Studies show that US coverage is Israeli-centric. The main bureaus for CNN, Associated Press, Time, etc. are located in Israel and often staffed by Israelis. The son of the NY Times bureau chief is in the Israeli army;"pundit" Jeffrey Goldberg served in the IDF; Wolf Blitzer worked for AIPAC. Because the U.S. gives Israel over $8 million/day - more than to any other nation - we feel it is essential that we be fully informed on this region. Below are news reports to augment mainstream coverage.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Weekly Report: July 23-29, 2009

PCHR

Israeli violations of international law and humanitarian law escalated in the OPT during the reporting period (23 – 29 July 2009):

Shooting: During the reporting period, 7 Palestinians civilians, including one child and one woman, were wounded by the IOF gunfire in the West Bank.

On 24 July 2009, 3 Palestinian civilians were wounded when Israeli Occupying Forces used force against a peaceful demonstration organized by Palestinian civilians in protest to the construction of the Annexation Wall in Ne'lin village, west of Ramallah. A number of demonstrators also suffered from the inhalation of a substance that had a disgusting smell used by IOF. IOF had used the same substance for the first time on 08 August 2008.

Incursions: During the reporting period, IOF conducted at least 21 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. IOF arrested 14 Palestinian civilians, including two children. On 28 July 2009, IOF arrested 200 Palestinian workers from Barta'a village, west of Jenin. Full story

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Lies and Israel's war crimes

EI
This month marked six months since the "official" conclusion to Israel's assault on the Gaza Strip, "Operation Cast Lead." From 27 December to 18 January, the might of the one of the world's strongest militaries laid waste to a densely-packed territory of 1.4 million Palestinians without an escape route.

The parallel propaganda battle fought by Israel's official and unofficial apologists continued after the ceasefire, in a desperate struggle to combat the repeated reports by human rights groups of breaches of international law. This article will look at some of the strategies of this campaign of disinformation, confusion, and lies -- and the reality of Israel's war crimes in the Gaza Strip. Very early on in Operation Cast Lead, the scale of Israel's attack became apparent. In just the first six days the Israeli Air Force carried out more than 500 sorties against targets in the Gaza Strip. That amounted to an attack from the air roughly every 18 minutes -- not counting hundreds of helicopter attacks, tank and navy shelling, and infantry raids. All of this on a territory similar in size to the US city of Seattle.

As the International Committee of the Red Cross noted in a report published in June, "during the 22 days of the Israeli military operation, nowhere in Gaza was safe for civilians," with "whole neighborhoods" turned "into rubble." With areas looking "like the epicenter of a massive earthquake," there is still "half a million tons of concrete rubble" to clear. [1]

By the end of an assault which targeted schools, homes, mosques, university buildings, police stations, ministries and the legislative council building, 3,600 housing units were totally destroyed, 2,700 sustained major damage and 52,000 houses need minor repair, according to a joint UNRWA-UNDP housing survey.

Even though Israel had banned the international media from entering the Gaza Strip to see for themselves what was unfolding, enough visuals and testimonies were getting out of the fenced-in territory for Israel to have what it would call a "PR nightmare" on its hands. Israel's spinners and spokespersons fell back on a stock set of responses and talking points...

...... The truth of what happened in Gaza though has been emerging over recent months in various reports that catalog the multitude of crimes committed by the Israeli army. Crucially, what has been documented is not a series of individual mistakes or "bad apples," but evidence of Israel's systematic assault on the fabric of life in the Gaza Strip.

The Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) reported in March on fatalities during the offensive, confirming that there were over 1,400 Palestinians killed. Civilians made up 65 percent of the total, not including the 255 police officers killed by the Israeli army.

In April, Israeli human rights groups including B'Tselem and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel released a joint which said that "many civilians were killed in Gaza not due to 'mishaps' but as a direct result of the military's chosen policy implemented throughout the fighting." [3]

Earlier this month, Amnesty International published its own report into Operation Cast Lead, accusing Israel of committing "war crimes" and "acts of wanton destruction." Amnesty insisted that the hundreds of civilian deaths "cannot simply be dismissed as 'collateral damage' incidental to otherwise lawful attacks - or as mistakes." "Amnesty details Gaza 'war crimes," BBC News, 2 July 2009.

More evidence for the deliberate nature of the wide scale destruction has since emerged. On 23 April, Haaretz quoted "two infantry officers who held key positions during the fighting" who told how "we just leveled neighborhoods." British journalist Peter Beaumont wrote in May of "the aftermath of a wholesale urban un-planning through military force." ("Death and devastation in Gaza neatly filed and documented," The Guardian, 29 May 2009). Returning some weeks later, he noted that Israel's targets "suggested wider aims" than simply stopping rocket fire -- "not least the dismantling of Palestinian institutions." ("A life in ruins," The Observer, 5 July 2009)

In June, the BBC reported on the struggle of Gazan industries to rebuild, featuring a family-owned food manufacturer. The businessman, Yaser al-Wadiya, had "photographs of caterpillar tracks amid the ruins of the biscuit factory, which he believes the Israelis finished off with bulldozers after hitting it from the air." The same story then noted that "the UN's top humanitarian official, John Holmes, has accused Israel of the 'systematic levelling' of Gaza's industrial area." ("Gaza industries struggle to rebuild," BBC News, 26 June 2009)

With such a high proportion of civilian dead, it is no surprise that investigations into Israel's operation in Gaza have turned up shocking stories -- and asked difficult questions. In the introduction to Breaking the Silence's collection of testimonies by Israeli veterans of the Gaza assault, the group highlighted how the "bad apples" theory was insufficient: "the massive and unprecedented blow to the infrastructure and civilians of the Gaza strip were a direct result of IDF policy."

Just one month after Operation Cast Lead, Palestinian stories were being corroborated by the likes of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, who said "there appeared to be a consistent pattern of Palestinian families being killed by Israeli tank shells fired into their homes, apparently as they approached windows or stepped on to balconies." [4] A delegation of US attorneys visited the Gaza Strip and concluded that "Israeli forces" had indeed "deliberately targeted civilians" during the offensive. [5]

Palestinian testimonies have flooded in of crimes committed by the Israeli army in Gaza, and so have the investigations by human rights groups. At the end of June, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported on the use by Israel of aerial drones in attacks that killed dozens of Palestinian civilians. HRW noted that the drones are "one of the most precise weapons in Israel's arsenal" yet "killed civilians who were not taking part in hostilities and were far from any fighting."

Also recently, Amnesty International's detailed study on Operation Cast Lead included cases of "close-ranging shootings" by Israeli soldiers, most of which involved "individuals, including children and women, who were shot at as they were fleeing their homes in search of shelter." [6] Others were simply "going about the daily activities." The human rights body reiterated that "wilful killings of unarmed civilians are war crimes."

A report into the number of children killed by Israel during the war on Gaza (over 300) showed that 38 percent of child fatalities were aged 0-11 years old. The "overwhelming majority" were "killed either whilst inside their own homes or within the near vicinity of their homes." [7] Here is one story:
At approximately 16:00 on 5 January 2009, Amal Olaiwa and four of her children were killed in the kitchen of their home in Shijaiyeh in the east of Gaza City, when the house was struck by an artillery shell. The shell smashed through a bedroom window and landed in the kitchen, decapitating Amal Olaiwa and killing three of her sons and one of her daughters. Three other members of the Olaiwa family were injured in the attack, including Amal's husband, Haider, and her eldest son, Muntasser, who both witnessed the attack...
Full story

Desperate times, desperate measures: Palestinian children collect junk to fight off family poverty

PNN
This summer, the streets of Nablus and Jerusalem are lined with Palestinian children desperate to help their destitute families.

ImageThe children are collecting empty bottles and discarded hardware on the side of the road, re-selling it in order to make a little money.

But the economic implications of this work are grim, according to some experts, who say that it exploits child labor and increases unemployment for adults who desperately need work.

Palestinians say that this trade attracts hundreds of children, especially during the start of the summer holiday in June. Children flock to busy intersections, where garbage is dumped from nicer neighborhoods. Main streets, squares and city centers are also popular spots for scavenging.

The extra income generated from selling these items helps families suffering from job loss and economic strife under the Israeli occupation. Checkpoints and the construction of walls in strategic areas have cut off many people from jobs and land that they used to support their families — enclosing them in areas with little economic opportunity.

Imad Ramiz, 12, says that he spends about 4 hours a day along the streets near his home in Jerusalem, collecting bottles and other remnants before selling his collection to a local shop. The boy prefers this work to selling vegetables with his father, who only pays him 10 NIS. After 10 hours of work, he can get 30 NIS from the shop owner for his finds.

Jamal Abdel Kader, a 13-year-old who dreams of spending his vacation at summer camp, says his father forced him to stop collecting garbage in the streets.

Children must be tough to live my childhood," Kader said.

A glass factory worker in Nablus said there’s been a marked increase in the number of children selling to them. Hundreds of children are beginning to take up the task — a sign of increasingly tough economic times for the Palestinians.

Nafez Abu Bakr, a professor in the Department of Economics and Administrative Sciences at An-Najah National University in Nablus, said the phenomenon has a negative impact on unemployment and the economy in general, as employers exploit minors for the work, paying them less than they would adults, who also need the work.

"For a poor family that’s always trying to find ways to make money, this situation allows children to be taken advantage of, and doesn’t provide enough income for a comfortable life,” Bakr said. “It ultimately results in a distorted economy.”

In the view of a local social worker, the widespread phenomenon, which is especially prevalent in poorer Palestinian areas, has serious implications for the future of social, cultural and economic development. She is calling for a study that not only analyzes the situation, but explores ways to resolve it, including official efforts to prevent the exploitation of children for labor. Full story


The Israeli military kidnaps eight Palestinian civilians

IMEMC
The Israeli military kidnapped on Thursday eight Palestinian civilians during pre dawn and morning invasions targeting a number of West Bank communities.

Palestinian sources reported that the men were kidnapped after troops conducted house to house searches in Nablus city, in the northern West Bank, Ramallah city in the central West Bank and in Hebron city, in the south.

The Israeli army radio reported that all kidnapped men were moved to military detention camps for questioning.

Video: Is Israel Guilty of Piracy?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpqnMrLv1bQ

Global Peace Index: Israel among least peaceful countries

Ma'an
The annual Global Peace Index ranked Israel 141 out of 144 countries on its commitment to peace, according to the organization's report released on Thursday.

The occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) was not ranked by the index, which was compiled by the Vision of Humanity organization.

The organization does not place blame on any particular side when ranking a country's overall peacefulness, but tallies nations based on an "absence of violence" criteria, where a lower score is considered more peaceful.

Israel's score, out of a combined 23 ranking indicators, was brought down by its human rights record, as well as its poor relations with neighboring countries, most of which it has no relations with whatsoever.

Israel scored high on civil liberties enjoyed by its citizens, funding UN missions and treating foreigners well.

This year's rankings were one spot worse than in 2008, when it was ranked the fifth most violent country on earth. In 2007, it was ranked third from the bottom.

The three countries considered less peaceful than Israel on the 2009 list were Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.

Global Peace Index

Situation Report: July 28, 2009

PMG
Israeli occupation forces
  • conducted 32 raids into Palestinian territory
  • using a number of tanks, armored vehicles and bulldozers, covered by reconnaissance aircrafts, raided 200 deep into Gaza, firing intensively towards civilian agricultural land and houses, leveled areas of agricultural land and clashed with armed Palestinian individuals.
  • detained/kidnapped 25 Palestinians
  • leveled Palestinian agricultural land and confiscated private property
  • closed roads and villages
Israelis living on confiscated Palestinian land
  • committed 2 violent actions
Palestinians on Palestinian land
  • held 2 demonstrations
  • opened fire toward an Israeli patrol
  • launched an unidentified mortar toward Israel Full story

Gaza children go for world record in kite flying


Ha'aretz - Reuters
Thousands of children in the Gaza Strip attempted to set a new world record Thursday by flying colorful homemade kites amid the ruins of Israel's offensive earlier this year.

The event, sponsored by the United Nations, brought some 6,000 campers in orange uniforms and blue caps to a beach in Gaza's war-torn north, where they released their kites into clear skies. Some included designs such as the red, green, black and white Palestinian flag.

"We are happy we came here, full of joy, full of life, said 11-year-old Marwan Mohammad. We hope that we can be free and can enjoy the same freedom these kites enjoy in the air. All we are looking for is to grow up like normal children."

Marwan said his neighborhood in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, was
bombarded in Israel's January offensive against Palestinian rocket launchers. He said many of his friends' relatives were killed in the attacks....

John Ging, the head of the UN agency that deals with Palestinian refugees, said the fact that the event was taking place in Gaza held special significance.

"It is an expression of the demand for liberty by these children," he said. "Look at what the children of Gaza can do if they are given a chance."

... The Guinness Book of World Records said it had received an application from Gaza for most kites flown simultaneously. Guinness was unable to send a judge to the attempt due to travel restrictions into Gaza.

But the children would be able to break the record even without a judge by verifying the accomplishment in other ways, said Guinness spokeswoman Karolina Thelin.

The current record for simultaneous kite flying stands at 967, set less than a year ago in Melle-Gronegau, Germany, Thelin said.

The UN agency says the Gaza children smashed that record and will release its final tally on Saturday. It's unclear if Guinness will accept it.

Christopher Gunness, a spokesman for the UN agency, said every child at the event had their kite registered in accordance with Guinness protocol, which he said event organizers followed with military precision.

"The symbolism of thousands of children in one of the world's most locked up communities, creating beautiful kites, letting them soar upward, is truly beautiful," he said

Full story

WHO: Gazans lack access to proper medical equipment because of Israeli blockade

Canadian Press

JERUSALEM — Gazans have limited access to proper medical supplies because of an Israeli blockade on the Hamas-controlled region, and equipment now in use is often broken or outdated, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

While some medicines are allowed in for humanitarian reasons, importing spare parts or new medical devices into Gaza is limited, a WHO official said. Also, the U.N. agency said, well-meant donations are not helping.

"The main issue here about the blockade is that it undermines the supply system as a whole"....

During Israel's punishing three-week offensive in Gaza in December and January, aimed at stopping daily rocket attacks, two health care facilities were destroyed and others damaged, but the WHO said health care has since returned to prewar levels...

More than 1,100 Palestinians were killed and thousands wounded during the Israeli operation.

Israel closed off Gaza's borders two years ago after Hamas' violent takeover of the Mediterranean region. Only food and humanitarian aid is allowed in for the 1.5 million Palestinians living there.

..... Equipment like X-ray machines and batteries are particularly difficult to get through the blockade, along with construction materials and upgrades for high-tech and expensive equipment, the WHO said. Maintenance staff and equipment suppliers are not able to move freely between Gaza and the West Bank to receive training on maintaining the equipment...

A WHO document distributed at the news conference said the situation would not improve unless Israeli restrictions are eased, but added, "internal (Palestinian) reforms in the health system would resolve some of the problems."

... Well-intentioned foreign donations of medical supplies since the end of the Israeli offensive have often been unhelpful.

"Uncoordinated donations have led to an excessive volume of unwanted and inappropriate equipment," Daher said.

About 500 tons of donated medical supplies, worth about $2 million, will go unused because they are not needed or do not meet Health Ministry standards, he said. Full story

Elephants in the room

Ha'aretz
.... We are critical of the Palestinians over Shalit [Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian resistance], but remember how captured British soldiers were treated by the Israelis to be. They were hung and their bodies booby-trapped. Full story

More on Israeli history

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Prosecuting thought crimes

TO: Distinguished Recipients
FM: John Whitbeck
Transmitted below is a news article in today's ARAB NEWS (Jeddah) on one of the draconian sentences for thought crimes now being handed down, with depressing frequency, by American courts.
As both a lawyer and a human being, the following aspects of this case appear to me worthy of note:
1. The prosecution never asserted that Mr. Abu Ali ever actually DID anything.
2. "Prosecutors offered no evidence to indicate he ever took steps" to actually DO anything.
3. The re-sentencing judge explicitly explained his decision to increase Mr. Abu Ali's sentence from 30 years to life imprisonment on the basis that "There is no way to know what his mental state would be after 30 years of solitary confinement" -- i.e., if Mr. Abu Ali still had a mind left after 30 years of solitary confinement, he might be REALLY bitter and might finally actually DO something, so it is better to keep him in solitary confinement until the day he dies.
It is difficult to imagine that, even in America, someone named Cohen, O'Reilly or (one hopes) Whitbeck would be sentenced to life imprisonment in solitary confinement for harboring bad thoughts and dreaming bad dreams. However, any Muslim, anywhere in the world, would be well advised to keep his private fantasies strictly private. Today's America does not only practice "preventive" war. It also practices preventive "law enforcement".

Arab News
... The US-born Ahmed Omar Abu Ali was convicted here in 2005 of conspiring with the terrorist group, but prosecutors offered no evidence to indicate he ever took steps to follow through...

Background info on David H. Laufman

When Will Americans Come to Aid Palestine?

Middle East Online - Jeff Gates

The fight for Palestine must be waged and won in the US where the appeasement of Israel relies on a lack of knowledge. If Americans knew, their support would be withdrawn. The US-Israeli relationship will remain 'special' only so long as Zionism can continue to operate in the shadows, notes Jeff Gates.

Unless President Barack Obama resolves to expunge "special" from the U.S.-Israeli "special relationship," this entangled alliance will continue to ensure that the U.S. is portrayed as guilty by its association with Tel Aviv's thuggish behavior in Palestine and elsewhere...

On July 3rd, Israeli ambassador Michael Oren claimed “Iran nuke could wipe Israel off the map in seconds.” An accurate translation reveals that what the president of Iran proposes is that Zionism be “erased from the pages of history.” But why quibble over words and their intent when Israel’s intent is to create a consensus that ensures war with Iran?

Two days after Oren’s saber-rattling speech, Vice-President Joe Biden was asked in a televised interview whether the Obama Administration would restrain Israeli military action against Iran. President Obama was then out of the country. A self-proclaimed Zionist, Biden responded, “Israel can determine for itself—it’s a sovereign nation—what’s in their interest and what they decide to do relative to Iran and anyone else.”

Unfamiliar with the refrain, “loose lips sink ships,” Biden’s cavalier comment evoked memories of Vice President Dick Cheney who routinely waited until his boss was out of town to make bellicose remarks that moved the US steadily closer to war in Iraq.

Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, scrambled to offset the impression left by Biden’s comment. Astute strategists know it is the small impressions that, step-by-step, form the consensus beliefs that shape policy-making. It was the gradual drip, drip, drip of such impressions that created the (false) consensus belief that Iraq had WMD, ties to Al Qaeda and mobile biological weapons laboratories.

Pro-Israeli pundits quickly claimed that, with Biden’s comment, Washington had given Tel Aviv the green light to attack Iran. Mullen grabbed media attention to reconfirm the obvious: an attack on Iran could have “grave and unpredictable consequences.”

Arrogant, Aggressive and Above the Law

What has Israel done to quell these global jitters? Tel Aviv ordered a long-range Air Force exercise covering the same distance as from Israel to Iran. It dispatched through the Suez Canal a Dolphin class submarine, three of which are widely believed capable of launching a nuclear missile attack. And it sent a “message” to Iran by sailing two Saar class missile ships through the canal into the Red Sea, putting them within striking distance of Tehran.

Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News played its usual supporting role by announcing Israeli Navy Prepares for Potential Attack on Iran's Nuclear Facilities. To date, Barack Obama has shown little inclination to say no to Tel Aviv and show he means it. Instead, his administration has staffed up with advisers who are disproportionately pro-Israeli—more so even than the Bush and Clinton presidencies.

When in February he failed to support the nomination of Ambassador Charles Freeman as Director of the National Intelligence Council, Obama served global notice of just how much influence Israel wields over US foreign policy. Opposition to Freeman was led by Steven Rosen, a former executive of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Though you would never know it from reports in mainstream media, Rosen had been indicted under the Espionage Act for transferring to the Israeli embassy classified Pentagon intelligence on Iran.

Adding insult to the Freeman injury, Obama Attorney General Eric Holder approved the withdrawal of charges against Rosen and co-conspirator Keith Weissman, another AIPAC executive....

Though AIPAC avowed it took no stand on the appointment, reports confirm it leaned on key senators and later boasted that Obama was a “pushover.” In a fiery rejoinder to his critics, Freeman noted, “This is not just a tragedy for Israelis and their neighbors in the Middle East; it is doing widening damage to the national security of the United States.”....

.... Freeman was correct in the mid-1990s when he described the lobby’s “virtual hammerlock on American foreign policy.” The only difference now is that Israeli influence has grown far more systemic....

... The behavior of this extremist nationalist enclave thrives in darkness, a condition that aptly describes US media coverage of conditions in Palestine. Steadily more Americans are working to make Israel’s thuggish conduct transparent but the numbers are few and the challenges great.

The US is branded abroad as a nation governed on the basis of informed consent. Yet pro-Israelis maintain a virtual lockdown on information and debate on Israel. The fight for Palestine must be waged and won in the US where the appeasement of Israel relies on a lack of knowledge. If Americans knew, their support would be withdrawn. The US-Israeli relationship will remain “special” only so long as Zionism can continue to operate in the shadows. Full story

How the Israel Lobby Took Control of U.S. Foreign Policy


Trustbuster raids Loss Adjusters

Ha'aretz
Antitrust Authority investigators raided the offices of the Israel Loss Adjusters Association (Igud Hashamaeim) yesterday, seeking evidence of illegal collusion on setting fees.

The investigators seized documents and arrested a number of top managers....


....During the last four months, the Antitrust Authority has launched a broad investigation into a number of professional guilds, including the Israel Association of Contractors and Builders and the Travel Agents Association, on suspicion of similar offenses. All the investigations are still in process...... Full story

The painful cost to Israel of its settler adventure

Ha'aretz
...The settlement movement has cost Israel some $100 billion over the past 40 years...

...
The unwillingness of the settlement movement to brook compromise, even when in direct defiance of national consensus, and its explicit threats to exploit Israel's precarious political system to topple any democratically elected government which makes significant progress in negotiations with the Palestinians, places the very nature of Israeli democracy in doubt.

The double standard which for decades has favored settlers with inexpensive housing, heavily subsidized social services, and blind-eye building permits has long been accompanied by a kid-gloves approach regarding settler violence against Palestinians and their property.

...
The settlers' rejection of all territorial compromise renders moot all proposals similar to the Arab League peace initiative.

...
With every move of ostentatious defiance mounted by the Netanyahu government, the Obama administration finds the Palestinian Authority a more reliant, cooperative, and businesslike partner for diplomacy and West Bank security. Full story

Israel targets U.K. funding of controversial leftist group

Ha'aretz
Israel continues to ratchet up diplomatic pressure against European Union funding of a controversial left-wing group.

The deputy director-general of the Foreign Ministry, Rafi Barak, expressed "concern" last week over Britain's financial contributions to "Breaking the Silence," an organization founded by Israel Defense Forces veterans which collects testimonies from soldiers serving in the Palestinian territories.

Barak communicated Israel's dissatisfaction over Britain's funding of the group during a meeting with London's ambassador to Tel Aviv, Tom Phillips....

.... Last week, the Israeli ambassador to the Netherlands, Harry Knei-Tal, met with the director-general of the Dutch Foreign Ministry and complained about the Dutch embassy's funding of Breaking the Silence.

In the meeting last week between Knei-Tal and the director-general of the Dutch Foreign Ministry, the Israeli ambassador suggested that the Netherlands' funding of the organization should be terminated, according to a source......

In response, Breaking the Silence accused the Foreign Ministry of "endangering democracy" by engaging in a "witch hunt" against the organization.
Full story

Far-rightists urge IDF draftees to cover up abuse of Palestinians

Ha'aretz
Far-right activists distributed fliers to fresh draftees at the Israel Defense Forces induction center in Tel Hashomer on Tuesday urging them not to confide in their commanders and to refrain from cooperating with investigators if they physically abuse Palestinians in the territories.

The notice was intended for enlistees into the Kfir infantry brigade, most of whose operations take place in the territories.

It cites the case of First Lieutenant Adam Malul, an officer in the Kfir brigade who is standing trial for beating a Palestinian. In addition, the pamphlet mentions the Kfir brigade commander, Colonel Itai Virov, who was censured for making statements which justified the use of violence against unarmed Palestinians in certain instances.

The brochure stated that these two incidents were cases in which "foreign considerations were involved in the system's chain of command."

The bottom of the notice is signed by "students of Rabbi Ginzburg" - a reference to Yitzhak Ginzburg, who is viewed as a leader of extremist settlers in the West Bank. Ginzburg is the author of "Baruch the Man," a book honoring Baruch Goldstein, the settler who massacred Palestinians at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

Blair gives construction go ahead; Israel issues demolition orders

Ma'an
Israeli forces delivered demolition orders for electricity pylons under construction in the village of At-Tuwani, located in the South Hebron hills on Tuesday.

Four months earlier Quartet Envoy Tony Blair promised villagers that he had oral permission from the Israeli District Coordination Office (DCO) for a “go-ahead” with the project. On 25 May, just two months after Blair’s visit, Israeli forces ordered a “halt work” on the structures, according to the Christian Peacemaker Teams observing Israeli action in the area. The move usually precedes demolition orders.

CPT said Head of the At-Tuwani Village Council Saber Hreini wrote to Blair on 26 May, requesting written permission for the electricity work to continue.

The group said no response from the Quartet representative has appeared.

Israeli court awards injured Bil’in protester damages

Limor Goldstein
Ma'an
Israeli lawyer and peace activist Limor Goldstein was shot in the head with a rubber bullet at an anti-wall protest in the West Bank in 2006 and awarded 860,000 US dollars in damages by an Israeli court Tuesday.

Goldstein suffered brain damage after Israeli soldiers shot him in the head with rubber-coated metal bullets as he observed an anti-wall protest in the West Bank village of Bil’in in August 2006. At the time of the incident soldiers refused to call medical assistance for the injured protester.

"It was a non-violent rally, and the Border Guard officers were the ones to use violence by firing rubber bullets," Goldstein’s Attorney Bishara Jabali, told the Israeli news outlet Ynet. "The fact that the State agreed to pay damages without admitting liability proves that the security forces' actions were inappropriate,” she added.

Israeli forces raid Palestinian home near Ramallah

Ma'an
Israeli forces raided the central West Bank village of Kafr Aqab and ransacked home of Amin Ja’ar in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Ja’ar, who was the official security escort of former Palestinian Minister of Health Radwan Al-Akhras, said Israeli forces barged into his home on the pretext of an “inspection.” ...

Ja’ar said troops fired stun grenades in the neighborhood before they stormed his home. Full story

UN, 25 NGOs call on Israel to end Gaza blockade

Gaza elementary school
Ma'an
The UN Humanitarian Coordinator Philippe Lazzarini and a coalition of 25 international NGOs demanded Israel allow “full and unfettered access into and out of Gaza” so institutions can “restore the Gazan educational system” before the school year starts in September.

The call was issued on Tuesday, and included a reminder of Israeli damage to Gaza’s educational infrastructure during the war. The list included:

-18 schools were completely destroyed
-at least 280 schools were damaged
-none of these schools have been properly rebuilt or rehabilitated due to lack of construction materials
-Since the imposition of the blockade, students have faced chronic shortages of educational supplies including textbooks, paper and uniforms

The appeal said the Israeli war and siege caused a “crisis of ‘human dignity’ in Gaza.”

It continued, “The right to learn and be educated is a fundamental child right that is uniquely central to every child’s ability to realize his or her potential - and by extension, that of their communities and countries. In the context of protracted conflict and occupation, safe schools also offer an unparalleled means of restoring a sense of normalcy and hope for children and their families. Despite the extraordinary odds stacked against them, going to school and becoming educated remains the single most cherished priority among Palestinian children. The continuing blockade on Gaza jeopardizes this fundamental child right, along with the remarkable progress in education that has been achieved thus far.”

UN report

Situation Report: July 27, 2009

PMG

Israeli occupation forces
  • conducted 31 raids into Palestinian territory
  • arrested/detained 21 Palestinians
  • destroyed/damaged 9 homes
  • leveled agricultural land
  • shelled Palestinian territory
  • closed roads and villages

Israelis living on Palestinian land
  • conducted 4 acts of violence against Palestinians

Palestinians
  • detonated explosives near an Israeli army patrol
Full story

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Senators urged not to sign letter on Mideast


JTA

Americans for Peace Now is urging U.S. senators not to sign a letter encouraging the Arab world to normalize ties with Israel because it does not mention efforts to halt Israeli settlements.

The bipartisan letter to President Obama, circulated by Sens. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.)* and James Risch (R-Idaho) and backed by the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC, is "unhelpful" because it "seems to make a straightforward and reasonable demand for the Arab world to normalize relations with Israel," but "the subtext of the letter directly contradicts and undermines the efforts" of the Obama administration "to promote Middle East peace."

The Senate letter notes that "over the past few months Israel has taken concrete measures to reaffirm its commitment to advancing the peace process," and notes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's backing of the two-state solution and the removal of roadblocks and other measures to "improve the daily lives of Palestinians."

But "the Bayh/Risch letter conspicuously ignores Israel's continued refusal to stop settlement activity" and "never even once mentions the word 'settlements,' " states the Americans for Peace Now letter. "It sends a message that signers consider settlements more important than peace."

The Bayh-Risch letter asks Obama what steps he is encouraging Arab states to take to "demonstrate their commitment to the peace process," and suggests examples such as meeting openly with Israeli officials or opening trade relations with the Jewish state, as well as ending "official propaganda campaigns which demonize Israel and Jews."

--

* Washington Note - Steve Clemons


Evan Bayh [who receives considerable money from the Israel Lobby] sat on a board of directors with some of McCain's top neoconservative advisers -- he was the co-chair of the neocon pro-war Committee for the Liberation of Iraq and his friends on that committee included Bill Kristol, Joe Lieberman, James Woolsey and Randy Scheunemann, national security advisor to John McCain, who was simultaneously raking in big bucks from John McCain as well as the Government of Georgia while he was getting pledges of loyalty and mutual obligation between Georgia's President Saakashvili and John McCain.

Death toll in Gaza tunnels hits 100 so far this year as collapses near Rafah kill eight people

PNN
Eight more people have been killed in tunnels at the Rafah border in the past two days, bringing the total of tunnel deaths in 2009 to over 100.

Medical sources in Rafah reported seven dead after an explosion inside a tunnel caused the structure to cave in early this morning, in the worst collapse so far this year. The victims included two nineteen year old boys who died of asphyxiation....

Mazan Centre for Human rights, who documented the incident, expressed their grief at so many deaths, stating that those who died were “risking their lives for a crumb of bread.”

The ongoing siege of Gaza means that these tunnels are the only chance for many Palestinians to access food and supplies. And with an unemployment rate of 45%, the highest in the world, it is the only opportunity for many families to make a living.

Israel believes these tunnels are used to smuggle weapons to Hamas, and many of those who have died this year were killed in airstrikes along the border.

Mazan centre acknowledged that the tunnels were illegal but stressed that their removal may be impossible while the siege continues. The organisation called for greater measures to protect those who work in the tunnels, including equipment and training for rescue operations. Full story

interactive map

Deteriorating conditions throughout Israeli prison system, serious violations in Al Naqab

IMEMC
For prisoner Akram Abdul-Aziz Mansour a life sentence in prison may not take much longer to complete. He is one of hundreds of Palestinian political prisoners who the Israeli administration refuses to treat despite illness.

Mansour is a detainee in the Israeli desert prison of Al Naqab where he and several others met with a Palestinian Prisoners Society lawyer this week.

The PPS attorney reports that Mansour recently collapsed during morning exercises and was transferred to the prison clinic. The doctor there claimed that Mansour was fine. Prison officials were asked to bring in a medical specialist to treat skin allergies and high blood pressure for Mansour, who has been in Israeli prisons for 30 years. He is also reportedly suffering from insomnia and hearing loss in his left ear.

The lawyer said that the administration has been ignoring Mansour’s medical issues for four years, and that he may be suffering from a malignant tumor, as well as epileptic seizures. The lawyer also said that Mansour is extremely thin and cannot eat due to dental problems.

Another political prisoner, Tarek Ghanem Zidane, worries about his own deteriorating health, caused by a gallstone. He says the stone has resulted in high blood pressure and heart palpitations, as well as severe headaches and diarrhea. He needs an operation and aftercare at the Ramle Prison Hospital, but the Israeli prison management refuses treatment.

Mohammed Rafat Ali Safi from the village of Beit Soureik has been imprisoned since April 2002. He was sentenced to nearly 10 years in prison during which he has undergone an increase in night raids of cells which are well-reported to be brutal and include insults and arbitrary punishments.

Prisoner Abdel-Jawad, a 20-year-old Jericho man sentenced to 20 months in April 2008, told the PPS lawyer this week that the situation in Al Naqab Prison is very hard. The attorney pressured the Israeli prison administration to allow at least the introduction of seasonal clothes by families.

Hatem Suleiman Asad, a man from Jenin Refugee Camp who was imprisoned in May 2004 on a nine-year sentence, is calling for international humanitarian organizations like the Red Cross to ensure adequate prisoner treatment. Asad said that he suffers from oral pain and broken teeth because of poor dental care, which has led to facial swelling and tender gums.

Captive Mahmoud Abdullah Faqih from Ramallah says that his health continues to deteriorate and includes an incredibly painful cyst of ingrown hair on his back. The cyst appeared three years ago and such a condition is known to require a surgical procedure for its removal. However, Faqih has had no treatment...

The PPS lawyer also met with a member of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine from the West Bank village of Qabatia. He has been in Administrative Detention, meaning without charge or trial, for 32 months. He called on the Israeli prison authorities to begin legal proceedings in accordance with administrative regulations, rather than arbitrarily denying rights to political prisoners. He said there are 27 such detainees there, all of whom have been denied basic rights.

He said that the Red Cross ignored him when he told them about the plight of these detainees. He has run into many such difficulties with the prison administration, especially when officials manipulate intelligence in order to extend detentions for those prisoners who are nearing the ends of their sentences.

Additionally, the lawyer discussed the problem of transporting prisoners. Trips that should take no more than hours are turned into days and are marred by physical and emotional abuse, the plight of thousands of Palestinians currently in Israeli prisons. Full story

The Israeli military invades Nablus and injures a boy

IMEMC
A Palestinian boy was injured on Tuesday during an Israeli military invasion targeting the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

The boy sustained moderate wounds and was moved to a local hospital, local sources reported. Witnesses say that soldiers stormed Balata refugee camp in Nablus then opened fire at resident homes injuring the boy. The residents added that their homes sustained damage because of the soldiers attack.

Israeli tanks invade areas in Gaza


IMEMC
A number of Israeli tanks and bulldozers invaded on Tuesday midday areas in Gaza City close to the borders with Israeli.

Witnesses reported that at least 18 tanks and 3 bulldozers rolled into the area, tanks opened fire at residents' homes as bulldozers uprooted trees and destroyed fame lands nearby, the witnesses added. No injures were reported during the attack.

New outpost activity as a response to US pressure

IMEMC
Israeli settlers organizations, such as the Land of Israel Faithful and the Youth for the Land of Israel, have been building 11 new outposts in the West Bank on Sunday and Monday, largely in a response to the visit of US special envoy George Mitchell.

Dismantled illegal outpost - AP photo by Dan Balilty
Dismantled illegal outpost - AP photo by Dan Balilty

According to Israeli media dozens of settlers, predominantly teenagers, are now staying at a number of outposts that were constructed on Sunday and further expanded on Monday.

Israeli forces evacuated settlers from one of these sites on Sunday, but didn’t prevent them from coming back at night to continue building new structures.

At a different location settlers tried to rebuild the Netzer outpost that has already been evacuated numerous times in the past. One settler was arrested for entering a closed military zones and two were detained for interrogation.

At all the other locations the Israeli army didn't interfere to stop the illegal activity.

The building of the new outposts was largely undertaken by Israeli minors.....

According to international law any settlement activity is illegal as it prohibits the occupying force from transferring its own population into the territories it occupies. Full story

UN: Israel must allow building supplies into Gaza


Ha'aretz - AP
United Nations agencies and two dozen international aid groups urged Israel on Tuesday to lift its blockade of Gaza or at least allow in construction materials to repair war-damaged schools.

Out of Gaza's 640 schools, 18 were flattened and 280 suffered some damage during Israel's three-week offensive against Gaza's Hamas rulers seven months ago, the groups said in a statement.

Since the war, Israel has refused to allow construction materials into Gaza, arguing that Hamas could divert iron rods and concrete to build rockets and bunkers.

Both Israel and Egypt have kept Gaza's borders largely closed since the Islamic militant Hamas seized control of the territory by force more than two years ago.

The border blockade and the war have further burdened Gaza's education system, which even before the Hamas takeover suffered from serious overcrowding. Many schools have been running morning and afternoon shifts for lack of space.

About 500,000 of Gaza's 1.4 million residents are of school age. Of those, nearly half attend schools run by the UN Relief and Works Agency, which cares for Palestinian refugees and their descendants.

"About 6,000 students will have to be reassigned to different schools because their old ones were rendered unusable by the war," said Numan Sherif, an official in the Education Ministry.

"The problem is the blockade," Sherif said. "There's money to rebuild, but we don't have access to basic materials, or even furniture. We can't fix toilets or the wiring in schools."

He said Gaza would also need 100 new schools just to keep pace with population growth.

Another UN official, Marixie Mercado, said aid groups meet regularly with Israeli defense officials on the issue. Mercado said defense officials allowed in text books, paper and some teaching kits.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said the aid groups could not guarantee that construction materials intended for schools wouldn't be diverted by militants.

"The point is, what will they do with iron, what will they do with cement?" asked Palmor. "Will it go to the schools? We have a good reason to believe it won't. This is not an abstract fear," he said.

John Ging, the top UN aid official in Gaza, challenged that argument, noting that UNRWA keeps track of the supplies allowed into Gaza by Israel.

"We account for every sack of flour and we can equally account for every bag of cement," he said. "It's just a matter of political will to move forward on this issue. We'd like to get on with the job, and then be held accountable on whether we are achieving it or not."

Since the war, the U.S. and Europe have also repeatedly urged Israel to ease the blockade and allow in construction materials. Thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed, and billions of dollars in international reconstruction aid remain untapped because of the border closure.

Israel launched the offensive in late December to halt Gaza rocket fire on Israeli border towns.

Daniel Boyd, Six Others In North Carolina, Charged With Terror Conspiracy


Huffington Post
RALEIGH, N.C. — A father, his two sons and four other North Carolina men are accused of military-style training at home and plotting "violent jihad" through a series of terror attacks abroad, federal authorities said Monday.

Officials said the group was led by Daniel Patrick Boyd, a married 39-year-old who lived in an unassuming lakeside home in a rural area south of Raleigh, where he and his family walked their dog and operated a drywall business. But two decades ago, Boyd, who is a U.S. citizen, trained in terrorist camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan and fought against the Soviets for three years before returning to the United States.

An indictment released Monday does not detail any specific terrorist plans or targets overseas, although it claims some of the defendants traveled to Israel in 2007 with the intent of waging "violent jihad" and returned home without success....

Boyd's beliefs did not concur with his Raleigh-area moderate mosque, which he stopped attending and instead began meeting for Friday prayers in his home, said Holding, who did not say whether any or all the defendants met with him.

"These people had broken away because their local mosque did not follow their vision of being a good Muslim," Holding said. "This is not an indictment of the entire Muslim community." Full story

Report: Lebanon army raises alert along border with Israel


Ha'aretz
The official Lebanese news agency reported on Tuesday that the Lebanese army had declared a state of high alert and deployed forces along the border with Israel.

According to the report, the high alert was declared in response to the advancing of Israeli tanks in the Shaba farms area. Reportedly, four Israeli tanks had advanced toward an area called Hassan Kasar, where there is an entrance gate to Lebanon.

The news agency said that the Lebanese army deployed its forces in order to "be prepared to face the Israeli enemy."

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) also responded to the moves and raised its alert level in the area while monitoring the situation from both sides, the news agency said.

Furthermore, the news agency went on to report, six Israeli aircraft had entered Lebanese airspace and circled the area.

The Hezbollah-linked television network Al Manar reported meanwhile that the commander of the UNIFIL forces, Claudio Graziano, met on Monday with southern Lebanese community leaders and two parliament members affiliated with Hezbollah and the Shi'ite Amal movement.

According to the report, the meeting was convened in order to voice criticism over UNIFIL's conduct following an explosion at an arms cache near the border earlier this month. Israel has argued that the explosion was caused by "an arms cache that consisted of Hezbollah arms, including rockets, mortars, artillery shells, grenades, and additional ammunition which had been brought to the area following the Second Lebanon War." Lebanon, on the other hand, now says that the explosion took place at an uncompleted structure in the village that stored "arms left behind by the Israelis" during the 34-day war.... Full story

Mitchell: Normalization part of US peace plan

Ma'an
Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and US Middle East Envoy George Mitchell met for a live news conference Monday and clarified state expectations around future peace talks.

On the issue of the continued construction of Israeli settlements, Erekat, who earlier in the day expressed his doubt over whether the US would be able to halt construction, let alone force Israel to pull back to the 1967 borders, said “this [settlement construction halt] was never a Palestinian precondition but actually an Israeli obligation”

Mitchell, who confirmed that he spoke earlier Monday with Palestinain President Mahmoud Abbas, said, “on behalf of president Obama I reiterated that it is American policy to seek peace in the region.” A peace, he elaborated, which includes normalization with Israel and Arab states. Full story

Tulkarem: Detainee families invite activists, politicians to sit-in

Ma'an
Families of Palestinian prisoners from Tulkarem called on Palestinian Minister of Prisoners affairs Issa Qaraqi’a to join their weekly Tuesday sit-in.

This week’s protest will take place at the home of Ahmad Awwad, a prisoner of Israel who suffers from heart disease.... Full story
Info on Israeli & Palestinian prisoners

Soldiers prevent PalTel crew from maintenance work near Jenin

Ma'an
Israeli troops prevented Palestinian Telecommunications Company (PalTel) crews from accessing Bartaka village southwest of Jenin as they attempted to fix damaged wires in the area.

When the crew arrived at the gate which bars entrance and exit to the area for all but local residents, Israeli soldiers manning the area told the workers they could not enter the area for “security reasons.”

The head of the Bartaka village council Ghassan Qabha said troops have prevented the crew from accessing the area for four months, saying “there is no special security situation here that would prevent the crew from entering.” Full story

Palestinian hunger strikes for 13 days; demands medical treatment

Ma'an
Riyad Al-Amour from Tqu’a village east of Bethlehem has been on hunger strike for 13 days following improper medical treatment for his heart and stomach conditions, his family said Monday.

Al-Amour told his family by telephone about his condition, and they in turn called the Israeli prison administration to have him moved from the Gilbo'a Prison to another where he can be treated properly... Full story

Settler rabbi: Israel must 'Judaize' Nazareth Illit

Ma'an
Israel should follow Hebron's example and 'Judaize' the town of Nazareth Illit , settler Rabbi Dov Lior said on Monday, according to the Hebrew-language daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth. [Nazareth Illit is located in the Galilee, a region long inhabited by Palestinian Christians.]

... Nazareth Illit was founded by Zionist immigrants in the 1950s in an effort to establish a Jewish majority in northern Israel, particularly in the area of Nazareth, which is Israel's largest Palestinian city.

According to a former Israeli military planning department director, Yuval Ne'eman, Nazareth Illit was built to "demonstrate state sovereignty to the Arab population more than any other settlement operation."

Colonel Mikhael Mikhael, a former northern military governor of Israel, said its establishment was meant to "swallow up" the larger adjacent Palestinian Nazareth through "growth of the Jewish population around a hard-core group," as well as "the transfer of the center of gravity of life from Nazareth to the Jewish neighborhood." Full story

Football star Ronaldo cast in Palestinian film

Ma'an
Brazilian footballer Ronaldo will participate in a film about a Palestinian fan who was killed by a land mine before she could fulfill her dream of meeting him, his club said on Sunday.

"[Ronaldo] confirmed that he made an agreement with the Iranian director to make the film in the Palestinian territories," Reuters quoted a spokesman for the Brazilian club Corinthians as saying.

The untitled film is based on the true story of a young Palestinian girl who played soccer and idolized Ronaldo. The daughter of 1948 refugees died after losing a leg when she stepped on a land mine in southern Lebanon.

...... Ronaldo, who is also a United Nations ambassador, demonstrated an affinity for disabled children in the Holy Land when he met with handicapped kids in Ramallan and Tel Aviv in 2005.

The football star is a three times FIFA World Player of the Year and won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002. Full story

Pine falls at Al-Aqsa; committee says Israeli excavations at fault

Ma'an
Palestinians accused Israeli excavations beneath the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound of being behind the fall of a very old tree Tuesday morning on the edges of the Noble Sanctuary [in Jerusalem's Old City].

The fall of the near-ancient pine rooted near Qaytbay alley near the Cotton Market will be investigated by a committee, formed by the General Director of Jerusalem endowment office.

The office said several trees have died and toppled following excavations that killed their root-systems that ran beneath the mosque and its compound where Israeli excavators are digging.
Full story

500 balloons launched from Ramallah in honor of child prisoners


Ma'an
Balloons representing the nearly 350 minors being kept in Israeli prisons were released during a demonstration in Ramallah on Tuesday

Each carried the name of a current or former child prisoner detained by Israeli forces.

The 500 green, red, black and white balloons were released from the Al-Manara circle in the center of Ramallah in a protest organized by the families of prisoners.

Mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters of the detained minors held pictures of their loved ones. One mother, Um Muhammad, said she had not seen her son for more than two years because Israeli security refused her permission to travel and visit the detention facility.

Another mother, Umm Ibrahim, said she had been able to visit her son, but found the experience horrifying, “We are insulted and humiliated by Israeli soldiers and inspectors during visits to prison, and sometimes they deny us access arbitrarily,” she said. Full story

About a community of anti-Zionist Jews - By Yirmiyahu Cohen

Ma'an
last month I wrote an article about Abraham Wieder, mayor of an American town of 20,000 Orthodox Jews, who wrote to President Obama praising his efforts to stop the bloodshed in the Middle East, while denouncing the Zionist state as a contravention of the Almighty’s command.

For many in the Middle East that may have been the first time hearing about these Orthodox Jews who oppose Zionism, and our community was inundated with questions: who exactly are we and what percentage of Jews do we make up? And most importantly, can the existence of this segment of Jewry raise our hopes that the long-awaited end of the Zionist regime may come from within?

To answer these questions, I would like to share with you some history of Zionism and of Orthodoxy, and of the large community of anti-Zionist Jews living in the American town of Kiryas Joel, from where Mayor Abraham Wieder expressed his support for Obama and his peace policy.

The town was founded by Rabbi Teitelbaum in 1977. At that time, 14 families of his followers moved into the new town. According to census data, Kiryas Joel grew faster than any other community in New York state from 2000 through 2006. Now it is home to over 20,000 Jews. Kiryas Joel grew by 51%, to 20,071 residents from 13,273, over the six-year period. The village has the youngest median age (15.0) of any population center of over 5,000 residents in the United States.

I personally grew up in America as a member of this community, and I spent seven years attending an excellent yeshiva in Jerusalem. At this yeshiva Zionism was not taught or encouraged, but it was rarely spoken against either. The focus was primarily on Torah study.

To trace the importance of these factors, we must look back to the twentieth century and the near death and rebirth of traditional Orthodox Judaism.......

... Zionism was at first a completely secular movement, to the point that some rabbis declared that the Zionists’ true purpose was to lead Jews away from Judaism, and the state was only a means to that end. In 1948, almost all the state’s leaders, and all of its army, were non-religious Jews..... Full story

At settler rally, Hebron rabbi calls Obama racist

Ma'an
A rabbi from the illegal settlement Kiryat Arba called US President Barack Obama a racist during a rally on Monday, the Hebrew-language daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Tuesday.

"Obama is a racist," said Rabbi Eliezer Waldman, who heads the Nir yeshiva at the settlement, while addressing a pro-settler rally in Jerusalem's Paris Square on Monday. The demonstration was in response to US demands that Israel stop building in occupied East Jerusalem.

"How dare he [Obama] tell the Jews where they can or can't live?" he added at the protest organized by the Yesha Council of settlements, which announced earlier this week it would set up 11 new West Bank outposts in defiance of both the US and Israel.

Some 1,500 Israeli settlers, right-wing activists and members of the Knesset attended the rally on Monday, during which crowds reportedly carrying torches approached the US Consulate and called for special envoy George Mitchell to "go home." The Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz reported that the crowd jeered at every mention of the envoy, who arrived in Tel Aviv the same day.

"Obama beware. This insolence will bring about the downfall of the American leadership," warned Rabbi Waldman. "Anyone who dares give an order to prevent Israeli life in Jerusalem or anywhere else in the Land of Israel is destined to fall."

According to Pinchas Wallerstein, who heads the Yesha Council, "We are brought here by America's treatment of Israel as if it were a banana republic and its willingness to abandon us in order to gain the support of public opinion within the Islamic world."

Yesha Council chairman Danny Dayan said, "We are here to call on the government to fend off US pressure to halt construction in Judea, Samaria [the West Bank] and [East] Jerusalem." He also chastised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for giving in to US demands, although the Israeli leader has in fact rejected them.

"A government led by the Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu, Shas and Habayit Hayehudi cannot accept this. Netanyahu should follow in the footsteps of his predecessors – from David Ben-Gurion, who established Israel despite pressure from the US, to Levi Eshkol, who launched the Six Day War in the face of American pressure, and Menachem Begin, who bombed the Iraqi nuclear reactor in defiance of US demands," he added.

Eleven new outposts are set to go up in the West Bank within a few days, following a three-month campaign by settler activists and youth. Some 20,000 pamphlets describing their ideology and plans were distributed in synagogues over the weekend, according to news reports. Full story

"No, You Can't!" - Israel tells Obama


IDN
... In its latest challenge to Obama's repeated requests to freeze all its settlements construction and expansion plans, including the new ones in East Jerusalem, Israel approved mid-July a new plan to build apartment blocks for Jewish people only in occupied East Jerusalem, specifically in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood.

The U.S., Russia, Britain, France, Germany and other powers, rushed to publicly criticize these new Israeli plans in East Jerusalem and urged Tel Aviv to stop them.

Nevertheless, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pushed by his ultranationalists and ultrareligious governmental allies, opted for slapping all big powers' faces.

In fact, Netanyahu stated on July 19 that he would neither take orders nor would he accept what he called this edict...

...
The Israeli settlements are illegal under every reading of international law and agreement. Here a few examples:

  1. Article 46 of the Hague Convention (1907) prohibits confiscation of private property in an occupied territory.
  2. Article 55 of the same Hague Convention stipulates "the occupying state shall be regarded only as administrator and usufructuary of public buildings, real estate, forests, and agricultural estates belonging to the hostile State, and situated in the occupied country. It must safeguard the capital of these properties, and administer them in accordance with the rules of usufruct".
  3. Article 49, paragraph 6 of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention explicitly stipulates that "the occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies".
  4. UN Security Council 1967 Resolution number 242 ruled that Israel must withdraw from all occupied territories, East Jerusalem included.
  5. UN Security Council 1980 Resolution number 465 made it clear that "Israel's policy and practices of settling parts of its population and new immigrants" in the Occupied Territories constitutes "a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East". The Security Council called upon Israel to "dismantle the existing settlements and in particular to cease, on an urgent basis, the establishment, construction or planning of settlements in the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem".
  6. 6- The 2004 ruling of the International Court of Justice in The Hague declared that "Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, are illegal and an obstacle to peace and to economic and social development".
  7. 7- At the Annapolis Conference (2008) Israel and the Palestinians renewed their respective commitments under the Road Map. Chief among Israel's obligations are "[freezing] all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements)" and "immediately [dismantling] settlement outposts erected since March 2001".

Despite Israel's commitment during the Annapolis Summit to freeze all settlement activity, and dismantle settlement outposts, construction has continued and almost doubled in all of the settlements and outposts on both sides of the Separation Wall.

All international resolutions and summits stressed that the Palestinians should have their own State on its territories, which clearly implies that Israel withdraw from them, including Jerusalem.

ISRAELIS AGAINST SETTLEMENTS

The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), a non-violent, direct-action organisation that "opposes and resists" Israeli demolition of Palestinian houses in the Occupied Territories, estimates that 24,145 houses have been demolished in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza since 1967. [
See http://www.icahd.org/eng ]

According to the United Nations, 4,247 houses were demolished during its ‘Operation Cast Lead' in Gaza, through which Israel killed more than 1,500 Palestinians, an overwhelming majority of whom were civilians, and injured over 5,000 people against 13 Israeli dead, in three weeks only since December 27, 2008....

...the Palestine Monitor (PalMon), a network of independent Palestinian writers, political analysts and researchers, set up in the year 2000, provides full information on Israeli Settlements. (See http://palestinemonitor.org).

.... According to its fact sheet -- updated on December 17, 2008 -- there were already 121 Israeli settlements and 102 Israeli outposts built illegally on Palestinian land occupied by Israel in 1967....

"These settlements and outposts are inhabited by a population of some 462,000 Israeli settlers," notes PalMon and adds that "191,000 Israelis are living in settlements around Jerusalem and a further 271,400 are further spread throughout the West Bank".

"The settler population has grown consistently between 4-6percent per year over the last two decades, a much higher rate of growth than Israeli society as a whole (1.5percent)."

According to PalMon data compiled some eight months ago "around 385,000 settlers in 80 settlements will be located between the Separation Wall and the Green Line if Israel holds to projected plans".

It adds that in 2008, amidst the ‘settlement freeze' agreed upon under former president George W. Bush, during the Annapolis summit he organised months before ending his mandate, tenders for new settlement building increased by 550 percent from 2007.

"Actual settlement construction has increased by 30 percent since the launch of the new round of peace talks. Settlement building around Jerusalem has increased by a factor of 38," according to PalMon.

"A total of 9,000 further housing units have been approved in East Jerusalem, and approximately 2,600 new housing units are being built east of the Separation Wall, comprising 55percent of all settlement construction activity."

SETTLEMENTS DOMINATE 40 PERCENT OF WEST BANK

PalMon reports that settlements are built on less than three percent of the area of the West Bank. "However, due to the extensive network of settler roads and restrictions on Palestinians accessing their own land, Israeli settlements dominate more than 40 percent of the West Bank."

.... settlements are linked to each other and to Israel by an extensive network of "bypass roads".

"All bypass roads have a 50–75m buffer zone on each side, where no construction is allowed. These buffer zones have led to a great loss of agricultural and privately owned Palestinian land," it informs.

Whilst illegally built on confiscated Palestinian land, these roads are forbidden for use by Palestinians. They consolidate Israel's creation of a system of Apartheid in the West Bank and fracture communities across Palestine...

"In August of 2008 there were 794 kilometres of by-pass roads in the West Bank."

To date (December 17, 2008), PalMon reports, about 40 kilometres of "fabric of life" roads, including 44 tunnels and underpasses, were completed. In addition, some five kilometres are under construction and another 40 kilometres and 18 tunnels are planned.

...Israeli settlements are the cause of great inequalities in access to natural resources between Israelis and Palestinians. "Many settlements are built on prime agricultural land confiscated from Palestinians, or over key water resources such as the Western Aquifer basin, springs and wells."

Israeli West Bank settlers domestically consume 280 litres of water per day, per person compared to 86 litres per day available for Palestinians in the West Bank -- only 60 of which are considered potable, it reports

The World Health Organization recommends a minimum of 100 litres per day –- meaning that settlers utilize far more than double the water required, while Palestinians do not approach the minimum.

"But only looking at domestic use is misleading. The brunt of water resources consumed by Israel are for farming and industrial purposes...

"It is also misleading to look at the amount of land actually ‘settled' in the West Bank (3 percent), as opposed to the more than 40 percent of West Bank residential and vital agricultural land confiscated around the settlements themselves."

... PalMon also reports that Israeli settlers often carry out violent attacks against Palestinians and their property with complete legal immunity, and often with more than implicit support from the military itself.

"In fact, Israeli soldiers often protect and assist settlers, and legal proceedings are rarely brought against them."

... between 80 and 90 percent of the files opened against Israeli settlers following attacks on Palestinians and their property are regularly closed by the Israeli police without prosecution...
Full story

Situation Report: July 26, 2009

PMG

Israeli occupation forces
  • detained/kidnapped 22 Palestinians
  • conducted 23 raids into Palestinian territory
  • confiscated/destroyed private possessions
  • closed roads and villages
Israelis living on confiscated Palestinian land
  • attempted to seize a Palestinian house in Jerusalem
Palestinians on Palestinian land
  • fired at Israeli military forces near the border
  • held a nonviolent demonstration against Israeli confiscation of Palestinian land: for the wall (found to be illegal by the International Court of Justice) and for construction of an Israeli factory on Palestinian land Full story

Monday, July 27, 2009

Nablus festival stage torched as Israeli patrols oust local forces

Ma'an
Unidentified armed arsonists set fire to the Shopping Festival main stage under the watch of Israeli troops patrolling Nablus’ city center Monday before dawn.

The Israeli security arrangement in the West Bank sees Palestinian police and security forces evacuate the city center when Israel announces its own security patrols of the area. On Monday morning Israeli troops invaded the city, so local police were unable to prevent the torching of the festival stage, member of the shopping festival committee ....

... three masked gunmen came from the within the Old City and spilt fuel on the stage then set it on fire. Though local officers observed the crime, they were unable to stop it or pursue the arsonists because of existing security arrangements with Israel.

Police had earlier applied to Israeli military officials for a special permit that would allow two unarmed Palestinian police stationed near the festival headquarters in the main square. The request was refused.

.... International media have hailed the Nablus Shopping Festival as the culmination of economic development initiatives from the international community, as well as the fruition of ongoing efforts under US Major General Keith Dayton who oversees the Palestinian security forces. Security means economic prosperity, the argument goes, and because of an improvement in the ability of the Palestinian Authority to police citizens in Nablus, the Huwwara checkpoint was opened to car traffic and restrictions on travel in and out of the northern region were reduced. Full story

Israel preps for UN reports on Gaza assault

Ma'an
Israel's Foreign Ministry is preparing a defense brief in advance of two United Nations reports on its military's conduct in Gaza last winter, the country's press reported.

Both the Jerusalem Post and Haaretz reported on Monday that a group of legal experts is writing a response to the findings of the two commissions, which they expect will be harsh.

The UN Commission on Human Rights investigative committee headed by Jewish South African Justice Richard Goldstone is expected to release its findings in September, while an earlier report investigating Israeli culpability in the destruction of UN property during their war on Gaza was handed to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in May. Israel will be given a chance to view both reports in full before they are released to the public.

Israel's assault on Gaza last winter killed more than 1,400 Palestinians and injured more than 5,000. Israel fears that facts compiled in the two UN commissions would serve as evidence for victims of the Gaza operation, who could then take legal action against Israel at the International Court of Justice or the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

"The road to international courts is very short from the point we are at right now," a government source reportedly said, according to Haaretz. The operation has already in part been labeled a war crime by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

Haaretz quoted the same government source as saying that the Foreign Ministry's legal department wants their response to contain the "Israeli narrative" of the assault...

"This is the way the government will now deal with these types of reports," the Jerusalem Post quoted their own government source as saying. That source said the military and Foreign Ministry may create a team that would go over the UN charges with a "fine-tooth comb."

Israel opted to cooperate with only one of the probes, that of the internal UN commission...

Only Hamas has agreed to cooperate into the commission led by Goldstone, a former war crimes prosecutor for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda... Full story

Background on Gaza invasion Dec. 27-Jan. 18
Fact Box

Summer in Gaza



Eva Bartlett: In Gaza


how will your kids pass summer? lemonade stand? ymca courses? family vacation?



...here’s how a vast number of kids spend summer (and others fall, winter, spring) in Gaza....

... The farmers had returned two days after their land was again ravaged by Israeli military bulldozers and tanks: 2 and 4 of each respectively. The war machines ate up the land, finished off a house they’d not quite destroyed the last time, and tore up a water source, the farmers’ well.

The day after the incursion, Yousef, one of the farmers, had dared to peek at the well, doing so furtively although it is on their land. The Israeli army incursion into Abassan Jeddida, just east of southern Gaza’s Khan Younis, had ended the same afternoon it started –July 21st –but the farmers knew all too well that Israeli military jeeps, hummers, tanks and military bulldozers lay just 400 metres away over the Green Line border, and that the Israeli soldiers running the machines are generous with their gunshots......

From his assessment of the well, Yousef gathered that the reason he couldn’t water his crops was that the motor had been destroyed... Full story

Situation Report: July 25, 2009

PMG
Israeli occupation forces
  • conducted 16 raids into Palestinian territory
  • kidnapped/detained 17 Palestinians
  • destroyed Palestinian property
  • closed roads and villages

Israeli settlers
  • conducted three attacks on palestinians, including beating 2 children

Palestinians
  • demonstrated against the confiscation of their land in Tulkarem Full story

Greek Orthodox patriarch blocks East Jerusalem land confiscation


Palestinian Christians

Ma'an
Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III has managed to block a recent attempt by Israel's Jerusalem municipality to confiscate 43 dunums of church property near the Beit Safafa village, officials said Saturday.

A Palestinian lawyer representing the patriarch told Ma'an that he presented an appeal against a recent decision taken by an Israeli regional planning committee within the municipality to confiscate Greek Orthodox property in order to expand streets and build public facilities.

The lawyer, Rami Al-Mughrabi, added that after a decision taken by the ecumenical council, the church decided to fight Israel's decision to develop the structure into 'green land,' which would have prohibited building by the patriarch and its followers.

Patriarch spokesman Father Issa Musleh noted that the process of stopping further Israeli land confiscations had become a priority for the church in Jerusalem. He insisted that challenging Israel over such projects is at the center of the patriarchate's policy to defend holy sites and property, and overall part of the church's goal to restore the Christian presence in the Holy Land.

The patriarch is working on building a number of churches and schools, Musleh said, noting that the church would discuss ways to expand the building projects to include residential buildings, particularly in Jerusalem, to resolve housing problems faced by young people at a time when apartment rates are skyrocketing.

Announcement of the patriarchate's legal victory came a week after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas alleged that Israel intends to eliminate Jerusalem's Islamic and Christian character.

"Israeli excavations across the holy city endanger its historical buildings and holy places." Abbas said. "Demolishing houses owned by Muslims and Christians in the city, as well as levying high taxes on Muslims and Christians there, are aimed only at forcing them to leave."

Israel captured Palestinian East Jerusalem in 1967, declaring it the "eternal, undivided capital of Israel." The international community has never signed on to Israel's claims, and thus maintain embassies in Tel Aviv.