The West Bank village of Beit Ommar has had a tough August, withstanding frequent Israeli military raids that see soldiers shoot tear-gas into residential areas and arrest Palestinian minors. Last Saturday, the month got even tougher for activists resisting illegal Israeli settlements and land confiscation.
The Israeli military repressed the Beit Ommar popular committee’s most recent demonstration on August 20. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) fired live ammunition and concussion grenades, arrested five people, and broke the arm of a member of the committee before they detained him.
The demonstrators, who protest weekly, were attempting to access Beit Ommar’s land near the settlement of Karmei Tzur and were also expressing solidarity with the people of Gaza, which until last night had been under a sustained air assault by the Israeli Air Force.
Israeli forces on Saturday used live ammunition to disperse a demonstration against land confiscation in Beit Ummar near Hebron, local officials said.
Popular committee spokesman Younis Arar said soldiers stormed the rally as demonstrators marched toward the illegal Karmi Zur settlement, built on Palestinian-owned land.
Arar said it was the first time Israeli troops used live bullets at the weekly protest in Beit Ummar. He added that forces assaulted several protesters.
Yousef Abu Marya, a popular committee member in Beit Ommar, was “brutally beaten” and had his arm broken by Israeli soldiers, according to the Palestine Solidarity Project, a Beit Ommar-based Palestinian-led direct action group. Last week, while I was reporting from Beit Ommar, Abu Marya told me the Israeli military broke his arm two times before, in May and July of this year.
According to an international activist with the Palestine Solidarity Project, the IDF refused to let Abu Marya see a doctor for at least eight hours.
Beit Ommar’s recent troubles did not begin on Saturday, though. As I reported for +972 Magazine last week, the IDF has raided the village of 16,000 five times during August:
A spate of Israeli army raids at night and arrests of young Palestinians have occurred since the beginning of August, shattering any hope for calm during Ramadan. While Israeli military incursions into Beit Ommar are common, residents and activists say that the number of raids and arrests that have occurred in August is particularly high. There have been five occasions this month in which the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have invaded the village, three of them that have occurred this past week—and the month is not even half over.
Witnesses to the raids and local activists say that the Israeli army has been shooting tear gas, sound bombs and flares into residential areas—in some cases causing injuries—and have arrested fifteen young Palestinians under the age of eighteen this month. A landmark B’Tselem report recently released highlighted how common the arrest of minors is in the occupied territories…
The Israeli army’s repression in the village has not been limited to night raids, though. For the first time during the month of Ramadan, Beit Ommar residents and Israeli and international activists held a demonstration August 13, protesting land confiscation and the nearby settlement of Karmei Tzur. At the demonstration, IDF soldiers repeatedly pushed back Palestinian residents of Beit Ommar attempting to access their land near the settlement, which was declared a closed military zone. Beit Ommar is surrounded by six settlements, of which Karmei Tzur is one.
When the demonstration was over, one Palestinian, a forty-two year old man named Sakhar Abu Marya, was arrested and taken into a military jeep. Recounting the events later, he said that a hood was placed over his head, and that he was beaten by the soldiers. While he was interrogated, soldiers said that, while they would release him now, they would come to his house later and arrest him. Soldiers also brought out food and soda to mock Abu Marya, who is fasting for Ramadan. He was then dropped off at the gate of the Karmei Tzur settlement, without being charged with anything.
On Friday, I wrote about how Michael Herzog, a retired Israeli brigadier general, is working for one of the most influential Zionist lobby outfits in London. After doing some more research, I realized that as well as being a “senior visiting fellow” with the Britain Israel Communications and Research Center (BICOM), Herzog is the subject of war crime proceedings in Spain.
In January 2009, Spain’s national court decided to open an investigation into Herzog and six other Israeli political and military figures over their involvement in the 2002 bombing of a residential area in Gaza.
The attack was supposedly a “targeted assassination” of Salah Shehadeh, commander of Hamas’ military wing the Izzedeen al-Qassam Brigades. Along with Shehadeh, 14 other Palestinians died. They included a two month old infant, seven other children and two elderly men. Numerous others were injured in the blast from the 2,000 pound bomb used by Israeli forces; 11 houses in the al-Daraj district of Gaza City were irreparably damaged.
Herzog was an adviser to Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, then Israeli defense minister, at the time of the attack. On 29 January 2009, both men (and their co-accused) were ordered to present themselves in Spain within 30 days.
The case has been taken by four Spanish lawyers and the Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights. The lawyers have invoked a law on universal jurisdiction, which allows the Spanish judicial authorities to investigate crimes against humanity throughout the world.
Fugitive from justice
This morning I called BICOM to ask if it was aware of the proceedings against Herzog when it decided to put him on its payroll. “I have no idea”, BICOM’s spokesman Dermot Kehoe told me, explaining that he was not yet working for BICOM when Herzog was appointed.
Kehoe promised to examine my query further and get back to me. If he does (and has anything of substance to say), I’ll happily update this blog post.
In the meantime, it is fair to surmise that BICOM was perfectly aware of the proceedings against Herzog, just as it was aware that he counselled Ehud Barak, the current Israeli defense minister, on the conduct of Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s murderous assault on Gaza in 2008 and 2009.
It is true that Herzog probably will not be held accountable for his crimes by a Spanish court. Miguel Moratinos, then Spain’s foreign minister, gave an undertaking to his Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni in early 2009 that the Spanish universal jurisdiction law would be watered down. Directly as a result of Israeli pressure, the law (which has been in force since 1985) was amended last year.
Spain’s capitulation to Israel does not provide BICOM with any excuse for hiring an indicted war criminal. It should be noted, in particular, that the Spanish national court reprimanded the state of Israel for refusing to cooperate with its handling of the case against Herzog and his co-accused.
It can, therefore, be concluded that BICOM has hired a fugitive from justice.
The Financial Times has featured an editorial penned by Council on Foreign Relations president Richard Haas titled, “Libya Now Needs Boots on the Ground,” where the arch globalist states that Libya’s rebels are in no way capable of rebuilding Libya properly and will require an “international force” to maintain order. Haas breathtakingly admits that the NATO intervention to “protect civilians” was in fact a political intervention designed to bring about regime change. With NATO leading the offensive against Tripoli, a relatively calm city until now, the alleged cause of “protecting civilians” rings hollower than ever.
Haas goes on to explain that NATO’s “success” is what requires this international assistance in the predictable form of an occupation force to deal with looting, “die-hard regime supporters,” and tribal war. Haas also implores Obama to reconsider his decision to rule out American boots on the ground and to do so quickly.
Of course, NATO didn’t just spend the last 5 months conducting 7,000+ airstrikes on Libya to “protect civilians” and then ride off into the sunset. This was a war of conquest from the very beginning, with globalists openly declaring it would determine the “primacy of international law” over the nation-state. In fact, the initial uprising itself was gestated in Washington and London where opposition leaders were provided resources and safe-havens to conduct their sedition, with globalist stooges like Ibrahim Sahad literally sitting in front of the White House calling for NATO to bomb his homeland. NATO, its members, particularly the US, UK, and France, and the globalist corporate-financiers behind them, fully intend to rebuild Libya according to their own aspirations shoehorned into a national consensus imposed upon the Libyan people under the guise of “democracy” and “civil society.” We are watching a modern empire expand its boundaries into yet another sovereign nation. [...]
And indeed, as NATO rushes through to the finish line with a spectacular display of mass-murder and mayhem in Libya, and with the rebels dancing in the streets as NATO warplanes roar overhead, the time is soon approaching for Benghazi to pay back the West for their “help.”
As pundits in the duplicitous corporate media feign ignorance over the future of Libya, as if it is truly in the hands of the Libyan people as Obama cartoonishly portrayed in his latest teleprompter reading, the self-proclaimed “Transitional National Council” leader Gibril Elqarfally gave us cyrstal clear picture of Libya’s future – one inspired by globalization. In a May 12, 2011 talk before the Brookings Institution, he claimed “what’s taking place is a natural product of the globalizational process that started in the mid-80s.”
Elwarfally talks about a “new global cultural paradigm,” “new global values,” common values, shared by many “young people.” These young people, he says, are calling for human dignity, democracy, and inclusion at all levels of national government, repeating verbatim statements coming from geopolitical meddler Zbigniew Brzezinski and the myriad of US-funded NGOs that promote these “new global values.”
While Qaddafi’s comments are dismissed out of hand, a recent message sent to his followers amidst fighting in Tripoli declared, “the traitors are paving the way for the occupation forces to be deployed in Tripoli.” It seems no truer words have ever been spoken and the Libyan people, including the rebels, will have no one but themselves to blame if they allow such a way to be paved. – Full article
I have been monitoring the Hebrew press for the last three days and it is increasingly obvious to me and others, that no one out there, including Israeli top analysts, understands where the current escalation is leading.
However, a few things are becoming clear:
1. The so-called ‘Jewish spring’, known also as the Israeli ‘tents protest’, has been easily dismantled. The Israelis seems to be far more enthusiastic about wars than social justice. The naïve thinkers who believed that Israel was heading toward a ‘social revolution’ will have to eat their words once again.
2. The nature of the clash in the Egyptian border is far from being clear; yet, it is obvious that the IDF was caught unprepared. In reality, Eilat, the Israeli southern tourist resort, is in immanent danger of being cut off from the rest of the country. Israel, so it seems, doesn’t have the military answers to such a scenario.
3. The Israeli ‘Iron Dome’ anti missile system cannot provide the answers to the Palestinian’s growing ballistic capability. It manages to intercept some missiles, but most missiles reach their destinations.
4. In spite of a further deterioration in its military power of deterrence, Israel is reluctant to deploy large forces into Gaza. Needless to mention that this is good news.
A few explanations for that reluctance are as follows:
A. Israel doesn’t possess the military means to impose a change in Gaza.
B. Israel is aware of the damage a ground operation may inflict on its public image.
C. Considering the volatile situation in the Middle East and in Egypt, any Israeli operation could easily lead to mass protest that would erase what is left of American interests in the region. Consequently, Israel holds back and swallows the bitter pill.
D. Israel also comes to realise that its security is dependent on Hamas’ strength. Thus, it prefers to negotiate a truce, hoping that the Hamas would become ‘Palestinian Authority number 2’. Israel still fails to grasp that resilience is an inherent reaction to oppression.
The sum of 1-4 may well prove to be devastating for the Israelis. There is no prospect of a future for the Jewish State in the region. Israel’s military might is proving to be dysfunctional, and unable to suitably deal with the conflict and its nature.
All those airplanes, tanks and nuclear bombs, increasingly, appear as futile.
In fact, there is not much that Israelis can do for themselves unless they, once and for all, attempt to grasp the true meaning of peace and reconciliation. Otherwise Israelis better run for their lives.
More and more of them are doing that, just as I did many years ago.
Jenin – After the Israeli army targets the theatre twice during the last month, arresting three of its members, today at approximately 02:00 in the morning of the 22nd August the Israeli army surrounded The Freedom Theatre and the Nagnaghiya family home.
Jacob Gough, the Acting General Manager at The Freedom Theatre left the office at about 01:45: “As I literally entered my home I got a call from neighbours of the theatre saying the army had surrounded the theatre.”
Jacob then returned to the theatre and as he drove into the courtyard was confronted by armed soldiers who forced him to turn around threatening violence if he didn’t. After a second attempt to get closer to the theatre he was forced to strip at gunpoint before being detained. “They said that they’ll beat me up if I even say a word or move”.
During this, the army were inside the home of Mohammed Naghnaghiye, the security guard at the theatre and brother of Adnan Nagnaghiya. Here they beat Mohammed before taking him away in handcuffs then proceeded to ransack all 3 floors of his family home leaving them in disarray. As the army left the area they fired live ammunition in an attempt to disperse the crowds of youth that had gathered.
These events come after a military court hearing that took place yesterday (21st August) in Jalame prison outside of Jenin. At the court hearing it was established that the three previously taken members of The Freedom Theatre had no connection to the murder of the theatre’s late director Juliano Mer Khamis and must be released within the week.
“This behaviour is mounting to systematical harassment of The Freedom Theatre by The Israeli army, it is scandalous. This proves that the Israeli army and security apparatus is either lost in their investigation or that they have the actual intention of damaging the theatre. It also seems that after the murder of Juliano Mer Khamis The Freedom Theatre is no longer exempted from the kind of oppression the Palestinian society is subjected to in general.” says Jonatan Stanczak, co-founder of The Freedom Theatre.
The Strange Calm Over Tripoli
Tripoli – The large gold framed portrait of Colonel Muammar Qaddafi that adorned the wall behind the reception desk of my hotel since it opened many years ago has vanished. Also gone are the 72 green flags that flew on the white poles which have also been removed. It’s not polite to inquire of the skeleton staff about who removed these items because the act of removal could become very serious offenses depending on the final outcome here. But, my friend Ismail, manning the front desk, just grinned at me when I commented on the hotel’s fine new mirror that hangs in the leader’s space.
Looking over the skyline of Tripoli at 7:30 a.m. 8/22/11 from the 26th floor of the Corinthia Hotel it seems that it’s just about over for the Qaddafi regime.
All night one heard in central Tripoli mainly celebratory gunfire from areas like the nearby newly renamed “Martyrs Square” (formerly ‘Green Square’) but so many questions are on most people minds this morning. Some ask, are the Qaddafi forces opening a trap for the rebel forces allowing them to come in quickly and easily and then when they are gathered in public celebrations and seek rest, counter attack?
The claim of the NTC representative this morning that the rebels control 95 per cent of Tripoli seems farfetched. This is a very spread out city and its clear rebel forces are not deployed everywhere.
A column of 22 camouflaged painted military vehicles full of government fighters slowly passed by our hotel at 8:10 this morning and turned right into the seaside compound which includes the Bab al Bahar Hotel (“gate to the sea”), and on its edge, the unoccupied JW Marriott, from which witnesses said the sniper who shot me in my right leg yesterday morning was perched. My doctor gave me the bullet as a souvenir and I will be fine although the damned thing hurts. An arriving hotel worker just reported seeing government forces assembling in Tripoli’s neighborhoods over the past several hours.
On the other side of my hotel I can see rebel pickups filled with fighters and new tricolor Libyan flags driving very slowly towards Green (Martyr’s) Square. I am thinking what would happen if they make a wrong turn.
Reports of Saif and Mohammad Qaddafi’s capture supports the idea that the government here wildly exaggerated its solid support and that the public largely believed them. Already among the few staff and some kids who come early to jump the hotel fence and use the swimming pool, and their trademark chants of “Allah, Mohammad, Muammar, Libya wa bass” have ended their chants and now support for ousting “the leader” is widespread. Most hotel staff at my hotel appear crestfallen.
The outpouring of support for Qaddafi’s departure by the same crowds who seemed to adore him at Green Square the past five months I have been monitoring them is surprising but perhaps reveals why all powerful despots are often more form than substance and can collapse quickly under certain conditions.
The questions being asked here this morning by student friends include what happened to the resistance to NATO and its supported rebels, where are the “65,000 professional soldiers waiting to repel “NATO’s rebels” from entering Tripoli, mentioned just last night by Government spokesman, Musa Ibrahim, was there ever a real Libyan army of thousands ready to defend Tripoli, what will the transition be like, will there be tribal conflicts for power, will Libya have to pay for all the infrastructure damage, will NATO countries, given the widespread hostility to NATO killing so many civilians be granted oil contracts, will the US get another military base (Wheelus was closed by Qaddafi on June 1970), will the new government recognize Israel as NATO is said to be demanding, will the National Transition Council fulfill its pledges for a just, quick transition with early elections, and on and on.
Yesterday morning, as I embarked on a bike tour of Tripoli, there were signs that something incongruous was happening. Security guards, normally about 20 outside the hotel were nowhere to be seen. Also, no staff came to work. Ismail and the IT guy slept at the hotel—and the British lady “Miss Lorraine” who is in charge of hotel Hospitality lives at the hotel and was understandably and visibly upset.
As I left the hotel close to 7:30 a.m. by bicycle yesterday morning I was surprised to see one woman standing alone on the street in front of the hotel. I was more surprised when she lit up with a broad smile as she chimed “Hello Mr. Lamb!”
She is Marianne, who works with Lorraine somewhere in the bowels of this claimed “7 Star Hotel” I had spoken with her on the phone but we never met personally. When I asked her why she was standing in the empty street, she replied, “I need to find a ride to the port!” That seemed odd, given what is happening here, so I asked her why. “My two week vacation starts today and I need to get a boat to Malta”. I was shocked, “Sweetheart, please, for sure there is no boat to Malta now and it’s dangerous for you to go to the Port.” “But, my boyfriend is waiting for me in Malta” she wailed. “Ok, but if you find a ride call my room and I will pay half and come with you to the Port”. Marianne agreed. I never saw her again.
The UN delegation left yesterday after their five day “fact finding mission.” Not sure what facts they found because they mainly stayed in the hotel waiting and waiting, like most other foreigners here do, for a promised appointment with a government official or someone. Their leader, a stellar Palestinian lady from Nazarath in Occupied Palestine, convinced NATO to let some foreigners make use of empty UN plane seats so this hotel was essentially emptied of guests.
There has been no sign of Colonel Gaddafi. A strange calm has spread over Tripoli.
Franklin Lamb is in Tripoli. He can be reached c/o firstname.lastname@example.org.
At 10pm Sunday August 21st the Hasan Ali Darwish Al-Qawasmi house in the Abo Ktelah district was raided and later destroyed by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). Around eight armoured vehicles surrounded the house and at least 40 soldiers were blocking every entrance. The IOF had arrived at the house at 8 pm. They told family members that it would take 20 minutes but three and a half hours later they remained in occupation of the house. A row of 14 soldiers blocked the main entrance to the house. Female family members stood in front of them and demanded that they be allowed back into their home.
A family member accounted that Israeli soldiers had already arrested their husbands and were also guilty of the imprisonment of seven brothers and the death of two other brothers of one particular woman. This woman arrived at the house with her baby in her arms to defy and stand up to the Israeli soldiers. After a while the army emerged from the house with a blindfolded and handcuffed man who looked as though he had been beaten.
The soldiers took him away in a jeep. The IOF informed the family and other bystanders that a suspected “suspicious object” was in the home that needed to be disposed of, which coincidentally meant exploding a section of the house. Everyone was pushed aside in preparation for the explosion, which took place in the yard of the house. The massive explosion smashed all the windows and damaged a neighbor’s home.
During the raid clashes between Palestinians and the army started, leaving at least 30 injured with the possible rumor that of the injured, one was killed. Details have yet to be confirmed.
The army was shooting a large amount of tear gas directly at protesters and according to witnesses they probably also used rubber coated steel bullets. The IOF fled at around midnight and the protestors went to inspect the damaged house. Once being allowed back into the home the family members found their home torn apart. Sofa chairs had been ripped open, picture frames had been smashed and glass lay everywhere. Their home had been destroyed.
Witnesses said that 10 days ago another member of the Al-Qawasmi family had been arrested. On the night of August 20th IOF arrested 10 other people in this same neighborhood. This frightful scene concluded with an elderly female relative, who had been trapped in the house during the raid, being carried out on a stretcher by Palestinian ambulances. The ambulances also tended to severely injured protestors.
Just after midnight on Monday, August 22 the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) took the opportunity to trap 1500 Palestinian youth inside al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, blow up a house in Hebron (injuring 30 people in the ensuing riots), and arrested a member of the Freedom Theatre in Jenin.
In Jerusalem, thousands of Palestinians gathered to protest the Israeli escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip. Starting from the Bab Al `Amoud (Damscus Gate) area and marching toward Salah El Deen Street, the protesters suddenly found themselves under attack by IOF soldiers after the latter claimed that a soldier had been stabbed. IOF soldiers and border police closed off the Bab Al Amoud area and Salah El Deen Street and kidnapped several Palestinian youth who were taken to the Al Maskobiyya interrogation center, west of Jerusalem. They also attacked Palestinian medics and ambulances in the area.
The protesters continued their march into the Old City, prompting hundreds of policemen to break into several homes and cause damage in the area. The protesters ended up inside al-Aqsa mosque, where policemen trapped them inside, closed off the mosque, placed ladders on walls surrounding the mosque, and provoked protesters and those who were simply there to pray and worship during the last ten holy days of Ramadan.
In another incident in Jenin, IOF soldiers surrounded the Freedom Theater at 2 am, closed off the area, and arrested Mohammed Naghnaghiye, the security guard and technician of the theater. On the way out, they fired live ammunition to disperse the crowd of Palestinians who had gathered.
This is the third attack on the Freedom Theater by the IOF this month.
Palestinian medical sources in Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, reported that 55 residents were injured following clashes that took place between local residents and Israeli soldiers who invaded the city.
The sources stated that some of the wounded residents were hit by rubber-coated metal bullets fired by the soldiers; others were treated for the effects of teargas inhalation, while the rest were violently attacked and beaten by the soldiers.
Also, soldiers broke into the home of detainee Mahmoud Al Qawasmi of the Hamas movement, in Wadi Abu Kteila area, north west of Hebron, and detonated some of its walls. Al Qawasmi has been imprisoned by Israel for the past seven years.
The soldiers detained dozens of residents and interrogated them in the streets, and broke into several homes that belong to members of Al Qawasmi family, Karama, and Al Joulani.
Sporadic clashes took place in Bab Al Zawiya area, in the center of Hebron, as local residents hurled stones and bottles at the invading military forces. The soldiers fired gas bombs and rubber-coated metal bullets.
Other clashes took place at the Tareq Bin Ziad junction, south of the city, while the army placed more forces in the area and chased the residents; no arrests were reported.
Soldiers also invaded several nearby villages and town, and conducted military searches of homes.
On Sunday at dawn, troops invaded Hebron, broke into and searched dozens of homes, and kidnapped dozens of Hamas members and supporters, including elected legislator Mohammad Abu Jheisha, and a number of Hamas political leaders.