Israel’s Office of the Prime Minister on Tuesday summoned the owners and top editors of country’s media establishments to forbid them from publishing reports on a prisoner who had been secretly jailed in 2010.
Haaretz reported that the office called an “emergency meeting” with the Israeli Editors Committee where they were reportedly ordered to “withhold publication of information pertaining to an incident that is very embarrassing to a certain government agency.”
The order comes in response to a new investigative report by Australia’s ABC TV news program Foreign Correspondent which alleges to have revealed the identity of a former inmate in Israel’s Ayalon Prison who was found dead in his cell in 2010.
The secret inmate, known as “Prisoner X,” was reportedly kept in a cell built for the man who assassinated former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Haaretz had earlier posted, then quickly removed a story linking to the Australian report, presumably under government orders.
At 12:38pm, the newspaper Tweeted the story, which was titled: “Report: Security prisoner who committed suicide in Israeli prison in 2010 was Australian.” Less than two hours later a user pointed out that the story had vanished.
No details had previously been released about the prisoner’s identity or reasons behind his incarceration.
The ABC report, which came out Tuesday, identified the man as Ben Zygier, an Australian citizen who had been living in Israel for 10 years before his death.
The report said it had found evidence to suggest that Zygier had been recruited by Israel’s Mossad spy agency, but that it remained unclear why he was being secretly held.
An Israeli court order – issued shortly after his imprisonment in 2010 – that barred media from covering the story remains in effect, the report added.
The prisoner was found hanging from his cell after being held for several months in an apparent suicide.
Media scholars have written on Israel’s tight media restrictions over issues it claims may compromise the security of the Jewish state.
On Sunday, January 20, 2013, the “progressive” Israeli newspaper Haaretz published a short editorial titled “‘Judaization’ is racism”.
Before you get your hopes up, let me tell you that the editorial is a criticism of Shimon Gapso, the Jewish mayor of Upper Nazareth, a community intended to diminish the Arab character of Nazareth, the largest Palestinian Arab city inside what most of the world recognizes as Israel.
Founded in 1957, Upper Nazareth was given priority for development and expansion as part of a campaign by Yitzhak Rabin. The impetus was a trip that Rabin made to the Galilee in 1975. At one point he found himself in the Carmel valley. Looking around, he saw nothing but Palestinian farms and villages. “Am I in Israel or in Syria?” he uttered, whereupon he lent his weight to the mission to “judaize the Galilee”. Upper Nazareth is one of the Jewish communities that became an important of that mission. It was intended to limit the growth of Nazareth and ultimately marginalize or displace it.
Ironically, however, the “Jewish character” of Upper Nazareth is itself being compromised, as Palestinians from Nazareth find that there is no longer enough room in the older city to accommodate their growing population. In response, the mayor of Upper Nazareth has tried to make the city as unfriendly as possible to its non-Jewish residents, including opposition to Arabic language schools in the town and a much-publicized ban on Christmas trees. (Most of the Palestinians in Upper Nazareth are Christian.) The Haaretz editorial is a criticism of the “benighted racist position that sees the presence of Arabs in the Galilee or anywhere else as a national threat.”
Nice words, but is not the entire Zionist project one of “judaization”? Is that not how its founders conceived it? Is not Israel itself the product of “judaization”? What is different about Upper Nazareth? What about the expulsion of the Bedouin in the Naqab (“Negev”)? Is the confiscation and demolition of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem not merely an extension of the ethnic cleansing of 1948? How are the orders to evacuate and obliterate eight villages in the hills south of al-Khalil (“Hebron”) not consistent with the aims of Zionism?
If Haaretz wishes to oppose judaization, why not start with the judaization of 1948? Let them insist upon inviting all Palestinians back to their homes. Let them demand elimination of an immigration policy that is for Jews only. Let them call upon the Custodian for Absentee Property – who is responsible for the more than 80% of Israel that was confiscated from Palestinians in 1948 – to welcome the absentees back and return their property to them, with payment for damages and compensation for 65 years of unauthorized usage. Let them oppose a policy of separate states for Arabs and Jews (forgetting that many are both or neither).
Judaization is just another word for Zionism. And yes, it’s racism.
- The Terror Lurking in a Christmas Tree (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israeli mayor: expel Palestinian citizens of “hostile” Nazareth to Gaza for opposing war (altahrir.wordpress.com)
The Israeli daily Ha’aretz reported that the military signed a document disallowing the three year old lawsuit filed by Mohammed Shamasna, but the military will pay 10,000 NIS to cover three years of legal fees.
Shamasna was shot in November of 2007 and had to undergo several operations and a lengthy rehabilitation process.
According to Israeli military regulations, if an Israeli officer finds that someone is injured during a necessary military operation, the wounded person cannot make a claim for damages. However Shamasna’s lawyer Laviv Habib stated that he believed that the order was signed simply to block the case from going forward since it took more than three years to declare that it was a military operation.
Coverage of this incident in Ha’aretz favored the view that the Israeli military was being generous in providing money for legal fees. Questions about the need for military accountability for the shooting of civilians during a military operation were not raised. Nor was the thought that someone who was shot would have incurred medical fees in addition some loss of livelihood given it would be difficult to maintain work as a shepherd following this type of incident.
- Israeli Mayor to Demolish UN Humanitarian Agency Emergency Shelter (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- New Regulation Bars Palestinians and Immigrants from Using Israeli Courts (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israeli troops steal 1000 goats from southern Lebanon (alethonews.wordpress.com)
An Israeli journalist who drew on leaked army documents to report the deliberate assassinations of Palestinian leaders was convicted on Thursday, but spared jail time in a plea bargain.
Uri Blau of Haaretz newspaper will do four months community service after confessing to reduced charges of possessing classified information without authorization but “with no intent to harm national security,” Israel’s State Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
Prosecutors had earlier stated Blau could face more serious espionage charges. That provoked protests from journalists who argued Israel’s reputation for media freedom was at stake.
Blau reported in 2008 that top army officers in the occupied West Bank had given shoot-to-kill orders to troops chasing Palestinian gunmen.
The front-page story was based on documents given to Blau by former army conscript Anat Kamm, who had downloaded them, and hundreds of others, from her computer while a clerk with the military’s high command.
Kamm was jailed for four and a half years in October under a separate plea bargain.
Human rights groups have criticized Israel’s policy of assassinating Palestinian leaders since the early days of a Palestinian uprising in 2000.
Haaretz said charging Blau was “unfortunate and sets a precedent in terms of its ramifications on the freedom of press in Israel, and especially on the ability to cover the security apparatus.” Other Israeli journalists echoed the condemnation.
Blau’s plea bargain is subject to formal approval by Tel Aviv District Court.
A recent Reporters Without Borders study ranked Israel 92nd out of 179 countries in terms of press freedom, behind countries such as Congo, Kenya and Serbia.
- Israeli Government to Prosecute Uri Blau for Espionage (richardsilverstein.com)
TEL AVIV, Israel — Three Israeli policemen were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of beating and stealing from Palestinian workers in Jerusalem, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.
A police representative told an Israeli court on Thursday that Uziel Hanun, Osama al-Sahly and Reuven Dhokerker regularly used threats to escort Palestinian workers into alleys in the Old City.
“Those who didn’t have money were beaten and sent home, those who did were also beaten, and their money stolen,” the court was told.
Hanun, al-Sahly and Dhokerker were arrested Wednesday after being caught “in the act,” Haaretz reported.
Police officials believe the robberies were systematic, the report said.
The police officers allegedly attacked a worker from Ramallah and took his wages. He then had to ask for money to get home, the police representative told the court.
The newspaper stated in a report that Israel intensified its construction restrictions on the Palestinian citizens in the villages and towns of the West Bank and seeks to prevent them from building through creating criminal files against them.
It said the civil administration increased the issuance of severe penalties against the Palestinians in all villages and towns located within Area C under Israel’s control.
Its report underlined that the civil administration was active recently in the demolition of many Palestinian homes and structures including schools in Al-Khalil city at the pretext of unlicensed construction.
The report pointed to the UN office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs’ recent report which condemned Israel’s restrictions on construction permits for Palestinians and its demolition of their homes while encouraging settlement construction.
- Homes Destroyed, Lives Shattered: Criminal Displacement in Occupied Palestine (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israeli occupation authorities demolish well near Hebron (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- IDF closes Palestinian school to make way for West Bank training zone (theuglytruth.wordpress.com)
- Center: Israel orders demolition of electricity company (altahrir.wordpress.com)
Tel Aviv University has imposed policies and procedures intended to restrict those Arab students who wish to organise Nakba commemorative events on campus. Palestinians remember the Nakba (Catastrophe) on 15th May every year, the date on which the state of Israel was created on their land.
According to a report in Haaretz newspaper, the presidency of the university has told the organisers of Nakba Day activities to provide the necessary funding for hiring at least six security guards from the university’s own security company to maintain control and order. The university wants to prevent any disturbances or riots during the ceremony scheduled for next week.
The event organisers must provide the required sum of money two days ahead of the proposed date of the programme, failing which it will be cancelled. The university has also banned the use of flags, banners and loud PA systems even though the Nakba Day commemoration has been approved by the students’ council, considered widely to be the first time such permission has been granted.
The organisers of the ceremony told Haaretz that the purpose behind the event is to introduce to non-Arab students the facts about the disaster that befell the Palestinians in 1948. In doing so, they also hope to influence Israeli public opinion and remind all citizens of the loss and human tragedy experienced by the Palestinians as a result of the Israeli occupation of their land.
RAMALLAH – Head of the Palestinian Prisoners Society Qadura Fares said Saturday that Israeli media reports on the interrogation of Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi failed to prove he confessed to any charge.
Israeli daily Haaretz on Friday reported that records of the leader’s questioning by Israeli internal security service Shin Bet show Barghouti giving partial confessions of his awareness of attacks on Israelis, and late President Yasser Arafat’s tacit acceptance of attacks.
Barghouthi — a revered political figure and former presidential candidate — was convicted by Israel of five counts of murder in 2004, but refused to present a defense, saying the trial was illegitimate.
Fares on Sunday questioned the timing and content of the Haaretz report, ten years after the interrogation took place.
“The Israeli security services, which failed to make Barghouthi give any confessions during four months of interrogation using the ugliest ways of psychological and physical torture, come today with false claims and baseless lies,” Fares said.
“If there were such confessions, the Israelis would have disseminated them at that time, and they would have used them for political gains,” he added.
“I challenge any Israeli service to show any document or paper of any kind signed by Marwan Barghouthi.”
- Marwan Barghouti: A Decade of Defiance (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- What Marwan Barghouti Really Means to Palestinians (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- 1,600 Palestinian prisoners begin open-ended hunger strike in Israeli jails (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Israel decided on Monday to cut contact with the United Nations Human Rights Council after last week’s decision to establish an international investigative committee on the settlements that the occupation is building in the West Bank, Haaretz reported Monday.
According to the Zionist website, “the Israeli foreign ministry ordered the Israeli ambassador to Geneva to cut off contact immediately, instructing him to ignore phone calls from the commissioner.”
Quoting an un-named official, Haaretz pointed out that this step would enable the Zionist entity to “bar any fact-finding team dispatched by the council from entering Israel and the West Bank to investigate settlement construction.”
“We will not permit members of the human rights council to visit Israel and our ambassador has been instructed to not even answer phone calls,” the official said.
- Israel excitedly rejects cooperation with UN over settlements (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israel seeks to punish PA over UN human rights probe (altahrir.wordpress.com)
- United Nations Orders First Probe Of Israeli Settlements (altahrir.wordpress.com)
A recent decision to prevent the recording of security interrogation means a return to the norms of the witch trials.
The Israeli government recently made permanent a temporary order – in force for 11 years – that permits the police to avoid documenting security interrogations, Haaretz has reported (Hebrew). Regular criminal interrogations are taped; that will not be the case in matters of suspected security violations. We can safely assume that once the police are allowed not to tape an interrogation, they will not tape it. It saves resources, for starters.
The government’s decision creates a practical distinction between the rights of criminal suspects and security suspects. Criminal suspects have the right to demand, if they are prosecuted, their recorded interrogation which, theoretically, can allow them to prove their confession was forced, or that the description given by the police of what happened in the interrogation room is incorrect. It is a theoretical right because no Israeli court has ever found that such a suspect was tortured – except in very few cases, and almost always after the victims had already been jailed for quite some time.
Security suspects have no such rights. Actually, there will be no independent documentation of their interrogations. The courts will have to take the police’s word for what happened in the interrogation room. This will make it much harder for the accused to prove they were tortured. The problematic history of the police forces prompts a clear conclusion: we will soon have a secret police, whether formal or informal, composed of interrogators whose specialty will be torture.
This has several implications. First, torture leads to more false convictions. It is their function: the torturer is not looking for the truth, he is trying to extract a confession and close the file, and he is indifferent to the question of whether the broken person before him (and breaking a person is what torture is intended to do) is guilty or not. The point of torture, noted Orwell, is torture.
Secondly, such units attract sadists. That the torturer suffers more than the tortured is a myth told to sooth those of anxious conscience. Those sadists will then move on to other positions in the system, taking their unique work ethic with them. Thirdly, the use of torture degenerates the interrogator’s mind. He gets used to thinking that some pain and humiliation will obtain the desired result, and forgets how a true interrogation ought to be carried out. Should one need an example of this process, it is readily available in the abysmal record of the ISA (aka Shin Bet) in fighting Jewish terrorism. If torture is not an option, they can’t get the job done.
Fourth, and most worrying, is the fact that such units tend to expand their activities. The excuse of “public safety” is very wide indeed. After the ISA was denied the right to torture except in the case of “ticking bombs,” there was a dramatic increase in the number of interrogations designated as such – even though the public was never supplied with a full and open description of a single ticking bomb case.
The police – which have for years served as an ISA auxiliary force, with a police interrogator writing down the confession extracted by the ISA officer from a Palestinian detainee as if it was given of his free will – now claims that taping such interrogations may expose “investigative methods.” That’s true. That, however, is also true in the case of criminal investigations. This is the price of the rule of law: it allows the suspect/accused the right to defend himself against the government, and that means that, from time to time, interrogations tricks are exhausted. That’s life. Deal with it. … Full article
- Shabak tortures and ill-treats Palestinian detainees with impunity (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Military court approves illegal interrogation of a minor (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israel developed over 100 torture methods against Palestinian prisoners (altahrir.wordpress.com)
- IDF Torturer Wants to Sodomize Arabs and Get Medal for It (disclose.tv)