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, August 24, 2011

Dozens of Israeli settlers uproot Palestinian olive trees, grapevines, plum trees

IMEMC, Agencies – Dozens of extremist Israeli settlers of the Beit Ayin illegal colony, north of Beit Umamar, north of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, attacked on Tuesday Palestinian orchards and farmlands and uprooted dozens of Olive trees, Plum trees, and grapevines in Wad Abu Al Reesh area.

Mohammad Awad, spokesperson of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, reported that the settlers uprooted and cut 50 trees that belong to resident Hammad Abdu-Hamid Al Sleiby, and his brothers.

Awad added that the attacked farmlands are 40 Dunams (9.88 Acres), and that the settlers attacked the lands in question at least four times in recent years.

“Each time the settlers uprooted the lands, Hammad and his brothers, replanted them”, Awad stated, “despite repeated and ongoing assaults, the family remains steadfast in its land”.

Lethal Israeli air strikes despite Palestinian c

Ismail al-Asmar, 34

Israeli media report that a dawn Israeli air strike that violated the Palestinian truce, killing a Gazan resistance member, may trigger a response from a Palestinian resistance group. Two other Palestinian resistance fighters were also reportedly targeted by air attacks.

Israel National News reports: "Senior Islamic Jihad member Ahmad al-Mudallal told reporters in response to Al-Asmar's assassination, 'This crime was meant to underline that Israel only understands the language of blood and terror.'"

The report stated that two other resistance members were also targeted early Wednesday morning by Israeli Air Force fighter jets in two separate locations in Gaza and that "a direct hit was confirmed in both cases." The article reported that "all Israeli personnel returned to base unharmed."

Additional details are not yet known.

Israeli air strike kills 34-year-old resistance member in Gaza

Ma'an – Israeli aircraft opened fire on the southern Gaza Strip late Tuesday killing a member of Islamic Jihad's military wing, medical and security officials said.

The strike in the Tal As-Sultan area killed Ismail Al-Asmar, a field commander in the Al-Quds Brigades, and injured one other person, said Gaza health official Adham Abu Salmiya.

Both were taken to Abu Yousef An-Najjar Hospital, medics said.

Israel's army confirmed in a statement that it targeted al-Asmar, who "was involved in smuggling weapons and sought the execution of terrorist activity in Sinai. A direct hit was confirmed."

The Islamic Jihad field commander "operated with terror elements in the Gaza strip which have recently made several attempts to execute terror attacks in Sinai, on the Israel-Egypt border," the army said.

The strike came as an Egyptian-brokered halt to Palestinian rocket fire appeared to be holding, with the Israeli military saying that calm had prevailed along the border overnight.

Calm prevails along Gaza border as truce holds

Ma'an, AFP, Philippe Agret – An Egyptian-brokered halt to Palestinian rocket fire from the Gaza Strip appeared to be holding on Tuesday, with the Israeli military saying that calm had prevailed along the border overnight.

The truce was announced Sunday evening following four days of violence sparked by a series of shooting ambushes near Eilat in southern Israel on Thursday in which eight Israelis died.

"There has been nothing today, compared to 11 yesterday," an Israeli military spokesman said Tuesday, referring to the number of rockets and mortar rounds fired at Israel a day earlier.

"So far the truce has largely held," Haaretz newspaper said, referring to a "temporary" ceasefire that was announced late Sunday by a senior official in Hamas, which has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007.

Gaza's Popular Resistance Committees, a grouping of militant organizations, said it would join the truce a day later.

Palestinians & internationals to march on Jerusalem in "Olive Revolution"

Ma'an – Palestinians will march on Jerusalem from four directions in a coordinated protest organized by the "Olive-Revolution" movement on the last Friday of Ramadan, activists said Tuesday.

Activists accompanied by Israeli and international supporters will convene to launch the campaign by marching on Jerusalem from north, west, south and east, the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee stated.

The demonstrations will "emphasize the fact that Palestinians are systematically denied entry to the city Israel, despite it being part of the territory occupied in 1967," the popular committee said.

Israeli supreme court permits Wall to be built on Palestinian land, decision criticized

Israeli soldiers stand next to a Palestinian woman protesting in the West Bank village of Al-Walaja, near the biblical town of Bethlehem. [AFP/File Musa al-Shaer]

Ma'an – An Israeli rights group criticized Tuesday a court decision upholding the route of Israel's West Bank barrier, which cuts off a Palestinian village from its land in an area between Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Residents of Al-Walaja had appealed to Israel's Supreme Court to reroute a portion of the barrier which they say cuts off the village of 2,500 from farming land, a cemetery and a nearby spring.

The village straddles the border between East Jerusalem and the West Bank, with a third of its land falling within the Israeli-annexed sector.

But Israel's Supreme Court rejected the petition Monday, saying security concerns outweighed the disturbance to their lives.

Ir Amim, an NGO which lobbies for Palestinians and Israelis to share Jerusalem, said the villagers had been placed in an impossible situation by Israel.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Israel plans to expel 384 Palestinian activists from Jerusalem

IMEMC, Agencies – The Israeli government is planning to expel 384 Palestinian activists from occupied East Jerusalem for their political activities in the city.

A number of activists stated that they were contacted by the Israeli authorities, and were threatened to be expelled from the city after the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.

Commentary from inside Gaza: Guilty until proven innocent

Al-Jazeera, Yasmeen El Khoudary – The mini war that Israel waged on Gaza following the turmoil in South Israel is just another perfect example of how Gaza is the Middle East's "Biggest Loser." Caught in a thorny network composed of selfish interests and different agendas, the 1.5 million people of Gaza are indeed the biggest losers when it comes to just about anything in the Middle East.

Our destiny does not lie within our hands. We do not have any control over even the smallest aspects of our lives. We do not enjoy the luxury of planning for tomorrow, let alone next week. We, the people of Gaza, valiantly try to go on with our daily lives as if things are in perfect order. But there are times when things are so bleak and so dark that everything we have been trying to build collapses in the blink of an eye.

On Thursday, and after a rough night full of Israeli air attacks on different locations in the Gaza Strip, we woke up to another hot Ramadan day which was interrupted by news about a shooting operation in Eilat, whereby five Israeli soldiers were killed and 36 others were injured. Immediately and without even waiting for the details of the operation to be announced, people started fretting about a likely Israeli attack on Gaza.

It was much like the instantaneous reactions of Muslims in Norway to the terrorist attacks that took Oslo by storm recently, which ignited fear in their hearts because of inevitable racist attacks that they were going to suffer had the attacker been a Muslim. More inevitable than the racist attacks was of course the media threat, which also instantaneously and without any evidence linked the terrorist attacks to Al Qaeda and to Muslim extremists. However, the murderer turned out to be a Norwegian, allowing Norwegian Muslims to heave a sigh of relief.

'We are never safe'

The scenario in Gaza was not very different. The 'operation' killed five soldiers, but nobody knows who led the operation. At first, we read reports indicating that Egypt's involvement, only to find that Israel promptly denied Egypt's intervention before Egypt itself did.

Immediately afterwards, we heard Ehud Barak's statements accusing 'Gaza' of the attacks and promising to "punish those who were responsible". How he came to that conclusion, what evidence he holds, or who in Gaza he thinks is responsible, we have no idea (and neither does he, I'm starting to believe). What we know for sure is that we are doomed, and that ahead of us lies what might be a live reminder of Cast Lead, regardless of the fact that not a piece of evidence connected the people of Gaza to the Eilat operation.

Egypt Identifies three believed to be behind Eilat attack

IMEMC, Agencies – The Egyptian Authorities stated that three of the men believed to be behind the Thursday attack in Eilat coastal city have been identified, and that one of them is a fugitive who owns an ammunition factory in Sinai, the Qatar-based Al Jazeera reported.

The three detained persons are fugitives wanted by the Egyptian security forces for illegal activities and attacks, Al Jazeera added.

Palestine and Statehood: An historical overview by international law professor

Ma'an, Abdullah Abu Eid, professor of international law and human rights at Birzeit University

Until 1923, Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire. In December 1917, British troops entered Jerusalem and ended 400 years of Ottoman rule. In 1922, the League of Nations issued the Mandate of Palestine which authorized the United Kingdom to become the Mandatory Power in Palestine.

The Mandate Document, however, included several paradoxical stipulations contrary to the Mandate System as set forth in Article 22 of the League's Charter.

Major stipulations

The MD included several paragraphs, which were considered by many historians and international lawyers as flagrant breaches of the word and spirit of the Mandate system. The system was intended to promote the territories occupied by the British and French from the axis enemy (Germany, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire), and to develop these territories to independence and freedom for their populations.

The MD, contrary to that system, stipulated that the U.K. must develop the territory of Palestine in cooperation with the Jewish Agency in order to achieve a national home for the Jewish people, ignoring the real interests of the vast majority of Palestinian Arabs or Palestine.

In 1922 Palestine was still considered as a part of the sovereignty of the Ottoman Empire, which became Turkey after that date. It wasn't until Turkey signed the Lausanne Treaty in 1932 that Turkey relinquished her claim to sovereignty on Palestine. Thus, the MD was in clear breach of the rules of international law.

The Legal Status of Palestine

PFLP military wing not part of Gaza ceasefire

Ma'an – The military wing of the PFLP, the Abu Ali Mustafa brigades, said Monday that they were not part of the ceasefire agreement between Palestinian factions and Israel.

The group claimed responsibility for firing two projectiles at southern Israel on Monday night, a statement from the group said.

“We will continue with resistance using all means to retaliate to all crimes the enemy commits against the Palestinian people.”

Palestinian detainee enters 26th year in Israeli prison

Ma'an – Palestinian detainee Saleh Al-Sabati entered his 26th year in Israeli detention on Monday, a prisoners' rights group reported.

Al-Sabati, 51, was detained in 1986 and sentenced to life for opposing Israel's occupation, the center said.

His father and two of his brothers have died since his detention.

Gaza militants fire 4 rockets into southern Israel, Hamas tries to enforce truce

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak visits an Iron Dome launcher stationed close
to Ashkelon. [AFP/David Buimovitch]

Ma'an – Militants in northern Gaza fired several rockets into southern Israel on Monday evening, the Israeli military and police said, hours after a temporary truce was agreed.

"Two rockets fired from Gaza fell in an uninhabited area of the town of Sderot," police spokeswoman Luba Simmari told AFP, and another crashed south of the town of Ashkelon.

A military source said a fourth rocket later fell near Ashkelon.

The attacks were claimed in a joint statement issued in Gaza by groups not party to the truce -- the Ali Mustapha Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Al-Nasser Brigades, a dissident wing of the PRC.

Hamas spokesman Taher An-Nunu said Monday that factions in Gaza had committed to a truce with Israel.

On Sunday night, the Hamas-run security forces were "instructed to stop the shooting" against Israel, with police checking cars in the border area, and checkpoints set up at the entrance to every town in Gaza.

Doctor: Israel using new weapons against Gaza

Ma'an – The head of an emergency ward in a Gaza City hospital said Monday that Israeli forces were using new, more brutal weapons against residents of the Gaza Strip.

On Thursday, Israeli forces began a four-day bombarded the coastal enclave killing 14 Palestinians and wounding dozens more in a series of airstrikes and drone attacks.

Dr Ayman As-Sahbani said patients were admitted with horrific injuries and that some bodies delivered to Al-Shifa Hospital were so badly burned they were unrecognizable.

Israeli soldiers harass, beat Freedom Theater staff in Jenin

Ma'an – The Israeli army surrounded the Freedom Theater in Jenin early Monday, beating members of staff and raiding the home of a security guard, a statement from the iconic theater said.

"As I literally entered my home I got a call from neighbors of the theater saying the army had surrounded the theater,” Jason Gough, acting general manager at the Freedom Theater, said.

He returned to the theater where he found Israeli soldiers, who instructed him to turn back. After a second attempt to get closer to the theater, soldiers forced Gough to strip at gunpoint before detaining him, he said.

"They said that they'll beat me up if I even say a word or move."

The Israeli army also raided the home of Mohammed Naghnaghiye, a security guard at the theater, ransacking the house before beating and detaining him, a Freedom Theater statement said.

The army also fired live ammunition in an attempt to disperse a young crowd who had gathered around the home, the statement added.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said three people were detained in Jenin on Monday morning but could not specify if they were from the Freedom Theater.

Thailand will support Palestinian UN statehood bid

Ma'an – Thailand will support the recognition of Palestine as an independent state at the United Nations in September, PLO member Nabil Shaath said Monday.

Palestinian farmers union seeks compensation for fake Israeli seeds

Ma'an – The Palestinian farmers union have filed a lawsuit against an Israeli crop-provider for selling Palestinians fake seedlings, union board chair Ibrahim Idieq said Monday.

Resistance group joins Hamas ceasefire with Israel

Ma'an – The military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees said Monday they had signed up to a temporary ceasefire deal agreed by Gaza's rulers with Israel.

The An-Nasser Salah Addin Brigades said they would temporarily stop firing projectiles into Israeli towns "for the sake of the Palestinian people’s interests."

At a press conference in Gaza City, the group’s military spokesperson Abu Ataya said several parties, including Arab nations, had attempted to broker the ceasefire deal, reached Sunday evening.

But he insisted, "there is no room to talk about permanent truce with those who kill children, women, and Palestinian leaders," referring to Israeli airstrikes on the coastal strip.

"The PRC have restored their might and they are ready to teach the [Israeli] occupation tough lessons for the crimes committed," he continued.

Israel blamed the group for a series of bloody attacks near Eilat last week that killed eight Israelis, and killed its military wing chief and several operatives in a Thursday airstrike. The group denied involvement in the southern Israel assault, but hit back with a barrage of rockets into Israel.

The Israeli cabinet met in the early hours of Monday to discuss Sunday's ceasefire announcement, in which Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said a large-scale operation was off the cards, Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post reported Monday.

UN report on Israel's deadly 2010 flotilla raid again delayed

Ma'an, AFP – A UN report due out this week into Israel's deadly 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla has been delayed again, the Turkish foreign ministry said Monday.

"The demand to postpone [the announcement] came from Israel, like the previous demands," Selcuk Unal, the spokesperson of the ministry told Turkey's Anatolia news agency.

Diplomatic ties between Israel and Turkey have been in crisis since May last year when Israeli commandos staged a deadly raid on an international aid flotilla trying to reach Gaza in defiance of an Israeli naval blockade on the Palestinian territory.

Palestinian child hit by Israeli settler's car

Ma'an – A Palestinian child was lightly injured after an Israeli settler's car ran into her in the As-Salayma district of Hebron on Sunday.

Medics said Narmin Rajeh Abu Rmeileh, 12, was taken to to Al-Ahli hospital in the southern West Bank city.

On Saturday, 19-year-old Bilal Idreis was moderately injured after a settler ran him over near the illegal Kiryat Arba settlement in eastern Hebron, medics said.

Hebron city is divided between Israeli-controlled Area C and Palestinian Authority jurisdiction, with a largely-religious settler population entrenched at the heart of the West Bank commercial center.

Around 700 Israeli settlers live protected by the army amongst 30,000 Palestinians in the old city area.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Following a night protest In Jerusalem, Israeli soldiers invade Al Aqsa Mosque Yard

IMEMC, Agencies – Israeli Policemen and members of the so-called Border Guard Units, closed on Sunday night after midnight the Bas Al Amoud area, one of the main gates of Jerusalem, while more than 1500 Palestinian youths continue their protest in the Al Aqsa mosque in Old Jerusalem.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Gaza groups agree to ceasefire with Israel after Egyptian mediation

Ma'an – A Hamas official said Sunday that all militant groups in Gaza have agreed to observe a cease fire to end the latest round of violence with Israel, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that Egypt had helped mediate the cease fire after telling Gaza groups that Israel would halt airstrikes if militants stopped firing projectiles.

The official said that the ceasefire would begin Sunday evening and Hamas security would enforce the agreement, Haaretz said.

7 injured as Israeli forces raid northern Gaza

Ma'an -- Israeli forces launched another round of fierce airstrikes on the northern Gaza Strip Sunday afternoon causing explosions which rattled Gaza City.

Gaza medical official Adham Abu Salmiya said Israeli warplanes fired two missiles at a Hamas military site in Beit Lahiya injuring seven Palestinians including three children.

The attack came hours after an Israeli missile strike hit a group of children in the same area seriously injuring a 12-year-old boy, Abu Salmiya said.

Israeli forces have killed 14 Palestinians in the coastal enclave since Thursday, and wounded dozens more.

Video: "Tears of Gaza" - Scandinavian documentary about Gaza

Youtube – Scandinavian documentary about Gaza available for showing in US:

Dozens of Israeli settlers storm Palestinian village, uproot 80 olive trees

Ma'an – Israeli settlers on Sunday stormed a Palestinian village near Nablus and uprooted 80 olive trees, a Palestinian Authority official said.

Settlement affairs official Ghassan Doughlas said dozens of residents of the illegal Esh Kodesh outpost raided Qusra and destroyed trees belonging to locals Rabi Abu Bakr, Samir Hasan and Jabali Abu Reida.

New Israeli air strike injures Palestinian children

Ma'an – Israeli missiles struck the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday morning seriously injuring a 12-year-old boy, medics said.

Gaza medical official Adham Abu Salmiya said the boy was injured in his chest and stomach as Israeli warplanes bombed a group of children in Beit Lahiya.

Gaza out of 150 medicines and 160 types of medical equipment

Ma'an – Hospitals in the Gaza Strip are running out of medicine, a spokesman for the Hamas health ministry warned Sunday.

Ashraf Al-Qudra said hospitals stores had already run out 150 medicines and 160 types of medical equipment.

The shortages were particularly critical in light of Israel's recent bombardment of the coastal enclave, he added.

Israeli forces assault Bethlehem mayor, family

Ma'an – Israeli forces assaulted and detained a Palestinian man during a raid on the home of the Mufti of Bethlehem overnight Saturday, the sheikh said.

Sheikh Abdul-Majid Ata Amarna said troops raided his home in Duheisha refugee camp shortly before dawn prayers searching for his son Usayd, a journalist for Hamas-affiliated Al-Aqsa TV.

"When the soldiers raided my home, I asked them to wait before entering the different rooms so women could put on their head scarves and change their sleeping clothes, but instead of waiting they started firing inside the house injuring my brother-in-law, 27-year-old Bakr Badarin" the cleric told Ma'an.

He said Badarin was hit by a live bullet to his thigh, but soldiers refused to allow Palestinian Red Crescent medics to treat him and detained the injured man and the sheikh's son Usayd Amarna.

The family learned later that Badarin was taken to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem for treatment.

Israeli forces abduct 120 Palestinians in West Bank raids

Ma'an -- Israeli forces detained 120 Palestinians, mostly Hamas supporters, overnight Saturday in the southern West Bank, witnesses and officials said.

More than 100 military jeeps stormed Hebron from three directions and deployed in several neighborhoods in the largest detention campaign in the city since 2003, locals and Palestinian security officials told Ma'an.

Hamas lawmaker Muhammad Mutliq Abu Juheisha was among more than 120 Palestinians detained across the district as soldiers raided the surrounding towns of Dura, Surif, Beit Ula, Nuba, Yatta and As-Samu.

Israeli air strikes exact heavy toll on Gaza infrastructure

Ma'an – A physiotherapy clinic, sewerage pump, civil society organizations and government buildings have been damaged in Israeli raids on the Gaza Strip since Thursday, witnesses and officials said.

Israel detains 13 settlers accused of attacking 10-year-old Palestinian boy; settler runs over teen

Ma'an – Israeli police detained 13 settlers suspected of attacking a 10-year-old Palestinian boy on Saturday near Ramallah, Israeli media reported.

Bassam Dawood sustained injuries to the head and body which appeared to have been inflicted by metal objects, medics at the Palestine Medical Compound told Ma'an.

Hamas official: No ceasefire until Israel stops aggression

Palestinian mourners carry the coffins of Moataz Qouriqa, a commander of
Islamic Jihad's Al-Quds Brigade, and his brother Munzer during their funeral in
Gaza City. Earlier rockets fired from Gaza wounded three Palestinian workers in
southern Israel and Israeli planes attacked the coastal enclave.
[AFP/Mahmud Hams]

Ma'an -- Senior Hamas official Ahmad Bahar said Saturday that there would be no ceasefire until Israel stopped its aggression on the Palestinian people.

"Any talk about ceasefire between resistance factions and the Israeli occupation must be preceded by halting the Israeli aggression on the Palestinian people," Bahar said in a statement.

The first deputy speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council said the Palestinian people and their resistance were entitled to self-defense by any accessible means.

Israeli killed by Gaza rocket

Ma'an – An Israeli man was killed and at least four people were seriously wounded Saturday evening by rockets fired from Gaza, Israeli media reported.

The Popular Resistance Committee's military wing claimed responsibility for the attack on Beersheva, where a total of seven projectiles landed.

The An-Nasser Salah Addin Brigades said it fired two Grad missiles at the Negev capital in an operation it has called "Free people's campaign to take revenge for the dutiful leaders."

Israel blames the PRC for deadly attacks near Eilat on Thursday and has killed seven of its men in strikes since then. The group denies responsibility although it has welcomed the Eilat attacks.

Since the attacks in Eilat, which left eight Israelis dead, warplanes have bombarded the Gaza Strip killing 14 Palestinians and wounding dozens more.

Factions in Gaza responded with a barrage of rocket fire and the armed wing of Hamas called off a ceasefire with Israel, Al-Aqsa Radio reported late Friday.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Israeli forces kill 15, injure 40 in past 24 hours

The number of victims in the Gaza Strip rose to 15 and 40 wounded over the past 24 hours, the latest of whom were three victims killed while riding a motorcycle in the centre of Gaza City.

Palestinian sources said that Israeli aircraft fired at least one rocket at a motorcycle traveling on Road 30 in the centre of Gaza City ridden by more than one person including a child resulting in the death of three Palestinians.

Adham Abu Selmeyyah, spokesman of the emergency services in Gaza, said that three Palestinians including a two-year-old child died and a number of wounded people, including a woman were brought to hospital.

The victims were Dr. Monther Qureqe and his brother Mu’taz who is a commander affiliated with the Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad and his two-year-old son who were riding a motorcycle to hospital to seek treatment for the child.

Abu Selemeyyah said that Anwar Salim and Imad Abu Abdeh after an occupation aircraft targeted the motorcycle they were riding at the southern entrance to the Buraij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. Both of them are affiliated with the Quds Brigades.

PIC correspondent said that occupation aircraft Friday evening fired one rocket towards a group of residents in Abasan al-Jadida to the east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, but no casualties were reported.

Occupation aircraft also targeted a motorcycle in the Sheikh Zayed neighbourhood in the northern Gaza Strip killing Samed Abed, who is affiliated with the Salahuddin Brigades.

Earlier the PIC correspondent reported that occupation aircraft targeted a group of people at a stone cutting factory near the Wafa hospital to the east of Gaza City wounding two people one of theme a 15-year-old child.

Muhammad Enaya (22 years) was killed and another person was wounded in a separate airstrike targeting a group of people in east Gaza City.

Two others, including a pregnant woman, were wounded in a separate airstrike.

This is in addition to the victims of the airstrikes that took place on Thursday evening.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Palestinian youth killed by Israeli forces Tuesday was disabled, not in 'prohibited' area, killed by 10 bullets, mostly in head, left to die

IMEMC, PCHR – On Tuesday evening, 16 August 2011, the Israeli military killed a Palestinian child from al-Nussairat refugee camp, who was 400 meters from the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, east of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip.

The victim's family told a PCHR field worker that their child had a mental disability. The victim was in an area that had not been explicitly declared as prohibited.

According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 18:00 on Tuesday, 16 August 2011, Israeli soldiers stationed at the border northeast of Deir al-Balah opened fire at a Palestinian, who was nearly 400 meters from the border. As a result, he was wounded by 10 bullets in his head and chest.

He was left wounded without being offered any first aid. After coordination was made with IOF, at approximately 19:20, medical crews were able to retrieve the body, which was then transferred to al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah.

After four hours later, the child was identified as Sa'd Abdul Rahim Mahmoud al-Majdalwai, 17, from al-Nussairat refugee camp. He was hit by 10 live bullets mostly to the head. In his testimony to PCHR, the victim's father said that his son had been suffering from a mental disability and a speech impairment.

The Israeli radio reported that IOF observed a person approaching the security fence, and shot him. This version of events confirms that IOF could have arrested or used less than lethal force against him, especially as he was wearing civilian clothes and there was nothing to indicate that he was a non-civilian.

It should be noted that on Tuesday morning, the Gaza Strip witnessed several shooting and shelling attacks on civilian areas and military training sites. As a result of this shelling and shooting, a Palestinian resistance man was killed and two others were seriously wounded in Gaza City. A child and another person were wounded in Khan Yunis and Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip.

PCHR condemns and expresses concerned over this crime, and:

1. Asserts that these crimes are part of a series of war crimes committed by IOF in the oPt, which reflect total disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians.

2. Calls upon the international community to take immediate action in order to put an end to such crimes. PCHR further renews its demand for the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligation under Article 1, which stipulates "the High Contracting Parties undertake to respect and to ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances," as well as their obligations under Article 146 which requires that the Contracting Parties prosecute persons alleged to commit grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention. These grave breaches constitute war crimes under Article 147 of the same Convention and under Protocol I Additional to Geneva Conventions.

Related story: Gabrielle Giffords, Tom Hurndall and Palestinian Children: Shot in the Head

At least 5 killed in Southern Israel attacks

Ma'an – At least five people have been killed and dozens injured in two shooting attacks on buses near the Israeli city of Eilat, Israeli and Arabic media reported Thursday.

One bus was traveling from Beersheba to Eilat when three militants armed with Kalashnikovs opened fire about 30 kilometers north of Eilat near Netafim, causing multiple injuries, Israeli channel 10 reported.

Reports suggest that armed men opened fire from a car following the bus.

An Israeli army statement said that five soldiers were among a total of nine people injured.

"This morning’s incident, near the southern Israeli city of Netafim, left four soldiers moderately injured and one soldier lightly injured."

"Several people were injured as a result of an explosive device, detonated on an IDF force that arrived at the scene and drove over it," a statement said.

A second bus and a car were reportedly attacked soon after with a correspondent from Al-Arabiya reporting that five people had been killed, with one killed in the first bus attack.

Israeli media reports say that at least five people were killed in all attacks.

In a third incident, mortars were reportedly fired at Israeli forces near the southern border causing injuries, although initial reports are unsure as to the origin of the artillery.

Israeli media reported that Jordan warned Israel about an unknown group crossing its border before the attack took place.

Meanwhile, Israel defense minister Ehud Barak has said that "this terror attack originated from Gaza. We will exhaust all measures against the terrorists," Ynet reported.

An Egyptian official said that "Egypt was in no way involved in the incident, since it is difficult to penetrate the Egypt-Israel border," the Israeli daily noted.

Security forces are still investigating the nature of the incidents and latest reports from Israeli radio suggest three of the attackers have been killed by Israeli forces, with the clashes now over.

A search is currently underway in Eilat to locate other suspects in the attack, as the police presence across Israel intensifies.

Twenty five people have been taken to Eilat hospital, Arabic media reported, and emergency services were immediately deployed to the scene of the attacks.

The identity of the attackers is unknown.

Israel targeting relatives of prisoners

Ma'an – Israeli authorities are targeting the families of Palestinian detainees in order to deter them from visiting, the Ministry of Detainees in Gaza said Wednesday.

In recent months there has been an increase in procedures such as searching female relatives, confiscating goods brought to detainees, verbal insults and destroying visit permits, detainees ministry spokesman Riyad Al-Ashqar told Ma'an.

The wife of one detainee was also detained on suspicion of smuggling mobile phones into the prison. Suha Abu Munshar was transferred to trial on Thursday, Al-Ashqar said.

The detainees ministry called on the International Committee of the Red Cross to put pressure on the Israeli authorities to stop harassing the relatives of detainees and ensure visits are conducted to international standards.

The ministry also called for the release of Suha Abu Munshar.

PA condemns conference hosted by rabbi who writes that killing non-Jewish babies is permitted

A Palestinian shows the damage to his family house which was firebombed by
Jewish settlers in the West Bank village of Huwwara near Nablus.
[AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh]

...babies and children of Israel's enemies may be killed in certain circumstances since "it is clear that they will grow to harm us."

"Anywhere where the influence of gentiles constitutes a threat to the life of Israel, it is permissible to kill them,"

Ma'an – The Palestinian Authority condemned the Israeli government on Wednesday for allowing a conference hosted by a hard-line Rabbi to take place Tuesday in the Pisgat Zeev settlement in East Jerusalem.

"The Israeli authorities’ ongoing and consistent tolerance towards hate speech and incitement against Palestinians leads to actions," director of the PA's media center Ghassan Khatib said Wednesday.

The conference was hosted by Rabbi Yitzshak Shapiro, a co-author of the notoriously racist "King's Torah", and called for halting construction of a Palestinian school in between Pisgat Zeev and Nabi Taakov settlements in East Jerusalem, as well as preventing Jewish girls from dating Arab men.

In addition, the conference demanded that the Jerusalem light railway project should be banned from passing through Palestinian neighborhoods, a PA statement said.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Israeli sentences 23-year-old woman to 20 years for moderately wounding Israeli occupation soldier

Ma'an – Israel's Ofer military court handed down a 20-year sentence to a Ramallah woman on Wednesday, who was accused of stabbing an Israeli guard at a Ramallah military checkpoint three years earlier.

Sumoud Hasan Karaja, now 23, from the Ramallah-area village of Saffa, was detained during a home raid two days after a guard at Israel's Qalandiya military checkpoint was found moderately wounded by stab wounds to the abdomen.

According the Ramallah Palestinian Prisoners organisation, the court will not take into account the three years Karaja has already spent in custody.

The center quoted the woman's brother, saying that the military judge had demanded that she "ask for the mercy of the court," to reduce her sentence, but she refused, saying she did not recognize the authority of the court and considered the trial "illegitimate."

Speaking with Ma'an, her mother said the "sentence is an unjust one," and called the long prison term a continuation of Israeli policies against Palestinians.

The prisoners center said the trial was another example of Israel's "arbitrary application of laws which suit only the occupation and its policies."

In November, Karaja was transferred from Israel's Damon prison to the Ramle facility, where lawyers said she refused a strip search.

According to a statement at the time, when she struggled, a male warden grabbed her head covering and her neck, pushing her into the ground. She told lawyers that one warden spat in her face.

When lawyers visited her, in preparation to file a suit against the prison, severe bruising was documented on her wrists, and she still complained of pain in her shoulders.

VFW head calls for Congressional resolution to recognize Texan sailing to eastern Med to honor victims killed by Israeli attack on USS Liberty

August 16, 2011
The Honorable Blake Farenthold
[US Congressional Representative, Texas, Republican]

Dear Congressman Farenthold:

This letter is in support of a request for a House Resolution to acknowledge the actions of Mr. Larry Toenjes, who is sailing a 39-foot sailboat from Galveston, Texas, to international waters north of the Sinai Peninsula to commemorate the 44th anniversary of the unprovoked attack on the USS Liberty on June 8, 1967.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States salutes his actions and the efforts of the USS Liberty Veterans Association to keep this issue alive, despite continued actions by the U.S. Government to forget that 34 died and 171 were wounded in a naval incident never investigated by Congress.

We understand from Liberty survivor and Association President Joseph L. Meadors that the U.S. Embassy to Israel has already rejected an invitation to rendezvous with Mr. Toenjes for the onsite ceremony, citing the lack of seagoing vessels. We hope this request to recognize one American who is sailing 7,000 miles to commemorate those who fell will receive a more favorable response.

Forty-four years is far too long a period to remain silent about an ugly chapter in American history that others refuse to forget.


Executive Director

More information on the USS Liberty

Order posters/booklets/buttons on the Liberty

Israeli forces shoot Palestinian teenager dead, suffered 10 gunshots

A wounded Palestinian boy and a man receive medical care [AFP/Said Khatib]
Ma'an – Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian teenager near the central Gaza Strip city of Deir Al-Balah late Tuesday, medical officials reported.

Medics said the Palestinian, who was not identified, suffered "more than 10" gunshots to the head and upper body after soldiers east of the Al-Masdar area opened fire.

Gaza health ministry official Adham Abu Salmiya told Ma’an that an ambulance crew transferred the teenager's body to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in central Gaza.

An Israeli military spokeswoman told Ma'an that "IDF forces opened fire at a suspect approaching the security fence. The forces identified a hit," the official said.

The teenager had approached the border east of the refugee camp of Maghazi in central Gaza, Agence France-Presse quoted Palestinian witnesses as saying.

Earlier, Abu Salmiya said Israeli airstrikes killed one man and injured seven others in the central and southern Gaza Strip
, in what the army called retaliation for a rocket attack hours before.

Quartet 'concerned' by Israeli settlement move, approved 2,700 units in past two weeks

Ma'an, AFP – The United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations on Tuesday attacked Israel's move to build new Jewish-only housing in the West Bank as a threat to peace efforts.

"The Quartet is greatly concerned by Israel's recent announcements to advance planning for new housing units in Ariel and east Jerusalem," the four said in a statement. [The Israeli colonies are illegal under international law.]

"This comes at a critical juncture with Quartet efforts ongoing to resume negotiations which are the only way to a just and durable solution to the [Israel-Palestinian] conflict," added the statement.

Efforts to bring the Israelis and Palestinians back to direct talks have been deadlocked since September last year when Israel ended a moratorium on settlement building.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Monday gave the green light to build 277 new homes in Ariel, a Jewish settlement inside the occupied West Bank. More than 2,700 new settler homes have now been approved by Israel in the past two weeks, prompting a furious response from the Palestinian leadership.

Israeli settlers torch farmland near Nablus

Ma’an – Israeli settlers on Tuesday set fire to farm land in an evacuated settlement near Nablus, a Palestinian Authority official said.

Settlement affairs official Ghassan Doughlas said settlers torched hundreds of trees around Homesh settlement shortly before Iftar, the traditional meal to break the daily fast in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

U.S.: Israeli construction in 'deeply troubling'

Ha'aretz – Israel announced on Monday approval for building 277 homes in the West Bank settlement of Ariel, despite U.S. and international pressure to curb expansion on occupied land and as Palestinians prepare for a statehood bid at the United Nations.
West Bank settlement of Ariel

The West Bank settlement of Ariel

Photo by: Tess Scheflan

Earlier on Monday, the Palestinian leadership sharply criticized Israel. Nabil Abu Rdainah, spokesman for Abbas, told Reuters: "This act is condemned and is an Israeli attempt to obstruct and destroy what is left of any effort to revive the peace process.

Israel detains wife and one-year-old child visiting prisoner

Ma'an – Israeli forces on Monday detained a prisoner's wife and child in Ofer military prison near Ramallah, a detainees' center reported.

Suha Edeis was visiting her husband Tareq with their one-year-old child. Israeli forces suspected that was smuggling a cell phone into the prison for her husband, the center said in a statement.

She was taken to Hasharon prison and will face court on Tuesday, the center said, adding that Israeli forces tried to take her child from her.

Israeli forces shot Gaza man in leg

Ma'an – Israeli forces shot and injured a 20-year-old Palestinian man on Monday evening in the southern Gaza Strip, medics said.

Medical officials said Hamouda Sami Al-Najjar was shot in his leg after Israeli troops opened fire from a military tower east of Khan Younis.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said she was unaware of the incident.

Israeli air strikes on Gaza kill one, injure seven

IMEMC – Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported, on Tuesday at dawn, that one resident was killed and seven others were wounded in a series of air strikes carried out by the Israeli Air force targeting several areas in the coastal region.

File - Palestine-Info
File - Palestine-Info

The seven wounded residents, including a child, suffered moderate-to-severe injuries.

The sources identified the slain resident as Mousa Shteiwy, 29, from Al Zeitoun neighborhood, east of Gaza city.

Adham Abu Salmiyya, spokesperson of the medical emergency services in Gaza, reported that three residents were seriously injured when the Israeli Air Force bombarded Al Zeitoun neighborhood.

Also, two residents, including a 6-year-old child, were injured when the army bombarded the “tunnels area”, in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

Medical sources reported that one of the two wounded residents was pronounced clinically dead.

Videos: Palestinian villagers rally to save oldest living olive tree from destruction by Israeli forces

IMEMCOn Saturday August 13, 2011, a show of nonviolent popular resistance occurred in Al-Walaja village, west of Bethlehem.

Protester abducted in Al-Walaja on Wednesday (image by palestine monitor)
Protester abducted in Al-Walaja on Wednesday (image by palestine monitor)

The Israeli army had mobilized in large numbers, anticipating the villagers' weekly protest. They watched, but did not intervene as Al-Walaja landowners and supporters cleaned and pruned the olive grove that is slated for partial demolition and full annexation by the Israeli military.

At a protest earlier this week in Al-Walaja, troops arrested a dozen supporters, including Israelis who came to support the Al-Walaja villagers' right to remain on their land.

The village of Al-Walaja, which was illegally annexed by Israel in the 1990s, is slated to be completely surrounded by the Israeli Annexation Wall, which is already the situation for a number of Palestinian towns and cities, including Sheikh Sa'ad and Qalqilia.

In addition to imprisoning 2,500 people inside a ghetto and separating them from their land, which is their only source of livelihood, the Israeli construction of the Wall in Al-Walaja is also slated to destroy the oldest living olive tree in the Bethlehem area, dated at between 3,600 and 4,000 years old.

Villagers who gathered on Saturday said that they are steadfast in their commitment to protecting and defending their land through non-violent resistance.

One villager, Abu Wajih's, told his story to a supporter with a camera who filmed an interview with the olive farmer. All but two of Abu Wajih's olive trees will be behind the wall, as will the old house where his wife was born and that belongs to his family. In the interview, he says that he appreciates help of people regardless of their religion and background.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

UN Report: Displacement and Insecurity in West Bank

OCHA – On 1 August 2011, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) launched a new report Displacement and Insecurity in Area C of the West Bank. This report focuses on displacement of Palestinian civilians in Area C, an area that represents over 60 percent of the West Bank where Israel retains control over security, planning and building.

Acting UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr. Ramesh Rajasingham, said, “This new report, based on field visits to 13 communities in Area C, found that in most of these communities Palestinian families are being forced to leave due to the restrictive policies and practices of the Israeli authorities, including movement and access restrictions, settlement activity, and restrictions on Palestinian construction, along with insufficient law enforcement on violent settlers. All of this is increasing the vulnerability of these communities”

According to OCHA’s new report, residents in these communities face numerous challenges. They are unable to build and develop their communities due to restrictive and discriminatory planning policies, while neighbouring Israeli settlements expand. Palestinian families have difficulty accessing water, grazing or agricultural land, and even basic services, due to movement restrictions and lack of infrastructure. Violence and harassment from Israeli settlers is a constant in their lives. Communities consistently reported that Israeli settlements are central to the hardships they are encountering.

“Irrespective of the motivation behind the various policies applied by Israel to Area C,” Rajasingham continued, “their effect is to make development impossible for many Palestinian communities. Communities live in a state of pervasive insecurity and daily life has deteriorated to such an extent that some residents are forced to leave in order to meet their basic needs, feed their families or educate their children. This pattern of displacement, along with ongoing Israeli settlement activity, undermines the ability of Palestinian communities to maintain their presence in Area C and raises concerns about demographic shifts and changes to the ethnic make-up of Area C.”

It is estimated that 150,000 Palestinians reside in Area C, which contains the most significant land reserves available for Palestinian development, as well as the bulk of Palestinian agricultural and grazing land. It is the only contiguous territory in the West Bank. At the same time, 300,000 Israeli settlers live in approximately 135 Israeli settlements and 100 settlement outposts in Area C, with the settler population growing at a significantly faster pace than in Israel.

This new OCHA report is based on field visits to a geographically diverse group of residents in Area C, representing sedentary villages, and Bedouin and other herding communities, as well as refugee and non-refugee populations.

OCHA calls on the Government of Israel, among other measures, to end the displacement and dispossession of Palestinians in the oPt, including immediately ceasing demolitions of Palestinian-owned structures, until Palestinians have access to a fair and non-discriminatory zoning and planning regime.

Download PDF (3.19 MB)

UN says Israel interferes with Palestinian right to worship; 39 Israeli raids in past week

WAFA – As the month of Ramadan begins, the majority of the Muslim population in the occupied Palestinian Territory remains unable to exercise its right to freedom of worship due to Israeli restrictions on access to East Jerusalem and the Al Aqsa Mosque, according to a United Nations report published Friday.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the occupied territories (OCHA) said in its weekly Protection of Civilians report covering the period between August 3 and 9 that on the first Friday of Ramadan on August 5, the majority of the Muslim population in the occupied territories, including all of Gaza’s population and over 40% of the West Bank population, was prevented from accessing the Al Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem.

Men over 50 and women over 45 holding West Bank IDs and children below 12 years of age were allowed through the checkpoints into East Jerusalem without permits, while men between the ages of 40 and 50, and women between 35 and 45 were eligible for special permits.

OCHA said that while protests and related clashes continued in the West Bank, the reporting week has seen the lowest number of Palestinian injuries by Israeli forces since early April 2011.

Seven out of eight Palestinian injuries this week, including two children (14 and 16), occurred during clashes with Israeli forces at the entrance of Beit Ummar, a village in the Hebron, where Israeli forces maintain a permanent presence at an observation tower.

The weekly protests against construction of the barrier and access restriction in the Ramallah, Nablus and Bethlehem governorates involved some clashes but ended without injuries, although many cases of tear gas inhalation among protesters were reported.

Israeli forces conducted a total of 39 search-and-arrest operations throughout the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, a significant decline compared to a weekly average of 90 operations since the beginning of the year, said the UN report.

Electricity shortages throughout the Gaza Strip have increased to eight hours a day during the reporting period, said OCHA.

“This is severely disrupting the functioning of households, including adequate refrigeration of food, as well as the provision of essential services, including water supply, sewage removal and treatment and medical services,” it said.

OCHA Report

China army chief on 'historic' visit to Israel

Ma'an,AFP – China's army chief was due to arrive in Israel on Sunday for talks with top defense officials, the Israeli military said.

The Israeli army said China's "Chief of the General Staff, General Chen Bingde will meet senior security officials and attend strategic and security briefings, visit the IDF Urban Warfare Training Centre, and observe a display of IDF forces training."

The Israeli military declined to say how long Chen would be in the country.

Israeli army radio, describing the visit as "historic," said Chen was to meet Defense Minister Ehud Barak late on Sunday.

In June, Barak made a rare visit to Beijing for talks with Chinese leaders, at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart Liang Guanglie.

Defense ties had been frosty after US intervention twice scuttled Israeli arms deals with China: the sale of advanced Phalcon spy planes in 2000 and of spare parts for Israeli-built Harpy drones five years later.

Chen's visit comes as Israel seeks to convince the international community to vote against a bid by the Palestinians for recognition of a state at the UN General Assembly in September.

Israel has in the past also sought tougher measures from Beijing, a key UN Security Council member, against Iran's controversial nuclear program.

Israeli forces abduct 3 Palestinians near Nablus in night raid

Ma'an – Israeli forces detained three Palestinians from Balata in the northern West Bank before dawn Sunday, witnesses and the army said.

Witnesses said Israeli soldiers entered Balata, east of Nablus, at 2 a.m. and ransacked several homes before detaining three men.

Locals identified those detained as Saber Salman, Jabr Jiaan and Thaer Masoud.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said three men were detained near Nablus overnight.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Israeli forces injure dozens demonstrating in weekly West Bank anti-wall protests

WAFA – Dozens of Palestinians and their Israeli and international supporters were hurt Friday during the weekly anti-wall, anti-settlements protests in various areas of the West Bank.

Weekly Report: Israeli forces injure 3, abduct 35 Palestinians this week

IMEMC – In its Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for the week of 04– 10 Aug. 2011, Israeli forces wounded three Palestinians with gunfire, and injured dozens more with tear gas at non-violent demonstrations.

Bird farm in Gaza destroyed by Israeli forces (PCHR photo)
Bird farm in Gaza destroyed by Israeli forces (PCHR photo)

One of those injured was a Palestinian woman herding sheep in Gaza. The Israeli troops also killed some of her sheep.

Two Palestinian resistance fighters were wounded by Israeli forces in the east of Gaza City.

Israeli warplanes bombarded a number of civilian facilities in the Gaza Strip. Two bird farms were completely destroyed and a third one was damaged, 500 chickens were killed and a room was destroyed.

UN envoy alarmed by Israel's 'provocative' settlement plan

Ma'an – United Nations envoy for the peace process expressed alarm on Thursday over the announcement by the Israeli government of plans to develop new housing units in occupied East Jerusalem.

Robert Serry said in a statement that "this provocative action undermines ongoing efforts by the international community to bring the parties back to negotiations and shape a positive agenda for September."

The approval of 1,600 units for the illegal Ramat Shlomo settlement comes a week after announcing additional housing in Har Homa, which was widely criticized by the international community, he noted.

AIPAC’s European cousin evades scrutiny - funded by oligarch Machkevitch of the group’s key contributors is billionaire Alexander Machkevitch... a mining magnate with dual Kazakh and Israeli nationality.

[For more on Russian oligarchs' connections to Israel see
Russia, Israel and Media Omissions]

ElectronicIntifada, David Cronin – I don’t envy the 81 members of the US Congress who are on an expenses-paid trip to Israel this week. Having to listen to Zionist claptrap throughout the junket’s packed schedule is not my idea of a fun vacation.

But I was struck by how the jaunt, organized by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), has received some attention from the mainstream press on both sides of the Atlantic. [Actually, very little on the American side.] London’s right-wing Daily Mail reported that AIPAC’s critics believe it operates on behalf of the Israeli government and has “secured too much influence on Congress”.

While it’s positive that AIPAC’s activities are coming under greater scrutiny, it is noteworthy that little attention has been paid to how a similar lobbying outfit is being developed in Europe. In February, around 400 members of parliaments from across this continent were brought to Israel in a trip hosted by the European Friends of Israel (EFI). They included 120 members of the European Parliament (MEPs) — one-sixth of that assembly’s total membership.

When I checked The Daily Mail’s online archive, I could find no reference to the February trip. That was despite how British MEPs are among some of the EFI’s most zealous supporters. The Conservative Party’s Charles Tannock was one of the group’s founders in 2006, declaring at the time that the EFI was required to counter the “black propaganda” of Palestine solidarity activists.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Israel Lobby Dominates Congress, Media Covers it Up,, Alison Weir – You might think that 20 percent of the American Congress going on all-expenses-paid, week-long junkets to a foreign country — paid for by a lobby for that country — would be newsworthy, especially when the top congressional leaders of both parties are leading the trips.

You would be wrong.

Eighty-one congressional representatives from all over the country, led by Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, are traveling to Israel this month. Most are freshmen congressmen, and the group includes half of all the freshmen Republicans voted into office in 2010.

The week-long trips are being paid for by the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), which was created in 1990 as a supporting organization of AIPAC, America’s major pro-Israel lobbying organization, sharing the same building. AIEF, which is only one of numerous organizations pushing pro-Israel policies, has an annual budget of over $24 million, with an even larger endowment.

This is an extraordinary situation. No other lobby on behalf of a foreign country comes anywhere near controlling such wealth or taking so many of America’s elected representatives on a propaganda trip to its favorite country.

Not all those going on these trips are enthusiastic. The wife of one congressman who made a similar trip some years ago said that she and her husband had never been exposed to such pressure in all their lives. She said that at one point on their trip, her husband — a normally extremely tough man — was curled up in a fetal position.

A staff member of one representative participating in this month’s junkets said the representative had no choice. If the congressional rep didn’t go on the trip, the rep would be targeted by AIPAC, large quantities of money, including massive out-of-state money, would be raised for the opponent in the next election, and quite likely the representative would be defeated. The staffer said that the Israel Lobby is far too powerful to ignore and that American voters have no knowledge of what’s going on.

It’s no surprise that voters are unaware that their representatives are being propagandized and pressured by a foreign lobby. Their news media almost never tells them.

US media out to lunch

The Associated Press, America’s number one news service, has decided not to report on a lobbying group taking 81 representatives to a foreign country in order to influence their votes.

Even though the trips are being reported by news media in Britain, Iran, India, Israel, Lebanon, and elsewhere, AP has decided to give the story a pass. When contacted about this, an AP editor in Washington, D.C., said AP knew about the trips and was “looking into it.”

Taking a similar tack, The New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, LA Times, Boston Globe, Fox News, CNN, ABC, NBC et al, failed to inform Americans about the trips. The Washington Post, after the story was posted throughout the blogosphere, finally covered it belatedly on Page 13. The CBS website had a story on the situation, but CBS News made no mention of the junkets on-air.

The only AP stories on the subject are scattered local stories about individual representatives. For example, AP’s Chicago bureau reported that Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. is taking part, without reporting that he was one of 81 representatives accepting these all-expenses-paid junkets and that his trip was being paid for by the pro-Israel lobby.

A few other American media outlets reported the story in interestingly diverse ways:
Washington’s Politico covered it twice.
The Atlantic‘s website reported on people who were “kvetching” about the one-sided nature of the junkets, pointing out that some of the reps were also going to meet with some Palestinian leaders, without telling how many (no one will say) and for how long (apparently for a few hours of the weeklong trip).

Los Angeles’ Jewish Journal was remarkably forthright, reporting that “the congressional reps will be getting the dog and pony show,”

Commentary gloated at the “astonishing” number of representatives going on the trip, noting that “Congress is the backstop that gives Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu the ability to say ‘no’” to the president of the United States.
While Commentary claims that the willingness of congressional representatives to go on all-expenses-paid trips by one of the country’s most powerful lobbies “is a good reflection of American public opinion on the Middle East,” this is actually far from accurate.

Surveys find that an extraordinarily strong majority of Americans — typically between two-thirds to three-quarters — do not wish the U.S. to take sides on Israel-Palestine. Such widespread desire for non-intervention is particularly noteworthy given that U.S. news sources across the political spectrum are consistently highly Israel-centric in their reporting.

It is quite likely that such voters would be unhappy to learn that a foreign lobby has such power over their elected representatives, leading them to give the favored nation, one of the smallest and wealthiest countries on the planet, over $8 million per day of American tax money when the U.S. is in the middle of a financial crisis.

Perhaps that’s why AP and the others don’t tell them.


Alison Weir is president of the Council for the National Interest and executive director of If Americans Knew. She can be reached at

Read more by Alison Weir

Video: Palestinian youths tell of Israeli soldiers imprisoning them


[Click twice on video to see it full-screen]

Every year, Israeli security forces arrest dozens of Palestinian minors in the West Bank on suspicion of stone-throwing. B'Tselem's report "No Minor Matter" reveals that their rights are severely violated throughout the criminal justice process. While Israeli law meets international standards in granting criminally suspected minors special protections, Israeli military law in the West Bank provides very few protections of this kind to Palestinian minors.

The report in English

[Editor's note: We are reluctant to use the word "arrest" for these actions. If foreign soldiers came onto U.S. soil and forcibly took people, the descriptive verb would be "kidnap" or "abduct."]

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Palestinian university ranks seventh in Arab world

Ma’an – An-Najah University in Nablus ranks seventh in a list of the top 100 universities in the Arab world, according to findings published by Spanish public research body CSIC.

An-Najah is ranked as the top Palestinian university and is among the top 5 percent of 22,000 universities worldwide, a study published by the group in July 2011 found.

University President Rami Hamdallah thanked everyone who had contributed to helping An-Najah become one of the region's most prestigious centers of education.

An-Najah offers 74 bachelor degree programs, 42 masters programs and is the only Palestinian university that has a PhD program in chemistry, Hamdallah said during a news conference.

The university will soon have a second PhD program in physics, he added.

Around 8,000 students applied for course in the new academic year but only 4,000 were accepted.

The group that conducted the study, the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, or CSIC, is part of the Spanish ministry of education and published rankings for universities across the globe.

Israeli forces detain 11 nonviolent protesters near Bethlehem

Ma’an – Israeli forces detained 11 protesters Wednesday afternoon during a rally in the village of Al-Walaja, near Bethlehem, the village committee and Israel's army said.

Alaa Darras, a member of the village's local committee against the wall, said Israeli troops dispersed the rally using tear gas and stun grenades.

Soldiers also physically attacked protesters before detaining four internationals, six Israelis and a Palestinian man identified as Hisham Khalid Al-Atrash, Darras said.

Three activists were mildly injured as a result of the stun grenades.

Israeli army detains 2 teens in Beit Ummar

Ma’an – Israeli forces detained two Palestinian teenagers overnight Tuesday in the West Bank town of Beit Ummar, locals said.

Soldiers detained Ahmad Jawabreh, 15, and Muhammad Eqtet, 16, after raiding their homes, popular committee spokesman Muhammad Awad told Ma'an.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Communications 'blackout' in Gaza

Ma'an – Telecommunications access in Gaza was severed late Tuesday, cutting off Internet, mobile phones and international landline connections for hours, a Ma'an correspondent reported.

Calls to the Gaza Strip were met with error messages or dial tones, and the blackout seemed to affect multiple platforms including regular landline services as well as mobile access including Israeli services.

A technician at Jawwal, the main phone service provider in the occupied territories, told Ma'an that the company was aware of reports that residents of Gaza were experiencing technical difficulties.

A few people with subscriptions to international services like Blackberry were able to communicate, but even they said reception was spotty and unreliable. Israeli wireless Internet remained online in some places.

Residents of Gaza near the border with Israel said army bulldozers were seen operating shortly before telecommunications went offline. An army spokeswoman did not immediately return calls.

Thirty Israeli settlers enter West Bank holy site

Ma'an – Thirty settlers living in the West Bank city of Hebron entered the Tomb of Othniel illegally on Tuesday, Israeli news reports said.

Police and military forces evacuated the settlers who entered in protest of an army order rescinding permission to visit, the Israeli news site Ynet reported.

Israel deploys drones over offshore gas fields

The "Heron" drone is pictured at the Palmahim Airbase in central Israel
[AFP/File Menahem Kahana]

Ma'an, AFP – Israel has deployed drones to keep watch on gas fields off its northern coast, fearing attack by the Hezbollah militia from neighboring Lebanon, the Jerusalem Post daily reported on Tuesday.

The fields lie in a part of the Mediterranean that is claimed by Israel for gas exploration and production, but Lebanon says the fields lie within its territorial waters.

"The decision to deploy drones was made in order to maintain a 24-hour presence over the site," the paper said, adding that the air fo

Israeli forces invade Lebanese territory

IMEMC – The Lebanese Army reported Monday that Israeli soldiers advanced into Lebanese territory for a distance of 200 meters and remained there for 30 minutes before heading back to the Israeli side of the border.

The army issued a statement indicating that this invasion violates Security Council resolution 1701 issued in 2006 following the Israeli war on Lebanon. The army added that this is yet another violation targeting Lebanon’s sovereignty.

It said that approximately 12 Israeli soldiers crossed the border fence at 10:30 in the morning and advanced into Al Sammaqa area, close to Kafr Shouba in southern Lebanon.

The Lebanese Army was monitoring the invading soldiers but did not open fire at them.

Lebanon is currently following the issue with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

Israeli tanks invade Gaza, elderly Palestinian woman injured

Ma'an – A 75-year-old Palestinian woman was injured by Israeli fire on Tuesday in the central Gaza Strip, medics said.

Medical officials said the woman sustained moderate injuries after she was fired on by Israeli soldiers east of Juhor Ad-Dik.

Witnesses said Israeli army tanks crossed the border into Gaza and clashed with Palestinian fighters before retreating.

An Israeli army spokeswoman was not aware of any military activity in the area.

Israeli forces kidnap 6 Palestinians, including man who was imprisoned without charges for 5 years

Ma'an – Israeli forces detained six people from Hebron [in Palestinian Territory] on Monday night, the Palestinian prisoners' society and the army said Tuesday.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said six people were detained Monday but was unable to comment on the reason for the arrests.

The prisoners' society said Ayid Mohammad Salim Dodin was among those detained. Dodin spent the last five years in Israeli administrative detention without charge or trial and had only been released in June.

PA urges international community to protect prisoners' rights

Ma'an – The Palestinian Authority on Monday urged the international community to protect the rights of Palestinian prisoners, the government media center said.

The PA referred to two incidents in which prisoners rights were violated. One case involved a decision by Israeli authorities to ban prisoners' families from visiting them for up to 17 years after accusations that they smuggled mobile phones into the jail.

The other involved a recent incident in which 40 Palestinian prisoners suffered food poisoning in an Israeli prison in the Negev. [Israel is currently holding approximately 6,000 Palestinians prisoner; many have not been charged with a crime.]

Rights groups call for Israel to release mayor's daughter, imprisoned for a month without charges

Ma'an – A Palestinian prisoners' rights group on Tuesday called for the release of Bushra Al-Tawil, the daughter of the mayor of Al-Bireh, who has been held by Israeli authorities for a month without charge.

Israeli forces arrested Al-Tawil, 18, on July 6, 2011 after a raid on her family home in Al-Bireh.

No explanation was given for her arrest, and more than a month later she has not been charged with any crime, human rights network for Palestinian prisoners UFree said.

"UFree believes that she was targeted for arrest by Israeli occupation forces because her father, Mr Jamal Al-Tawil is an elected mayor for Al-Bireh city in the West Bank.

"Family members of elected officials have been vulnerable to arrest due to the Israeli occupation policy of targeting families of elected Palestinian politicians as a means of applying political pressure," a statement said.

Bushra's mother, Muthanna Al-Tawil, was previously held in administrative detention for a full year, Ufree said.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Israeli forces block ambulance for 30 minutes from transporting injured family from fatal car crash

Ma'an – Israeli forces delayed an ambulance treating victims of a car crash in which a 13-year-old girl died, witnesses told Ma'an.

Anhar Sandouk died at the scene of an accident near Zatara checkpoint south of Nablus in the northern West Bank, medics said.

Four others, including Anhar's parents, were injured in the crash.

Witnesses told Ma'an that Israeli forces held the Palestinian ambulance at Zatara checkpoint for 30 minutes.

The girl's body was eventually taken to the Rafedia Hospital west of Nablus.

An Israeli military spokesman said he would look into the incident.

The family, from Tulkarem, was traveling to an Iftar celebration, the traditional evening meal to break the daytime fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Israel Lobby taking 81 Congressional reps to Israel

UK MailA fifth of members of the House of Representatives will be taking their summer holidays in Israel this year with almost all the trips being paid for by one of America's most powerful lobby groups.

The American Israel Education Foundation is shelling out to take around eighty congressmen to Israel during the summer recess period.

The group is supporting organisation to the American Israel Public Affair Committee (AIPAC) which describes itself as 'America's leading pro-Israel lobby'.

Capitol Hill: A fifth of all members of the House of Representatives will be taking their summer holidays in Israel

According to the Jerusalem Post, 55 of the holidaymakers will be Republicans while 26 will be Democrats. Many will be visiting Israel for the first time.

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer will head the Democratic delegation, while House Majority Leader Eric Cantor will lead one of the Republican groups. [Both are passionately pro-Israel.]

This year Israel is believed to be the most popular foreign holiday destination for members of the house.

Relaxing: The politicians will get to ease their tension with a float in the Dead Sea

Relaxing: The politicians will get to ease their tension with a float in the Dead Sea

Most of those making the trip are scheduled to meet with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

Among the Democrats will be the popular Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., who will stay for eight days.

'Thankyou America': Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

'Thankyou America': Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Jackson said he is looking forward to learning about Israel's business and commercial sectors as well as the latest tools and technology the country is using in its fight against terror.

AIPAC is widely regarded as one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington, with many critics claiming they operate on behalf of the Israeli Government and have secured too much influence on congress.

Video: Former Israeli soldiers tells of battalian commander's order to shoot Palestinian demonstrators in the kneecaps

Breaking the Silence

A former Israeli soldier testifies that the baftalian commander told them to "bring Palestinian kneecaps"

Video: Former Israeli soldier describes "teaching Palestinians a lesson" at checkpoints

Breaking the Silence:

The language among soldiers at a checkpoint was one of education -- "teach them a lesson." Someone who simply pushed in line could be detained for hours.

Book by "Breaking the Silence" contains Israeli soldiers' testimonies of routine oppression

Ha'aretz, Ilana Hammerman

Kibush Hashtahim, Occupation of the Territories: Israeli Soldier Testimonies 2000-2010, Published by Breaking the Silence (Hebrew). English version to be available later this year, partial version in English downloadable here.
...the IDF conducts daily policing activities there, which are assigned to very young soldiers who spend weeks, months and even years in the very midst of a civilian population. Armed from head to toe, they stand at the barriers, race around in jeeps and armored vehicles on the roads, in the streets and in the alleys of towns and villages or patrol them on foot with their weapons cocked, banging on doors of homes in the middle of the night, entering them and searching, arresting men and teenage boys before the eyes of their families who have been rousted from bed. And in doing all these things, they have been maintaining, whether they want to or not, a routine of humiliation and abuse, damage to body and soul and property of civilians, a routine of a Wild West way of life in which neither the abusers nor the victims have any thorough knowledge of the laws and the rules that apply to them...