Israeli authorities yesterday opened a new coffee shop and pub build on part of the land belonging to the historical Islamic cemetery of Ma’manillah in the old city of Jerusalem, Quds Press reported.
In a statement, Al-Aqsa Organisation for Waqf and Heritage said that an Israeli coffee network is running the new facility while the building is managed by the Israeli municipality in Jerusalem.
The group condemned the “violation” against the cemetery, noting that opening this pub and coffee shop came as part of a series of violations against this historic cemetery.
Only 20 of the 200 dunams of the original total area of the cemetery has not been destroyed, the organisation said. However, it reiterated that this area is desecrated on a daily basis.
Ma’manillah is a historic Muslim cemetery that contains the remains of figures from the early Islamic period. It includes several historic shrines and tombs. Muslims stopped using it in 1927 when the Supreme Muslim Council decided to preserve it as an historic site.
“Recognizing that, in all countries in the world, there are children living in exceptionally difficult conditions, and that such children need special consideration…” – from the Preamble of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
In the past two weeks, CPT has witnessed a significant increase in the targeting of Palestinian children by Israeli occupying forces. From soldiers confiscating their bicycles to chasing them down in the street, the Israeli occupying forces are stripping children of their fundamental right to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities.
These are the stories that CPT has documented in Hebron’s Old City, but many more stories of boys and girls remain invisible.
Sunday 19 July – A six-year-old boy was swarmed by the heavily armed Israeli military, forced to empty his pockets, and aggressively interrogated.
Monday 20 July – Israeli soldiers detained and allegedly assaulted 14-year-old Anan, then took him to the police station. The Israeli military then continued to raid the streets of Hebron, detaining young people outside an Internet cafe at 9:30 pm.
Thursday 23 July – Israeli soldiers invaded a Palestinian house in the Old City of Hebron while chasing a Palestinian boy. The soldiers claimed that the boy ran away from them, which made him “suspicious”.
Friday 24 July – Four boys were playing in the street when six Israeli soldiers began charging towards them and yelling. The boys ran home, and the Israeli soldiers followed them into their house. After five minutes of questioning the boys, the soldiers left.
Saturday 25 July – Wasim, 10 years old, was riding his bike with his friends behind a patrol of soldiers. The soldiers told him to go ahead and pass them on his bike, but then blocked CPTers from following. Wasim told CPT that the soldiers slapped his face as they took him towards the gate. Palestinians in the community and CPTers advocated for the release of the boy, but the Israeli soldiers pushed back and took him. Another witness saw the soldiers kicking Wasim as they took him away. They released him ten minutes later.
Tuesday 28 July – Israeli Border Police stopped a Palestinian child who was trying to pass through the military turnstile near the Ibrahimi Mosque. The Border Police opened the gate for him, helped him move his bike, and then looked him in the eye and said, “I confiscated your bike, now leave.” The Border Police then told the child, “You know only walking is allowed here. Next time you will bring a car trying to pass.” After five minutes, another Border Police officer gave the child his bike back and asked him to leave.
The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) also reported that a teenage boy was stopped and detained by a group of Israeli soldiers near the Souq in Hebron’s Old City. The reason for his detention was that he had a small box of children’s “pop pop fireworks.” Soldiers detained the boy for thirty minutes and then released him.
Wednesday 30 July – Moath, 16-years-old, was picked off the streets in Hebron by Israeli soldiers who body searched him, zip-tied his hands behind his back, and blindfolded him. CPT asked about the nature of his detention, but received no reason. Soldiers took Moath into custody for identification and released after an hour. Watch the video here.
“States Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities…. States Parties shall ensure that no child be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” – from Articles 31 and 37 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
It is not only the fact that the Israeli military oppresses children and violates their human rights that is the outrage, but that it does so with impunity. These incidents did not happen in a corner or a dark alleyway, but in public spaces. CPT is sometimes able to advocate for the rights of children, but despite the presence of human rights observers, there is still a lack of accountability for Israeli occupying forces. It is up to all of us to share these stories, and shift the prevailing narrative towards one of truth and justice.
NABLUS – Israeli settlers killed a Palestinian toddler and injured four others early Friday morning after setting their home ablaze near Nablus in the occupied West Bank in what the Israeli leadership called an act of terrorism.
Israeli settlers smashed the windows of two homes in the Palestinian village of Duma before throwing flammable liquids and Molotov cocktails inside, a local resident told Ma’an.
Ali Saad Dawabsha, one-and-a-half years old, was trapped in the house and died shortly after sustaining serious burns, said Ghassan Daghlas, a local official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank.
His mother and father, Riham and Saad, and their son Ahmad, four, also sustained serious injuries and were evacuated by Israeli forces to hospital.
The mother was in critical condition with third-degree burns covering 90 percent of her body, an Israeli doctor told public radio, stressing that her life was threatened. The father had burns on 80 percent of his body.
The Israeli settlers from nearby settlements also attacked and partially burned the home belonging to Maamoon Rashid Dawabsha.
Local media reported that the graffiti said “revenge” and “long live the Messiah” and that the attackers threw firebombs inside the two homes, one of which was empty.
The homes were located near the main entrance to the village and the settlers were able to flee the scene quickly before residents identified them, Daghlas said.
Dozens of villagers from Duma rushed to help rescue the two families from their burning homes, witnesses said. The injured were later taken to Israeli hospitals for treatment via a military helicopter.
Musallem Dawabsha, 23, told Ma’an : “We saw four settlers running away keeping distance between each other. We tried to chase them but they fled to the nearby Maale Efrayim settlement.” … Full article
This summer marks the twentieth year of Christian Peacemaker Team’s presence in Palestine. While that does not seem to be a reason to celebrate, we do feel we should mark the occasion.
Q-Press media center for Jerusalem and al-Aqsa affairs today said that the planning and construction committee in occupied Jerusalem, last week, has approved the construction of a huge project on land of the Ma’man Allah historic Islamic cemetery, on which an Israeli school has already been built. The land will also be used for settlement housing, a hotel and a shopping center.
Haaretz newspaper said, according to the PNN, that Israeli occupation authorities pushed to execute the project on the land even though it is Islamic Waqf (property) that cannot be seized.
Israeli occupation is still going on with the project with complete knowledge that there are existing graves underneath the land.
The newspaper added that the Israeli plan includes building 192 settlement units, a hotel and a shopping center. The project was initiated by Eiden company, which follows the Israeli Jerusalem municipality.
To its part, Al-Aqsa foundation for Waqf and heritage said that the Israeli municipality in Jerusalem, through this project, was continuing to Judaize the Islamic cemetery, violating all the laws and conventions which ban desecrating sanctuaries under any occupation.
Israeli authorities have targeted the cemetery for years. They have established different projects including parks, hotels, schools and shopping centers on the land, violating even the rights of the dead.
Ahmad Sub Laban, a settlement affairs researcher, told Ma’an that 25 dunams (6 acres) of land from Shufat and al-Issawiya has been allocated to the the settlement area to establish a commercial zone.
Palestinian residents of Shufat had been trying to obtain licenses to build on the land which was confiscated, but were denied permission by Israel’s Jerusalem municipality.
Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem suffer from a chronic lack of services and severe unemployment as a result of Israeli municipal policies which allocate few resources to the community.
Over 75 percent of Palestinians, and 82 percent of children, live below the poverty line in East Jerusalem, according to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.
Only 14 percent of East Jerusalem is zoned for Palestinian residential construction, ACRI says, while one-third of Palestinian land has been confiscated since 1967 to build illegal Jewish-only settlements.
Protest commemorating one year anniversary of the killing of Mohammad Abu Khdeir met with military violence
Ramallah – On July 2, 2015, in honor of the first anniversary of the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, Palestinian activists with international supporters blocked a settlers-only road leading to the illegal Adam settlement. Demonstrators cited this road as the road that the murderers took in their search for a Palestinian victim. Journalists, Palestinian and international activists, suffered from pepper spray burns and several were hospitalized.
“This is the first in a week of demonstrations for Muhammad Abu Khdeir. One of the murderers, Yosef Haim Ben-David, is from the Adam settlement. This is why the demonstration was held at this settlers-only entrance,” said Abdullah Abu Rahmah, the coordinator of Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Bil’in.
Demonstrators blocked the road to settler traffic in both directions until the Israeli Army and Border Police dispersed the non-violent demonstrators and journalists by pepper-spraying indiscriminately. Three Palestinian activists, four journalists, and two International ISM volunteers were pepper sprayed in the eyes and mouth by a masked Army officer. An ISM co-founder as well as journalists from Roya TV Channel, Reuters, and Palestine TV were severely pepper sprayed in the eyes requiring hospitalization.
The soldiers threw sound percussion grenades at demonstrators and chased people. In addition to the pepper spray, they shoved journalists and Palestinian activists to the ground.
After the soldiers and border police chased the demonstrators off the road and down a hill, they continued to throw percussion grenades even as the demonstrators stood at a distance waiting to find fellow demonstrators.
We can see just how seriously the Israeli government takes nationalist crimes from the following case.
On July 26, 2010, a large group of Israeli marauders, whom eyewitnesses said came from the direction of the settlements of Yitzhar and Bracha, allegedly made their way to land belonging to the nearby Palestinian village of Burin. According to witnesses, the marauders burned hundreds of olive trees, some of them more than a century old. Furthermore, they attacked the villagers with stones and in a few cases with clubs, and stoned the houses of the village.
On that same day, some of the victims lodged a complaint with the Israeli police.
In August 2011, i.e. more than a year after the incident, the police informed Yesh Din that the case was turned to the attention of a prosecutor – that is the last we heard of the story for two years. In August 2013, the Shomron Prosecution Unit bothered to update us saying that they had closed the case back in December 2012. Three months later, we received the investigation material of a three-year-old incident, and tried to see whether there is any point in appealing the decision to close the case.
To the utter surprise of our attorneys, who were under the impression that the police closed the case for lack of evidence, the case files contained quite a bit of evidence. At the same time and place of the incident, three Border Policemen detained two Israeli civilians – A. and M. – after police officers testified that they saw them throwing stones at Palestinians.
The testimony of a cop, as well as the detention of suspects at the scene, is generally enough cause for prosecutorial action, particularly since the government takes nationalist crime seriously, as it keeps claiming. Therefore, we appealed the decision to close the case in December 2013, demanding of A. and M. be prosecuted on suspicion of throwing stones and assaulting an officer; we also demanded that the investigation into the question of who attacked one of our clients with an iron rod and set his olive grove on fire continue.
That’s when events took a surrealistic turn. In response to our appeal, the prosecution claimed that they are well aware that there is enough evidence to indict A. and M., but said it would not do so – since it sees no reason to interfere with the decision of the Police Prosecution Unit, which closed the case for lack of public interest.
According to the prosecution, since both sides engaged in stone throwing, and since there is no precise information about how the incident began, and since there was no equivalent interrogation of Palestinian suspects, there is simply no public interest in putting the Israeli marauders on trial.
To quote our sarcastic reply, sent in April by Attorney Noa Amrami:
“To sum, two Israeli civilians woke up one morning, arrived at the village of Burin and the homes and land of our clients, threw stones at them and beat them. Is there any doubt here as to who is the attacker and who the defender? With all due respect, we are not dealing with a kids’ squabble at school here, but with a criminal, methodical action of terrorizing the villagers of Burin, who suffer from the violence of the Israeli civilians residing in the region.”
What the government prefers to call nationalist crimes — and we call ideological crimes — has become a national scourge. As we emphasize here repeatedly, this is not an incident of random violence, but rather violence with a clear political goal: dispossessing Palestinians of their land so it may be transferred to Israeli civilians. The police’ failure at resolving these crimes is systematic and well documented: out of 1,045 investigation cases reviewed by Yesh Din in 2005-2014, only 7.4 percent turned into indictments. 85.2 percent of the cases were closed due to the police’s investigative failure, usually because the police failed in finding suspects or gathering enough evidence to try them.
The village of Burin is a stark example of criminal actions carried out by Israeli civilians: in the years 2005-2013 Yesh Din documented 103 incidents of criminal activity, mostly violent, by Israeli civilians against Palestinians from the village. Yesh Din documented a series of violent actions – both by Israeli forces and Israeli civilians – toward the villagers. If we were to take the official rhetoric about the need to fight ideological crime seriously, we would expect any incident in Burin would be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law.
Yet in practice, even when the police detain suspects and the prosecution has enough evidence to indict them, the case is somehow closed. This time the excuse was “lack of public interest.” Bear this in mind during the next press conference when solemn promises that the police will do its best will be made.
We have asked that the appeal be reconsidered. We’ll keep you posted.
Chemical waste produced by the laboratories of Ariel University, in the illegal West Bank settlement of the same name, threatens Palestinian agricultural land in Salfit, locals reported.
According to the locals, Ariel University pours its chemical waste into the settlement’s sewer network which runs into the agricultural lands owned by Palestinians in Selfit thus polluting the groundwater, soil and air.
Environmental researcher Khalid Al-Maaly said Ariel University does not take the environment in the surrounding areas into account when pouring hazardous materials into the land turning it into a dumping ground because the waste flows without treatment.
According to Al-Maaly, nearly 20,000 students are enrolled at the university.
He called on the environmental institutions to visit Salfit and witness the suffering caused by the university’s sewage.
Al-Maaly stressed that the presence of Ariel University on Selfit’s land is contrary to international law which considers this area occupied and therefore state institutions cannot be built on it.
Last month, Israeli authorities expanded the university’s campus by constructing new laboratories and student dorms over lands confiscated from Palestinians in Selfit.
Prior to the 18th century – that is prior to the Enlightenment – if you had asked a literate Westerner when he or she thought the most ideal of human societies did or would exist, most of them would have located that society in the past. The religious majority might have placed it in the biblical age of Solomon or the early Christian communities of the 1st century after Christ. Both would have been considered divinely inspired times. Now, come forward a hundred years, say to the beginning of the 19th century, and ask the same question. You would notice that the answer was beginning to change. Having passed through the Enlightenment and with the Industrial Revolution in process, the concept of continual progress had been invented, and with it some (but by no means all) people started to place that hypothetically ideal society in the future. For the futurists the question of divine guidance no longer mattered.
Today, many folks worldwide believe in progress and assume that tomorrow not only will be different from today, but will in some scientific-technological way be better. The question here is not whether they are correct, but why there isn’t a unanimous consensus in favor of progress – for clearly there is not.
The truth is that there are millions of people, Muslims, Jews and Christians and others who not only still idealize a religiously imagined past, but want, in one way or another, to import that past into the present – and not only their present but everyone else’s as well. Whatever one might think of the teachings of the Bible and Quran, this is a highly problematic desire. In fact, it is downright dangerous. The following examples will prove this point.
The Muslim Version
The Guardian newspaper recently carried a shocking article entitled “Isis Slave Markets Sell Girls .…” As the story goes, ISIS, or the self-proclaimed “Islamic State,” has set up slave markets where young girls are sold. Most of the girls seem to be war booty acquired during raids on areas populated by minorities, such as the Yazidis, who are not considered Muslim.
According to the Zainab Bangura, the UN envoy investigating the issue of sexual violence stemming from the wars in Syria and Iraq, the abduction of young girls is a ploy to attract male recruits. “The foreign fighters are the backbone of the fighting,” Bangura says, and “this is how they attract young men: we have women waiting for you, virgins you can marry.”
The UN envoy then adds that ISIS seems determined “to build a society that reflects the 13th century.” Actually, she is off by some 500 years. The time frame ISIS leadership is aiming for is the 7th century CE. That was the time of the first Islamic community, and from the ISIS point of view it was a divinely appointed one. Therefore its cultural and social practices, allegedly sanctioned by the Quran, are as legitimate today as they were in the time of the Rightly Guided Caliphs. So, first and foremost, the slave trade is sanctioned as a revival of a divine past. If it lures new male recruits, that is no doubt seen as a bonus.
From the point of view of modern secularized society, this is pretty crazy stuff. However, it is not unique to ISIS.
The Jewish Version
There is a sect of religious Jews who are equally determined to import into the present an aspect of an ancient, supposedly divine, past. Their aim is to resurrect Solomon’s temple, an artifact of the 6th century BCE. Rebuilding the original temple (which would them be called the “third temple” because the first two were destroyed by the Babylonians and Romans, respectively) would, according to the advocacy organization the Temple Institute, “usher in a new era of universal harmony and peace.”
Given that this divine import would have to be built on the site now occupied by the al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest place in the Islamic world, it is hard to see how peace can be the outcome. Nonetheless, according to its advocates, the Jews “have a biblical obligation to rebuild it. And, it would seem, some 43 percent of religious Israelis agree with this assertion. That means in the eyes of these particular people, the recreation of Solomon’s temple is as divinely legitimate as the slave markets run by ISIS. The major difference between the Temple Institute and ISIS is that, as of yet, the institute does not have the power to move from theory to practice.
The Christian Version
It is bad enough to reestablish slavery in the name of religion, as some fanatical Muslims have done. It is not much better to advocate rebuilding Solomon’s Temple on stolen land in the name of religion, as some fanatical Jews now want to do. Yet it is quite another thing to conspire to bring about global war in the name of religion. This seems to be the special providence of fanatical Christians.
According to TV investigative journalist Bill Moyers, Christian fundamentalist organizations with millions of members financially support Israel in order to encourage expansionism, ethnic cleansing, and preemptive war against Iran, and ultimately to trigger a third world war. What is the point of this allegedly divinely inspired mayhem? According to such Christian fundamentalist sages as John C. Hagee, all of this is necessary to pave the way for the Second Coming of Christ. Hagee knows this is so because he read it in the apocalytic writings of the New Testament.
And just who might have sympathy with such dangerous efforts to transform the present on the basis of dubious past prophecy? How about Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Tony Blair, along with growing numbers of voters and legislators both in the U.S. and the UK?
How is it possible, in our scientific age, that millions, including powerful political leaders, hold to such dangerous beliefs? Obviously the Enlightenment and its humanistic teachings did not work for everyone, and even the Industrial Revolution, in its capitalist manifestation, has proved persistently unsettling. That is, unsettling to community based on age-old – and allegedly divine – principles. After all, seemingly divine teachings were the basis for Western societies, as well as those in the Middle East, for over a thousand years. Counting from the Enlightenment, competing modernity has only been around for three hundred or so years.
In other words, our material world might be thoroughly grounded in applied electrical engineering and computer science, but for a surprising number of us, the emotional world seems to still be grounded in the imagined words of God. No wonder religion in all its various forms makes periodic comebacks. As part of this phenomenon, some of us select a part of the “divine past” as our ideal time. Some of us even convince ourselves that the world would be so much better if we could reconstruct the present along the lines of that imagined past.
Of course, most of those who think this way never get enough power and influence to actually move from theory to practice. Occasionally, however, someone, or some group, does. In the case of the Islamic world, the leaders of ISIS seem to have achieved this status, and so what do we get? Slave markets. In Israel the Knesset is full of folks who yearn for the some variation on biblical Israel, so what do we get? Well, if not yet the rebuilding of Solomon’s Temple, we get all that illegal expansion into “Judea and Samaria.” And, in the case of the Christians like George W. Bush and Tony Blair, both of whom seem to have used their worldly power to kill and maim millions in the name of prophecy, we get one war after another.
This suggests that the socio-religious outlook of Solomon, Mohammed, and Jesus Christ are simply not translatable into the modern world. Oh sure we have the Ten Commandments and all that. However, adherence to these rules should no longer be enforced as the word of God. In the West at least, they are, in a selective, updated fashion, part of the promulgated laws of multi-cultural communities – no more and no less – and it is best to keep it that way.
So let’s show some appreciation of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America. When they separated reli.gion and government, they had a strong and accurate sense of history. It was a good move, even if not a divinely inspired one. It was also the implementation of a fine Enlightenment principle – a good match for modern society.
When a 22-year-old man died under an Israeli army jeep recently, The New York Times virtually ignored the incident. Now come reports of another death in the West Bank, and the newspaper has given notice with an article appearing both online and in print.
The difference is all in the ethnicity: The first man was Palestinian and his attackers were Israeli soldiers. The second was Israeli and died at the hands of a Palestinian gunman.
When Abdallah Ghuneimat died on Sunday, eyewitnesses reported that he had been shot and then deliberately run down by soldiers in a jeep; the army, however, claimed the vehicle had fallen on him by accident. The Times made fleeting mention of the incident in a wire service story that appeared only online. (See TimesWarp 6-17-15.)
The newspaper has continued to turn its back on the story even as new eyewitnesses have come forth to say that Ghuneimat “was left bleeding under the jeep for hours while Israeli soldiers were jubilantly cheering.” Witnesses also said that troops fired tear gas, stun grenades and live ammunition to prevent villagers from approaching the victim.
Now, with the death of an Israeli four days later, we find a different approach from the Times. Editors were not content with a wire service report in this case; they assigned a reporter to cover the incident and published a story replete with quotes from Israeli president Reuven Rivlin, education minister Naftali Bennett and a United Nations coordinator.
The Israeli victim, Danny Gonen, 25, had come to the West Bank with a friend to visit a spring near the illegal Israeli settlement of Dolev, according to the account. As they were leaving the area, a man flagged down the car and asked if there was water in the spring. He then pulled out a gun and shot both men. The friend was slightly wounded, but Gonen was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
The author of the Times story, Diaa Hadid, writes in the second paragraph that the timing of shooting was a “grim reminder of the kidnapping and killing of three Jewish teenagers” last year, “which unleashed tensions that culminated in a seven-week war between Israel and Hamas.”
Missing from her article is the context of Israeli attacks on Palestinians, including the deaths of two Palestinian men so far in June. According to United Nations data, Israeli forces injure an average of 39 Palestinians each week, and they have killed 13 so far this year. These numbers do not include injuries inflicted by settlers.
The same UN report notes that Palestinians have injured an average of two Israeli civilians each week. Two, including Gonen, have died this year.
In spite of these facts, Hadid has chosen to emphasize Palestinian violence and ignore Israeli attacks, which have injured and killed at a significantly higher rate.
Her story also glosses over another unsavory fact of life in the West Bank by noting that the territory “is dotted with springs” used by Israelis and Palestinians, but some have been made off limits to Palestinians. In her brief treatment of the issue, she fails to describe the full injustice here.
Settler takeovers of springs on private Palestinian land have become so flagrant that the United Nations issued a report specifically addressing the problem. The report states that settlers use threats, intimidation and barriers to prevent villagers from accessing their traditional water sources, at great cost to farmers and herders. The Israeli government acquiesces in these crimes and sometimes actively supports them, the UN says, often allowing the settlers to turn the springs into revenue generating tourist attractions.
But readers learn none of this—neither the casualty rates nor the extent of water theft in Palestinian territory. Although this tragic incident provided an opportunity to inform the public of facts on the ground in the West Bank, the Times has little interest in reporting these details. It glosses over Palestinian deaths, dwells on Israeli casualties and turns its back on the brutality of the Israeli occupation.