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After 40 days, Palestinians suspend mass hunger strike in Israeli prisons

Ma’an – May 27, 2017

BETHLEHEM – Hundreds of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons have suspended a 40-day mass hunger strike during dawn hours on Saturday, after reaching an agreement with the Israel Prison Service (IPS) that reinstated the prisoners’ family visitation sessions to two times per month.

Palestinian leaders have applauded the prisoners’ “victory,” saying that the agreement represents an “important step towards full respect of the rights of Palestinian prisoners.”

Head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe and head of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) Qaddura Fares said in a joint statement that the prisoners suspended the “Freedom and Dignity,” following more than 20 hours of negotiations between IPS and Marwan Barghouthi — the imprisoned Fatah leader who has been the primary leader of the mass strike, and other prison leaders in Ashkelon prison.

The statement added that IPS officials announced the end of the strike after negotiating with Barghouthi, who IPS had consistently refused to speak with throughout the strike’s duration, as hunger strikers had meanwhile refused to enter negotiations without the presence of Barghouthi.

The joint statement did not mention which of the hunger strikers’ demands were actually met by Israeli prison authorities.

An IPS spokesperson told Ma’an that the agreement was forged between the Israeli state, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and the Palestinian Authority (PA), granting prisoners a second monthly family visit to be funded by the PA .

The move effectively reinstated the number of family visits that were traditionally provided to Palestinian prisoners, before the ICRC reduced the number of visit they facilitated last year from two to one visit a month, sparking protests across the Palestinian territory.

The IPS spokesperson confirmed that Barghouthi was part of the agreements, but said that IPS was not considering the talks “negotiations,” as they only reinstated a previous policy and did not provide any new concessions to the prisoners.

The IPS spokesperson told Ma’an that some 834 prisoners who had remained on strike to the 40th day had ended their hunger strikes, and the 18 prisoners who remained hospitalized would be returned to Israeli prison following the improvement of their health conditions.

The spokesperson declined to comment on whether any of the other demands were met, which also included the right to pursue higher education, appropriate medical care and treatment, and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention — imprisonment without charge or trial — among other demands for basic rights.

The agreements came on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when some hunger strikers had vowed to fast and forgo the salt and water mixture being consumed by the prisoners from dawn until sunset — the only source of nutrients the hunger strikers were consuming.

Scores of Palestinian prisoners were transferred to Israeli hospitals during the hunger strike, with reports emerging that prisoners were puking blood and fainting. Palestinian leaders had feared possible deaths among the hunger strikers if their demands were not met.

Xavier Abu Eid, a spokesperson for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), released a statement on Saturday, saying that the hunger strike had “prevailed.”

“This is an important step towards full respect of the rights of Palestinian prisoners under international law. It is also an indication of the reality of the Israeli occupation which has left no option to Palestinian prisoners but to starve themselves to achieve basic rights they are entitled to under international law,” the statement read.

As the statement pointed out, the hunger strike was one of the longest strikes in Palestinian history and included a wide participation of Palestinian prisoners from across political factions.

Israeli forces had attempted to break the hunger strike through various punitive measures, including punishing hunger strikers with the use of solitary confinement, “inciting” against the hunger strikers and their leaders, most notably Barghouthi, and threatening to force feed the hunger strikers, the statement highlighted.

“The epic resilience and determination of the hunger strikers and their refusal to end their hunger strike despite the repression and very harsh conditions they endured allowed for their will to prevail over the will of the jailer.”

The statement also went on to thank all those who stood in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners, particularly former political prisoners in South Africa, Ireland, and Argentina.

“The Palestinian people are a nation held captive, and the Palestinian prisoners are the reflection of this painful reality,” the statement read.

Spokesperson for the PA Youssef al-Mahmoud also congratulated the hunger strikers on “achieving their demands.”

“Our heroic prisoners achieved a new victory in their legenday resistance,” he said, adding that the government would continue its efforts to “guarentee that all Palestinian prisoners are freed without exceptions or conditions.”

He also called for the ending of political divisions in Palestine and to work on regaining national unity to support Palestinians who are facing challenges.

Meanwhile, member of Fatah’s central committee Jamal Muheisin and Qaraqe held a press conference at Yasser Arafat square in Ramallah to announce the “victory” of the hunger strike.

The national committee formed to support the hunger strike also released a statement saying that the hunger strikers had achieved a “legendary triumph forcing the occupation government to negotiate with the leaders of the hunger strike and Marwan Barghouthi after having refused to negotiate for 40 days.”

The statement highlighted that the “epic hunger strike” brought back unity between Palestinians in Israeli prisons and revived the spirit of national solidarity, which has succeeded in “thwarting the occupation’s plots”.

The statement added that more information regarding the details of the agreement between IPS officials and the hunger strikers would be released later on Saturday.

Palestinians imprisoned by Israel have underwent numerous hunger strikes since the Israeli army occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza in 1967, with several hunger strikers being killed during strikes owing to Israeli policies of force-feeding the prisoners.

Their demands have ranged from insisting on better quality prison food to ending torture in Israeli prisons.

According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, 6,300 Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons as of April, most of whom are being held inside the Israeli territory in contravention to international law which forbids holding Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza outside the occupied territory.

While Israeli authorities label Palestinians as “security prisoners,” activists and rights groups have long considered Palestinians held in Israeli custody as political prisoners, and have routinely condemned Israel’s use of prison as a means of dismembering Palestinian political and social life in the occupied territory.

Addameer has reported that 40 percent of the male Palestinian population has been detained by Israeli authorities at some point in their lives.

May 27, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

Three Pictures from Jerusalem

May 25, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , | 1 Comment

Hassan Nasrallah on the hunger strike of Palestinian prisoners and international hypocrisy

Speech by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayed Hassan Nasrallah on May 2, 2017, on the occasion of the Day of the Wounded

Transcript:

[…] Two words on the general situation (in the Middle East).

The first thing to be said about the general situation in the region concerns the struggle for freedom and dignity that 1500 Palestinian prisoners are leading and… we are today on the 16th day of their hunger strike, with a supportive response from the Palestinian street, inside (occupied Palestine) and outside, towards this movement.

As usual, we naturally support and unite with them, and we announce our firm and total solidarity with this action of jihad and strong resistance by Palestinian prisoners for their legitimate and natural demands. But we want to learn from what is happening there.

In this first point concerning the situation of the region, I have two points.

First, I want to learn the lessons on which we can build a permanent political path. Well, on the opposite side, Israel turns a deaf ear… They are not ready to negotiate or to respond to the demands. The demands of the prisoners are not the liberation of Palestine nor the liberation of Al-Quds (Jerusalem). The prisoners’ demands concern the natural rights of all prisoners, humanitarian rights. Israel is turning a deaf ear and, as usual, relies on the passing of time, the weariness, and the withdrawal of Palestinian prisoners, hoping that this movement will be nothing but a vain eruption.

Nothing else can be expected of Israel, the usurping, terrorist, occupying enemy. But look at the rest of the world. Look at the rest of the world. Where are the Arab regimes? Where are the Arab peoples? Where is the Union of Arab Countries? Where is the Organization of Islamic States, the Organization for Islamic Cooperation? Where is the world? Where is Europe? Where is the West? Where is the UN? Where’s the Security Council? All those who often get angry at the most trivial stories that happen in this or that place of the world, where are they? We are on the 16th day, and nothing happens in the world, nothing at all.

For the commemoration of the martyr leaders, I stirred up the roses’ pot, when I said that they brought us, the Arab world and the region, to the point where Palestine became the forgotten cause. This is proof.

Today, tell me where the kings and the Arab presidents are. Soon, it will be said that the Sayed (Nasrallah) attacks the kings and Arab presidents. Where are the Arab regimes? Where is the Union of Arab Countries? Where is the serious reaction, where are the real pressures? The pressure on your American friends, the pressure on your European friends?… Where are the organizations for the defense of human rights? Where is the Arab voice? Where are the Arab media? Where are the Arabic TV channels? Where are the Arabian pens?

If this happens, oh my brothers and sisters, if this was happening in a country that was not allied or aligned with the United States, allied or aligned with the West, you would have seen the whole world rise (of indignation) without sitting back. I do not even say whether it was in Iran, Syria or I do not know where. In any country that is not aligned with the United States and the West, which is not subject to their will and diktat, which is not part of their project, you would have seen the Council of Security, the UN, the White House, foreign ministers, human rights organizations and the whole world stand up. Not on the 16th day, from the first hour. And the state or government that refuses to negotiate with these prisoners and respond to their demands would have been accused of aggression, cruelty, inhuman treatment, oppression, torture, tyranny, and so on.

But it is Israel, the spoiled child of the United States, the advanced military base of the West in our region… (So) no!… Let Netanyahu do what he wants. Let him take his ease, he has all his time. No problem. Just as he had absolutely all the time in the world for the wars against Gaza. He has all his time once again, whether it be for the question of prisoners or any other; for the question of colonies or any other.

Well, if we’re trying to collect comparable evidence, whether it’s less than a year ago, or since 2003, in Iraq, since 2003, Takafi terrorist organizations have carried out thousands of suicide operations, not to mention the others operations, and they killed Shiites, Sunnis, Arabs, Kurds, Turkmens, they did not spare anyone in the Iraqi people. And daily massacres, to the point that car bombs have become a normal and natural daily occurrence in Iraq. And the world (whole) remains silent. And the world knows who supports them, who finances them, who protects them, and who helps them in the media so far: there are Arab channels which, in this battle of Mosul, are with ISIS. They are not with the Iraqi government or the Iraqi forces. And the whole world says nothing of all these helpers, supporters, assistants, media protectors, funders and facilitators (of ISIS). Why? Because the Iraqi people must be subjugated, humiliated, silenced and integrated into this (American) project.

Well, let’s consider Yemen. A few days ago, the UN Secretary-General read a speech of mourning, saying that while we are talking, 50 Yemeni children are dying. Well, the whole world speaks of millions of people threatened by famine in Yemen. While the whole world knows who is besieging Yemen, who bombards Yemen, who starves Yemen. Does anyone dare open his mouth (about it)? Does anyone dare to talk?

And if I begin to describe things as they are, I am told that I jeopardize tourism in Lebanon. If I say what the whole world knows, that Saudi Arabia and its allies are besieging, starving and killing the Yemeni people every day and every night, I am accused of jeopardizing tourism in Lebanon. A simple word of truth (is worth this accusation). But a world that remains silent in the face of millions of people dying of hunger, what does the death of thousands of people killed and bombed mean to him, and hundreds of thousands injured? How could they matter to them? Although the whole world and the UN recognize this situation. Simply because it is Saudi Arabia, the ally of the United States, the West, who pays fortunes, the hundreds of billions of dollars that it pays to the United States. And Trump is coming now to take from them the money they have left.

But as for the poor Yemeni people, they have no money to pay to the United States, they have no money to pay to Trump, they have no money to pay to the British prime minister or to the French President so that they move and say “Enough, we will end the siege, the war and the aggression against Yemen.”

Well, let’s look at Syria. A few days ago, a massacre was perpetrated against the inhabitants of Fou’a and Kafraya who left their besieged towns in the Al-Rachidin district at the entrance to the city of Aleppo. A bloodthirsty suicide bomber came with a van, and attacked the bus convoy. What was in the convoy? 5,000 civilians, an overwhelming majority of civilians, most of whom were women and children. In short, the attack caused hundreds of martyrs, wounded and disappeared. What did the world do? What did it do?roo

In the agreement, the Syrian State and ourselves have guaranteed the safety of the evacuees (of the terrorist enclaves of) Madaya, Zabadani, Biqqin, Sarghaya, Blodan and Borj Blodan, so that they be conveyed to a safe point beyond the city of Aleppo. Imagine that a person (there are no suicide bombers in our camp), by mistake, took a machine gun and fired (on their convoy), or fired a RPG rocket on a bus and killed a certain number of persons. Who would have spared us (his condemnations)? Who would have spared the Syrian army, Hezbollah and the parties that guaranteed this agreement? The Security Council, the US, Trump and the whole world would have entered in a great anger, and may even have launched an air attack (against Syria).

So look at the existing situation, the actual situation. Of course, I do not bring anything new. I only want to confirm a long-established idea, which is confirmed every day, every day, every day, in the face of the people opposing our point of view, whom we would like to see bring us the least evidence, the least element (which confirms their vision).

But when the Khan Sheikhoun event happened and the regime was accused of using chemical weapons, well, guys, do an investigation, but they do not want to do anything, no investigation. My dear friends, who proved that the regime really used chemical weapons? Yes, he did (so they say). Well, what is the proof? No one has any evidence. Well, are these images that have circulated, are they made up or is it the truth? Nobody knows. Well, send a commission of inquiry, for example, Russia, Iran, other countries of the world… Oh, we’re just asking for a commission of inquiry, but the US does not want a commission of inquiry. They do not accept inquiry! We just want to know the truth, in order to condemn the criminal who used chemical weapons, whoever he may be. But they refuse any commission of inquiry.

On the contrary, from the very first moment, Trump and the American administration, as usual, established themselves as Attorney General, Investigator, Judge and Executioner, and they came to strike at Shu’eirat airport, and considered to have achieved a great feat. And congratulations began to be fired from all sides, from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, some Gulf countries, political forces (who said) “Congratulations, God bless you and reward you, give you a fine end And increase your resources.” Is it not what they told them?

Well, on what basis? For the one who is targeted here (Bashar al-Assad) is not a collaborator, a follower or a submissive, they want to subjugate, humiliate and break him. This is the equation.

Today, if we came to any corner of a country not aligned with the USA, and imagine there was a city completely besieged, with hundreds of men and women standing under the sun, day and night, to protect a pure man, a great scholar in Bahrain, His Eminence Ayatollah Sheikh Issa Qassem, and this for 7 or 8 months, soon a year, in a very severely besieged region. It is a forgotten thing, which does not interest anyone in the world. Because these people are in a subdued, aligned, part of the (American) project, and therefore no pressure will be exerted on the issue. Why would they ask them anything? They will be congratulated instead for the beautiful kohl of their eyes, and will be told “Very well, continue.”

That’s it. It is not necessary that I multiply the examples, I was rather long already, but the conclusion that must be drawn is this: O our brothers, O our sisters, O our people (and we express ourselves with experience, and these examples only confirm the idea, which is ours from the beginning), today if our territory is liberated, if our prisoners in the Israeli jails have returned (there are still files awaitng), if our country is free in the face of Israeli threats, no one has played any role in this, neither the UN Council, the US, the West, the Union of Arab International resolutions or anyone at all.

It is thanks to you alone, the noble people, the Army, the People and the Resistance, the martyrs, the wounded. Today, if Lebanon enjoys freedom, dignity and security, it is thanks to your lofty souls, your wounded bodies, the pure blood of your martyrs, and the blood of your bodies, which was poured on the land of that country and in that region. Only, only, only (thanks to you and no one else).

Do not expect anything from this world, this international community, America and the West, do not expect justice, impartiality, or the recognition of truth. That does not mean we do not ask for it, but we do not expect anything. And in any case, we do not regret that they ignore us, that they do not take the required position and that they exert no pressure (on the oppressors). For basically they are the enemy, so beware of them! The basis of our ills is them. The very people we are asking for positions, declarations and measures are the problem at the first level. As for the others, they are merely instruments, they merely follow, they are merely the pawns of a game of chess which serve the projects of domination of our countries. What do they want, friends? They want to plunder our choices, our resources, our oil, our gas, and now they want to plunder us more. We do not have time to talk about the new American policy: more obvious looting, explicit looting.

It is therefore necessary that we rely on our presence in the squares and fields (of battle), on our strength. What I have always said to you today, all the events and developments that are happening, I repeat to you again: we live in a world of wolves. There is no international law, there is only the law of the jungle. The strong eats the weak. If we are weak, we shall be eaten. If we are stronger, the world will respect us.

When we have a weight on equations and interests… This world seeks interests, it does not seek principles or values. Therefore, our strength is there, our interests are there, and our destiny and our future stop at our strength, our unity, our presence, the endurance of our people, the conscience of our (Islamic) Community.

These are the lessons we must learn from what is happening now. […]

Translation: http://www.sayed7asan.blogspot.fr

May 24, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , | Leave a comment

Al-Awamiya: City of Resistance

By Rannie Amiri | CounterPunch | May 23, 2017

As the United States prepared to sign a multi-billion dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia, royal forces laid siege to al-Awamiya, a restive town of approximately 30,000 in the Qatif district of the country’s Eastern Province. Bulldozers, backed by armored tanks and helicopter gunships, systemically leveled homes and put entire families on the street in the historic Mosawara neighborhood. This came under the guise of a development and “renovation” project for the long-neglected and impoverished city although the regime saw fit to post doctored images of allegedly captured weapons to imply that it was also a security operation.

Last month, anticipating such a move, United Nations experts on poverty, culture and housing rights, “ … called on the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to immediately halt the planned demolition of a 400-year-old walled neighborhood in the village of Awamia. The UN experts warned the development plan for the Al-Masora quarter threatens the historical and cultural heritage of the town with irreparable harm, and may result in the forced eviction of numerous people from their businesses and residences.

“The area is of importance not only to local people and the entire cultural landscape of Awamia, but also has national significance for the history and cultural heritage of Saudi Arabia,” said the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Karima Bennoune. “The planned demolition would erase this unique regional heritage in an irreversible manner.” As the report makes clear, the project did not provide for the construction of residential buildings in place of those destroyed.

Awamiya was home to the late Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, the fiery cleric who nonetheless peacefully demanded equal rights for the marginalized, oppressed Saudi Shia community. He was ultimately executed by the government in January 2016 after his capture in July 2012. Awamiya is no stranger to aggression, but this past week’s attack and ongoing siege is a new escalation by those yet to be satiated by the killing of Sheikh al-Nimr.

The city’s planned “development” was marked by blocking ambulance access, cordoning off the entrance to Mosawara with concrete barriers, cutting power and shooting at residents. As one said, “It is really painful to demolish a historic and archaeological city like Almosara whose lifespan extends for hundreds of years. Some people who want to close their eyes to the truth and are not affected by the demolition will believe in the lie of development.”

The action comes on the heels of an interview by deputy Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman’s interview on state television in which he vowed to take the country’s standoff with Tehran inside of Iran’s borders. The offensive was still against Shia Muslims but instead within Saudi borders and the victims his fellow citizens.

It is erroneous and somewhat simplistic to frame the assault strictly in sectarian terms or as a move to appease the religious establishment’s anti-Shia proclivities. Rather, it was meant to send a message to all in the Kingdom of the fate of those who would oppose the authority and the legitimacy of the monarchy. It was to widen the narrow streets of Mosawara to allow tanks easy passage for future operations. It was a reminder to those in the Qatif who might still be emboldened by Sheikh Nimr’s famous declaration, “A century of oppression … enough, we will not be silent and we will not fear. We will call for separation even from this country and let be what will be. Our dignity is dearer than the unity of this land.”

Most importantly, it was to demonstrate that even when the President of the United States visits Saudi Arabia to speak about combating extremism, the regime itself can be extremist without consequence or reproach.

Qana, Lebanon has been the subject of two vicious Israeli attacks and massacres. Gaza withstood untold suffering from a suffocating blockade followed by attack from land, sea and air. The poor villages outside of Manama, Bahrain, have withered under the pervasive repression of the al-Khalifa dynasty. Now another has joined their ranks.

Al-Awamiya: city under siege, city of resistance.

May 23, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Hunger Striking for Palestinian Rights

Take the Salt Water Challenge

Salt

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • May 23, 2017

Marwan Barghouti has stopped drinking water. He started his hunger strike thirty-six days ago, together with 1,500 other Palestinians who are being held in Israeli prisons. Each day the strikers have been drinking water mixed with salt, the salt needed to keep their electrolytes functioning to stay alive, but their health has reached a critical phase in which they are experiencing vomiting, fainting and loss of vision. Barghouti, who has been in Israeli prisons for 15 years, is wagering with his own life in a bid to obtain better conditions for the 6,500 Palestinians in Israeli detention, most of whom have been imprisoned on faux terrorism related charges by military tribunals that have a 90% conviction rate. Nearly 500 children are among the prisoners, some of whom are only 12 years old, and there are also an estimated 500 Palestinians held in administrative detention, which permits the Israeli authorities to confine them indefinitely without any charges or any trial.

The Israeli authorities describe the hunger strike as a “violation of prison rules.” In the past, they have responded to such protests by bringing in doctors to help restrain and supervise force feeding of the strikers, but the practice proved very controversial among members of the medical profession and has been suspended, though there have been suggestions that “foreign” doctors might be brought in to do the dirty work. So it is to be presumed that the strike will continue until the protesters either win, begin to die or choose to cease and desist.

I have had the pleasure of speaking recently with Marwan’s youngest son Arab, a graduate of St. Mary’s College of California with a master’s degree in financial analysis, who has begun a campaign to publicize his father’s resistance against the Israeli prison authorities. He has been asking supporters to themselves drink salt water as a sign of solidarity with the hunger strikers. Many prominent Palestinians have done so publicly and the practice has become widespread both in Gaza and on the West Bank as well as among activists in Europe and the United States. It is also gaining strength on the social media, most particularly on Facebook, with videos of supporters of the Salt Water Challenge Salt Water Challenge inviting their friends to join the movement. Hunger striking is the ultimate personal statement, a peaceful form of protest that can only be effective if it helps to mobilize other forces to bring about change. With that in mind, the account of the suffering of Marwan Barghouti and his comrades in prison deserves the widest possible dissemination worldwide.

Marwan Barghouti is, not surprisingly, a controversial figure. His resistance to the Israeli occupation of his homeland began early at age 15 when he joined Fatah and eventually went on to co-found the organization’s youth movement. He later assumed leadership of its paramilitary wing Tanzim, though he eventually distanced himself from Fatah due to its corruption and for a short time headed his own reform party. He subsequently rejoined Fatah in 2006 and is now a member of the Palestinian Parliament. He is widely regarded as the most popular of Palestinian leaders even though he is in prison, or perhaps in part because of that.

Barghouti’s biography reads like a work of fiction. One of seven children, his father was a migrant worker. He completed high school while in an Israeli prison, where he learned Hebrew, and then went on to complete a BA in history and political science followed by an MA in international relations, both at the Palestinian Birzeit University. It required 15 years to complete his degrees because he was exiled to Jordan by the Israelis from 1987 to 1994 for his involvement in the First Intifada after being charged with “incitement,” a favorite catch-all phrase frequently used by Israel to indict anyone who is perceived as an opponent or critic when no actual charges can be plausibly supported by evidence.

Marwan Barghouti was indeed prominent in both the First and Second Intifadas due to his undoubtedly correct belief that a powerful Israel had no interest in any peaceful accommodation with the beleaguered Palestinians. He supported sometimes violent resistance and provocations directed at Israeli soldiers and settlers on the West Bank, though he did not consider Israeli citizens inside Israel legitimate targets. In 2002, he was arrested in Ramallah by the Israelis during the Second Intifada and eventually convicted of five counts of murder plus additional charges. He was given the maximum sentence of five cumulative life sentences for the alleged murders plus forty additional years for attempted murder and membership in an illegal organization.

In his trial Barghouti denied everything but refused to defend himself, claiming that the court had no jurisdiction and that he was legitimately resisting the Israeli occupation of his home. No one was able to demonstrate that he had actually killed anyone but the prosecution insisted that he had given the orders to do so. It should be noted that it was a political rather than a criminal event and completely illegal as he was a Palestinian living in Ramallah who was being tried in an Israeli court and sentenced to prison in Israel. The Inter-Parliamentary union subsequently reviewed the case and found that it had violated the accused’s rights and that numerous international legal agreements and norms were contravened.

Since 2002, there have been growing demands for Marwan Barghouti’s release, including from some Israeli politicians and peace groups, based on his relative moderation and desire to see a peaceful transition into a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. He has sometimes been likened to Nelson Mandela as someone who could potentially bring order and justice to an apparently intractable situation. Barghouti is undeniably more popular than either Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah or Ismail Haniya of Hamas. If he were free and an election were held today, he would undoubtedly be elected Palestinian president.

It is important to understand the context of the plight of the Palestinian prisoners to appreciate where Barghouti’s struggle for Palestinian rights derives from. Israel shoots to kill Arab demonstrators, including children, who throw stones. It engages in illegal mass, arbitrary arrests of Palestinians who do not reside in Israel but are nevertheless subject to control by the Israeli military authorities who have a relatively free hand on the West Bank. Once convicted by a military court, which is almost always the case, the prisoners are then held in Israel, a violation of international law, while their homes back in the Palestinian territories are frequently demolished to collectively punish the families. The trip through Israeli security barriers from the West Bank to the prisons requires 20 hours travel each way, leading to a 45 minute visit with a barrier in between so no one can actually see anyone else. A one visit per year limit for anyone over 16 is part of a process intended to further punish the families. Prisoners are routinely tortured by Israel, including the “Palestinian Chair”, an excruciating procedure which was developed by the Israel Defense Force’s interrogators and later taught to Americans and used at Abu Ghraib. Hundreds of Arabs have also been killed while in custody and reports of organ harvesting have surfaced in the international media.

Over the past fifty years, an estimated 800,000 Palestinians have been imprisoned by Israel at one time or another, fully 40% of the adult male population. Meanwhile, Israeli settlers run amok on the West Bank, protected by the police and army as they attack Palestinians at random and systematically destroy their livelihoods. They are rarely arrested and, if they are, they are tried in Israeli civil courts where they are nearly always acquitted. It is a situation that would be unimaginable nearly anywhere else in the world but Israel gets away with it due to a sympathetic Jewish dominated media in the U.S. and lickspittle politicians worldwide who can easily be bought or coerced.

Numerous international laws and the Geneva Conventions have been violated in the horrific treatment of the Palestinians but Israel continues to act with impunity. Israel’s colonial occupation and theft of Palestinian land are illegal and have been frequently condemned by world bodies like the United Nations. The United States agrees that the settlements are illegal, though it avoids the word, but it balks at calling out the brutal Israeli military occupation for what it is. The U.S. has also served as Israel’s protector in the U.N. and elsewhere, meaning that there is no pushback against Israeli actions that is in any way commensurate to the crimes that its government commits.

The current American Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley is a virtual echo chamber for Israel’s Foreign Ministry. She sells out U.S. interests to pander to the powerful domestic Israel Lobby which uses its money and political access to corrupt American politicians as well as judicial processes worldwide, as Alison Weir has recently demonstrated with her brilliant analysis of how any criticism of Israel is now being conflated with anti-Semitism and increasingly regarded as a universal “hate crime.”

Israeli apologists like to frame the Palestinian “problem” as a group of unredeemable terrorists who have to be dealt with harshly, a narrative that portrays all Arabs as a threat. But the reality is that Israel has overwhelming power and exercises brutal control over the Palestinian population, which is treated as if it were subhuman. Indeed, many Israelis believe that Arabs are subhuman and deserve to be “ethnically cleansed.” But a people under occupation, even if relatively powerless, has a right to resist under international law, to include the use of violence, which is what the two Intifadas were all about.

One has to hope that Marwan Barghouti succeeds in his resistance and that his son Arab will be able to reach the widest possible audience to publicize what exactly is going on in Israel’s prisons and by extension in its cruel occupation and settlement of what remains of Palestine. And we should not forget other prisoners of conscience like Israeli nuclear whistleblower Moredechai Vanunu, who has yet again had his liberty restricted by the country’s Supreme Court. Israel is an essentially racist police state in spite of its frequent boasts about its alleged democracy but the important message for us Americans is that we have unfortunately served as Benjamin Netanyahu’s enablers. The Palestinians deserve a state of their own and the time has come for the United States to demand that Israel free all political prisoners like Marwan Barghouti and allow that to happen.

May 22, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , | 2 Comments

This week in Palestine: Israeli forces kill three, refuse to negotiate with hunger strikers

This week in Palestine: Israeli forces kill three, refuse to negotiate with hunger strikers

Saba’ Obeid, Mohammad al-Kasaji, and Mohammad Bakr were killed by Israeli forces.
If Americans Knew

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights documents crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territories in weekly reports. We summarize their reports and stories from other news agencies with the goal of informing Americans of the ongoing violence that Palestinian families face each day under Israel’s occupation of their ancestral lands. The Israeli government receives $3 billion per year in direct military aid from U.S. taxpayers.

May 11, 2017 – May 17, 2017

West Bank

  • The Israeli military continued its 50-year long military occupation of Palestinian land in the West Bank, under which the 2.8 million Palestinians living there are subjected to a different set of laws and treatment than Jewish settlers (numbering 588,000) are.
  • An Israeli sharpshooter shot 22-year-old Saba’ Obeid in the heart at demonstration supporting the Palestinian mass hunger strike, killing him. Israeli soldiers shot other demonstrators with rubber-coated steel bullets and teargas canisters and prevented journalists from entering the area.
  • An Israeli police office killed Jordanian man Mohammad al-Kasaji, 57, in Jerusalem’s Old City after the man reportedly stabbed him. Palestinian sources said the officer is known for assaulting worshipers who come to Al-Aqsa Mosque (a Muslim holy site), including women.
  • Hundreds of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails continued their hunger strike, which reached the 4-week mark. Many are now suffering life-threatening conditions, unable to move or stand, are vomiting blood, and and have had their salts confiscated by Israeli prison authorities. Many have been placed in solitary confinement, are being transferred from prison to prison, and are forced to stand to be counted or face severe fines in spite of their deteriorating health. Israeli officials continue to refuse to negotiate with them.
  • Israeli forces attacked demonstrations in support of the Palestinian hunger strikers and wounded 40 Palestinians, 13 of them children. Roughly half of the wounded were shot with live bullets or rubber-coated bullets. Israeli forces also damaged three ambulances.
  • Israeli forces attacked the weekly demonstrations against Israeli’s Separation Wall in Bil’in and Nil’in villages, dispersing the protesters with tear gas and live bullets, and beat some of them.
  • Israeli forces carried out 62 invasions of Palestinian communities, raiding and searching homes, and arrested 79 civilians, 9 of them children. One of those arrested and jailed was 67-year-old academic and writer Ahmad Qatamesh, who already spent 8 years of his life in Israeli jails without any charges or trial. A teenage girl was also arrested after soldiers invaded her family’s home at 2:00 in the morning.
  • Israeli authorities announced they planned to demolish four buildings in a Palestinian neighborhood because they were built too close to Israel’s illegal Apartheid Wall.
  • An Israeli police officer hit a Palestinian child with his vehicle in Jerusalem and fled the scene. In a different incident in the West Bank, a Jewish settler hit a Palestinian man with his vehicle and deserted the scene.
  • Israeli forces uprooted 60 olive trees belonging to a Palestinian man.
  • Israeli forces erected several temporary checkpoints, restricting movement for even more Palestinians. (There are 27 permanent checkpoints and hundreds of physical roadblocks placed by Israeli forces. Palestinians are prohibited from using 41 roads totaling 700 kilometers in the West Bank; only Israelis can travel on them.)

Gaza Strip

  • Israel continued its 10-year illegal land, sea, and air blockade of the Gaza Strip, strictly controlling the movement of all 2 million Palestinians living there.
  • Israeli navy forces killed Mohammad Bakr, a 23-year-old fisherman and married father of two, off the shores of Gaza on the 69th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba. The Israeli gunmen chased the boat, opened fire on the four cousins on it, shot Mohammad in the stomach, and ordered his cousins to hand him over before taking him away. He died of his wounds later that day.
  • Israeli navy forces opened fire at fishing boats off the coast of the Gaza Strip most days. They arrested six Gaza fisherman, including two children, confiscated a boat, and damaged another.
  • At 1:00 am, Israeli forces raided and searched the home of Hamas leader Essa al-Jabari, 51, interrogated him, pointed weapons at his wife and daughters, and then arrested him and confiscated his car.
  • Israeli forces continued to prevent most Gazans from entering or exiting the Strip (via the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing), allowing less than 2,000 people to travel.
  • Israeli forces arrested a Palestinian patient who was on his way to the West Bank with his mother to receive medical care.
  • Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinian agricultural lands near the border.
  • Israeli forces continued to prevent most exports from Gaza, allowing only some produce items, fish and aluminum scraps. There is just one Israeli-controlled crossing (Kerem Shalom) for the movement of goods. Israel’s strict limits continue to severely cripple Gaza’s economy. Israeli officials told the U.S. that their goal is to keep Gaza “on the brink of collapse” and “‘functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis.”

Read the full PCHR report, which also contains daily summaries. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA) also publishes a “Protection of Civilians” report on the occupied Palestinian territories every two weeks. Their latest report covers May 2 to May 15.

May 21, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Occupation’s Accomplice

By Meghna Sridhar Tripp Zanetis | Jacobin | May 18, 2017

Mass incarceration is a central pillar of Israeli occupation. Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners are waging a hunger strike to fight it.

On April 17, on the anniversary of Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, over 1,500 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons launched a mass hunger strike. A month later, 834 of the prisoners remain on empty stomachs — with several dozens now placed on “close medical watch” by Israeli authorities. The strike has drawn a wave of solidarity among Palestinians and has been met with severe repression by Israeli authorities.

Weeks before the strike erupted, we visited the military courts in the West Bank as a part of a delegation from Stanford Law’s International Human Rights Clinic. Observing the court proceedings drove home how the prison system serves as a core pillar of the occupation — and why the prison strike has attracted so much support among Palestinians.

The prisoners are demanding better conditions: improved access to family visits and phone calls; access to books, newspapers, mail, and educational opportunities; and an end to administrative detention and solitary confinement.

Yet at the heart of their struggle lies a more insidious problem: the sprawling military court system that has stripped them of their dignity and incarcerated over one in three Palestinian men since 1967. Palestinians imprisoned in Israel are sentenced by a court system run by the Israeli military, without any of the safeguards of the Israeli civilian courts. These military courts are predicated on a legal double standard: they only prosecute crimes against Israeli citizens or property; they do not prosecute crimes committed by Israeli settlers living in the Occupied West Bank, or crimes with Palestinian victims.

As strike leader and political prisoner Marwan Barghouti has put it, Israel’s military courts are an “accomplice in the occupation’s crimes.”

Israeli authorities have cracked down swiftly on the hunger strike — not only have they punished those who have protested, but they are also reportedly looking into setting up a separate military hospital to force feed those still on strike. Far-right National Union activists, meanwhile, have organized a barbecue outside the prison, seeking to mock the hungry prisoners with the wafting scents of grilled meat. And Pizza Hut released an advertisement taunting Barghouti to end the strike with a slice of their pizza.

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon has said that the Palestinian prisoners are not political prisoners, but “convicted terrorists and murderers” who were “brought to justice.”

Our observations of the military courts — and the statistics — tell a different story. The courts prosecute between five hundred and seven hundred children each year — 79 percent, between 2010 and 2015, for stone throwing, which under the Israeli military’s own classification is only a “public order” offense. This crime generally involves youth throwing stones at military targets so distant that no bodily harm occurs.

Several other offenses that the military courts process are also nonviolent in nature. Incitement — a catch-all crime that could include posting anti-occupation status on Facebook — increasingly appears on the docket. Infiltration — which involves Palestinians illegally entering Israel in order to work, usually as manual laborers — also accounts for a fair share of the men brought before military courts.

There is a good reason that the practice of trying civilians — especially children — in military courts for such a prolonged period of time is unprecedented in an ostensible democracy. International law does allow military courts for civilians in the exceptional case of belligerent occupation. But the international laws governing occupation never contemplated a situation of a fifty-year occupation. And Israel’s military courts prove exactly why.

A staggering 99.74 percent of the cases heard in military court end in conviction: once accused, a Palestinian has little chance of mounting a successful defense. Evidence, especially when it pertains to children, is often the result of coerced confessions — but exclusion motions throwing out such illicitly obtained evidence are rarely successful. The court proceedings are entirely in Hebrew — a language almost all defendants, and most of their lawyers, don’t speak. Translations are often inadequate, or sloppy: we witnessed a translator walk out of the court midway through a proceeding. Most cases are resolved through guilty pleas — because, according to the attorneys we interviewed, defendants and defense lawyers alike are often punished for attempting to take cases to trial.

Palestinian prisoners, in short, are not just faced with harsh prison conditions, in prisons that their families have limited or no access to. They arrive in these facilities after facing a dehumanizing trial in a language that they do not speak, where the presumption of innocence does not apply, and where they face little chance of defending themselves successfully. When they put their bodies on the line with a hunger strike, they are doing so because the system offers them no other option.

That system must fall.

Mass incarceration is a central pillar of Israeli control over the West Bank. Improving prison conditions or adding procedural protections will not solve the problem. Only ending military control over the civilian population will deliver justice to the striking prisoners, as well as the millions suffering daily indignities on the outside.

May 21, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 1 Comment

Israeli terrorists incite murder of Arabs south of Nablus

Palestine Information Center – May 3, 2017

NABLUS – Israeli settlers at predawn Wednesday preformed sacrilegious rituals and yelled “death to Arabs” at Yitzhar crossroads, south of Nablus.

Palestinians driving in the area said over 100 Israeli settlers, escorted by heavily-armed soldiers, flocked to the northern entrance to Hawara town, south of Nablus, and yelled anti-Arab chants.

The Israeli settlers further called for revenge against the Palestinians, shouting “Death to Arabs and Muslims.”

On Tuesday evening, a horde of Israeli fanatics showed up at Hawara checkpoint and on the access road to Bracha settlement, illegally built on Palestinian land in Kafr Kalil and Irak Burin, to mark Israel’s establishment anniversary on the land of Palestine.

May 3, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

Killer Cops Get Immunity, No Matter Who’s in the White House

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford | May 3, 2017

Two courtroom events this week serve to remind us that, no matter which party’s president is in the White House, the right to life and liberty does not apply on the streets of Black America, where the police enjoy effective immunity from prosecution. On Tuesday, the U.S. Justice Department announced that it would not file charges in the death of Alton Sterling, the 37 year-old Black man who was shot to death by cops while helpless on the ground in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, last year. Also on Tuesday, the Justice Department and South Carolina officials accepted a former cop’s guilty plea to the charge of using excessive force when he shot 50 year-old Walter Scott five times, while he was running away after a traffic stop, in North Charleston, South Carolina. Both killings were recorded in gruesome detail on video. But, when it comes to killer cops, the best of evidence is never enough.

The police that killed Alton Sterling, in Baton Rouge, got away with murder, and then proceeded to brutalize and abuse the entire Black community, violently suppressing waves of protest. But, other cops would pay with their lives for the crimes of their brothers in blue. Two days after Alton Sterling was slaughtered, 25 year-old Michah Xavier Johnson launched his one-man war against the Dallas, Texas, police, killing five of them and wounding seven before they blew him up with a robotic bomb — a first in U.S. urban counter-insurgency warfare. Johnson was avenging both Sterling’s death in Louisiana and the police murder of Philando Castile, near Minneapolis, the same week. Castile’s girlfriend, displaying heroic calm in the face of police terror, went on Facebook Live while the cop was still pointing his weapon, with Castile’s body beside her and her young daughter in the back seat – another first in the annals of the one-sided police war against Black people in the United States. The cop that killed Castile has only been charged with manslaughter – by the state of Minnesota, not the feds — and has not yet gone to trial.

Ten days after Michael Xavier Johnson conducted his live ammunition protest in Dallas, former Marine Gavin Eugene Long ambushed six cops in Baton Rouge, killing three and wounding three others, before he was killed.

Sham Investigations

Walter Scott had his fatal encounter with a killer cop in April of 2016. A young immigrant, just passing by, had the presence of mind to video Officer Michael Slager pumping five bullets into Scott as he ran across a field. The Scott case is unique, because it is the only cop killing where the Obama Justice Department actually brought charges. Obama frequently announced that he was “investigating” police killings of Blacks, but nothing would ever come of it, and the case would finally be dropped. Which is what happened this week with the Alton Sterling case from Baton Rouge. You can expect the same result from the Justice Department’s ongoing “investigation” of the police killing of 12 year-old Tamir Rice, in Cleveland, back in November of 2014. It will fall to the Trump Justice Department to finally drop the case. But, make no mistake about it; when it comes to maintaining the police army of occupation in Black America, the Democrats and the Republicans are in complete agreement. There is no such thing as a sanctuary city for Black people in the U.S.

Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

May 3, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Israel denies compensation to family of toddler burned to death

Palestine Information Center – May 1, 2017

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – Israel will not pay terror victims’ compensation to Ahmed Dawabsha, a Palestinian boy whose parents and brother were killed in a 2015 arson attack carried out on their home by Israeli settlers, Israel’s war minister Avigdor Lieberman told a Knesset member in an official correspondence on the issue.

Writing to Joint (Arab) List MK Yousef Jabareen in response to a question as to why the now-orphaned Ahmed has not yet received money from Israel, Lieberman said the 6-year-old, who was badly injured in the attack, does not qualify as a “terror victim” and will therefore not receive compensation.

According to the Times of Israel daily, the current law stipulates that Israel must compensate Israelis affected by terrorism, but does not apply to Palestinians “who are not citizens or residents of Israel,” Lieberman wrote.

In January 2016, then-attorney general Yehuda Weinstein rejected a request from Jabareen for Dawabsha to be recognized as a terror victim.

“The compensation should be a right, not a gift,” he claimed. “The state needs to give him full compensation due to the severe incident he has suffered.”

Jabareen said the family would now “turn to the courts” in order to seek both recognition and compensation for Dawabsha.

Two homes in Duma, south of Nablus, were set alight in the July 31 attack. In the attack, Ali Dawabsha,18 months old, was burned to death and father Saad Dawabsha, his wife Riham and their son Ahmad, who was four at the time, were critically injured. Saad died in August and Riham in September. The only surviving member of the family, Ahmed, received months of treatment for severe burns.

Responding to Lieberman’s letter, Jabareen accused the war minister of implementing a racist policy towards the Palestinians.

“The defense minister’s position is based on racial discrimination,” Jabareen said in a statement. “If we were talking about Jewish settlers hurt by Palestinians, the victims would automatically receive compensation.”

The attack caused massive outrage in the occupied Palestinian territories and around the world.

In January 2016, a 21-year-old Israeli settler—Amiram Ben-Uliel—and an unnamed 16-year-old minor were indicted for carrying out the Duma terror attack.

May 1, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 3 Comments

Former long-term hunger striker Thaer Halahleh seized by Israeli occupation forces

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network – April 29, 2017

On Friday, 28 April, Thaer Halahleh, former long-term hunger striker in Israeli prisons, was seized by occupation forces at a suddenly placed checkpoint near Bethlehem, when his vehicle was stopped by israeli occupation forces.

Halahleh, from the village of Kharas near al-Khalil, was reportedly taken from the car, his hands tied and taken to an as-yet unknown destination, reported Asra Voice, quoting Halahleh’s family.

He has been seized by Israeli occupation forces on multiple occasions and has spent over nine years in Israeli prisons, most of them in administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. He was most recently released in October 2016; he had been imprisoned without charge or trial since July 2014.

Halahleh engaged in a 77-day hunger strike in 2012, winning his freedom from administrative detention without charge or trial in June 2012 alongside fellow administrative detainee Bilal Diab. He was arrested again in April 2013 and released in May 2014, before being once again arrested and imprisoned without charge or trial.

Halahleh suffers from Hepatitis C, contracted during a dental operation in Israeli prisons where improper sterilization was used. During his previous imprisonment, Halahleh was denied family visits with his wife and children for seven months, and received only painkillers as treatment for his illness.

On 17 April, 1500 Palestinian prisoners launched a hunger strike for a series of demands, including the right to family visits, appropriate medical care, and the end of administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. Protests throughout occupied Palestine and internationally have grown in support of the strikers, with former prisoners often in the leadership of these events.

April 29, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 1 Comment

Trump Releases Declassified Operation Condor-Era Docs to Argentina

Chilean dictator Agusto Pinochet (L) and Argentine dictator Rafael Videla (R)

Chilean dictator Agusto Pinochet (L) and Argentine dictator Rafael Videla (R) | Photo: Wikimedia Commons
teleSUR | April 27, 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump met with Argentine President Mauricio Macri on Thursday, handing over 931 declassified Department of State records related to Operation Condor.

Operation Condor was a Cold War-era campaign of violence across Latin America that resulted in tens of thousands of activist deaths.

Trump’s release falls in line with former President Barack Obama’s promise to release intelligence documents about human rights abuses committed by the Argentine military dictatorship during the 1970s and 1980s.

Entitled “Secret/Exdis,” the declassified documents provide new insight into U.S. support for human rights abuses in Argentina and neighboring countries. Here’s what the reports divulged.

They describe Operation Condor as a trans-border, multinational effort by Southern Cone secret police services to “track down” and “liquidate” regime opponents, the National Security Archive reports.

They reveal that the orchestrators of Operation Condor considered establishing “field offices” in the United States and Europe.

They provide information about former President Jimmy Carter’s propping up of former dictator Rafael Videla in 1977. It has also been confirmed that Orlando Letelier, chief economist for former Chilean President Salvador Allende, was killed by members of Chile’s intelligence service under the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship.

Moreover, they include details about the censorship of U.S. Buenos Aires embassy human rights officer Tex Harris, who tried making human rights abuses public.

The declassification of other top secret documents is expected to occur before the end of the year. Records of 14 intelligence agencies, including the CIA, FBI, and DIA, are expected to be included in the release.

April 28, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment