to become a defender of Palestinian prisoners, and works as a field researcher for Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association. A Jerusalemite Palestinian, he has faced frequent harassment and oppression by Israeli occupation forces, including bans on his entry into the West Bank and the 10-year ban against his wife, Elsa Lefort, entering Palestine after she was detained for several days and deported to France while pregnant despite holding a valid visa. A growing number of prominent French artists, elected officials, political parties, writers and others have endorsed the campaign to free Salah Hamouri. Dozens of municipal councils have voted to demand his freedom….
http://samidoun.net/2017/11/salah-hamouris-letter-from-negev-prison-solidarity-with-prisoners-is-a-real-hope-for-palestinians/

*Israel sentences Palestinian brothers to life in prison for Hebron shooting attacks

Haaretz 13 Nov by Yotam Berger — The defendants, Nasser and Akram Badawi, who wounded four Israelis in a string of attacks in 2015 and 2016, fired from an apartment overlooking the Tomb of the Patriarchs — An Israeli military court sentenced two Palestinian brothers from the West Bank town of Hebron to life in prison Sunday for wounding four Israelis — two soldiers and two civilians — in several sniper attacks in Hebron in 2015 and 2016. The defendants, Nasser and Akram Badawi, who were apprehended in January 2016, were also ordered to pay 60,000 shekels ($17,000) in compensation to each of their victims. The brothers admitted to the charges against them and were convicted of deliberately attempting to cause death, the equivalent under military law of attempted murder. The two carried out at least five shootings in the West Bank town, a report from the Shin Bet security service at the time of their arrest said. Two improvised rifles include a sniper’s rifle were seized from the suspects. The brothers hid the sniper’s rifle in a Hebron mosque, from which they took it to carry out the attacks, according to the Shin Bet, and they fired from an apartment under renovation that overlooked the Tomb of the Patriarchs.
https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.822489

Punitive demolitions

*Israeli forces seal shut family home of Palestinian attacker

HEBRON (WAFA) 16 Nov – Israeli forces Thursday sealed shut the home of Khaled Shehadeh Makhamreh – a prisoner held in Israeli jails for the deadly attack in Tel Aviv in June 2016 that killed four Israelis – after raiding his Yatta hometown to the south of Hebron in the West Bank, according to local sources. The Israeli army raided the town and proceeded to solder the doors and windows of the Makhamreh home shut as a punishment for the attack.  Makhamreh is in prison for the Tel Aviv attack. His family house was demolished six months ago as a punishment and made useless forcing his family to move to a new home, which was also soldered shut as further punishment to his family displacing them once again.
http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=66VYYba94356792420a66VYYb

*Israel destroys home of Palestinian who killed three

JERUSALEM (AFP) 15 Nov — The Israeli army on Wednesday destroyed the home of a Palestinian who killed three Israelis at the entrance to a settlement in the occupied West Bank, the army said. An army spokeswoman said the demolition of the apartment, in Beit Surik village north of Jerusalem, went ahead “without incident.” Nimer Aljamal, 37, was shot dead on September 26 after killing two Israeli security guards and a border police officer outside the Har Adar settlement in the central West Bank. His uncle Issa told AFP the army arrived around 1.30am. “They demanded we evacuate and blew up the house. It is now a cement block which can’t be used.” … Israel routinely demolishes the homes of Palestinians who carry out attacks, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had promised such a response for Aljamal. Politicians defend the tactic as a deterrent against future violence, but critics say it amounts to collective punishment.
https://www.yahoo.com/news/israel-destroys-home-palestinian-killed-three-085841170.html

BDS

Groups decry Israel’s entry ban on French officials

Al Jazeera 14 Nov by Jaclynn Ashly — Palestinians and rights groups have denounced Israel’s decision to prevent the entry of seven French officials into Israel owing to their support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, saying the move is an Israeli attempt to punish the delegates for their political beliefs. A 20-member French delegation, which reportedly includes members of the European Parliament and mayors, was planning to enter Israel next week in a bid to visit imprisoned Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti. However, the Israeli government announced on Monday that seven members of the delegation would not be allowed into the country. Israel amended its entry law in March, allowing Israeli authorities to deny entry visas to activists who support boycotting Israel or its illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank. Israel has used the law to deny entry to a string of activists in recent months. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel said on Tuesday the denial of entry visas for individuals calling for a boycott of Israel was “contrary to democratic principles” … Israeli daily Haaretz identified those being barred from entering Israel as European Parliament members Pascal Durand and Patrick Le Hyaric; French MP Clementine Autain; mayors Azzedine Taibi, Eric Roulot and Patrice Leclerc; and Head of the French Communist Party Pierre Laurent.
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/11/groups-decry-israel-entry-ban-french-officials-171114174144170.html

Dutch government teams up with Israeli settlement profiteer

EI 13 nov by Ali Abunimah –The Netherlands embassy in Tel Aviv is partnering with an Israeli settlement profiteer. This flies in the face of the Dutch government’s stated opposition to Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian land in violation of international law. Last week the Dutch embassy posted this photo on Twitter showing Ambassador Gilles Beschoor Plug posing with the CEO of supermarket chain Shufersal as they launch Dutch food month. Behind them are displays promoting Dutch products and a sign that says “in cooperation with the Netherlands embassy.” Shufersal is also boasting of the Dutch government sponsorship on its Facebook page. The Electronic Intifada has confirmed that the Dutch-sponsored promotion is taking place in Shufersal stores located in settlements in the occupied West Bank. Photos taken by an Israeli citizen at a Shufersal store at 17 Tzvia ve Yitzhak Street in the Gilo settlement on Sunday show the signs promoting the Dutch goods and confirming embassy sponsorship … But in the now familiar fashion of the EU and its members, the Netherlands completely contradicts its stated position against settlements by actions that demonstrate complicity with, if not outright support for, Israel’s crimes. The Dutch foreign ministry did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication….
https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/dutch-government-teams-israeli-settlement-profiteer

Nick Cave is wrong to perform in Israel

Al Jazeera 16 Nov by Rima Nasir — As a Palestinian musician living under Israeli military rule, the news that Nick Cave plans to perform in Israel on November 19 and 20 has hit me hard. Nick Cave is a musician who is known for his progressive politics and who has expressed support for Palestinian rights. He has raised money for Palestinian refugee children, called for a military embargo to be imposed on Israel and written in support of activists who shut down an Israeli arms factory in the UK. This makes it all the harder to accept that he is scheduled to violate the boycott call made by Palestinian civil society and that he is not responding to renowned figures from around the world, including Roger Waters, Mike Leigh, Thurston Moore and Angela Davis, who have urged him to refrain from performing in Tel Aviv. Regardless of his politics and his best intentions, his performance there would help Israel present itself as an open and vibrant society and cover up its decades-old oppression that us Palestinians have been suffering under. His performance would also allow Israel to think that the world will continue with business as usual while it subjugates millions of us and denies our basic human rights….
http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/nick-cave-wrong-perform-israel-171116091719194.html

Other news

Palestine marks 29th anniversary of declaration of independence

TRT World 15 Nov — Palestinians on Wednesday have celebrated the 29th anniversary of Palestinian Declaration of Independence. It was symbolically proclaimed by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on November 15, 1988. It followed a vote by the Palestine National Council (PNC), meeting in Algiers, by a vote of  253 to 46, as well as in front of Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. TRT World speaks to journalist Daoud Kuttab in Amman, Jordan to get the details of today’s events.
https://www.trtworld.com/middle-east/palestine-marks-29th-anniversary-of-declaration-of-independence-12299

Palestine to get its own central bank

GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 15 Nov by Entsar Abu Jahal — The Palestinian Monetary Authority (PMA) is currently preparing to open the Palestinian Central Bank, as soon as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signs the Central Bank of Palestine law. This comes as the PMA fulfilled the requirements for transitioning into an integrated central bank. The preparations included restructuring the PMA, building the Central Bank headquarters in Ramallah, developing Palestinian banks, developing new control systems and finalizing the Central Bank of Palestine law….
https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/11/palestinian-monetary-authority-announce-opening-central-bank.html

World Bank: Palestinian electricity grid to cost $3b

Globes 14 Nov by Amiram Barkat –-Talks on separating the Palestinian electricity grid from Israel are making progress says the World Bank’s Vivien Foster. Building an independent energy system in the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Gaza Strip will cost $3 billion and will take until 2030 to complete, according to a master plan for the Palestinian energy sector prepared by the World Bank in cooperation with the PA. On the other hand, the World Bank estimates that development of the Gaza Marine Palestinian natural gas reservoir is likely to yield $2.7 billion in royalties for the PA. The master plan was presented following significant progress in recent weeks in talks on various energy matters between Israeli and Palestinian agencies, mediated by special US Middle East emissary Jason Greenblatt. “I think that great progress has been made in recent weeks in building trust between Israelis and Palestinians, and we’re very optimistic,” Economist Vivien Foster, World Bank Group global lead for energy economics, markets & institutions, told “Globes.” Foster headed the writing of the report….
http://www.globes.co.il/en/article-world-bank-palestinian-electricity-grid-to-cost-3b-1001211746

Al-Quds University celebrates joint European masters program

BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Nov — Al-Quds University in the central occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem celebrated on Friday the eighth commencement of its Joint Masters of European Studies program, in partnership with Heinrich Heine University in Dusseldorf, Germany. The graduate program, which was established in 2009 as a result of a bilateral partnership between the two institutions, celebrated the commencement in Dusseldorf. According to a statement from the university, students in the program learn about European history, politics, culture, economy and government. “They leave as prepared professionals capable of navigating issues that relate to the European Union, and ready to provide nuanced analysis and advice to their future employers on matters that pertain to the Old Continent.” Graduates of previous classes have, according to the university, landed jobs both in the public and privates sectors, with several having been recruited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as diplomats working within the European desk, while others have been hired by international organizations, and NGOs.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=779465

Israel military drills on the borders of Gaza Strip

MEMO 13 Nov — Israel yesterday began wide-scale military drills in the vicinity of the Gaza Strip and the Western Negev in the south of the country, Quds Press reported. Israeli news website 0404 reported, according to Quds Press, that the drills will last four days and aim to ensure the army is prepared for confrontation in the area. Quds Press said that the drills came at a time of increasing tension along the borders with Gaza amidst Israeli fears that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement will retaliate after Israel bombed a tunnel and killed 12 Palestinians on 30 October. Coordinator of Israeli Government Activities in the Occupied Territories Yoav Mordechai announced yesterday that Israel is expecting Islamic Jihad to retaliate. In a recorded video, he warned of a “strong response to any act carried out by the Islamic Jihad” which he claimed would be “at the expense of the Gaza residents, [Palestinian] reconciliation and the whole region.” On Friday, the Israeli occupation announced that it reinforced its military existence in the peripheries of the Gaza Strip and it had deployed elite forces there.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171113-israel-military-drills-on-the-borders-of-gaza-strip/

Palestinian rights make a rare appearance in Congress

+972 Mag 15 Nov by Samer Badawi — A first-of-its-kind bill introduced this week focusing on the rights of Palestinian children could pave the way for greater transparency and accountability in America’s dealings with Israel —  Members of Congress on Tuesday introduced a bill requiring the U.S. Secretary of State to certify that funds bound for Israel “do not support military detention, interrogation, abuse, or ill-treatment of Palestinian children.” The proposed legislation, put forward by Minnesota Representative Betty McCollum, had ten co-sponsors when it was announced. Although that number may seem small, especially when measured against the 268 current co-sponsors of the so-called Israel Anti-Boycott Act, the “Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act” is further evidence that the Palestinian rights movement in the U.S. is gaining unprecedented ground. “As the first-ever bill on Palestinian human rights introduced in Congress, we see [this] as a direct challenge to the systemic impunity enjoyed by Israeli forces,” said Brad Parker, an attorney with Defense for Children International-Palestine, which has been working to support McCollum and other members of Congress through its No Way to Treat a Child campaign….
https://972mag.com/palestinian-rights-make-a-rare-appearance-in-congress/130697/

US House committee advances bill to limit aid to Palestinians

WASHINGTON (Reuters) 15 Nov — A U.S. House of Representatives committee approved a bill on Wednesday that would sharply reduce the $300 million (£227.83 million) in annual U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority unless it stops making what lawmakers described as payments that reward violent crimes. The House Foreign Affairs Committee backed the Taylor Force Act by voice vote, without opposition, after earlier amending the legislation to allow exceptions such as continued funding for wastewater projects and children’s vaccinations. Named after a 29-year-old American military veteran fatally stabbed by a Palestinian while visiting Israel last year, the measure is intended to stop the Palestinian Authority from paying stipends, which can reach $3,500 per month, to militants killed or imprisoned by Israeli authorities. Force’s attacker was killed by Israeli police, but his killer’s family receives such a monthly payment. To become law, the bill must pass the full House and Senate, and be signed into law by President Donald Trump … Palestinian officials have said they intend to continue the payments, which they see as support for relatives of those imprisoned by Israel for fighting against occupation or who have died in connection with that cause.
https://af.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idAFKBN1DF2T2

Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on Palestinian *** News

Nazi regime Expansion

NOVANEWS

Image result for NAZI Expansion CARTOON

Israel to Cut Palestinian Village From Water Source in Order to Take Control of Farming Land

After a checkpoint moves deeper into the Palestinian area, residents of al-Walaja will no longer be able to visit the local spring or their fields beyond it

Nir Hasson Nov 16, 2017 

https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.823113

Construction work on the Ein Hanya spring, April 8, 2016. Emil Salman

Israel has told residents of the Palestinian village of al-Walaja south of Jerusalem that they are to be cut off from their farmland and farming terraces because of the relocation of a checkpoint, shifting a large segment of land from the Palestinian side to the Israeli one.

A Jerusalem district planning panel said that the Ein Yael checkpoint on road between Jerusalem and Har Gilo would move deeper into the Palestinian area, where it will become part of the Jerusalem metropolitan park.

This land includes Ein Hanya, the second-largest spring in the Judean Hills; for the residents of al-Walaja, the site also provides recreation, bathing, and water for their livestock. Palestinian families from farther afield in the West Bank, such as Beit Jala and Bethlehem, regularly visit the spring and the two deep pools in the area for bathing and picnicking.

Part of al-Walaja falls under Jerusalem’s jurisdiction, but the recent completion of the separation fence has cut the village off from Jerusalem entirely. The fence also separates the village from extensive farming areas owned by the residents.

The Israel Antiquities Authority and Jerusalem Development Authority have already started renovation work at the spring and the surrounding area. Now they plan on surrounding the spring with a fence, building a visitors center and a restaurant and turning it into one of the entrances to Jerusalem’s metropolitan park, which abuts the capital from the south and west.

Two days ago al-Walaja residents received letters telling them that the checkpoint will be moved closer to their village, some two and a half kilometers deeper into the Palestinian territory. It currently sits near the exit from Jerusalem, a mere one and a half kilometers from the Malha shopping mall.

A man walks past one of the pools at Ein Hanya, April 8, 2016.Emil Salman

Once the checkpoint relocated, Palestinians without Jerusalem resident papers will not be allowed to pass through it. They will not be able to visit the spring area or their fields and terraces beyond it.

The villagers were given 15 days’ notice to submit an appeal against the decision.

Ironically, the well-groomed, carefully tended terraces that al-Walaja’s residents have nurtured over the years were one of the reasons given by the Israeli authorities for setting up a park in the area. However, once the checkpoint is moved, the farmers will be denied access to them.

“The stone steps are one of the park’s outstanding features. This landscape has decorated the Judean Hills for longer than 5,000 years, since man started farming the land. The terrace agriculture was preserved in the Arab villages until the War of Independence,” the park’s information leaflet says.

Aviv Tatarsky, a researcher with Ir Amim, a nonprofit that advocates for a more equitable and sustainable Jerusalem, said “relocating the checkpoint is another step in [Environmental Protection] Minister Zeev Elkin’s plan to move al-Walaja and the rest of the neighborhoods beyond the separation fence out of Jerusalem’s borders. In Elkin’s Jerusalem, Israelis will stroll among the beautiful terraces, tended to and fostered by al-Walaja residents, with the land owners locked behind a barbed wire fence a few dozen meters away, unable to come to the lands that were robbed from them.

“That’s the rightist government’s vision: instead of peace and justice, fences and increasingly brutal oppression,” he said.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Nazi regime Expansion

Nazi regime Right to Steal Palestinian Land

NOVANEWS

Image result for Jewish settlers Cartoon

Haaretz

Editorial  Israel’s Right to Steal Palestinian Land

Israeli settlers fight for ‘right of return’ to the West Bank

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit on Wednesday authorized the confiscation of private Palestinian land for the needs of West Bank settlers. His move followed Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked’s request regarding the paving of a road to the illegal outpost Harasha, without which it would be impossible to “legitimize” it.

His opinion was ostensibly based on the ruling of retired Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran about Amona. Joubran ruled that the military commander in the West Bank must also see to the settlers’ needs, as they number among the region’s residents. Joubran cited former Supreme Court President Aharon Barak’s ruling that “Israelis in the area are entitled to life, dignity, property and the rest of the rights enjoyed by anyone in Israel.”

With all the problems that these rulings raise, the assumption that Mendelblit is implementing Joubran’s verdict is groundless. Joubran had stressed that the need to protect the settlers cannot blur the Palestinians’ special status of a “protected” population under international law, and that the military commander must be careful not to take any move to infringe on their rights in favor of the occupying state’s residents.

Mendelblit and Shaked clearly chose to ignore these points. They are also throwing sand in the public’s eyes, because the court verdict didn’t deal with expropriating land for settlements’ needs at all and didn’t rule that such an act was legal.

Mendelblit’s opinion can now be expected to serve the settlers’ insatiable appetite for private Palestinian land. However, in the legal whitewashing process, the officials involved omitted, as usual, the issue of the settlements’ legality. According to international law all the West Bank settlements are illegal. So Mendelblit cannot legitimize stealing Palestinian land in favor of any settlement in the name of “public needs,” because the public for whom his opinion is intended stole the land it is dwelling on.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Nazi regime Right to Steal Palestinian Land

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