Los Angeles, Calif. – In a brutal display, Los Angeles police shot and killed a homeless man in front of Union Rescue Mission today, after he scuffled with officers.
A video of the event, posted on Facebook, shows numerous officers fighting with the man and eventually wrestling him to the ground where he continues to struggle against the officers.
The footage shows officers violently attacking the man with blows and then throwing him to the ground as four officers attempt to subdue him as he continues to resist the officers’ aggression.
At this point in the video, an officer can be heard yelling, “Get off my gun. Get off my gun.”
While possible that the victim went for the officer’s weapon, it must be noted that one of the tactics utilized by police, as a means of conditioning witnesses, is to yell out phrases such as “stop resisting” even if the person is doing no such thing.
Similarly, saying that someone went for the officers weapon is an accepted justification to use deadly force, and has become the default justification in many encounters where officers have killed unarmed citizens.
Suddenly a barrage of 5-6 gunshots ring out. Witnesses can be heard yelling, “Ain’t nobody got no guns!,” after the gunfire subsides.
No gun was reportedly found at the scene by police.
Witnesses on the scene named Dennis Horne, 29, the victim was a man that went by the name “Africa.”
Horne said that Africa had been arguing with someone in a tent when police arrived, reported the LA Times.
After refusing to come out of the tent after being commanded to do so by officers, cops tasered him and dragged him out, according to Horne.
“It’s sad,” Horne said. “There’s no justification to take somebody’s life.”
Ina Murphy, who lives in an apartment nearby, told the Times that Africa had arrived in the area about four or five months ago. He reportedly told her he had recently been released after spending 10 years in a mental facility.
The LA Times reported that Witness Lonnie Frank, 53, said five to six officers pulled up in three to four cars as Africa was lying face down on the sidewalk. The officers approached with guns drawn yelling, ”down, down.”
When Africa got up and started fighting, the officers “went straight to lethal force,” Franklin said.
Protests are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. in front of the LAPD Headquarters at 100 W. First, Los Angeles.
An emergency call to action has been issued on Facebook.
The video speaks for itself. Tragically another life has been lost at the hands of law enforcement continuing the pace of one citizen killed by a cop every eight hours so far this year.
Nick Bernabe | ANTIMEDIA | February 28, 2015
Chicago, IL — As the nation continues to react to the newly discovered ‘black site’ operated by Chicago Police, the mainstream media continues to bury it’s head in the sand.
National media outlets like Fox, MSNBC, and CNN are unsurprisingly refusing to touch this story, driving even further suspicion that the corporate media has become nothing more than a mouthpiece for big government and corporate America.
As we reported earlier this week, local corporate media was literally running stories about Homan Square that were direct copies from CPD’s public relations statements.
According to interviews conducted by The Atlantic, local mainstream reporters often agree with these disappear and torture tactics, so they refuse to do their jobs at uncovering what is going on there;
“I think that many crime reporters in Chicago have political views that are right in line with the police,” Tracy Siska said. “They tend to agree about the tactics needed by the police. They tend to have by one extent or the other the same racist views of the police — a lot of urban police (not all of them by any stretch, but a lot of them) embody racism.”
Meanwhile, a campaign we launched to shed light on Homan Square, #Gitmo2Chicago, trended nationwide last night on Twitter and today on Facebook — showing that the public at large is generally disgusted by these CIA-style tactics.
So while the corporate media posts 3 million stories about the color of a dress, the country is questioning the police state in a big way.
As I write this, a large protest is taking place in Chicago at Homan Square to shut it down, with more protests being planned across the country in the coming weeks.
But keep in mind, the Revolution will not be televised on Cable TV, but it will be on the internet. Watch live video from the protests here.
Four Palestinians and one female German demonstrator shot with live ammunition at “Open Shuhada Street” protest
Israeli military sniper aiming up the road towards the Open Shuhada Street demonstrators
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – On February 27 in occupied Al-Khalil (Hebron), Israeli forces fired live ammunition towards nonviolent protesters participating in the annual Open Shuhada Street demonstration, injuring five including four Palestinian activists, one of them 17 years old, and one German citizen. More were also injured by rubber-coated steel bullets and stun grenades as soldiers and Border Police blocked the roads leading towards Shuhada Street and attacked the protesters.
Close to a thousand Palestinians, accompanied by Israeli and international supporters, marched towards one of the closed entrances to Shuhada Street carrying flags and signs and chanting. They called for the opening of Shuhada Street, whose closure to Palestinians has become a symbol of Israel’s Apartheid system, and for an end to the occupation. The march was turned back by stun grenades, rubber coated steel bullets and live ammunition fired by the Israeli military. Around twenty demonstrators were injured in total; Hebron Hospital reported that at least six were admitted and two required surgery. One Palestinian activist, Hijazi Ebedo, 25, was arrested at the demonstration; all he had been doing was chanting and holding a sign.
Issa Amro, coordinator and co-founder of Youth Against Settlements (YAS) stated: “The protest, which was joined by groups from all over Palestine, marked the twenty-first anniversary of the Ibrahimi Mosque Massacre. Israeli occupying forces shot live ammunition towards peaceful protesters, which is against international law. The Israeli military should be held accountable in international court for their actions.”
“Julia was standing and filming next to me when suddenly she fell to the ground,” stated Leigh, a Canadian activist who was standing next to Julia when she was shot.
Julia, the injured 22-year-old German activist from Berlin, was evacuated to Hebron Hospital where she is being treated for a live gunshot wound which entered and exited her leg. “The brutality of Israeli forces is unbelievable, it seems like they don’t have a limit,” she stated. “In Palestine I have seen Israeli forces shooting tear gas, stun grenades, rubber and live ammunition at any kind of demonstration that is against the occupation. It doesn’t matter for them if it is peaceful or if there are kids attending. Yesterday I saw the army attack children who had been dancing in the street. Two people were shot with live ammunition in Bil’in. They shot me as I was standing and filming. It seems the soldiers just shoot at any one.”
The Open Shuhada Street demonstration marks the anniversary of the 1994 Ibrahimi Mosque massacre, when right wing extremist settler Baruch Goldstein murdered 29 Palestinians while they worshipped in the mosque. Following the massacre, Israeli forces shut down Palestinian businesses on Shuhada Street–once a commercial center–and began to implement the policies which would lead to what is now a total closure of the vast majority of the street to Palestinians. Twenty one years after the massacre, settlers from illegal Israeli settlements use the street freely while Palestinians are assaulted, shot and arrested when they attempt to reach it en masse during the Open Shuhada Street demonstration every year.
JENIN – A teenage Palestinian boy from the northern West Bank says he was violently assaulted by Israeli soldiers at al-Jalama crossing north of Jenin while he was trying to cross into Israel.
Muhammad Asri Fayyad, 17, told Ma’an Saturday that on Thursday morning he arrived at the crossing along with a busload of young men and teenagers who had organized a trip to Israel and obtained the needed permits from Israeli authorities.
He says he entered the crossing and complied with the instructions Israeli officers were giving through loudspeakers. The instructions included “that we shove our mobile phones in one place and we cross from a different place which we did.”
“Everybody received back their mobile phones except me. The soldiers asked me to pass through a path under a bridge on top of which stood a number of soldiers pointing their guns at me.
“They then asked me to enter a room which has several doors and I obeyed the orders. All the doors were immediately locked before the officers started to shout through loudspeakers demanding that I take off my clothes and my shoes.”
He added that he took off his shoes first but the soldiers continued to shout “violently” repeating that he must take off all his clothes.
“When I took off my clothes, they turned on a huge ceiling fan which caused frigid coldness. I told them to turn off the fan because I was freezing, but they didn’t, and so I knocked on the fan in an attempt to cause it to stop. At that point the soldiers broke into the room and started to beat be with rifle butts until I fell to the ground.
“They then tied my hand to a steel bar behind my back and tied my foot to another bar. I remained in that position from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. After that a number of soldiers arrived and a female soldier untied me after she took a silver necklace I was wearing. She ordered me to put on my clothes, then she handcuffed and blindfolded my eyes and escorted me outside the crossing and told me that I was denied entry to Israel. She gave me a small sack in which I found the remnants of my mobile phone which had been smashed.”
Muhammad says he has been suffering severe shoulder and foot pain ever since.
The United Nations revealed Wednesday it has “credible and reliable” evidence that people recently detained at U.S. military prisons in Afghanistan have faced torture and abuse.
The UN’s Assistance Mission and High Commissioner for Human Rights exposed the findings in a report based on interviews with 790 “conflict-related detainees” between February 2013 and December 2014.
According to the investigation, two detainees “provided sufficiently credible and reliable accounts of torture in a U.S. facility in Maydan Wardak in September 2013 and a U.S. Special Forces facility at Baghlan in April 2013.”
The report states that the allegations of torture were investigated by “relevant authorities” but provided no information about the outcome of the alleged probes or the nature of the mistreatment.
This is not the first public disclosure of evidence of torture during the U.S. war in Afghanistan, now into its 14th year. The U.S. military’s Bagram Prison, which was shuttered late last year, was notorious for torture, including beatings, sexual assault, and sleep deprivation, and further atrocities were confirmed in the Senate report (pdf) on CIA torture, released late last year in a partially-redacted form. Afghan residents have repeatedly spoken out against torture and abuse by U.S., international, and Afghan forces.
The Senate report on CIA torture, released late last year in a partially-redacted form, exposes U.S. torture at black sites in Afghanistan and around the world.
Moreover, residents of Afghanistan have testified to—and protested—torture by U.S., international, and Afghan forces.
Beyond U.S.-run facilities, the UN report finds that torture and abuse have slightly declined over recent years but remain “persistent” throughout detention centers run by the U.S.-backed Afghan government, including police, military, and intelligence officials. Of people detained for conflict-related reasons, 35 percent of them faced torture and abuse at the hands of their Afghan government captors, the report states.
A regime bereft of legitimacy, save for its promise to guarantee national security, turns citizens into active players in a new culture of surveillance and reporting.
During his recent visit to Cairo in November 2014, Alain Gresh, former editor- in-chief of Le Monde Diplomatique, met with a couple of Egyptian acquaintances (a journalist and a student) in a downtown Cairo café. During their chat, which unsurprisingly involved Egyptian politics, a middle-class Egyptian woman at the next table became highly alarmed by the exchange. Her anxiety did not stop at shouting at the journalists, accusing them of conspiring to destroy Egypt, but extended to actually calling upon the security personnel guarding the nearby British Embassy to investigate the said conspiracy. The sad saga, which lasted for a few hours, ended with embarrassment for the Egyptian authorities and an apology to the French journalist.
Despite the Kafkaesque tone of the event, the ‘concerned citizen’ had actually behaved in the only logical way expected of her after a relentless, year-long campaign by the regime and dominant pro-regime media to create a state of mass hysteria regarding Egypt’s security. Since the military takeover of 2013, a public discourse has evolved churning out incessant accounts in which enemies of the Egyptian state and its people, external and internal, known and unknown, human and otherwise, are constantly conspiring to plot against the country and target its security as well as the health of its national economy. Against a rich tapestry of intrigue and terrorist discourse, the security apparatus has emerged, in this narrative, as the only national saviour capable of protecting the country from complete chaos. In fact, the legitimacy of the Sisi regime continues to derive largely from his promise to rid the country of terrorists and to restore security and order. In this regard, he makes grateful use of actual violent attacks against military and other targets especially in Sinai.
However, restoring a sense of trust in the police after the 2011 uprising remains unimaginable for the time being. After all, the 25 January uprising was in many ways a revolt against police brutality and the role of security institutions in reproducing Mubarak’s authoritarian neoliberal order and protecting its elite.
Contrary to mainstream accounts of the 25 January uprising as a peaceful episode led by middle-class, technology-savvy youth, the 18 days uprising saw heavy violence by protesters directed mainly against police targets. During the first days of the uprising, almost 100 police stations were set on fire, many detention cells opened to release detainees and police cars torched. To revamp the image of the police and its tarnished standing for the majority of citizens, an atmosphere of panic in which the police is presented as the only guarantor against total chaos is employed as a strategy. All the same, succeeding in this strategy has been no small feat especially against the backdrop of a shocking series of acquittals of all police officers of any charges of killing thousands of protesters since the January uprising. The regime’s objective of elevating the police image to that of national protector has required the spinning of a web of laws, of deepening layers of surveillance into areas of the everyday lives of citizens and, more importantly, enlisting citizens as participants in an omnipresent police regime.
Criminalising the everyday
During 2014, and in the absence of a functioning Parliament, two consecutive presidents, Adly Mansour and Sisi, decreed 140 new laws between them. The laws either criminalised new areas or made the penalties for already defined criminal activities more severe. This legal arsenal has resulted in criminalising many everyday activities and turning the mundane into the subversive in the public’s mind. The 140 new laws cover areas as varied as civil society organisations receiving foreign funding, practising politics inside university campuses and insulting the national flag. The last instance, embodied in the presidential law 41 of 2014, criminalised any form of insult to the national flag or national anthem which is punishable by a prison sentence of no more than one year and a 30,000 EGP fine. In a bid to comply with the law, the Ministry of Education decided that the same punishment will apply to school pupils whose behaviour in morning assembly could be perceived as ‘insulting’ the Egyptian flag. This could simply be the act of moving or passing in front of the flag while it is being saluted in morning assembly. The responsibility for surveillance and reporting of miscreant pupils is left to fellow-pupils, teachers and school management.
Turning citizens against each other and fuelling existing tensions between competing groups in order to create a ‘culture of informing against fellow citizens’ reached high levels in 2014. One example stands out. After repeated failures to clear Cairo’s city centre of street vendors, despite the use of violence, increased fines and prison sentences, especially since 2012, the Cairo governorate issued a shrewd decree. The decree went beyond pursuing street vendors to targeting fellow citizens who could now be punished for not reporting the offending vendors. The decree punishes, by closure and licence confiscation, any shop owner who allows street vendors to set up their stalls in the immediate vicinity of their shop. Sure enough, the new decree led to a wave of clashes between street vendors and shop owners who had long resented their presence and regarded them as unwanted competition. Many shop owners were only too happy to report the vendors, especially when egged on by the fear of losing their licences.
In a similar spirit of this informing against other, the Ministry of Transport has recently launched the campaign ‘Long live Egypt-Security is our collective responsibility’, encouraging conscientious citizens to report any suspicious behaviour of fellow commuters through a number of hotlines. The reward for reporting is an annual free transport subscription.
Layers of policing
Implementing the myriad new laws and providing surveillance for new areas of criminality has inevitably required an increase in the police force, its budget and its mandate. Already under Mubarak, the Ministry of Interior (MOI) employed 1.7 million individuals in 2009, including 850,000 police personnel and administrative staff, 450,000 Central Security Forces (CFS) personnel, and 400,000 individuals as part of the State Security Investigation Services (SSIS). In addition to formal forces and in order to support the needs of an ever-expanding regime of terror, the MOI started to ‘outsource’ its most ‘dirty’ business to baltagya (thugs). Baltagya are criminals, known to the police, usually with a record of violence, who are paid to carry out duties of ‘disciplining’ members of the public in return for the police turning a blind eye to their criminal activities.
The baltagya’s job description expanded to include voter intimidation, beating up, raping and sexually abusing criminal suspects and political activists, breaking up demonstrations and workers’ strikes, forcibly removing farmers from their land and much more. With the increasing dispossession and impoverishment of more groups in society due to intensive marketisation, Mubarak’s regime became heavily reliant on the police. Since the 1990s, therefore, the MOI budget has consistently increased its share of general expenditure, exceeding those of education and health combined. Since the 25 January uprising, the trend has continued and the budget of the MOI has increased further.
To meet the growing demand for personnel, Egypt’s Police Academy admitted 1850 students for the new academic year in July 2014. The successful candidates, accepted on the basis of lower academic achievements compared to previous years, constituted the largest class intake in the history of the academy. In a press conference held by MOI to mark the occasion, Ahmad Gad, assistant to the minister, quoted the inspiring role of the police force during the June 30th ‘revolution’ to a new generation of youth as the main factor for the rush of young people to join the academy. On the same occasion, it was also announced that new screening procedures had been put in place to exclude from admission any students who belonged to the banned Muslim Brothers (MB) organisation. Around the same time, 75 existing students were being investigated, and facing the prospect of expulsion, in an effort to purge the academy and the police force of any MB elements.
A larger, more tightly-vetted group of police graduates will come in handy to serve the proliferation of new police units. In July 2014, the MOI also reintroduced the traditional system of darak, which was abolished in 1952 in favour of more modern forms of policing. The traditional darak consisted of a single, low-ranking police officer who would patrol the streets to provide surveillance. The reinstated system will now consist of mobile units of three security officers working together. These include one officer armed with a pistol and two conscripts armed with batons. The role of the darak is one of surveillance and reporting. The unit will patrol the streets and report any suspicious behaviour to the closest police station, thus creating a better network of informing and surveillance. The plan is for this new system to be introduced in the two middle-class areas of Zamalek and Qasr El Nil (downtown Cairo) as a first step in a wider national plan.
The MOI has also been recruiting beyond graduates of the academy. In October 2014, the legislative section of the state council approved a draft law establishing community police, a new branch envisaged to involve a larger section of citizens in policing society. This new branch will hire both men and women in the age group between 18 and 22 who hold the minimum qualification of a middle school degree. They will be granted the power of arrest. The new community police units will work on ‘aiding the police in facing crime, enhancing a sense of security among citizens and [more importantly]… creating a culture of security’.
An inflated police force is not unique to Egypt. With the rise of neoliberal capitalism and its strategies of ‘accumulation by dispossession’, many regimes, including those in the ‘democratic’ west, have increased investment in policing and surveillance, especially targeting particular localities and populations; namely the poor, the unemployed, migrants and blacks Different policies such as the infamous ‘stop and search’, the ‘Injunctions for the Prevention of Nuisance and Annoyance’ in the UK and the ‘Prohibited Behaviour Order’ in the State of Western Australia have created a ‘culture of reporting’ and often given increasing discretionary powers to the police.
However, what is peculiar to Egypt is the total sense of impunity that the police has long enjoyed. This impunity, along with the increasing resources and extended mandate discussed above, is set to continue into the foreseeable future as the police serves the current regime in one crucial way. A regime bereft of any source of legitimacy, save for its promise of guaranteeing security to the nation, stops at nothing to inflate a discourse of national security around which to rally an otherwise disgruntled citizenry. Central to cementing this security discourse is the enlisting of large sectors of the population into becoming active players in the surveillance and reporting of society. Perhaps the recent call by the Chairman of the Journalists Syndicate on journalists to report any colleagues ‘proven to have incited against the army and police’ is a taste of what is yet to come.
Egyptian prosecutors referred 271 people to a military court on charges of belonging to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group and attacking court buildings in central Egypt two years ago.
The defendants were charged with ransacking and torching a court building, as well as a prosecution office in the city of Malawi in the Minya province, in August of 2013.
The attack on Malawi’s official buildings happened following the dispersal of two major protest camps staged by supporters of ousted President Mohammed Mursi in Cairo and Giza, during which police and security forces killed more than 1,400 people.
Egyptian prosecutors are legally permitted to refer cases to the military prosecution in cases involving charges of vandalizing government property.
In October of last year, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued a law that allows the referral of violations against state institutions to military courts.
The move was widely criticized by local and international rights organizations, which voiced fear that defendants would not receive fair trials before military courts.
In recent days, prosecutors referred 570 people to military trials on similar charges.
After Sisi’s rise to power, more than 15,000 Mursi supporters were imprisoned, while scores have been sentenced to death after speedy trials which the United Nations has denounced as “unprecedented in recent history.”
Mursi and many top leaders of his now-banned Muslim Brotherhood are themselves in jail and on trial in cases in which they face the death penalty if convicted.
Besides Islamists, many of the leading secular activists behind the 2011 uprising have also found themselves on the wrong side of the new political leadership, getting locked up for taking part in peaceful demonstrations following a ban on unlicensed protests.
Amherst, MA– University of Massachusetts Amherst student, Thomas Donovan, who is majoring in legal studies and had planned to become a Massachusetts State Trooper, has filed a lawsuit alleging his civil rights were violated after he was pepper sprayed, assaulted, and arrested for filming police brutality.
The officer also repeatedly stomped on his cellphone in an attempt to destroy the evidence and cover up the crime- but the video survived.
The incident took place last March during his neighborhood’s Blarney Blowout parties, an annual tradition attended by thousands and held the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day where Amherst and neighboring towns are full of informal St. Patrick’s Day drinking and festivities.
Last year saw 58 people arrested, 21 of which were UMass students after police in riot gear violently moved in.
During the commotion, Donovan noticed an officer using excessive force while making an arrest, so the student pulled out his cell phone to exercise his First Amendment right to film the incident. Donovan was on the other side of a fence, a safe distance away, and was not interfering with the brutality at all. At this point. An officer wearing full riot gear and carrying a pepper-ball gun— believed to be Officer Andrew Hulse—approached Mr. Donovan to prevent him from filming, the lawsuit states.
Despite the police intimidation, Donovan did not stop filming. He was then pepper-sprayed at close range by another officer. Donovan requested the officer’s name and badge number, but the officer would not identify himself.
Moments later, Officer Jesus Arocho knocked the phone out of his hand and threw him to the ground face first. The phone landed flat on the ground with the camera pointed up and continuing to film.
“Arocho, assisted by Defendant Andrew Hulse, placed Mr. Donovan under arrest. Meanwhile, Mr. Donovan’s phone, which had landed on the ground with the camera facingup, continued to film. It captured the actions of another police officer, Defendant John Doe 3, who walked over to the phone, stood over it, then stomped on it with his boot, several times, in an unsuccessful effort to destroy it.” the lawsuit continued.
Thankfully, Donovan’s phone was inside a shock-resistant protective case and the phone was unharmed. The video, and evidence of this blatant misconduct, was preserved.
Arocho then arrested Donovan on bogus charges of “disorderly conduct” and for “riot, failure to disperse.” These charges were ultimately dropped.
Arocho lied in his police report, stating Donovan was pepper sprayed “as he began to close the distance between himself and the officers.” The complaint points out that this claim is blatantly false as the incident was captured on video.
Donovan ended up spending 5 to 6 hours in a cell, falsely imprisoned, and was denied any assistance removing the pepper spray from his eyes.
Due to the officer’s insane actions, Donovan was suspended from the university, until he contested and won after he was found not to have committed any wrong-doing.
“Defendants knew that it was wrong to stop a civilian from filming police officers in public when the civilian did not interfere with police activity.
Defendants knew that it was wrong to use force against a civilian for filming police officers in public when the civilian did not interfere with police activity.
Defendants knew that it was wrong to arrest a civilian for filming police officers in public when the civilian did not interfere with police activity.
Defendants knew that it was wrong to try to destroy a civilian’s phone merely because it contained video of police officers performing their duties in public.” the complaint asserts.
This year’s Blarney Blowout parties are expected to begin on March 7, but students will be prohibited from hosting guests who are not UMass Amherst students. The University will also be offering “school sanctioned” events this year to monitor the amount of fun being had.
Perhaps a more reasonable course of action would have been to have the militarized police stand down and not bring violence and chaos to celebrations.
Photo from http://www.banksy.co.uk
The English graffiti artist has taken his politically charged message to the bombed-out neighborhoods of Gaza, where a series of murals amid a backdrop of devastation attempts to give voice to the desperation felt by Palestinians.
The first mural, entitled “Bomb Damage,” appears to be inspired by Rodin’s famous sculpture “The Thinker.” In Banksy’s version, the viewer is struck with the realization that the only possible thing on the mind of the subject is the utter devastation that literally surrounds him.
Another piece, done in the artist’s trademark black, stenciled imagery, shows the silhouettes of children riding an amusement park swing that is shown circling around one of the looming guard stations that punctuate the length of the West Bank barrier, which, upon completion, will be approximately 700 kilometers (430 miles).
Photo from http://www.banksy.co.uk
The artist also provided his personal thoughts on the situation confronting the people of Gaza:
“Gaza is often described as ‘the world’s largest open air prison’ because no one is allowed to enter or leave. But that seems a bit unfair to prisons – they don’t have their electricity and drinking water cut off randomly almost everyday,” Banksy said in a spray-painted statement.
In another painting, in which a huge white kitten appears to toy with a ball of coiled metal, the artist is hurling criticism at the popular Internet meme involving kittens, which attracts so much attention at the expense of more serious issues.
The street artist explained in yet another spray-painted bit of commentary the reaction of a local man to the work, and his response:
“A local man came up and said ‘Please – what does this mean?’ I explained I wanted to highlight the destruction in Gaza by posting photos on my website – but on the internet people only look at pictures of kittens.”
Photo from http://www.banksy.co.uk
In another place, Banksy offered some advice on a concrete wall: “If We Wash Our Hands Of The Conflict Between The Powerful And The Powerless We Side With The Powerful – We Don’t Remain Neutral”.
Finally, the street artist provides a poignant statement in a 2-minute video, where he invites the viewers to “discover a new destination” this year, while providing a brief, yet unforgettable stroll through Gaza.
Banksy, who is widely believed to be Robin Gunningham, an artist from Bristol’s underground art scene, has gone from the streets to the top of the art world. His first film, Exit Through the Gift Shop, labeled as “the world’s first street art disaster movie”, made its debut at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. In 2014, he was awarded Person of the Year at the 2014 Webby Awards.
Photo from http://www.banksy.co.uk
Israeli forces demolished four Bedouin homes in the Negev desert in southern Occupied Palestine on Tuesday, Ma’an news agency reported, leaving dozens homeless.
Israeli forces, escorted by bulldozers, raided the Tel Shebaa area of Beersheba early Tuesday and demolished the properties on the pretext that they lacked building permits. Locals said the homes belonged to the al-Nabbari family.
One of the family members, Sufian al-Nabbari, 20, was arrested after attempting to prevent the demolition.
“We will not let go of our lands. More than 60 police officers arrived in the area and demolished our homes and livestock barns,” Mohammed al-Nabbari said. “They even chopped down our olive trees.”
The head of the regional council for Bedouin villages unrecognized by Israeli authorities, Attiya al-Asam, said that the “brutality” of demolitions has increased recently in Bedouin towns in Occupied Palestine.
On Sunday, Israeli authorities demolished four homes belonging to Palestinian Bedouins near the town of Hurah in the Negev desert.
In 2013, authorities said that the homes of the 1,500 residents of the village were to be demolished because the area had been converted into a closed military zone.
Palestinians with Israeli citizenship complain of routine discrimination, particularly in housing, land access and employment.
There are about 260,000 Bedouin in historical Palestine, mostly living in and around the Negev in the arid south.
The Israeli government classifies approximately 40 villages in the Negev desert as “unrecognized,” arguing that the roughly 53,000 Palestinian Bedouins living there cannot prove their ownership of the land and are hence living there “illegally.”
Claiming that most of the land in the Negev desert is Israeli “state property,” Israel has repeatedly demolished Bedouin homes in the area.
In November, the IOF razed the Bedouin village of al-Araqib in the Negev Desert for the 78th time in four years.
The village was demolished for the first time in July 2010, before being rebuilt with metal and wood.
Dozens of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship living in Araqib say that they have owned the land since before Israel came into being in 1948.
Israel has demolished 77 Palestinian homes and agricultural structures since the beginning of 2015, leaving 110 people homeless, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.
Meanwhile, Bedouins are regularly attacked by the IOF, who killed 22-year-old Sami al-Jaar in the southern Negev region on January 14. During Jaar’s funeral, a 45-year-old Bedouin man, Sami Ibrahim Zayadna, suffocated to death due to tear gas sprayed by Israeli forces. … Full article
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – On the 24th of February in occupied Al-Khalil (Hebron), Israeli forces opened fire on dancing Palestinian youth, firing tear gas and throwing stun grenades at group of young children performing a traditional Palestinian dance as a form of protest in front of Shuhada checkpoint.
The fifteen young dancers, Palestinian girls and boys between the ages of six and twelve, gathered to perform dabke, a traditional Palestinian dance. They staged their dance in the open street in Bab Al-Zawiye (in the H1 – officially Palestinian Authority-controlled – part of Hebron) near Shuhada checkpoint, as part of a week of actions planned by Palestinian organizers around the annual Open Shuhada Street campaign. The children began performing under heavy military surveillance, as at least thirteen soldiers occupied roofs surrounding the entrance to the checkpoint.
Even before the demonstration had begun, Israeli forces closed Shuhada checkpoint to Palestinian men, only allowing a few women through. Shuhada checkpoint controls the main access between Bab Al-Zawiye and the the H2 (fully Israeli-controlled) neighborhood of Tel Rumeida. On the H2 side, the checkpoint faces Shuhada street, and soldiers restrict Palestinian access onto the short portion of Shuhada street where they are still allowed to walk.
“As soon as the dancing kids moved closer to the checkpoint, soldiers immediately attacked with two tear gas grenades and two stun grenades,” reported an ISM volunteer who witnessed the incident. “Israeli soldiers fired tear gas even though the children were not throwing stones.”
Jewish State forces prepare to fire on dancing children
After first fleeing the assault, the Palestinian children managed to continue dancing even as around twenty soldiers and eight border police advanced from the checkpoint into Bab Al-Zawiye. Israeli forces threw a dozen stun grenades after a few youth began throwing stones at the checkpoint.
Clashes continued for about an hour and a half, as Israeli soldiers and border police fired even more rounds of tear gas, several additional stun grenades, and eventually rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinian youth. Advancing further and further into the commercial center of Bab Al-Zawiye, they ended up shooting into the crowded streets of the city’s market area. Local activists reported that two Palestinians suffered injuries from rubber-coated steel bullets.
February 25 marks the 21-year anniversary of the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre; in 1994 US-born extremist settler Baruch Goldstein murdered 29 Palestinian worshipers inside the Al-Khalil mosque and injured dozens more. In the time following the attack, Israeli authorities initiated a crackdown, not on those occupying the city’s illegal settlements, but on Palestinians. Israel put in place policies, including the closure of Shuhada street, which would eventually lead to Al-Khalil becoming the divided city it is today.
Children in H2, which includes Al-Khalil’s historic Old City and once-thriving market, constantly endure the violence and daily humiliations of Israeli military occupation. Children living in the neighborhoods of H2 are routinely tear gassed on their way to school and face arrest, attack and daily harassment at checkpoints. The Open Shuhada Street actions are a yearly expression of resistance to Israel’s Apartheid system, as Palestinians young and old demand and end to the occupation.
Chris Gunness, spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), discusses the causes and consequences of the fact that only about 5% of pledged donations have reached Gaza.
Ken Klippenstein: What has been the impact of the failure of donor aid funds to reach Gaza?
Chris Gunness: Let me illustrate that with one simple vignette. I was in Gaza yesterday, and I met a grandfather living in the northern area, which is near the fence with Israel. The man is 62. Two of his grandchildren froze to death (i.e., died of hypothermia) during the storm known as Huda, which was in January.
They are living, 15 of them, in a shack, which I assumed when I saw it from the road was for animals. When I went there, it was a tiny, three-roomed wooden structure covered in leaky plastic. It was raining, so water was flowing in. And that is the very place where baby Salima died on the 21st of January at the age of just 40 days old.
The floor is sand, and on top of that they’ve put threadbare carpets. When you sit on them, they’re so wet and cold [that] it’s no protection whatsoever. Baby Salima basically got rained on all night. There was nowhere for them to go. Her body was blue and trembling. They took her to the hospital, and after one night the doctor phoned up and said that Salima was dead. Another grandchild, a boy, was 50 days old. He was in a UN shelter; it was freezing cold, and he died very suddenly of hypothermia.
There are about 110,000 homes which are either completely uninhabitable or very badly damaged. Assuming each home has between six and eight people, that’s 600,000-800,000 people, approximately. So in terms of both the depth of the suffering and the breadth of the humanitarian impact, it’s immense.
KK: Why haven’t the donor funds gone through? We heard so many different countries, from the Gulf states to the West, pledged aid – $5.4 billion, in fact.
CG: Your question is a very good one. Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer. It’s not from lack of appeals from us; it’s not from want of me telling stories like this; it’s not from lack of donors being given the figures, analysis, what the cost will be in human terms. All of this stuff they know, so there’s absolutely no shortage of information.
KK: What obligation does the West – particularly the United States, but also Europe – have to reconstruct Gaza, given that they are the ones who armed Israel? The West armed Israel with precisely the same weapons that were used to destroy Gaza in this last operation.
CG: And also, it’s those same donors who all met in Cairo [and agreed to rebuild Gaza] – without any security guarantees that it’s not going to be completely leveled again in another couple of years’ time, as has happened for the last six years. There have been three wars since 2009.
You should also ask what are the responsibilities of the belligerent parties, because in a conflict, the belligerent parties are responsible for the protection of civilians.
I think if you look at the Palestinian refugees in Gaza … we have a situation where Gaza is under blockade and the political pressures that need to come to bear to lift the blockade are not being effectively brought to bear. So the blockade continues.
Not only do huge swaths of Gaza look like an earthquake just hit, but it’s proven very difficult to reconstruct, because the funds simply are not there.
What is the point of reconstructing Gaza if the place is not allowed to have a functioning economy? Do you want gleaming white, new houses and totally impoverished people because the population can’t export?
What you need in an economy like Gaza is to be able to import raw materials to make things [like] garments and export them. If you can’t export them, then you can’t have a functioning economy. The people of Gaza are incredibly entrepreneurial. They’re very proud. They don’t want to suffer the indignities of aid dependency.
What are the obligations of the international community? One of their obligations is to put pressures to bear on the right place so that the blockade is lifted by Israel and the people of Gaza are allowed to trade. If you trade, you can have a disposable income; if you have a disposable income, you can buy things.
We don’t want to be going to the donor community with our begging bowl in hand and asking for money. It’s much better if people in Gaza can have their own economy. Of course they’ll need assistance reconstructing the place, but thereafter, they need to have a functioning economy. Otherwise they’re going to be condemned for decades more to this life-support system known as international aid.
KK: Israel has necessitated this aid by its blockade since Gaza doesn’t have a viable economy?
CG: Yeah. In the year 2000, there were 80,000 people in UNRWA’s food distribution. Fifteen years later, it’s 10 times that – 800,000. A lot of that aid dependency is due to the fact that there’s a blockade and Gaza cannot trade.
Unemployment is 44%. Food insecurity is rising. 90% of the water in Gaza is undrinkable. That’s the impact of the blockade. It’s devastating.
KK: As a UN official, could you comment on what obligations Israel has [under international law] as the occupying force in the Palestinian territories?
CG: In the UN, Israel is an occupying power, and has obligations to provide services, housing, water, electricity; all the things which protected populations need to have in situations of occupation. It’s all very clearly stipulated in the 4th Geneva Convention.
KK: What has been the effect of the destruction of the supply tunnels running from Egypt to Gaza?
CG: Make no mistake, the destruction of the tunnels has devastated a lifeline to the people of Gaza. I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever about that. But the majority of the crossings into Gaza are through Israel.
The Rafah crossing – I’ve been through it – is a single road in one direction. A very narrow road, actually. And a very narrow single road in the other direction. It is not a crossing through which you would want to mount a major import-export or aid operation to 1.8 million people.
KK: How does the failure of the aid to reach Gaza now compare with previous instances?
CG: This is as bad as it’s ever been, I think. After the Cairo conference where the donor community pledged $5.4 billion, we created a plan for $720 million [in aid]. That was for essentially two things: rental properties for people whose houses had been destroyed, and for repair and reconstruction. That $720 million plan has a deficit of $585 million.
I’ve never known it to be this bad and I’ve been here for 9 years.
KK: I imagine failing to reconstruct Gaza represents a security risk.
CG: Having 1.8 million desperate, isolated, destitute people at any country’s doorstep – especially given the history, and given that there’s a fence around it and a blockade – how can that ever be considered to be in anybody’s interest – not just Israel, but all of us?
The Palestinian cause is a source of anger and frustration in many places, including across the Middle East. So it’s in nobody’s interest anywhere in the world to have Gaza in the state that it’s in.
[This transcript has been lightly edited.]