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.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

IDF won't probe death of anti-fence activist killed by tear gas canister

A year after activist Bassem Abu Rahmeh was killed by a tear gas grenade in a protest near the village of Bil'in, the military prosecution decided it would not investigate his death.

Abu Rahmeh, a resident of Bil'in, took part in a protest against the separation fence constructed near the village on April 17, 2009. Footage of the event shows that at one point several demonstrators approached the fence and soldiers began shooting tear gas grenades in their direction.

Abu Rahmeh was standing further back and to the side, next to artist David Reev, who was filming. One of the tear gas grenades fired by the soldiers from about 30 meters away hit Abu Rahmeh in the chest, causing massive internal injuries, and he died at the scene.

The incident was documented by three different video cameras. Abu Rahmeh's family sent the footage to ballistics experts, who cross-sectioned the images and concluded the grenade was fired directly at Abu Rahmeh, contrary to rules of engagement for the weapon.

Immediately after the incident, human rights organization B'Tselem and the family petitioned the Israel Defense Forces to open a military police investigation........

"The military prosecution's decision provides more regrettable proof that the Goldstone Committee had been right to say we cannot rely on Israeli law enforcement and an internationally monitored investigation is necessary," [the family's lawyer] said. "Someone deciding not to investigate is someone who has something to hide. If the effort and creativity invested in preventing investigations were instead directed to unraveling the killing of unarmed civilians, maybe the military prosecution would not need to resort to using physical theories that sound like they were taken from a cartoon." Full story

Israelis to build apartments in NYC for $6.5M

After conquering popular areas in Israel, the Israelis have begun implementing the buyers group concept abroad. A recently formed buyers group is planning to build an apartment building near Columbia University in New York City at a total investment of $6.5 million.

The group bought the land, located on 116th Street and 8th Avenue at the entrance to the university, from an official receiver for $1.2 million. The land was purchased before the global financial crisis for $3.2 million.

The group was organized by Eldad Levy, an Israeli businessman living in New York. Levy, one of the owners of the Centrock Group, has built a model similar to the one of Israeli buyers groups, which will provide the buyers in New York with legal protection.....  Full story

Israeli raids see 2 detained, civilian car destroyed

Israeli soldiers raided the Duheisha refugee camp overnight, prompting young camp residents to throw stones at the invading troops, who responded by firing tear-gas canisters and rubber-coated bullets, locals said.

During the invasion, residents reported, soldiers totaled the car of a civilian..., as armored vehicles deployed around his home....

Raids in Salfit see 2 detained

A report from the Palestinian Authority police said two were detained during overnight raids in the Salfit district, and a curfew was imposed on the village of Deir Istiya.

Two members of the Zeidan family, including a teenager, were taken by Israeli forces from the village northwest of Salfit, police said, identifying the two as 16-year-old Abed Ar-Rahim Zeidan and his relative Mohammad Abed Al-Qader Zeidan, 38....  Full story

CPT report corroborates family account of child arrest

A report from Christian Peacemaker Teams in Hebron confirmed reports of the detention of a 13-year-old girl by Israeli forces last week.

At the time, an Israeli military spokesman said he had no knowledge of the incident, which was left uncorroborated until a CPT report was released on Thursday.

According to the report, "At about 5:45pm, CPTers followed four Israeli soldiers as they entered the girl’s home and ordered the entire family to the roof. Once on the roof, a fifth soldier from a permanent post on a neighboring Israeli settler home ordered the family’s three teenage daughters to one side of the roof.

"The soldier singled out the 13-year-old and accused her of throwing a stone. The girl’s mother protested saying that minutes before she had notified this soldier of settlers throwing stones at her as she hung her laundry and that he had seen settlers throwing stones. She was dumbfounded that the soldier’s response was to call another unit of soldiers to detain her daughter.

"Two more units of soldiers arrived at the house before escorting the girl out of her home. The girl’s aunt attempted to prevent the soldiers from taking the girl by linking arms with her and refusing to let go. After a five-minute stand off, soldiers stated that the aunt could accompany the girl and the group of eighteen soldiers escorted them both away to a military jeep. Israeli police arrived, arrested the girl and took her and her aunt to a police station for questioning and fingerprints."... Full story

Report: AIPAC mobilizes against Obama

America's main pro-Israel lobby group is mobilizing members of the US Congress to pressure the White House over its confrontation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu...

The Guardian newspaper reported that the move, by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), appears aimed at exploiting differences within the Obama administration as it decides how to use the crisis around settlement building in Jerusalem to press Israel toward concessions to kickstart peace negotiations.

AIPAC has persuaded more than three-quarters of the members of the US House of Representatives to sign a letter calling for an end to public criticism of Israel and urging the US to "reinforce" its relationship with Israel, The Guardian reported.   Full story

Palestinian Christians to be barred from Old City

Palestinians, particularly Christians will be barred from entering Jerusalem's Old City and accessing the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on Saturday, when eastern Orthodox Christians observe Sept An-Nour, or Saturday of light.

Church officials were informed by Israeli police that only international pilgrims would be allowed to access the area, Jerusalem officials said on Wednesday.

Saturday of Light takes place the day before Easter every year. Faithful believe that praying Church leaders are granted the miracle of fire from God after days of fasting and devout worship. Christians line the streets of the Old City in anticipation of the miracle fire, holding bunches of 33 candles, symbolizing the age of Christ when he was crucified.

Worshipers in the church light their candles and spread the fire to waiting pilgrims. Palestinian Christians from across the West Bank, Gaza and Israel gather at the celebration and take the miracle fire back to their homes as a symbol of community, hope and renewal.

The restrictions appear to mean that none of the Palestinian scout bands will be permitted to play at the procession welcoming the fire, and are the latest in a wave or prohibitions targeting Palestinian worshipers in the Easter season. They echo the harsh access limitations placed on Palestinian Muslims during Ramadan last year.

On Palm Sunday, West Bank Christians were prevented from participating in the Triumphal Entry procession, which traces the path believed to have been taken by Jesus on his return to the holy city before his death. Though thousands of West Bankers were granted Easter permits so they could access the area, a Passover closure announced the day before the Jewish holiday began shut down checkpoints for permit holders.

It was unclear whether the restrictions would be in place for Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Demonstrations on Palm Sunday saw Christians in Bethlehem march - lead by a donkey - toward the 300 checkpoints that Israeli officials had closed earlier in the day. Protesters took advantage of a brief opening of a gate in the separation wall, and passed through. On the far side the demonstrators were surrounded by Israeli soldiers and 10 were detained, including Abbas Zaki, member of the PLO's Executive Committee. The ten remain in Israeli custody.

Demonstrations continued on Monday, with West Bankers protesting the detention of the peaceful marchers. On Tuesday, Palestinian Authority security officers quashed what would likely have been a third march.

Zaki was set to stand before an Israeli military judge Wednesday, but protests outside the court combined with the PLO official's refusal to recognize the authority of the body resulted in a one day postponement.  Full story

Qassam Brigades Publishes Video OF Friday Clashes

The Al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, published a video documenting Friday clashes with Israeli soldiers and undercover forces infiltrating into Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. The clashes led to the death of two Israeli soldiers.
 from Al Qassam Video as published on Al Qassam Webpage
Still from Al Qassam Video as published on Al Qassam Webpage
The video clearly shows undercover forces of the Israeli army infiltrating into Gaza after crossing the border fence, and trying to advance towards the west.

It also shows soldiers being shot by Palestinian fire and shows enforcements and tanks invading the area in an attempt to evacuate the wounded soldiers.

Ambulances were also filmed while evacuating the killed and wounded soldiers and taking them to a helicopter that airlifted them to an Israeli hospital....

....the Al Quds Brigades of the Islamic Jihad stated its fighters were behind the killing of the two soldiers. Full story

Police: Settlers beat, hospitalize Hebron man

Israeli settlers beat a Hebron man who was transferred to hospital......

The man was identified as A’teiyah Yousef Maswada, 31, who was accosted by a group of 10 Israeli settlers at the intersection where Palestinian Authority control turns into an Israeli military-controlled zone, members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams were told by witnesses.

....By the time Israeli police arrived on the scene, the CPT observer noted, shopkeepers said the settlers had fled.   Full story

Israeli Army Shells Homes, Farmlands In Southern Gaza

Israeli tanks shelled on Wednesday midday residents homes and farmlands in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah.

....On Tuesday, troops killed one child and injured sixteen civilians in different part of the Gaza Strip.

Soldiers opened fire at residents who protested near border areas while marking Land Day.  Full story

Troops Detain Three Civilians During Invasions Targeting West Bank Communities

Three Palestinian civilians were detained on Wednesday by Israeli troops during invasions targeting a number of West Bank communities.

Local sources reported invasions in Hebron and Qalqilia, in the southern and northern parts of the West Bank. Troops searched homes then took the three men away...  Full story

Two Injured, Two Detained As Israeli Troops Attack Protests In Ramallah And Jenin

Two injured, dozens of people suffered effects of tear gas inhalation, and two were detained, on Wednesday afternoon, when Israeli troops attacked protests organized in Ramallah and Jenin, in the central and northern parts of the West Bank.
Protesters trying to force they way into the Ofer detention center
 near Ramallah – Photo by Hamdi Abu Rahmah -
Protesters trying to force their way into the Ofer detention center near Ramallah – Photo by Hamdi Abu Rahmah -
Hundreds of people gathered at the Ofer military detention center near Ramallah demanding the release of 10 Palestinians detained by troops on Sunday in the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem. The ten community organizers including Abbas Zaki, a top Fatah leader, were detained during a protest organized on Palm Sunday in Bethlehem city demanding the right of free access to Jerusalem.

On Sunday, residents along with Israeli and international supporters forced their way into the gate of the wall separating Bethlehem from Jerusalem and walked into Jerusalem before Israeli soldiers attacked them using rifle butts and batons. Soldiers forced people back to Bethlehem after detaining 10 Palestinians two internationals and three Israelis.  

Today, clashes erupted when protesters tried to force their way into the Ofer detention center where the army is holding the 10 Palestinians detained during Sunday protest. Troops used tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets to force the people away. Two were lightly wounded by rubber-coated steel bullets and many others were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation. During the, clashes Israeli soldiers detained two Palestinian youth.

Clashes were also reported on Wednesday when troops attack a protest marking Land Day at the village of Turah near Jenin, northern West Bank. Villagers marched to the gate of the nearby settlement of Shaked originally built on lands taken from the local famers. Troops used tear gas to suppress the protest and attacked local youth who hurled stones at them.

Three Israeli soldiers were lightly wounded during the clashes on Wednesday in Ramallah and Jenin, the Israeli army radio reported. On Tuesday Israeli troops opened fire at protests marking land day in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, killing one child and injuring many other civilians.

Palestinians mark the Land Day since March, 30th 1976, when clashes erupted near the Palestinian town of Sakhneen, in response to the Israeli government's plans to expropriate thousands of Palestinian-owned acres of land. A general strike and protests were organized in Arab towns from the Galilee to the Negev, met with severe violence from the Israeli police killing six Palestinians and wounding hundreds.   Full story

Senior Fateh Official To Stand Trial Wednesday


Member of the Fateh’s Central Committee, Abbas Zaki, reported that senior European official, representatives of the French and Spanish Consulates, will be attending his trial which will be held at an Israeli Court in Jerusalem on Wednesday.
Abbas Zaki detained - Maan Images
Abbas Zaki detained - Maan Images
The office of Zaki issued a press release demanding Israel to release him without preconditions, and stated that a massive protest will take place Wednesday at 11 a.m. in front of the Ofer Israeli Prison...

Representatives of the Spanish and French embassies, and several representatives of E.U countries will be attending the court session.

Spokesperson of the French Foreign Minister demanded Israel to release Zaki who was kidnapped by the soldiers during a nonviolent protest, as hundreds of residents protested on Palm Sunday demanding Israel to grant freedom of movement to all worshipers.

The soldiers kidnapped ten other residents during a similar protest in Bethlehem last Sunday

The Israeli Court in Jerusalem decided to keep Zaki imprisoned for further interrogation. He was later moved to Ofer prison near the central West Bank city of Ramallah. Full story

Troops Kidnap Two Residents, Impose Curfew On Dir Estia Village, Near Salfit

On Tuesday evening, Israeli soldiers imposed curfew on the village of Dir Estia, west the central West Bank city of Salfit, after invading and kidnapping two residents, including a child...  Full story

Palestinian Wounded By Settlers In Hebron

Palestinian medical sources reported on Tuesday evening that a resident suffered concussions and bruises after being violently attacked by extremist Jewish settlers in Hebron city, in the southern part of the West Bank.... Full story

Thousands Mark Land Day in Sakhneen

Thousands of Arabs residents, peace activists, held protests on Tuesday commemorating the 34th anniversary of Land Day in Sakhneen and several Arab villages and towns, north of the country.

The protestors placed roses on the graves of residents killed by the Israeli army and police.

........Palestinian Land Day commemorates Israel's March 30, 1976 killing of six Palestinians who were nonviolently protesting Israel’s theft of their lands, several other residents were wounded.

Since that day, Land Day is marked by Palestinians living within Israel, in the occupied territories, and in Diaspora to express steadfastness and determination to continue the struggle against occupation, racism and oppression.

Thousands also held protests in the Negev and other parts of the countries and chanted against Israel's illegal policies against the Arabs in the country.

They also protested Israel's illegal policies that prevents the Arabs from marking their national days, such as the Nakba day when Israel was created on their lands and homes by terrorizing the people out of their lands and conducting massacres against them....   Full story

Daily Situation Report: March 29, 2010

Israeli actions in West Bank and Gaza (Palestinian Occupied Territories)
  • Arrests (per person) — 2, 1 in Jerusalem & 1 in Nablus districts
  • Detentions — 13 At checkpoints & in residential locales
  • Raids – 9 Incl. 1 in Khan Yunis & 1 in Bethlehem
  • Checkpoints — 8 Access impeded at 5 checkpoints
  • Flying Checkpoints — 24 Incl. 6 in Qalqiliya & 5 in Jerusalem
  • Attacks – 5 Incl. the firing of artillery shells
  • Air Patrol —  1 Reconnaissance above Khan Yunis dis.
  • Provocation of Pal. Forces — 1 Serving summon to a police officer
  • School Obstruction — 3 Closing 3 schools inside Aqsa Mosque
  • Land Leveling —  1 Area of land in Khan Yunis district
  • Wall Construction — 22 Jer., Raml’h., Qalq., Salfit, Heb., Beth.
  • Closure (per District) — 7 Incl. Jerusalem city & areas in Hebron city
  • Closure of Main Roads — 40 Incl. 3 in Ramallah & 2 in Jerusalem
  • Closure of Crossing Points —  7 All closed.
  • Settler Violence — 2 Incl. assaulting farmers in Qalqiliya district
Palestinian activities in West Bank and Gaza (Palestinian Occupied Territories
  • Demonstration — 1 In Bethlehem to demand religious freedom
  • Palestinian Attack —  1 mortar fired towards the Green Line  Full report

Monday, March 29, 2010

PA: 20,000 could lose homes in Jerusalem

More than 20,000 Palestinian homes in Jerusalem could soon face demolition orders, according to Ahmad Ruweidi, a legal advisor on Jerusalem affairs within the Palestinian President's Office.

Ruweidi said Israeli courts will soon accuse homeowners of having violated construction restrictions over the past 10 years and issue demolition orders on the pretext that they needed renewable licenses.

Ruweidi pointed out that the number did not include homes whose owners have already received final demolition orders from Israel's Jerusalem Municipality or from the Israeli courts. This means, according to the lawyer, that all owners live in a state of fear that at any moment their homes could be demolished and that they will find their families living on the street.

He described Israel's policy as intended to force Palestinian residents of Jerusalem to pay large sums to engineers and lawyers in addition to significant fines for so-called violations of construction restrictions...   Full story

Israeli forces enter southern Gaza, dig up lands

Several Israeli military vehicles crossed into the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday, opening fire as bulldozers destroyed land.

Witnesses said the forces were predominantly targeting olive groves and almond fields in the Abasan Al-Jadida area east of Khan Younis...  Full story

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Child Dies Due to The Siege on Gaza

Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported that a 5-year-old child died on Saturday at a local hospital due to the ongoing illegal Israeli siege on the coastal region.

The child, Fuad Swerih, 5, suffered respiratory issues, and Israeli prevented his transfer to hospitals outside the besieged and war- torn Gaza Strip.

Swerih is from Al Nusseirat refugee camp, in central Gaza.

The doctors were trying to transfer him to an Israeli hospital but Israel rejected all applications.

There are hundreds of patients who are facing the same fate while Israeli is refusing to allow them medical treatment in Israeli hospital or elsewhere.

With the death of Swerih, the number of patients who died due to the siege arrive to 502.

The ongoing siege on Gaza and the war left the hospitals and medical centers lacking the main medical supplies and equipment. 

Daily Situation Report: March 26, 2010

Israeli actions in West Bank & Gaza (Palestinian territory)
  • Death  — 1 A civilian in the district of Khan Yunis 
  • Physical Assaults  —  2 female civilians run over by a jeep 
  • Injuries  – 9 Incl. 3 civilians in critical condition 
  • Air Attack  — 1 Missile by helicopters on Khan Yunis 
  • Attacks – 13 Incl. 6 in raids and 2 from mil. posts 
  • Raids – 9 Incl. 2 in Qalqiliya and 2 in Khan Yunis 
  • Air Patrols  — 5, 3 by reconnaissance & 2 by helicopters 
  • Arrests (per person) — 3 Incl. a female civilian in Jerusalem 
  • Detentions — 11 Incl. an Israeli peace activist, Ramallah  
  • House Demolition  —  1 A civilian house in Khan Yunis 
  • Land Levelling  — 1 Agricultural land in Khan Yunis 
  • Wall Construction — 22 Incl. Jer., Raml’h., Salfit, & Qalqiliya
  • Destruction of Property  —  1 Crops in Khan Yunis 
  • Closure of Checkpoints — 8 Incl. access impeded at 5 checkpoints
  • Flying Checkpoints — 18 Incl. 3 in Jerusalem and 2 in Tulkarem 
  • Closure (per District) — 9 Incl. Ni’lin and Bil’in in Ramallah 
  • Closure of Main Roads — 40 Incl. 4 in Bethlehem and 14 in Hebron 
  • Closure of Crossing Points —  6 Beit Hanun (Erez) Crossing partially 
  • Provocation of Pal. Forces — 1 Civil Defence vehicle detained, Salfit 
Palestinian actions in West Bank and Gaza (Palestinian territory)
  • Palestinian Attack  —  1 A mortar fired towards the Green Line 
    Demonstrations  — 6 Incl. against Wall construction  Full report 

Israel gags news of soldier-turned-journalist under arrest

JTA - Ron Kampeas
Israel has held a journalist under secret house arrest since last December based on allegations that during her military service she leaked classified documents suggesting the IDF violated laws dealing with targeted killings.

Anat Kam, 23, was arrested last December and charged under Israel's espionage and treason laws, JTA has learned.

Prosecutors are seeking a 14-year sentence, which is considered severe by Israeli standards. Mordechai Vanunu, who revealed the existence of Israel's nuclear weapons capability, was sentenced to 18 years, eventually serving the full amount.

At the time of her arrest, Kam was working as a reporter for the Israeli internet site Walla, which was partially owned by Haaretz until last week. But the charges relate to Kam’s service in the Israeli army, when she is alleged to have photocopied sensitive documents. Bloggers have speculated that the documents she allegedly photocopied served as the basis for a November 2008 Haaretz story suggesting alleged army violations.

Kam has denied the charges.

Kam’s arrest has been under a gag order in Israel, which Haaretz says it is appealing.

With the gag order in place, it is impossible to know exactly what the prosecution's reasoning is for a 14-year sentence. Israel sustains vibrant freedoms of speech and press [For Jewish citizens only], but there is a strong taboo in the country against relaying information garnered while in service. The fact that Kam allegedly photocopied the documents while in uniform may weigh against her.

Dof Alfon, the editor in chief of Haaretz, said the linkage between Kam’s arrest and the 2008 article, made in a number of blogs, is "absurd." He implied that the investigative reporter, Uri Blau, had obtained the information without assistance from Kam.

"Haaretz asked the court to lift the gag order, not just in the public interest but also to allow us to defend ourselves from this absurd allegation," Alfon said. "More than a year passed between the publication and her arrest, a year in which Uri Blau published several other front-page articles criticizing the army's conduct."

Eitan Lehman, one of Kam's lawyers, refused to comment or confirm any details. The IDF declined to comment.

JTA confirmed details of the case with sources close to the matter.

The Nov. 26, 2008 story in Haaretz  revealed the existence of documents defying a 2006 Supreme Court ruling against assassinating wanted militants who otherwise might be arrested safely.

In one March 28, 2007 document reprinted by Haaretz, Gen. Yair Naveh, then the central commander, permitted open-fire procedures upon identification of any of three leaders of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, even if it was not apparent that they posed a threat.

Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, the chief of staff then and now, approved the targets on March 29, 2007, according to minutes of a meeting reproduced by Haaretz, and said furthermore that troops were to withhold fire only if they were unable to identify "more than one" passenger in the targeted vehicle.
Both orders violated the law, according to experts cited by Haaretz.

One of the three wanted men, Ziad Malisha, was killed near Jenin on June 20, 2007 in what the IDF at the time said was an "exchange of fire."

Naveh told Haaretz that there were times when troops under his command did not observe arrest procedures if the suspect was a "ticking bomb" and did not immediately surrender. It also quoted the army as saying that arrest was not possible in the Malisha case.

Kam, 23, reportedly served in Naveh's office at the time of the memos.

The military censor, which prevents publication of information that could harm Israel's national security, approved the Haaretz story for publication.

By contrast, Israeli courts have gagged not only the details of Kam’s arrest, but news of the arrest itself. The appeal against the gag order, which has been joined by other media outlets, will be heard April 12 in Tel Aviv District Court.

In the past, Israeli authorities have issued such orders in sensitive national security cases. Gag orders still apply, for example, to aspects of the Vanunu case.

But it's not clear why a gag order was imposed in this case, Kam’s supporters say, especially since the military censor approved publication of the original Haaretz story. There is speculation that this time the prosecution is using the gag order to prevent public outrage, which could result in sympathy for Kam and a reduced sentence.

The investigation into Kam was a joint effort of military intelligence, the police, and the Shin Bet internal security service.

Kam's editor, Yitzhak Tessler, wrote an oblique column in Maariv on Jan. 24 describing an imaginary "Shu-Shuland" where a young female journalist is held under house arrest and none of her colleagues come to her defense. "A good thing Israel doesn't resemble Shu-Shuland," he wrote.

A Facebook group called "Where did Anat Kam disappear to?" was launched and shut down within days.

In the United States, blogger Richard Silverstein has covered the matter. Other Israeli bloggers have posted and then removed accounts of the case.

As a media entity based in New York and reporting from Washington, JTA is not subject to the Israeli gag order.  Full story

Israeli intelligence, our constant companion

Washington Post

........ judging by once sensitive FBI documents making the rounds in recent days, the Israelis have been at this task in Washington for a very long time.

The 21 documents, obtained by Grant F. Smith, a Washington, D.C. author who has made a career out of writing critical books on Israeli spying and lobbying, detail the FBI’s investigation into the theft of a confidential U.S. document on the Reagan administration’s position going into the 1984 U.S.-Israel Free Trade Area Negotiations.

Acting on a complaint that the document was circulating on Capitol Hill, the FBI discovered that an Israeli diplomat had acquired the paper and given it to officials at AIPAC, the lobbying group whose annual convention drew both Netanyahu and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton this week. 

Although the document was classified only “confidential” (as opposed to Secret, Top Secret and higher), the FBI concluded that President Reagan’s “negotiating position concerning a trade agreement between the United States and the State of Israel is compromised because this report divulges those products and industries that have been identified by the International Trade Commission as being the most sensitive to imports from Israel."

U.S. trade officials were furious at the discovery, “most angered by the fact that the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) had apparently attempted to influence members of Congress with the use of a purloined copy of the ITC report and had usurped their authority,” the FBI reported at the time.

Its investigation quickly hit a brick wall, however, when the Israeli embassy official who handled the stolen goods, identified as then-Minister of Economics Dan Halpern by Grant Smith in his 2009 book “Spy Trade,” claimed diplomatic immunity.

“He indicated that he received this information in his official capacity as a diplomat, and that it would be against the principals of diplomatic work to divulge any information pertaining to the identity of the individual who provided him the report," the FBI reported.

Because the man claimed diplomatic immunity,"active investigation into this matter will be discontinued at WFO [Washington Field Office],” the FBI said. “Washington Field will be contacted by the USTR or the ITC if pertinent information is developed regarding this or similar incidents."

In his March 13, 1986 interview with the FBI, Halpern said "he received this information in his official capacity as a diplomat and that it would be against the principles of diplomatic work to divulge any information on the identity of the individual who gave him the report."

In any event, he told the agents, the report was all over town, and that "the Government of Israel did not ask to receive the report and stated that when the individual provided him with the report, the transaction was not conducted in a discreet or secretive manner."

Halpern is now on the executive committee of the America-Israel Chamber of Commerce in New York and the co-CEO of Iftic, a private business consultancy, according to his listing there.

But the trade-spy flap was small potatoes compared the arrest 18 months later of Jonathan Pollard, the naval intelligence analyst who passed upwards of a million pages of classified documents to his Israeli handlers, according to court documents. Under a 1987 plea agreement, Pollard is serving a life sentence.

Since then, Israeli intelligence operations here have hardly slowed. In 2005, U.S. counterspies overheard Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., agreeing to help a suspected Israeli agent lobby the Justice Department to reduce espionage-related charges against two former AIPAC officials. Harman denied my account in Congressional Quarterly, which was subsequently corroborated by major news organizations. ...  Full story

Saturday, March 27, 2010

When it comes to E Jerusalem, ‘NPR’ misleads and misinforms

By HenryNorr

It’s been almost two weeks since I wrote to National Public Radio’s senior Washington editor, Ron Elving, and to the network’s ombudsman, Alicia Shepard, to ask why Elving used an Israeli formulation – "disputed" area – to characterize East Jerusalem, instead of calling it "occupied," the term used by the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Court of Justice, and virtually every other international body. So far, neither has replied.

While I wait, I’ve spent some time looking a little more deeply into NPR’s coverage of East Jerusalem since Israel’s announcement of plans to build 1,600 new housing units there put the area in the spotlight. The network posts transcripts of all its stories, interviews, and talk shows on the Middle East (and nowadays most other stories, too) on its website, and it has a pretty good search engine, so it wasn’t hard to review all 22 broadcasts that have discussed East Jerusalem since the controversy exploded. (NPR doesn’t transcribe its hourly headlines, so they’re not included. Neither are the Associated Press reports and Foreign Policy articles it posts on its website but doesn’t read over the air.)

Here’s some of what I found anyone depending on NPR for information about the issue would have gathered about East Jerusalem:

1. It’s part of Israel’s capital. Regular listeners have heard Jerusalem described that way in at least eight stories. In five of those cases the city was called Israel’s "undivided capital;" once the phrase was "unified capital."  When NPR’s reporters say it (as opposed to when they’re quoting Netanyahu or Michael Oren, for example), they scrupulously precede these phrases with something like "the Israelis have proclaimed" or "Israel considers" the whole city their capital. But since NPR reporters hardly ever even hint that anyone except the Palestinians disputes this claim, these are essentially throw-away words. (The closest they come to questioning the Israel position is the statement, which I found in two stories, that "The international community believes that the final status of the city should only be determined through negotiations.")

2. Israel has a deep historical claim to all of Jerusalem. Netanyahu’s assertion in his AIPAC speech that "The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 years ago" was quoted in three separate stories. Twice listeners have been told that Israelis consider the city – implicitly the whole thing – just as much theirs as Tel Aviv.  On "Talk of the Nation" they heard an Israeli analyst explain that no government would agree to a construction freeze because Jerusalem is "the heart and soul of the Jewish people."  Weekend news analyst James Fallows informed listeners that the Israeli public considers the government’s East Jerusalem policy "necessary for their survival."

3. Ramat Shlomo, the East Jerusalem settlement where the government plans to add the 1,600 new units, is an idyllic "neighborhood" (a word NPR reporters have used at least eight times in this context) or "community" on a hilltop. It’s "tranquil" or even "very tranquil," full of pious Jews who "focus on their religious studies and pay little attention to the outside world." Their only problem is that they have large families and therefore "housing needs;" this "housing crunch" explains the government’s decision to build the 1,600 units.

4. As for the Palestinians, including the roughly 250,000 who live in East Jerusalem, they are presented to NPR listeners not as people whose roots in Jerusalem go back millennia – who, legally, own East Jerusalem – but as people who, for some unexplained reason, lay claim to what Israel has: they "want" East Jerusalem, they "claim" it, they "hope" it will be part of their "future state," they "aspire" to make it their capital. In the meantime, unlike the "unfazed" Jewish residents of Ramat Shlomo, they can barely contain their emotions: they are "angry," "frustrated," "incensed." Some of them even think Israel wants to push them out of the city, but the Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem is promptly called upon to dismiss this charge, and he’s given the last word.

Now some things NPR listeners have not been told about Jerusalem since the controversy flared :

1. Except Israel, no government in the world, even the U.S., recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Not a single country, even the U.S., has an embassy there. Under the U.N.’s 1947 partition plan, it was not to be part of Israel at all, but a separate entity – a "corpus separatum" – under U.N. administration.

2. In legal terms, East Jerusalem is considered occupied territory by the United States government, the United Nations, the European Union, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the International Court of Justice, including even the American judge who was the one holdout when the ICJ in 2004 ruled the separation Wall in East Jerusalem and the West Bank illegal. (In fairness, weekend host Guy Raz noted in passing on March 13 that East Jerusalem is "an area Israel has occupied since 1967," and in one report Garcia-Navarro said that Ramat Shlomo is "on land captured by Israel during the 1967 war.")

3. Under international law (specifically, the Hague Regulations of 1907 and the Fourth Geneva Convention) occupying powers are clearly prohibited from transferring their civilians into such territories.

4. The "international community" has repeatedly and forcefully rejected Israel’s claim to East Jerusalem. In the aftermath of Israel’s seizure of the area as well (as the rest of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights) during the 1967 war, the U.N. Security Council, including the U.S., adopted several resolutions reaffirming that "acquisition of territory by military conquest is inadmissible" In 1971 Security Council Resolution 298, adopted with U.S. support, declared that "al1 legislative and administrative actions taken by Israel to change the status of the: City of Jerusalem, including expropriation of land and properties, transfer of populations and legislation aimed at the incorporation of the occupied section, are totally invalid and cannot change that status.".In 1980, when Israel adopted the "Jerusalem Law," through which it attempted to formalize its annexation of East Jerusalem and surrounding areas and to declare the city its ""eternal and indivisible" capital, Security Council Resolution 478 said the law’s adoption constituted "a violation of international law" and "a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East," declared it "null and void," and asserted that it "must be rescinded forthwith." (This resolution was adopted by a vote of 14-0; the U.S. abstained but declined to use its veto power.)

5. In recent days U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has on at least two occasions declared publicly that  East Jerusalem, like the West Bank, is occupied territory and that Israel’s settlement expansion plans are "unacceptable."  "Let us be clear," he said on March 20. "All settlement activity is illegal anywhere in occupied territory and must be stopped." NPR has completely ignored Ban’s statements on these issues.

6. The 1,600 Jewish housing units planned for Ramat Shlomo are only a small part of Israel’s plans to "Judaize" East Jerusalem. Ha’aretz and other reputable sources reported on March 11 that some 50,000 new housing units in East Jerusalem are in various stages of the Israeli planning and permitting process. Coming on the heels of the Biden visit and the flap about the 1,600 units, this report got wide circulation around the world. NPR hasn’t mentioned it.

7. Much of the Israeli settlement construction in East Jerusalem is organized and financed by ultra-right-wing Zionist organizations such as Elad and Ateret Cohanim, which openly proclaim their intention to evict Jerusalem’s Palestinians. These groups are funded largely by tax-deductible donations from American Jews, most notably Miami doctor and bingo billionaire Irving Moskowitz. Yet NPR has never once – not just this month, but never, as far back as its archives go – mentioned Irving Moskowitz or Ateret Cohanim; Elad was mentioned only once, last September, as the funder of archaeological digs in the Silwan section of East Jerusalem – which host Robert Siegel referred to only as "the City of David," the patently ideological name the Zionists recently bestowed upon the area.

Likewise, NPR has never reported on the recent expulsions of Palestinian families from homes built for them in the 1950s by the U.N. in the Sheikh Jarrah section of East Jerusalem – nor on the growing non-violent movement that’s brought thousands of Palestinians and Israelis together to protest these evictions.

8. Even as it repeats Netanyahu’s assertion that "the Jewish people" were building Jerusalem 3,000 years ago, NPR has not raised any question or qualification about this claim. If ancient history is to be considered grounds for sovereignty, there are several issues that deserve attention: Many mainstream archaeologists doubt that there was such a thing as a Jewish people or even a Jewish religion 3,000 years. Whoever may have been building there 3,000 years ago, today’s Palestinians have a considerably stronger claim to be their descendants than Ashkenazi Jews like Netanyahu. As Juan Cole has recently pointed out, Jews have ruled Jerusalem for only a few brief moments in its history; Muslims have ruled the city and done most of the building there over the last 1,500 years. 

9. If the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem are angry and frustrated, one reason is because Israel treats them like second- or third-class citizens – except that they’re not even citizens. They can’t vote in national elections, and they’re not entitled to Israeli passports. They’re prohibited from engaging in political activity, and Israel has repeatedly barred celebrations of their national culture. Thousands of them have had their Jerusalem residency rights revoked for such "offenses" as spending too much time outside the city. If a Jerusalem Palestinian marries someone from elsewhere in the occupied territories – even from, say, Bethlehem or Ramallah, which are just a few miles away – they’re not permitted to live together, either in Jerusalem or in the territories.

Meanwhile, social and economic conditions in East Jerusalem are miserable and rapidly deteriorating, in part because the giant separation wall Israel has built within and around East Jerusalem cuts the area off from the rest of the Palestinian population and economy. 68.4 percent of the population of East Jerusalem live below the poverty line, yet only 22 percent receive any government social services. While the Palestinians make up 32 percent of Jerusalem’s total population, and the municipality collects around 30 percent of its tax revenue from them, less than ten percent of the municipal budget is spent on services for them. The municipality spends four times as much per pupil on primary schools in West Jerusalem as in East Jerusalem, which suffers from a drastic shortage of classrooms. Entire Palestinian neighborhoods are not connected to a sewage system and do not have paved roads or sidewalks. Almost 90 percent of the city’s sewage pipes, roads, and sidewalks are found in the western part of the city. West Jerusalem has 1,000 public parks, East Jerusalem has 45. West Jerusalem has 34 swimming pools, East Jerusalem has three. West Jerusalem has 26 libraries, East Jerusalem has two. West Jerusalem has 531 sports facilities, East Jerusalem has 33. And so on.

 As for housing, NPR somehow hasn’t noticed that the Palestinians too have large families and suffer from a "housing crunch" far more drastic than that afflicting Ramat Shlomo. While the government works overtime to develop plans for additional Jewish settlement construction in East Jerusalem, it’s all but impossible for Palestinians to get construction permits, and if they build anyway, they’re at constant risk of having their homes demolished. (All Things Considered did run a reasonably good report by Lourdes Garcia-Navarro last November about "allegations" by East Jerusalem Palestinians that Israel is "intensifying a campaign to evict them from their homes.")

10. NPR found time this month for a long story about an Israeli tariff that’s threatening the business of an Illinois company that exports carp for gefilte fish, but the last time the network’s listeners heard that Israel receives $3 billion a year in U.S. aid was when Stephen Walt mentioned it in a July 2006 interview. This month, even as debate about U.S. relations with Israel has boiled up, the network’s news shows haven’t bothered to mention U.S. aid at all. (The subject has come up briefly on Talk of the Nation – once mentioned by guest Ted Koppel, once in a quote from Gideon Levy read by host Neal Conan, and once when a caller from California observed that for $10 million a day, "You would think that would buy us a little more influence than it does" – to which Conan responded "Well, part of that is the billion dollars that we promised both to Israel and to Egypt, that’s included in the peace agreement that got those two people to recognize each other, which is a benefit that I think everybody can agree on.")

    Medics: Teenager lightly injured in Nablus village

    A young Palestinian man was reported injured Saturday afternoon in clashes south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank.

    Medics said Adham Qadus, 19, was struck in the hand by a rubber-coated bullet when Israeli forces opened fire in the village of Iraq Burin. He was transferred to a Nablus hospital with moderate to light injuries, medics said.

    Several others choked on tear gas fired by Israeli forces operating in the area, but their light injuries were treated in the field, medics said.

    An Israeli military spokeswoman said soldiers dispersed a small gathering in the area without incident.

    The forces were called in when a group of Palestinians arrived near Bracha, an illegal settlement adjacent to the village, and the army was asked to intervene over concerns the gathering could turn violent, she added.

    The young man reportedly injured in Saturday's incident shares the same family name as two Nablus teenagers killed last week. Useid Qadus, 16, was shot in the head by Israeli forces and Muhammad Qadus, also 16, died of a wound to the chest, medics said.

    The Israeli military originally said its forces opened fire with riot-control means to disperse a violent riot, but announced Monday evening that it would investigate the shooting deaths that soldiers claim were the result of rubber-coated bullets.

    Human rights advocates and medical officials say the Israeli Border Guard forces used live ammunition, pointing to photographs and an X-ray showing wounds they say are inconsistent with rubber-coated bullets... Full story

    [Iraq Burin is a tiny, hill-top farming village; Israeli settlers are steadily confiscating its land.]

    More information on death:

    Israel, Hamas urged to cooperate with UN inquiry

    Amnesty International has called on the Israeli government and Hamas to cooperate fully with the committee of independent experts which the UN Human Rights Council voted to establish on 25 March.

    The committee's task will involve monitoring domestic investigations into war crimes and other serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law alleged to have occurred during the 22-day conflict in Gaza and southern Israel between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009.

    "The committee's assessment of the Israeli and Palestinian investigations should be made available to the UN Human Rights Council, General Assembly and Security Council in the coming months," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    "A comprehensive assessment of the domestic investigations could provide a solid basis for decisions on further action necessary to secure accountability for both sides, including an eventual referral of the situation in Gaza by the Security Council to the International Criminal Court," Luther said in a statement on Friday....  Full story

    Gaza mourns airstrike victim as Israel ends incursion

    Israel's military incursion into the southern Gaza Strip ended late Saturday morning, killing one and injuring dozens in what officials say was the bloodiest Israeli operation since Operation Cast Lead, which ended in January 2009.

    The funeral procession for Haitham Abed Al-Hakim Arafat, 23, a civilian who was killed in an overnight airstrike, was held in Khuza'a, which locals said was "devastated" by Israel's operation into the border town, east of Khan Younis...

    Residents said Israeli tanks and armored bulldozers withdrew from the town, after partially destroying the home of Hashem Ad-Dughmah home, 200 meters from Israel's border. "It was the only home left in that area," one local told Ma'an.

    An Israeli military spokeswoman told Ma'an that "overnight the IDF continued to operate in the area in which the deadly exchange of fire occurred, which killed two IDF soldiers wounded another two, so as to remove infrastructure used by the terrorists to carry out the attack."

    Medics said 13 Palestinians were injured when tanks and bulldozers moved into Khuza'a, with injuries ranging from critical to moderate.

    Israel's incursion ended a day after its army was involved in deadly clashes with Palestinian resistance factions, which left two Palestinian fighters and two Israeli soldiers dead. Hamas' armed wing, the Qassam Brigades, claimed responsibility for the clashes,

    The spokeswoman said the army was not aware of an aerial strike in Gaza overnight or this morning.

    Four Palestinians and two Israeli soldiers were also reported injured in Friday's violence, among them was a 10-year-old boy who was transferred to the Nasser Hospital from Abasan with serious injuries, Ma'an's correspondent reported from the scene.  Full story

    Israeli forces detain 2 in Bethlehem

    Israeli forces detained two Palestinians from their homes on Al-Karkafe Street, in Bethlehem, on Friday.

    Palestinian security sources said Israeli forces stormed the street, entering the respective homes of Karim Mahmoud Zawahreh and Khalil Ali Zawahreh, both 24, taking them to an unknown location.

    The two men had previously been detained for affiliation with the Islamic Jihad movement, the sources added.

    An Israeli military spokeswoman told Ma'an on Friday that five "wanted Palestinian suspects were arrested in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]. Two in Jenin, one in Burqin, west of Jenin, and two in Bethlehem."  Full story

    Palestinian Christians vow to mark Easter in Jerusalem

    Orthodox organizations in Palestine have called on Palestinian Christians to celebrate Holy Fire Saturday in Jerusalem, in spite of Israeli restrictions placed upon worshipers.

    The traditional Orthodox ceremony, which takes place after Palm Sunday, is the transfer of fire that is said to emanate from Jesus' tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem's Old City, by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch to the congregation through candles and torches.

    Palestinian Christians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip are made to apply for permits allowing them entry to the occupied part of the city. Gaza residents are less likely to receive approval from Israeli authorities.

    The Council of Arab Orthodox Organizations urged the heads of churches in Jerusalem "to stand by the rights and aspirations of their congregation and to stand up to the discriminatory policies of Israel with the freedom of worship."

    "We urge Palestinian Christians to celebrate Holy fire Saturday in Jerusalem despite all the Israeli occupation policies aiming to restrict our historic rights and push us toward immigration," a statement read.

    "Easter is the most important holy celebration for Christians. Unfortunately, the Israeli authorities have been taking actions during the last years to prevent Palestinian Christians of reaching to the Holy Sepulcher and its environs under the pretext of security," in violation of the 400-year-old status quo that entitles Palestinian Christians to Easter rituals and processions for Holy Fire Saturday. Palestinians are also often prevented from participating in processions conducted throughout the Old City of Jerusalem, the statement added.

    On 4 March, Christian organizations asked the heads of churches in Jerusalem to protect "the very existence of Christianity and take a clear stand" on access to holy sites and on conducting religious rites, particularly the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate. "We have not received any response."

    "No Palestinian, Christian or Muslim, should be forced to apply for a permit to have access to occupied East Jerusalem," the organization wrote, adding that checkpoints in the Old City of Jerusalem and the request made by the Israeli police for Jerusalemite Christians to reduce the number of local worshipers at the Holy Sepulcher is "against the status quo ... We reject any party who wants to either change our traditions or compromise our rights."

    The organization called on the international community, the Quartet, and the Christian world to take all the needed measures to "prevent illegal and discriminatory policies" affecting the freedom of worship in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of occupied Palestinian territories, and urged Arab League summit conveners to take a "firm stand regarding policies taken against Palestinian traditions, heritage, and against the Judaization of Jerusalem."  Full story

    Israel detains woman, 19, at Qalandiya checkpoint

    Israeli forces detained a young Palestinian woman on Saturday morning at the Qalandiya checkpoint into Jerusalem, accused of attempting to stab a soldier.

    The unidentified woman, 19, from the Al-Am'ari refugee camp, was detained and transferred for questioning.

    An Israeli military spokeswoman said a woman was detained at 11pm on Friday at the checkpoint, in possession of a 30cm knife, and was taken for questioning with the Israel Police. Full story

    Tanks enter Gaza, Palestinian killed in airstrike

    A Palestinian civilian died of injuries sustained after Israeli warplanes struck east of Khan Younis, Gaza overnight on Friday, as tanks entered south of the coastal enclave.

    Medics at the An-Nasser Hospital in Rafah said Haitham Abed Al-Hakim Arafat, 23, died from critical wounds after several surgeries, which he sustained during an Israeli airstrike on Khuza'a, close to the border with Israel.

    The aerial attack followed clashes between Palestinian fighters and the Israeli army along the eastern Gaza border on Friday, in which two Palestinian resistance fighters and two Israeli soldiers were killed.

    Israeli tanks were reported to have advanced east of Khan Younis following clashes. Medics said 13 Palestinians were injured when tanks and bulldozers moved into Khuza'a, with injuries ranging from critical to moderate.

    An Israeli military spokeswoman told Ma'an that "overnight the IDF continued to operate in the area in which the deadly exchange of fire occurred, which killed two IDF soldiers wounded another two, so as to remove infrastructure used by the terrorists to carry out the attack."

    Witnesses told Reuters that the sounds of gunfire abated an hour before midnight but the tanks remained in place, firing occasional rounds.

    Meanwhile, the BBC reported Israeli naval fire along the Gaza coastline...

    Late Friday afternoon, fierce clashes killed two Palestinians and two Israeli soldiers in southern Gaza.

    Four Palestinians and two Israeli soldiers were also reported injured in the violence, which broke out east of Khan Younis.

    Muawiya Hassanein, director of ambulance and emergency services in Gaza, confirmed that two Palestinians were killed. They were not identified. Ambulances were dispatched to the area but Israeli forces denied them access, Hassanein said.

    Palestinian medics said four locals sustained shrapnel wounds after Israeli forces shelled homes in the Abasan Al-Jadida area of Khan Younis. The injured were evacuated from the scene amid the clashes, which apparently targeted Palestinian operatives in the area.

    Among those hurt was a 10-year-old boy who was transferred to the An-Nasser Hospital from Abasan with serious injuries, Ma'an's correspondent reported from the scene. Medical sources at the hospital described the other injuries as moderate.

    Hamas' military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, said its forces killed two soldiers and injured another after Israeli forces entered the Gaza Strip for reasons that were not clear. "Clashes erupted between Al-Qassam resistance fighters and Israeli soldiers, who crossed 500 meters inside the border," said Al-Qassam Brigades spokesman Abu Obeida.

    "Brigades responded with heavy shelling and gunfire, causing fatalities and injuries among the soldiers," he told Al-Aqsa TV, the Hamas movement's official television station. Abu Obeida said Al-Qassam forces acted in self defense after Israeli forces crossed into Gaza. "This was the result of fighting back Israeli forces proceeding inside the border," he said.

    Israel's military confirmed that two soldiers were killed during the clashes.

    A statement issued by the army said "one IDF officer and one IDF soldier were killed, one moderately injured and one lightly injured in an exchange of fire with terrorists who were planting explosives along the security fence in the southern Gaza Strip."

    Following reports that two soldiers were killed, Israeli warplanes shelled open areas east of Khan Younis, while Apache helicopters were spotted overhead. Locals also reported that explosions rattled the Ad-Dughma and Abu Tu'eima neighborhoods of Abasan Al-Jadida.

    Clashes were reported throughout the same area, where Fatah's military wing, the Al-Aqsa Brigades, said its forces intervened after an undercover Israeli unit was spotted. "Brigades fighters are clashing fiercely with Israeli soldiers in Khan Younis, where seven mortar shells were fired on armored Israeli vehicles. Forces confirmed hitting these vehicles directly," a statement said.

    Al-Aqsa fighters were "surrounding an undercover Israeli army unit near the Abu Asfur and Abu Iteimah properties in Khan Younis," the statement added. "A roadside bomb was detonated, after which aircraft landed to evacuate the injured."

    Witnesses told Ma'an that three Israeli soldiers were evacuated by helicopter from Khan Younis.

    The Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, said its forces acted after the unit was found.

    Al-Quds said its involvement came after operatives discovered an undercover Israeli unit in Abasan Al-Jadida. Fighters detonated a series of explosives during the ensuring clashes, and Israeli warplanes provided cover for the Israeli unit, a statement said.

    The armed group said several operatives were injured in the clashes and that one was still missing. The others returned safely as the violence subsided, but it was not clear whether the missing fighter survived or had been taken into custody.

    Israel's army said it opened fire after two Palestinians attempted to plant explosives, although it was not clear where. "After identifying the terrorists planting explosives, the force fired at them and identified killing two of the terrorists," the army statement said....

    Meanwhile, witnesses said Palestinians launched mortar shells toward Israeli towns in the western Negev.

    In a separate statement, the Israeli military said a projectile struck the Negev Regional Council area, causing no damage or injury. More than 10 such projectiles have been fired into southern Israel over the past week, according to the army. Israel had no comment.

    Separately, a child was injured after Israeli forces reportedly opened fire near northern Gaza's Erez crossing. Saeed Abed Al-Aziz Hamdan, 15, was moderately injured after he sustained gunshot wounds, medics said.

    Onlookers told Ma'an that an Israeli watchtower installed near the Erez crossing opened fire at the child, who was collecting stones nearby.

    On Thursday, two Gaza residents were injured by Israeli fire in Beit Lahiya and Rafah.

    Last week, an Israeli soldier was killed by friendly fire near the Kissufim crossing. Full story

    One Injured At The Weekly Anti Wall Protest In The Northern West Bank Village Of Nabi-saleh

    A Palestinian youth was injured when Israeli troops opened fire at anti wall protesters in the village of Nabi-Saleh, northern West Bank.

    Villagers gathered on Friday at their lands Israel is trying to take to build the wall...

    Israeli soldiers attacked the villagers using tear gas, sound bombs and rubber-coated steel bullets.

    One local youth was hit in his leg by a rubber-coated steel bullet. The protest ended with clashes between Israeli soldiers and local youth.  Full story

    One Israeli Detained Other Protesters Injured In The Anti Wall Bil’in Weekly Protest

    Villagers of Bil’in, central West Bank, along with international and Israeli supporters protested on Friday the Israeli wall built on farmers' lands.

    As is the case every Friday since five years now people marched after the midday prayers and headed towards the gate of the wall separating villagers form their lands.

    Upon arrival soldiers stationed at the gate showered the protesters with tear gas and sound bombs. Scores were treated for the effect of tear gas inhalation. Troops also detained an Israeli peace activist; He was identified as Ghor Mintser

    Joining the protest on Friday was Mustafa Al Barghouthi, a Palestinian MP. Earlier this month the Israeli army announced the village of Bil’in a closed military zone every Friday for six months.

    The military order does not allow international or Israeli supporters to be in the village or they will face arrest and deportation.  Full story

    Friday, March 26, 2010

    Teenager shot by Israeli forces in northern Gaza

    Palsolidarity - Eva Bartlett
    Said Abdel Aziz Hamdan, 15, went for his first time to Gaza’s northern border area to try gathering scrap metal for re-sale. Although an area lined with Israeli military towers and notorious for Israeli soldier shooting, shelling and abductions of Palestinian workers and farmers, Hamdan did not feel he would be in danger.

    “People go there everyday to gather bits of metal and concrete. The Israelis see us and know we are just working, it’s normal,” he said from his hospital bed in Jabaliya’s Kamal Adwan hospital.

    Hamdan set out from home shortly after 10 am Friday, going with his younger brother Suleiman, 13, to earn whatever shekels they could. From a family of 7 brothers and 5 sisters and whose father is unemployed, Said Hamdan had no other options for employment.

    “My friends go every Friday, so I decided to join them today, to try this work.”

    The bullet which struck Said shortly before 2pm as he was leaving the area came from the direction of a nearby Israeli military tower. It pierced his upper left thigh, entering from outer thigh and exiting from inner thigh, leaving a 2 cm exit wound, his doctor said. 

    “The Israelis fired without warning,” said Hamdan.

    “There were many people there, working like me,” he said of the area, a former Israeli settlement known as ‘Dugit’.

    Still in high school, Hamdan is training as a mechanic and hopes to find work to supplement his family’s income. “My father used to work in Israel, but he’s been unemployed for years now.”

    Said Hamdan’s injury is neither new nor surprising. Every week, Israeli soldiers shoot upon and abduct Palestinian workers in the border regions of Gaza.

    Some of the recent IOF aggressions against Palestinians in the border regions include: 

    -Naji Abu Reeda, 35, shot in the leg on the morning of 25 March as he worked collecting rubble 500 metres from the border for re-sale.

    -On 24 March, 7 am, Israeli soldiers invaded northern Gaza and arrested five Palestinians collecting rubble, including: 

    Mahmoud Ma’rouf, 18
    Shadi Ma’rouf, 18
    Mustafa Ghanim, 43

    -On 20 March, around 2:30 pm, Israeli soldiers arrested 17 Palestinians collecting rubble in the Beit Hanoun industrial area approximately 900 metres from the border, including:
    Mohanad Al Kafarna, 11
    Khalid Mahdi Hamdien, 14
    Ismail Mahdi Hamdien, 13
    Mohammed Al Basioni, 22
    Mohammed Salih Afana, 22
    Tareq Zyiad Al Afifi, 20
    Mohammed Zyiad Al Afifi, 18
    Tawfeq Samir Sababa, 19
    Usama Mhammaden, 19
    Ali Jamal Akhrawat, 24
    Kamal Jamal Akhrawat, 20
    Anwar Mohammed Hamad, 51
    Alaa Al Masri, 18
    Diab Al Kafarna, 20
    Attaf Rafeq Hamad, 25
    Ibrahim Mahdi Hamdien, 16

    Those venturing to the border regions to gather rubble and steel do so as a result of the siege on Gaza which, along with Israel’s 23 day winter war on Gaza, has decimated Gaza’s economy, including 95 percent of Gaza’s factories and businesses, according to the United Nations. Additionally, these recycled construction materials are vital in Gaza where the Israeli-led, internationally-complicit, siege bans all but under 40 items from entering.

    The barbaric siege prevents vitally needed construction materials from entering Gaza, where over 6,400 houses were destroyed or severely damaged in the Israeli war on Gaza, and nearly 53,000 sustained lesser damages. Hospitals and medical centres, schools, kindergartens and mosques are among the other buildings destroyed and damaged during the Israeli war on Gaza.

    Since Israel’s war on Gaza, only 0.05 percent of the monthly average prior to the siege had been allowed into Gaza as of December 2009.  Full story

    Israeli fire kills 2 in southern Gaza

    Israeli artillery fire killed two Palestinians in the southern Gaza Strip late Friday afternoon, witnesses said.

    Others sustained injuries amid fierce clashes between resistance fighters and Israeli forces east of Khan Younis, onlookers said.

    Muawiya Hassanein, director of ambulance and emergency services in Gaza, confirmed that two were killed. Hassanein said ambulances were dispatched to the area to evacuate victims, but Israeli forces denied them access.

    Palestinian fire also injured three soldiers, who were evacuated by helicopter from Khan Younis, witnesses said. Al-Arabiya TV, meanwhile, reported that two soldiers were killed.

    Locals told Ma'an that explosions rattled the Ad-Dughma and Abu Tu'eima neighborhoods of Abasan Al-Jadida. Clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian fighters were reported in the same area.

    There were other reports that Palestinians launched mortar shells toward Israeli towns in the western Negev.

    An Israeli military spokeswoman had no immediate comment.

    Hours earlier, the army said a projectile struck the Negev Regional Council area, causing no damage or injury.

    More than 10 such projectiles have been fired into southern Israel over the past week, according to the army.

    Meanwhile, a Palestinian child was injured when Israeli forces opened fire near northern Gaza's Erez crossing. Saeed Abed Al-Aziz Hamdan, 15, was moderately injured after he sustained gunshot wounds, medics said.

    Onlookers told Ma'an that an Israeli watchtower installed near the Erez crossing opened fire at the child, who was collecting stones nearby.

    On Thursday, two Gaza residents were injured by Israeli fire in Beit Lahiya and Rafah.  Full story

    Israeli Troops Use Tear Gas To Suppress Anti Wall Protest In Nil’in Village

    Seven civilians were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation in Friday at the village of Nil’in central West Bank during the anti-wall weekly protest.

    After the midday prayers at the local mosque residents were joined by Israeli and international supporters and marched to the wall built of villagers lands.

    The protest reached the gate of the wall separating them for their lands. Troops stationed there fire tear gas and sound bombs at them injuring seven. The protest ended on Friday with clashes between local youth and troops. No injuries were reported.

    Nil’in is the weekly site of anti wall protests since three years. Earlier this month the Israeli army announced the village of Nil’in is a closed military zone every Friday for six months. The military order does not allow international or Israeli supporters to be in the village or they will face arrest and deportation.   Full story

    Al Ma’ssara Village Near Bethlehem Protest The Israeli-built Wall

    Residents of Al Ma’ssara village near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem protest on Friday midday the Israeli-built wall on their lands.

    Villagers were joined by International and Israeli supporters. People marched from the village towards the wall construction site. Israeli troops erected a checkpoint using razor-wire and stopped people for reaching the wall site.

    Troops used force to bush people back when they tried to move the razor-wire and continue to march. Later organizers delivered speeches demanding Israeli to stop building the wall and settlement on Palestinian lands. Joining the protest today was Taysser Al Tamimi, Palestinian chief Judge.

    People dispersed shortly after. During the protest people carried photos of Omer Aladdin a local organizer from Al Ma’ssara. Aladdin was detained by the army two week a ago for one week during his detention troops beat him up tortured him. Hours after his release on Tuesday of this week he had to seek medical care at a local hospital due to injuries inflicted by the army’s torture...  Full story

    Trial opens for soldiers accused of using child as human shield in Gaza


    DCI-Palestine welcomes the commencement of the trial of two Israeli soldiers accused of using a 9-year-old boy for military purposes and to shield themselves from danger during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza (December 2008-January 2009).The incident, documented by DCI-Palestine, is one of three that occurred during Operation Cast Lead, with seven children in total used to assist Israeli soldiers in military operations.

    DCI-Palestine remains concerned that the charges brought against the pair, of acting "in breach of military norms", are far too lenient and do not reflect the gravity of the violation. [See press release issued on 12 March]

    Israeli news report yesterday quoted one of the defendants, from the Givati infantry brigade, as saying: "I feel hurt and betrayed; they stabbed me in the back after what I gave to the country...

    DCI-Palestine strongly rejects any suggestion that this trial might be symbolic or tokenistic. The use of civilians, especially children, as human shields is clearly prohibited by applicable international law and by Israel's domestic legislation. Israel is party to the CRC Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, which it ratified in 2005, the same year the Israeli High Court of Justice banned the use of civilians as human shields. Yet violations of the Protocol and the High Court ruling continue seemingly unchecked, as Israel’ Supreme Court is clearly unable or unwilling to enforce its own ruling, and the Israeli government refuses to implement the Protocol in the OPT...  Full story

    Israeli Troops Detain Five Civilians During An Invasion Targeting Hebron City

    Five Palestinian civilians were detained on Thursday by Israeli troops during an invasion targeting Hebron, southern West Bank.

    Troops stormed and searched residents’ homes in the old part of Hebron and nearby neighborhoods...

    Troops left by early morning hours after they rounded up five men and took them away...

    This week the Israeli military detained 19 Palestinian civilians during invasions targeting West Bank communities. Among those detained were seven children, the Palestinian Center for Human rights reported.   Full story

    Gaza : Israel’s Navy Injure A Palestinian Fisherman As Tanks Fire Leave Another Worker Injured

    The Israeli military injured on Thursday a Palestinian fisherman and a worker during two separate attacks in the Gaza Strip.

    A Palestinian fisherman sustained wounds by Israeli naval forces on Thursday near northern Gaza Strip shoreline.

    Israeli naval forces opened heavy fire at fishing boats off the northern shoreline. The attack left one man injured and damaged a number of boats, local sources reported.

    Medical sources said the fisherman was moved to a hospital in the nearby Beit Lahyia town after sustaining moderate wounds.

    Later today Israeli troops stationed at the southern Gaza Strip borders with Israel opened fire at Palestinian workers injuring one of them.

    Naji Abu Rayda, aged 32, sustained critical wounds to his back when troops opened fire from their tanks at a group of workers near the borders, witnesses told local media. Full story

    Israeli fire injures child in northern Gaza

    A Palestinian child was injured on Friday when Israeli forces opened fire near the northern Gaza Strip's Erez crossing.

    Saeed Abed Al-Aziz Hamdan, 15, was moderately injured after he sustained gunshot wounds, said Muawiya Hassanein, head of ambulance and emergency services in Gaza.

    Onlookers told Ma'an that an Israeli watchtower installed near the Erez crossing opened fire at the child, who was collecting stones nearby....

    On Thursday, two Gaza residents were injured by Israeli fire in Beit Lahiya and Rafah, to the north and south of Gaza, respectively.   Full story

    British Organizations To Sue Israel Over Forged Passports Used By Assassins

    Several British organizations, along with Palestinian and Islamic Institutions in Britain, are conducting preparations to file a lawsuit against the Israeli Mossad for forging British passports that were used by some of the assassins who killed Hamas leader, Mahmoud Al Madbouh, in Dubai in January. 

    ... the case of Al Madbouh will be in British courts in the communing few days.

    .....The assassins used passports that carried names and pictures of real people, including Jews who are citizens of European countries and Australia, and also hold Israeli passports.

    The Palestinian Forum in Britain welcomed the decision of the British government and called on the country to prosecute the Israeli leaders, or at least prevent them from entering the country.

    Samira Abu Rayya, the widow of Al Madbouh, told Al Jazeera that a group of lawyers would be involved in the case to help uncover the Israeli plot, and to prosecute the assassins and their dispatchers.

    The family of Al Madbouh officially authorized a well-known law firm in Britain to handle the case and to focus on the assassination itself in addition to the issue of the forged passports, especially since most European countries are focusing on the forged passports rather than the assassination itself.

    Samira demanded the U.K to declare the results of its investigation, and also called on the United Arab Emirates to fulfill its vows and issue arrest warrants against Ma’er Dagan, head of the Israeli Mossad, and Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

    On Tuesday, Britain expelled an Israeli diplomat believed to be involved with the Mossad in forging British passports used by some of the assassins.

    Furthermore, the “Australian” newspaper reported that it is likely that Australia will also expel an senior Israeli diplomat involved in the case. Full story

    Palestinians urge Arabs to ease Gaza siege

    Hundreds of Palestinians carried out a sit-in west of Gaza City after the Popular Committee Against the Siege urged the Arab League, meeting in Libya over the weekend, to end the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip.

    Protestors carried flags representing every Arab country expected to attend, and affirmed close ties between the Arabs and their role in supporting the Palestinian cause....

    Jamal Al-Khudari, who heads the committee, in a news conference at the end of the rally demanded that the Arab League support occupied Jerusalem and besieged Gaza, in addition to demanding that the Arabs increase their own demands.

    Al-Khudari added that "the regional and international atmosphere encourage an Arab decision to confront Israeli challenges in Jerusalem and break the Gaza siege." He said "Palestinians demand that the league take real decisions and action on the ground."

    He urged the Arab League "to offer support to all categories of Palestinians including unemployed workers, students, those deprived of education, the needy and families, families of those who were killed and injured, and the families of the prisoners, all the way down to supporting projects for the disabled and micro-development projects."

    Al-Khudari also demanded that the Arab summit "form a delegation of senior officials to visit Gaza, which has been besieged for 1,000 days, to take a firsthand look at the disastrous impact of the siege and the war's effect on health, social, environmental and humanitarian issues."

    On rebuilding Gaza, Al-Khudari said that "the summit should begin to rebuild Gaza, setting budgets that were previously allocated to be implemented which will have a positive impact on the Palestinians."  Full story

    Israel rejects UNHRC resolution

    Israel rejected a UN Human Rights Council resolution urging the country to pay Palestinians for damage incurred during the military assault on Gaza that began in late 2008...  Full story

    Arab envoys convene in Libya

    Arab ministers of foreign affairs met in Sirt, Libya on Thursday ahead of the 22nd Arab League summit that has been closely followed over expectations it will address inter-Palestinian disunity.

    The summit, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday..........

    .......The initiative, launched in Beirut in 2002, proposes to normalize relations with Israel, within the context of establishing a sovereign Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

    The decision to discuss the initiative's revocation follows a string of announcements by the Israeli government to continue settlement building and expansion in occupied East Jerusalem, including an Israeli-only unit in the flashpoint Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

    UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday that he will participate in the Arab League summit amid what he called a crisis of confidence surrounding Israel’s plans to build new settlements in East Jerusalem, the UN reported.

    "I say again, here, what I have been repeatedly saying: that settlements are illegal under international law. This must stop," Ban told journalists in New York following Israel's announcement it would continue to build in Sheikh Jarrah....

    Meanwhile, White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said the US administration believes Israel's continued building in Jerusalem is destructive to the peace process, The Associated Press reported.

    President Mahmoud Abbas' spokesman said Tuesday that there will be no peace or stability without a Palestinian Jerusalem, reiterating the PA's stance that the body will not enter into talks with Israel until settlement construction is brought to an end in the city.   Full story

    Egyptian steel barrier tests Gazan mettle

    Egypt’s imminent completion of an above-and-below-ground steel barrier along its border with the Gaza Strip is putting Gazans on edge: How will they survive without the huge trade conducted via underground tunnels?

    A lucrative tunnel smuggling trade in a range of commodities took off after Israel imposed an economic embargo on the Strip after a Hamas takeover in June 2007. The World Bank and Palestinian economists estimate that at least 80 percent of Gaza's total imports come through the tunnels.

    “Digging tunnels and working in them is one of the few jobs available for Palestinian youth in Gaza,” Omar Sha’ban, a Gazan economist, said.

    “Tunnel workers reportedly earn US$25 per day, a huge sum in the current Palestinian economy. However, they are subjected to daily bombings… by the Israeli Air Force, tunnel collapses and fires.”

    Ziad al-Zaza, economy minister in the Hamas government, said there were some 20,000 tunnel workers before Israel’s military operation in Gaza in early 2009, and about half that number now. The Israeli military said it damaged or destroyed 60-70 percent of the tunnels in the offensive.

    Tunnel owner and manager Abu Antar*, 45, said an end to the tunnels between Gaza and Rafah in Egypt would mean no income for him and thousands of others who rely on the tunnels for work.

    “We have succeeded in cutting through the Egyptian fence, but the thing we are afraid of now is that the Egyptians will electrify it and add seismic sensors to detect us underground, which would make our mission impossible. Tunnels are our only source of living,” the father of seven told IRIN.

    Egypt’s steel barrier will be 10-11km long and will extend 18 metres below ground on completion, the Egyptian authorities have said. Egyptian daily al-Shorouq recently reported that “work on the main wall is in its fourth and final stage," after which cameras and detection devices will be installed.

    It is believed this process will take a few weeks and then will undergo a testing period before becoming fully operational.

    Dangerous work

    Abu Antar said the tunnel he owns has 50 people working in it.

    “Every day we work in the tunnels and wonder if we’ll get out alive. Many times the earth has collapsed… Death is inevitable in this type of work. We are dealing with fear 24 hours a day. Many people have died. Every month there are more causalities in the tunnels from the continuous [Israeli] air strikes,” he said.

    Accidents in the tunnels are frequent. According to Palestinian human rights organization Al-Mezan, 120 tunnel traders have been killed over the past three years.
    Tunnel workers estimate there are over 1,000 tunnels between Gaza and the town of Rafah on the Egyptian side of the border - dug at depths of 15-35m and up to 1km long.

    Photo: Erica Silverman/IRIN
    Palestine Square in Gaza City. At least 80 percent of Gaza's total imports come through tunnels
    “Humanitarian disaster”

    “A tunnel costs around 200,000 US dollars [to build], so when these tunnels get destroyed by Israeli planes, or when they are blocked by the Egyptian wall, poverty and unemployment will go up and up,” he said. “Blocking the tunnels will lead to a huge humanitarian disaster. All residents of the Gaza Strip will then rely on UN food aid,” said Hamas minister al-Zaza.

    “We call on the Egyptian and Israel governments to lift the siege imposed on Gaza and let Palestinians work on the ground, not underground, and let Gazans live with dignity and pride,” al-Zaza said.

    Israel imposed severe import restrictions on the Gaza Strip after the Hamas takeover in 2007......

    Israel has praised Egyptian efforts to combat smuggling. Egypt says its security was under threat by an increasing flow of illicit goods and militants through the tunnels to its territory.

    Israel accuses Hamas of using the tunnels to bring in weapons, a charge Hamas denies.

    On a tour of Gaza earlier this month, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes warned of big problems if the tunnels were successfully blocked.

    "If those tunnels were blocked, however undesirable they may be, and however undesirable the effect they're having on the Gazan society and Gazan economy, the situation without the tunnels would be completely unsustainable," Holmes said. He repeated calls for Israel to end its blockade of the Palestinian territory...   Full story

    Sama News: “Angered By Netanyahu, Obama Leaves Meeting”

    The Sama News Agency reported that the President of the United States, Barack Obama, insulted the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, when he told him “the meeting is over” as Netanyahu continued to try to connect the settlements issue with the Iranian “Nuclear File”, and refused to halt settlement activities in East Jerusalem.

    The Agency said that senior sources told its reporter that Obama was angered by the stance of Netanyahu and told him “you have to understand that you are intentionally insulting us in front of our allies… and now you are sitting here with me, while your government declares another settlement project in Jerusalem”.

    According to Sama, Obama left the meeting hall and told Netanyahu “next time when you come with new and different proposals, ask to meet me again”.

    Shortly afterwards, Netanyahu held a meeting with Israel’s Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, and his accompanying delegates to discuss the latest developments.

    Later on, Netanyahu asked for another meeting with Obama, but the meeting ended within 30 minutes after Obama told Netanyahu “you cannot deceive your main and only strong ally in the world”.

    White House sources reported that Netanyahu decided to cancel all his TV interviews with US stations, and that he apparently wants to prepare for diplomatic rounds meant to ease the tension with the United States.

    Netanyahu, Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, and the Israeli Ambassador to Washington, Yitzhak Molcho, held extensive talks with Obama’s advisors, including Dennis Ross, but failed to reach any positive outcome...  Full story

    Fatah official: J'lem family ordered to fund own eviction

    A senior Fatah official said Thursday that Israeli authorities have ordered an East Jerusalem family to compensate the state for expenses incurred during the process of removing them from their home.

    .... the order issued to the family of Majed Hanun was "rude and blunt," and wondered "how a family evicted from its home can then be asked to pay for their eviction!"

    "Israeli courts do not serve these families, but rather give them time [before eviction]," Abdul Qader said.

    "The Israeli court accredited forged settler documents but did not approve documents submitted by the Palestinians," he added. "The ruling includes permission to confiscate property of Palestinians in the city."

    ... he affirmed that such orders will serve to inspire further protest actions and rallies, particularly in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, where some 28 houses are threatened with eviction or demolition.  Full story