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

Friday, December 31, 2010

Palestinian woman protester in critical condition from tear-gas inhalation, another shot in face with teargas cannister by Israeli forces

PSCC – Jawaher Abu Rahmah, 36, was evacuated to the Ramallah hospital after inhaling massive amounts of tear-gas towards protesters in Bil'in earlier today. She is currently in critical condition and is not responding to treatment. Another protester required hospitalization after being hit in the face with a tear-gas projectile shot directly at him.

Doctors at the Ramallah hospital are currently fighting for Jawaher Abu Rahmah's life, after an acute deterioration in her condition this evening. Abu Rahmah suffered from severe asphyxiation during today's demonstration in Bil'in as a result of tear-gas inhalation, and was evacuated to the Ramallah hospital. She is currently diagnosed as suffering from poisoning caused by the active ingredient in the tear-gas, and is not responding to treatment.

Jawaher Abu Rahmah is the sister of Bassem Abu Rahmah, who was shot dead with a high velocity tear-gas projectile during a demonstration in Bil'in on April 17th, 2009.

Gaza, then and now

CommonDreams - Salena Tramel- Year before last, I was sitting in the living room of my childhood home sharing a cup of morning coffee with my mother and musing over the holidays. We laughed over kitschy Christmas gifts from well-meaning relatives before deciding to turn on the news for five minutes on the brink of another vacation day. Those five minutes would turn out to be one of those times like 9/11-when you never forget exactly where you were when you found out. "Oh no," gasped my mother, tears welling up immediately in her eyes. "Gaza Explodes..." scrolled across the bottom of the screen, and plumes of smoke hung on the living room wall in high definition.

Violence in the Middle East was hardly a surprise. I was living near the West Bank city of Ramallah in 2006, where I began to understand the intricacies of life under occupation-checkpoints, settlement expansion, and raids. That summer, Hamas and Hezbollah abducted three Israeli soldiers, and the Israeli military unleashed a series of attacks that devastated parts of Gaza and Lebanon. I remember sitting on my roof with neighbors sipping local Palestinian beer from a nearby Christian village, and watching macabre lights fill the sky night after night. A former European soldier taught me how to identify the various weapons: a cluster bomb branches out horizontally before hitting its target, while thermobarics fall hard and fast, demolishing entire structures. The warplanes were low, lit up by the moon as they traveled north to Lebanon and south to Gaza. My neighbor finished the last sip of his beer one night and whispered, "It's like fucking Space Invaders up here."

But operation Cast Lead put previous attacks to shame. For more than three weeks, the Israeli military assault was the most violent action against the occupied territories since the 1967 war. And for the past two years, I have been breathing in Gaza from the outside, sustained by a few precious journeys into the coastal territory known by many as the world's largest open-air prison.

During the war, I spent hours on the phone with people inside Gaza-from the comfort of my eclectic office and heated apartment. Colleagues and friends filled me in from their cell phones while they stood on dangerous street corners watching bombs flatten buildings. We would almost always lose our connection and when I called back, they would apologize for the interruption and describe the scene in detail. One day, a Palestinian man working for the United Nations cried helplessly when white phosphorus danced through the sky like firecrackers. Or like Space Invaders.

Israel stopped attacking the Gaza Strip two days before the U.S. presidential inauguration. Many speculate that the Israeli withdrawal was a trade-off with the President-elect for his silence during the military operation. I stood shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of thousands of people in front of my country's capitol building on what felt then like the first day of a new millennium, Obama's charismatic voice crackling through the freezing air as he took the oath. Hope had taken the nation by storm, Bush was on a helicopter bound for Texas, and the streets of Gaza were silent. Razed, I would soon witness just weeks later, but silent.

Getting into Gaza right after the war was nothing short of a miracle. I entered with a delegation through Rafah on the Egyptian side. We passed by Palestinians who had no chance of crossing the gate, and I knew that it was they who should have been granted passage, not me. Bombs fell on the tunnels near the buffer zone, but somehow, being in Gaza made me feel incredibly safe. And the resilience of the people crept to a place deep inside me. It hasn't left since.

The Gaza Strip is full of astonishing stories and the people there go to lengths to get them out. Being a visitor in that context is a privilege that comes with considerable responsibility. From speaking with families who lost loved ones to tank fire to spending time with children that trembled from the affects of PTSD, there was consistent desire to be heard. "Now you have seen this with your own eyes," they would say, "so you need to let people outside know what is happening to us here."

The second I left, I immediately started planning another trip. And then another. Within a year of the war, I had been back three times. Gaza is the kind of place that melts stereotypes. Let down by the Israelis, the Egyptians, the Americans, and the Palestinian Authority, Gazans continue to organize despite oppressive circumstances. They have burned garbage to fuel cars, built homes from mud, and crushed rubble to pave roads. Women from local community organizations bank seeds in their kitchen sinks and plant gardens in the most unlikely urban settings.

Today, the siege on Gaza continues with no end in sight. The United Nations has reported that at least 500 truckloads of wheat sit idle on the Israeli side of the Karni conveyor belt that has acted as a lifeline to a million and a half people. Even though these provisions are critical to survival, Palestinians living in the seaside enclave long for much more than access to food aid, but for freedom of movement, food sovereignty, and self-determination.

And now, military violence against Gaza has escalated again. One contact wrote that F16s had bombed several times over the past week, drones buzzing overhead as he sent out the message. Some Palestinians feel that another wide-reaching attack looms. It remains unclear exactly what awaits the people of Gaza two years after the war. What is certain is that we must keep their voices in the debate, and listen when they say enough is enough-especially when so many of us are intrinsically linked to their struggle. Read more

Christmas and resistance activities in Palestine

A note from Mazin Qumsiyeh- I have spent 26 Christmases in our homeland but never had a more meaningful one than this one. In the traditional 12 days of the holiday season, we finished with class work at Bethlehem University. My masters' students and my undergraduate students did very well throughout the semester as they evolved their critical thinking and analytical skills and developed admirable self-confidence. Then the holidays came and with them came people from around the world to join in our struggle for freedom. In particular 73 French activists joined with others to attend and participate in a number of direct actions that challenge the colonial structure. Starting on 22-23 December in Jerusalem, the group participated in direct action and other events in Shaikh Jarrah, Silwan, and ethnically cleansed villages behind the green line. After two nights in Jerusalem focusing on the increased pressures to isolate and destroy life for the remaining inhabitants of this Palestinian city, the activists were to come to Al-Walaja village (a village that suffers from colonial settlement activities on the small percentage of its land that remains after Israel took over 75%). The Israeli apartheid army tried in vain to prevent the event from happening from preventing a bus company from transporting activists to blocking the road to the village to threatening people in the village. Strong will and creative on-the-spot triumphed maneuvers frustrated the army's maneuver and all did in through other means to hold a huge demonstration of at least 200 people (Palestinians and Internationals including some Israelis). Not allowing empty buses to come to pick the demonstrators, we still managed to get everyone out safely to go the manger square for the traditional Christmas procession. With over 50 volunteers wearing bright yellow vests (Handala and Free Palestine prominently printed on them), we distributed over 2000 'Christmas Cards' to the Christian pilgrims. The cards referred to the wish for peace with justice and linked to the Kairos document, a call by Palestinian Christians issued a year ago (see

Later in the afternoon, we traveled to Beit Jala where we shared putting-up a Christmas tree at the home of Abu Michel, a Christian whose land was taken over for the apartheid wall. Then onto Aida refugee camp for a meaningful Christmas Eve with refugees. Christmas day was spent mostly in Hebron old city including in a demonstration against the racist settlers who continue to attempt to destroy the old city.

FBI news clipping files reveal Israeli lobby 2005 espionage case

IRMEP- The Israel Lobby Archive obtained 405 pages from the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act. The released documents are news clippings maintained by the FBI during its espionage investigation of Department of Defense Colonel Lawrence Franklin and AIPAC staffers Keith Weissman and Steven J. Rosen.

The broad range of content clipped by the FBI ranges from "Chalabi-gate: None Dare Call It Treason" by Justin Raimondo (05/28/2004) to The Nation "Still Dreaming of Tehran" by Robert Dreyfuss and Laura Rosen (04/12/2004).

Among the earlier files clipped by the FBI are the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer transcript of a program called "Back to Iraq?" which aired on PBS on May 4, 1998. The broadcast includes content from R. James Woolsey and Zalmay Khalizad. Also in the file is the Washington Post "Meetings with Iran-Contra Arms Dealer Confirmed" by Bradley Graham and Peter Slevin dated August 9, 2003. The most recent content is from the Politico "Leniency for AIPAC Leaker" by Josh Gerstein on 06/12/2009.

There is little original FBI content in the clippings. On page 337 the FBI boxed a paragraph from reporter Laura Rozen's article "The Big Chill" in The Nation on July 14, 2005.

"The Nation has learned that among the documents the FBI has in its possession is a memo written by Rosen in 1983, soon after he joined AIPAC, to his then-boss describing his having been informed about the contents of a classified draft of a White House position paper concerning the Middle East and telling his boss that their inside knowledge of this draft might enable the group to influence the final document. The significance would seem to be an effort by the FBI to establish a pattern of Rosen's accessing classified information to which he was not authorized, not just from Franklin but over many years. Rosen's attorneys declined to comment on the allegation." (NOTE: By 1984 the US Trade Representative called in the FBI to investigate Rosen's AIPAC research team over theft of classified US trade data ARCHIVE )Read more

Israel wants press away from investigation involving Israeli nationals forging identities and killing Hamas leader

Press TV- Israel has called on the United Arab Emirates to stop releasing images of those involved in the killing of a leading Hamas leader in Dubai earlier this year.

In a move bolstering suspicions of Israeli involvement in the assassination of senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in January, Dubai's police Chief Dahi Khalfan Tamim said on Thursday that Tel Aviv had asked the UAE to stop releasing the details of the killing.

...The police chief also confirmed that there was not a single body or country that expressed a desire to keep the details of the investigation in the dark.

Dubai police, which have released images of nearly 30 suspects believed to be involved in the killing of the top Hamas commander, have repeatedly said that Tel Aviv was behind the killing.

Mabhouh was found dead in his hotel room on January 19. Dubai police said the murder was carried out by a hit squad of at least 11 people using stolen identities, and in many cases forged British, Irish, French, German and Australian passports.

More than half of the people identified as responsible for the killing share the names of foreign-born Israeli nationals.

Israel has reportedly acknowledged that its secret service, Mossad, was behind the assassination of the senior Hamas commander in Dubai. Read more

Israeli parliament approves 2 billion to settlements in the new year's budget

IMEMC- The Israeli Knesset approved its 2011-2012 budget on Wednesday, which includes two billion shekels (approx. US$ 564 million) to settlements construction, services and security, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

...In addition, the state will compensate the loss incurred by exporters from settlements to the European Union with NIS 22 million, due to settlement produce no longer recognized as from Israel by the E.U., and thus losing free trade status under the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement.

The budget also shows a contradiction between the information provided by the Central Bureau of Statistics and the World Zionist Organization, due to while the first organization indicates 120 official settlements in the West bank, the WZO claims 136 "communities", which indicates that the WZO could support at least 16 illegal outposts. Read more

Israeli journalist speaks on complicity of Israeli media in war crimes

IMEMC- ...Speaking on a variety of issues, the renowned Israeli journalist focused on what he sees as the complicity of the Israeli media and society in crimes of the Occupation.

Highlighting a widespread lack of interest amongst Israelis in ending the occupation as well as a prevalent extreme ideology in government over a weak Israeli left, Levy said: “We used to joke that two Israelis would share three views, but today three Israelis all share one view,”. He added: “When it comes to the unofficial religion of Israel, namely security…the Israeli media has betrayed its mission. Many foreigners who come here are amazed to see how little the Israelis discuss their future, how little they know what’s going on a half an hour away from their homes, how little they want to know, how little they care.”

The Israeli journalist went on arguing that he views settlers as “the only effective, active group” remained in Israel, and that no change should be expected so long as there is a status quo in a largely apathetic Israeli society. Read more

On Palestine, the US is a rogue state

The Guardian- Nations covering 80-90% of the world's population recognize Palestine as a state. The US, subservient to Israel, stands out.

...Meanwhile, as a perpetual "peace process" appears suddenly threatened by peaceful recourse to international law and international organisations, the US House of Representatives has adopted, by a unanimous voice vote, a resolution drafted by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) calling on President Obama not to recognise the state of Palestine and to veto any effort by Palestine to obtain UN membership. Read more

Opinion: For Israel, there's no alternative to dependence on the US

Haaretz- The thought that Israel will take any action against Iran and the Americans will be content with a salute and support is completely unrealistic.

Two years ago, on the eighth day of Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces belatedly identified a shortage of a certain kind of equipment. Israel turned to the United States with an urgent request to help close this operational gap. The Americans, who apparently were not thrilled by the start of the ground offensive - just a moment before a new president was to enter the White House - delayed their answer for 24 hours.

The General Staff endured some disturbing moments while waiting for Washington's approval . In retrospect, one sees that the IDF assumed that this was a show of muscle by the United States. Operation Cast Lead, compared to scenarios of all-out war in the future, is a relatively simple story. The IDF enjoyed absolute superiority over Hamas, and the threat to the Israeli home front from Gaza was limited.

But Israel's dependence on the United States - economic and especially military - is tremendous. It stretches over many issues: the military equipment the U.S. Army keeps in emergency depots in Israel, the provision of F-35 aircraft, and backing in the UN Security Council on issues like leveraging the Goldstone report and international sanctions on Iran.

The dependence on the United States is usually played down here, but the Israeli public is not naive. The precedent of the crisis over guarantees with President George H.W. Bush's administration - a crisis that contributed to the defeat of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir in the 1992 elections - is still clearly remembered. This week it emerged that $205 million in American aid pledged for the acquisition of an additional Iron Dome missile interception system is being delayed because of a dispute in Congress. And Israel expects the administration to abide by its commitment and increase annual defense aid to $3 billion, an all-time record, while it deliberates over cuts in its defense budget. Read more

Palestinian Authority drafts resolution aimed at gaining US support

IMEMC- In the following days, P.A. and other Arab states will bring a draft resolution to the U.N. Security Council, calling to condemn Israel for the illegal settlement construction in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Abbas stressed on Thursday, with regard to a possible U.S. veto, that the draft follows Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's rhetoric.

Abbas stressed on Thursday that the new draft is designed to gain the U.S. support, as it uses the "same words" that the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton uses to criticize the settlements and, therefore, he "doesn't see why" the U.S. would veto the move, Haaretz quoted.

However, the United States House of Representatives recently approved a resolution opposing an unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state and vetoing any resolution by the United Nations Security Council with regard to supporting unilateral movements made by Palestinians. Israel also remarked that with these actions, the Palestinians prove that they do not believe in negotiations.

The illegality of the settlement construction in East Jerusalem and the West Bank has been ratified by international law and criticized by both the E.U. and the U.S. Read more

Video: Christmas in Bethlehem 2010


Israeli soldiers use tear gas to suppress anti-wall protests in the West Bank

PNN – Anti-wall protests were reported on Friday at the village of Nil’in and al Nabi Saleh in central West Bank, in addition to al Ma’ssara in the south.

Israeli and international supporters joined the villagers at all three locations. The protests started shortly after the midday prayers.

In the village of Al Ma’ssara, protesters were stopped by the army at the village entrance before they reached the lands taken by Israel from the village to build the wall. Soldiers then used tear gas to force people back to the village. Read more

Protesters in Bil’in removeparts of Israel’s wall, troops critically injuries a civilian

PNN – On Friday, hundreds of protesters marched in the village of Bil’in in the central West Bank to protest the Israeli built wall on villagers' lands and in a surprising development, dismantled part of it.

Despite an Israeli army blockade on the village since early morning, Israeli and international supporters managed to join the protest. Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad joined the protesters this week, as well as Fatah supporters, who marked the creation of their political party.

As has been the case for the past six years , the protest started after midday prayers at the village mosque ended. As soon as people reached the wall, local youth managed to dismantle parts of it. Israeli soldiers stationed at the nearby gate separating local farmers from their lands fired tear gas.

One person was hit in the face with a tear gas canister and rushed to Ramallah for treatment, and many were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation. Read more

Israel handcuffs Bedeouin activist to hospital bed

PNN-Adam Keller – The court this week has been especially harsh with al-Okbi, because of his activism – so as "to send a message to the Bedouins". Al-Okbi collapsed after the sentencing. He is now hospitalized at the Assaf Harofeh Hospital under police supervision, handcuffed to the bed.

Nuri al-Okbi, head of the Association for Protection of the Rights Bedouins in Israel and also active for the rights of the Arab residents of Lod, many of whom were originally Negev Bedouins, was sentenced to seven months imprisonment on charges of "running a business without a license".

The business in question is a garage... Read more

Israeli settlers to receive 3,160 Shekels each for "security expenses" in 2011

PNN - The Israeli Knesset approved its 2011-2012 budget on Wednesday, including two billion shekels for settlement services and security, or 3,160 shekels ($885) for each settler in the West Bank.

Israeli online newspaper Ha’aretz reported on Friday that at least 200 new residential units will be marketed in both the settlements of Ma’ale Adumim, west of Jerusalem, and Har Homa to the city’s south. Har Homa lies directly across from the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem and has been the site of controversial illegal settlement building since 1997. A total of 238 million shekels will be spent on Har Homa by 2012. Read more

Israeli settlers seize land near Tubas

PNN - A group of settlers from the Rotim settlement, built near the northern West Bank town of Tubas, seized at least 30 dunums of Palestinian land on Thursday. Read more

Israeli troops arrest seven overnight, reportedly beat woman

PNN - In a series of overnight raids ending on Friday morning, Israeli forces arrested five Palestinians around the West Bank and allegedly beat a woman and her son.

A police public relations spokesman told Palestinian state news wire Wafa that Israeli troops raided Hebron and arrested Imad Hafed al-Rajibi, 46, Abdullah Imad Hafed al-Rajibi, 23, Nouradin Imad al-Rajibi, age unknown, and Majd Yusef Abu al-Hilawa, age unknown.

The spokesman added in a statement that the Israeli troops in question attacked and beat an anonymous 42-year-old woman and her son, age unknown. They were both taken to a local hospital for treatment, but neither was arrested. Read more

Israel to compensate PA for Paz fuel theft scandal

Ma'an – A Palestinian Authority lawsuit against Israeli fuel company Paz Oil for stealing fuel will be settled by the Israeli government, officials said on Thursday, and will see the PA compensated for losses.

The suit came after workers accused Paz Oil transporters of siphoning profits from the daily petrol it is contractually required to deliver under a two-year deal with the PA that expires in September.

Documents, photographs, and testimony obtained by Ma'an reveal that 2,000 liters of fuel sold to the PA disappeared in July, between Ashdod, Israel and two transfer stations along the Green Line, which separates Israel from the occupied Palestinian territories. Later, the PA announced that it would sue the company. Read more

Thursday, December 30, 2010

US media misreport natural gas discovery in eastern Mediterranean

News organizations are reporting that a huge new natural gas field just discovered in the eastern Mediterranean is in Israeli territorial waters – for example, the UPI headline reads: "Huge natural gas reserve found in Israel."

However, it appears that the gas field actually straddles the border of several nations.

Israel has a history of confiscating water resources that belong to or are shared with others. It appears that it is poised now to do the same with gas.

Fast-Neal Ungerleider – A gigantic natural gas field that could yield millions of barrels of oil was recently discovered on the maritime border between Israel, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, Cyprus, and Northern Cyprus. While it could be a military catastrophe, steps are being taken to divide the spoils. Read more

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Racist graffiti sprayed on mosque

PNN- The Al-Aqsa Institute of the Waqf (Religious Endowments) and Heritage confirmed on Wednesday that all their efforts to protect Palestinian sacred sites outside the West Bank could not prevent a recent crime wave from Jewish extremists that included racist graffiti being sprayed on a mosque in Roubeen, a village southeast of Ramleh, inside Israel. Read more

Palestinian factions hold meeting to discuss Israeli threats

IMEMC- Palestinian factions in Gaza, except for Fateh, held a meeting on Sunday calling on Arab and international institutions to pressure Israel into halting its violations and escalations against the Palestinian people, especially in the Gaza Strip. Read more

Gaza City residents report shelling

Ma'an- Locals in Gaza City said shelling was heard east of the city center near the border with Israel on Wednesday morning. Read more

Palestinian youth groups paint murals to mark Gaza war

Ma'an- Two youth groups in Gaza marked the second anniversary of Israel's war on the Strip by painting murals on the walls of the destroyed government compound in Gaza City.

The Cultural Club and Free Spectrum organized the activity, commemorating the 22-day offensive which left more than 1,400 dead and injured over 5,000. Read more

Palestinian leader to lay first stone of Brazil embassy

Ma'an- President Mahmoud Abbas was to travel to Brazil later on Wednesday to lay the symbolic foundation stone of a Palestinian embassy in Brasilia. Read more

Report: Israel detained 1,100 children in 2010

Ma’an- Israeli forces detained 1,100 Palestinian children in 2010, the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Detainees' Affairs said Wednesday.

The arrests were concentrated in East Jerusalem, where 500 children were detained, and in Hebron, the ministry found.

PA Detainees' Affairs Minister Issa Qaraqe said the high number reflected the Israeli policy to systematically pursue children, particularly in occupied East Jerusalem, where children were often put under house arrest.

In its report, the ministry said prisoners were routinely kept in solitary confinement in cells which resembled graves. Some prisoners, including Hasan Salameh and Ahmad Al-Mughrabi, have spent more than eight years in such inhumane conditions. Read more

Israeli Parliament member proposes killing Bedouin smugglers

Ma'an- Israeli Knesset member Ya'akov Katz on Tuesday proposed putting "a bullet into the head" of Bedouins who lead convoys of foreign workers entering Israel illegally, the Hebrew-language daily reported. Read more

Israeli army arrests 1 Palestinian in village raid

Ma'an- Israeli soldiers raided a Nablus village on Wednesday and detained a 20-year-old resident, locals said.

Ghareeb Ref'et E'zat Amir was detained after forces searched his home in Kafr Qalil. He was taken to an unknown location. Read more

Israel continues Palestinian Bedouin home demolitions

Ma’an- Several homes in the unrecognized Bedouin village of As-Sadir, in Israel's Negev region, were bulldozed to the ground Wednesday morning, President of the Arab Democratic Party in Israel Talab As-Sane reported. Read more

Spanish artists paint on Israeli separation wall

Ma'an- Spanish artists paint on the Israeli separation barrier in the West Bank cities of Bethlehem and Qalqiliya, taking time to plant an olive tree near the site of their work in the latter on December 26, 2010.

The artists, members of Mujeres Artistas Por La Paz (Artist Women for Peace) were in the area for Christmas.

Palestinian prime minister: We want more than 'Facebook state'

Ynet News- Palestinian prime minister says his people expect wider recognition of their statehood in coming year. Recognition by many countries will 'enshrine' Palestinians' right to state in all of West Bank and Gaza Strip, he adds.

Palestinians expect wider recognition of their statehood in the coming year and it will mean more than the mere "Facebook state" predicted by an Israeli minister, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said on Wednesday.

Fayyad said recognition by many countries would "enshrine" the Palestinians' right to a state in all of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which Israel captured along with east Jerusalem in a 1967 war.

Seventeen years of peace efforts had failed to deliver this promise, he told reporters. The current Israeli coalition's stated commitment to a two-state solution could not be relied on "given the erosion that has taken place," he said. Read more

Israeli forces kill 1, injure 5 Palestinians in northern Gaza

IMEMC- Israeli tanks and helicopters stationed at the eastern border between Israel and the Gaza Strip opened fire Tuesday, killing a Palestinian man and wounding five others. Read more

Palestinian city to be built without materials produced in Israeli settlements

IMEMC- Around 20 suppliers agreed to assist building the first modern Palestinian city in the West Bank, however with no use of material produced in Israeli settlements, the Associated Press announced on Tuesday.

...Palestinian activists and supporters have launched a boycott and divestment campaign targeting Israeli holdings and Israeli companies over the Occupation.

Fayyad publicly advocated a boycott of settlement goods in the West Bank, and earlier this year, a law was approved sentencing heavy penalties and prison term for Palestinians who work in settlements.

Nevertheless, no alternative sources of employment have been secured for the estimated 21,000 Palestinians working in settlements in the sectors of construction, agriculture or industry, nor the law isn't being enforced. Read more

Israeli army arrests 12 year old Palestinian child throwing stones in East Jerusalem

MSNBC Photo-blog- Katie Cannon writes:While the third picture below shows the young man who was arrested in the background, it's difficult to tell if he was engaged in thorwing stones from the instant that was captured. The young child on the scooter to his right does not make the read any easier. Guilty or not, it would be terribly hard to see a child in one's family be taken away by authorities. Read more

Press Release: Israeli Settlers set fire to a house-tent in the Palestinian village of Susiya

[Note: According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Hague Regulations, the International Court of Justice, and several United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements and outposts in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal. Most settlement outposts, including Havat Ma'on (Hill 833), are considered illegal also under Israeli law.]

December 29th, 2010

Susiya - On the night of the 28th December 2010, Israeli settlers attacked the Palestinian village of Susiya, setting fire to a house-tent .

Around 3.00 am, the Palestinian villagers were awakened by the fire caused by flaming bottles. The fire was presumably set by three men who were seen running away to a car.

According to the witnesses, the men who set the fire were Israeli settlers from the nearby settlement of Suseya.

This is the last of several acts of violence perpetrated by Israeli settlers against the Palestinian communities of the South Hebron hills.

A villager declared: "Someone who throws a bottle of oil here it means to kill people... We want the police to investigate fairly and to arrest the settlers."

The owners of the burned house-tent made a complaint to the Kyriat Arba police station.

According to Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights organization, 92% of police investigations following complaints filed by Palestinians against Israeli settlers end in a failure: the complaints are lost, or the files are closed after the police failed to find suspects or present sufficient evidence against suspects.

Operation Dove and Christian Peacemaker Teams have maintained an international presence in At-Tuwani and South Hebron Hills since 2004.

Report: Israeli forces shoot Palestinian teenager while he purchases strawberries

DCI-Palestine- On 23 December 2010, a 17-year-old boy is shot in the head whilst purchasing strawberries to sell at market in the Gaza Strip, about 800 metres from the border fence with Israel.

Seventeen-year-old Hatem lives at home with his parents and four siblings, in the Jabalia refugee camp, north Gaza. Hatem dropped out of school earlier this year so that he could help support his family. ‘We’re living in harsh financial conditions,’ says Hatem. ‘There are no job opportunities in the Gaza Strip because of the blockade. I couldn’t find a vocational centre that would teach me a profession. I tried so hard and so many times to get a job, but I couldn’t, so I decided to sell vegetables in the market.’ Read more

Netanyahu snubs Obama but wants to free spy

UPI- Israel may have refused U.S. President Barack Obama's request to freeze settlements construction in the occupied West Bank but it is still pushing him to free Jonathan Jay Pollard, Israel's most notorious spy.

Pollard, a U.S. Navy analyst, is serving a life sentence in a North Carolina prison for plundering key U.S. military secrets in the 1980s as an agent of Israel's intelligence establishment.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is expected to officially and publicly appeal to Obama soon to release Pollard, 56, whose spying caused a severe rift between Israel and the United States, following his arrest Nov. 22, 1985. He was convicted in 1987.

Netanyahu has long championed the Israeli effort to secure Pollard's freedom, which has been a source of constant friction between Israel and its strategic ally. Read more

Rabbis' wives urge Israeli women to stay away from Arab men

Haaretz- A new letter signed by 30 women suggests that girls who date non-Jews will be cut off from their 'holy race'.

A letter urging Jewish women not to date non-Jewish men has been published by a group of rabbis' wives. The letter comes on the heels of a rabbis' letter published earlier this month urging Jews not to sell or rent properties to non-Jews.

The new letter, signed by 30 rabbis' wives, says, "For your sake, for the sake of future generations, and so you don't undergo horrible suffering, we turn to you with a request, a plea, a prayer. Don't date non-Jews, don't work at places that non-Jews frequent, and don't do national service with non-Jews."

The letter was organized by the organization Lehava, which claims to "save daughters of Israel" from what it calls assimilation. Lehava also took part in the recent demonstrations against selling or renting homes to non-Jews.

The group operates a shelter for women who leave their Arab partners and educate the public on what it calls the dangers that arise from contact between Jews and Arabs. The organization also called for the boycott of the Gush Etzion branch of the supermarket Rami Levi, where Arab and Jewish workers are on shift side-by-side. Read more

Behind a 30-Foot prison wall, “Merry Christmas in Bethlehem” becomes a media lie

Wall Writings- If you relied on your local newspaper to tell you how things went in Bethlehem this Christmas season, don’t believe what you read.

Newspapers across America relied heavily on an Associated Press story to inform their readers that “Bethlehem Celebrates its Merriest Christmas in Years”.

It did not. Ask the people who live and work there.

The same optimistic headline ran over the same upbeat AP story, in US newspapers from Lafourche Parish, Louisiana to both major dailies in Washington, DC.

By virtue of its tight control over the AP bureau in Jerusalem, the Israeli government took advantage of a lazy, parsimonious American media and an equally lazy and complacent American public to guarantee yet another distorted portrait of life in the land Jesus made holy.

A Google search reveals more than 1300 references to that “Bethlehem is merry” AP story. Editors in Marietta, Georgia; Dallas, Texas; San Diego and San Francisco, California, to cite a few of them, relied on that Israeli-approved version that readers could smile over as they stripped open their Yuletide gifts and downed their cholesterol-packed eggnog.

In Jerusalem, the “merry Christmas” lie that blanketed the US, was received as one more “well done” effort by those Israeli officials who work hard to whitewash the brutality with which Israel’s army rules Palestine.

Bethlehem was anything but “merry” this Christmas because its citizens continue to live in a prison behind a 30 foot high wall, not a “security barrier”, as every US newspaper called the wall in its AP story.

The AP story also reports, without blushing, that Israel “allowed” 500 citizens from Gaza, to go through the “security barrier” to reach the Church of the Nativity. Was there not a single copy editor in America who knew that they were using the barrier term dictated by the ruling occupiers?

Here is the opening of the AP story as it entered homes across America on Christmas weekend. If you do not weep for the state of American journalism when you read it, you have made one too many Israeli-sponsored trips into Palestine. Read more

Report: 686 Gazans detained in Israeli prisons

Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association

On the Anniversary of the Israeli Offensive on Gaza, Addameer Calls Attention to the 686 Gazans Detained in Israeli Prisons

On the second anniversary of Israel’s offensive on the Gaza Strip (27 December 2008–18 January 2009), Addameer reiterates its unequivocal condemnation of the Israeli policy that has denied residents from Gaza detained in Israeli prisons family visits for over three years.

In June 2007, as part of its policy of treating the Gaza Strip as an enemy entity following the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, Israel implemented a total prohibition on family visits to prisoners from Gaza. In addition, starting in November 2009, Israel has effectively prevented these prisoners from receiving money from their families to buy basic necessities by requiring that transfers of money be conditional on the physical presence of a family member at an Israeli bank—an impossibility for families residing in the Gaza Strip.

As a result, the 686 Palestinians from Gaza currently detained in Israeli prisons are completely isolated from the outside world. They are largely unaware of the major events taking place in the lives of their families, including the deaths of close relatives. Similarly, their relatives are kept in the dark about their general detention and health conditions. These prisoners’ access to basic necessities is also severely limited since such supplies are usually brought by family members during visits or purchased by prisoners from the prison canteen with funds transferred from their families.

Israel’s policy has been condemned, among others, by Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict in its report on the 2008–2009 Israeli offensive. On 9 December 2009, however, the Israeli High Court of Justice ruled against two petitions filed by Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations in 2008 protesting the legality of the ban on family visits. The court held that the right to family visits in prison is not within the “framework of the basic humanitarian needs of the residents of the Strip, which Israel is obligated to enable”.

Website posts names and photos of those responsible for Israeli attack on Gaza – The following information was received anonymously; presumably from a member of the Israeli Military. It was presented as follows:

Underlining the following people is an act of retribution and affront. They are the direct perpetrators, agents for the state of Israel that in Dec.- Jan. 2008- 2009 attacked scores of people in the besieged Gaza. The people listed here held positions of command at the time of the attack therefore not only did they perform on behalf of a murderous state mechanism but actively encouraged other people to do the same. They bear a distinctive personal responsibility. They range from low-level field commanders to the highest echelons of the Israeli army. All took an active and direct role in the offensive. [The names of those killed fill 100 pages.]

In underlining them we are purposefully directing attention to individuals rather than the static structures through which they operate. We are aligning people with actions. It is to these persons and others, Like them, to which we must object and bring our plaints to bear upon.

This information was pirated. We encourage people to seek out other such similar information, it is readily available in the public sphere and inside public officials' locked cabinets. This is a form of resistance that can be effectively sustained for a long while. Read more

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Gaza massacre and the struggle for justice

The Electronic Intifada- The Gaza massacre, which Israel launched two years ago today, did not end on 18 January 2009, but continues. It was not only a massacre of human bodies, but of the truth and of justice. Only our actions can help bring it to an end.

The UN-commissioned Goldstone Report documented evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in an attack aimed at the very "foundations of civilian life in Gaza" -- schools, industrial infrastructure, water, sanitation, flour mills, mosques, universities, police stations, government ministries, agriculture and thousands of homes. Yet like so many other inquiries documenting Israeli crimes, the Goldstone Report sits gathering dust as the United States, the European Union, the Palestinian Authority and certain Arab governments colluded to ensure it would not translate into action.

Israel launched the attack, after breaking the ceasefire it had negotiated with Hamas the previous June, under the bogus pretext of stopping rocket firing from Gaza.

During those horrifying weeks from 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009, Israel's merciless bombardment killed 1,417 people according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza.

They were infants like Farah Ammar al-Helu, one-year-old, killed in al-Zaytoun. They were schoolgirls or schoolboys, like Islam Khalil Abu Amsha, 12, of Shajaiyeh and Mahmoud Khaled al-Mashharawi, 13, of al-Daraj. They were elders like Kamla Ali al-Attar, 82 of Beit Lahiya and Madallah Ahmed Abu Rukba, 81, of Jabaliya; They were fathers and husbands like Dr. Ehab Jasir al-Shaer. They were police officers like Younis Muhammad al-Ghandour, aged 24. They were ambulance drivers and civil defense workers. They were homemakers, school teachers, farmers, sanitation workers and builders. And yes, some of them were fighters, battling as any other people would to defend their communities with light and primitive weapons against Israel's onslaught using the most advanced weaponry the United States and European Union could provide.

The names of the dead fill 100 pages, but nothing can fill the void they left in their families and communities ("The Dead in the course of the Israeli recent military offensive on the Gaza strip between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009," [PDF] Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, 18 March 2009).

These were not the first to die in Israeli massacres and they have not been the last. Dozens of people have been killed since the end of Israel's "Operation Cast Lead," the latest Salameh Abu Hashish last week, a 20-year old shepherd shot by Israeli occupation forces as he tended his animals in northern Gaza.

But the tragedy does not end with those who were killed. Along with thousands permanently injured, there is the incalculable psychological cost of children growing up without parents, of parents burying their children, and the mental trauma that Israel's offensive and the ongoing siege has done to almost everyone in Gaza. There are the as yet unknown consequences of subjecting Gaza's 700,000 children to a toxic water supply for years on end.

The siege robs 1.5 million people not just of basic goods, reconstruction supplies (virtually nothing has been rebuilt in Gaza), and access to medical care but of their basic rights and freedoms to travel, to study, to be part of the world. It robs promising young people of their ambitions and futures. It deprives the planet of all that they would have been able to create and offer. By cutting Gaza off from the outside world, Israel hopes to make us forget that the those inside are human.

Two years after the crime, Gaza remains a giant prison for a population whose unforgivable sin in the eyes of Israel and its allies is to be refugees from lands that Israel took by ethnic cleansing. Read more

No such thing as justice in the Holy Land, Palestinian Church leaders tell the Irish

Sabbah Report- "We need only one thing, to be protected by the world against the crimes of 

We are not here as politicians, they said. We come as representatives of the various churches in Jerusalem.

But the trio from the Holy Land showed they were more than a match for Western politicians who fancy they know all about the Middle East.

Archbishop Theodosius Hanna (Greek Orthodox Church), Monsignor Manuel Musallam (Latin Catholic) and Mr Constantine Dabbagh (Executive Director of the Middle East Council of Churches) are courageous human rights defenders and spiritual leaders from Palestine. They have just completed a tour of Ireland to raise awareness of the situation in their homeland under Israeli military occupation and the plight of the dwindling Christian community there. Read more

Gallery patrons ejected over Gaza flotilla t-shirts

The New York Times- Four activists were forced to leave an art gallery in New York this month for wearing T-shirts promoting an effort to include an American boat in the next blockade-challenging Gaza flotilla.

The incident came on the final day of an exhibition at the Gagosian Gallery called “Next Year in Jerusalem,” featuring pieces by the German artist Anselm Kiefer on the subject of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.

The T-shirts worn by the activists repeated the show’s title, which is borrowed from a Jewish prayer, in English, Hebrew and Arabic, on the front and said “U.S. Boat to Gaza” and “The Audacity of Hope” on the back. (As The Lede explained in a previous post, the American activists plan to call their boat the Audacity of Hope, echoing the title of a book by President Obama.)

As Claudia Roth Pierpont reported in an account of the incident on the New Yorker’s Web site last week, the gallery, on West 24th Street, called the police, and force was used to eject one bystander who asked the officers why the activists were being ordered to leave.Read more

Israel to boycott UN Summit Against Racism

IMEMC- Israel announced it will boycott a 2011 UN summit commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Durban declaration against racism, the Middle East Monitor said on Monday.

Israel motivated its decision on the basis that the Durban conference has been a platform for "anti-Semitism and attacks against Israel".

The Foreign Ministry pointed out that Israel will not take part to the 2011 summit as long as it is defined as part of 'the Durban process’. Despite its non-participation, the Israeli government plans to monitor the planning of the 2011 event in a move to confront what it perceives as the "actual racism" prevalent around the world.

The UN General Assembly voted, in September, to hold the 10th anniversary conference. The event will cover racism and racist discrimination, including Israel's policies in the Occupied Territories. Read more

Report: Israeli forces drive 54 Palestinians from homes last week

PNN- A report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Palestine revealed on Tuesday that Israeli authorities destroyed 16 Palestinian-owned buildings in East Jerusalem over the course of last week, driving 30 people out and 54 around the West Bank. Read more

Israeli settlers confiscate Palestinian farmlands

PNN- Settlers from the Kida settlement, southeast of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, seized 60 dunums of village lands in the Jaloud district and brought the total of seized land to 100 dunums in the past week.

“A number of settlers came last night and seized 60 more dunums,” explained Ghassan Douglas, the Palestinian Authority (PA) official in charge of filing settler attacks, “meaning they now control the rest of the Central Khala Abu Shabraqeh plain. It is surrounded by the Ahya settlement in the west and the Kida settlement in the east.”

He added, “Now they have control over the entire area, which is famous for its fertility.”

Three days ago, area settlers seized 20 dunums of land, adding to another 20 dunums stolen last week. Read more

Health crisis crippling Gaza

Palestine Chronicle- Authorities in the Gaza Strip have warned that the health problems of impoverished Gazans have been intensified due to a crippling four-year-old siege by Israel.

The Gaza Strip's Ministry of Health said on Monday the crisis would continue unless Israel allowed in vital material and basic necessities, a Press TV correspondent reported.

The ministry added that local hospitals were in need of chemicals required to produce oxygen as well as spare parts for x-ray machines.

Gazans, in particular cancer patients in the region, are also suffering from lack of necessary medicines as a result of the Israeli blockade on the coastal area since June 2007.

The warning comes as Palestinians mark the second anniversary of Israel's devastating war on the Gaza Strip in December 2008.

...More than 50,000 people were displaced as a result of the three-week war. Read more

Israeli activist in jail for protest against Israeli siege on Gaza

IMEMC- Jonathan Pollak was handed a three-month prison term, on Monday, for taking part in a bicycle demonstration against the blockade on Gaza almost three years ago.
Israeli activist Jonathan Pollak was sentenced to three months in jail and ordered to pay NIS 1,500 for participating in a mass protest cycle ride against the blockade of the Gaza Strip in Tel Aviv, in January 2008.

Pollak, aged 28, rejected the offer of Tel Aviv Magistrate to alternatively do community service, claiming that he did not do anything wrong. He argued saying in a telephone interview quoted in the Guardian: "I have no doubt that what we did was right and, if anything, not sufficient considering what is being done in our name…If I have to go to prison to resist the occupation, I will do it gladly."

Pollak commented that his sentence comes amidst a general deterioration in the right to dissent from Israeli occupation policies. His lawyer, Gaby Lasky, stated that it is uncommon for someone to be imprisoned in an illegal assembly case. An official at the court in Tel Aviv specified, however, that the Israeli activist had three prior convictions, including one with the charges of "distraction of order and vandalism", and a three-month suspended sentence for protesting against the West Bank separation barrier. Read more

37 Israeli settlers harassed Palestinian farmers before setting fire to land

IMEMC- ...According to local sources, there were some 37 settlers from the nearby Yitzhar settlement, who arrived in the village divided in four separate groups and started harassing farmers.

...While the farmers protested against the incursion of the settlers, one of the groups set fire to fields and fled, village council member Hasan Ziyada claimed. Read more

Israeli PM plans for 'failure' in peace talks

IMEMC- Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, stated on Monday at night that a temporary peace deal with the Palestinians is possible should the direct peace talks between the two sides fail.

Netanyahu said that a temporary agreement on “core issues” can be reached, and added that this agreement could be possible especially if talks on the Right of Return of the Palestinian refugees and Jerusalem fail to advance.

He also reiterated his demand that the Palestinian must recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Read more

Israeli navy kidnaps 6 Palestinian fishermen

IMEMC- Israeli military sources reported on Monday at night that six Palestinian fishermen were detained by the Navy after their approached an Israeli shore close to the northern part of the Gaza Strip. Read more

Israel tracking aid ship headed from Asia to Gaza

The Jerusalem Post- Activists aboard ship docked in Syria plan to break the Israeli blockade on Gaza to bring $1 million in supplies.

Israel is tracking an Asian aid ship that has docked in Syria and has declared plans to sail to the Gaza Strip to break the Israel-imposed sea blockade over the Palestinian territory.

According to press reports, the Asia 1 ship carrying around 160 activists, is waiting for Egyptian government approval to sail to the port of El Arish and from there to then sail to Gaza. The ship is reportedly carrying $1 million worth of supplies including a large medical shipment donated by the Iranian Red Crescent.

...Israel has made clear that it will not allow ships to sail freely into the Gaza Strip but will board and tow them to the Ashdod Port where their cargo will be inspected and if cleared allowed to be transferred to Gaza. Read more

Avi Shlaim: Israeli tail wags US dog; the damage that Israel causes to American interests is incalulable

The Hill-Avi Shlaim – The American-Israeli special relationship is a classic example of the tail that wags the dog. As a result of its palpable partiality towards Israel, America has lost all credibility in the eyes not only of the Palestinians but of the wider Arab and Muslim worlds. The so-called peace process has been all process and no peace. It is worse than a sham. Peace talks that go nowhere slowly provide Israel with just the cover it needs to pursue its relentlessly expansionist agenda on the West Bank.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Ecuador recognizes Palestinian state; Paraguay to follow in 2011

IMEMC- After the President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, officially recognized an independent Palestinian State on Friday, Paraguay announced that is planning to make the same decision next year. Read more

Israel to issue apology to Britain for using fake passports to assassinate Hamas leader in Dubai

IMEMC- The Daily Telegraph reported that the Israeli Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations, Mosad, intends to issue an official apology to Britain as Israeli Mosad agents entered United Arabs Emirates using several international passports, including forged British passports, to assassinate a senior Hamas leader at a hotel in Dubai. Read more

After two years, war looming in Gaza

Ma’an - Hadiyya Al-Ghoul- Two years have passed since Israel's war on the Gaza Strip, and the people are still bleeding. Its homes have not been reconstructed yet, while young and old continue to hear the thunder of Israeli tanks, and the whizzing of missiles as the detonate in fields and government police stations.

But despite this, despite the continued blockade, and despite the latest threats by Israeli generals to launch another "Operation Cast Lead" against Gaza, we have not fallen to our knees. Read more

Japan extends $12 million in aid to PA

Ma'an- The Government of Japan extended a 1 billion Yen non-project grant to the Palestinian Authority, officials said on Saturday, with a value of $11.9 million.

...Much of the previous financing for the PA from Japan was used to procure medical equipment for hospitals and clinics in the West Bank, to finalize the construction of a new President Office building in Ramallah, and to enhance property tax collection efforts in the West Bank, a statement said. Read more

Israeli soldiers assault Palestinian youth for not understanding Hebrew

IMEMC- Israeli soldiers stationed at the Za’tara Roadblock, near the northern West Bank city of Nablus, stopped three Palestinian youths and violently assaulted one of them for not understanding them when they spoke to him in Hebrew.

The youth, Bilal Hasan, 20, and two of his friends from Qaqra village, south of Nablus, were standing at the Za’tara Israeli military roadblock, waiting for a cab to take them to Salfit city where he is taking driving lessons.

Bir Zeit University Journalism student, Ahmad Judy, was standing at the roadblock and witnessed the attack. Read more

Turkish workers may lose jobs in Israel

Press TV- Hundreds of Turkish employees may lose their jobs in Israel after Tel Aviv's deadly attack on a Gaza-bound aid convoy sparked tensions between the two sides.

Turkey's construction company Yilmazlar Holdings said on Sunday that 800 employees may return to Turkey at the end of this year, Israeli website Ynetnews reported.

In 2003, Turkey and Israel signed an agreement by which Tel Aviv Aerospace Industries (IAI) will sell security and industrial equipment to Ankara and in exchange allow Yilmazlar to keep employees in Israel.

The deal is usually renewed on January 1 each year, but the rising tension has caused the Turkish government to delay its answer this year and it has not yet renewed the deal. Read more

Report: 'Israeli prisons more like dungeons'

Press TV- A new report released by the Israel Bar Association (IBA) says the situation in Israeli prisons is terrible for inmates and that the detention centers look more like dungeons than prisons.

Most solitary cells are crammed, windowless and dim, giving the impression that prisoners are held in the cells for severe punishment rather than imprisonment, Israeli daily Ha'aretz reported on Monday.

"It's difficult to ignore the feeling that isolation as practiced today serves a function of punishment rather than imprisonment," the report said.

Michael Atia, the chairman of the prison service committee at the IBA, and Moran Kabalo, the chief of criminal law for the association, released the year-long review as official inspectors delegated by the IBA to the prison service visited prisons and spoke to inmates.

The report also noted that prolonged detention in locations isolated from the general prison population has profound psychological impacts on the inmates. Read more

Israel rules out apology to Turkey

Press TV- Israel prime minister says a deadly strike on a Turkish-backed Flotilla, which was heading for Gaza, was a move in line with “standards” and rejects the prospects of any apology to Turkey.

"We will not apologise, but express our regrets to Turkey," Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview with private television network Channel 10.

“…our soldiers acted in accordance with standards," he stated.

On May 31, Israeli commandos violently attacked the aid-laden relief mission, known as Freedom Flotilla, which had set sail for the Gaza Strip, killing nine Turkish activists and injuring around 50 others.

Being apologetic, he stressed, equaled accepting responsibility. Read more

Israel continues UN-defying overflights

Press TV- Israel continues to overfly Lebanon's skies in violation of a UN resolution, which attempted to enforce an end on Tel Aviv's acts of aggression on the country.

On Monday, the Lebanese Army Command said in a statement that two Israeli warplanes flew at low altitude over areas in the north and south of Lebanon as well as areas in the capital, Beirut, dpa reported.

The violations continued throughout the day, it added.

The Army insisted that the violations breached the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701. The resolution, which brokered a ceasefire in the war Israel launched against Lebanon in 2006, calls on Tel Aviv to respect Lebanon's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Read more

Israel rejects Palestinian state and refugee return

Press TV- Israeli prime minister has ruled out the idea of a full-fledged Palestinian state and refugees' right to return to their homeland.

On Monday, Benjamin Netanyahu said Tel Aviv would not divide al-Quds (Jerusalem) -- the eastern part of which is wanted by the Palestinians as the capital of their future state, AFP reported.

Netanyahu said he wanted a demilitarized Palestinian state. The Israeli premier also said he wanted Palestinians to renounce refugees' right to return to their homes.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has rejected the Israeli proposals.

Israel fabricated its existence in 1948 during full-scale military offensives against the Arab world, forcing 711,000 Palestinians to leave their homeland. 2008 estimates put the number of Palestinian refugees at over 4.6 million.

In 1967 and during, what became to known as, the Six-Day War, Tel Aviv went on to occupy and later annex the Palestinian territories of the West Bank, East al-Quds and the Gaza Strip in a move not recognized by the international laws.

Israel carried out a self-proclaimed withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, but has been keeping the coastal sliver under recurrent attacks, notably the intense ones at the turn of 2009, which killed more than 1,400 Palestinians. Read more

Arab League says negotiating with Israel is a constant deception

Press TV- The Arab League (AL) chief says negotiating with Israel as it continues to expand its settlements in the occupied Palestinian lands equals going along with political legerdemain.

“Negotiating under settlement expansion is a great deception,” Amr Moussa, the secretary general of the regional organization, told a press conference in the Egyptian capital of Cairo on Monday, dpa reported. Read more

Report: UK may upgrade PLO diplomats

Ma'an- Officials in London may support an elevation of the diplomatic status of PLO officials in Britain and raise the status of the Palestinian representative's office to a full diplomatic mission, Israel's daily news site Ynet reported Monday. Read more

Rallies in Gaza mark war anniversary

Ma'an- At least 1,000 people attended a rally organized by the Islamic Jihad movement, chanting for continued "resistance" against Israel as Jabaliya residents, in an area just north of Gaza City, marked the anniversary of the start of Israel's last war on Gaza. Read more

Israel turns up rhetoric on Gaza war anniversary

Ma'an- Following clashes that killed two on the Gaza border, and reports from Israel that factions launched two projectiles into the Eshkol region, on Sunday, the anniversary of the start of Israel's last war on the coastal region, both sides said they were prepared for another round of bloodletting.

"I hope there is no need for another operation like 'Cast Lead,'" Israel's Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom told public radio ahead of a cabinet meeting.

"But if this situation continues -- if missiles keep being smuggled in without hindrance, if they continue shooting into Israel, trying to hit innocent civilians -- then, obviously we will have to respond and respond with all our force," he said. Read more

Israeli police car hits Palestinian toddler during clashes

Ma’an– An Israeli police patrol car hit a five-year-old Palestinian girl while on rounds of the Wadi Hilweh neighborhood of Silwan on Sunday, locals said, causing light injuries that sent the child to hospital.

According to Wad Hilweh Information Center, the incident followed fierce clashes between Palestinian teenagers and Israeli forces.

The clashes were prompted, locals said, by large numbers of Israeli police officers deployed in the neighborhood ahead of what residents feared would be the eviction of the home of Abdullah Abu Nab, which settlers have claimed belongs to Jewish groups. Read more

Israeli settlers torch Palestinian fields

Ma’an- Local officials in Madama village, south of Nablus, said Monday that dozens Israeli settlers from the nearby Yitzhar settlement were behind the torching of agricultural lands and an attack on a farmer. Read more

Love is how the kites fly for Gaza, Afghanistan and the world

Afghan Youth Peace group makes video in solidarity with the kids in Gaza.

The drums of war are heard again in Israel

Mondoweiss - Ilan Pappe- The drums of war are heard again in Israel and they are sounded because once more Israel's invincibility in is question. Despite the triumphant rhetoric in the various media commemorative reports, two years after 'Cast Lead', the sense is that that campaign was as much of a failure as was the second Lebanon war of 2006. Unfortunately, leaders, generals and the public at large in the Jewish State know only one way of dealing with military debacles and fiascos. They can be redeemed only by another successful operation or war but one which has to be carried out with more force and be more ruthless than the previous one with the hope for better results in the next round.

Force and might, so explained leading commentators in the local media (parroting what they hear from the generals in the army), is needed in order to 'deter', to 'teach a lesson' and to 'weaken' the enemy. There is no new plan for Gaza – there is no real desire to occupy it and put in under direct Israeli rule. What is suggested is to pound the Strip and its people once more, but with more brutality and for a shorter time. One might ask, why would this bear different fruits than the 'Cast Lead Operation'? But this is the wrong question. The right question is what else can the present political and military elite of Israel (which includes the government and the main opposition parties) do? Read more

Israel banishes Fatah official from Jerusalem

Ma'an- An Israeli High Court decision stayed the banishment of a Fatah official from Jerusalem on Sunday, after an earlier appeal was denied and an order to leave the city by 5p.m. was handed down that morning. Read more

Israeli soldier testimonies reveal Israeli military campaign to dismantle Palestinian society

972 Magazine - Roi Maor- IDF soldier testimonies, collected by Breaking the Silence, and published exclusively on +972 (here and here), confirm that the intent of the IDF during the Second Intifada was to undermine the ability of Palestinian society to politically challenge Israel, by destroying its capacity to function as an integrated whole

Reading the testimonies collected by Breaking the Silence (BTS), one is struck, as Joseph described, by the recurring theme of purposelessness that characterizes military operations during the Second Intifada. Joseph suggests these activities do have a purpose: they train soldiers to dehumanize Palestinians. This is in line with a great deal of scholarship, which points out that ideologies and opinions are often produced by actions, rather than the other way around.

But there is also another purpose which motivates these seemingly senseless activities. The IDF came into the Second Intifada with a way of thinking about military operations, that is very different from the classic notion of war. The BTS testimonies substantiate that the intent of the IDF during the Second Intifada was to undermine the ability of Palestinian society to politically challenge Israel, by destroying its capacity to function as an integrated whole.

This was not a subconscious effort, or a tacit notion. The highest echelons of the IDF explicitly articulated this campaign in internal meetings and documents, presentations before foreign audiences, articles in professional journals, and sometimes even press interviews. Read more

Operation Cast Lead and the dismembering of a people

Common Dreams - Vincent Di Stefano- In early January 2009, two lone voices braved the Australian media to offer a differing view to that given by Government spokespersons regarding Operation Cast Lead, the 22-day assault of Israel on Gaza that began on December 27th 2008. The first was that of Greens Leader, Senator Bob Brown. He urged Julia Gillard to speak out against the “violent and disproportionate action by Israeli leaders.” More pointed were the comments of Julia Irwin, Federal MP for the NSW seat of Fowler. In an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald at the time, she used metaphor to draw our attention to the travesty that was occurring in Gaza:

“It all reminds me of an old story from the days of the Roman Empire. The emperor Nero was upset that his prized lions were being distressed by Christians, who ran away from them in the Colloseum. Nero ordered that at the next circus, a Christian was to be buried up to his neck in the sand to make things easier for the lions. When the lions entered the ring, the biggest and the meanest saw the hapless condemned, swaggered over and stood astride the Christian’s head, roaring for approval from the crowd. At that moment, the Christian craned his neck and bit off the lion’s testicles. The crowd was shocked. “Fight fair! Fight fair!” they yelled.”

Israel’s attack upon Gaza was met with a curious indifference by most of the so-called leaders of Western nations. As acting Prime Minister of Australia at the time, the ill-informed Julia Gillard refused to criticise, let alone condemn the actions of Israel. Supposedly speaking on behalf of the Australian people, she said: “Australia recognises the right of Israel to defend itself.” That comment was made on the third of January 2009, by which time it was widely known that 430 Gazans had already been killed and 2,300 wounded in 750 individual strikes carried out by air and by sea over the previous five days.

Two years ago, we witnessed a stonehearted disregard of the humanity of those living in one of the most densely populated regions on the planet by one of the most powerful military forces on the earth. How can politicians so casually intone, “Israel has a right to defend itself”? Defend itself from what? From the miserable Qassam rockets that vent the rage of an immiserated group of Palestinian men, many of whose families have lost sons, daughters, freedoms and lands since the military occupation of Gaza by Israel that began in 1967? From the petulant stones hurled by boys and young men at the supremely armoured Merkava tanks that have blown apart their communities and knocked down their family homes? Read more

Israeli soldiers' book "Breaking the Silence" describes "routine" oppression

Uri Avnery-“The Darkness to Expel!

...the editors made it a point not to include incidents of exceptional brutality committed by sadists, which can be found in every army unit in Israel and throughout the world. Rather, they wanted to throw light on the grey routine of the occupation...

...The titles of the testimonies speak for themselves: “To produce sleeplessness in the village”, “We used to send neighbors to disarm explosive charges”, “The battalion commander ordered us to shoot anyone trying to remove the bodies”, “The commander of the navy commandos put the muzzle of the rifle into the man’s mouth”, “They told us to shoot at anybody moving in the street”, “You can do whatever you feel like, nobody is going to question it”, “You shoot at the TV set for fun”, “The [Hebron settler] boys beat up the old woman”... Just routine...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Largest amount of US aid to Israel ever - $3.4 Billion – delayed; Israel may lose millions of dollars of its normal interest payments (at least temporarily); Cantor pushes plan for Israel

Globes [online], Israel business news  – US military aid to Israel in 2011 is due to be largest amount Israel has ever received.

Partisan infighting between Republicans and Democrats in Congress is delaying US military aid to Israel. $3 billion in US military earmarked for fiscal year 2011, which began on October 1, 2010, and more than $400 million in grants to upgrade the Iron Dome and Arrow anti-ballistic missile systems, has been delayed for three months, and is unlikely to reach Israel before March, six months late. The annual military aid normally arrives just after the start of the US fiscal year, subject to Congressional approval of the federal budget.

The immediate effect of the delay is the loss of millions of dollars in interest payments. Israel is the only recipient of US military aid which receives it in a single installment, within 30 days after the president signs the budget. In theory, the aid for 2011 should have been transferred to Israel's bank account in the US in early November at the latest.

Opinion: Invisible Bethlehem - Israel-dominated US media obscure facts on Bethlehem

Al Jazeera-Lamis Andoni – As Christians flock to the birthplace of Jesus, the plight of the city's Palestinian inhabitants goes unnoticed.

Israeli army arrests 9 French nationals In the West Bank, assaults others

IMEMC – The Israeli troops operating at the military checkpoint of Qalandia, north of Jerusalem arrested nine French protestors and assaulted others at the checkpoint, Sunday at noon.

The nine arrestees were taking part in a protest at the checkpoint expressing their solidarity with the Palestinian people and their rejection to the closure of Jerusalem by the Israeli authorities.

The protest started around 9:30 Sunday morning during which over 100 Palestinian and International protestors attempted to enter Jerusalem without permission from the Israeli soldiers.

Eyewitnesses told IMEMC over the phone that Israeli troops assaulted the protestors and beat them up with their batons and rifle buts wounding a number of them, including those who were arrested. Read more

Israel expels Palestinian leader from Jerusalem; order "is not part of a judicial process, does not include charges and is based on secret material"

Ma'an – Fatah official in Silwan Adnan Gheith received a military order mandating his expulsion from Jerusalem before 5 p.m. on Sunday, Director of Wadi Hilwa Information Center Jawad Siyam told Ma'an.

...The order was handed down as an Administrative Decree, enacted by power of the Emergency Defense Orders established under the British Mandate, and banishes Gheith from Jerusalem for a period of four months.

....A statement from the PSOC issued a statement, saying "The order is not part of a judicial process, does not include charges and is based on secret material," and said an appeal for an injunction would be filed at the Israeli High Court immediately. Read more

Israeli soldiers attack a nonviolent protest In Hebron, wound 4, detain 3

IMEMC – Israeli soldiers attacked on Saturday evening a nonviolent protest organized by the Youth Coalition Against Settlements in Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank. Dozens of Israeli and International peace activists participated in the protest.

At least four Palestinians and three internationals were wounded after being violently assaulted by the army, and three international activists were detained.

Israel to build and market 5000 units In Occupied East Jerusalem

IMEMC – The Israeli Housing Ministry is planning to build and market nearly 5000 new units for Jewish settlers in occupied East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.

Lawyer Qais Yousef Nasser, a specialist in Construction and Planning Laws, stated that the Israeli Housing Ministry sold in 2010 more than 1400 units in settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and that these units were mainly sold in Homat Shmoel settlement, Maaleh Adumim settlement block, and Pisgat Zeev.

Israeli raids: soldiers shoot two men, injure 2 women and a child, attack wedding party

Ma'an – Two Palestinians were taken to a Jerusalem hospital by Israeli forces after being injured in their car as they passed an Israeli military vehicle, local security sources said.

The men were reportedly fired on in the Wad Al-Ghrus area north of Heron on Wednesday night. Officials identified them as Ismail Saleh Ali Aj-Ja’bari, who sustained a head wound, and Muhammad Amer Subhi Aj-Ja’bari who was injured in the shoulder.

The following day in Hebron, two women and a child were injured when Israeli soldiers entered their homes during a raid in Beit Ummar.

Area spokesman Mohammad Ayyad Awad said the raid occurred in the wake of clashes, which erupted as Israeli forces patrolled the town.

Entering the homes of Fadwa Mohammad Ibrahim Abu Maria, 43, apparently searching for young stone throwers, the mother of five said she was beaten by soldiers and sustained bruises to her face and forehead.

A second woman Awad identified as Muna Abu Maria was injured when she was hit in the foot with a sound bomb by Israeli forces which had taken over the roof of her home during the clashes. Her son, 13-year-old Abed An-Naser Abed Al-Hamid Abu Maria was hit with a sound bomb in the right foot, Awad said, noting all were transferred to the hospital for treatment.

Meanwhile Israeli army had attacked a wedding with gas canisters some of the attendees were hurt and were treated in the field.

Israeli forces shoot Gazan fisherman in each foot; since beginning of December Israeli forces have killed 13 Palestinians and wounded 34

Ma'an – A Gaza fisherman was shot twice, once in each foot, and collected by medics from the northern Gaza shore on Saturday, witnesses said.

...The official described the injuries as light, but noted a recent spike in the number of deaths and injuries resulting from Israeli fire in the area since the beginning of December. Thirteen Palestinians have been killed, he said, and another 34 injured. Read more

Hamas leader: We are committed to "democracy, pluralism, the protection of the masses and non-interference in citizens' private lives"

Ma'an – Israeli strategists covet the concept of Islamic fundamentalism. It is a convenient, all-encompassing tag easily applied to any bearded man, veiled woman or critic of Western politics who happens to be Muslim.

The label has deftly been used to paint a poisoned picture of Islamism in Palestine, and distort Hamas' policies as those of an extreme faction akin to Al-Qaeda or Taliban - a useful reference given the West's concerted efforts to neutralize those militants.

Evictions expected in East Jerusalem

Ma’an -- Large numbers of Israeli police officers deployed in the East Jerusalem town of Silwan on Sunday morning, with residents worried that the move came ahead of a police evacuation of the home of Abdullah Abu Nab.

Director of Wadi Hilwa Information Center Jawad Siyam said the beefed-up police presence followed several detentions overnight, at least half a dozen young men were taken into Israeli custody, he said.

Member of the local committee to defend Silwan's Al-Bustan neighborhood Fakhri Abu Diab, said there were no developments in the case of the Abu Nab family, as Israeli media speculated that the eviction about to take place was of an illegal settler home in the same area.

...A statement by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat published in the Israeli news site Ynet hinted at a double eviction, saying that if the settler organization attempting to take over the Abu Nab home insists on evicting the family, he will "make sure that the residents of Beit Yehonatan [sic] are evicted."

....In a Sunday afternoon update, Haaretz wrote, "It now appears that at the same time that Jewish occupants are evicted from Beit Yonatan, police intend also to evict dozens of Palestinians from a nearby building so that it can be turned over to Jews." Read more

Israeli forces kill two Gaza resistance fighters

Ma'an -- Islamic Jihad’s military wing the Al-Quds Brigades said Sunday that two of its fighters were killed following what a statement described as "fierce clashes" with Israeli forces the southern district village of Khuza’a east of Khan Younis.

....the Al-Quds Brigades said their fighters fired six RPGs and several mortar shells at Israeli force which entered the area. Read more

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Palestinians and others hold rally in Silwan

Ma'an – Palestinians and peace activists from Israel and abroad rallied Friday in the Silwan neighborhood of Jerusalem protesting settlements and other Israeli procedures there and in the Old City.

.......The rundown neighborhood next to the walled Old City has been the scene of sporadic clashes that peaked in September when an Israeli security guard shot dead a local man he said attacked him.

At the heart of the conflict is a plan by Jerusalem city council to build a new biblical tourism park called the King's Garden, which would involve demolishing 22 Silwan homes it says were built illegally. Read more

Israeli forces shoot Palestinian farmer in legs

Ma'an – A Palestinian farmer was shot and wounded Friday in the legs by Israeli army fire in the northern Gaza Strip, Palestinian medics said. Read more

Hamas leader says it is still committed to truce with Israel

Ma'an – Hamas remains committed to its truce with Israel, a senior leader of the Palestinian Islamist movement, Mahmoud Zahhar, said Friday, despite the increase in rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip.

"We declare our commitment to respecting the truce between us and the occupier," Zahhar told a gathering in the Gaza town of Khan Younis.

"Despite the sacrifices, we announce that we continue to respect the truce," said Zahhar, who is considered the most influential Hamas leader in Gaza.

And he called on Israel to reciprocate and "stop incursions [into Gaza], halt killings of Palestinians and lift the blockade" imposed on the coastal enclave.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Israeli mayor bans Christmas trees

The Atlantic Wire- The mayor of Nazareth Illit, an Israeli town with an Arab Christian minority, has declared a ban on the public display of Christmas trees. "Nazareth Illit is a Jewish city and it will not happen--not this year and not next year, so long as I am a mayor," Mayor Shimon Gapso said. Arab Christians, who make up about 7 percent of the town's 40,000 residents, were denied their request to put up Christmas trees in their neighborhoods. The Agence France-Presse reports that the community is not happy:

His decision angered the town's Arab and Christian minority, who accused him of racism. "The racism of not putting a tree up is nothing compared to the real racism that we experience here," said Aziz Dahdal, a 35-year-old Christian resident of Nazareth Illit.

"When we asked the mayor to put up a Christmas tree in the Arab neighbourhoods of Nazareth Illit he said this is a Jewish town, not a mixed town," said Shukri Awawdeh, a Muslim Arab member of the town council. ... "We told him that decorating a tree is just to share the happiness and cheer with other people in the town," said Awawdeh.

Nazareth Illit is a suburb of Nazareth, which as the childhood home of Jesus Christ is an important center of Christian history and is about one-third Christian today. Journalist Nir Rosen wonders how Fox News, which has a tendency to defend Israel but also a love of fighting what it calls "the war on Christmas," would handle this story. Read more

Bethlehem prepares for midnight mass, through Israeli wall barrier

IMEMC- On Friday, Jerusalem's Latin Patriarch Fuad Tawwal and the senior officials of the Catholic Church arrived in Bethlehem through the gate of the Israeli Wall to attend the midnight mass at the Nativity Church. Read more

Israel holds more than 8500 Palestinians captive, but still accuses Palestinians of 'obstructing peace'

IMEMC- Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, claimed that the International Community understands that the Palestinians, not Israel, are responsible for obstruction the efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East.

...Shalit is the only Israeli prisoner in Palestinian hands while Israel is holding captive more than 8500 Palestinians. Read more

After freeze, settlement building booms in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

The New York Times- In the three months since Israel ended its settlement construction freeze in the West Bank, causing the Palestinians to withdraw from peace talks, a settlement-building boom has begun, especially in more remote communities that are least likely to be part of Israel after any two-state peace deal.

This means that if negotiations ever get back on track, there will be thousands more Israeli settlers who will have to relocate into Israel, posing new problems over how to accommodate them while creating a Palestinian state on the land where many of them are living now.

In addition to West Bank settlement building, construction for predominantly Jewish housing in East Jerusalem, where the Palestinians hope to make their future capital, has been rapidly growing after a break of half a year, with hundreds of units approved and thousands more planned. Read more

Senior leader says Hamas still committed to Israel truce

Ma'an- Hamas remains committed to its truce with Israel, a senior leader of the Palestinian Islamist movement, Mahmoud Zahhar, said Friday, despite the increase in rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip.

"We declare our commitment to respecting the truce between us and the occupier," Zahhar told a gathering in the Gaza town of Khan Younis.
Read more

3 Israeli spy cells revealed

Ma'an- The confessions of an Egyptian accused of spying for Israel have led to three espionage cells being dismantled in Lebanon and Syria, where an agent was executed in November, Cairo newspapers said Friday. Read more

Israel intends to expel Palestinian grassroots organizer from home city

Popular Struggle- On November 28th, Adnan, a Silwan grassroots organizer, received written notification that Israel intends to issue an order expelling him for a four months period from his city - Jerusalem. Adnan is a resident of Silwan, and a member of the al-Bustan Neighborhood's committee, which was formed to oppose plans for massive house demolitions. In a reality where Palestinians' right for freedom of expression in not even lip service, organizing your community against its impending destruction is reason enough to be ripped from it.

The order against Adnan is not part of a legal process where suspicions, charges or evidence have any part. It is an administrative order that circumvents the rule of law, which forms the foundation of western democracy. In this harsh reality, a person's rights are taken without due process, with no charges, based on secret evidence and with no possibility to truly defend oneself. It is the essence of a Kafkaesque legal procedure in the taunting maze of the Occupation's bureaucracy and power.

But it is not too late to act up and make a difference. Adnan's expulsion from his city and family and life, can be prevented.

Adnan's story is the story of thousands of residents of East Jerusalem. In view of the brutal tactics of repression employed by police against the community in service of the settlers who have taken over the city, it is clear that Adnan Gheith’s expulsion constitutes an experimental exercise of power on part of the Israeli Police. The Shin Bet and the Israeli Army intended to prepare the ground for massive home demolitions in the al-Bustan neighborhood and for a deepening Jewish settlement in Silwan.

Please lend your voice to Adnan and the people of Silwan in their fight for their homes, their community and their dignity.

In an attempt to stop democratic and legitimate protest, Israel makes distorted and cynical use of the law. Despite months of repeated arrests, in which Adnan was led handcuffed to interrogation over and over again - and with judge after judge ordering his release from custody – not a shred of evidence was gathered against him. The State has now decided to no longer bother with the criminal procedure where evidence is required, but rather to circumvent it by using the security apparatus and emergency regulations.

The Israeli government is now turning to unconstitutional and undemocratic means in the face of Palestinian and international pressure to end settlement in East Jerusalem. Adnan’s expulsion from his city will not only exact an unbearable cost on him and his family, but also on the residents of Silwan. Read more