Prominent Palestinian astrophysicist Imad Barghouthi, a professor of theoretical space-plasma physics at Al-Quds University, was ordered by the Israeli occupation military to three months in administrative detention – imprisonment without charge or trial – on Monday, 2 May.
Barghouthi, who marked his 54th birthday in Israeli prison, joins nearly 750 fellow Palestinians held without charge or trial under administrative detention. Detention orders are indefinitely renewable on the basis of “secret evidence” to which both Palestinian detainees and their lawyers are denied access. The scientist, from Beit Rima near Ramallah, was arrested by Israeli occupation forces at a military checkpoint in Nabi Saleh on 24 April.
Barghouthi, a former employee of NASA in the United States, is a prominent figure in the Palestinian scientific community and his work is internationally known. He received his BS in physics from the University of Jordan in 1985, followed by his masters’ degree in nuclear physics in 1988. In 1994, he completed his Ph.D. at Utah State University in the United States.
He was arrested before, on 6 December 2014, as he traveled to a scientific conference in the United Arab Emirates, and ordered to administrative detention without charge or trial; he was released early, on 22 January 2015, following an international outcry from the scientific community, including statements from AURDIP (Association des Universitaires pour le Respect du Droit International en Palestine), BRICUP (British Committee for the Universities of Palestine), Committee of Concerned Scientists, MESA (Middle East Studies Association) Committee on Academic Freedom, and Euroscience.
Upon Barghouthi’s release, he wrote a letter to international organizations that had supported him: “I call on the international community that spoke up on my behalf to speak up also on behalf of all Palestinian political prisoners. There are approximately 500 Palestinians held in administrative detention, imprisoned without charge or trial. The systematic use of arbitrary imprisonment by Israeli forces to punish Palestinians violates international humanitarian law under the Fourth Geneva Convention.”
Al-Quds University, where Barghouthi teaches, has also been subject to ongoing Israeli repression, including invasion of the campus, destruction of student organizations’ offices and materials, and arrests of students.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network calls for the immediate release of Palestinian scientist Imad al-Barghouthi, which comes as part of a systematic attack on Palestinian academics, journalists, writers and other cultural workers by the Israeli occupation. We reiterate that the case of Imad al-Barghouthi underlines the necessity of the international academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions – a call adopted by an increasing number of academic associations and academic labor unions. Such institutions are deeply complicit in the structures of occupation that deny Palestinian human rights at all levels, including denying Palestinians’ rights to education and academic freedom, and upholding the structures of colonialism and occupation that target Barghouthi, his students and fellow faculty at Palestinian universities like Al-Quds, and the Palestinian people as a whole.
Photo: Al-Quds Human Rights Clinic
Gaza, Occupied Palestine – After more than six months risking their lives while ploughing, planting seeds and weeding their land, and after investing a large amount of money on seeds and on renting a tractor, the Qudaih family from the village of Khuzaa were finally ready to start harvesting their barley and the wheat two days ago.
We arrived at the fields, located around 100 metres from the fence, at 7am. Around 9am one jeep from the Israeli occupation forces stopped in front of the farmers and a group of soldiers emerged. After a few minutes they fired several shots in the air, then returned to the jeep and left.
45 minutes later another jeep arrived. This time the soldiers fired shots on the ground next to the farmers and the ISM activists that were with them. The shots were near misses, just a few centimetres from their feet. As if this was not terrifying enough, next they fired shots close to the farmers’ and activists’ heads. At that moment most of the farmers started to run away from their fields terrified by the whistling sounds of the bullets flying around them: One Bedouin man that was picking herbs for his animals laid down on the ground hiding behind his donkey, while the soldiers fired shot more than five times just a few centimetres from him. The shooting didn’t even stop when everyone started to run away, preventing the farmers to secure their horse cart holding what little harvest they had collected until they were attacked.
These families now have to choose between losing all the money invested as well as their main sustenance for the year, or continue trying to harvest the crops on their land – despite the risk of someone getting killed or disabled.
BETHLEHEM – The Israeli who shot and killed a pregnant Palestinian woman and her teenage brother at the notorious Qalandiya checkpoint in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday was a private security contractor, not a member of the police forces, Israeli media revealed on Sunday.
The Israeli Justice Ministry released a report on Sunday, which revealed that Maram Salih Hassan Abu Ismail, 23, and her brother Ibrahim, 16, had been shot and killed by a privately contracted security guard, and not a police officer as had previously been thought, Israeli Channel 10 reported, noting that the police officer only fired warning shots into the air.
As a result, newspaper Haaretz wrote, the Justice Ministry’s police investigation unit won’t be opening a probe into the killings.
It remains unclear if and by whom a further probe will be conducted.
The revelation comes as serious questions have arisen over Israeli forces’ version of the events that led to the death of Abu Ismail and her younger brother earlier this week.
The contractor shot and killed the siblings after Israeli forces said that Abu Ismail, who was five months pregnant, threw a knife in the direction of Israeli forces at the Qalandiya military checkpoint.
However, witnesses at the scene said the two siblings posed no threat at the time the Israeli officer killed them, as they mistakenly entered the wrong part of the checkpoint and did not understand Israeli soldiers speaking to them in Hebrew.
Israeli police has so far refused to release security camera footage of the Qalandiya shooting, despite having done so in past cases under investigation.
An Israeli police spokesperson was not available for comment on Sunday.
Maram and Ibrahim Abu Ismail are among more than 200 Palestinians to be killed by Israeli forces or settlers since October, the majority during alleged or attempted small-scale attacks that have left nearly 30 Israelis dead.
UN investigations have shown that, in a number of instances since the unrest began, Israeli forces have implemented a policy of extrajudicial execution, shooting dead Palestinians who did not present imminent threat at the time of their death.
CIA torture victims are a big step closer to accountability.
A federal judge has ruled against two CIA contract psychologists, James Mitchell and John Bruce Jessen, in their effort to dismiss a case brought against them on behalf of three victims of the torture program they designed and implemented for the agency.
Senior Judge Justin Quackenbush announced his decision rejecting the psychologists’ motion to dismiss during an argument last Friday in Spokane, Washington. Yesterday, the federal court issued its written opinion.
The ruling is an historic first. Those responsible for the CIA’s torture program never previously had to answer for their actions because no victim’s case has ever proceeded beyond a motion to dismiss. Thanks to this order, we now enter into the pretrial discovery phase of the litigation, an essential step before any trial of Mitchell and Jessen for their key role in the torture of our clients. During discovery our clients will be able to obtain evidence from Mitchell and Jessen to help prove their case at trial — although the Senate torture report already makes public many of Mitchell and Jessen’s actions in the CIA torture program.
The case was brought by Suleiman Abdullah Salim, Mohamed Ben Soud, two survivors of the CIA program, and the family of Gul Rahman, who died as a result of his torture. All three men were subjected to torture techniques and methods that Mitchell and Jessen designed and helped implement for the CIA. To this day, Salim and Ben Soud suffer psychologically and physically from the effects of their torture. Gul Rahman’s family has never been officially notified of his death, and his body never returned to them.
In their effort to evade accountability, lawyers for the two psychologists had argued that the decision to torture the three men was a political one and therefore not appropriate for determination by a judge. They also argued that they are entitled to the same legal immunity as government officials because they were government contractors.
As the court recognized, however, our judiciary is well equipped to handle claims of torture, and it does not turn a blind eye to prisoner abuse even in wartime. The court pointed out that years of case law “demonstrate the present fallacy of Defendants’ argument that the court must decline jurisdiction because the case falls within the realm of war and foreign policy.”
The court also explained that contractors do not qualify for immunity unless they “merely acted at the direction of the Government” in carrying out lawful government contracts. Mitchell and Jessen went far beyond carrying out orders. They designed, sold, and implemented an unlawful torture program (and earned tens of millions of dollars in the process).
After over a decade of trying, it looks like CIA torture survivors will finally have their day in court.
NAZARETH – The Israeli occupation police refused to release a video documenting the murder of a young Palestinian lady and her brother who posed no threat to the occupation troops, Hebrew press said on Sunday.
According to the Israeli police version, 23-year-old Maram Saleh Abu Ismail and her 16-year-old brother Ibrahim refused their order to stop and posed a threat to officers.
The Israeli police further claimed that Maram wielded a knife before she was shot along with her brother, who was walking behind her, by the Israeli police.
Eyewitness accounts, however, contradict such Israeli claims, saying the two casualties posed no threat and were at a distance from the occupation troops, who talked to them in a Hebrew language which they did not understand.
Haaretz newspaper quoted Israeli police sources as stating that videos documenting live scenes cannot be released during the investigation phase.
According to the newspaper, similar recordings legitimizing police use of force were released in the past. Israeli police claimed, after searching the casualties’ bodies, that Ibrahim was holding a knife, which was discredited by eyewitness accounts.
The newspaper said a snapshot picked up at the scene shows the two martyrs lying on the ground 15 meters away from the checkpoint and in a place where no Israeli police officers were deployed.
MK Dov Khenin (Joint Arab List) demanded that “Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan launch an immediate probe into the scene and release the video.”
Khenin said no recordings were released despite the fact that the checkpoint was equipped with several cameras.
Maram, who was shot dead by the occupation troops, is a mother of two children and was expecting another baby. She was killed on her way to al-Maqasid hospital in Occupied Jerusalem.
Rights activists have called for the bodies of hundreds of Shia Muslims massacred by the Nigerian army last December to be exhumed for further investigation into the exact number of victims.
Residents in the northern city of Kaduna, where the carnage took place, have rejected the official death toll and said a local inquiry into the incident suggests the government figures may be a gross underestimation.
On December 12, Nigerian soldiers attacked Shia Muslims attending a ceremony at a religious center in Zaria, accusing them of blocking the convoy of the army’s chief of staff and attempting to assassinate him.
A day later, Nigerian forces raided the home of Sheikh Ibhrahim al- Zakzaky, who leads the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), and arrested him after killing those attempting to protect him. Both incidents led to the deaths of hundreds of members of the religious community.
Rights groups say there is evidence Nigerian military had secretly buried hundreds of bodies in mass graves.
Meanwhile, Mohammed Mustapha and Nura Adam, two eye-witnesses, have also painted a horrific picture of the massacre.
Referring to a mass grave outside Kaduna, Mustapha said the local “government claimed they buried 347 people here but we know the actual number is far more than that.”
Mustapha also recalled how earth-moving equipment was brought into the cemetery near the Nigerian Defense Academy in the troubled region on December 14 to dig a pit for the burial.
He also noted that at about 11:00 p.m. (2200 GMT) armed forces cordoned off the narrow path leading to the burial ground shortly before trucks filled with bodies arrived.
“I counted six huge trucks and several military vans laden with dead bodies driving into the cemetery for the mass burial which residents were not allowed to witness,” said Adam.
“It took them five hours to finish the burial, which was an indication that the bodies were more than 347 because it doesn’t take that long to thrown in such a number of bodies into a pit,” he added.
Adam also said the bodies should be exhumed to confirm the exact number of the dead, adding that the world would be “shocked by the true number of those buried.”
However, Abdulhakeem Mustapha, counsel to the Kaduna state commission of inquiry probing the incident, has said local public officials do not have any authority to force the central government in Abuja to take action over the massacre.
“This is an investigative committee. It doesn’t have powers to issue orders,” said Mustapha, adding, “It is going to make its recommendations to the government on what it believes are the best ways to resolve the problem based on its findings.”
Last week, Amnesty International said in a report titled “Unearthing the truth: unlawful killings and mass cover-up in Zaria,” on April 22 that the Nigerian army killed over 350 supporters of Zakzaky and tried to meticulously destroy evidence of the crime by burying the victims in mass graves.
The report also blames Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration for failing to probe army crimes against civilians.
Despite Buhari’s pledge to investigate the war crimes, “to date no concrete steps have been taken to end endemic impunity for such crimes,” it pointed out.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has also slammed the carnage and said Nigerian forces committed several instances of bloodshed against the country’s Shia community in mid-December 2015.
The Nigerian army had also targeted Shias in August 2014 as people were holding a demonstration to condemn Israeli attacks on the Palestinians.
The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.
— Albert Camus, 1913-1960
On May 1st, 2003, George W. Bush stood in a dinky little flying suit on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and in a super stage managed appearance told the lie of the century:
Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.
The illegal occupation and decimation of Iraq continued until December 2011. In June 2014 they returned to bomb again in the guise of combating ISIS. As the thirteenth anniversary of Bush’s ridiculous appearance with a vast “Mission Accomplished” banner behind him, Iraq is largely in ruins, Iraqis have fled the murderous “liberation” and its aftermath in millions, and there are over three million internally displaced.
The nation is pinned between a tyrannical, corrupt US puppet government, a homicidal, head chopping, raping, organ eating, history erasing, US-spawned ISIS – and a renewed, relentless US bombardment. So much for the 2008 US-Iraq State of Forces agreement, which stated that by 31st December 2011 “all United States forces shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory.”
On the USS Abraham Lincoln Bush stated:
In this battle, we have fought for the cause of liberty, and for the peace of the world … Because of you, our nation is more secure. Because of you, the tyrant has fallen, and Iraq is free.
In what has transpired to be monumental irony, he continued:
The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We have removed an ally of al-Qaida, and cut off a source of terrorist funding.
There was, of course, no al-Qaida in Iraq, no funding of fundamentalist terrorism under Saddam Hussein. It is the invasion’s conception, birth, now reached maturity from Baghdad to Brussels, Mosul to the Maghreb, Latakia to London.
In Iraq, US terrorism from the air is back in all its genocidal force.
Incredibly on April 23rd, the Independent reported another staggering piece of either disinformation or childish naivety, in a predictably familiar script: “A spokesperson for the US military said all possible precautions were taken to avoid ‘collateral damage’”, but in approaching 7,000 airstrikes the number of confirmed civilian deaths had risen on Planet Pentagon to just – forty one.
In another past its sell by date mantra:
Colonel Patrick Ryder, a spokesperson for Central Command, said the casualties were “deeply regretted” but maintained that the campaign was the “the most precise air campaign in the history of warfare.”
And here’s another familiar one:
In this type of armed conflict, particularly with an enemy who hides among the civilian population, there are going to be, unfortunately, civilian casualties at times.
The Geneva Convention, amongst other Treaties, Principles and Conventions, is specific on the protections of populations in conflict, Colonel Ryder should familiarize himself with the texts.
So another onslaught in a quarter of a century of bombing Iraq is underway – another mass murder with a silly name “Operation Inherent Resolve.”
Here is reality from Dr Souad Al-Azzawi, Award winning environmental scientist who gained her Ph.D from the Colorado School of Mines.
She states of just the onslaught on Mosul, her home, the ancient university city of 1.5 million, that the stated figures from US spokespersons are: “either misinformed about the real situation on the ground, since they are using drones and guided missiles, or airstrikes blindly, intentionally not saying the truth.”
I would like to list SOME of what the Americans’ airstrikes have been targeting and killing in Mosul:
Destroyed are all state services buildings, including Municipalities in right and left sides of Mosul. When they bomb at night, all security personnel get killed or injured, also residents of close by areas, and adjacent properties are destroyed.
Bombed and destroyed all communication centers.
Destruction of Dairy Production Factories in both left and right sides of Mosul. Casualties of these two are one hundred deaths and two hundred injuries among civilians who gathered to receive milk and dairy products from the factories.
Dr Al-Azzawi reminds that this is reminiscent of the bombing of the baby milk factory outside Baghdad in 1991 with the claim it was a chemical weapons factory. This writer visited the factory ruins just months later. There were still charred containers of milk powder – the machinery was provided and maintained by a company in Birmingham, England which specialized in infant food production.
* Bombing of Mosul Pharmaceutical Industries.
* Mosul University was bombed with ninety two deaths and one hundred and thirty five injuries. Earlier estimates were higher, but many were pulled from the rubble alive. “They were students, faculty members, staff members, families of faculties, and restaurants workers.”
*Al Hadbaa and Al Khadraa Residential Apartment compounds. Fifty people killed (families) and one hundred injured.
* Hay al Dhubat residential area in the right side of Mosul, two days ago, five women women and four children killed and the whole house destroyed. The father is a respected pharmacist who has nothing to do with ISIL.
* Destruction of houses in front of the Medical College, killed twenty two civilians – eleven in one family.
* Bombing Sunni Waqif Building, twenty deaths and seventy injuries which included those in nearby commercial and residential buildings.
* Car maintenance industrial areas in both left and right sides of Mosul destroyed with civilian’s casualties.
* Bombing of flour factories in both sides of Mosul.
* Rafidain and Rasheed banks and all their branches in both sides of Mosul. Destruction of all commercial and residential areas in the vicinity of these places, with as yet unknown civilian casualties. (My emphasis.)
* Central Bank of Mosul in Ghazi Street, with nearby residential and commercial properties.
* Pepsi factory, currently producing ice cubes only. Three deaths and twelve injuries among the workers.
* The Governor’s house and close by guest house.
* Mosul’s old industrial compound destroyed, with parking area for fuel Tankers and cars. Three days ago, huge explosion of fuel tankers, one hundred and fifty deaths and injuries.
* Urban Planning Directory in Hay al Maliyah bombed.
* Engineering Planning Directory in Hay al Maliyah bombed.
* Food Storages in left side of Mosul bombed.
* Drinking water treatment plants bombed.
* All electrical generation and transformer stations in the left side of Mosul bombed.
* Domez land communications center in left side of Mosul destroyed.
*Al Hurairah Bridge – and many more.
There is a sickening familiarity to some of the targets – food, pharmaceuticals, water treatment plants, electricity generation, communications and educational facilities, bridges (the country, towns and cities are divided by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers) have been favoured targets since 1991. Every time painstakingly and imaginatively restored they have been re-bombed for a quarter of a century.
During the 1990s a Canadian film crew captured footage of US ‘planes dropping flares on harvested wheat and barley, incinerating entire harvests in a country, which due to the strangulating embargo, there were near famine conditions in parts of society.
“When Iraqi civilians looked into the faces of our servicemen and women, they saw strength, and kindness, and good will”, said George W Bush in his “Mission Accomplished” speech.
No, they saw invaders destroying their lives, their families, their history, raping, pillaging. They saw Falluja’s destruction, Abu Ghraib’s horrors and the eleven other secret prisons and nightmares ever ongoing.
On April 25th, Dr Al-Azzawi added:
More war crimes have been committed by American Coalition, yesterday April 24, 2016. The coalition airplanes bombed Rashidiya water treatment plant left side of Mosul city and Yermouk electricity generation station in the right side of Mosul. Through targeting these populations’ life sustaining necessities, the coalition is committing genocidal action towards Mosul residents in the pretext of fighting ISIS.
Also on 25th April, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kate Gilmore, on returning from a week in Iraq wrote starkly of the government:
Iraqis are crying out for fairness, recognition, justice, appreciation and meaningful participation in shaping their future – a process that goes forward and not backwards … We all have responsibilities towards the people of Iraq. While there is an international military coalition in place, a comparably resourced international coalition of practical compassion is also needed to help with the building blocks towards a sustained peace in Iraq.
In the US military lexicon it seems “compassion” has been replaced by their missiles of choice.
Ms Gilmore also stated that Iraq was being run by a failed government and warned foreign powers not to be “complicit” in its neglect of the plight of normal Iraqis.
Further: “The international community must not allow itself to be made complicit with the failed leadership of Iraq … There is political paralysis in Iraq. There is no government in Iraq”, she stated blisteringly of America and Britain’s illegal, abortive, parliamentary project.
“Our commitment to Liberty is America’s tradition … We stand for human liberty”, concluded Bush on the USS Abraham Lincoln.
Were mistruths ever bleaker? And when will George W. Bush, Charles Anthony Lynton Blair and their cohorts answer for their crimes in a Court of Law?
Palestinian medical sources confirmed that the Palestinian woman, who was killed by Israeli army fire, on Wednesday, did not carry an explosive belt as the army claimed, but was instead five months pregnant, and “her only fault was walking the wrong route and not understanding Hebrew.”
The Israeli police and army tried to come up with various allegations, including the usual claim of “carrying a knife,” and then tried to claim that she “was wearing an explosive belt,” while the only thing she “carried” was her fetus.
The slain woman has been identified as Maram Saleh Abu Ismael, 24, a mother of two children; Sarah, 6, and Remas, 4. Her brother, Ibrahim Taha, only sixteen years of age, was also killed as he was walking with her, heading to Jerusalem, after she obtained for the first time, a permit to enter the city.
Contrary to the Israeli allegation that Maram “carried a knife,” and the second allegation of “carrying an explosive,” eyewitnesses said the two victims walked the wrong route while heading to the Qalandia terminal, as they took the route that is only used for vehicles, instead of the pedestrian path.
The soldiers then started shouting in Hebrew, a language neither Maram nor her brother understood, and the woman just froze from fear before the soldiers started firing at her, and when her brother rushed to rescue her, the soldiers shot him too, and both were left to bleed to death.
The two were tens of meters away from the soldiers, and contrary to military allegations, did not attempt to attack any soldier or officer.
Ahmad Taha, an eyewitness from Jerusalem said that after the soldiers shot the pregnant woman and her brother, they retreated a few meters back, and fired several additional live rounds on them, “confirming the kill.”
“There was no stabbing attempt, and no reason for the army to shoot, the soldiers shot them from a distance, and later fired more rounds to confirm the kill,” Ahmad said, “The soldiers then placed two knives next to the lifeless body of the pregnant woman, and shortly after that, the police published pictures showing three knives!”
Mohammad Ahmad, a bus driver who witnessed the shooting, said an Israeli soldier who was standing behind a large concrete block, shot the woman from a distance of more than twenty meters.
“Neither the woman, nor her brother, posed any threat to the lives of the soldiers,” Ahmad stated, “They were far away from the nearest soldier, and did not pose any threat to them – they just walked the wrong route.”
The slain brother and his sister are from Qotna village, northwest of occupied Jerusalem; Maram is Married and living with her husband and children in Beit Surik nearby village.
It is worth mentioning that a Palestinian ambulance rushed to the scene, but the soldiers closed the entire area, and prevented them from approaching the two Palestinians, who eventually bled to death.
More than an hour after the shooting, Israeli military medics placed the corpses of the two Palestinians in black bags, and took them away.
One day before this fatal shooting, a Palestinian man in his sixties nearly faced the same deadly fate when he walked this same wrong route, but when the soldiers started shouting at him he understood them because he speaks and understand Hebrew very well.
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – During this week’s ‘Pessach’ celebrations from 22nd to 29th April, Israeli settlers and Israeli forces throughout occupied al-Khalil (Hebron) have been taking over Palestinians houses, rooftops, streets and entire areas while denying passage for Palestinians.
Last Friday night, with the start of the ‘holiday’, large groups of settlers were going from the illegal Kiryat Arba settlement on the outskirts of al-Khalil, towards the Ibrahimi mosque, 60% of which has been taken over by the settlers that installed a ‘synagogue’ following the 1994 Ibrahimi mosque massacre; while Palestinians were stopped, frisked and delayed.
On Monday and Tuesday, Palestinians’ movement was entirely restricted and H2 was completely void of any Palestinian presence in order to facilitate the settler’s freedom of movement and to enable a space for the main ‘Pessach celebrations’. During these two days the checkpoint at the Ibrahimi mosque has remained closed, thus closing off the main entrance for Palestinians heading to the mosque. Palestinians were entirely barred from entering the mosque during these two days, while settlers used the additional 40% of the mosque that has so far remained for Palestinians – with the ‘usual’ entry restrictions and harassment by Israeli forces.
While bus loads of settlers from all over Palestine are arriving in the Old City of al-Khalil, new barricades, entry and movement restrictions for Palestinians are springing up throughout the city. Al-Faiha’a girls school, right opposite the parking lot used for the settler only buses, has been forced to finish early in order to at least attempt to provide a safe way home for the girls, despite the heavy army and settler presence. During Monday and Tuesday, a sharp decrease in the number of girls attending school was noted by both the teachers and international human rights defenders offering protective presence. Israeli forces have also taken control of two shops right next to the school building and turned it into a military base.
On Monday, Israeli forces escorted endless groups of settlers on a ‘tour’ through the main Palestinian market in the Old City during the busy noon hours – blocking the narrow alleyways while giving a Zionist version of the history of the city. Palestinians were stopped and forced to wait for the tours to pass. One Palestinian man was arrested while another one was seriously injured when settlers threw a rock into the Palestinian market hitting him right on the head.
Despite the area behind Shuhada checkpoint being H1 and thus supposedly under full Palestinian control, Israeli forces on Tuesday brought large groups of settlers, after ‘clearing’ the area for bombs, in a sheer show of their power and in total disregard of any (international) agreement. Shuhada checkpoint has during the ‘holiday’ season seen repeated and arbitrary delays, causing Palestinians to wait for, at times, hours to be allowed to go to their homes located in the ‘closed military zone’ while settlers were freely roaming the streets and could be seen from the checkpoint chit-chatting with the soldiers.
In Israel’s evermore tribal politics, there is no such thing as a “good” Arab – and the worst failing in a Jew is to be unmasked as an “Arab lover”. Or so was the message last week from Isaac Herzog, head of Israel’s so-called peace camp. The shock waves of popular anger at the recent indictment of an Israeli army medic, Elor Azaria, on a charge of “negligent homicide” are being felt across Israel’s political landscape.
Most Israeli Jews bitterly resent the soldier being put on trial, even though Azaria was caught on camera firing a bullet into the head of a badly injured Palestinian, Abdel Fattah Al Sharif.
In the current climate, Herzog and his opposition party Zionist Union have found themselves highly uncomfortable at having in their midst a single non-Jewish legislator.
Zuheir Bahloul, an accommodating figure who made his name as a sportscaster before entering politics, belongs to the minority of 1.7 million Palestinian citizens, one in five of the population.
Unlike most of Israel’s Palestinian politicians, he preferred to join a Zionist party than one of several specifically Arab parties. Nonetheless, he embarrassed colleagues by briefly pricking the bubble of unreason cocooning the country.
Attacks on soldiers were wrong, said Bahloul, but a Palestinian such as Al Sharif – who tried to stab soldiers at a checkpoint in the West Bank city of Hebron – was not a “terrorist” by any normal definition. Terrorists target civilians, Bahloul noted, not soldiers enforcing an illegal occupation.
Other Zionist Union MPs raced to disown Bahloul, while Herzog warned that the party was unelectable as long as it was seen as full of “Arab lovers”.
Bahloul is hardly the first Palestinian politician in Israel to find himself denounced as a “bad” Arab. But the others have mostly sinned by demanding an end to Israel’s status as a Jewish state. Israel is currently promulgating a law to oust such dissenters from the parliament.
Now the earth is shifting beneath the feet of formerly “good Arabs” such as Bahloul, the small number who cling to the belief that a self-declared Jewish state can be fair to them.
It is no longer just the state’s Jewishness that is sacrosanct. The occupation is too.
Salim Joubran, the only Palestinian judge in the supreme court, fell foul of this creed last week as the court considered an appeal from Raed Salah, leader of the northern Islamic Movement, against his jail sentence for incitement to violence.
There is almost continual incitement by Jewish political and religious leaders, but indictments are almost unheard of. Two rabbis who wrote a book, the King’s Torah, calling for the killing of Palestinian babies were investigated but not charged.
In his minority opinion, Joubran thought it reasonable to observe that Salah’s remark urging the Arab world to support the Palestinians with a “global intifada” to protect Jerusalem’s Islamic holy sites under occupation was more rhetorical than a call to arms.
He was wrong. Israelis took to social media calling for an “intifada” against both him and the supreme court.
The ugly political tide turning against the most moderate and pragmatic elements in Israel’s Palestinian minority was also exemplified by threats against Ayman Odeh, leader of the only joint Jewish-Arab party in the parliament.
Odeh’s crime was to describe the assassinations of Palestinian leaders by the Shin Bet intelligence service as “executions without trial”.
Avi Dichter, a former Shin Bet head who is now a legislator in the ruling Likud party, wondered aloud about the merits of assassinating Odeh, before concluding it was not worth “wasting the ammunition”. Dichter knows there is no danger he will face a trial for incitement to violence.
Meanwhile, a TV investigation last week turned a critical lens on the late Rehavam Zeevi, a hero of the occupation. The programme revealed that the general had serially raped and assaulted women under his command, and used underworld connections to silence critics.
Tellingly, however, while the programme highlighted his crimes against Jews, it was largely untroubled by his many well-documented abuses of Palestinians.
Zeevi once proudly boasted of killing prisoners, and famously terrorised Palestinians by flying over their villages with a Palestinian corpse hanging from his helicopter undercarriage.
Later he sat in government as head of a party calling for the expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland.
When he was assassinated by Palestinians in 2001, he was quickly beatified. Scores of roads and parks are named after him, and a commemoration law requires that his “legacy and values” be taught in schools.
The anti-Arab values Zeevi embodied are in no danger of being discarded. Rather, they are being entrenched. Today, the definition of a “bad Arab” stretches from those, such as Al Sharif, who take up arms against the occupation to those, such as Bahloul, who do nothing more than raise their voice against it.
The trigger-happy soldier Elor Azaria and the peace camp leader Isaac Herzog have more in common than either might wish to admit. In their different ways, both have helped to turn all Palestinians into outcasts – and crush any hope of concessions from Israel to peace.
A panel of international experts probing the 2014 massacre of 43 Mexican students has accused the government of obstructing its inquiry into Mexico’s most notorious murder case in recent years.
Foreign experts from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued their final report Sunday, saying the government’s stonewalling stopped them from reaching the truth.
The five-member panel, who has been investigating the case for a year, said Mexican authorities showed “little interest” in moving forward with the probe.
The panel also accused the Mexican government of allowing a smear campaign against its investigation in an attempt to discredit the final report as it prepared to leave the country.
A group 43 students from Ayotzinapa Teacher Training College went missing on the night of September 26, 2014, after they participated in a protest in the south-western city of Iguala, in Guerrero state.
Mexican prosecutors say they were arrested by corrupt municipal policemen and handed over to the local criminal gang of Guerreros Unidos, which apparently massacred them and burned their bodies at a garage dump.
Relatives of the victims dismiss the government version of the incident, accusing authorities of trying to cover up the involvement of senior politicians and army officers in the killings.
The international report also dismissed the government’s narrative, saying there is no evidence that the 43 students were incinerated at the dump.
It said the claim that the students had been burned is scientifically impossible given the heat needed to reduce human remains to ash.
It said the remains of only one student were fully identified after they were found in a nearby river.
“More than a year and a half after the students’ disappearance, we are no closer to knowing what really happened that night but one thing’s for certain: the credibility of the Mexican government is more in doubt than ever,” the report noted.
The case sparked outrage across the country and has led to street protests against President Enrique Pena Nieto.
The report also accused the government of torturing some of the suspects detained in relation to the case.
It said medical report of the suspects shows “significant indications of mistreatment and torture” against 17 of the detainees. More than 100 suspects were detained in the case.