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.
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.
Salfit, Occupied Palestine – Two educational institutions were attacked with tear gas and stun grenades by the Israeli army yesterday morning in Salfit. At least ten female students required medical attention after suffering from excessive tear gas inhalation.
At 12:30 yesterday afternoon, Salfit’s female elementary school was empty. Only a few staff remained, attempting to clean the walls after Israeli soldiers threw tear gas and stun grenades in an attack earlier in the morning. According to the headmistress of the school, the attack took place at approximately 9:30 am. At this time, the classrooms were full of female students between the ages of six and 12-years-old. The soldiers shot the tear gas from the street and it landed in the playground, school corridors and on the roof, with the tear gas itself drifting into the classrooms.
Staff from the school reported that ten young students required medical attention on site; two of them temporarily lost consciousness due to the inhalation of tear gas. When the headmistress was reassured that the Israeli army had left Salfit, at approximately 11:30 am, she began evacuating the girls. Both the school psychologist and headmistress agree that the girls were in shock, many of them crying when the attack began and after were afraid of leaving the school by themselves. The girls were planning for tomorrows’ Childrens’ Day celebration, which has been delayed until next Thursday because of the attack. The school psychologist expects that at least half of the students will not attend the following day after this experience from the Israeli army.
A female secondary school is located just meters away from the elementary school. Fortunately, no one was injured in that institution despite some exposure to the gas, but it did eventually close early as a precaution.
Witnesses reported that Israeli forces have also harassed neighbours to the school who photographed the attack. That is the case with Ahmed Zubuydi, aged 21. He was working in a nearby shop when a military jeep stopped in front of him and interrogated him for 20 minutes. He was asked to show his ID and was thoroughly searched. The commander of the Israeli soldiers began asking personal questions, such as where Ahmed worked, where he studied, and where he spends the money he earns. Ahmed reports that this is not the first time he has been interrogated by the Israeli army.
The headmistress of the girl’s elementary school reported that this is the second time this year that this sort of attack has occurred, with the first taking place in January. The school fears that these attacks may become systematic and will therefore seek training from the Fire Department to help cope with future incidents.
- Salfit’s rich agriculture threatened by factory development and settlers’ sewage (palsolidarity.org)
- PHOTOS | Israelis scrawl ‘Death to Arabs’ in Salfit (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
- Soldiers Invade Salfit (imemc.org)
BETHLEHEM – Video emerged on Sunday of the moment an Israeli sniper shot a Palestinian cameraman in the stomach while he was covering a protest at Ofer prison on Friday.
Israeli security forces shot and injured Mohammed Basman Yasin, a volunteer cameraman for the Israeli human rights organization B’tselem, while he was filming a protest in the West Bank city of Beitunia, according to Israeli website +972.
The video, which could not be independently verified, appears to show Palestinian protesters sitting on the road when Israel forces arrive and begin firing tear gas canisters at them.
At times, protesters are seen throwing rocks at Israeli forces, although in other scenes activists can be seen walking towards an ambulance when Israeli forces open fire without warning in their direction.
At 5:30, meanwhile, two activists can be seen throwing rocks at the heavily-armed Israeli soldiers, when the video cuts to a scene showing Yasin, who is at the back of a large crowd watching the scene, being shot in the stomach.
Israeli forces caused severe damage to his internal organs, and according to B’tselem, doctors have said they may be forced to remove his liver and kidneys.
Yasin is currently hospitalized in Ramallah.
The clashes took place near the Israeli Ofer prison, located in the occupied West Bank, in protest against the Israeli government’s refusal to release a fourth group of veteran Palestinian prisoners it had previously agreed to release as part of ongoing US-sponsored negotiations with the PLO.
13 were reported injured during the clashes, including seven with live bullets.
An Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma’an that Israeli forces fired at “rioters” who threw rocks and burning tires at security forces, “lightly injuring” five.
Ramallah, Occupied Palestine – This afternoon approximately 500 Palestinian, international and Israeli demonstrators gathered close to Ofer Prison in Ramallah to protest against the refusal of the Israeli state to release the fourth group of Palestinian prisoners. As part of the current round of talks between Fatah (the Palestinian government of the West Bank) and the Israeli government, a series of prisoner releases was promised by the state of Israel, and the fourth was due to be carried out by the end of March, the Israeli government has now refused to honor the final release.
The demonstration began at approximately 12pm, the protests’ aim was to march towards Ofer prison itself, but due to the large number of Israeli forces present, this was not possible. The demonstrators also twice attempted a prayer at the start of the protest, but were unable to due to the high level of aggression from Israeli forces.
As the demonstration was beginning a 53-year-old Palestinian was shot at several times through the window of his car as he was driving away from Israeli forces. One of these rubber-coated steel bullets struck him in the head. The rubber-coated steel bullet broke several bones around his eye, a piece of the bullet was unable to be immediately removed and so he required surgery.
The level of violence escalated from this point as Palestinian youth threw stones at the Israeli military, while they (the military) fired hundreds of tear gas canisters, rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition, injuring many demonstrators. At several points during the demonstration, Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters directly at protesters, both highly dangerous and in contravention to Israeli military procedure, which is shooting them up into an arch to lower the impacted velocity.
A full list of all those injured is currently not available, however at least 10 people were transferred by ambulance to a local hospital in Ramallah to seek medical treatment for their injuries and Red Crescent medics at the demonstration treated many others for varying wounds.
Below is a list of specific injuries that were confirmed both at the demonstration and from ISM activists at the local Ramallah hospital:
- A 21-year-old Palestinian activist was injured after being shot from extremely close range with a sponge-tipped projectile in the back.
- Two ISM activists were also both shot from extremely close range with sponge-tipped projectiles in their backs.
- A 20-year-old Palestinian was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the head.
- A 48-year-old Palestinian journalist was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the left shoulder.
- A Palestinian activist was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the foot.
- A 20-year-old Palestinian was shot with two .22 live ammunition bullets in his foot and in his knee.
- A 30-year-old Palestinian was shot with .22 live ammunition in his right hand.
- Another Palestinian was shot with .22 live ammunition in his left foot; the bullet was unable to be removed.
- 36-years-old Palestinian was shot with two .22 live ammunition bullets, both in his left foot.
- A 31-year-old Palestinian was shot in the left leg with .22 live ammunition.
- A 36-year-old Palestinian was shot with .22 live ammunition in the left foot.
- Mohammed Yasin, a photojournalist from Bi’lin who was wearing a press vest, was shot in his face with a rubber-coated steel bullet and also shot in his stomach with a .22 live ammunition bullet. He remains in hospital in serious condition, as the bullet may have destroyed parts of his liver.
An ISMer who was present at Ofer had this to say: “The Israeli forces present were really violent today. It was impossible to count the amount of tear gas canisters, rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition fired; it felt constant for several hours. It became clear many times during the protest that the soldiers were specifically aiming at people, they weren’t trying to ‘end’ the demo, they just wanted to injure as many people as possible. I just don’t understand how people can defend the Israeli state and its military when they use this much violence against unarmed protesters.”
Photo by ISM
- PCHR Weekly Report: 3 Palestinians Killed, 34 Wounded by Israeli Troops (imemc.org)
- Week of protests cross the west bank in solidarity with Gaza (nilin-village.org)
An Israeli minister threatened on Wednesday to annex further territory in the occupied West Bank in retaliation for renewed Palestinian action to join United Nations agencies and international treaties.
“If they are now threatening (to go to UN institutions), they must know something simple: they will pay a heavy price,” Tourism Minister Uzi Landau told public radio.
Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday said he had begun steps to join several UN agencies, abandoning a pledge to freeze such action for the duration of peace talks – which end in just four weeks.
Abbas announced a request to join “15 UN agencies and international treaties.”
“The demands (for membership) will be sent immediately” to the relevant agencies, he said.
The documents Abbas signed, officials said, included the Geneva Conventions – the key text of international law on the conduct of war and occupation.
Palestinians hope it will give them a stronger basis to appeal to the International Criminal Court and eventually lodge formal complaints against Israel for its continued occupation of lands seized in the 1967 war that they want for their state.
“This is not a move against America, or any other party – it is our right, and we agreed to suspend it for nine months,” Abbas said of the decision.
Hamas, the Gaza Strip’s ruling party, welcomed the move by Abbas,
The Palestinians had repeatedly warned that they could resume their action through international courts and the UN over Israel’s settlement expansion on occupied territory in the West Bank and in annexed east Jerusalem.
“One of the possible measures will be Israel applying sovereignty over areas which will clearly be part of the State of Israel in any future solution,” said Landau, a member of the hardline Yisrael Beitenu faction.
Landau’s remarks were referring to areas of the West Bank populated by Jewish settlers which Israel hopes to retain in any future peace deal.
Israeli settlements are illegal under international law.
An Israeli government official, who would not be named, said Abbas’s announcement had thrown everything up in the air.
“Is this Israel’s partner? Is this a partner for peace?” he asked.
“Everything has changed now, is there even a deal now? We don’t know,” he said, referring to the proposal which was being discussed with Kerry.
Israel could also hurt the Palestinians economically by acting “to block financial aid to them,” the minister added.
Abbas made his announcement just hours after Israel reissued tenders for hundreds of settler homes in east Jerusalem, as Washington was working around the clock to resolve a major dispute over Palestinian prisoners.
Israeli NGO Ir Amim described the tenders as “a poke in the eye of both the Palestinians and the Americans,” army radio said.
And Hagit Ofran, from Israeli’s Peace Now NGO, accused the housing ministry of “trying to forcefully undermine the peace process… and John Kerry’s efforts to promote it.”
Israel refused to free a fourth and final group of 26 veteran Palestinian prisoners on Saturday, which would have completed an agreement that had brought the sides back to the table.
On Monday, the Palestinian Authority gave Kerry a 24-hour deadline to come up with a solution to the prisoner row, warning that failure to do so would see them turning to UN bodies to press their claims for statehood.
“America must compel Israel now to follow through on its agreement to release the fourth group of prisoners. We will be watching these efforts and hope they don’t fail,” Palestinian Prisoners Affairs Minister Issa Qaraqe said.
“But our position is clear: we want the release of the fourth group according to the agreement, and without that we won’t accept any other obligations or conditions,” he said.
The standoff came soon after US Secretary of State John Kerry left Israel on Tuesday after a lightning visit.
He had been due to fly back to the region on Wednesday for talks in Ramallah with Abbas but he cancelled his visit following the Palestinian leader’s announcement, while attempting to remain optimistic.
“It is completely premature tonight to draw… any final judgement about today’s events and where things are,” he said in Brussels.
“My team is on the ground meeting with the parties even tonight,” he said. “We urge both parties to show restraint.”
US efforts have been focused recently on getting the parties to agree an extension to the end of the year.
A US proposal to continue talks was to include a limited “freeze” on settlement construction, with Israel adopting “a policy of restraint with (West Bank) government tenders” but would not include annexed east Jerusalem.
Sources close to the negotiations had said Washington was also mulling a proposal to free Jonathan Pollard, who was arrested in Washington in 1985 and sentenced to life in prison for spying on America on Israel’s behalf.
But White House Jay Carney said before the Tuesday afternoon developments that President Barack Obama had not made any decision on Pollard.
Separately, a spokesman for the US Justice Department said Pollard had waived his right to attend a meeting of a parole board that could have re-examined his ongoing detention.
(AFP, Reuters, Al-Akhbar)
By Stuart Littlewood | September 15, 2009
“The Israel Project”, a US media advocacy group, has produced a revised training manual to help the worldwide Zionist movement win the propaganda war, keep their ill-gotten territorial gains and persuade international audiences to accept that their crimes are necessary and conform to “shared values” between Israel and the civilized West.
It’s a clever document.
The manual teaches how to justify the slaughter, the ethnic cleansing, the land-grabbing, the cruelty and the blatant disregard for international law and UN resolutions, and make it all smell sweeter with a liberal squirt of the aerosol of persuasive language. It is designed to hoodwink us ignorant and gullible Americans and Europeans into believing that we actually share values with the racist regime in Israel and that its abominable behaviour is therefore deserving of our support.
Israel is hoping for a public relations massacre. The other side – the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization – don’t take communications seriously and have neglected to correct Israeli distortion. They are happy, it seems, for Israel’s one-sided definitions to prevail, which of course makes the task for Israel so much easier. This latest propaganda offensive is potentially the “coup de grace” to finish off the tormented Palestinians. See it here.
And the manual will no doubt serve as a communications primer for the army of cyber-scribblers that Israel’s Ministry of Dirty Tricks is recruiting to spread Zionism’s poison across the internet.
This quote at the beginning sets the tone: “Remember, it’s not what you say that counts. It’s what people hear.”
Top priority: demonize Hamas
The manual’s numerous messages are aimed at the mass of “persuadables”, primarily in America but also in the UK. The strategy from the start is to isolate the democratically-elected Hamas and to rob the resistance movement and the Palestinian population of their human rights.
- “Clearly differentiate between the Palestinian people and Hamas. There is an immediate and clear distinction between the empathy Americans feel for the Palestinians and the scorn they direct at Palestinian leadership. Hamas is a terrorist organization – Americans get that already. But if it sounds like you are attacking the Palestinian people (even though they elected Hamas) rather than their leadership, you will lose public support. Right now, many Americans sympathize with the plight of the Palestinians, and that sympathy will increase if you fail to differentiate the people from their leaders.”
The plight of the Palestinians under Israel’s heel was an international concern long before Hamas appeared on the scene.
But this is familiar ground. We scorned George Bush and Tony Blair and had to differentiate between them and their respective peoples. We now have to do the same with Barack Obama and Gordon Brown. We are tired of having to make that same differentiation between the Israeli people and the dreadful leaders they produce.
- “ISRAEL’S RIGHT TO DEFENSIBLE BORDERS: With more than three years of violent history since Israel’s agreement to withdraw from Gaza and portions of the West Bank [sic], Americans have had time to take stock of the situation and form opinions. The big picture: they believe that Hamas’s leadership of Gaza has made Israel and the region less safe, while some are more receptive to what they perceive as a moderate approach in the West Bank by Mahmoud Abbas. Based on these experiences, they are willing to grant Israel more leeway in resisting calls to give more land for more peace.”
Here we clearly see the motive for demonizing Hamas – Israel wants more leeway to continue its land-grabs and other criminal activities.
- “If… If… If… Then”: Put the burden on Hamas to make the first move for peace by using If’s (and don’t forget to finish with a hard then to show Israel is a willing peace partner). “If Hamas reforms… If Hamas recognize our right to exist… If Hamas renounces terrorism… If Hamas supports international peace agreements… then we are willing to make peace today.”
How one-sided and daft can you get? Substitute Israel for Hamas.
Words that work
The manual sets out numerous examples of “words that work” – supposedly.
- “We know that the Palestinians deserve leaders who will care about the well being of their people, and who do not simply take hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance from America and Europe, put them in Swiss bank accounts, and use them to support terror instead of peace.”
No mention here of the billions of tax dollars Israel takes from the US and spends on munitions to obliterate and vaporize its neighbours.
- “Peace can only be made with adversaries who want to make peace with you. Terrorist organizations like Iran-backed Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad are, by definition, opposed to peaceful co-existence, and determined to prevent reconciliation. I ask you, how do you negotiate with those who want you dead?”
Hamas and Hezbollah are only regarded as terrorists by the White House and Tel Aviv and by US-Israeli stooges and flag-wavers in Westminster and elsewhere.
In Executive Order 13224 – “BLOCKING PROPERTY AND PROHIBITING TRANSACTIONS WITH PERSONS WHO COMMIT, THREATEN TO COMMIT, OR SUPPORT TERRORISM” – Bush used this definition: “The term “terrorism” means an activity that –
(i) involves a violent act or an act dangerous to human life, property, or infrastructure; and
(ii) appears to be intended —
(A) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(B) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(C) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, kidnapping, or hostage-taking.”
It describes the antics of the US and Israel perfectly.
- “There is NEVER, EVER, any justification for the deliberate slaughter of innocent women and children. NEVER… there is one fundamental principle that all peoples from all parts of the globe will agree on: civilized people do not target innocent women and children for death.”
Quite so. Where does that leave Israel, which recently killed 320 children in Gaza and 773 civilians, including 109 women? From 2000 (the start of the second Intifada – the Palestinian urising against the Israeli occupation) up to the end of last year Israel had slaughtered 4,936 Palestinians in their homeland, including 952 children, according to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem. In the same period Palestinians killed 490 Israelis in Israel including only 84 children. So, Israel’s kill-rate is at least 10 to 1, and rising since the blitzkrieg on Gaza.
Iran-backed or US-backed – take your pick
- “Use humility. ‘I know that in trying to defend its children and citizens from terrorists that Israel has accidentally hurt innocent people. I know it, and I’m sorry for it. But what can Israel do to defend itself? If America had given up land for peace – and that land had been used for launching rockets at America, what would America do? Israel was attacked with thousands of rockets from Iran-backed Palestinian terrorists in Gaza. What should Israel have done to protect her children?’”
Palestinians too have a right to defend themselves. Hamas was the popular choice of Palestinians at the last election and is entitled under international law to take up arms against an illegal occupier and invader. If it is supported by Iran, so what? Israel is extravagantly funded and supplied by the US. Here’s part of their begging-bowl “Military Aid Speech”:
- “Israel makes the request for military assistance out of self-defense. As a democracy, they have the right and the responsibility to protect our borders. As a democracy, they have the right and the responsibility to protect their citizens.
- “Israel does not ask for US troops to protect itself. It does not ask for a single American soldier to protect its borders. It only asks for the funds for them to protect themselves. They need the equipment so that their own troops can ensure the safety of their civilian population through this gathering conflict with the enemies of democracy.
- “They didn’t ask to have our nation built in range of Iranian missiles. They didn’t ask that their nation be a focal point for religious extremists who have declared war on the West and on democracy.
- “But they are, and they need your help.”
And here’s the rationale behind it:
- “Americans fundamentally believe that a democracy has a right to protect its people and its borders. And while Americans don’t want to increase foreign aid in a time of significant budgetary deficits and painful spending cuts, there is one and only one argument that will work for Israel (in four easy steps):
(1) As a democracy, Israel has the right and the responsibility to defend its borders and protect its people.
(2) Terrorist groups, including Iran-backed Hezbollah and Hamas, continue to pose a direct threat to Israeli security and have repeatedly taken innocent Israeli lives.
(3) Israel is America’s one and only true ally in the region. In these particularly unstable and dangerous times, Israel should not be forced to go it alone.
(4) With America’s financial assistance, Israel can defend its borders, protect its people, and provide invaluable assistance to the American effort against the war against terrorism.”
It’s evident that Americans don’t believe in democracy enough to allow Palestinian democracy to flourish.
- “When the terror ends, Israel will no longer need to have challenging checkpoints to inspect goods and people. When the terror ends we will no longer need a security fence.”
There are no rockets coming out of the West Bank, so why is the security fence still there – and still being built? Why are the occupation troops still there? Why are hundreds of checkpoints still there? Why is Israel still stealing land, demolishing Palestinian homes and building settlements there?
- “Remind people – again and again – that Israel wants peace.
Reason One: If Americans see no hope for peace – if they only see a continuation of a 2,000-year-long episode of “Family Feud” – Americans will not want their government to spend tax dollars or their president’s clout on helping Israel.
Reason Two: The speaker that is perceived as being most for PEACE will win the debate. Every time someone makes the plea for peace, the reaction is positive. If you want to regain the public relations advantage, peace should be at the core of whatever message you wish to convey.”
Israel has never met its peace agreement obligations. It doesn’t want peace – every action is directed at keeping the conflict going until the Israelis have stolen enough land and established enough ‘facts on the ground’ – Jews-only settlements, highways, disconnected Palestinian bantustans – to enable them to redraw the map to suit their expansionist agenda and make the occupation PERMANENT.
Gaza in a vice
- “Israel made painful sacrifices and took a risk to give peace a chance. They voluntarily removed over 9,000 settlers from Gaza and parts of the West Bank, abandoning homes, schools, businesses and places of worship in the hopes of renewing the peace process. Despite making an overture for peace by withdrawing from Gaza, Israel continues to face terrorist attacks, including rocket attacks and drive-by shootings of innocent Israelis. Israel knows that for a lasting peace, they must be free from terrorism and live with defensible borders.”
Israel never left. It still occupies Gazan airspace, coastal waters and airwaves, and controls all borders except Rafah where it nevertheless exerts a veto. Israel has Gaza in a vice, which is crushing the tiny enclave’s economy, starving its 1.5 million citizens and creating a huge humanitarian crisis in an attempt to bring the elected government to its knees.
- “Draw direct parallels between Israel and America – including the need to defend against terrorism… The more you focus on the similarities between Israel and America, the more likely you are to win the support of those who are neutral. Indeed, Israel is an important American ally in the war against terrorism, and faces many of the same challenges as America in protecting their citizens.”
Note how Israel’s strategy is almost totally dependent on the false idea that they are victims of terror and Western nations need to huddle together with Israel for mutual protection. Fortunately, level-headed people are beginning to realize who the terrorists really are.
It must be blindingly obvious by now that allowing parallels to be drawn between Israel and America only serves to increase the world’s hatred of America. US citizens need to wake up to this, and British citizens should avoid falling into the same trap.
Inject with “core values” and repeat over and over again…
- “The language of Israel is the language of America: ‘democracy’, ‘freedom’, ‘security’, and ‘peace’. These four words are at the core of the American political, economic, social and cultural systems, and they should be repeated as often as possible because they resonate with virtually every American.”
If so fluent in this language, why doesn’t Israel acknowledge its neighbours’ rights to democracy, freedom, security and peace and end their military oppression?
- “A simple rule of thumb is that once you get to the point of repeating the same message over and over again so many times that you think you might get sick – that is just about the time the public will wake up and say ‘Hey – this person just might be saying something interesting to me!’ But don’t confuse messages with facts…”
Never let facts get in the way of a good message!
- “How can the current Palestinian leadership honestly say it will pursue peace when previous leaders rejected an offer to create a Palestinian state just a few short years ago and now refuse to live up to their responsibilities as outlined in the Road Map?”
This must be a reference to Ehud Barak’s so-called “generous offer”, another of the myths Israelis love to peddle. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip, seized by Israel in 1967 and occupied ever since, comprise just 22 per cent of pre-partition Palestine. When the Palestinians signed the Oslo Agreement in 1993 they agreed to accept the 22 per cent and to recognize Israel within “Green Line” borders (i.e. the 1949 armistice line established after the Arab-Israeli war). Conceding 78 per cent of the land that was originally theirs was an astonishing compromise on the part of the Palestinians.
But it wasn’t enough for greedy Barak. His “generous offer” required the inclusion of 69 Israeli settlements within the 22 per cent remnant. It was plain to see on the map that these settlement blocs created impossible borders and already severely disrupted Palestinian life in the West Bank. Barak also demanded the Palestinian territories be placed under “temporary Israeli control”, meaning Israeli military and administrative control indefinitely. The “generous offer” also gave Israel control over all the border crossings of the new Palestinian state. What nation in the world would accept that? The unacceptable reality of Barak’s offer, contained in the map, was hidden by propaganda spin.
Later, at Taba, Barak produced a revised map but withdrew it after his election defeat. Don’t take my word for it – the facts are well documented and explained by organizations such as Israel’s Gush Shalom.
- “Why is the world so silent about the written, vocal, stated aims of Hamas?”
And why is the world so silent about the written, stated aims of the racist regime and its political parties? Read their manifestos.
- “Successful communications is not about being able to recite every fact from the long history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is about pointing out a few core principles of shared values – such as democracy and freedom – and repeating them over and over again… You need to start with empathy for both sides, remind your audience that Israel wants peace and then repeat the messages of democracy, freedom, and peace over and over again… we need to repeat the message, on average, 10 times to be effective.”
Is democracy a shared value? Israel is an ethnocracy not a democracy. Is freedom a shared value? The world is still waiting for Israel to allow the Palestinians their freedom.
- “The situation in the Middle East may be complicated, but all parties should adopt a simple approach: peace first, political boundaries second.”
Renounce resistance while still under Israel’s jackboot? The correct approach is for the international community to insist first that Israel complies with international law and the many UN resolutions it has contemptuously ignored. The boundaries are already defined. Whatever issues remain to be decided, Palestinians should not have to negotiate under occupation or duress.
Rockets, bombs and atrocities: the language of peace
- “Bottom line: What will happen if we fail to get the world to care about the fact that Israeli parents in southern Israel need to literally dodge rockets when they drive their children to kindergarten in the morning? What will happen if the world allows Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, to get nuclear weapons? What will Israel do if bad press causes American citizens to ask [their] government to turn its back on Israel? Why do I care so much about the success of your communications efforts? I care because I never want our children to live through what my family and yours lived through in the Holocaust.”
Only one in 500 makeshift Qassam rockets causes a fatality, small beer compared to the devastation and carnage resulting from Israel’s state-of-the-art rocketry targeted on Gaza. How does it look when Palestinians are forced to pay the price for the Holocaust? And how much does Israel care about the Palestinian holocaust it has caused?
The manual then gives a long glossary of terms. Here’s a sample:
- “Deliberately firing rockets into civilian communities”: Combine terrorist motive with civilian visuals and you have the perfect illustration of what Israel faced in Gaza and Lebanon. Especially with regard to rocket attacks but useful for any kind of terrorist attack, deliberate is the right word to use to call out the intent behind the attacks. This is far more powerful than describing the attacks as “random”.
Israelis know all about bombarding civilian targets. And they are careful not to mention that Sderot, until recently the only Israeli township within range of Gazan rockets, is built on the ruins of an ethnically cleansed Palestinian village whose inhabitants were forced from their homes by Jewish terrorists.
- “Economic Diplomacy”: This is a much more embracing and popular term than the current lexicon of “sanctions”. It has appeal across the political spectrum: the tough economic approach appeals to Republicans, and the diplomacy component satisfies Democrats.
We can all play this game. Israel is now beginning to suffer “economic diplomacy” in the form of worldwide boycotts.
- “Economic Prosperity”: Whenever Israel talks about the “economic prosperity” of the Palestinians, it puts Israel in the most positive light possible. After all, who can disagree?
What sort of prosperity is it when nothing can be imported or exported without Israel’s approval and fisherman can’t even put to sea in their own waters without having their boats shot up by the Israeli navy?
- “Human to Human”: “We know that the average Palestinian and the average Israeli want to come together and make peace. They want to live in peace. Israeli leaders have come together with Arab leaders to make peace in the past. But how do you make peace with Hamas and Hezbollah?”
Simple. You get off their land and stay off. There can be no peace under occupation. You have to be very stupid not to understand that.
- “Humanize Rockets”: Paint a vivid picture of what life is like in Israeli communities that are vulnerable to attack. Yes, cite the number of rocket attacks that have occurred. But immediately follow that up with what it is like to make the nightly trek to the bomb shelter.
Would Israel care to tell the world how many bombs, rockets and shells (including the illegal and prohibited variety) its US-supplied F-16s, tanks, armed drones and navy gunboats have poured into the densely-packed humanity that is Gaza?
Still more advice…
- “Living together, side by side”. This is the best way to describe the ultimate vision of a two-state solution without using the phrase.
Sounds cute but is worn out. Who would want to live alongside bigots and extremists who have made your life a misery for 61 years?
- “When talking about a Palestinian partner, it is essential to distinguish between Hamas and everyone else. Only the most anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian American expects Israel to negotiate with Hamas, so you have to be clear that you are seeking a ‘moderate Palestinian partner’.”
Where are the moderate Israeli partners?
- “The fight is over IDEOLOGY – not land; terror, not territory. Thus, you must avoid using Israel’s religious claims to land as a reason why Israel should not give up land. Such claims only make Israel look extremist to people who are not religious Christians or Jews.”
If the fight isn’t about land, why did Israel steal it at gunpoint? And why won’t they give it back when told to by the UN?
- “Think PRO-PALESTINIAN. While I have spoken about Israeli casualties, I want to recognize those Palestinians that have been killed or wounded, because they are suffering as well. I particularly want to reach out to Palestinian mothers who have lost their children. No parent should have to bury their child.”
Israel won’t even allow cement into Gaza to build the graves.
- “And so I say to my Palestinian colleagues … you can stop the bloodshed. You can stop the suicide bombings and rocket attacks. If you really want to, you can put an end to this cycle of violence. If you won’t do it for our children, do it for your children.”
Effective Israeli sound bite. Speechless.
- “I want to see a future where the Palestinians govern themselves. Israel does not want to govern a single Palestinian. Not one. We want them to govern themselves. We want them to have complete self-determination.”
Is that why Israel tried to snuff out Palestine’s democracy – and the people’s right to self-determination – immediately after the 2006 elections?
- “The big picture approach is this: You must isolate Hamas as:
– A critical cause of the delay in achieving a two-state solution
– The biggest source of harm to the Palestinian people, and
– The reason why Israel must defend its people from living in terror.
Read from the Hamas Charter. Now, here’s how to attack Hamas: indict them with their own indoctrination materials. Yes, people know Hamas is a terrorist organization – but they don’t know just how terrifying Hamas can be. The absolute best way to heighten their awareness is to read from the Hamas Charter itself. Don’t just “quote” from it. Read it. Out loud. Again and again. Hand it out to everyone.”
At last Israel makes a good point. After three years of “government” Hamas must be mad to persist with its ill-advised charter. They have been severely tested. They have matured. They have earned credibility in many eyes. Israel’s behaviour makes Hamas look good. But all that will count for nothing if they don’t rewrite their charter as a matter of urgency.
Regev’s pearls of wisdom. But how safe is the region under the threat of Israel’s nukes?
- “It’s not just Israel who refuses to speak to Hamas. It’s the whole international community… Most of the democratic world refuses to have a relationship with Hamas because Hamas has refused to meet the most minimal benchmarks of international behaviour.” – Mark Regev
Isn’t that a little cheeky, Mr Regev, coming from a regime widely condemned for war crimes, piracy and mega-lawlessness?
- “It was the former UN secretary-general, Kofi Anan, that put four benchmarks on the table. And he said, speaking for the international community…
That if Hamas reforms itself …
If Hamas recognizes my country’s right to live in freedom…
If Hamas renounces terrorism against innocent civilians…
If Hamas supports international agreements that are being signed and agreed to concerning the peace process… then the door is open. But unfortunately – tragically – Hamas has failed to meet even one of those four benchmarks. And that’s why today Hamas is isolated internationally. Even the United Nations refuses to speak to Hamas. – Mark Regev
Which of those benchmarks has Israel met, Mr Regev?
- “Israel is very concerned about the Iranian nuclear programme. And for good reason. Iran’s president openly talks about wiping Israel off the map. We see them racing ahead on nuclear enrichment so they can have enough fissile material to build a bomb. We see them working on their ballistic missiles. We only saw, last week, shooting a rocket to launch a so-called satellite into outer space and so forth. The Iranian nuclear programme is a threat, not just to my country, but to the entire region. And it’s incumbent upon us all to do what needs to be done to keep from proliferating.” – Mark Regev
Why is Israel the only state in the region not to have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Mr Regev? Are we all supposed to believe that Israel’s 200 (or is it 400?) nuclear warheads pose no threat? Would you also like to comment on why Israel hasn’t signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, and why it has signed but not ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, similarly the Chemical Weapons Convention? What proof do you have of Iran’s nuclear weapons plans?
And why do you persist in misquoting Mr Ahmadinejad?
The Holy City is not up for grabs
- “The toughest issue to communicate will be the final resolution of Jerusalem. Americans overwhelmingly want Israel to be in charge of the religious holy sites and are frankly afraid of the consequences should Israel turn over control to the Palestinians. Consider:
– 71 per cent of Americans trust Israel most to protect the holy sites in Jerusalem, compared to 6.1 per cent who trust the Palestinian authority most. 8.5 per cent per cent trust neither.
– 54 per cent of Americans believe that ‘Jerusalem must remain united under Israeli sovereignty’ while just 23.9 per cent believe that ‘Jerusalem should be divided into Israeli controlled and Palestinian controlled areas’.
Given the choice between the two, Americans of all political and demographic stripes trust Israel to protect and have sovereignty over Jerusalem.”
Israel is in control right now and prevents Muslims and Christians from outside the city visiting the holy places. No way can Israel be trusted. The UN’s partition plan decreed that Jerusalem should become a ”corpus separatum” under international management. It is unlikely that the UN would wish to see its resolutions torn up or international law rewritten for Israel’s sole benefit, regardless of America’s misinformed opinion.
Get the name-calling right
I’ll close with the following extract:
- “Many on the left see an ‘Israel vs. Palestinian’ crisis where Israel is Goliath and the Palestinians are David. It is critical that they understand that this is an Arab-Israeli crisis and that the force undermining peace is Iran and their proxies Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. You must not call Hamas just Hamas. Call them what they are: Iran-backed Hamas. Indeed, when they know that Iran is behind Hamas and Hezbollah, they are much more supportive of Israel.”
By the same token we must call the racist regime what it is – US-backed Israel.
Iran’s support for Hamas is difficult to quantify and probably less than we think. More funding has probably come from Sunni Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In any case, it is peanuts compared to America’s support for Israel.
Hamas is an offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and was founded in 1987 during the first Intifada. Hezbollah came into being in 1982 in response to US-backed Israel’s invasion of Lebanon. So, the territorial ambitions of US-backed Israel provoked the rise of both. Israel’s problem is entirely self-inflicted and shouldn’t concern the rest of us.
Hamas’s election manifesto in 2006 called for maintaining the armed struggle against US-backed Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, which seems a perfectly valid aim.
Our obligation to respect and promote human rights
The Israel Project’s training manual is an unpleasant piece of work. It runs to 116 pages and I have only scratched the surface. It recycles many of the discredited techniques used by the advertising industry before standards of honesty, decency and truthfulness were brought in to protect the public.
And it serves to undermine with clever words the inalienable rights pledged by the UN and the world’s civilized nations to all peoples, including the Palestinians.
When you have to stoop this low you simply don’t have a case.
The Palestinian side urgently needs to strip away the deception and re-frame the Holy Land situation in truthful language. And it needs to debunk this Zionist handbook. If the PA and the PLO won’t do it, who will?
Everyone should bear in mind the following, written nearly 61 years ago:
“Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.”
It would seem that Israel has not read or understood the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which all nations signed up to. Attempts to wipe out the rights of people who happen to be in the way of the Zionist vision of a “Greater Israel” deserve no support whatever.
Attempt by settlers to begin construction of walking path on Tel Rumeida. The blue fence is on the
On 24 March 2014, settlers attempted to begin construction of a walking path outside the fenced “archaeological” dig near the Abu Haikal home on Tel Rumeida. The settlers pounded in metal stakes in an area just below the fence erected by Israelis around what was once the orchard of the Abu Haikal family, and is now an archaeological site to which Palestinians, including Palestinian archaeological experts, are denied access. The stakes are a first step in an apparent attempt to link the settlement of Tel Rumeida to the fenced area of the archaeological dig.
Palestinians living in the building adjacent to the land on which the settlers were trespassing called the police, who ordered the settlers to stop. However, the following day, 25 March, soldiers arrived at the home of the Abu Haikal family and threatened them with arrest.
Feryal Abu Haikal had just finished hosting a group of neighbors, along with the Palestinian Liaison Officer and an officer from the Hebron Governor’s office, when soldiers arrived at her home and began to dispute the ownership of some of the land on Tel Rumeida, showing her a map that contained false information. The soldiers told Feryal Abu Haikal that no visitors are allowed on the land surrounding her home, and threatened to arrest and deport any internationals there, including members of the Abu Haikal family.
For background on the settler archaeological dig on Tel Rumeida click here
To see a map of multiple land-grab efforts by settlers in Hebron click here.
This week the UN celebrated World Water Day - a day to remember the billion people who are unable to meet their needs for safe, clean water due to drought, poverty and official neglect.
But it’s also a day to remember, and fight for, 2.1 million Palestinians who suffer something different – an artificial water scarcity deliberately created and sustained by Israel’s military occupation, and the private Israeli water company Mekorot.
Increased international pressure brings hope that the tide may be finally turning for Palestinians striving for water justice in the West Bank and Gaza – in particular, recent investment and partnership decisions against Mekarot, which runs Israel’s discriminatory water policy in the West Bank.
Waterless in Gaza and East Jerusalem
The situation in Gaza is especially dire. The tiny, densely populated territory relies entirely on its depleted, saltwater-contaminated and sewage-polluted aquifer, and the water it produces is unfit for consumption. Water has to be bought, expensively, in bottles or from mobile tanks.
Moreover restrictions on fuel imports mean that Gaza’s single power station spends most of its time idle – and so long as it’s not running water and sewage cannot be pumped. So the taps are dry, toilets are blocked, and sewage pollution gets worse.
Not that Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem have it a lot better. As reported on 17th March, the city suffered a long water cut beginning on 4th March leaving Ras Shehada, Ras Khamis, Dahyat A’salam and the Shuafat refugee camp – cut off from the rest of the city by the separation wall – with no running water.
The reason is simple – old and inadequate water infrastructure, which there are no plans to improve or renew.
Oslo II Accords – the Palestinians were shafted
For West Bank as a whole the facts speak for themselves. The Oslo II Accords dealt Palestinians a singularly poor hand - limiting the volume of water it could produce, as well as imposing severe restrictions on the development and maintenance of Palestinian water infrastructure.
The Accords allow Palestinians to abstract only 118 million cubic meters (mcm) per year from boreholes, wells, springs and precipitation in the West Bank. But Israel is allowed to take four times as much – 483 mcm per year – from the same Palestinian resources.
So not only does Israel now occupy 80% of the area of historic Palestine, but it – via the water company Mekarot – also takes 80% of the water resources from the 20% of the land that is left to the Palestinians.
Sold down the river
But it gets worse. Oslo II’s draconian restrictions on water development imposed by Israel mean that Palestinians can only actually abstract 87 mcm in the West Bank, of the 118 mcm they are allowed.
The acute water deficit is made up by the supply of piped water from Israel. Mekarot currently sells the Palestinian Water Authority some 60 mcm per year – at full price.
As reported by Amira Hass in Ha’aretz, “in that agreement Israel imposed a scandalously uneven, humiliating and infuriating division of the water resources”.
While Palestinian water is piped into Israel at no cost, a fraction of it is then piped back again, and paid for. In this way Israel is extracting from Palestinians both their water, and their money.
In some cases Palestinians are forced to pay ten times more for their water than the price in Tel Aviv – as in the village of Sussia on South Mount Hebron, where they have to drive to the nearby town to buy over-priced water (see photo), even though a water main passes directly through the village on its way to an Israeli settlement.
Water plenty, and water famine
According to the UN Human Rights Council, this all translates into a wide disparity between water use by Palestinians and by settlers in the West Bank. Settlers enjoy 400 litres per capita per day (l/c/d) while some Palestinians survive on a little as 10 l/c/d.
All Palestinian populations receive water volumes far below the level recommended by the World Health Organization of 100 – 250 l/c/d. According to the UNHRC:
“Settlements benefit from enough water to run farms and orchards, and for swimming pools and spas, while Palestinians often struggle to access the minimum water requirements.
“Some settlements consume around 400 l/c/d, whereas Palestinian consumption is 73 l/c/d, and as little as 10-20 l/c/d for Bedouin communities which depend on expensive and low quality tanker water.”
These very low levels of water provision fail to meet the water needs of many Palestinian communities – leaving them with often contaminated water, and not enough of it.
While Palestinian water use may just exceed 70 l/c/d in the relatively well served urban centers of the West Bank, it drops much lower in rural areas that have no access to piped water and depend on wells and rainwater collection.
An estimated 113,000 Palestinians in the West Bank have no piped water supply, while hundreds of thousands more have only intermittent supply, especially in the summer.
The restrictions and limitations imposed on Palestinians to access their own resources and develop them have exacerbated the already severe water shortages among Palestinian communities.
Among the restrictions are limits on the size of supply pipe, intended to limit flows as a form of rationing. Typically 30% of the water leaks from Palestinian supply pipes – because Israel refuses to allow their renewal
In ‘Area C’, which covers 60% of the area of the West Bank, Palestinian farmers and communities are not allowed to connect to the water network that serves the growing settlements – and are forbidden even to dig out cisterns.
The international community considers the establishment of Israeli settlements in the Israeli-occupied territories illegal under international law, as set out in the report of the fact finding mission of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Yet the construction of new illegal Israeli settlements and ‘outposts’, and the expansion of existing ones, is proceeding apace – and further reducing the quantity of water allocated to Palestinians.
Your water or your life
As reported by the UN in March 2012, another threat arises from settlers seizing springs by force: “Palestinians have increasingly lost access to water sources in the West Bank as a result of the takeover of springs by Israeli settlers, who have used threats, intimidation and fences to ensure control of water points close to the settlements.”
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) examined 60 springs on Palestinian land close to Israeli settlements. They found that:
“In 22 of the water sources, Palestinians have been deterred from accessing the springs by acts of intimidation, threats and violence perpetrated by Israeli settlers, while in the eight springs under full settler control, Palestinian access has been prevented by physical obstacles, including the fencing of the spring area, and its ‘de facto annexation’ to the settlement.”
Violence and destruction may also come directly from the occupation authorities. “Destruction of water infrastructure, including rainwater cisterns, by Israeli authorities has increased since the beginning of 2010; double in 2012 compared to 2011.
“The denial of water is used to trigger displacement, particularly in areas slated for settlement expansion, especially since these communities are mostly farmers and herders who depend on water for their livelihoods.
“A number of testimonies highlighted that the cutting off from water resources often precedes dispossession of lands for new settlement projects.”
Mekorot – at the heart of Israel’s water apartheid
All Israeli settlements in the West Bank are connected to piped water supplied by Israeli water company Mekorot, which took over responsibility for the water resources of the West Bank from the occupying forces in 1982.
Thus it Mekarot which is both the on-the-ground enforcer, and the economic beneficiary, of the West Bank’s ‘water apartheid’.
As the UN Human Rights Council reports: “In the Jordan Valley, deep water drillings by the Israeli national water company Mekorot and the agro-industrial company Mehadrin have caused Palestinian wells and springs to dry up. Eighty per cent of the total water resources drilled in the area is consumed by Israel and the settlements.”
“The lack of availability of Palestinian water resources has led to chronic shortages among Palestinian communities in Area C and a dependence on Mekorot … Mekorot supplies almost half the water consumed by Palestinian communities.
The UNHRC also reported that Palestinians do not have access to the cheaper ‘recycled water’ available to Israeli settlements, and have to buy more expensive drinking water even for irrigation purposes.
This injustice and inequity of access to water supply has always been a source of tension, especially when Palestinian villagers see water pipes leading to Israeli colonies passing through their land without supplying their village with water – as reported above at Sussia.
“The Mission heard of situations where villagers must travel several kilometres to get water when closer water resources serve neighbouring settlements”, reported UNHRC.
And even when they do get water, they receive second class treatment. “In the event of a water shortage, valves supplying Palestinian communities are turned off; this does not happen for settlements.
‘Week of Action Against Mekorot’
Mekorot violates international law and colludes in resource grabbing -including pillaging water resources in Palestine. It supplies this pillaged water to illegal Israeli settlements, and engages in systematic discrimination and denial of water to the Palestinian population.
For this reason Palestinian organizations including PENGON / Friends of the Earth Palestine have co-organised a ‘Stop Mekorot‘ week of action starting today, on World Water Day.
The campaign aims to intensify pressure on governments and companies to boycott Mekorot and hold the company accountable for its discriminatory water policies and practices in Palestine.
On March 20, the environmental federation Friends of the Earth International announced its support for the campaign against the discriminatory practices of Mekorot – joining the global call on governments, public and private utility companies and investors worldwide to avoid or terminate all contracts and cooperation agreements with Mekorot.
In December 2013 the largest drinking water supplier in the Netherlands, Vitens, set a precedent when it decided that its commitment to international law meant it had to withdraw from a cooperation agreement with Mekorot. According to the company:
“Vitens attaches great importance to integrity and adhering to international laws and regulations. Following consultation with stakeholders, the company came to the realization that it is extremely difficult to continue joint work on projects, as they cannot be separated from the political environment.”
Mekorot suffered another blow this week when authorities in Buenos Aires, Argentina, suspended a proposed $170m water treatment plant deal.
The decision followed a campaign by local trade unions and human rights groups which highlighted Mekorot’s role in Israel’s theft of Palestinian water resources – and raised the prospect that Mekorot might export its discriminatory water policies to Argentina.
Palestinians must have their rightful share of available resources and be granted full authority to manage them properly. Equitable and wise use of available resources among all people is the only basis for lasting peace in the region.
And until then the deliberate, systematic, purposeful water discrimination and resource theft carried out in Occupied Palestine by the Occupation and Mekorot must be recognised for what they are – crimes against humanity. The perpetrators must be punished accordingly.
Jerusalem, Palestine – The chronic tyranny brought by the Israeli occupation has had a devastating effect on the well being of the Palestinian community. But one of the worst effects is the internalization of oppression and the undermining of Palestinian’s collective self-concept. I have observed that since the 2006 elections in Palestine—which were followed by an arrest of the elected parliamentarians and an international boycott of the elected government—the vigorous spirit of the Palestinian community that had previously evolved during long years of resistance has finally been reduced to a state of demoralization.The undermining of this election represented an additional bitter blow after the more subtle impact of the Oslo Accords, which had been originally promoted as part of the Palestinian liberation project. However, reports published on the Accord’s 20th anniversary showed that during this period the number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank had doubled and the area controlled by settlements had expanded to 42 % of Palestinian land; furthermore, a system of restrictions on Palestinian movement and trade had continued its division of Palestinian families and its decimation of the economy. Not to mention the infamous collaboration between Palestinian and Israeli security forces that has secured for Israelis a profitable trade and tourism through bed and breakfast hotels overlooking the magnificent hills of the West Bank, dismantled resistance, and incarcerated more Palestinians in prisons.
Over years of occupation, young Palestinians saw their fathers dragged from homes by Israeli soldiers, humiliated at checkpoints, and rendered unable to provide for their families’ safety and basic needs. In reaction to their feelings of shame, such vulnerable children came to identify with the oppressor through oppressing weaker members of their community and developing self-loathing. A Palestinian Jerusalemite told me, “On holidays I don’t go to Eilat because it will be full of Arabs!” The efforts of some Palestinians to assimilate and identify with Israelis are truly pathetic. Some Palestinians shop for their clothing in Israeli boutiques, dress their hair in Israeli salons, and drive while listening to loud music in Hebrew. I have observed more than one Palestinian patient suffering a relapse of manic illness who spoke to me in Hebrew as an expression of grandiosity. Meanwhile, the reality of job opportunities in the West Bank is dismal and work conditions are miserable, so that many laborers are eager to work for Israelis even if they must work in settlements or participate in projects such as building the separation wall. These workers are often treated by Israelis as sub-human: a few months ago Ahsan Abu-Srur, a 54 year old unauthorized Palestinian construction worker from Askar refugee camp, was seriously injured while doing renovation work in Tel Aviv. Realizing that he was critically injured, the Israeli contractor and two of his workers dragged the man to the sidewalk opposite the workplace and left him there to die.
The experience of oppression undermines the internal cohesion of the oppressed and creates among them a state of polarization, in which they often direct their rage at others who are similarly victimized. Oppression makes people selfish and greedy, prone to infighting and competition over scarce resources—the scraps of opportunities left over from the oppressor. Oppressed people readily become resentful and envious of one another, creating an ambiance of mutual distrust.
The sense of inferiority resulting from internalized oppression sets into motion a vicious cycle. We are treated as inferior—and in the absence of resistance, resilience and self-defense, we internalize the assumption of our own inferiority. Thus we come to believe that we are less capable and less worthy than others. These feelings are then projected onto our perceptions of one another and enacted in our treatment of one another. In this way, Palestinians come to distrust and devalue their own educational and medical systems; there is a spiteful oppression of women, a contemptuous attitude towards persons of a lower socioeconomic class, and an exclusionary and intolerant attitude towards political opposition—just a few manifestations of our internalized oppression.
Nowadays, there is a widespread, corrupt system of influence and cronyism in Palestine such that most people are employees of the government. As a consequence, our agriculture is suffering, small independent businesses are crushed, and only the enterprises of a tiny minority, closely allied to the government can flourish. Young people are trapped in a cycle of consumerism, with new apartments, cars, and big loans from banks requiring a relentless lifetime of repayment. The result is decreased social involvement and productivity and rising rates of crime, addiction and diminished wellbeing. Pervasive inadequacy throughout our institutions, nepotism, false representation and mistreatment and torture of Palestinians by fellow Palestinians are just a few of the symptoms of the general degradation of our community.
Community leaders and politicians fail to restore our national dignity and pride by taking steps to break through this vicious cycle and shedding light upon resilience, productivity, authenticity and steadfastness. We remember the submissive words of the President following the western boycott of the electoral results, “If we have to choose between bread and democracy, we choose bread.” Since the partition between the West Bank and Gaza, the Palestinian official discourse seems to confuse the doer and the do-ee. In its relationship with Israel, our officials assume the role of the oppressor, condemning spontaneous Palestinian reactions to Israeli violations and promoting meek submission to Israeli oppression. The people of Palestine are cast by our leadership into the role of the suspect, the offender; such reactions only feed into the entitlement of the occupier’s spin on reality, which turns us into victimizers and assumes the role of the victim.
The submissiveness urged by our leaders goes beyond condemning armed resistance to trivializing non-violent measures such as the imposition of boycotts and the use of international law to hold Israel accountable for its actions; the Palestinian official position toward the Goldstone report on Israel’s war crimes is an illustrative example. We should not be deceived by the exaggerated festivities surrounding the UN General Assembly’s change of Palestine’s “entity” status to “non-member observer state.” The change in status was just a smoke screen to blur our perception of the revolutions taking place within the Arab world. We may have retitled our postal stamps by the addition of the words, “State of Palestine,” but have yet to take a single war criminal to the Hague and have yet to pursue our legal right to Palestinian land, waters, or air space—as any sovereign state recognized by the UN would surely do. Instead, “secretive” negotiations continue in the dark while Israel continues to approve the construction of more settlement homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem and the demolition of more Palestinian homes.
The Palestinian President reassures the world that a Palestinian state will be demilitarized while two thirds of the national budget goes to our [internal] security forces. Meanwhile, healthcare, education, social welfare, and all other national programs survive on one third of the budget! We need only look to our neighboring Arab countries who were impoverished for decades as they fed the fat cats who ran their armies, while their own starving people were duped into the belief that these armies would “defend” them one day. Now these armies devour the very same people who had supported them—but are we Palestinians any better?
Internalized oppression is driven by several engines.
The first is media. Anger and dissatisfaction create the momentum for social change, but an artificial leisure and entertainment industry will blind and distract a frustrated public from the reality around them and create a false consciousness. Local media bombard our eyes and ears to dull our critical faculties and weaken our ability to protest, resist, or revolt. Media owners and their donor capitalists ally with the political elite to impose their tastes and ideology on the public. Mohammad Assaf, the Palestinian winning Arab Idol, is a good example—a charming vocalist with a beautiful voice. But the media promotes this triumph as the symbol of “the Palestinian plight,” and mobilizes the public to become consumers of a simplistic, reductionist, and deceptive exploitation of his charm; a thing of beauty can be used for ugly purposes. One might ask why the local media failed to make an equal effort to mobilize against the siege on Gaza, the Prawer plan, or in the service of transparency regarding the ongoing negotiations—matters which connect directly with most Palestinians and their plight!
International donation is the second engine. It is a paradox that oppression can come to us through the doors and windows of freedom, openness, and efforts to do good. In her study, “Promoting Democracy in Palestine: Donation and the Democratization of the West Bank and Gaza,” Dr. Leila Farsakh concluded that such projects sought to promote the legitimacy of the Palestinian Authority rather than empowering the Palestinian public to challenge the dominance of the Authority or to critique its definition of the national liberation project. Donor-driven projects fail to devote sufficient attention to important institutions central to the democratic process, such as the parliament, political parties, and the electoral process. In the end, these projects tend to entrench the occupation rather than helping Palestinians to create the conditions for national liberation; these projects tend to intensify the grip of the Authority instead of strengthening independent-minded channels.
The third engine is the domain of education and institutionalized religion. This year, five Palestinian schools in East Jerusalem substituted the Palestinian curriculum with the Israeli one. The Jerusalem municipality went on to award the administration of these five schools by increasing the personal salaries of their principals and paying them 2,000 NIS for every student registered in their schools. A mere glance at the Israeli curriculum reveals how it distorts history, religion, geography, and eventually the mindset and the national culture of pupils: In one textbook, two pupils discuss how Israel brought electricity to their village and granted national insurance to children and their elders; the pupils conclude that they should join the celebration on “Israel’s Independence Day.” And while some of our children are savoring a toxic dose of Israeli indoctrination, others are anesthetized by some misleading religious leaders who form an unholy league with political and financial power elites. Manipulating the public with an insidious form of mind control, they come up with “teachings” promoting a fatalistic, mystical frame of mind and issue “fatwas” that promote compliance and conformity. These religious leaders promote the status quo with all its agony and disadvantages and inhibit people from embracing genuine reform and social change, encouraging people to pin their hopes on the afterlife rather than dealing with the misery of the here and now.
In conclusion, since decisions and behaviors of our leaders do nothing but establish internalized oppression, it becomes the social responsibility of ordinary people to work actively to recognize and alleviate this threat to wellbeing, in order to prevent the demise of the Palestinian spirit and cause. Raising awareness about the phenomenon, monitoring and protesting its appearance in official discourse and behavior, bearing witness, empowering economic development, resisting consumerism, connecting them with their own history and community, and helping them to analyze reality— are just a few tools to liberate Palestinians from internalized oppression. So much has been done to efface, harm, eradicate the Palestinian nation or to disfigure it forever. We cannot simply wait for justice to happen—justice is something we must work hard to actualize. Sacrifices must be made and sometimes risks must be taken to snatch our life from the jaws of death. Commitment, awareness, wisdom, and planning are required for recovery and salvation of this injured life—as we want a decent life, not any life. Our work for healing and recovery is indivisible from our work for liberation.
- Samah Jabr is a Jerusalemite psychiatrist and psychotherapist.
Israeli Forces Kill 2 Palestinian Civilians and Armed Group Member and Wound 12 Civilians in Jenin Refugee Camp
In excessive use of force, on Saturday, 22 March 2014, Israeli forces killed, 2 Palestinian civilians and a member of a Palestinian armed group and wounded 12 civilians and a member of the Palestinian National Security Forces in Jenin refugee camp, west of the northern West Bank town of Jenin. Israeli forces claimed via the Israeli media that they killed 3 Palestinians during armed clashes in the aforementioned refugee camp. However, investigations conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) investigations refute the Israeli claim and confirm that the two civilians were killed as Israeli forces opened fire heavily at dozens of civilians who were trying to pull and carry the militant’s body to the centre of the camp.
According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 02:00 on the Saturday, 22 March 2014, an Israeli special military force from “Alimam” Unit in the Israeli military, which is described as “an anti-terrorism unit” infiltrated into the south of Jenin refugee camp, west of Jenin. The Israeli force surrounded a two-story house belonging to the family of ‘Azmi Mohammed Mahmoud al-Hasaniyah (67) in Tal’et al-Ghabes area. Israeli forces then sent large military back-ups, which were deployed throughout the camp while Israeli drones were hovering overhead. Israeli snipers ascended roofs of nearby houses after they received information that Hamzah Jamal ‘Abdel Salam Abu al-Heijah (22), the local leader of the Izziddin al-Qassam brigades (the armed wing of Hamas), was in the house.
After the military back-ups had arrived, Israeli forces blew up the main door of the houses and opened fire. They then yelled at residents of the house to get out. When the residents were about to come out and Mohammed (23), the son of the house’s owner who is member of the Palestinian National Security Forces, opened the external door, he was shot in the left shoulder. Amidst the screams of his family, the shooting stopped and the residents began to get out one by one while Abu al-Heijah stayed in a room on the second floor. Israeli forces arrested Mohammed and his brother, Majd (18), and took the rest of the family members to a nearby house. They then entered a tracker dog into the house, but Hamzah killed it and this made the Israeli forces certain that he is in the house. As a result, Israeli forces showered the house with live bullets and shells fired by machine guns and then used shoulder-fired missiles. As a result, the house was partially destroyed. Meanwhile, armed clashes broke out between Palestinian militants, who were stationed in the areas of al-Sahah and Abu Thahir Mountain areas, and Hamzah from the house from one side and the Israeli forces, which were surrounding the house, from the other side. Hamzah took advantage of this and jumped from one of the western windows of the house. As soon as he stepped a few meters, snipers opened fired and immediately killed him. They left him for two hours and he bled to death in the alley. Young men then tried to pull his body, and Israeli forces opened fire at them. However, they managed to pull it. When they were passing by al-Sahah area, Israeli forces opened fire killing two of them: Yazan Mahmoud Basem Taha “Jabarin” (20) who was hit by a bullet to the chest; and Mahmoud ‘Omer Saleh Abu Zeinah (24), who also was hit by a bullet to the chest. When the news of the death of 3 persons spread out, the camp residents started coming out of their houses. Immediately, the Israeli snipers opened fire at these civilians wounding 11 of them, including a 65-year-old woman. Thus, the number of wounded persons mounted to 12 civilians. It should be mentioned that Hamzah Abu al-Heijah is the son of Jamal Abu al-Heijah, who is serving a sentence of 9 life imprisonments in the Israeli jails. Hamzah had been subject to several extra-judicial execution attempts, the last of which was on 18 December 2013 when an Israeli special unit targeted him. However, he managed to escape and Nafe’a Jamil Nafe’a al-Sa’adi was killed.
PCHR strongly condemns this crime, which further proves the use of excessive force by Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians in disregard for their lives. PCHR calls upon the international community to take immediate and effective action to stop Israeli crimes and reiterates its call for the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations under Article 1; i.e., to respect and to ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances, and their obligation under Article 146 to prosecute persons alleged to commit grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention. These grave breaches constitute war crimes under Article 147 of the same Convention and Protocol (I) Additional to the Geneva Conventions.