BETHLEHEM – A group of Christians from East Jerusalem on Sunday said that Israel’s restrictions on Palestinian mobility resulted in violations of religious freedoms.
The statement, signed “Palestinian Christian Organizations in Occupied East Jerusalem,” complained that Christians are often denied access to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre during the Easter holidays.
Each Easter, checkpoints are erected “at the Gates and in the alley, thus preventing the worshipers from free access to the Via Dolorosa, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the vicinity of the Christian Quarter.”
Israel’s restrictions on Palestinian Christians are a part of larger strategy of Judaization in Jerusalem, the statement said.
“The restrictive measures constitute grave violation on the freedom of worship, and amount to discrimination against Christians because the occupation authorities want to negate Christian presence and create the impression of a Jewish-only city.”
Both Christians and Muslims are often “unable to worship freely and to be with their families and friends” during religious holidays because of Israel’s actions, the statement went on to note.
The organizations called on Christians to make attempts to attend Easter celebrations in Jerusalem despite the countless restrictions.
In a report published in 2012, the US State Department made similar observations.
“Strict closures and curfews imposed by the Israeli government negatively affected residents’ ability to practice their religion at holy sites, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, as well as the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem,” the report said.
“The separation barrier significantly impeded Bethlehem-area Christians from reaching the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and made visits to Christian sites in Bethany (al-Eizariya) and Bethlehem difficult for Palestinian Christians who live on the Jerusalem side of the barrier.”
East Jerusalem, including the historic Old City, was occupied by Israeli forces in 1967 and later annexed in a move not recognized by the international community.
JERUSALEM – The Israel Antiquities Authority has destroyed several ancient archeological sites and antiquities as a result of a controversial dig in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem, the Al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage said Tuesday.
The authority recently began the final stage of archaeological excavations at the site, which is located in the Wadi Silweh area only 20 meters from the walls of the Old City, the foundation said in a statement on Tuesday.
As a result of the excavations, several ancient Islamic archeological sites and antiquities have been destroyed, including a cemetery that dated back to the Abbasid caliphate.
Additionally, the dig has damaged relics that date back to the Jebusite Canaanite era in the second millenium BC, the Al-Aqsa foundation alleged.
The excavations are the continuation of an Israeli project to build a biblical park in the area alongside the City of David archaeological park, and will feature a “museum of Jewish history” and a “Jewish national park.”
The excavation site measures around six dunams (1.5 acres) and runs 20 meters deep in some places.
The excavations are connected by a network of tunnels that “the Israeli occupation has been digging under and around Al-Aqsa Mosque,” the statement said, pointing out that the third-holiest site in Islam is located only 100 meters from the site itself.
The foundation said that the Ir David Foundation — commonly known as Elad — is funding the excavations as part of a plan to build a seven-story building which will serve as a Jewish cultural center.
The excavation site is located on what used to be private Palestinian land owned by the Siyam family from Silwan. The land was confiscated by Israeli authorities for the dig.
Israel frequently permits excavations and archaeological digs in East Jerusalem, specifically around the Al-Aqsa mosque and in the Silwan neighborhood, that threaten the structural integrity of Palestinian homes and holy sites in the area.
Critics charge that the digs search for ancient Jewish ruins at the expense of existing homes, and that Israeli archaeologists often ignore and even damage non-Jewish artifacts.
In 1967, Israel demolished the 800-year-old Moroccan Quarter of Jerusalem, displacing 650 Palestinians and destroying numerous mosques, homes, and holy sites, in order to build a plaza in front of the Western Wall.
Israel also evicted around 6,000 Palestinians from nearby areas in order to massively expand the city’s historical Jewish Quarter.
The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.
Published by Maagar Mohot and conducted in cooperation with the Temple Organisations, the survey showed that 45 per cent of secular Jews wanted to enter Al-Aqsa Mosque.
About 80 per cent of the national religious Jews believe that entering Al-Aqsa Mosque has to keep up with the teachings of Judaism, which stipulate carrying out religious rituals upon accessing certain places inside the mosque.
Regarding tourism visits to the mosque, the poll showed that 68 per cent of the national religious Jews want to enter Al-Aqsa as tourists, compared with 60 per cent of secular Jews and 20 per cent of Haredim.
The poll showed that 73 per cent of national religious Jews support building a Jewish temple in Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Commenting on the results of the poll, Al-Aqsa Foundation for Waqf and Islamic Heritage said that this reaffirms that all facets of Israeli society want to invade Al-Aqsa Mosque and build a Jewish Temple in its place.
The Jewish Ateret Cohanim organisation said it has bought “a very large and strategic building” situated across from the Old City in the heart of the commercial Palestinian neighbourhood in Jerusalem and it aims to change it into a religious school, Israeli newspaper Haaretz said today.
Ateret Cohanim is active in buying Arabic Palestinian properties in the old city of Jerusalem, as well as in East Jerusalem. It changes the properties, which were owned by Arabs, into Jewish facilities for the purpose of Judaising Jerusalem.
In a letter sent to the organisation affiliates by post, executive director Daniel Luria said: “The organisation bought more than 1,000 square meters in a big and strategic building located on front of the Old City, in the area between Al-Amoud and Al-Sahera Gates. It is the building of the central post office.”
Pictures of the building were attached to the letter. Built during the Jordanian control over Jerusalem, the building served as the headquarters of the central post office in Jerusalem, as well as a police station.
Luria told the members of his organisation that the building is to be used as an educational centre for religious school students.
Another message sent via e-mail on Tuesday was entitled: “Great news from Ateret Cohanim”. The letter tells the members that the organisation has bought the building of the central post office with funds from a generous donor.
The message called upon organisation members to keep the news secret until it gained control of the building during Passover, which starts on April 14.
Luria sent the message to the organisation members in the occasion of the Jewish Purim, when the Jews are called to generously give alms. The message called upon members to donate towards the building of a kitchen, bedrooms, hall and offices, as well as for furnishing the security room.
The message said: “To those who support the vision of a unified Jerusalem and to those who believe in the right of any Jew to study and live anywhere in Jerusalem, it is the time to reinforce the Jewish existence in the heart of Jerusalem.”
The message said this is the biggest seizure of an Arabic building in the Old City, which is considered the heart of the commercial centre of Jerusalem. It noted that renovation works have been carried out silently.
The building is under the Israeli Land Authority which rented it to the Israeli Post Authority.
Similar to Ateret Cohanim, the Israel Elad organisation has been carrying on Judaisation activities. It buys properties in central Arabic neighbourhoods and brings Jews to live in them.
Israeli non-governmental organisations, which fight settlement construction, said they did not know about this issue. Advocate Daniel Sigmund said: “A new settlement procession in East Jerusalem has been revealed. This puts peace talks at stake.”
Sigmund said that this settlement effort is supported by the Israeli government and it aimed at creating a new reality in Jerusalem.
Ard Kanaan News Agency | March 12, 2014
Veolia is a French company specialising in environmental work in the fields of water, recycling, energy and transportation. The company has recently had a lot of media coverage given its contribution to supporting Israeli settlements.
The company has been registered by international activists concerned with the Palestinian cause on the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) list since 2005, “due to their immoral work serving the occupation in various areas in Palestine”.
Currently it is involved in a railway project in Jerusalem that links the illegal West Bank settlements and Jerusalem which is considered one of the occupation’s main means and an important step in the context of the Judaisation of Jerusalem project and the expansion of settlements in the city. It not only transports Israelis passing through, but also facilitates access between the new Israeli settlements and the settlers as a means of easing settlements and outlining a mechanism and infrastructure for its expansion. This is considered a violation of the Geneva Accords which prohibit the occupation from transporting its citizens to occupied territories, so this is not only a clear violation of Palestinian rights, but also a violation of international agreements made in this regard.
Veolia’s activity ranges between environment workshops, water and transportation, as it works through one of its subsidiaries (T.M. M.) and Tovlan Landfill, near Jericho, as a report by Corporate Watch Research Group, specialising in monitoring the work of international companies, stated the violations made by Veolia with regards to the management of the landfill. Veolia buries the waste of 21 settlements in the landfill near the Jordanian border, this has many health and environmental “side effects” on neighbouring Arab villages such as Fasayil and Abu Al `Ajaj, leading to the displacement of the residents of the latter, the population dropping to 200 residents from thousands in 1999, the year the landfill was established.
There are also those who leave their homes during the summer only to return in winter when the smell from the landfill is not as strong. The livestock, which is the main source of income for locals, also suffered big losses.
The residents of these villages are also deprived of electricity, while the residents in settlements have electricity and water at discounted rates in order to motivate them to live in settlements. The recycling of the waste in the landfill contributes to the provision of electric energy by means of renewable energy.
Who works in the landfill? Palestinians work in the landfill and they are deprived of any labour rights, as their wages are half the minimum wages set for Israeli workers and they are deprived of work and health insurance.
The company also has shares in the bus routes, such as route 109 and 110, which provide transportation for settlers on Highway 433 in the West Bank running through the settlements. The occupation enforces apartheid/segregation rules on highway 433, as Palestinians are not allowed to use the highway.
Veolia is also involved in facilitating Israeli exclusion operations, as well as facilitating the transfer of settlement waste, transporting it to Palestinian areas and causing many long-term health and geographic problems. This has encouraged the indirect expulsion of Palestinians, all of which has contributed to the process of racial segregation in transportation in those areas.
Similarly, it has recently provided water and sanitation services to many of the Israeli occupation’s settlements in the occupied West Bank, including the Modi’in Ilit settlement located between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in the occupied Palestinian territories.
This means that three out of Veolia’s four subsidiaries – water, waste and transportation – actively work to support settlements.
Veolia’s activities are considered a flagrant violation of international law, specifically Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention which states that “Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.”
International law also prohibits Israel from using occupied land for its own benefit and, therefore, burying waste from the settlements in the occupied territories is a violation of United Nations Resolution 63/201 dated January 28, 2009, which:
“Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, not to exploit, damage, cause loss or depletion of, or endanger the natural resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan.
Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to comply strictly with its obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, with respect to the alteration of the character and status of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.
Also calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to cease the dumping of all kinds of waste materials in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan.”
In addition to violating international law, Veolia’s acts violate the resolution of the Arab summit in Khartoum, in March 2006, which provides for the following:
The condemnation of the project aiming to link West Jerusalem to the occupied West Bank through occupied East Jerusalem and the stressing of the illegality of this project. It also calls on the two French companies [Alstom and Veolia] to immediately withdraw from the project and demands punitive measures be taken against them if they don’t comply. The Arab Summit also urged the French government to take the necessary measures in this respect to honour its obligations under international law.
To top this all off, Veolia’s activity in the occupied territories contradicts the company’s declared goals and strategies which aim to “reduce the negative environmental impacts of waste” and “help raise the citizens’ standard of living.”
It is clear that Veolia selectively applies these goals, as it only aims to raise the standard of living of the settlers, at the expense of the Palestinians and in violation of international treaties and the most basic human rights.
This company’s long history of racism and the oppression of the Palestinians’ rights was enough to convince the public opinion in different parts of the world to boycott it.
The campaign to reduce the company’s activity and completely boycott it was successful in impacting its work, which has suffered due to losses estimated at more than $12 billion over the past six years in order to prevent the renewal or signing of new contracts in many countries worldwide. These include Australia, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, Ireland, Scotland and finally England. In addition to this, a coalition of boroughs in south-west London refused to bid on the tender offered by Veolia for a £1 billion waste removal deal last April. In January 2009, Veolia lost a contract worth €3.5 billion Euros to run the metro in Stockholm.
In addition to the efforts made globally to boycott this company and reduce its activity, French company Alstom, a company working in partnership with Veolia on the Jerusalem railway project, linking Jerusalem and the settlements, lost the second phase of the Saudi Haramain Railway project, which connects Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. This is in spite of the fact that the company had previously won the contract for the first phase. The value of the second phase contract is about $10 billion.
Since the end of 2008, the BDS National Committee, along with its partners, have made popular, official and media efforts in order to convince the Saudi authorities to exclude Alstom from the Haramain Railway deal due to its involvement in the Israeli occupation’s projects aiming to Judaise Jerusalem. Many letters and documents to this effect were sent to official parties in Saudi Arabia from the BDS Committee, as well as several official, popular, Palestinian, Islamic and international parties in the context of a coordinated campaign targeting this company.
Veolia in Saudi Arabia
Despite all of the information mentioned above, all the background information, business links, relations with the Israeli occupation and settlement operations, as well as its direct involvement in facilitating the expansion of settlements and the Judaisation of Jerusalem, and in spite of the boycott exercised by British and other organisations and governorates against Veolia, it has continued to operate and make outrageous profits in Saudi Arabia for years.
The company’s work in Saudi Arabia is narrowed down to the fields of water, sanitation and water desalination. It exists in Saudi Arabia through the Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies, Saudi Industries Ltd, with branches in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam. Veolia also operates in Saudi Arabia under the Sidem Saudi Ltd, one of Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies, Saudi Industries Ltd’s subsidiaries, which has branches in Jeddah, Khobar and Jubail. Sidem specialises in designing and building large desalination plants.
Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies, Saudi Industries Ltd has landed many large contracts with the Saudi government in recent years. The two contracts worth noting are the desalination plant contract with the Power and Water Utility Company for Jubail and Yanbu, signed in 2007, and the management, operation and maintenance of the water and sanitation sector deal in the Saudi capital Riyadh, signed in 2008.
In 2007, Veolia signed a contract with the Power and Water Utility Company for Jubail and Yanbu to establish one of the largest water desalination plants in the world worth $945 million. One year before signing the deal, Saudi Arabia signed the Arab Summit resolution in Khartoum.
Furthermore, Veolia has landed 62 water desalination contracts in Saudi Arabia since 2007. In 2008, Veolia signed a large contract with the National Water Company to manage, operate and maintain the water and sanitation in the Saudi capital Riyadh. Veolia expects this deal to achieve a $60 million profit.
In December 2011, Veolia signed a contract with the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals to establish research centres in the Dhahran Techno Valley.
While Alstom – Veolia’s partner in the Judaisation of Jerusalem project and the Jerusalem railway project, connecting Jerusalem to the settlements – lost the second phase of the Haramain Railway project worth about $10 billion, Veolia (in full partnership with Alstom) is signing contracts worth billions of dollars in Saudi Arabia, despite its blatant violation of international law and the rights of the Palestinians.
Veolia has been working in Israel before it entered the Saudi market, and its involvement in settlements began very early on, before it made any deals with the Saudi government.
It is both embarrassing and astonishing that Veolia’s involvement in the settlements was not taken into account when it was awarded these huge business deals in Saudi Arabia and that the vast global BDS campaign against Alstom and Veolia in 2011 did not impact Veolia’s operations in Saudi Arabia, as the company signed an agreement with the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in December of the same year.
It is also shameful that at a time when international companies and parties are taking a stance against this company for violating the most basic human rights in Palestine and its participation in the brutal Israeli occupation and settlement, the Saudi government is signing contracts with the same company in various business areas. This in a country which is supposedly a leader in the belief in Palestinian rights, as well as protecting such liberties and condemning all human rights violations during this serious Palestinian tragedy.
A company with such a shameful history of working to enhance Israeli settlements should not find a work environment that opens the doors to trading in a country like Saudi Arabia, which has a long history of supporting the Palestinian cause.
While Veolia is losing billions of dollars in contracts in Stockholm and London, it is signing a billion dollar deal in Jubail and making profits of up to $60 million dollars in Riyadh!
The least that is expected of Saudi Arabia is not to sign contracts with Veolia, to pressure the company and make it choose between carrying out its responsibilities in accordance with international law, stop supporting the settlements and violating the rights of the Palestinians or to get out of Saudi Arabia and cease all forms of business with it.
Translation by MEMO
While the danger of Al-Aqsa Mosque collapsing is very real, it is a representation of the mentality that rules Israel. (Photo: Mahfouz Abu Turk)
Something sinister is brewing around and below al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem, and it has the hallmark of a familiar Israeli campaign to strip the Mosque of its Muslim Arab identity. This time around, however, the stakes are much higher.
The status of al-Aqsa mosque is unparalleled within the context of Muslim heritage in Palestine itself. It is also the third holiest Muslim shrine anywhere. But equally as important, it is a symbol of faith, resistance and defiance. Its story of struggle and perseverance goes hand in hand with the very modern Palestinian struggle for rights, freedom and identity. Praying at al-Aqsa at times seems like an impossible feat. Many Palestinians lost life or limbs simply trying to gain access to the mosque.
In a statement released on March 7, the Palestinian Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs said Israeli forces carried out 30 attacks against Al-Aqsa Mosque and other holy sites during the month of February alone. Most of the attacks targeted Al-Aqsa itself. While the recurring violations at Al-Aqsa were led by Jewish settlers, according to the statement, they have done so under the watchful eye, protection and support of the Israeli police and army.
Most alarming about these attacks is their political context, which indicates that a great degree of coordination is underway between politicians, security forces and Jewish settlers.
In anticipation of a Palestinian backlash, on March 04, an Israeli court sentenced Islamic leader Sheikh Rade Saleh to eight months in prison for ‘incitement’. The Sheikh is the most outspoken Palestinian leader regarding the danger facing Al-Aqsa. Why silence Sheik Saleh now when the attacks against al-Aqsa are at an all time high?
It was on February 25, 1994, that US-born Jewish extremist Baruch Goldstein stormed into the Ibrahimi Mosque in the Palestinian city of al-Khalil (Hebron) and opened fire. The aim was to kill as many Arabs as he could.
At that moment, nearly 800 Muslim worshipers were kneeling down during the dawn prayer in the holiest month of the Muslim Calendar; Ramadan. He killed up to 30 people and wounded over 120. Exactly 20 years later, the Israeli army stormed al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest Muslim site, and opened fire. The timing was no accident.
Like the rest of the West Bank, Al-Khalil is facing the dual challenge of armed Jewish settlers and Israeli occupation soldiers; the latter enforcing the military occupation, while providing further protection to the settlers. The settlers, extremists from the illegal settlement of Kiryat Arba, often attack Palestinian residents of the town with complete impunity. Interestingly, many of Kiryat Arba settlers are Americans, as was Baruch Goldstein.
It was not enough that Israeli soldiers within the vicinity of the Ibrahimi Mosque allowed Goldstein – armed with a Galil rifle and other weapons – access to the mosque, but they opened fire on worshipers as they tried to flee the scene. Israeli soldiers killed 24 more and injured others. Goldstein, now a hero in the eyes of many in Israel, is often blamed solely for the massacre in al-Khalil. But in fact, it was a mutual effort between Goldstein and the Israeli army.
This symbiotic relationship between the army and settlers, which dates back to the early days of the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, continues.
While Israeli bulldozers dig into Palestinian land during the day, leveling mounds of ground and destroying olive groves for settlement expansion, heavy machinery burrows beneath the Old City of al-Quds, Jerusalem, at night. The Israelis are looking for evidence of what they believe to be ancient Jewish temples, presumably destroyed in 586BC and AD70. To fulfil “prophecy”, Jewish extremists believe that a third temple must be built. But of course, there is the inconvenient fact that on that particular spot exists one of Islam’s holiest sites: The Noble Sanctuary, or al-Haram al-Sharif. It has been an exclusively Muslim prayer site for the last 1,300 years.
The Noble Sanctuary, located in Jerusalem’s Old City, is the home of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. The site has been under constant threat, attacks, acts of arson and military violence for nearly five decades. The few Muslim clergy – belonging to the Islamic Trust which manages the area, along with the custodianship of Jordan – are mindful of the ever-lurking Israeli threat that oftentimes turns deadly. It was no surprise that late Israeli leader Ariel Sharon chose that exact place to carry out his proactive ‘tour’ of al-Aqsa compound in 2000. Many unarmed Palestinians, mostly worshipers, died on that day. Thousands more were lost in the following months and years as the entirety of the occupied territories and Palestinian towns inside Israel exploded with unprecedented fury. Sharon was later elected Prime Minister of Israel.
That same dangerous combination – rightwing politicians allied with religious zealots – is at work once more. They are eying Al-Aqsa for annexation, the same way the Israeli government is laboring to permanently annex large swathes of the occupied West Bank, to preclude any future settlement with the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas.
The Israeli Knesset (Parliament) chose the 20th anniversary of the Goldstein massacre of Palestinians in al-Khalil to begin a debate concerning the status of Al-Aqsa compound. Right-wingers – which constitute the bulk in the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – want the Israeli government to enforce its ‘sovereignty’ over the Muslim site, which is administered by Jordan per the Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty of 1994. Israeli MP Moshe Feiglin, is the man behind the move, but he is not alone. Feiglin is a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, and has strong backing within the party, the government and the Knesset.
A major backer of Feiglin’s initiative is Miri Regev, also a far-right Likud member. Regev is demanding that the government establish separate prayer times for both Jews and Muslims in Al-Aqsa Compound. The model she wishes to duplicate is no other than the Ibrahimi Mosque. “We will reach a situation where the Temple Mount will be like the Cave of the Patriarchs, days for Jews and days for Muslims,” she said.
Of course, Regev omitted the fact that 20 years ago to the day, a Jewish extremist and Israeli troops killed and wounded hundreds of Palestinians kneeling for prayer.
On the next day following the Israeli government debate, a thundering sound was heard around 3 AM in the Wadi Hilweh neighborhood of Silwan, located south of the Old City of Jerusalem. Residents heard the “sounds of heavy duty machines digging under their houses throughout the night,” Ma’an reported. Then, a large wall suddenly collapsed, while a few houses sustained damage. The Israeli underground network of tunnels is growing, as some of these tunnels connect Wadi Hilweh to the Western Wall to Al-Aqsa.
While the danger of Al-Aqsa Mosque collapsing is very real, it is a representation of the mentality that rules Israel: one of annexation and military occupation, with no regard whatsoever to Palestine’s holiest site, also revered by over 1.6 billion Muslims around the world.
- Ramzy Baroud is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story” (Pluto Press, London).
“Women shall be especially protected against any attack on their honor…or any form of indecent assault” – (Article 27 of the Geneva Convention)
Nadia didn’t have a permit and she wasn’t about to request one.
Nadia, a Palestinian resident, knew that being married to Imad, who as his father, his grandfather and his great grandfather was born in Jerusalem, isn’t reason enough for her to be able to live under the same roof with her husband in his home. She knew she doesn’t fit the “criterion” of the ‘temporary’ Citizenship Law.
Nadia and Imad also knew that according to the laws of the occupation, Nadia can’t cross Hizme Checkpoint (which is exclusively a checkpoint for owners of blue IDs). And in spite the prohibition and their fear, they decided to try driving together to Imad’s parents’ home in East Jerusalem. Perhaps they hoped the soldiers wouldn’t be sticklers, which sometimes happens at Hizme Checkpoint.
But the soldiers were sticklers and the “offenders” were caught and separated. Naida was placed inside a BP vehicle, Imad was told to move over to the seat beside the driver, a BP officer drove his car and the two vehicles headed to a military base not far from the checkpoint.
The gate to the base was closed. The officer driving Imad’s car wanted to stop but made a mistake and instead of pressing on the breaks he pressed the gas pedal. The car accelerated, it hit the gate so forcefully that the front of the car crashed and Imad sustained most of the blow. An ambulance that was sent for took Imad to the hospital, since he sustained injuries to his lungs and back.
In the meanwhile the BP officers got their stories straight in attempt to have Imad take the blame for the accident: “He (the officer driving the car) pressed the gas pedal instead of the breaks because the Palestinian (Imad) made a suspicious movement, and the driver thought he was trying to attack him”, one of them summed up the plan to incriminate Imad.
Nadia wasn’t allowed to join her husband. “An interrogation is needed” they said. I waited with her. After a while a female soldier came and took Nadia to a room (they sent me away but before leaving we exchanged our telephone numbers and promised to talk). Nadia went through a physical inspection. When it was beyond any doubt that she wasn’t carrying any explosives, the soldier got out of the room and the interrogator entered- a man dressed as a civilian that closed the door behind him. He was alone with Nadia.
When she exited the room after three hours, Nadia was a different person to the one she was when she entered it. During the three hours she spent in the room Nadia became a victim to severe verbal sexual assault. Nadia’s soul was raped.
- Years ago a woman who suffered physical and mental abuse told me while she was staying in a shelter for battered women that: “The injuries heal. The words stick with you”.
When I inquired at the military’s and the police’s various telephone centers, the two branches in charge of maintaining the rule of law, whether there were no requirements to protect a person’s right to human dignity while in the interrogation room, and particularly women’s rights against any kind of sexual assault, I stumbled upon half answers: “It’s unadvisable to interrogate someone without a third party present… yes you are right but…”. A “but” was always attached to these answers. They had also informed me that they had insufficient manpower.
I spoke to the assistant of one of the MPs who promised that the MP would place a parliamentary question before the minister of defense regarding the right to human dignity inside interrogation rooms. I haven’t heard from him since.
Nadia, who didn’t receive a permit to visit her husband in the hospital, talked with me many times during the following days. Being lonely and vulnerable she consulted with me. I explained that she could place a complaint by herself or with the assistance of various organizations, we discussed the possibility of the army’s criminal investigation division taking the word of a Palestinian woman who to them was a felon, over the word of an Israeli interrogator who was one of their own.
This was never put to the test since the complaint was never filed.
With time we lost contact. Imad was discharged from the hospital and returned to his wife. Nadia tried to rehabilitate her life.
Perhaps there are those who will say that Nadia and Imad brought it all on themselves, that they knew what was permitted and what was forbidden, that they tempted fate.
But I have so much respect for people who even after so many years of occupation and oppression, continue to search for any cracks and rupture through which they might be able to pass and overcome the laws of darkness. I see them as people who are trying to survive and guard their dignity with any means possible.
(Translated from Hebrew by Ruth Fleishman.)
- As a member of Machsomwatch, once a week Tamar Fleishman heads out to document the checkpoints between Jerusalem and Ramallah. This documentation (reports, photos and videos) can be found on the organization’s site: http://www.machsomwatch.org. The majority of the Spotlights (an opinion page) that are published on the site had been written by her. She is also a member of the Coalition of Women for Peace and volunteer in Breaking the Silence.
Housing demolitions carried out under the pretext of unlicensed construction are a common occurrence in occupied East Jerusalem. Palestinians are rarely granted permits by the Israeli authorities to build houses in the city. Apartments prices have risen drastically in Jerusalem — 120 m apartment would cost approximately $350,000. As a result, they are forced to build without a permit, which often results in the Israeli authorities issuing demolition orders on unlicensed buildings.
In 2013, 82 houses owned by Palestinians in Jerusalem were demolished, effecting 281 people. In recent years, self-demolition of houses has become common in East Jerusalem as the Palestinian owners of “unlicensed” houses are forced to choose between demolishing the houses themselves or paying the Jerusalem municipality to do so for them.
In this video Muhammad ‘Amireh speaks of his experience of having to demolish his own house.
Jerusalem – A video, captured by Rami Alarya of the Alqods Independent Media Center, showed a number of Israeli soldiers assaulting a Palestinian child, on Friday evening, February 4 2014, after shooting him by a rubber-coated metal bullet in the leg, and photographing themselves abusing him.
The soldiers assaulted the child during clashes that took place in the al-Ezariyya town, east of occupied East Jerusalem.
One of the soldiers tried to push the cameraman, Alarya, and his colleague, Amin Alawya, away from the scene, and was yelling at them, “Enough, enough…. go away… what do you want…”
Medical sources said the soldiers shot the child, Yassin al-Karaky, 13 years of age, with a rubber-coated metal bullet, which hit the 13-year old in the leg. After he fell, the soldiers began assaulting and abusing him.
The attack took place after soldiers, who hid in a building near the Annexation Wall in the Qabsa area, ambushed a group of children, and one of the soldiers opened fire on the children.
Then several soldiers attacked and assaulting the wounded child before kidnapping him.
The soldiers took pictures of themselves with the wounded child, and a soldier picked up a Molotov cocktail from the ground, while the child shouted in Hebrew, “it’s not mine, it’s not mine”, and a soldier responded, “it’s yours, it’s Ok… it’s yours”.
One of the soldiers was holding him in a choke-hold, and was mocking the child by imitating wrestling moves while other soldiers took pictures, although the child was barely able to breathe.
The soldiers then placed the child in their jeep, while one of them was still filming the incident.
Here, right to freedom of movement is relative. (Photo: Tamar Fleishman)
We usually prefer to exit Palestine using Hizme checkpoint, where unlike other exit checkpoints, there are no long lines of cars, we aren’t detained and there is no need for identification or getting out of the vehicle to open and present the content of the trunk. You merely slow down by the soldier and answer a generic question like “how is it going?” with an “OK”. Sometimes even that isn’t required, just nod your head and that’s it, you can drive on.
But it’s different for us than for those who don’t pass the test examining the visage and accent of the driver. They, Palestinians from east Jerusalem, in spite of being permanent residents who have the right for freedom of movement (unlike their brothers who reside in the West Bank), are forced to stop, park their vehicle by the soldier’s post on the side of the road, identify themselves, exit the car and open the trunk so the solider can see inside.
Their right to freedom of movement is relative and they are subjected to the mercy and whims of the men in uniform.
The individual’s story is testimony to the story of the general public. The individual in this case was A who after visiting his family intended to drive through Hizme on his way back, with him were his wife, his baby son and someone he knew that said to him: “could you do me a favor, I need to get to Jerusalem, could I ride with you?”- So he did. A didn’t give him a thorough inspection, and had no idea what color his ID was and what was his address. He was just doing someone a favor. But the soldier at the checkpoint did perform an inspection and found out that A was giving a lift to someone who wasn’t permitted to pass through a checkpoint intended only for settlers, like Hizme checkpoint.
The man was arrested and taken away.
A was told to turn his engine off and to stay in the vehicle, in addition they took his car keys.
A, his wife and their child sat and waited. But the baby, who had yet to learn that a soldier’s order must be obeyed, began crying and wailing. The minutes that passed were long and the crying only grew stronger. But they couldn’t step out of the car, they couldn’t take the baby out of his booster, and he couldn’t be cradled in his mother’s arms. A tried getting out to reason with them, but was told to: “stay in the car!” and so he got back in.
After an hour his car keys were handed back to him and his wife and child were sent back home, while A was taken to the police station. There he waited for another hour, until he was given a summons to return on the next day.
Ever since he has been going back and forth to the police station, each day he waits for his name to be called, then he is taken into a room, the piece of paper he was handed on the previous day is taken from him and in return he is given a new paper summoning him to come back on the next day.
The time, the agitation, not to mention the money- all these are of no importance and are not taken into account.
Once he dared to ask why they weren’t handling his case and a policeman said to him: “I don’t have time for you, I’ve got lots of work”- “But my case is part of your work”, replied A, but instead of an answer he got a piece of paper in exchange for the one given to him on the previous day.
Yes, he will be back tomorrow, and perhaps even on the day after that.
This is how the representatives of the authority, who have unlimited power in their hands, handle people, whose rights are conditioned by circumstances.
(Translated by Ruth Fleishman)
GAZA — Palestinian media forum (PMF) has strongly condemned the plan of American TV company (NBC) to film a drama series, in partnership with the occupation municipality, in Silwan in occupied Jerusalem.
PMF said in a statement on Thursday that NBC is preparing to produce and broadcast a drama series in the “City of David”, with the aim of strengthening the Israeli narrative about the city of Jerusalem, which would give legitimacy to Israel’s policies of apartheid, ethnic cleansing and colonization in occupied Jerusalem.
According to Israeli and American media, the NBC network is cooperating with Israeli authorities, film makers and the Keshet Media Group to produce an action series entitled DIG mainly in occupied East Jerusalem, near the Old City.
Most of the filming will take place in the so-called “City of David national park”, which is established on Palestinian property in the neighborhood of Silwan and which is operated by the Israeli settler organization El’ad and the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority.
The PMF asserted that the production of this drama series comes within the framework of the falsification of history and the Judaization of Jerusalem.
Later this month Palestinians will be celebrating an important anniversary, namely the decision by the UN General Assembly a year ago to recognise Palestine as a non-member observer state.
But not with much joy, I suspect.
Its upgraded status enables Palestine to now take part in UN debates and join bodies like the International Criminal Court (ICC). Predictably, Israel flew into a rage at the prospect and said the move pushed the peace process “backwards”, while the US said it was “unfortunate”.
So what has the Palestinian leadership done with this precious gift of empowerment from the international community?
In March this year the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, concluding four years of investigations, called for the ICC to investigate “crimes” committed by Israel in the occupied territories. The Tribunal said it would “support all initiatives from civil society and international organisations aimed at bringing Israel in front of the International Criminal Court”. Since Palestine was awarded observer status at the UN the previous November, it could file complaints on its own behalf against Israel with the Court. The tribunal also called on the ICC to recognise Palestinian jurisdiction and for an extraordinary session of the United Nations Special Committee against Apartheid, set up for South Africa, to examine the Israeli case.
Also in March the United Nations Human Rights Council said Israeli settlements in the West Bank were a “creeping form of annexation” and the international community should take steps to halt business ties with those communities. Their report claimed that Israel could be culpable for these acts before the International Criminal Court. The mission asked Israel to withdraw its settlers from the West Bank and East Jerusalem and urged the international community to comply with their obligation under international law to act.
In April senior Palestinian officials were saying that if Israel began construction in the area designated “E-1″ , a piece of land in the West Bank adjacent to Jerusalem seized by Israel in 1967, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would join the ICC and seek indictments on war crimes charges. It is believed that Israel’s administration had just given provisional permission to build some 3,300 Jewish homes on E-1.
Palestinians say that Israeli construction there would make an independent Palestinian state virtually impossible because it would cut off East Jerusalem (which is Palestinian) from the rest of the West Bank.
But why is Abbas waiting for the bulldozers to go into E-1 when there’s a long list of other examples of criminal settlement building and atrocities that Israel ought to be charged with?
In June Dr. Saeb Erekat, Palestine’s chief negotiator, was criticising the policies being pushed by Israeli PM Netanyahu “including aggressive settlement activity, home demolitions, evictions and ID revocations. This is part of Israel’s plan to destroy any possibility for a Palestinian State, by annexing and changing the status quo of Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley and other vast areas of the Occupied State of Palestine”.
The Israeli government, with its destructive policies, was determined to make US Secretary Kerry’s efforts fail, he said. Israel’s actions made it clear they were declaring the end of the two-state solution. The international community should be pushing Israel to implement previous agreements and adhere to international law instead of calling for a resumption of negotiations. “There is a new urgency to face reality and finally hold Israel accountable for destroying the prospects of justice and peace.”
Israel was turning up its aggression against the Palestinian people while we were trying to reach a negotiated solution, grumbled Erekat. “After the announcement to intensify negotiations made by US Secretary John Kerry, Israel destroyed the village of Khirbet Makhoul for the fourth time and approved further settlement expansion aimed at sealing Occupied East Jerusalem from Ramallah.”
Palestinian leadership shows no sign of starting the justice ball rolling
“Our position is clear and in line with international law: all Israeli settlements in Palestine are illegal… and undermine the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution. If Israel is serious about peace, they must cease all settlement activities.” Erekat again demanded action by the rest of the world “to make Israel pay the price for its institutionalized defiance of international law and UN resolutions”.
But there was still no sign of his own people – the Palestinian Authority and the PLO – taking action on their own account, or at least starting the ball rolling, even though the international community had given them the wherewithall to do so.
Now I hear that Israel is drilling into 3.5 billion barrels of oil reserves straddling the armistice ‘green line’, most of it lying under the West Bank. According to official agreements, says Al-Jazeera, “Israel is obligated to coordinate any exploration for natural resources in shared territory with the Palestinian Authority, and reach agreements on how to divide the benefits.”
Ashraf Khatib, an official at the Palestinian Authority’s negotiations support unit, described the oil field as part of Israel’s “general theft of Palestinian national resources… the occupation is not just about settlements and land confiscation. Israel is also massively profiting from exploiting our resources. There’s lots of money in it for Israel, which is why the occupation has become so prolonged.”
And, of course, the world knows how the Palestinians are prevented from benefiting from their offshore gas field and how, if Israel has its way, they’ll never get a sniff of their own gas either.
‘Life in Palestine is subject to the rule of the jungle’
Since the beginning of the Oslo process over 20 years ago, the rights of the Palestinian people have been sacrificed on the altar of so-called political progress, the glittering prize being ‘peace and security’. But that was never really on the cards. All we’ve seen is a continuous slide downhill for the Palestinians while the Israelis’ colonisation and expansion programme goes from strength to strength. “In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the expansion of settlements continues relentlessly, while the illegal Annexation Wall creates a situation that is completely at odds with both international law and the stated goals of the peace process,” says Shawan Jabarin in an excellent article Time for the ICC to act on Palestine.
“Life in Palestine is subject to the rule of the jungle: generals and politicians know that they can violate the law with impunity, fuelling a continuous cycle of violations and suffering. The result has been an increase in war crimes committed against innocent civilians. Throughout Palestine we are struggling for the right to live, and the right to live in dignity.”
Talking of the right to live in dignity, only today I was reading how some of the Palestinian villages are used by Israel for military training exercises in which soldiers enjoy virtual impunity with regard to their cruel behavior in the Occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, the pretext being that the Israeli military is the sovereign authority over the whole territory. “This edict contradicts international law and numerous United Nations resolutions that question the Israeli claim to sovereignty over all Palestinian land,” reports IMEMC .
The Israeli military frequently invades Palestinian towns and villages, with soldiers running through streets and alleys with loaded automatic weapons, ransacking homes and terrorizing residents, for the purposes of ‘training’. Residents and the human rights groups representing them have provided numerous examples of the soldiers tearing through homes and yards, breaking into houses, running up and down stairs and taking over rooftops of family homes as part of these exercises.
It’s bad enough that villages experience actual Israeli military invasions on a regular basis. Now, since the military makes no attempt to differentiate between an invasion and a ‘training exercise’, the villagers are just as terrorized as they are during real raids.
Wasting that all-important empowerment on a dumb promise
International justice remains out of reach for millions of civilians because the corrupt US, UK and EU political establishments conspire to ‘persuade’ Palestine not to join the ICC or press war crimes charges and other complaints against racist Israel. The Office of the Prosecutor at the ICC, meanwhile, is waiting for Palestine to ratify the Statute of the International Criminal Court and become a full member if it wishes to commence proceedings.
To pretend there is something wrong with pursuing a brutal oppressor for war crimes through the proper channels – that is, the ICC – while talking peace, is absurd. No peace is sustainable unless it’s underpinned by international law and justice.
So a week ago I sent a ‘press enquiry’ to the Palestinian Embassy in London, addressed to Ambassador Hassassian. It said:
“What is the PA/PLO doing, please, to regularise its position regarding the ICC statute and satisfy any remaining requirements for exercising its membership rights and bringing charges against Israel for its crimes?
“What still remains to be done and why the continuing delay after the international community cleared the way and unpgraded Palestine’s status?”
No reply, no acknowledgement, despite follow-up phone messages. Silence speaks volumes and is par for the course when dealing with Palestinian officials.
However, I’ve heard it said that Abbas promised Kerry not to seek justice through the ICC during the nine months or more the going-nowhere peace talks will be… well, going nowhere. That takes us by my reckoning to May next year, or beyond. And he gave the undertaking without wringing from the Israelis a corresponding promise to halt settlement planning, construction and enlargement.
Welcome to the Palestinian School of Appeasement.