Palestinian student Noor Darwish, 22, a student at Al-Quds University in Abu Dis, was sentenced to eight months in Israeli prison and a fine of 2000 NIS (approximately $500) on Wednesday, 23 November.
From the village of Deir Abu Mashal near Ramallah, Darwish was arrested with two other female students, Hala Bitar, 19, and Salam Abu Sharar, 21, on 19 April. The three were arrested among an escalated series of arrests targeting Palestinian students around the time of annual student council elections at Palestinian universities. All three were charged with participation in the public student activities of the Islamic Bloc at the university, including organizing a book fair.
Bitar was earlier sentenced to four months in prison, while Abu Sharar was sentenced to 10 months in Israeli prison. Darwish has been held in Damon prison, which requires a three-day trip to the Ofer military court, which pronounced her sentence. Her case involved six hearings, each accompanied by the lengthy “bosta” travel from the prison to the military court and back.
Israel’s rural landscape is saturated with pine trees. These trees are new to the region. The pine trees were introduced to the Palestinian’s landscape in the early 1930s by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) in an attempt to ‘reclaim the land’. By 1935, JNF had planted 1.7 million trees over a total area of 1,750 acres. Over fifty years, the JNF planted over 260 million trees largely on confiscated Palestinian land. It did it all in a desperate attempt to hide the ruins of the ethnically cleansed Palestinian villages and their history.
Along the years the JNF performed a crude attempt to eliminate Palestinian civilisation and past but it also tried to make Palestine look like Europe. The Palestinian natural forest was eradicated. Similarly the olive trees were uprooted. The pine trees took their place. On the southern part of mount Carmel the Israelis named an area as ‘Little Switzerland’. By now, there is no much left of “Little Switzerland.”
However, the facts on the ground were pretty devastating for the JNF. The pine tree didn’t adapt to the Israeli climate as much as the Israelis failed to adapt to the Middle East. According to JNF statistics, six out of every 10 saplings planted did not survive. Those few trees that did survive formed nothing but a firetrap. By the end of each Israeli summer each of the Israeli pine forests become a potential deadly zone.
In spite of its nuclear ability, its criminal army, the occupation, the Mossad and its lobbies all over the world, Israel seems to be vulnerable. It is devastatingly alienated from the land it claims to own and care for. Like the pine tree, Zionism, Israel and the Israeli are foreign to the region.
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – After our afternoon school run today, two of us took a walk around a small part of Al Khalil.
The photos are sort of a mini-walking tour of some of the stolen Palestinian land, streets, homes and shops, roadblocks and checkpoints.
Note the diagonal iron bars on the shops. These are welded in place to keep their Palestinian owners from re-entering their own shops and businesses. Above the shops are now illegal colonial Zionist settlers living in the once owned homes of Palestinians.
On some of the streets Palestinians are prohibited from walking. And no Palestinian vehicles allowed.
Al Khalil is unique in that the illegal colonial settlers live right in the city among the Palestinians (of course with colonial Zionist Israeli Occupation Forces and walls and fences to “protect” them and many of these Zionists carry their automatic weapons with them as well.
Most illegal colonial settlements are separated or outside of the Palestinian villages, town, and cities (and generally an army base within or next to it. Currently there are over 600,000 living in these settlements in the West Bank and construction of new and expansion of existing ones continues!
A PIC news correspondent said the IOF rolled into the An-Najah Campus dormitory in al-Maajin neighborhood, in western Nablus, and wreaked havoc on the apartment of lecturer Issam Rashed al-Ashqar, 57, before they kidnapped him and seized his car.
Al-Ashqar, an ex-prisoner, is a lecturer at the Physics Department at An-Najah University. He had previously been sentenced to several prison-terms, mostly in administrative detention, without charge or trial. He has also been diagnosed with health disorders.
The Israeli occupation army further kidnapped the two Palestinian citizens Amjad Abu Sbeih and Yazen al-Basiti from their own family homes in Jerusalem’s Old City.
The IOF stormed Jenin’s western towns of Anin and Zabouba and cracked down on Palestinian drivers in the eastern outskirts of the city.
A PIC reporter quoted eyewitnesses as stating that the IOF kidnapped the citizen Abdul Nasser Mohamed Yassin, 42, from Anin village after they ravaged his home and subjected the family to intensive questioning.
A military checkpoint was pitched by the IOF near the main entrance to Zabouba town.
The campaign culminated in the abduction of other Palestinians from Nablus, al-Khalil, and Bethlehem’s town of Beit Fajjar.
“Canada is back” to isolating itself from world opinion on Palestinian rights
How can you identify a Canadian Liberal? They talk to the left, but walk to the right.
Under Justin Trudeau “Canada is back” to isolating itself from world opinion on Palestinian rights.
On Monday Canada joined the US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Federated States of Micronesia and Palau in opposing a UN Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee resolution in support of Palestinian self determination.
Two weeks ago Ottawa joined Israel, the US, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau in opposing motions titled “Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan” and “persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities.” One hundred and fifty-six countries voted in favour of the motions while seven abstained on the first and six on the second.
Two among numerous resolutions upholding Palestinian rights Canada opposed. These votes follow on the heels of foreign minister Stéphane Dion attacking UNESCO for defending Palestinian rights. Last month the UN cultural body criticised Israel for restricting Muslim access to the Al Aqsa Mosque compound and recognised Israel as the occupying power. “Canada strongly rejects UNESCO World Heritage singling out Israel & denying Judaism’s link to the Old City + Western Wall,” Dion tweeted.
A few months earlier Trudeau’s minister criticized another arm of the UN. In March Dion denounced the UN Human Rights Council’s appointment of University of Western Ontario law professor Michael Lynk as “Special Rapporteur on Palestine”. Claiming the Canadian lawyer was hostile to Israel, Dion asked the UNHRC to review Lynk’s appointment.
In addition to isolating Canada internationally, the Trudeau government has pursued various pro-Israel moves. At the start of the month Governor General David Johnston visited a Jewish National Fund Forest. An owner of 13 per cent of Israel’s land, the JNF discriminates against Palestinian citizens of Israel (Arab Israelis) who make up a fifth of the population. According to a UN report, JNF lands are “chartered to benefit Jews exclusively,” which has led to an “institutionalized form of discrimination.”
While the GG recently visited a racist Israeli institution, the PM attended the “Butcher of Qana’s” funeral at the end of September. In 1996 Shimon Peres ordered the shelling of a UN compound in the village of Qana, Lebanon, which killed 106 civilians — half of whom were children. Through his long political career, reports Patrick Martin, Peres “was deeply implicated in many of the foulest historical crimes associated with the establishment, expansion and militarization of the state of Israel.”
Peres’ role in dispossessing Palestinians didn’t stop the Trudeau government from gushing with praise after he passed away. “The whole country of Canada is supporting the whole country of Israel and the prime minister wanted that to be very clear,” Dion told the press.
At the start of the year the Liberals condemned Canadians seeking to hold Israel accountable to international law. The Prime Minister and most Liberal MPs supported a Conservative Party call for the House of Commons to “reject the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which promotes the demonization and delegitimization of the State of Israel.” The February resolution also “condemned any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad.”
The Trudeau government’s efforts to undermine Palestinians’ liberation strengthens Canada’s multifaceted contribution to Israeli expansionism. Each year registered Canadian charities channel tens of millions of dollars to projects supporting Israel’s powerful military, racist institutions and illegal settlements. Over the past decade Ottawa has delivered over one hundred million dollars in aid to the Palestinian Authority in an explicit bid to advance Israel’s interests by building a security apparatus to protect the corrupt Palestinian Authority from popular disgust over its compliance in the face of ongoing Israeli settlement building. Further legitimating its illegal occupation, Canada’s two-decade old free trade agreement with Israel allows settlement products to enter Canada duty-free.
The truth is, it’s hard to tell Canada’s political parties apart when it comes to enabling Israeli oppression of Palestinians.
Without a growing popular movement campaigning for Palestinian rights this country’s political elites will continue to isolate Canada from world opinion.
Yves Engler is the author of Canada in Africa: 300 years of aid and exploitation.
A controversial Israeli bill to silence the Muslim call to prayer is to go forward after it was amended so as not to affect the Jewish Shabbat siren, the speaker’s office said Wednesday.
Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, an ultra-Orthodox Jew, had blocked the draft law in its original form for fear it would also force the toning down of the sirens that announce the start of the Jewish day of rest at sundown each Friday.
But he lifted his objections after it was amended to apply only between 11 pm and 7 am.
The bill will “probably” now be put to a preliminary vote in parliament “next week,” a spokesman for speaker Yuli Edelstein told AFP.
It will then require three further parliamentary votes before it becomes law but it has already sparked outrage around the Arab and wider Muslim world.
Even Israeli government watchdogs have slammed the proposed legislation, describing it as a threat to religious freedom and an unnecessary provocation.
Arab Israeli lawmaker Ahmed Tibi has vowed to appeal to the High Court of Justice if the Shabbat siren is excluded from the scope of the bill on the grounds that it discriminates between Jews and Muslims.
The law would apply to mosques in annexed Arab east al-Quds (Jerusalem) as well as the occupied territories. But supersensitive Al-Aqsa mosque compound — Islam’s third holiest site — will be exempted.
“No changes will be made on” al-Aqsa Mosque an Israeli official told AFP.
Journalist Omar Nazzal, Shadi Jarrar among Palestinians ordered to additional imprisonment without charge
Omar Nazzal, prominent Palestinian journalist and member of the General Secretariat of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, was ordered on Monday, 21 November to three additional months in administrative detention by the Israeli occupation military. One of dozens of imprisoned journalists, Nazzal was seized by occupation forces on 23 April 2016 as he attempted to cross the al-Karameh/Allenby bridge to Jordan to participate in the General Meeting of the European Federation of Journalists in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Since that time, he was ordered first to four months in administrative detention without charge or trial, then again to another three months of arbitrary imprisonment before his detention was again renewed today. Nazzal’s case has drawn international condemnation at the targeting of a prominent Palestinian journalist without charge or trial on the basis of so-called “secret evidence.”
Nazzal was not the only Palestinian political prisoner ordered to additional imprisonment without charge or trial. Palestinian prisoner Shadi Jarrar, 36, from Wadi Burkin west of Jenin, was ordered to four months in administrative detention for the third time consecutively. He has spent eight months in administrative detention since his seizure by Israeli occupation forces on 12 March as he passed a military checkpoint between Ramallah and Nablus. Jarrar is held in the Negev desert prison. He previously spent 13 years in Israeli jails before his release in 2014 as a Palestinian political prisoner.
Also ordered once more to administrative detention was Louay Daoud, 41, of Qalqilya, for the fourth time, for four months. Arrested by Israeli occupation forces when they invaded his home on 9 December 2015, he has now been ordered to administrative detention four times consecutively, without charge or trial. Daoud is also a former prisoner who spent 12 years in Israeli prisons until his release in 2003.
Ashraf Jibril, 23, of Qalqilya, was also ordered imprisoned without charge or trial for an additional four months – the third consecutive administrative detention order against him. His home was raided on 10 November 2015 by Israeli occupation forces; he was twice ordered to six months in administrative detention and now an additional four months. The Israeli occupation authorities also renewed the administrative detention of Palestinian prisoner Qusai Hassan Khaliliya, 22, of Jaba village south of Jenin, for the second consecutive time for six months of imprisonment without charge or trial. Khaliliya was seized by occupation forces on 23 May in a pre-dawn raid on his Jaba home by occupation forces, who ransacked his belongings.
There are over 700 Palestinians held without charge or trial out of a total of 7,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails. Administrative detention orders can be issued for one to six months at a time and are indefinitely renewable. Many Palestinian prisoners have spent years at a time imprisoned under repeatedly-extending administrative detention orders. Administrative detention has been used to target political leaders, influential community members, members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, and other prominent Palestinian figures. Ahmad Abu Fara and Anas Shadid are currently on hunger strike for the 57th day against their own imprisonment without charge or trial.
During yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s “courageous leadership”.
Netanyahu criticised PA President Mahmoud Abbas policies of inciting Palestinians through the idea of the right of return.
“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas refuses to come to direct negotiations without preconditions, continues to incite his people regarding the idea of a right of return and erasing the State of Israel, and is not taking the right steps to start calming things and preparing public opinion for reconciliation with the State of Israel,” he added.
During the meeting, he referred to the visit of the former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to Jerusalem and his speech to the Knesset that launched the Egyptian-Israeli peace deal 39 years ago, describing the visit as “historic”.
“A peace agreement was achieved between Israel and Egypt through direct negotiations; this agreement has stood for almost 40 years, currently under the courageous leadership of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. I note this because here one can see the contrast with what is occurring vis-à-vis the Palestinians,” he said.
The Syrian Presidential Political and Media Advisor Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban said that Syria’s upcoming victory is a victory for the axis of resistance and all the states which believe in the sovereignty of states.
Dr. Shaaban was speaking in the First Media Forum launched by the Journalists Union on Wednesday at the Conferences Hall at Damascus University on the occasion of the 46th anniversary of the Correctionist Movement, in which the Advisor talked about her book “Ten Years with Hafez al-Assad 1990-2000”.
In reply to the audience’s questions, Dr. Shaaban affirmed that Syria is committed to establishing good relations with all countries of the world without deviating from national principles and interests which form the compass for any policy or decision.
In reply to a question, the Advisor confirmed that there are no secret talks with the United States, expressing Syria’s readiness to open channels of communication with US in a way that suits Syria’s national interests and sovereignty, adding “But the US administration was not able to deliver on its agreement with the Russian Federation. How can it open any files with others?”
On the importance of historical documentation of events in Syria, she said that the young generation has the right to know the Syrian policy away from the Western media which is separated from the Syrian reality completely.
“We are currently observing and studying and we are not making any judgments now, but the signs so far are good,” the Advisor said speaking about the statements of the new US president.
She hoped that the new US administration’s policy will be “balanced and sensible” and takes into account the historical stage through which the world is passing.
The Advisor pointed out that “few companies are in charge of western media and 90 percent of the Arab media are owned by Saudi Arabia and held by those who are targeting Syria and want to destroy it. That’s why we have to find media and research centers that are not controlled by Western media.”
In a press statement following the event, Information Minister Mohammad Ramez Tourjman said that the historical stages documented in the book clarify the reasons for targeting Syria in order to liquidate the Palestinian cause, the right to return and the occupied Golan.
A senior Israeli official says Tel Aviv should be concerned about deepening disconnect with Moscow over Russia’s role in the Syria conflict.
Avi Dichter, chairman of Israel’s foreign affairs and military committee and the former head of the Shin Bet intelligence agency, says Russia’s interests in the region by no means coincide with Israel’s.
“The gap between us and them is large and disturbing,” he told Reuters news agency after returning from a visit to Moscow where he held high-level meetings last week.
Dichter said Russia’s views on Iran, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Lebanese group Hezbollah were in sharp contrast to Israel’s and a growing source of potential conflict.
Russia does not view Iran and its allies “according to the level of threat they pose or broadcast towards Israel,” he said.
The Russians, he said, “view Hezbollah positively” and are backing the group’s assistance to the Syrian government in the war against Takfiri and other terrorists.
“Russia thinks and acts as a superpower and as such it often ignores Israeli interest when it doesn’t coincide with the Russian interest,” Dichter said.
Israel is believed to have been assisting militants fighting to topple President Assad in Syria. The Israeli regime’s worries have risen as Takfiri terrorists have suffered major setbacks over the past few months.
Tel Aviv’s main concern is to be able to attack Hezbollah, with which it fought a war in 2006. Over the past two years, Israeli artillery and warplanes have carried out several strikes against alleged weapons convoys in southern Syria that Israel claimed were destined for Hezbollah.
The occupying regime’s freedom of movement in the area is now more restricted because of the presence of Russian jets and advanced anti-aircraft batteries that Moscow has put in place.
With Russia becoming more deeply involved in the Syria conflict, Tel Aviv has sought to keep lines of communication with Moscow open to avoid an accidental confrontation.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has visited President Vladimir Putin three times this year, apparently in an effort to persuade him to drop Russia’s engagement in Syria.
But Dichter said Russia thinks Assad should stay in power, that Iran is a stabilizing force and that the nuclear deal the word powers struck with Tehran was largely positive.
Umm al-Kheir, Occupied South Hebron Hills – Almost nothing in Palestine is what you expect for the most part. And, this is so true of the negative things you see. No matter how bad you think things are or expect them to be, you are almost always guaranteed that they will be worse (usually much worse) when you actually see them. And if you tell people the truth you may be thought to be making things up. But, this is Palestine and things are this unbelievable and this bad. This was true today for me (to put it mildly). Part of our team was invited by an “inspector” from the United Nations office based here in Al Khalil to go to a Bedouin village in the South Hebron Hills where a demolition took place yesterday.
The two demolished structures – with the illegal settlement in the background
Throughout my multiple trips here I’ve been to numerous house demolitions and even sat with families throughout the night waiting for the Israeli Occupation Forces to arrive to demolish a home. I was not ready for what I saw today. On our way to the village our U.N. inspector told us a bit of the history/story of the village. But, when we arrived I just wanted to vomit and I still have a knot in my stomach as I write this. The village of Umm Al Khair was established in 1952 on land the villagers purchased. They have the deed to prove ownership. The village is currently made up of approximately 140 Bedouin (registered) refugees, (approximately 28 families) who are mostly goat herders and farmers. They came here to the West Bank from “the 48” (Israel proper) after their home village was destroyed along with over 500 other Palestinian villages by Israeli Zionists, during the Nakba which created over 700,000 Palestinian refugees.
In 1982 the illegal colonial Zionist settlement of Carmel was established right next to them (less than 50 yards away) on land they stole from the village. Even though we couldn’t see inside the illegal settlement we were informed by the individual from the U.N. that the homes in the settlement were spacious, modern, had green grass lawns and gardens and even a small goldfish pond or two and all of the modern luxuries. In contrast, the village is made up of makeshift tents, crude metal and wood structures with dirt floors. There is no running water, no electricity, and a few crude toilet facilities.
Given that the villagers own the land, according to Israeli law, they cannot be legally evicted. However, the Zionists can make life so miserable that the villagers will give up and leave. This (in all probability) will never happen. They are strong, hopeful, and determined to stay here. This is their home. They will not leave. Even the children who have grown up here and gone off and got university degrees return here to their homes.
Rubble from the most recent demolition
Israel uses the excuse that the villagers don’t have building permits. But Israel doesn’t grant but a few building permits per year (if any) to Palestinians.
Drones routinely fly over the village photographing, looking for any sign of new construction or rebuilding and the soldiers will return and demolish again and again. And if a demolition order is given for a particular home or building, it is permanent and nothing can be built on that spot again.
There have been 5 demolitions in the past year: October 27, 2015; 1 in April 2016; 2 this past August; and the most recent one yesterday where two structures were demolished. Their Community Center which housed the kindergarten, a computer center, an after school program to help kids with homework, and a library has been demolished several times. There are some international aid programs such as the International Red Cross, several U.N. programs, and from the European Union that have helped with building materials and /or small structures for living. None of these programs, however, can help with the Community Center because it does not provide shelter for people or animals. So it is the children who suffer the brunt of these losses.
Rubble from the demolition, with the luxurious houses in the illegal settlement in the background
While one of our team members was conducting a video interview I went outside and was swarmed by young children. All smiling, laughing and excited by my presence and attention to them. All eager to show me around the village, show me their goat herds, their small playground and have me push them on the swings, take their photographs with their goats. They all appeared to be happy and none the worse for wear. But what I am describing is and has been their life. They know nothing else. It doesn’t make how these villagers are treated any less excusable. And this is only one observation from one person visiting one of the scores of similar villages throughout the West Bank. An older woman whose home was demolished in August of this year stated before we left, “We just need the demolitions to stop. We are getting sick and tired of it.” Our U.N. person then said, everyone including most of the aid programs are feeling the same way as this woman and little by little pay a bit less attention as time goes on. Even the government, The Palestinian Authority was called this morning about yesterday’s demolition and they stated they couldn’t come to look they had other things to do today.
Residential dwelling of some of the families
I’ve always thought (and said) that somewhere inside the Israeli Zionist must still have some small bit of humanity left in them. After what I witnessed today I cannot believe that there is even a shred of humanity left in any of them. Today was by far the most overwhelming and depressing day I’ve had in all of my trips here to Palestine, and I’ve seen quite a few depressing and overwhelming things during these trips.
What can you do? Join the Boycott movement in your country. Write to your elected government officials to stop funding the various degrees of genocide that Israel is committing here in Palestine. Write letters to the editor of your newspapers. Talk to your families, friends, neighbors and let them know the truth. Speak up. As long as our country continues to support the behavior of Israel with our tax dollars we are all responsible!
“We do not agree the right of self-determination applies to the Chagossians”, says Foreign Office minister Alan Duncan, who later clarifies that they are not “a people”. If you can stand it, you can watch the urgent question in the Commons today which forced the government to defend the decision they had sneaked out via a written answer.
The debate starts at 10.34 – if you put the cursor to the bottom of the picture a slider appears. It is excruciating to watch. In an unusually full House of Commons (not a high bar) there is indignation and real anger on all sides, with even Tories describing the decision to continue the eviction of the Chagos islanders as “dishonourable”.
The government argues that the Chagossians are not “a people” distinct from the Mauritians, therefore they do not have a right of self-determination. This piece of sophistry is designed to answer the obvious question of why the Chagossians have less rights than the Falkland Islanders or Gibraltarians. The actual answer – that the Chagossians are not white – is not one the government wishes to give. It also begs the question, if the Chagossians are Mauritians, why are the islands not a part of Mauritius?
The government produced a paper on prospective resettlement, imposing arbitrary conditions on where and how the Chagossians could live designed to make life as difficult as possible. Those conditions included that there could be no civilian use of the airstrip – which I am glad to see Alex Salmond challenged in the Commons. Chagossians could work at the US airbase, but only on condition their partners and children would not be permitted to be with them. Fishing – their traditional activity – will be banned by the UK government’s marine reserve.
Given these conditions, Duncan kept reiterating, only 223 Chagossians actually wanted to return. And that was not a viable population (which will be news to many inhabited islands).
Support for the government was very thin. The most notable contribution was from the Rt Hon Sir Desmond Swayne MP, who oozing contempt for dusky foreigners intervened solely to state that it would be impossible to return the islanders because the government would be put to the expense of building a prison for them. (He really did say this, I am not making it up, you can see it on the link.)
It takes New Labour however to win the lying through your teeth prize, which the unctuous Chris Bryant duly did. He deplored the deportation of the islanders, ignoring the fact that he had served as a minister in the 13 year Blair/Brown governments which did nothing to right the wrong and indeed fought against the islanders as hard as the Tories. But Bryant wished it to be known that the Labour government’s introduction of the marine reserve had no connection at all to denying the islanders the right of return, as was frequently wrongly claimed. Having said that the lying little bastard sat down.
The most amusing moment was when Kate Hoey stated that she knew Alan Duncan personally and he was a decent chap whose heart was secretly not in this despicable decision. Duncan felt the need to deny this vehemently, knowing that being less than totally heartless, particularly in matters relating to Imperial treatment of foreigners, was career death in the May government. I must say, from Duncan’s demeanour I saw no sign he has ever been troubled by humanitarianism.
I was proud that no less than five SNP MPs intervened and many more bothered to turn up, while another Scottish MP. Alistair Carmichael made a very good and principled point on the absolute right of the islanders to live on their islands. It was the SNP who made the most obvious point of all, that it made no sense for the government to claim that a population which had sustained itself on the islands in the 1960’s quite happily could not do so again. Indeed modern technology will make it rather easier.