JERUSALEM – Dozens of Palestinian worshipers were wounded and dozens were detained after clashes broke in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Sunday morning with Israeli forces who had stormed the courtyards firing stun grenades and rubber-coated bullets.
The raid comes amid frequent clashes in recent days after right-wing Jewish groups urged Jews to flock to the compound — which they believe is the site of a former Jewish temple — and conduct Passover rituals inside.
Director of Al-Aqsa Mosque Omar Kiswani told Ma’an that more than 400 police officers stormed the courtyard of the Al-Aqsa Mosque through the Moroccan Gate and the Chain Gate escorting Ultra-Orthodox Jews other Jewish visitors into the compound.
Israeli forces, Kiswani said, “besieged” worshipers in the southern mosque “attacking them with clubs and pepper spray,” after clashes broke out with Palestinian worshipers in the compound.
Dozens of Palestinians sustained injuries during the assault, while several others suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation. Twenty five young men were reportedly detained by Israeli forces.
Kiswani said that Likud member of Knesset Moshe Feiglin had also entered the compound during the raid, accompanied by special security units. Feiglin has visited the site frequently in recent months, and he has vocally supported the extension of Israeli sovereignty over the compound.
Earlier on Sunday morning, clashes erupted outside the Lions’ Gate (Bab al-Asbat) and Gate of Remission (Bab al-Hutta) of the Al-Aqsa compound when Israeli police denied hundreds of worshippers access to the compound.
Witnesses said that Israeli officers had denied all Palestinian residents of Jerusalem under the age of 60 access to the compound, including students who attend schools inside. Men and women were also attacked with clubs and pepper spray, witnesses said.
Israeli forces detained a young man after he was beaten brutally.
Israeli police spokesman said in a statement that police had detained 16 Palestinian “rioters,” adding that they were all detained “as they threw stones/blocks at officers at the scene this morning.”
He also said that two police officers lightly injured in the clashes, which broke out after the Palestinians threw stones as “tourists visited.”
About 100 Muslim worshipers have decided to stay inside the compound day and night throughout Passover after right-wing Jewish organizations called for Jewish worshipers to enter the area en masse for religious festivities.
Because of the sensitive nature of the Al-Aqsa compound, Israel maintains a compromise with the Islamic trust that controls it to not allow non-Muslim prayers in the area. Israeli forces regularly escort Jewish visitors to the site, leading to tension with Palestinian worshipers.
The compound, which sits just above the Western Wall plaza, houses both the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque and is the third holiest site in Islam.
It is also venerated as Judaism’s most holy place as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood. The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.
Al-Aqsa is located in East Jerusalem, a part of the internationally recognized Palestinian territories that have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.
Israeli police reportedly blocked a top UN diplomat, alongside other diplomats and Palestinians, entrance to a pre-Easter Holy Fire ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, which Israeli authorities called a ‘micro-incident.’
Robert Serry, the UN special envoy for Middle East peace, said he and Palestinian Christians were making their way to attend the ‘Holy Fire’ ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the site where Christians believe Jesus was crucified and buried before rising from the dead.
Despite earlier promises of unrestricted access to the church, Israeli police refused to let the group of worshipers pass, saying they had orders to that effect.
Serry said he, along with Italian, Norwegian and Dutch diplomats, were forced to wait for up to 30 minutes, crushed by the excited crowd against a barricade, while Israeli officers ignored his request to speak with a superior, according to Reuters.
“A precarious standoff ensued ending in an angry crowd pushing their way through,” Serry said, lashing out at “unacceptable behavior from the Israeli security authorities.”
“It became really dangerous because there was a big crowd and I was pushed against a metal fence the police put up there, the crowd tried to push really hard,” the diplomat said, adding they might have been trampled had police not finally let them pass.
Serry in a statement called on “all parties to respect the right of religious freedom, granting access to holy sites for worshipers of all faiths and refraining from provocations, not least during religious holidays.”
The incident comes as the Holy City, which is of religious importance to Christians, Jews and Muslims alike, prepares Pope Francis’s Holy Land visit next month.
Israel dismissed the UN diplomat’s complaint, calling it an attempt to exaggerate a “micro-incident” while crediting police with maintaining order as crowds of worshipers descended on the city.
Later on Saturday, Israel’s Foreign Affairs Ministry dismissed Serry’s account as “an odd communique on a non-event.”
“Christian dignitaries of the highest level have this evening thanked the Jerusalem Police Department for its efficient service, which has enabled the Holy Day’s celebrations to take place without any hindrance,” the ministry said.
“Had any harm come to the pilgrims due to uncontrolled crowd movements, Mr. Serry would have been prompt to cast responsibility on the same police which he now condemns for doing its job properly,” the Israeli statement added.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Jerusalem in May, an event that may be overshadowed by a breakdown in US-brokered peace talks between Israeli and Palestinians, who face an April-29 deadline to resolve their differences.
Israeli forces have shot and wounded at least 30 Palestinians in the al-Aqsa Mosque in East al-Quds (Jerusalem).
Local sources said that clashes erupted between the Israeli forces and Palestinian worshippers in the mosque compound when Israeli settlers entered the holy site on Wednesday.
According to witnesses, Israeli troops raided the mosque to protect the settlers. They said the forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the worshippers.
“About 1,000 Israeli officers stormed the compound,” Palestinian Ma’an news agency quoted Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, the director-general of Muslim endowments and Al-Aqsa affairs, as saying.
In recent months, Israeli forces and illegal settlers have stepped up their attacks on Palestinians visiting the mosque. This has led to violent confrontations between the two sides.
On Sunday, clashes broke out between Israeli forces and Palestinians at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound when Israeli police prevented Muslims from entering one of the gates of the compound.
Israeli forces used stun grenades to disperse protesters.
The Israeli regime has also imposed severe restrictions to stop Muslim worshippers from entering the mosque.
On February 25, the Israeli parliament (Knesset) discussed a plan to annex the compound.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has condemned the Knesset move as a “dangerous escalation,” calling it part of Israel’s goal to “Judaize Jerusalem.”
The al-Aqsa compound, which lies in the Israeli-occupied Old City of al-Quds, is a flashpoint. The compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount is Islam’s third-holiest site after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.
GAZA CITY – The military wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine said it fired mortar shells at Israeli military vehicles that entered Gaza early Monday.
According to the statement, the group responded by firing three mortar shells at the Israeli vehicles.
No injuries or damages were reported.
“National resistance will remain the only path to restore Palestinian rights,” the Brigades’ statement said.
An Israeli military spokeswoman said she was not familiar with the incident.
The shells were fired two days after the DFLP said the National Resistance Brigades targeted an Israeli military jeep near the Kissufim military base east of the Gaza Strip.
A statement said that on Saturday “the military site Kissufim was also targeted with three mortar shells in response to the ongoing Israeli attacks on unarmed Palestinians.”
An Israeli military spokeswoman said on Sunday that “there was alarm in the area overnight,” and an explosion was heard, but she said that Israeli forces were still searching the area.
On Friday, five Palestinian medics suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation after Israeli forces fired a tear gas canister at their ambulance in the northern Gaza Strip, a day after Israeli forces shot four Palestinians in two incidents near the border fence.
In the wake of the American Studies Association’s December 2013 endorsement of the Palestinian civil society call for an academic boycott of Israel – and as two efforts to legislate against academic boycotts fail to move forward in the Illinois and Maryland state legislatures – the ASA has gained new members and support. Over the past several months, the ASA has welcomed more than 700 new members. The ASA has also collected more membership revenue in the past three months than in any other three-month period over the past quarter-century and its ongoing “Stand with the ASA” grassroots fundraising campaign has exceeded the association’s expectations thus far.
Last week, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, released a statement in support of the ASA’s boycott efforts. In it, he states that: “In South Africa, we could not have achieved our democracy without the help of people around the world, who through the use of non-violent means, such as boycotts and divestment, encouraged their governments and other corporate actors to reverse decades-long support for the Apartheid regime. … The [anti-boycott] legislation being proposed in the United States would have made participation in a movement like the one that ended Apartheid in South Africa extremely difficult.” The day before his statement was released, an Illinois State Senate Committee rejected a resolution condemning academic boycotts. A bill to defund universities that subsidize faculty associations with organizations supporting boycotts was also scuttled in Maryland, where non-binding condemnatory language was instead inserted into the budget bill.
ASA President Curtis Marez stated, “Despite the backlash of the last few months, the ASA is thriving. The boycott vote is consistent with our longstanding support for human rights and opposition to war and militarism. Many Americans are now for the first time hearing about their government’s support for the occupation and discriminatory laws against Palestinians. I’m proud that the ASA helped open up discussion about BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) and the difference it can make.” Commentary by ASA leaders, members and supporters was published in the Los Angeles Times, Chronicle of Higher Education,Washington Post, New York Times, CNN.com, and the Chicago Tribune, among other news outlets.
In response to the legislative threats from politicians, threatened legal action, and physical threats from others, veteran attorneys have stepped forward to assist the ASA in responding to such legal bullying for taking a principled stand in support of Palestinian human rights. The ASA is not the only organization to face such bullying; in 2013 alone, Palestine Solidarity Legal Support, an initiative built in partnership with the Center for Constitutional Rights,documented more than 100 cases of legal and other intimidation against Palestinian rights activists on U.S. campuses.
Incoming ASA president Lisa Duggan noted, “We are looking forward to our upcoming annual meeting in November, which will feature a wealth of panels and events presenting first-rate American Studies scholarship on topics ranging from the politics of settler colonialism and transnational Black studies to popular culture and contemporary performance art. We will be welcoming Palestinian and Israeli scholars along with large contingents of other international ASA members poised to continue addressing matters of global concern affecting all of us.”
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – On Sunday 13 April 2014 in the early afternoon, Israeli settlers with assistance from the Israeli occupation forces started moving into the so-called Rajabi building in Hebron. After seven years of litigation, on 11 March 2014, the Israeli Supreme Court handed over the building to the settlers despite previous court rulings that said that the relevant purchase documents and power of attorneys had been forged.
Early this morning, the Israeli Minister of Defence Moshe Ya’alon approved the settlers to move into the building. As a result, three families entered the building later the day and started preparing the building for occupation. The settlers were observed cleaning the house, bringing in pieces of furniture and fixing the windows. The occupation forces provided the settlers with power generators and water tanks to help them in their efforts as the building is not connected to the electricity or water grid. According to Israeli sources, the settlers are to hold a Passover Seder dinner on the site during the upcoming holiday and ten more families are to move into the building after the end of the Passover.
Local Palestinians voiced their fears that the creation of a new settlement will cause further violations of their rights and violence against them. During 2007 and 2008, when settlers were dwelling in the building, the community witnessed multiple attacks by the settlers as well as routine house searches and arbitrary detentions by the occupation forces. Following their eviction by the Israeli police and army in December 2008, the settlers went on a rampage torching Palestinian property and assaulting Palestinians.
Ed Miliband, UK Labour Party leader and younger brother of former British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, has just been on a visit to Israel and occupied Palestine. Ed, who is Jewish, is a wannabe prime minister. And he may succeed in taking the top job next year if Agent Cameron continues annoying the voting public.
A BBC report tells us that Miliband and his wife Justine “were shown where the rockets are fired which rain down on this Israeli town of Sderot.
“They visited a playgroup which looks like many you would see in the UK, until you realise the kids are playing inside instead of outside as they would not be safe under the deep blue sky and are only so under a roof of reinforced concrete.”
The BBC, as usual when reporting on Israel, jettisons journalistic principles and fails to present a balanced, factual picture. How many Israeli children have actually been killed by garden-shed rockets “raining down” from Gaza? And how safe are Palestinian children from the frequent Israeli air-strikes? How many have been slaughtered by Israel’s state-of-the-art missiles, bombs, tank shells and other ordnance? I’ll start them off… 1520 Palestinian children killed and around 6,000 injured since the year 2000.
Dr Mahmoud Al-Zahar, a co-founder of Hamas, underscored the situation in this chilling statement: “They [the Israelis] have legitimised the murder of their own children by killing the children of Palestine. They have legitimised the destruction of their synagogues and their schools by hitting our mosques and our schools.” Al-Zahar knows all about a father’s grief. He has been the target of assassination attempts. His two sons were killed and his daughter injured in Israeli raids. Why doesn’t the BBC go interview him?
The fact is, Sderot is vital to Israel’s propaganda effort. It is an important plank in the regime’s attempt to justify the bloodshed it has inflicted on the people of Gaza. The Israelis use it ad nauseam to brainwash the media and their own people. And Miliband apparently accepts it all.
When Western politicians are hustled along to Sderot does it never occur to them to ask, what right have the Israelis to be here? If they did a little homework they would know that Sderot is built on the lands of a Palestinian village called Najd, which was ethnically cleansed by Jewish militia in 1948 before Israel was declared a state and before any Arab armies entered Palestine. The 600+ villagers, were forced to flee for their lives. Britain was on watch as the mandated government while this and many other atrocities were committed by Jewish terrorists.
Najd was just one of 418 Palestinian villages and towns wiped off the map by Zionist Jews. It was not even allocated to the Jews in the 1947 UN Partition Plan but they seized it all the same and bulldozed its 82 homes. There is no American that I know, or Briton, who would stand for being thrown out of his home by foreign thugs.
Palestinian Arabs owned over 90 percent of the land in Najd and, according to UN Resolution 194 and also the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, they have a right to return home. But, as we have come to expect, Israel refuses to recognise the rights of others and will not allow them back.
The inhabitants of Najd, one supposes, became refugees in the nearby Gaza camps. The irony is that the sons and grandsons of some of those displaced and dispossessed families are very likely manning the rocket launchers…. Well, wouldn’t you?
And who but an Israeli would be so arrogant as to live on land stolen from their neighbour at gun-point… and demand to be left in peace?
In a statement Ed Miliband told Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East: “If elected leader of the Labour Party, I would visit Israel and the Palestinian Authority and take a first-hand look at what is happening on the ground in Gaza.” At a reception later, he said: “I did say I would make a visit to see for myself the situation and I promise to do that.”
Martin Linton, Director of LFPME, remarked: “We are glad that Ed has said he will go and see the situation on the ground in the West Bank and Gaza for himself. It is difficult for anyone to understand just how desperate the situation is until they have seen it for themselves…”
Did Ed Miliband drop in on Gaza for coffee with Dr Al-Zahar and Prime Minister Haniyeh? No. Instead of seeing the situation first hand as promised, he accepted whatever tosh came out of Israel’s propaganda machine. So, was he prevented from visiting Gaza by Netanyahu, or did he plain forget?
Do let us know, Ed.
Press TV – April 11, 2014
Israeli officials have unveiled the model of a Jewish temple near the al-Aqsa Mosque Compound in East al-Quds (Jerusalem).
Palestinian activists say the model of the so-called third Jewish temple has a big hall and can accommodate hundreds of visitors each day.
Israeli authorities hope the project could attract tens of thousands of local and foreign tourists every year.
The al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and heritage says the move is a direct threat to the mosque.
The organization argues that the project is aimed at building enough support to make a Jewish temple on al-Aqsa site.
Palestinian groups have already warned of large-scale Israeli excavations near al-Aqsa’s southern gate.
On February 25, the Israeli parliament, Knesset, discussed a plan to annex al-Aqsa Mosque Compound.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has condemned the debate as a “dangerous escalation,” calling it part of Israel’s goal to “Judaize Jerusalem.”
The Israeli Knesset is set to discuss a proposal later this week to place the so-called Temple Mount, where Al-Aqsa Mosque is located, under Israeli sovereignty.
Palestinians have denounced the plan as desecration. They say it is part of the Israeli regime’s ongoing attempts to distort Arab and Islamic history.
Over the past decades, Israel has tried to change the demographic makeup of al-Quds by constructing illegal settlements, destroying historical sites and expelling the local Palestinian population.
Israeli and Palestinian officials held fresh US-mediated talks Thursday, but the crisis-hit peace process was dealt a new blow as Israel unveiled sanctions against the Palestinians.
Israel, which collects about $111 million in taxes on behalf of the Palestinian Authority – two-thirds of its revenues – has decided to freeze the transfer of that money, an official told AFP.
Israel was also suspending its participation with the Palestinians in developing a gas field off the Gaza Strip and putting a cap on Palestinian deposits in its banks, the Israeli official said, asking not to be named.
However, the official said “discussions under the aegis of the United States to overcome the talks crisis will continue.”
Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat lashed out at the move, calling it an act of “Israeli hijacking and the theft of the Palestinian people’s money.”
The decision is a “violation of international law and norms by Israel” in revenge for the Palestinians’ move to join a raft of international treaties as a state, Erakat told AFP.
Earlier State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki confirmed a new round of talks between the Israeli, Palestinian and US negotiators had been held Thursday. But she downplayed reports of a deal in the works.
“The gaps are narrowing, but any speculation about an agreement are premature at this time,” said Psaki.
Washington remains in “intensive negotiations” with both sides, she told reporters.
“We’re working, as you know, to determine what the path forward is for these negotiations, and that is up to the parties.”
The talks hit a new impasse last week after Israel refused to release a final batch of Palestinian prisoners and the Palestinians retaliated by seeking accession to several international treaties.
US Secretary of State John Kerry blamed Israel this week for the deadlock as Washington mulled how much more time and effort to put into the faltering negotiations.
American envoy Martin Indyk presided over Thursday’s meeting in Jerusalem between Israel’s chief negotiator, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, and her Palestinian counterpart, Saeb Erakat, said a Palestinian source close to the talks.
Also present were Palestinian intelligence chief Majed Farah and Yitzhak Molcho, a confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Palestinian side was pushing for the release of a final batch of prisoners, a commitment Israel reneged on in a move that sparked the crisis.
Israeli television reported that the two sides were on the verge of a deal to extend peace talks beyond their April 29 deadline.
The deal would see the Palestinian prisoners released in return for Washington freeing American-born Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, Channel 2 television said.
But insisting there was no deal yet, Psaki said “no decision has been made about Jonathan Pollard,” who is eligible for release next year.
Meanwhile Israel’s Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, who heads the far-right Jewish Home party, threatened to pull his party out of the coalition if there was a deal on the release of Palestinian prisoners.
“If the government proposes this deal to us, the Jewish Home party will pull out of the coalition,” he said.
The Israelis have repeatedly asked Barack Obama and previous US presidents to release Pollard, sentenced to life in 1987 for passing US secrets on Arab and Pakistani weapons to Israel.
Psaki revealed that Indyk would return to Washington this week for consultations with Kerry and the White House.
He would then go back to the region some time next week.
A Palestinian official also denied any deal was yet on the table, telling AFP there was still a “deep chasm” between the two sides.
When Israel refused to release 26 long-time Palestinian prisoners, it went back on a pledge it made at the launch of the peace talks.
The Palestinians responded by abandoning their own commitment not to seek international recognition until the nine months of talks ended, applying for accession to 15 treaties.
The United Nations said Thursday it had accepted the deposit of the request, but Psaki said that was merely “a technical step… so I don’t think it changes, necessarily, what we’re negotiating now.”
Osarin, Occupied Palestine – In the last month, the Israeli army has arrested 10 boys under the age of 16 from Osarin village. As of today, they all remain in the prison.
This is the latest in a long line of tactics employed by the Israeli military to intimidate the people of Osarin and the surrounding villages. According to a member of the village’s local council, the Israeli army approached the village around six months ago demanding that Osarin and three other neighboring villages sell three dunams (3,000 square meters) of land to the Israeli government. The threat was that if they did not comply the army would simply take the land. Despite this pressure, the people of the village collectively chose to refuse and have had to live with the consequences of this choice ever since.
The land the army asked for originally was intended to build three watchtowers, one of which would be just outside Osarin. The other two would be near the villages of Yatma and Qabalan, who also had demands from the Israeli army to sell their land. In total the army was trying to obtain 320 dunams of important farmland, containing olive trees, other crops and grazing areas from the three villages.
The village’s decision to refuse was met with a new plan by the army to build a wall on either side of the main road (route 505), running adjacent to the village, all the way to Za’tara checkpoint. This would be roughly 10km in length and would unsurprisingly require the confiscation of land on either side of the road, which belongs to the village of Osarin. The reasoning for this intrusion into Palestinian land was allegations that boys from the village had been throwing stones onto the main road, where settlers from the illegal settlements pass by in their cars and sometimes on foot. In fact, the Israeli army used these allegations to call a meeting with four villages, one of which was Osarin, the others being Beita, Beit Furik and Madama. In this meeting the army told the representatives from the villages that unless the alleged stone throwing ceased they would make all four of the villages into closed military zones. In other words, force out the inhabitants of all four villages and make it impossible for them to return.
While the Israeli army demands that children stop throwing stones, they are also at the same time increasing attacks on the civilian population of Osarin. During these periods physical force has been used, including punching individuals with no just cause and firing live ammunition into the air to intimidate the local population. Also during these incursions, the roads are closed around the village even when ambulances need to either enter or leave the village, endangering lives in the process.
The village has attempted to go through the court system to block the Israeli authorities’ plans for the area, but has lost each court battle numerous times. This is despite the fact that the village is located in Area B (Palestine Authority and Israeli control) and therefore any seizure of land, including for the purposes of military building construction, is illegal. The area has long been an area of high activity for the Israeli military, where in November 2013 witnesses report that military training took place involving up to 1,000 Israeli soldiers. During the week-long action villagers were told to stay in at night, creating a curfew, and at times local groups of boys were used to provide training with how to deal with stone throwing.
When a local representative was asked if he felt matters had gotten worse in terms of Israeli military interference and intimidation, his answer was an unequivocal yes. The construction of the wall along either side of Route 505 has yet to begin but will most probably commence in the near future. In the meantime, arrests of children and physical violence towards the villagers continue.
Military escort misconduct exposes Palestinian children to risk on their way to and from school
At Tuwani – On April 9, children from the Palestinian villages of Tuba and Maghayir Al Abeed were attacked by settlers coming from the Israeli illegal outpost of Havat Ma’on. The children were walking to school, accompanied by the Israeli military escort that has the duty to protect them everyday on their way to and from school, as established in 2004 by the Children Rights Committee of the Knesset. During the 2013-2014 school year the misconduct this military escort has exposed the children to dangerous risks in numerous occasions.
In order to reach the school in the village of At Tuwani, the Palestinian children coming from the nearby byvillages of Tuba and Maghayir Al Abeed, aged between 6 and 17 years, usually walk through the shortest route, about 20 minutes walking, that passes between the Israeli settlement of Ma’on and the illegal outpost of Havat Ma’on (Hill 833). This route is the main road linking their villages and At Tuwani.
On the morning of April 9 at 7:40 am, two Israeli children coming from the illegal outpost of Havat Ma’on attacked the Palestinian children by trowing them stones with slingshots. Two Palestinian girls, aged 12 and 14, were hit on their legs by the stones and were injured. At the moment of the attack the Israeli soldiers were not walking with the children as they are supposed to, but were all inside the military vehicle, following behind the group of children.
Everyday international volunteers monitor the regular implementation of the IDF escort for an average number of 16 children, aged between 6 and 17 years old, coming from the villages of Tuba and Maghayir al Abeed. August 25 marked the beginning of the school year 2013-2014 and 132 days of school have been recorded so far. The escort was not present in 5 mornings and 6 afternoons, forcing the children to walk a longer and still dangerous path that takes them about one hour to reach the school. During the current school year international volunteers registered that in 30% of the cases the military escort was late (27% during the previous school year 2012-2013), causing children the loss of about 8 hours of lessons (17 in 2012-2013). In addition, in 50% of the cases (52% in 2012-2013) the military escort arrived late after school, forcing the children to wait in a dangerous place (the gathering one), close to both the settlement and the outpost, for a total time of about 12 hours (19 in 2012-2013). In contravention to the escort’s protective mandate, in 96% of the cases (i.e. 127 out of 132 recorded cases in which the escort was present) the Israeli military failed to fully complete the escort and the soldiers did not accompany the children to the end of the established path (78% in 2012-2013). Furthermore thus far in 2013-2014 school year, in 82% (37% in 2012-2013) of the cases the escort didn’t walk with the children, as established in the agreement between the Israel Civil Administration’s District Coordination Office (DCO) and the mayor of At Tuwani.
For further information on the military escort in the past years, it is available the report “The Dangerous Road to Education. Palestinian Students Suffer Under Settler Violence and Military Negligence” at: http://goo.gl/CXfi9
Operation Dove has maintained an international presence in At Tuwani and the South Hebron Hills since 2004.
For further information:
Operation Dove, 054 99 25 773
[Note: According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Hague Regulations, the International Court of Justice, and several United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements and outposts in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal. Most settlement outposts, including Havat Ma'on (Hill 833), are considered illegal also under Israeli law.]
By Steven Salaita | September 8, 2009
No people has been the recipient of more unsolicited advice than the Palestinians. The exemplars of barbarity to neoconservatives and the subjects of anguished progressive reprimands, the Palestinians often serve as a pretext for blowhards of all political affiliations to dust off their soapboxes. A particularly egregious form of sermonizing to which the Palestinians are subject is the admonition that they undertake nonviolent modes of resistance. I would like to argue that this sort of admonition is both ignorant and immoral.
I do not want to explore whether or not nonviolence is the best strategic or moral form of anti-colonial resistance. The difference between violence and nonviolence is not as trenchant as most commentators imagine. Violence and nonviolence, both amorphous terms, are in constant dialectic, and no historical example can be found of either of these approaches being effective without the other present. Undertaking nonviolent resistance is an ethical and strategic decision with which I have no quarrel. In fact, I have tremendous admiration for those who practice this method at the risk of their personal safety and in the service of national liberation.
I dislike the frequent lecturing from Western liberals to Palestinians about the merits of nonviolence, an act as misguided as it is patronizing. Michael Tomasky of The Guardian, for example, posed the following hypothetical amid Israel’s January, 2009, massacre of civilians in the Gaza Strip: “A hypothetical question for you. Suppose the Palestinian liberation movement, going way back to the founding of the PLO in 1964, had been dedicated to nonviolent struggle as opposed to armed struggle, and the Palestinians had had a Gandhi, and not an Arafat.” The Palestinians, Tomasky surmises, would have had a state over twenty years ago. His colleague Gershom Gorenberg argues that “[t]hrough violence—from airplane hijackings to suicide bombings and rocket fire—Palestinians have failed to reach political independence…. So why not adopt the strategy of nonviolent civil disobedience, the methods of Gandhi?” Gorenberg wonders, “Is that kind of radicalism imaginable in Islam?”
On CommonDreams.org, Marty Jezer explains, “Palestinian nonviolence seems a romantic fantasy, an idealistic dream. But perhaps idealism is the most realistic approach at this time; and nonviolence the solution most grounded in reality. I challenge anybody to come up with an equivalent strategy, one that assures Israelis their security and Palestinians their state.” Michael Lerner asks what he imagines to be a self-evident question: “Who are Palestine’s friends? Those who encourage a path of non-violence and abandoning [sic] the fantasy that armed struggle combined with political isolation of Israel will lead to a good outcome for Palestinians.”
It would be too time consuming to respond to all the problems in these passages, but in them we can identify some useful points of analysis. The most important point is that the Palestinians do practice nonviolence. They have done so ever since Zionists began settling their land, a process that is by its very nature violent. Today, as throughout the twentieth century, one can find ample examples of intrepid and imaginative civil resistance. I have met very few Westerners who have traveled to Palestine and didn’t return home inspired.
An interesting feature of Palestinian nonviolence is that it usually evokes a ferocious response by Israel. During the 1980s, peaceful demonstrators had their bones broken at the behest of Yitzhak Rabin. Earlier generations were deported and had their homes demolished. Today’s nonviolent activists are often shot, imprisoned, or beaten. The village of Bi’lin in the West Bank has done a weekly protest for over four years. During the course of these peaceful gatherings, the Israeli military has been utterly brutal. In April, 2009, soldiers shot and killed an unarmed demonstrator, Bassem Ibrahim Abu Rahmah. Abu Rahmah was hit in the chest with a tear-gas grenade, the same weapon that earlier in the year cracked open the skull of American demonstrator Tristan Anderson. In June, 2009, one of the leaders of the Bi’lin demonstrations, Adeeb Abu Rahme, was arrested and kept in military detention without due process. The breathless appeals by concerned Western liberals for the Palestinians to practice nonviolence are both ludicrous and immoral in light of the historical record and the invidious violence of the Israeli state.
The Palestinians have always mixed violence and nonviolence, like all anti-colonial movements. It is through a host of racist presuppositions and an inherent commitment to Zionism that American liberals imagine that somehow Palestinians are a special case, that their reliance on violence is culturally innate (Gershon Gorenberg) or that they are motivated by factors other than liberation, such as anti-Semitism and civilizational envy (Alan Dershowitz). The inability or unwillingness of so many liberal intellectuals to recognize the long tradition of Palestinian nonviolent resistance bespeaks tacit racism in addition to a hypocritical devotion to Israel’s normative and continuous state violence.
These calls for Palestinian nonviolence pretend to be ethically disinterested, but they are entangled with troublesome politics that are fundamentally destructive and undemocratic. For instance, they are often accompanied by appeals to avoid criticism of Zionism (Norman Finkelstein), to eschew effective nonviolent tactics such as boycott and divestment (Michael Lerner), and to reject counterproductive things like binationalism and right of return (Finkelstein and Lerner). In other words, the Palestinians should reject violence, and while they’re at it go ahead and give up all of their legal entitlements and decolonial aspirations.
My good friend, the philosopher Mohammed Abed, pointed out to me recently that the grueling endurance of life under military occupation—waiting hours at checkpoints, being denied medical care, having universities shut down—is itself a testament to an unusual commitment to nonviolence. I suspect that when many Western liberals urge the Palestinians (and other colonized people) to undertake nonviolence, they are using a truncated definition of the term informed by a poor or distorted understanding of the concept. In this usage, they conflate nonviolence with passivity. It is a great convenience to the liberal advocates of colonization to have a colonized population comprised of passive resistors. But colonized people are never as stupid and gullible as their liberal saviors imagine them to be.
The Palestinians, anyway, are far too evolved to listen to those who would use their courage and diligence to dispossess them of their right to active resistance. Violent or nonviolent, their choice of resistance isn’t the business of liberal armchair ethicists. Those ethicists are fond of claiming that if the Palestinians resisted nonviolently they would have already achieved their liberation. This claim is factually untrue. It is just as likely that if liberal commentators would assess their own profound support of violence they would have a lot less to say to others and more time to devote to their own failed selves.
Steven Salaita’s latest book is The Uncultured Wars: Arabs, Muslims, and the Poverty of Liberal Thought.