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Badee Dwaik of the #AlKhalil4 on the “daily torture” of Israeli imprisonment

Photo via Badee Dwaik
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network – April 15, 2017

Palestinian organizer Badee Dwaik, co-founder of the Human Rights Defenders group that has been coordinating actions and popular organizing to confront settlements and occupation in al-Khalil, was recently seized by Israeli occupation forces with three of his colleagues in the #DismantleTheGhetto movement, Anan Odeh, Ishaq al-Khateeb and Younis Arar.

The four organizers, swiftly known as the #alKhalil4, were participating in a Land Day protest on Thursday 30 March when they were attacked by occupation forces. Following his release, Dwaik spoke with Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network about his experience under arrest and interrogation. He noted that he had previously been arrested, interrogated and jailed on multiple occasions, but that this experience highlighted intensified repression. In fact, only one month prior, on 24 February 2017, Israeli occupation forces had invaded Dwaik’s home and threatened him with arrest.

The four organizers were part of an action that involved planting olive trees, where they were attacked by settlers. Despite the attack, they continued marching to the center of their city of al-Khalil, which has been subject to forcible closure by the Israeli occupation and its settlers. As the demonstration continued, occupation forces declared the area a closed military zone and picked Dwaik, Dana, Arar and Khateeb out of the crowd of about 50, accusing them of participating in an “illegal demonstration.”

Dwaik noted the presence among the harassing settlers of the notorious Ofer Ohana, who was also present for the extrajudicial execution of Abdel-Fattah Al-Sharif by Israeli occupation soldier Elor Azariya. The murder of al-Sharif came to light as it was videotaped by Imad Abu Shamsiya, co-founder of Human Rights Defenders. Ohana was videotaped kicking a knife near the body of Sharif and referring to Sharif and his fellow slain Palestinian, Ramzi al-Qasrawi, as “the trash.”  Dwaik noted that Ohana has threatened Abu Shamsiya and Dwaik and repeatedly harasses them as they carry out tours of al-Khalil with internationals.

The four were arrested under false pretenses, Dwaik said. They were accused of being in the street, said Dwaik, even though three of the four were standing on a grassy hill and one of the four, Anan Odeh, was off to the side of the road. At the present time, while the four were released on bail, they continue to face allegations in Israeli military court – where Palestinians are convicted at a rate of over 99 percent – of “disturbing the public peace of the area,” organizing an “illegal action,” attempting to escape from the army, and “blocking the street.”

Dwaik noted that he denied all allegations under interrogation and refused to sign any paperwork or confessions. He and his fellow organizers were taken by occupation forces to the Kharsina military camp near Kiryat Arba settlement. Dwaik, who has diabetes, was sent to a medical worker; he stated that he needed medicine for his diabetes, but that the medical worker gave him two cold tablets but nothing to address his actual medical condition.

Later, Dwaik reported, he was taken to Shaare Tzedek hospital from 11:00 pm to 3:30 am, during which he received medical tests. He was told that he would receive insulin, but when Dwaik explained that his diabetes is treated with medication, they told him they would sell him a tablet. However, they still did not provide his medication and he was instead told that he would receive medication in jail.

Dwaik was then sent to the Etzion detention center (jail), where he reported that he was subject to an experience seemingly designed for humiliation and subjugation. The jail officers demanded Dwaik strip down, including removing his underwear. As he refused to remove his underwear, the jail officers demanded him to repeatedly move about and stand up and sit down in an attempt to humiliate him. He was then told that he would be left there until the morning without clothes. However, when he still refused to remove his underwear, he was finally given his clothes and put in the room with his fellow detainees.

The conditions at Etzion and other detention centers, where Palestinians are often held under interrogation and prior to being transferred to the major prisons, have been repeatedly highlighted by former prisoners for their unsuitability for human life. Palestinian prisoners have even launched hunger strikes to demand to be moved to regular prisons and have repeatedly reported beatings and assaults in the Etzion jail.

When he arrived in Etzion, he was told that his belongings would be registered; however, the jailers refused to register his belt and instead confiscated it; Dwaik noted, “I have been arrested many times before, but was never ordered to remove underwear or had my belt confiscated.” Among his belongings was also 42 NIS ($11.50 USD), which was registered at the time. Dwaik noted that he was denied cigarettes despite being registered as a smoker; when he questioned this, he was told that he was “being punished” because he refused to remove his underwear the night before.

Dwaik particularly highlighted the unlivable conditions in Etzion. The room where he was sent contained five or six bunk beds, but the beds were blank and had no mattresses; instead, Dwaik said, prisoners are forced to fold blankets beneath them to serve as makeshift mattresses. These blankets, Dwaik noted, are unclean and pose a danger to health; they are used by many prisoners and are rarely washed. The Palestinians detained in Etzion are served leftover food from the army’s meals, often significantly later when the food is sparse and cold. The cells themselves are in a very poor condition and insects are visible inside the room, as well as mice and other vermin. “Some people get stuck in the detention centers for long periods of time, even 2 months, and it is a form of daily torture,” Dwaik said.

Photo via Badee Dwaik

Dwaik noted that there are no books or recreation time for detainees held in Etzion, and that some other prisoners had reported the shower areas being closed for four or five days at a time. Despite the earlier interactions with medical staff, he still did not receive diabetes medication. Instead, he was told that he would be sent to Ofer prison in the afternoon.

He noted that Palestinian prisoners are often left without food because they are transported to the military court or from jail to jail during mealtimes; no replacement meals are provided. This is such a common problem that it is even included among the demands of Palestinian prisoners in the large hunger strike planned to begin on 17 April, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day.

Ofer is a large Israeli prison and the only major Israeli occupation prison (rather than detention centers and interrogation centers) inside the West Bank. The prison has 10 sections of about 120 people each, for a total of approximately 1,200 prisoners, Dwaik reported. Most are political prisoners, but Palestinians arrested for “non-political” charges by the Israeli occupation – such as, for example, Palestinian workers seized for working inside Palestine ’48 without a permit – are also held in the prison. During his short time in Ofer, he was repeatedly transferred from one section to another. While in the prison, he saw a number of fellow Palestinian prisoners, including imprisoned BDS campaigner Salah Khawaja and youth organizer Hassan Karajah, both of whom greeted the international activists working for their freedom and that of their fellow prisoners.

The case of the four was brought before the military court in Ofer on Sunday, 2 April. While Dwaik and Dana were brought to the military court, he noted that their fellow #alKhalil4 detainees, al-Khateeb and Arar, weren’t even brought before the military court. During the hearing, the military prosecutor urged that the four be held for five additional days for further interrogation, stating that there is a “secret file against” Dwaik, the framework that is used to order Palestinians to imprisonment without charge or trial under administrative detention. Dwaik noted that this was also the first time that a “secret file” had been raised against him despite numerous arrests. While the military court judge refused to release the four – as demanded by their lawyer – he ordered them held only one more day and a new military court hearing the following day, Monday, 3 April.

He noted the degrading experience of waiting for a military court hearing to begin. “You are moving from room to room all the time and you are shackled hand and foot all the time. We had to wait on Monday from 8 am to 3 pm as we are handcuffed. They only take off the handcuffs when you’re in the military court, then they handcuff you again and shackle your feet. It is a system that is meant to humiliate,” Dwaik said.

Dwaik noted that on Monday, as he entered the military court in Ofer, he saw Palestinian student Kifah Quzmar, who was exiting the military court, having been ordered to six months in administrative detention. Quzmar told Dwaik of his sentence and expressed his greetings to the organizations and people around the world engaged in the campaign for his release.

In addition, Dwaik noted, some international observers in Palestine attempted to attend the military court hearing for the four, but were barred from entering. Journalist Amira Hass attended the hearing along with the representative of Defence for Children International in al-Khalil. In the military court hearing on Monday, the alleged “secret file” went unmentioned; instead, the military prosecutor now demanded 7,000 NIS ($1912 USD) from each of the four as bail. Dwaik stated that he does not have the money for such a high bail and that he would stay in jail instead; negotiations then ensued and a bail of 3,500 NIS ($956 USD) was set for each of the four. He noted that #DismantleTheGhetto campaigners and supporters donated to cover the bail, which was paid around 3:00 pm; however, the four were not released until 10:30 pm.

During their release, Dwaik noted, “they push you with their guns and don’t let you check that you even have your belongings.” He lost his belt, and the 42 NIS ($11.50) he had when entering prison was stolen. Throughout his time in Israeli jail, he never received any medicine for his diabetes.

Dwaik noted that “all of the Palestinian political organizations support the #DismantleTheGhetto campaign, and all of the NGOs that support human rights. This is why we were targeted, because this is a unified Palestinian campaign with many actions.”

“We need more work for the Palestinian cause and people to keep building support for Palestine. The #DismantleTheGhetto campaign in al-Khalil is part of these efforts,” Dwaik said. He stated that Palestinian prisoners need international support and that many will be launching a strike on 17 April, noting that Samidoun and other groups have an important role to play in building solidarity with the prisoners. “Palestinian prisoners are struggling for their dignity and freedom every day,” Dwaik said, “from the 13-year-old children like Shadi Farrah to the veterans who have spent 30 years behind bars.”

April 15, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

Israeli settler attempts to run over Palestinians near Hebron

Ma’an – April 7, 2017

HEBRON – Two Palestinians from the Hebron-area village of Beit Ummar were lightly injured Friday after an Israeli settler attempted to run them over on a main road connecting the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron to Jerusalem.

Local activist Muhammad Awad told Ma’an that an Israeli settler was driving on the road, located near Beit Ummar, when the settler attempted to to run over Palestinians Muhammad Basem Khader al-Alami, 25, and Saed Samir Hassan al-Salibi, 20.

“The Israeli settler drove very fast with his car towards the two, who noticed the settler’s car rushing towards them at the last moment, causing them to fall on the side of the street, while the Israeli settler escaped,” Awad said, describing the scene to Ma’an.

An Israeli army spokesperson said they were looking into reports.

The incident came a day after Israeli settlers from the illegal settlement of Yitzhar in the northern West Bank closed a Nablus-area road in protest, calling for “revenge” on Palestinians after an alleged car-ramming attack was carried out earlier in the day near the illegal Israeli Ofra settlement in Ramallah, which killed an Israeli soldier and wounded another moderately.

Incidents involving Israeli settlers hitting Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory are a relatively regular occurrence, and are usually treated by Israeli security forces as accidents, even in cases when witnesses claim the car rammings were deliberate.

Many Palestinian activists and rights groups have accused Israel of fostering a “culture of impunity” for Israeli settlers and soldiers committing violent acts against Palestinians.

Between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in violation of international law, with announcements of settlement expansion earlier this year sparking condemnation from the international community.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there were a total of 107 reported settler attacks against Palestinians and their properties in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem in 2016.

April 8, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

Illegal settlers break into kindergarten, damage property

International Solidarity Movement | March 7, 2017

Hebron, occupied Palestine – Colonial settlers from the illegal settlements in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron) have repeatedly invaded and damaged a Palestinian kindergarten located on Shuhada Street over the last two days.

On Saturday night, the colonial settlers entered the Shuhada Street kindergarten, stealing two Palestinian flags and breaking cameras installed by the Palestinian families. The kindergarten connects directly to the roof of a residential building that houses three Palestinian families, which is accessible by the settlers through this roof access. The three families are now feeling under threat.

The following day, on Sunday afternoon, settlers again entered the kindergarten, but were surprised by the presence of Palestinians on their roof. Settlers then threw stones at the Palestinian youths before leaving. They cut a hole in the fence which protects the kindergarten entrance from illegal settlers entering. The settlers had clearly planned in advance to cut the fence as they had brought the necessary tools with them.

Wire-mesh fence cut by the settlers. Photo-credit: Human Rights Defenders Group

Settlers from the illegal settlements, under the protection of the Israeli forces, enjoy almost complete impunity for their actions, while Palestinians under the Israeli military law are presumed guilty until they can prove otherwise. The Palestinians living in the H2-area under full Israeli military control have no institution they can turn to for protection or help in this case, but are at the full mercy of the Israeli forces and settlers. With settlers having entered the compound for two days in a row, and the water tanks on the roof easily accessible, the families now do not only have to fear even more for their safety in their own homes, but also about being poisoned through their drinking water supply. In the past settlers in the Tel Rumeida neighbourhood poisoned the water tank of a Palestinian family.  Fortunately the poisoning was detected before anyone drank the water.

March 7, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 1 Comment

Report: Israeli forces detained 420 Palestinians in February

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Ma’an – March 4, 2017

RAMALLAH – Israeli forces detained 420 Palestinians during the month of February, including 70 minors and 22 women and girls, according to a statement released on Saturday by the Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies.

The center said in its monthly report that 12 of the detentions were carried out in the besieged Gaza Strip, including five fishermen whose boats were destroyed by Israeli forces before their detention, two who were detained at the Beit Hanoun crossing, and five who were detained after Israel alleged they attempted to cross the border fence between the besieged enclave and Israel.

A journalist was also among the detainees, identified by the center as Humam Muhammad Hantash from the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron. He was sentenced to Israel’s widely condemned policy of administrative detention — imprisonment without charge or trial based on undisclosed evidence.

The center added that 88 administrative detention orders were issued by Israeli courts in the same period, 23 of which were issued for the first time, while 65 were renewed orders. Meanwhile, 32 administrative detention orders were issued against Palestinians from Hebron.

While Israeli authorities claim the withholding of evidence during administrative detention, which allows detention for three- to six-month renewable intervals, is essential for state security concerns, rights groups have instead claimed that the policy allows Israeli authorities to hold Palestinians for an indefinite period of time without showing any evidence that could justify their detentions.

Rights groups say that Israel’s administrative detention policy has also been used as an attempt to disrupt Palestinian political and social processes, notably targeting Palestinian politicians, activists, and journalists.

According to Addameer, as of January, 6,500 Palestinians were being held in Israeli prisons, 536 of whom were being held under administrative detention.

March 4, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Not business as usual: colonial settlers in al-Khalil for Jewish festival

International Solidarity Movement | November 27, 2016

Hebron, occupied Palestine – The Jewish holiday/celebration of Chayei Sarah and the reading of the Torah regarding Sarah took place in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron) on 25th and 26th November 2016.

Beginning of Friday hundreds of Jews from illegal colonial settlements within the West Bank as well as Jews from Israel began arriving. It was estimated there may be as many as 1500 coming for their festivities. Huge tents and designated camping areas were set up (some in areas owned by Palestinians). They were also staying with families and friends in the existing illegal settlements here in al-Khalil.

This lot was the play area for the Palestinian elementary and secondary school. Now it's being used for The Sarah event.

This lot was the play area for the Palestinian elementary and secondary school. Now it’s being used for The Sarah event.

This automatically meant more Israeli occupation forces, more border police, much more “security” at checkpoints that Palestinians need to pass through on a regular basis as part of their normal daily routines (going to work, shopping, etc.) It also meant a complete closure of many of the checkpoints, not allowing anyone who was not here for the festival (that is a colonial settler) to go through.

Young soldiers leading the event

Israeli Occupation Forces preparing for the "Settler Tour" with their guns and dogs

Israeli Occupation Forces preparing for the “Settler Tour” with their guns and dogs

On Saturday “security” was at its peak. Every Saturday afternoon there is a tour of the Palestinian Old City by settlers from the illegal settlements. This usually consists of around 20 to 150 settlers. With about as many Israeli occupation force soldiers to “protect” them. This weekend the tour consisted of nearly 2700 settlers. This obviously meant more soldiers, on roof tops, police dogs sniffing out the route before the tour began, soldiers positioned approximately every 50 meters along the entire route and at the beginning and end of the group. Many shop owners closed early for fear of trouble by the settlers parading through the Old City.

Sniffing for bombs on the parade route before it starts.

Sniffing for bombs on the parade route before it starts

Soldiers and settlers parading through the Palestinian market where some shops closed early

Soldiers and settlers parading through the Palestinian market where some shops closed early

The settlers who participated were singing, dancing, acting provocatively aggressive towards the Palestinians and internationals who were trying to mind their own business or observing the events. There were many “shouts of “welcome to Israel” by the settlers as well as “f*ck you’s” and “this is our home not yours, we will never leave” at the Palestinians. An observer witnessed a number of incidents of harassment by the settlers toward anyone who was not Jewish and part of the group.

An obvious "welcome" from one of the settler youth

An obvious “welcome” from one of the settler youth

One Palestinian family in the Tel Rumeida area had their home invaded for approximately 10 hours by soldiers who set up observation on the roof and using their bathroom and kitchen as if it were their own place to do as they wished. An international who was invited to the home by the family to observe the goings on was forced to leave after an hour by the soldiers. The family was frightened by these events, but to the best of this writers knowledge there was no real damage done in the home by the soldiers.

An observer witnessed at least two Palestinian youth who were detained by the Israeli occupation forces for one reason or another. A third Palestinian was detained for trying to defend himself after a settler spit on him.

This is life in illegally settler occupied al-Khalil. The Israelis pretty much do as they wish and the Palestinian residents pay the consequences.

November 27, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Photo-Story: Mini walking tour of occupied Hebron

International Solidarity Movement | November 24, 2016

Hebron, Occupied Palestine – After our afternoon school run today, two of us took a walk around a small part of Al Khalil.

The photos are sort of a mini-walking tour of some of the stolen Palestinian land, streets, homes and shops, roadblocks and checkpoints.

Note the diagonal iron bars on the shops. These are welded in place to keep their Palestinian owners from re-entering their own shops and businesses. Above the shops are now illegal colonial Zionist settlers living in the once owned homes of Palestinians.

On some of the streets Palestinians are prohibited from walking. And no Palestinian vehicles allowed.

Al Khalil is unique in that the illegal colonial settlers live right in the city among the Palestinians (of course with colonial Zionist Israeli Occupation Forces and walls and fences to “protect” them and many of these Zionists carry their automatic weapons with them as well.

Most illegal colonial settlements are separated or outside of the Palestinian villages, town, and cities (and generally an army base within or next to it. Currently there are over 600,000 living in these settlements in the West Bank and construction of new and expansion of existing ones continues!

Gate locking access to the Abu Haykal family land, now deemed an 'archaelogical site' by Israeli forces

Gate locking access to the Abu Haykal family land, now deemed an ‘archaeological site’ by Israeli forces

 

A typical road-block

A typical road-block

Ghost Street - in the process of ethnic cleansing of all Palestinian residents

Ghost Street – in the process of ethnic cleansing of all Palestinian residents

Diagnol metal bar is welded to doors in order to keep shops and homes permanently closed

Diagonal metal bar is welded to doors in order to keep shops and homes permanently closed

Entrance to a typical checkpoint

Entrance to a typical checkpoint

Left side of the fence for illegal colonial settlers, right side for Palestinians - often littered with trash by the settlers

Left side of the fence for illegal colonial settlers, right side for Palestinians – often littered with trash by the settlers

Another road-block preventing Palestinian freedom of movement

Another road-block preventing Palestinian freedom of movement

November 24, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): A week in photos 25-31 October 2016

CPT | November 4, 2016
Inaccessible Healthcare 

Pictured here: Israeli soldiers stopped and searched Palestinian cars, IDing and detaining the drivers for over an hour. One father was on his way to take his son to the hospital.
(October 31, 2016)
Olive Occupation 

Pictured here: Palestinian family members went out to harvest their olives. When they arrived at the grove, Israeli soldiers prevented them from harvesting, alleging a “security risk”.
(October 26, 2016)
Rooftop Invasion

Pictured here: Israeli soldiers regularly invade Palestinian homes, using their rooftops to watch over the settler tour.
(October 29, 2016)
A Settler “Hello”

Pictured here: Four armed members of the settler tour climbed the roof of a Palestinian home, making lewd gestures to Palestinians attempting to go about their daily lives in the Old City.
(October 29, 2016)
Avoiding The Line of Fire 

Pictured here: Everyday Palestinians are exposed to countless soldiers in full combat gear, which brings distress and fear especially for children. The mere exposure to weapons is an act of violence in itself. In their lifetime, the only Israelis most Palestinian children see have guns.
(October 29, 2016)
Uninvited, Lifelong Presence 

Pictured here: On the heels of the 50th year of the occupation, Israeli soldiers still patrol through the colorful market of Hebron’s old city.
(October 27, 2016)
New Friends

 (October 25, 2016)

November 4, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Imprisoned lives: closed military zone in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron)

cpt

Photo credit – CPT.net
International Solidarity Movement | October 30, 2016

Hebron, Occupied Palestine – It’s like living in a prison. That’s how residents describe what Israeli forces are doing to their lives in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood and Shuhada Street in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron). The area was first declared a ‘closed military zone’ on 30th October 2015 – solely and deliberately affecting the Palestinian residents. One year of collective punishment, open discrimination, racism, apartheid policies and rampant attempts at ethnic cleansing in this area, commonplace tactics of an illegal occupying force in an obvious attempt to rid the area of any Palestinian presence and instead, create a continous ‘sterile’ strip of illegal settlements.

The ‘closed military zone’ has several times been extended within this year of collective punishment of the Palestinian population, adding even more areas and ‘re-inforcing’ and creating more checkpoints, exclusively for the Palestinian civilian population. Only the Palestinian civilian residents, who must register to pass through a checkpoint to gain access to their family home, have been degraded to a mere number on a list by the Israeli forces. Only ‘registered’ residents are allowed to reach their homes. The lists of Palestinian residents have been changed repeatedly lately, arbitrarily dropping various names from the list. Apparently registering with the occupying force as a resident in one’s own home just once often isn’t sufficient. This dehumanization of the Palestinian civilians who at the checkpoint are reduced to a number, is a deliberate tactic to create a forcible environment directly furthering ethnic cleansing. For some time Palestinian residents were assigned numbers that were marked on their IDs, completely ridding these civilians of their human aspect, instead making them a mere number on a list. Now, with those numbers temporarily not in use, Palestinians are reffered to by their ID-number. The Palestinian civilian trying to live in their own home is just that for the Israeli forces, a number, void of any humanity.

During the Jewish holiday of Sukkot,  Israeli forces basically declared a curfew on the whole area, closing Shuhada checkpoint, denying Palestinians passage while allowing exclusive access tor settlers at the same time. The prison this area is becoming for the Palestinian civilian population is further exacerbated by the fact that, if there’s a large number of Israeli forces or settlers from the nearby illegal settlements on the street, leaving the house is not an option. One year of collective punishment – a sad anniversary that proves that the Israeli state does not need to fear an outcry by the international community when implementing their racist, apartheid measures, ethnically cleansing an entire neighborhood. During a year in which the residents have not been allowed to receive visitors like family or friends, workers of any sort have been denied entry and even medical personnel will be turned away at the checkpoint.

October 30, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

“No Palestinians during the holiday”: Palestinian man harassed during Sukkot

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International Solidarity Movement | October 21, 2016

Hebron, Occupied Palestine – Late Thursday morning, as Palestinian schools in the Old City of occupied al-Khalil (Hebron) were dismissing their students early due to enhanced settler activity, Israeli forces harassed a Palestinian man and denied him his right of movement through the large parking lot near the base of al-Ibrahimi Mosque. The reason for this incident, as well as the increase in settler activity, was due to the week-long Jewish holiday of Sukkot, the Feast of the Tabernacles. Throughout this entire week, Israeli Forces have increased their numbers stationed around the Mosque, and it was one of these members of the occupation forces that decided to harass this Palestinian civilian.

The man, a local tour guide in the Old City of al-Khalil, entered the parking lot in order to reach a group of Turkish tourists who had just arrived. Upon setting foot in the lot, two members of the Israeli Border Police approached him, with one using his hands to physically shove him away from the cordoned off entrance. As he tried to explain that he merely wanted to pass through to reach the tourists, the border policeman raised his voice and shouted at him to get back. When the man asked why he was not allowed to pass through when so many tourists were permitted to, the answer he received was, “You are Palestinian. No Palestinians pass through here during the holiday.” The man had no choice but to turn around and walk around the parking lot.

The denial towards Palestinians of their right to movement by Israeli forces is a fundamental weapon of the occupation. By preventing Palestinians from entering historical and religious sites, and working to minimize their presence around Jewish festivities, Israel uses the excuse of the holidays to continue its process of ethnically cleaning al-Khalil of its indigenous Palestinian population. On Wednesday, Israeli Forces came out in force to block off a road in the so-called Palestinian controlled H1 area to allow settlers from the illegal Israeli settlements to have access to a supposed prayer site in the city.  This is merely one of the many examples of how Jewish holidays act as a cover for forceful intimidation of Palestinians.

The harassment of this man this morning is symptomatic of the devaluation of Palestinian life under the Israeli occupation across the land of Palestine.

October 21, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sukkot, feast of intimidation, oppression and illegal annexation

International Solidarity Movement | October 20, 2016

Hebron, Occupied Palestine – This past week marked the feast of Sukkot, which brought settlers from illegal settlements all over the occupied West Bank to al-Khalil (Hebron). There, with restrictions, harassment, collective punishment and intimidation of Palestinians – all in favor of the illegal settlers – the spirit of the Jewish holiday was turned into a feast of intimidation and oppression for the Palestinian residents, going hand in hand with increasing illegal annexation of their land.

With bus-loads of settlers from all over the illegally occupied Palestinian West Bank pouring into al-Khalil, Israeli forces stepped up the movement-restrictions and checkpoint closures for Palestinians even more, thus making the maze of checkpoints, already almost impossible to navigate into a maze that ends mainly in dead-ends. For several days, the main checkpoint connecting the Palestinian market with the area around the Ibrahimi Mosque was closed for Palestinians, and Palestinian shop-owners in the mosque-area were forced shut by the Israeli forces – all to facilitate settler movement in areas that lack any presence of Palestinians.

The road connecting the settlements in the heart of al-Khalil with the Kiryat Arba settlement on the outskirts of al-Khalil – where only settlers are allowed to drive – has largely been cordonned off with police-barriers.

The area cordonned off by #IsraeliForces

The area cordonned off by Israeli forces

Thus, school-children were not only forced to pass an even larger amount of heavily-armed military and police forces, but also navigate the maze of complete closures for Palestinians, areas to avoid due to excessive settler presence and the gates put up preventing movement in certain directions.

School-children forced to pass heavily-armed Israeli forces and maze of police-barriers

School-children forced to pass heavily-armed Israeli forces and the maze of police-barriers

Students of al-Faihaa girls school in the Ibrahimi Mosque area, where just recently a new CCTV surveillance tower was put up following and recording every step of the Palestinian residents movement, are now studying right next to a military encampment. The building right next to the girls school entrance has already been mis-used and turned into a military encampement during last year’s Sukkot celebrations.

Building illegally occupied by Israeli forces for a military base

Building illegally occupied by Israeli forces for a military base

On Tuesday, many of the settlers arriving to al-Khalil on the occassion of the holiday, were ‘guided’ through the Palestinian market by Israeli forces, preventing Palestinians’ access in their own marketplace for hours. Just a day later, soldiers effectively imposed a curfew on the tiny strip of Shuhada Street where Palestinians are still allowed to walk, the Tel Rumeida neighborhood and the Bab al-Zawwiya area. The latter is located in the H1 area of al-Khalil, supposedly under full Palestinian control. With the closure of Shuhada checkpoint for six hours, Palestinian civilians were either locked inside or outside their houses, while settlers were accompanied by heavily armed military forces to a tomb located in the H1-area, forcing shop-owners to close.

On Thursday morning, Israeli forces marched through the streets of al-Khalil, with drums and music, in a pure show of force and power. The march went on the settler only road, that has been ethnically cleansed from Palestinian cars (but does still allow Palestinian pedestrians), illustrating the continuous plans and attempts to connect the illegal settlements in an area ethnically cleansed of any Palestinian presence.

Soldiers marching through al-Khalil

Soldiers marching through al-Khalil

Throughout the increasing efforts to illegally annex more and more strips of land, and erase first the memory of the Palestinian heritage as a step to then erase the whole Palestinian population, Israeli forces are employing the ‘power of words’. More and more areas, streets and houses that belong to Palestinians, but in which settlers have already moved in (and were succinctly kicked out by the army), are given Hebrew names, eradicating the Palestinian names. This is just one small step of illegal annexation that even goes so far to call the illegal Israeli settlements in the city center of al-Khalil “Jewish neighborhoods”.

Signs put up for 'tourist settlers' in al-Khalil by Israeli forces

Signs put up for ‘tourist settlers’ in al-Khalil by Israeli forces

With the holiday of Sukkot lasting for another three days, more restrictions and harassment are expected. And even with the end of the holiday, the restrictions, harassment and intimidation of Palestinian civilians solely and deliberately on the ground of their ethnic group, with the continuous illegal annexation of the land, will not stop as long as the illegal occupation is allowed by the international community to continue their efforts of ethnic cleansing.

October 20, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Leave a comment

Highlighting Israeli violations of a world heritage site is not ‘inflammatory’, UNESCO, it’s a duty

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By Nasim Ahmed | MEMO | October 15, 2016

A draft decision by UNESCO, which criticises Israel’s activities at holy places in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, has been denounced by Israeli officials. “It ignores thousands of years of Jewish ties to Jerusalem and aids Islamist terror,” claimed Education Minister Naftali Bennett very dramatically.

Never one to miss an opportunity to conflate Judaism and Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a Facebook post that UNESCO had become a “theatre of the absurd”, to which he added: “To say that Israel has no connection to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall is like saying that China has no connection to the Great Wall of China or that Egypt has no connection to the pyramids.”

The World Jewish Congress, meanwhile, called UNESCO’s announcement an “inflammatory, one-sided decision” as Israel took the predictable step of freezing co-operation with the UN cultural body which seeks to “contribute to peace and security” by safeguarding world heritage and cultural sites.

The UNESCO decision, however, does none of the things that the Israelis and their supporters claim. The draft decision “affirms the importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls for the three monotheistic religions” while also affirming that “nothing in the current decision, which aims, inter alia, at the safeguarding of the cultural heritage of Palestine and the distinctive character of East Jerusalem, shall in any way affect the relevant Security Council and United Nations resolutions and decisions on the legal status of Palestine and Jerusalem”.

Israel’s problem with the UNESCO decision emanates from the simple fact that it has no way of reconciling its colonialist policies in the West Bank and Gaza with international law. Israeli officials were just as quick to denounce the International Court of Justice’s decision on its construction of the “separation” wall or the dozens of UN Security Council resolutions condemning the construction of illegal settlements. Like its condemnation of the UNESCO decision, Israel extorts political gain by claiming security concerns and its fight against “Islamist terrorism”.

The 58 member of the UNESCO board voted this week on a draft document that raises concerns about Israel’s violation of international law. Israel, predictably, hopes to deflect these concerns by conflating Jewish history with Israeli policy. The draft text, which was passed by 24 votes in favour to six against, with 26 abstentions, noted the following:

  • The failure of Israel, the Occupying Power, to cease the persistent excavations and works in East Jerusalem particularly in and around the Old City and reiterates the request to Israel to prohibit all such works in conformity with its obligations under the provisions of the relevant UNESCO conventions, resolutions and decisions;
  • Called on Israel, the Occupying Power, to allow for the restoration of the historic status quo;
  • Strongly condemned the escalating Israeli aggressions and illegal measures against the Awqaf [Religious Endowments] Department and its personnel, and against the freedom of worship and Muslims’ access to their Holy Site;
  • Deplored the continuous storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque by right-wing Israeli extremists and uniformed forces, and urges Israel, the Occupying Power, to take necessary measures to prevent provocative abuses that violate the sanctity and integrity of Al-Aqsa Mosque;
  • Deeply decries the continuous Israeli aggressions against civilians including Islamic religious figures and priests, and urges Israel, the Occupying Power, to end these aggressions and abuses which inflame the tension on the ground and between faiths;
  • Disapproves of the Israeli restriction of access to Al-Aqsa Mosque and called on Israel to stop all violations against Al-Aqsa Mosque;
  • Criticised Israel’s refusal to grant visas to UNESCO experts in charge of the UNESCO project at the Centre of Islamic Manuscripts in Al-Aqsa Mosque;

Raised concern regarding the illegal demolitions of Umayyad, Ottoman and Mamluk remains as well as other intrusive works and excavations in and around the Mughrabi Gate Pathway, and also requests Israel, to halt such demolitions, excavations and works and to abide by its obligations under the provisions of the UNESCO conventions.

The draft resolution, which also goes on to deplore the continuous Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip and reaffirms the integral link between Palestine and the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, is a full scale condemnation of Israel’s total lack of disregard for Al-Aqsa Mosque, and its refusal to act in accordance with UNESCOs recommendation in maintaining the sanctity of the religious sites that are holy to all three Abrahamic faiths. Despite the best efforts of Israeli officials to paint this decision as yet another anti-Jewish declaration it is actually nothing of the sort.

A UN body such as UNESCO has a duty to highlight Israel’s ongoing annexation and colonisation of Palestine. It has an even bigger obligation to raise awareness of the systematic efforts by hostile parties — no matter who they are — to seize control of world heritage sites. Only in the eyes of Israel — the Occupying Power, remember — could that be seen as “inflammatory”.

October 15, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , | 1 Comment

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): A week in photos 4-10 October 2016

CPTnet | October 14, 2016
Learning Delayed 

Pictured here: Israeli Border Police prevented thirty-eight children and two teachers from passing through the checkpoint for almost thirty minutes. As a result, students not only witnessed their teachers’ detention, but they were also late to school.
(October 6, 2016)
Military Bureaucracy

Pictured here: Israeli Border Police stop and demand IDs of any teachers passing through the checkpoint who are not on their list. The principal of the Ibrahimi school, who has taught there for four years, is also not on this list.
(October 6, 2016)
Settler Tour I

Pictured here: The weekly settler tour through Hebron’s old city saw heavily armed soldiers escorting a group of Israeli children. Settlers and prospective settlers who come on this tour often make their presence felt by harassing Palestinian residents.
(October 10, 2016)
Settler Tour II

Pictured here: The weekly settler tour through Hebron’s old city saw heavily armed soldiers preventing Palestinian children from riding their bikes outside their homes. Palestinians who live, work, or pass through the Old City must stay out of the way or take alternate routes.
(October 10, 2016)
Armed Settlers

Pictured here:  Al-Shuhada Street has been closed to Palestinians since 1994, and is heavily guarded by Israeli soldiers. Even so, settlers who walk on it often choose to carry rifles.
(October 6, 2016)
Settler Disruption

Pictured here: On Fridays, CPT monitors the road by the Kiryat Arba settlement, the largest in Hebron. An armed settler took offence to our presence and tried to prevent us from taking any pictures or filming.
(October 7, 2016)
Continued Resiliance

(October 4, 2016)

October 15, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , | 1 Comment