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.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Rabbinic Text or Call to Terror?

Forward - Daniel Estrin
The marble-patterned, hardcover book embossed with gold Hebrew letters looks like any other religious commentary you’d find in an Orthodox Judaica bookstore — but reads like a rabbinic instruction manual outlining acceptable scenarios for killing non-Jewish babies, children and adults.

“The prohibition ‘Thou Shalt Not Murder’” applies only “to a Jew who kills a Jew,” write Rabbis Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elitzur of the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar. Non-Jews are “uncompassionate by nature” and attacks on them “curb their evil inclination,” while babies and children of Israel’s enemies may be killed since “it is clear that they will grow to harm us.”

“The King’s Torah (Torat Hamelech), Part One: Laws of Life and Death between Israel and the Nations,” a 230-page compendium of Halacha, or Jewish religious law, published by the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva in Yitzhar, garnered a front-page exposé in the Israeli tabloid Ma’ariv, which called it the stuff of “Jewish terror.”

Now, the yeshiva is in the news again, with a January 18 raid on Yitzhar by more than 100 Israeli security officials who forcibly entered Od Yosef Chai and arrested 10 Jewish settlers. The Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security agency, suspects five of those arrested were involved in the torching and vandalizing of a Palestinian mosque last month in the neighboring Palestinian village of Yasuf. The arson provoked an international outcry and condemnation by Israeli religious figures, including Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, who visited the village to personally voice his regret.

Yet, both Metzger and his Sephardic counterpart, Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, have declined to comment on the book, which debuted in November, while other prominent rabbis have endorsed it — among them, the son of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Sephardic Jewry’s preeminent leader. Also, despite the precedent set by previous Israeli attorneys general in the last decade and a half to file criminal charges against settler rabbis who publish commentaries supporting violence against non-Jews, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz has so far remained mum about “The King’s Torah.”

“Sometimes the public arena deals with the phenomenon and things become settled by themselves,” Justice Ministry spokesman Moshe Cohen told the Forward.

A coalition of religious Zionist groups, the “Twelfth of Heshvan,”—– named after the Hebrew date of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination, has asked Israel’s Supreme Court to order Mazuz to confiscate the books and arrest its authors.

“You open the book, and you feel that you read a halachic book. And it’s a trap,” said Gadi Gvaryahu, a religious Jewish educator who heads the coalition. It was, in fact, “a guidebook [on] how to kill,” he charged.

Family members who answered phone calls placed to the homes of both authors said they did not wish to comment.

In 2008, author Shapira was suspected of involvement in a crude rocket attack directed at a Palestinian village. Israeli police investigated but made no arrests.

Co-author Elitzur wrote an article in a religious bulletin a month after the book’s release saying that “the Jews will win with violence against the Arabs.”

In 2003, the head of the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva, Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh, was charged by then-Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein with incitement to racism for authoring a book calling Arabs a “cancer.”

In 2006-2007, the Israeli Ministry of Education gave about a quarter of a million dollars to the yeshiva, and in 2007-2008 the yeshiva received about $28,000 from the American nonprofit Central Fund of Israel.

“The King’s Torah” reflects a fringe viewpoint held by a minority of rabbis in the West Bank, said Avinoam Rosenak, a Hebrew University professor specializing in settler theology. Asher Cohen, a Bar Ilan University political science professor, thought its influence would be “zero” because it appeals only to extreme ideologues.

But the book’s wide dissemination and the enthusiastic endorsements of prominent rabbis have spotlighted what might have otherwise remained an isolated commentary.

At the entrance to Moriah, a large Jewish bookstore steps from the Western Wall, copies of “The King’s Torah” were displayed with children’s books and other halachic commentaries. The store manager, who identified himself only as Motti, said the tome has sold “excellently.”

Other stores carrying the book include Robinson Books, a well-known, mostly secular bookshop in a hip Tel Aviv shopping district; Pomeranz Bookseller, a major Jewish book emporium near the Ben Yehuda mall in downtown Jerusalem; and Felhendler, a Judaica store on the main artery of secular Rehovot, home of the Weizmann Institute.

The yeshiva declined to comment on publication statistics. But Itzik, a Tel Aviv-area book distributor hired by the yeshiva who declined to give his last name because of the book’s nature, said the yeshiva had sold 1,000 copies to individuals and bookstores countrywide. He said an additional 1,000 copies were now being printed.

Mendy Feldheim, owner of Feldheim Publishers, Israel’s largest Judaica publishing house, said he considered this a “nice” sales figure for a tome of rabbinic Halacha in Israel. He said his own company, which distributes to 200 bookstores nationwide, is not distributing “The King’s Torah” because the book’s publishers did not approach the company.

Prominent religious figures wrote letters of endorsement that preface the book. Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, son of former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, blessed the authors and wrote that many “disciples of Torah are unfamiliar with these laws.” The elder Yosef has not commented on his son’s statement.

Dov Lior, chief rabbi of Kiryat Arba and a respected figure among many mainstream religious Zionists, noted that the book is “very relevant especially in this time.”

Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, one of the country’s most respected rabbinic commentators, initially endorsed the book, but rescinded his approval a month after its release, saying that the book includes statements that “have no place in human intelligence.”

A handful of settler rabbis echoed Goldberg’s censure, including Shlomo Aviner, chief rabbi of Beit El and head of Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim, who said he had “no patience” to read the book, and spoke out against it to his students.

Previously, Israel has arrested settler rabbis who publish commentaries supporting the killing of non-Jews. In addition to Ginsburgh, the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva head, in 1994, the government jailed Rabbi Ido Elba of Hebron for writing a 26-page article proclaiming it a “mitzva to kill every non-Jew from the nation that is fighting the Jew, even women and children.”

“The atmosphere has changed,” said Yair Sheleg, senior researcher at the Israel Democracy Institute, who specializes in issues of religion and state. Previous governments took a tougher stance against such publications, he said, but “paradoxically, because the tension between the general settler population and the Israeli judicial system…is high now, the attorney general is careful not to heighten the tension.”

It is not uncommon for some settler rabbis, in the unique conditions of West Bank settlement life, to issue religious decrees, or psakim, that diverge from normative Jewish practice. In 2008, Avi Gisser, considered a moderate rabbi from the settlement of Ofra, ruled that Jews may violate Sabbath laws and hire non-Jews to build hilltop settlements. And In 2002, Yediot Aharanot reported that former Israeli Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu sanctioned Jewish harvesting of Palestinian-owned olive trees.

Contact Daniel Estrin at
Full story

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Witnesses: Israeli forces block farmers from land

Israeli forces prohibited local farmers from the village of Safa, near Hebron, from accessing their land on Saturday.

Dozens of villagers, accompanied by international and Israeli solidarity groups, were en route to assist plowing the land of the Sleibi and Thalji families, when they were stopped by Israeli soldiers and told that the area was now a closed military zone, witnesses reported.

...Israeli forces attacked a number of the internationals present, and threw sound munition and tear-gas canisters to disperse them from the area. Muhammad Khalid Ibrahim Abu Dayeh, 19, was detained and led to an unknown destination...

Farmers were handed an official 48 hour warning on Thursday, threatening that they would not be able to access their land unless they launched an appeal with an Israeli court within the deadline, Awad said. He added that Israeli courts are closed during the Israeli weekend on Friday and Saturday, which thwarted the farmers attempts to appeal to the courts.

The land in question is approximately 110 dunums....   Full story

In the West Bank's stony hills, Palestine is slowly dying

Palestinian women huddle amid their belongings after Israeli forces demolished their homes in the West Bank village of Khirbet Tana, near Nablus earlier this month

Independent - Robert Fisk

...look at the statistics and leaf through the pile of demolition orders lying on the table in front of Abed Kasab, head of the village council in Jiftlik, and it all looks like ethnic cleansing via bureaucracy. Perverse might be the word for the paperwork involved. Obscene appear to be the results.

Palestinian houses that cannot be permitted to stand, roofs that must be taken down, wells closed, sewage systems demolished; in one village, I even saw a primitive electricity system in which Palestinians must sink their electrical poles cemented into concrete blocks standing on the surface of the dirt road. To place the poles in the earth would ensure their destruction – no Palestinian can dig a hole more than 40cm below the ground.

..... Palestinian requests to build houses are either delayed for years or refused; houses built without permission are ruthlessly torn down; corrugated iron roofs have to be camouflaged with plastic sheets in the hope the "Civil Administration" won't deem them an extra floor – in which case "Ro'i's" lads will be round to rip the lot off the top of the house.

In Area C, there are up to 150,000 Palestinians and 300,000 Jewish colonists living – illegally under international law – in 120 official settlements and 100 "unapproved" settlements or, in the language we must use these days, "illegal outposts"; illegal under Israeli as well as international law, that is – as opposed to the 120 internationally illegal colonies which are legal under Israeli law. Jewish settlers, needless to say, don't have problems with planning permission.

The winter sun blazes through the door of Mr Kasab's office and cigarette smoke drifts through the room..... "Buildings, new roads, reservoirs, we have been waiting three years to get permits. We cannot get a permit for a new health clinic. We are short of water for both human and agricultural use. Getting permission to rehabilitate the water system costs 70,000 Israeli shekels [about £14,000] – it costs more than the rehabilitation system itself."

.......Even the western NGOs working in Area C find their work for Palestinians blocked by the Israelis. This is not just a "hitch" in the "peace process" – whatever that is – but an international scandal.

Oxfam, for example, asked the Israelis for a permit to build a 300m2 capacity below-ground reservoir along with 700m of underground 4in pipes for the thousands of Palestinians living around Jiftlik. It was refused. They then gave notice that they intended to construct an above-ground installation of two glass-fibre tanks, an above-ground pipe and booster pump. They were told they would need a permit even though the pipes were above ground – and they were refused a permit...

I came across an even more outrageous example of this apartheid-by-permit in the village of Zbeidat, where the European Union's humanitarian aid division installed 18 waste water systems to prevent the hamlet's vile-smelling sewage running through the gardens and across the main road into the fields.

The £80,000 system – a series of 40ft shafts regularly flushed out by sewage trucks – was duly installed because the location lay inside Area B, where no planning permission was required.

Yet now the aid workers have been told by the Israelis that work "must stop" on six of the 18 shafts – a prelude to their demolition, although already they are already built beside the road – because part of the village stands in Area C. Needless to say, no one – neither Palestinians nor Israelis – knows the exact borderline between B and C. Thus around £20,000 of European money has been thrown away by the Israeli "Civil Administration".

But in one way, this storm of permission and non-permission papers is intended to obscure the terrible reality of Area C. Many Israeli activists as well as western NGOs suspect Israel intends to force the Palestinians here to leave their lands and homes and villages and depart into the wretchedness of Areas B and A. B is jointly controlled by Israeli military and civil authorities and Palestinian police, and A by the witless Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas.

Thus would the Palestinians be left to argue over a mere 40 per cent of the occupied West Bank – in itself a tiny fraction of the 22 per cent of Mandated Palestine over which the equally useless Yasser Arafat once hoped to rule. Add to this the designation of 18 per cent of Area C as "closed military areas" by the Israelis and add another 3 per cent preposterously designated as a "nature reserve" – it would be interesting to know what kind of animals roam there – and the result is simple: even without demolition orders, Palestinians cannot build in 70 per cent of Area C.

Along one road, I discovered a series of large concrete blocks erected by the Israeli army in front of Palestinian shacks. "Danger – Firing Area" was printed on each in Hebrew, Arabic and English. "Entrance Forbidden." What are the Palestinians living here supposed to do? Area C, it should be added, is the richest of the occupied Palestinian lands, with cheese production and animal farms. Many of the 5,000 souls in Jiftlik have been refugees already, their families fled lands to the west of Jerusalem – in present-day Israel – in 1947 and 1948. Their tragedy has not yet ended, of course. What price Palestine?   Full story

Testimonies of Israeli Female Soldiers Regarding Violations Against Palestinian Civilians

...Somehow, a female combatant has to prove herself more, on the ground too. Again, a female combatant who can lash out is a serious fighter. Capable. A ball-breaker. There was one with me when I got there, she’d been there long before, she was – wow, everyone talked about what grit she had, because she could humiliate Arabs without batting an eyelash. That was the thing to do.
Breaking The Silence Israeli group reported that several Israeli female soldiers testified... regarding “extra efforts” that female soldiers should conduct in order to be recognized and accepted by the fellow male soldiers.

One of the soldiers said that she had to humiliate the Palestinians on roadblocks, to shout at them and even to beat them to achieve this recognition.

Another soldier said that she saw a fellow female soldier humiliating Palestinian residents “in a way that cannot be described by words”, and added that “you have to see it to realize how she behaves, how she humiliates the Palestinians without caring about anything”.

“Everybody is doing that”, the soldier added, “Soldiers and senior officers, nobody objects”.

Another female soldier said that they [female soldiers] had to beat Palestinian youths and men, and that they had to mistreat the residents regardless of their sex or age.

She said that when Border Policemen capture Palestinian workers staying in Israel without permits, they start chanting “for their victory” and then they start beating and kicking the Palestinian workers.

Sometimes, the soldiers ask the Palestinians to chant in praise of their unit, and that it became a requirement to humiliate the Palestinians and mistreat them.

At least 50 female soldiers testified on what the army is doing on roadblocks in the occupied West Bank, and at the Eretz Terminal between Gaza and Israel.

One of the soldiers said that the soldiers arrested a Palestinian youth who hurled stones at them in the center of Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank.

One of the soldiers was so scared from the small stone hurled by the youth, fell into a ditch and broke his leg. The soldier was moved to an Israeli hospital while his comrades caught the Palestinian youth and deliberately broke his arm.

They forced him to lay his arm on a chair, and then they hit it with a sharp object, she added.

In another incident, a female soldier said that she heard a gunshot and rushed, along with other soldiers, to the scene to find a Palestinian youth bleeding after being shot in his abdomen.

The soldiers who were at the scene claimed that he tried to run away after he was asked to present his identity card. But the fact was that the identity card was already handed to the soldiers, as one of them was holding it.

She added that the soldiers involved in the incident were never questioned by their commanding officers.

Several female soldiers testified that both male and female soldiers beat Palestinian women on roadblocks, force them to slap themselves on the face, and sometimes the soldiers even punch and kick the women.…….   Full story

Female soldiers break their silence


"... "I don't know who or how, but I know that two of our soldiers put him [Palestinian child] in a jeep, and that two weeks later the kid was walking around with casts on both arms and legs…they talked about it in the unit quite a lot – about how they sat him down and put his hand on the chair and simply broke it right there on the chair."

...:"We caught a five-year-old…can't remember what he did…we were taking him back to the territories or something, and the officers just picked him up, slapped him around and put him in the jeep. The kid was crying and the officer next to me said 'don't cry' and started laughing at him. Finally the kid cracked a smile – and suddenly the officer gave him a punch in the stomach. Why? 'Don't laugh in my face' he said."'s boring, so we'd create some action. We'd get on the radio, and say they threw stones at us, then someone would be arrested, they'd start investigating him… There was a policewoman, she was bored, so okay, she said they threw stones at her. They asked her who threw them. 'I don't know, two in grey shirts, I didn't manage to see them.' They catch two guys with grey shirts… beat them. Is it them? 'No, I don't think so.' Okay, a whole incident, people get beaten up. Nothing happened that day." 

...The soldier said she tried to protest, but was silenced by the commanding officers...

...Some of the testimonies document incidents of vandalism of Palestinian property, and even theft.... They take things all the time at checkpoints in the territories.  

... Some of the female soldiers were shocked with the level of violence the settlers' children used against the Palestinians...

...told of how she once spit on a Palestinian in the street: "I don't think he even did anything. But again, it was cool and it was the only thing I could do to… you know, I couldn't take brag that I caught a terrorists… But I could spit on them and degrade them and laugh at them." 

...She also said that, despite the clear orders to fire in the air or at the demonstrators' feet, it was common procedure to fire at the abdomen.

A female Border Guard officer in Jenin spoke of an incident in which a nine-year-old Palestinian, who tried to climb the fence, failed, and fled – was shot to death: "They fired… when he was already in the territories and posed no danger. The hit was in the abdomen area, they claimed he was on a bicycle and so they were unable to hit him in the legs." 
But the soldier was most bewildered by what happened next between the four soldiers present: "They immediately got their stories straight… An investigation was carried out, at first they said it was an unjustified killing… In the end they claimed that he was checking out escape routes for terrorists or something… and they closed the case."

A female intelligence soldier who served near Etzion recounted an incident in which snipers killed a boy suspected of throwing a Molotov cocktail. The soldiers coordinated their stories, and the female soldier was shocked, mainly by the happy atmosphere that surrounding the incident: "It was written in the situation evaluation after the incident that from now on there will be quiet… This is the best kind of deterrence." ...   Full story   

Full document of testimonies 

Dutch activist: Powerful Jewish lobby is playing on the Holocaust

"Holland's powerful Jewish lobby is playing on the country's sense of guilt over the Holocaust," a prominent Dutch activist said last week...

Gretta Duisenberg, the widow of the first president of the European Central Bank and a friend of the Queen of the Netherlands, said in an interview for Islam Online that "the Jewish lobby in Holland, like in the United States, is very strong and powerful, and it is still playing on our guilt feelings although it is 63 years since the Holocaust."...

"These are anti-Semitic remarks, based on the libel of the Protocols of Zion, that the Jews dominate the world," said Ronny Naftaniel, head of Holland's largest pro-Israel group and watchdog on anti-Semitism, the Center for Information and Documentation Israel (CIDI.)

......Duisenberg once said she wants to collect six million signatures for a pro-Palestinian petition. In a 2005 television discussion, she said: "I hope the Jews realize they can't take over the south of Amsterdam the same way they took over the West Bank."...  Full story

10 Women, 15 Children, Wounded After Soldiers Fired Gas Bombs Into A Palestinian Home

Palestinian medical sources reported on Friday at night that 10 women and 15 children were hospitalized suffering severe effects of tear gas inhalation after Israeli soldiers fired gas bombs into the lower floor a house in Nabi Saleh village, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah.

Local residents rushed to the house and managed to rescue the wounded women and children after pulling them through the windows of the gassed home.

The incident took place following clashes between dozens of residents of Nabi Saleh and Dir Nitham villages, and invading Israeli soldiers.

Israeli troops fired dozens of gas bombs and used water cannons to shoot dirty, foul smelling water at the residents.

...Israeli soldiers released on Friday several residents who were kidnapped by the army during clashes that took place last week in Nabi Saleh and Dir Nitham villages.

The released residents, including two sisters identified as Nariman and Manal Tamimi, were forced to pay high fines.

Several residents were kept under interrogation until further notice.

Soldiers violently attacked and beat Manal and Nariman after kidnapping them during the nonviolent weekly protest against settlements and illegal settler violations. Manal is a mother of four children, and so is Nariman.   Full story

Israeli forces seize protester in Nil'in

A demonstrator was arrested by soldiers who shot live ammunition during his apprehension in the West Bank village of Nil'in on Friday...

Israeli forces indicated that they were responding to rock-throwing by protesters, but since the army closed all the village's entrances with checkpoints and forbade the media from entering, Ma'an was not able to independently confirm these allegations.

Dozens of Palestinian and international protestors, including parliamentarian and former Information Minister Mustafa Al-Barghouti, who chairs the Palestinian National Initiative, reportedly suffered tear-gas inhalation as Israeli forces fired canisters at the crowd, which numbered around 100.

...weekly demonstration against Israel's separation barrier, which cuts through the Ramallah-area village to protect a nearby settlement. Demonstrations marking Palestinian Prisoners Day were also held in the nearby villages of Bil'in and Ma'sara.

Video footage of last week's violence in Nil'in:


Israeli officer invading Palestinian village: "Everyone who throws stones we will shoot in the leg. Everyone who throws stones will lose his leg."

An urgent fact-finding mission to Ni'lin was held on Tuesday after the Israeli military began what activists have termed an escalation of repression against human rights defenders in the village. The visit was aimed at raising awareness about "the gravity of the attack on the village and the people's fundamental rights of freedom of expression, assembly and association" and, in turn, to extend protection to Ni'lin. 

.....detention of 11 people in less than one week... during night raids by the Israeli military in the village inhabitants are subjected to harassment, intimidation and destruction of property. In at least one case, the army arrested the father of a targeted human rights defender to press him to hand himself over.

......Palestinian political leaders and 11 European diplomats responded to the invitation to learn more about the ongoing arrests and the situation in Nil'in, which has lost over the last 60 years 48,000 of its original 58,000 dunums of land. The wall on the western side, and a military base on the southern side, will strip Ni'lin of a further 2,500 dunums of land by the time it is completed.

In an interview with Ma'an on Tuesday, Barghouthi said Palestinians will begin asking the European Union to take a stand on what he termed Israeli violence against unarmed demonstrators.

"They tell us – don't use violence, not even in self-defense against terrible Israeli violence," he said. "We will tell them: the EU cannot continue to be impartial. The EU has great leverage over Israel, if they want to use it. The least they can do is stop military cooperation."

According to Khalida Jarrah, a parliament member ....... told the 11 EU diplomats that "this message must reach the international community. We haven't seen a strong reaction from the international community. The popular resistance movement is a political movement, which requires a political solution, and political support."

Jarrah concluded by saying the Palestinians' "demands are very simple: to live in freedom."  Full story

PA submits official reply to UN over Goldstone allegations

The Palestinian Authority submitted an initial report explaining how the body will carry out investigations into alleged Palestinian war crimes, representative of Palestine to the UN Riyad Mansour said Friday....

.......De facto government officials in Gaza also said they were preparing a report that officials promised would "meet international standards and expectations."   Full story

Settlers take over Palestinian home in Old City, change locks

Israeli settlers began an illegal squat in a Palestinian home in the Old City of Jerusalem on Friday morning, following a court order expelling the elderly Palestinian occupant and granting settlers partial access to the building.

Fatima Dahoody, 80, in whose name the home is registered, was staying at the house of her son in Beit Hanina when settlers entered her Old City residence and changed the locks. They are now refusing to leave, witnesses said.

A Magistrates court in Jerusalem ruled Dahoody out of the home on 25 January, and granted Israeli settlers access to part of the building in shifts, 8am-8pm for men and 8pm-8am for women.

The same court decision ordered the imprisonment of the elderly owner of the home if she tries to enter the building and a 20,000 shekel (5,350 US dollar) fine. She was also ordered to pay 9,000 shekels (2,400 US dollars) in legal fees for the settlers' attorney.

The woman's son said the family had owned the home since 1990, and that court action by the settler group began after they tried unsuccessfully to take over the home in November 2008. At that time police evicted the would-be squatters.

Dahoody noted several homes in the vicinity of the Al-Aqsa Mosque had also been targeted by settlers seeking to expel Palestinian families from their homes...  Full story

Did Israeli tanks carve a Star of David into Gaza soil?

Sometime between 3-10 January 2009, Israeli army vehicles carved a Star of David measuring 60 meters into the soil of the southern Gaza Strip, according to a UN report released over the summer.

The issue was raised by South African jurist Richard Goldstone during an appearance on Wednesday at Yale University.

A publication issued by the UN Operational Satellite Applications Programme (UNOSAT), published by the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), includes an apparent satellite image of the symbol.

According to the UN report, "not only do the ground signatures include tank tracks across cultivated fields and paved roads, but also a Star of David measuring 60m in diameter carved into the soil likely by IDF vehicles. It is important to note that this pattern was created during the first week of the IDF ground incursion into Gaza, sometime between 3-10 January 2009."

An Israeli military spokesman had no immediate comment.

The report was issued on request from Goldstone's UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict. Analysis of satellite imagery was requested in order to obtain factual information on the time at which certain buildings were damaged and quantitative assessments of the damage caused to certain types of facilities.

"For virtually all areas assessed in the imagery ... there was a significant percentage of observed damage possibly caused by IDF [Israel Defense Forces] ground activity," the report concludes.  Full story and photo

Palestinians in Israel rally against evictions, home demolitions

Hundreds of Palestinian living in Israel rallied in Lod's city center following Friday prayers to protest the Israeli policy of home demolition and eviction of Palestinians.

... included [Christian and Muslim] clerics, leaders of Palestinian Israeli political parties, members of Knesset and Palestinians from Ramla, Jaffa and Lod.

The orators asserted that Palestinians in Israel were neither guest nor "passerby," but an indigenous people, and expressed their refusal of Israel's policy of house demolitions and displacement....

On Friday morning Israeli settlers began an illegal squat in a Palestinian home in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem, following a court order expelling the elderly Palestinian occupant and granting settlers partial access to the building.  Full story

Armed groups in Gaza claim responsibility for shelling Israeli port

Various paramilitary groups in Gaza claimed responsibility for firing eight shells at the port of Ashkelon, Israel, a joint statement issued by the groups said.

The attack was undertaken in retaliation for "the assassination of the Al-Aqsa Brigades leaders in Nablus by Israeli forces," the statement said, which was issued by members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the military wing of Fatah, Islamic Jihad's armed group The Al-Quds Brigades, and the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, the An-Nasser Salah Ad-Ding Brigades...   Full story

20 villagers hurt near West Bank protest

Over 20 villagers, including 14 children, were hurt in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh on Friday during a demonstration against Israel's wall and the illegal settlement of Hallamish, which cuts into the village.

The villagers, who did not take part in the demonstration, were hurt after the house they were taking refuge in was attacked by Israeli soldiers in a volley of tear-gas projectiles and rubber-coated bullets. One boy was hit in the stomach by a tear-gas projectile. He, along with four others, required medical care, and were evacuated to a hospital...

Clashes in the village began after soldiers blocked some 200 demonstrators – Palestinians, Israelis and internationals – from reaching a spring on privately owned Palestinian land, which was recently taken over by Hallamish settlers. "Despite being entirely peaceful, demonstrators were assaulted with tear-gas and rubber-coated bullets," peace advocates claimed in a statement.

Video footage from last week's violence in Nabi Saleh:

Approximately six weeks ago, a group of Halamish settlers took over the spring located in privately owned Palestinian land between the village and the settlement. Since then, and despite the fact that ownership of the land is undisputed, the army began preventing Palestinians from accessing the area, according to the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee.

While demonstrations in recent weeks were triggered by the barring of access to the spring, protesters say their overall motivation is to stop the constant advance of the settlement onto Palestinian land. Since 1977, half of the Nabi Saleh's farmland was lost to the settlement.  Full story

Haniyeh accuses US, Israel, Arabs of conspiracy

...talked about the internal and external conspiracies against the tenth government and the legislative council, elected in 2006, during the last four years.

"We were exposed to a three-dimensional war, economically by imposing the siege on the people of Gaza, militarily by attacking the people and committing crimes which are mostly represented in the war on Gaza, and politically as the occupation started to detain lawmakers and the representatives of the Palestinian people in order to undermine the Palestinian legitimacy and democracy," Haniyeh said.

..."we were exposed to a three-dimensional conspiracy which first was by trying to spread chaos, the second by objections and not committing to jobs, and the third was defamed and media incitement, dissemination of falsehoods and rumors, and creating facts that are not true.”  Full story

Hamas: Israel assassinated commander in Dubai

Israel killed a top Hamas official in Dubai last week, an official told Reuters on Friday.

The official, identified as Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh, was thought to be behind the assassinations of two Israeli soldiers, Avi Sasportas and Ilan Saadon, in the 1980s. He was a member of Hamas' military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades.

"I cannot reveal the circumstances. We are working with the authorities in the United Arab Emirates," said Izzat Al-Rishq, a member of Hamas' politburo, speaking in Damascus.

Al-Rishq said he was killed on 20 January in Dubai, the day after he arrived from Syria, where he lived.

Al-Mabhouh had served as a liaison between Iran and Hamas, according to various reports, helping to smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip. He had been jailed several times by Israel, whose forces reportedly destroyed his Gaza home at some point.

"We in Hamas hold the Zionist enemy responsible for the criminal assassination of our brother, and we pledge to God and to the blood of the martyrs and to our people to continue his path of jihad and martyrdom," read a statement on a Hamas' news site.   Full story

Israeli media: Mossad responsible for Al-Mabhouh assassination

A four-person squad of Israeli Shin Bet and Mossad operatives arrived in Dubai on European passports to assassinate Muhammad Al-Mabhouh... Israeli media reported on Saturday.

According to the Israeli news-site Inyan Merkazi, the assassination squad interrogated Al-Mabhouh in his hotel room before killing him.

The squad returned with "precious information" attained following Al-Mabhouh's interrogation, which was focused on arms deals between Hamas and Iran, as well as how arms are smuggled into the West Bank, the news-site reported....

After the funeral in Al-Yarmuk Refugee Camp south of Damascus, Mash’al said "we will avenge this man. If you [Israel] were happy to assassinate a great man who bravely assassinated your soldiers, then this happiness is going to pass.

"Don’t be so happy. We will avenge Al-Mabhouh. Do not think that we will abandon the choice of resistance. Not settlement, occupation, killing, nor the wall will weaken our resistance."...

... the information office of the government in the United Arab Emirates said that Dubai police were able to identify the suspects who killed the Hamas leader, saying they all hold European passports.

....the suspects left behind evidence that will lead to their eventual capture and arrest...  Full story

Medics: Gaza fisherman seriously hurt by naval fire

A Palestinian fisherman was injured overnight by Israeli warships, when they opened fire on a cluster of small fishing boats of the Rafah coast before sunrise on Friday, medics said.

Medical sources at Abu Yousef Najar Hospital identified the injured man as 39-year-old Wael Al-Bardawil, who arrived in critical condition after sustaining gunshot wounds to the back.

Al-Bardawil was transferred to the European Hospital in Khan Younis once he was stabilized, medics said. He is being kept in the intensive care unit...

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) report on the Protection of Civilians for 2009 said Israeli policing of the Gaza fishing waters and the resulting reduction of areas accessible by Palestinian fishermen "has been the main factor behind the sharp decline in the fishing catch from 3,117 tonnes in 2008 to 1,850 tonnes in 2009, according to the Fishing Syndicate in Gaza."  Full story

Friday, January 29, 2010

Holocaust remembrance is a boon for Israeli propaganda

Ha'aretz - Gideon Levy
Israel's bigwigs attacked at dawn on a wide front. The president in Germany, the prime minister with a giant entourage in Poland, the foreign minister in Hungary, his deputy in Slovakia, the culture minister in France, the information minister at the United Nations, and even the Likud party's Druze Knesset member, Ayoob Kara, in Italy. They were all out there to make florid speeches about the Holocaust.

Wednesday was International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and an Israeli public relations drive like this hasn't been seen for ages. The timing of the unusual effort - never have so many ministers deployed across the globe - is not coincidental: When the world is talking Goldstone, we talk Holocaust, as if out to blur the impression. When the world talks occupation, we'll talk Iran as if we wanted them to forget.

..........How beautiful it would have been if on this international day of remembrance Israel had taken the time to examine itself, look inward and ask, for example, how it is that anti-Semitism has reared its head in the world precisely in the past year, the year after we dropped white-phosphorous bombs on Gaza. How beautiful it would have been if on this International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Netanyahu had declared a new policy for integrating refugees instead of expulsion, or lifted the Gaza blockade.

A thousand speeches against anti-Semitism will not extinguish the flames ignited by Operation Cast Lead, flames that threaten not only Israel but the entire Jewish world. As long as Gaza is under blockade and Israel sinks into its institutionalized xenophobia, Holocaust speeches will remain hollow. As long as evil is rampant here at home, neither the world nor we will be able to accept our preaching to others, even if they deserve it.  Full story

Sending a Flotilla in the Spring to Break the Siege of Gaza

...Free Gaza Movement and the Turkish Relief Foundation (IHH), announce a joint venture, sending 10 boats in the spring of 2010 to the besieged Gaza strip. Organizations from Greece, Ireland and Sweden have also promised to send boats to join the flotilla with the Free Gaza movement and Turkey.

.....Two cargo ships will be part of the flotilla, one donated by the Malaysia-based Perdana Foundation and one from IHH. Both will be laden with building supplies, generators and educational materials that Israel prohibits from entering Gaza since their brutal attack on the civilian population a year ago.

The many passenger boats accompanying the cargo ships will carry members of Parliament from countries around the world as well as high-profile journalists and human rights workers.   Full story

Israeli forces injure 5 north of Jerusalem during home invasion

Israeli forces injured five members of the Awad family, including a pregnant woman, when an undercover force raided their home in the Shufat Refugee Camp on Thursday night, the family said.

Jamal Awad, director of the UNRWA office in the camp, said the forces entered his home on the pretext of pursuing a child fleeing the scene of crime that allegedly took place in the Pisgat Ze'ev settlement in Jerusalem.

The family refused entry to the force, which they said used tear gas and batons to force their way into the home. Jamal said that he, his son Muhammad, his pregnant daughter-in-law, and relatives Ashraf and Muammar were all injured in the assault...  Full story

Soldiers 'attack' journalists near Nablus

A group of Palestinian photojournalists documenting tree-planting near Nablus on Thursday afternoon said they were accosted by Israeli forces, who declared the area a closed military zone.

The tree-planting, on the edges of Burin village, was set to see 250 olive saplings dug into the soil under a new "Green Palestine" project in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Agriculture.

Journalists, including Ma'an photographer Rami Swidan, said soldiers descended on the group, insisting that because they were in a closed military zone, no photographs could be taken in the area.

Swidan said soldiers approached the group and ordered them to stop filming, but that they refused. He said a soldier hit him on his chest and tried to take the camera by force...., soldiers fired tear-gas canisters and a stun grenade at the group in an apparent attempt to disperse them.

Swidan said he was beaten, along with the other photographers, and that several pieces of equipment were confiscated. At least a dozen tear-gas canisters were launched, he said, causing several of the tree-planters to lose consciousness.

Nablus Deputy Governor Anan Al-Atira, present at the tree planting, called the violence "brutal and baseless."

....MADA "strongly condemns the Israeli occupation army attack on Ma'an News Agency photographer Rami Swidan, Palmedia cameraman Ashraf Abu Shawish, Reuter's photographer Abdel-Rahim Alqusini, and Reuter's cameraman Hassan Titi," it said in a statement.

Latest in a string of allegations

The reported incident would be the fourth such in the last week, with three journalists detained on Sunday during the course of their work.....   Full story

OPT: Flood misery for tented communities in Gaza

Thousands of Gazans made homeless by Israel’s 23-day military assault on the Gaza Strip which ended just over a year ago, are still in tents and damaged buildings; cold weather and recent flash floods have exacerbated their plight, say aid workers and the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).

....The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) described conditions in al-Mughraqa as “shocking”. Most of the residents there have no land of their own and live in shelters or tents with their livestock, on which they depend for their livelihoods.

Residents said many of their animals were killed in the floods and people were surviving on food distributed by Hamas, the de facto ruling authority in Gaza since 2007.

......."We don’t sleep at all when it rains like this in winter,” said Um Subhi Awaja, 33, who is pregnant and lives in a tent in Beit Lahiya with her husband and five children. “We stay up the whole night scooping water out and trying to dig a small ditch around the tent to prevent more water getting in, but it doesn’t help. My children are afraid and we don’t have enough blankets or clothes. It’s so cold we’re freezing.”....

"I’m not sure how we will cope… The children are always getting sick, coughing or getting a fever,” she said.

Photo: Suhair Karam/IRIN
Um Subhi Awaja, 33, sits with her children in her family tent in Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza. Their house was destroyed during the Israeli offensive in Gaza in January 2009
Rent relief

According to an April 2009 UNRWA and UN Development Programme assessment of the damaged caused by the Israeli assault and subsequent fighting, some 4,036 houses in Gaza were totally destroyed or beyond repair, and 11,514 partially destroyed.

Those made homeless have squeezed in with relatives, rented apartments or made do in their damaged homes, aid workers said.

Ahmed Harb al-Kurd, Hamas social affairs minister, said on 27 January that Hamas has offered to pay rent of up to US$3,000 a year to any Gazans who lost their homes during the war. He told IRIN that this would be until “the government finds a solution to reconstruct their houses once Israel lifts its barbaric siege, and construction materials, such as cement, are allowed to cross to Gaza”.

Israel has not allowed cement and building materials into Gaza since June 2007, shortly after Hamas took over in the Strip, because it says they could be seized by Hamas to fortify their military structures.

The UN has repeatedly called for the lifting of the blockade on humanitarian grounds.

“We have seen nothing” of the $4.4 billion pledged to the Palestinian Authority by more than 80 states and organizations at a donor conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in March 2009, al-Kurd said. The money was meant for the Palestinian economy as a whole and Gaza in particular....  Full story

B'Tselem investigation raises grave suspicion that the killing of the three Palestinians in Nablus on 26 December 2009 was unlawful


In the pre-dawn hours of 26 December 2009, soldiers shot to death Ghassan Abu Sharakh, Nader a-Sarkaji, and ‘Anan Subuh, while each of them was at home in the Old City of Nablus. The first two were with their families at the time they were shot.........

B'Tselem’s investigation of the event, which included interviews with nine relatives of the men who were killed and examination of the findings at the scene and of medical reports..... The investigation raises a grave suspicion that the soldiers acted unlawfully and, at least in the cases of Ghassan Abu Sharakh and Nader a-Sarkaji, made no attempt to arrest them before shooting them to death.

The findings of the investigation follow....

In light of the above, B'Tselem wrote to the judge advocate general, Maj. Gen. Avichai Mandelblit, demanding that he immediately order a Military Police investigation into the circumstances of the killings ....  also investigate the soldiers’ violence and threats against the families of the three men and the damage caused to their property.    Full story

Israeli troops raid Qalqiliya, search home

Israeli forces raided the northern West Bank city of Qalqiliya from two sides at dawn on Thursday, Palestinian security sources said.

.....During the operation, soldiers searched the home of Muhammad Adnan, a member of the Qalqiliya city council, as well as the homes of his brother and several relatives, the sources said.

....the troops were accompanied by dogs, and caused what one termed "a huge mess."

........The raid was the second in 24 hours. On Wednesday afternoon, soldiers entered the city and stopped a number of residents, asking them for identification, witnesses said.

Four military jeeps entered the city a few meters from the Preventative Security headquarters, where they asked a number of residents for their ID cards, the witnesses said...   Full story

MADA condemns Malsin deportation

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) strongly condemned Israel's deportation of Ma'an News Agency's chief English editor last week.

....MADA said it considered "this act as a serious breach" in freedom of expression, and called on the International Federation of Journalists to intervene.

Malsin was detained at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv on 12 January 2010. He was interrogated for eight hours in a detention hall during which time he had no access to a lawyer or to his consulate.

He was denied entry into the country for "failing to cooperate" with Israeli security personnel, and because he had authored news stories "inside the territories" and articles "criticizing the State of Israel."......    Full story

Testimony: New intel officer harasses Nablus residents

Stripped almost naked in the January cold, Issam Mismar, 42, a father of five, was introduced to an Israeli soldier claiming to be the new intelligence chief in Nablus district.

"I’m the officer Oren, a new officer in the area, I came to personally get to know you. How are you and how are your kids?” Mismar remembered the man, holding a computer and sitting in a military jeep, telling him......

The ten men were stopped by Israeli forces on the road. "They made us take off our clothes, and then go meet the Israeli intelligence officer who carried a computer and was sitting in a military jeep," Mismar recalled.

Then the officer, who identified himself as Oren, asked Mismar, half naked, about his kids, about the mosque and who prayed at it, how many people there were and what the situation was there in general. Mismar said he asked questions for 5-10 minutes before he was allowed to go......

Yasser Alawneh, with the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) said the practice of making civilians strip "is a clear and flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which explicitly states that the occupying power should uphold the dignity and rights of all the citizens that are under its control.”...  Full story

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Gaza children sing for Obama

Obama_at_AIPAC(Pal Telegraph) year ago, the Gazans who were seared by the bright flames of phosphorous bombs used by what is ironically called the Israel Defense Force, placed much hope on the new president of the United States. They believed he would promptly intervene and press Israel to stop its crimes against our beleaguered land, that he would be just and fair as he promised. However, he did practically nothing...

As an "Americanist" in Gaza -- a professor who loves America and the wonderful American people, and teaches American literature and American culture, I was disappointed with the performance of the new American administration in its first year.

I expressed this disappointment in a message to Obama sung by Palestinian children -- those who do not know why they are orphaned, why they are jailed in a big concentration camp called Gaza, or why they are being suffocated by a siege imposed by the most unethical force of oppression in the world -- one that uses the most sophisticated American weapons. ....
Full story

Israeli forces detain popular resistance coordinator in Bil'in

In what organizers are calling "the highest profile arrest of the recent wave of repression against West Bank popular struggle," Israeli forces detained Popular Committee member Mohammed Khatib from the village of Bil'in before sunrise Thursday.

According to fellow members of the Popular Committee, Israeli forces entered the village at 2am, and stormed Khatib's home, waking Mohammad, his wife and four young children. The home was quickly searched and troops retreated from the area shortly after the arrest.

Several witnesses and international solidarity workers reported seeing five military jeeps return to the home approximately thirty minutes after the detention. According to a statement, "six soldiers forced their way into the house again, where Khatib's children sat in terror, and conducted another, very thorough search of the premises, without showing a search warrant. During the search, Khatib's phone and many documents were seized, including papers from Bil'in's legal procedures in the Israel High Court."

Witnesses said soldiers left a note "saying that documents suspected as 'incitement materials' were seized," the statement said......   Full story

Similar raids have also been conducted in the village of alMaasara, south of Bethlehem, and in the village of Ni’ilin – where 110 residents have been arrested over the last year and half, as well as in the cities of Nablus, Ramallah and East Jerusalem.

Our Playing Small does not Serve the World

I remained silent. I went below ground. I wanted to erase my name and work from internet sites-from the memory and eyes of the Israeli security. But by hiding, silencing my story, I admit defeat. I refuse to cower in the face of Israeli discrimination and fear. I am just one woman. One Arab American woman.
,,,,, who believed that she could in some small way make a difference. I thought that I could help people understand a more complex history of the Palestine and Israeli conflict. I hoped to learn and share what peace means to both my Palestinian and Israeli brothers and sisters. This hope was robbed from me on January 3rd, 2010. On this day I arrived to Tel Aviv Airport and was greeted with suspicion, disrespect and hostility. I was held for 36 hours, repeatedly strip searched and questioned, fingerprinted, photographed, thrown in jail and deported; barred from entering Israel or the Palestinian Territories for a minimum of ten years.

My crimes? Well, the state of Israel does not have to give reason for deportation and exile. However I suspect being Arab is enough of a crime. Photographs I took in the West Bank city of Hebron were found via internet searching. I was quoted on a blog regarding home stay experience with a Palestinian family during a delegation with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) last March. Do I believe that working with CPT is a threat to the state of Israel? Well, that depends on your vision of Israel- of Israeli security. If Israel is really committed to peace with their Palestinian neighbors wouldn't it behoove them to encourage the peacemakers, the educators and media?....

Instead Israel seems to be sending a clear message to the international community: Continuing to work within the West Bank will earn you jail time and deportation. In the past month they arrested and deported Eva Nováková, the media co-ordinator for the International Solidarity Movement-one of the strongest Palestinian non-violent direct action organizations in the Occupied Territories. They also denied entry to two full-time Christian Peacemaker Team members as well as a long-time delegation leader Bob Gross, head of On Earth Peace.

It is rumored that the TIPH (Temporary International Presence in Hebron) will not be allowed to renew their contract in order to keep an international presence in the one of the most volatile regions in the West Bank.... Israel is beginning to launch a new campaign to refuse work permits for international NGO workers from Oxfam, Save the Children, Médecins Sans Frontières, Terre des Hommes, Handicap International and the Religious Society of Friends... Ma'an News Journalist Jared Malsin was deported for reporting on the situation in the Occupied Territories.

We cannot remain silent. We will continue to return, to write, to photograph, to record and to stand with those people working for a just peace in the Middle East. Full story

Israel To Demolish 11 Homes, Cooperative Society and A Clinic In Hebron

The Israeli Authorities decided to demolish eleven Palestinian homes, a Cooperative Society and a Clinic in the Al Baq’a area, and in Ithna town, near the southern West Bank city of Hebron.
....the army handed seven orders for demolition of their homes in the town.

The army claims that the structure are built without permit.

........Furthermore, Israeli soldiers handed four residents of Jaber family military orders for the demolition of their homes under the pretext that that they were built without permit.

The army also handed an order to the demolition of Al Nour Cooperative Society and a number of clinics.

The orders are illegal as those areas are under Palestinian Civil control and permits in this regard are issued by the local councils of the Palestinian Authority. Full story

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

US lawmakers urge Obama: Press Israel to ease Gaza siege

By Wednesday, 27 January 2010, 54 members of the American Congress had signed the following letter to US President Barack Obama:

Dear President Obama,

......The unabated suffering of Gazan civilians highlights the urgency of reaching a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and we ask you to press for immediate relief for the citizens of Gaza as an urgent component of your broader Middle East peace efforts. The current blockade has severely impeded the ability of aid agencies to do their work to relieve suffering, and we ask that you advocate for immediate improvements for Gaza in the following areas:

• Movement of people, especially students, the ill, aid workers, journalists, and those with family concerns, into and out of Gaza;
• Access to clean water, including water infrastructure materials,
• Access to plentiful and varied food and agricultural materials;
• Access to medicine and health care products and suppliers;
• Access to sanitation supplies, including sanitation infrastructure materials;
• Access to construction materials for repairs and rebuilding;
• Access to fuel;
• Access to spare parts;
• Prompt passage into and out of Gaza for commercial and agricultural goods; and
• Publication and review of the list of items prohibited to the people of Gaza.

Winter is arriving and the needs of the people grow ever more pressing. For example, the ban on building materials is preventing the reconstruction of thousands of innocent families' damaged homes. There is also a concern that unrepaired sewage treatment plants will overflow and damage surrounding property and water resources.

Despite ad hoc easing of the blockade, there has been no significant improvement in the quantity and scope of goods allowed into Gaza. Both the number of trucks entering Gaza per month and the number of days the crossings have been open have declined since March. This crisis has devastated livelihoods, entrenched a poverty rate of over 70%, increased dependence on erratic international aid, allowed the deterioration of public infrastructure, and led to the marked decline of the accessibility of essential services.

The humanitarian and political consequences of a continued near-blockade would be disastrous. Easing the blockade on Gaza will not only improve the conditions on the ground for Gaza's civilian population, but will also undermine the tunnel economy which has strengthened Hamas. Under current conditions, our aid remains little more than an unrealized pledge. Most importantly, lifting these restrictions will give civilians in Gaza a tangible sense that diplomacy can be an effective tool for bettering their conditions.

Your Administration's overarching Middle East peace efforts will benefit Israel, the Palestinians, and the entire region. The people of Gaza, along with all the peoples of the region, must see that the United States is dedicated to addressing the legitimate security needs of the State of Israel and to ensuring that the legitimate needs of the Palestinian population are met.  Full letter and list of signatories

Susan Chira, New York Times Foreign Editor, confirms, excuses Bronner's conflict of interest

(L-R) Times Foreign Editor Susan Chira, Jerusalem Bureau Chief Ethan Bronner
Responding to an inquiry from If Americans Knew, New York Times foreign desk staffer Kyle Crichton confirmed that the son of the Times' Jerusalem Bureau chief is in the Israeli army.

When queried about this seeming conflict of interest, Chrichton referenced a statement by Times Foreign Editor Susan Chira, who declined to come on the phone.

Chira's statement, issued to Electronic Intifada yesterday in response to EI's query as to whether Bronner's son was in the Israeli military, reads:

“Ethan Bronner referred your query to me, the foreign editor. Here is my comment: Mr. Bronner’s son is a young adult who makes his own decisions. At The Times, we have found Mr. Bronner’s coverage to be scrupulously fair and we are confident that will continue to be the case.”

When asked about the Times' ethics policy, in which even a family member's bumper sticker could be considered a conflict problem, Chrichton said he could not comment and conveyed Chira's statement that she would not say anything further on the topic.

Chira was also asked by way of Chrichton whether Bronner had divulged this potential conflict of interest to the Times ahead of time, as required by Times' ethics guidelines. Chira refused to answer.

Times' guidelines state that in serious breaches, "the staff member may have to withdraw from certain coverage. Sometimes an assignment may have to be modified or a beat changed."

Yesterday, If Americans Knew posted a blog entry on the situation discussing the organization's studies of the New York Times, which had found considerable pro-Israel distortion.

In addition the post revealed that Bronner had said that there were not enough competent Arab/Muslim American journalists to balance the 2-3 Jewish journalists covering Israel-Palestine, despite the fact that Arab-American and Muslim-American journalists have won such journalism awards as the Pulitzer Prize.

Bronner's situation was originally broken by the Electronic Intifada, which said that it had indirect information that Bronner's son was in the Israeli military.

Settlers attack Palestinians to avenge West Bank outpost demolition

The text messages were sent out en masse at about 9:43 A.M....

Several dozen teens from the area responded to the call and rushed to the Givat Menachem outpost, hoping to prevent the razing of the outpost's synagogue. It was too late. When they arrived, the police are already gone....

... they began chanting slogans: "The police destroy nothing that belongs to Arabs." "The rule of evil is persecuting the settlements." "In 24 hours, we will set this place up anew." "We will not be broken."

As the number of teens at the site grew, and talk of the "unfair" treatment intensified, it was clear that a "price tag" operation - an attack against Palestinians or their property to retaliate for outpost demolitions - was only a matter of time. In recent months, the Dolev-Talmonim area has become a "price tag" zone.

....despite the military preparations, the youths found a weak point.... Suddenly, the relative quiet turned into an assault, as one teen galloped to the top of the path, shouting, "Let's go! Mayhem!"

About 20 other teens, some with masked faces, joined him. They stopped suddenly near an olive tree, cut branches from it and made themselves improvised weapons. Other picked up stones, and one of the older ones became a security guard, making sure no journalists joined the operation.

"We will break your cameras," he threatened, to emphasize the risk of disobeying him. Another youth, his face masked, came up with a bottle of water to spill on the camera.

The crowd of rioters reached a house at the edge of Bitilu, which overlooks the nearby settlements. The house belongs to the Mazar family. Some of the teens approached the back of the house and threw stones at the windows. Other approached the car at the front and tried to set it on fire. One of the seats did catch fire, but the residents managed to put it out.

Two other members of the household tried to escape in another car. The rioters surrounded them and pelted them with stones.

Mohammed Mazar, who was visiting his grandmother, was hit in the head and began to bleed. Another relative was also injured, and both were evacuated to a local clinic.

....The rioters then quickly escaped, leaving behind destruction, casualties and an unsettled village. The village school was closed. Municipal workers were sent home. The shopkeepers in the center of the village closed their stores and rushed to the site of the attack...

Jamal Mazar showed everyone his son, who was bleeding from a wound to his head. Mohammed Radwan, the town's engineer, said at least 30 people were injured in the attack.

The villagers began preparing to attack the outpost and pay its residents back. But then, three border policemen arrived at the scene and barred the way. Full story

PSP: Israeli patrol tried to run over elderly woman

An Israeli military patrol car attempted to overrun an elderly woman in Beit Ummar, north of Hebron, as she tried to protect her grandchild from being detained on Tuesday afternoon, according to the activist group the Palestine Solidarity Project.

...said that three patrols raided the town of Beit Ummar, opened fire and threw tear-gas canisters inside the homes of Palestinian. Young Palestinians then began hurling stones at the patrols, he said, following which Fadi Ahmad Muhammad Abu Maria, 16, was detained.

Abu Maria's grandmother attempted to protect him when the patrol tried to run her over...   Full story

Hamas prepares to sue Israel for organ theft

The de facto government in the Gaza Strip began collecting the testimonies of families whose sons allegedly had their organs harvested by Israeli soldiers, Gaza Minister of Justice Muhammad Faraj Al-Ghoul said Wednesday.

"We have started collecting documents and information which prove that the Israeli occupation has stolen the body parts of martyrs. We intend to prepare a complete legal file to be used in suits against the Israeli government in international courts,” Al-Ghoul told reporters in Gaza.

The announcement follows months of on and off accusations and a building pile of reports from Israeli and international reporters alleging a series of incidents involving the theft of organs from young men in Israeli custody.

Al-Ghoul said announcements would be printed in the local newspapers asking families and victims of the alleged harvesting come forward and testify at the offices of the ministry.

[Israel's chief pathologist and former head of Israel's state morgue Yehuda Hiss has been repeatedly investigated by Israel for organ theft and has admitted taking Palestinian organs.]  Full story 

More information on Israeli organ harvesting

Gaza leaders plead for EU, Quartet support for fuel shortage

Urgent and intensive communication is ongoing between Gaza leaders and the international community over the current fuel crisis....

Several letters were sent to leaders of EU member states via their representative offices in Jerusalem, the head of the European Commission Christian Berger, as well as to the offices of the International Middle East Quartet, Al-Wadieh said, asking that competent authorities step in and stop the situation in the Gaza Strip from deteriorating.

The letters asked the officials to interfere and prevent the fallout if the fuel station stopped working, he said.

"The cold is causing suffering for the people whose houses were demolished as a result of the war,” the official said, calling the current situation "dramatic" and asking what residents are supposed to do without electricity for eight to 10 hours a day...    Full story

Yousef: “Occupation Deliberately Tries To Humiliate Figures and Legislators Visiting Gaza”

Ahmad Yousef - Palestine-InfoDr. Ahmad Yousef, advisor of the Palestinian Foreign Ministry in Gaza, stated that the Israeli occupation deliberately tries to humiliate international figures and legislators who attempt to visit the Gaza Strip.
....Israel’s behavior towards Belgian Development Minister, Charles Michel, preventing him from entering Gaza, is another Israeli violation to the international law. 

Yousef went on to say that the occupation believes that allowing international figures into the Gaza Strip would expose its violations in Gaza especially since it is trying to claim that the Hamas movement is fabricating the suffering of the residents, living under siege and ongoing attacks. 
  Full story

Soldiers Kidnap 15 Palestinians In Less Than Two Days

Israeli soldiers kidnapped at least 15 Palestinians, this Sunday and Monday, and detained them for the purpose of interrogation.
Local sources reported that on Monday, at dawn, soldiers kidnapped five Palestinians in the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

Two of them were kidnapped near the Ibrahimi Mosque in the center of Hebron. They were violently attacked and beaten by the soldiers who stopped them at a roadblock in the Old City.

...suffered several bruises and concussions after being attacked by the soldiers, and was moved to the Ezion military camp, north of Hebron.

....Furthermore, soldiers invaded the town of Tarqoumia, west of Hebron, and handed a resident a military order for questioning.

The soldiers broke into his home and ransacked it, before handing him the order.

Soldiers also kidnapped two residents in Arraba village, near the northern West Bank city of Jenin. The two were arrested after the army broke into and ransacked their homes also.

They were identified as Mansour Iz Ed-Deen and Mohammad Shqeir. Their families were forced out of their homes for several hours while the army searched the property.

In addition soldiers fired concussion grenades and gas bombs to terrorize the residents...

In the central West bank city of Ramallah, soldiers kidnapped nine Palestinians described by the army as persons named on their “wanted list”. They were all moved to interrogation centers, an Israeli army spokesperson said.

On Sunday, Israeli soldiers arrested nine laborers from the Al Khader village, near Bethlehem, after violently attacking them.

The workers were initially detained in front of Al Zayyim roadblock, in East Jerusalem. They were reported to be on their way to Jerusalem, attempting to find work to support their families.

The army said the workers did not carry the permits that allow Palestinian residents of the West Bank to enter Israel. The soldiers struck them with their rifles and batons, in addition to kicking and punching them.

They suffered concussions and fractures to several parts of their bodies. Full story

Palestinians prepare to enter record books with longest caricature

Palestinians are hoping to enter the Guinness Book of World Records for the third time for drawing the longest caricature in the world.

Muhammad An-Nimnim, known as Abu Noon, the director of Artists for Freedom in Palestine and a Palestinian cartoonist, told Ma’an that the participants are in preparation and making the necessary arrangements to enter the record books with the longest caricature in 2010.

Abu Noon said he hopes that the picture will be drawn on the separation wall in Bethlehem in the West Bank, to boost tourism to the city. International artists will also participate in the caricature's creation, in support of peace, he said.

Coordination with a consulate is underway to complete the necessary procedures to allow the artists to begin drawing on the wall in Bethlehem, he added.

The caricature, he said, will express peace and the universal language of art.........   Full story

Daily Situation Report: Jan 24, 2010

Israeli actions:
  • Arrests (per person) — 4 Incl. 2 in Bethlehem & 1 in Nablus
  • Detentions — 13 Incl. municipality staff
  • Raids — 27 Incl. 4 in Nablus & 3 in Qalqiliya
  • Checkpoints — 9 Access impeded at 6 checkpoints
  • Flying Checkpoints — 23 Incl. 7 in Salfit & 1 in Nablus
  • Attack — 1 In a raid on Habla town in Qalqiliya dis.
  • Provocation of Pal. Forces — 1 Storming police station in Biddu town
  • Wall Construction — 21 Jer., Raml’h., Qalq., Salfit, Heb., Beth.
  • Closure (per District) — 7 Jer., Beth. (2 villages) & Hebron (4 areas) 
  • Closure of Main Roads — 39 Incl. 8 in Nablus & 2 in Qalqiliya
  • Closure of Crossing Points —  4 Partial opening of 3 crossings only
  • Settler Violence — 2 Assaulting a civilian & stealing 15 sheep Full report

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

New York Times fails to disclose Jerusalem bureau chief's conflict of interest

The New York Times has all but confirmed to The Electronic Intifada (EI) that the son of its Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner was recently inducted into the Israeli army.

Over the weekend, EI received a tip suggesting this had been the case and wrote to Bronner to ask him to confirm or deny the information and to seek his opinion on whether, if true, he thought it would be a conflict of interest.

Susan Chira, the foreign editor of The New York Times wrote in an email to The Electronic Intifada this morning:

"Ethan Bronner referred your query to me, the foreign editor. Here is my comment: Mr. Bronner's son is a young adult who makes his own decisions. At The Times, we have found Mr. Bronner's coverage to be scrupulously fair and we are confident that will continue to be the case."

The Electronic Intifada also wrote to Clark Hoyt, the public editor of The New York Times, to confirm the information and ask for an opinion on whether this constituted a conflict of interest, but had yet to receive a response.

Bronner, as bureau chief, has primary responsibility for his paper's reporting on all aspects of the Palestine/Israel conflict, and on the Israeli army, whose official name is the "Israel Defense Forces."

On 23 January, Bronner published a lengthy article on Israel's efforts to refute allegations contained in the UN-commissioned Goldstone report of war crimes and crimes against humanity during its attack on Gaza last winter ("Israel Poised to Challenge a UN Report on Gaza").

As'ad AbuKhalil, a frequent critic of Bronner's coverage, blogged in response that "The New York Times devoted more space to Israeli and Zionist criticisms of the Goldstone report than to the [content of the] report itself" (The Angry Arab News Service, "Ethan Bronner's propaganda services, 25 January 2010)

Bronner's pro-Israeli bias reporting on Israel's attack on Gaza last year was also criticized by the media watchdog Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) (See "NYT and the Perils of Mideast 'Balance'," 4 February 2009).

The New York Times' own "Company policy on Ethics in Journalism" acknowledges that the activities of a journalist's family member may constitute a conflict of interest. It includes as an example, "A brother or a daughter in a high-profile job on Wall Street might produce the appearance of conflict for a business reporter or editor." Such conflicts may on occasion require the staff member "to withdraw from certain coverage.".........  Full story

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Palestinian farmers are being treated like criminals

Ha'aretz - Amira Hass
Under the cover of the incessant noise from the roads in the Hebron district, an anonymous Arab is perpetrating a serious crime: With a small hammer, he is digging a cistern so he can collect rainwater on his rocky land. Other such criminals have other methods of carrying out their evil schemes - which is to say, to prepare their land for cultivation of vegetables, grain, grapevines or almond trees.

"When someone builds a terrace on his land, he does it by taking a stone from the ground and adding it to the supporting wall once a month or once a week at most, so that it will be hard to discern the change," a Hebron resident said, explaining one of the methods.

Experience shows that if you use heavy equipment to rehabilitate the land, it immediately attracts Civil Administration inspectors and local settlers, and is followed shortly afterward by stop-work injunctions.

In the spirit of the popular saying along the lines of "Give a man a fishing rod rather than a fish," the European Union has been devoting attention and money to Palestinian farmers in recent years......

"And we were actually convinced that the Palestinians and Israel have a common interest: developing Area C, which supports the Palestinian economy, and projects that suit both sides in terms of the environment," said a European diplomat - who discovered he was mistaken.

Over the past two years, the Civil Administration in the Hebron area has issued dozens of stop-work orders to Palestinian farmers trying to reclaim, rehabilitate and prepare the land on their property. That is how European officials, representatives of the donor nations, discovered that Palestinians "are not allowed to move a stone or plant a tree or collect rainwater on their land without the approval of the Civil Administration," as one of them told Haaretz.....

............Nobody wants to experience what happened four months ago to the family of Rabi'a Jaber . In October, Israel Defense Forces soldiers and the Civil Administration raided the family's dry, rocky 10-dunam plot, southeast of Hebron. An IDF bulldozer scattered the stones of the terraces, turned over the ground and destroyed the cistern...  Full story

Israeli Occupation Forces kidnap 4 in Beit Ommar, West Bank

At 4am on January 21st, at least 30 members of the Israel Police, Border Police, Army and Secret Police (Shin Bet) raided the village ofBeit Ommar, arresting four men.

At the home of Mohammed Salibi, the Occupation Forces broke the window of the door in an effort to enter, as well as another window. Upon entering with a search dog, they asked for the whereabouts of Mohammed from his brothers, Alah, 20, and Ahmed, 14, who were sleeping at the time..... Three agents picked up Ahmed and threw him
on the ground. Cabinets were also smashed...

After finding Mohammed, 25, sleeping, they arrested him and took him away without providing further information. As of January 24th, there is still no word on his whereabouts. Three other residents of Beit Ommar were arrested: Jamal Ibrahim ‘Aliyan, 18; Mohammed Mahsin Abd Al-hamid Awoud, 32, an officer in the Palestinian Police Force; and ‘Alam Ghazi Munir Ibraghit, 18... Damage to the
Salibi house totaled over 400 shekels...  Full story

An open letter to the Israeli Ministry of the Interior - Christian Peacemaker Teams

Things you may not know about internationals working in Palestine

Dear Ministry Personnel,

At church this past Sunday in Jerusalem, the pastor read the names of church members to whom you had recently denied entry into Israel. Several worked for organizations that have been trying to meet human need in this area for decades. Everyone in that congregation probably felt the same chill I did as I imagined the interrogation, the airport jail cell, and the police van parked, blue lights flashing, on the tarmac to prevent us from leaving on the jet deporting us to our home countries.

I will operate on the assumption that you think Palestinians should have the same human rights as Israelis, and that you honestly think internationals working in Palestine represent a threat to Israel’s security. If that is so, then I would like to enlighten you on a few points:

1) Most individuals who come to work for aid, development, peace, and human rights organizations in Palestine and Israel are compassionate people who have chosen their line of work because they want to alleviate human suffering. If you showed up at their doorstep, hungry, cold and unarmed, they would take you in, give you a hot meal and listen sympathetically when you told them how you ended up in such an unfortunate condition.

2) You should really get to know human rights workers. For one thing, most of them are really funny. More importantly, many of them became interested in their field after they learned about the Holocaust and the centuries of anti-Semitic persecution leading up to it. They want to work toward a world where these evils never happen again to anyone......

3) And as long as we’re on the topic of anti-Semitism: Ouch. It really hurts when you accuse us of that. Those of us who did not already have Jewish friends and family members when we came here have developed, over the years, warm relationships with Israelis, who, like us, think human rights are important

4) When you accuse us of siding with Palestinians, you should know that a lot of us, particularly church workers and members of peace organizations, came over here determined to listen to both Israelis and Palestinians and to present a balanced view of the situation to the folks at home. You should know that every international I have met who did this sort of careful, even-handed listening, every single one of them, eventually just accepted the fact that Israel has shafted the Palestinians...

As I said, the above points are relevant if you value human rights. If you think Palestinian lives are worth less than Israeli lives, that they should not have the human rights you claim for yourselves, and that Israel has the right to dominate, brutalize, and rob them indefinitely, well, never mind.

The Christian Peacemaker Teams include Mennonites, Brethren and Quakers as well as other ecumenical groups. In Palestine they work mainly in the Hebron area, using what they describe as Biblically-based and spiritually-centered peacemaking, emphasizing creative public witness, nonviolent direct action and protection of human rights.